Psychoyogi are a band who hail from London and who describe themselves as ‘left field, punk jazz’ and their music as being a diverse mixture of instrumental colours, melodies and words. Their songs offer current social and political critique alongside personal moments, which is a way of saying that they are a little different and, possibly, an acquired taste for many. I personally like them a lot but I can understand why some would struggle to get the drift.
In Chris Ramsing they have a talented and imaginative guitarist and vocalist who has a different view of the modern world and feels strongly that persons who upset the apple cart should be held accountable. One thing that will definitely assist in getting to the heart of this album are the very clever and intelligent lyrics for the songs which can be found on the band’s website:
So, what this latest album all about? First, the details, ten tracks in total and an approximate forty-two minute duration. The five band members are Chris Ramsing (Guitar and Vocal), Izzy Stylish (Bass), Justin Casey (Drums) , Toby Nowell (Sax and Trumpet), Ben Woodbine- Craft (Violin) and there is a guest, Tim Smart from The Specials who provides trombone, all of which makes for a great sounding album.
The album opens with Destitution, which is about the gulf between the have and the have not’s, i.e. the rich and the poor. In the lyrics there is the call for a redress of the balance, which isn’t on the cards for the foreseeable future but at least the opinion is clearly stated here. Musically this song fuses Zappa-ish guitar along with trumpet and violin to create a pleasing soundscape. In fact, the interaction between the brass and the strings is very fine indeed, a different but pleasing sound that lends itself well to the music being played. I am reminded of 80’s jazz outfit Working Week who took a similar musical approach. Arts and Farces is about creating art and the issues that raises in being true to yourself. Again the brass is sympathetic and supportive and makes for a lovely track. The Process opens with a languid and sneaking guitar line, which is supplemented by that excellent brass section once again. Even I can find the music of Psychoyogi challenging at times but I am also very aware of its ability to stay in your mind for days, usually it’s a little melody of line that achieves this effect. The track itself is about the relentless onslaught of change that is all around us. Whether we like it or not, we are all caught up in the endless march onward, all in the name of progress There is a great section where the use of percussion interludes marry up with the guitar to create some moments of almost peace and serenity before everything gallops forwards once more, a most interesting song indeed.
A Happier Song actually isn’t that happy at all, rather it, once again, points out the disparity in today’s society. It’s a common theme for Psychoyogi and makes their music that rare beast, intelligent but also unafraid to challenge and question, which I feel adds to its validity. Hence the left field punk tag, as wasn’t that what the punks were trying to do in the late 70’s? We then have The Chase, nothing to do with the quiz show but rather more of an instrumental that allows the violin to perform a longer part and take centre stage There are parts that almost sound like a Celtic jig with brass interjections playing in harmony. The drums are mostly using deft touches and brushes rather than powering ahead, this is a very welcome change and allows the musicians to really showcase their imagination imagination and skills. All this make this the album’s standout track thus far for me as it is very musical with great performances from all parties. The album’s title track, Brand New Face, has interesting and questioning lyrics, there is a lovely trumpet part that leads to a brief flurry of Chris’ guitar, a real flight of fancy. There is also a brilliant recurring guitar motif the underpins the track and makes it yet another impressive song that definitely gets the thumbs up from me.
We are then on the final stretch home for the album with Opportunity, Everything Before and Open Season. These three songs continue the questioning and challenging nature of the band again to good effect, showing that Psychoyogi’s music is never less than interesting, difficult, uneasy listening for sure, but still wholly worthwhile. The final track, Find Peace Within, is superb, again brass heavy but not overpowered. It has a slinkiness to it that greatly appeals. This song is about coping with modern life and urges us to find peace within when all around us is tumultuous, again worthy sentiments for sure but, possibly not always within our grasp!
My verdict on this very clever release is, if you like quirky, intelligent and questioning music then this new Psychoyogi album might just be your thing. I liked it for sure, especially the fabulous interaction between the guitar, violin, trombone and trumpet that all meld into a truly glorious sound.
Released September 29, 2023.
Order from bandcamp here: