Tuesday, 29 October 2013

MIND DE-CODER 17


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MIND DE-CODER 17
               
            
     For Juliet. . . who joined me in the garden


THE A. LORDS     DAWN CHORUS



A pastoral introduction to the show, no doubt recorded spontaneously in some Dorsetshire meadow, such as was their wont whilst recording their debut EP, SAME, back in 2006. And, as you’ll have also noted, it has a touch of early Tuung about it, who were recording their debut EP at more or less the same time, and that guitar refrain sounds very similar to Lullaby from the soundtrack to The Wicker Man. So, all in all, a fine start to the show.

Welcome to Mind De-Coder17


NATURE AND ORGANISATION     INTRODUCTION/WICKERMAN SONG



It should come as no surprise, then, that I have it drift into a lovely cover of Willow’s Song from The Wicker Man, which the band have elected to call Wickerman Song, instead (I’ve no problem with this – I still maintain it’s the loveliest song ever hummed). Nature and Organisation were the brainchild of Michael Cashmore, which existed as a sort of experimental folk collective who were as interested in classical and folk structures as they were abrasive electronic noise. Wickerman Song, alongside its Introduction, are to be found on their debut album BEAUTY REAPS THE BLOOD OF SOLITUDE, released in 1994, which is largely characterized by one lovely song (Wickerman Song) and a load of noisy  electronic experimentation. Don’t be fooled by their getting in Rose McDowall (of 80’s pop duo Strawberry Switchblade) to sing the lovely one – the rest of the album is almost unlistenable. Cashmore went on to join that other experimental folk collective Current 93, and Rose McDowell performs under her own name.


ADRIAN CORKER     BELLS AND TAPE 1



A charming little filler from the album, THE WAY OF THE MORRIS, soundtrack to a recently produced documentary about that much maligned form of expression and the drinking of real ale, Morris Dancing. Adrian Corker, of experimental folk duo Corker/Conboy creates an understated tapestry of Britishness, taking in the sounds of birds, church bells, delicate folk dances and deadpan vocal recitals that plays on memory, history and tradition in the best possible way. Gorgeous stuff.


SAND SNOWMAN     STAINED GLASS MORNING



Sand Snowman (or just Sand to his mother, I imagine) offers up a labyrinth of mellow spaced-out songs of an ephemeral and dream-like quality on this, his first album, I’M NOT HERE, released in 2007. It’s a delicate, acoustic folky affair, of which Stained Glass Morning is very fine example, with mandolins, sitars, xylophones and angelic voiced maidens adding their voices to softly layered polyphonic arrangements. Quiet as lovely as it sounds.


RAINBOW FFOLLY     MONTGOLFIER



Rainbow Ffolly were one of those bands that history has overlooked when collating the history of British psychedelia, which is a shame, because their debut, and only album, is up there with Revolver and Piper at the Gates of Dawn, in terms of sheer songwriting ability and inventiveness - their point of difference being the added touches of musical hall humour and sound effect interludes. In actual fact, the whole album was merely a demo of songs that the band put together in the hope of a record label giving them enough money to do a proper job on them. As it happens, Parlophone were so taken with the songs that they put the album out as is, much to the disappointment of the band who intended to add over-dubs and other psychedelic flourishes. The band never gathered the audience they needed to make another album, but RAINBOW FFOLLY …SALLIES FORTH, released 1968, is one of the great lost psychedelic artifacts of the late 60’s.


MARK FRY AND THE A. LORDS     ALL DAY LONG



In 1972 Mark fry released DREAMING WTH ALICE, a psychedelic folk classic (and one of my top 10 trip albums), and then more or less retired from the recording business and devoted himself to his first love, painting. Over the years the album garnered a cult status, until in 2009 he was contacted by The A. Lords and asked to collaborate on a new album, with Fry supplying lyrics and vocal parts to music they’d composed. The resulting record I LIVED IN TREES, released in 2011, is, as you might expect, a gloriously drowsy, bucolic folk vision pulled into technicolour focus by Lemon Jelly’s Nick Franglen at the mixing desk, and etched with the A. Lords classical guitars, Mellotrons and deft chamber arrangements – all of it in service to Mark Fry’s magically timeless reveries. It’s really quite wonderful.


