Monday, 25 September 2017

MIND DE-CODER 72


MIND DE-CODER 72

To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page

Naked she danced in the warm morning sun. Her hips swayed suggestively to the beat of the music. On her back was scrawled in ballpoint: “Got any Acid?”
                                                                       The Western Telegraph, 31st July, 1975
                               

MORGAN DELT     ANOTHER PERSON


For his second album, 2016’s PHASE ZERO, West Coast psych-rock explorer Morgan Delt has produced an album of polished lysergic weirdness and sonic invention. Most of all it sounds baked, like tripping in the desert sun – colours and sound radiate within, creating a palette of textures that invite the mind to stay a while and lose itself in a landscape of dazed wonder.


BLUR     FAR OUT


A seemingly throw-away ditty from the band’s zeitgeist defining third album PARK LIFE, released in 1994, of course, but one I’ve always had a soft spot for. The Barrett-esque Far Out, that lasts less than two minutes, features bassist and fromager extraordinaire Alex James’ first ever vocal for the band and, for some reason, is disliked by the sort of people who create lists about songs which ruined otherwise perfect albums. Ironic, then, that the one song I never need to particularly hear ever again is the title track itself, which I find more irritating each time hear it.


TIME ATTENDANT     THE DREAMING GREEN (excerpt)/ADRIFT


Two tracks from exploratory musician and visual artist Paul Snowden who releases music under the name Time Attendant. I only use the first minute or two from The Dreaming Green, which you can find on the album THE FURTHEST SIGNALS, released by A Year In The Country earlier this year, on which they explore the idea that films, television and radio shows from the past may live on in space, possibly in a degraded form and otherwise mixed amongst other stellar noises and signals. For their most recent release, THE QUIETENED COSMOLOGIST, from which the track Adrift is taken, they continue to reflect on space, this time focusing on space exploration projects that have either been abandoned or were never realised in the first place, and the intrigue, and sometimes melancholia, of related derelict sites and technological remnants that lie scattered and forgotten about the country. 

The album takes as its initial starting point the shape of the future’s past via the discarded British space program of the 1950s to 1970s; the sometimes statuesque and startling derelict artefacts and infrastructure from the Soviet Union's once far reaching space projects, and the way in which manned spaceflight beyond Earth's orbit to the moon and the associated sense of a coming space age came to be largely put to aside after NASA’S initial Apollo flights ended in 1972.



ROB GOULD     A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS


The cinematic soundscapes of Rob Gould provide moments of haunting beauty, serenity, light, drama and unease, all of which can be found in this atmospheric cover of Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful Of Secrets, recorded for the Fruits De Mer album A MOMENTARY LAPSE OF VINYL, released in 2014. In actual fact, he does a very fine line in covers of psychedelic classics – you can find a lot more of them over at Soundcloud. I was particularly taken with his interpretation of The Purple Gang’s Granny Takes A Trip, which will undoubtedly appear in the next show.


YES     I SEE YOU 


Long before the ambitious excesses of TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS (shall we say), the 1969 version of Yes were an entirely different concern, pretty much featuring the entire line-up of the largely un-heard of Auntie Mabel’s Toyshop, just another band surfing the primordial prog-rock soup in the late 1960s. Their first album, the rather positively entitled YES, brings a cheerfully primitive jazz-prog-rock feel to the mix, featuring exploratory improvisations and jazz breakouts to a just-getting-used-to-the-studio-what-does-this-button-do sort of vibe. I played the blistering original recording of this track by The Byrds last week; this week I felt drawn to this surprisingly swinging version which, in its own way, runs circles around the original by Roger McGuinn and Co.


JEFF WOOTTON     SONIK DRIPS


Jeff Wootton’s debut album, THE WAY THE LIGHT, released last year, sounds like (and I don’t mean this in a bad way) the sort of thing Paul Weller or Noel Gallagher might knock off in one of their more experimental moments, by which I (hope I) mean, it has a maturity about it that belies his youthful years – he’s 30 years old, whereas as Gallagher and Weller are 109 between them. That being said, he’s packed a lot into his life, having so far performed with Brian Eno, Massive Attack, both Gallagher’s, Nick Zinner, Mark Ronson, Damo Suzuki and as guitarist with Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz. His debut album is a joyous barrage of dense atmospheric soundscapes, big-beat grooves and fuzzy experimental psychedelicness (made up word). Sonik Drips is a pleasing mix of all three.


ALICE COLTRANE TURIYASANGITANANDA     OM RAMA


Alice Coltrane’s 1990 release, INFINITE CHANTS, is an album of ecstatic, transcendental celebration. She says herself of it:

"In this Mandir, you are hearing chanting like no other chanting in the universe. I can say that with all clarity and verification by God that nobody chants like this...I see what is occurring on the inner-plane, and it is beyond ordinary, human experience."

Amen to that. Recorded on her ashram in California, this is music of the highest, devotional order featuring Vedic chants repeating the names of deities, cosmic, swirling mantras sometimes sung solo with serene fragility, at other times rising in magnificent, gospel-like form courtesy of the Ashram Singers. THE ECSTATIC MUSIC OF TURIYASANGITANANDA, released earlier this year on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label is a collection of her four ashram releases, previously available on cassette-only for the faithful, and is pretty much my album of the year.


THE BEATLES     RAIN


The Beatles’ first acid-influenced track, Rain is a pop-art explosion of dense guitars, pulsating bass and sound that emulates the distorting effects LSD can bring to the listening experience. Lennon’s sneering vocals draw a line between those who have been switched on to the drug and the straight society who go about their lives unaware that whether it rains and shines it's just a state of mind, and that heightened consciousness can be found within the self (albeit, with the aid of some of Sandoz finest). Released as the flipside to Paperback Writer, in 1966, this is probably their finest B-side, and also the track where backwards vocals are used for the first time, a psychedelic trope that the band appear to have invented. I thought it would be ‘kinda neat’ (as our American cousins might have it) to play that last bit backwards, thus revealing that it is the song’s first line that has been reversed. Lennon wouldn’t mind. He was so excited by the initial effect he wanted the whole song recorded that way.


 NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS     SPIDER SKIN


Cheerful, yet slightly sinister, psych-pop from Nathan Hall, he of the Soft Hearted Scientists, and the lead single from the soon to be released debut album EFFIGIES. It’s the sort of song that puts one in mind of SKYLARKING-period XTC, possibly channelling the spirit of a lost Victorian sea shanty. It wears its psychedelic embellishments lightly, with swirling organs, some heavily accentuated buzzing and some vaguely unsettling electronics that all bodes well for the forthcoming album.


THE FOCUS GROUP     CINETONEONE/ ROTATY VISION/ LOCAL COMPUTER


A new album from Julian House’s Focus Group is always cause for cheer here at MD Mansions and STOP-MOTION HAPPENING WITH THE FOCUS GROOP, released earlier this year, ticks all sort of hauntological boxes of the lysergic whimsical variety. With tracks lasting between 15 seconds at their shortest to nearly 7 minutes at longest, this owes more to the hazily fragmented recollections of an ageing ’60s dreamer whose memory disintegrated somewhat in the throes of the psychedelic age than a cohesive album in and of itself and, of course, is all the better for it.


GENTEEL DECAY     A CRUMPET OR TWO (excerpt)


…and what to make of this? A Curious, experimental long-form, voice-only, ultra-looping echo-delay piece that takes textual fragments and reduces them to distorted speech. Just another day at the office for the Moon Wiring Club’s Ian Hodgson, then, and a little something he prepared for the cassette-only label Illuminated Paths . It goes on like this for 20 minutes or so, but I give just the first ten. As Hodgson himself puts it… "the end result sounds somewhere between a female HAL9000 having her memory chips removed and the thought processes of an Edwardian UK Stepford Wives" which tells you everything you need to know about it.


