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“I lose myself in tones, circling, weaving. With unfathomable thanks and unnamed love, I happily surrender to the greater breath.”
Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2, 1908
The Finishing Line (Public Information Film, 1977)
Shamelessly pilfered from a mix that The Advisory Circle made for Fangoria magazine(here), The Finishing Line was one of the most disturbing Public Information films ever made, depicting playing on railway lines as a school sports event. Blood, limbs and brass bands abound.
THE TIME AND SPACE MACHINE LITTLE BIRD
Mind De-Coder favourite Richard Norris covers the Beach Boys Little Bird (from their 1968 release FRIENDS) and gives it a Balearic vibe for Italian disco mix THE CRAZY WORLD OF ITALO ITALIANS, VOL. 1, released 2012 which pretty much brings you up to date with everything I know about this track, other than its loveliness is simple and profound.
STEVE MASON THE OLD PROBLEM, LIE AWAKE, FLY OVER ‘98
The opening three tracks from the latest album by Steve Mason, formerly of the Beta Band, of course. Over the years he’s adopted many guises, including King Biscuit Time and Black Affair, in pursuance of his muse, but none have ever felt entirely satisfying (although I do have a soft spot for the first King Biscuit TIME EP) but with MONKEY MINDS IN THE DEVIL’S TIME, his second release under his own name, he seems to have recaptured some of the experimental cleverness that made the Beta band so good; this album radiates with beautiful piano refrains, dubby instrumentals, cryptic refrains and earthy grooves; wrapped up in a feminist ‘personal-is-political’ consciousness, righteous indignation and nocturnal self-analysis, What they call a ‘welcome return to form’.
THE FOOL VOICE ON THE WIND
Psychedelic whimsy from the only album by the Dutch design collective known as The Fool, whose 1969 eponymous release was produced by The Hollies’ Graham Nash. Apparently they didn’t paint the psychedelic pattern on John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce - they merely suggested that he have it painted like a gypsy caravan; the rest was done by JP Fallon, gypsy caravan painter to the stars. Be sure to listen out for the psychedelic use of the bagpipes (although, they're not quite as psychedelic as you'd actually hope).
FUZZY LIGHTS OBSCURA
Fuzzy Lights started off as a husband and wife folk duo, which, over the years, has grown into a five piece band that tread a fine line in pastoral folk and acid rock. The lovely Obscura featuring singing saw, wine glasses, glockenspiel, double bass and violin - is the opening track from their second album TWIN FEATHERS, released 2010, an album otherwise characterized by an acoustic folk vibe combined with unexpected bursts of guitar squalls and cymbal clashes.
Burst Pipe (Public Information Film)
JACCO GARDNER CLEAR THE AIR
For his debut album CABINET OF CURIOSITIES, Dutch musician Jacco Gardner, draws heavily on his inner Syd Barrett and produces a variety of fairy-tale type songs, each full of whimsy and darkness that often belies their childlike nature. Clear The Air, the opening track on the album, fuses harpsichord, synths and huge, echoing drums in a way that just manages to steer clear of becoming a pastiche of the psychedelic sounds of the 60’s that he’s so clearly a fan of.
THE SIGN OF FOUR TOPSY TURVY
Psychedelic jazz anyone? It’s a wonder no one’s tried it before. Who knows? Maybe they have – I wonder if it was as good as this, because this, the debut album by Miles Newbold’s The Sign Of Four, is very fine indeed. The album, HAMMER, ANVIL AND STIRRUPS, (2013) comes on two 10’’ vinyl pressings, beautifully packaged and contains a psychedelic mix of cosmic jazz, messed up electronica, sitars, marimbas, flutes and, as it says on the press release (without over-egging the cake in anyway), 'a throbbing palpitation of spaced-out vibes oscillating and reverberating chaotically through sonic orbs and polyphonic sound textures' – recorded live at the Chicken Shack studios in Nottingham. Newbold has created one of the most out-there albums I’ve heard in ages, full of vibrant noises and textural extremes. Topsy-Turvy is the album’s opening track and sets the scene for what’s to follow – surreal, mind-bending and groovy.
Halloween is on the way so I've put together this little hauntological thriller from bit and pieces of films I’ve been watching lately – notably the Hammer classic DRACULA A.D. 1972 (yes, the one with Johnny Alucard in it).
THE FOCUS GROUP ALBION FESTIVAL REPORT
Evocative vibes from Julian House’s Focus Group and a track from his semi-legendary release WE ARE ALL PAN’S PEOPLE, released in 2007 and one of the most celebrated Ghostbox releases. Often, with your Hauntologically inclined, it’s all in the titles. Albion Festival Report brings with it a stream of unconscious images that have pretensions of memory but are, I suspect, beautiful yearnings; an unhinged feeling of nostalgia for something that you never actually had.
THE CYMBALINE MATRIMONIAL FEARS
Despite having seven single releases in them, there is little actually known about The Cymbaline and if you’ve heard of them at all it will be because of their 1967 single Matrimonial Fears, which appeared on RUBBLE VOL. 4 (THE 49 MINUTE TECHNICOLOUR DREAM), but it’s one of those tracks I’ve had knocking around on a tape cassette for years. I’ve always fancied looking up the singer, Stuart Claver, to see if he ever did, in fact, get married and whether he looks back on this song now with a kind of embarrassed, or indeed, rueful shrug of the shoulders. But, like I say, very little is known about them – they don’t even have a page on Wikipedia – so I guess I’ll never know.
