I was meant to witness the ceremonial happening, that was Lisbon Psych Fest 2016, a détournement, accessed via this Port(ug)al, perched on the rugged edge of the European mainland…

I was meant to meet, event organiser’s, Tommy Andrews and Luis Santos at Reverence Valada last year; meant to be at Reverence Valada last year to interview Purple Heart Parade; meant to have become acquainted with Purple Heart Parade, so that they in turn could direct me toward Helicon; meant to have encountered Helicon, in order to have closed this particular circle with François Sky – he who introduced me to Reverence Valada in the first place…

Thanks to all of these fine individuals, not only did I find my way to Lisbon Psych Fest 2016, but my ‘chromaticism’ logo, found it’s way onto the event posters, it’s even being projected onto the stage backdrop – clearly, this was all meant to be.

Friday the 15th of April, and I am up at the god unknown hour of 02:30 – to begin my pilgrimage, via a two hour drive to Dublin and connecting flight, arriving in Lisbon around 09:30.

I had the perfect soundtrack lined up for the drive. A few week’s earlier, unexpectedly out of the blue, a birthday present had arrived from one Bob Darlington. #14/30 of the White Hills‘ ‘Oddity VI: Slogans‘ – “compiled of tracks that were thought to have been lost, but recently resurfaced. First pressing is limited to 30 hand numbered copies specifically made for the fall 2015 EuroTour”.

I’ve always loved how music, can teleport you back to another you in another place, ‘Rich Textural Union (In Three Phases… Scorched Moon, Midnight Blue, Spent Fire)‘, did just that. It’s faint, distant echoes of The KLF , had me watching the sunrise, somewhere on the A838 between Inverness and Cape Wrath, twenty years earlier… “And from somewhere, I hear”… ‘Madrugada Eterna‘ colliding with ‘Build A Fire‘… Rousing, goosebump inducing stuff indeed…

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For the first time ever, I sleep through the take off and awake an hour and a half into the journey – this is the sort of time travel I could become accustomed to.

I’d found a hostel, literally 3 minutes walk from the Teatro do Bairro, our venue for the weekend, a former print works in the heart of the Upper District of central Lisbon. Fortunately, when I’d arrived at the ‘Inn Bairro Alto‘, just before lunchtime, knowing that The Underground Youth were due to close proceedings that day “around” 03:15, I elected to top up on my sleep and caught a few hours shut-eye.

When I arrived at the venue, serendipity had me meeting 10 000 Russos on the doorstep – their scheduled sound-check slot of 14:00, already an hour and a half adrift from the programme. I got the sense that the late night, and drive from their hometown gig in Porto, the night before, had left them in no particular rush. This suited me just fine, and I spent the next leisurely 5 hours, basking in the glow of their congenial company.

Events like these are all about the individuals who make up these events. The shared passions and common ground are readily apparent, the camaraderie and vision, as vital to proceedings as the music, which provides the ritual soundtrack.

Dive in and enjoy this humble, blog-bound, multi-media immersion…

Ganso  photographs by chromaticism

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Ganso are the first band to hit the stage, the Teatro do Bairro swelling nicely with “psych” aficionados. These local hero “geese” are new to me, but they acquit themselves well with their Floydian excursions, set against a backdrop of archive aero footage. The stand-out track, from one of the many setlists obtained by the indefatigable Le Crowley, is ‘Pistoleiro‘ which the band recently performed on BalconyTV

Sun Blossoms photographs by chromaticism

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Following a suitably welcome interval in which to say hello to the aforementioned Le and Duncan Comrie, Sun Blossoms are next in the frame. Essentially a vehicle for the many talents of Alex Fernandes, the trio on stage slowly unwrap their up-tempo brand of, “Noisy rock and trippy pop with psychedelic roots that flourishes in slow motion in your echo chamber”, for which they have garnered rave local reviews. Here is their opening track on the night, ‘Flower Eyes‘…

