Tuesday, 7 May 2019


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There are three side effects of acid: enhanced long-term memory, decreased short-term memory, and I forget the third.
  Timothy Leary


This is the opening track from their 1969 release TO OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN’S CHILDREN, an album which pretty much sits at the end of their imperial psychedelic phase before they went off and did whatever it is they did in the 70s and it’s a classic: a rocket ship blasts off, swathes of guitar and mellotron provide a soundtrack for another of drummer Graeme Edge’s poems, and before you know it, the band are off with an album about space travel in the context of evolution - marvellous. I’m sure I read somewhere that NASA actually lent them tapes of real rockets taking off which the band found a bit underwhelming - instead they recorded their own sound of a rocket launch and sent it back to NASA with a note saying: “Now this is what a rocket taking off sounds like”, which is one of the many reasons I like them so much. People tend to disregard the Moody Blues, but listen to their late sixties albums under suitably euphemistic circumstances, say, and you’ll be blown away by the groups ambitious psychedelic experimentation - they were very much a band of the hmm-what-does-this-button-do variety who also knew their way around a good tune - just don’t call them a guilty pleasure. 


I understand that Les Clayppool, one half of the Claypool Lennon Delerium, is well known for his sinuous bass playing, and an example of which is all over this track, Little Fishes, like a hastily discarded simile. Multi-instrumentalist Sean Lennon brings a certain I-can’t-get-I-Am-The-Walrus-out-of-my-head sensibility to things, and between them, their album SOUTH OF REALITY, released earlier this year, grooves to a psychedelic charm all of its own. It’s a surreal mix of PEPPER-era production, prog workouts, metal swagger and dreamlike jams mixed with a knowing pop sense of playfulness. It’s good - I like it.


Rainbow FFolly were a band who were severely let down by record company cynicism. Recorded by a quartet of ex-art students from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, their first and only album, SALLIES FFORTH, released in 1968, was, in fact, a collection of quirky demo recordings that, without the band’s knowledge, found its way to Parlophone who released it as it was. Presumably, they couldn’t be bothered to spend any money on what was, to all intents and purposes, a perfectly adequate collection of diverse, humorous, clever pop songs recorded by a group of eccentrics who viewed psychedelia through a mocking, slightly surrealist art school prism rather than as unblinking zealots. It boggles the mind to think how great the album could have been, embellished with Beatle-esque studio production and a kind of Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band sense of the absurd, but it’s just one of those things we’ll never know. Sometimes, if I think about it too much, that really irritates me; the McCartney-esque She's Alright teases with possibilities - imagine what it (and, indeed, the rest of the album) could have sounded like with bells and whistles and psychedelic knobs on. Stupid Parlophone.


Apples and Oranges was Pink Floyd’s third single, recorded in 1967 and the last to be written by Syd Barrett but, alas, it was no See Emily Play, and it sank without a trace. Arguably this was down to some pretty muddy production - Roger Water’s certainly thinks so - but I think it’s a little too self-conscious for its own good. That being said, it’s Syd-era Floyd, cheerful and psychedelic in equal measure, so what’s not to like? Enjoy.


The Neighr’hood Childr’n were, sadly, one of the San Francisco psychedelic scene’s also-rans. They opened for The Who, Deep Purple and The Beau Brummels, released just the one eponymously titled album in 1968, developed a religious focus whilst on tour with The Turtles and disappeared without a trace. Actually, The Turtles are one of those bands with whom they often get compared, alongside Jefferson Airplane - mostly due to the vocal interplay between singers Dyan Hoffman and Rick Bolz - but I think they frequently transcend those reference points - when I first came across Long Years In Space I thought it had a timeless quality that made it quite distinct from we think of as that West Coast sound - with echoes of what could easily have been Red Krayola,  The Velvet Underground and the Spacemen 3 (just to be difficult, I also heard elements of the 1990’s experimental rock/post-rock band Moonshake in there as well - clearly I need to get out more). Anyway - I think you should check them out; I think you’ll be surprised.


I think Mellow come from the same pool of vintage mellotrons, moogs, old organs and drum machines that Air paddled in - in fact, I’m pretty certain that founder member Patrick Woodcock even played on Air’s debut PREMIERS SYMPTÔMES before taking off in an entirely more proggy direction. Sun Dance has just a touch of Strawberry Fields Forever about it (enough to stop my son in his tracks and have him ask whether we were listening to a hitherto unheard of recording by The Beatles) and can be found on their 2004 release ANOTHER MELLOW SUMMER, which pretty much does what it says on the label. Everyone seems to have forgotten about them now but at the time I was enjoying a retro-futurist-lounge-y sort of phase and Mellow fit it very well, throwing in some groovy 70s influenced Gallic psych-prog vibes for good measure. Possibly just a tad too much use of the vocoder - that’s all I’m saying.


This is intriguing and I half hope it's true. For years now fans of your krautrock have all been (more or less) secretly hoping that there might be some krautrock classic album out there that somehow slipped under the radar and has managed to remain undiscovered until now because, largely, and on the whole, the scene has been pretty comprehensively mined by now and really, what you got is all you gonna get, so enjoy; but given the way krautrock as a genre has been pretty much under the microscope since Julian Cope’s trusty KRAUTROCKSAMPLER was published back in 1995, the chances of a previously unknown yet amazingly classic addition to the oeuvre turning up are about as rare as a bum’s teeth. You can imagine, then, how excited everyone got when, in 2013, a tape cassette mysteriously appeared called KOSMISCHER LÄUFER: THE SECRET COSMIC MUSIC OF THE EAST GERMAN OLYMPIC PROGRAM 1972-83 VOL. 1 (of what is now four releases) turned up, containing a near-flawless mix of tracks that pretty much connected the dots between Neu!, Kraftwerk and Cluster. Produced by an unlikely individual going by the name of Martin Zeichnete (probably a pseudonym), the tapes purport to be music specially composed by Zeichnete to help East German athletes train for the Olympics during the 1970s. Over the course of eleven years and taking advantage of the newly invented proto-Walkman the Stereobelt, he composed music for runners, gymnasts and even ice dancers, before the plug was pulled unexpectedly ahead of the boycotted Los Angeles Olympics. This all sounds just plausible enough to be true, but word on the street is that the whole thing may be a scam, put together by Edinburgh-based musician Drew McFadyen, using the persona of Zeichnete as an alias. The best thing about it is is that it doesn’t matter - the music more than establishes itself as the Kosmische Musik it purports to be, and because it’s such a good story, with enough clues dropped throughout to bring you in on the joke (Zeichnete is past tense of “to draw – i.e. “drew” in German) you don’t so much mind as admire McFadyen for the brilliance of his pastiches. Der Traum Des Madchens (The Dream of the Girl) is taken from the second release VOL. 2 which appeared in 2014. Read an interview with McFyden here and you decide.


This, on the other hand, is undeniably the very real thing - Harmonia was something of a krautrock supergroup featuring Neu!’s Michael Rother on guitar, Cluster’s Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius doing their ethereal beauty thing, with production by the legendary krautrock producer Conny Plank and including Guru Guru’s Mani Neumeeier on drums - the pedigree involved in the making of DELUXE, released in 1976, simply pulsates alongside the music. Quite simply this is the sound of open-minded, free-thinking musical masterminds losing themselves to something that’s even greater than the sum of its parts. Effortlessly interweaving shimmering keyboards, soft mechanical beats, and a melodic flow, the album channels the very essence of krautrock and, incidentally, sounds as sweet as a summer’s day. Just 40 minutes in length, but endless in depth and beauty, DELUXE is a timeless piece of music meant for eternity. Walky-Talky is propelled along by an understated motorik riff, but it inhabits a pastoral dub beauty all of its own.


For its latest release, the very fine A Year In The Country website brings you a number of recordings which reflect upon the ancient trees residing over growing layers of history and their stately, still form of time travel - watching and observing over the passing of the years, centuries and even millennia. Some of them have lived through invasions of their island home undertaken by wooden ships, sword and arrow, the final days and passing of the old ways and the times of magic and witchcraft, the coming of the industrial revolution and the dawning of the digital era.

Fittingly, then, the album is called THE WATCHERS and will be made available in June, featuring music by the likes of Mind De-Coder favourites Sproatly Smith, Pulselovers, Vic Mars, Field Line Cartographer and London-based sound artist Howlround, whose contribution, The Winter Dream of Novel’s Oak, is created from field recordings made at an ancient oak in Tilford said to be more than eight hundred years old. Once one of Surrey’s most famous landmarks, today it almost appears forgotten, overrun with weeds, festooned with litter and seemingly groaning under the weight of the rusted metal plates that were hammered into the trunk in a well-meaning attempt to help it stand up, all of which is somehow conveyed with tape loops and things of that nature..


Guru Guru were the loosest, most experimental and most out there of all power trios of the early seventies. For my money (which, in fairness, mostly amounts to what I’ve got put aside in the piggy bank in readiness for the next Soft Hearted Scientists album) they even blow Blue Cheer off the stage, and you know how much people go on about their VINCEBUS ERUPTUM album as a pretty definitive orgy of heaviosity -  well Guru Guru’s UFO, released in 1971, is heavier and more fucked up. In fact, it’s very nearly relentless, but therein lies its considerable magic. Next Time See You At The Dalai Lhama has a hammering two-note bass riff ratcheted up to soar above the chaos of slammed cymbals, tom-tom rolls and fuzz/wah-wah guitar patterns and just as it mainlines out at yo-yo speed, the notes suddenly reassemble themselves into noisy unison and then it crossfades into a field recording of the band freaking out and vibing up the countryside with whistles, shakers, congas and tambourines until a young lady innocently asks: “Guru Guru?”, to which one can only reply: “Yes, yes it is”.


From the ridiculous to the sublime - I struggle to find the words when it comes to Anne Briggs, because her voice is so flawlessly lovely I simply don’t have it in me to make what words I have at my command do justice to exactly how lovely it is - so...just...listen. For a start, we’re lucky to hear it at all, because she was no fan of the recording process, or performing on stage. I understand her thing was to simply break into song, having knocked back a drink or two in the pub, and one can only imagine how grand an experience that would have been. She travelled the Irish countryside in horse and cart, but the folk clubs were her home - her voice was untutored, unselfconscious and powerfully affecting...just listen. Standing On The Shore, recorded for her second album THE TIME HAS COME, released in 1969, was written by her then boyfriend Johnny Moynihan of Sweeny’s Men, based upon a traditional folk tune. Her voice is peerless...just..listen - it will make your heart yearn for a lost love never to return. She commented in the sleevenotes: This song was Johnny Moynihan's vision. He expresses what he saw so beautifully and sadly and seems to convey this feeling of endless whiteness. Bottom E string is dropped to D. I love that last bit.


Shide and Acorn possibly had more names than songs - they were originally known as (the rather ghastly) Foehammer and later Peppermint Snuff of Wight (and then later again simply as Wight) before settling on Shide and Acorn, and all of this within two years, in which time they recorded one album, UNDER THE TREE, in 1971, which they pretty much gave away to their friends, before promptly splitting up. They were never highly regarded, their innocuous songs thought to add nothing to the acid folk canon, which is not to say they weren’t capable of some wistful pretty melodies, a mixture of male and female lead and harmony vocals, and some rose-colored minstrelsy, because they were. Girl Of The Cosmos seems to be describing a nice day out in the countryside tripping balls and I contend that you’d have to have the heart of a Shakespearean villain not to enjoy it.


I use only an excerpt, but this is Ram Dass, formerly Dr. Richard Alpert, prominent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary - until a fateful Eastern trip in 1967 - recorded on March 30 and 31, 1969 at a New York City sculpture studio, discussing the nature of enlightenment and self-determination. These are the original talks that became basis for his seminal book, Be Here Now which, to this day, still stands as the highly readable centerpiece of Western articulation of Eastern philosophy and continues to be the instruction manual of choice for generations of spiritual seekers (and the name of a wildly disappointing album by Oasis - seldom have albums been so quickly gifted to charity shops). 


