Sunday, 13 May 2018

MIND DE-CODER 77

MIND DE-CODER 77
To  listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page

“When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?”
                                                                                                ― Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic


FRANZ FERDINAND     ALWAYS ASCENDING


Not strictly psychedelia per se but you’d have to be a hard-hearted soul not to enjoy Franz Ferdinand’s deployment of the Shepard tone on this cracking tune, which is pretty much the best thing they’ve done in years. Always Ascending is, of course, the title of the band’s fifth album, released earlier this year, and whilst the introduction of Julian Corrie, better known as Miaoux, the Glasgow-based electronic musician, on keyboards doesn’t alter their sound as much as some might have hoped (me, for example), this is undeniably a killer track.

MOBY GRAPE     OMAHA


I’ve never been a great fan of Moby Grape. Despite enjoying no less than five singer-songwriters in the band I’ve never felt that they were really big on tunes. This puts me at odds with the rest of the critical community who lauded their debut album, released eponymously in 1967, as one of the great West Coast psychedelic masterpieces and every bit the equal to albums by The Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane, but I remain unconvinced. That being said, Omaha has an infectious Beatles-on-speed energy to it that makes it a riveting listen. Scuppered by bad management, a bizarre record company promotion that saw 10 of the album’s 13 tracks simultaneously released as singles, and a scandalous drugs bust, Moby Grape pretty much crashed on arrival. These days Moby Grape are remembered as contenders, a cult band whose story has taken on something of a mythic quality, and that’s before we even get to the story of Skip Spence, high on LSD, trying to kill his fellow bandmates Jerry Miller and Don Stevenson with a fire axe. On the whole, however, I prefer Jefferson Airplane.

BIG BROTHER AND THE HOLDING COMPANY     BALL AND CHAIN


I’m no great fan of the blues, either, but Big Brother and the Holding Company’s take on Big Mama Thornton’s Ball and Chain is simply colossal and impossible to ignore. Janis Joplin’s vocal delivery left absolutely no stone unturned in squeezing every drop of emotion and nuance out of the tune, caressing lines during the verses, yet erupting into searing shouts, stutters, and moans during the choruses. It’s the closing track to 1968’s CHEAP THRILLS, the LP that made stars of Big Brother and Joplin, and the only live recording on the album, despite the rest of the album being produced to sound live. Big Brother and The Holding Company were a heavy blues band and Janis a psychedelic singer – or was it the other way round – but with CHEAP THRILLS (its original title was intended to be ‘Sex, Dope And Cheap Thrills’ but their record company were all over that like a rash) they created an album of far-reaching, soul-searching power that transcended either label. 

CHILDREN     GREAT RIVER


The title track from the album GREAT RIVER, by L.A. based five-piece Children, lasts less than 2 minutes but is nonetheless quite gorgeous. Released in 2015, and recorded in Mississippi (hence the title, I suppose), an analogue haze spills over everything filling a deep pool of lush sounds to dive into.

ARTHUR AHBEZ     SLOW TRAIN COMIN’


Another blues track (with a proper blues title as well) but I’m but I’m giving myself a break because 1) this is very fine indeed, and 2) it’s NZ Music Month, and Arthur Ahbez, a lost soul in the spirit of song, is a New Zealand artist who does a very fine line in jazz, folk, psychedelia and Neil Young acoustic balladry. Slow Train Comin’ is taken from his debut album GOLD, released in 2013. Full of haunting ballads to vast, acid tempered instrumentals this is an album that channels 50 years of acid-folk loveliness in its grooves from Davey Graham to Devendra Banhart and is really quite an immersive listen.

PARTICLE KID     THE OCEAN


Particle Kid, or J Micah Nelson to his mum (or probably just Micah, or possibly just J, I suppose), describes himself as an artist, musician, animator, cymatician (look it up) and explorer so he’s something of a polymath whose eponymous debut album, released last year, contains, as you might expect, the spirit of future folk, low rider funk, riff rock, power pop, lysergic Americana, flower punk, progressive jazz fusion, and Laurel Canyon psychedelia all somehow woven together with deep-rooted melodies, unique improvisational elements, and remarkably intricate arrangements. The Ocean is one of the most wistful and lovely songs I’ve heard in ages. It just makes me yearn right along with him. Have I mentioned that his dad is Willie Nelson?


