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Confession time: I never heard any of Sciflyer’s music until fellow Big Takeover writer Ben Vendetta and Elephant Stone label head contacted me about doing a review. None of that matters as I now have a lovely new release to delve into. And no, I am not part of a younger audience (sorry I don’t meet your target demographic, guys). I’m one of those antique music fans who’s been around since the late 70s, and I love discovering new (to me) music. I sit here on this very rainy day in New England and let this blissful, gazed out music fill my ears.
Some background is in order for people not familiar with this group’s history. They formed in 2001 in Alameda, California and were labelled ‘nu-gaze’ as part of the same wave of bands that included High Violets and Voyager One. Some of these other bands became better known, and fame eluded Sciflyer. In 2005, they dropped the original version of this EP on Clairerecords, receiving rave reviews and a smattering of college radio airplay. But despite this EP being named one of the top 100 shoegaze albums of all time by Sounds Better With Reverb, they faded into obscurity and this EP went out of print — until now. On the 11th anniversary of its release, Elephant Stone has reissued the EP in a revised edition. It contains versions of the songs originally intended for release, plus it restored the song “Chemical World”, which guitarist/vocalist Steve Kennedy removed from the original at the last second. It also contains lyrics, which were never part of the original EP.
The EP opens with the moody, mid-tempo “The Nation”, which burbles along pleasantly with subdued vocals. It has a great hook on the bridge, which will get your toes and fingers tapping.
“Pacific NW” is shimmering dream gaze that floats about while you try to decipher the words (no cheating by checking the lyric sheet). “The Same Thing Goes For Christmas” is clear and bright, much like some of the work from Britain’s Pale Saints. The words are recessed so deep they become part of the melodic tapestry. It moves past like a shining skein of silk, and catches you up in its musical snare. “Like An Ion” unfolds in similar fashion, but cuts its sonic treats down to just under four minutes. Kennedy murmurs under layers of hazy melodies, and it passes too quickly.
“Chemical World” is fuzzed out psychedelia, inspired heavily by 60s influences. And finally, the 13:45 minute “Never Come Down” comes swirling out of the gate like the long lost cousin of Swervedriver circa 99th Dream. Some of it repeats a bit too much, but things start gelling at around 6 minutes. I love the trippy guitars here, and the indecipherable vocals just add to the mystery and mayhem. This song alone would make the hearts of stoners everywhere flutter in delight, and it leaves you twirling in a trancelike hallucination. In summary, this is a supremely trippy experience, one that veers far closer to psychedelia than any other label applied to this group. Great to see reissues of this kind, with thanks to Ben Vendetta and the guys in the band for making this available to fans everywhere.
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