VASHTI BUNYAN AND MAX RICHTER     MARTHA MY DEAR



Following her 35 years of musical hibernation, Vashti Bunyan looked to German composer Max Richter to produce her comeback album LOOKAFTERING, released in 2005. On it, Richter provides impeccable orchestrations of piano, strings and woodwinds, which translate into an ethereal dreamscape on this exquisite cover of McCartney’s muse-led lament that appears on one of those Mojo magazine free CDs, THE WHITE ALBUM RECOVERED, that accompanied an issue in 2008.


VIRGINIA ASTLEY     SUMMER OF THEIR DREAMS



Another gorgeous track from Virginia Astley’s magical FROM GARDENS WHERE WE FEEL SECURE, released 1983, my current go-to album for all things lovely. Melodically rich and varied, the album is an evocative 35- minute meditation built around field recordings Astley made of ambient sounds of the rural English countryside around her home, and is a dreamy escape into the moods of a summer’s day.


BREAD LOVE AND DREAMS     BROTHER JOHN



AMARYLLIS was the third and final album by the very fine but under-rated Bread Love and Dreams, an under-achieving Scottish psychedelic folk act who were pretty much treated as a tax write-off by their record company who, despite critical acclaim, failed to promote, or indeed, print up enough copies of the album at all. Nevertheless, AMARYLLIS, released in 1971, from which the haunting Brother John is taken, is a charming period piece, that features Pentangle’s Danny Thompson and Terry Cox as the band’s rythmn section and much sought after by collectors of your acid folk.


GRUFF RHYS     SHARK RIDDEN WATERS



Gruff Rhys is hard to pin down, but if you were forced to describe his third solo album, HOTEL SHAMPOO, released 2011, you’d say something like he has a roving eye for left-field electronics, playful psyche-rock, freaky folk and, as is the case with Shark Ridden Waters, breezy Tropicalia – and you wouldn’t be far wrong. And just to show his psychedelic credentials are spot on, he also samples 60’s psyche-folk band the Cyrkle. On the other hand, this is the best track on the album.


MOON WIRING CLUB     GHOST HOTEL



More weird goings on from Moon Wiring Club and the avowedly spooky Ghost Hotel, taken from the debut album, AN AUDIENCE OF ART DECO EYES, released 2007. Familiar sounds sourced from television, film and dialogue exhumed from 1970s public service broadcasts submerged amongst odd percussion and bleeping Radiophonic tinkerings. What is it about the repetition of de-contextualised phrases such as "key too small" and "the picture in the house" that summon up all kinds of Armchair Thriller uneasiness?


THE ORANGE ALABASTER MUSHROOM     SYDNEY’S ELECTRIC HEADCHEESE SUNDIAL



Sometimes it’s all in the name – if I were to tell you that Canadian one-man band The Orange Alabaster Mushroom released the track Sydney’s Electric Headcheese Sundial on the album SPACE AND TIME in 2001, you’d expect it to be almost lysergically mind-bending, wouldn’t you?


DONOVAN     THREE KINGFISHERS



Donovan was so ahead of the game with tracks like this, but because of a contractual dispute with his record company, his landmark album, SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, from which this track is taken, was released in 1967, nearly 18 months after he recorded it, so it looked like he was merely copying his peers instead of leading the way - but there’s a definite case for this being one of the first psychedelic albums. Oh, well, eh?


TRAFFIC     HOLE IN MY SHOE



Yes, well, I was feeling playful and I was tempted, I admit, into playing Neil from The Young One’s version but thankfully, some kind of sense, I wouldn’t call it common, prevailed (irony can be a bit too ironic sometimes). The band themselves were never keen on this track, thinking it was unrepresentative of their style – typically it became their biggest hit, but despite their objections, it suits the times (1967) very nicely, and is not very different from House For Everyone, from their debut album MR FANTASY, or the single Paper Sun. Playful psychedelia – you can’t beat it.


THE OUTSIDERS     DOCTOR


   
Another excellent track from CQ, the 3rd album from Holland’s The Outsiders, released in 1968. Last week I played one of the more experimental tracks from the album; this week I was drawn to one of the more garage-psyche punk affairs – Doctor is a snarling head-rush of a tune, featuring distorted vocals and an explosive fuzz-guitar freakout. Possibly what the Rolling Stones wanted to sound like on THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST and what The Pretty Things managed on SF SORROW…


SANDY DENNY AND THE STRAWBS     TWO WEEKS LAST SUMMER



I found this magical song amongst the bonus tracks that accompanied the welcome re-release of the much over-looked ALL OUR OWN WORK, recorded in 1967 but not actually released until 1973 to cash in on The Strawbs sudden success in the charts with, of all things, Part of the Union. Denny went on the record a more fully realised version of the song some years later with Fotheringay. I love both versions, but this particular version is one of my favourite recordings by Sandy Denny. 


