The Psychedelic Ensemble: Silent Sam/Undone Singles
  • Production
  • Composition
  • Musicianship
  • Freshness
  • Potential Proggies Nomination for Keyboards?

It’s pretty rare for me to get excited about singles. Apart from the fact that what we usually want is a full album, my relationship with singles is that they always pick the most “accessible” piece from the album and market it in hopes that it’s going to expand their fan-base  For me, it usually makes me wonder whether the album is going to suck as much as the single. Well, I can honestly say that with The Psychedelic Ensemble’s release of the “Silent Sam” and “Undone” singles, you get neither of the pitfalls that I loathe in so many other singles. Both pieces are of the highest quality and in the style that we have come to love from The Psychedelic Ensemble.

“Silent Sam” is the more relaxed of the bunch, a song that is both calming and bard-like, bringing to mind the mystical jongleur feel of the last TPE album, albeit with less ‘magical’ lyrics. A gorgeous acoustic guitar leads us into a great groove in four with a very folky feel, lightly textured with keyboards and spacey effects that float about in the background. After some catchy singing, TPE goes into passing the melody along through the various instruments and building the piece up into a light explosion which takes us to a keyboard solo which is very TPE trademark sounding, with top notch phrasing that melds the perfect degree of melodic-ness to complexity. After the guitar solo, the song gets to perhaps what is my favorite part, a short little section that is full of atmospheric flutes with a very tron-like feel and bardic vocals weaving in and out of each other. After some cool organ and sparkly bells, the melody continues to get passed around before we head into the final verse which has some rocking/bluesy organ over a very upbeat groove. Mind you, this isn’t your grandpa’s blues, there’s something here with the texturing that throws us out in space for a session.

“Undone” takes us into some more menacing territory with its somber overtones and dark lyrics. The piece kicks it off with some acoustic guitars and crystalline synths. As we have come to love in The Pyschedelic Ensemble, there is no rule saying that instrumental melodies can’t take prominence along side vocals at the very same moment. This is most effective on the “You’ve come undone” chorus section where we get some blazing synth leads delivering jaw dropping power that is refined by cool little details of sparkly keyboards floating on the top layer of the music. After some catchy solos on keyboard and guitar we get some great arpeggiator work with fantastically layered synths and return to the main verse which does not hold back one bit. After getting the main instrumental melody a few more times, I was surprised to hear a bit of piano doubled by acoustic guitar, which was great fun, follwed by great fusion playing augmented by fast little runs with delightful lead tones. As the song starts to climax, the vocals return, backed by a descant like high pitched scream that really drives home the lyrics of the song. TPE calls it a day by wrapping it up with some clean guitar and keyboards and a somewhat unexpected major chord finale, typical of classical music but taking me completely by surprise in this setting; a very clever move indeed.

Overall I must say that I am once again stunned by The Pyschedelic Ensemble’s work. Not only is the songwriting top notch, the production is, likewise, fantastic. The layering of the instruments is ultra nuanced and the melodies will get stuck in your head quickly, but the playing and composition is complex enough to make these pieces something that you will keep coming back to. The keyboard arrangments and performances are breathtaking, and when it comes to the track “Undone,” they are so good that we now have another piece to consider for this years keyboard nomination in The Proggies. Don’t pass up these singles, and be on the lookout for TPE’s fourth studio album coming up just around the corner. The way things are headed, it should be very promising.

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