Psychic Temple II is the forthcoming project by Chris Schlarb, and is the follow-up to his great Psychic Temple album from 2010. The song is a Beach Boys cover from their 1971 album Surf’s Up, a period in their career that people tend to overlook, but those who want to divert from the expected will usually go to that album. Schlarb takes care of the original song and turns it into something that… I hate to use the word relevant, but songs like this are meant to be passed on from generation to generation, so welcome its beauty into 2013.
Upon listening to the first few seconds of Chris Schlarb‘s Psychic Temple (Asthmatic Kitty), it immediately feels like you’ve entered a deep hall of creativity. The music is heard, instruments are played, vocal harmonies are scattered in the soundscape, but it’s as if the machine was started up and you’re hearing the gears beginning to move, the process of what’s to come. It reminded me a bit of Miles Davis‘ “In A Silent Way”, as if everyone is walking towards their instruments, making sure everyone is ready for the mission, and without a word they’re speaking to each other in hushed tones. This deep hall of creativity is indeed the Psychic Temple, and you become one with the music for the next 33 minutes.
The remainder of the songs could be a number of things. It’s that long distance drive where you know where you’re going, but even though gas is going to cost you these days, you want to go further. Fans of early Pink Floyd (pre-Meddle) will like how a song such as “Dream State > Police State” will immediately place you where it intends you to be. In this case, a surreal place where everything is nothing is everywhere, where you leave your cares behind and dream of a world where the world is a dream. “Daughters of Ursa Major” has a nice outdoors-y feel, not sure if it’s due to the guitar work reminding me of big front porches and woodsiness, or just the echo and reverbs taking me back to a familiar time I may or may not have experienced.
As the album reaches the last track, “White Dove In The Psychic Temple”, you can see that there will be no more in this album experience, so you absorb everything that’s coming through the speakers in the hopes you don’t realize how far from home you are. Schlarb does this with a group of musicians who believe in the path he takes here, and they create music that makes them sound not only like accompanists, but family and friends that you want to join as well.
Listening to this also demands patience on the listener’s part, although if you love music at slow tempos that make it possible for you to hear everything in the path towards the next bar and measure, and the fun is hearing what these musicians are capable of doing while sneaking in a few of their influences and references. Perhaps this is jazz for those who aren’t complete jazz fans. Whatever it may be, it is something you’ll want to sit listening to from start to finish, many times over. A keeper.
My sister calls the song “Baba Gnoosh”, others have called it “Teenage Wasteland”, but of course it’s called “Baba O’Riley”, as performed by The Who in 1971 on their Who’s Next album (a/k/a “the shishi cover”). This cover version is performed by a school band called Suicide Death Force. These music students are from Hawthorne Academy, a private non-public school, and musician/producer Chris Schlarb is their instructor (the man on guitar on the right). The students, most of whom are 15, learned the song for their graduation ceremony, and as you’ll see and hear, they did a very good job. It may have freaked out the younger children in the crowd who didn’t realize the CSI: NY theme had more to it than the 30 seconds they’re exposed to, but then again, one would hope those kids are watching Kid Nick and not CSI: NY but what do I know.
Outside of music projects he always seems to be producing, Schlarb is currently putting together a documentary film on ice cream trucks called We Scream: Voices From The Ice Cream Underground, which will add the term “director” to his impressive line of work.
Fans of Chris Schlarb will know that he covers a wide range of music and sounds. Last year he put together the Schlarb Family Christmas Album and made it available for free. The response caught him by surprise, and he was moved to create a new one.
The 2009 Schlarb Christmas album is, as you can see by the above graphic, a tribute to those trendy gents from Liverpool, and I’m not talking about Frankie Goes To Hollywood. It features members of Schlarb’s family, along with some of his music friends.
You can download the Schlarb Family White Christmas Album by going here. Happy Krimble.