Mr Doug Wallen reviewed the new Psychic Baggage album for Cyclic Defrost. Here's what he had to say
Psychic Baggage – Psychic Baggage (Endless Melt)
By Doug Wallen July 28, 2010
Psychic Baggage is yet another fascinating outlet from Melbourne’s Duncan Blachford, the former Witch Hats drummer now splitting his time between Rubbish Throwers, Snawklor, Actual Holes, and Miniature Submarines. Released via his label Endless Melt, this project is fairly accurately dubbed “water-damaged free jazz.” Most of the six tracks on this self-titled debut average eight minutes, during which Blachford explores gaping space with minimal, improvised elements.
‘Free Sunshine’ sets the stage with intuitive drumming and skittering guitar that ranges from noise to melody to bristling afterburn. Blachford also slips in some jazz-ish cymbal play for a few teasing moments, confirming the project’s thirst for deconstruction. ‘Drums Meet Guitar’ starts with a nocturnal hum of keyboard and some haunted guitar before the drumming kicks in, and it’s ultimately much more about spine-tingling atmosphere than the instrumental cage match suggested by its title. ‘Sick In Memphis’ then sets a low and distant guitar loop set against much closer drumming. There’s some more burning guitar noise, but again it’s in the service of exploration as Blachford continues to feel out the changing textures at his disposal.
Like the soundtrack of a good horror film, ‘Autumn Monument’ sets foreboding bass tones and unearthly sounds against disturbing whimpers of trumpet. The percussion that birthed that track was a direct reaction to the motion of leaves in the wind outside a studio window, but there’s nothing calming about the finished piece. On the other hand, ‘Dreams, Sir’ is kind of sweet, thanks to a kinder and more hushed interplay of guitar and drums. Beaches’ Alison Bolger lends the titular saxophone to ‘Drums Meet Sax’, another spattered improv excursion. As with the rest of this album, it’s eerie and open, primordial and freeing.