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Cave - Psychic Psummer

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Artist: Cave

Album: Psychic Psummer

Label: Important

Review date: Jun. 26, 2009

Chicago’s Cave belie their name somewhat, making music that’s far from the primitive sound one might imagine. The colorful, psychedelic artwork adorning the cover gives a better clue to the sounds inside. Cave lie somewhere between Stereolab and Trans Am, Oneida and

Electrelane, blending one part psych jams with one part post-punk buzz. The keyboards and guitars trade off as the focus while the rhythm section veers from kosmische syncopation to spacerock steadiness.

At just over half an hour, the six songs on Psychic Psummer barely constitute a full album, but they travel across a wide range of terrain. The opener starts off with an almost too-predictable kraut opening, repetitive guitar riff and humming synth, which then blasts into a much meatier and more energetic minute before the song settles down to business. Throughout the songs, the band keep very tight control of things, sometimes coming off like a more psychedelic version of Tortoise.

Rhythm and repetition are at the heart of this album, whether it’s the coordinated interlocking of guitar and keyboards with the drums and bass, or the concluding propulsion of "Requiem for John Sex," with a heavy riff bashing its way toward the heart of the sun.

On the calmer side, gentle keyboard washes and bell-like synths meander through the closing "Machines and Muscles", presumably titled for its combination of electronics and drums. The latter feature a military snare march that pops from side to side in stereo, as the layered keyboards build into a rhythmic arpeggio.

Psychic Psummer is an enjoyable album. But it remains to be seen, over repeated listens, whether it becomes more than the sum of its influences. The songs are a bit hard to get a handle on, but the fact that the 33 minutes seem to pass by too quickly indicates that Cave are on to something.

By Mason Jones

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