Bandcamp of the Day: Unseen by SLIFT

Running this psych-rock blog has introduced me to a ton of great music lately. Tom’s reviews always find hidden gems I hadn’t heard of that I soon put on heavy rotation. But occasionally, I hear a band that encapsulates so many things I like about psych music that it sticks with me.

This is how I felt when I listened to SLIFT for the first time. The French power trio’s 2020 full-length Ummon is a mix of garage rock, psychedelia, krautrock, and space exploration that blew me away. Clocking in at a little over an hour long, the 11-track album launched SLIFT into the atmosphere of heavy psych. Formed in 2016, the band describes their sound as “a deafening mass of sonic magma, epic fuzz guitar flying over the fearsome motorik machine of bass and drums.”

I also learned that these guys are huge Hendrix fans, which didn’t surprise me. Since Hendrix was one of my first musical obsessions, it helped explain why I was drawn to SLIFT like a magnet. SLIFT is also heavily inspired by science fiction, as evidenced by its awesome cover art. They love a 1999 sci-fi novel called “La Zone du Dehors” (The Outer Zone) by French author Alain Damasio. Slift is one of the characters in the book.

When they first formed, they started playing punk but eventually went into progressive and psych territory, which they say has given them more freedom to explore and do what they want. This makes sense since you can feel the punk rock energy wrapped up in their songs. One may even categorize them as a “French Noise” band, though I think they wouldn’t like that. Nevertheless, their music is loud, heavy, and frequently unrelenting with a wall of noise. Ummon introduced more technical prog aspects to their repertoire, though.

In December 2022, SLIFT released two tracks on Bandcamp unreleased from the sessions that produced Ummon. The “Unseen” and “The Real Unseen” are tasty bonuses for fans that love this act’s frenetic energy. On its Bandcamp page, SLIFT says they recorded “Unseen” in one shot, then added the vocals later. They played with the feedback of the room at the end of “Unseen” and let themselves get carried away by the drone, which inspired the instrumental track “The Real Unseen.”

SLIFT consists of brothers Jean (guitars, vocals, synthesizers) and Remi Fossat (bass), along with their high school friend, Canek Flores, on drums. So far, the band has released two LPs, one EP, and multiple live sessions, including a fantastic Levitation Sessions. They’ve already toured Europe and North America and are building a following. The best way to describe their sound is a blend of garage with a cosmic, science-fiction-inspired atmosphere. They’re also big on repetition, both in lyrics and riffage, a hallmark of Stoner bands.

On listening to their discography, SLIFT has honed its sound over the past few years, taking a significant artistic leap from 2018’s album La Planète Inexplorée. Ummon takes everything great from that LP and cranks it to an even bigger, fuller, and more complex sound. If you like Elder’s newer stuff or King Buffalo, you’re bound to love SLIFT. They said in a recent interview they’re currently working on their next LP, and I’m super excited to see what they come up with next.

Support SLIFT by checking out their website and Bandcamp or finding them on social media (Facebook, Instagram).

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