Tuesday, 28 February 2017

MIND DE-CODER 68

MIND DE-CODER 68



“We hold these experiences to be self-evident, that all is equal, that the creation endows us with certain inalienable rights, that amongst these are: the freedom of body, the pursuit of joy, and the expansion of consciousness”.
                                                            Mojo Navigator, Issue 8, 1966



PINK FLOYD     SCREAM THY LAST SCREAM


It’s only fitting that the first show of 2017 should start with a song that’s been waiting some 50 years for an official release. Scream Thy Last Scream, sung by Nick Mason, was supposed to be the follow up to 1967’s See Emily Play but was vetoed by the record company along with the equally dark Vegetable Man. Both tracks have been knocking around on various bootleg albums for years but this version was remixed in 2010 and finally saw official release on last years’ PINK FLOYD: THE EARLY YEARS 1965-1972 (which costs over $700 in NZ, by the way) so I’m guessing that this can pretty be considered the definitive version, should you want such a thing. Whilst not quite as harrowing as some reports have indicated over the years, it is, nevertheless, a glimpse into a psyche that was beginning to slowly fracture under the strain of coming up with another hit single; and otherwise so sonically out-there I’m not entirely sure what anyone would have made of it at the time. It sounds fantastic these days, though.


THE ROLLING STONES     HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MOTHER, BABY, STANDING IN THE SHADOW?


Another track that was largely misunderstood at the time, Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, was released in a period of white hot creativity by the Stones where they could hardly keep up with the explosive intensity of ideas, audience expectation and the forward momentum that compelled them ever forward in 1966. There had never really been a pop record like this before – the radio listener didn’t know what to make of the all-embracing sonic murk and uncompromising darkness of tone, and it wasn’t one for your taxi driver to hum along to, but this is an acid-informed trip of a single that shows the Stones at the height of their game.


THE PRETTY THINGS     TALKIN’ ABOUT THE GOOD TIMES


1968 saw The Pretty Things at the height of their psychedelic peak and still no one was listening. Talkin' About the Good Times was originally penned for their fourth album, S.F. SORROW, an album with the dubious distinction of being considered the first rock concept album, but was instead released as a single in February 1968. It’s an unashamed lysergically-inspired pop gem featuring wonky orchestration, Strawberry Fields-ish drumming (courtesy of Twink from Mind De-Coder favourites Tomorrow), Beach Boys’ vocals, descending organs, Eastern instrumentation, a proto-heavy metal riff, a proper tune and such a sense of wonder at its own possibilities it shimmers with acid beauty. 

THE YARDBIRDS     SHAPE OF THINGS


I think Shapes Of Things is a pop statement, a moment in time when pop consciousness was expanding exponentially with, what Jon Savage, in his marvellous book 1966: THE YEAR THE DECADE EXPLODED, calls pop modernism at its height. With its monumentally fuzz-drenched instrumentation; its Eastern-sounding, feedback-laden guitar solo from Jeff Beck; and its socially conscious lyrics, the single was a thing of great beauty meant, according to Beck, to conjure up images in the mind of anyone who heard it.


THE ALIENS     GLOVER


The Aliens debut album, ASTRONOMY FOR DOGS, released in 2007, is one I like to return to every now and then when I’m in the mood for inspired arrangements, flawless musicianship, expert self-production and kazoo's (you know, the usual); and each visit reveals something new. This time I found the very fine Glover, a song that sounds as if belongs on The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society, if the village green in question was on the moon somewhere. 


WOLF PEOPLE     KINGFISHER


For their most recent release, RUINS, Wolf People have replaced their gentler acoustic pastoral sound with woodsy electric blues that puts one in mind of Battle of Evermore-era Zeppelin with a bit of Jethro Tull and Black Sabbath thrown in for good measure. Their vibe now is straight out of the early ‘70s, combining acid-folk bucolicism (entirely made-up word, I think – bucolicicitinessicity?) with a proto-metal-while-it-was-still-playing-around-with-being-prog feel that sounds tremendous, of course.


