Monday, 10 September 2018

MIND DE-CODER 81

MIND DE-CODER 81


 Leave your cares behind, Come with us and find,
The pleasures of a journey to the centre of the mind.
                                                                                     The Amboy Dukes

THEE LOADED ANGELS     AQUARIUS RISING


When I first came across this track it made me completely re-think Andy Weatherall’s production for Primal Scream’s Loaded. Like everyone else at the time I assumed he’d been inspired to lift the spoken intro from Peter Fonda’s rabble-rousing speech in Roger Corman’s 1966 film The Wild Angels but having listened to this I’m not so sure – the hint is even there in the name: Thee Loaded Angels. Thee Loaded Angels is actually just one of many pseudonyms used by Psychic TV on their subversive acid house classic JACK THE TAB/TEKNO ACID BEAT, released under the guise of a compilation album in 1988. In actual fact, Psychic TV’s Genesis P-Orridge and The Grid’s (and latterly, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s) Richard Norris are responsible for all the tracks on the album, which was essentially Britain’s first acid house album. It may have been conceived as something of an art-house prank, but P-Orridge was presciently ahead of the game and although most of the album now sounds dated, the vignettes and sound clips between tracks, of which Aquarius Rising is one, still sound great. This is exactly the sort of album that I imagine a young Andy Weatherall would have been listening to, although, of course, I may be entirely wrong about the whole thing.

THE AMBOY DUKES     JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE MIND


Think what you like about Ted Nugent – for the record, I think he’s a deeply unpleasant individual, to say the least – his guitar playing on this track is exhilarating. Released as a single in 1968, it was the band’s only hit, taken from the album of the same name, which saw the band move on from their blues roots and try to embrace the counter-culture with newly adopted psychedelic embellishments. It seems this was a direction that fellow songwriter Steve Farmer was more willing to undertake than Nugent himself, who claims that he didn’t know the song was about the LSD experience. This alone tells you much of what you need to know about him.

OCS     MEMORY OF A CUT OFF HEAD


This is the rather lovely title track to last year's album, which saw the band briefly return to their psych-folk roots. MEMORY OF A CUT OFF HEAD is the first album released under the moniker of OCS since 2005 – more recent recordings as Thee Oh Sees are notable for their raucous, energetic garage rock stylings, say, which I can’t really be doing with because they eschew what we might charitably call tunes. This is a more delicate affair, offering up lush orchestrations and acoustic loveliness, albeit in a vein that suggests that the world has recently ended and they are left playing their songs amidst the grim aftermath.


THE CREATION     LIFE IS JUST BEGINNING


The Creation were one of those bands who had an overwhelmingly seminal influence on the British psych-pop scene but who were relatively unknown to the record-buying public, who remained blissfully unaware of them. Their one hit record, Painter Man, just made the Top 40 in 1966 (and was successfully covered by Boney M 1979 who made the Top 10 with it) but its b-side, Biff Bang Pow, was taken up by Creation records supremo Alan McGee as the name for his band whilst also naming his record label after them. Ride, Paul Weller, Pete Townshend, and The Sex Pistols were fans whilst Jimmy Page, no stranger to flattering his peers (as it were) imitated guitarist Eddie Phillips’ use of playing the guitar with a violin bow on Led Zeppelin’s Dazed and Confused, so one way or another they really should have been more famous than they were. As it was, success eluded them in England although they were massively popular in Germany where they managed to release an album in1967compiled of previously released singles and hastily recorded cover versions called WE ARE PAINTERMEN. The very fine Life Is Just Beginning was released in 1967 as a single but it failed to chart – by 1968 the band had split but their legacy, as they say, lived on long after them. Don’t even get me started on Clive Dunn’s Grandad.

GIOVANNI BATTISTA PERGOLESSI     KYRIE ELEISON/CHRISTIE ELEISON


Something of a baroque masterpiece, Pergolessi’s MASS OF ST. EMIDIO was commissioned in 1732 when the composer was only 26. Celebrated as a composer of sacred music, the piece is a showcase of Pergolesi’s mastery of late-Baroque double-choir techniques and the new galant style of writing for virtuoso solo voices, none of which means very much to me, but my son came home from college raving about its use of polyphonic layered melodies and things of that nature in general and, given that he shed an honest tear at the passing of XXXTentacion recently, he’s possibly a bigger fan of music than myself and knows of what he speaks, so I felt compelled to check it out. Couldn’t be doing with XXXTentacion at all, but was blown away by Pergolessi’s Mass and how many of the defining characteristics of your baroque style were later co-opted by the more florid elements of psychedelia. In truth, I felt right at home listening to it and couldn’t wait to include it in a show.

