Psych Army unites Atlanta's outer limits
New label debuts with Difference Machine, deadCAT LPs
Label Psych Army Intergalactic has had a successful year so far, considering it hasn't even released an album yet. Following a February Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $10,000 to cover the costs of releasing and promoting a handful of albums and 7-inches this summer, Psych Army's premier offering, The Psychedelic Sounds of the Difference Machine, is set to arrive this August. After that, deadCAT's Transientualsim LP, an NEC/Soft Opening split 7-inch, and a single by San Francisco-based producer Al Lover will be staggered throughout the year. All will be steeped in varying layers of psychedelia.
"There are a lot of psychedelic scenes throughout the country," label co-founder Brannon Boyle says. "Austin has a Psych Fest that brings together psych rock bands from all over the world, and it's great. Los Angeles has a beat scene. What we want to do is cultivate an all-encompassing scene that includes everyone from experimental beat-makers to rock bands."
The label got started in part because of the semi-regular, and popular, Free Acid concert series that Boyle and co-founder Dr. Conspiracy, aka Johnny Psycharmy (his true identity is a secret), have thrown at 529 since July 2010. On the heels of Free Acid's success, Psych Army launched another event at 529 in December 2011 dubbed the Left Field Experiment. Held monthly, Left Field focuses on psychedelic hip-hop and abstract electronic music. Live, free-form beats pummel out of midi controllers, MPCs, and turntables, merging with occasionally improvised lyrics.
"The best psychedelic music is not formulaic," says Dustin Teague, aka DT of Atlanta hip-hop duo Clan Destined.
Teague and Dr. Conspiracy also make up the Difference Machine. Since coming together in June 2011, the Difference Machine has shared stages with Del the Funky Homosapien, Kool Keith, and Ghostface Killah. Difference Machine songs include bits of 1960s psychedelic rock records that have been sampled and blended with drum cuts from '70s funk, and chopped vocals from '80s/'90s hip-hop. DT raps through a Korg Kaoss Pad, while Conspiracy uses a midi controller to play out live beats. DJs such as Grizzly and JDKNS, live drummer Radley Fricker, and guest musicians armed with samplers and drum machines have also joined the group on stage.
Psych Army labelmate deadCAT is so named due to a string of unfortunate incidents in which frontman Britt Teusink's pets were either abducted or ran away.The group's sometimes dark/sometimes shimmering pop excursions are a catchy but disturbing affair. The Wet Heat EP's title track revels in a cluttered ambience, while "Frequent Fortunes" and "Mid$" are dissonant and noisy.
"This band started as a joke and it became more fun through its free form," Teusink says. "Nothing is contrived. We make up everything on the spot while recording. There is no preconceived notion of this is what we sound like; it is whatever comes out. Pure feeling. Through it becoming a live thing it has grown further than just electronic music, and more of an insane sonic experiment."