US AND THEM     LATE NIGHT, EARLY MORNING


If forced to think about it at all, I’d expect current Scandinavian music to consist of a kind of vague cross between a-Ha, Ace of Bass, Abba, Max Martin and Runemagick, say. And yet, for reasons I’ve never been quite able to fathom, they have this pastoral acid-folk thing going on instead. Swedish duo Us and Them, for example, are very much at home to Sandy Denny, Donovan, Bert Jansch, Vashti Bunyan, Julia Dreams-era Pink Floyd, the Wicker man soundtrack and Pentangle, resulting in a couple of sun-dappled EP's for the very fine Fruits De Mer record label, and SUMMER GREEN AUTUMN BROWN, released in 2015, an album of such fragile beauty it threatens to float away like a dandelion seed. 


HINTERMASS     APPLE TREE


Hintermass is a collaboration between Jon Brooks of The Advisory Circle and Tim Felton, formerly of Broadcast. Between them they create a sound that combines strong hauntological references and acid folk loveliness with a gorgeous pop sensibility, so they’re very nearly the perfect Mind De-Coder band. Apple Tree is the title track from their debut album, released in 2015, in which they mix exotic acoustic instrumentation, guitar, keyboards and percussion with electronic textures inspired by the likes of Popol Vuh and Ash Ra Tempel. It is, as you might imagine, really quite lovely.


AMON DÜÜL II     WIE DER WIND AM ENDE EINER STRABE 


…and speaking of krautrock references, Amon Düül create  an intoxicatingly spacious vibe on the fairly onomatopoeic Wie Der Wind Am Ende Einer Strabe (The Wind at the End of the Road), taken from their last great album, WOLF CITY, released in 1972, on which blazing acid rock meets authentic eastern influences and schizophrenic prog light-heartedness. They were rarely this good again.


BILLY J KRAMER     THE TOWN OF TUXLEY TOYMAKER (PART 1)


Billy J Kramer, previously of The Dakotas, didn’t shed a tear when Mersey Beat was transcended and otherwise swept away by The Beatles’ creative ambition and incandescent rise. Following a handful of hit Lennon/McCartney penned singles, he (frankly) jumped onto the psychedelic bandwagon they came to define with the very-nearly-novelty toytown charm of The Town of Tuxley Toymaker (pt. 1), presented to him by The Bee Gees in 1967. The Gibb brothers actually feature on backing vocals, but his days of troubling the charts were now behind him.


MALACHAI     SNAKECHARMER


Malachai were, or possibly still are, a Jeff Barrow endorsed duo who seem to have created their debut album, THE UGLY SIDE OF LOVE, released in 2010, from samples gathered from a dusty crate of charity shop vinyl, circa 1973. Their sound is a mix of beats and samples, drawing on a wide range of influences from BBC Radiophonic-type experimentalism through golden-era Hip-Hop to 1960s psych-pop all gleefully thrown into the blender to see what emerges. Snakecharmer, in particular, is a hodgepodge of backwards tape loops, vocal phasing, and Eastern vibes that sounds both throwaway and marvellous in equal measure.


DIANA ROSS AND THE SUPREMES     REFLECTIONS


Reflections is the sound of Motown going psychedelic with the single that found singer Diana Ross re-positioning The Supremes as her backing band following the brutal firing of Florence Ballard from the group. It also marks one of the last compositions by the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland before their own departure from the Motown label, the result of a dispute over the sordid subject of royalty payments or something; but none of that should distract from the fact that Reflections, released in the summer of 1967, is a gorgeous slice of psyche-pop soul that shimmers like a strawberry flavoured flashback.


SHINY JOE RYAN     THE COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND PT. 2


In the insanely nepotistic world of Australian psych-pop, Shiny Joe Ryan is the founding mainstay multi-instrumentalist and guitarist of Pond as well as providing visuals for fellow Australian band, Tame Impala. In 2014 he released his debut solo album THE COSMIC MICROWAVE BACKGROUND, but that being said, that’s Pond’s Nick Allbrook on drums and it was mastered by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. As you might expect, it’s all sun-soaked catchy hooks, fuzzy rhythms and experimental sonic textures which, while never quite reaching the giddy heights of those two bands, manages to capture the essence of album’s title in all its radiant glory.