BOO RADLEYS     BLUES FOR GEORGE MICHAEL


Not blues at all, but an engagingly tripped out paean to the man himself, which you can find as one of the extra tracks on the bona fide hit single Wake Up, Boo!, released in 1995. I’ve been really getting into the Boo Radley’s lately. I was a massive fan of the epic GIANT STEPS, but recently I’ve been playing WAKE UP! And C’MON KIDS on repeat. Martin Carr has said that the thing he likes most about this track is that it’s more or less the weirdest thing they’ve ever made and more people own it than all of their other singles put together.

MOON WIRING CLUB     LANGUID TELEPATHY


The title says it all. Ian Hodgson’s CATEARED CHOCOLATIERS, released last year, is a conceptual album that unfolds as part of snakes & ladders-like board game based on a dream by Hodgson involving decaying discount carpet shops and missed trains. Enter a world of sinister whimsy and oneiric eccentricity.

SAVATH Y SAVALAS     RÁDIO LLOCS ESPACIALS

Savath & Savalas is one of the many monikers employed by Guillermo Scott Herren, perhaps best known as Prefuse 73, first adopted following a move to Barcelona where he met and recorded with Catalan singer Eva Puyuelo Muns. This track is taken from their album APROPA’T, released in 2004.  It’s a spectral collaboration of sparse, acid folk songs written in Spanish and Catalan, with Muns’ detached vocals giving the recording a cool, bittersweet feel that places them somewhere between DOTS AND LOOPS-era Stereolab and the hauntologically-inspired pastoral albums of Portugal’s Beautify Junkyards. The songs are insubstantial and nearly weightless, but nonetheless beautiful for all that, recorded using guitar, concertina, bajo sexto and harmonium – think Brasil ’66 under a cloudy sky and you’ll be in the right ballpark.

JESSICA RISKER     CUT MY HAIR


An absolutely gorgeous track, this. I first came across it on YouTube recently and a little research led me to her album I SEE YOU AMONG THE STARS, released a week or two ago. Comprised of eight aural vignettes, the album is a wood-grained, amber-hued world respectfully orbiting influences like Nick Drake, Sibylle Baier, and the softest moments of Broadcast. Paisley fabrics fade beneath an uncovered window, while dust and smoke billow gently through the sunbeams that never fully reach the dark half of the room. Risker, from Chicago, counts herself as a musician, sound designer, and licensed counselor. If the through-line of all psychedelic music is that it casts an inward eye on the subconscious-- and the symbols and emotions therein-- then certainly a mental health care professional is equipped to convey what can be glimpsed in that space. Cut My Hair has a reflective, bruised feel to it, her vocals float ethereally over softly plucked guitar that charms with spectral glamour. Quite lovely.

BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS     GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN


With a title straight out of the Devendra Banhart weird-folk songbook, Beautify Junkyards are joined by Helena Espvall, previously of pastoral-psych collective Espers, who adds the cello to the band’s rich palette of sounds to create a futuristic medieval tapestry, sprinkled with echoes of the Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Stereolab, Os Mutantes and strange pagan gatherings attended by cosmic-acid entities. THE INVISIBLE WORLD OF BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS, released in March, entrances with delicate acoustic guitars evoking an autumnal England suffused with Iberian heat by other-worldly voices; the ethereal lilt of João Branco Kyron and the warm languor of Rita Vian, and a production tempered with a haunted electronic palette that anchors the band squarely in the world of their new label, Ghost Box. I simply love this band.

FAIRFIELD PARLOUR     BY YOUR BEDSIDE


You’ve got to love Kaleidoscope – after three or so years of trying to get arrested by the record-buying public, they simply changed their name to Fairfield Parlour and carried on releasing the same whimsical, fairy tale-ish blend of Pink Floyd-inspired psychedelic pop as before which, for them, sadly meant that the record-buying public continued to ignore them, pretty much as before. By Your Bedside is taken from their debut album as Fairfield Parlour, FROM HOME TO HOME, released in 1970 – long after the fickle record-buying public had lost any interest in whimsical, fairy tale-ish blend of Pink Floyd-inspired psychedelic pop and hence, perhaps, one reason for their lack of success (despite opening the Isle of Wight Festival that year). A shame, really, as the album contained much to enjoy, including tasteful early synthesizer that’s heard from time to time, 1969-era Beatles inspired Leslie amplification effects, and acoustic folk-psych passages with added flute, so, as I say –much to enjoy. Fickle buying bastards, I call ‘em.