Hölderlin were a German progressive rock band that was formed in 1970 by brothers Joachim and Christian von Grumbkow with Christian’s wife, the adorably monikered Nanny de Ruig, on vocals. Despite being at home to a trippy cosmic style of progressive folk, full of rich textures with psychedelic, medieval and classical touches, they always rejected the kosmische label associated with many krautrock acts - they were inspired by the 18th century German philosopher and poet Friedrich Hölderlin, after who they were named, and NanNy, despite being Dutch, sang resolutely in German. Their debut album, HÖLDERLIN’S TRAUM, released in 1972, is almost the definition of acid folk. Waren Wir is all flute, keyboards and mellotrons, and comes over somewhere in between Sandy Denny’s Milk And Honey and IN-SEARCH-OF-THE-LOST-CHORD-era Moody Blues - really quite magical, really…


What do you do with a song title like this? You hold your breath and hope it’s respectful, I guess, and then it turns out that you needn’t have worried because what you get is a poem that might be about someone called Anne, and a fantastical, gorgeous recording that owes much to Mark Fry and Donovan at his most GIFT-FROM-A-FLOWER-TO-A-GARDEN-est. Walker Phillips’ spellbinding blend of new-psych wyrd-folk is both familiar and yet cosmically far-out, intimate and yet wildly experimental, deeply psychedelic and yet...well, you get the idea. His album MY LOVE SUNDAY, released last year, is all acoustic guitars, flutes, recorders, dulcimers, sitars, autoharps, mandolins, tin whistles and harpsichords and is every bit as lovely as that combination sounds. This is pastoral psychedelia at its very best.


...and then there’s Nilson, whose third album, NEWS FROM NOWHERE, released earlier this year, is an enchanting listen, in which tablas, cymbals and dulcimers accompany choral flourishes and pastoral dreamscapes which sometimes manage to resolve themselves in 50s surf exotica, like in this track And From His Blood, The Crops Would Spring - it shouldn’t work, but it does, and feels revelatory and celebratory too. I recently came across it in an overwhelmingly enticing review by Grey Malkin for the wonderful MOOF  magazine, bought it on the strength of that review alone, and have yet to tire of listening to it each and every day (each day of which is a little bit brighter for having this gorgeous album in it). I understand Nilson hails from Hamburg, which surprised me no end, given I’d assumed he lived happily on Summerisle, surrounded by bountiful apple trees and nubile maidens prancing around stone circles in the nud, and things of that nature in general


...and speaking of The Wickerman, Rowan : Morrison are, of course, named after the missing schoolgirl in that cult movie which casts such a long shadow over the cultural landscape I choose to inhabit. Rowan : Morrison are the musical twixting of The Rowan Amber Mill and Angeline Morrison who keeps herself busy with a number of projects, the most recent of which, We Are Muffy, is making the Autumnal evenings just a little bit less dark. At The Circle’s End is taken from the new album IN THE SUNSHINE WE RODE THE HORSES, a recording which takes a snapshot of an imagined history of the English countryside. It explores the conflict taking place at the same area (The Ridgeway) through time periods between the land and man with their developing technologies. These events take place throughout time, from pre-history through to the near-future. In a very 1970s "Play for Today" sort of way, they start to bleed into each other as over time, the earth begins to enter a period of hibernation to heal itself from the destruction wrought upon it - fracking, HS2, retail parks, and so on, don’t come out of it particularly well. All of this would have the air of a worthy collaboration if the music wasn’t so good - once again, dulcimers, flutes and acoustic guitars abide with the occasional orchestral flourish; it really is astonishingly lovely. This is an album that could have existed in the late 60s/early 70s, but it has its eye on the rising up of nature against modern life which, as Blur once reminded us, is rubbish.


This short piece by Timothy Leary is taken from the spoken-word album TURN ON, TUNE IN, DROP OUT, released in 1966, on which he presents his ideas on drugs, current events and cultural phenomena, with recollections of earlier experiences and experiments; all delivered in a straight ahead, quiet manner even though the content is almost entirely subversive and confrontational. This album is not to be confused with the 1967 recording of the same name, which is more of a guided meditation with some groovy music (you should try it sometime) - this unadorned spoken word album was recorded at the famous Millbrook, New York estate just before his famous residency was ended by repeated raids and arrests by G. Gordon Liddy. I’ve had excerpts from the recording popping up all over the show – it’s well worth a listen for an insight into the goings on of the counter-culture (a lot of acid appears to have been enjoyed). Beneath him I play an excerpt from the album YOGA, released in 1976 by Popol Vuh - although, in essence, it’s a Florian Flicke solo album, and even then it’s just him experimenting with classical Indian music in the studio and I don’t believe it was ever meant to be released at all.

