Monday, 17 December 2018



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“It is my wish that a modern Eleusis will emerge, in which seeking humans can learn to have transcendent experiences with sacred substances in a safe setting”
                                                                                                         Albert Hoffman


Originally titled Let’s Roll Another One, this was the B-side to Pink Floyd’s debut 1967 single Arnold Layne, and is as every bit as subversive as the A-side, despite record company insistence that Barrett change the lyrics from “I’m high – don’t try and spoil my fun” to the titular “Go buy candy and a currant bun” – but everyone knows that. What’s slightly less well-known is that the same record company executives and, indeed, BBC censors missed a later line added to the song: “Oh don't talk with me/Please just fuck with me", making Pink Floyd the first band to record the word ‘fuck’ in post-Tynan Britain.


This is a classic example of the British school ‘Cor blimey’ music-hall approach to psychedelia which was briefly popular around 1967 in your toy-town pop-psych circles (although I use the term ‘popular’ in a rather loose, devil-may-care sort of way). Not only is it at odds with the American approach with its exhortations to ride large snakes or what-have-you to the end of the line, let’s not forget that this is the year The Beatles recorded A Day In The Life, which showed what psychedelia was really capable of. Nevertheless, this is a jaunty enough tune that has just enough going for it to become eminently whistle-able as you go about your business on a sunny summery morning – but it’s not Matthew And Son, which was also released that year. The Cuppa T were, accordingly, a little-known act, who released Miss Pinkerton as their debut single. I understand they were even allowed to release a second before returning to ye psychedelic mysts of tyme from which they briefly emerged.


The sugary-sweet Raspberry Rainbow is something of a psych-pop pastiche, produced by ex-members of the Coventry ska band The Reluctant Stereotypes following the failure of that band to sell any records. Released in 1983, it’s an affectionate take on the Barrett-esque approach to psychedelia that sounds just a tad too playfully tongue-in-cheek to be taken seriously. It also appears to be a one-off – I understand an album was recorded but never released, presumably because the record-buying public having no more interest in the Pink Umbrellas than they did in The Reluctant Stereotypes, which is a pity because I think I would have enjoyed an album of this sort of thing back in 1983, and I may have not been the only one. I read somewhere that singer-songwriter Paul Sampson was approached by The Stone Roses as a possible producer for their debut album, but their message of interest didn't reach him until John Leckie had been booked and it was all too late. How different everything might have been had that been a thing.


Alongside his career as the sort of splendidly hirsute alpha-male that would leave Rik Mayall’s Lord Flashheart looking somewhat abashed, Matt Berry has been pursuing an alternative career as a musician, producing experimental prog-folk recordings that are as equally at home to space-jazz workouts as they are to synth-led lounge explorations that, in part, place him somewhere between the Soft Hearted Scientists and Cranium Pie (if that’s any help). His rather groovy and nearly unrecognizable cover of Pink Floyd’s Any Colour You Like is taken from his 2017 mini-album NIGHT TERRORS (NOCTURNAL EXCURSIONS IN MUSIC), a collection of remixes, out-takes and alternate versions of tracks culled from this previous album THE SMALL HOURS, released in 2016. It sounds a bit like a low-key, underwater lounge act, replete with a chorus of orgasmic female backing vocals and laser effects, and is all the better for it.


I think the Fernweh may be my favourite new group, although having spent the last few weeks reading about them (while waiting for their album to arrive in the post) I gather that they may be more about the album than the band itself. Formed in Liverpool, the band seems to be a nucleus of session musicians who, between providing backing for the likes of Candie Payne and The Zutons, wanted to make something like Fairport Convention’s LIEGE AND LIEF - tapping into an older English soundscape to create something fresh and exciting. They succeeded by marrying the ghosts of Magna Carta, Bert Jansch, Heron, Dando Shaft, and Trees – rich in acoustically melodic, autumnal sounds – to a psych-tinged modernist sensibility that takes in elements of electro, Joy Division and, in Timepiece, something akin to Frederick Delius’ Tone Poems but using a more psychedelic-folky palette. Their eponymous release – I think that’s German for WANDERLUST – takes in all my favourite reference points from Anne Briggs to Oliver Postgate, and deals with themes of change and loss, memory and nostalgia. I am enamored.


Gold Celeste are an Oslo-based three-piece whose debut album THE GLOW, released in 2015, attempts to explore the bipolar nature of human endeavor whilst examining the role of marketeers and industry types in the dumbing down of society. Crucially for a band whose name stems from the play of colours and lights in the sky right after sunrise and just before sunset, they choose to do this in a rather dreamy, woozy lo-fi sort of way that's altogether more tranquil, ephemerous and kaleidoscopically enhanced than you might expect.

This was followed by a short piece featuring Robert Smith recorded when he was in Siouxsie and The Banshees and they were the subject of a television show called Play At Home special, a short-lived, brilliant television show on which bands were invited to do more or less whatever they liked for an hour – other guests included Echo and The Bunnymen, Virginia Astley and New Order. Broadcast in 1984, the Banshees adopted an awesomely strange Alice In Wonderland theme that included music from side-projects The Glove and The Creatures, as well as the band themselves in what was, arguably, their imperial phase. Each band member got their own segment and Robert Smith produced this.


Judy Dyble, of course, was the original singer with Fairport Convention, Trader Horne and a nascent King Crimson. She pretty much left the music business for the best part of 30 years in the early 70s, but since 2003 she’s been quietly recording low-key albums with various collaborators where she blends world music, psychedelia, folk, and electronics and I’ve been a fan ever since. Her 2017 release, SUMMER DANCING, recorded with Andy Lewis – producer, multi-instrumentalist and the original DJ at Blow Up – slipped right under my radar, though, until I came across a review by Stephen Prince on his remarkable blogsite A Year In The Country which suggested quite clearly that this is an album I needed to own. Combining acid folk and acid jazz with a hauntological sensibility (Prince puts it in the same psycho-geographical location as Broadcast’s MOTHER IS THE MILKYWAY, which got me fairly quivering with anticipation, I can tell you) the album is a charmingly weird elflock of lush, electronic sunlit pop with flourishes of pastoral English folk, Swinging London-era psych-pop and the aforementioned hauntological embellishments that give the record the shifting textural detail of a lost classic. It really is quite marvelous.


Everyone’s favourite Thai-influenced instrumental surf trio are, in fact, from Houston, but then everyone knows that. Their sound, however, retains a pan-continental vibe taking in Thai funk, a few retro surf riffs, early hip-hop grooves and bits and pieces of Caribbean, Indian, and Middle Eastern music. Their second album, CON TODO EL MUNDO, released earlier this year, has a sound rooted in the deepest waters of world music infused with classic soul, dub and psychedelia. Small wonder this album is appearing on everyone’s Best of Year lists. On Como Te Quiro they appear to be channeling their inner Albatross.


This seems to have been Beautify Junkyards’ year – every time I go online I’m reading about a new gig somewhere in Europe that I can’t get to that the band are playing to promote their most recent album, THE INVISIBLE WORLD OF BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS, which is also turning up on a lot of Best of Year lists. This gorgeous track, an iridescently lovely cover of Nick Drake’s From The Morning, was originally released in 2013 as their debut single, but it has recently found its way on to the album GOLDFISH, a triple LP of tracks drawn from the back-catalogue of the wonderful Fruits de Mer record label, celebrating 10 years of releasing classic and willfully obscure songs taken from, or heavily influenced by, the 60s and 70s. Elsewhere on the album you can find tracks from Mind De-Coder favourites The Pretty Things, nick nicely, Tir na nOg, The Chemistry Set, Cranium Pie, Sendelica, Vibravoid and Soft Hearted Scientists, all of which are documented in the book The Incomplete Angler by Dave Thompson, in which he presents the official history of the label, featuring over 300 pages of psychedelic, space rock, Kozmic and utterly uncategorizable madness from the annals of the most collectible record label of the 21st Century.


This lovely little track is taken from the most recent release from Japan’s Kikagaku Moyo who appear to have spent the last 30 months or so from the release of their last album touring. The resulting album, MASANA TEMPLES, is a miscellany of diverse rhythms and influences, including Krautrock, classical Indian music, jazz, lounge, and folk. It’s a deeply psychedelic recording but also laid-back and dreamlike too, with only the occasional acid-drenched guitar wig-out to puncture your revery. Orange Peel drifts and shimmers like a late-summer heat haze, with tender vocals and gentle guitar lines; elsewhere spellbinding riffage abounds.

I have it drift away into a recording of that storm we enjoyed here on Waiheke last week.


Ganja & Hess was one of THE groundbreaking films of African American cinema.  Released in 1973 it was a seminal work of revolutionary independent cinema that flirted with the conventions of blaxploitation and horror cinema, whilst providing a highly stylized and utterly original treatise on sex, religion, and African American identity. It starred ‘Night Of The Living Dead’s Duane Jones in one of his two leading roles and Marlene Clark, who would be seen later that year in Bruce Lee's ‘Enter The Dragon’, so it came with way-cool credentials before it had even started. Director Bill Gunn was honoured as one of the ten best American films of its decade by the Cannes Film Festival but was barely distributed to American audiences. Commissioned at a time when blaxploitation movies like ‘Shaft’ played as blockbusters in African American neighborhoods, it was suppressed in the United States because it did not turn out to be the Hollywood genre film the producers intended, so Ganja & Hess was withdrawn when Gunn went beyond the vampire genre and turned in something unique.

The soundtrack to the film was composed by Sam Waymon - brother to Nina Simone, but something of a creative genius in his own right - who produced an innovative, ahead-of-its-time mixture of soul, tribal chants, gospel and trippy, dissonant experimental cues that makes for the strangest score for a vampire film ever. March Blues features Mabel King on vocals, who would become famous for playing Evillene the Witch in The Wiz. The soundtrack was never made available at the time but finally saw release as an exclusive LP for Record Store Day earlier this year. Curated and supervised by composer Sam Waymon himself, the release was strictly limited to 1000 copies worldwide so don’t bust a gut trying to get hold of a copy. I’m sure it’s online now.


Rob Gould produces atmospheric, cinematic soundscapes and otherwise seems to have made a life for himself in music. Occasionally, and, one suspects, just for the sheer fun of it, he’ll knock out a psychedelic cover of an obscure 60s track and these will always put a smile on my face. Funniest Gig was originally recorded by Manfred Mann as the b-side to their 1967 non-hit So Long, Dad, a track that absolutely bombed with the listening public. It was the nearest Manfred Mann ever got to psychedelia, featuring a dreamy haze like atmosphere, strange lyrics and production and samples of earlier Fontana singles. Rob Gould takes the overall weirdness of the track and turns it up to 11.


This is the opening track to the debut album by Australian psych-rockers (who aren’t Tame Impala or any of its myriad off-shoots) The Jim Mitchells – LOVE HYPNOTIC, released earlier this year, is a spaced-out ode to love and mental struggle featuring harmony drenched ballads, garage-band psych-outs and groovy dance numbers. (Let The All In) is a collage of jangly guitars, 60s flavoured leads and airy vocals that would be at home on a Magical Mystery Tour b-sides album.


For their sixth album, VISITORS, released earlier this year, the LA duo hold true to their vision of re-creating the swirling sounds of Tomorrow and Pink Floyd with paisley melodies and patchouli drenched harmonies.


This track is essentially a bit of filler from the new album by Cypress Hill – ELEPHANTS ON ACID – whose title alone was enough to prick my ears up with interest. The occasional early single aside, I’ve no other albums by the band to draw any kind of context from but this, their ninth album, contains psychedelic interludes, sitars, sub bass, trumpeting pachyderms and dubby contributions by arch purveyor of mystical lysergic vibes, Gonjasufi, abound.


For their new album, Sundial fulfill a long-term plan by releasing 20 years’ worth of trippy instrumentals inspired by science fiction soundtracks. Simply called SCIENCE FICTION, it’s a twisting journey through endless possible galaxies evoking the futuristic feel of experimental soundscapes from the late 50s through to the mid-70s taking in space funk, astral rock, Blade Runner-esque symphonic sweeps, krautrock infused electronica and cool glacial guitars and swirling organs that put one in mind of those hugely experimental space-age exotica releases like Attilio Mineo’s 1962 release MAN IN SPACE WITH SOUNDS. Originally only available as green vinyl release limited to 750 copies, the CD version features this fabulous extended version of opening track Hanger 13, which has this whole Spacemen 3 thing going for it, before drifting towards a more ambient, acoustic finale that, first time I heard it, took me from outer space to the lost garden of earthly delights and pretty much left me there.


Sometimes I think even main-man Kawabata Makoto has lost count of how many Acid Mothers temple releases he’s been involved with, but I’m guessing it’s now over two hundred at least (there’s been six album releases this year alone). For their newest release, HALLELUJAH MYSTIC GARDEN PART 1, Kawabata has returned to the band’s early days of vinyl only releases with this one limited to 500 copies, 200 copies of which are available in silver vinyl. Part 1 of the album was released in June, so there’s still plenty of time for Part 2 of the album to be released before the end of the year. It consists of two tracks – Cometary Orbital Drive 2299, which takes up Side A of the LP is something of a live favourite featuring a vast array of effects pedals, feedback loops and a funk bassline all of which eventually unravel into a total dissolution of structure, space and time. Marvelous.


I’ve been listening The Beatles’ LOVE album quite a bit recently and really enjoying it. I’m presuming this particular take on Strawberry Fields Forever can be found on one of the ANTHOLOGY albums but, despite just watching the TV series again, I’ve never heard the accompanying CDs, which is something I really ought to rectify in the coming year. In the meantime, allow yourselves to revel in this excellent version of their greatest song.


Tuesday, 30 October 2018



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I was dreaming I was awake, but I woke up and found myself fast asleep.”
                                                                                                                 Stan Laurel


Donovan was so ahead of the game in the 1960s. The effervescent Sunshine Superman was recorded in 1965 - long before The Beatles recorded REVOLVER - and showcases many of the elements that would become part of the psychedelic paintbox, and yet, due to a record company blithering, the single and accompanying album were held up until after REVOLVER was released in the summer of 66 and Donovan is reduced to being caught up in their slipstream instead of being lauded as the visionary he clearly was. Part love song, and part celebration of LSD, Sunshine Superman has an unassailable optimism to it, capturing within its sound the pure, unalloyed joy of walking along sunny Goodge Street, tripping balls on a late summer’s morning, high and in love, with the whole of swinging London laid out before you like a gift. Of the song, Donovan wrote that he wanted to get to the invisible fourth dimension of transcendental superconscious vision, but then he would - that’s what I just said, but better. This is a previously unreleased longer version of the song that appears on a 2002 release SUNSHINE SUPERMAN: THE VERY BEST OF DONOVAN, a near perfect encapsulation of his splendid 60s output.


The Who, of course, could never really be doing with psychedelia, so when he finally sat down to write what he thought would be the perfect psychedelic pop single in 1966, Pete Townshend was hugely disappointed when the record only reached number 11 in the charts. I think it was at this point that he turned his back on single releases and began to concentrate on concept albums. In truth, I don’t think the record-buying public were ready for it – this song is white hot; an explosion of unhinged paranoia, distorted bass, and taut, barely controlled anger offset by unbridled drums, a dizzying, one-note guitar and incandescent energy that trampled all over the Summer Of Love, but surely, this was the best thing The Who ever did.


The movie ‘Smashing Time’, written by George Melly and starring Lynn Redgrave and Rita Tushingham, was a satirical swipe at the media-obsessed Swinging London which largely failed because Swinging London was over by the time the film hit the cinemas in 1967. That being said, I suspect it also failed because it’s simply not a great film – the first half irritates because it’s not nearly as funny as it thinks it is - but I have a genuine soft spot for the second half of the film which, despite itself, makes London look like a fab place to be. Lynn Redgrave’s Yvonne, looking like a great big blonde lovable cow in a succession of astonishing wigs, sings I’m So Young like an unstoppable force of nature, wielding her youth like an assault weapon – it never fails to put a smile on my face and makes me physically ache that I can’t be 20 again, and, even then, I suspect I would be too old. Back in the day, when they were still including covers by The Who and The Small Faces in their set, I think The Sex Pistols could have done this track justice; it both thrills and horrifies in equal measure. It was written for Redgrave by the late great John Addison, who was also responsible for scoring the likes of ‘A Taste Of Honey’ and ‘The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner’, to name just two soundtracks from a long and illustrious career. It may not be the greatest film about 60s London, but it nevertheless catches a bright moment when England swung like a pendulum do, and I was two years old, a little boy growing up on a housing estate in Essex where the 60s never happened.


By all accounts, The 23rd Turnoff ought to have been a lot bigger than they were, but due to a (frankly) misguided sense of parochialism, singer Jimmy Campbell refused to leave their hometown of Liverpool for London. He made something of a career by writing songs for other artists – Cliff Richard, Billy Fury, The Swinging Blue Jeans and Rolf Harris all sang songs penned by Campbell – but his own band found no success outside of their hometown. Leave Me Here is the b-side to their only single Michaelangelo, a bona fide psychedelic classic, released in 1967, that should have brought fame to their door and, who knows, maybe it did; it’s just the door in question belonged in Kirby and not, say, to a mews flat in Chelsea, and that was their lot.


The magnificently hirsute Matt Berry – star of The IT Crowd and, latterly, Toast Of London, not to mention Dark Place and The Mighty Boosh - has released an album of children’s TV themes from the 1960s to the ‘80s – that includes all those hidden verses and middle eights that time constraints removed from the perfect 30 second iconic intro music. It's a covers album, but also an appreciation of a time when the signature tune and title sequence were both important elements within the overall theme, atmosphere and tone of a television show. The theme to cult kids TV show, Rainbow, has just enough of the Stones’ She’s A Rainbow to it for me to find a home for it on this week’s show. And it made me laugh. Who knew it had a sad extra verse? TELEVISION THEMES was recorded on his own and with his regular band The Maypoles in his newly built studio. It includes favourites from the 60’, 70’s, and 80’s such as Are You Being Served? and Blankety Blank alongside lesser-known themes from Picture Box and Open University amidst those that transcend the decades, Doctor Who and Top Of The Pops.


Grimm Grimm is the moniker under which Tokyo-born sound artist Koichi Yamanoha explores fragile, otherworldly forays into baroque dream folk and electroacoustic oddities. His album, CLIFFHANGER, released earlier this year, exists somewhere between Barrett-esque whimsy and hauntological pastoral timelessness, exploring that liminal space taken by old nursery rhymes where people hum the melody, but no one really knows where it came from. On title track Cliffhanger, he floats through days passing by till the guest vocalist Dee Sada – formerly of post-apocalyptic goth triune An Experiment On A Bird In An Air Pump - sees ‘your reflection in my knife’. Yet this potentially threatening imagery feels more like a gentle butterknife spread, menace coated with a softly spoken comforting melody.


Bad Dreams Fancy Dress were the brainchild of Mike Alway, founder of the semi-legendary él Records, who throughout the mid and late 80s released a dazzling array of fantastic pop records that were a wonderful stew of wit, flair, dazzling pop, gorgeous girls and a style aesthetic very much at home to The Avengers. Bad Dream Fancy Dress were two young women from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, called Cally Davis and Catrin Rees, that got signed simply by turning up at the él office and demanding a record deal. Alway saw in them a raw indie version of Pepsi and Shirlie, and styled them as 60s shopgirls, with chiffon headscarves and fluffy jumpers, then set them up with another él act, The King of Luxembourg, who wrote and produced CHOIRBOYS GAS, one of the few truly unique albums in pop history, which was duly released in 1988. They weren’t great vocalists, but had in spades what the NME called “brilliant incompetence”. The whole concept can be condensed down to the opener, The Supremes, where over a Motown-esque beat the girls share their dreams of fame and fortune before descending into a barrage of caterwauling and screaming. Leigh-On-Sea is possibly the only song about the Essex coastal town that could ever possibly make you want to go there.


This extraordinary piece by Welsh composer Anthony Reynolds features the words of English philosopher and novelist Anthony Wilson, of whom Reynolds is quite a fan. His album A WORLD OF COLIN WILSON, released in 2012, consists of a selection of recordings of Wilson reading his own texts, situated within a gliding ambient soundscape of distant pianos and synths. The recitations echo furtively through the aural space, with long expanses of largely obscured texts punctuated with fleeting moments of lucidity. New York Ozone Memory, is a spectral four minutes of music mixed by ex-Boo Radley Martin Carr and the Spanish group La Muneca De Sal which explores Wilson’s famous notion of “Faculty X” – the latent power human beings possess to reach beyond the present. Trippy as a hatstand.


Each passing day brings summer a little closer to Waiheke, and with it the jeremiads of local Facebook posters, so before the island is visited aplenty and us locals find ourselves grumbling away at the wrong of the queue in FourSquare, let us remind ourselves of Summer’s other gifts. This track is taken from the 1969 recording SEASONS, released by the BBC as part of the Drama Workshop educational project, made for the classroom as an aid to improvisation and dance. The album’s mix of harsh Radiophonic music by David Cain and austere, powerful poetry by Ronald Duncan may well have come across as a touch disturbing to any child really paying attention – the album contains a Dark Beauty; it is weird, spooky, unsettling; very British; has an unusual whiff of childhood to some, and it comes scattered with pregnant language and is full of unexpected metaphors, pagan oddness, folk cadences and insane noises. It has ‘cult’ written all over it and was a major influence on retro-futurism, and where you find retro-futurism you won’t find hauntology very far behind. None of this is a bad thing, of course, and I’ve been looking to include a track for quite some time: the turning of the seasons seems as apt an opportunity as any but, what with us living in the Southern hemisphere and all, all the months are the wrong way ‘round, but I’m sure you’ll pick up on the spirit of the thing. They don’t make them like this anymore.


The title track from Jessica Risker’s current album, released earlier this year, is an idyllic, wistful affair, wood-grained, amber-hued and ever so slightly askew with a sense of tell-tale lysergic wonder. I SEE YOU AMONG THE STARS is tender and delicate, creating a warm, watery, almost womblike space for Risker's gentle folk-pop. The introspective songwriting conjures the spirits of Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan, and Joanna Newsom, and the subtly warped production gives a contemporary feel to Risker's tunes even as they hark back to the 60s. This really is quite lovely, but not for fans of Skunk Anansie, say (this would be by way of a gentle nod towards my wife).


