Tuesday, 25 October 2016

MIND DE-CODER HALLOWEEN SPECIAL2016

MIND DE-CODER HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2016


“Quick, Jimmy, put down your sandwich – something is amiss!”

VINCENT PRICE     PROLOGUE (excerpt)


What better way to begin than the show than with the florid tones of Vincent Price who, on this 1969 release, WITCHCRAFT-MAGIC: AN ADVENTURE IN DEMONOLOGY, a double-album no less, gives a 105-minute crash-course in the occult taking in the history of witchcraft through the bible, the middle-ages, the Spanish Inquisition and through to Nazi Germany before turning to practical instruction in ye dark arts with handy hints on how ‘How to invoke spirits, demons, unseen forces’, ‘how to make a pact with the Devil’ and ‘Curses, Spells, Charms’. Not for the faint of heart. 

BAUHAUS     BELA LUGOSI’S DEAD


Probably the band that invented Goth, but you shouldn’t hold that against them. I was quite the fan in the day. Think of it more as Gothick-Romantick pseudo-decadence if it makes you feel better. Bela Lugosi’s Dead, all 9 minutes of it, was released in 1979 as the group’s debut single and managed to sound like nothing I’d ever heard before, and this was at a time when Public Image, Gang of Four and Joy Division were pushing the post-punk landscape into ever more expansive directions. In fact, you might argue that it was so astonishingly original, what with its dubbed up, tripped out soundscape that a scene had to build up around it just to make sense of it, which is not say that Bauhaus were in any way responsible for the likes of Alien Sex Fiend.

C.A. QUINTET     A TRIP THRU HELL (PART 1)


The C.A. Quintet, from Minnesota, USA, were a psychedelic rock band active in the late 196os who failed to gain national interest during their heyday on account of their records being locally produced in Minneapolis and having no national distribution at all. Their only LP, TRIP THRU HELL, released in 1969, sold fewer than 500 copies and was virtually unheard of outside of their home town but, as is often the way of things, the record slowly gained popularity over the next twenty years among collectors and musicians. These days it’s considered something of a psych-garage-punk classic, rising above its humble roots into something truly monolithic.

ARROWWOOD     GOBLIN MARKET (reversed)


Now here’s a thing – I’ve played this track on the show before, but sticking to my overall conceptual desire of never repeating the same track twice (but also, nevertheless, really wanting to play this track in this particular show) I thought I’d play it backwards, and what do I get but a proper song about cherry trees or something! It seems that Arrowwood singer Chelsea Robb had the same idea in reverse and what was once a spooky foray into woodland goings has transformed itself into acid folk loveliness. The album from which it is taken, 2013’s BEAUTIFUL GRAVE, is a call to aesthetic paganism; a tranquil, ethereal recording shrouded in atmospheric grace.


A short piece read by writer and poet Chris lambert, one part of multi-media folk horror project The Soulless Party, an ever changing collective of collaborations and ideas led by musician K.Oyston, reading from “Tales From The Black Meadow” (published 2013).

SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS     THE CREEPS


The Creeps skirts the boundaries of folk horror with a song about dread, premonitions, armchair time travelling and "Cretaceous childhood memories", inspired by the realisation that as soon as a day is finished it is as over as the Roman Empire, or the dinosaurs that used to roam around Bethnal Green. It has a touch of MOON SAFARI-era Air about it, with added Greek chorus choir, and BBC Radiophonic workshop sound effects and is taken from their most recent release GOLDEN OMENS, a glorious mix of psychedelia, haunted midnight ghost folk, baroque pop, gallows humour and wonky show tunes.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND     THE GIFT


The Gift is a lurid little tale written by Lou Reed and intoned by John Cale, in his best BBC English, in which we hear the story of Waldo Jeffers, who posts himself to his girlfriend with darkly comic results. It is, in effect, two things going on at once: you can listen to Cale in one stereo channel and the band’s funky instrumental in the other. You can find this track on the Velvet Underground’s second album, WHITE LIGHT, WHITE HEAT, released in 1968 to an unreceptive world who wouldn’t have been ready for it had they managed to hear it, which sadly they mostly didn’t, but this remains my favourite Velvet’s album. Possible well known fact: Cale’s reading was a first take.

DEAD VOICES ON AIR     SOUL CATCHER


Dead Voices On Air are an experimental/industrial project who orchestrate hissing sheets of electronics, awkward machine-generated non-techno beats, looped sounds, percussive hits, growls, grunts, and ambient, industrial noises repeated through a seemingly endless delay effects into music that sounds like lost radio transmissions finally arriving from another planet, disfigured and largely unrecognizable. Soul Catcher - long stretches of heavily echoed reverbed noise drawn into slow pulses, with ancient melodies and what definitely sounds like a song trapped just below the surface - is taken from their 1995 release NEW WORDS MACHINE, an album whose sound seems to provide the missing link between 1980s industrial and 1990s ambient. While that’s playing, I add a bit more Vincent price who includes a few tips on making your own magic wand and things of that nature.

