Interview: Dead Sea Apes

“At a gig at Kunst Gallery Belper, we ended up improvising a piece together that essayed a dystopian post-Trump future”

Over the course of their musical career, Dead Sea Apes have slowly developed into a band that, whilst they are generally labelled psych, are so much more. Taking elements of psych, drone, jazz, and of course, dub, each album has become a statement of intent. Following a trajectory where each album seems to complement the next as they seek a new path, they very rarely stay in one place. Often expansive, but usually niggling at those inner circuits of your mind, their music has become more of a free-form art than following any usual strictures. Take Sixth Side Of The Pentagon which cast away their previous experiments in repetitive riffs, to delve straight into dub, and nothing else. It was a radical departure but one that made complete sense.

Not the kind of band to rest on their laurels and release a “greatest hits” style album, Recondite is a parallel view of Dead Sea Apes journey so far. It takes a separate, yet familiar path, and introduces some long lost rarities and curios. What is obvious though is that by taking disparate parts of their strange path they have found a new whole that adds new flavour to old psychedelic soup. In order to understand more, Echoes And Dust asked Brett Savage to talk us through the new/old album and explain where these tracks fit in to the DSA story

Tentacles (version) [with Adam Stone]

“On Sixth Side of the Pentagon, we had always envisioned having some spoken word accompaniment to a couple of tracks that articulated the underlying political sentiments of the album (of which, it can be quite difficult to express your thoughts as an instrumental band). Luckily, fate led us to Adam Stone. At a gig at Kunst Gallery Belper, we ended up improvising a piece together that essayed a dystopian post-Trump future (released as a limited-edition vinyl as In The Year 2039). We knew that we had found our man. He ended up adding what he describes as his Foucault-esque spiel on power and control”

“When it came to the launch of Sixth Side of the Pentagon, we roped in Adam to do a live version of Tentacles and we managed riff dubwise into what you hear here.”


“Coronal arose from a fairly simple repeating riff, which is often a starting point for much of our music. Repetition is very much the cornerstone of music we like to listen to and inevitably, the music we like to play. I think we invest some degree of drama to the proceedings here. We didn’t write this track with any specific home in mind. Luckily, when Cardinal Fuzz were asked to curate a stage at Liverpool Psych Festival in 2015, it was suggested that there should be an accompanying album. Cardinal Fuzz is our forever home, and it was very kindly added to the compilation Stay Holy!”

Planet V

“This is a jammed out version of one of the first songs we had ever written for Dead Sea Apes called Planetarium. When you’ve played the same song for a few years, there is a tendency to go off the map every now and start stretching out in different directions. We do this a hell of a lot, actually.”

True Believers (version)

“This is a dubby take on a track from ‘Spectral Domain’. Often when we are recording tracks, we end up jamming and then build upon the tracks afterwards. We are massive fans of Can and are in awe of their process. When it comes to playing the tracks live, sometimes we have to ‘reverse engineer’ them from the recordings and something different comes out of the process. We are massive fans of dub music and wanted to see where that would take a song that was originally pretty dirgy and doomy. I think it stands on its own two feet pretty well.”

Land Of The Sun [featuring Gabriel Minnikin (Alexander Spence cover)

“There is a large place in my heart for acid casualty rock, and they don’t come much better than Alexander Skip Spence. Oar is a superb album. We were really keen to do a track for a Fruits De Mer album (who put together some great collections of psych/kraut/prog covers) and this one sprang to mind. Skip originally recorded it for the X Files soundtrack but it never made the final cut. The original is pretty skeletal -bass, bongos and vocals. I think we went ended up going pretty maximal with it. It turns out that Skip originally intended lots of guitar on it, so I think we ended up honouring his original intentions in our own way.”

The Recognition (for Standing Rock)

“The disgraceful decision to route the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Standing Rock reservation, with no consideration of the multiple impacts that would have, all too clearly highlights the lack of concern that powerful corporate interests (with the full support of the US government) have when it comes to achieving their aims. The violent suppression of the protest camp was a further disgrace. When we were asked by Nik Rayne (of The Myrrors) to contribute a track to a compilation for Standing Rock on his label, Sky Lantern Records, we really felt strongly that we should.”

“The Recognition is an early take of a version that is coming on our next album ‘The Free Territory’, which is due on Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern later in the year.”

Universal Translator

“This came from the original jams that we had for ‘Universal Interrogator’ from Spectral Domain. We were going through a bit of a transitional period when we were putting this together. I was playing less guitar after a recent MS relapse had made my left hand pretty numb, so I started playing a bit more synth. This altered the dynamics of the song writing process for a while and ended up making things sound more spacious. Eventually, as my guitar playing confidence (and feeling in my hand) came back, we started to integrate it back into the sessions”

Lupine Wavelength

“This is pretty much an unadorned long-form jam which we felt came out pretty well. You can hear our heads bobbing off into the distance on this one.”

Rückstoss Gondolière (Kraftwerk cover)

“When we were asked to contribute a track to Fruits De Mer’s Head Music, which was a tribute to Brain Records and all things Kraut, Chris chanced upon this obscure Kraftwerk track that featured both Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger (who later went on to form Neu!), who were Kraftwerkers in an earlier incarnation of the band. We didn’t spend too long obsessing on recreating the track – we just tried to ‘channel’ it. We were very pleased with the results.”


“Rethreads was offered up to the Dark Outside, a site-specific radio show that is broadcast from Galloway Forest, otherwise known as Dark Sky Parks. Not many people get to hear it. Rethreads is a creepy, dubbed up backwards take on Threads from High Evolutionary”

Vamos Compañeros (Harmonia ’76 cover)

“We were asked by The Blog That Celebrates Itself to provide them with a song from the Krautrock canon. We do have a yen for Michael Rother in his many incarnations, and Harmonia are no exception.“

Where Dead Sea Apes go next, who can tell…but one thing is for sure. They are a band who will continue to experiment with their sound and develop into a deeper something. Recondite is a pause for reflection in amongst the chaos of life. Here’s to starting the next phase of the journey. Trip out.

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