Melbourne psych rockers The Black Heart Death Cult’s self-titled debut album is a magic swirling ship of spaced out sounds and sonic mayhem. So fresh off its release, we delved into it with the band’s singer/songwriter Sasha L. Smith to find out how his obsession with guitar pedals shapes the sound and songs of these future sailors.
Follow along as we take a track-by-track trip through the album and press a few pedals as we go. Take it away Sasha…
Fresh off the release of their debut album, we caught up with Melbourne psych lords The Black Heart Death Cult for a run-down on the gear behind each track.
I’ve been love with pedals and their sound shaping abilities for a long time and I’m really into the way they can be combined to create unique sounds and tones. There always seems to be some new sound that I am trying to find and there is no shortage of pedals out there to help me along on my sonic crusade. That said though, happiness is a warm tube head!
Nothing too complicated here – compressor, delay and Aphek Peanut Butter overdrive. The compressor pulls the attack out and the delays smudge up the drive to get a real dreamy wall of drone. My basic go-to sound. The Aphek is hand-made right here in Sydney, Australia and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. Recording the sitar was beyond challenging and I’ll leave that to the experts in the future. Epic multi-track lead from Billy brings the party to the one chord wig-out outro.
She’s a Believer
The main flute track is the guitar through an EHX C9 organ pedal on the flute setting then into a fuzz pedal. The song was originally written way slower but cranked up to full 60’s vibe thanks to some good advice from the producer.
More basic comp/delay/drive from myself, but what really makes the track is the way the rhythm and lead guitars almost meld into one at times. The tempo changes only add to the intensity.
The Magic Lamp
A track from my old band that just needed to be recorded. Downtuned acoustic, droning tanpuras, and doubled sitar and acoustic for the lead. Nice timpanis from a plugin which sound epic in your cans! Doubled vocals with the second a “whisper” track. Great trick for the “out there” vocal track.
Aloha from Hell
A loop in ‘F’ plays all the way through to bring the drone. Bass fuzz just adds to this. I use a Boss RC-3 Loop Station but mostly for recording these days now we have keys in the band. The first track written for the band and the only track from the first tracking session to survive onto the album. Aloha!!
Two rainbows on one album. Unheard of. Rainbow Machine is the sound derived from the Strymon Timeline’s splice delay which gives it its distinctive sound. Add some C9 organ pedal and overdrive… and boomshanka! The lead line is the melody line which is the lead line. Just goes round in circle which is fine by us. Been opening the set with this for ages and not sure if we will ever stop.
Davidian Dream Beam
All sorts of layers going on in here but it’s all about the bass fuzz. Mighty as. Have only just started to play this live and we are digging it. Time to join a pedal cult, a bass fuzz pedal cult.
The main line is the guitar through the mellotron flute setting on the C9 organ pedal. The swirling phasing backing lines are through the EHX Ravish sitar pedal. Lots of keys lines that were played off smartphone apps including the Gregorian chant drone that kicks off from the start. Loads of fun just experimenting with layers on this one.
We Love You
The distinctive screaming keys/fuzz sound is the “Telstar” setting on the C9 organ pedal straight into a muff style fuzz. A compressor at the front cranks the organ sound & provides maximum sustain on the accent notes. Track outro seemed like the perfect time for a bass solo!
We will be heading back into the studio soon to complete album #2 and can’t wait to continue on the sonic journey. Psych on!
Catch The Black Heart Death Cult live at any of the following dates:
Friday, May 10 – Old Bar, Fitzroy
Saturday, May 18 – The Railyard, Tecoma
Saturday, May 25th – Grace Emily Hotel, Adelaide
More info here.