I have it disappear into some backwards classical music and then the lovely Haley Jay,  voice artist and island resident, reads a poem I was very much taken with, by someone who goes by the name of Rose O’Kane, called Psychedelic Beauty, from the most recent edition of MOOF magazine (with which I am also very much taken - so much so that I also enjoy the poetry section). Anyway, thank you to both Haley, for recording it for me, and Rose for letting me use it in my show - much appreciated.


I have those goings-on disappear into a track that’s so ethereal it’s hardly there at all, taken from Neu!’s second album NEU! 2, released in 1973. By the time they recorded NEU! 75, duo Michael Rother and Klaus Dinger were so artistically estranged, and so different in outlook that they decided that side A would feature the conventional Neu! line-up but side B would be effectively a Dinger solo project. It was Dinger who conceived the motorik beat, so beloved by Stereolab, – no verse, no chorus, just drive on. However, Rother’s bittersweet atmospheres hang significantly in the Neu! air, not least on track three, Leb’ Wohl (Farewell), which follows the trajectory established on the previous two Neu! albums – the opening track bowling out in sanguine, motorik style, before a profound wistfulness slowly settles. Leb’ Wohl sounds like an illustration of the maxim that it’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive; it seems to be located at some distant beach at dead of night, the end of the road, suffused with the sad beauty of having gone as far as there is to go. Neu! had reached that point; from here, Rother would put out onto calmer waters.


Utopia was a band Todd Rundgren put together to support him on his 1973 release, A WIZARD, A TRUE STAR, which then became his band. In 1980 they recorded DEFACE THE MUSIC, an album of Beatles pastiches designed to take you through the different stages of their musical trajectory in a parallel universe - I Just Want To Touch You is almost more like I Wanna Hold Your Hand than I Wanna Hold Your Hand - but unlike The Rutles’ good-natured parodies, Rundgren’s songs are a bit more reverent. Everybody Else Is Wrong channels the spirit of Strawberry Fields and I Am The Walrus and pulls it off so well it sounds just as good as you imagine it might (but it falls down on the fade-out so I supply my own…)


Back in days of yore, when I was young and fair to behold, I used to live in olde Exeter towne, and there, on a Thursday evening, there was a club called Cheesy, where they played a very fine line in funky trip hop beats, jazzed-up grooves, disco rhythms, psychedelic novelties and the sort of obscure Italian loungecore vibes that would feel quite at home on David Holmes’ soundtrack to Ocean’s 12 - and it was there that I heard this track by Ride. It was released as a DJ only promo for their album CARNIVAL OF LIGHT, released in 1994, and at the time I always hoped that this was a direction they’d choose to explore, but instead they made the difficult TARANTULA album and split up, only to reform some 20 odd years later - they have a new album, THIS IS NOT A SAFE PLACE, out later this year, and it’s still a direction I hope they choose to explore, although it’s not very likely. I’ve always wondered about that Apollo 11 mission ever since, though. 

Saturday, 6 April 2019


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...transport me out of self and aloneness and alienation
Into a sense of oneness and connection, ecstatic and magical.
                                                                      The Cocteau Twins - Rilkean Heart Paroles


 On paper they sound terrible - Big City were a krautrock prog/fusion band that grew out of the amalgamation of two separate bands, one of which was a jazz-soul act; they had seven members, weren’t afraid to deploy a saxophone, and performed complex rock numbers that incorporated unusual jazz signatures at their base. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, their first album, eponymously titled and released in 1972, is an obscure krautrock treat - a schizophrenic mix of late 60s heavy psych-rock that competes against a jazzy, tripped out ambiance helmed by producer Conny Plank. Big City is a sprawling, nine-minute urban groove that leaves the dirty city streets behind and ventures into the cosmos beyond.


Sperrmull were another of the lesser-known krautrock acts, and, arguably, deservedly so. No experimental kosmische explorations here; this was a band more at home to fuzzy freak out improvisations complete with Hammond organ wig-outs, heavy guitar leads, and epic flute arrangements that are clearly in thrall to early Deep Purple. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and what they lacked in Faustian sonic experimentation they more than made up for with acid guitar reverb mayhem - the mystical No Freak Out, taken from their only release, 1973s eponymous debut, being a rather marvellous case in point.


