Under the Influence: The Cosmic Dead

Hailing from Glasgow's premier psych crusaders, The Cosmic Dead's Julian Dicken meditates on a few inspirational tracks that made him want to play

Feature by Dave Kerr | 11 Mar 2016

Three Dimensional Tanx – Peak Time
I was lucky enough to see these guys play a lot in Lancaster as an impressionable youth, experiencing my first intimate live shows in the town's prime music venue – The Yorkshire House. I didn't realise it so much at the time, but they would have a rather large influence on me, both rhythmically (seeing drummer Loz's frantic and rapid fire style, with his punk rock background as part of Peel favourites Dr & The Crippens and Krill, was a big catalyst in making me want to play the drums) as well as melodically, with a heavy bent on repetition and drone.

I loved them, but didn't discover their influences and reference points until much later on, finding and loving that music myself, and then – when first jamming with The Cosmic Dead – realising how many of my musical sensibilities came from those formative years watching the Tanx on a Yorkie bill, sneaking cheeky underage sips of beer from someone's pint, and observing all the stylishly dressed adults around me in quiet awe.

The Tanx have been solidly playing for over 15 years now, rejigging their line-up a few years back and it's really great to see them enjoying a bit of well earned sunshine with the recent resurgence of appreciation for psych rock. Here's to 15 more years!

Silver Apples – Program
I was actually introduced to the sublime workings of Simeon Coxe III via our guitarist James, back when we first started hanging out and just before we formed the band, in what almost feels like a lifetime ago now. I remember him playing me Program and it was quite unlike anything I had heard before; I adored the minimal and whimsical nature of their sound, along with Danny Taylor's polyrhythmic space disco drumming, and very quickly got a hold of Silver Apples and Contact. Both records still sound completely fresh and from another planet, every single time I listen to them.

Moon Unit – Internal Future
Moon Unit were a great Glasgow band that were quite actively gigging when we formed TCD 6 years ago. Watching their phenomenal (and all round ace guy) drummer Pete play was always a real eye-opening experience for me. It showed that you could still hold down a rhythm and retain drive, yet yield a real element of freedom and expression, free from the tyranny of the 4/4 rock beat.

I'd say their completely improvised approach was of course of some influence to the Cosmic Dead approach to songwriting as well. Oddly enough, this band also acted as a gateway to my appreciation and love for free jazz, especially in terms of their approach to drumming and rhythm.

Further listening: Lewis Cook, James T McKay and Omar Aborida offer songs of exploration...

"We're living in dangerous times. What we need is a positive vibe to explore. Let these tracks serve as a reminder that together we can be people. Together, we CAN be people."

The Cosmic Dead's new LP, Rainbowhead, will be released on vinyl and CD on 25 Mar via Blackest Rainbow and Paradigms Record respectively. http://hecosmicdead.bandcamp.com