MIND DE-CODER 63
To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page
To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page
“If you want a kinky caper, then suck a blotting paper”
Whispering Jim Narg
ATTICUS ROSS BLACK HOLE
This opening track is taken from the soundtrack to the movie LOVE AND MERCY: THE LIFE, LOVE AND GENIUS OF BRIAN WILSON, which was released last year to plaudits and acclaim. Ross does something very special with score, creating ambient mash-ups of The Beach Boy’s music that suggest something of the noises in Wilson’s head, waiting to be willed into existence. Given that, to a genius-lacking degree, this is the process by which a Mind De-Coder show is put together, it seemed like an appropriate way to get the show underway.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE COSMIC INFERNO DANCE WITH SPACE GYPSY QUEEN
For what was possibly their 45th album release, and certainly their third for 2013, Kawabata Makoto’s Acid Mothers Temple have adopted the Cosmic Inferno moniker to denote that the enticingly named DOOBIE WONDERLAND is a hard rock album, although, in this instance, this is hard rock as played by Sunn O))) at a child’s 5th birthday party (with balloons and everything). Coming in a little over 13 minutes, Dance With Space Gypsy Queen, is by no means the shortest track on the album, but it’s the one with a surf rock riff that will take you to the cosmos and leave you there, jamming with Weird and Gilly as they kick back with Hawkwind now that David Bowie has left the arena. In fact, it’s the best child’s birthday party you’ve never been invited to.
MOON WIRING CLUB WAKE CRITIQUE
More hauntological noodling’s from Ian Hodgson’s Moon Wiring Club, whose latest release, 2015’s PLAYCLOTHES FROM FARAWAY PLACES, is my current repository for all things curious and otherworldly.
THE ROLLING STONES 2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME
I was playing THEIR SATANIC MAJESTIES REQUEST the other day and realised that I still can’t quite decide whether it’s an under-rated psychedelic classic or drug-addled tosh which, at the very least, makes it an exceptional album, if nothing else. I also realised that despite including the very fine 2000 Light years From Home at least twice on the show, it’s always been as part of mash-up affair; so I thought it time to play the track in all its dark glory. This is about as far out as the Stones ever got – in order to come back they had to jettison Brian Jones and, whilst I can imagine that he was difficult, troubled fellow traveller at best of times, he was for me the embodiment of The Rolling Stones, and they were never the same again.
THE CROCHETED DOUGHNUT RING TWO LITTLE LADIES (AZALEA AND RHODODENDRON)
Some bands only have one single in them – that’s all they need to make good their musical statement to the world – but at one point The Crocheted Doughnut Ring barely had that. Such was the rush to release their debut single, Two Little ladies, in 1967, that they didn’t have time to record a b-side, so producer Peter Eden took the a-side, all tinkering harpsichord, swirling kaleidoscopic effects, tinkling teacups and frequent shifts in tempo - the epitome of that particularly British brand of toy-town psychedelia - and with some deft tape manipulation, phasing, echo and distortion, vaporised the track into pure abstraction and called it Nice. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, this was the side that all the pirate radio stations wanted to play - according to the legend, it was considered too far out for John Peel to play on the newly formed Radio One. At some point or other, the two versions were segued into each other and that’s the version I’m playing here. In actual fact, Crocheted Doughnut Ring had two or three more singles in them but they never troubled the charts in England and they were doomed to become little more than a foot-note in psychedelic history.
STANLEY UNWIN HI-DE-FIDO
The inimitable Stanley Unwin, from his debut album, ROTATEY DISKERS WITH UNWIN, released 1960, on which the great comedian draws upon his career as a technician for the BBC to ‘de-mystify’ the recording process. I’m so taken with track I return to it throughout the show – unquestionably a bit audibold for the eardrobes.
THE IDLE RACE WORN RED CARPET
The Idle Race appear to have been the missing link between The Move and ELO, with various band members going on to join either of those bands. They were in fact a critically regarded band in their own right, but unfortunately that never transferred into record sales, and despite famous admirers such as The Beatles and Marc Bolan, the band failed to catch fire with the public. Worn Red Carpet was the b-side to the Jeff Lynne composed single, Days Of The Broken Arrows, which also failed to storm the charts, but stardom beckoned elsewhere.
THE VIRGIN SLEEP LOVE
A terrific little single from The Virgin Sleep, a short-lived psychedelic rock group (I nearly found myself using the word ‘combo’ there) who were happy to adopt a few Eastern overtones into their sound as the Summer of Love reigned o’er olde London Town. Didn’t do them much good. Their debut single Love, released 1967, was largely unacknowledged by the listening public, and one more single later they were gone – a footnote of a footnote.
