The psych and kraut-inspired genres often leave me a bit conflicted. I find myself either loving or hating them, with little gray area in between. Though it took me quite a few listens to grasp, Pyschic Psummer by Chicago’s Cave is an immersive gem, not perfect, but ambitious, layered and deep.
Cave are one of those local bands that you rarely hear about despite calling the same city home. They move in cryptic circles, playing art loft and warehouse shows, fitting matches for a band with a sound this far off the grid of Chicago’s musical preferences. Heavy guitar mixes with clanging drums, few and far between vocal manipulations and electronic blips and beeps throughout Psychic Psummer‘s six tracks. The band has drawn comparisons to a range of acts including Holy Fuck, Battles, Can and even Kraftwerk. These reference points aren’t too far off-base. Cave are agile and easily move between the organic to the chopped and varied and end at the almost danceable.
The six tracks on Psychic Psummer shift seamlessly from jet-propelled, grinding guitar to glittering tribal electronics. The leading track, “Gamm” is easily the hardest selection on the album and proved a difficult intro for me. It’s not at a complete disconnect stylistically, but would have fared better further down the tracklisting. The album as a whole is a enjoyable ride through spaced-out psychedelia, but it’s “Encino Men” that sold me on Psychic Psummer. The most electronic of the album’s offerings, the eight minute opus loops drumbeats, sharp keyboard and alien vocals into a pulsing mix of tribal perfection that proves Cave a musical project ripe with talent and serious about their craft.
Psychic Psummer isn’t an album for everyone, and Cave will probably never find the fanbase to grace Chicago’s bigger stages, but there’s nothing wrong with having a niche and embracing your offbeat leanings. Psychic Psummer is just the weird ride that this city needs to open their ears to possibility.