THE HOLLIES LULLABY OF TIM
I don’t know about you, but this song makes me want to clear my throat. It’s taken from the first of two albums The Hollies released in 1967, namely EVOLUTION, the one sporting the brilliant cover by The Fool (see above), and the one on which the band embraced psychedelia – except that, apart from this track, they didn’t really. Evolution works best when it’s not trying to master psychedelia and focuses instead on the band’s ability to write classic 1965-style pop. The psychedelic embellishments were actually quite clumsy, as the warbling vocal effects on Lullaby Of Tim demonstrate. Still, it’s not the most awful track I’ve ever heard and sounds quite cool if you’re feeling particularly forgiving and, let’s face it, off your face. If I’m honest, I only included it because it gave me an excuse to show the cover.
STEVE HILLAGE GARDEN OF PARADISE
While the rest of the world was dealing with the fall-out of punk’s scorched-earth policy and moving into something of a post-punk heyday, Steve Hillage, ex-Gong guitarist, was quite happily minding his own business and creating the year-zero for what would one day become ambient chill-out music with his album RAINBOW DOME MUSICK, released 1979. It’s a truly lovely album, consisting of two 20 minute pieces – all meandering piano tinklings, shimmering sunshine synth washes, lush, intricate guitars, sliding sequencers and water noises that proved hugely influential to the Orb’s Dr. Alex Patterson who pretty much took this album for his template a decade later. Absolutely beautiful.
MELMOTH THE WANDERER THE AFTER-SCHOOL CLUB (EXCERPT)
This is the last 10 minutes or so of a fantastic mix called The After-School Club by Mind De-Coder favourite MELMOTH THE WANDERER, a musical collage to reflect the influence of the cathode ray wet nurse that was TV from the 60's through to the 80's in all its Folk Horror/Sci-Fi wyrdness. These were the programmes and their themes tunes that had a profound effect on a generation and sowed the seeds for the music of the hauntology scene and shaped the minds of those behind all things retro-futuristic. Check out the whole mix here.
DAVE DEE, DOZY, BEAKY, MITCH AND TITCH THE LEGEND OF XANADU
“… and we shall be called Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mitch and Titch’’, said Dave Dee, “because that will stress our distinct personalities in a climate that regards bands as collectives – especially mine”. Or something like that. They were, regardless of the name, fantastically popular – in fact, I read somewhere that at some point they spent more weeks in the charts than The Beatles. The Legend Of Xanadu, released in 1968, was a massive hit around the world and sold more than a million copies. At Alice in Wonderland, the semi-legendary psychedelic nightclub I frequented in the early 80’s (and where the seeds of Mind De-Coder were sown) it was the cue for people to reach up and snatch down the sheets of hanging toilet paper that decorated the ceilings and crack them in time to the whip like music (although ‘crack’ might be the wrong word I suppose – but they were innocent, happier days). Trivia fans might be interested to learn that before he resigned his job to become a proper pop star, singer Dave Dee was a policeman and was present at the car accident that killed Eddie Cochran and injured gene Vincent in 1960.
PINK FLOYD MATILDA MOTHER
PINK FLOYD MATILDA MOTHER
Matilda Mother was the first song for Pink Floyd’s semi-mythical debut album PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN in 1967, and it is with this song that Syd Barrett more or less defines the psychic landscape of British psychedelia as a nostalgic longing for a childhood that can never be recaptured, but which lives on in the stories of Hilaire Belloc and Edwardian nursery rhymes. It’s actually sung by Rick Wright with Barrett joining in on choruses and singing the whole last verse, but it remains sublimely evocative of an age long past when faerie stories held you high on clouds of sunlight floating by, as it were.
An excerpt from Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood
(Simply too good not to revisit)
ANTON BARBEAU IN THE VILLAGE OF THE APPLE SUN
With nods to 1980’s Julian Cope, XTC and Robyn Hitchcock, Anton Barbeau - Californian, but something of an anglophile by the sounds of it – creates oddball albums of swirling sonic pop. In the Village Of The Apple Sun is the title track to his 2007 album and states the case for fuzzed out guitar in all its guises.
STEVE MASON OPERATION MASON
The second track from Steve Mason’s superb new album MONKEY MINDS IN THE DEVIL’S TIME. A messed up piece of dubby filler to be sure, but if only more artists took the time to play around with their sound like this.
JON BROOKS …LITTLE APPLE…
Another filler, some might say inconsequential, this time taken from Jon Brooks SHAPWICK (2013), the album inspired by a wrong turning on the moors of Somerset – turns out it was as much of a psycho-geographical mis-location as it was a matter of turning left instead of right. (When in doubt, always turn left).
COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH GRACE
The release of ELECTRIC MUSIC FOR THE MIND AND BODY in 1967, was one of the defining moments in American counter-cultural history – the day that the underground went overground and presented straight society with a hippy mindset and manifesto. Not many albums do that. Grace, the album’s closing track, was written for Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick – all bells, chimes, water sound effects and studio trickery on album that out-psyched that band and all their contemporaries. Tripped out and marvelous.
CLIFF WADE LOOK AT ME, I’VE FALLEN INTO A TEAPOT
Sometimes it’s all in the title, but in truth, Cliff Wade was one of those individuals who passed through the 60’s without becoming a household name, despite working with The Who , Pink Floyd and Cream. Same thing happened in the 70’ and 80’s, too. 2004 saw a release of uncollected work from the late 60’s called THE POP-SIKE WORLD OF CLIFF WADE: LOOKING FOR SHIRLEY, from the weird and wonderful Look At Me, I’ve Fallen Into A Teapot is taken.