Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Chemistry Set

About: The Chemistry Set

The London psychedelic-pop band The Chemistry Set have quite a history. Veterans of the alternative Manchester label “Imaginary” and cassette only label “Acid Tapes”, they helped lead the neo-psychedelic boom of the late 1980's. During this time The Chemistry Set were featured in the British and European underground press, had mainstream and underground radio play worldwide and countless fanzine appearances, including releasing 3 flexi discs with fanzines (remember them?).

Indeed counting Factory & Hacienda boss Tony Wilson amongst their fans, The Chemistry Set reached the coveted Indie Top 20. Receiving regular airplay on the legendary John Peel’s show (Peel even went so far as to sending the band a hand-written fan letter!), they also toured globally but have held a deep fondness for Spain, making lifelong friends there. The band split in 1991, took a bit of a hiatus, remaining silent… until The Chemistry Set “MACH II” remarkably reappeared in 2008!

Their return came about when their unreleased LP from 1989 “Sounds Like Painting” somehow was uploaded onto numerous blogs and was downloaded over 10,000 times in 2008.

Cult Arranger/songwriter [and former Electric Prunes member] David Axelrod digs The Chemistry Set, saying “Real Music! Music that makes you think and really listen to!” He loved how they added a symphonic section of his song “Sanctus” from The Electric Prunes’ masterwork “Mass in F Minor” into their reworking of Del Shannon’s “Silver Birch”. Originally found on Shannon’s “The Further Adventures Of Charles Westover”, his cult 1968 LP widely acknowledged by aficionados to be the pop milestone of his post-“Runaway” era. This calls to memory the occasion when The Chemistry Set once went so far as to insert a cover version inside of another cover. Their version of “See Emily Play” (for the Syd Barrett tribute “Beyond the Wildwood” [Imaginary]) has the “Bicycle Rider” section of The Beach Boys then still unfinished “Smile” album inserted within the song. Their cover was singled out in glowing reviews of the tribute and was highly noted.

Since the return, the second stage of the group has seen the birth of three new CDs: “Alchemy # 101”, “This Day Will Never Happen Again and “Chemistry is Just Numbers” (Carl Sagan quote). The releases received critical acclaim with mainstream and indie press and radio play in the UK, USA and Europe. In 2011 they released a 7” vinyl single “Impossible Love” (Fruits de Mer), which sold out in just five days. The group have been extremely well received in the USA with regular radio play on alternative and college radio. The band also received a very favourable review in The Sunday Times.

In 2011 the boys took to the stage for the first time in 20 years, augmented by musical friends from Spain (including #1 Spanish indie DJ “Gato”). It brought a whole new dimension to their psychedelic-pop, with even more electronics than the Mellotrons and Farfisas that Chemistry Set fans might be accustomed to. Using instruments and methods old and new, acoustic, electric and electronic, together they were a big surprise at European festivals last year and festival goers enjoyed the extraordinary spectacle of the visual work of VJ Matrona that accompanies the band, who has made installations and visuals in clubs and galleries in New York, London, Barcelona and Buenos Aires, she brings her exquisite modern psychedelic imagery in a nod to atmosphere of UFO club in London in the 1960’s.

In the summer of 2012 the group again played European festivals and in-between returned to their laboratory to demo songs for a new album. Three of the songs: “Time To Breathe”, “Come Kiss Me Vibrate And Smile” and their cover of Tomorrow’s “Hallucinations” was released as a limited edition 7” vinyl single by Fruits de Mer records in October 2012, the single was sold out within 48 hours.

In May 2013 they won the inaugural “Eurovision Psych Contest” organised by Brandish TV as a bit of fun but the psychedelic scientists still received more votes than the young psych flavour of the month Jacco Gardner. As “Citylifers” magazine said…. “The Chemistry Set can – and should – count themselves as part of a long, illustrious line of gently psychedelic guitar pop bands”.

In 2014 The Chemistry Set appeared on the critically acclaimed 3 CD box set tribute to Pink Floyd; "The Many Faces Of Pink Floyd" Other artists included members of King Crimson and The Doors. The boys returned to the laboratory in the spring of 2014 to record more songs for the next album and 2 singles for Fruits de Mer records. The first single will be covers of “Love” to form part of a box set of singles entitled “7 & 7 is” to be released in September. The second single “Elapsed Memories” will be released in November and is a sneak peak of the new material that will be in the new album.

The Chemistry Set - Facebook
The Chemistry Set - Soundcloud
The Chemistry Set – Last FM
The Chemistry Set – Twitter
The Chemistry Set – Bandcamp
The Chemistry Set – Fruits de Mer Records
The Chemistry Set - iTunes

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