The color and texture of Psychomagic

Brain massage

By Rev. Adam McKinney on September 24, 2014

Alejandro Jodorowsky was a complicated artist with a wide reach. His friends in the ‘70s valley of wild artistic expression included Salvador Dali, H.R. Giger, Gong, Pink Floyd, John Lennon and Orson Welles (as depicted in the recent documentary documenting a failed Frank Herbert adaptation, Jodorowsky's Dune). His 1970 film, El Topo, was granted distribution by Lennon, who was a staunch supporter of Jodorowsky's unhinged take on psychedelic filmmaking. That Jodorowsky was eventually given an opportunity to pitch his version of a blockbuster like Dune shows how the ‘70s were the apex and deciding point for where studio films were headed, back before they figured out that formula and constraint brought in the money.

It should surprise no one that a psychedelic auteur would have a preferred method of out-there psychoanalysis. After all, David Lynch - who would go on to direct Dune - is a long-time proponent of Transcendental Meditation. Jodorowsky, meanwhile, preferred a method known as psychomagic, which is exactly the type of thing that the maker of El Topo and The Holy Mountain would name something that combines mysticism and psychotherapy. Apparently, psychomagic involves symbolic things affecting real life, which is incredibly wispy and just crazy enough to work.

Meanwhile, the band known as Psychomagic seems to take no part in the Jodorowsky-esque, brain-melting parts of psychedelia. As opposed to the large portion of their psych-rock compatriots in Portland, Oregon, Psychomagic approach the genre from the goofy place where most of getting high actually exists. Thank god most of the psychedelic experience doesn't necessarily involve seeing stained-glass butterflies that tell you the secret of the universe. A lot of it has to do with cool colors and textures. That's the space wherein Psychomagic lives.

Fittingly, for a psychedelic band that seems to value shapes and colors over mind-melting revelations, Psychomagic was born out of coincidence.

"Me and Anthony Brisson, the drummer, met at a show," says frontman Steven Fusco. "I don't know if you've heard the Memories, but we crossed paths at one of their shows. We started shooting the shit, talking about music and stuff, and our mutual appreciation for that sort of music. ... I could tell that he wanted to write music with me, because he kept bringing up that he was a musician, and I didn't really know anybody, because I had just moved to Portland. I was driving home, and I just realized that what he wanted to do was connect. I asked my friend, who was hanging out with him, if she knew him, and she said, ‘No, I don't really know him. Probably not gonna see him again.' Randomly, the next morning, I got an unknown text that said, ‘I thought you'd ever ask.'"

On Brisson's way home, he ran into Fusco's friend, both of whom never traveled down that street. Numbers were exchanged, and Psychomagic became a reality. In another bit of fortune, Psychomagic got their demo into the hands of Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel, a band that they just happened to like. Little did they know that Mr. Elevator & the Brain Hotel includes people who are involved in one of the America's psych meccas, Lolipop Records. Turns out that most of the bands signed to Lolipop come out of touring bands passing tapes around.

"We didn't really realize the story of Lolipop Records," says Fusco. "We didn't realize that they were involved with Lolipop Records, and when they told us they wanted to put us out, it was awesome. ... It's super random and lucky."

Psychomagic's recent self-titled album begins with flutes and a tremulous vocals from Fusco, before breaking off into a kaleidoscopic array of ‘60 sounds, all blended up and spat out in a colorful cornucopia. In performance, Psychomagic never takes itself so seriously. Everything is filtered through the glassy-eyed gaze of a person who has no need to dig trenches in their brains, but would rather take a moment to notice how fine it feels to be bombarded with the serene vibrations of psychedelic rock. Face-melting can be found elsewhere; Psychomagic is a brain massage.

PSYCHOMAGIC, w/ Santoros, MILK, Bath Party, 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27, The New Frontier Lounge, 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, $5, 253.572.4020