MOLES     WE ARE THE MOLES (PART 1)


Simon Dupree and the Big Sound were scuppered by their only hit, Kites.  They were never able to repeat that magic formula, and, in truth, didn’t want to. Kites was something of an embarrassment to them, a psychedelic ballad when, in fact, the band were more into sweaty Motown covers and rock and roll. In an attempt to escape the artistic cul-de-sac they found themselves in as Simon Dupree et al., they released a single We Are The Moles (Parts 1 and 2) under the moniker The Moles in an effort to invoke the psychedelia they couldn’t be doing with whilst at the same time parodying it. Released in late 1968, the single did not give any hint towards the identity of the artists, claiming that both songs were written, performed and produced by The Moles. Rumours began to spread that it was an obscure output by The Beatles with Ringo Starr on lead vocals. When interest began to rise concerning the release, Syd Barrett, of all people, stated that Simon Dupree & The Big Sound were the faces behind The Moles. Confronted with this, the band admitted it and everyone lost interest in the band and their single.


EROC     KLEINE EVA


This sublimely gorgeous track by Joachim Heinz Ehrig (Eroc to his mates) can be found on his debut solo album, simply called EROC, released in 1975. More commonly known as the drummer and band leader with prog-rock outfit Grobschnitt, a band known for their ‘quirky’ (think German) sense of humour, fantastical themes and epic concept albums, Eroc’s solo work, by contrast, is an altogether different affair, influenced by the innovative electronic krautrock vibe of groups such as Cluster, Harmonia, Tangerine Dream and, of course, Kraftwerk, featuring slowly-evolving and carefully-layered electronic compositions and avant-garde experimentation. I’m a big fan.

  
OFFA REX     THE FIRST TIME I EVER SAW YOUR FACE


Offa Rex is a collaboration between English folk singer Olivia Chaney and Oregon alt-rockers The Decemberists, who offered to be the Albion Dance Band to her Shirley Collins. The resulting album, THE QUEEN OF HEARTS, released earlier this year, is nothing less than luminescent, an interpolation of vintage folk music filtered through electric guitars and a sinewy rock backbeat, with Chaney’s voice channelling the spirit of Maddy Pryor and Anne Briggs. Their cover of Ewan MacColl’s The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, written for Peggy Seeger in 1957, is lifted by a shimmering, echoing ambience and harmonium drone which places the focus on Chaney's forlorn, pristine vocal. Even MacColl, who famously hated every cover of the song he ever heard (there was a special place reserved in Hell for Elvis’ version) would have been hard-put to find fault in such a flawless interpretation, that sends shivers up the spine each time I hear it.


JOHN AND YOKO      AMSTERDAM (excerpt)


A very short excerpt from side two of THE WEDDING ALBUM, released in 1969, and recorded, largely, in a hotel room at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, Holland, in March 1969. The piece consists of interviews explaining their campaign for peace, conversations and captured sounds during the couple's ‘Bed-In’ honeymoon, but I focus on the piece where John is pointing out that the best way to deal with violence is with humour, because the authorities don’t know how to deal with humour, an observation that I feel has more resonance now than it had even then.


THE FUGS     LIFE IS STRANGE


I’ve never had much time for The Fugs on account of my preferring the English take on psychedelia over the American version, which, broadly speaking, I’ve always found a bit too strident for me, but despite looking like the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers personified, The Fugs were the real deal – a heavily politicized, avant-rock band formed by poets and anti-war protesters. The lovely Life is Strange is taken from their fifth album, 1968’s IT CRAWLED INTO MY HAND, HONEST, an album otherwise noted for its surreal humour, avant-garde weirdness and disorientating eclecticism.



JIMI HENDRIX     DRIFTING


This poignant track is made all the more affecting by its inclusion on the album THE CRY OF LOVE, an album of unreleased tracks Hendrix was working on at the time of his death. Compiled by Eddie Kramer and Mitch Mitchell, and released in 1971, this would have been the first studio release since the breakup of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Drifting is something of an unfinished masterpiece, a ghostly song, a fitting a tribute to a performer who went too far out and never came back. ‘Driftin’ on a sea of forgotten teardrops’ indeed.


