I am probably late to this party, but a very wise man told me I should listen to Angel Deradoorian a few nights ago, he thought it would be right up my street. The wise man knows me well. Sexy, psychedelic, sensual and soulful: it’s everything I love about music. The first three songs on the latest album by Deradoorian, Find The Sun, “Red Den”, “Corsican Shores”, and “Saturnine Night”, hit the ears surprisingly. They nestle leisurely in the ear canals, settle down and send fleeting greetings to Captain Beefheart and the biologist Terrence McKenna.
At the start of the record, the 34-year-old US artist Angel Deradoorian pokes like a crow in the fog and nods to the blues chopper Beefheart in a friendly way. She moves away from traditions and role models in the seven-minute “Saturnine Night”, driven by a motoric beat, and switches to field research mode: McKenna’s book expedition to the magic mushrooms in Colombia (“True Hallucinations”) served as inspiration, but, Angel Deradoorian admits, she would rather go hiking in California than seek recognition in the subconscious.
You can hear that on Find the Sun, her great, deeply relaxed album. It comprises ten gorgeously captivating tracks, meandering between Can-inspired guitar-led compositions and more ethereal, synth and vocal-led records that bring such incredibly profound and infectious energy. It feels like a prog album, not only due to the length of the tracks themselves but its seamless sequencing and pure experimental energy.
The subtle guitar leads on the opener “Red Den” are poignant and soothing, with Krautrock-inspired melodies that complement her stunning voice throughout. The soothing vocals and warm rhythms on “Corsican Shores” are incredible too, with emphatic drumming. The textured and energetic “Saturnine Night” is another fantastic track, with incredible grooves throughout led by the infectious drumming. The stunning “Monk’s Robes” sounds like it would fit perfectly in a soundtrack to a David Lynch film.
Deradoorian has obviously found her balance; the music glows: “For me, it’s about flow, about energy fields”, she tells the online magazine American Songwriter. “Almost all of the new songs are in a medium tempo, in the medium energy level, I don’t play that right away. I let the music begin carefully with ‘Red Den’, whereby his intro helps me. Only then do I remember the power, deliberately drag out the rooms of the songs and then drive around them nomadically. This makes the music stronger.”
While her debut album “The Expanding Flower Planet” (2015) was understood as successful emancipation from her old band, Dirty Projectors, album number two, which she took a lot of time to create, is now Deradoorian’s genuine contribution to “Headculture”, of Californian psychedelia. With Find the Sun she adds a tentative, intuitive, multi-layered work to her resume.
“The sun guides me, it gives me light and confidence. As the album title suggests, my ultimate goal is to find strength. This is not so esoteric at all, because this search is associated with great confusion. With my music I blow away what limits me. I don’t meditate every day, nor do I play music all the time. But there is mindfulness in everything I do. That is a real challenge. “
One of the centrepieces on the album is the 9-minute thriller “The Illuminator”. The heavy drumming is complemented by subtle flutes and desolate sound effects that are ethereal and tribal. The percussion is tribal throughout the nine stunning and bewitching minutes. “Waterlily” and “Devil’s Market” are more melodic and colourful tracks that bring out her more angelic and ethereal qualities. “Mask of Yesterday” is similarly soulful, with subtle guitar melodies and basslines that give it an infectious groove. The closer, “Sun”, is a hypnotic and meditative way to end the album, with reflective energy and a profoundly beautiful vocal performance. The guitar leads are incredible throughout and produce this mesmeric, utterly breathtaking quality that really exemplifies the extent of her talents.
Those who like enumerations and mantras will get their money’s worth in the songs on the album: “The Power of Intensity / The Power of Delight / The Power of Desire / The Power of Speed”, Deradoorian sings in “The Illuminator”. The nice thing about it is that the astrological buzzwords and escalation levels of transcendental meditation are transcended elsewhere due to the conceptual rigour of the music. In the drumless song “Monk’s Robes”, for example, to a rural idyll. In “Devil’s Market”, where Deradoorian only exclaims, “Say no”, it even goes towards coffee house country à la Dan Hicks.
Many other psychedelics struggle with loneliness, while Angel Deradoorian emphasises how much you like this state of affairs. “I’m taking my / Time to be alone / focus the Mind / On doing all my Own”, she sings in the song “Corsican Shoes”.
Psychedelia is historically a strongly male-dominated field, in which it is also about the fact that men still need the attention of others even when losing the ego. Deradoorian shows her feminine point of view here, sounds more selfless, more focused. “Yes, to a certain extent, my music is written from a female perspective. Relationships with others are immensely important to me, and in the text of ‘Corsican Shoes’, I point out that one also exists beyond such constellations and that boundaries must be drawn. Many people are very afraid of being themselves; they grow up in an environment in which only the attention of others counts in order to gain self-esteem and be accepted. “
Deradoorian has found the sun and is now cleaning it: Find the Sun is psychedelic through and through, a bright, shining haven of calm in the stormy, gloomy present of the world. We can only hope that this cotton ball will not be crushed by the winds of time.