Often bracketed among the latest wave of psychedelic rock, this tag is somewhat of a misnomer for a band whose use of repetition and reverb is not to open the third dimension or for some sort of flower-power escapism. Instead the reel feels cathartic, each fresh revolution of the loop a confrontation between the band and themes of depression, loss and anger -subjects close to the heart of the group’s vocalist MJ (“no enigma; we just don’t use our full names, we’ve no interest in being celebrities.”) Pearl Mystic is an absolutely thunderous statement of intent for Hookworms after a portentous couple of years of live shows and limited releases. Live and on record, like Spaceman 3, they were pointedly subvert the tripped out sound environments of psychedelia with a darkly malevolent punk menace; unlike J.Spaceman et al, there’s no chemical assistance, these concepts andfeelings come with clarity, and hit all the harder for it. The LP’s themes focus on a deeply personal narrative surrounding a lost relationship and a battle with depression that at its worst brought about, as MJ, puts it “a half-hearted suicide attempt”. Thus songs like Away / Towards (a finer opening to an album you couldn’t hope to hear) possess a gargantuan build-and-release infectious energy that juxtaposes with a subtext of a bi-polar approach to coping with loss. Preservation, too, is in keeping with the group’s live shows, though deals with existentialism, whilst several Raymond Carver influences are scattered in and among the bold textures of sound. In Our Time is perhaps the closest thing to escapism on the LP, about a hill MJ would cycle up near Otley in Yorkshire after the end of his relationship,because it possessed his favourite view in the world. Since We Had Changed meanwhile is almost mantra-like in its constancy, new percussive elements joining those already on the record, whilst What We Talk About returns full circle to the first track’s themes of depression, and emerges from mixed field recordings including a backwards taping of a Hare Krishna lecture played down the studio corridor.
LP - Green and White Splatter on Clear Vinyl.