Before we launch headlong into Day 2 at Eindhoven Psych Lab 2016mg, let’s rewind to just after the White Hills set, the night before.

Many of you, I know, like myself, suffer from that affliction known as vinyl-itis – a debilitating condition, which can strike unexpectedly, at the faintest whiff of a “limited edition”…

Having hooked up yesterday with fellow addict, Ron Van Schendel, in the flesh for the first time, we’d shared a good few beers and many a musicologist’s tale, on some of those rare specimens that had gotten away. Knowing that I’d secured an extremely rare, 1 of only 40 in existence, copy of The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol’s self-titled 2008 LP, and one that Ron was missing, I couldn’t but help mentioning this in jocular oneupmanship. So later, I find myself behind Ron at the White Hills merch table, both of us purchasing a cd copy of the tour edition series, ‘Oddity VIII: In Love… …But Not Comitted’, from the always effervescent Ego Sensation. To my utter delight, on checking the back cover, my copy reads, “LTD ED 1 of 50 copies”! Not wishing to let this go unheralded, I pursue Ron to the bar, gleefully waving this treasure under his now slightly out of joint nose – after all he had been in front of me in the queue – clearly the vinyl / cd god of random purchases, just loved me more. The best was yet to come. When I see Ron on the Saturday afternoon, it turns out that the cd copy he and everyone else has, all say, “LTD ED 1 of 50 copies”!!! I actually find this more satisfying than I did, thinking I had “number one” – I wish every band did this, sidestepping the pointlessness of it all. BRAVO Ron for taking me down a peg or two, and BRAVO White Hills for this commendable utopianism!

pjimage-2 copyImages by Patrick Spruytenburg fotografie

Experimental psychedelicist’s Statue with their, “Four electric guitars, bass and drums, instrumental, loud and beautiful. Numerous references to symphonic rock, noise, rock tout court, but also to repetitive music and a touch of TC Matic. Power, an epic wall of sound, in which each member is tight and disciplined. High-level interaction, mutual dialogue, erupting noise or fade-outs”, get proceedings underway. Their mellow vibe, the perfect antidote for banishing the night before’s cobwebs, a revitalising shot in the arm for all that is about to unfold…

As the event programme attests, Black Valleys meets OWOW Audio Test 006.epl16, “the alter ego of White Hills, combine the elements of performance art, film,and sound to create an encompassing visual and aural experience. At the festival they will work with a special set of instruments, made by the Eindhoven based company OWOW. The future is now!” Joining this spectacular is none other than Ahrkh Gnod – Alex Macarte. It’s a mesmerisingly immersive performance, one that really sets the tone for the remainder of this monu-mental, musical odyssey..

They say the camera never lies. Perhaps true, but it can result in certain misconceptions. In the case of Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, for whatever reason, having only ever seen photographs of Josefin, I had somehow imagined her to cut an imposingly statuesque presence. Somewhat reassuringly, in the flesh, Josefin is bordering on being mere mortal. Witnessing the standout performance of The Liberation live, one concludes it is Josefin’s otherworldly voice, that lends her a stature where, “(her) shadow’s taller than (her) soul”…

Ulrika Spacek were formed in Berlin and now reside in London. The band had this to say about their debut, ‘The Album Paranoia’ – “After returning to London from Berlin we began work on the record pretty quickly. This record is much indebted to the house we live in. Recording here enabled us to switch between Rhys’ room and the living room and we were able to work in short two or three day bursts. This is a very blurry time looking back, but I know we were productive, I hope the record reflects this. Around this time we started putting on our own nights under the name Oysterland. We’ve combined each one with a different art exhibition, and this is something we are going to continue to do – hopefully we can now do it in some new places”…

PAUW had been an eleventh hour cancellation at last year’s Lab. Thankfully this year they were firing on all cylinders, delivering in full on their promise, “With a savage drummer, a bombastic bassist, a mesmerizing keyboardist and a charismatic guitarist with dreamy vocals, PAUW takes you on a magical and unforgettable trip that will remain with many for a long time”…

10 000 Russos renew our recent trysts of Lisbon Psych Fest, Fuzz Club Fest and Reverence Valada. I am besotted with this trio’s unique sound, all underpinned by their down-to-earth good grace as thoughtful, questioning human beings. The urgency and raw talent of João, André and Pedro is equalled only by their warmth as individuals. This evening is yet another feather in their collective cap, their, “…obscure urban jams. Recalling the savage and repetitive progressions of Neu! and the longest and grimmest drones of Suicide, the marching heart-beat in the background gives the music the stomp of a solemn drumming ritual across the wastelands of the mind”…

Local heroes and event co-curators, Radar Men From The Moon, fresh from last night’s annihilation of the Observatory stage with co-conspiritors GNOD, fittingly ascend the Main Lab stage in their own right. Another band I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing on a number of occasions, RMFTM, like all artists of note, continue to evolve and push the boundaries. Boundaries which their latest album, ‘Subversive II’, continues to redefine. Sadly, there appears to be only this all too brief snippet of this year’s performance…

