"Psychic Temple is a cult. Psychic Temple is a band. Psychic Temple is a singular vision realized by some of the finest artists on Planet Earth." Or at least that's what Psychic Temple's record label has to say about the group. Psychic Temple is also a recording project headed up by noted composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Chris Schlarb. Schlarb is an eclectic artist whose work often leans to free jazz and experimental music, but his work under the Psychic Temple banner ranks with his most accessible. Psychic Temple's recordings combine elements of pop, Americana, and smooth jazz with Schlarb's more adventurous influences. Schlarb launched the Psychic Temple moniker in 2010 with an album simply titled Psychic Temple. Co-released by Asthmatic Kitty Records in association with Schlarb's Sounds Are Active label, Psychic Temple's debut featured contributions from 29 musicians, including former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, drummer Tabor Allen of Rare Grooves, and Philip Glass collaborator Mick Rossi.
Schlarb pushed Psychic Temple's pop influences further to the forefront with PT's second album, Psychic Temple II, which included guest appearances from Sufjan Stevens, Sarah Negahdari of Silversun Pickups, and progressive metal guitarist Paul Masvidal. Released in 2013, the album found Schlarb and his ensemble covering classic tunes by Brian Wilson, Joe Jackson, and Frank Zappa, as well as a handful of Schlarb originals. In 2016, Schlarb returned with the third and most ambitious Psychic Temple album, Psychic Temple III. Recorded at Schlarb's own studio in California and at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, III was steeped in country and soul influences as well as pop and jazz. The set included performances by Spooner Oldham, David Hood, Avi Buffalo, and Dave Easley. Also appearing in 2016 were Psychic Temple Plays Music for Airports, featuring an interpretation of the groundbreaking Brian Eno piece of the same name, and the 7" single Two Songs About Cults, which included a cover of Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Both of these releases appeared on Joyful Noise, which also issued Psychic Temple IV in 2017. ~ Mark Deming