MOON WIRING CLUB     DRESSING UP BOX



Composed entirely on a PlayStation 2, Moon Wiring Club’s SOMEWHERE A FOX IS GETTING MARRIED, (released 2011) was Ian Hodgson’s musical tribute to the recent royal wedding in which he refracts the already odd pomp and ceremony into a parallel dimension where "greedy, wryly unwholesome, non-paying animal-faced entities" attend a phantom wedding on 31 April 1911. Hodgson's sample-heavy music is set in Clinkskell, a fictional village full of sinister spirits, beautiful women and quaint sweet shops. His last album , A SPARE TABBY AT THE CAT'S WEDDING, focused on a card game in which the winner would get to marry into royalty; on this album, the fox-faced spirit who won is claiming his prize, a dotty feline called Princess Jackie. The resulting imagery and music is rich with references to English folklore and aristocratic idiosyncrasies, from phantom weddings in the Lake District to links between the ruling class and the lowly fox. In doing so he has created something that the hauntological genre excels at: amid the bland patriotism and kneejerk republicanism, he has managed to capture some of the gilt-edged, inbred weirdness of this rare national event.


THE BEACH BOYS     WORKSHOP/VEGE-TABLES


…with Paul McCartney on backing carrot, or so the story goes. Taken from what is now generally regarded as the definitive version of SMILE, which saw release in 2011, and was actually worth the wait. It’s a lot cleverer than the Brian Wilson Presents… version that came out a few years back which, in retrospect, was far too much in thrall of the legend. This version is playful and light, as the Workshop intro demonstrates, and gives the impression that people were having a lot more fun during the making of this album than the stories suggest.


SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS     MOUNTAIN DELIGHT


Another whimsical piece of pastoral psychedelia from the Soft Hearted Scientists, and a track from their fourth album, WONDERMOON, released 2011, dedicated to making music with a sense of wonder akin to “the stars flying off the end of a wand’’, which they do quite nicely with opener Mountain Delight, which sees them gazing into infinity over a bed of glockenspiel, acoustic and slide guitar. Still not the equal to their debut album, but this is something that makes sense at dusk, when the afternoon gathers itself up for an evening in by the fire.


NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS     SHOOT A HOLE IN THE SUN
     (AMORPHOUS ANDROGYNOUS REMIX)


This was meant to be the first tantalizing glimpse of what the next album by Noel Gallagher would have sounded like, as produced by Amorphous Androgynous with the psychedelic button turned up to 11. Sadly, he couldn’t be arsed with it and shelved the whole project leaving just this, and perhaps one or two completed tracks, to suggest just how great that album would actually have been. I expect that they’ll turn up on the B-side of whatever plodding piece of dad-rock he releases next as a single, but I can’t help thinking that this is a missed opportunity to shine. This mind-bending remix of Shoot A Hole In The Sun can be found on the B-Side to Dream On, released earlier in 2012, but I can’t imagine he’ll ever be this good again.


CASHIER No. 9     GOOD HUMAN

This lovely little track comes from the debut album by Belfast band Cashier No. 9, whose album TO THE DEATH OF FUN was produced hip producer David Holmes. It’s a lushly psychedelic affair that sits somewhere between the baggy sounds of 1989 with the sun-dappled harmonies of the Laurel Canyon set circa the early 70’s. Me and the critics seem to disagree over Good Human. They seem to think it’s the weakest track on the album of otherwise shimmering promise, whereas I think it’s one of the best tracks I’ve heard in years, but I can’t be doing too much with the rest of the album. Make of that what you will.


THE FOCUS GROUP     STARRY WISDOM/
JIM FASSET     3rd MOVEMENT




 The closing track from The Focus Group’s debut album, the sampledelic SKETCHES AND SPELLS, released in 2004, but over it I’ve played something really quite special – the 3rd Movement from SYMPHONY FOR THE BIRDS, released in 1960 by Bob Fassett.  On this remarkable album, Fassett, a radio broadcaster, painstakingly pieced together fragments from recordings of bird calls originally made in the field by Jerry and Norma Stilwell. 

