Tuesday, 20 February 2018



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

LSD is known to have caused psychosis, in people who have never used it
                                                                                                - Timothy Leary


I recently read an article which argued that a distinct line can be drawn from the French impressionist composers all the way through to the early Pink Floyd albums and the Rolling Stones’ 2000 Light Years From Home. Along the way that line will take in the early Exotica recordings of Martin Denny and Les Baxter, which are antecedents of psychedelia by virtue of their projection of an alternate reality that is almost real, and, more particularly, the sub-genre of Space Exotica, which provide a multi-layered, cinematic sense of wide-eyed wonder and escapism that has an almost-real quality today, what with space stations circling the Earth and our probes reaching further and further into the galaxy. With this in mind I borrow from the album MAN IN SPACE WITH SOUNDS outrageously throughout the show. Recorded in 1961 by space-age pop composer and arranger Attilio Mineo, it was released as a novelty item to commemorate the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and seamlessly combines modernistic impressionist compositions with alien-sounding effects laboriously produced on pre-Moog electronic instruments.
And while that itself blends seamlessly into the next track I play an excerpt from Allen Ginsberg reading his LSD poem Wales Visitation to host William Buckley, live on TV in 1968. I return to the poem several times throughout the show.


Yatha Sidhra remain one of the lesser known krautrock acts, possibly because they only released the one record which, in itself, only contained one track – the aptly titled A MEDITATION MASS, released in 1974 - a pastoral, eastern jazz-influenced instrumental, stretched over four parts that segue almost seamlessly into one another. It’s a strange mystical experience , very dreamy and hypnotic, that slowly ebbs and flows through a strange cosmic drift of sounds: washes of cymbals, vaguely ethnic percussions, a flute, vibes, and other sounds, even some group chanting with electronically treated voices, while the guitar weaves steadily to keep it together as it slowly builds up. It’s a beautiful and ecstatic musical journey, taking in acid folk, space rock and a discreet jazzy vibe that you can lose yourself in. At over 17 minutes long, Part 1 presents a marvellous start to the show.


The Attack were freak-beat mods who would possibly have had more success if vocalist Richard Sherman hadn’t had to regroup the band from scratch 3 times. What should have been their breakthrough single, Hi-Ho-Silver-Lining, was co-opted by the newly formed Jeff Beck Group who took it to the top of the charts a week after The Attack’s own release, although, in fairness, Jeff Beck’s version probably had the edge (what with The Attack’s version featuring a clarinet solo for the middle eight in contrast to the brief burn of a Jeff Beck guitar solo). The record company wouldn’t even release Magic In The Air, an otherwise perfect track for 1967, because it was deemed too heavy for the charts, and a proposed album never made it off the ground, so that was pretty much that for the band, doomed to be a footnote in the history of psychedelic music – early guitarist Davy O’List went off to join The Nice. All of those tracks recorded for their only album have since been collected, however, and can be found on the album ‘ABOUT TIME: THE DEFINITIVE MOD-POP COLLECTION 1967-1968’, released in 2006.


This marvellous track – all vintage phasers, a binson echorec echo machine and backwards oscillations – is the bonus track made available for everyone who bought the band’s 2017 release, the A LOVELY CUPPA TEA EP, released by the ever reliable Fruits De Mer record label.


This is by no means my favourite version of this scintillating record (that would be the version recorded by Les Fluer De Lys fronted by Sharon Tandy in 1967, the one which virtually invented The Primitives and all girl-fronted indie bands thereafter), but little known Ipsissimus, a psych-rock band from Barking, Essex, of all places, pull out all the fuzz and wah-wah pedals on this blistering 1969 single. John Peel gave the record plenty of exposure on his Perfumed Garden radio show but the single sold poorly and Ipsissimus never set foot in a recording studio again.


