22 Mar 2018
Pansies - Cascade of Colors
Many records purport to be psychedelic. Many record label people and record dealers bandy the word psychedelic around like confetti, sprinkling records with fairydust that the sonic evidence contradicts. A lot of so-called psychedelic music is blues rock, hard rock, prog rock, straight folk, AOR, lounge or something else. Pansies are a psychedelic band channeling classic psychedelia and their debut LP, which sneaked out just as 2017 morphed into 2018, is a true and instant classic of the genre. It is totally utterly and wonderfully psychedelic. Pansies blow minds for a living.
Opener, 'Just Like Yesterday' snakes out of the speakers on waves of gently descending Hammond chords and Leslie-speaker treated vocals that frame much of the following songs. Think Procol Harum jamming out with July aboard a not-so Jolly Mary and you are beginning to dig their scene. It is drenched and spins with beautiful thoughtfulness on its own pulsing axis before taking flight and heading off into the clouds. 'Golden Day' follows in its wake and its insistent crashing organ/drum riff reminds me of Five Day Rain's classic 'Leave It At That'. This may be my favourite on the record - its an absolute gem of mind crushing proportions that has me hitting repeat over and over. 'Green Apple Eyes' follows and is stoned to the point of obliteration - its deliciously sloppy double tracked vocal opening drives me insane. I swear there is a trombone in the mix somewhere but the rational part of me says 'no'. Either way its a real swinging affair with a trademark 'Carnaby Street' girl-boy- beat-psych chord progression - all drainpipe jeans and paisley shirted strut. And a pair of beautiful white leather shoes.Fabulous.
"Crystal's Nightmare" is moody and shot through with shadows and reflections, that driving, splashing Hammond organ and spidery guitar stabs giving a phantasmagorical edge - a delicious downer that somehow manages to execute a great double take at the end. "Shoreline Of Your Mind" is a chamber psych trip that evokes the ghost of Felius Andromeda and J.K. & Co. in equal measure. Pansies know the wisdom of meditating in eternity and are happy to share it with you. "Hobbit's Song" is wistful and bounces along on a day-glo trampoline of organ and drums, a perfect pick me up. "Strange Dream" is a doozy - slowly unfurling it's charms in an seemingly endless fractal pattern with a neatly buried vocal line that places its velvet deep underground, navigating a meandering course through the gently wavering synapses of your mind.
Matters are brought to a suitably wasted resolution with the massive, lumbering asteroid of sound that is "Another Time" which seems to float by and through the listener. The smell of incense is heavy and entangled up in swirling organ before setting off with soft explosion into the indeterminate, star spangled distance. Somewhere at least 2,000 light years from home.
So there you have it, the record released at the death of 2017 that should be on every shortlist for best record of 2018. Pansies have captured it, distilled it and recorded it for your listening pleasure. They are a truly psychedelic band, they are a synaesthesia and they are my clowns who I love more than you know. You like psyche? You need this record - go to it.
Shaun C. Rogan
Cascade of Colors is available here: