A term that gets thrown around often when reckoning with popular music is “heaviness.” While it is a descriptor that is rightfully attached to sludge-soaked waves of drop tuned guitars from thrash bands to conjure up ancient Viking folklore of crimson battles on the high seas, it can also be used to describe emotional heft. In the case of Brooklyn psych septet Evolfo’s new album Site Out of Mind, the heaviness hovers somewhere above the surface of the Earth.
On their debut album 2017’s Last Of The Acid Cowboys, the collective that shares members of bands Pronoun and Acid Tongue occupied a space between stoned out garage-psych and warm soul.
At times it felt that both of those elements were being showcased in different terrariums, as the band would jump in between both of those modes from track to track but never fully meshed the two. On their follow up, the band formed a tight huddle in the attic of band leader Matt Gibbs’ Ditmas Park, Brooklyn home to tinker away. This time around the butter has fully coated the pan as the group has taken these influences and sauteed these ingredients into a perfectly balanced spoonful (I’m hungry and, likely, stoned).
Horns flutter and warm, soulful guitars chop over a boom bap drum beat to create an inviting, sunny welcome to the record on first track “Give Me Time.” Before you know it, the song descends into a delightfully trippy labyrinth. Then, after it’s second chorus the song descends into a heavy, organ fueled freakout.
The bait-and-switch of the following track’s tenseness is masterful. Like The Source Family or some other weird-ass, flower-power cult that used psychedelic music to convert followers, “Strange Lights” wields undeniable urgency that could easily a harsh, demonic come down.
This undercurrent of hellfire underneath sonic bliss is a transfixing balancing act that makes Evolfo a cut above the majority of psych bands mining the sounds of the ‘60s Haight-Ashby scene. There is no better example of Evolfo utilizing all of its capabilities than the album’s centerpiece, the two-part “In Time Pt. 1” and “In Time Pt. 2.” Gibb’s angelic vocals guide the lush first portion of the two part odyssey before it builds up with fuzzed out guitars until the junction where the instrumental blasts open only to ease back down on the second half. As it gallops to a close, the band ramps up into a claustrophobic double time.
There are other vocal contributions throughout the album from members Ben Adams and Rafferty Swink. But for me, the album’s highlights are owed to Gibbs’ extraterrestrial high pitched vocals. On perhaps the albums’ greatest track “Broken Hills” his vocals are drenched in vintage Leslie tremolo with gorgeous three part harmonies following him as sundazed strings bloom from the horizon line. In just under three minutes, it’s the perfect dollop of sweet.
Evolfo has crystallized into an elemental force on Site Out Of Mind. While many of their contemporaries in the garage and psych revival spheres will be destined to be discovered in compilations and only revisited for aesthetic reference points, Site Out of Mind demands your time and rewards you for your dedication. This Brooklyn collective is in it for the journey and what a thrill it is just to ride along.
Essential Tracks: “Give Me Time,” “Broken Hills,” “In Time Pt.1″ and “In Time Pt. 2.”
Prerequisites: Love’s Forever Changes and Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era.