Tuesday, 26 May 2015


                              MIND DE-CODER 56

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“Objects and their functions no longer had any significance. All I perceived was perception itself…and since the appearance of things was no longer definitive but limitless, this paradisiacal awareness freed me from the reality external to myself”.
                                                                                                                             Federico Fellini


Kemper Norton has what you might call an idiosyncratic approach to making albums that takes traditional instrumentation and places it within dreamlike landscapes of sound, often quite literally. All Through The Night is taken from his second album, LOOR, released last year, an album psycho-geographically located between Cornwall (loor is Cornish for moon) and Sussex, providing something of the resonance of these two coastal counties in both dream and myth. The music shares elements of a hauntological dissonance and pagan folk qualities which uses field recording and digital instruments to create something both personal and ephemeral. All Through The Night is a cover of an 18th century Welsh folk song which keen-eared listeners may recognize from the schmaltzy Christmas version recorded by Olivier Newton John and Michael MacDonald of the Doobie Brothers in 2007, who clearly must have been on something slightly stronger than a doobie to have allowed himself to be talked into partaking of that particular Christmas turkey.


Wyrdstone is a psychedelic, experimental guitar project created by East Sussex resident Clive Murrell, a man clearly at home to the likes of The Incredible String Band, Anne Briggs, Bibio, Espers, Voice Of The Seven Woods, Linda Perhacs, Boards Of Canada, Bert Jansch, Claude Vasori, BBC Radio 4, Thomas Charles Lethbridge, The Trumptonshire Chronicles and other noises inspired by the beauty, myth and strangeness of the English countryside. This lovely understated little tune can be found on THE FIRST ACTIVE LISTENER ACID FOLK SAMPLER, released in 2012, a compendium of all that is weird and lovely in your acid folk circles.


Gentle psychedelia, but none the less affecting for all that, from the splendidly named Doctor Marmalade’s Pink Peppermint Slice, a band that clearly lays out its wares in its moniker alone. But that’s pretty much all they do. You can search in vain for them online but all I’ve been able to discover is that they, or indeed, he, may be from Melbourne. I found this track on the ACTIVE LISTENER SAMPLER VOL. 5, my go-to site for all things new and wonderful in the world of psychedelia.


Some Indian vibes from Peter Walker, Timothy Leary’s musical arranger for many a trip. I keep returning to this album, ‘SECOND POEM TO KARMELA’ OR GYPSIES ARE IMPORTANT, released in 1968, because it seems saturated with a particularly acid folk vibe that kind of leaks into a trip likes clouds of patchouli scent. Some research reveals that the somewhat mysterious album title is both a reference to the courtesan Karmela with whom Siddhartha spends his middle years in Herman Hesse’s novel of the same name (I expect, like me, when I happened across this fact, you’re now slapping your forehead with a weak cry of “Of course she is! Now that you come to mention it, I can imagine that something hauntingly similar to this particular track was exactly the sort of thing with which Siddhartha wooed his dusky lover Karmela, no doubt reclining upon silk cushions of harem-like comfort, safe in his true love’s arms, passing away the hours between twilight and dawn whilst peacocks call to each other on night-scented summer lawns, and musky scents tease and tantalize the senses, as he plucked  gently on his sitar like a good ‘un (until he realized, of course, that the luxurious lifestyle he had chosen was merely a game; empty of spiritual fulfilment; and that time is an illusion and that all feelings and experiences, even those of suffering, are part of a great and ultimately jubilant fellowship of all things connected in the cyclical unity of nature), or something. I wonder why it’s called Socco Chico, though?”, you no doubt added, thoughtfully. Is it an allusion to the belief held by Walker that Spanish gypsies came from India and brought raga with them when they arrived in Andalucia, inspiring within him a love of both flamenco and classical Indian music? Yes, it probably is. Now, if we can just find out what Socco Chico means…


Possibly the least psychedelic track on this evening’s show, but one which boasts the most resolutely psychedelic title.  The two Arthurs are actually Matt Hart and Tom Ball, the two Martha’s are Tom's sister Esther and Mary Douglas, whose harmony-drenched, melancholy-tinged, folk songs put them around the same campfire as the Mamas and Papas (if that inestimable band had actually spent any time round a campfire in Herefordshire, say), although there is a touch of Stuart Murdoch’s God Help The Girl in there too. None of this is to detract from the loveliness of this song, or from the album whence it came, THE HIT WORLD OF…MARTHAS AND ARTHURS, released 2012; the pastoral folk and layered harmonies thereon mean it’s seldom off the turntable in these here parts.


Bibio, or Stephen Wilkinson to his mum, creates a sweetly disorienting world of woozy melodies and dusty, saturated, sepia-tinged folk that combines analogue tape and vintage recording equipment with a blend of experimental electronica which places it somewhere between a Warp records demo and flicking aimlessly through late night channels looking for a documentary about the fading memories of childhood. This is the opening track from an album called OVALS AND EMERALDS, released 2009, an album of eerie carnival-esque melodies and skewed folktronica (a word I swore never to use, but can’t really come with anything else).