By re-recording some of them faster or slower, and then superimposing multiple playbacks onto one tape, Fassett wove together the results like an arrangement for symphony orchestra. Even if you don't appreciate the art of the work, Symphony for the Birds earns the kind of fascination and admiration one holds for achievements like toothpick models of the Eiffel Tower or the world's biggest ball of string, and eagle-eared listeners will note I’ve been dipping into the album throughout the show.

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL     OLD FRIENDS/BOOKENDS THEME


…and this is for Juliet; it always reminds me of her, and that one day it will be we two sitting on that park bench (like bookends) and how much I'm looking forward to it. It’s from their album BOOKENDS, released 1968.

And that was Mind De-Coder 17. I Hope you enjoyed your trip.

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013

MIND DE-CODER DROPS IN FOR A BITE WITH DRACULA A.D. 1972


First things first – this is not a particularly great movie. For a horror film it’s not particularly scary; whilst not shying away from heaving cleavage, it’s not particularly sexy, and, to some extent, it’s not particularly coherent either: it has the kind of plot holes you can drive hearse through - bodies appear unnoticed (and by unnoticed, I mean by everyone, not just the cast – I must have watched the film 4 or 5 times before I noticed the unexplained body in the dumpster outside the nightclub), or lie unexplained across random tombs, or even just walk off halfway through the film never to reappear – but that being said DRACULA AD.1972 is an enjoyable period romp that (if you’re high enough) transcends the films limitations and instead  celebrates a snapshot of swinging London just as it was drawing to a close. Scenes are shot around Chelsea, a King’s Road coffee bar and a Notting Hill mews – it actually looks out of date, as if it were set four or five years earlier at the height of the sixties and not, well, AD 1972. It’s hard to believe that punk was only four years away.



 The plot is nothing to jump up and down about, but, following a rather exciting fight scene between Van Helsing and Dracula (Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, respectively, both reprising classic roles and hamming it up for all their worth) aboard a runaway stagecoach at the beginning of the film (filmed during the day and on location at Aldenham Country Park in Hertfordshire but with a cheap night filter, no doubt to save a few pennies on a tight budget, so you can’t actually see anything) in which Dracula dies on the end of a broken wagon wheel that rather tiresomely stakes him through the heart, the action jumps forward 100 years to, oh look, 1972, and the tail end of swinging London where we meet a gang of groovy, far out youngsters living for today and otherwise swinging and grooving, gate-crashing posh parties (crazy!), escaping just before the police arrive (madness!) and hanging out in The Cavern, a real live coffee bar along the King's Road to plan their next whacky expoits , you know, looking for escape from a tired scene (hippies, we call ‘em these days). Mis-led by the enigmatically aloof Johnny Alucard – yes, that’s right, this is the one with Johnny Alucard in it, he of the worse anagrammed  surname ever (played by Christopher Neame who’s clearly having a whale of a time) - the gang take part in a perfectly innocent Black Magic ritual (you know, for kicks) in a bombed out church, little knowing that the aloofly enigmatic Alucard has an agenda of his own. Well, as you can imagine, what with the kind of goings-on that actually go on at a Black Mass, one thing inevitably leads to another, blood gets spilled and mixed up with some dehydrated Dracula dust and before you know it, the count is back, working his way through Alucard’s wayward followers, hoping to get his teeth into Jessica Van Helsing (played by Stephanie Beacham and her rather splendid cleavage) the great grand-daughter of the Van Helsing that did for him all that time ago. 