HOLGER CZUKAY     MELLOW OUT/BOAT WOMAN SONG (excerpt)


While I was putting this show together Can’s Holger Czukay died, so here is some music from a solo album he recorded in 1969 called CANAXIS. Recorded with producer Rolf Dammers Boat Woman Song, which features the traditional singing of two Vietnamese peasants, lasts some twenty-odd minutes and is hybrid of ambient soundspaces, musicological sampling, and a sort of goings on that could only have come out of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Electronic Music Studios at the time and which demonstrates just how far ahead of the game Czukay was. It’s either quite beautiful, or not, dependent upon how taken you are with your avant-garde experimentalism. Mellow Out is an old recording from 1960 that's actually the first Holger captured on acetate, playing a little jazzy thing along with a few other players. Title says it all, and it's a nice little curiosity that's actually musically satisfying to boot.


SHIRLEY COLLINS     WASHED ASHORE


Shirley Collins last released an album in 1978, which, in its own way, is as foreign and distant a place as when she released her first album in 1959. Shirley Collins is now 82 but you wouldn’t know that from listening to LODESTAR, released earlier this year. The one sop to her age is that the album was recorded in the front room of her cottage in Lewes in rural Sussex – you can hear the birds sing through the open back window into her garden. Other than that, Collins doesn’t seem interested in making it easy for new listeners, or old fans who might have imagined that age would have mellowed her. In many ways, Collins is the embodiment of the rural England of which she sings; her voice, like the English countryside before dawn, is stark and austere and captures something of the grit otherwise lost to acid-folk whimsy. Instead, she paints a picture of a brutal, bleak world, where forgiveness is thin on the ground, but violence and death are ever-present. Washed Ashore tells the story of a drowned sailor, found by a lost love who, heartbroken, dies by his side. Despite extensive liner notes, and the fact that Shirley herself tells that it was her sister Dolly that created the melody for this tale, I appear to be the only one who has noticed it’s similarity to the ballad Rosemary Lane, and how this song could actually be the epilogue to the sad story of the maid seduced by a sailor some time during the Napoleonic wars (probably – there’s loads of folk songs set during the Napoleonic era, I don’t see any reason why this one shouldn’t be one of them). Or maybe it’s so obvious it doesn’t bear re-stating. I wouldn’t want you to think I was an authority or anything, but I think I’m right in this instance.


THE MOODY BLUES     NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN



It all makes a bit more sense when you realise that they’re singing about nights in white satin, and not knights, which, in my ignorance, I always assumed was the case. This version, of course, is the original version that appears on their album DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED, released in 1968, featuring The London Festival Orchestra and Late Lament, the poem included in the closing moments of the song. I think that they were initially asked to record an adaptation of Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 for Decca's newly formed Deram Records division in order to demonstrate their latest recording techniques, which were named ‘Deramic Sound’, but they recorded this instead. There was a lot of that sort of thing going on in the late 60s (I imagine).

Facebook

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

MIND DE-CODER 71

MIND DE-CODER 71

To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page


“Have your own little revolution NOW!”
                                                                Keith West/Tomorrow

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE     EXP


AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE was Hendrix’s second release of 1967 following his ground-breaking debut earlier that year. It shows a band stretching in all areas, not just musically but in terms of song-craft as well. It’s a fantastic listen, full of proper songs and therefore not quite as mind-bending as ARE YOU EXPERIENCED. It does however feature the highly avant garde EXP as its opening salvo showing the playful sense of experimentalism that defined the first album was merely bubbling under the surface for this one. Wouldn’t it be great if bands these days could knock out a couple of radically innovative albums a year (or any sort of album, really, let’s face it) instead of making us wait three or four years between releases? Of course, that’s when being in a band meant something.

