Dahlia FX – Dahlia FX – album review

Dahlia FX – Dahlia FX (Thin Recordings)
CD and free DL
Out now 

Hampshire band Dahlia FX have yet to play live, but when they do it looks like being something special based on this free-for-download from Soundcloud album. Ged Babey, who back in June described it as a ”Ëœmindblowing collection of apocalyptic modern psychedelia’, will tell you more.

Dahlia FX sound like the Stones Roses playing with the Cocteau Twins in zero gravity. A kind of interstellar post-rock; with Syd Barrett on vocals; remixed by the Aphex Twin; but still just about making accesible, wide-screen, high definition rock’n’roll –  in space. Sort of.

Dahlia FX are thoroughly modern psychedelia with a clinical electronica sheen. The sounds you hear are made with guitars and synths but mostly you can’t tell which sound is made by which instrument. It could be either or both.

The poetic lyrics create a freaky mindscape with custom-built Buddhas, emotional vultures , sidewalk strumpets, ghost lights, part-time ballerinas and vintage Mercedes. It’s some trip”¦.

Never mind the hyperbole here are some facts:

  • Dahlia FX are ”¨David Boland (bass guitars, lyrics, lead vocals, backing vocals); ”¨Tien Ren (guitars, synths, programming, beats, backing vocals); Sam Christie (drums); additional vocals on ‘Ice Moon Europa’ and ‘Dreamer Mea Culpa’ performed ”¨by Sapphire Patterson Zeitouni.
  • All Dahlia FX tracks are composed, played and recorded by Tien and Dave. ”¨Glenn Hubbold has now been appointed as drummer for Dahlia FX.
  • They are from Winchester or Southampton, Hampshire somewhere anyway and are one of those bands that seem to have spent years in the studio perfecting their art.

I know David vaguely from the mid”“’90s indie scene in Southampton which then centered around the Joiners venue when it was a pub called the Joiners Arms. He was bassist in a very cool garage psych band called Nova Coma whose demo I reviewed.

If there were five or more blokes in the pub it was a fair bet that at least one of them was a Dave. To distinguish one Dave from another it was useful to add something descriptive to the name. Hence Mister Boland became known as Dangerous Dave. I never actually found out why, or whether he was a danger to himself or others, but I always treated him with the utmost respect, just in case.

Nova Coma became friends with Tara Milton bassist/singer from the band Five Thirty and later the Nubiles ”“both of whom they supported at legendary shows at the Joiners.

Five Thirty should have been far more successful than they were. I seem to remember Tara getting Dangerous Dave an audition for bass player in Elastica at one stage. Not being a posh girl he didn’t get the job.

He worked on a project called Manzello some years back.  “It’s a bit jazz mate, you might not like it” he said giving me a CD. He was right, I didn’t.

I don’t think I’ve ever met Tien Ren (the ’90s are a blur) but I understand he was half of the 2003 electronica duo Lien who released two albums “Matica” and “The Pantone Diary”.

Tien was also asked to work with Jamie Reynolds on his project which eventually became the Klaxons (I interviewed a 16-year-old Reynolds incidentally when he was a member of Thermal ”“ schoolboy Britpop mop-tops, one of whom confidently predicted that Cast would eclipse Oasis‘ success).

Bizarrely the drummer on the DFX album is one Sam Christie whose CV includes ”Ëœdoing session work for the likes of Cast with producer John Leckie”. He also filmed and produced the promo video for “Ghost Lights”. (Remember kids driving in the dark with shades on is not big or clever – it looks cool though).

Dahlia FX sound both heavy and seemingly weightless. The combination of guitar, effects pedals and production; which sounds expensive, but was no doubt done on a budget; brings to mind obvious comparisons with My Bloody Valentine. There is a vague ”Ëœfloation tank rock’ similarity but Dahlia FX are more soundtrack to a sci-fi road-movie, outer space than inner space. That said, the Alice in Wonderlandish lyricism is suitably mysterious, with some religious, some sexual and some narcotic imagery.

It’s one of those albums that is a complete work. You have to listen to it from start-to-finish, like it’s a movie – and loud, on decent headphones is best; lying down too. It’s like a trip to a strange new parallel universe.

Get yourself a CD rather than the free-download.

I’ll keep you informed as to when they are playing live or check them out on Facebook.

All words by Ged Babey. You can read more from Ged on LTW here.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


  1. After talks with Glenn our current drummer we decided to go separate ways (due to his commitments) so we are looking again for a talented drummer for live work.

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