I’m not sure why Globe Master works so well. It adheres to a lot of customs I resent in other bands, but when it comes out the other end, it somehow flexes enough muscle to break through the constraints that accompany playing psych-rock, synth-driven or no, in the modern era.
It’s a simple enough formula, that wielded by Leisure Birds: Start with one of those groovy-gravy psych drum beats, buttressed by shaker or tambourine eternally, play two or three notes on a bass guitar that’s uncommonly high in the mix, sing workmanlike verses and choruses blanketed in echo, and in almost every case defer to the power of the mighty psych-organ — and for good reason, as it’s what differentiates the Birds from a gaggle of like-minded bog dwellers. In fact, when a track fails to distinguish itself, it’s usually because its synths failed to make a convincing case for its existence.
The stronger cuts focus on ritual beauty and cosmic splendor. “Silver Runner” is a streak of Stereolab where its groove is concerned and a luscious sound sundae when it comes to its gooey synth topping, shining like a Lite Brite in a pit of surreal chords that almost seem to ask unknown questions of themselves and the universe as they chug along. If you decide to traverse “Silk Road,” get ready for an atmospheric, Tangerine Dream effect, as synths sprinkle mist upon another one of those simple, but effective, bass-drums templates so dear to Leisure Birds (and Religious Knives, if you remember).
Side B of the Globe Master experience is a more diverse world with less predictable methods for summoning the psych spirits, and the entire project benefits from its outward trajectory. “Rediscovery of Man Pt. I” is more of an Amen Dunes echo-chant than a proper rock song, allowing the mind to wrap around it as the singer takes a psych-era Bee Gees/Velvet Davenport (labelmates, the latter) turn to wondrous ends. When the drum beats and tambouring taps finally return, they feel earned, and some decent guitarpeggios join the fray, flying in the face of a mostly six-strings-free affair. It’s not the best psych I’ve heard this decade, but it’s the best I’ve heard this year, and it’s going to be a good one, friends.