THE LUCK OF EDEN HALL     SLOW


For their most recent release, Chicago’s The Luck Of Eden Hall have produced a glorious technicolour journey through time that plays around with all of our perceptions of what that could actually mean on a psychedelic record. On THE ACCELERATION OF TIME, released in 2016, time is speeded up and slowed down; dreamscapes unfold and are put back together again; sound is distorted, stretched, and collapsed, ceaselessly shifting and yet, and this is the important thing, never at a cost to the tunes, which are fabulous and dizzying and, in the case of Slow, the album’s opening track, feature the mellotron, which is always a fine thing.

PINK FLOYD     MATILDA MOTHER


Sometimes it physically pains me that I never got to visit UFO and see house bands Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and The Soft Machine play whilst tripping my balls off on a sugar cube of Sandoz’s finest. Really, it just stops me dead in my tracks sometime that I will never have got to see Tomorrow play live at UFO and just like that my day is ruined. I console myself that I got to see Doctor and The Medics play countless times at Alice In Wonderland in the 80s, but that’s all it is, a consolation. So, to console myself once more I put together the next three tracks just to remind myself of exactly how good it would have been.

This version of Matilda Mother seems to be an earlier recording of the track that graces 1967’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, featuring lyrics Barrett more or less lifted from Belloc's ‘Cautionary Tales’, much to the evident displeasure of Hilaire Belloc’s estate, who promptly denied him permission to use them, resulting in a re-write and the version we are more familiar with. This version appears on their recent box set PINK FLOYD: THE EARLY YEARS 1965-1972 but I understand you can also find it on the considerably less expensive compilation, AN INTRODUCTION TO SYD BARRETT in 2010.


TOMORROW     THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF TIMOTHY CHASE


My regard for Tomorrow is unbound – they were the band I most regret never having had the opportunity to see play (what with me being two at the time and all) and, if you could have stuck them on a bill with Jimi Hendrix, I would have considered that a good night out. (This actually happened.)


The Incredible Story Of Timothy Chase is from their only album proper, TOMORROW, released 1968. Despite being regulars at UFO (for UFOria, you understand) fame eluded them, partly because their album, recorded in the spring of 1967 was held back until February of the next year, during which time London’s brief love affair with psychedelia was beginning to wane, and partly because singer Keith West so busy promoting the hit single Excerpt From A Teen Opera, for which he provided the vocal, that he no longer had time for the band which, in the wake of his solo success, the record company was now calling ‘Keith West and Tomorrow’, much to the chagrin of the rest of the band. The album is as fine an artefact of psychedelic London as you could ever hope to hear featuring two of my favourite tracks from the 60s, but it’s not a great album, not in the way that PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN is a great album, if you see what I mean, but I feel they could have made an album that good if the psychedelic dice of destiny had just rolled another way.

SOFT MACHINE     WE DID IT AGAIN


This is the track where Soft Machine also casually invent krautrock alongside the progressive jazz-rock they’re more noted for. Taken from their debut album THE SOFT MACHINE, also released in 1968, I understand they could stretch this track out for 15 minutes or more when playing live. Can you imagine? Far out.

THE MOVE     FLOWERS IN THE RAIN


By contrast, The Move only ever played at UFO once, and by some accounts it didn’t go down too well with the audience of regulars. Never truly a psychedelic band, The Move were more likely to be under the influence of a pint or two of Newcastle Brown Ale than they were LSD, but that didn’t stop them flirting with the imagery of psychedelia and producing a number two hit with Flowers In The Rain in 1967. They had a pyrotechnic stage act the rivalled Hendrix and The Who, which resulted in the blissed-out flower children of UFO dodging exploding television sets and fireworks during their performance. They were never invited back. 

 CHAZ BUNDWICK MEETS THE MATTSON 2      SONMOI



Chaz Bundwick (Toro Y Moi to his fans) has been making idiosyncratic music since his debut in 2010. Musician and producer, his music has taken on many forms but he is often identified with the rise of the chillwave movement in 2010 and 2011. Earlier this year he teamed up with The Mattson 2, a jazz duo from California, and together they produced the album STAR STUFF, an album that takes as its starting point Serge Gainsbourg’s louche production, David Axelrod’s avant garde themes, library records, desert jams, acid-soul struts and neon-punk-jazz which results in the kind of spectacular celestial jazz-prog that is currently ticking all the right boxes for me.

