Indian Jewelry are difficult to pin down or describe accurately, and even more difficult to construct a linear biography of (as their contrived press release dictates: ‘Indian Jewelry is the secret nobody gives away.’ So let’s try this description instead: “a psychedelic experience is characterized by the perception of aspects of one’s mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly ordinary fetters. Psychedelic states are an array of experiences elicited by sensory deprivation as well as by psychedelic substances. Such experiences include hallucinations, changes of perception, synesthesia, altered states of awareness, mystical states, and occasionally states resembling psychosis.” A revision to this dictionary definition: psychedelia is Indian Jewelry.
So potent is the Texas-based, nails-on-a-chalkboard band’s mind-altering power, licking the vinyl sleeve of their Sangles Redux re-issue may well have you seeing bunnies and pink elephants for days. When it comes to summarising all IJ do into one song, Redux’s fifth track Chasing Rats Out comes pretty close. Echoed, shamanistic vocals, semi-industrial/semi-blues track instrumentation, an implied mysticism, and a heaped teaspoon of paranoia. Yet, it’s probably the song’s easier definability that makes it the weakest of a brilliant bunch of songs here. From the more cathartic nature of the Einsturzende Neubauten – invoking Bombing Nightclubs to the Velvet Underground and Nico styling of Downtown, the Jewelry never repeat the same formula. They take elements of one song and carry it into another equation, hoping the chemical result is as explosive as before. Not that there’s anything laboratory-like to be found here. All is loose, flowing, and determined to invert your perception of pop music and the wide world itself.
In fulfilling such a lofty ambition, the psychotic collective are more than successful. It is perhaps the fact that Sangles Redux is a collection of songs cherry-picked from earlier releases (and non-releases) that makes it more spontaneous, less cohesive and more singularly memorable than this year’s other album release, Free Gold, but it’s saved from a ‘Greatest Hits’ atmosphere because, well, to imagine any one of the included songs as a ‘hit,’ turns your brain as topsy-turvy as licking the vinyl sleeve. An embarrassingly enjoyable LP, though beware: like influences, like influenced, and given IJ’s Suicide and Throbbing Gristle comparisons, Sangles Redux will certainly be an acquired taste.
SEE ALSO: Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico [Polydor], Suicide – S/T [Red Star Records], William S Burroughs – Naked Lunch
Words Daniel Gray