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Various Artists: Fruits de Mer/Static Caravan split 7” EP (2016)

UK labels Fruits de Mer Records and Static Caravan are both, as far as I can tell, established labels within their respective niches. In late 2016 they decided to release a split EP, featuring two artists from each of their rosters. A different kind of split release, and one deemed interesting enough to sell out on pre-orders alone at that.

From the Static Caravan label the artists Art of the Memory Palace and Cheval Sombre are represented. The first providing what I’d generally describe as a richly layered, psychedelic pop song, sporting cosmic sounds, layered keyboards and a steady rhythm backbone. A creation combing the aesthetics of new wave, psychedelic rock and space rock, at least to my ears. Cheval Sombre is more of a lo-fi folk oriented ensemble, in this case at least, with an almost whispered lead vocal that is distant and with incoherent aspects to it on top of a sparse acoustic guitar motif, expanding into a melancholic laden affair with accordion and cello added in, and then returning to the opening premises again.

From Fruits de Mer Records Jack Ellister and The Insektlife Cycle are represented. The former with a pop-oriented psychedelic rock song that in many ways comes across as a good companion track to Art of the Memory Palace’s track, but with vocals and perhaps a stronger touch of synth pop to it. The vocal style and psychedelic guitar effects used reminded me quite a lot of US artist Jeremy Morris actually, but as explored within a synth pop overall context. The Insektlife Cycle concludes this EP with a more distinct rock oriented slice of instrumental psychedelic rock, alternating between sparse plucked guitar arrangements and richer, more chaotic guitar lick and riff based ones, complete with strong associations towards late 60’s instrumental psychedelic rock with, perhaps a slight improvisation feel to it.

While not all the contributions here added up to to material of the kind that amazed me, the more pop-oriented, keyboards dominated tracks from Art of the Memory and Jack Ellister respectively are in my view good reasons in themselves to seek out this EP, perhaps first and foremost if you enjoy psychedelic rock explored with this kind of orientation as well as, at least to some extent, also explored within those confines.

My rating: 7/10

Track list:
Art of the Memory Palace: First Flight Hymnal Collapse
Cheval Sombre: A Change Is Gonna Come
Jack Ellister: Reminder
The Insektlife Cycle: Sleep Crawler

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