It’s rare that I find myself pining after a new bands record so much, but after hearing Turtle Skull‘s first single from their self titled record Eden I was hitting the refresh button on our review list until this beauty popped up, ready for my love. And love it gets, this fuzztacular spectacle meanders through sonic layers and hits me on every wavelength imaginable. Turtle Skull is being released on one of my favourite labels of this moment, Art Is Catharsis, which also presented me with one of my top 5’s of 2017 Opium Eater and have got me hooked on Lack The Low‘s prog-pop mastery of late too.
Back to the record at hand, Turtle Skull play a slick psychedelic rock, which edges on the more shoegazy side of doom, this immense wall of fuzz dropping in and out of their songs effortlessly. I’d certainly put this record in the same ballpark as Weedpecker, Somali Yacht Club and surprisingly for myself Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The album itself comprises of 4 wonderfully crafted 6-9 minute epics, which fully suck the listener into their dreamy mixes. It’s a summer wonder, and one I’ve lovingly consumed over a scorching bank holiday weekend here in the UK, and can only imagine the jams to be had in the land down under, where the quintet hail from.
The first song “No News is Bad News” opens with a really chunky fuzz that my brain first attributed to countrymen Elbrus‘ song “Far Away And Into Space”, but instead of holding that note and switching into thundering blues doom, Turtle Skull drop down into a beat that is almost a mantra of sorts. Hanging in the background seems to be this ethereal fuzz, the layers oh so important in this brilliant mix. The layers themselves are not in the slightest bit complex, but the arrangement of them is worked in with panache. I can only imagine the number of pedals and effects being used on the guitars, but for long sections of the song, Turtle Skull melt your brain with incredible loops. The climax of the song isn’t reached with your usual bombastic crescendo, instead the multifarious tonal elements consume the listener and build up to the mood of the following tracks.
“Take It Or Leave It” is a significantly different song in style. This is a true psychy one, but more so in the fact it’s very repetitive and droney, allowing the listener to fully slip into a musical dream. The drums keep a steady beat, whilst the trippy fuzz rolls around your ears. Although not as intense as Psychic Lemon, I certainly draw comparisons in the style of the two bands, this mercilessly drawn out psych out. Even when the layers seem to die down, you get the emergence of another new sound to listen to. In this case, Turtle Skull bring in synths which gently rise up through the mix to become a full feature in the sound. This song was gorgeous when I was longboarding to work this week, its smooth escalation to a sonic cuddle ideal perfect for the combination of cool breeze and roasting sun.
I really fucking love the vocals in this album. Whilst Dean McLeod does remind me greatly of Peter Hayes from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (no means a bad thing), he has a smoother, more rounded voice, which glows with trippiness, whilst also being powerful enough to break through this waterfall of fuzz that surrounds him. But when he stops singing and goes hard on his guitar, like during the amazing instrumental breakdown midway through “Eden”, you gain even more respect for a band who play both sides perfectly. This section feels like you’ve just broken the 4th wall thanks to the combination of AK-47 bud, DMT and cat hair, pulled through week old bong water. And it’s so perfect. This whole song is brilliant from start to finish and I urge our readers to check it out prior to the records launch.
The last track is wonderfully chilled out, yet it doesn’t need to substitute layers to do so. It’s quality and quantity at the same time, something hard to pull off in this genre, without obfuscating the mix. In this song the bass really shines, it’s dull, luscious tones taking centre stage in a whirlwind of fuzz, paced drums and dreamy synths. The album clicked first time, but I’m enjoying it more and more with each spin. It has replayability in bunches and makes you want more of the same, and I’ve revisited a lot of the aforementioned artists since picking up this treasure. It’s up in the mix for favourite records of the year, and I’ll be surprised if these guys don’t pick up a lot of traction in not only the psych rock scene, but the alternative rock scene as well.
FFO: Elbrus, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Weedpecker
Notable Tracks: “Eden”, “Empty Ships”, “Take It Or Leave It”