Chui Wan photographs by chromaticism

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Another beer and a hug for Lee Winter later, and it’s the turn of Chui Wan, all the way from Beijing, to bring us their “four-piece experimental psychedelic rock”. Yan Yulong (vocal, guitar,violin), Wu Qiong (bass,vocal), Liu Xinyu (guitar, percussion) and Li Zichao (drums), quite literally take us on a journey. The novel railway-themed backdrop projection, transports the crowd, on this motorik-jazz themed excursion. Here is a flavour with their set-closing track, ‘Beijing Is Sinking‘…

Chicos de Nazca photographs by chromaticismpjimage copy 7

Chicos de Nazca, were a band who had left a fine impression on me, at last year’s Reverence Valada. Writing at the time, I said, “Chileans, Chicos de Nazca are perhaps the first distinctively “psychedelic” sounding band to hit the stage, the echo drenched voluminous sound of these boys from the Andean foothills, reverberates through this leafy glade, floating on along the banks of the Tejo River. The hints of eeriness to their sound compliments the now all encompassing cloak of darkness.” Since then, the band’s ranks have been swollen with the inclusion of drummer Adrian Bang, sometime François Sky collaborator – those concentric circles, just can’t help themselves from overlapping. Tonight’s set has an accomplished polish, and sense of urgency to it. With new songs and an album in progress, Berlin based Chicos de Nazca are a band you will be hearing more about, mark my words. Here, in their former line-up, (sorry, can’t find an up to date video link!), is a track from their setlist that Friday evening, ‘I Wanna Bring You Here‘…

10 000 Russos photographs by chromaticism

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10 000 Russos are just one of those bands who manage to press all my buttons, individually and simultaneously! I have waxed lyrical about these guys quite a few times now, you can follow this link to read some more. Suffice to say that on the night, their set was one the local scene had been eagerly anticipating – the Teatro do Bairro, now filled to capacity, was treated to a virtuoso performance with a few new tracks, effortlessly and seamlessly flowing into the mix. 10 000 Russos posses that rare quality, which transforms each gig into a proclamation of aural enlightenment. I really just can’t get enough of this trio, and am very much looking forward to hooking up with them again at Eindhoven Psych Lab. Here is their track, ‘Baden Baden Baden‘, lifted from a previous encounter, at last year’s Fuzz Club Festival…

The Underground Youth photographs by chromaticism

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The Underground Youth are another band, I am delighted to have now witnessed a number of times. To say that they go from strength to strength would be an understatement in the extreme. Despite some early sound issues, the band plough ahead, firing on all cylinders, like the well oiled machine a live encounter with them, now ensures. It was cool to catch a few words with Craig earlier in the day, and to hear that the move to Berlin was proving fruitful and enjoyable. Tonight sees The Underground Youth almost a quarter of the way through a 40 date jaunt around Europe, and their trademark sound is one the locals clearly adore. The recent physical release of ‘Mademoiselle had me opining that it, “underscores The Underground Youth’s ability, to pen sublime tracks with a brooding timbre, given to soaring flights of majesty.” Tonight is no exception to this rule, you just had to be there, to be enveloped in the spectacle – here is the next best thing, a raw, uncompromising recording of ‘Rules Of Attraction‘, from the gig in Paris, just the other night…

By now it was 04:30-ish and the preceding hours were taking a hefty toll – the prospect of more of the same for the Saturday night, had me beating a hasty retreat for the comfort of my welcoming bed.

An idiosyncrasy of my accommodation, was that the shared toilet and shower was located in the entrance lobby… on the other side of the dining area! Try as I might to get as much sleep as possible, the clatter and aromas snaking under my door had me fully awake around 09:30, nowhere near the 8 hours of slumber I’ve become addicted to. Submitting to the inevitable, I succumbed to a visit to the toilet, via the breakfast area, in the pyjamas I had thankfully remembered to pack. Seizing the opportunity of this unfamiliar arrangement, I chose to defy convention and opt for breakfast in my pyjamas too – no one seemed to notice, or mind or care. This proved a successful strategy as an hour or so later, I was fast asleep again – this time armed with the resolve of seeing GNOD sound-check at 13:00, followed by a bit of a chin-wag with them, before heading back for some dinner, packing to leave in the morning, and hopefully a further 40 winks before the charabanc hit the road again with Twin Transistors at 21:30…

Arriving at the venue around 13:30, it was soon apparent that GNOD were nowhere to be seen, or heard for that matter. It transpired that they were delayed on the road and were at least an hour away – so much for my best laid plans! What this did do however, was allow the opportunity of talking to Tommy, Luis and the other event organisers – all of whom were rightly pleased, with the fruits of their labours the night before. Much like with me though, sleep deprivation was beginning to play it’s part in the proceedings.

