Remember the last time you ever felt safe? Like, truly safe? That brief moment when your bubble was more of a cushion than a net, a time when the unspeakable madness unfurling from every nook and cranny of the planetary fire was incapable of even breathing down the nape of your neck? No matter whether such a divine crawlspace was birthed out of innocence or ignorance, the memories of those years cocooned in a world of our own keeps us peddling through the roaring inferno as it singes its way deeper into whatever we consider our humanity. Allow Black Helium to dismantle those walls for you one sane memory at a time, dissolving your comfort into a dank haze that easily seeps through the expansive network of cracks spreading along the surface of your tidal walls – seeping into The Wholly Other, lost to oblivion – as the outside world surfs in upon waves of abyssal psychedelia.
Heavy stuff, man. Heavy. But this quartet of miscreants from the corners of London no light dares to tread are no strangers to such heaviness: with 2018’s cosmic colossus Primitive Fuck Black Helium cemented a flirtatious dalliance between tongue-in-cheek delirium and the kind of tripped-out doom you’d find Lewis Carroll knee-deep in if he were still kickin’ about today – unpredictable, twisted, and, you guessed it, heavy. But unlike the acid-tinged grooviness of their debut, The Wholly Other is pure mescaline, dripping from the roof of your mouth up in to your skull and igniting the receptors of your brain with pure electricity. The second it drops into the caustic slab-dragging motif of opener ‘Hippie On A Slab‘ the record takes a sledgehammer to that fragile comfort we hold so dear, reducing the once impenetrable fortress to rubble. But the beauty here is not just how devastatingly monolithic it can be but in what it injects you with the moment it can reach out to you: this tar-like substance oozes throughout your veins as an all-consuming lysergic lifeforce, cleansing you of all that is pleasant as it opens your mind to a menacing bombardment of hallucinations too real to be taken lightly. Yes, this is the real deal, the one way trip you’ve secretly been seeking.
Lurking beneath its kaleidoscopic veil swirls sinister apparitions of eyes, bled colours, and otherworldly entities more fluid than sturdy; with every minute shift your mind’s eye makes they follow, embedded on the corneal surface, tainting the realities seeping into your diminishing microcosm. Is this real life or is this just fantasy takes on a whole new meaning as The Wholly Other continues to spin on your record player, all memory of turning the waxen gold over lost to the void. In the billowing insanities flowing in the rhythms, dissonance, and pleasures of Black Helium’s riveting sesh, time brushes over your skin gently and seamlessly: after ‘Two Masters’ elevates your senses on the spinal framework of its glorious central riff and momentous peaking intensity, the music takes a freakish left-field turn into bat country. Tune in to ‘Death Station Of The Goddess’ and it simultaneously sinks deeper into your vessel, endlessly rippling and surging and breaking and metamorphosing and inundating until there is simply no more music. From here on in you are in the zone, and where the real world ends and The Wholly Other begins is never clear. If your mind can make it through the harrowing yet glowering auditory journey the record sets you down then you will continue coming back for more; if you cannot piece it back together once it lets you go, at least you went out with one incomprehensibly mesmerising voyage.
Pushing the building blocks of not only their own sound but that of heaving psychedelia to the outer limits Black Helium have only gotten bolder, more daring, now existing in a dimension only reachable through towering amp stacks. The Wholly Other is more than just another psych record: it’s a portal, a hellish portal, certainly not for the faint of heart. You don’t emerge out of this experience the same, that’s for true. It’s a dizzying, dark, at-times-nightmarish-at-times-heavenly exploration outside of our comfort zones. This obliterates what we consider safe, sugar-coats nothing, and opens our many eyes wide enough to take in the unsettling world surrounding us. Or, quite simply, one hell of a devastatingly honest acid frenzy.
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