Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Extraordinary basement psych with two multi-instrumentalists creating a melancholic dreamlike state with songs fading in and out of the speakers, cavemen drums, primitive electronics and murky fuzz lurking in the background. The best tracks go into places no other albums reach. Actually closer to the heart of psychedelia than most other records listed here. The two hard rocking tracks that have been comp'd are not representative of the album as a whole, and add an unwanted "roots" feeling that disturb the trip somewhat. Still, one of the Ohio classics, with unparalleled artwork on the sleeve. Beware of an earlier "reissue" on Void (#20) titled "Re-emerges", which is new recordings of the 1974 material.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Canadian rural acid folk from 1973, that recalls early 70s UK psych-folk. There's some groovy acid fuzz guitar work interwoven with gentle acoustic numbers. The original LP is rumored to go for $600-800 and is incredibly hard to find.
Friday, October 3, 2008
How did such a wonderfully strange name such as Ant Trip Ceremony come about? The band's name came from Steve DeTray. He entered Oberlin College in Ohio in 1964 but took a hiatus from college in 1966 and part of 1967. He went to stay with his brother in Logan, Utah. There Steve formed a band and needed a name. By chance he mentioned it to an English professor at the nearby University in early 1967. The professor suggested a phrase, "ant trip ceremony", from an American novel whose title Steve can't recall. The author described modern societal life as an ant trip ceremony. Steve thought it spoke to the alienation felt by many of the younger generation in 1967, and the name stuck. So in essence there were two different groups with the name Ant Trip Ceremony. The first one Steve formed in Utah in early 1967 and then the second one which he formed at Oberlin in the fall of 1967.
Steve left Utah in the summer of 1967 and headed back for a tour of duty at Oberlin College. The band he had in Utah had broken up and Steve wanted to put together another band at Oberlin. Steve put out the word that he wanted to form an electric rock and roll band. Gary Rosen was playing in a blues band with George Galt and Mark Stein. Stein, a multi-talented instrumentalist, was a flute major at the Oberlin Conservatory. Roger Goodman was a brilliant keyboard player, but refused to play it while in Ant Trip Ceremony and only wanted to sing. All the members for the new band were from Oberlin with the exception of Jeff Williams who was a local sixteen year old up and coming jazz musician.
The Ant Trip Ceremony album was recorded during two sessions. the first session was in February of 1968 in a rented hall at Oberlin. Steve was there for the first sessions but had left Oberlin by the spring of 1968 and was not present for the second recording session. The album was called "Twenty Four Hours"because that was the feeling behind the sessions (ie.that it took what seemed like twenty four hours to record). The machinery used for the recordings was primitive. The band used a KLH tape deck for playback and a two track Roberts reel to reel for recording. When they wanted to multi-track they would record on one side of the tape and then record on the other side as well. Then they would mix it down to the KLH. The reason the album sounds somewhat imbalanced is because the KLH had one faulty speaker and thus the speaker balance leaned heavily to the left. This ended up affecting the final mix-down.
How were the songs chosen for the album? The band felt ready to record their original songs. These were performed live before student audiences. During live shows, the band was wild, but sadly no live tapes exist. Thus the original songs done on the album when performed live were more psychedelic and improvised. Where did the band play live? Mostly at Oberlin and at off campus parties. The band was known for getting into strange and long jams. Furthermore no song was ever done twice exactly the same. They were, in some ways like the Grateful Dead of the region. When the band played it was a happening, a genuine psychedelic event. Shows went on for hours, with the audience in a wide variety of states of consciousness.
Three hundred copies of the album were pressed and one hundred were sold for $3.00 each!! The album's expenses was shared equally by the band members. The artwork and production was done at Oberlin for free. Why was the album done? Steve was leaving Oberlin, and the band wanted to capture some of the magic they had collectively created anything could happen in those days, that there were no limits. The producer of the album was David Crosby, an Oberlin student and good friend of the band who was very much into music production and sounds. Sadly, he passed away during the making of this reissue and will be missed greatly. The artwork for the album was of its time with psychedelic-mind-zapping art work. It was without a doubt a counterculture statement!!