 MGMT     WHEN YOU’RE SMALL


I think the fact that MGMT were able to sing this ode to childhood with a straight face demonstrates that they’re still agreeably strange. Their most recent release, LITTLE DARK AGE, has garnered mix reviews – for some it’s too weird, for others it’s not weird enough, but with this Barrett-esque track they manage to hit the whimsical nail of psychedelia right on the head, despite managing to sound like a song the Mighty Boosh would write as an homage to drug music.

OCS     THE BARON SLEEPS AND DREAMS


OCS seems to be something of side-project for the otherwise concussion-inducing Oh Sees, but given the 20-year history of that band, it may just be them returning to their roots. Either way, OCS presents the ultra-quiet and altogether more interesting version of that band in which numbing garage rock gives way to their earlier, folkier incarnation. With its prim, string-cushioned arrangements and nods to the English acid folk of the late ‘60s, MEMORY OF A CUT OFF HEAD, released last year, is a lovely affair, lush and almost uncannily graceful.

MAGPAHI     SHEPSTERS IN THE YESSINS




Alison Cooper, a native of Lancashire, is the otherworldly voice and vision behind the fairytale folk of Magpahi. This track - all starling song and sepia vocals – can be found on the first of this years’ releases (I hope) from the very fine A Year In The Country, titled AUDIO ALBION, a music and field recording map of Britain, which focuses on rural and edgeland areas. Each track contains field recordings from locations throughout the land, found and heard when wandering down pathways, over fields, through marshes, alongside rivers, down into caves and caverns, climbing hills, along coastlands, through remote mountain forestland, amongst the signs of industry and infrastructure and its discarded debris.  In this instance, Cooper helpfully adds the following definitions - Shepsters: Lancashire dialect word for starlings (Sturnus vulgaris).Yessins: Lancashire dialect word for the eaves in the roof of a building.


 GRUPPO DI IMPROVVISAZIONE NUOVA CONSONANZA     HASCHICH #2


So, Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, was an avant-garde free improvisation group considered the first experimental composers collective, and if that sounds like your definition of hell then, in the spirit of transparency, I should tell you that my children think that this is the worst record they’ve ever heard, with my daughter demanding to know why anyone would record such a horrible sounding noise. I explained to them the collective was formed in Rome in 1964 and that by drawing on jazz, serialism, musique concrète, and other avant-garde techniques the group was dedicated to the development of new music techniques by improvisation, noise-techniques, and anti-musical systems, and that it’s most famous member was the great Ennio Morricone; but they’d got stuck on the term anti-musical systems, which, they thought, was self-evident. But if we can leave the opinions of my children aside, the lovely Haschich #2 is also to be found on the album EROINA, released in 1971, and is one of the less anti-musical tracks on an album that is best understood as a concept album that features a series of haunting improvisations - each one inspired by the effects of a different drug. I’m assuming that Haschich #2 (for there is a #1 and #3) is the one about hashish. Tune in for the next show where you can find out what LSD sounds like to these crazy free-jazz innovators.

GWENNO     DAROMRES Y’N HOWL


It’s only May but Gwenno Saunder’s Cornish language album LE KOV (place of memory) is already my album of the year. From songs that explore Cornish identity in the wake of post-Brexit-vote isolation to the status of minority languages (she could be singing a phonebook for all I know) Saunder’s way with a tune takes in elements of Broadcast's glitchy retro-grooves, Stereolab's detached easy-listening-period-vibe, krautrock beats, and hauntological ambiance and turns them into psych-pop gold. Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys joins her on vocals for the rather fine Daromres Y’n Howl (traffic in the sun).

LINDA PERHACS     I’M A HARMONY


Like Shirley Collins, Linda Perhacs has been re-born by collaborations with a number of younger musicians, most of which are undoubtedly influenced by her own music: Julia Holter, Fernando Perdomo, and Wilco’s Pat Sansone feature prominently on I’M A HARMONY, released last year, her 3rd album in some 40 years. As a result, Perhacs has expanded her sound with a vast array of psychedelic accoutrements, while still pinning everything down with her graceful and powerfully atmospheric melodies. The aforementioned Holter, best known for her forward-thinking chamber pop, provides some of the album’s most thrilling moments. “I’m a harmony / And I am singing through your laptop,” repeat Holter and Perhacs on the album’s title track over ethereal electronics and a picked acoustic drone. A steady kick drum soon takes hold over a mess of saxophones, upright bass and drum rolls before everything drops into a wash of echoing vocals.
if the craft here feels more 21st century, the heart and soul are very much the same, and Perhacs has remained loyal to the musical vision she first documented in 1970.