A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, released in 1968, was Pink Floyd’s transitional album following Syd Barrett’s mental unravelling from the band, and, indeed, reality. Recorded during a difficult transition period between the recruiting of David Gilmour and eviction of Barrett, this is the sound of a band finding their way ahead – they try their hand at a couple of Syd-like songs (Corporal Clegg and See-Saw, say) but also begin to develop their experimental space-rock direction suggested by Interstellar Overdrive from their debut album, which would come to dominate their sound over the next few years. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun is, in fact, the only recording of all five band members playing together. After this, all routes eventually lead to DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.

I follow this with an ambient found-sound piece I created which is essentially the sound of me driving to the shops. The song playing on the radio is the Fun Boy Three’s brilliant cover of The Door’s The End, recorded live in 1983 for the largely forgotten TV show Switch which briefly replaced The Tube on Friday evenings.


Jefferson Airplane opened 1967 with SURREALISTIC PILLOW and finished it with AFTER BATHING AT BAXTERS. In between they’d taken a huge amount of LSD and pushed their sound about as far out as it was possible to go. Grace Slick's gorgeous Rejoyce is a hauntingly beautiful excursion into literary psychedelia, a protest-cabaret adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses carrying the Lewis Carroll literary allusions of the previous album's White Rabbit into startlingly new and wonderful (if discursive) directions and depths. It also features one of my favourite lines from any Jefferson Airplane song – “war’s good business, so give your sons, but I’d rather have my country die for me”, a righteous fuck-you to consumerism and the military-industrial complex, which pretty much sums up the hippie disillusion with the day-glo life promised at the beginning of the year.


A fantastic bit of pastoral chamber-prog at its most pastoraly and chamber-progiest – the 12 minute Dark Now My Sky, taken from their eponymous debut album released in 1970, ticks all the right boxes: pompous poetry reading, an isolated overture-like orchestral  passage, hymnal vocals, a barrage of guitars, and swelling Mellotron flourishes. Barclay James Harvest never received the critical recognition of the Moody Blues or Procol Harum – possibly because they were never too ashamed to borrow from them – and the record buying public never really seems to have taken them to their hearts, but they had a knack for writing hook-laden songs built on pretty melodies, they harmonized like the Beatles and weren’t afraid to rock out. I’ve not heard any of their later stuff but all fans of your psych-prog should check out their first album. It bombed at the time, of course.


If this track sounds familiar at all, it’s because The Chemical Brothers sampled it in It Doesn't Matter on their album DIG YOUR OWN HOLE. Other than that, Lothar and The Hand People are one of the more pleasantly obscure groups I’ve played on Mind De-Coder. Lothar was the nickname for their Theremin, an instrument they pioneered along with the Moog Modular synthesiser, thus paving the way for much of the electronic experimentalism in music that was to follow. Their debut album PRESENTING…LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE, released in 1968, is a curious combination of primitive electronica, blue-eyed psychedelic soul, freak-out Appalachian weirdness, Lovin’ Spoonful pop catchiness, folk, and tripped-out beatnik comedy music. Despite coming from New York they were too light-hearted for the Velvet Underground crowd, and too weird for the folk clubs, so they struggled to find an audience. Cult status beckoned.


On the face of it, the story of flying teapots, gnomes and pixies could be taken as evidence of doped-out hippie excess, but Gong’s third album FLYING TEAPOT (RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE PT. 1), released in 1973, appears to have been inspired by an observation from Bertrand Russell, who argued that, if he were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there was a china teapot revolving around the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove his assertion. Gong founder Daevid Allen took this concept and wove it into a trilogy of albums that take in all sorts of concepts from sexual liberation to Freudian self-analysis, Zen Buddhism, and, it must be said, the adventures of pot head pixies from the Planet Gong. The album is an exotic mix of synth effects, odd timings, sublime weirdness, wigged-out free form space jazz, American TV jazz with funky bass, syncopated drum breaks and children’s entertainers with adult story lines. It was a magical combination that laid out the Gong credentials space-psych-jazz prog overlords and there’s never been anything else quite like it.


