Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MIND DE-CODER 69

MIND DE-CODER 69



‘God is alive in a sugar cube’
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OS MUTANTES    DOM QUIXOTE


If anything, Os Mutantes second album, MUTANTES, released in 1969, is even more far out than their eponymous debut album. Full of inventive psychedelic arrangements it fuses traditional Brazilian tropicália with dizzying cut ‘n’ paste experimentation that owes less to the Sgt. Pepperism’s of their first album and more to The Mothers of Invention. Side two is generally regarded self-indulgent prog eclecticism that doesn’t bear much of a second listen, but side one, and especially album opener Dom Quixote, shows just how far ahead of the game they were.

RON GEESIN     SPIKY DIVING BELLES


In your less avant-garde circles, Ron Geesin is primarily known for composing the orchestral arrangements for Pink Floyd’s ATOM HEART MOTHER. For those more at home to a certain outré experimentalism, however, Geesin is regarded as a pioneer of your musique concrète and other novel applications of sound. Spiky Diving Belles, recorded in 1971, is taken from a 1995 release, LAND OF MIST, a collection of musical ambiences recorded between the early 1970s and the mid-80s. It’s not an easy listen but remains a sonic curiosity; a gurgling sea of crisp electronics and playful melodies.

ARIANNE CHURCHMAN     MIDSUMMER LEY LINE HOTLINE


Arianne Churchman is artist and folk enthusiast from East Anglia whose work investigates British folk traditions, celebrations and customs using the forms of performance, film, sound and sculpture to explore the themes of a common folk consciousness. A perfect fit, then, for the folks at Calendar Customs whose series of tape cassette releases similarly explore this world of symbolism and ritual and whose artistic reinterpretations are no stranger to this show. Midsummer Ley Line Hotline can be found on the release FOLKLORE TAPES CALENDAR CUSTOMS VOL. IV: CROWN OF LIGHT (MIDSUMMER AND FOLKLORE), released in 2016, the fourth instalment in a series that focuses on pre-Christian traditions and observances associated with midsummer, often marking key points in the agricultural year when planting began or harvesting was completed. Clearly, I’m fascinated with this stuff. You can find out more about Folklore Tapes here.

TEMPLES     ALL JOIN IN


We want more Mellotrons”, they said (I expect), and new album VOLCANO is certainly awash with synth waves and wooshes, replacing the guitars from their previous album – a bit like the leap Tame Impala made from LONERISM to CURRENTS. Nothing wrong with that, of course, although I seem to be the only person in the world who didn’t take to CURRENTS as much as I expected to. Temples have discarded their psychedelic heart for a sort of synth-pop sweetness, but it’s undeniable that singer James Bagshaw knows his way round a catchy melody. Does that sound like faint praise? It’s still growing on me.

JACCO GARDNER     LAZY OLD SUN


Dutch musician Jacco Gardener gives this song a languid psychedelic touch denied it by The Kinks, who, famously, couldn’t be doing with that sort of thing at all. This a gorgeous, Mellotron-soaked, raga-inspired, sun-dappled interpretation of a song that was as near to psychedelic goings-on that The Kinks ever managed.

THE RIOT SQUAD     TOY SOLDIER


The Riot Squad were one of those great lost bands of the sixties who went through so many line-up changes that by the time of their final split in 1969 there had been fifteen incarnations of the band. Drummer Mitch Mitchell was in an early line-up and in 1967 David Bowie was on lead vocals for at least nine weeks while he was recording material for his own solo debut release. They never managed to release anything at the time, but they did record at least four tracks that were eventually released in 2013 as THE TOY SOLDIER EP. On it, the band cover what was, at that point, an unreleased version of the Velvet Underground’s I’m Waiting For My Man, making him the first person ever to cover a Velvet’s track, and on Toy Soldier they rip off the chorus of Venus In Furs wholesale. If not quite the Holy Grail of Bowie releases, it is at the very least and outstanding curio. Enjoy.

CLIFF WARD     A PATH THROUGH THE FOREST


Cliff Ward is largely known as seventies singer-songwriter Clifford T. Ward who had a big hit in 1973 called Gaye these days, and his earlier work forgotten, despite recording a number of hook-laden pop nuggets with his band The Secrets throughout the 60s. A Path Through The Forest was turned into a blistering single by The Factory – one of the great psychedelic releases of 1968, and, indeed, ever – but his original version, demoed in 1967, but never released in its own right, is weirder still, managing to sound like it was recorded under water by someone on magic mushrooms on a day-trip from the moon. 