 Marvellous name - marvellous group. Radiophonic Tuckshop is the brainchild of Joe Kane, one half of Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab who, with this side-project, creates wonderfully wonky pop swimming in lysergic sound effects and a love of The Beatles - so there’s a great deal to enjoy. Rockingham Palace Revisited - all backwards guitar effects and birdsong - can be found on the band’s 2017 THE RUNNING COMMENTARY EP, a super-tuneful collection of fab tunes, compressed vocals and lightly toasted guitars.


The Claypool Lennon Delerium - Primus’ Les Claypool and Sean Lennon - return with another album overflowing with psychedelic excess on their second release SOUTH OF REALITY, released earlier this year. It’s a dreamlike mix of Deep Purple meets The Who doing The Moody Blues filtered through a dusty mixing desk that’s lain dormant since the Beatles recorded a couple of Pepper-esque inspired b-sides on it, funky bass lines, studio-based experimentation and delirious prog mischief. The lyrics aren’t necessarily anything to jump up and down about but the overwhelming sense of lysergic playfulness is undeniably joyous in intent. Boriska appears to be about that Russian fellow Boriska Kipriyanovich, the 21-year-old who claims to have lived on Mars before a war broke out and all life on the planet was destroyed.  He was quoted as saying that ‘human life will change when the Sphinx is opened, it has an opening mechanism somewhere behind the ear; I do not remember exactly.’ Someone should look for that, really.


Jazzy prog vibes abound in Knight of the Third Degree, accompanied by the Spanish and medieval elements you’d expect from any self-respecting krautrock band who were releasing albums in 1971, and WEISS DER TUEFEL, the debut album by Rufus Zuphal, is no exception. Heavy prog and psychedelic folk are the order of the day, although a liberal use of the flute led to unjust comparisons with Jethro Tull. In actual fact, Rufus Zuphall were far more experimental, introducing a number of world instruments into the mix. The album originally saw a limited release as a private pressing, its rarity leading some to suspect it was the great long-lost krautrock release we’ve all been secretly hoping for. It’s not, of course, but it enjoys a certain unpolished charm all of its own, especially on this track, recorded live in the studio, that captures that moment when psych went prog in your krautrock circles.


This rather delightful track - full of references to sitting on rainbows and visiting Sgt pepper land - is the b-side to the little-known Mr. Boyd, released in 1969 by Argosy, an equally little-known flower-pop act who had just the one single in them, and who are remembered today, if at all, for featuring a young Reginald Dwight (Elton John, to you) in the line-up and singer Roger Hodgson, who went on to form Supertramp. In essence, that is all there is to be said about Argosy, forever to be known as a footnote to the careers of Dwight and Hodgson, who both went on to bestride the 70s like a behemoth, or, indeed, behemoths.


Lady June, of course (for this is not the first time she has graced Mind De-Coder), was legendary landlady to the Canterbury set, and hostess of London’s premier smoking salon and party venue - it was at one of her parties that Robert Wyatt fell out of a window, breaking his back. Fondly regarded as an endearing eccentric of the Viv Stanshall variety, she was a writer, painter and sculptress in her own right who, in 1974, released LINGUISTIC LEPROSY, a spoken word album of her bonkers poetry, produced for her by her long-time friend Kevin Ayers. If you’re inspired to buy one album from this show, I urge you to make it this one - it’s as an authentic statement of London’s counter-culture as your ever likely to hear, and something of a paean to a time long gone.


I don’t know where Walker Phillips came from or how he came to be making such tantalizing, ravishing music, but, what I take to be his debut album, MY LOVE SUNDAY, released last year, captures the very essence of acid folk in all its lysergically enhanced pristine beauty. Think Espers, think Sproatly Smith, think Tyrannosaurus Rex, think Forest, and then think Mark Fry’s DREAMING WITH ALICE and that will give you an idea of where Walker Phillips is coming from. He’s really that good. The Rain, the Tower And Other Things is, admittedly, the most far-out track on the album, but the rest of the album, full of enchanted weird-folk meanderings inspired by Pink Floyd’s Cirrus Minor, is a surreal delight that ravishes the senses.