THE PRIMITIVES ALL THE WAY DOWN
This is one of two versions of this track produced by The Primitives between the release of their debut album LOVELY but before the release of their second album PURE in 1989. It was on the b-side to their single Way Behind Me and features guitarist Paul Court on vocals and not the lovely Tracy Tracy, who I think provides tambourine. Oh, well. I like both versions but this version has a post-Velvets squall to it that I find particularly attractive.
PETE COOK AND DUDLEY MOORE PSYCHEDELIC BABY
Pete and Dud were way ahead of the game – LSD had barely arrived on the scene and was a delight shared by only the most swingingest of the London set, and they were already satirising it on a flexi-disc that came with the December issue of Private Eye in 1966 – possibly the first time that the word LSD or psychedelic appears in English music. It is also noteworthy for being the first to name blotting paper as a useful way of dropping acid. Dudley Moore, by way of a good anecdote, was a patient and friend of John Riley, the society dentist who spiked John Lennon and George Harrison’s drink with LSD at a party and so more or less invented REVOLVER, SGT. PEPPER’S and The Summer of Love the following year. Psychedelic Baby is torturously difficult to obtain – there’s a YouTube clip of some guy singing the song all the way through by way of example before asking for someone to send him a link to the song somewhere, anywhere - but should you be interested, you can find it on an album called THE DEAD PARROT SOCIETY: THE BEST OF BRITISH COMEDY, released in 1993.
THE NICE THE DIAMOND HARD BLUE APPLES OF THE MOON
The Nice, of course were one of those bands who straddled that whole psychedelic/prog crossover - probably invented it, in fact - and were too clever by half. Keyboardist Keith Emmerson went on to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but it was with The Nice that he first tasted commercial success. The Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon was the b-side to their marvellous take on Leonard Bernstein’s America, released in 1968, to which they added a bit of Dvořák's New World Symphony and renamed America (Second Amendment) – the world’s first instrumental protest record, according to Emerson. The Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon has a spikey feel to it and in no way points to the pomposity that was to come.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA STAGE OR SCREEN
I included this in the show because it sounds messed up, but then, so do many of the tracks on the band’s third album MULTI-LOVE, released in 2015. In true psychedelic fashion, the production is as important as the music, and on this album, singer/songwriter/producer Ruban Nielson features the studio as an extra instrument, corroding and tripping out the sounds. Marvellous.
PRIMAL SCREAM PRIVATE WARS
Acid-folk loveliness from Primal Scream’s current release, CHAOSMOSIS, released earlier this year. Who’d have thought it? But, in truth, it’s a schizophrenic album that doesn’t quite know whether it’s one thing or another, touching a number of eclectic bases. On the other hand, judging by the gorgeous pastoral vibe thing going on in Private Wars, psych-folk might be an intriguing way forward for the band so obviously in search of a direction. Can you see Bobby Gillespie putting aside Maggot Brain for The Garden Of Jane Delawney in time for the next album? The very question has quite the appeal to it, don’t you think?
THE SMALL FACES THE AUTUMN STONE
I mean, I don’t think anyone would mind if Primal Scream sounded like this for a while. The Autumn Stone is the title track from an album released posthumously following the departure of the otherwise chirpy Steve Marriot from the band during the recording of what would have been their 3rd LP. Released in 1969 it serves both as a retrospective of the band’s developing sound and a suggestion of what their future direction might have been. The achingly beautiful title track signposted the way many other rock groups would choose to go.
EERIE WANDA MIRAGE
Eerie Wanda is the very fine sound of Dutch singer/songwriter Marina Tadic and the rhythm section of Jacco Gardner's backing band coming together to create some woozy, captivating songs that are ever so slightly psychedelic and ever so slightly weird on their debut album, HUM, released earlier this year. It’s as if Courtney Barnett has got this whole Francoise Hardy thing going on with some lovely off-centre experimental flourishes thrown into the mix that’s otherwise shambling and day-dreamy. Really quite lovely.
JIM FASSETT STRANGE TO YOUR EARS (excerpt)
Jim Fassett was musical director for CBS Radio (not to mention the intermission announcer for the New York Philharmonic) who found himself obsessed with one of those new, fangled gadgets called a ‘tape recorder’ that had been around since the mid-1940s. Fortunately for him, CBS Radio happened to own three of them, allowing Fassett and tape engineer Morty Goldberg, to record and corrupt sounds to their heart’s content. STRANGE TO YOUR EARS, released in 1955, is a beginner’s guide to tape manipulation and musique concrete experimentation, narrated by Fassett with a true amateur’s enthusiasm for speeding things up and then slowing them down again.
BARNABY RUDGE JOE, ORGAN AND CO.
There was no Barnaby Rudge, he was a studio creation, created by studio hand Wil Malone at the Morgan Studios in North London, sounding for all the world like a Deram-era David Bowie single. Joe, Organ & Co is prime example of what author Rob Chapman referred to as the British psychedelic music hall tradition. Focussing on the adventures of the titular organ grinder and his monkey, it is a simple piece punctuated by sound effects and undercut by a slightly downbeat lyric, the entire package reflecting the child-like nature of a lot of psychedelic pop records of the period. As you might imagine, the single, released in 1968 eluded success in the charts although Wil Malone would find greater success in the nineties, working on the string arrangements for Massive Attack and The Verve.
