MIND DE-CODER 75
To listen to the the show jusr scroll to the bottom of the page
To listen to the the show jusr scroll to the bottom of the page
LSD is known to have caused psychosis, in people who have never used it
- Timothy Leary
ATTILIO MINEO WELCOME TO TOMORROW
I recently read an article which argued that a distinct line can be drawn from the French impressionist composers all the way through to the early Pink Floyd albums and the Rolling Stones’ 2000 Light Years From Home. Along the way that line will take in the early Exotica recordings of Martin Denny and Les Baxter, which are antecedents of psychedelia by virtue of their projection of an alternate reality that is almost real, and, more particularly, the sub-genre of Space Exotica, which provide a multi-layered, cinematic sense of wide-eyed wonder and escapism that has an almost-real quality today, what with space stations circling the Earth and our probes reaching further and further into the galaxy. With this in mind I borrow from the album MAN IN SPACE WITH SOUNDS outrageously throughout the show. Recorded in 1961 by space-age pop composer and arranger Attilio Mineo, it was released as a novelty item to commemorate the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and seamlessly combines modernistic impressionist compositions with alien-sounding effects laboriously produced on pre-Moog electronic instruments.
And while that itself blends seamlessly into the next track I play an excerpt from Allen Ginsberg reading his LSD poem Wales Visitation to host William Buckley, live on TV in 1968. I return to the poem several times throughout the show.
YATHA SIDHRA MEDITATION MASS PT. 1
Yatha Sidhra remain one of the lesser known krautrock acts, possibly because they only released the one record which, in itself, only contained one track – the aptly titled A MEDITATION MASS, released in 1974 - a pastoral, eastern jazz-influenced instrumental, stretched over four parts that segue almost seamlessly into one another. It’s a strange mystical experience , very dreamy and hypnotic, that slowly ebbs and flows through a strange cosmic drift of sounds: washes of cymbals, vaguely ethnic percussions, a flute, vibes, and other sounds, even some group chanting with electronically treated voices, while the guitar weaves steadily to keep it together as it slowly builds up. It’s a beautiful and ecstatic musical journey, taking in acid folk, space rock and a discreet jazzy vibe that you can lose yourself in. At over 17 minutes long, Part 1 presents a marvellous start to the show.
THE ATTACK MAGIC IN THE AIR
The Attack were freak-beat mods who would possibly have had more success if vocalist Richard Sherman hadn’t had to regroup the band from scratch 3 times. What should have been their breakthrough single, Hi-Ho-Silver-Lining, was co-opted by the newly formed Jeff Beck Group who took it to the top of the charts a week after The Attack’s own release, although, in fairness, Jeff Beck’s version probably had the edge (what with The Attack’s version featuring a clarinet solo for the middle eight in contrast to the brief burn of a Jeff Beck guitar solo). The record company wouldn’t even release Magic In The Air, an otherwise perfect track for 1967, because it was deemed too heavy for the charts, and a proposed album never made it off the ground, so that was pretty much that for the band, doomed to be a footnote in the history of psychedelic music – early guitarist Davy O’List went off to join The Nice. All of those tracks recorded for their only album have since been collected, however, and can be found on the album ‘ABOUT TIME: THE DEFINITIVE MOD-POP COLLECTION 1967-1968’, released in 2006.
THE CHEMISTRY SET A LOVELY CUPPA PHASE
This marvellous track – all vintage phasers, a binson echorec echo machine and backwards oscillations – is the bonus track made available for everyone who bought the band’s 2017 release, the A LOVELY CUPPA TEA EP, released by the ever reliable Fruits De Mer record label.
IPSISSIMUS HOLD ON
This is by no means my favourite version of this scintillating record (that would be the version recorded by Les Fluer De Lys fronted by Sharon Tandy in 1967, the one which virtually invented The Primitives and all girl-fronted indie bands thereafter), but little known Ipsissimus, a psych-rock band from Barking, Essex, of all places, pull out all the fuzz and wah-wah pedals on this blistering 1969 single. John Peel gave the record plenty of exposure on his Perfumed Garden radio show but the single sold poorly and Ipsissimus never set foot in a recording studio again.
PINK FLOYD SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEART OF THE SUN
A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, released in 1968, was Pink Floyd’s transitional album following Syd Barrett’s mental unravelling from the band, and, indeed, reality. Recorded during a difficult transition period between the recruiting of David Gilmour and eviction of Barrett, this is the sound of a band finding their way ahead – they try their hand at a couple of Syd-like songs (Corporal Clegg and See-Saw, say) but also begin to develop their experimental space-rock direction suggested by Interstellar Overdrive from their debut album, which would come to dominate their sound over the next few years. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun is, in fact, the only recording of all five band members playing together. After this, all routes eventually lead to DARK SIDE OF THE MOON.