MELMOTH THE WANDERER     A TALE OF WITCHES, WOODLAND AND HALF-REMEMBERED MELODIES


This is, in fact, and entire 20 minute mix by the hugely talented Melmoth the Wanderer which I found on Mixcloud. It’s an spectral mix of hauntological wyrdness, taking in music by Broadcast, The Focus Group, The Hare and The Moon, Kemper Norton, Paper Dollhouse and Pye Audio Corner, very often mixing it up into new forms that invoke the ancient magic from the stories of Lord Dunsany and the sense of unease, dread and excitement of a moonlit walk through the woods that leaves the wanderer with a feeling of being watched. I urge you to check out his mixes, all of which are as good as this one.

JULIAN COPE     JULIAN IN THE UNDERWORLD


A few years back in 2009, while researching his novel ONE THREE ONE, Cope overdosed salvia in an attempt to find the right psychedelic word-scape to correctly evoke the book’s transcendental narrative. For the next four months he was barely able to function. Of the experience he says: "This drug picked me up and threw me into the bushes. Really awful bramble bushes. I went in and disappeared from the world to such an extent that I just became salad with attitude.” The song Julian In The Underworld is his attempt to make sense of what happened. This version appears on the TRIP ADVIZER EP, a 14-minute download only affair which accompanied his last release, TRIP ADVIZER, in 2015. It’s spare and haunting mellotron ballad, with a plaintive, broken refrain ( "And I can't begin to know what's going on") that could easily have sat on FRIED, and which finds Julian once more lost and doubting in burnt-out psychic purgatory.

SCARFOLK COUNCIL     DEMONS COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES


Have you visited Scarfolk yet? It’s a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. Demons Come In All Shapes And Sizes is the theme tune from ‘Clay Stool’, a popular 1970s children's daytime TV programme for 4 to 7 year olds, which was released as a single in 1973. ‘Clay Stool’ acquired its name from a form of medieval punishment for witchcraft. Originally, alleged witches were strapped to a wooden chair - a ducking stool - then plunged into a river. If they sank they were innocent, if they floated they were in league with the devil and summarily executed.

Samuel Revile, a local priest and freelance misogynist, wondered if ducking stools, which were traditionally festooned with dozens of inflated pigs' bladders, colourful helium balloons, and tethered albatrosses had something to do with the high numbers of people being found guilty. He set about inventing the heavier "clay stool". A year after its introduction 100% of accused witches, mostly women, had plummeted to the riverbed where they drowned, proving their innocence.

Revile's work also alerted communities to the dangers of balloons. It was they, he maintained, not the women, that floated and were therefore in league with Satan. To this day, people who make balloon animals are considered unholy and are barred from church jumble sales.

Though Revile revolutionalised the justice system by inventing compassionate torture, he inadvertently caused widespread redundancies in the execution sector.

THE MONOCHROME SET    LOVE ZOMBIES


The Monochrome Set are one of the great un-sung bands – too clever by half and always out of step with their post-punk peers, they were an idiosyncratic blend of punk aggression and new wave suavity, a Dada string of surrealist imagery set to irregular bursts of surf -guitar jangle and wry lyrics. Love Zombies is the title track from their second album, released in 1980, an intoxicating combination of eloquence and arch humour, manicured and ironic, the house band for freaks too bizarre for punk, but also explosively chaotic.

H.P. LOVECRAFT     AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS


At The Mountains Of Madness, is taken from H.P. Lovecraft’s second album, H.P. LOVECRAFT II, released in 1968, and based, of course, on the 1931 novella of the same name by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, after whom the band named themselves. It  features some chaotically acrobatic vocal interplay and makes ample use of swirling, echoed reverse tape effects introduced by studio engineer Chris Huston, who allowed the band to further explore  many of the kaleidoscopic influences touched upon on their first more folk driven album. It’s a genuinely disturbing sound and not one I play too often, just in case Cthulhu and the rest of the old gods use it as an opportunity to break through the membranes of reality, or something. It was also, legendarily, the first major label album to be recorded by a band on acid, a very admirable achievement given that I can barely boil a kettle in that state. 

DELIA DERBYSHIRE AND BRIAN HODGSON     A CHURCH IN HELL


This particular track, which may or may not be named A Church In Hell, is taken from the unreleased soundtrack to the 1973 British horror movie THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE .The only version of the soundtrack that actually exists was ripped from the video release of the film and released online a few years back for fans of Delia Derbyshire (of which there are many) and Brian Hodgson, her creative partner at the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and later at their own Kaleidophon and Electrophon studios. Being a fan myself, I’ve read that this particular project was more Hodgson’s baby, with Delia only adding a few sound effects here and there, but that is to suggest that there is a meaningful distinction between music and sound effects in the film. The soundtrack pulses and throbs with menace, combining a haunting minimalistic ambient-like atmosphere, with minor amounts of stabbing organ chords with atonal electronic tones which conspire to create a rather unsettling effect. Good film, too.

THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN     I PUT A SPELL ON YOU


This was the band’s fourth and final single release, the second after their major hit Fire, but the band were never to regain the giddy heights attained by that single. It’s taken from their eponymous 1968 album THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN and to be honest, I don’t think that this is best version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic that I’ve heard (in fact Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic isn’t the best version I’ve ever heard – that would be by The Druids of Stonehenge, and the only reason I’m not playing that version is because I’ve already played it in Mind De-Coder 13) because it never reaches the exhilaratingly recklessness of much the rest of the album. I believe it was added as a sup to manager Kit Lambert who wanted a much poppier affair, whereas the band were aiming at a rock opera from hell.

BROADCAST     ANIMA DI CRISTO/OUR DARKEST MASS

     
To finish, two tracks from the soundtrack to BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, the twisted horror film by British director Peter Strickland which is right up there with ‘A Field in England’, if you’re a fan of that sort of thing, and the last album that Trish Keenan worked on before her untimely death in 2011. It’s an eerily beautiful piece that has an intense, creepy style that perfectly accompanies a film that examines the nature of fear and sound's part in it. Not enough Trish, of course, who died during the recording process but her presence is, fittingly, all over these tracks.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

MIND DE-CODER 66

MIND DE-CODER 66


To fall in hell, or soar angelic, you need a pinch of psychedelic.
                                                                             -Humphrey Osmond


THE DANDELION SET     PRISTINA STRAWBERRY GIRL


Well, you know where you are when you come across a track called Pristina Strawberry Girl – expect lush psychedelia awash with an acid folk vibe sung in a plaintive tone that is both a yearnful reminder of a lost love and an ode to the joys of being blissfully high on a summer’s day, possibly in a meadow of some sort. This is the opening track from The Dandelion Set’s debut album A THOUSAND STRANDS – 1975-2015, released earlier this year. The album travels back to the bands’ formative years in the mid-1970s, and passes through a cavalcade of musical landmarks taking in library sounds, Canterbury jazz-prog, futuristic urban film noir, whispered chanson sighs, woozy, flutey psychedelia, harpsichords, Moogs, dulcimers and all that sort of thing. It really is quite lovely. Cult writer Alan Moore adds sleeve notes and lyrics, as well as vocals to one track, but it’s not half as psychedelic as you might think so I don’t include it, tempted as I was.

LEGENDARY PINK DOTS     WAVING AT THE AEROPLANES


The Legendary Pink Dots are an Anglo-Dutch experimental rock band who have released more than 40 albums or so, none of which appear to have deigned the charts with their presence. Their music touches on elements of neo-psychedelia, ambient music, electronic music, tape music, industrial, psychedelic folk, synthpop, post-punk, progressive, jazz, noise and pop with what you’d call a distinctly avant-garde bent, so you’d have thought someone would be interested (in actual fact, they have a small but devoted following). Waving At The Aeroplanes is taken from their1983 release, CURSE. It has a glazed Ballardian vibe that puts one in mind of a Meddle-period Pink Floyd, and that’s no bad thing, of course.

KIKAGAKU MOYO     KOGARASHI


I am, in the parlance of your proper radio presenter, loving the album HOUSE IN THE TALL GRASS from Japan’s Kikagaku Moyo (which, I understand, means Geometric Patterns), a band very much at home 70s rock, acid-folk, krautrock and classical Indian vibes of a pulsing, hypnotic nature. HOUSE IN THE TALL GRASS, released earlier this year, is their third album and it’s a thing of understated beauty capable of taking you on a tripped-out journey to some place blissful and peaceful, magickal and whimsical - glade-like perhaps - where the warm air swarms with pollen and buzzes with insects, a pastoral idyll with just a touch of avocado green and vermillion to it.


 SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS     ON A PATHWAY DARKLY


This lovely little track is taken from GOLDEN OMENS, the seventh album by The Soft Hearted Scientists, who, over two CDs, have created a whimsical soundtrack for a blissful psychedelic afternoon. Split into four parts, it’s chock-full of unique instrumentation, pastoral flourishes and off-kilter moments of sublime beauty. The songs explore weird psychic terrains, between which instrumental interludes take you along pathways of charmed bucolic simplicity, each tinged with a lysergic quality that makes this my favourite band amongst favourite bands. Sometimes I wish that that the instrumental soundscapes would turn into songs, but, really, this is an album of haunted folk music that exists in its own little self-contained bubble that welcomes me home whenever I hear it.

FAMILY     SCENE THROUGH THE EYES OF A LENS


Alongside Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Nice, Family were one of the premier attractions on the UK underground scene but somehow they never achieved the level of kudos of those aforementioned bands. These days they’re mostly famous for whipping the name MUSIC IN A DOLL'S HOUSE for their debut out from under The Beatles’ feet (and thus resulting in The White Album). Their debut single Scene Through The Eye of a Lens was released in 1967 and suggests a dose of healthy cynicism despite the Middle Eastern vibe they have going on.

THE MOVE     BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER


Taken from their second album SHAZAM, released in 1970, Beautiful Daughter is the gorgeous string-laden one on an album that was otherwise experimenting with heavy-prog riffage and studio invention that would ultimately lead to Electric Light Orchestra.

GROUP 1850     I PUT MY HAND ON YOUR SHOULDER


Group 1850 (or Groep 1850, to give them their correct name) was a Dutch psychedelic rock band that was founded in 1964 in The Hague. They never achieved success outside the Netherlands but are now, on the whole, considered one of the most innovative acid rock bands from the era. I Put My Hand On Your Shoulder is taken from the band’s debut album AGEMO’S TRIP TO MOTHER EARTH, released in 1968. It owes a lot to the late-'60s school of Pink Floyd-influenced British psychedelia, with a hint or two of the onset of progressive rock-isms in the shape of plenty of melodic shifts, celestial organs, wiggling distorted guitars, harmonic vocals, Gregorian chant-like singing, phased drum soloing, solemnly intoned spoken female romantic exclamations, and multilingual murmuring. You know, that sort of thing.


TOI TOI TOI     A HOLOGRAM BLOSSOMING


A delightful interlude from Sebastian Counts, an electronic musician based in Berlin, who releases music under the name Toi Toi Toi. A Hologram Blossoming is taken from his debut album HOLLOW EARTH HIPPIES, originally released in 2011 but picked-up by Ghost Box and released last year. It fits their aesthetic quite nicely, taking in a timeless melange of ethnography, TV music and psychonautical exploration all rendered by analogue electronics, tape and samples. I’m almost duty bound to mention that ‘Toi toi toi’, as German speakers and fans of your opera will know, is a traditional wish of good luck, equivalent to "break a leg".

US 69     2069 A SPACE ODDITY



US 69 were psychedelic rock group from Connecticut with tripped-out jazz undercurrents and rough funky edges. Their debut album, YESTERDAY’S FOLKS, released in 1969, combines sitar-led Eastern influences with psychedelic, jazz, rock, soul, and funk, which all comes together in the epic 2069 A Space Oddity. I wonder who got there first with that whole 'Space Oddity’ thing?

JAMES FASSETT      STRANGE TO YOUR EARS



Just a snippet of the sort of musique concrete experiments carried out in 1953 by Jim Fassett, musical director for CBS Radio and the intermission announcer for the New York Philharmonic. This was back in the day when tape recorders were new technology, allowing Jim to make all kinds of experimentation of the ‘did you know you could record something - and then SPEED IT UP or SLOW IT DOWN - and make it sound WACKY??!!’ variety. He was especially enamoured with de-tuning birdsongs and punching out the long tones in order to program new melodies and harmonies, which he explored in greater detail on his 1960 LP SYMPHONY OF THE BIRDS. This track is an excerpt from his 1955 release STRANGE TO YOUR EARS.

BEYOND THE WIZARDS SLEEVE     CREATION



This is probably my favourite track on this evening’s show - the Stereolab referencing Brazilian Tropicália of Creation from Beyond The Wizards Sleeve’s debut album proper THE SOFT BOUNCE. Jane Weaver’s sultry, light and dusty vocals hypnotise the palette whilst the production itself is the trippiest thing you’ll hear this year. Absolutely gorgeous.

BROADCAST AND THE FOCUS GROUP     YOU MUST WAKE



A hauntological vignette taken from 2009’s BROADCAST AND THE FOCUS GROUP INVESTIGATE WITCH CULTS OF THE RADIO AGE, an album that’s the aural equivalent of opening a dusty wardrobe and having an entire childhood tumble down on your head.