THE CHOCOLATE WATCH BAND     THE INNER MYSTIQUE


It’s a bit of a misnomer to suggest that this track is by The Chocolate Watchband at all, given that the album it’s taken from, the titular INNER MYSTIQUE, released in 1968, barely contained any music or vocals by the band despite their name being there on the album sleeve. Side 1 of the album, from which the superb Inner Mystique is taken, consists of music played entirely by session musicians, whilst Side 2 of the album – consisting of blistering cover versions composed of out-takes from their first album - had singer’s Dave Agular vocals replaced on two tracks by session vocalist Don Bennet. Why this would be is down to the band’s producer who cobbled the album together because of his belief in the band as a concept, rather than an actual entity. I understand he never saw the band play live and had no idea that they were a confrontational, snarling garage-band who oozed punk defiance on stage, preferring to write soft psychedelic tracks for them to perform in the studio, laced with sitar and flute. Despite this, THE INNER MYSTIQUE is something of a fan favourite, possibly because of its schizophrenic nature, and features many of their favourite recordings - it is in no way representative of the group’s sound but still one of the defining psychedelic garage punk albums of the 60s.

THE MIRAGE     EBENEEZER BEAVER


I’ve become a big fan of The Mirage recently and I don’t believe that I’ve even got around to playing their one notable more-or-less hit The Wedding Of Ramona Blair yet. As far as I can tell Ebeneezer Beaver, recorded 1967, was never released but appears on the 2006 album TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS – THE POP SIKE WORLD OF THE MIRAGE: SINGLES AND LOST SESSIONS which pretty much does what it says on the label. Clearly inspired by The Beatles and The Hollies, and to some extent The Who and The Kinks, they were never as original or convincing as their role models and thus were doomed to become a footnote to the sound of the lysergic 60s – nevertheless a handful of their tracks, Ebeneezer Beaver included, were definitively psychedelic and deserve to be heard wherever psychedelic music is played (so that would be right here then).

AMBROSE SLADE     KNOCKING NAILS INTO MY HOUSE


Before they became the seasonal-defining cultural behemoth known as Slade, they were a little-known Midlands rock band called Ambrose Slade who’s one album, BEGINNINGS, was released in 1969 to cheerful indifference. It contained a diverse mix of cover versions - including The Amboy Dukes’ Journey To The Centre Of The Mind, as well as songs by Frank Zappa, The Beatles, Steppenwolf, The Moody Blues, and Marvin Gaye – and a couple of self-penned tracks, none of which hinted at the glories to come. Knocking Nails Into My House was penned by Jeff Lynne for The Idle Race, and is pretty indicative of the rest of the album as a whole, although their cover of The Beatles’ Martha My Dear has been described elsewhere as ‘heinous’. It’s an interesting album, though; Noddy Holder’s vocals were already in place, and they know their way around a tune – at times it sounds like The Small Faces – but they were very much a band looking for direction. Coz I Luv You and their unassailable domination of the British charts was still two years away.

THE FACTORY     TRY A LITTLE SUNSHINE


Released in 1969, this was The Factory’s second and, indeed, last single – a blistering soundsplash of buzzes, thrashed guitars, and oddly angelic vocal stylings that fall somewhere between The Who and Cream. It was written for them by John Pantry (more on whom later) who also provided the vocals. It was banned by the BBC, who took exception to the extortion to try some LSD (‘sunshine’ being slang for a particularly fine line in LSD) and the band split up shortly after, although both sides of their two singles, as well as a couple of unreleased demos, were assembled for the PATH THROUGH THE FOREST mini-CD in 1995.

THE CHILLS     KALEIDOSCOPE WORLD


In October The Chills will play their first (and most likely last) gig on Waiheke so I thought I’d commemorate that by playing this gorgeous track on the show. I’ve been a massive fan of the band since I came across this album in a record shop in Romford back in 1986, released by a nascent Creation records in England (Flying Nun in New Zealand, of course) and it quickly became a bedsit fave. In truth, I’d never heard of the band before and bought it strictly on the strength of its cover, which suggested sugary psychedelic confection awaited within. I wasn’t disappointed, although the songs, whilst undeniably at home to Syd Barrett, were more jingly-jangly than psychedelic per se and you can see why Alan McGee liked them. Over the years the album has been re-released a couple of time, each time growing a little longer as extra tracks were added to that initial selection of 8 pristine songs – the last copy of the album I brought had 24 tracks on it in all, but it’s still the original vinyl release I return to when the mood takes me.  For the last 30 odd years or so, Kaleidoscope World has remained one of my favourite songs ever – never strictly a single, it appeared as the first track on the Dunedin Double, a seminal EP shared between four bands, which introduced the world the sound of young Dunedin in 1982. Its playful lyrics and familiar chimes of jingle-jangle guitar over a background bass pulse and swirling organ never fails to put a smile on my face and you can be sure I have my ticket ready for when they arrive. I wonder if I can get my copy of the album autographed? That would be a thing, wouldn’t it?

