Tuesday, 16 July 2013


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"And thus it came about one bright May morning - I swallowed 4/10ths of a gram of mescalin dissolved in half a glass of water and sat down to await the results..."
                                Aldous Huxley


You know where you are with a name like Tinkerbell's Fairydust - you can pretty much bet that their particular brand of sunshine pop will include passing references to unicorns, pixies and the restorative properties of a nice walk in the park, and that there'll also be a chorus of 'ba ba ba's' thrown in for good measure; in this respect the single Lazy Days doesn't disappoint. The 1967 single was produced by Vic Smith (who went on to record The Jam and Black Sabbath) and was included on their eponymous album which featured their four single releases and a bunch of cover versions that for one reason or another remained unreleased, apart from a few test pressings that eventually became semi-legendary and generally regarded as the holy grail for your collectors of 60's psych-pop albums. It was only when one of them ended up selling for the best part of $3000 on e-bay a few years ago that someone decided it might be worth a release, what with it being a great lost psychedelic artifact and all. It isn't, of course, but the album was finally released in 1998 and does include a few gems such as In My Magic Garden and 2010, a Bach-inspired minor key piece of harmonic psychedelia, with wah-wah vox organ, mellotron flutes, Spanish style guitar, and choir-like vocals, which you can hear in Show 15. Lazy Days never charted in the UK but typically made it to # 2 in the Japanese charts where it was it was, however, kept off the coveted #1 position by The Beatles' Hey Jude. This summary possibly includes more information than you'll ever need to know about Tinkerbell's Fairydust.


Along with the release of the Moon Wiring Club’s 7th album, CLUTCH IT LIKE A GONK, in 2011, came an accompanying disc – CLUTCH IT LIKE A GONK (GONK EDITION) – a 3” CD of pleasingly spectral pieces, each lasting about a minute each, showcasing Ian Hodgeson’s knack for creating unsettling little vignettes of sound. There’s 22 tracks in all, each untitled, and I’ve plundered them shamelessly for this show.


Foxygen are a psyche-rock duo from California with a fondness for 1960’s psychedelia and playful avant-garde influences that they just about manage to transcend on their second album proper WE ARE THE 21ST CENTURY AMBASSADORS OF PEACE AND MAGIC, released  2013,  to create an album of gorgeous, pilfered pop songs that they pack with a host of musical left turns, lyrical non sequiturs and decades-spanning bridges into industry-prefered 3-4 minute gems that are at both reinvention and memorial to the music they so obviously love.


Jon Brooks, who otherwise records as The Advisory Circle, is the man behind the fairly wonderful  Cafe Kaput blog  and is currently host to a series of collectible podcasts featuring a wealth of obscure psychedelia, library music, French pop and other delights.His most recent album, a low-key affair called SHAPWICK, released in 2013, was the creative response to his becoming lost whilst driving through the low Somerset valleys of Western England and coming across the Sedgemoor village of Shapwick, where, he says, he felt a certain peculiar energy around the place that could be expressed by his imaginary impression of the area. In true hauntological fashion, he recorded his simple and, indeed, beautiful compositions onto pre-used tape cassettes, adding sound library effects of birds and bats and reversing cars so that the natural and the supernatural are buried in the ferric murk. It’s a spooky drive through a countryside that doesn’t seem quite real, that feels out of time, where every village greeting-cum-warning sign exhorts you to 'Please Drive Carefully'.


You get the idea


The other week I played a track by Christophe F. from his album Heathen Frontiers In Sound. This lovely track is from his earlier incarnation as the Universal Panzies, and their only album TRANCENDENTAL FLOSS, released in 1998, and literally a love song to all things Krautrock, especially, I think Amon Duul, whose kosmiche teutonic grooves are all over this record. Not that this is a bad thing, for as Julian Cope notes in his review of the album, prior to it’s re-release on his own Head Heritage label, the album contains within its epic grooves pretty much everything Head Heritage has long aspired to represent and deliver: transcendental Krautrock-informed mind-manifesting rhythms, over-achieving guitar bombast, saccharine sweet Joe Meek-ian keyboard themes, Muse-informed lyrical devotion to the Goddess, sheer astral glamour of the most Odinistic kind, and always in a manner that projects highly unbalanced sonic overload. Wonderful.


Three blissful minutes of ambient loveliness from an album of mind-blowing, hallucinatory, expansive, free-rock music for the mind and body. THE ASTRAL BODY ELECTRIC, released 2013, is the third album from Herbcraft, a New England psychedelic 5-piece, who recorded this album direct to tape in an 18th century New England barn in a series of semi-improvisational wig outs that occupy the same sort of psychic terrain that Mind De-Coder favourites Wolf People are currently working in. Incredibly far-out music.


