Album Review: The Holydrug Couple – Noctuary




Word is that Santiago, Chile has a rapidly growing psychedelic scene, a world where Ives Sepúlveda stands prominently. While his work in Föllakzoid rides on the smokey, motorik end of the spectrum, his work with Manuel Parra as The Holydrug Couple spends considerably more time in the summer breeze. For Noctuary, their second disc for Sacred Bones Records, the duo spent months isolated in a home studio, recording and producing a batch of escapist psych mysticism.

The daisy-strewn reverb washes and drum roll waves that open the disc on “Counting Sailboats” immediately float away into some ideal Summer of Love. Add in some long-syllable, wafting vocals about “the end of the world” late in the track, and you’ve got a track tailor-made for some full-body swaying. The spaceship swerving bridge of “Out of Sight” pitches the listener into a ’60s acid wonderland. Later, the one-two punch of “Willoweed” and “Paisley” finds a more aggressive clip — drips of twisted guitar and ambient vocals in the former leading to icicle echoes and overdriven fuzz in the latter.

Though the drafty grooves come easily, the dreamy disorientation can be a little too much. The watery field recordings of laughing and chatting at the conclusion of “Sailor” sounds more alien than nostalgic. The guitar solo in “Red Moon” is buried so deep in the reverb murk that most of its duration can be spent trying to convince yourself it’s not a sax or a trumpet.

Noctuary can languish too long in its dreaminess, caught in its own web of living in the idyllic past. The album is full of gentle waves, and as such, the peaks tend to stand out, but the formula becomes apparent after enough iterations. The right listen can mean floating off into a spacey wonderland where a mellow sun shines sepia, but it could just as easily lead to a background airiness.

Essential Tracks: “Counting Sailboats”, “Willoweed”