Wildest Dreams, Wildest Dreams

Sharon O'Connell

By Sharon O'Connell

on 07.29.14 in Reviews

West Coast psych rock has undergone a bit of a revival lately, having been rediscovered and reconfigured by the likes of Tame Impala, Pond and Black Bananas. But DJ Harvey (last name Bassett) isn’t riding any wave; nor is he seeking out the cutting edge. With Wildest Dreams, the surfing émigré who brought NYC house and disco sounds back to the U.K. after a spell in the States in the mid ’80s is doing what comes naturally. This debut is every bit as at ease with its references as you might expect of a cultish and revered DJ, don of disco edits and veteran crate-digger.

The cultish and revered DJ does what comes naturally

Written and produced by Bassett (who also sings, plays guitar and drums) and recorded in one week, the 10 tracks are flecked with wah-wah, swaddled in reverb and generously splashed with electric piano. “405″ is the most retro offering. It sets a Jim Morrison-style vocal melody against a très Chic bass strut, adds chucka guitar and fat ripples of Fender Rhodes, then sits on the over-easy groove for almost five minutes, before fading out.

There are echoes throughout of Steppenwolf, Love, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service and (especially) the Doors, and the whole is evocative of a particular filmic landscape — a pre-Starbucks California where chrome Choppers are forever burning down molten highways toward a Malibu sunset, and everyone is hanging out and getting high. Its contemporary rock attitude pulls it back from the precipices of homage and pastiche. A creator of wild dreams Bassett may be, but he knows how to direct them.