SUN DIAL: Other way out CD Easily the best neo-psych (psychedelic rock) album. CHECK audio (whole album)


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The first Sun Dial album, Other Way Out (1990), copied the sound of the late sixties perfectly and is still celebrated as one of the best examples of neo-psychedelia.
1 Plains Of Nazca (7:21)
2 Exploding In Your Mind (5:15)
3 Magic Flight (6:26)
4 World Without Time (9:04)
5 She’s Looking All Around (7:20)
6 Visitation (2:43)
7 Other Side (3:38)
8 Lorne Blues (4:01)

sheer greatness.
Sun Dial, though a ‘band’ in every sense of the word, is in fact a vehicle for Gary Ramon, songwriter, vocalist, and mean acid guitarist.
It’s one of the best neo-psych albums around, and is perhaps the one to convince die hard 60s/70s vintage psych freaks that there are indeed some amazing psych albums to be had from the more recent crop of psychedelic bands. ‘Other Way Out’ contains six tracks of trippy 60s influenced psychedelic rock

Without wanting to sound crass, the album reeks of LSD. Whether this is because Ramon was drenched in the stuff or he’s got a post-grad degree in psychedelia is anyone’s guess, but whatever, it works. The lyrics to every track sound like they were written whilst Ramon was halfway through a dayglo patchouli-scented acid trip. There’s phased vocals weaving in and out of phased drums and liquid wah guitar solos chasing distant flutes into deep space. This isn’t an album of meandering and drifting sonic journeys though; five of the six tracks are ‘songs’ proper, with verse/chorus structures. Only the last track, ‘Lorne Blues’, a bluesy acid-heavy guitar workout of slow riffing and phased drums, dispenses with the discipline and totally freaks out.

‘Other Way Out’ is a psych classic and not to be missed.

I do regard this album as a masterpiece. Who needs to take acid…just listen to track 2. Out of this world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s incredible how this 1990 release sounds like it came straight out of 1968. This sounds so authentic with the fuzzed out, wah wah guitars along with the spacey manipulated vocals and trippy sound. SUN DIAL is the project of vocalist and guitarist Gary Ramon who’s from England. Like Steven Wilson he was a one man band recording music until he decided he wanted to play his tunes live and that’s how this band came about. This is the debut. And speaking of Steven Wilson there are a couple of songs on here that would fit perfectly on “On The Sunday Of Life” which was recorded a year or so before this one. This sounds like Syd Barrett era PINK FLOYD overall, acid psychedelia and I like that we also get some flute and organ.

“Plains Of Nazca” was the first song I heard from SUN DIAL and I was shocked at how much this sounds like PORCUPINE TREE’s “On The Sunday Of Life”. I mean even the vocals sound like Wilson. We get organ and more to start in this hazy, psychedelic beauty. A beat and bass joins in as this trips along. Vocals after a minute. This is so good! Just close your eyes and groove to the music. Pulsating organ around 2 1/2 minutes as the vocals step aside. The guitar replaces the organ after 3 minutes, nice bass too as the vocals return. Themes are repeated and I’m glad this plays out for 7 1/2 minutes. Great start!

“Exploding In Your Mind” has down-tuned fuzzed out guitar as bass then drums and vocals join in. Some ripping guitar on this one as it plays out. On the chorus he cries out “Clouds exploding in your mind”. “Magic Flight” has strummed guitar and melancholic flute to start as it builds. Bass, drums and manipulated vocals join in this hazy sounding tune. Flute to the fore at 1 1/2 minutes as it builds then the guitar starts to solo. Vocals are back in this tripped out piece of psychedelia. Great sounding flute and guitar with the latter dominating late.

“She’s Looking All Around” is a top three song for me along with the opener. Dual guitars, one electric one acoustic as spacey vocals join in around a minute, bass too. This is another drugged out sounding tune and this one trips along for over 9 minutes. Catchy as well. Love that flute around 3 1/2 minutes but the guitar is back leading a minute later. Vocals are back before 6 minutes then the guitar leads again after 8 minutes.

