PRIMER: Psychic Ills On … Neil Young

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Mirror Eye, Psychic Ill‘s eagerly-awaited successor to the psych-damaged mantras of Dins, is out now on Social Registry. We highly recommend it for nights that require a suitable drone-on soundtrack …

Tres Warren (guitar/vocals): The first time I heard Neil Young was because my parents had Harvest and CSNY stuff.  I don’t listen to him too much these days, but whenever I want to hear something older by him, I put On The Beach on.  I like that it’s when he sort of put it in cruise control and just started doing what he did without refining things so much.

Elizabeth Hart (bass): Harvest was my first real listen, too, on a cassette that my best friend’s boyfriend had given to her. I was 14. We created a whole listening ritual for Neil Young–only by candlelight, and while in search of any little piece of paper that looked exciting enough to burn. This kept us occupied and enthralled for hours, and only occasionally would we switch out Neil Young for Metallica on the stereo.

Jimy Seitang (synths): This is one of my favorite Neil Young records, and one of least dark albums in the Ditch Trilogy. I like Rusty Kershaw’s contribution to the cryptic liner notes on the album.

MUST DOWNLOAD: “Revolution Blues”


Tres: It’s a loose jam and I’m a sucker for [Charles] Manson lore …  I also like the lyrics: “that was me with the doves/setting them free near the factory/where you build your computer love.”

Elizabeth: It has all the elements that characterize the Neil Young that everyone is familiar with: charging bass grooves, riffing guitars, and such visual and enticing storytelling that you find yourself imagining you are in it.

Jimy: Rick Danko and Levon Helms playing bass and drums definitely make this cut a loose jam.

Tres: I like that he makes films also. This is a good one if you can find a copy of it. It’s half documentary and half surreal montage. There’s live footage mixed with scenes of not much really happening mixed with obtuse seemingly unrelated narratives. I like the overall aimlessness of it.

Jimy: Yeah, I like how this goes back and forth with performance and personal footage.

Elizabeth: Serene.

Tres: Similarly aimless is Arc,  a collage of sound checks, noises, and non-songs–one long piece.

Jimy: Sal Trentino’s electronic stuff on this is far out. He’s also Neil Young’s guitar tech and very pivotal to Neil’s signature electric guitar sound.

Tres: It gets generically compared to Metal Machine Music, but I like to think of it more in terms of a Richard Maxfield-type experiment. Like he had all of these pieces that he that put together at random.

Tres: Some of my friends love Trans; some laugh at it.  I just like that he got interested in synths and vocoders and programmed drums after years of playing guitar–reminds me of Joe Walsh in that way, but it’s actually more similar to the Klause Schulze records of that era, but not as dark. For the most part you can still find it in the dollar bin, and for that price it’s worth checking out.

Elizabeth: I’m into his vocals. They are less emotive than how I feel Neil Young usually sounds, but I like that he adjusted his voice to fit in with the electronic sounds he was experimenting with, and the overall vibe of that record.

Jimy: Yeah, you hate it or love it. It has a vibe that similar to Kraftwerk in the ’80s.  I like how he recorded this record with his same Crazy Horse lineup, but not playing the typical guitar/drum setup with them.