The sounds are dark, but sometimes light. They’re colorful, but sometimes starkly monochromatic. They are beautiful, too, shafts of light beaming through the clouds. But they can sometimes be hideously ugly, harsh, pointed, and dangerous. They can loop playfully, circle predictably, or drone on so relentlessly that your eyeballs spiral. What are they? They are the multi-tentacled and incredibly compelling sounds of the bands of Terrastock, a psychedelic invasion the likes of which this town hasn’t seen since the last Terrastock experience in Providence in 1997.
But let’s back up a second and rehash what we should already know. Terrastock is a weekend-long festival featuring bands from all over the world. The festival itself has loose ties to an underground psychedelic magazine called Ptolemaic Terrascope, now Terrascope Online, which since 1989 has given voice to an unorthodox but totally cool caravan of experimental and willfully obscure acts. Throughout its reign, PT has succeeded in establishing a rather offbeat but still compelling musical aesthetic, of bands attempting to keep the flame of psychedelia — in all of its different guises — burning bright. Terrastock, sponsored by AS220, Secret Eye Records of Providence, and Terrascope Online, is a one-stop jamboree designed to celebrate that aesthetic. All performances will take place at the Pell Chafee Performance Center and AS220 on Empire Street.
Many of the bands booked for Terrastock are resolute and defiant mavericks. They have risen to the top of the underground heap — if there is such a thing — by serving themselves first, meeting their own individual needs as artists before peddling their products to an audience. Their choice to indulge has enabled them to play to a narrow, but particularly enthusiastic audience, one that’s partial to new sounds. In fact, one that demands them.
Here are profiles of five highly anticipated acts. For a full list of performers and every other detail you need, go towww.secreteye.org/terrastock.
Born in Tokyo in 1984 as a free-form improvisation act intent on playing exotic locations like Buddhist temples and grassy fields, recording cabal Ghost has evolved into something slightly more song-based over the years. Their latest album, Hypnotic Underworld (Drag City), is part-song, part-sonic exploration, veering from scripted synth passages to improvised, zoned-out headphone soundscapes. The album closes with “Dominoes: Celebration for the Gray Days,” a Syd Barrett cover, so that should tell you something about what to expect. Terrastock 6 will host Ghost’s only 2006 US appearance.
Compared to Ghost, Kinski is a household name in indie music. Signed to Sub Pop, Kinski combines, according to one source, “avant-garde experimentalism with a fondness for Krautrock pioneers like Ash Ra Tempel, and the gut-level thrust, heft, and swing of Black Sabbath, the Groundhogs and legendary ’60s/’70s Mexican band Los Dug Dug’s,” And while that might not clear things up entirely, suffice it to say that Kinski have become American psyche-rock explorers, infusing their experiments not only with daring and opportunity, but emotion and passion, a combination not usually found in such a darkly underground region.