I meant to play the lovely D.C.B.A. 25 last year to mark the passing of Paul Kantner but somehow, I’ve only just got round to it. I’m an enormous fan of Jefferson Airplane’ two 1967 releases, SURREALISTIC PILLOW and AFTER BATHING AT BAXTERS, which pretty much book-ended San Francisco’s Summer of Love. This was, in fact, the only song he wrote for SURREALISTIC PILLOW, a song he referred to as an LSD-inspired romp through consciousness. Kantner always had an enthusiasm for mind expansion through acid (and science-fiction utopianism). The letters in the title refer to the chords used in the song, and I understand, the number is a reference to LSD-25, which pretty much makes this the perfect song with which to eulogise him.


I’ve always had a soft spot for Orange Bicycle despite their being one of those bands which the record buying public overlooked. They started off life as the sort of a skiffle band that would play at the 2 I’s in Soho before changing their name to Robb Storm and the Whispers and joining the pre-Beatles British rock scene in which they recorded a handful of singles that failed to trouble the charts. They were, however, the first British rock ‘n’ roll group to play behind the iron curtain, supporting Helen Shapiro on a tour of Poland. At one point they even boasted a young Lewis Collins (Bodie, to you) in their line-up (interesting fact: Lewis Collins was once briefly considered as a replacement for Pete Best in The Beatles! How different the world would have been in so many ways if that had ever been a thing). The mid-sixties saw a name change to The Robb Storme Group covering the Beach Boys until the psychedelic revolution led them to re-name themselves Orange Bicycle and release a single that at least got them to No. 1 in France. This, sadly, was to be as good as it got for them - despite the support of John Peel who was quite the fan, they were, to the British charts, as a bowl of carrot sticks on the table at a child’s birthday party, which is a pity because they were one of the best harmony pop groups of the psychedelic period. Last Cloud Home was the b-side to a 1969 single which, once again, had no one racing to the record shops with their pocket money jingling away in their pockets although they still had three or four equally unloved singles left in them before they called it a day. Their only album was released in 1970 by which time the psychedelic bubble had burst and that, as they say, was that. Interestingly enough, the drummer also went on to join Supertramp - who would have guessed that psychedelia’s loss would ever be pop-prog’s gain?


The Fraternal Order Of The All is an affectionate homage to the flower power era by Andrew Gold, the man responsible for those late 70s hit singles Lonely Boy and Thank You For Being A Friend (which ended up being used as the intro for The Golden Girls, fact fans), but clearly his heart belonged in the 60s.  Claiming to be a long-lost psychedelic artefact recorded between August 1967 and August 1968, GREETINGS FROM PLANET LOVE weighs in with flawless pastiches of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds and, well, some acts whose names start with other letters of the alphabet too, like the Strawberry Alarmclock and The Doors. It was actually recorded in 1997 but Gold knowingly pilfers every trick in the psychedelic toolbox, no doubt with a big, melon-sized grin on his face - had it been recorded in the 60s it would be lauded as a classic.


In another homage to a bygone era - albeit more to the experimental lounge side of things - A Flaw In The Iris is a taster from what we can expect from the new album by Swedish retro-futurists Death and Vanilla, which is to be released later on in the year. Utilizing vintage musical equipment such as the vibraphone, organ, mellotron, tremolo guitar and moog, to emulate the sounds of 60s/70s soundtracks, library music, German Krautrock, French Ye-ye pop and 60s psych, this is a band who are very much at home to the intricate arrangements of Pierre Henry, the United States of America and Ennio Morricone as they are to late 60s baroque harmony pop. Their new album ARE YOU THE DREAMER, will be available in May, and if A Flaw In The Iris is anything to go by, it will match their sublime, eerie melodies to bewitching analogue electronics with psychedelic overtones, and will be quite marvellous, I expect.


This is one of those tracks that appear on YouTube every now and then. I’ve no idea how they become suddenly available, but this does pretty much what it says on the label - it’s take 2: a heavier, drone-like approach as the band try out a new arrangement and George comes to grips with the sitar. As you might imagine, it’s not as polished as the finished version, but it enjoys a distorted psychedelic vibe that that version lacks. It’s good - I like it.