SPROATLY SMITH     CANARY BABIES


For its latest release, the wonderful A Year In The Country site brings us THE QUIETENED MECHANISMS, an album which explores the abandoned and derelict industry, infrastructure, technology and equipment that once upon a time helped to create, connect and sustain society. Featuring music from the likes of Keith Seatman, The Heartwood Institute, Time Attendant and Vic Mars, it wanders amongst deserted factories, discarded machinery, closed mines, mills and kilns and their echoes and remains; taking a moment or two to reflect on these once busy, functioning centres of activity and the sometimes sheer scale or amount of effort and human endeavour that was required to create and operate such structures and machines, many of which are now just left to fade away.

Herefordshire’s purveyors of lysergic wyrd-folk, Sproatly Smith, provide the exquisite Canary Babies, a track inspired by the Rother Ordnance Factory, which once employed 6000 staff, mainly women, making bombs and shells during both world wars, risking their lives from shells exploding, poisonous chemicals that turned their skin yellow, and from German air raids. It was shut down in 1967 and still lays abandoned, crumbling in the middle of an industrial estate.

THE KINKS     TIME SONG


The Kinks, of course, could never be doing with psychedelic music, but given the cultural climate of the times, they occasionally came to within a stone’s throw of the limpid pool of psychedelia even if they didn’t actually dip their toes in. Time Song is a case in point. A previously unreleased track from 1968 taken from the remastered 50th anniversary reissue of THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, it’s a gentle meditation on lazy ways and the passing of days, sung over a slow, hazy waltz of acoustic guitar and piano that is, at the very least, ruminative, allowing one to speculate quietly on mortality and things of that nature in general, creating the smallest of ripples in that limpid pool. Lovely.

THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND     A VERY CELLULAR SONG


On occasions, I sometimes return to The Incredible String Band and try to get them. I know I’m supposed to like them, and on paper they seem like my favourite band ever; their combination of exotic Middle Eastern and Asian instrumentation wedded to a whimsical, haunting, esoteric acid-folk vision of Albion seems such a winning formula – and then they start singing. It’s as if they spent so much time mastering the likes of all those ouds, gimbris, qanuns and tamburas that no one thought to include singing lessons on their to-do list. Anyway, that’s just me. I understand that elsewhere in your psych-folk circles they’re still quite highly regarded. Last week I gave their 1968 release THE HANGMAN’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER a spin, beguiled, as ever, by the promise of its cover and found myself humming along to A Very Cellular Song, the album’s centre-piece, and I didn’t find the experience entirely disagreeable. It’s a 13-minute reflection on life, love, and amoebas, consisting of a suite of short pieces sewn together with the folk song Bid You Goodnight. Along the way, it weaves between Bahamian funerary music, East Indian incantation, and ancient Celtic mysticism and is often considered to be composer Mike Heron’s masterpiece. As for me, I prefer to say nothing but will continue with the occasional dipping of toes into the limpid pool of The Incredible String Band slightly more often in future.

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.    
           PINK LADY LEMONADE (YOU’RE MY ORB)


The Mighty Acid Mothers Temple And The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. have always had a soft spot for the sweet Pink Lady Lemonade – two separate recordings already exist and on the newest release, ELECTRIC DREAM ECSTASY, they return to it twice more, the You’re My Orb acoustic version featuring pastoral, complex string arrangements, ghostly synths and harmonica, and the side-long epic Electric Dream Ecstasy proto-disco version which I’ll save for another day. Gorgeous and timeless as ever, Pink Lady Lemonade (You’re My Orb) makes for a dreamy exploration of inner space, allowing the mind to float hither and thither across a free-form soundscape of narcotic desire. I’m a fan, me.

THE MONKEES     RANDY SCOUSE GIT


…or Alternate Title as it is often known, quickly changed to protect the sensibilities of its English audience, and, no doubt, to spare American listeners from wondering just who or what a Randy Scouse Git is or does. Famously written by Micky Dolenz in 1967, it’s something of an account of party thrown for them by The Beatles at the fashionable Speakeasy club in London supposedly written the next day whilst watching the popular sitcom ‘Til Death Do Us Part, where he couldn’t help but note that English audiences were reduced to paroxysms of laughter whenever Alf Garnett would refer to his son-in-law as the randy scouse git in question. Dolenz didn’t know what it meant, but the audience seemed to find it hysterical, so it quickly became the song’s title, and was just as quickly changed at the insistence of the band’s English record company, RCA, who wouldn’t release it unless he gave the song an ‘alternate title’, and, thus, the legend surrounding the song was born. It’s also one of the best songs they ever wrote, of course.