JIM FASSETT STRANGE TO YOUR EARS (excerpt)
At this point I returned to Jim Fassett and had the sound drift away into some found sound excerpts from David Toop’s OCEAN OF SOUND, released in 1996 to accompany his book Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds examination of how ambient music taps into the disturbing, chaotic undertow of the environment. What you heard were excerpts from The Music Of Horns And Whistles from the Vancouver soundscape, howler monkeys in their natural habitat and the opening few minutes from a Shunie Omizutori Buddhist Ceremony. This found resolution in…
GAVIN BRIARS (excerpts from) THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC
This is a fascinating work by British minimalist composer Gavin Bryars. Inspired by the story that the band on the RMS Titanic continued to perform as the ship sank in 1912, it recreates how the music performed by the band would reverberate through the water some time after they ceased performing. Composed between 1969 and 1972 it finally saw release in 1975 on Brian Eno’s Obscure Records, but was subsequently recorded in 1990, which is where these tracks - interlude, hymn iii, opening part ii, titanic lament – come from. According to Bryars, the music goes through a number of different states, reflecting an implied slow descent to the ocean bed which give a range of echo and deflection phenomena, allied to considerable high frequency reduction, but then, that’s exactly the sort of thing you’d expect him to say.
If that wasn’t enough, I also include a few minutes from Dormin Slowly Died With The Radio On, a Scarfolk Records release, no less, recorded in 1974 and otherwise the debut ambient album from the artist known as Ragle, stage name of Eddie Rumpburn who was the manager of Twazzle's Hardware shop on East Twazzle Parade between 1970 and 1978. The album was called DORMIN DIED SLOWLY WITH THE RADIO ON. PARTS 1-82, but I only play part 71. It won 2nd prize at the Scarfolk harvest festival, having lost out to Gary Butters from Scarfolk primary school, class 5, who came 1st with his song Eagle Eye Action Man.
CHILDREN OF ALICE HARBINGER OF SPRING
Children Of Alice is project by Broadcast’s James Cargill, ex-Broadcast keyboardist Roj and The Focus Group’s Julian House, whose sound has a hauntological provenance that puts them in the same ballpark, or perhaps that should be potting shed, as the Moon Wiring Club. Wearing those said hauntological credentials proudly, Harbinger Of Spring, released in 2013, forms one side of the DEVON FOLKLORE TAPES VOL. 5 cassette, part of an open-ended research project exploring the vernacular arcana of Great Britain and beyond in which the myths, mysteries, magic and strange phenomena of the old counties are traversed via abstracted musical reinterpretation and experimental visuals. It is, as you can imagine, a project that’s right up my street and Harbinger Of Spring doesn’t disappoint. Throughout its 18-minutes it emphasizes a gentle psychedelic soundworld and mood of pastoral reverie that takes in arcane references to mechanical clock chimes; a cuckoo springing forth with a drawn-out, distorted cry which is multiplied to sound like the plaintive cries of estuarine waders; the sound of giggling children; LP surface hiss and crackle; a hazily impressionistic, Delius-like reverie; wobbly tape effects, with reels sped up or slowed down; the Clangers; a music box stuck on a playing a looped fragment of Someday My Prince Will Come and the anonymous 13th century song Sumer Is Icumen in, familiar to many as the cheerful ditty which the Summer Islanders chant, merrily swaying in time, as they burn poor old Sergeant Howie to death at the end of the Wicker Man - an aural daydream, a mental meander through inner worlds akin to Alice’s journey down the rabbit hole. Quite marvellous, then, but without a unifying tune or melody, so right in the middle of it I play…
SHE DREW THE GUN IF SHE COULD SEE
She Drew The Gun, fronted by songwriter Louisa Roach, offer dreamy lyrical psych-pop from the banks of the Mersey. Their debut album, MEMORIES OF THE FUTURE, produced by The Coral’s James Skelly and released later this month, is a dark but dreamlike collection of stories from Roach’s life and imagination caught in a bubble of psych-tinged pop. On If She Could See they appear to be channelling the spirit of Nancy Sinatra at a magic mushroom tea party with Portishead, which means it sits very nicely amidst the pastoral goings on of Children Of Alice, to which we return for the second half of Harbinger Of Spring.
FUSCHIA ANOTHER NAIL
A marvellous track, this, from Fuschia’s self-titled debut album, released in 1971, a masterpiece of folk-prog stylings from the heady days of the London psychedelic underground that went completely un-noticed at the time of its release. Over the years it picked up cult status, prompting singer-songwriter Tony Durant to follow it up with a sequel some 40 years or so later.