Transcontinental Trip: Psychedelic Rock From Around the Globe
by Justin Farrar | August 31, 2011
Psychedelic rock has always been pretty global by definition, in a misty, crystalline, incense-and-peppermints kind of way. In its '60s and '70s heyday, the influences of psychedelia drugs, sitars, mysterious religions, political ideologies traveled along a crisscrossing bohemian circuit of exotic locales from India to Morocco to Guatemala. At the same time, local musicians in each of those places and many more joined the trip themselves. Psychedelic artists like Ethiopia's Mahmoud Ahmed, Turkey's Barış Manço, the Philippines' Asin and many of the key figures in Brazil's Tropicália movement incorporated indigenous music styles and recorded rare albums that intrepid crate diggers still scour the earth for today.
This transnational, countercultural psychedelic rock movement also influenced today's tripped-out, worldly, transcendental rock bands: the retro-washed trans-Cambodian cocktail of Dengue Fever, the Afrobeat diehards keeping Fela's memory alive (including a few of his own sons), and Andean psychedelic cumbia revivalists like New York's Chicha Libre. But the Saharan desert has proven to be the major epicenter of the psych rock revival, with musicians from persecuted nomadic groups like the Temashek (Touareg) people weaving together blues licks, traditional rhythms and vocals, and reverberating electric guitars into vision-blurring desert rock soundscapes that fuzz the line between a ritual trance and a psychedelic trip.
Malian desert-blues stars Tinariwen have just released a fifth album, Tassili, that takes psychedelic rock on an even more global journey, inviting American indie rockers like TV on the Radio and jazz musicians like The Dirty Dozen Brass Band to join them on their transcontinental adventures. That record inspired this playlist, but as you'll hear, there's plenty more where that came from. So tune in, turn on, drop out and take off on a head-spinning trip around the globe.