PETER AND THE WOLVES     LITTLE GIRL LOST AND FOUND


Peter and The Wolves were an obscure psych act by any standards although singer John Pantry also seems to have had a career as a songwriter, producer and sound engineer which saw him working with the likes of The Small Faces, The Bee Gees, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, The New Seekers, Pentangle and Barry Ryan, amongst others. His songs were often aimed at the soft psych-pop end of the market, and Little Girl Lost And Found, released as a single in 1967, has the same vibe as a bubblegum Bee Gees doing Syd Barrett, namechecking many of the standard reference points of British psychedelia at the time, but other than that there’s not much else I can tell you about the band – I think it’s a great little single though. I don’t suppose it troubled the charts at all. John Pantry is now a vicar in Kent.

DEERHUNTER     DIAL’S METAL PATTERNS


One of my favourite releases this year has been Deerhunter’s tour-only cassette release DOUBLE DREAM OF SPRING. The cassette was limited to a run of 300 copies, so unless you were lucky enough to have been at the first gig of what was then their current tour (they sold all their copies that first night) you will be relying on some considerate soul putting their copy online (I am here to assure you that that considerate soul exists). What you get to hear is a highly experimental release which sounds somewhere between ghostly Faust-esque demos and lo-fi avant-garde ambient compositions that dissolve from ambient murmurings to jazz-inflected trip-hop grooves, often within the space of the same track. Dial’s Metal Pattern’s has a wigged-out Stereolab-ish feel to it (Bradford Cox has worked with Lætitia Sadier before) – elsewhere the album feels deliberately vague and incomplete, but never less than tuneful and brimming with ideas that may or may not find their way onto their soon-to-be-completed Cate Le Bon produced album, which I find myself getting more and more excited about.

LOVE     ORANGE SKIES


1966’s DA CAPO captured Love in a transitional phase, evolving from the frenetic garage folk of their debut album to the lush, psychedelic textures of their third release, FOREVER CHANGES. The album’s first single, the tremolo drenched Seven & Seven Is, is a direct link to the energy and verve of the debut and rightfully became a garage-punk classic. In contrast, the altogether more gentle Bryan Maclean-penned Orange Skies, with its subtle samba rhythms and exotic instrumentation, pointed the way forward for the group.

KENNELMUS     PATTI’S DREAM


For an album that’s routinely dismissed as clumsy, with almost totally unmusical vocals, wild, undisciplined instrumentation and way over the top studio production, there’s something quite compelling about this sole release by Kennelmus, Arizona’s ‘hardest working surf band’. Released in 1971, FOLKSTONE PRISM was limited to 1000 copies, hardly any of which sold, and yet it has a schizophrenic charm that takes in Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks, Lost in Space electronic tinkering, and visionary tripped-out peyote induced flourishes combined with folk and garage rock elements that suggest that this was a band brimming with ideas. Patti’s Dream enjoys the sort of acid-soaked guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on a Calexico album produced by Joe Meek. In fact, I can’t recommend the album enough.

PROCOL HARUM     A WHITER SHADE OF PALE


I can’t think of a single thing to say about this track that hasn’t already been said. Released in 1967 this is the sound of British pop music transcending the confines of the 3-minute single into something more rarefied, evocative and celestial – in many ways, it’s so clever that there’s an argument for suggesting that this song is the precursor to what would become prog. It’s one of the best-selling singles in history, having sold over 10 million copies, it’s the most played record by British broadcasting, and was number 1 in the charts the same time that The Beatle’s were number 1 with SGT PEPPER’S, thus pretty much kick-starting the Summer of Love – not bad for the band’s debut single. As to what its about or what a fandango truly is, whole books have been written and documentaries made. I just played it because It seemed like the right song, at the right time, for the right show, and its baroque complexity goes back to what I was saying about baroque compositions and psychedelia earlier, although, at the time I was thinking of The Moody Blues. It just goes to show – something was in the air (on the G string, as it were).

THE ORB     DRIFT


A superior bit of filler from The Orb, taken from their latest release NO SOUNDS ARE OUT OF BOUNDS. This is The Orb’s 15th album and, as time goes on, one begins to expect less and less from them – or rather, him, as The Orb these days revolves around Alex Paterson and a revolving cast of collaborators, with this album being no exception. No Orb album can escape the shadow of the towering ADVENTURES BEYOND THE ULTRAWORLD but their new album gives it a pretty good go. Drenched in ganga-smoked dub, ambient minimalism and sound collages which explore both inner and outer space, NO SOUNDS ARE OUT OF BOUNDS is hugely enjoyable, pursuing its own sonic palette with all the insouciance of one having nothing left to prove. It also finishes with a 15-minute journey that will no doubt find its way onto next week’s show.