CARIBOU     ELI


Dr. Dan Snaith (he has a Phd. in mathematics) is a bedroom producer of dense, lysergic psych-pop but, crucially, his albums never sound like the work of an obsessive loner. His 2007 release, ANDORRA, is a spacey mix of gorgeous, kaleidoscopically layered psychedelia that puts one in mind of The Zombies, The Free Design, The Mamas & Papas, The Beach Boys and, at least somewhere in the mix, My Bloody Valentine, as may be heard in the cacophonous sonic assault at the end of Eli.


WILBURN BURCHETTE     PIERCING THE PSYCHIC HEART


In truth, Wilburn Burchette has been all over the show – I’ve used the segments from his 1972 release, WILBURN BURCHETTE OPENS THE GATES OF TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS, as a musical ‘bed’ (radio presenter speak) above which performance artist, painter and assemblagist Allan Kaprow has been reading out tips from side 1 of his spoken word album HOW TO MAKE A HAPPENING, released in 1966. Burchette (Wil, to his friends, ‘Master’ to his disciples) was an occult-musician who made quite the career from this sort of thing and rather hoped that listening to his music might expand the listener's mind in positive ways, and bring the soul and body into a state of enlightenment. Rather disappointingly, the music from the promisingly named album didn’t really open the gates of transcendental consciousness as much as I hoped they would. Piercing The Psychic Heart, however, is really quite lovely and I decided to play all of it.

CIRCUS MAXIMUS     PEOPLE’S GAMES


I’m not entirely sure just how committed Circus Maximus were to the whole psychedelic scene. They were originally called Lost Sea Dreamers but were made to change their name by their record company as the initials LSD were synonymous with the prevalent hippy drug culture. Nevertheless, their occasionally inspired mix of folk, rock and jazz put them at least in the same ballpark of Country Joe and the Fish, even though they weren’t quite as good. That being said, People’s Games, taken from their eponymous debut album, released in 1967, has been bouncing around in my head for months now and I thought it was time to get it out there in the world.


KING CRIMSON     FORMENTERA LADY


King Crimson’s fourth album, ISLANDS, released 1971, has never been as critically regarded as LARKS TONGUE IN ASPIC, say, or IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, but I’ve always had a soft spot for its opening track, Formentera Lady. Keith Tippet's ethereal piano illuminates some romantic classicism to the opening, as does the very pretty use of mellotron and flute, not to mention the occasional chime (and, really, who could ask for more?), but it doesn’t really go anywhere and nothing much happens for 10 minutes or so, but that’s alright because I quite like it when nothing much happens for 10 minutes or so; it could happen a lot more often, as far as I’m concerned.

CHILDREN OF ALICE     RITE OF THE MAYPOLE: AN UNRULY PROCESSION


I understand that this track will feature on the forthcoming debut album, out very shortly, but this is how it sounds on the tape cassette only release, CALENDAR CUSTOMS VOL. II: MERRY MAY, made available in 2012, by the very fine Folklore Tapes, an open-ended research project that explores the vernacular arcana of Great Britain, and beyond, by traversing the myths, mysteries, magic and strange phenomena of the old counties via abstracted musical reinterpretation and experimental visuals, which is pretty much what you get on this track. Each cassette features a hand-numbered and stamped screen printed sleeve and includes a research booklet and an essay by someone who goes by the name of Jez Winship (so you might not have necessarily heard it before).  Children of Alice are, of course, ex-Broadcast compatriots James Cargill and Roj Stevens with Julian House, Ghost Box co-founder, graphic designer and the man behind The Focus Group (with whom Broadcast collaborated on the Mind De-Coder favourite BROADCAST AND THE FOCUS GROUP INVESTIGATE WITCH CULTS OF THE RADIO AGE). I’m very excited about the forthcoming album, me.

