Even if you had ears pressed to every speaker, there’ll still be sounds you’ve missed bellowing from the depths of the Earth. But music is always new when you haven’t heard it before and in this case there’s no uncertainty about whether you’ve heard Psychologist before; you’ll know. Discovering fresh artists – who aren’t that fresh anymore – isn’t quite like trawling through your parents’ vinyl collection and asking the tuneful Frisbees “why weren’t you in my life earlier?” But the footsteps were pressed not long ago and there’s still time to catch up.
It’s two-years-old now but Psychologist’s Epidural Collection still resonates with warmth and gloom in equal measure courtesy of the two-sided format. The first EP in the collection, Waves of OK, represents the tender side of Iain Wood’s songwriting while Lewis Bellwood helps put all the philosophies into practice. The choice of location for recording the EP, St. Matthias Parish Church in Stoke Newington, amplifies the atmosphere. And much like the cavities of the church, there’s spaciousness about the record. While many artists would attempt to fill that space with a big sound, Psychologist lets the emptiness fester almost as if to allow you time for self-inspection. If you haven’t yet been haunted by the honesty of the record, the reverb on Wood’s already eerie vocals on ‘Untitled (A Possession)’ comes with a compulsory chill down the spine.
You’d be forgiven then if you thought Propellor (the other half of the Epidural Collection) was produced by somebody completely different. The cold, almost abrasive EP basically serves as a foil for the pensiveness of Waves of OK. While the first EP might pass you by like a dream you just couldn’t grasp, the warping bass and unerringly layered textures of Propellor demands your attention. There just seems to be more of a foundation for the vocals to build from.
Upon initial listening, Propellor might sound more experimental than Waves of OK but with dancey beats like those on ‘Disco At Twin Peaks’ it’s actually the more accessible EP. The stand-out piece among the whole collection has to be ‘1:1’, it’s got everything from harmonies, murky undertones and a compositional awareness that exceed expectations. There’s still poignancy in the record but it delivered with more force than in Waves…
As a result, it appears easy to say that the second half sounds more complete whereas in reality, they are both open-ended and need one to compliment the other. Like two sides of a coin, the equilibrium would be disrupted if one side didn’t exist. But unlike a coin, the two records aren’t physically part of one. Each has legs of its own and you wonder…after a few more years…whether a distance will grow between the two siblings or if their bond will grow stronger, perhaps out of necessity.