THE BYRDS     SPACE ODYSSEY


The closing track from 1967’s THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS, Space Odyssey, finds Roger McGuinn speculating on the role of either a supreme being or extra-terrestrial species in the evolution of humankind. Although this track was released prior to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, both Kubrick and McGuinn adapted the theme from the same source – Arthur C. Clarke’s short story, The Sentinel. McGuinn approaches the arrangement as though he was adapting a sea chanty for The Byrds repertoire, although the lyrics also work to the tune of While Shepherd’s Watched Their Flocks By Night (try it). THE NOTORIOUS BYRD BROTHERS is the best thing they ever did – the culmination of their previous four albums, and made before they went full-on country and became hairy. On it they embrace psychedelic rock, psychedelic folk and psychedelic country music - mostly they just embrace psychedelia in all of its colourful manifestations. I sometimes think that Julian Cope’s INTERPRETER album is entirely indebted to Space Odyssey – I mean, it probably isn’t, but it is. Like in most things, The Byrds were doing it first.


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Monday, 6 August 2018

MIND DE-CODER 80

MIND DE-CODER 80
To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Frances Hodgson Burnett

GANG GANG DANCE     (INFIRMA TERRAE)


This is the opening track from the album KAZUASHITA, released earlier this year by Gang Gang Dance, who make odd global beats that fall somewhere between the sound of late period-Pink Floyd, The Orb, Sigur Rós and The Cocteau Twins, all of which makes for an album that seems to pursue beauty for its own sake, transcending genres with a focus on soft-core melodies and harmonic structures – it really is quite lovely, to say the least. Surprisingly, this melange of aural psychedelics is brought to you from New York and not downtown Jakarta, say, but their tribal rhythms channel sounds from across the globe without slipping into dreaded “world music” territory. I do the album no favours by simply playing this opening piece, and I may return to it one day for the show. In the meantime, I urge you to check it out.

THE ADVISORY CIRCLE    TIME SHAPES THE LENS


I have it drift off into a track taken from WAYS OF SEEING, the most recent release from The Advisory Circle on which library music composer and mastering engineer Jon Brookes creates polished synth instrumentals which evoke a breezy modernism only slightly faded by age. Indeed, Brookes seems to have removed himself from the 70s, that era most beloved by your hauntologists, and planted himself in the 80s which gives him an entirely new palette to play with – New Romanticism awaits just around the corner.

KEITH SEATMAN     SEEING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE


Seeing Through The Invisible is a track taken from the 2016 A Year In The Country release FRACTURES, 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. As a reaction to such, this was a possible high water mark of the experimentations of psych/acid folk, expressions of eldritch undertones in the land via what has become known in part as folk horror and an accompanying yearning to return to an imagined pastoral idyll. Looking back, culture, television broadcasts and film from this time often seem imbued with a strange, otherly grittyness; to capture a sense of dissolution in relation to what was to become post-industrial Western culture and ways of living.
Such transmissions and signals viewed now can seem to belong to a time far removed and distant from our own; the past not just as a foreign country but almost as a parallel universe that is difficult to imagine as once being our own lands and world.
FRACTURES is a reflection on reverberations from those disquieted times, taking as its initial 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”. Electricity blackouts in the UK and the three day week declared; The Wickerman released; The Changes recorded but remained unreleased; The Unofficial Countryside published, and the terrifying public information film The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water released. All of which is captured by Seatman, a former member of the band Psylons, musician, DJ owner of some synths, records and all manner of old tat and always a tad lost.

ANTON BARBEAU     MAGIC SANDWICHES


Anton Barbeau plays "pre-apocalyptic psychedelic pop." He's a Taurus, born in Sacramento and now living by a canal in Berlin. He's made something like 23 albums and has worked with members of XTC, The Soft Boys, the Bevis Frond, Cake, the Loud Family and Mystery Lawn label-mates, the Corner Laughers. Julian Cope got him stoned in Croydon once. His new album, NATURAL CAUSES, released earlier this year, is, by turns, quirky, melodic, whimsical and packed full of lysergic pop hits drenched in ancient Mellotrons, analog synths and 12-string guitars. If it had been made by anyone else he would no doubt be famous.

THE MIRAGE     LAZY MAN


The title says it all, really. Rather than write a new tune, The Mirage simply rip off The Beatles’ Rain and stick some new words over it for this unreleased demo - which isn’t to imply that this isn’t a fantastic track because it is (in the same way that Rain is a fantastic track, I suppose). They weren’t allowed to get away with it, of course, and the track was re-arranged to sound more like The Who’s Happy Jack and placed on the b-side of their semi-bona fide pop hit The Wedding Of Ramona Blair in 1968. Doomed to be a foot-note in the London psych scene, The Mirage never got to release an album although their tracks can be found on TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS – THE POP SIKE WORLD OF THE MIRAGE: SINGLES AND LOST SESSIONS, released in 2006.

