Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve – The Soft Bounce – Album review

‘You throw the sticks up in the air and they come down in a different pattern’. This quote from Third Mynd, the final track on Beyond the Wizard Sleeve’s debut LP, The Soft Bounce (which features famed journalist Jon Savage reading period descriptions of acid trips) sums up the approach BTWS have taken towards this long awaited album. Comprised of DJ and promoter, Erol Alkan and acid house pioneer/The Grid member, Richard Norris, this ‘sonic brotherhood’ came together through a mutual love of 60s psychedelic rock and gained acclaim for their daring ‘re-animations’ of songs by Simian Mobile Disco et al., putting an idiosyncratic psych slant on the source material.

Rather than treating psychedelic music like a museum piece, as many revivalists are wont to do, BTWS dissect it and infuse it with krautrock, Balearic synths, space rock and most notably, acid house, with the end result being a very 21st century version of psychedelia. The sunny pastiche, Door to Tomorrow showcases this arrangement: Beatleseque string arrangements and lyrics about the ubiquitous 60s musem ‘Emily’ are tempered and modernised by a hip-hop influenced drum loop. Vocals on the latter are ably handled by Euros Childs, one of several guest stars roped in for the project, including Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets and the aforementioned Jon Savage.

Despite the amalgam of influences and ideas scattered across the album, The Soft Bounce is surprisingly cohesive, with 70s inspired rockers (‘Iron Age’) rubbing shoulders with bossa nova grooves (‘Creation’) without seeming strikingly incongruous. This is a testament to the deft production of Alkan and Norris, who have parleyed their passion and years of experience, both together and apart, into a rich, diverse first album, one which rewards, nay, demands repeated listens. 2016 certainly isn’t shaping up to be another Summer of Love in the vein of 1967 or even 1988, but The Soft Bounce provides a gentle transportation to less angsty and doom-laden days.

Listen to ‘Diagram Girl’ below

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