This all possibly sounds better than it actually is but in truth, it’s kind of lame – Dracula, for example, for some reason that remains entirely unexplained, can’t even leave the church, which is a bit poor, given the number of demons Johnny had to invoke to get him back (“I call upon Andras, Grand Marquis of Hell, provoker of discord; and upon RonovĂ©, demon of forbidden knowledge; and upon Behemeoth, arch-devil of the black delights; I call upon Asmodeus, the destroyer; Astaroth, friend of all the great lords of hades; I call upon the many names of prince Satan: Beelzebub, Lucifer – I demand an audience with his Satanic Majesty!” Actually, the Black Mass scene is kind of cool) – so the scheming acolyte is reduced to luring young women back to the churchyard through subterfuge, Camberwell Carrots and the use of some some laid back jazzy vibes on the stereo (“They were all zonked when they recorded this”, he tells a luscious hippy chick, played by the hot Marsha Hunt. “Aren’t they always?”, she replies). Eventually, bodies drained of blood are turning up around town, the police are called in, there’s a very exciting scene in The Cavern (that looks like exactly the sort of place that I'd have hung around in had I not been seven in those days), Johnny gets his come-uppance in way that's never really satsifyingly explained (who knew vampires aren't supposed to take showers?), there's an eventual showdown between Dracula and Van Helsing in the church and it all ends badly for the Count. Again. It’s not generally regarded as one of the better Hammer films.


One of the things that saves the film, however, is, you’ll perhaps be unsurprised to hear, the soundtrack, which was recently given a collectors edition release on CD in 2009. Produced by former Manfred Mann guitarist Mike Vickers it contains a funky blaxploitation feel that places the film very nicely at the right end of the decade; it also features an appearance by little known American pop band Stonewall, a communal ten-piece very much of its time who appear playing at the posh party scene at the beginning of the film, and most excitingly of all, perhaps, a segment by Mind De-Coder favourites White Noise (check out Mind De-Coder 22), the highly experimental electronic pioneers featuring Delia Derbyshire from the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and David Vorhaus, a classical bass player with a background in physics and electronic engineering, whose atonal Black Mass: An Electric Storm In Hell, which largely takes up most of side two of their only album An Electric Storm, released in 1968, is used for the, well, Black Mass scene –a piece of music I’ve never included in Mind De-Coder because it pretty much sounds like it says on the label and I’d be very reluctant to hear it whilst tripping, but its weirdl experimental sound gives that scene an undeniable  psychedelic quality that’s almost hallucinogenic. 


Some films are timeless, others very much of their time. Dracula A.D. 1972, of course, couldn’t more of its time if it tried, what with the date and all, and what was, at the time, supposed to be a modern, shocking thriller, is now best enjoyed as a slightly camp retro period piece in which everyone is taking it all ever so slightly too seriously. If it works at all these days (and I’m not entirely sure it even worked those days), then it’s because it shines a light on a time now sadly gone and as such entertains a kitsch hauntological quality which makes it almost inevitable that I was going to be a fan. Best enjoyed with a spliff, I think. I understand Tim Burton is a big fan too. 

The trailer makes it look fab.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

MIND DE-CODER 16



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“I’ve glimpsed, I have tasted, fantastical places…”


FREDERICK DELIUS     ONE NIGHT ON A RIVER



I don’t know much about your classical music, but I read about this particular piece in Rob Young’s masterful analysis of folk music in the British Isles, ‘Electric Eden – Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music’, in which he draws a direct line between the pastoral classicism of Frederick Delius and the kinds of experiments in hauntology that I’ve been playing a lot of lately. By all accounts One Night On A River is an impressionistic masterpiece - a distilled tone poem, mystical and atmospheric, that paints a picture of mists settling, amidst an ambience of peace and tranquility, over a river on a warm summer night, which I think it does quite nicely. Written in 1911 as one of two pieces written for a small orchestra (the other being On Hearing The First Cuckoo In Spring), it evokes an Edwardian idyll wherein one can see quite clearly Ratty, Mole, Toad and Badger partaking of a glass of Elderberry wine, or perhaps something stronger, with the spirit that would become Syd Barrett, as they picnic lazily on the banks of the Thames; so it comes as something of a surprise to learn that the river in question is the Loing, upon which the wildly blossoming garden of Delius' villa, in the French village of Grez, faced – and where he no doubt spent a meditative hour or two, with a glass of Elderberry wine, or perhaps something stronger.

Welcome to Mind De-Coder 16


THE A. LORDS     FREOHYLL



This gossamer opening track from The A. Lords self-titled debut album, which saw release in 2011, comes from a session recorded over two nights in a dusty old Dorsetshire barn during harvest festival in which microphones were placed in trees outside and under the floorboards to give an authentic rustic air to the songs. Lovely.