EDWARD PENFOLD     SUNNY DAY


There’s a discreet hauntological touch to Edward Penfold’s acid-tinged folk-pop; yes, the spirit Syd Barret is present, as is that of Bill Fay and The Kinks, but his debut album, CAULKHEAD, released last year, was recorded on an old 80s Boots brand single track tape machine which gives it a uniquely warm and heavily compressed sound all of its own. CAULKHEAD is the name that residents from the Isle of Wight use to refer to themselves, apparently, but the album was recorded by Penfold, who was born on the Isle of Wight, with the members of a about four bands he seems to be a member of in Bristol. It’s a hazy collection of sounds and moods which combines folky ballads, lush, drawn out instrumentals and 60s garage tunes, like Sunny Day, wrapped up with eloquently English observations about the mundanity of modern life and the profound which is to be found within it..

THORSTEN SCHMIDT     HEREFORD AWAKES MAIN TITLE


A bit of filler lasting no more than 60 seconds or so, but quality filler nevertheless. Some of you might remember a little known five-part ITV children’s drama called HEREFORD WAKES, originally transmitted over the summer of 1972 and produced by Harlech Television based in Wales. Set in a village outside Hereford the story follows the preparations for the annual Wakes event but dark forces are unleashed when the organisers decide to build a ‘Witch’s Hat’ ride on an ancient burial mound. 
A much-missed Roy Kinnear plays Mayor Hamilton who wants the Wakes event to go ahead in spite of warnings from local newspaper reporter Jane Meadows whilst young white witch Heddwen and visiting archaeologist Robbie Duggan also attempt to avert disaster. Similar in tone to Children of The Stones, spooky goings on entail. 

If this doesn’t actually ring any bells at all, the series' obscurity is explained by the popularity of the 1972 Munich Olympics being shown on the BBC at the time and the fact that a Welsh Nationalist transmission engineer deliberately confined the broadcast of the first episode of the show to Wales only, failing to perform the switch required and thus enabling the Welsh language programme ‘Ffalabalam’ to be shown on the nationwide ITV network instead whilst ‘Hereford Wakes’ was shown only in Wales, thus ensuring the show sank into obscurity. 

I like the whole spooky acoustic/synthesiser thing that holidaying German composer Thorsten Schmidt brought to the score. It’s very portentous.

THE SOUNDCARRIERS     THIS IS NORMAL


For a band very much at home to a quintessential English psychedelia, 60s style exotica and vintage Gallic pop, The Soundcarriers invoke their inner Can on the pulsing, probing, VU-meets-Eno-driven closer This Is Normal, taken from their third album, ENTROPICALIA, released in 2014 by the Ghostbox record label. The song features an extended, jazz-infected freak-out which includes the surprising inclusion of Elijah Wood talking the listener through a mathematically guided trip over a mesmerizing groove. Fantastic.

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The show also makes use of three albums throughout which are worth a few moments of your time.

All of that going on about having a happening and what not is provided by Allan Kaprow taken from side 1 of his spoken word album HOW TO MAKE A HAPPENING, released in 1966. Kaprow was an American painter, assemblagist, a pioneer in establishing the concepts of performance art and otherwise a pivotal figure in the shifting art world of the 1960s.


Whilst that’s going on I played him over the music of WILBURN BURCHETTE OPENS THE SEVEN GATES OF TRANSCENDENTAL CONSCIOUSNESS, released in 1972 (see above), and excerpts from a 17 minute promo put together by the Ian Hodgson to promote his 2016 release WHEN A NEW TRICK COMES OUT I DO AN OLD ONE, an epic 3CD set celebrating 10 years of Moon Wiring Club via 66 tracks of unreleased, archive and obscure tracks. 





Wednesday, 14 December 2016

MIND DE-CODER 67

 MIND DE-CODER 67


‘Let’s make a sound to lead us from the outside to the inside’
                                                                                             Florian Friche

OASIS     SHAKERMAKER (SLIDE UP MIX)


I know, I know, I know but who can deny that giddy rush of pop thrill when they heard Shakermaker for the first time? On DEFINITELY MAYBE, released in 1994, Oasis made no attempt to redefine rock ‘n’ roll, instead they inhabited it in all of its abandoned, sneering glory. This particular version of Shakermaker, put together by Oasis sound engineer Mark Coyle for the Japanese Deluxe Edition of the album’s 20th anniversary, states the bleedin' obvious and is all the more enjoyable because of it.