On his most recent vinyl release (as opposed to his most recent CD release) CATEARED CHOCOLATIERS, Moon Wiring Club’s Ian Hodgson rolls the dice on a thoroughly elusive sequence of eldritch sound, using the PS1’s FX to emulate melted shellac, gaggles of ghosts and the imagined environmental sounds of an eerie parallel dimension that lies just behind our own reality.
I use this track as a springboard into a spacey tripped-out excursion that includes…


While putting the show together The Fall’s Mark E Smith sadly passed beyond the veil leaving a trail of some 70 or so studio albums behind him (not to mention some 40 compilation albums, 13 EPs and 46 singles) which by any standards is quite a haul. It pales in comparison, however, when compared to the mighty Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO who, since 1995, have released over 200 albums of fucked-up anthems from outer space. The credits for their most recent release, last year’s WANDERING THE OUTER SPACE, include a midnight whistler, speed guru, noodle god and ‘another dimension’, all of which seem to appear in The Targeted Planet, which is full of SETI-like going’s on from the fifth dimension, arcade sound effects, and vocalist Jyonson Tsu’s extemporaneous Yoko Ono-isms that sound like we’re being visited by a sister from another planet. We probably are. There will never be another Mark E Smith, but I can’t imagine there being another Acid Mothers Temple either. Probably just as well.


Creation Rebel’s STARSHIP AFRICA, released in 1980, is dub’s fabled psychedelic album - an album compared to releases by the likes of Tangerine Dream and the Grateful Dead -  and a sci-fi dub soundtrack for a film that was never made. Conceived by dub legend Adrian Sherwood, its gestation comes with a convoluted back story concerning highly regarded reggae artists I’ve never heard of and the semi-mythical lost tapes taken from the original recording session that have disappeared into the mists of time. Produced and arranged by Sherwood, the album employs some truly wild phasing and echo. Indeed, his 4D Rhythms partner Chris Garland allegedly spent most of the session encouraging Sherwood to take the effects as far from the norm as he could, to the ultimate extent of mixing the tracks blind. The result is a truly spaced-out dub experience that, spread over just two tracks (albeit broken down into five and four movements apiece), stands among the most intriguing of all Sherwood's earliest creations.


The Boo Radleys were one of Creation’s most cruelly under-rated bands, consistently over-looked when compared to the likes of Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine or Ride, and yet responsible for one of Creation’s greatest releases, 1994’s GIANT STEPS - a melting pot of dub, noise rock, sixties psychedelia, jazz, ambient and dance combined to form the quintessential eclectic 90s album. This is the 12” version of Lazarus, a gorgeous sprawling dub epic that explodes into forlorn psych-noise loveliness.


The Spectrum were a relatively unknown British act who couldn’t get arrested in England despite producing the music for the closing credits of the Gerry Anderson-produced series Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons. They even had a weekly comic strip based on their ‘adventures’ running in Lady Penelope, a tie-in with Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, but none of their singles charted (they had success with one single in Spain in 1967). Music Soothes The Savage Breast is the b-side to their rather opportunistic cover of The Beatles’ Ob La Di Ob La Da, which shows how desperate they were getting for a hit in 1968. No one knows why some bands fail and others succeed, but The Spectrum were doomed to fail. Drummer  Keith Forsey met with considerably more success later when he wrote Don’t You Forget About Me for Simple Minds, and the theme to Flashdance, as well as being Giorgio Moroder's drummer of choice during his groundbreaking  Donna Summer period.

DORU BELU      ATTRACTION 2 (excerpt)

 Russian hauntology from the mysterious Doro Belu, about whom I know nothing. Is it a he, a she, or a they? Even the Bandcamp page is unforthcoming, so all I can give you is a few minutes of the trackミラナ'влечение 2  (attraction 2)  from the recent release карие глаза встречают ясность в бюро. быть может, ей не стоило здесь находиться так долго (or BROWN EYES MEET CLARITY AT THE BUREAU. PERHAPS SHE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO STAY HERE FOR SO LONG) released last year and available for download here. It’s an unusual affair, typically hauntological in sound but with an entirely different set of reference points, dominated by a single sound flow directed by gentle whispers, distant melodies and noises. I suspect something was lost in the translation.


Legendary producer Joe Boyd always fancied the idea of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan working together, but it was not to be. This lovely cover of Drake’s Thoughts Of Mary Jane, recorded with Gareth Dickson, a Scottish singer whose timeless folk gems are steeped in the ethereal sound worlds of ambient and drone flourishes, can be found on the recent CD GREEN LEAVES – NICK DRAKE COVERED, that accompanied the Mach 2018 issue of Mojo magazine.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018


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

Mind – how you go’
                                                           Roger McGough (Poem for National LSD Week)


 The big thing about The Idle Race, of course, was that were formed by Jeff Lynne, who would later go on to find fame with The Move and ELO. His first album, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, released in 1968, was a quasi-concept album composed almost entirely by Lynne himself, and was critically lauded at the time but, rather unjustly, unembraced by the listening public, which is a pity because it has much to recommend it. It’s a cheerfully trippy affair and, given Lynne’s presence, the music enjoys a Beatles-like playfulness with many psychedelic flourishes. The original LP came in a gatefold sleeve, the first of its kind since the Beatles' SGT. PEPPER and the Rolling Stones' THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST albums, and included a mock birthday feast attended by many British celebrities, including most of the Radio 1 disc jockeys (you can clearly see a largely reluctant Jon Peel lurking in the corner, oh, and look, there’s Jimmy Saville – not lurking at all), the Beatles, the Duke of Windsor, actor Warren Mitchell in his role as Alf Garnett, and Lynne himself as an eight-year-old schoolboy. It was re-issued in 2014 for Record Store Day, in a limited edition on gold vinyl and was worth every penny.


 While I was putting the show together I came across the sad news that Ray Thomas, flautist, vocalist and founding member of the Moody Blues, died recently at the age of 76 (so he had a good innings). Among many very fine tracks, he was also responsible for Legend of a Mind, recorded here by The Chemistry Set for a three-track 7" for the wonderful Fruitsde Mer record label called A LOVELY CUPPA TEA, released last year. It’s super cool, and do check out the video – it doesn’t disappoint.


What I’m choosing to call ‘the good one’ from last years WHO BUILT THE MOON, although in fairness this David Holmes produced album has a little more going for it than his normal coke-addled trad-dad updates of MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR. Interlude is all moody and cinematic; the sort of thing Paul Weller was doing with his Noonday Underground collaborator Simon Dine.


Grumbling Fur's fourth album FUNFOUR, released 2016, is a recording rich in musical experimentation and sonic enquiry, that sounds pretty much like a world unto itself – there’s really not much of a precedent for this type of noise but somehow it still remains a pop album. In fact, it’s pretty much a masterclass in modern psychedelia, taking the exploratory spirit of 1967 as a starting point and not slavishly trying to recreate the noise in Syd Barrett’s head. Molten Familiar has a trippy psychedelic hip-hop rhythm that wouldn't feel out of place on a Madlib release, but overall but it distils a multitude of influences into a singular brand of musical mysticism.


 This track is taken from the fourth of no less than five album releases by the ‘Gizzard’s’ last year, and the one which was made available for an entirely free download from their website. In fact, POLYGONDWANALAND came with a note encouraging fans to “Make tapes, make CD’s, make records…We do not own this record. You do. Go forth, share, enjoy”, which was very nice of them, I’m sure you’ll agree. As for releasing 5 albums in one year – I just wish more bands had this kind of boundless enthusiasm for making music instead of having us wait five years between releases while they release every track from the album as a single in a venal attempt to wrestle every last penny from their listening public. I mean, The Beatles released six albums between 1963 and 1965, as did the Stones between 1964 and 1967, so it’s not outside the realms of possibility, is it? Clearly, however, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are emitting, packing this album with intricate, overlapping grooves, unfamiliar time signatures, tranced-out flutes, blazing metal riffs, raga-drone organs, and ominous vintage-synth tones – at some point they even attempt Gregorian chants. They’ve probably released two more albums in the length of time it took me to write this.