SAINT ETIENNE     ANGEL (BROADCAST REMIX)



I’ve always been grateful for this one collaboration between Saint Etienne and Broadcast and wish it could have led to more. Saint Etienne’s particular blend of retro pop classicism always shared something with Broadcast’s own hauntological retro stylings, and we can only imagine what we’re missing (well, I can; you, more reasonably, might have no interest in it whatsoever). This track was featured on their 1996 release CASINO CLASSICS, a round-up of remixes, B-sides and especially commissioned pieces; in this case, the remix was released long before the original saw the light of day some years later on a fans-only release NICE PRICE! in 2006.  

BECK     CANCELLED CHECK



Beck’s follow-up to the hugely successful ODELAY was the deceptively simple MUTATIONS, released in 1998. By comparison to the former, it’s a subdued collection of acoustic-based, stripped-down, spacey folk-songs that nevertheless reveals more psychedelic layers upon each listen. Cancelled Check appears to be an old-timey country tune pitched half-way between country blues and lo-fi folk that then scatters off into off-time drumming and random sound effects that sounds as if it were pulled from a spaghetti Western. Marvellous.

THE BYRDS     I SEE YOU



My love for The Byrds is unabashed (at least until they went hairy in 1969) and I See You is one of their great album tracks. Taken from their ground-breaking 1966 release THE 5TH DIMENSION, their first without principle song-writer Gene Clark, I See You simply soars through the premise of it bubble-gum pop restrictions by featuring two Coltrane-type/Ravi Shankar inspired 12-string guitar solos that Roger McGuinn perfected for the album’s lead single Eight Miles High. The Byrds invented so many genres – this is the album where they invented psychedelic rock.

PETER BAUMANN     MEADOW OF INFINITY PTS. 1 AND 2



As the cover suggests, this is very much an album of two halves. Peter Baumann was one of the founder members of Tangerine Dream and was still a member when he released this, ROMANCE ’76, his debut solo album in 1976. Virgin-era Tangerine Dream are all over side 1 of the album, which is very reminiscent of STRATOSFEAR and ENCORE, both of which were released either side of this album. Side 2, however, largely taken up with Meadow Of Infinity, is a very different affair, mixing orchestral instruments - cellos, human voices, percussion – with mellotron and flute-like sounds to create a semi-classical tone poem that places it firmly in the kosmische era of krautrock. There’s actually a bridge to the two parts that I’ve left out but this, nevertheless, is something of a trip.

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE     IF 6 WAS 9



The second outing from Jimi Hendrix and the boys because, really, EST was more along the lines of a ‘thing’ than a song, say, and If Six Was Nine is by far (the second) most tripped out track on AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE; it soars with studio trickery over a tidal wave of guitar and a cacophonous army of Moroccan flutes.

DZYAN     KHALI



Dzyan are one of the lesser-known Krautrock bands but their third and final album, ELECTRIC SILENCE, released in 1974, is life-affirmingly bold, taking in that exotic far-Eastern sound that other bands at the time were flirting with and taking it into the far-out realms of opium-den weirdness. Khali features two mellotrons, creating a swirling universe of sound for the sitars to float, trance-like, within, and is very beautiful and very strange. This is truly one of the lost gems from the Krautrock era

THE SUFIS     LIGHT TUNNEL



A splendid tripped-out interlude from The Sufis, whose eponymously titled debut album, released in 2012, is steeped in lysergic Rick Wright style organ work, vocals run through oscillators and all manner of vintage sounding studio trickery. This is what I want the light at the end of the tunnel to sound like.