Cosmic vibes, majestic strings and other Beatle-esque psych-drenched effects are all featured in this track from 2012’s ALLIGATORS EAT GUMDROPS, as well as a few brief tape samples used in a pleasingly psychedelic manner. Green Faery melds laughing gnome sentiment washed down with a tot of absinthe. Marvellous.


I could never be doing with the cover (Patti Smith thought it ate shit and I’m not one to disagree), but I’m a big fan of this album. Essentially the recorded highlights of two separate gigs the band played in 1969, 1969: THE VELVET UNDERGROUND LIVE WITH LOU REED was released in 1974 to cash in on Lou Reed’s successful solo career but nevertheless contains some of their best work: New Age is one of the most heroically saddest songs I’ve ever heard; their version of Sweet Jane is definitive; and What Goes On stops me dead in my tracks in order to properly blow my mind every time I hear it. This is a band at the peak of their power.


Orval Carlos Sibelius (known to his mother as the equally cool Alex Monneau) is a French psychedelic popster by day and a member of a medieval prog folk quartet by night (or perhaps the other way round). His third album SUPER FORMA, released in 2014, is a krautrock informed mix of exotic, psychedelic forms that take in The Beach Boys, My Bloody Valentine, Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Joe Meek and fellow countrymen Air along the way, coagulating into a heady brew of synesthesia and pop loveliness. Burundi is actually the hidden track at the end of the CD, available only to those who bought the physical version of the album - 14 minutes of hypnotic rhythms and musique concrète that meld the avant-garde psych folk of the Beta Band with Damon Albarn’s African experiments. It’s pretty far out.


Noel Gallagher might have been too frightened of going weird, but Syd Arthur embraced the opportunity to work with Amorphous Androgynous and gave them a handful of tracks to work with resulting in the vinyl only 2014 release A MONSTROUS PSYCHEDELIC BUBBLE (REMIXES BY THE AMORPHOUS ANDROGYNOUS), an album that turns up the saturation of the psychedelic dimensions within the Syd Arthur sonic universe and puts them firmly at 11.


This is the A-side to the vinyl version of the Moon Wiring Club’s LEPORINE PLEASURE GARDENS, released earlier this year by Ian Hodgson. On this version, the beats found on the CD version are pretty much replaced with a sepia-toned, crackling patina of voices woven in and out of the ambient fabric, lending Aubade a tipsy, dreamy, stumbling sense of motion through its elaborate narration to replicate the feeling of drowsy summer games on the lawn with a surreal subtext of its own waiting to be deciphered - it's just the ticket for daydreaming bedsit dwellers and dilapidated aristocrats alike.  


Their first album, INTO THE DIAMOND SUN, had a kraut/acid folk vibe going for it that suggested that Stealing Sheep had a lot of ideas and a lot of directions they were chomping at the bit to explore. With their new album, NOT REAL, released earlier this year, they deliver synthesisers into the mix but rather than detract from their folk roots and choral-pop vocals, the heavy synths and eclectic instrumentation give the band’s breezy sound an ever evolving quality. The seemingly throwaway Evolve and Expand, apart from being a mission statement, is as a disquieting piece of psychedelic whimsy as you are like to hear.   


Cyclobe make hallucinatory electronic soundscapes, mixing together sampled and heavily synthesized sounds with acoustic arrangements for a variety of instruments that, at any time, might include the hurdy-gurdy, border pipes, a duduk or a clarinet. Their approach draws upon diverse forms, including acousmatic, drone music, sound collage, folk and progressive rock. At the very least they create what you might call a mesmerising sound. The Hills Are Alive With The Smell Of His Coming, is taken from their 2011 release, WOUNDED GALAXIES TAP AT THEIR WINDOWS, an album title that tells you almost everything you need to know about the sounds contained therein. This 17 minute track is built upon a simple, yet darkly exotic backbone of kalimba and pipes and then builds to include discordant cello and squealing strings that sound like the swirling spirits of the damned; but in a good way.


Just a short excerpt from the otherwise 15 minute Floydian dub collage that is The Monolith, taken from their second EP, THE PATTY PATTY SOUND, originally released in 1998 but which found its way onto their finest moment, The Three EPs released later that same year. No one would particularly wish to listen The Monolith twice – it kind of outstays its welcome – but I don’t mind having it on in the background, on a Sunday evening say, while I’m preparing dinner (sorry, that’s not a very psychedelic confession, is it?). I’ve used the bit where they seem to be sampling something Martin Denny/Arthur Lyman-ish; a speeded up version of something that sounds like it belongs on one of their exotica albums (of which I own plenty), but, crucially, for a band that’s quite happy to admit that they sample a backwards washing machine on full spin, or even one of their own songs on this track (Dry The Rain), there is not mention of a Martin Denny/Arthur Lyman sample anywhere on the credits. Maybe I need to dig deeper. Or maybe I need to dig out my exotica collection.


This was found in a pile of old albums at the back of the radio station recently and we all embraced it into our shows. I know nothing about the band – their album, THE TUI TRIO, was released in 1965, but other than that they have managed to leave very little online trace of their goings-on, although I understand from the album’s sleeve notes that iconic folksters Peter, Paul and Mary were quite the fans. I’ve played around with it a little but, lovely, though, isn’t it?



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