SMELL OF INCENSE     CHRISTOPHER’S JOURNEY


An album of pure, whimsical psychedelia in which to immerse yourself. ALL MIMSY WHERE THE BOROGOVES, released in 1994, ticks all the right boxes – Alice in Wonderland, Winnie The Pooh, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, sitars, flutes and mellotrons – all present and correct. Is it pastiche, a homage, a love letter to classic ‘60s psychedelia? I expect it’s all those things but played with such joy that you can’t help but go along for the ride. Gather unto ye your joss-sticks, patchouli oil, lava lamps, paisley bed-sheets and tie-dye wall-hangings for this is the album that will take you there. Whether you wish to come back again is entirely up to you.

TREMBLING BELLS     REBECCA, DRESSED AS A WATERFALL


Well, you can’t go wrong with a title like that. Rebecca, Dressed As A Waterfall, the closing track on their most recent release, DUNGENESS, brings a stark pastoral quality to an album that sees the Trembling Bells draw back from the highly heady psych-folk and medievalist antiquary of their earlier recordings and a forward-prog shift onto equally heady but altogether more rock-guitar-based tapestries – I’m thinking less Gryphon and more Steeleye Span, or maybe Jethro Tull, here, neither of which are evident on this track which owes more to David Munrow’s early Music Consort and the British freak scene (if you know what I mean).

HERMAN’S HERMITS     SLEEPY JOE



This song reached #4 in the New Zealand charts when it was released back in 1967. I believe that covers everything.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

MIND DE-CODER 76

MIND DE-CODER 76

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

‘We are put on earth a little space, that we might learn to bear the beams of love’.
                                                                                                                                  William Blake


CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER     MALFUNCTION


The 70’s psyche vibe is strong with this one, as the post-Stereolab unit of Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth and their pal Holger Zapf channel the spirit of krautrock by heavily utilizing the sounds of modular synths, home built drum machines and Motorik beats. By all accounts their album, HORMONE LEMONADE, released earlier this year, is pretty much based around rhythms created by Zapf on two self-constructed machines over which the rest of the band fleshed out ideas on synths, sequencers, drums, and guitar to produce music whose intensive rhythmic focus stands at some remove from Stereolab’s melodic signature. That being said, I still kept on expecting Lætitia Sadier’s vocals to come floating over the top, but that might just be me.


SMELL OF INCENSE     A FLORAL TREASURY 


You know how you occasionally come across your new favourite band only to discover that they’ve been around some 30 years or so and you can’t imagine how you’ve ever managed without them for so long, and, furthermore, just what were you doing some 30 years ago or so that you’d never heard of them in the first place? Well, Smell Of Incense are that band, and in answer to the second part of the question: I don’t know – you’d have thought that I’d been all over them like the psychedelic lemmings of destiny leaping over the grim clifftops of dull reality. Smell Of Incense are a Norwegian psych band with roots in the mid-eighties where they may have begun life as an obscure hardcore Scandinavian D.I.Y. act. Fortunately for me, since the release of their first album in 1986, they’ve only managed to release three more albums so it’s been easy enough to catch up with them. A Floral Treasury, from their second album THROUGH THE GATES OF DEEPER SLUMBER, released in 1997, is a 26-minute, five-part, Amon Düül-inspired krautrock odyssey where the music ranges from meditative raga rock bliss with sitar to percussive trance rock elements to a meadow symphony and electronic interludes. Wearing their experimental, avant-garde, psych-folk credentials on their sleeve (they’re named after a track by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band) the track contains three middle stanzas each based on one of three literary meadow fairies invented by the reclusive pre-Raphaelite British artist the late Cicely Mary Barker. Brilliant and breathtaking. 


ODESSEY AND ORACLE     LES DÉESSES  


Baroque pop loveliness by French band Odessey & Oracle who appear to have taken their name from The Zombies’ misspelled masterpiece. Les Déesses, is taken from the band’s debut album SPECULATIO, released last year.  It’s both simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic, beautiful and very Gallic, whose music draws its influences from a broad spectrum: from early classical music of the medieval, baroque, renaissance variety, through to 60s psychedelia and experimentalism, and contemporary electronic music expressed through expansive and sophisticated arrangements featuring instruments ancient (your viola da gamba, baroque cello and flute are all present) and modern, although the band note on their homepage that all keyboards and synthesizers used on this record are from the 60s and 70s. The banjo, of course, is largely timeless. A band very much at home to counterpoint and hybrid instrumentation. Charming.