By the time GNOD do arrive, unpack, set-up and sound-check, dinner time is nearly upon us. If the promise of the double drum set-up, and the crushing output of GNOD’s sound-check, with this excerpt from ‘Learn To Forgive‘ is anything to go by – it’s going to be another EPIC evening…

#gnod #ingodwetrust #lisbonpsychfest #chromaticism GNOD sound check Lisbon Psych Fest…

A video posted by chromaticism (@chromaticism_revolutions) on

All too soon it’s time for Twin Transistors to storm the stage, I have that nagging, dull tug in the back of my brain, telling me this will all be over in the morning, and I’ll be on my way home to Ireland, long before I’m ready…

When I arrive at the venue, there is an inviting, free, front row chair, centre stage on the upper balcony – it’s allure proves irresistible, and my by now weary limbs thank me for the respite. This does sadly have a knock-on effect, on the number and quality of images I am able to obtain from this static vantage point, so apologies in advance, for the following pics not being to the same high standard as Friday night…

Twin Transistors photographs by chromaticism

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Twin Transistors from central Portugal, are a new and welcome addition to my listening experience – their mellow, hypnotic groove proves the ideal aperitif, for getting Lisbon Psych Fest day 2 underway. The band’s website bio informs, “Founded by two members of the Allstar Project, The Twin Transistor’s sound was initially characterized by synthesizers and keyboards, having been heavily influenced by Sonic Boom/Spectrum, LCD Soundsystem and also incorporated hints of experimentalism. Between 2009 and 2013, several members came and went, and it was only in 2014 that the band coalesced into its current line-up. With its new members, the sound has evolved into psychedelia in song form, with influences of Spaceman3, Spiritualized and Brian Jonestown Massacre. Their first live video “Stell” was recorded live on a GoPro, with 16 tracks and no overdubs”. From their set that night, this is that track. ‘Stell‘…

Alek Rein photographs by chromaticism

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Alek Rein is an artist I only know through the association with Dreamweapon – the band formed by André Couto, bassist with 10 000 Russos. Alek’s bio makes for an interesting read, “Alek Rein is the name of a heteronym Alexander Rendeiro, multidisciplinary artist born in the US who now lives and works in Lisbon. If Rein is the author of the songs, Rendeiro states as an interpreter of the same, as ambassador to work “reiniana” in this universe. However, the similarity between the two double names points to one of the issues of authorship and hermeneutics: what is an interpretation but the construction of a new representation? The interpreter hardly fail to exercise their authority over the work performed. The songs Alek Rein, buoyed between confession, protest and dream appear as tax anthology utopia of freedom. By drinking both the protest song as mystic psychedelia escapism, the project aligns with the tradition of folk psychedelia Anglo-Saxon. In addition to the EP Gemini 2010 and performances solo of recent years, Alek Rein project now has a legal version where the voice and Alexandre Rendeirosão guitar accompanied by bass William Cannon (Sunflare, Tigrala, former Lobster) and battery Luís Barros (dreamweapon, Cochaise)”. I am fairly certain I had Alek’s Dad sitting next to me, his support and enthusiasm was infectious! From that night’s setlist, here is an earlier incarnation of, ‘Vermillion Bird of the South‘…

You Said Strange photographs by chromaticism

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You Said Strange bring a French, and literally kaleidoscopic flavour to proceedings. Eliot, Matthieu, Martin, Paul and Hector from Vernon, Haute-Normandie, serve up a veritable aural and visual, “Indie psych Rock/shoegazing” feast. There is an effervescent, feel good factor at work here, a tangible and perceptible uplift in the auras of the gathered faithful. You Said Strange ramp up the expectation levels for the remainder of the evening, this is their opening track, ‘Brain‘…