AMON DÜÜL     JAIL HOUSE FROG


Some very lovely Krautrock vibes from Amon Düül who, on their fifth album, WOLF CITY, released in 1972, recorded a somewhat conventional album (for them) on account of having an audience they were eager to keep. Despite this, it is not without its avant-garde moments – Jail House Frog, for example, dissolves into bubbles and space noises and manages to sound like the fauna from another planet competing with the spirit of the Weimar Republic with Sally Bowles momentarily backed by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention doing a Jefferson Airplane thing. Or something.

THE PEANUT BUTTER CONSPIRACY    WHY DID I GET SO HIGH


What we’re choosing to call playful hippy vibes from The Peanut Butter Conspiracy who, on their debut album, THE PEATNUT BUTTER CONSPIRACY IS SPREADING, released in 1967, manage to sound like an authentic composite of the entire trippy West Coast scene – The Jefferson Airplane are clearly here, as are The Mamas and Papas, The Monkees, Spanky and The Gang as well as Mary, Peter and Paul (on mescaline) but they were pretty far out in their own way and to some extent may have been transmitting the as yet undiscovered spirit of prog in their work - but not on this track, the dippy Why Did I Get So High, which is best understood as something of a guilty pleasure I think.

EMILY AND ANGELINE     IN PURSUIT OF A SEED


According to the liner notes, 'once upon a time, long, long ago there were two dolls called Emily and Angeline...sometimes they pretended to be human, so that they could play strange, sweet music together...’, and so they did, accompanying their otherworldly tales with guitar, piano, glockenspiel, xylophone and autoharp to create dreamily hazy acid folk of a wistful and haunted nature. Or that might be Emily Jones and Angeline Morrison instead, two musician from Cornwall who seem to have some connection with those purveyors of woodland wyrd-folk The Rowan Amber Mill. The Pursuit Of A Seed, all  chiming guitars that puts one in mind of a stately Elizabethan procession, is taken from their debut recording EP1: THE BLUE ONE, released 2015, an exquisite collection of just six songs which enjoys hints of Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs, with some Sunforest and Trees thrown in for good measure. Lovely.

SWEETWATER     MOTHERLESS CHILD


An absolutely spell-binding interpretation of that ol’ Negro spiritual, Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child by Sweetwater, the band perhaps better known for being scheduled to open Woodstock in 1969 but who missed that coveted slot by being pulled over by the police on the way to the festival. Their eponymous debut album, released in 1968, was full of a wide variety of exotic instruments, largely unheard of at the time, a complete lack of electric guitar, tight vocal arrangements and intricate harmonies that equalled the Beach Boys at their best. Sadly, however, most of their songs didn’t and Motherless Child is about as good as they ever got. Tragically, vocalist Nansi Nevins was involved in a car accident after the recording of this album and she was never able to sing again.

THE DANDELION SET     MEMOIR OF A BLACK SPIDER/ IMOGEN’S PEOPLE


Not only have The Dandelion Set released the most psychedelic album of the year, they also got cult writer Alan Moore to provide sleevenotes, lyrics and occasional vocals to boot. As the title suggests, A THOUSAND STRANDS – 1975-2016, straddles the last thirty years or so, taking in lysergic dream pop, angular prog excursions, mesmerizing French jazz grooves and unclassifiable leftfield eclecticism that’s both familiar and hallucinatory. It really is that good. I like it so much I’ve included two tracks.

TOY     I’M STILL BELIEVING (CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER REMIX)


The extraordinarily fine I’m Still Believing is taken from Toy’s third album CLEAR SHOT, released earlier this year. Cavern of Anti-Matter’s Tim Gane (previously of Stereolab, of course) extends the single’s gorgeous pop hooks and takes it somewhere else entirely while never losing sight what made the single so very good to begin with – a proper song with a proper tune.

KIKAGAKU MOYO     CAN YOU IMAGINE NOTHING?


