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photo by Danny Kerschen

The Primal Rock'n'Roll of Indian Jewelry

The mysterious Houston drone-rock collective return with their new album Free Gold.

Indian Jewelry stand at a kind of musical crossroads where the gloriously dark moments of rock n'roll's past hang side by side with clunky rave synths and a droned-out attitude.

 "We only started playing with electronics after we'd completely ruined our good guitars and amps several years ago," confesses sleek sometime frontperson Erika Thrasher. "We'd be a baroque band if it was harpsichords and clavinets that had been lying around." Apparently you're quite the rock'n'roll animals on tour? "The gospel truth: people have tried to behead us with thrown cymbals, street gangs have extorted our retinue at knife point, riots have erupted, warehouses have caught fire."

The stuff of Indian Jewelry is that primal, dark rock n'roll. The sixties as apocalyptic nightmare, as Altamont; the seventies as lawless New York where proto-punks Suicide endure pain to convey their message, filtered through an old Polaroid of the near ethereal, a fading glamour emerges, an almost holy release. Do they see their music as dark? "Any music lighter than ours is only fit for playing in elevators or energy drink commercials." states Erika who claims she ultimately wants to reach "the Mexico of the mind". This, coupled with a large, revolving line-up leads me to believe Indian Jewelry could make a pretty nifty cult: "We'd sell your sister to your mother, but we'd only rent your brother to your uncle."

The vocals on their second album Free Gold are often treated and pushed way down in the mix, de-emphasized and just another component, "to make you pay closer attention." Dark but never gloomy, glamorous and often beautifully sinister. They list their influences from Lewis Carroll and Hugo Ball to 13th Floor Elevators and Butthole Surfers, and an element of mystery is obvious in their gloriously psyched-out, almost aquatic music. Check the motifs of their current sleeve art - those aware of Tom Robbin's cult novel, Still Life With Woodpecker may find joy in trying to decipher the random words within the pyramid. "Our friend Domokos made the album art for Free Gold. Lord knows what it means, but it is sharp looking and undoubtedly stacked with signifiers. As for the rest of us, we lived in California for a couple of years but I never trusted that there will be room for us in the new age."

Instead, the band are based where they formed nearly nine years ago in Richmond, near Houston in Texas, yet it is only in the last year they have made it onto UK shores. "We've been doing this for a long time and we've scared out a lot of ghosts. We've grown more subtle and nuanced than Proust."

Free Gold is out now on Secretly Canadian.