Often painted as a drug-addled dilettante by 1967, Brian Jones actually enjoyed quite a prolific year, despite unwelcome attention from the press and their servants, the London constabulary. As well as providing THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST with much of its otherworldly vibe with his use of the mellotron and experimental sound effects, he also composed the soundtrack to the cult German film, ‘A Degree of Murder’, starring his then girlfriend Anita Pallenberg as a young woman who accidentally kills her ex-lover during a fight and she decides to conceal the body (comic capers ensue when she falls for both the men she hires to take it away). Bizarrely, no soundtrack has ever been released –an absurd state of affairs considering that it also featured the likes of Jimmy Page on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Kenny Jones on drums. Its release would be considered something of a cultural artefact in and of itself, regardless of the fact that this would be the only time that Jones recorded outside of the Stones, which would also make it a fascinating insight into just what he could have brought to the table had Jagger and Richards not had the song-writing credits pretty much sewn up. In the meantime, the only way you can hear the soundtrack is to watch the movie, which is why this track has no title and sounds a little muffled. I thought perhaps you’d be interested, nevertheless.


The first of several tracks taken from two new albums by Ian Hodgson’s Moon Wiring Club, although one is the disorientating limited edition vinyl version to the other. Smudged Confectioniers is taken from the album CATEARED CHOCOLATIERS, a thoroughly elusive sequence of eldritch sound, using the PS1’s FX to emulate melted shellac, gaggles of ghosts and the imagined environmental sounds of an eerie parallel dimension that lies just behind our own reality. It accompanies a the 2-CD release TANTALISING MEWS, released last year, more of which later.


EUCAPLYPTUS, released last year by Avey Tare (Animal Collective’s Dave Portner), is an unsettling listen, sonically rich with a sound palette that disconnects and reconnects in playfully weird patterns. Odd noises haunt Coral Lords, a treatise on marine ecology (of course) about how the death of coral reefs are the first sign that “our ouroboros is almost complete.”; elsewhere the album’s woozy transcendental soundscapes make for a disorientating listen – acid-folk acoustic-ness, sonic weirdness and neo-psychedelic loveliness abound.


 Serpent Power are the combined efforts of the Coral's Ian Skelly and Paul Molloy, who used to play guitar for the Zutons as well. Their second album, last year’s ELECTRIC LOONYLAND, is a swirling, whirling delight, that places them somewhere between Temples, early Tame Impala and current Mind De-Coder favourites King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, bringing an infectious sound of overstuffed arrangements, snaking melodies and slick harmonies to the mix. The album is a joy to behold, despite the daft title, that puts one in mind of the psychedelic excesses of 1968, when music fused with cosmic awareness, and the resulting universe was just a fab place to exist. (n.b This album is the winner of the 'least promising' cover award)

(A bit of a hauntological happening I put together)


In 2016 Meg Baird, formerly of acid-folk collective Espers, teamed up noise rock band Comets On Fire to form Heron Oblivion, an often cosmic meeting of the two forms that manages to sound for all the world like Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior fronting a doom metal band from the 1990s and is all the more astonishing for it. Their eponymously titled album combines the hushed and the pastoral with monolithic slabs of unhinged guitar driven catharsis that is mind-blowingly psychedelic whilst slipping seamlessly from the earthly into the supernatural.


As Your Hollows fades away into a cloud of reverb, I include a 3 second poem from Roger McGough, recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with Scaffold and released on the album of the same name in 1968.


Having been bought a copy of the The Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary Edition of THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST to revel in, I thought the very least I could do was attempt a reassessment of an album I’d always considered to be a largely disappointing drug-addled dirge. Having done so, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you remove the virtually unlistenable Sing This All Together (See What Happens) and the second ‘experimental’ half of Gomper, and throw in We Love You and its b-side Dandelion in their place, you’ve got yourself a rather fine psychedelic album that, in She’s A Rainbow and 2,000 Thousand Light Years From Home, adds two classic songs to the psychedelic canon (as it were). Recent listens have also revealed Citadel’s previously hidden pleasures, notable for being one of the few songs on the album driven by a vintage Richards riff.


