On November 26, 2021 Hudson Bell will release Psychic Breaks, his tenth or eleventh album (depending on how you consider his 1999 CD compilation of–mostly–previously released tracks from cassettes, Under Boxes and Dirt). Whichever the case, Psychic Breaks is notable for being the first album Bell has recorded by himself since the 90s, as well as his first release since then that doesn’t have at least one other person playing something on it, somewhere. These details aside, the most singular aspect of Psychic Breaks is surely—at least to those familiar with Bell’s previous music–the absence of guitars. Rest assured however that when the first song–“Big City, Small World”–hits its stride, there will be no mistake to whom you’re listening.
So give it a cyber spin, and try to forget the 90s, or the 2000-and-whatevers. Load Psychic Breaks onto your modern listening device with vintage cassette-themed case, pop in/on your earbuds/headphones, and take the long cut to wherever it is you’re going, if you’re actually headed anywhere at all. What you’ll hear are ten songs made up of the classic storytelling and charming voice of HB that we’ve come to expect. From the dreamy, psychedelic vibe of “Seven Lives” to the haunting, mystical mood of “The Dead Sea”–throughout are dazzling and chilling moments intermixed with drop-dead lyrical lines and electronic weirdness adding into some seamless slant on folk electronic pop music, perhaps piped in from a distant star. Emotionally intense, with a deep reverential empathy for the human condition, it’s possible that Psychic Breaks might pull you in again-and-again . . . maybe by the tug of a heart string, or maybe it’s the pendulum of a mood swing, but most likely it’s because you too now have the Psychic Breaks.
Hudson Bell is a native of Louisiana, who has also lived in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Arkansas. He moved to California in 1998, and resides in San Francisco.
Bell started playing guitar at the age of thirteen. At fifteen, using numerous cassette players, he made his first tape, The King’s Dreams. Since then, he has released nine other albums–one technically a compilation, and the last being Yerba Buena, released in 2016. Taking all of his work up to this point into consideration, Trouser Press wrote that Bell’s catalog “varies in style and achievement but has maintained an upward arc that has reached great heights.”