Another year, another mammoth Psychedelica compilation bursting at the seams with impressive new discoveries courtesy of tried and trusted London imprint Northern Star. Having unleashed predecessor Psychedelica 4 in the summer of 2010, label mainman Scott Causer has been busily assembling a collection of artists worthy of the Northern Star tagline. Bearing in mind this is the label that brought to us one of 2012's finest records in The Lost Rivers' Sin & Lostness - the incredible ten-minutes long noisefest 'Death Of Eve' off 2011's debut EP My Beatific Vision is included for posterity here - Psychedelica 5 has a lot to live up to.
Nevertheless, the growing interest in psychedelic music has engineered a global scene culminating in last month's Austin Psych Fest - again something Causer and Northern Star initiated at South By Southwest seven years ago. It's little wonder, then, that from Northern Star's humble beginnings, Causer finds himself inundated with requests from artists queuing up to release music on his label. That being the case, he's culled together 34 of them for Psychedelica 5, and while some of those will be familiar to anyone that's followed this series of compilations in recent years - Youngteam, 93MillionMilesFromTheSun and The See See being three that stand out - it's the lesser known acts here that rise to the fore once more.
Take Glasgow four-piece The Early Morning Satellites. Their sprawling epic 'Summertone' stands proud among a wealth of hallowed companions, drawing comparisons to Methodrone-era Brian Jonestown Massacre and long-forgotten Birmingham outfit Delta. London-based duo The KVB also make a case for album standout, their contribution 'Velveteen' dipping its toe into Ministry and A Place To Bury Strangers dark and murky waters, relying on heavily processed beats and fuzz-heavy guitars for salvation. Danish trio Telstar Sound Drone also fuse American West Coast sensibility with a haunting melody on the discordant 'Mirror Pieces' that isn't a million miles from The Dandy Warhols' finest hour, Come Down.
In fact, there's a neverending treasure chest to be explored here. London four-piece Eat Lights Become Lights released one of 2011's most understated records in the Neu! inspired Autopia, and 'Test Drive', arguably the standout track from that long player, serves as a timely reminder of their status as one of he finest exponents of kraut-flavoured shoegaze on these shores. Likewise with fellow instrumentalists Kontakte, now long term staples of Northern Star's compilation series and long established weekender events. 'Hope', again taken from their most recent release, 2011's We Move Through Negative Spaces is neither post-rock nor krautrock by definition, instead flirting uneasily between the two with the volume strictly turned to eleven.
Highlands-based combo The Carousels echo the likes of Teenage Fanclub or Whiteout with a dose of The Beatles' 'Please Please Me' thrown in for good measure on countrified rocker 'Call Along The Coast'. Australian quartet The Laurels deliver spacious, deftly constructed psych rock on the ebullient 'Tidal Wave', while Copenhagen's Baby Woodrose profess to "Blow your mind!" on the Roky Erickson sounding 'Baby Blows'. Deep Cut's effervescently dreamy 'Dead Inside Your Head' and the fiery rage of 'In Dreams Of Decadence' by Chicago's Secret Colours also merit a mention.
Elsewhere, Icelandic outfit Singapore Sling bastardize Lee Marvin's 'Wandering Star' for heavily layered rocker 'Nothing Inside'. While one-time Creation signings The Telescopes return to their visceral, abrasive best on the coarsely orchestrated 'We See Magic'. Sure, there are a few eyebrow raisers here in terms of whether or not their take on what constitutes psychedelia ('How To Kill A Mosquito' by Manchester's The Hippy Mafia - think Funkadelica without the genius of George Clinton - being one that immediately springs to mind) but then by the same token, kudos to Northern Star for veering away from the template and diversifying a little.
What is guaranteed is that Psychedelica 5 contains something for anyone with any interest in psychedelic, shoegaze, noise or even just guitar music in general. And for that reason alone, Northern Star are onto another winner here.
8Dom Gourlay's Score