SPROATLY SMITH     THISTLE DOLL




This haunted offering of psych-folk wyrdness can be found on the recent release from the A Year In The Country Project, FROM THE FURTHEST SIGNALS, released earlier this year, which takes as its initial reference points films, television and radio programs that have been in part or completely lost or wiped during a period in history before archiving and replication of such work had gained today’s technological and practical ease. Curiously, such television and radio broadcasts may not be fully lost to the wider universe as they can travel or leak out into space and so may actually still exist far from their original points of transmission and places of creation, possibly in degraded, fractured form and/or mixed amongst other stellar noises and signals. The explorations of FROM THE FURTHEST SIGNALS are soundtracks imagined and filtered through the white noise of space and time; reflections on those lost tales and the way they can become reimagined via hazy memories and history, of the myths that begin to surround such discarded, lost to view or vanished cultural artefacts.

From The Furthest Signals is released as part of the A Year In The Country project, which via the posts on its website and music releases has carried out a set of year long explorations of an otherly pastoralism; the undercurrents and flipside of bucolic dreams, the further reaches of folk music and culture, work that takes inspiration from the hidden and underlying tales of the land and where such things meet and intertwine with the lost futures, spectral histories and parallel worlds of hauntological dimensions. You can check them out here.

THE ZOMBIES     A ROSE FOR EMILY



Barely recognised at the time of its release in 1968, The Zombies’ second and final album, ODESSEY AND ORACLE, has since garnered a reputation as one of the great lost psychedelic masterpieces of its times. In actual fact, it’s not particularly psychedelic at all, but like The Beatles’ SGT. PEPPER’S, it is an album entirely informed by the spirit of psychedelia. Rather than employ the psychedelic tropes of, say, backwards guitars and astral exploration, ODESSEY AND ORACLE is an album of ornate, baroque arrangements, intricate song-writing craftsmanship and radiant harmonies, which expanded the limits of pop. Even the Emily of the title has less to do with Syd Barret’s muse and is based instead upon a short story by William Faulkner published in 1930. The misspelling of “Odyssey”, by the way, is due to the fact that they were too nice to correct their mate who painted the cover just for them.

SHARRON KRAUS     GILDEROY (HEART’S DELIGHT)



This enchantingly decorous song is taken from the 2015 release SHIRLEY INSPIRED, a 3-cd homage to Shirley Collins, one of the iconic figures of the folk revival movement from the end of the fifties right to the end of the seventies. Sharron Kraus, a British artist very much in the school of subdued yet haunting folk herself, interprets Gilderoy (Heart’s Delight), a piece of music inspired by Shirley and Dolly's version of Gilderoy, a Scottish folk song that can be traced back to before the 17th Century, recorded by Shirley and her sister Dolly on their final album, FOR AS MANY AS WILL, in 1978. I believe all of the artists on this album, which include Graham Coxon, Belbury Poly, Will Oldham, Meg Baird, Angel Olson and lee Renaldo to name just six, gave their songs freely as part of a Kickstarter campaign that funded 'The Ballad of Shirley Collins' - a film that is currently being made about the Collin’s life.

ALULA DOWN     SOUTHAMPTON SONG



Autumnal, brumous, candlelit folk from Alula Down, two members of Sproatly Smith (although I don’t know which members; if you were to show me a photograph of the band, I wouldn’t be able to pick them out or anything) but I get the impression that this is more than a side-project. Southampton Song has an air about it that puts one in mind of Nick Drake in all of his beautiful melancholy (or, indeed, melancholic beauty, but they all say that). It’s taken from the album FLOTSAM, recorded in 2013 at home with flotsam, voices, acoustic & electric guitars, a xylophone, double bass, frame drums, saucepans, spades, wine glasses, ambient sounds from outside the backdoor, a piano (that needs tuning), a banjo, shruti box, and melodica, so you can see why I might like them. I think at one time they may have been called Loud Flowers. Anyway, quite spectral and lovely.

