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MIND DE-CODER 12
‘Music that swallows all misery whole.’
PINK FLOYD ALAN’S PSYCHEDELIC BREAKFAST (RISE AND SHINE)
Pink Floyd with the opening segment from Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast, featuring the words and thoughts of then-roadie, Alan Styles, as he prepares, discusses and, in fact, eats the breakfast in question. Taken from the band’s much unloved ATOM HEART MOTHER, released in 1970 – much unloved by the band themselves, that is – I’ve always been a fan myself.
THE FACTORY PATH THROUGH THE FOREST
This is MIND DE-CODER all over. Take an obscure 60’s psych-pop classic from 1968, and then play the even obscurer previously un-released version for your listening pleasure. Path Through A Forest is a mysterious and completely intoxicating journey into a psychedelic netherworld that transports the listener into an intense, multicolored void and then leaves you there to find your own way out. Every psychedelic effect and gimmick is thrown into the mix, screeching guitar effects, underwater bass pulsations and of course the heavily phased, disorienting vocals. Then in 1990’s, some long lost master tape appeared that had extra effects that were originally intended to be used on the single but were trimmed off by the record label for being a bit too excessive. This version comes with added jungle type sound effects and vocals that were even more off the rails than the original. The group only released one more single before disbanding, and weren’t together long enough to release an album, but Path Through The Forest should be in anyone’s list of top 10 psychedelic singles.
D.D. DENHAM SHIP TO SHORE
D. D. Denham is the fictional creation of Jon Brooks from The Advisory Circle who sees Denham as a mysterious composer and teacher active in the 1970’s, who presents, on the album ELECTRONIC MUSIC IN THE CLASSROOM, his pupil’s efforts in the field of sound-making. The album is a mix of the BBC’s Radiophonic workshop, outer-space, creepy television themes, Cold War fears, weird vicars, theremineque effects, cat’s meow, tape loops, drones and, as in the case of this track simple piano motives and spooky sound distortions. It was released in 2011 on Jon Brooks’s Café Kaput label, which he created for his own Moon Wiring Club releases. The whole package is put together so well that you might begin to wonder whether there really was a D.D. Denham after all…
THE MERCHANTS OF DREAM THE STRANGE NIGHT VOYAGE OF PETER PAN
The Merchants Of Dream were a studio outfit put together to realise song-writer Jack Murphy's dream of putting together a concept album based around J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. It comes across as a curious mix of toytown-psych, sunshine pop and a stage musical that, despite its considerable charm, fails to be either one thing or the other. Released in 1969 as THE STRANGE NIGHT VOYAGE it failed to dent the charts, perhaps because the album cover was giving nothing away, or the lack of an obvious single. The Strange Night Voyage of Peter Pan, all rolling power-pop rhythm, pulsating bass and disorientating tempo changes throws a waltz and some Philly strings into the mix for good measure. They don’t make them like this anymore.
THE AQUARIAN AGE THE GOOD WIZARD MEETS THE NAUGHTY WIZARD
If tripped out psychedelic whimsy is your thing, however, then look no further than The Aquarian Age, a band formed by Twink and Junior in the wake of their former band, Tomorrow’s, dissolution following the success of singer Keith West’s solo single Excerpt From A Teenage Opera. This track is, in fact, the b-side to their only single 10,000 Words In a Cardboard Box, released in 1968, and generally regarded as a British psychedelic classic. This sort of thing represents the very peak of British psychedelia, inasmuch as it was impossible to get any higher, but that's not necessarily a recommendation.
THE ROLLING STONES IN ANOTHER LAND
Speaking of which, this is Bill Wyman’s response to the summer of love and particularly his own band’s goings-on with THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST. It was released as a single in 1967 and remains the band’s only song to feature Bill Wyman on vocals, made while the rest of the band were sleeping off various indulgences, shall we say.
THE BELBURY POLY IN PAN’S GARDEN
Belbury Poly’s third album, THE OWL’S MAP, released in 2006 came with a tourist guide for the fictional ancient market town of Belbury, featuring its landmarks and legends which combine to form ‘an uneasy mix of ancient and modern': Iron Age ramparts and a 'picturesque 11th century church', but also 'some notable modernist architecture', including the Polytechnic which gives its name to creator Jim Jupp’s hauntological excursions.
In Pan’s Garden, rather like the rest of the album, sounds futuristic and pastoral at the same time, whilst the album’s design is inspired by old school textbooks and Penguin paperbacks, and partly from old tourist guides - you know the sort of thing, murky old photos of Chichester Cathedral and a guide to local Roman ruins. I love this sort of thing, me.
THE OWL SERVICE NIGHT FALLS ON SUMMER’S END
Named after the classic and unsettling children's book of the same name, The Owl Service was formed by multi-instrumentalist Steven Collins in 2006 as a vehicle to explore his love of cult British films and television of the 1960s and '70s, the great outdoors, and the sound of the English folk revival. It was originally intended to be a solo vehicle for Collins, but as his vision for his debut album, A GARLAND OF SONG, grew, so did the number of band members he needed to make it happen. Nowadays the band seems to have a core line-up of seven members.
The lovely Night Falls On Summer’s End can be found on THE PETRIFYING WELL, a collection of pieces recorded before the release of their debut album proper in 2007 and as such offers a pure distillation of Collin’s folk vision. With the addition of two permanent female singers, the vision got better.
LONE PIGEON KING CREOSOTE’S WINE GLASS SYMPHONY
As founding member of The Beta Band, Gordon Anderson (Lone Pigeon to his parents) was responsible for writing the group’s greatest track, Dry The Rain, before illness forced him to leave them just as they went critically nova. There is a touch of that song in this track, King Creosote’s Wine Glass Symphony, taken from his debut album, CONCUBINE RICE, which saw release in 2002.
It’s a strange mix of half-formed loops, lost ideas, unfocussed, non-sequiter nonsense, and occasional giddy swirls of pop caught in a swirl of hiss, barely heard sounds, late night ambient drones, fractured sing-a-longs, dubbed out weirdness and Syd Barrett vocals, so you can see why I might be attracted to it. I feel that may be more of a warning than a recommendation, however.
He later went on to form Luna, who have so far released two great albums that still have elements of all of the above in them, and he’s brother to Scottish folk singer Kenny Anderson, otherwise known as King Creosote. You can just imagine it after school: “Excuse me, Mrs. Anderson, can King Creosote and wee Lone Pigeon come oot tae play, please?”
THE BIRD TREE LEAF FISH
Ethereal noodlings from San Francisco shaman Glenn Donaldson, and a series of experimental instrumentals, magisterial folk and lengthy drones taken from his 2003 album ORCHARDS AND CARAVANS. These tracks include delicate guitar melodies and pensive vocalizations, taking in the odd bowed oud, bells, toy accordion, Wurlitzer, harmonium, bouzouki, banjo, keyboards, and occasional drumming. As lovely as you can imagine.
PINK FLOYD ALAN’S PSYCHEDELIC BREAKFAST (SUNNY SIDE UP)
In which Alan puts the kettle on and knocks up some fried eggs.
THURSTON MOORE IN SILVER RAIN WITH A PAPER KEY
DEMOLISHED THOUGHTS, released in 2011, is the album on which Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore goes folky. This description doesn’t do it any justice at all, of course, because despite featuring 6 and 12-string acoustic guitars, harps and violins, this is still Thurston Moore we’re talking about. Nevertheless, producer Beck takes a track like In Silver Rain With A Paper Key and adds a trail of echo to Moore's plaintive tone, allowing the words to float like dust among guitars and string parts and, well, it sounds folky to me.
MOON WIRING CLUB THE VICTORIAN BUTTER BOAT/THE QUEEN SPEAKS
These two tracks are taken from Moon Wiring Club’s 4th album, A SPARE TABBY AT THE CAT’S WEDDING, released in 2011, an album which takes some well-mined samples from lost TV transmissions and drags us back into the days of thick-knit sweaters, marathon bars and Old Spice.
Moon Wiring Club originally evolved out of what was intended to be "a peculiar children's book, ‘Strange Reports from a Northern Village’. That project got stalled but it did spawn the Blank Workshop website, based on an imaginary town called Clinksell, which has its own brand of confectionery, Scrumptyton Sweets, and a line of fantasy fiction, Moontime Books. As you can imagine, The Moon Wiring Club’s Ian Hodgson is a friend and collaborator with The Advisory Circle’s Jon Brooks.
THE CHARLATANS OPPORTUNITY
There’s something about the Hammond organ that I find hugely seductive – not in a Pedro and His Hammond Organ Plays the Hits of The 60’s Bossa Nova style! – but in the way that it can be positively lysergic when it hits the right groove, and Opportunity is a perfect example of what I mean. There’s Hammond all over SOME FRIENDLY, the debut album by The Charlatans, released way back in a baggy 1990, and despite the fact that they’ve gone on to release some 12 albums or so since then, this is the only album I return to.