Graham Fellows – or the fairly wonderful Jilted John and/or John Shuttleworth – goes all whimsical and Syd-ish on What Lies Behind The Sofa, a track taken from his new album WEIRD TOWN – his first in 33 years. Recorded in his home studio in Lincolnshire, the album features inspired contributions from heavyweight folk musicians including Chris Wood and Niopha Keegan of the Unthanks whilst Fellows's bouncy acoustic guitar chops - ever present in this eclectic clutch of personal love songs - are held in check by the sophisticated percussion of the Bhangradelically-infused sounds of Keith Angel, and the album is infused with mournful pad chords thumped out on a gasping harmonium.


The Plastic Cloud are a band with a story but it always goes like this: if only they’d come from L.A. or San Francisco, instead of Bay Ridges, Canada, then the band might well have become as famous as The Byrds, a band they were clearly influenced by and in love with. Formed in 1967, they only released the one album, simply called PLASTIC CLOUD (named after an Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable light show effect, apparently). It’s a curious affair – on Side One they showcased their commercial side with pleasant soft flower power songs not dissimilar to what The Byrds were doing a year or two earlier, but on side Two they showed a much harder sound dominated by fuzztone guitar and other effects, for a much more spaced-out psychedelic listen, as evidenced by Civilization Machine. Sadly, they split the next year so we’ll never know just how good they might have become, another victim to the fickle psychedelic hand of fate.


In their quest for the perfect psychedelic riff Acid Mother’s Temple have returned to the glorious Pink Lady Lemonade some five or six times that I know of – there may be more. With a back catalogue of some 125 releases and counting (a new album has been released in the time it’s taken me to type this sentence), there are probably versions I haven’t dreamed of, but they all revolve around this one perfect, endlessly diverting riff. This is the Electric Dream Ecstasy version that takes up side three of their recent release of the same name – it’s an epic proto-disco composition held together by a spluttering krautrock groove that resembles nothing so much as a psyche-industrial tribal techno workout which delivers all the noise and cacophony that Acid Mothers can summon as it reaches a near- twenty-minute conclusion in a shower of feedback and percussive frenzy. Absolutely marvellous.


The Orb at their Orb-iest – Soul Planet is a 15-minute aural odyssey that reprises the epic spacey ambient house sound the group invented and is taken from their most recent release, NO SOUNDS ARE OUT OF BOUNDS, released earlier this year.


Not that it does them any good now, but I’ve become a huge fan of the Boo Radleys this past year, hoovering up their post-GIANT STEPS catalogue and playing them loud and proud in the car as I go about my business. Far from being the My-Bloody-Valentine-that-Creation-could-afford, the Boo Radleys never forgot that primarily they were a superb pop group who could knock off a summer anthem at the drop of a (John Lennon Polish fisherman’s type) hat, but I also love them at their most experimental. Joel is taken from WAKE UP!, a proper hit on the back of their breakfast-show-starting Wake Up, Boo! single, released in 1995. It features Beatles-esque reverse guitars, cellos and a distorted bass-driven groove with added ambient meanderings, which I find quite sublime.


Where to start with The Fall? There’s simply too many versions of the band to have an out-and-out favourite album, but if push comes to shove then for me it’s 1985’s THIS NATION’S SAVING GRACE, possibly because it was produced by the great John Leckie, who could always bring out a band’s hidden psychedelic bent, even if that band would argue that they never particularly had one to begin with. Paint Work is a story in and of itself. Sectioned and quartered by tape-machine clicks, T.V.-as-background noise interludes, and fidelity shifts, the 7+ minute piece works beautifully as pages of a diary – this is Leckie writ large. Mark E Smith was content to go along with it for this album, probably because he was loved up with Brix and was feeling, on the whole, a warm feeling of generosity towards all and sundry. It didn’t last. I understand Leckie returned for another album by which time Smith had reverted to type and pissed Leckie off so much that the man downed tools and refused to work with the band ever again. A great pity. Not only is this my favourite Fall album, this is pretty much my favourite Fall line-up, although I will always have a great deal of affection for the Marc Riley HEX-ENDUCTION HOUR era of The Fall, although over the decades the distinction has become meaningless. As Mark E Smith said: ‘If it's me and yer granny on bongos, it's the Fall’ and there is a great deal of truth in this.


The atmospheric soundscapes of Rob Gould provide moments of haunting beauty, serenity, light, drama & unease. He also knows his way around a good tune. I’m a fan of his psychedelic re-imaginings of wonky 60s classics – he always adds something to the mix that makes me laugh - but this track is one of his own and has a slinky, cinematic vibe, alluring and ever so slightly askew. I believe he has six or seven albums available but this track is made available on Soundcloud, or you can download it from his Facebook page here.


For me, The Crystal Ship is The Doors’ loveliest song; Morrison’s vocals, lost in narcotic bliss, speak of intoxicated yearning and dream-like loss in equal measure, capturing the amethyst visions of French symbolist poets Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire, Morrison’s heroes, as much as they do love’s dull ache. I think this was originally made available as the b-side to Light My Fire, but I first came across it on the band’s classic debut album, released in 1967. The music of The Doors was stoned, artsy, pretentious, too in love with the blues and very often took itself far too seriously (no great fan, me, but, curiously enough, they have made some of my favourite songs ever) but their first album was all about expanding perceptions, and whilst not psychedelic in and of itself, was a hypnotic fusion of rock, blues, classical, jazz, and poetry that menaced and thrilled in equal measure.


The music of London based Portuguese songstress Rita Braga simultaneously summons the ghosts of synth pioneers such as Delia Derbyshire and Bruce Haack as well as that of eccentric performers like Vivian Stanshall and Carmen Miranda. Her universe is one of colours, exuding both the charm of a vintage cartoon character merrily bouncing along and the ominous melancholy of a lost kitten on a rooftop. The sci-fi minimal ukulele pop operetta A Quantic Dream is taken from her recent album BIRD ON THE MOON. Apparently, it was written as a result of a 2-month residency in Graz, Austria, in 2016. This show combined a dream sequence, astrophysics, burlesque, animation and light-hearted existentialism and things of that nature in general. I’m quite the fan. 