The English band Kaleidoscope were unjustly neglected by the 60s, and yet produced two great albums under that name which at the very least should be as well known as the likes of The Pretty Things SF SORROW and The Small Faces OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE. This mind-blowing track - a psychedelic cacophony with the chorus fading in and out, and a quick choral burst of Hark the Herald Angels Sing - can be found on Kaleidoscope’s second album FAINTLY BLOWING, released in 1969.


The Dandelion's debut album, THE STRANGE CASE OF THE DANDELION, released in 2013, contains 13 musical spells of folk, psychedelia and multi-dimensional channellings. The side project of Dolly Rocker Movement frontman Daniel Poulter, this album scratches a particular itch, one imagines, celebrating flower power and the first summer of love incorporating groovy patchouli-scented organ work, dexterous flute play, exotic eastern ripples and the occasional Bolan boogie style guitar riff that oozes with tripped out dreaminess.


I essentially use this track as a bit of filler, but it’s a gorgeously haunted piece nevertheless. It’s taken from PHANTOM BRICKWORKS, released last year, an album of spectral ambient soundscapes which present the listener with less of an album of music and more of a series of spaces. Bibio himself (Stephen Wilkinson to his mum) notes that these pieces “have provided me with a mental portal into places and times - some real, some imaginary, some a combination of both.” The emotions created by these places are nostalgic, curious and intense. PHANTOM BRICKWORKS often sounds like a time lapse recording of the disintegration of these places over time.


Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards have recently added Esper’s Helena Espvall to the band and set about recording an album for the Ghost Box record label, which should be enough to have everyone reaching for their piggy bank. Aquarius is the first track from the album, THE INVISIBLE WORLD OF BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS (to be released this coming March) and it’s a lush, lysergic slice of psych-pop loveliness with Espvall casting an entrancing spell over the recording. Gorgeous.


"The Weather Clock is inspired by a lost post-war Mid-20thC Britain and a fixation with the design and architecture of the period," says Anthony Harding, which more or less puts him hauntological territory, with an emphasis on the cultural and emotional geography of post-war Britain, whose disappearing traces are woven into The Weather Clock's aural tapestry like an absent presence. Holiday To Wales (Fegla Fawr Version) can be found on the 2008 release THE WEATHER CLOCK EP, an eight track release that accompanies THE WEATHER CLOCK album proper. Both releases contain slow motion, atmospheric pieces that offer fading, blurry sound-postcards from a largely imagined past. These are sepia-tinted soundscapes featuring the wireless, static, dew, leaves, playing fields, paving stones, hopscotch, afternoon tea and things of that nature generally. Obviously, I’m a fan.


Two small pieces from the new double CD by the Moon Wiring Club who, on his new release TANTALISING MEWS, re-enters a world of sinister whimsy and oneiric eccentricity that unfolds as part of a snakes & ladders-like board game based on a dream by the artist involving decayed discount carpet shops and missed trains. The typically surreal sounds on the two discs are intended as a background musicke for the game, with 2hr 11mins of smeared ambient inference and twilight tones that directly correspond to the mysterious Mews of the title - “one of those streets or lanes that you pass every day… the architecture doesn’t quite fit in and it probably looks a bit too swanky for the postcode” - with track numberings designed as integral to the game, whilst also adding a lot of psychedelic complication.

I pretty much use the two tracks as filler for another hauntological happening I prepared, which features, amongst other morsels, an excerpt from the song All Through The Night by Barbara Lea and Bucky Pizzarelli, from the album YOU’RE THE TOP: COLE PORTER IN THE 1930s, a defiant record crackle, the talking clock, and the recording of Malaysian nightlife as I walked back to my hotel one recent Friday night in Kuala Lumpur, which in themselves fade away into Holidays To Wales in reverse.


I’M A HARMONY is Linda Perhacs second album in 3 years and her third in 47 years, so at 74 years of age she appears to be on a bit of a roll. Belatedly lauded for her diaphanously lovely debut album PARALLELOGRAMS, Perhacs has found a new audience (well, in 1970 she didn’t have any sort of audience at all) and new collaborators, including avant garde performer Julia Holter and producer/remixer Mark Pritchard to expand her sound, whilst still creating music that can only be referred to as spectral and prismatic. You Wash My Soul In Sound is so exquisite it trembles like a petal in a shower, or something as equally tremulous and simile like.


