Daniel Collás of Brooklyn’s funky pop soul Phenomenal Handclap Band and Morgan Phalen (Favored Nations, Diamond Nights) from Stockholm, began collaborating four years ago, exploring more jazzy prog and psych. Now with help from guests like Dungen’s Mattias Gustavsson, their debut is here, and while there is still a link to their past associations with smooth pop sounds, this is something altogether more trippy and cosmic. Their psych prog and soul hybrid reflects the different settings that this album was created in. After some time trading tapes across the ocean, the duo got together in Sweden and were inspired by the lush forests outside of Bagarmossen and Midsommarkransen. You can almost hear the sounds of the woods and see the stars in the sky in “In The Eye Of Time.”
They did further recording in L.A., collaborating with 70s singer-songwriter Ned Doheny on “Higher Now,” which really expands on Gram Parson’s conception of cosmic American music, with ghostly organs, strutting bass and dreamy harmonies. First single “How Could That Be Why?” lures you in with a deceptively simple, funky beat, falsetto vocals and dueling analog space synths. The yearning chorus of “Did It Ever?” is another highlight that could easily be a single. The falsetto calisthetics in “The Line” make me think of Jeff Buckley had he hooked up with a much better band, with great songwriters to collaborate with and embark on a truly special musical spirit quest. “Salutations To The Sun” is a timely farewell to summer, just a couple days after the Autumn Equinox. The longest track on the album, it’s a bit of a jazz prog odyssey per Spinal Tap, but with some tasteful German kosmische in there as well. This is a really accomplished debut and bodes well for the future. While many call this a side project, I have a feeling this will become their main gig.
When I started discovering old somewhat overlooked albums by bands that bridged the worlds of 60s psychedelia and 70s prog several years ago (Flower Travellin’ Band, Stray, High Tide, T2, Gun, Night Sun, Blackwater Park, etc), I felt there was more more territory to explore. Luckily, a few musicians were also listening and agree (Motorpsycho, Electric Orange, Circle, Amplifier, Hypnos 69, Dungen, Fuzz Manta, Spirits Of The Dead, Jess and the Ancient Ones, Purson, Blood Ceremony, Wolf People, Baron, Syd Arthur, Messenger and more). Thank the fucking rock gods for that. Otherwise I don’t know, I’d have to be pretending to love the new Neurosis album today instead, or try to get back into black metal.