Tuesday, 23 October 2018


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“Satan is his father – and his name is Adrian!”
                                                                        (from ‘Rosemanry’s Baby’)


A deceptively restrained start to the show featuring the music of Creed Taylor from his debut album SHOCK, released in 1958. Creed, of course (he writes, authoritatively) was a legendary jazz producer who signed John Coltrane, a move which resulted in some of not only Trane's greatest work but some of the finest jazz to be laid down on wax in the 1960's. SHOCK was put together as part of a series of albums that used music and effects to tell a story. Using studio musicians and old tape loops to create a spooky brilliant mental thing, SHOCK is a truly groundbreaking album and rightly considered a total classic in the Space Age Bachelor / Exotica canon, if there is indeed such a thing.


Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ features a young Mia Farrow battling creeping paranoia and satanic witch cults in modern day New York. It’s a brooding, creepy film, filled with unbearable unease. The equally unsettling Rosemary’s Lullaby features Mia Farrow’s wordless vocals and a simple, wistful melody – something soft, absent-minded, contented – that Polish composer, Krzyztof Komeda (Chris to his friends, I expect), returns to several times throughout the film, each time layering another layer of dread to the rising tension at the heart of the film.
In a weird coda to the overall spookiness of the film, shortly after it was finished, Komeda was pushed off a rocky escarpment by Polish writer Marek Hlasko under circumstances still considered ‘uncertain’ following a drinking party in Los Angeles. He never recovered from the resulting cerebral haemorrhage, and died in Warsaw a few months later.


Sound artist Alison Cooper brings a similar feeling of unease to the otherworldly prettiness of her contribution to the Folklore Tapes release DEVON FOLKLORE TAPES IV: RITUALS AND PRACTICES, made available as a tape cassette in 2012. The record label and research projects’ fascination with the ancient arcana and cultural mysticism of the British Isles is reflected in the fairytale folk of Magpahi, whose whimsical acoustics and sepia stories chart Britain’s hidden histories. Magpahi weaves together a rich tapestry encompassing six different forms of ritual from the West Country, largely informed by the work of the late folklorist Theo Brown. The beguilingly lovely Corpse, as the title suggests, focusses on the salting down of a corpse at an isolated Dartmoor inn; elsewhere her songs explore the plaiting of corn dollies in the field, tied from standing sheaves; the dangers of picking the white flowers of stitchwort (which may result in being spirit-led away by malignant pixie folk); and the work of witches and charmers in Devon, including their use of snakeskin for curses.


The aptly titled Creepin’ is the opening track to the Psychic Markers second album, HARDLY STRANGERS, and it kicks this second outing off in ghoulish, gothic fashion. Psychic Markers appear to be a band that, in a suitably Frankenstein fashion, seems to be made up of the various bits and pieces of other bands, resulting in weird and wonderful pop songs built on layers of ambient texture and rhythmic patterns.


Janie Jones is a living legend - she first achieved notoriety in August 1964, when she attended the film premiere of the British documentary about London nightlife ‘London In The Raw’, wearing a topless dress; she had a hit single with the cackling novelty record Witches Brew 1966; worked with performers as diverse as Marc Bolan and Jimmy Webb whilst rubbing shoulders with Cliff Richard, Paul and Barry Ryan, Dusty Springfield, Ken Dodd, Tom Jones and Lulu; hosted notorious Kensington sex parties in the early seventies that saw her get sent down for seven years in prison for controlling prostitutes (she served three) where she befriended Moors murderer Myra Hindley and made numerous television appearances on her behalf insisting that Hindley was a reformed woman and should be considered for release (in fairness to Jones, she completely changed her mind about that in 1986 when Hindley finally confessed to her crimes); had The Clash write a song about her on their 1977 debut album (and later appeared in the video to Babyshambles 2006 cover); had a comeback single produced by Joe Strummer in 1983 with a band that featured both members of The Clash and The Blockheads called Janie Jones and The Lash; and published her memoirs, “The Devil and Miss Jones’, in 1993 – so, a life well-lived, then, and as far as I know, she’s not gone yet. The late sixties heavy rocker Witch In White was never released at the time, but appears on the compilation album WE’RE IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF JONIE JONES, a round-up of all five of her 1965-70 singles, as well as the 1983 comeback single House of the Ju-Ju Queen and it’s b-side, Sex machine, and a bunch of demos, outtakes and alternates. I feel a biopic is in order.


The Knack (not the band that recorded the 5 million seller My Sharona, sadly) were an American garage rock/psychedelic rock band from Los Angeles who were active in the 1960s. The Spell is the b-side to a 1967 release Softly, Softly (which featured Frank Zappa on piano, fact fans). They were creative and clever, had a way with a tune, experimented with exotic instrumentation but, despite being touted by their manager as ‘being better than The Beatles’, they weren’t and, having released four singles, split in 1969.


Mark Fry’s debut, DREAMING WITH ALICE, released in 1972, is one of the greatest English acid folk albums of all, and for much of its existence, also one of the rarest – possibly because, at the time, it was never actually released in England. Recorded by a 19 year old Fry for an Italian sub label of RCA, it presented a beautifully naive kind of psychedelic folk featuring mostly acoustic instrumentation augmented by flanged vocals; trimmings of flute, sitar and bongos; extended jams pushing a couple of songs past the 6 and 8 minute mark; dubby reverb effects; backward tapes; abrupt editing; and of course there is the Lewis Carroll connotation of the title - a touchstone of all psychedelia. The album enchants listeners with dreamy vocal melodies of utter beauty and picturesque tunes which take you onto a trip out to the English countryside on a gentle and warm spring morning and into a fairytale world – a world, in the case of this particularly bewitching track, that takes a slightly darker turn, but which remains gloriously trippy throughout.