BEAUTIFY JUNKYARDS     CONSTANT FLUX


Lisbon’s Beautify Junkyards dreamlike blend of pastoral acid folk, haunted tropicalia, breezy fado and eldritch electronica were always going to be a natural fit for the Ghost Box aesthetic and, sure enough, in 2016, they contributed to OTHER VOICES, a series of singles featuring regular Ghost Box artists, special guests and one-off collaborations. Constant Flux charms with its exquisite prettiness but contains an autumnal vibe which recalls the bucolic self-titled debut LP by Heron (a band Beautify Junkyards covered on their own self-titled debut LP), had that first Heron LP been produced by Broadcast, say.


BRONA MCVITTIE     WHEN ANGELS WAKE YOU


On her debut solo album, WE ARE THE WILDLIFE, released last year, Irish folk chanteuse and harpist Brona McVittie has created something really quite special, blending experimental electronica with the harp and other pastoral delights that puts one in mind of Tuung’s folktronic flourishes and Virginia Astley’s pure pastoral instrumentals. This is beautifully embroidered folk, otherworldly and yet pleasingly contemporary in feel.


MGMT     DAYS THAT GOT AWAY


Much has been written about the most recent release by MGMT, this years’ LITTLE DARK AGE, and how it seems to be a welcome return to form following some kind of self-imposed exile following the accidental success of their debut album ORACULAR SPECTACULAR in 2006 – that is to say, they’ve written something with melodies again. In truth, I’ve always preferred MGMT at their most willfully obtuse. LITTLE DARK AGE satisfies on both levels, containing tracks that sound just a little bit like, ooh, Empire of the Sun (let’s face it) and psychedelically wayward gems like Days That Got Away - dubbed-up pop misremembered as playful prog excess.


JEFFERSON AIRPLANE     EMBRYONIC JOURNEY


Embryonic Journey is a gorgeous instrumental piece played by Jorma Kaukonen, the lead guitarist for Jefferson Airplane, of course, that first appeared on the band’s SURREALISTIC PILLOW in 1967. Apparently, it’s the first piece of music Kaukonen ever wrote, blending modal sitar-inspired raga riffs with crystalline finger-picking, resulting in a six-string meditation that encapsulated the mood of the 1960s as powerfully as any song of that era (with or without lyrics).


OS MUTANTES     TO MAKE IT BEAUTIFUL


FOOL METAL JACK was the second album released by Brazil’s legendary psychedelic tricksters, Os Mutantes, following a 35-year hiatus. Released in 2013, the album saw only one original member on board, guitarist Sergio Dias, but nevertheless shows them still to be a singularly eccentric act, finding beauty and noise amid an assortment of styles. I’m not entirely convinced by the album – in many cases it sounds as if they’re trying too hard – but To Make It Beautiful has enough recherché whimsical elegance to it to remind me of the old days.


CHIMERA     THE GRAIL


The semi-legendary ‘lost’ LP, THE HOLY GRAIL, the only album by the largely forgotten Chimera, became one of the great lost acid-folk artifacts of the era, known, if known at all, as an unreleased cult oddity with some arcane connection to Pink Floyd. The band essentially consisted of two Beatles groupies, Lisa Bankoff and Francesca Garnett, who, in 1968, met Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason who became their manager and signed them to the equally semi-legendary Morgan Blue Town record label which promptly went bust during the recording of their album. Despite featuring himself on The Grail and fellow bandmate Rick Wright on another track, Mason was unable to find anyone else to sign them or release their album and so the band languished into obscurity until 2001 when the tapes were rediscovered and finally saw release some 32 years after the album was recorded on a newly revived Morgan Records. Exotic and other-worldly - ethereal vocals float over Floydian landscapes. I think it was re-released last year for National Record Store Day.