What are the songs about?
"Elaborations"-a great example of Steve's development of the Indian Raga form, with his guitar tuned to get a sitar sound. He had also been to Berkeley in the summer of 1967 and was wowed by bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Quicksilver.
" Pale Shades Of Gray"-.words were written by Steve's first wife, with some Procol Harum influence, is about the pain of alienation.
"River Dawn"- George wrote this song about escaping the restrictions of campus life by sitting on the banks of the Ohio River when the sun was coming up.
"Locomotive Lamp"- Gary’s first song as a singer-songwriter. It was a forerunner to the Grateful Dead’s train/drug imagery. “Little Baby”- a blues cover song that was done by Gary and George's blues band before Ant Trip Ceremony.
“ Violets Of Dawn”- the band members were fans of Eric Anderson and covered the song, that was also done by the great Northwest group, The Daily Flash.
“ Hey Joe”- the band loved Jimi Hendrix (of course) and did this cover version in his honor. “Four In The Morning”- a weird but strangely ethereal song that bears a striking similarity to “Hey Joe” with its despondency and desperateness.
“Outskirts- A song about alienation, has words by Oberlin poet, Sandy Lyne and music by pianist, Neal Evans.
“What the matter now”- written by George's friend , Jack Lee. Lee used to play with Mother Earth. George got the tune from Jeff and added different words to it.
“Get Out Of My Life Woman”-a then popular cover song that west coast bands such as “The Doors” were performing.
“What’s The Matter Now”-a lovely psychedelic number that predates the background vocal effect John and Yoko were doing in 1969 and 1970. “Sometimes I Wonder”- no available comments on this blues flavored melody.
Ant Trip Ceremony lasted for about one year, then disbanded upon the member’s graduation from Oberlin College. In their wake they left this fine artifact from their oeuvre and forty years after “24 Hours” was first released it sounds as good as ever. www.cicadelic.com
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Former Beat Of The Earth leader Phil Pearlman assembled this band in the early 70's. This is their sole and very rare album from 1975, and it's a long lost classic of US psychedelia. An overall rural West Coast vibe permeates an album that's filled with melodic rural songs, eastern jams, delicate drifting electric and acoustic instrumentals and backwards and electronic effects. Somewhere close to American Beauty era Grateful Dead, but with an added dose of New Tweedy Brothers styled fuzz and garage psych electronic experimentation, this is a release that deserves a listen by any serious US '60's psychedelic rock fan.
From San Francisco, this Californian-meets-India group played a very relaxed mystic blend of music, alternating instrumental cuts with vocal songs. Adding instruments such as sarod, dholak and tablas to their regular guitar/bass/drums line-up Shanti created an exotic, rootsy aura, never mind the spiritual lyrics. Zakir Hussain also played with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead on his Rolling Thunder album.
This is the second full length album by Turkish rock star Erkin Koray, originally released by Doğan Plakcılık in 1974.
Finally given the freedom to record an album instead of being limited to 45 rpm singles, Koray and his band created an album that reflected both his Turkish roots and his love of psychedelic and progressive rock. Elektronik Türküler is widely considered to be Koray's masterpiece by many critics, and many of his subsequent releases followed in this vein, with progressive and psychedelic influences balanced by Turkish folk forms.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Straight from the Japan Folk Jamboree Circa 1971 comes the mighty Blues Creation with their brand of electrifying bastardized heavy rock riffage. Your unworthy earholes will have an auditory orgasm as Lord of Hot Licks Kazuo "Flash" Takeda and his band of not-so-merry-men stomp all over those foolish notions you had about what comprised groovy Hard Rock.
They torch Muddy’s “Rolling Stone” and gobble, chew and spit out Loudermilk-by-way-of-Blues Magoos standard, “Tobacco Road”. The highlight though, is the fuck-the-overdubs, screw-the-subtlety version of “Demon & Eleven Children”. The boys positively rape their instruments on this one. Don’t get much better than this, kids.