This is a genuinely unsettling track from Cleveland punk trio Kill The Hippies. Normally they’re more at home to Devo but in 2015 they went in to the studio and recorded an album of Halloween sound effects, fittingly titled SPECTACULAR HALLOWEEN SOUND EFFECTS VOL. 1, for their sixth album, and it pretty much does what it says on the label. Chilling, and not in a good way.


This radical re-working of American delta blues singer Skip James’ I’d Rather Be The Devil is taken from Martyn’s stone-cold classic SOLID AIR, released in 1973 and one of the greatest folk albums ever recorded, although to call it a straight folk album is to ignore the complexity of its arrangements, which owed as much to the smoky world of jazz, blues and spacerock  as it does the folk club background from which Martyn came. In fact, this track has an otherworldly, avant garde vibe to it, underscored by Martyn’s use of the Echoplex tape delay machine which gives the track a fuzzy, hypnotic tone that, under enhanced circumstances, say, is almost entirely captivating.


I may have been stretching a point in order to include this track – I’m reasonably certain that the ‘axe’ in question may be the popular rock idiom for a ‘guitar’, and that at some point Pink Floyd may have employed the services of a roadie called Eugene – but let’s not get too hung up on pedantry. This is the version of the track that appeared on the b-side to their post-Syd 1968 single Point Me At The Sky, and not the live version that appears on UMMAGUMMA, but both have something of a slightly menacing spirit to them and show the band experimenting with a heavier rock sound.


The Attack only released four singles in their two years together, and in that time moved from a blistering mod/soul sound to freakbeat psychedelic rockers. The phantasmagorical Strange House was never released at all, but it can be found on the compilation album ABOUT TIME!: DEFINITIVE MOD-POP COLLECTION 1966-68, released in 2006, which collects together both sides of all their 45s, joined by a pair of numbers recorded during a BBC radio session and a clutch of unreleased studio recordings.  It enjoys a mod-psych whimsy to it that suggests the band were no strangers to the LSD experience and it might have been nice to see how they developed this sound – sadly they were let go by their record company and a nascent attempt at recording an album was lost when the label recorded over the tapes after they dropped the group. These days they remain a footnote to the fickle world of psychedelic pop.


A 15 minute sound trip through a haunted house taken from the album HAUNTED HOUSE, released in 1985 on tape cassette. This track is pretty much a montage of all the individual tracks that appear on Side 2 of the tape. It’s spooky good fun but under normal circumstances (that is to say, if you had access to a FF button) you wouldn’t necessarily make it to the end - shrieking cats abound.


Garage-psych chills from The Graveyard Five – a Californian band possessed by a haunting and eerie ambiance that was inspired by the ghostly settings of a cemetery. Marble Orchard was the (far superior) b-side to their only single, The Graveyard Theme, released in 1968. The band actually consisted of four members, with the unaccounted fifth member represented by a coffin, so, as you can see, they had this whole novelty thing going for them. Not that it did them any harm - the band were a popular live attraction in the Bay Area, opening for Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Loading Zone, and Jefferson Airplane, among others.  A second single was recorded but an LSD induced breakdown resulted in the lead guitarist/singer destroying  the group's equipment, and the Graveyard Five disbanded before the single could be released.


THE BOOK OF THE LOST is a marvellous concept – a collaboration between purveyors of woodland folkadelica, The Rowan Amber Mill, and Emily Jones, the daughter of cult sixties folk artist Al Jones,  inspired by a love of 60s and 70s cheap British horror movies and folk horror, resulting in a soundtrack to a cult TV show that never was. Haunted by sneaked childhood viewings of the likes of The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan’s Claw and Psychomania , the group  set upon the task of constructing in meticulous detail a number of their own lost folk horror movies (complete with synopsis, cast and crew, production companies and what have you) and, from that basis, writing and recording songs and dialogue pieces inspired by these imaginary creations. To tie up this dark gathering of lost films, they chose the device of a decidedly low budget, hastily slung together television series which would play these movies (fittingly in the “graveyard” slot) and thus was born THE BOOK OF THE LOST, released in 2014. It’s a gorgeous listen, combining dark folk narratives and spellbindingly lovely pastoral psychedelia with the spirit of MR James. Marvellous.


The only album by Kennelmus, 1971’s FOLKSTONE PRISM, is an occasionally inspired mix of surf music, spaced-out psychedelia and schizophrenic weird shit that, since I discovered it, has rapidly become a Mind De-Coder favourite. The Raven, of course, is a whacked-out rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s classic gothic poem that plays to their best and worst tendencies – an over-the-top production that combines proto-punk vocals with primitive electronic squeals. Think Vibrasonic versus The Butthole Surfers.


A genuinely spooky track from Paper Dollhouse, a UK duo who fuse (very) subtle dream pop with ambient textures and field recordings.  This track - a startlingly hallucinatory and cold, icy piece that for all the world sounds as if someone is interviewing a ghost – is taken from side two of the DEVON FOLKLORE TAPES IV: RITUALS AND PRACTICES release.  Haunting (literally).


This ethereal track by The Hare And The Moon has a preternatural loveliness to it. The band themselves no longer exist, other than a ghostly presence on the internet. They lived in the forest and their main occupations were knitting, necromancy, dollmaking and devilry, however, they sometimes made music too. When they did they liked to throw their love of MR James, Arthur Machen, ghost stories, Black Sabbath, Pentangle and The Wicker Man into their cauldron and give it a good stir. Fractures In The Forest appears on the 2016 release FRACTURES, compiled by A Year In The Country, a website dedicated to exploring the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams.

