Many of you may not realize, but Radioactive Sandwich has been pressing records like paninis for almost ten years now. Having been following them for quite some time now, I can say their work has been on a consistent upward trajectory the entire time. And Survival is no exception. One of the few groups out there that are dedicated to keeping psychedelic music psychedelic (not just “trippy”), they are a refreshing blend of the likes of Ott. and Shpongle, going hard on the deep psy dub with a unique playful psychedelic atmosphere involving whacky vocals and powerful odd time rhythms. But enough about the Sandwich as a whole, lets get to the meat of their new record Survival out now on Tech Safari Records. There is one thing you’ll immediately notice after listening to the whole thing… Genres! Genres everywhere!
Every single track on this record is pulled from a different corner of the psychedelic universe, yet they are distinctly Radioactive Sandwich. Too often in this scene we find artists and fans over obsessed with genre specificness and BPM consistency. This has always made very little sense to me as “comfort and consistency” should never be used in the same conversation as what it means to be truly psychedelic. And Survival extends a smiling open hand to invite listeners to a trek through new and constantly different spaces. This ain’t the Sandwich your mom cuts the crust off every day… So sit back… Or stand on top of a mountain and let Radioactive Sandwich take you on a multitude of adventures to tickle your mind and belly.
The first track comes right out of the gate with a playful bouncy triplet bassline reminiscent of Younger Brother. Organ church pads begin swelling up. Beautiful chord progressions take you gently by the hand and lead you in the right direction. A heavy breath, but then… The real bass drops in… The song begins. Welcome to Survival.
In “Ex Nihilo,” Slice Two sings us a trippy little diddy about the congruity between inner space and outer space! While long time listeners of the Sandwich are probably more used to Slice Two making under water monkey sounds and recording the sounds of gurgling space volcanos, all of which he faithfully reproduces live with about 12 thousand kaos pads (correction, I’m being told by our editor it’s actually 4), but the actual song he sings in this one is rather nice – a great little reggae inflected melody while Slice One turns the chorus wistful with a minor 3rd chord pression. All of which is over a smooth yet hard hitting psychedelic dub groove, with those good ol’ snares hitting almost as hard as the kicks. An awesome anthem for Radioactive Sandwich.
Next track, ‘The Storm.” A piano haunts. The percussion comes in with an epic chord progression. Arpeggiated synths swirl back and fourth. Get ready to bounce. I love songs like this one because it’s hard to describe. You can’t really put a genre label on it. Not that it’s overly complex and shifting between tons of styles, it’s just something of it’s own constantly. It’s groovy as hell, with spooky out of tune synth leads helping you bounce through this inflatable haunted house. The bass glides with such a force and smoothness you kind of want to do the ether walk from Fear and Loathing. It’s not quite downtempo enough to be dub, and it’s not fast enough to be trance or drum and bass. Luke Bemand of lespecial says, “Well… It’s psy… Something. I mean it IS psychedelic as nut so like…” Me personally? Who cares? It’s a wild ride! They’ve truly cultivated a sense of the epic with this one.
Track three,”Icefall.” Where are we? Uh oh. What alien dungeon factory did the ship let us off at? What the hell is here waiting for us… Oh yeah… Psytrance! Here comes the dugga dugga dugga dugga in a smooth and creamy progressive non abrasive spin ya’ around three times and pat ya’ on the bottom kind of psytrance… If you know what I mean. I had the pleasure of experiencing Radioactive Sandwich play a three hour set, where they revealed their secret weapon… An extensive catalogue of amazing unreleased psytrance material they produced. Take a tour through the sandwich factory on their home planet. Be sure to geek out under a few blacklights to this little uptempo psychedelic dance party in a bag. I won’t spoil all of the twists and turns this track goes through… Just keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.
Now lets take a listen to those who got that factory tour early and offered their interpretation of what madness they saw there.
Globular takes the Sandwich psytrance and flips it upside down for a rockin’ good mid tempo drum and bass. With a crispy psydub middle. You can’t help but smile and dance to this one – bouncy bouncy fun fun fun fun fun. Globular and Radioactive Sandwich have collaborated before on Sorbet for the Soul which can be found (along with many more amazing psychedelic psychedelic records) on Ektoplazm.com.
Tron Sepia takes us into a whole different psychedelic mechanical vehicle. Starting off with a percussion driven psytrance groove before the entire track disintegrates in a massive robotic fuckstep psychedelic grime banger. Not for the faint of heart. This debaucherous interpretation of “Icefall” might be my favorite track on the record, as it cleverly navigates through genres and tempos like Luke Skywalker in an X-wing. And if I were Luke, I’d probably have had R2 blast this as I sent the Death Star into oblivion.
Overall the record is a smorgasbord of beautifully executed ideas and styles made perfect for a nice little adventure between your ears. Epic is an understatement. My only fault with this record is how short it is. I want more Sandwich… But then again baguettes can’t be choosers.
If you find yourself in the New England area, catch Radioactive Sandwich April 12th at Fractaltribe‘s Subculture!
It will be well worth it. So open wide and receive the Sandwich. And don’t worry, Radioactive Sandwich insists that they are gluten free… But, really though… Who knows with these guys?