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’.
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.
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.