MOON WIRING CLUB     MASTER OF TICKETS


A hauntological offering from Ian Hodgson taken from the Moon Wiring Club’s 10th anniversary album EXIT PANTOMIME CONTROL, released last year alongside the epic 3 CD set WHEN A NEW TRICK COMES OUT I DO A NEW ONE. EXIT PANTOMIME CONTROL revisits key ideas and themes of the series so far; gathering the ghosts for an eldritch dramaturgy of anachronistic hip hop and ether dream atmospheres inspired by subversive, experimental ‘70s theatre, all taking the form of a good ol’ Panto held at The Clinksell Play House.

LIEVEN MARTENS MOANA     GRONDEMENTS DU VOLCAN DE L’ILE


Lieven Martens Moana is a Belgian composer who, under the moniker Dolphins Into The Future, blended new age, early synthesizer music and exotic field recordings making one-of-a-kind soundscapes during the mid-2000s. His most recent recording, IDYLLS, combines an aria, two scherzos and a coda, a field recording based on the writings on Robert Louis Stevenson, and a closing track recorded on an actual 19th century wax cylinder. I, however, was drawn to Grondements Du Volcan De L’ile, a gentle thunderstorm that sounds as lush and ornate as ancient ruins.

ALICE COLTRANE     JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA


I’ve always kind of avoided Alice Coltrane, me, having previously found her a bit too uncompromising for my delicate tastes - but following a recommendation from Soft Hearted Scientist’s Nathan Hall I checked out her 1971 release JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA and found it to be remarkably accessible for an album steeped in your modal and experimental jazz (a phrase designed to otherwise send a shiver of anxiety through my untutored soul). However, and quite unexpectedly, I found the album to be  an intensely devotional listen with exotic flourishes and sublime harp playing which, if listened to under enhanced circumstances, say, has the power to draw one inward on a spiritual journey of radiant self-discovery. It really is that far out. A highly recommended album.

PINK FLOYD     VEGETABLE MAN


Following the release of last years box set THE EARLY YEARS 1965-1972, fans finally got to hear the band-approved release of the semi-mythological Vegetable Man, recorded by Pink Floyd in 1967 as the b-side to their proposed 3rd single Scream Thy Last Scream. Essentially a description of what Syd was wearing at the time of the recording, it is generally regarded as one of the key tracks that document his breakdown as a recording artist and as a person. Consequently passed over for the considerably less dark Apples and Oranges, it would have made a terrible single but it is a compelling song, although, being a fan of his more whimsical side, I tend to prefer the Jesus and Mary Chain’s version which I heard first.

THE TROGGS     MAYBE THE MADMAN



Tongue-in-cheek psychedelia (I should imagine) from The Troggs, a band not particularly known for their forays into the kaleidoscopic world of lysergic exploration. That being said, I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular track, which appeared as the b-side to their 1968 release Little Girl, for its lines:

Maybe the madman was right
The sun travels on round the world and keeps shining while we sleep at night
Maybe the sky doesn’t cry

Although the next line:

The rain drops are just condensation our tears cry for children that lie

… does slightly blow it a bit, and the rest of the lyrics aren’t much better either, but it’s a lovely enough tune and everso slightly trippier than the untied psychedelic shoelace of destiny.


RIDE    MAKING JUDY SMILE



Making Judy Smile is a bit of a throwaway track on an album that features Dreams Burn Down, Cool Your Boots and OX4, but I’ve always thought it was kind of gorgeous. Taken from their second album GOING BLANK AGAIN, released in 1992 (25 years ago for heaven’s sake!) I see it as their Lovely Rita to Sgt. Pepper’s A Day In The Life (and I’m sure by now I must have mentioned somewhere about how much I love Lovely Rita, a song which never fails to put a smile on my face - a bit like Judy’s I imagine - so look how manifestly that all hangs together).


KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZARD LIZARD     FLYING MICROTONAL BANANA



This is the title track from an album that, as suggested by the title (sort of), finds the band experimenting with Eastern microtones that double the amount of playable notes on their guitars. In fact, it’s not quite as trippy as previous efforts but with touches of Afro-funk and the brain-scrambling squawks of a Turkish horn-type instrument known as a zurna thrown in, this is an album, the first of five promised this year(!) that shows that this is a group chomping at the psychedelic bit.


ALULA DOWN     HEREFORD GARDEN DREAMING



Alula Down is the home recording project of Kate Gathercole and Mark Waters, otherwise members of rural acid folk performers, and Mind De-Coder favourites, Sproatly Smith. Fittingly enough, therefore, the lovely Hereford Garden Dreaming can be found on the Sproatly Smith curated album WEIRDSHIRE: BEATING THE BOUNDS, a compilation of psych-folk rural-core (entirely made up word) from Herefordshire. Quite clearly there’s something in water around those parts – a land of mists and shifting borders where darkness is suffused with beauty and myths and legends define the landscape – that is instantly recognisable in the music. Hereford Garden Dreaming is a spell-binding, enchanting listen with Kate Gathercole's enthralling vocals taking the listener to another time completely. Quite ravishing.

