Sensory Overload: Psychedelic Horseshit far from mundane in trippy return to action

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

After a long period of hibernation, things are again beginning to swirl around Psychedelic Horseshit.

In May, the group posted a cryptic message to its Tumblr site that read, in part, “awoke from awoke from a dream … see you soon,” and in June the musicians surfaced for a pair of high-profile local shows, opening for Parquet Courts and Protomartyr at Double Happiness and Magik Markers at Ace of Cups.

At Ace of Cups, the musicians wandered onstage dressed like a gaggle of mystics, trailing a thin stream of lit incense. Fittingly, its songs often moved like smoke, shifting, swirling and occasionally altering course, as if caught up in an unexpected breeze. “Dreadlock Paranoia,” for example, briefly lapsed into dub-reggae, bounding along on a sticky island groove before shifting back into hazy country psychedelia.

At times, the band sounded as intent on crafting interesting textures as actual songs: the low feedback that echoed a jet passing high overhead, twinkling keyboards that suggested a televised dream sequence, a recorder that mirrored the squeak of an unoiled screen door flapping in the wind.

Lyrically, the songs tended to be nearly as trip-inducing, and singer/guitarist Matt Whitehurst filled his verses with mentions of portals, melting sandcastles and books about parallel dimensions. This appeared to stem more from boredom than some deep-seated fascination with the cosmos, however. “It’s just the same thing all the time,” the nasally frontman sneered on one tune. Then, one song later, “The cherry on top of the cake is everything is rather dull.”

In that sense, the group’s music served as an escape from the mundane nature of day-to-day life, and songs were filled with psychedelic flourishes, often bleeding over into one another rather than simply ending, like fluid passing through a lava lamp. The effect was hypnotic on paranoid numbers like “Are You on Glass,” which felt a bit like stumbling through a Ralph Steadman drawing where everything was distorted to cartoonish, grotesque size, and “Sun-Bleached Kool Aid,” a spacy, head-rush of a song that fared far better than the similarly themed $1 shots of electric blue “kool ade” that went untouched at the band’s merch table.