You wouldn’t normally expect to find Bjork on a Mind De-Coder, but her new album, UTOPIA, is filled with choral vocals, flutes and birdsong and a captivating lush otherworldliness. The birdsong comes from original field recordings by Björk herself but were also sampled from David Toop's 1980 album, HEKURA; its orchestration is carried by a small flute ensemble, the all-female Icelandic Hamrahlid Choir, and  both give way to bright splashes of electronics, beatific-sounding harp chords and cascading beats. It really sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before. I understand that she plans to re-release the album later this year with added flutes.


This tremendous track, known as the Ear To The Ground Suite, is taken from the band’s second album, the enticingly entitled IF I COULD DO IT AGAIN, I’D DO IT ALL OVER YOU, released in 1970 during that period in which underground psychedelia was morphing into prog. As part of the Canterbury scene Caravan were already ahead of the game in this regard with extended instrumental passages weaving in and out of each other, creating a hypnotic and otherwise psychedelic soundscape that would become a trademark of the Canterbury sound. It’s highly melodic, easy to listen, but also very ambitious and highly progressive, featuring several extended pieces which never sound bloated or unnecessary but instead dedicate themselves to a beautiful celebration of youth and innocence.


Kevin Ayers' debut album, JOY OF A TOY, released in 1969 following his departure from fellow Canterbury scenesters Soft Machine, offers a clear indication of how Soft Machine might have progressed under Ayers' tenure, especially as he’s accompanied on much of the LP by the group itself. It’s a delightfully whimsical affair featuring Ayer’s lazy charm, avant-garde song construction, an affection for bizarre instrumentation and songs that seemingly belong to a long-gone era featuring girls on swings, cannibal cakes, castles and careening trains. Everyone mentions Syd Barrett when they talk about Julian Cope’s early solo material, but I think there’s more than a touch of Kevin Ayers there too.


I have no idea who or what a wafwer is. Is it a name? Is it a Swedish name? Is it even Swedish? Who knows? Tages are Swedish, however, and in 1967 released the marvellously freaky STUDIO, an album both indebted to SGT. PEPPER’S and traditional Swedish folk music. The resulting sound finds it sitting rather closer to ODYSSEY & ORACLE than SGT. PEPPER’S, and because of their innovative use of tape cuts, orchestration, harmonies, and studio tricks, it even sounds like they got their hands on a copy of Brian Wilson’s unreleased SMILE tapes.


You can almost smell the joss-sticks and the musky scent of patchoulli drenched paisley pillows on this one. The blissful Strawberries Mean Love can be found on INCENSE AND PEPPERMINTS, the debut album by Strawberry Alarm Clock, a band whose image practically defined both the musical as well as peripheral aspects of the psychedelic counterculture. Released in towards the end of 1967, this was an album aimed straight at the Flower Children who lapped it up, but over time Strawberry Alarm Clock have become generally regarded as one hit wonders, never being able to match the gorgeously trippy title track, a song that which today is virtually the tonal equivalent of a Summer of Love flashback.


The Citradels are an anti-psych industrial wimp rock band from Melbourne. Their new album, GOD BLESS, their eighth, was self-released earlier this year and explores, in an abstract fashion, explores themes of influence, religion and morality through characters from a small town gradually falling out of touch with its surrounds.  It does this in a fashion that takes in doo-wop to dream pop, krautrock to country and Gregorian chant to shoegaze circulated through layers of shimmering reverb. The term psych-pop harmonies may have been invented for it.


And to conclude, a return to Kevin Ayer’s evocatively indolent JOY OF A TOY, because I enjoy it so much.


Cut-n-paste derring-do from Fortyone, a man who clearly needs to get out more. This is from the album A PACKAGE FROM WAYNE BUTANE, released in 2006, but in truth all his albums sound like this. It’s like listening to cartoons on the radio. Check out his entire back catalogue and download it all for free.