MIND DE-CODER 83
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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”
PINK FLOYD CANDY AND A CURRANT BUN
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.
THE CUPPA T MISS PINKERTON
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.
PINK UMBRELLAS RASPBERRY RAINBOW
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.
MATT BERRY ANY COLOUR YOU LIKE
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.
THE FERNWEH TIMEPIECE
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 BUT A POEM
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 AND ANDY LEWIS NIGHT OF A THOUSAND HOURS
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.
KHRUANGBIN COMO TE QUIERO
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.
BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS FROM THE MORNING
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.
KIKAGAKU MOYO ORANGE PEEL
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.
SAM WAYMON MARCH BLUES
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 FUNNIEST GIG (FULL FRUIT MIX)
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.
THE JIM MITCHELLS (LET THEM ALL IN)
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.
TRIPTIDES THE ILLUSION
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.
CYPRESS HILL THROUGH THE RABBIT HOLE
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.
SUNDIAL HANGER 13
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.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE MELTING PARAISO UFO COMETARY ORBITAL DRIVE 2299
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.
THE BEATLES STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER(LOVE REMIX)
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.