PRAM     PICTUREBOX



Another vignette – this time by Pram, whose analogue doodlings and hopscotch rhythms put them broadly in the same hauntological environs as Broadcast in their courting of the actively uncanny. Picturebox is taken from their 5th album, THE MUSEUM OF IMAGINARY ANIMALS, released in 2000.

GOD HELP THE GIRL     PRETTY WHEN THE WIND BLOWS



Neither psychedelic, hauntologically inclined or imbued with acid folk whimsy, but quite lovely nevertheless. Pretty When The Wind Blows is taken from the soundtrack to Stuart Murdoch’s GOD HELP THE GIRL, the movie based around his Belle and Sebastian side project, also called God Help The Girl. Now, Emily Browning is a very fine actress but not so good as a singer, but this is what, I think, gives this particular track a fragile charm all of its own. Having watched the film again recently, I couldn’t help but wonder how very pretty the song would be under advantageous conditions (shall we say). I can’t wait to find out. I’m lucky – when I get as lost as this, I have someone who will always find me.

MARY ARCHES     WHITE BIRD OF THE OXENHAMS



Legend tells of the White Bird of the Oxenham’s, an ancient Devonshire family for whom, according to tradition, the visit of a white bird foretells of a death in the family. Some stories say it is a dove, others that the bird is a thrush or a ring ouzel, all seem to agree that the bird has a white breast, the mythical status of which makes it the perfect topic for Folklore Tapes to investigate. Folklore Tapes is an ongoing research and heritage project exploring the folkloric arcana of the farthest-flung recesses of Great Britain and beyond. Traversing the mysteries, myths, nature, magic, topography and strange phenomena of the old counties through abstracted musical reinterpretation and experimental visuals. White Bird Of The Oxenhams, then, presented by the mysterious Mary Arches, is not so much a piece of music as an experimental psycho-geographical interpretation of that myth, which appears on side 2 of the tape cassette only release: DEVON FOLKORE TAPES VOL. V – ORNITHOLOGY, which was made available in 2013. It will take you very far out, indeed, but won’t have you tapping your foot. I’ve recently become a big fan of Folklore Tapes. You can check them out here if you wish.

MAX RICHTER     PATH 5 (DELTA)



This gorgeous piece is taken from Max Richter’s 2014 release FROM SLEEP, an hour long ambient post-minimalist piece that accompanied his epic concept album SLEEP – an 8 hour lullaby to be listened to while asleep. FROM SLEEP, on the other hand, was designed to be listened to while fast awake. Path 5 (Delta) features the ethereal voice of British soprano singer, and baroque specialist, Grace Davidson, whose wordless vocals magically connects her singing with the age-old tradition of the lullaby. It’s a warm, slow-moving daydream with no sharp edges and a self-consciously hazy sound, as if recorded next door or underwater. Spellbindingly beautiful.

MARK PRITCHARD     YOU WASH MY SOUL



Mark Pritchard has produced so much music under so many guises it’s almost impossible to follow a common thread within them. For his current album UNDER THE SUN, he’s adopted a deeply atmospheric and richly impressionistic approach that applies ambient, folk and cinematic tropes to a blippy analog palette, which suggests the influence of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on this particular project. On You Wash My Soul he records with the semi-legendary folk artist Linda Perhacs who brings an ageless, willowy psychedelia to the mix. Lovely.

BLACK MOUNTAIN     SPACE TO BAKERSFIELD


  
Canadian stoner-prog from Black Mountain who, on their fourth album, the aptly titled IV, create an astral sci-fi lullaby out of cosmic riffage for album closer Space To Bakersfield.

FLYING SAUCER ATTACK     FEEDBACK SONG



Flying Saucer Attack were, and possibly still are, an English experimental space-rock, drone-pop band that formed in 1992. They could be undeniably impenetrable, but they were equally capable of creating evocative instrumental miniatures, folky near-songs, and extended spatial explorations that were very much at home amid the white-noise din and the bassy pulse of analog noisemakers that evoked the spaciness of early '70s synth music. I think that sums up Feedback Song very nicely. It can be found on their 1995 album CHORUS, a collection of singles, compilation cuts, and the entirety of a John Peel radio session.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

MIND DE-CODER 65

MIND DE-CODER 65


‘It is safer to live in dreams, my friend. There we shall meet the lovers we never had. We can listen to the most wonderful music there, that which does not deserve to be played in the real world’.
                                      Anon.