1. Rolling Stone
3. Drinkin' Blues
4. Demon & Eleven Children
5. Understand (w/Carmen Maki)
6. Tobacco Road
Monday, September 15, 2008
A late sixties San Francisco outfit, whose album is full of fuzz-blues material sounding rather like a psychedelic Groundhogs. Its more psychedelic tracks included Underground River and For Suki. Only two covers are present, a bluesy version of The Letter and Born Under A Bad Sign, both were chosen for their 45. The album is now a very minor collectors' item and was produced by Tom Wilson.
The album was originally released in 1969 on Dot-Records but didn´t receive too much attention - maybe it appeared as a too freaked out heavy version of Jefferson Airplane or Big Brother & the Holding Co. The group started back in Atlanta Georgia in 1967 as a quartet with 2 guitars and played true psychedelic sounds, recorded at the Record Plant in NYC, and moved to Woodstock (NY).
Their 5 original tunes, 2 arrangements of traditional tunes and 3 others are electric heavy blues with a strong Hendrix feel with duelling guitarwork, an outstanding female voice/vocals/screams...lots of intense stereo effects. They performed at Woodstock Festival in 1968 (one year before...) and at the hottest locations of NYC such as Filmore East.
Ellen McIlwaine, the founder of the group made an international solo career as blues-singer and slide guitarist sharing the bill with Jimi Hendrix, Laura Nyro, Howlin' Wolf, Weather Report, Taj Mahal, George Thorogood, Tom Waits, Chicago, Bruce Springsteen and played a series of concerts with Johnny Winter. This release, is issued with stunning sound quality and includes a great booklet with pictures and biographical background. - For all 60´s collectors who are not familiar with this masterpiece - it´s a must - there a not many groups that were able to present the freewheelin´ live on stage feeling on their studio album!
Stackwaddy were an English band discovered by Radio One DJ John Peel, who signed them to his own Dandelion label. They delivered gut-level covers with howling vocals reminiscent of Beefheart at his best. All tracks were put down live in the studio, mostly first-takes with no overdubs. The self-titled debut and 'Bugger Off' were released in 1971 and 1972 respectively, and soon became collectors items. Both are included on this CD, but unfortunately their version of 'The Girl From Ipanema' from the second LP has been cut due to lack of space. Otherwise a good package for fans of primal blues rock.
2. Bring It To Jerome
4. Sure Nuff 'N' Yes I Do
5. Love Story
6. Suzie Q
7. Country Line Special
8. Rollin' Stone
9. Mystic Eyes
12. Willie The Pimp
13. Hoochie Coochie Man
14. It's All Over Now
15. Several Yards
16. You Really Got Me
17. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter
18. Meat Pies 'ave Come But Band's Not Here Yet
19. It Ain't Easy
20. Long Tall Shorty
21. Repossession Boogie
S/T & Bugger Off
2. Bring It To Jerome
4. Sure Nuff 'N' Yes I Do
5. Love Story
6. Suzie Q
7. Country Line Special
8. Rollin' Stone
9. Mystic Eyes
12. Willie The Pimp
13. Hoochie Coochie Man
14. It's All Over Now
15. Several Yards
16. You Really Got Me
17. I'm A Lover Not A Fighter
18. Meat Pies 'ave Come But Band's Not Here Yet
19. It Ain't Easy
20. Long Tall Shorty
21. Repossession Boogie
S/T & Bugger Off
Another groovy release from the Finders Keepers camp, this was never before properly released - apparently the label thought Christie was a liability, too experimental for their mainstream sensibilities, and only three privately pressed vinyls ended up leaking out into the world. One of those ended up being the 'mother' from which this release was procured, and listening to it today it's easy to see why the label became so worried when they heard it. The cover has a nice quote from Stones Throw man Egon who says it sounds like a dusty old folk LP as produced by Madlib, and he's not wrong - there's something deep and totally smoked out about the record which sets it apart from other folk records at the time. Delving into the murky world of psychedelia we find Christie in a drugs haze on the nine-minute 'Yesterday, Where's my Mind?' or lazy hotwired funk on 'Ghost Riders of the Sky' - it's quite simply breathtaking the foresight of the woman as she crafted a record which seems so intrinsically connected with the sounds the hip hop/crate digging world fetishises so much now. Really it shocks me that with all the current psych/folk music coming out we very rarely have anything that reaches such dizzy heights as this, we very rarely have albums that just seem to, well, get it right - here Susan Christie does exactly that, and all we have to do is lie back and take it in slowly. Beautiful!
