Aspera Sugar & Feathered

With Philadelphia's reputation for having a psychedelic music scene, it's fair to say that Aspera are the most psychedelic and musically colourful of all of the bands. Although they may not be the most well known, they are definitely the odd bunch of the scene. Upon initial listen, Sugar & Feathered, their second album, is stranger than any composition by the Flaming Lips, King Crimson and possibly even Syd Barrett, while each song has the atmospheric beauty of Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs. The standout track, "Say Say Good Bye Bye," is haunting, containing many sounds of the Orient along with the Flaming Lips's signature pounding drums and some almost hidden acoustic guitar. However, Drew Mills's consistent falsetto is just plain bizarre, reaching levels that most women can't. The instruments used, such as the harpsichord, horns and keyboards, give the music an almost medieval touch, and the guitars are so excessively loud and severe that at times the sound reaches new stages of weirdness with some of the noodliest effects ever to be recorded. Not everyone's cup of tea, surely, but Aspera has a magical, sonic sound that will interest anyone willing to give it a chance. (Big Wheel)