LIQUID SOUND COMPANY MESMERIZING EYES
Liquid Sound Company is the side project for John Perez of doom metal band Solitude Aeternus. Mesmerizing Eyes is taken from the band’s debut album EXPLORING THE PSYCHEDELIC, released in 1996. There’s no mucking about with this band – they pretty much do what it says on the label.
TAME IMPALA SOLITUDE IS BLISS (TIME AND SPACE MACHINE REMIX)
Tame Impala do psychedelia – The Time and Space Machine’s Richard Norris slips some ecstasy into the mix, gives it a groove, and produces a mind bending remix from the track that can be found on the band’s debut album, INNERSPEAKER, released in 2010.
WAX AUDIO DEPARTURES
Wax Audio, Australian mash-up producer, is my current go-to get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to getting from one idea to another in the Mind De-Coder series. His album 9 COUNTRIES, was recorded on location in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Tibet, India, Egypt and Greece and was assembled entirely from field recordings with no additional samples added. Departures, for example, uses the temple drone from the Chennakesava Temple in Belur, India, bells in the courtyard of the Mahamuni temple in Mandalay, dogs and fireworks from Rajasthan, the incoming tide at Rantee Bay on the island of Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, and a hotel elevator in Delhi to name just some of the recordings used in this one track. Marvelous and evocative. Download it for free here.
ALAN BLACK ORSON IX
Alan Black provides a lot of get-out-of-jail free ambient tracks himself, but Orson IX is taken from his SET 01 – BEGINNING, released in 2009, an album of work that includes all his earliest mash-ups. I’ve only used an excerpt from this 24 minute track, but even then it manages to include components by Boards of Canada, Edith Piaf, Radiohead, Vangelis’s Bladerunner soundtrack, Josh wink and Alberto Ginastera amongst the various beats and pieces. Epic. Download it for free here.
THE TELESCOPES ALL A DREAMS
For a brief moment their star shone brightly, but they were in many ways the runts of the Creation litter, which is a pity, because I was a big fan, me, and saw them I don’t know how many times. I saw Primal Scream support them once, which must have been when their star was in the ascendant. They started off as a snarling and dense noise terror band, but at some point in the early 90’s they turned into this fragile psychedelic band capable of producing songs as tender and melodic as All A Dreams, the B-side to their 1991 single Celeste which, like most of their releases, failed to trouble the charts. I understand some version of the band still exists and they’ve gone back to the experimental noise terror.
SPACEMEN 3 STARSHIP
This track absolutely blew me away first time I heard it, and even now it can leave me speechless as the sonic waves it produces in its wake turn to pulsating ripples that float around the inside of my head and swallow all misery whole (as Iggy Pop once said) (although not about Spacemen 3 specifically). One day I will make a Mind De-Coder devoted entirely to Spacemen 3 and we’ll see if they don’t have the same effect on you. This is the closing track on their incredibly rare TRANSPARENT RADIATION EP, released in 1987. Not many records can truly claim to change your life forever, but this is one of them for me. Play this track loud as hell.
INCREDIBLE STRING BAND AIR
Despite having had them explained to me at some length, I simply don’t get the Incredible String Band. Whilst others hear rich and eclectic arrangements, I wonder where all the tunes are. I like this song though, the atmospheric Air, taken from WEE TAM AND THE BIG HUGE, their highly regarded fourth album, released in 1968.
PINK FLOYD ALAN’S PSYCHEDELIC BREAKFAST (MORNING GLORY)
And off he goes. Good old Alan.
SHIRLEY COLLINS SWEET ENGLAND
Lovely. In 1958, years before she established her reputation as one of the finest and most inventive English traditional singers of the folk revival, 22-year-old Shirley Collins was living in London with the legendary American folklorist Alan Lomax, whom she later accompanied on his field recording trips across the southern states of America. Together with the English song-collector Peter Kennedy, Lomax produced her first solo album, SWEET ENGLAND, originally released in 1958 but which has recently been remastered. Collins has said she was apologetic about the young and naive vocals here, but she's being too modest. This is a record that never fails to take me home.
MOON WIRING CLUB HOUSE OF TRICKS
A final track from A SPARE TABBY AT THE CAT’S WEDDING to conclude the show.
And that was Mind De-Coder 12. Thank you for visiting.
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