There’s not a lot I can tell you about this band - they were Norwegian band inspired by Procol Harum (although The Small Faces seems to be a closer reference point here) and John Peel was a fan. This gorgeous track is taken from the b-side to their 1968 release, a cover of The Lewis and Clarke Expedition’s This Town Ain’t The Same Anymore - although The Difference dropped the ‘anymore’. As to whether it charted or not, I’m afraid that information is lost to ye olde psychedelic mysts of tyme, although I understand some version of the band is still performing under the name Travellin’ Strawberries. There - I’m spent.


Something of a curious oddity, this, but a pleasant enough one for all that. Mr Metronome is taken from the album BROKEN FOLK, an EP of collaborations with folk singer Douglas E. Powell selected from Keith Seatman’s last two albums. It opens with a remix of the title track Broken Folk by that stalwart of British pastoral electronica Belbury Poly, after which Seatman builds a dense collage of electronics, fragmented melody and found sound, around which Powell weaves his dreamlike lyrics. Originally released as 10inch single last year, the albums 5 tracks are subtly psychedelic with an air of melancholia about them, the songs redolent of supernatural short stories and winter afternoons out on English landscapes - dark rustic reveries, occupying the overlapping territory between haunted electronica and wyrd folk. It’s now available to download here.


Mind-expanding space-rock from the mighty Amon Düül II who, on their third album, 1971’s TANZ DER LEMMINGE (DANCE OF THE LEMMINGS, to you, mein herr), leave behind the guitar freak-outs of YETI and expand their sound to include something altogether more cosmic. The Marilyn Monroe-Memorial Church is entirely improvised and yet its washes of sound, tinkling piano, crashing drums and disembodied instrumental embellishments can draw you in into an interstellar soundscape and keep you there for some 18 minutes or so. This is pretty much the band at their most far-out, or most far-in, because this is a journey into deep space - inside or out - but what a trip.


The almost unbearably lovely Morganspaziergang (Morning Stroll - only in Germany could they make something so pleasant sound like the sort of noise a tramp in the bushes behind the bus stop might make clearing his throat) is the closing track on Kraftwerk’s fourth album, the classic AUTOBAHN, released in 1974. This was a transitional album for the band - by now their signature hypnotic pulse was all in place but the album is not completely electronic, as violin, flute, piano and guitar are used along with the synthesizers. After the 21-minute title track Morganspaziergang can sound deceptively throwaway, but it’s a lovely piece of music - it begins as a dawn chorus bird-song effect created by the electronic instruments and concludes with an extended finish that uses a repeating variation of the melodic phrase heard in the first instrumental section of Autobahn. So there.


A long time ago - in internet terms - there was a record label called Comfort Stand which championed the free download of the artists on its catalogue and, because this was before your digital music platforms had really taken off, they even provided free artwork and liner notes so you could create your own CD cases. On the whole, their artists created the sort of records that never should have been made. Shotgun weddings and unlikely juxtapositions where styles and genres mingled and smashed up against each other in inadvisable combinations. And because I was listening to a lot of outsider/songs in the key of Z type music at the time (and because I’m a sucker for free downloads) I collected a lot of their downloads, dutifully burnt them onto blank CDs, and slipped them into jewel cases bought from the computer warehouse with the inlays I had printed onto card on the home printer. Anyway, I fancied listening to something a little different in the car the other day so I grabbed one of their 2003 releases called TWO ZOMBIES LATER, an International double album of latter-day exotica, which is where I was reacquainted with this track. Hybe appears to be a hybridization of drum n bass DJ Josee B and lounge Moog Master Brian D, who at some point or other collected from the unconscious, not bothered by time or space, the union of all things possible, musically speaking at least - but like I say, it was a long time ago.


The Moon Wiring Club’s hypnogogic soundscapes are so close to the noises in my head as I drift off to sleep that I sometimes wonder whether they’re slipping out onto the pillow only to be recorded into a craftily placed microphone. These two tracks are taken from Ian Hodgson’s most recent release, PSYCHEDELIC SPIRIT SHOW, released last year - an elaborate, whirlpooling, pop-carousel of sound enlivened with enough baffling-deft temporal mixing to potently confuse the aeons to come!