By: Rich Buley
My Invisible Friend | facebook | bandcamp | soundcloud |
Released on September 19, 2016 via Fuzz Club Records
My three year old daughter has an invisible friend. He is Raa Raa, a name stolen by her, with flagrant disregard to copyright infringement, from the hit children’s television show ‘Raa Raa the Noisy Lion’. Over the past twelve months or so, Raa Raa has been responsible for some of the more patience-testing acts of domestic vandalism, including felt-tipping the walls, overflowing the sinks with water, and transferring fifty percent of the gravel in the back garden to the kitchen, to create an altogether lovely, but entirely unexpected, internal rockery feature. Not once during this testing period has Raa Raa given any indication that when he was not taking it in turns with my daughter to microwave respective members of the Paw Patrol cast, that he was in fact in the recording studio, cooking up some of the best psychedelic shoegaze that you are likely to hear this year.
Signed to the esteemed, can do very little wrong, imprint that is London’s very own Fuzz Club Records, the actual, proper My Invisible Friend are a three piece (plus old school drum machine) from Parma, Italy, a nation which seems to be in a rich vein of shoegaze form currently, with Weird, La Casa Al Mare, Kimono Lights and Rev Rev Rev, to name but four, all adding impressively to the genre in the last eighteen months or so.
Formed in 2014, and with a couple of self-released singles to their name before this, the band’s self-titled three track saw the light of day last month, and opener ‘Eyes’ engages immediately, with a huge slab of discordant feedback that Loop or The Telescopes would happily put their name to, before woozy, swirling guitars, a lolloping rhythm and an enormously frazzled, distorted bassline take the track firmly in the direction of a more abrasive My Bloody Valentine, complete with cooed, barely- there vocals courtesy of Annalisa. Not massively original, no, of course not, but when it is done this well, and packs this much of a punch, then it really doesn’t matter.
‘Endless’ expands things exponentially with a beautifully brooding Cure-like bassline, a looping riff and dreamy vocals. The track washes over you wonderfully, in much the same way as Slowdive’s very earliest material. Four minutes in and an additional layer of fuzz take proceedings up a notch, and the band into a sonic landscape and locked, extended psychedelic groove that has as much in common with krautrock as it does with the Thames Valley and the early nineties.
And then the game changer. Although I am a huge fan of post rock and what may pass for psych these days, I tend to prefer bands in these genres to cut to the chase, and deliver their all-encompassing payload in less than six or seven minutes. This has everything to do with me having the attention span of a distracted speed-dater and nothing at all to do with the incredible ability of certain artists to build tension, to envelop, or to eventually explode, in a fifteen to twenty minute track outing. I am well-versed in navigating through this kind of aural journey, but it is rare that I can honestly say that a track of such length has left me panting for more.
‘Sleepless’, the final track here, is four seconds shy of eighteen minutes long. And it is absolutely fucking phenomenal. Talk about trip. An always enticing motorik beat begins immediately and chugs incessantly and remains permanently, and everything else going on within this monumental tune makes you want it to go on forever. It is how Hookworms would sound if you shoved a massive sonic rocket up their arses. Vocals are kept to a minimum as the band set the controls for the heart of the psych, wigging out entirely with repetitive, teutonic chords, colossal amounts of fuzz and a nagging, inspired riff that would undoubtedly lay waste to alternative dancefloors right across the globe.
My Invisible Friend have laid down quite a marker here for their future career as a band. They have shown themselves equally capable of glistening shoegaze as they have of one almighty psychedelic hoedown, and they will really need to go some in either direction on future releases to match this. An absolutely outstanding record.