ITHACA     JOURNEY 



Regular listeners of the show will know I’m quite the fan of peter Howell and John Ferdinando, two musicians who came together to record incidental music for The Ditchling Players performance of Alice in Wonderland. They were so taken with the result that they released another album under the name of Agincourt, and then a further album under the name of Ithaca. Like their previous albums, A GAME FOR ALL WHO KNOW, released in 1973, was a privately pressed affair of between 50-100 copies, which makes any vinyl copies you may come across insanely rare, but it has, as with their previous albums, been given a CD release. It sounds like a folkier version of whatever Pink Floyd were knocking out at the time, with some nice tape experiments going on, and added vocals from Lee Menalaus (from the Agincourt sessions). I understand that they released a fourth and final album together as Ithaca for which only one vinyl copy was ever created – it is currently owned by a collector in Japan.


SHELAGH McDONALD     STARGAZER


The legendary Shelagh McDonald, with the title track from her second, and what was to be her last, album STARGAZER, released in 1971, shortly before her abrupt and mysterious disappearance later that year. The story goes that following a bad acid trip that left her paranoid and hallucinating for the best part of a month, she returned home to Scotland from London, where she was just making a name for herself as the Scottish Joni Mitchell, and lived with her parents in Edinburgh until she met and married a bookseller with whom she lived a nomadic lifestyle in north Britain, living on welfare benefits and moving from house to house, and later tent to tent.  She resurfaced briefly in 2005 following the CD release of her two albums and suggested she was interested in making music again, but, sadly, since then, nothing has been heard from her.


POSITION NORMAL     SQUEEZE TIME



Position Normal seem to operate in the same rareified atmosphere as your hauntological inspired bands, although they seem to have been doing it for a bit longer. Their first album came out in 1998, and their second, GOODLY TIME, from which this track is taken, was released in 2000. It combines an early Badly Drawn Boy feel with the kind of records your mother bought you from Woolies when you were 8. Super.


WHITE NOISE     THE VISITATION 



Spooky electronic goings-on from White Noise, the experimental band formed in 1968 by David Vorhaus, a classical bass player with a background in physics and electronic engineering, and by Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson, two composers from the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop. Everyone knows this, but I’ll mention it anyway – Derbyshire was responsible for the electronic realization of the Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme, so you can see the kind of background she was working from for the album AN ELECTRIC STORM, from which The Visitation was taken. It seems to be some sort of ghost story, and I actually had to tone it down a bit – the crying and forlorn wailing was bumming me out a bit, so I edited them out of the final mix and just left you with the eerie tape manipulation and the use of the first British synthesizer (the EMS Synthi VCS3, of course).


THE CARETAKER     MOMENTS OF SUFFICIENT LUCIDTY



The Caretaker – James Leyton Kirby to his mother – is an ambient musician who specializes in reworking old ballroom 78s, exploiting their nostalgic characteristics.  Moments Of Sufficient Lucidity is taken from his 2011 release, EMPTY BLISS BEYOND THIS WORLD, a collection of edits of prewar parlor-room music built from layers of sampled 78s and albums. The album was inspired by a 2010 study suggesting that Alzheimer's patients have an easier time remembering information when it's placed in the context of music. Kirby rearranges the music in places, and brings the natural surface noise of the original vinyls in and out of focus making music that mimics the fragmented and inconclusive ways our memories work. In a similar fashion, I have this piece fade away into a psychedelic mĂ©lange that features, at the very least, the work of that semi-legendary producer Esquivel to create something equally as disorientating (if I’ve done my job right).


THE APPLE     BUFFALO BILLYCAN



Psychedelic pop from 1968, from The Apple, a little known Welsh band, whose only album, AN APPLE A DAY, released in 1969, was pretty much ignored by the record buying public of the day, although these days it’s considered something of a lost psychedelic classic – and with tracks like Buffalo Billycan on it, it ought to be.


DANTALION’S CHARIOT     A MADMAN RUNNING THROUGH THE FIELDS


Another band that had only the one single in them, Dantalion’s Chariot’s A Madman Running Through The Fields, released in 1967, is nowadays regarded as one of the essential psychedelic tracks of the 60’s. At the time, though, it was widely ignored by the record buying public. The band split the next year having their debut album rejected by their record label – drummer Andy Summer found a career in The Police, though, so things sort of worked out for him, anyway.