ALLAN GINSBERG    PADMASAMBHAVA


The lovely 12-minute homage mantra to guru-deity Padmasambhava appears as a bonus track on Ginsberg’s 1971 recording of William Blake’s THE COMPLETE SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE, in which he fearlessly sets the visionary English poet's famous collection to music. Now, the jury is largely out as to how successful he was, which is to say, despite appreciating his sincere commitment to the project (Ginsberg maintains he was inspired to make these recordings following a religious vision in 1948 in which Blake appeared in his East Harlem apartment and recited poetry to him – make of that what you will) Ginsberg’s adaptions are just a little too ‘hey, nonny, nonny’ for my tastes, whereas music critic Robert Christgau gave the record an ‘A’ and praised Ginsberg for singing in the manner of Blake's writing—"crude, human, touching, and superb", while no less an authority than Lester Bangs praised Ginsberg’s vocal style as reminiscent of an Anglo-American muezzin, which sums it up quite nicely I think. It’s the addition of three mantras at the end of the disc that I enjoy – each feature the mysterious Reverend Adjari & Buddhist Chorus, a moniker coined by Ginsberg for Ajari Warwick and the Kailas Shugendo Mantric Sun Band, and Padmasambhava, in particular, has a life-affirming quality to it that alone makes the record worth purchasing.


 I follow this with an excerpt from a curious record I’ve been dipping into throughout the show called LSD: A DOCUMENTARY ON THE CURRENT PSYCHEDELIC DRUG CONTROVERSY, a spoken word album released in 1966, which pretty much does what it says on the cover: the contents within are depicted as "Actual recordings of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs...Psychedelic music...The sound of the ‘Acid Test’...LSD users and pushers and the amazing story of LSD in action." It contains music by Neal Cassidy and The Warlocks (who went on to become the Grateful Dead, of course), performing Speed Limit circa 1965, an audio vérité recording of an actual acid trip featuring 8 teenagers that sounds awful, and several commentaries from Timothy Leary; Laura Archera Huxley, widow and biographer for her late husband, author of ‘The Doors of Perception’, Aldous Huxley; Ken Kesey with a  few minutes of rambling Acid Test recordings; and, in this instance, portions of a live Allen Ginsberg poetry reading played prior to some interview clips in which he talks about his revelations and insights on the substance. Other than that each side of the long-player consists of a single, continuous track narrated by author Lawrence Schiller in which he discusses the history of the drug, its effects, as well as sound bites of acid users -- both novice and seasoned - during and after use - which concludes with the depressingly predictable statement "...on the basis of the evidence...the answer to the LSD problem should be just about as obvious as the basic question: Is this trip really necessary?"  (Hint: “not ‘arf”)


SENDELICA     EVEN THOUGH MY MOUTH IS SILENT


Following a magical recording session at the Mwnci studio beside an ancient megalithic cromlech in West Wales, which resulted in the 2015 album CROMLECH CHRONICLES, Welsh band Sendelica, returned to the studio in 2017 for its sequel, CROMLECH CHRONICLES II, released as a rare CD (only 150 copies made) on the wonderful Fruits de Mer record label . It consists of two 18-minute long improvised soundscapes influenced by the likes of Japan’s Taj Mahal Travellers and features Tibetan singing bowls, shaman drums, sansula, ting sha, mbira, wood blocks, Chinese gongs, Shruti boxes, Sanskrit chanting and field recordings. This is mystical music of the highest nature – Even Though My Mouth Is Silent is nothing less than a shamanistic trip, capturing something of the ambience of Popul Vuh’s magnificent soundtrack to Werner Herzog's film ‘Aguirre’. It’s a mellow, laid-back affair that invites introspection while allowing the mind to ponder things of a momentous nature in a pleasingly solipsistic manner. Time and space are suspended.



Tuesday, 20 February 2018

MIND DE-CODER 75


MIND DE-CODER 75

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


ATTILIO MINEO     WELCOME TO TOMORROW


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     MEDITATION MASS PT. 1


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     MAGIC IN THE AIR


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.

THE CHEMISTRY SET     A LOVELY CUPPA PHASE


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.

 IPSISSIMUS     HOLD ON


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.

PINK FLOYD     SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEART OF THE SUN


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     REJOYCE


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.

BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST     DARK NOW MY SKY


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.

LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE     IT COMES ON ANYHOW


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.

GONG     FLYING TEAPOT


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.

MOON WIRING CLUB     CRUMBLING TOFFEE TOWN


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…

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO UFO     THE TARGETED PLANET


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     STARSHIP AFRICA SECTION 5/SPACE MOVEMENT SECTION 1


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     LAZARUS


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     MUSIC SOOTHES THE SAVAGE BEAST


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.

 VASHTI BUNYAN AND GARETH DICKSON     THOUGHTS OF MARY JANE


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.