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Directed by photographer Lilly Creightmore, this greasy documentary takes you on a psychedelic voyage into the lives of a handful of artists, landing in the US, the UK, Iceland, and South Africa - from the Doc'n Roll Film Festival

Creightmore is a friend of Austin-based psychedelic band The Black Angels, who asked her to follow them on tour in the US as they backed Roky Erickson. Erickson is the legendary frontman of the 13th Floor Elevators, possibly the first person to describe his music as “psychedelic rock”.

The film was shot in 2008, and it’s a bit rough – shot on the not-great digital video that was available at the time. You get a look at how these bands interconnect. One of the most interesting bits is shot in South Africa, where the psychedelic music scene starts to emerge, and then we go along as some of the people in that scene (members of The Night Beats) travel to Europe to see all the bands they loved for years but never had the opportunity to see live.

Some lines are drawn back to ‘80s British bands like Spaceman 3 and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Spaceman 3 co-founder Sonic Boom (a.k.a. Peter Kember) appears, discussing what constitutes psychedelic music. There’s some fun footage of the musical project Brian Jonestown Massacre. Canadian artist Tess Parks also appears, as well as Icelandic act Dead Skeletons (somee sort of a spin-off of Singapore Sling), The Underground Youth and Medicine Boy (Berlin). Medicine Boy are a bit more of a post-punk duo with a psych influence. All of these bands have some connection to the label Fuzz Club, who also recently signed the Mary Chain.

It seemed to want to be a grander documentary about the scene and people wanting to do something leftfield, but for the most part it’s a very tight focus on The Black Angels. They’re perfectly fine and seem like decent people. There is a touching scene with them and Roky backstage. Roky was long considered a bit of an acid casualty, trying to make the best show with him despite the fact that his mental faculties are not all there. As someone who did see him perform around the same time, it’s good to see him with people around him who love his music and are doing their best to help after 20 years of him not being able to do gigs.

The trailer seems to include A Place to Bury Strangers, but they didn’t show on screen. This is shame as they are a more dynamic live band than many of these. Crystal Stilts were a little more post-punk back in 2008, but would have been a good addition, along with the Oh Sees.

This footage has just been sitting around for some time, so it’s clearly a good thing that Creightmore compiled it into something. It would have been much more interesting to have a broader view of psychedelic music, and even to tie it in with the recent increase in psychedelic research. Still, this is an insightful look at some bands who have continued to make solid psychedelic rock, and made their own scene – The Black Angels created the Levitation festival in Austin, for example, a SXSW spin-off that’s now become its own distinctive gig.

Trip premieres at the Doc’n Roll Film Festival, Which takes place between October 27th and November 13th in 13 cities across the UK.

By Ian Schultz - 25-10-2022

Ian Schultz is a film writer based in Leeds, where he runs Psychotronic Cinema. He has been writing about films for about eight years, with articles and reviews appearing in Little White Lies and Live...

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