There was some local writer here in Columbus who called Times New Viking the most polarizing band of the year. Of course, he was wrong. That band would be Psychedelic Horseshit, the Hüsker Dü to TNV’s Replacements or, to use a more current example, the Brian Jonestown Massacre to TNV’s Dandy Warhols. This ragtag outfit leaves no middle ground; their recorded in a vacuum, lo-fi cadence has drawn a line in the sand, with listeners either firmly on their side of it or not daring to come anywhere near crossing. They’ve been both heralded as progenitors of a new renaissance of DIY aspiration and castigated as pure, er, shit. Having assigned what was probably the first article on the band two years ago (that feature being written by Agit associate editor Kevin Elliott), there’s no question which side of the divide I fall on, and it’s with a certain amount of glee that I’ve watched as the band has instigated a good deal of head-scratching as well as tongue-wagging.
Let the naysayers neigh, but as Psychedelic Horseshit’s Siltbreeze debut, Magic Flowers Droned demonstrated, this isn’t a band of simpletons incapable of conforming to sonic standards, but rather whiz kids hell bent on bending tone, melody and dissonance to their own standards. Lead Horse Matt Whitehurst has been digesting the whole of pop music and is now regurgitating it in his own image. Further evidence of this are two new UK releases, the “New Wave Hippies” 7-inch on Half Machine and Magic Flowers Dubbed on Bumtapes. Despite its title, the latter isn’t exactly a bunch of Scratch Perry remixes. Rather, “Catch a Wave” is a surf-song reborn as gospel drenched in holy din. “Rather Dub,” conceivably a remix of “Rather Dull,” is instead re-sculpted into an instrumental, a crumbling wall of sound hardly resembling that track. Similarly, “Bob Dylan’s 42nd Annual Report,” is a sprawling bout of warped electronics and fed-back guitar eventually leading to a chicken-scratched folk song. It’s not exactly the wonder stuff of the band’s debut, but if anything it reveals some of the deliberateness of the band’s approach and its capability to deconstruct itself as it deconstructs its influences.
The under-a-minute leadoff to “New Wave Hippies” is actually more reflective of its “Dub Gazel” title, a quick venture into reggae riddim, while the rest of the single resembles the record’s namesake. “Portals (5am Demo)” presents the album track in a more—if you can believe it—barebones form, while “Silent Speed” is another cut of jerked folk. “Magick Defends Itself” is closer in tone to the cassette, though, a shapeshifting mix of effect and minor chords.What’s clearly evident from these records—and from the band’s recent live shows—is a certain restlessness. The act of creation being as important as the end result, Psychedelic Horseshit is willing to deal with a little flotsam and jetsam amongst the nettles. And so am I.