California label Castle Face Records have put out a slew of records by Thee Oh Sees, White Fence and Ty Segall – all psych-tinged garage bands from San Francisco that hold their own in the mutant crossovers between psychedelia, punk and garage rock. Castle Face is run by John Dwyer from Thee Oh Sees, so you know what you’re getting yourselves into from the get-go. The label recently added a new bunch of psych freaks to the roster, Synthetic ID, who have released their first single from forthcoming LP Impulses.
The track, Ciphers, combines trance-inducing guitars with a throbbing, regimented bassline to engender a mood of paranoia. This is more of a punk affair than anything else, and yet it feels like something only a San Franciscan punk band could create, where the waves lap at the shores of psychedelia rather than clashing against the jagged tides of punk, or post-punk for that matter.
Coming in at just over two minutes, Ciphers is not an epic by any standards; more a psychotropic nugget sent from the city of Jefferson Airplane, the Dead Kennedys and revered psych-heads Blue Cheer. A neurotic lozenge delivered with angst, aggression and an almost military assault on the ears, Synthetic ID are tightly wound punks with a clear grip on mind-expanding imagery; the minimalist chorus repeats like a mantra “ciphers…missing words”. The track deals with zeroing in on nothing, a descent into the void induced by a hallucinogenic experience – and not a particularly positive experience at that.
Yes, this is a ‘bad trip’. It details the kind of trip which leaves the user hugging themselves to sleep, rocking side to side while Synthetic ID blasts into their ears, lulling yet disturbing in equal measure. Ciphers is a jarring listen, harking back to the paranoid moments of Black Flag and label-mate Ty Segall.
We’ve fallen under the spell of Synthetic ID, and we’re sure you will too. Impulses is slated for release on 22nd April, so keep an eye out.