British psychedelia enters the modern age.
A singer-songwriter like Nick Nicely is tailor-made for cult-hero status. He emerged in the early ‘80s with two brilliant singles, “DCT Dreams” and “Hilly Fields,” offering a neo-psychedelic swirl mixed with modern-day synthesizer sounds. After his output floundered commercially, Nicely abandoned his pop ambitions, never releasing another note. His legend, however, grew over the years, and Psychotropia, originally released as a pricey, limited-edition import in 2004, finally proved that there was more to Nicely than just the mythology, compiling not only those aforementioned singles, but a wealth of previously unreleased material Nicely recorded in subsequent years. Now available digitally, the collection is a dazzling display of inspired melody, head-spinning production, and a singular blend of styles suggesting Revolver-era Beatles splitting a tab of acid with Thomas Dolby. It’s said that Nicely’s work is what gave XTC the impetus to don their psychedelic secret identities as The Dukes of Stratosphear, and listening to the consistent level of mastery on offer here, it’s as hard to imagine anyone not wanting to emulate it as it is to picture anyone actually pulling it off.