Helicon by HeliconRelease date: December 8, 2017
Label: Fuzz Club Records
Anybody who thinks that recreating a certain sound or genre from the past is easy has to be either joking or doesn’t really know what they are talking about. The point is not just simply to mimic certain sounds, whether out make fun of it or out of love. You have to know that sound truly inside out, all the nuances and secret shadows to be able to come up with something that is not only “in the style”, but that is something that you can really listen to.
Fortunately, Glasgow’s Helicon didn’t make that mistake. Judging by their self-titled debut album, they not only love everything that has to do with psychedelic sounds but know the genre inside out. Not only those from the original second part of the Sixties era, but also all those that came in between. After all, it took them eight years after they begun to come up with this debut album. Eight EP’s, serious touring with the likes of Wooden Shjips and The Warlocks, and their members playing with other bands like Asteroid #4 and one of the legendary UK psychedelic bands from the original era, Peter Daltrey’s Kaleidoscope.
What that has brought about is quite a brilliant, very listenable and enjoyable psychedelic album in every respect. Helicon’s often Eastern-tinged psych sounds include something that could be called a psych standard in form of Graham Gordon’s excellent sitar playing, and echoing vocals (John-Paul Hughes), double guitar (John-Paul and his brother Gary), organ sounds, but also the more ‘modern’ elements like synths, courtesy again of Gordon. All of those particularly exemplified in ‘The Bold Yin’, one of the strongest tracks here, where the rhythm section of Mark McLure (bass) and Sea Jonsen (drums) also has a chance to shine.
It is hard though to pick out any track here that stands high above any other, and even more so, any that would fit the lacklustre description. Take for example the sitar-driven tracks ‘Valmiki’ and ‘Seraph’ the organ and guitar-heavy sound of ‘Teenage Murder’ or “what if The Doors had a sitar player” of “French As Fuck” ( a personal favourite here).
So Helicon obviously took their sweet time to come up with their debut album, but they obviously did it for a good reason – they came up with an excellent one.