RUSALNAIA     DANDELION WINE



If you’re essentially an acid folk act, you can’t really go wrong with a track called Dandelion Wine, but Rusalnaia (I can’t really be doing with the name), consisting of Gillian Chadwick and Alison Krauss, two artists who have blossomed in the overlapping world of folk, bohemian and psychedelic sounds, shy away from the heavenly voices side of things into a more experimental and raw sounding affair. However, Dandelion Wine, from their debut album, RUSALNAIA, released 2008, does have that fairy-like whimsical quality that a song title like that deserves – the flutes, cello’s and voices overflow into something dizzying and very satisfying indeed.


LOCH LOMOND     ELEPHANTS AND LITTLE GIRLS



Loch Lomond are a 9-piece band from Portland, Oregon, who do a particularly good line in peyote-trip folk rock meditations informed by the darker elements of Celtic music and the druggier side of Americana. Elephants and Little Girls is from the band’s third album, LITTLE ME WILL START A STORM, released in 2011, and is as lovely as the title suggests.


TINKERSCUSS     TO MAKE YOU STAY


To Make You Stay is a gentle seduction of a song which seems to be based upon Lullaby from the Wicker Man soundtrack, although I appear to be the only person to have noticed this. Tinkerscuss (my favourite band name for ages, by the way), two ladies who’ve been performing together since the 70’s, are attracted to story and myth and  all that entails – love, fear, darkness and light that carries a dreadful beauty, so it’s only natural that they would have been attracted to The Wicker Man. This track is from their 2007 album, MYTHAGO, although I first came across it in the very fine compilation album of weird British folk, JOHN BARLEYCORN REBORN, also from that year.


PAUL WELLER     PAPERCHASE



More kaleidoscopic psychedelic pop from Paul Weller who’s been on something of a creative  roll  since 2008’s 22 DREAMS. This year’s SONIK KICKS, from which Paperchase is taken, is once again alive with vocal echoes, Krautrock flourishes, acid-fried aural experimentaion and stereo whooshes through the headphones, but it will be interesting to see whether he can keep it up now that he’s fallen out with collaborator Simon Dine.


SHARON TANDY WITH LES FLEUR DE LYS     HOLD ON



An absolute killer single from underground psych-mod rockers Les Fleur de Lys, one of those cult bands from the 60’s who never gained the recognition they deserved. This was partly due to their never having a hit record, but also due to a number of line-up changes that meant it was difficult to take the band to your heart (at one point I believe they were little known psychedelic pop band Rupert’s People, Shyster and Chocolate Frog as well as being Les Fleur de Lys, none of which sold any records). By 1967 the sixth version of the band were backing South African vocalist Sharon Tandy, with the shockingly under-rated Hold On relegated as a B-Side to her single Stay With Me, before being re-released as an A-side in 1968 as Sharon Tandy with Les Fleur de Lys. It’s one of my favourite singles from that era (swinging London at its most swingingest) and you could probably draw a straight line from there to The Primitives’ Stop Killing Me to Stereolab’s John Cage Bubblegum. Brilliant.


THE PRETTY THINGS     DEFECTING GREY



The late 1967 single Defecting Grey inaugurated the Pretty Things' psychedelic phase and marked a radical break from their previous, heavily blues- and R&B-influenced British Invasion style which I could never be doing with.  It wasn’t a hit, but like many of the singles I’m playing on the show, it’s now regarded as something of a highlight of 1960’s British psychedelia, wildly experimental and not so much a song as a suite of disparate parts, the resulting shifts in sound and imagery resembling the kaleidoscopic effect of an acid trip - it’s all bass-heavy reverberations, backwards guitars, tinkles and flourishes and a waltz-timed verse in which singer Phil May's vocals sound as if they're being filtered through an underwater megaphone. Brilliant.


SAND SNOWMAN     ONE SUMMER



This lovely tune comes from Sand Snowman who’s MySpace page describes his sound as 'a whisper in a world full of shouting, a rainbow in a raindrop, the shadowy corners of a child's psyche, veganism, Van Gogh's "Sain d'Espirit" , De Chirico's Metaphysical afternoons and tall tales in small hours.....', but fortunately I  didn’t let that put me off, because the swooning production of a song like One Summer, taken from the album NOSTALGIA EVER AFTER, released 2010, puts me in mind of the later lush pop-styled Stereolab arrangements, and that’s always going to work for me. 