FRACTURES is a gathering of studies and explorations that take as their starting point the year 1973, a time when there appeared to be a schism in the fabric of things; a period of political, social, economic and industrial turmoil, when 1960s utopian ideals seemed to corrupt and turn inwards. It takes as its reference points a selected number of conspicuous junctures and signifiers: Delia Derbyshire leaving The BBC/The Radiophonic Workshop and reflecting later that around then “the world went out of time with itself”. Elsewhere, electricity blackouts in the UK and the three day week was declared; The Wickerman was released; eerie children’s TV show for ‘older viewers’, The Changes, was recorded but remained unreleased (gave me the shivers as a kid); and The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water was first shown and gave kids across the country sleepless nights.

Alaska is a Spanish-Mexican singer, DJ, and television personality famous in Spain and Latin America, and one of the founding members of the La Movida Madrileña, the cultural and artistic movement that followed the end of Francoist Spain.

Michael Begg is an award winning composer and sound artist and musician whose music is located in the place where formal composition and electronic erosion meet - that liminal space coloured by longing and discomfort.

A carefully researched show, then.


On a show featuring weird music, this track is one of the weirdest of all. Lady June—the honorary title given to her due to her upper-crust, aristocratic voice (by all accounts she sounded like a really stoned Judi Dench) and the fact that she was the de facto London landlady of many a progressive musician from the Canterbury set—was a sort of free-spirited hippie bohemian poetess and multimedia performance artist who ran with the crowd that included The Canterbury Set, Steve Hillage, members of Henry Cow, Hawkwind, Hatfield and the North, Tim Blake and David Bedford, while her enormous twelve room Maida Vale flat was seen as London’s premier smoking salon. In 1973 she recorded LADY JUNES LINGUISTIC LEPROSY, which set her surrealist poetry  to music by her longtime friend (and longtime tenant) Kevin Ayers and Brian Eno, a neighbor who lived nearby. The recording was primarily made in the front room of her apartment with Ayers on guitar, bass and vocals, and Eno playing guitar, bass, a couple of entirely made-up instruments  and something called ‘Lunar Lollipops’, with Gong’s drummer Pip Pyle and David Vorhaus of White Noise mixing. Following her death in 1998, she was cremated and guests at her wake tied little parcels of her ashes to helium balloons and let them go into the Mallorca breeze, her island home since 1975.


I don’t know much about this gentleman at all, but he appears to be something of a psychedelic musician who makes his releases available on his Facebook page. The Devil In The Mirror – A Lo-Fi Psychedelic Halloween Song (to give it its full title) was recorded last year using a deliberately lo-fi method for that authentic haunted garage-psych sound, and that’s all I can tell you about it. – but anyone who’s dropped acid, looked in the mirror and NOT seen the devil looking back hasn’t really been trying.


Anton Szandor LaVey (Howard to his mum) was, of course, the founder of the Church Of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible. As an organization it seemed to be less about getting up to naughty goings on and more of a vehicle for worship of materialism and the self, for which he claimed no supernatural inspiration – this being the 60s, there was a lot of nudity involved as well. More of a showman than an out-and-out believer in the occult, his lifestyle owed more to the trappings of Hugh Hefner than Alistair Crowley, say, and he seems to have enjoyed a helluva good time (as it were) pretty much making up the religion of LaVeyan Satanism as he went along. The Hymn To Satan, on which he calls upon the many names of Satan, can be found on THE SATANIC MASS, recorded in 1967 at Church of Satan headquarters, known as The Black House. I dozed off listening to this, once, and rather wished I hadn’t. Weird dreams, to say the least.


This (frankly) eerie track can be found on what amounts to a hauntological concept album called AVEBURY, the debut release from The Stone Tapes - Kat Beem (a classically trained pianist, poet and actress) and M. Peach (soundologist, musician and photographer). The concept of the album is pretty much based on that great hauntological touchstone, The Stone Tape, Nigel Kneale’s terrifying TV play after which the group take their name. Broadcast on BBC Two as a Christmas ghost story in 1972 the story explores the theory that the impressions of emotional or traumatic events can be recorded into rock and replayed under certain conditions. Told from the point of view of its producers, AVEBURY unfurls from a chance encounter with an elderly neighbour, one George Albert Wilberforce, who gifted them a box of tapes. Wilberforce “had been a researcher of sound phenomena, and the tapes held recordings that he’d made during the course of his travels” and it transpires that the tapes were made by recording stone using special modified equipment. The sounds he captured are claimed to represent “the vestiges of time itself, or are proof of ghosts”. The album combines these eerie sounds with a gripping drama made up of telephone conversations between Kat from the band and the Vicar of Avebury and the vicar’s wife in which their reminiscences of George Wilberforce and the events that ensue become increasingly creepy. It’s a remarkable piece of work - a collage of storytelling and electronics that actually feels like a sound recording of a lost BBC ghost story. The Owl And The Druid chatters synthetically into life with multiple layers of incantations and muttered chants, a solitary processional drumbeat sounding behind the crescendo of deranged voices and echoed howls. This is either musick to play in the dark because of its disquieting power or to always listen to with the lights on, depending on your dispensation and nerve. The album was originally given a limited release on cassette loaded with high-quality music-grade ferric tape in 2016. Since then it has been made available on CD and you can also download it here. Thoroughly recommended.


For her third album, DEBRIS, released in 2016, Belgian composer Annelies Monseré has produced a piece of work seeped in ethereal vocals combined with doom and drone-infused ambient folk textures that illuminate the subtle beauty that exists in the darkness. Think Nico with a glockenspiel and you won’t go far wrong.


Pretty much does what it says on the label – I found this track on an album called SON OF SCARY SOUND EFFECTS, released in 1995. Don’t be put off by the cover (although there does seem to be some focus on pirates) – this is a fairly definitive set of spooky Halloween sounds for your enjoyment.


There’s naught more scary than a Christian in full swing, and this track has to be seen to be believed.