The four bands included, tripped out as they are, can hardly account for the amount of space traversed. Italy’s Black Rainbows, led by guitarist/vocalist Gabriele Fiori — whose own contributions to European psychedelia include running the label issuing this release, Heavy Psych Sounds and assembling this year’s inaugural Totem Psych Fest, taking place this summer outside of Rome (more info here) — unite with Brooklyn heavy space rockers and past tourmates Naam, well-kept New York secret outfit White Hills and bluesy Baltimore explorers The Flying Eyes for a 2LP gatefold four-way split featuring a side from each. All four groups work regularly in pretty extended forms, so you basically get a song or two from each, but still, the fact that they all got together and combined their efforts for this release makes it something special, the limited numbers of the vinyl and various colors (as well as a CD version) having been pressed in time for this year’s Desertfest, at which Black Rainbows also appeared. Everyone involved shares an obvious affinity for heavy psychedelic rock, but as one would hope for a release of this nature, there are also four distinct takes presented across the split — the official title of which is Heavy Psych Sounds 4-Way Split Vol. I – and each band takes advantage of an opportunity to bliss out in their own way, beginning with Naam – who’ve spent significant time on tour in Europe both before and after issuing their latest album, 2013′s Vow (review here) — on their two tracks, “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” and “Thickening Web,” which are included as side 1A leading off the 51-minute double-LP.
Its title is a dead giveaway, but “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” is a reworking of Vow highlight “Skyscraper,” and what was a landmark on the ultra-spacey sophomore full-length from the Brooklyn four-piece arises on the Heavy Psych Sounds split as a stripped-down wash of effects, elements dropping in and out over the course of its seven-plus minutes, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lee Lugar‘s voice barely distinct for the reverb it carries, a slow, mellow progression playing out behind given further depth between the high and low end thanks to a swirl of effects. “Skyscraper” proper was not short on ambience, between the guitar, John Weingarten‘s keys, John Preston Bundy‘s bass and Eli Pizzuto‘s percussive roll, but “Skyscraper (Ambient Mix)” — on which engineer/mixer Jeff Berner has added some instrumentation as well — feels thoroughly reworked and comes across experimental enough to make the original seem straightforward in comparison. With a fuller-sounding instrumental stretch to over eight minutes, “Thickening Web” furthers the atmosphere of the opener while building on it, Weingarten coming to the fore in a dreamy midsection as the bass, guitar and drums fade out and back in around his keys. There’s a build at work and constant movement, but Naam still evoke a laid back feel, which is all the more fitting leading into White Hills‘ experimental 11-minute “They’ve Got Blood… Like You’ve Got Blood,” presented here as an alternate version to what appeared as the title-track of the 2005 self-released full-length, They’ve Got Blood Like We’ve Got Blood. As much as they’re clearly separate entities with their own sonic aims, a linear flow is present as well, and White Hills further Naam‘s sprawling ambience and percussive undertones with engrossing space-drones and an ending movement with lo-fi techno beats and organ leadout. You’ve got four psych bands all contributing to the release. It was bound to get weird at some point.