ANT TRIP CEREMONY     PALE SHADES OF GREY


Named after a book, now long forgotten, in which the author argues that human society is ‘an ant trip ceremony’, this short-lived experimental psych-rock group enjoyed two separate incarnations in 1967, but it was the second line-up that produced their only album, 24 HOURS, a raucous mix garage rock and gauzy psychedelia. They were badly served by their budget which only allowed for the use of the most primitive equipment in the recording studio resulting in a sound that was considerably at odds with what they’d hoped for. 300 hundred copies of the album were produced, which was all they could afford, which they sold at gigs and at the bookstore of the college they attended. These days, of course, its rarity value alone has resulted in a re-release and, whilst it’s no lost classic, it enjoys the occasional compelling number that might otherwise have passed you by, like the lovely Pale Shades Of Grey.

COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH     MAGOO


This delicate little wonder is taken from the band’s second album of 1967 (this was the days when groups were expected to produce an album every six months or so) IT-FEELS-LIKE-I’M-FIXIN’-TO-DIE. It’s a more acoustic affair than their previous album, with the band celebrating their folk roots while still stretching their horizons.

CHILDREN OF ALICE     LIMINAL SPACE (EXCERPT)


Children Of Alice is a collaboration between to ex-Broadcast members – James Cargill and Roj – and Julian House from the Focus Group, who’d previously worked with the group on the hauntological classic BROADCAST AND FOCUS GROUP INVESTIGATE WITCH CULTS OF THE RADIO AGE. This collaboration in some ways picks up where that album left of, minus singer Trish Keenan’s evocative vocals, of course, and so far has been limited to just two or three releases. Liminal Space was released in 2014. It’s a rather aimless piece, truth be told, although ‘impressionistic’ might be a kinder term, created from fragmented collages of a slightly noodling nature but which nevertheless serves as a quality bit of filler.

LILACS AND CHAMPAGNE     ALONE AGAIN AND…


Lilacs & Champagne are the sample-happy duo Alex Hall and Emil Amos of instrumental experimental rock band Grails. Their second album, DANISH AND BLUE, released in 2013, apparently named after a 1968 documentary that advocated for the legalization of pornography in Denmark, offers a warped, psychedelic take on damaged funk and b-movie film scores. Alone Again And… (which name checks Love, of course) is a particularly pretty track that could have gone on all night as far as I’m concerned.


BOEING DUVEEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL SOUP     WHICH DREAMED IT



Boeing Duveen and the Beautiful Soup was the mastermind of Hank Wangford (formerly Sam Hutt), known by the British counter-culture as the ‘rock ‘n’ roll doctor’, who administered to musicians and practiced homeopathy and holistic medicine. The band only released the one single – the zany and yet unsettling Jabberwocky, released 1968, the lyrics taken more or less wholesale from the Lewis Carroll poem, which I will find a home for in a later show. The B-side, Which Dreamed It, is an altogether different affair – gentle acid folk played on sitars and flutes with flowing water and soft voices. As is usual in these cases, the single is now listed in the top 100 psychedelic tunes of all time.


THE BEVIS FROND     CRIES FROM THE INNER MARSHLAND



Since 1987 The Bevis Frond have released over 20 albums of more or less vintage psychedelic rock, reflective acoustic excursions and extended guitar wig-outs, and in truth, I can’t say that I really care for any of them. However, each album usually contains a little nugget of something, or at least a weird filler of backwards noise or suchlike, which is pretty much what this short track is – a weird filler of backwards noise. It’s taken from INNER MARSHLAND, one of three albums they released in 1987. It really irritates me that out of such an extensive back catalogue there’s nothing I can clutch to my heart. Oh, well.


PRIMAL SCREAM     HIGHER THAN THE SUN (AMERICAN SPRING REMIX)



This is more like it – my favourite version of Higher Than The Sun and one of four songs I want played at my funeral, although if the vicar is playing hardball and accepts only one, I think I’ll go with this one (obviously I reserve the right to change my mind on the day). I remember walking home from the opening night of the of their SCREAMADELICA tour at Leicester Square, 1991, with this track swimming round inside my head and feeling completely satisfied on every level – emotionally, physically, spiritually. When I got home I threw up in a wastepaper basket, but the song remains in my head, brightening the world with lost colours and vibrations.

And that was Mind De-Coder 16. Mind your head on the way out now.

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