TAU photographs by chromaticism

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Tau are the first instalment, in a closing, Irish-themed triumvirate – perhaps intentional on the part of the organisers, or perhaps merely a result of a cosmic, acausal connecting principle… Either way, sometime Dead Skeleton Shaun Nunutzi, commands the stage with all the presence of the Pooka – a folkloric Celtic faery. Partnered by Venezuelan multi instrumentalist Gerald Pasqualin, the pair immediately set about transporting the assembled on a spiritual awakening, soaring on condor wings, high above the west Mexican Real de Catorce. This is pure elatory escapism of the highest order, amplified in, ” the deeply psychedelic mind-trip EP entitled “Wirikuta“, which is the indigenous name for land. He (Shaun) says of his time there, “Spending time in places like these awaken the senses, make you feel connected to the earth, something that everyone yearns for. We have time to think and let intuition flow a bit, which goes hand in hand with the creative process.”  Shaun implores the crowd to transcend – it is a psychedelic festival after all, he reminds us. You can read my review of the EP here. Listen below to the setlist track, ‘Venado Azul‘…

The Altered Hours photographs by chromaticismpjimage-2 copy 2

The Altered Hours are a band I first saw a few year’s back, when they supported The Brian Jonestown Massacre in Dublin. As an unknown quantity to me then, I was more than impressed with the vim and vigour, they brought to their set that night. Best of all, they didn’t seem in the least bit phased – by the crowd or the headliners. If TAU represented the escapism of the Irish diaspora, The Altered Hours are forged in it’s boomtown, angst-ridden zeitgeist. There is a post-punk edginess and drive to tonight’s set, a ceaseless energy that sees Cathal, Elaine, Nora, Patrick and Kevin, blaze a trail, all too quickly through this gig. It has been a source of irritation to me, that I’ve missed The Altered Hours on various occasions, on the strength of tonight’s showing, it is a situation that I fully intend to banish once and for all. Here are another band I guarantee you will be hearing more from. I can only echo the words from their FB page, “The Altered Hours exist in a swirl of the psychedelic and hypnotic. Their live shows are known for their intensity and the band’s ability to envelop both themselves and the crowd in their sound. The group have toured Ireland, the UK and Europe and have been warmly received by people who love music” Here is the track ‘Dig Early‘ from that evening’s setlist, this clip is from a recent gig in Paris…

GNOD photographs by chromaticism

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GNOD! Fucking GNOD! I’d been waiting since November 20th 2014, and the GNODOROWSKY event at Cork Film Festival, to reignite this tryst… If TAU are about the escapism, and The Altered Hours about the boomtown-angst, then GNOD and particularly, their Hydra-like figurehead Paddy Shine, are the embodiment of Cúchulainn’s warp-spasm. GNOD truly are a “happening” in every sense of the word, combined with a “human be-in” – you FEEL them, just as much as you see or hear them. I recently reviewed their latest album ‘Mirror‘, which you can read here. If we really do, as Robert Anton Wilson suggested, inhabit our own, “self-referential reality tunnel”, then I can only thank my lucky stars, that GNOD occupy that temporal conduit with me. I am already grinning like a demented Cheshire Cat, at the prospect of this year’s Eindhoven Psych Lab which boasts, ‘RMFTM meets GNOD: Temple ov BBV (Audio Test 005.epl16). I saw this pairing deliver an incendiary, synapse shredding, impromptu collaboration, along with Terminal Cheesecake, at the inaugural Psych Lab – just what they are going to come up with, following some detailed planning, is anyone’s diabolikal guess! From GNOD’s Lisbon Psych Fest closing setlist, here is their video for the track, ‘Mirror‘…

All too soon Lisbon Psych Fest 2016 comes to a shuddering climax. It is amazing though, what you can fit in to 48 hours in this, the oldest Western European City. Lisbon’s chequered, cosmopolitan history, stokes it’s simmering, cultural melting pot. Alan Moore’s “ideaspace”, forever etched into the collective urban Noosphere. There was already something about the people, and now the place, that draws me like a moth, inexorably back to it’s Situationist psychogeography.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Killer Mathilde and Lisbon Psych Fest, from the bands to the organisers, to the crowd, the faces old and new, to the tireless venue staff, who all combined to make this a truly memorable experience – a connection and legacy I hope to renew, next year…

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