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10 Psych Rock Bands From Around the World

Updated on July 3, 2011

10 Realtively Unknown but Great Psych Rock Bands From Around the World

Psych Rock or Psychedelic Rock is a unique style of rock music directly influenced by psychedelic culture and tries to reproduce or enhance the mind altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The sound was derived from folk rock and blues but the lyric content is generally more experimental and colorful than those two base genres.

Psych Rock was pioneered by bands in the United states and England in the mid to late 1960s. While many of the more popular bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and the Beatles scored hits with their trippy songs, the majority of Psych bands remained in the underground and never got much airplay.

After the backlash against the hippie generation due in part to the Charles Manson murders and LSD being made illegal, Psych Rock bands began mutating into Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal or headed for more poppy sounds. Some bands, such as the Grateful Dead, carried on their psychedelic sounds and became an institution for generations of college kids looking to expand theit minds.

One could go into detail about all the relatively unknown yet influential US/UK bands like The 13th Floor Elevators, Mothers of Invention, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Chocolate Watch Band, Soft Parade, Moby Grape etc but the purpose of this lens is to explore bands from outside the US and UK who sang in their native toungs and and show that music has no language barriers.

Expand your mind and music knowledge with these fantastic Psych bands from around the world.

Flower Travellin' Band

Japan

Flower Travellin' Band is perhaps my favorite band on this list. They were formed in the late 1960s and they had a heavy guitar laden sound that these days might be considered early Heavy Metal. Their singer Joe Yamanaka was enigmatic and often appeared in concert wearing a gown, bikini underwear and sandals.

Flower Travellin' Band was initially started by Yuya Uchida (a legendary Japanese rock-n-roll star) when he returned to Japan after visiting John Lennon in England during the mid 60s. Yuya Uchida recruited some fine local talent and called the initial band "Flowers" but that incarnation mostly played covers of Cream, Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company,

In 1969, Yuya Uchida recruited Jun Kobayashi, Hideki Ishima, Joe Yamanaka and George Wada to form what would be the Flower Travellin' Band as a way to produce and explore a new music. Their first original album Satori was being produced in the same year, and was released in 1971.

In 1972, the band relocated to Canada hoping to find wider access to North American audiences. In 1973 they were billed to open for the Rolling Stones on their Japanes tour but that tour got deraild due to Mick Jagger's passport getting rejected due to drug charges.

Eventually, the band went their separate ways but in November 2007, the band members officially reunited and formally recruited keyboardist Nobuhiko Shinohara. In 2008, they released their first new album in over 35 years " We Are Here".

In March 2010, future tours and productions were suspended when vocalist Joe Yamanaka was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 63.

If you want to see one of the most awesome bands ever, check out the Youtube video below. It's Flower Travellin' Band playing their last show at Maruyama in Kyoto, Japan. The song is "Satori Part II."

Flower Travellin' Band - Live at Maruyama in Kyoto, Japan

Rare 8mm footage of Japanese 70's psychedelic rock group Flower Travellin' Band playing their last show at Maruyama in Kyoto, Japan. The song is "Satori Part II."

El Ritual

Mexico

Even though they were together for less than two years, Mexico's "El Ritual" left a lasting impression on the Psych Rock world. Coming off with a sound that's reminiscent of Steppenwolf crossed with a funky Santana-esque feel, El Ritual were absolutely brilliant.

Formed in Mexico City in 1971, El Ritual was known for creating dark haunting passages and then out of nowhere, dropping into a spacey jazz style progression. Usually the main focus of their music was the percussion but the music has truippy organ work and even some Jethro Tull style flute thrown in for good measure..

El Ritual was often labelled as being "Satanic" as their imagery and lyrics were pointed in that direction.

The band released one album, titled "El Ritual" in 1971 and an EP titled "Easy Woman" also released in 1971..

El Ritual was :

Frankie Barreño (lead vocals, guitars, flute)

Gonzalo Chalo Hernández (bass)

Alberto Lalo Barceló (drums)

Martín Mayo (keyboards)

Le Orme

Italy

Le Orme was an Italian Psych Rock band formed in 1966 in Marghera, a frazione of Venice, Italy. The band was initially formed as a Psych Rock band but later became one of the major groups on the Italian progressive rock scene in the 1970s.

The name Le Orme means "The Footprints" in Italian and the band certaily left their footprint on the psych and progressive rock scenes.

Their album Ad Gloriam, released in 1969 was pioneering and a borderline launch into progressive rock. The sound is somewhere between the Moody Blues and Alan Parsons Project. The album was well received and earned the band much respect in their home country yet they were relatively unknown outside of Italy.

In 1971 Le Orme recorded their second studio album, Collage. and thanks to its promotion through the RAI radio program Per voi giovani, the album was very quickly successful, earning a top 10 placing in the Italian charts.

Le Orme are one of few Italian bands to have success outside of Italy, having played concerts across North America and Europe by releasing an album in English at the height of their success.

They continue to play concerts both inside and outside of Italy.

Le Orme - Universal Music Collection - [Box set, Import]

The Four Levels of Existence

Greece

Maybe the most unknown Greek band playing hard rock psychedelia in the 1970s was a group with an extremely puzzling name: Ta Tessera Epipeda Tis Yparxis (or The Four Levels Of Existence to all you non-Greeks out there).

Although this band was active for only a few years in the 1970s, several years after the bane of psych rock in the US, the band proved the genre was still alive in countries like Greece.

Their sound was like a cross of Steppenwolf and Jefferson Airplane with more ethnic sounding progressions and lyrics sung in Greek.

They made one LP in 1976, on a very small label (called Venus) and in a very limited edition. The album almost immediately disappeared and was never released again until 2006 when Lion Productions released it on CD.

Four Levels of Existence - [Limited Edition]

Group 1850

Netherlands

Group 1850 was a Dutch psychedelic rock band formed in 1964 in The Hague, Netherlands under the name Klits but they soon changed their name to Groep 1850 in 1966, when their debut single, "Misty Night" was released on the tiny Yep label.

They were soon signed to the Philips label and more singles ensued, in a highly psychedelic vein, but that did not help the band gain a footing outside The Netherlands and Philips dropped them soon afterwards.

In 1969, their legendary album "Paradise Now" was released on the Dutch Discofoon label. The group recorded the LP in one day only.

The band disbanded soon afterwards but remained sporadically active through the 1970s. Especially notable was another single, 1971's "Fire" / "Have You Ever Heard?", which appeared on the Polydor label.

Their sound was spacey jazz rock with obvious psychedelic influences. Many parts of the music are reminiscent of the Mothers of Invention with a hint of Moody Blues dreamy structures and soundbites.

Group 1850 - Paradise Now - [Import]

Trubadurzy

Poland

Trubadurzy was a Polish band founded in 1963 in Lodz, Poland. Their name translates to "The Troubadors" and the band started as a folk band but throughout their 40+ year career the band has evolved and changed genere numerous times.

It wasn't until the late 1960s that the band started evolving towards a more Western influenced Psych Rock sound. Their music from this period is more reminiscent of the beat style psych bands such as The Turtles, The Byrds and The Who but there is a definitel psychedelic tinge to the songs.

The band released the album "Kochana" in 1968. It combines definite psych elements while blending a distinct Polish folk music sound and feel to it as evidenced in many of their songs. The songs follow Eastern European influences with use of dissonant melodies and minor chords.

Trubadurzy also played some crazy looking guitars and basses that were built by Polish manufacturers specifically for the band..

Bent Wind

Canada

Bent Wind was a Canadian psychedelic rock band formed in 1969 in Toronto, Canada. They recorded an album called "Sussex" that same year, which was pressed in very limited quantities and subsequently became a sought-after collectors item.

"Sussex" features some amazing guitar work and sounds a lot like early Blue Oyster Cult. The album features a blend of great guitar riffs and solos made with interesting pattern of bass groove and drums section make most of songs refreshing, standing on it's own. It's value within LP collectors is higher than $1,000 if you can even find a copy, so that tells you how quality this album is.

Guitarist Marty Roth has reformed the band with different members a number of times since, releasing additional albums in 1989 and 1996.

