Well, 2016 has been an interesting year, hasn’t it? Trump. Brexit. Ebola. The refugee crisis and the endless wars and violence that acted as a catalyst. The death of a Gorilla that plunged the Internet into meltdown. The loss of far too many heroes; Vega, Bowie, Prince, Cohen and so many more. Reflecting on 2016, it’s not hard to see why so many people are desperately waiting to see out the year in a hazy, drunken stupor, convincing themselves that next year will be better. But despite all of this, it’s been another damn good year for us and music as a whole. So let’s take a second to forget about all the doom and gloom and remember all the cool stuff that’s happened this year instead.
Psych goes Global
2016 was the year that psych and rock and roll transcended to every corner of the world. This year we saw the scene grow to a massive scale, with a DIY ethos at its heart we saw an endless amount of independent psych festivals and showcases pop up everywhere across the globe. We counted that there were over 48 psych festivals this year, dotted everywhere from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Holland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and of course the UK and US – here’s a handy list of all of them for all you proactive lot who want to start planning for next year. This goes to show that no matter where in the world you reside you can now be sure to find a thriving, music scene. Take London for example; Bad Vibrations alone, the capitals finest purveyors of all things loud and lysergic, hosted a total of 170 gigs, all-dayers, all-nighters and album launches.
Don’t get me wrong it’s always been a far-reaching scene with a big sense of community but 2016 undoubtedly saw psychedelia cast into the future, a boundless and creative scene that's full of thousands of like-minded artists, promoters, labels, online publications/zines and of course you guys. Driven by a magnificent DIY ethos and a communal love for all things fuzzy, psych music has now been pushed to every crevice of the world and can be seen transforming into something bigger and better right before our eyes.
Under The Arches
This year saw us launch Under The Arches, a number of all-day events held at London Fields Brewhouse with an independent label market during the day bringing together an eclectic range of some of the finest tastemakers in the game; Captured Tracks, Mexican Summer, Rocket Recordings, Sonic Cathedral and Fire Records to name a few. An extensive indie label market by day and riotous gig by night, hosting some of our favourite local and international touring bands such as The Underground Youth, The Entrance Band, Clinic, Younghusband, Guy Blakeslee, Pretty Lightning and loads more. There might be more of them coming up in 2017 too, so keep an eye out for that.
Fuzz Club Sessions
This year we also announced our new ‘Fuzz Club Sessions’ series. The aim? To take some of the best names in international psych and rock and roll, bring them to a studio in South London and strip things down to their absolute basics – just raw, unkempt rock and roll recorded straight to tape in one take, using totally analogue equipment including a Neve console and 2” Ampex tape machine. Each band was asked to play a 30-minute set that could be made up of improv jams, new and old songs, covers and just about anything. Each session is to be released on a 12” LP with a series of videos from the day. We kick-started the series with a session from Seattle’s Night Beats; the raw, analogue recording allowing the trio to shine in all their raucous, psychedelic-garage-rock glory.
We also recently announced the next in the series; a mesmerising session Fuzz Club favourites 10,000 Russos that's set for release January next year and that’s just the start, we’ve got some real treats lined up for the rest of the series.
We've also had the pleasure of putting out a crazy number of records too. We started the year with represses and reissues from The Underground Youth and Dead Rabbits which was shortly followed by the cinematic post-rock/psych of The Flow In Between by Tales Of Murder and Dust, a colossal split single with White Hills and RMFTM, a master-class in experimental music in the form of One Unique Signal’s Hoopsnake, a lucid and smoky garage-rock LP from The Third Sound Gospels of Degeneration, the incredible Live In Berlin LP from Dead Skeletons, RMFTM’s industrial psych/acid-house monster Subversive II and the brooding post-punk of The Cult of Dom Keller’s Goodbye To The Light.
We released the fourth volume of The Reverb Conspiracy, boasting Ulrika Spacek, Josefin Ohrn and The Liberation, Giobia, Soft Walls and The Madcaps to name a few. This was shortly followed by Dead Rabbits brilliant third LP Everything Is A Lie and Tau’s mystical and droning Tau Tau Tau LP. The Underground Youth's A LoFi Cinematic Landscape got the vinyl treatment, The Wands’ Faces offered a cosmic, 60s-esque garage and Austin psych-beat producer Al Lover paid homage to seminal outfits, Neu! and Suicide, on the Neuicide! 10”.
We released an industrial, goth-tinged split-single between 10,000 Russos and The Oscillation and the ethereal motorik shoegaze of My Invisible Friend’s self-titled EP. We reissued Sonic Jesus' first EP and Tales Of Murder And Dust's Hallucination Of Beauty, and, as previously mentioned, we kicked off the Fuzz Club Session series with the white-knuckle R&B of Night Beats.
Although you’ll have to wait until next year to hear them in full we also announced new LPs from The Underground Youth and Singapore Sling, and from two new additions to the Fuzz Club family; The Gluts and Has a Shadow. We've been keeping busy during the holiday so look out for some more announcements over new year!
If you need to reacquaint yourself with what we've been up to we put together a two-hour long playlist with a track from each of this year's releases – and you definitely should because there's a lot to dig into. You can find the playlist below.
So yeah, 2016 has been pretty amazing in many ways and we're ridiculously excited to show you what we've got planned for next year - you haven't seen anything yet! Huge thanks to all our artists, friends, promoters, anyone that bought a record, came to a show or done anything to help make it such a cool year for us and everyone who loves music. We couldn't do what we do without you.
See you in 2017!
Words by Jack Palfrey