It was a pre-ordery kind of day; summer clouds buffeted in anticipation of something different, cricket menace chirping with the promise of something new. And an e-mail in-box creaking beneath so many alluring offers that you almost miss the only one that matters.
Sendelica play the United States of America.
Now, that would be a sight to see – as anyone who has already seen or heard them could tell you. We met Sendelica in these pages at the end of last year… we’ve met them a couple of times, in fact… and they’ve been busy as bees since then too. A new live album, recorded at the Fruits de Mer Crabstock festival, has been jammed inside the CD player for so long that it’s probably started breeding, and all manner of baby Sendelicky things will soon be squeezing through the cracks and sockets… this is why we prefer vinyl, you know. Less moving parts, less nooks and crannies, and you can watch your music while you listen, too.
Never trust a medium that hides away while it plays.
Okay, Live at Crabstock, six songs long on black or purple vinyl, but seven on CD, because the encore, “Spaceman Bubblegum,” went on for almost a quarter of an hour. There again, Sendelica songs rarely clock in at anything less than as-long-as-they-need-to-be, and in concert, Wales’s favorite freax just extend everything even further. Sixteen minutes of “Manhole of the Universe” might be my favorite track at the moment, but the band whom we once heard fermenting Eddie Hazel’s “Maggot Brain” across an early FdM 45 now pack “The Return of the Maggot Brain” too… and seriously. If you really need a review to tell you how great this band is, you need to get out more.
But it’s not a tour. Or even a gig. It is part of FdM’s upcoming extravagance, the Seven by Seven boxed set of beauties, the sound of late 1960s America in the hands of a host of modern day marauders. Over the next few weeks, Goldmine readers will be drawn behind the scenes of every one of them, so loosen your grussets, traddle your thrums, let your bossocks down… sorry, wrong flight of fancy. Sendelica sing Rambling Syd Rumpo must wait for another screaming, streaming, starlit night. But Sendelica sing the United States of America?
The brief of the box is basic. Seven (which turned out to be eight) classic psych bands, fourteen classic psych songs covered. FdM’s own website says it best: “some of our favourite bands on the label reinterpreting songs by some of the best bands that came out of the USA in the 60s. Woodstock, Monterey and all points East are revisited as The Bevis Frond and The Chemistry Set rubs shoulders with Clear Light and Love, Sendelica and The Higher State meet the United States of America and the 13th Floor Elevators….and much, much more.” Plus, the bands got to choose who they’d put through their paces, and Sendelica’s Pete Bingham explains his band’s choice.
“It was quite a tough call, so many amazing and pivotal bands in that era. I guess Velvet Underground popped into the head first but we had already done ‘Venus In Furs’ for an early FDM 7″. [Also], so many great bands from that era have been ‘covered’ endlessly…. possibly within an inch of theirs lives… so we thought to pick something that was, for us, very engaging and perhaps not as well known as they should be.
“It’s always great to turn people onto something that may have passed under their radar….. so Ladies & Gentleman we present to you the United States of America.”
Pioneers of avant-garde electronics in rock… New York noiseniks whose ranks, according to legend, were almost swelled by Nico at one point… savagely psyched but destined to cut just the one album before imploding around the sheer madness of trying to tour in the late 1960s with a van full of temperamental electronic equipment. All the highs in the world don’t help if your ring modulator’s gone for a burton.
But while they flapped, they were really flew and Sendelica are not the only band in recent years to have glanced in their direction… the late and so-lamented Broadcast, one of the most magical and memorable bands of the century so far, were heavily influenced by the United States of America, and what they drew from the New Yorkers’ remit is one of the things that Sendelica, too, have seized upon.
Tackling “Love Song for the Dead Che” – the b-side to the USofA’s sole single, the band was drawn to that “certain air of ‘other worldiness’” that permeated the original. “We wanted to push that element to the fore…. make it even more ethereal…. and I hope we succeeded in achieving that ambience.”
But there was another side to the band, less talked about among latter-day acolytes, but soaring through the scenery all the same. “With ‘Hard Coming Love’ we wanted to bring out the freakbeat element more… rockier, edgier, harder and in your phase with lots of Hendrix infused guitar and mad electronics.”
In other words… no, we don’t need more words. We need it to be mid-September, with the mailman marching up the path. Cos it’s a pre-ordery kind of day today, and you need to get right onto that….