I follow this with an ambient found-sound piece I created which is essentially the sound of me driving to the shops. The song playing on the radio is the Fun Boy Three’s brilliant cover of The Door’s The End, recorded live in 1983 for the largely forgotten TV show Switch which briefly replaced The Tube on Friday evenings.
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE REJOYCE
Jefferson Airplane opened 1967 with SURREALISTIC PILLOW and finished it with AFTER BATHING AT BAXTERS. In between they’d taken a huge amount of LSD and pushed their sound about as far out as it was possible to go. Grace Slick's gorgeous Rejoyce is a hauntingly beautiful excursion into literary psychedelia, a protest-cabaret adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses carrying the Lewis Carroll literary allusions of the previous album's White Rabbit into startlingly new and wonderful (if discursive) directions and depths. It also features one of my favourite lines from any Jefferson Airplane song – “war’s good business, so give your sons, but I’d rather have my country die for me”, a righteous fuck-you to consumerism and the military-industrial complex, which pretty much sums up the hippie disillusion with the day-glo life promised at the beginning of the year.
BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST DARK NOW MY SKY
A fantastic bit of pastoral chamber-prog at its most pastoraly and chamber-progiest – the 12 minute Dark Now My Sky, taken from their eponymous debut album released in 1970, ticks all the right boxes: pompous poetry reading, an isolated overture-like orchestral passage, hymnal vocals, a barrage of guitars, and swelling Mellotron flourishes. Barclay James Harvest never received the critical recognition of the Moody Blues or Procol Harum – possibly because they were never too ashamed to borrow from them – and the record buying public never really seems to have taken them to their hearts, but they had a knack for writing hook-laden songs built on pretty melodies, they harmonized like the Beatles and weren’t afraid to rock out. I’ve not heard any of their later stuff but all fans of your psych-prog should check out their first album. It bombed at the time, of course.
LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE IT COMES ON ANYHOW
If this track sounds familiar at all, it’s because The Chemical Brothers sampled it in It Doesn't Matter on their album DIG YOUR OWN HOLE. Other than that, Lothar and The Hand People are one of the more pleasantly obscure groups I’ve played on Mind De-Coder. Lothar was the nickname for their Theremin, an instrument they pioneered along with the Moog Modular synthesiser, thus paving the way for much of the electronic experimentalism in music that was to follow. Their debut album PRESENTING…LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE, released in 1968, is a curious combination of primitive electronica, blue-eyed psychedelic soul, freak-out Appalachian weirdness, Lovin’ Spoonful pop catchiness, folk, and tripped-out beatnik comedy music. Despite coming from New York they were too light-hearted for the Velvet Underground crowd, and too weird for the folk clubs, so they struggled to find an audience. Cult status beckoned.
GONG FLYING TEAPOT
On the face of it, the story of flying teapots, gnomes and pixies could be taken as evidence of doped-out hippie excess, but Gong’s third album FLYING TEAPOT (RADIO GNOME INVISIBLE PT. 1), released in 1973, appears to have been inspired by an observation from Bertrand Russell, who argued that, if he were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there was a china teapot revolving around the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove his assertion. Gong founder Daevid Allen took this concept and wove it into a trilogy of albums that take in all sorts of concepts from sexual liberation to Freudian self-analysis, Zen Buddhism, and, it must be said, the adventures of pot head pixies from the Planet Gong. The album is an exotic mix of synth effects, odd timings, sublime weirdness, wigged-out free form space jazz, American TV jazz with funky bass, syncopated drum breaks and children’s entertainers with adult story lines. It was a magical combination that laid out the Gong credentials space-psych-jazz prog overlords and there’s never been anything else quite like it.
MOON WIRING CLUB CRUMBLING TOFFEE TOWN
On his most recent vinyl release (as opposed to his most recent CD release) CATEARED CHOCOLATIERS, Moon Wiring Club’s Ian Hodgson rolls the dice on a thoroughly elusive sequence of eldritch sound, using the PS1’s FX to emulate melted shellac, gaggles of ghosts and the imagined environmental sounds of an eerie parallel dimension that lies just behind our own reality.
