Elixor of Life by Jeffrey Alexander and the Heavy Lidders

Release date: August 6, 2021
Label: Centripetal Force

The idea of reviewing or “critiquing” an album seems almost pointless these days as any listener can choose to go and listen, and make their own mind up. This opens up the way for a writer simply to write about the music they find fascinating and interesting, and just maybe point someone in a way they may never of thought of going before. It is made all the more enjoyable when an artist is such as Jeffrey Alexander comes along, and you simply have to rave about the excellent music that he produces. Mind, to any self-respecting psychonaut, his name should be familiar from Dire Wolves, but there are still those who haven’t fallen for their almighty charms too.

Now on his second album of the 2021, Elixor Of Life is very much in the vein of the meandering, rambling psych that Dire Wolves deliver. Bolstered by a band including Jesse Shepherd and Drew Gardner of Elkhorn, and Scott Verrastro of Kohoutek, their very names should conjure psychedelic vibrations. Through the music on offer here, you feel the free-wheeling sense of exploration in every sinew, as the music takes unexpected, yet comforting turns. From the meandering opener of ‘Spiral Light Season’ into the Neil Young/CrazyHorse aping ‘Spoonful’, there are more trippy moments than any number of psych bands could produce.

It’s the relaxed feel which guides you on your way, and the incendiary guitar playing of Alexander channels the very spirits of Young, Garcia, and any number of guitarists who sold their soul to the “jam”. Here, the guitars invoke a spiritual journey, much as ‘Hermits Of The Ridge’ invokes the region in which the album was recorded, where a bunch of meditating monks used instrumental music as a form of worship. Tapping into any implied spiritual well-being and religiosity, although very much borne of the surroundings of nature rather than some almighty being, it’s a theme that runs strong through much Cosmic Americana.

There is a timeless quality to the music, and it feels shorn of any panderings to the mainstream. It is music made for those who want to go on a journey. Little triggers, such as the whistle in ‘Ashokan’ trip you out of reality into something more esoteric and otherworldly, yet always grounded in nature. It’s akin to being in the centre of a huge forest, far from any urban civilisation, tapped into the very breathing air around you as the trees exhale, and you inhale the wonder of everything. Jeffrey and company understand the power of psychedelic music, and use it to great in this excellent album. Go ahead and imbibe the atmosphere, and the very truthfulness of it all. This is psych of the highest quality.

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