Whether you like jazz, world music or electronic: with over 200 bands Le Guess Who? has something for everyone. But the way Le Guess Who? realizes its full potential is also via an unrequited love for psychedelic music in all its facets. Throughout the years there has been a good dosage of psychrock acts and this year is no different. From Earth on Thursday, two Mythic Sunship sets to up-and-coming German band Acid Rooster, the whole weekend proves to be a heaven for fuzzed out guitars, pummeling grooves and otherworldly effects. Especially the Saturday, which features a whole festival roadmap for the psych rock aficionado. But what do these bands have in common? Or better yet, how do they differ in the same psychedelic spectrum? Checking out Moon Duo, Acid Rooster and Acid Mothers Temple provided us with a taste of where the psychgenre can go.
Text: Merijn Siben / Photography: Sabrine Baakman & Erik Luyten
The whole Saturday proves to have a lot of highlights this edition of Le Guess Who? Case in point: Moon Duo in a Ronda overflowing with people. Their latest album Stars Are The Light might be a bit of a style change, a psychedelic pop record with an almost disco sensibility. Especially compared with their more guitar-oriented rock stylings of Occult Architecture part 1 & 2. Fortunately, the new tracks are still intense in their own way, aided by a tightly knit livesound in the TivoliVredenburg venue as well as the awe-inspiring visuals, the latter which sees the band silhouetted against a backdrop brimming with colours. But besides the new tracks, it are the more uptempo compositions that come charging in like a race-car in a moonlit desert. This thanks to hypnotic synth-melodies, guitar solos earth-shattering in its subtlety and soothing yet dynamic drumbeats. New and old songs surprisingly mesh well together, going from soaring rock tunes to almost funky disco tracks, each of them tightly knit together creating an transcendental experience.
Listening to their self titled debut album released last July, Leipzig-based psychrock trio Acid Rooster seems poised to have a bright future ahead, with an inclusion at next year’s Roadburn Festival and of course the mysterious warehouse of De Nijverheid during the Saturday evening of Le Guess Who? De Nijverheid is a hidden gem near Utrecht’s industrial area, with a perfect atmosphere for a psychedelic evening. Acid Rooster has a more pounding feel in their brand of psych rock, thanks to a healthy dose of steady beats and grooves. The characteristic guitar effects and hallucinogenic solo’s are there, but never in such a way that the band loses itself in a barrage of sound. There is a knack for subtlety, building upon a tight foundation of riffs and pounding drums, effortlessly exploding in intense climaxes. An apocalyptic closing track at the end of a set is almost a coming down after the madness that preceded it, with a dark melody hovering on top of a doomy drumbeat. One thing’s for sure: their show at Roadburn can’t come soon enough.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.
One of the most prolific acts in today’s psych-scene is probably the Japanese psych rock stalwarts Acid Mothers Temple, led by the illustrious Kawabata Makoto. Other than the relatively mellow Moon Duo and the more structured Acid Rooster, this five-piece focuses on an intensely rich, chaotic yet hypnotic smorgasbord of music. Psychrock isn’t known for its conciseness, but Acid Mothers Temple, with dozens of albums in their discography, push the envelope even further. An explosive form of psychrock, haunting, chaotic but also immensely rewarding and soothing. Long compositions full of guitar melodies, otherworldly vocals and inimitable drumpatterns. How unfortunate it is that it overlaps with Mythic Sunships’ Astral Family set. Nevertheless, Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. was a ginormous high-point, one you couldn’t walk away from.
On a day with many highlights, Le Guess Who? proved just how meticulous the festival is in creating a psychedelic experience. Thanks to an exhaustive array of bands, each with their own flavor whether it’s groovy, smooth or chaotic, creating something unforgettable. And Acid Mothers Temple, Moon Duo and Acid Rooster, as just a small portion of the full line-up, unquestionably embody that Le Guess Who? feeling.