I use this track as a springboard into a spacey tripped-out excursion that includes…
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO UFO THE TARGETED PLANET
While putting the show together The Fall’s Mark E Smith sadly passed beyond the veil leaving a trail of some 70 or so studio albums behind him (not to mention some 40 compilation albums, 13 EPs and 46 singles) which by any standards is quite a haul. It pales in comparison, however, when compared to the mighty Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO who, since 1995, have released over 200 albums of fucked-up anthems from outer space. The credits for their most recent release, last year’s WANDERING THE OUTER SPACE, include a midnight whistler, speed guru, noodle god and ‘another dimension’, all of which seem to appear in The Targeted Planet, which is full of SETI-like going’s on from the fifth dimension, arcade sound effects, and vocalist Jyonson Tsu’s extemporaneous Yoko Ono-isms that sound like we’re being visited by a sister from another planet. We probably are. There will never be another Mark E Smith, but I can’t imagine there being another Acid Mothers Temple either. Probably just as well.
CREATION REBEL STARSHIP AFRICA SECTION 5/SPACE MOVEMENT SECTION 1
Creation Rebel’s STARSHIP AFRICA, released in 1980, is dub’s fabled psychedelic album - an album compared to releases by the likes of Tangerine Dream and the Grateful Dead - and a sci-fi dub soundtrack for a film that was never made. Conceived by dub legend Adrian Sherwood, its gestation comes with a convoluted back story concerning highly regarded reggae artists I’ve never heard of and the semi-mythical lost tapes taken from the original recording session that have disappeared into the mists of time. Produced and arranged by Sherwood, the album employs some truly wild phasing and echo. Indeed, his 4D Rhythms partner Chris Garland allegedly spent most of the session encouraging Sherwood to take the effects as far from the norm as he could, to the ultimate extent of mixing the tracks blind. The result is a truly spaced-out dub experience that, spread over just two tracks (albeit broken down into five and four movements apiece), stands among the most intriguing of all Sherwood's earliest creations.
THE BOO RADLEYS LAZARUS
The Boo Radleys were one of Creation’s most cruelly under-rated bands, consistently over-looked when compared to the likes of Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine or Ride, and yet responsible for one of Creation’s greatest releases, 1994’s GIANT STEPS - a melting pot of dub, noise rock, sixties psychedelia, jazz, ambient and dance combined to form the quintessential eclectic 90s album. This is the 12” version of Lazarus, a gorgeous sprawling dub epic that explodes into forlorn psych-noise loveliness.
THE SPECTRUM MUSIC SOOTHES THE SAVAGE BEAST
The Spectrum were a relatively unknown British act who couldn’t get arrested in England despite producing the music for the closing credits of the Gerry Anderson-produced series Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons. They even had a weekly comic strip based on their ‘adventures’ running in Lady Penelope, a tie-in with Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, but none of their singles charted (they had success with one single in Spain in 1967). Music Soothes The Savage Breast is the b-side to their rather opportunistic cover of The Beatles’ Ob La Di Ob La Da, which shows how desperate they were getting for a hit in 1968. No one knows why some bands fail and others succeed, but The Spectrum were doomed to fail. Drummer Keith Forsey met with considerably more success later when he wrote Don’t You Forget About Me for Simple Minds, and the theme to Flashdance, as well as being Giorgio Moroder's drummer of choice during his groundbreaking Donna Summer period.
DORU BELU ATTRACTION 2 (excerpt)
Russian hauntology from the mysterious Doro Belu, about whom I know nothing. Is it a he, a she, or a they? Even the Bandcamp page is unforthcoming, so all I can give you is a few minutes of the trackミラナ'влечение 2 (attraction 2) from the recent release карие глаза встречают ясность в бюро. быть может, ей не стоило здесь находиться так долго (or BROWN EYES MEET CLARITY AT THE BUREAU. PERHAPS SHE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO STAY HERE FOR SO LONG) released last year and available for download here. It’s an unusual affair, typically hauntological in sound but with an entirely different set of reference points, dominated by a single sound flow directed by gentle whispers, distant melodies and noises. I suspect something was lost in the translation.
VASHTI BUNYAN AND GARETH DICKSON THOUGHTS OF MARY JANE
Legendary producer Joe Boyd always fancied the idea of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan working together, but it was not to be. This lovely cover of Drake’s Thoughts Of Mary Jane, recorded with Gareth Dickson, a Scottish singer whose timeless folk gems are steeped in the ethereal sound worlds of ambient and drone flourishes, can be found on the recent CD GREEN LEAVES – NICK DRAKE COVERED, that accompanied the Mach 2018 issue of Mojo magazine.