ALBUM REVIEW: Christian Bland And The Revelators ‘The Unseen Green Obscene’

Moonlighting from The Black Angels, this is the third LP for Christian Bland and The Revelators following 2010’s ‘The Lost Album’ and 2012’s Pig Boat Blues’. 

With hints of The Electric Prunes and The Seeds, and that wave of post-Beatles fuzz-scuzz that fixated on that period in between wake and sleep, the dreamscape and the (un)conscious mind; topics ripe for discussion with narcotics occasionally on hand to open and close many doors.

The potentiality that arose post 1965 – 68 is here – experimentation, a belief that music could change, enhance and spearhead a socio-cultural, geo-political revolution.  The overhauling never occurred but the desire to wig out remains.

From long-term devotees like the Fuzztones, Spacemen 3 and current exponents like Wooden Shjips and Ty Seagall, the ‘psych’ revival has been going on since the 1970s and shows no signs of abating, remaining contextless and free-floating, this is proper time-bending music.

Opening diptych ‘The Sun Is Fading Away’ and ‘The Last Summer’ set the tone; hazy, woozy guitars with suggestive themes of end-of-days positivity/banality: “Today is slipping away, yes, the sun has faded away, and tomorrow brings another day”. Is it a lament to the embers of our current epoch, the Mayan prophecy and the diminishing power of the sun?  The sun’s going down and with it the vitality it offers.  But, it will rise again.

‘Daughters Of The Son’ ups the tempo, heavier with trippy organ and nightmarish, inter-reality vocals. The cap is doffed to musical building blocks Bo Diddley (energy), Syd Barrett (psychically) and Brian Wilson (melodically) each with their own track.  ‘Syd Barrett Blues’ is, unsurprisingly, a homage to the (for)ever-elevated Pink Floyd casualty: “Got the Syd Barrett blues, got the Syd Barrett shoes …” Laconically drawled, vividly absurd vocals similar to ‘Octopus’ or ‘Bike’.  ‘Diddley Stomp’ delivers on its title, a chugging blues number that incorporates Link Wray-like menacing surf guitar.  ‘Brian Wilson’ is an affectionate pastiche of The Beach Boys, Bland’s vocals capturing the lovelorn elder Wilson’s mournful tones.

‘The Reverberation Appreciation Society’ has echo-laden vox and nursery-rhyme-alike lyrics and delivery akin to The Kinks’ ‘Village Green Preservation Society’.  Ronseal© endorses this statement of fact.  ‘CB160’ evokes Chris Spedding’s ‘Motorbikin’ more than Robert Pirsig!  Not for a lack of maintenance, mind.   ‘Alone in Deer Park’ is the standout; a haunting trek of lysergic escapades out in the (un)known.  Or is it?  Wailing and entrancing guitars tease and ease you in – to what or where, remains the question.

Like The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe, Bland is a psyche-pilgrim, seemingly stuck in an era before his time, yet charged with the quest of honouring the flame.  To him this isn’t all nostalgia, it’s about the future, “It’s the best music and it needs to be preserved and pushed into the future and expanded upon.”

This is the past, present and future co-existing concurrently. This is no-gress. It just is. Far out!

The Unseen Green Obscene is released on 6th October via Reverberation Appreciation Society.

Kemper Boyd