There is a manic theatricality to the work of Oakland rock band Whiskerman – they cultivate a noise bathed in a freewheeling psychedelia that draws back to the beautiful weirdness of “Trout Mask Replica” and “Hot Rats.” There are subtle gradations to their sound, a slow evolution of influence and inspiration that gradually reveals the internal mechanisms driving their often-chaotic rock rapture. Stray bits of folk and pop wind their way through the dense landscapes of their songs, infusing these rhythmic movements with an unexpected burst of ecstatic euphoria. The band self-released their fourth record, Kingdom Illusion, back on March 6.
They recently shared a video for album centerpiece, “Be Real,” a 7-minute juggernaut that splices together mournful orchestrations, waltzing pop motions, and a collection of dusty rock and roll catharses which are all expressed and explored within a bizarre carnival atmosphere. It follows a labyrinthine pathway, veering into unexpected territory before disappearing entirely and reappearing somewhere completely different. Overtones of klezmer and other European folk stylings weigh heavily upon the song’s shoulders, providing a unique foundation on which the band is able to construct this psych-inflected opus.
The accompanying video, directed by Alexa Melo, is an absolutely surreal trip featuring a zealous preacher, a menacing clown and a realization of profane hypocrisy. It’s safe to say that you’ve likely not seen anything this strange since your last expedition through Alejandro Jodorowsky’s filmography. You just might want to bring a friend.
“‘Be Real’ is a rock ‘n’ roll odyssey,” Whiskerman frontman Graham Patzner explains about the song and video. “A sacred jester drags a priest out from a church to take him on a psychedelic journey, revealing to him his hypocrisy and lack of separation to the rest of this world of clowns.”