BEYOND THE WIZARDS SLEEVE     THIRD MYND (BTU REWORK)


Following the release of Beyond The Wizards Sleeve debut album proper, THE SOFT BOUNCE, earlier this year, the second most exciting thing to happen was news that they’d given over a couple of tracks for the remix treatment from Daniel Avery, who takes on the title track, and producers Babe Terror and U, who take album closer Third Mynd and recast it as a mind-bending sixteen minute collage of found sound, drone and atmosphere; a 12” only vinyl release of expansive, psychedelic beats. In actual fact, it’s not quite as good as it sounds – it sort of peters out towards the end (it probably works better in a club) so I have it drift away and otherwise be consumed by…

THE MOON WIRING CLUB     FUNERAL CRITIQUE


…taken from the album PLAYCLOTHES FROM FAR AWAY PLACES, the 2015 release from Ian Hodgson, who, on this album, creates a sound that’s reminiscent of the music once heard in the half-remembered dream of a Jacobean fashion show in which the models wore on their faces the masks of woodland creatures.  

THE CHEMISTRY SET     ALBERT HOFFMAN


The Chemistry Set have been going for ages. Founded by Dave Mclean and Paul Lake in 1987, the band are veterans of the alternative Manchester scene in which they helped pioneer the late 1980’s neo-psychedelic boom. Albert Hoffman is taken from the album THE ENDLESS MORE AND MORE, released in 2015 on the semi-legendary Fruits De Mer record label. It features a combination of singles released by Fruits De Mer and new recordings which, overall, capture the spirit of Syd led Pink Floyd and Tomorrow Never Knows led Beatles quite nicely, thank you very much. Knowingly vintage, but that’s no bad thing when the songs are as good as this.

I enjoyed the short film LYSERGIC 2016 by J.L. Travis so much I plundered it shamelessly. He’s using this on the soundtrack…


POND     OUTSIDE IS THE RIGHT SIDE


This is taken from Pond’s 2015 release MAN, IT FEELS LIKE SPACE AGAIN, apparently named after an observation made by band member and sometimes Tame Impala drummer Jay Watson while coming down from a trip. Pond are, in fact, Tame Impala’s wilder cousins, taking their music off into deranged psych-bent territories and seem to have a lot more fun doing so than Kevin Parker’s Tame Impala, despite the fact that at least three members of Pond appear to be in Tame Impala, and that Kevon Parker has played drums in Pond on occasions.

BILLY NICHOLLS     LONDON SOCIAL DEGREE


This is probably my favourite track on this evening’s show. Billy Nicholls was originally hired by Andrew Loog Oldham as a staff writer for Oldham's Immediate Records at the tender age of 16. Oldham was so entranced by the Beach Boys' 1966 album, Pet Sounds that he enlisted songwriter Nicholls to record a British response. Oldham wanted this to be the British Pet Sounds but Nicholls was no Brian Wilson and despite studio sessions utilizing the likes of The Small Faces, Nicky Hopkins and John Paul Jones, the project lacked the depth and emotional resonance of The Beach Boys record, which is not to say that the resulting album, WOULD YOU BELIEVE, is without its own pleasures, not least Oldham’s baroque arrangements and airy multi-part harmonies. Unfortunately financial difficulties with the label caused it to be shelved after an initial promotional run of 100 copies were sent off to local radio stations in 1968, causing it to become one of the great lost artefacts of the sixties. It finally saw full release in 1998 on Nicholl’s own label and it’s well worth tracking this pop gem down for London Social Degree alone.

THE PRETTY THINGS     WALKING THROUGH MY DREAMS


A rather fine single, released in 1967, as a double A-side with Talking About The Good Times, by a band operating at the height of their psychedelic arc. Goodness me, though, could they have picked a more ironic name?

MICHAEL WARREN AND GREY MALKIN     JUGBAND BLUES


This lovely track comes courtesy of a collaboration between hauntologically inspired folk collective The Hare and The Moon’s Grey Malkin and multi-instrumentalist Michael Warren, who have released a free download called THE OTHER ROOM: A TRIBUTE TO SYD BARRETT in which they take three of his best known songs somewhere altogether farther out and darker, like the darkness you find in the middle of the Wild Wood. Jugband Blues, is a particularly dreamy, hallucinogenic trip through Syd’s fractured psyche – they manage to make it a surprisingly pleasant place to visit, the Wild Wood, but you probably wouldn’t want to live there.

