We’re glad to announce that The London, United Kingdom-based cult psychedelic band The Chemistry Set are releasing a new album on June 5th, entitled Pink Felt Trip.
The Chemistry Set are comprised of Psychedelic Scientists Dave Mclean & Paul Lake. Founded by the duo in 1987, the band are veterans of the alternative Manchester label Imaginary and cassette-only label Acid Tapes, and helped pioneer the late 1980s UK neo-psychedelic boom.
Counting the legendary John Peel as a fan (Peel even sent the band a hand-written fan letter!), The Chemistry Set have also appeared on Factory Records boss Tony Wilson’s TV show and were in the Indie Top 20. They’ve received excellent reviews, articles and broadcast in media such as The Sunday Times, Mojo, Q, Shindig, Record Collector, Prog, Classic Rock, and the BBC; and have appeared as well in cult underground fanzines like Bucketful of Brains and Freakbeat in the UK, The Bob in the USA, Ruta 66 in Spain, and Sound Effects in Sweden.
Renowned for their sophisticated, original songcraft as well as their uncanny ability to interpret often obscure (but always classic) psychedelic songs with unparalleled cover versions, The Chemistry Set have taken some the most lysergic works of The Pink Floyd, Love, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Rolling Stones, Del Shannon, The Moody Blues, Tomorrow, and more to wonderful and unexpected places.
Now the Psychedelic Scientists are celebrating their 35th anniversary in 2022 with a new album, Pink Felt Trip, which will be released on June 5th on the Fruits de Mer label—marking their 61st release. The front cover of the album is in the style of the 1960’s psychedelic concert poster designer Victor Moscoso, and was designed by the Swedish designer Robin Gnista (who has also created designs for John Cale, The Pretty Things, Levitation Festival, Television and The Black Angels). A special limited edition 12” vinyl for the album will be available with a real pink fuzzy felt cover (feel the felt!) with pink felt bubble-gum, posters, artwork and a bonus CD.
Although the album is unashamedly psychedelic, it draws from a wide diversity of sounds, showcasing The Chemistry Sets’ far-reaching influences in the psychedelic spheres. The upbeat title track begins Pink Felt Trip with catchy electric guitar chord progressions and a driving beat, creating a perfect dynamic and propulsive sound to highlight the track’s creative lyrical passages, bringing to mind influential artists such as Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. “Pink Felt Trip” is also accompanied by an official music video, which you can watch here:
The second track is a cover of Mark Fry’s 1972 acid-folk cult classic “The Witch.” The Chemistry Set have given the song an ingenious twist, with a Gregorian Chant intro taken from The Bee Gee’s acid-drenched 1967 song “Every Christian Lion-Hearted Soldier.” Mellotron flutes, Iranian setar and acoustic guitars combine wonderfully in this cover, initially creating a vibe not unlike that of the original version of the song. However, the track later heads in a decidedly trippier, sonically dense direction that may bring to mind the ‘60s acid rock sound of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” “The Witch” is accompanied by an official music video as well, which you can watch here:
“Lovely Cuppa Tea” has a more upbeat, whimsical mood driven by bright acoustic guitar chord progressions and electric guitar melodies punctuated by the horns and percussion, while imbued with the English humor characteristic of The Kinks or Blossom Toes. In contrast, the fuzz-laden guitars and electric organ trading off leads throughout “FireFly”’s Eastern-tinged melodic passages bring about a heavier shade of psychedelia, with a mind-expanding phaser- or flanger effect eventually bringing the track to a brilliantly trippy conclusion.
“Psychotronic Man” then conveys a primarily introspective mood, and like the previous track, involves Eastern-inspired melodies, with acoustic guitar-led passages and dynamic percussion rhythms bringing about an ethereal gentleness to perfectly combine with the track’s reflective vocal melodies; while samples from a film or radio broadcast add further to the track’s evocative atmosphere later in the track. The next song, “Paint Me A Dream,” has a more upbeat, propulsive sound created by driving rhythms and potent guitar melodies, which along with its memorable vocal melodies create a compellingly dreamy mood.
“Sail Away” then begins with a bluesy electric guitar riff highlighted by a bright acoustic guitar chord progression; while tabla percussion rhythms then join in along with soaring vocals, bringing about a pleasant floating feeling, which is later heightened by a searing electric guitar solo. The next track, “The Rubicon,” has an uplifting classic rock sound driven by a powerful electric guitar riff, with fuzzy guitar leads and retro-sounding electric keyboard melodies adding further to the track’s superb retro rock groove.
“Self-Expression Trinity” then concludes the album; and as its title suggests, is composed of three distinct movements. The first, “Cesar Manrique,” is a tribute to the great Spanish surrealist artist; a bold Moody Blues-esque orchestral piece, its mellotron, piano, gongs, choirs and orchestral percussion initiate the listener with a prog-like sense of grandiosity. Then the second and third movements, “Once Upon a Time” and “Liberation” explore the themes of freedom and self-expression, closing the album with their classic psychedelic melodies and amazingly beautiful guitar work.
Considering The Chemistry Set’s veteran presence and cult status in the psychedelic rock scene, it comes as no surprise that the album marking their 35th anniversary is a highly enjoyable and thoroughly impressive work. Steeped in a multitude of psychedelia inspirations, Pink Felt Trip is both a testament to the UK duo’s compellingly refined songwriting as well as to their exceptional ability to bring retro psychedelic sounds to extraordinary new heights.
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