Bent Wind - Sussex - [import]

Steppeulvene

Denmark

Steppeulvene (Danish language for Steppenwolf) was a Psych Rock band from Denmark formed in 1966, a year before the California band Steppenwolf named themselves after the novel by German Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse. Despite the bands relatively short life they have become the icon for the Danish counterculture scene.

Their only album Hip was released in 1967 and was the first rock album with original Danish lyrics. It has since has attained near-mythological status in the history of Danish rock.

The group was the result of a collaboration between lead singer Eik Skaløe, who had traveled in the Orient in the early 1960s and wrote the Bob Dylan-inspired, highly symbolic and almost surreal lyrics, and Stig Møller (guitar, vocal), who wrote the drawling, psychedelic, folk-influenced music. The other members were Søren Seirup (bass) and Preben Devantier (drums).

A short tour in October 1967 came to a chaotic end when a concert was cut short by the police and the group members were arrested for cannabis use. Shortly after being released, Eik Skaløe went on a journey to Afghanistan and was found dead outside the city of Ferozepore apparently after a drug-induced suicide.

Back in Denmark the rest of the group attempted to carry on, but, lacking the characteristic Skaløe as a front figure, quickly dissolved.

Freedom's Children

South Africa

Formed during the height of the hated apartheid era in South Africa, Freedom's Children swiftly became one of the troubled country's most innovative bands, incomparable to any other both musically and politically during those turbulent years.

Their explorative, sonic excursions pushed the musical envelope and broke down barriers, culminating in the groundbreaking Astra album, arguably one of the era's most overlooked recordings. The problem was no one was listening beyond South Africa.

When Freedom's Children tried to establish themselves in the UK during 1969, the group ran into major problems. Thanks to British policy on the apartheid, most of the band members were refused work visas and could not play ngigs legally..

Their sound ound is somewhere between the Moody Blues, Jefferson Airplane and the Chambers Brothers. Heavy heartfelt vocals, spacey guitars, throbbing bass lines and punctuated drumming make this band a cult favorite.

Freedom's Children - Astra - [Import]

Os Mutantes

Brazil

Os Mutantes were an extremely influential Brazilian psychedelic rock band formed in San Paulo, Brazil in 1966. Their name means "The Mutants" in Portuguese. They were closely linked with the Tropicália movement of the late 1960s.

Os Mutantes played with many popular Tropicália artists of this period, including Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, prior to their arrest and subsequent exile. During the 1960s, Os Mutantes were even threatened by the oppressive military government of Brazil of that time.

Os Mutantes deliver a dreamy style of psychedelia similar to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with intricate male and female vocal harmonies all sung in their native language of Portuguese.

After a long hiatus from the late 1970s to the early 2000s, the band finally reunited for a tour in 2006.

Sinn Sisamouth

Cambodia

Perhaps one of the original acts on this lens is Sinn Sisamouth, who was a famous pop artist in Cambodia in the 1950s but in the 1960s Sisamouth started melding his poppy sounds with twinges of psychedelia.

Widely considered the "King of Khmer music", Sisamouth, along with Pan Ron and other artists, Sisamouth was part of a thriving pop music scene in Phnom Penh that used elements of Khmer traditional music with the sounds of rhythm and blues and rock and roll to create a more westernized sound very similar to psychedelic or garage rock.

The music sounds mostly like 50's ballad style music injected with trembly Hawaiian style guitars and Moody Blues style keyboard work. The music is more straight-forward than most psych bands and there are no trippy anti-musical passages but what Sisamouth does do is weave a delicate tapestry of eclect sounds into a truly unique visual experience.

A terrible tragedy, Sinn Sisamouth is believed to have been murdered under the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime.

Are you a fan of Psychedelic Rock music?

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    • profile image

      Seditiosus 

      6 years ago

      You just introduced me to 10 awesome bands I never even heard of before. Thank you!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 

      7 years ago

      Gotta love psychedelic rock - great picks you have here.

    • filmic profile image

      filmic 

      7 years ago

      This is fantastic! Don't know any of these, great idea for a lens.

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