HOWARD MENGER     AUTHENTIC MUSIC FROM ANOTHER PLANET


… and then there’s Howard Menger, an individual who, at the age of ten was playing in the woods near his home in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, when he claims that he encountered a beautiful blonde from Venus wearing a “ski-type outfit.” It was the first in a series of alleged contacts with extra-terrestrials that culminated in the alleged landing of an interplanetary spacecraft at Menger’s house in High Bridge, New Jersey in 1956, a trip to the moon and a musical transmission from Saturn that Menger was instructed to deliver to the human race. He later recounted his experiences in books and on the lecture circuit, and in 1955 self-released the album Authentic Music from Another Planet, which combines Menger's voice-over narration with his interpretation of the melodies he discovered during his interplanetary exploration. If there are aliens out there then they are fans of the accordion, that’s all I’m saying…
While he recounts his adventures, I play a couple of tracks behind him. They are…

JAMES ASHER     COSMIC DUST


James Asher was a composer and producer who, in 1981, released an album called ABSTRACTS on the semi-legendary Studio G record label who specialize in quirky, electronic music with a Heath Robinson production-vibe. It was a library record of progressive electronic sounds combined with huge cold and funky saturated phased-out drum-breaks which went on to become the source of many a break-beat sample some years later. I came across it while researching the superb Cosmic Dust, which appeared on the album G-SPOTS, a retrospective of the spacey folk electro-horror sounds of the Studio G, released by the ‘quirky’ and ever reliable Trunk Records in 2009.

LUSTMORD   DARK MATTER MEDLEY


Lustmord is the name by which dark ambient pioneer Brian Williams, a Welsh industrial musician, sound designer and film score composer releases his recordings – a genre I believe he created. Dark Matter Medley is a taster for his first album in 15 years or so, DARK MATTER, a project derived from an audio library of cosmological activity recorded between 1993 and 2003, It was gathered from various sources including NASA (Cape Canaveral, Ames, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Arecibo), The Very Large Array, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and various educational institutions and private contributors throughout the USA. It is, essentially, a recording of electromagnetic vibrations, radio galaxies, pulsars masers and quasars, charged particle interactions and emissions, radiation, exotic astrophysical objects, cosmic jets and flares from magnetars – music of the stars, in fact.


PAPER DOLLHOUSE     RITUALS AND PRACTICES (excerpt)


In 2014, Folklore Tapes, an open-ended research project exploring the vernacular arcana of Great Britain and beyond, launched their periodic folk tradition series ‘Calendar Customs’, in which they trace ancestral roots much further back than 1846, when the term ‘folklore’ was said to be first coined by W.J Thomas. Originally a tape-cassette only release, but recently remastered for 10” vinyl, DEVON FOLKLORE TAPES VOL. IV, is part of an ever-unfurling series of forays into the rites and customs of our ancient forbears. On Side 1, Paper Dollhouse, the name by which Astrud Steehouder, a singer, composer and producer whose work veers between folk-ish acoustica and longer pieces of haunting acoustica, responds to the general idea and definition of the term ritual by conducting a ceremony within a circle of trees and stone. It really is quite lovely but I only play an excerpt, hoping to return to it another day.

NICHOLAS ALLBROOK     GOODE (WHEN WE WERE AWAKE)


Nicholas Allbrook sings with Pond, plays with Tame Impala and occasionally releases blistering, fucked-up psychedelic explorations in his own right. Goode (When We Were Young) is taken from his 2015 release, the unapologetically anarchic WALRUS EP, on which he crafts tunes that are often impenetrable but never less than summery, intergalactic fun (in a distorted, melancholic sort of way).

THE MONOCHROME SET     WISTERIA


Earlier this year The Monochrome Set finally released their companion piece to 1983’s round up radio sessions and singles VOLUME, CONTRAST, BRILLIANCE… VOL 1, with the enticingly entitled VOLUME, CONTRAST, BRILLIANCE… VOL. 2 - a set of demos recorded between 1978 and 1991, some of which became songs and some of which remained unconsidered dainties. Even by their standards, Wisteria, recorded in 1987, is an oddity; less surf guitar twang and more the full-on Tomorrow Never Knows psychedelic assault, all Indian instrumentation and backwards tapes – and it stills manages to sound ironic and arch.

BIFF BANG POW!    A DAY OUT WITH JEREMY CHESTER


Biff Bang Pow! were Creation Records founder Alan McGee’s music making endeavour, of course, and while never climbing the giddy heights of many of the acts in his roster, they made music between 1983 and 1991 releasing some 7 albums or so. A Day Out With Jeremy Chester is taken from their debut album PASS THE PAINTBRUSH, HONEY, released in 1985, a glorious mix of mod, psychedelia and new wave influences that combined reckless nostalgia with spiky neo-garage pop charm.