Kikagaku Moyo (or Geometric Patterns, if you prefer) (or, indeed, 幾何学模様) are almost the perfect Mind De-Coder band, and their current album, HOUSE IN THE TALL GRASS, is possibly my favourite album of the year. They do a very fine line in psychedelic, acid folk, prog-tinged krautrock with classical Indian embellishments and ethereal, beautifully wasted vocals that’s both child-like and entirely transportative in its ability to free the mind and have your ass follow (as it were). Can You Imagine Nothing?, apparently written after a night spent jamming on a suspended footbridge in the remote mountains, is taken from their debut album, 2013’s eponymous release, in which they channel the spirit of the 1970’s Japanese psychedelic underground. Marvellous.

LA FEMME     LE VIDE EST TON NOUVEAU PRÉNOM


Ah, oui – The Vacuum Is Your New First Name – as we say in Google translate, and The Emptiness Is Your New First Name as we say elsewhere. This is the Francoise-Hardy-does-Ennio-Morricone one on an album that skips between 60’s surf to synth-pop while taking in Krautrock motorik beats, disco and post-punk with occasional choral vocals. MYSTÈRE is an alluring album brimming with ideas that never loses its sense of coherence amidst the melting pot of styles that make up its magical grooves.

SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS     ON A CLEAR DAY I CAN THINK FOR MILES


One of the lovely instrumental interludes that permeate GOLDEN OMENS, the Soft Hearted Scientists’ gift to 2016. It’s an album that swoons with an almost Edwardian pastoral psychedelic charm.

C DUNCAN     DO I HEAR


This sublime track is taken from the album THE MIDNIGHT SUN, the second release by the Scottish composer and musician C Duncan.  His classical background (he trained in composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) lends an unusual level of harmonic sophistication to his music which, as this track suggests, contains a universe of ambience and eerie euphoria. The music is thoughtful and intricate and sometimes sounds like ecstasy unfolding itself into a room.

THE HEARTWOOD INSTITUTE     AUNT MABEL’S COTTAGE


The Heartwood Institute is the moniker by which library musician and composer Jonathon Sharp releases hauntological vignettes inspired by The Lake District and the novels of children’s author Penelope Lively. Aunt Mabel’s Cottage is taken from his 2015 release, THE WILD HUNT OF HAGWORTHY, an imagined soundtrack to a tale written by Lively in the early 1970’s and set in the remote village of Hagworthy, in which an old pagan practice is unwisely revived for a summer fete, summoning dangerous old forces that focus on the young outsider, Lucy, as she visits her aunt in the countryside – a sort of ‘Wicker Man’ for kids, dealing with buried archetypes and teenage alienation. If you’re anything like me that description will have you running to the nearest library eager to track the book down, but while you’re at it, you should also check out his Bandcamp site here. Sharp’s music creates a soundtrack to the book as it might have sounded at the time of the original publication and therefore creates an ambience of eerie unease and dread that puts one in mind of other childhood tales, such as The Owl Service, or the soundtrack to The Children Of The Stones. It really is quite spooky, an approach he refers to quite aptly to as hauntronica.

THE STRAWBS     THE SHEPHERD’S SONG


Shepherd’s Song is taken from The Strawbs’ third album, WITCHWOOD, released in 1971 and the one on which they were straddling that tricky folk/prog divide. It has a slightly erotic charge to it, accentuated by that whole classical Spanish guitar thing towards the end. The album has many fine tracks on it, ranging from gorgeous folk to fully-fledged prog wig-outs with added medieval embellishments, sitars, harpsichords and Rick Wakeman’s melloton and moog flourishes, as if underscoring the fact that he was a prog musician in a folk band.


NEIL YOUNG     AFTER THE GOLDRUSH


Absolutely exquisite. Neil Young, of course, with the title track from his 1970 release AFTER THE GOLDRUSH. The song itself was inspired by a screenplay for an unmade film ‘After the Gold Rush' for which Young had read the screenplay and asked if he could produce the soundtrack. In a career that’s produced nearly 50 albums, this remains my favourite, and the mystical title track one of my favourite songs ever.

BEYOND THE WIZARD’S SLEEVE     TOMORROW, FOREVER


Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve’s debut album proper THE SOFT BOUNCE delivered lysergic grooves, Krautrock rhythms, Moroder-esque synthesiser throb, luscious sunshine-pop harmonies and baroque string arrangement over hip-hop breakbeats, Brazilian Tropicália and Eno-like ambient washes all mixed up with a 1960s psych sensibility, so I’m quite the fan – Tomorrow, Forever is the  eight minute cinematic drone piece on an album that successfully defies categorization but hops between genres so easily you don’t even notice that they’re there.

