Salvador Dali Llama have once again taken modern psychedelic soul by storm with their fresh new drop Rainbow Sugar. While their band name has nothing to do with llamas, lead guitarist Dean McLeod explained the title to be “a portmanteau of two great heroes, philosophers and psychedelic warlords, Salvador Dali and the Dalai Lama.” Despite their non-affiliation with the hilarious mammal, their sound is just as radical as our favourite surrealist artist and Buddhist philosopher, and Rainbow Sugar is no exception.
Loaded with speckles of 60s acid pop and gospel soul, Salvador Dali Llama take us back to a simpler time on Rainbow Sugar.
The eight-piece longhaired hippie crew has been melting the faces off all audiences since their formation in 2014 into a handsome musical family that has become Brady Bunch noteworthy on the Sydney music scene. Their eclectic mix of sounds bears resemblance to genius predecessors Pink Floyd, Sly and the Family Stone, The Supremes, and Jefferson Airplane. With their mash up of gospel soul, 60s acid pop, and psych, along with their gnarly threads and general spiritual vibes, SDL is an ode to all remaining flower children in a beautiful musical romance reminiscent of the Summer of Love.
As for Rainbow Sugar, this gem of a tune tantalises your earholes from the get go with Nikki’s soulful vocals opening the track with the driving Rainbow Sugar lyric that carries the song home before the acoustics soon follow. Her voice is scratchy and soulful in the most successful way possible – not too dissimilar from an Amy Winehouse vibe if you will. As for the instrumentals, it’s like sliding down a rainbow on a surfboard or something with similar hallucinogenic value. The wavering mellow backdrop perfectly accentuates the lady harmonies and soulful backing vocals, while some psychedelic electric guitar ricochets spunk and steady booshie grooves on a more tangible instrumental level.
McLeod explained how some of the creative process behind the song came about: “I’d actually just watched that James Brown biopic and it got me thinking about those great simple funk riffs with a real emphasis on the one. So I started mucking around with that main bass riff that you hear at the start. I’d also been listening to a lot of groovy 60s soul stuff like Sly and the Family Stone, and Voices of East Harlem, which is where some of the backing harmony ideas come from, the nice chords, the call and response between backing vocals and the main melody… Then I took some of those ideas in to the guys and we kind of just grooved it out! Which is pretty essential in our band.”
The story of the song gradually builds and declines in a lovely musical heroin. The colourful title of the song is poetically reflected upon in the standout lyric “The cotton candy curls in the sky, the Coney island dream of her mind” – making Rainbow Sugar correlate what we dreamt of as children: winning the ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, however this candy land is a much more surreal state of mind in a parallel universe that is perhaps an escape from a mediocre reality. Nikki, who wrote the song, reaffirmed that Rainbow Sugar is “that intoxicant in your life, that gives you life but also kills you a little. Moves you. Stirs you. Allows you escape. Whether that is a woman, a man, a drug, a religion, music; it’s that thing in your life that you crave. The edge. In all its beauty and darkness and disarray.”
As for SDL’s musical movements this year, the band are currently working on a record to be released mid yea r- “It’s kind of a concept album in that it’s one song that goes for 25 minutes, which is made up of several shorter songs and jams that all bleed into each other, then the last song loops back on the first so it’s a big circle!” Aside from that there is mention of some launch parties, a mini tour, and a certain festival appearance, which is hush hush for now.
Whether you want to get in touch with your inner flowerchild or just enjoy a killer jam, give Rainbow Sugar a listen for a tasty interaction with dreamy soulful psychedelia. SDL will continue to melt faces with their back-to-back single launch at the same venue with different supporting acts and different sets:
1st April w/ Sloom and The Cosmic Hollow
2nd April w/ Bad Valley and Rackett
@ Tokyo Sing Song, Newtown (under the Marlbourough Hotel)