BEYOND THE WIZARDS SLEEVE     THIRD MYND


After re-animating obscure psychedelia and krautrock to play at dj sessions, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve finally release a debut album proper and it’s not at all what I was expecting. What I was expecting, I guess, was something along the lines of that remix they made of Temples’ SUN STRUCTURES album – warped psychedelic sounds with bucolic flourishes, laden down with phased special effects and backwards guitars, but it turns out the album is an impressively eclectic affair that goes far beyond such genre limitations and is a trip in the wildest sense. However, all that other stuff, the warped psychedelic sounds, bucolic flourishes, phased special effects and backwards guitars all coalesce together into the closing track, where all that promise is fulfilled – the deeply hallucinogenic Third Mynd, in which author Jon Savage mixes it all together with an extended spoken word narrative that plays with the basic tenants of perception. It’s pretty far out stuff.

KIM FOWLEY     UP, CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE, DOWN


…as is this – three tracks from Kim Fowley’s 1968 release OUTRAGEOUS, on which he rants, raves, seethes, spits, burps, curses, declaims, screams and hollers his way across a heavily psychedelic set of knuckle-scraping rock-outs that recall a post-lobotomy Doors attempting an MC5 b-side while piled in the back of a inexpertly driven truck. On ice. And drugs. On the moon. Recorded in one single six hour session, Fowley improvised every snarling, proto-punk word. Generally sounding either on the point of orgasm or vomiting his guts up, there are few - if any - records that sound like this.

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD     MR. BEAT


For their latest release King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard piece together 9 discretely recorded, separately titled songs, and loop them together as its final notes connect perfectly with the album’s opening. Constructed as an infinite loop, it’s a heavier, more feral affair than recent releases although Mr Beat takes its foot off the gas somewhat, instead choosing to fuse motorik beats with Seventies prog rock tropes that romp along with psychedelic gay abandon that also seems to point towards the dancefloor.

THE AVALANCHES     COLOURS


Colours is the sound of sun-dappled sunlight on an enchanted (or, indeed, enchanting) woodland glade. Taken from WILDFLOWER, their sophomore release that took some 16 years in the making, it’s a lysergic mix of backward beats, warbly guitar, and wide-eyed vocals awed by the overpowering beauty of the world. Gorgeous.


HINTERMASS     FROM LEAVING IN MEANING


This lovely track is taken from THE APPLE TREE, the first LP from Hintermass –a collaboration between Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle and Tim Felton, formerly of Broadcast - following their Study Series single for Ghost Box in 2011. It’s a hauntologically-inspired acid folk album, or possibly an acid-folk inspired hauntological album, but most of all it’s a pop album; mannered and serene, blurry and warm-vibed, very much at home to the Ghost Box aesthetic and really quite delightful.

CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM     CRICKET AND THE GENIE MOVEMENT II 
– ORATORIO DI CRICKET    
                                                                                                                                                 
             

The Claypool Lennon Delirium is Primus’ vocalist and bassist Les Claypool and Julian Lennon, collaborating on an album which, like the title MONOLITH OF PHOBOS suggests, is an old-school psychedelic-space-rock prog record. Based loosely on Buzz Aldrin's assertion that there is a rock purposely placed on Mars' "tater-shaped" moon, the album is a giddy trip into the galactic reaches of outer space. With meandering guitar, elastic bass, trippy flourishes, clever flights of fancy and some of the tightest musicianship this side of the galaxy, MONOLITH OF PHOBOS reveals a new dimension of sound that has room for devilish tunes about monkeys, outer space and sexual deviancy.

LET’S EAT GRANDMA     DEEP SIX TEXTBOOK


Let’s Eat Grandma are Jenny Hollingsworth and best friend Rosa Wilton who started writing together at the age of 13. Now 16 and 17, they’ve just released their debut album, I, GEMENI, that’s both surreal and dense, with guitar, synthesiser, saxophone, glockenspiel, recorder and vocals that lurch from sugary to shouty in a way they’ve referred to as experimental sludge pop. I fell in love with them the moment I heard Deep Six Textbook, a deep, brooding affair that puts me in mind of FAITH-era Cure and Lorde, although in truth they inhabit a world of the own making that taps into the same collective unconscious of nursery rhymes and folktales that defines English psychedelia.

9BACH     SWI HWI HWI



Ethereal weird-folk loveliness from Bach9, whose latest album, ANIAN, is dominated by the exquisite vocals of Lisa Jên who brings a sense of transcendental wonder and endless forgiveness to Swi Hwi Hwi, an old Welsh folk song written in 1850s as a response to the slave trade, sung from the perspective of a black woman who is singing to her child on their last night together before the baby will be killed and she will be bound in chains. The whole album is this good and is pretty much my album of the year thus far.