THOUGH THE TERM is soaked in formaldehyde, psychedelia has undergone something of a recent revival thanks to the Flaming Lips, bands in the Elephant 6 collective, resurgent interest in Krautrock and Tropicália, and the Australian fanzine Ptolemaic Terrascope's annual Terrastock festival. But while the media have looked to Athens, Georgia--Elephant 6 headquarters--as a focal point, hard-core fans of the form have long pointed to Philadelphia as America's psych capital, an assertion backed up impressively with this fine, if somewhat old-fashioned, ten-band collection.
Since psychedelic rock has more variants than a Fillmore West poster has colors, Sounds of Psychedelphia is appropriately diverse, ranging from whimsical, 13th Floor Elevators-esque garage grunge to Kraut-flavored, oceanic sprawl. Azusa Plane serves up some Indian-flavored musique concrète, and the Photon Band, Three 4 Tens, and Lenola contribute charming, Nugget-y pop songs. But, as seems appropriate to a music groping toward the future, the best bands here are rooted in developments that postdate the Sixties: Intro to India and Slumber blanket their wispy vocals inside sheets of distortion à la Spacemen 3, while Transient Waves let their My Bloody Valentine-style feedback sandstorm do the talking. It may not be the wave of the future, but if you're looking for some contemporary consciousness-expansion, it'll do just fine.
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