LA! NEU?    COMME NUAGES DANS LE CIEL


La! Neu? were, as you might expect, a band put together by Neu!’s Klaus Dinger, who despite garnering  much critical success with the seminal krautrock band Neu! and later with La Düsseldorf, couldn’t get arrested in 1985 and pretty much remained a semi-mythical figure in post-Krautrock Germany (he invented that definitive motorik krautrock beat, y’all) until a Japanese record label specifically set him up with his own Dingerland sub-label for future projects. La! Neu? existed as a loose collective of Dinger and (mostly) younger musicians, plus his mother Renate, who recorded and released a number of albums quickly and spontaneously. The lovely Comme Nuages Dans Le Ciel (‘As Clouds In The Sky’) is taken from the album GOLD REGEN, released in 1998, a mellow and largely improvised album, more or less recorded in a day, and as close to an ambient release that Dinger ever got (what with him being a drummer and all).

THE HILLIARD ENSEMBLE     MA FIN EST MON COMMENCEMENT


I’ve been reading a lot about time lately, a tricky concept to grapple with. St. Augustine of Hippo sums it up quite nicely when he wrote: “If I am not asked I know what time is, but if I am asked, I do not.” In my research I came across this piece of music, written by Guillaume de Marchant in the mid-14th century. Written in the style of a rondeau, it repeats the phrase Ma fin est mon commencement, Et mon commencement ma fin over and over again, or: ‘My end is my beginning, And my beginning is my end’, a rather profound observation that Nietzsche would re-discover some 400 years later with his theory of the Eternal Return. I’m fascinated by this stuff and particularly enjoy pondering upon such things under enhanced circumstances so I found this version of the piece recorded by The Hilliard Ensemble,  a male vocal quartet devoted to the performance of early music, because it’s one thing to read about an esoteric spiritual concept, but quite another to hear it. It’s a fascinating example of how the concept of the Eternal Return can be conveyed in musical terms. To educate and entertain – that’s Mind De-Coder all over, that is.

THE SÉANCE WITH LUTINE    TREES GREW ALL AROUND HER


The Séance are St. Etienne’s Pete Wiggs and James Papademetrie, who may be writer of some sort. Between them, co-host a radio show called The Séance, named after an overlooked 1964 Bryan Forbes kitchen sink thriller called 'Séance On A Wet Afternoon', in which they pay homage to oddball pop, buried soundtrack treasure, new and old electronic finery, mutant disco, experimental misshapes, modern composition, folk music both psych and trad, covetable new releases and whatever else interests them at the time (you can check out some of their shows here). Lutine are a folk band from Brighton (where The Séance live) who do a fine line in airy, gossamer-like songs that put one in mind of village greens and freshly furrowed fields (possibly revealing the half-rotten skull of an all but forgotten demon). They recently came together to record  a track for an album called THE FOREST/THE WALD, a study and collection of work that reflects on fragments and echoes of tales from the woodland and its folklore, released by the ever intriguing A Year In The Country project, which you can read about here. I expect The Séance added the weird hauntological bits and Lutine did the rest. Anyway, it’s quite lovely and I, for one, will be finding out a lot more about both of them.

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE AND THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.    PLEASURE MANTRA OF SORROWS


Acid Mothers Temple releases always present something of a challenge to the unwary. Usually amidst the loveliness the band will erupt into the sort of rock n roll white noise wig-out which results in the musical equivalent of Dr. Strange’s etheric body being ejected from his physical body by Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One. Or they do something so beautiful and ethereal it’s like a lucid dream. Pleasure Mantra Of Sorrows falls into this category. It’s taken from the double album ASTRORGASM FROM THE INNER SPACE, released in 2014, a collection of four mighty tracks, taking a side each and featuring the welcome return, for us AMT fans, of original vocalist Cotton Casino. This is truly music to lose yourself in so I let it take up the remainder of the show. Enjoy the trip.

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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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