LUBOŜ FIŜER     THE VISIT


A short, trifling piece - but nonetheless pleasant for all that - taken from the soundtrack to the Czechoslovakian surrealist horror film, VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS. Although the film was made in 1970, the soundtrack wasn’t released until 2006, following a decade of Eastern European phone calls and continental crate digging by the semi-legendary Andy Votel. Scored by Czech composer Luboŝ Fiŝer, the soundtrack is something of a Baroque folk masterpiece, providing a fragile blend of pastoral orchestral folk songs and clockwork harpsichords to compliment the film’s phantasmagorical imagery. This is the sort of thing that one imagines the late Trish Keenan would have been playing at dinner parties (I know I do).

COSMO SHELDRAKE     EGGS AND SOLDIERS


Where to begin? That’s his given name, for a start, so kudos to his parents (a biologist and Mongolian overtone chanter, I understand) – and Eggs And Soldiers…can there be a better song title? Doesn’t it bring your childhood rushing back, inhabiting your memories in the tradition of Barrett-esque psychedelic whimsy, with perhaps just a smidgen of They Might Be Giants thrown in for good measure? Cosmo Is an English multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer with a penchant for crafting quirky, loop-driven sound collages, inspirational and often nonsensical lyrics, and recording found objects in unusual environments, operating with a kitchen sink-style musical arsenal that includes banjo, loop station, keyboards, double bass, drums, penny whistle, sousaphone, and accordion, to name just a few. His debut album, THE MUCH MUCH HOW HOW AND I owes as much to (musician, composer, theoretician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments) Moondog and, indeed, Stravinsky as it does The Beatles and The Kinks and as such exists in its own self-contained world of eccentric, off-beat compositions that simply fly in the face of anything else you’re currently listening to. Really quite marvellous.

JIRI JUST & JIRI SLITR     GIRLIES GIRLIES


Another short, trifling piece – and, once again, nonetheless pleasant for all that – taken from the soundtrack to another surrealist Czechoslovakian film, this time the wonderful DAISIES, made in 1966. Rather like the soundtrack to VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS, the soundtrack to DAISIES (or to give it its correct name SEDMIKRÀSKY) was previously unprepared for public consumption and taken from the original reels, released in 2007 (I believe that we once again have Andy Votel to thank). Generally regarded as a milestone of the Nová Vlna movement, the film is a glorious example of experimental cinema, psychedelic cinematography, baroque costumes and scenery, music and graphic design. Released two years before the Prague Spring, the film was subsequently labeled as "depicting the wanton" by the Czech authorities and banned. The soundtrack features an erratic score which consists of the juxtaposition of various non-melodic elements and sound effects, laden with a broad palette of samples and snippets of choral and classical vintage recordings spliced with concrete effects, traditional brass band music, Disney style exotica, Charleston dance standards and token 60s beat tracks. It’s actually rather wonderful – one of the most psychedelic films ever made and certainly one of my favourite films ever.



GAVINO MORRETTI     DAWN OF A NEW GENERATION


For their most recent release, A Year In The Country – a website dedicated to exploring/examining work that takes inspiration from the hidden and underlying tales of the land, the further reaches of folk music and culture and where such things meet and intertwine with the lost futures, spectral histories and parallel worlds of what has come to be known as hauntology – has focussed its attention on the semi-mythical, and most-likely entirely made-up SHILDHAM HALL TAPES – a series of recordings inspired by a lost cinematic project purported to have taken place at a country mansion in the late sixties. The fragments of footage and audio that still exist seem to show a film which was attempting to interweave and reflect the heady cultural mix of the times; of experiments and explorations in new ways of living, a burgeoning counter-culture, a growing interest in and reinterpretation of folk culture and music, early electronic music experimentation, high fashion, psychedelia and the crossing over of the worlds of the aristocracy with pop/counter-culture and elements of the underworld. Gavino Morretti also appears to be an entirely fictional, little known Italian film composer who produced soundtracks for many European and American low-budget films – almost exclusively in the horror and science fiction genres in the 1980s. In hauntological terms, this is almost a perfect match.


NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS     THE PHOENIX OF ALBANY ROAD


Another gorgeous track from Nathan Hall’s TUNGUSKA TYDFIL, an album awash with a gentle psychedelic numinosity. The baroque flourishes at the heart of The Phoenix Of Albany Road have something of George Harrison’s Piggies about them, but the wistful, bucolic charm of this track replaces the misanthropy at the heart of that song with a sweet sense of yearning for something not entirely lost. In many ways, this is the essence of TUNGUSKA TYDFIL – the album is imbued with a poignant sense of nostalgia; sometimes rueful, sometimes celebratory, almost hauntological in fact; the lyrics reflecting fractured memories offset by exquisite instrumentation and playful melodies. I didn’t quite get this album when I first heard it – I felt it lacked an underlying cohesiveness – but repeated listens reveal an album very much at home with itself and one of my favourite releases of the year.

