Noon Garden reaches eclectic psych-pop odyssey in debut album 'Beulah Spa'
Words by Dominic Rose
Seamlessly blending the perilous heights of modern psychedelia with the blistered fingers and beating pulse of a kosmische wig-out, Charles Prest [aka Noon Garden] returns with his first full length album ‘Beulah Spa’, sharing more than just a name sake with that vital sign of a holiday well spent. Sullying that already poor metaphor, this record speaks more to the transcendent & escapist pleasures of a holiday than it does to the demarcated trend of crushing guitars & inconsolable lead singers. It is a holiday from the immediate in more ways than one, then.
photo credit: Mila de la Torre
Spiralling melodies & unison lines that break away into countering themes are the joyful remit of this record, recalling similarities to other psychonauts King Gizzard & often Animal Collective. This comparison does nothing to take away from the genuine bliss of this record, however, as Charles casts such a deft understanding of melodic phrasing that it always re-asserts itself as music first & influences second.
Having performed every part of this record himself, and self-produced it no less, the intimacy of ‘Beulah Spa’ is palpable - the sound of a bedroom studio sprouting new growth from fauna yet unseen. Coupled with an eclectic draw in his compositional palette, you can nearly imagine Charles dreaming wildly into the walls of a London suburb as the sounds of this record permeate more than just the architecture of a DAW.
1. Beulah Spa
2. Decca Divine
5. Annapurna Guest House
6. Dud Day
7. Eye Jewel
8. Only Kin
10. Blue Jurdab
The highlight for myself comes as ‘Eye Jewel’ [an instrumental interlude that blends one side of the record with another] phases into the sombre yet brilliant stand-out ‘Only Kin’- a beautiful track that subverts its influences & reveals an underbelly to the record. One born of mid-noughties indie melancholy. Perhaps it’s my own relationship to that side of music, but the moment the first glissando leads us into the chorus my heart is in bloom. Speaking to the undercurrent of home & holiday this record emerges as an exploration of place - “paradigms of finding shape in your home, sympathise with your only kin”. If anything here was to create a tether between a psychedelic world & our caustic reality, it’s this track.
‘Beulah Spa’ offers a confrontation not just with our own personal histories, but also in our relationships to the places & people around us. It treats the mystic first listen as a holiday, but over time revels in that shift of identity gained upon returning. I’d go so far as to say this record is far more about the importance of home than the exuberance of time away.
For more on Noon Garden, head to: https://www.noongarden.com/
2 April Rough Trade East, London
3 April Rough Trade, Bristol
4 April Rough Trade, Nottingham
18 June Big Foot Festival, Warwickshire
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