ANDWELLA’S DREAM     LOST A NUMBER FOUND A KING (excerpt)



This is just the first two or three minutes of a track in which the song that follows isn’t nearly half as good as the intro which precedes it. Andwella’s Dream were an Irish psychedelic rock band, formed in 1968, who remain largely unknown, I think, because despite using a number of psychedelic tropes - heavy progressive rock-tinged psychedelia with keyboards and folk-pop psych with strings and away with the fairies-type lyrics – they were never able to transcend them, and thus ended up sounding like a lot of other bands at that time. This track is taken from their only album under that name, LOVE AND POETRY, released in 1968.

ENDURANCE     BENEATH THE CHERRY TREE



Another track chosen from a never less than prolific A YEAR IN THE COUNTRYSIDE project, this one entitled THE RESTLESS FIELD, released earlier this year, and one on which the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape is studied. It’s a study filled with ancient-sounding folk, eerie reels, drones, found sounds, and electronica. Along the way it takes in an exploration and acknowledgment of places that are spectrally imprinted with past conflicts and struggles in the landscape and rural areas of the British countryside, in contrast with more often referred to urban events. References and starting points include The British Miners’ Strike of 1984 and the Battle Of Orgreave; Gerrard Winstanley & the Diggers/True Levellers in the 17th century; the first battle of the English Civil War in 1642; the burying of The Rotherwas Ribbon; the Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout in 1932; Graveney Marsh - the last battle fought on English soil; the Congested Districts Board- the 19th century land war in Ireland; and The Battle Of The Beanfield in 1985, none of which would count for anything if the music wasn’t up to much, but I always find these albums enormously enjoyable. I’ve no idea who Endurance are/is at all, though.

THE OWL SERVICE     SPRING STRATHSPEY



Like Willow’s Song, I think Spring Strathspey is one of the most sublime pieces of music ever written, and like Willow’s Song, it invites those musicians who have been spell-bound by its wondrous charms to have a go themselves, if they think they’re fey enough. The Owl Service are an Essex-based alternative folk collective who took their name from a slice of English cult culture, Alan Garner’s spellbinding novel of pre-Christian ritual set in a remote corner of Wales, which in turn became a late 1960s TV series that’s often considered a touchstone for hauntological musings. This gorgeous interpretation can be found on their album THE PATTERN BENEATH THE PLOUGH PARTS 1 AND 2, released back in 2011 as a collection of all their music released in that year, and it really is as ravishing as you could wish for.

EUROS CHILDS     SKY/SEA



A charming little piece from Euros Childs, whose new album, REFRESH!, released earlier this year, is full of such doodling’s. In fact, it’s made up in its entirety of them and very nice it is too. Some might even say charming.

BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS    REFRESCO ELÉCTRICO




A lovely little track taken from their 2014 release THE BEAST SHOUTED LOVE (I’m sure we must be due a new one any day now), an album of exquisite hauntologically-inspired acid-folk that would suit any room that possesses a working lava lamp. Magical.

RIDE     INTEGRATION TAPE



This is the ambient one on their new album WEATHER DIARIES, released some 21 years after their previous album TARANTULA (the one which no one bought). It’s all very nice and good, and all, but it doesn’t entirely satisfy the palette jaded by all those years. I was really looking forward to it, especially when I heard Mind De-Coder favourite Erol Alkan was on board as producer, but despite that, it doesn’t have anything as remotely transcendent as Dreams Burn Down on it. Maybe we’re all a bit older now. That being said, and I don’t wish to damn it with faint praise, there’s nothing bad on it either; it's full of lovely little flourishes; it just doesn’t make me fall in love with the girl in the trouser shop, and at their best, Ride were always able to do that.

TANGERINE DREAM      PHAEDRA



Tangerine Dream always pushed at the boundaries of exactly what psychedelic music could be, even if that wasn’t their explicit aim, but with PHAEDRA, released in 1974, they discover new dimensions as the title track weaves its way through a soundscape full of exquisite texture and rhythms, thanks to the addition of the newly invented analogue sequencer, which takes the music off into psychically ravishing directions. Enjoy this music and slip away into a dreamscape of ever changing colour. 

Facebook