Psychic Equalizer is a project of a young Spanish musician Hugo Selles, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Back in January, Psychic Equalizer has come up with the release of the full-length record “The Lonely Traveller.”
Selles’ and the music of Psychic Equalizer make frequent use of rock rhythms and dynamics, and their music is likely to appeal to fans of experimental, contemporary jazz. The much missed E.S.T. are surely a touchstone for the band as the influence of the pioneering Swedish piano trio continues to resonate across Europe.
The twelve compositions on “The Lonely Traveller” are credited to Selles, except for one song, suggesting that the initial idea for each tune came from the pianist but with the pieces subsequently being developed by the whole band. Opener “Mezuz” commences with a solid, meaty ambient piano slice which persists throughout the piece. On piano Selles provides melodic embellishment as well as adding to the momentum with rapid fire repeated motifs. Quico Duret’s shadowy guitar adds depth and texture, particularly during a slightly more reflective episode mid tune. The way the band expand and develop their ideas is very reminiscent of E.S.T. as is the way they ratchet up the tension and make effective use of dynamics. Duret turns to the power chord as the music builds to a climax in a piece that owes much to the rhythms and dynamics of rock. Having come to jazz from this direction this is music that I can relate to and enjoy although jazz purists may be less than convinced.
“An Ocean of Changes (I-IV)” is slightly more reflective and features the celesta playing of guest Katerina Anagnostidou, and triangle played by Nikolai Petersen. The string section on “Lagrimas” lends a lushness to a piece that is centred round a liquid grand piano part and the same kind of gradual melodic, thematic and dynamic development. Duret again provides a rich tapestry of varying guitar sounds.
It’s a supple keyboard and synths interplay plus eerily textured guitar that kicks off “Adrift,” Selles eventually picking out a sparse but lyrical melody which he and the group develop in thoughtful, unhurried fashion. Instruments take turn to assume the lead but Selles remains in the focus, using his features to subtly steer the group in other directions as they once again ramp up the tension.
“Lovers Meet” begins with classical guitar which shapes the direction that the piece will ultimately follow further to the introduction of piano, Hammond organ, electric guitar, drums and string section. There’s the now familiar thematic and dynamic development plus some sparking soloing from group leader Selles. After again seemingly bringing things to a now familiar climax there’s a sudden change of pace that paves the way for a more atmospheric and lyrical coda, a welcome variation on the group’s working methods.
On “The Lonely Traveller,” there’s a youthful energy and vibrancy about the group’s music that I find highly appealing. Their catchy hooks and rock grooves are just fine by me but I can understand why jazz purists might get a tad sniffy about this band. Nevertheless there’s still plenty that’s likely to appeal to jazz and rock fans alike and one would imagine that Psychic Equalizer is a very exciting live act, capable of delivering their music convincingly in either a jazz or a rock environment.
Buy the album here.