For some, the idea of making (much less listening to) psychedelic music inn the 21st century seems anachronistic. I don’t share that sentiment; even without the use of psychedelic drugs, the music continues to entertain me. And a current-day act calling itself The Chemistry Set has just released Pink Felt Trip, a raging slab of what I’d advisedly categorize as hard psych.
If your tastes lean toward The Open Mind (“Magic Potion”) and Julian Cope’s second-wave psych, you’ll definitely want to dig into Pink Felt Trip. With an attitude that veers wildly from the Hawkwind flavor of the title track to the Spinal Tap-meets-Moody Blues “The Witch,” it’s an exhilarating sonic ride. Period instruments (or modern-day equivalents that will fool you into thinking they’re vintage) are employed to deliver the mystical, lysergic character of the music.
Chemistry Set sometimes feels a bit like Dukes of Stratosphere, especially on tasty cuts like “Lovely Cuppa Tea.” And the group digs into some heavy, hypnotic riffage on “Firefly,” conjuring memories of lesser-known acts like Andromeda. “Psychotronic Man” applies a cinematic sheen with some Indian textures; the result sounds not unlike Justin Hayward backed by Kula Shaker. “Paint Me a Dream” combines Revolver-era sonics with ‘90s Britpop a la Stone Roses. Put another way, it’s reeeally good.
“Sail Away” explores the Delta blues side of psychedelia, with keening slide guitars and percussion that sounds straight out of the Maharishi’s ashram. “The Rubicon” rocks out and hard, with insistent woodblock and a Kinks feel. The album concludes with an epic work, the 11-minutes-plus, three-part suite “Self Expression Trinity.” Like any good extended work in the psych (or psych-adjacent) category, it features plenty of dramatic sweeps, tympani and Mellotron (or their equivalents) and takes its time to develop. But it’s a corker, and earns its extended run time.
Vintage-sounding psychedelia is alive and well in 2022. Visit Pink Felt Trip for proof.