Senior Year, 2008: (Time-) Trip Around the World

We don't know what people were drinking near the end of the last decade. But something was in the water, something that had been in our musical bloodstream before, because from about 2005 until 2008, there was a serious resurgence of global psychedelic rock. In order to understand the phenomenon, however, we've first got to take a little time trip of our own.

Back in the late '60s and early '70s, rock bands in locales as far-flung as the Philippines and Peru, Spain and Thailand began experimenting with acid rock: distorted, fuzzed-out studio effects; trippy, taffy-pulled sonic structures; wah-wahing organs; shuffling percussion; and, especially, plenty of loud, heavy and sometimes wavering and downright wacked-out guitars. The sounds were often linked to countercultural scenes and political movements, like Brazil's sharp-tongued, smooth-grooved samba (acid rock's musically mellower cousin) or Cambodia's Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea, who were persecuted and tortured for their alleged threat to the Khmer Rouge regime. Their efforts produced some incredible recordings, difficult-to-acquire nuggets that have tantalized crate diggers for years.

Fast-forward to the mid-2000s, when, thanks to the Internet, information about and recordings of these bands began to circulate more widely. Labels such as Vampisoul and Dusty Grooves started to reissue compilations of the classic psych masters. Meanwhile, bands like Dengue Fever and Chicha Libre worked on their own globe-trotting, anachronistic revivals of '60s and '70s acid rock styles, lacing Cambodian pop and Peruvian psychedelic cumbia with bits of funk, Ethiopian sax jams, Afrobeat and salsa. And in North Africa, a veritable psych-rock revolution had begun when bands like Tinariwen picked up guitars instead of guns and wailed their politics, Hendrix-style, entrancing the world with their desert blues. Around the globe, music fans tuned in and turned on for this long, strange trip around the world, and back through time.

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