To me, the term psychedelic music functions as a large, Technicolor umbrella above a varied spectrum of music.  Psychedelic rock came about in the late 1950s, popularized by beat generation writers and the ingestion of LSD.  Characterized (though not always) by layers of feedback, complex key and time signatures, and strange, surreal lyrics, psychedelic music since its inception, has gone on to influence a variety of music.

The following artists playing this years Sled Island Fest contain aspects of everything from surf to shoe-gaze, trip-hop to post-metal and ambient, but there is something undoubtedly psychedelic at the core of their sound.  If you enjoy the aura of faded 60s flower print, the resonance of vintage sounding pedals and backwards guitar samples, watching patterns crawl up walls, or getting lost in atmospheric distortion for hours (only to check your phone and see but one minute has passed), then this next list of performers will surely light your fire. 

Divepool: Local 510 on Wednesday the 24th at 8:30 PM, and The Palomino upstairs on Thursday the 25th at 6:00 PM.
Described on the Sled Island webpage as ‘psychedelic grime, listening to Calgary’s Divepool is like riding a surfboard through waves of velvet and smog. The trippy, dark quality to Divepool’s music is only surpassed by the fact that they are hella sexy and groovy.

The Backhomes: Bamboo Lounge on Wednesday the 24th at 11:30 PM, and at Sloth Records on Thursday the 25th at 4:00 PM.
A duo from Victoria, BC, the droney spacey music of The Backhomes is chalked full of ear-gasmic distortion and, choppy drums and hypnotic synth that elevates listeners to big shiny planes of atmospheric awesomeness.  If Noah Gallagher took a lot, a lot, a lot of acid, then travelled to the moon and back, he might afterwards come home and make some music that sounds like this.

Cult Babies: The Palomino on Thursday the 25th at 9:00 PM.
A Vancouver band who incorporate the haunting pitches of Theremin and bursts of organ into their unique brand of fuzzy garage-rock.  The chanting of harmonic refrains, and jazzy guitar solos played over repetitive, building progressions, are reminiscent of Woodstock and 60s San Fran road trips.  The impressive jammy break downs, and complex percussive rhythms, are guarantees for an adrenal-rousing live performance. 

Mascaras: The Palomino on Wednesday the 24th at 10:30 PM, and #1 Legion (upstairs) on Thursday the 25th at 12:30 AM. 
From the coastal planes of Portland, OR, Mascaras variety of jam is earthy and crystal clear.  Calling themselves ‘maximalist indigenous psych,’ their sound is heavily driven by a deep, unstoppable bass, and intricate off-kilter guitar solos riding endless waves of tripped out distortion.  Its super fresh, super catchy, and so very grooveable.   

Burnt Shrines:  #1 Legion downstairs on Thursday the 25th at 10:00 PM
Dwelling in darker, more internalized realms then the above psychedelic predecessors; Calgary’s Burnt Shrines are a slow and seductive surge of psychedelic blur, calling to mind the exotic nuances of Sonic Youth and even Portishead.  Seemingly minimal, yet intentional in their subtle execution, Burnt Shrines create a heady daze to get lost in for hours. 

Mamiffer: National Music Centre on Thursday the 25th at 10:30 PM.
Conjuring images of murky ocean depths, and sunken ships bathed in silt, Seattle’s Mamiffer, is minimalist metal music with dashes of the celestial and psychedelic.  Demonic mermaid voices chant in Gregorian fashion against raw and rusted distortion.  The noise builds, blurs, consumes, and lingers.  The apocalypse never sounded so beautiful. 

The Radiation Flowers: Tubby Dog on Friday the 26th at 5:00 PM, and Sunday the 28th at Broken City at 3:00 PM. 
Prairie-landscape-painted The Radiation Flowers, hailing from Saskatoon, SK, emit a dark, hypnotic blend of distortion and sparseness, beauty and poison.  Fans of The Cure will rejoice at the shoe gaze-y slow sway to their songs, and the somber lyrics spilling from bewitched mouths. 

Stay tuned for more Sled Island previews to come!