MIND DE-CODER 90
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To listen to the show just scroll to the bottom of the page
Love is everything.
Okay, but what else did you learn?
No - you must not have heard me; it's everything!
AXE THE CHILD DREAMS
There’s obscure, and then there’s Axe, or possibly Axe Music, or possibly Crystalline, a short-lived psych-prog outfit from Northampton, fronted by the mesmerising Countess Vivienne (a stage name, but nevertheless, an enticing one). The band recorded only twelve acetate copies of an album in 1969, which, had it been released, would have been called MUSIC or possibly AXE MUSIC – it's this sort of thing that made them obscure. Alas, the album remained unreleased until 1991 by which time the band had long since been lost to ye olde psychedelic mysts of tyme, revealing an album of progressive folk broadly at home to Jefferson Airplane and none the worse for that – Countess Vivienne’s vocals soar and the band remain one of the great lost acts of the 70s, of which, let’s face it, there are many.
ICARUS PEEL MUSEUM OF MY MIND
Released as one of four tracks on EVOLVER, a free sampler EP for the pioneering and forward-thinking psych label, Mega Dodo records in 2014, Museum Of My Mind, showcases the lysergic sensibilities of the fancifully named Icarus Peel, frontman for West Country psychedelicists The Honey Pot, and The Crystal Jacqueline Band. The track features a distinctly atmospheric laden psychedelic opening sequence that settles into something decidedly strange. Rather fittingly, given the title, I think Sigmund Freud gets a mention.
THE CHURCHILLS OPEN UP YOUR EYES
Who would have ever have imagined that one of the most highly tripped out albums of the classic psychedelic period would have come from Israel? Released in 1968, their debut album CHERCHILIM (or צ'רצ'ילים, if you will), is heavily influenced by both West Coast psychedelia and late-'60s British hard rock with a garage-Doors vibe going on. Following the success of this album they moved to England and changed their name to Jericho Jones, and then Jericho, to pursue a heavier sound that I can’t really be doing with.
KALEIDOSCOPE KEEP YOUR MIND OPEN
The debut album from Kaleidoscope, SIDE TRIPS, released in 1967, plays like a mind-boggling combination of Summer of Love acid-rock, goodtime saloon music and a Middle Eastern jam session – in fact, they performed in so many different styles, including folk and jazz, that they were arguably one of the progenitors of World Music. When they entertained the wide-eyed customers of San Francisco's Fillmore and Avalon Ballrooms and Los Angeles' Ash Grove, they frequently employed flamenco and belly dancers onstage. Not to be confused with the English psychedelic band who were performing at the same time with the same name, the American Kaleidoscope contributed two songs to Michelangelo Antonioni's ‘Zabriskie Point’, and supported Cream on their American farewell tour, but split up soon afterwards.
MOODY BLUES VISIONS OF PARADISE (PLANET L MIX)
This sublimely lovely track is, in fact, comprised of the original recording that appears on their 1968 masterpiece, IN SEARCH OF THE LOST CHORD, segued onto an instrumental version of the same track that became available with the 50th anniversary reissue of the album last year, and I did this because I enjoyed it so much I wanted it to last just a little bit longer. The vocal version is a simple affair, pretty much consisting of a flute riff and softly picked acoustic, but the instrumental version includes the use of sitar which adds a suitably exotic vibe to a song that’s already pretty far out. Lovely stuff. The Moody Blues were so under-rated, but their run of late sixties albums, of which this is the second, are almost transcendentally trippy.
THE MOVE WALK UPON THE WATER
I’ve recently come to rediscover The Move, and have enjoyed listening to lost little psychedelic classics hidden away on the b-sides of their singles. Walk Upon The Water can be found on the b-side to their killer 1968 single Fire Brigade as well as appearing on their debut album MOVE. The album never quite holds together, incorporating too many styles, but when they focussed on producing colourful kaleidoscopic psych-pop (instead of the Eddie Cochran covers, say) they burnt with an intensity that was white-hot.
THE FIRE TREACLE TOFFEE WORLD
A marvellous psych-pop treat, Treacle Toffee World was the b-side to the equally fine Father’s Name Is Dad, their debut single released in 1968. Treacle Toffee World exemplifies the playful, toy-town nature of British psychedelia, a genre of music at home to Edward Lear, Alice in Wonderland, Listen With Mother, Kenneth Grahame, The Goons, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, Lord Kitchener and his valet, and, of course, fairy cakes and ginger beer for tea. The band went on to produce a concept album based upon the whimsical children’s bedtime story ‘The Magic Shoemaker’ but by 1970 people, in the shape of the record buying public, had very much turned against this sort of thing and it tanked on release. Nowadays, of course, it’s a much sought-after curio.
GANDALF NATURE BOY
An enjoyable, psych-infused cover of the Eden Ahbez classic Nature Boy, recorded in 1968 by Gandalf for their only album, an eponymous affair, which featured nice baroque-speckled flourishes but which was largely sabotaged by their record company who released the album in 1969 with the wrong record in the sleeve. The band, understandably failed to recover from this mishap.
THE TRANSPERSONALS I’M NOT A SEEKER, I’M A FOUNDER
Propulsive, mesmerising beats from The Transpersonals, who’s 2011 release, KISS GOODBYE TO FREEWILL (THE PERILS OF CHEERLEADING) is a lysergic mix of euphoric psychedelia. Their cosmically tripped out sound owes as much to Terrence McKenna and Daniel Pinchbeck as it does The Pixies, or The Doors, but their sound transcends their influences, resulting in a giddy rush of kaleidoscopic goodness to the head.
IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY WHITE BIRD
San Francisco psychedelic folk-rock band It’s A Beautiful Day never found the fame accorded their contemporaries Jefferson Airplane or the Grateful Dead, and they missed out playing Woodstock to Santana on the flip of a coin, but they nevertheless enjoyed their day in the (Californian) sunshine with the haunting FM radio staple White Bird, in 1969. Their only album, a self-titled affair, was a combination of San Francisco Bay Area psychedelia, folk, classical and jazz, but they were doomed to be a foot-note to the West Coast psychedelic era.
THE DANDELION MALKAUS
A groovy little instrumental piece from The Dandelion, which manages to capture something at the heart of the underground psychedelic experience with their mix of musical spells. With a sound like seeds turning into flowers they bring gifts for the Goddess of magical powers, and their 2015 release, the aptly named SEEDS, FLOWERS AND MAGICAL POWERS OF THE DANDELIONS, is a lysergic mix of kaleidoscopic sounds projecting images of galactic space travel, pagan witchcraft, love, ethereal energies and a blend of East meets West rhythms and melodies.
BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE POPPIES (FOR MR. ALLERTON)
Possibly the oddest track on this evening’s show, Cree folk-singer Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Poppies is taken from her 1969 release ILLUMINATIONS, the one in which she eschewed the folk stylings of her previous albums and, instead, tried something truly experimental, replacing the more familiar acoustic adornments of her earlier work with voice-based electronics, tubular bells, and an early Buchla synthesizer which weaves mesmerising otherworldly sounds throughout an album which breaks down the barriers between folk music, rock, pop, European avant-garde music and Native American styles. Poppies (For Mr. Allerton) is one of the most tripped out, operatic, druggily beautiful medieval ballads ever psychedelically sung. Despite being one of the most ground-breaking albums ever made – it was also the first to contain quadrophonic vocals - the album sunk without a trace. These days, of course, it’s considered a classic, a unique journey into a world of magic and mystery, chilling and haunted, mythic and ecstatic. God is alive…magic is afoot indeed.
TEMPLES HOT MOTION
For their third release, HOT MOTION, Temples have pretty much made an album that sits as an amalgamation of their first two – a combination of psych-rock, prog-rock and art-rock that’s as home as much to Tame Impala as it is that difficult patch Pink Floyd inhabited before finding their way post-Syd. The cinematic title track boasts chunky riffs and catchy hooks and enjoys a gloriously technicolour feel, but the album still feels a little safe – I'm still waiting to see where they'll go next.
GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI MEIRION WYLLT
I dug out Gorky’s BARAFUNDLE album the other day and was blown away at how mesmerizingly inventive it still sounds. The full-on electric crunch of Meirion Wyllt sits alongside tender pastoral psych and medieval left turns. Even though this was to be their major label debut, released in 1997 at the height of Brit-Pop, you never get the impression that the magic mushrooms were too far away.
MODERN NATURE TURBULANCE
The city and the country both have distinct, vibrant energies - but there’s something happening in between, too. For their debut album, HOW TO LIVE, Modern Nature explore the weird mix of urban and rural as factories give way to fields, and highways drift into gravelly roads - think of the way a nuclear power station sits next to open grasslands, or the cover of Rob Young's account of England's visionary folk scene, Electric Eden, and you’ll get this album’s reference points. Plaintive cello strains melt into motorik beats, pastoral field recordings drift through looping guitar figures. Turbulence is the album’s most fragile moment, a lilting melody not unlike John Lennon’s Julia, plaintive and reflective – elsewhere the album is all elegance and charm, the dissonance of city sounds married to the breathier tones of the countryside. Quite lovely.
THE SÉANCE ELM GROVE PORTAL
For it’s most recent, and final, release of the year A YEAR IN THE COUNTRY has released THE QUIETENED JOURNEY, an exploration of abandoned and former railways, railway stations and roads; a reflection on them as locations filled with the history, ghosts and spectres of once busy vibrant times - the journeys taken via them, the stories of the lives of those who travelled, built and worked on them.
Nature is slowly reclaiming, or has already reclaimed, much of this infrastructure, with these testaments to industry and “the age of the train” being often left to quietly crumble and decay.
THE QUIETENED JOURNEY is both a celebration and a lament for these now faded links across the land, of the grand dreams and determination which created them and their layered histories that - as these asphalt ribbons, steel lines and stone built roads once prominently were - are threaded throughout the twentieth century and even back to Roman times.
The Séance – St. Etienne’s Pete Wiggs and fellow radio host James Papademetrie – offer up a hauntological treat, something suitably decaying and abandoned.
MOON WIRING CLUB CROMLECH TECHNOLOGY
For his new release, CAVITY SLABS, Ian Hodgson’s Moon Wiring Club are exploring the eerily wonky world of Northern Edwardian-Neo-Elizabethan Psychedelic Hallucinatory Occult Landscape Breakbeat, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the album, except to add that this is rave music to be enjoyed in a haunted manor house.
VANISHING TWIN YOU ARE NOT AN ISLAND
Given that it’s the time of year when people make lists and proclamations of one sort or another, this seems as good a time as any to note that Vanishing Twin’s AGE OF IMMUNOLOGY is pretty much my album of the year. It is an album perfectly at home to its reference points - Brazilian psych-jazz, narcotic northern soul, Krautrock, Sun Ra, Ennio Morricone and Serge Gainsbourg can all be found here, but the album transcends these influences to inhabit the psych-pop soundscapes explored by Broadcast. This isn’t a lazy comparison – Vanishing Twin are the natural successors to Broadcast’s legacy, effortlessly weaving their style through multiple mediums. You Are Not An Island is a serene and beautiful meditational odyssey beamed in from a future we never really experienced.
THE K FOUNDATION K SERA SERA (WAR IS OVER IF YOU WANT IT)
I only came across this last week, the recording having received a mention in Mick Houghton’s epic account of his years as a publicist to just about all my favourite bands, ‘Fried and Justified’. It seems that in 1993, some time after walking away from the music industry, Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty felt compelled to release the track as a limited edition single in Israel and Palestine in acknowledgement of the brave steps taken by the then Israeli Government and the PLO to search for some middle ground by which they might come together. Up until that point, the track had been recorded but wasn’t scheduled to be released until world peace was established (i.e. never), but they thought that the two historically antagonistic parties coming together in the spirit of peace was deserving of some kind of recognition (you couldn’t imagine anything like this happening nowadays under the current Israeli administration, say). Featuring The Red Army Choir, there were plans to broadcast the track from the main stage of the 1993 Glastonbury Festival at the beginning and end of every day, but these were scuppered by festival organiser Michael Eavis because, in his words, the record was "simply dreadful".
I think it enjoys a certain something, though.