THE HONEY POT     RAINY DAY MUSHROOM PILLOW


For their 100th vinyl release, the brilliant FruitsDe Mer record label approached Devon based purveyors of very English sweet, surreal and strange psychedelic sounds, The Melting Pot, to come up with something special to mark the occasion. Arguably they’d have done a fine enough job on their own, but the band invited fellow Fruits De Mer travellers and friends to join them so what you get is a double album called ASCENDING SCALES - a mix of new songs along with classic and obscure tracks from the 60s/early 70s featuring performances from The Bevis Frond, Dick Taylor from The Pretty Things, Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention/Trader Horne), James Lowe (The Electric Prunes), the guys from July, Ilona V, Anton Barbeau, Us and Them, and even Bruce Woodley from Buggles! The rather fine cover of The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s superlative Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow eschews the wistful melancholy of the original for acid jiggery and pokery, and very fine it is too.

EUROS CHILDS     LAZY BRAIN


Everything you hear on Euros Childs’ new album REFRESH!, released late last year, is essentially his voice fed through a sampler, so there are no instruments used as such, although I do notice that a toy piano and xylophone are listed at some point. Very few of the tracks (I’d hesitate to call them songs) stick around for much longer than a minute or so, they all more or less sound like Lazy Brain, and you’d probably only want to ever listen to it once, but, nevertheless, Euros Childs has delivered another album of impish, oddball charm, wistfully at odds with the world and all the better for it.

OUR SOLAR SYSTEM      AT THE EDGE OF TIME


This is cosmic music of the highest order. At The Edge Of Time is taken from the album IN TIME, released in 2016, by what appears to be a loosely collaborative affair featuring the work of some 30 musicians or so who between them have created an album that consists of just two mind-blowing tracks. Largely the brainchild of Swedish musician Mattias Gustavsson, who may be a member of Dungen, a band firmly rooted in 70s progressive and psychedelic rock, IN TIME is in thrall to the likes of Amon Duul II, Can, Pink Floyd, Gram Parsons, and even jazz musicians like Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman or Sun Ra, but it remains a remarkable thing in and of itself. Side 1 has the whirlwind style of a free jazz, darkwave ambient drone about it which, in truth, first time I heard it put me in mind of Spinal Tap’s Jazz Odyssey, but At the Edge of Time exists truly in a place outside of time’s confines, floating in space, surrounded by infinite stars and sounds, projecting an indefinable sound that’s boundless and beautiful. It really is far fucking out. Marvellous.

THE HARDY TREE     BALTIC WHARF


The Hardy Tree is the musical project of the fairly wonderful Clay Pipe Music record label’s founder Frances Castle. Her album THROUGH THE PASSAGES OF TIME is a haunting, psycho-geographical exploration of buildings and areas of London that no longer exist - small places stumbled upon by accident, traced on maps, and illustrated in Georgian prints; frequently visited pubs that have been rebuilt and renamed; the ship breakers yard decorated with wooden figureheads at Baltic Wharf, or the Thames Watermen living in the shadow of the Hawksmoor designed church at Horselydown; lost places re-imagined and brought to life using clusters of sequenced Moogs, off Kilter electronics, vibes, and Mellotron to create an enchanting wistful paean to an England long forgotten. It’s both nostalgic and modern, alluring and enigmatic, and altogether quite gorgeous.

SPROATLY SMITH     RIBBONS


The latest release from the very fine A Year In The Country project is called THE RESTLESS FIELD - a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with more often referred to urban events. It takes inspiration from flashpoints in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land. It is, therefore, a perfect vehicle for Sproatly Smith who have contributed the bucolic and lovely Ribbons to the project. For those of you who may be interested in this sort of thing, the A Year In The Country project is conceived as a set of year long journeys; cyclical explorations of an otherly pastoralism, a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land – the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edgelands. Those wanderings take in the beauty and escape of rural pastures, intertwined with a search for expressions of an underlying unsettledness to the bucolic countryside dream. 

FE-FI-FOUR PLUS TWO     I WANNA COME BACK (FROM THE WORLD OF LSD)



The marvellously monikered Fe-Fi-Four plus Two released the fuzz-drenched I want To Come Back (From The World Of LSD) in 1967 – and it’s generally regarded by music historians as the first psychedelic single by a native New Mexican group (make of that what you will). Although it’s something of an anti-LSD song, the inventive vocal arrangements, distorted guitars and snarling vocals make this a classic of the psych-garage genre and an absolute fitting end to the show.

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. 

At least, that's the story. In the world of hauntology, things begin to get a bit blurry around the edges. I'm not entirely sure whether Ffalabalam’ is actually a Welsh word at all.

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.

----------------------------------------------------o) 0 (o --------------------------------------------------

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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