Liz Christine is a Brazilian Hauntologist – she may not know it, but she is. She calls herself a sound artist and creates audio sculptures combining ghostly loops from old black-and-white movies, jazz 78’s and the sound of rainfall with beat-box beats and, curiously, cat purrs and growls – if that’s not Hauntology then I don’t know what it is (and I do, by the way). Green Eyes Girl (Sweet Mellow Version) is from her marvelous 2013 release SWEET MELLOW CAT, which sounds like last-century memories arriving unbidden in the final hour of some declining Hollywood diva (it says here).


I know – he’s all over this show, but he’s my current get out of gaol free card. This spooky little track is taken from his 2012 release TODAY BREAD, TOMORROW PUDDINGS (the CD version).


Few albums create such a genuinely mysterious and beguiling mood as Pumajaw's CURIOSITY BOX, released in 2008. It's an atmospheric, folky album, as Visiting Hour Pt. 2 attests, but it comes at it from an ethereal Krautrock tradition that imbues it with an engaging earthiness that makes it perfect listening for a rainy, autumnal evening in front of the fire.  


A marvelously rare recording by Julian Cope, available on the fan-club only release PARANORMAL IN THE WEST COUNTRY E.P., released in 1994 to accompany his AUTOGEDDON album. This is one of four versions of the song that feature on the EP and is by no means my favourite interpretation of the track on offer, but it does bring a certain full-on Kraut-synth wig-out to the table which I thought I'd like to share with you. In order to get the CD in question you had first to buy QUEEN ELIZABETH, one of Cope's cosmic ambient affairs recorded with collaborator Thighpaulsandra, from which you were encouraged to remove the 'Buy!' sticker from the sleeve, stick it on the inside of a used envelope along with your details and then send it to his record company who would then send you a copy of the Paranormal EP by return post. But all of this had to be done in the three weeks after November 14th, 1994 and it had to be a used envelope otherwise the deal was forfeit. Julian Cope fans...don't you just love 'em?

A small documentary clip in which Alduos Huxley describes his first experience with mescalin.


The original instrumental version of the song, performed by Paul Giovanni, which, by now, regular listeners of the show will know I regard as my favourite song ever (the odd tune by Vashti Bunyan or anything else I happen to fancy that week notwithstanding). This track appears on one of my favourite albums, WILLOW'S SONGS, a selection of vintage recordings and folk songs that inspired the music featured on the soundtrack to The Wickerman.


Jap-pop loveliness where you'd normally expect searing guitars, deranged percussive freak-outs and gleeful shrieking from Afrirampo's final album, 2010's WE ARE UCHU NO KO,


MIRACLE KICKER, from which this track is taken, is quite simply one of my favourite trip albums, featuring spine-tingling harmonies, electronic drones, gently picked folksy guitars and huge psychedelic endings - it's as if the album is designed  to make the heart of the listener beat faster every time it's listened to. Released in 2008, this is a mesmerising, time-stopping album with gorgeous tunes and an uplifting sensibility – not unlike falling in love with the girl at the bus stop.

I do believe that was a promo from a really cool film that I hope to see one day... 


Spiro do a very fine line in experimental folk instrumentals, and I've often thought that if Stereolab did folk music it would sound exactly like this, which I hope does justice to both bands. This is possibly my favourite track on tonight's show and is also one of the three pieces of music that I'd like played at my funeral, as a kind of explanation of my life as much as anything. (Oh, go on then - the other two are Spiritualized's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, the title track, not the whole album, and Primal Scream's Higher Than The Sun (the American Spring version, mind), although sometimes I think I would swap this for Nina Simone's Nobody's Fault But Mine, depending upon what sort of mood I'm in on the day of the funeral). It's taken from their second album POLESTAR, released in 1997. I once had what can only be called a shamanic experience listening to Have Care Of Her Johnny, in which the complete nature of all my regret was transcendentally demonstrated to me, and I don't think I've ever been quite the same since.


In true hauntological style, but without ever actually defining themselves as such, Broadcast always managed to sound dislocated in time and space, as if their music was beaming in from outer space on a particularly badly-tuned transistor radio bought in the 1950's. Vocalist Trish Keenan, who sadly died recently, sounds as if she's singing slightly detached nursery rhymes while the band seek to hide her fragile melodies behind a carnival of vintage carnival noises and junk-shop electronic polyrhythms. Colour Me In is the pop song on THE HA-HA SOUND, their second album, released in 2003.


