Rock Illuminati

So where is the spirit and elemental sense of adventure that once inhabited the psychedelic rock phenomenon of the ’60s? Gone forever, methinks. At the same time, there are bands – both old and new – that approximate the novelty and invention of the dawning of psychedelia. On its sophomore effort, the Wellwater Conspiracy creates a multifaceted sound that lurks somewhere between the realms of Seattle grunge and the psychedelic garage.

Showcasing the talents of ex-Monster Magnet guitarist John McBain and former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron, the Wellwater Conspiracy is an adventurous studio project steeped in wild and woolly ’60s rock. Playing a number of instruments besides the drums, Matt Cameron is a surprisingly able singer who echoes the emotive style of his old Soundgarden bandmate, Chris Cornell. Instrumentalist McBain exhibits an expansive guitar vocabulary, creating several acid-flashback moments amid the band’s hard rock haze. Using vintage electronic keyboards, fuzz-ridden guitars, tribal drumbeats and fairly melodic songwriting, these guys hark back to a cosmic time when rock music was simpler, more mysterious and plenty of fun. On the song "Compellor" – and several other selections – Cameron and McBain replicate the strange, urgent rock sounds that litter the recently released Nuggets compilation of ’60s psychedelia. That means plenty of ominous organ riffs and fiery, distorto-guitar licks as worthwhile counterpoint to their passionate vocal incantations, shrieks and pleas.

Yes, peel back the layers of today’s alternative/indie/post-metal music and you’ll still find some psychedelic rock. It just isn’t the innocent revelation it once was.

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