Favourites of the Neo-Psychedelic boom who counted the legendary John Peel and Tony Wilson among their fans, The Chemistry Set make their triumphant return with the release of a stunning new mini-lp, “Alchemy#101” on 13 April 2009
A London Psychedelic-Pop duo record their music on an island in the middle of the River Thames, get a Catalan singer to do some of the lead vocals in French and have it mixed and produced in Barcelona…Welcome to the Post-Modern Psychedelic world of The Chemistry Set!
The paisley “Batman and Robin” are Paul Lake and Dave McLean, were spurred on by the renewed interest in their 1989 never released album, “Sounds Like Painting”, the overwhelmingly positive response to new demos posted on their myspace page and a deluge of messages from old and new fans (including legendary US producer/arranger/songwriter David Axelrod and Nelson Bragg of The Brian Wilson Band) asking for the release of new material. The advance promo copies of “Sounds like Painting” have been coveted by collectors for years, but in 2008, it suddenly appeared on several blog sites and resulted in over 10,000 downloads during a three-month period.
The Chemistry Set has always had a strong, global, cult following – some 12” singles fetch over £30 and a copy 1990 lp “Wake Up Sometimes” recently sold for over £100.
The band’s previous success in Spain (the 1990 single, “Don’t Turn Away” made the national Top 20) has served them well - advance copies of the band’s new material is being played on twelve radio stations, including “Disco Grande”, one of Spain’s most important national indie radio station. Manel Ibáñez, one of the country’s most highly regarded producers, asked Lake and McLean if he could produce their new EP and lifelong fan DJ Gato, one of the biggest indie club DJ’s in Spain, is already doing separate remixes.
Lake and McLean (along with guests) recorded this magnificent mini album at Stakeout Studios in Hampton Court using vintage instruments (including Farfisa’s & Mellotrons), then used pro-tools to get a great blend of vintage and modern sounds. They then sent it to Ibanez in Barcelona for the final mixing and production.
The result is “Alchemy#101”, six stunning new tracks, which perfectly capture the Psychedelic vibe, and gives a nod to the band’s musical heroes while sounding modern and fresh. The record is the maiden release on newly founded Scottish label Skittlebrau Records.
Why not release a full LP? The band wants to maintain high quality control and ensure that each song is fantastic - a consistency you don’t get with most full-length releases. Each release will include a French version of a song - Regarde Le Ciel, is sung by Catalan guest vocalist Suzette de la Grace Faberge, member of the critically acclaimed indie-pop band “Les Tres Bien Ensemble”. Her voice oozes charm and beauty; you can hear the influence of Françoise Hardy and Jane Birkin. A harpsichord solo appears from the court of Louis V. A beautiful Baroque French Psychedelic-Pop song! - and an obscure cover, Alchemy #101 includes a cover of Del Shannon’s Silver Birch, from his obscure 1968 LP, “The Further Adventures of Charles Westover” (Shannon’s real name). A symphonic Psychedelic-Pop epic with choral voices, strings, flutes, mellotrons, spaghetti western guitars and dig the insert of David Axelrod’s “Sanctus” that culminates with a sigh as Bryan Maclean and Arthur Lee return to strum some acoustics “alone again or” like.
She’s Taking Me Down is a Spectoresque wall of sound that kicks off with a sweet Roger Mcguinn riff that runs into Pete Townsend slashing and feedbacking his Rickenbacker. Over the top The Hollies and The Beatles are singing sweet melodies and harmonies with 2 killer guitar solos and ending with a crescendo of Psychedelic cacophony.
Phil McMullen (Terrascope) describes Look To The Sky as “classic daisy-fuelled English psychedelic toy-shoppe whimsy;” If Rome Was Meant To Fall and Seeing Upside Down as having “Byrdsian harmony jangle down pat, then each kicks in with a lead guitar break, just like the Long Ryders used to do…”.
Since its return to recording, the band has been featured in a number of magazine articles and blogs here in the UK, the US and in Europe.
Someone once told me that great songs have no date stamp, and (The Chemistry Set) understand this perfectly
David Cavanagh (Rock Critic)
Like being taken on a rollercoaster ride back to the heady days of the late eighties, with a glance or two even further backwards but with eyes peeled firmly on the future, with both the mind and music going in all kinds of directions but being held together by a shimmering vision to reach a musical nirvana
Ettnollett Magazine (Sweden)
Since I discovered The Chemistry Set's "Don't Turn Away" when I was fourteen, it became one of my favourite songs. I've danced to that tune more times than I can remember, and it's still in my all-time top ten. I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am to be able to work with them these days; their new songs are the best they've done so far, but even more important is what the new stuff means; that the Chemistry Set is back!
DJ Gato (Spain)
When it comes to solid gold songwriting with an in depth 1-2 psychedelic punch, no one does it better than The Chemistry Set. Just listening to them is like a shot of transcendental bliss. Go out and discover this goldmine today!
This EP is amazing! Each time we play them on our radio show, the phones light up with listeners, asking where they can find their music Randy Shone
Psychedelic Velveeta Radio (USA)
All 5 songs are the best songs you've ever done. They are my favorite songs that I have heard by you hands down. I really look forward to having this CD in my sweaty little hands.
Nelson Bragg (The Brian Wilson band)