The Chemistry Set (British band)

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This article is about the band from London. For the US band, see The Chemistry Set (American band).
The Chemistry Set
Origin London
Genres neo-psychedelia
Years active 1988 (1988)–present
Labels Imaginary, Munster, Dead Bees records, Bucketfull of Brains
Members Paul Lake
David Mclean

The Chemistry Set are a London psych-pop band. Composed of veterans of the late 1980s neo-psychedelic boom, the four piece group received regular airplay on John Peel’s show, were covered in the mainstream and underground music press and appeared on Tony Wilson’s BBC2 television show, 100%.

Their first official release was in 1988, an eponymous cassette of bedroom demos, released on the Acid Tapes label. This was followed by several flexi discs between 1988 and 1990, in which the band received an international fan base. The Chemistry Set were being featured in fanzines in the UK, Spain, Italy, Holland, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Japan, USA and Australia and New Zealand. Tracks also appeared on compilation LP's in the UK, Spain & Germany.

The band made tours throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. Highlights include playing the CMJ Festival in New York, Brixton Academy with Hawkwind and touring with Robyn Hitchcock, plus regular gigs at London venues like the Rough Trade record shop, The Marquee and The Borderline. In the UK, the band’s single “Don’t Turn Away” broke the UK Indie Top 20 the national Top 20 in Spain.

The band took a hiatus until Paul Lake and Dave Mclean reappeared in 2008, and their unreleased LP from 1989 “Sounds Like Painting” was uploaded onto various blogs and was downloaded over 8,000 times.

In Spain, their music has appeared on twelve radio stations including Disco Grande, Spain’s most important national indie radio station. The Chemistry Set’s previous success in the country preceded its return to DJ Gato, one of the most important indie club DJs in Spain. One of Spain’s producers Manel Ibanez approached the band to produce their new mini-LP, “Alchemy#101”. Lake and Mclean (along with a little help from some musical friends) recorded and mixed the mini album in a studio on an island in the middle of the River Thames using vintage instruments (including Farfisas & Mellotrons) but record it to pro-tools to get a great mix of vintage and modern sounds. The music is then mixed and produced in Barcelona by Ibanez.

The Chemistry Set say they release EPs to maintain high quality control and consistency that is not always achieved in full-length releases. On each EP there is a French version of a song (“Regarde Le Ciel” was recorded in French by a singer from Barcelona, Suzette de la grace Faberge, a member of the critically acclaimed indie-pop band Les Tres Bien Ensemble) and an obscure cover. On this EP, the Del Shannon cover comes from his obscure 1968 LP "The Further Adventures of Charles Westover"(Shannon’s real name). This LP sounds like Del’s version of “Forever Changes”, and Arthur Lee & Love are one of The Chemistry Set’s biggest influences.

The Chemistry Set experiments and adds twists to their music. Their album covers include a cover inside a cover. Their version of "See Emily Play" (for the Syd Barrett tribute “Beyond the Wildwood”) has a section of "Bicycle Rider" from The Beach Boys’s Smile inserted the middle. Cover art is very important to the band and they work with a young Barcelona photographer and designer Blanca Viñas, who has agreed to work on all of the bands releases.

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