I think this song is simply exquisite. Kelli Ali used to provide vocals for trip-pop hipsters Sneaker Pimps before being 'released' from the group (it says here) following the success of the single 6 Underground. ROCKING HORSE is her third solo release and on it she discovers a whimsical vocal voice with which she crafts dreamy sparse explorations into modern folk and medieval melodies that are, by turns, captivating, enchanting and haunting. I never did find out what happened to The Sneaker Pimps.


Ah, here we go, my other favourite record ever made in tonight's show - the demo version for what was to become her first single for Andrew Loog Oldham's Immediate label in 1966. As things turned out, Winter Is Blue, with its faux-psychedelic orchestration, never was released as a single (Oldham prefering to play safe with the Jagger/Richards penned Some Things Just Stick In Your Mind) but can be found on various compilations of the period (it even turns up on Peter Whitehead's 1967 swinging London documentary Tonite Let's All Make Love In London) but despite added flutes and whistles it isn't a patch on this, the original, fragile version of the song in which Vashti laments the loss of love and the passing of the seasons in what is effectively the most beautiful and evocative song I've ever heard (Willow's Song notwithstanding). Stopped me dead in my tracks first time I ever heard it and it continues to do so even now. You can find both versions of the song on the recent compilation of Vashti's singles and demos, SOME THINGS JUST STICK IN YOUR MIND, released in 2007. 


An early outing for The Amorphous Androgynous with three tracks taken from THE MELLO HIPPO DISCO SHOW, released in 2002. This 8 track CD was released to accompany the release of their debut album under that name, THE ISNESS, where the Future Sound of Londoners explore a new found psychedelic direction. As is often the case, these tracks are often spread over several suites that produce a lush ornamental garden of sound to lose yourself in.


Speaking of which, avant-garde psychedelic rock from experimental, electronic pioneers The United States Of America, which shows you don’t need an electric guitar to wig out.  The Garden of Earthly Delights was the only single taken from their only album, the eponymously titled 1968 release. Marvelous.


Here’s an oddity; unacknowledged synth-pioneer Ruth White reads the poetry of Charles Baudelaire with electronically treated vocals, creepy tape collages, sinister synth drones and dissonant electronic back drops to send a shiver down your spine (or is it up? I get confused) on her 1969 album THE FLOWERS OF EVIL. Best listened to on a dark and stormy night.


In many ways, ENGLISH SETTLEMENT, released in 1982, is XTC's Rubber Soul - it's the album they made that they couldn't reproduce on stage and ushered in a new sublime approach to song writing. Whist the album deals largely with the horrors of modern life, Senses Working Overtime is a pastoral piece that celebrates life and all its wonders, as if the band had just taken some acid and then got themselves dropped off in the middle of the English countryside by a passing spaceship. Wonderful, and ever so slightly pagan.


The Time And Space Machine are Richard Norris, one half Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve and, indeed, The Grid, who under The Time and Space machine moniker produces a series of mind-bendingly cosmodelic albums mixing freak-beat cuts with hypnotic ragas and swirling phazers on limited-edition vinyl only releases. Vision Om is a sitartastic throwaway little track from VOLUME 3, released in 2010, that runs very nicely into…


What to say about this record? That it's the greatest psychedelic song ever recorded by the greatest English band ever at the height of their powers? Well, yes, but that doesn't do any justice to it's shear linguistic playfulness, or to the fact that it remains a bitter idiosyncratic assault on the establishment that amounts to an exercise in self-definition that almost constitutes a manifesto, or that John Lennon never created anything this good ever again. All of this is true, in some way, I guess, but if you really want to know why this song is one of the defining moments of The Beatles' career, and the greatest psychedelic record ever made, then I'm afraid you will just have to drop some acid and listen to it properly, again and again and again. It's on THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, of course.


I was going to start the show with this track, but then wondered if I'd have any listeners left for the second song. As a statement of intent it's certainly what Mind De-Coder is all about, so to that extent at least I thought I could just as easily finish the show with it - it's just the sort of thing to make you prick up your ears if you were dozing off. Spectrum were one of the poppier projects that Pete Kember, formerly Sonic Boom of the Spacemen 3, pursued following the demise of the Spacemen 3. Putting aside his vox guitar he instead turned to vintage analogue synthesisers, theremin and vocorder to make some of the trippiest music you'll ever hear. New Atlantis is taken from the album FOREVER ALIEN, released in 1997, and unless I miss my mark, seems to be a reading from Francis Bacon's 1624 novel of the same name.

And that was Mind De-Coder 5. I thank you. 

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