DIANNE ENDICOTT     ORANGE AND LEMON


This children’s rhyme, spoken by Devonshire schoolgirl Dianne Endicott, is taken from the album FIELD TRIP – ENGLAND, compiled by Jean Ritchie, iconic folk singer and dulcimer player from Kentucky, who, in 1952, received a Fulbright scholarship enabling her to travel to the British Isles to trace the origin of her Kentucky versions of songs and compare them with British versions. During the course of her travels, she and husband George Pickow, with the assistance of prominent British folk song authorities, made many field recordings, some of which appear on this album. The collection includes old British ballads, drinking songs, children’s songs and games, handbell ringing, dance tunes, lyrical love songs, and an excerpt from a Mummers’ Play. Released in 1960, it is now a fascinating document of a time long gone.

PAUL AND BARRY RYAN     MADRIGAL


Earworm loveliness from twins Paul and Barry Ryan, who enjoyed some small success in the 60s as the clean-cut sons of their rather more famous mother Marion Ryan. This track is the b-side to their 1968 release Pictures Of Today which was, I believe the last single they released together. The split amicably shortly thereafter with Paul embarking on a songwriting career while Barry recorded as a solo act. If you’ve heard of them at all it’s probably because of their one hit record Eloise, penned for Barry by Paul, which was something of a worldwide hit (and covered by The Damned, of course).

JAY TAUSIG     ELEVATED OBSERVATIONS


Jay Tausig is a multi-instrumentalist with a penchant for playing your space-prog-rock with jazz overtones, although recently he’s focus has moved from a love-affair with Gong and Hawkwind, say, into a more Krautrock / Psychedelic / Folk realms direction which, as you might imagine, sits very nicely with me. Elevated Observations is taken from a compilation album released by the wonderful Fruits de Mer record label, RE-EVOLUTION: FdM SINGS THE HOLLIES, released in 2012, on which they invited artists on their roster to imagine what The Hollies would have sounded like if they'd spent more time East of Darlington, Graham Nash hadn't packed his kaftan and left for the West Coast and EMI had given them all unlimited time in Abbey Road, unlimited quantities of drugs and unlimited access to Norman Smith. The Hollies, of course, were always slightly embarrassed about their flirtation with psychedelia (Graham Nash notwithstanding), preferring a pint of beer with the lads, but Elevated Observations, taken from their 1967 release BUTTERFLY, all backward cymbals, tape loops and primeval Moog noodling, is the perfect fit for Tausig’s sitar-laden odyssey.

BALDUIN     LEAVE TO SEE THE LIGHT


Swiss multi-instrumentalist Balduin’s most recent album, BOHEMIAN GARDEN, released last year, is an absolute gem of kaleidoscopically arranged psych-pop loveliness, featuring baroque arrangements with SMILE-era Brian Wilson production wizardry. The result is an album tripped out wonder and dreamy introspection that puts one in mind of pretty ballerinas dancing atop rococo jewellery boxes hidden away in dusty attics lit by kaleidoscopic rays of light filtered through cobwebbed stain-glass windows.

THE DANDELION     DADDY LONGLEGS


The enchantingly playful Daddy Longlegs is taken from album SEEDS, FLOWERS AND THE MAGICAL POWERS OF THE DANDELION, the second LP by whimsical Australian pagan folksters The Dandelion in 2015. It’s a collection of musical spells projecting images of galactic space travel, pagan witchcraft, love, ethereal energies and a blend of east meets west rhythms and melodies. It’s an enchanting mix, featuring lush textures of fuzzed out guitar, menacing circus organs, sitar flourishes and airy flute lines that are both familiar and incredibly foreign. It’s good – I like it.

ALICE COOPER     BEAUTIFUL FLYAWAY


This is the dainty pretty one on an album that’s otherwise snarling proto-punk, proto-glam and proto-heavy rock. Alice Cooper’s second album was pretty much proto-everything. They could have gone in any direction (they’re still playing around with some psychedelic tropes) but, of course, they went heavy. Released in 1970 EASY ACTION was a critical and commercial failure but this was the album that laid the foundation for the rise of one of the most controversial and spectacular rock n’ roll bands of the 70’s, as well as one of the most recognised and acknowledged rock legends of all time. SCHOOL’S OUT was two years away.

