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.
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.