Houses of the Holy by Psychic TempleRelease date: September 25, 2020
Label: Joyful Noise Recordings
Those lucky enough that are a bit familiar with Chris Schlarb’s ever-revolving project Psychic Temple, are probably aware that they can expect absolutely anything from the guy and his list of collaborators that grows by each album he comes up with. From re-inventing Eno’s Music for Airports to a series of incredibly beautiful pop/rock albums. After all, the guy has his own studio where he produced such a wide variety of artists that included the likes of Terry Reid, James Gadson, Swamp Dogg, and Jim Keltner.
So what’s new on Houses of the Holy (does the title sound familiar?), Schlarb’s latest release under the Psychic Temple moniker? Well, nothing and everything. Nothing, in the sense that on this double album Schlarb is again all over the place without missing a single point. Everything that he brings in yet another novel concept that works.
Schlarb started out with a concept that there is no double album around that does not have at least one filler track. He wanted to see if there is any chance of escaping that musical curse. So what does he do? He engages four different bands, four different musical concepts to collaborate with him on one side of the album each.
First up is Cherry Glazerr, a kind of woozy alt-country band that comes up with alcohol-drenched ditties like ‘(Who Selling You) Conspiracy?’ which sounds like a perfect country bar fare that you will probably never hear in a country bar.
Second in like are the legendary experimental jazz purveyors Chicago Underground Trio, reunited for this occasion after almost 20 years. Schlarb keeps the jazzers in a melodic check, and even adds vocals, turning them into some sort of experimental Bossa band, like on ‘Your Dreams Don’t Pay My Bills’.
Then its time for psych stalwarts The Dream Syndicate. As could be expected, Steve Wynn and his guys feel like fish in clear water with what Schlarb offers them to deal with. ‘Why Should I Wait?’ turning into one of the highlights here.
Still, the last participant(s), street poet Xololanxinxo, full orchestra, a double rhythm section, and a gospel choir bring the flight of Schlarb’s imagination and creativity to full light and makes you think have we finally got ourselves a double album with no fillers?