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Jouis - Bleach - 11th February 2016

Jouis - Bleach - 11th February 2016

The psych scene in Brighton is on the point of saturation - so it’s good to know there’s still some bands out there making quality psychedelic jams. Jouis are one of these bands, paying homage to the great psych bands of old while managing to breathe life into a scene that has stagnated and become increasingly niche.

Their sound blends trad-psych with a more modern folk feel. Mind-bending delay and reverb coming from the lead guitar’s outrageously complex pedalboard; check. Jazz-tinged keys floating disjointedly on the edge of the songs; check. Dystopian vocal harmonies hovering at the border of sweet and scary; also check. Zone in on any one player and you’ll hear something good going on, but it’s hard to identify what exactly makes them sound so distinct: in a lot of ways, the elements are pretty standard psychedelic revisionism, but put them all together and there’s something exciting in the mix.

Part of Jouis’ charm comes from the visual aspect of their show: their sound just wouldn’t be complete without a dizzy light show and a supernatural, mysterious projection on the back wall. Then, of course, there’s the band themselves, liberally sporting throwbacks from the 60s and 70s: more paisley than you can shake a stick at, round Lennon glasses, even a brown leather waistcoat on the bassist. It’s bizarre but they own it with a care-free confidence, and in combination with their sound, it absolutely works. More than that, their fans seem to have got the message and to be happily getting on board with the look. Very rarely does such a hippie-ish crowd gather all in one place - even in Brighton.

Much of Jouis’ set was dominated by meandering bass-lines and off-the-wall time signatures. In the more free-form moments, it was clear that some people were finding it hard to keep the rhythm. But the band are obviously intuitive performers, as they never neglected to look after those members of the crowd looking to dance. Songs may have begun with slow, drifting and erratic rhythms, but they would invariably build to a fast and foot-stamping climax amidst a whirl of instrumentation.

The intelligent structuring of their songs may have been the most refreshing aspect of their gig: many songs were clearly designed to move from the abstract into the destructive, showing off plenty of instrumental imagination along the way. Jouis played with skill, style, and with an underlying wildness that hinted at some untamed aspect to their music. Their nods to the traditions of psychedelia were many and obvious, but at no point did they feel old or reproductive. Word on the band’s future is unclear: after this tour through France, some say they’ll be taking up a new record deal - but another rumour has it they may take a hiatus. Let’s hope the former turns out to be true.
Ben Noble

 





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