KENNELMUS     MONOLOGUE


In the early 70's Kennelmus was Arizona's only psych/surf band. Their only album, FOLKSTONE PRISM, released in 1971, is an aural trip coloured with dreamy acoustic strumming, mutated surf guitar, a percussion line lifted from Tomorrow Never Knows, trippy segues, backward instrumentals, found sounds, vocal gibberish, low-tech electronics and a fake radio newsreel. Side one is mostly instrumental, side 2 has the songs, although the album appears to be conceived as one long piece. Originally released as a vanity run of a thousand copies, the band had trouble even giving these away and their unique take on blistering psychedelia was lost to the baked desert sands – although you did get the impression that a nascent Butthole Surfers must have owned a copy.


PHIL CORNELL     RED LADY


This is an absolute cracking b-side to the otherwise largely forgettable single Pumping The Water, released in 1969. He was one of those artists who couldn’t get arrested in England but who found success in the likes of Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands (where he appears to have been better known as Dan the Banjo Man).

ME AND MY KITES     DULL SKY (FOR CM ON A PERFECT DAY)


Swedish psych-folk project ME AND MY KITES was born in the spring of 2012, and from what I understand some 20 musicians from a number of different bands contributed to what would be Me and My Kites debut album, LIKE A DREAM BACK THEN, which was released in 2013. NATT O DAG, released earlier this year, is their third album and one very much at home to their influences – Caravan, Fuchsia, Kevin Ayres and The Soft Machine, to name just a few, are all present and this is no bad thing, of course. As is often the case with your Nordic acid-folk, the songs have an autumnal warmth to them - keyboard instruments like the Mellotron, piano and electric harpsichord are allowed space to breathe, the arrangements are elegant, the production lush, and at some points on the album you have up to 10 people harmonizing and the effect is dazzling. Lovely album.

JON HOPKINS      FEEL FIRST LIFE


Jon Hopkins can do squelching techno, but on his most recent release, SINGULARITY, released earlier this year, he takes us, instead, on an altogether different journey – a spellbinding psychedelic trip that takes in highly intricate, glitchy beats and combines them with an organic, and even classical sensibility. It’s a gorgeous trip, and a deeply introspective one – at points along the way you will lose yourself in moments of transcendent beauty, like on the mesmerizing Feel First Life which comes close to a religious experience by working with the London Voices choir.

TULUUM SHIMMERING     THE ONE THAT TOUCHED THE SKY PT. 2


Tuluum Shimmering (Jake Webster to his mum) is something of a one-man transcendental-ambient-drone band whose loop-driven music enjoys a timeless ethnic quality, but not one you’d be able to assign to any region of tradition. His most recent release, THE ONE THAT TOUCHED THE SKY is essentially one long piece divided into two parts, although one of those parts comes in at slightly over an hour or so. Recorded onto a 4-track cassette recorder for an added hauntological feel, The One That Touched The Sky Pt. 2 is the shorter of the two pieces (it comes in at a lean 30 minutes) and features homemade tamboura, various flutes, Roland digital piano, hand drums, vocals, Tibetan singing bowl, snake charmer, rattle and saxophone run, via a mixer, through a multi-FX pedal into a 30-second looper, and out to an amp. It’s an extraordinary sound – almost entirely meditative, so enjoy losing yourself in this one.

MODERN STUDIES    THE HOUSE


The House is taken from album WELCOME STRANGERS, released earlier this year, the second album by Scottish band Modern Studies, and a curiously compelling affair it is too, presenting modern pop music as something that 60s chamber-pop may have evolved into had it made its way to Perthshire. Classicism meets experimentalism - the band used a Creative Scotland grant to hire a chamber orchestra and a remote village hall to record them in, and contributors include sisters, wives, toddlers, freeform saxophonists and The Pumpkinseeds, an ensemble featuring violins, violas, cellos, trombones and vocals, brought together to play the band’s collaborative string, brass and vocal arrangements. The songs are unconventional, sometimes anthemic, sometimes exotic; trippy Mellotron and eastern percussion give way to flashes of gypsy violin, deeply resonant cello and booming sousaphone, jangling guitar to quietly stirring orchestral arrangements – it’s an album equally at home to Kate Bush as it is Broadcast, awash with moments of askew pastoral pop grandeur.

KEITH CHRISTMAS     FOREST AND SHORE



Back in the day, of course, no one knew they were recording ‘acid folk’, it’s an appellation that was attached retrospectively to describe folk that had passed through the blender of the 60s and come out the other side with some psychedelic adornments attached – but it may have been invented to describe the music of Keith Christmas. Christmas recorded five albums in the 70s – Forest and Shore is taken from his 1971 release, PIGMY – but he was doomed to remain in the shadows. Orchestrated by the great Robert Kirby it has a deep, wooded sound that places it somewhere between a Ligeti choral piece arranged by Vaughan Williams (or perhaps the other way round) and is as sublime a piece of pastoral-psych that you are ever likely to hear.