Higher Authorities is a side project of Clinic members Adrian "Ade" Blackburn and Jonathan Hartley that leans heavily toward the group's dub influences. The duo's songs consist of a loose drum machine pulse surrounded by organ and fuzzy wah-wah guitar, and of course waves of echo effects. The album was mixed and co-produced by Adrian Sherwood, Britain's foremost dub expert, but the songs are closer to languid psych-pop rather than post-punk or reggae.
It seems rare in this day and age to come across an album so unashamedly and obviously intended as “head music” as this debut from Higher Authorities (geddit?). Even the release date is a clue (20 April, or 4/20 in some countries, ties in with the significance of the number 420 in cannabis culture). Neptune is an odd album, make no mistake. A side project from Clinic’s Ade Blackburn and Hartley, Neptune is part dub, part psychedelic pop, and sounds not a million miles away from The Beta Band crossed with Simian.
Higher Authorities — Neptune (Domino)Can psychedelia be retroactive or retroactively understood? When Clinic (the band of which Higher Authorities is a side project) first emerged and started making records, they were most often compared to post-punk or post-Velvet Underground acts. By the time of 2013’s superb Daniel Lopatin collaboration Free Reign II (one of their best records, overlooked and hampered by the in-retrospect-baffling decision to ditch much of Lopatin’s work for the initial Free Reign release), though, they were clearly making very fine high-octane modern psychedelia. Clinic have kept up the surgeon’s mask-and-gown outfits for their whole career and have been consistent almost to a fault, so it took Lopatin’s extra touch to make clear just how much the band had grown and changed over the years.