Following on from the release of their debut sell-out 10″ single ‘Love Is All There Is’ last summer, the mysterious North Wales band The Cult of Free Love are back with their debut album, Love Revolution. Featuring collaborations with artists known to the Northern Star Records collective of musicians, Love Revolution is one of 2016’s most unique releases, sure to enthral fans of psychedelia and electronica alike. As distinctive as its sound is its glorious presentation: Love Revolution‘s “Transparent With Red Splatter” vinyl LP is housed in a beautiful sleeve of warm reds and yellows, earthly imagery and a modern throwback to 60s psychedelic bubble font.
Love Revolution begins with ‘Drone On’, four minutes of droning that subtly pulses and rings as it builds. Instantly ominous and persistently curious, the track ends in an anti-climatic fade out that sets up to perfectly highlight the brilliant ‘Jaya Deva’.
The six-minute sparking jewel on Love Revolution, ‘Jaya Deva’ features gorgeous, otherworldly vocals delicately sung in Hindi by Satsangi vocalist Su. Combining beautiful melody and curious effects with its steady, almost mechanical percussion, ‘Jaya Deva’ serves to lay down the musical themes the rest of Love Revolution follows: solid, grounding drone and some truly psychedelic exploration.
Side A’s third track is one of three instalments of ‘Interpretations of Love’ that appear on the album. Featuring UK post-electronica band Kontakte, ‘Interpretations of Love I’ begins as complex white noise: gale force winds seem to be mixing with channel-flicking TV static. The two build together frantically for three minutes until Massive Attack-style keys push through the noise, introducing a welcome beat and a sweet, comforting melody that fades out again, once again lost in electronic blips and white noise.
Rounding off Side A is ‘You Are Obsolete’, a catchy, synthy track that crosses sci-fi and psychedelia in the best way possible.
“I am nothing more than a reminder to you, that you cannot destroy truth.”
“You are obsolete.”
So begins ‘You Are Obsolete’, using some powerful samples from a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone. And so it continues, mixing spoken word samples about literature and truth with slick synths and psychedelic melody. Whether The Cult of Free Love are making a statement about society or not probably comes down to the listener, but either the way eerie power of the track is palpable.
Kicking off Side B with a more buoyant interpretation of drone is ‘Interpretations of Love II’, featuring Danny Walley. Hiding familiar psychedelic samples from previous tracks under upbeat, Fat Segal style electronica, ‘Interpretations of Love II’ provides a perfect contrast to the next, the entirely more introspective ‘Guru Lover’.
Beginning and ending as a percussion-led, trancelike track, the heart of ‘Guru Lover’ is well and truly at its core; like sunlight filtering through a school of fish, out of the electronic styling emerges lightness. Shimmering and playful, the synths and keys bob through the psychedelic strings and percussion that eventually wash over and take over the limelight once more. Spirited and earthly, the throwback to nature within ‘Guru Lover’ is the perfect antidote to the comparatively inanimate track that follows. In true sci-fi fashion, with a prophetic atmosphere and synth-led stillness, the appropriately named ‘Space Odyssey 2020’ is washed away almost as soon as it begins.
Rounding off the album is the third and final instalment of ‘Interpretations of Love’, a quaint throwback to ‘Love Is All There Is’, and an all-in, friendly nod to Love Revolution’s diversity. Featuring Tim White from Texas’ Snowdonnas, ‘Interpretations of Love III’ is largely a rehash of ‘Love Is All There Is’, but brings together all elements The Cult of Free Love’s entire musical collective put forward on Love Revolution.
Just like the rest of the album, the final track it feels like a triumph: a celebration of cohesion, creativity and collective power. The range and styles on Love Revolution are far-reaching, but the album feels seamlessly assembled and effortlessly executed, blurring the lines between psychedelia and electronica. Like watching a sci-fi film or reading a good book, the details are there to be intimately and repeatedly appreciated, but it’s when you take a step back that things become even better. While it’s easy to get lost in the details or repeatability of separate tracks on the album, Love Revolution is truly a sum of all its parts, and taking in the whole picture is when its grandeur is truly revealed.
Due for release this summer on Wrong Way Records as the label’s third release to date, Love Revolution is available to pre-order now.