“World Without Time” is coming. My final top three. I like the dual guitars like at the start of the previous track as the vocals join in. Drums, percussion and fuzzed out guitar to the fore around 1 1/2 minutes. Vocals are back with those trippy lyrics. Flute before 3 1/2 minutes then the guitar leads before the vocals return before 5 minutes. “Visitation” is a short tune with spacey vocals, drums, bass and electric guitar. This sounds really good and the guitar is so tripped out. Vocals are back after 2 minutes.

“Other Side” has this catchy pulsating organ as the bass, drums, guitar and vocals join in. You can’t help but move to the music here. The guitar solos after 2 minutes then the vocals return. Pulsating organ again before 3 1/2 minutes. “Lorne Blues” ends it with fuzzed out guitar, bass and a beat. Love the guitar here and vocals don’t arrive until after 3 minutes.

One of the best from 1990 although it wasn’t a great year for adventurous music I’ll say that. A solid  album that really impressed me. For fans of Syd.

Other Way Out is one of those rare albums I’ve owned on three formats, and yet that sort of obsessiveness still seems inadequate to convey how much I love this album by Sun Dial, an English psych-rock group led by guitarist/vocalist Gary Ramon. No exaggeration, I must have played Other Way Out more than any other LP released in the ’90s—hundreds of times. So, why haven’t you heard it? (Apologies if you have and dig it.) This album should be canonical. But despite being reissued often since its original release in 1990, it nonetheless remains a mere cult favorite.

Part of the problem is that the many iterations of Other Way Out mostly have been issued by tiny labels,  not reaching as many people as it should. If everyone who’s raved about Mercury Rev’s overrated Deserter’s Songs owned Other Way Out, the world might be in a much better place.

LP-opener “Plains Of Nazca” starts in media res with Anthony Clough’s Vox Continental organ drone, then takes off with drummer Dave Morgan’s quasi-funky rhythm and golden spangles of electric guitar and a phantom angelic coo in the distance. Ramon’s voice is shrouded in a sick phaser effect (or is it being run through a Leslie speaker?) as he intones as if stoned immaculate a few psychedelic scenarios seemingly composed under the influence of Owsley. Clough’s organ solo is a fairground fantasia of pure spiral-eyed bliss. After clocking this stunning tune, one worries that Sun Dial may have peaked too early. But no. It gets better.

“Exploding In Your Mind” is practically the Platonic ideal of ’60s-via-’90s psychedelia, an upgrade on what the Dukes Of Stratosphear were doing, but with genuine, serious intent. The wah-wah power is strong with this one, and the whole song seems to be flowing through chartreuse magma. The refrain of “colors exploding in your mind” will induce said phenomenon—unless you’re a lysergic virgin, perhaps. This is the part where I always feel transported to a place beyond the Star Gate sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Suffused in a huge swirl of phaser and illuminated by Anthony Clough’s bamboo flute and Ramon’s florid acoustic guitar strums, “Magic Flight” offers a self-fulfilling prophesy of its title. What a spectacular dream.

If OWO had only consisted of these three songs, it would be glowing regally in the psych-rock pantheon. But there are yet more thrills ahead. On “World Without Time,” Sun Dial billow out some low-key, semi-baroque bliss rock with hints of early Pink Floyd, augmented by Morgan’s Turkish talking-drum percussion. With “She’s Looking All Around,” the band unveil a rococo power ballad that could—stay with me now—be an alternative universe “Stairway To Heaven” / “Nights In White Satin” hybrid. The record closes with “Lorne Blues,” the most menacing track here, a snarling, low-flying number not too far from what fellow British psych-rockers Loop were doing on Heaven’s End and Fade Out.

So, yeah, as you can see by this geyser of praise, I’ve been loving “Other Way Out” to death since its initial release 32 years ago. Now it’s your turn. -Buckley Mayfield

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