Psychic Temple is another name for Chris Schlarb, a self-styled cult leader from Long Beach, California, who’s really just a wickedly skilled producer, songwriter and musician. His Bandcamp page is full of sweet, strange sounds on the outskirts of folk-rock, jazz and psychedelia, and even further out than that — check his fantastic 2016 remake of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports (complete with a new proletarian B-side, “Music for Bus Stops”).
The rest of Psychic Temple is a rotating studio ensemble that often feels like the names from a bunch of your favorite records’ liner notes decided to start a band. 2017’s Psychic Temple IV, for instance, featured Max Bennett (who played bass on Court & Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns) and Terry Reid (also known as the guy who was almost Led Zeppelin’s lead singer); Airports included instrumental doodles from progressive metal explorer Paul Masvidal and San Pedro’s own Mike Watt of Minutemen.
Schlarb’s latest project, Houses of the Holy, is a double album, due out next year, where each vinyl side features a different guest artist partaking in the mysterious rituals of Psychic Temple. First up is Cherry Glazerr, whose woozy L.A. power-pop is a good match for the Temple. The five songs they recorded together this past summer are out now as an EP, and opening track “Let Me Comb Your Hair” is an instant winner.
With its bright fuzz riff, unhurried Wurlitzer chords and spacey desert vibe, it sounds a little like Side B of 1968’s Super Session, another great moment in ad-hoc studio synthesis. Schlarb sings lead, with Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy offering dreamy harmonies on drummer Tabor Allen’s rose-colored lyrics: “There’s a meanness all around/Don’t know why, but it’s there/You’ve got to love yourself, and try and take to care.” Listening to Psychic Temple is a good place to start.