In counterpoint to the freneticism, Papir ease the pace a little. Their dissolving, translucent soundscapes, showcasing this, “young three-piece from Copenhagen, Denmark who has played together for years under various names while slowly, but surely, perfecting their unique brand of semi-improvisational psychedelic rock. Based around Christoffer Brøchmann’s complex and powerful drumming, Papir creates instrumental journeys – organic structures of sound that move forward with the hypnotic groove of CAN or electric Miles Davis through euphoric peaks, thunderous riffs and beautiful cosmic dronescapes”…

Flamingods, bring their multi-cultural talents to the fore – a band who, “like to make noise with instruments collected from around the world”. Their latest LP, ‘Majesty’, “was written and arranged with a conceptual narrative, cohesive both musically and lyrically, following the story of protagonist Yuka on his journey of enlightenment. The record is split in two, morning/light/good and evening/dark/evil that unravels track-by-track as the record plays out”…

The Germans sate their exotic appetite for performance art on the Observatory stage, with an enigmatic free form delivery, here with a track from a gig in Gent…

Montreal’s No Joy deliver an up tempo, brash set of simmering shoegaze, here with a track from a recent gig in Liège…

GNOD define (r)evolution. Each live incursion in their presence, cleanses and revitalises the senses. The ritualistic stripping away of preconception, is rewarded with soul-nourishing conviction. GNOD have perfected the interactionist coup d’œil. I recently reviewed the latest album ‘Mirror‘, which redefines their crystalline essence. If GNOD haven’t left your cerebral cortex glowing, you have sadly missed the point. Tonight’s feral, rabid re-imagining of ‘Spaced Man’, says it all…

With no let up whatsoever, it’s straight on to Föllakzoid in the Main Lab. Another band of humanoids I’ve been fortunate to catch a few times, another band guaranteed to blow your head clean off! The loping gait of these guys at full tilt has been seven years in the making, starting out, “as a trance experience between childhood friends Diego, Juan Pablo, and Domingo from Santiago, Chile. Heavily informed by the heritage of the ancient music of the Andes, the band has learned to integrate this influence with contemporary sounds of their times, creating a rich yet minimal atmosphere.” Revere the bounce, honour the Strob and just try to keep still – I dare you…

The Mystery Lights concluded their european tour in Eindhoven. Their, “Secular garage rock for the boys & girls”, seems to hit the spot tonight. The gig is the perfect showcase for the tunes that make up the bulk of their forthcoming, self-titled debut album. Hailing originally from California, the now New York based band deliver soaring 60’s fringed garage sound, with just the right dash of swaggering menace. Here is a track from the same tour, performed in Nîmes…

I genuinely didn’t think I’d be fortunate enough, to have this opportunity again. I had made the pilgrimage to Liverpool Psych Fest in 2014, primarily to see Goat on a small-ish indoor stage, believing that their galloping reputation, would mean that high-profile slots at the likes of Glastonbury and Roskilde, might become as good as it would get, outside their native Sweden. When it was announced that I would get to be reacquainted in my beloved De Effenaar, I was ecstatic. As things panned out, I also graduated from the second row in the heaving crowd in Liverpool, to a front-row berth, centre-stage, in the all together more civilised reverie of Eindhoven. Goat are mesmerising to see and hear. An observation that applies to many of the bands here this weekend, is that you can choose any band member, home in on their individual performance, and just revel in their ability. This seems particularly true of Goat, each component is an integral part of the communal hive, each elemental force celebrated with holistic abandon. Being front and centre, I was rewarded when a feather, dislodged itself from the headdress of the green & orange dervish before me, and landed unexpectedly in the palm of my hand. The cerebral connection, cemented in this physical voodoo exchange…

There was just no way of following Goat and I bailed shortly afterwards, so I apologise to The Audacity and their, “FTT punky fun stuff”, (here’s a track from the same tour in Madrid)…

And to the sparse, reverberating electronic washes of Svper

And finally to the, “Garage/Psych/Surf” of Iguana Death Cult, I’ll hopefully catch you all out there again in the not too distant…

All that remains is for me to thank each and every one, for making this the landmark event it truly was.

The bands were incredible, the organisation was impeccable. I was even grateful for the unscheduled delay on the Friday, as this afforded a relaxed opportunity to say many, many beer-drenched hellos!

Hello to those I didn’t make it to.

Every now and again, the spectre of discontent rears it’s ugly head – suggesting that the “psych” “scene” is courting it’s own downfall, with increasingly frequent incursions from the mainstream. This is always an unfortunate side effect to anything, “successful” for more than it’s allotted “15 minutes of fame”. Thankfully, it only applies to the vapid attention seekers. Those intent on labelling and pigeon-holing. It has no place nor need for concern, among the true artists, those developing their craft and pushing the envelope. Fear not psychonauts, Eindhoven Psych Lab 2016 confirmed, for any doubting Thomas’ out there, that the underground is, and will continue in extremely rude health, for as long as there are enough of us around to cherish and nurture it.

In many ways, the sign of a great festival, is the time it takes to descend from the lofty peak it has deposited you on – hence the 3 week lull in preparing these scribbled lines!

Nothing compares to the live experience, live life.. live it live…