Paint A Lady
Loose, rural psych/hard rock from 1972 with fluid guitar and masterful organ, produced by Artie Kornfield at A&R in New York. 8 powerful tracks with interplay that is similar to bands like (early) Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trapeze etc. Great songs like "Frolic Child" build from a gentle ballad into a beautiful guitar workout whilst "Trapped in the City" is a 6 minute bluesy workout with excellent phased Hammond work. Nice album.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Link Wray is the self-titled 1971 album by pioneer Rock & Roll guitarist, and Shawnee Indian Link Wray. The album was recorded in an old chicken shack on Wray's Maryland farm, and is a passionate blend of Blues, Country, and Folk rock elements. The music is characterized by the purposeful use of simplified sounds to reflect the then-current vogue of blues and other "root" music being used in many rock bands. The recording included the use of a shaken can of pebbles as part of the percussion on several tracks. Still, Wray's guitar-work, composing and vocals reflected modern rock influences.
Make no mistake, this is not Wray in instrumental surf-guitar mode, but the man handling all the vocals, belting out greasy, back-porch, rock & roll gospel-blues. Straight up groovy.
Also check out the Link Wray Tees my homegirl Jess designed @ Rotter and Friends.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
What more can possibly be said about Sonny Sharrock? It is widely agreed upon that he is the greatest free jazz guitarist, period. He worked within the most important circles of the jazz world from the late ’60s until his death in 1994, playing with Dave Burrell, Norris Jones (a.k.a. Sirone), Milford Graves (all of whom appear on this record), as well as Peter Brötzman, Ronald Shannon Jackson, John Zorn, Miles Davis (he has an uncredited appearance on A Tribute to Jack Johnson), Byard Lancaster, Cecil Taylor, Pharoah Sanders, and Herbie Mann. Since jazz musicians are often judged more by who they played with than what they played, those credentials alone are probably enough to solidify his place in the out-jazz canon.
But who he’s playing with doesn’t even matter; Sharrock’s playing is so unique and powerful that it immediately demands attention. Less about chords and blues licks than bends, swells, swerves, tremolos, slides, and general mind-meltingness, he approaches the guitar as a purely melodic instrument. Even more impressive is his use of effects – there are none. Unlike many of the fusion guitarists of the time who needed their heavy distortion or phasors or wah-wahs or anything else, Sharrock is content to just let his guitar and amp talk.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Fuzzed out wah wah psych from Zambian guitarist Chrissy Zebby Tembo. This cat play man. Just listen to the three minute solo on "Oh Ye Ye", a track that was on the Love, Peace & Poetry: African Psychedelic Music comp that came out back in 2004. The guitar work is straight up groovy, man, and fuzzed all the way out. "Trouble Maker" is a dirty little jam with a slight African hint. It's a little more upbeat than most of the stuff I'm diggin' on these days, but it's sunny out and there's a breeze in the air and Chrissy is providing just the right vibrations, you dig.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come (1972)
You won't find a better cross-section of rocksteady, vocal trio, rude boy, and reggae music than on this classic film soundtrack. Bob Marley fans will argue that he is the most influential reggae master of all time. This may very well be true, but this soundtrack is the master of all reggae records. The blending of styles is perfect, the music tight and groovy and the vocals are exquisite. This recording is timeless.
The Harder They Come
The Wailers - Catch A Fire (1973)
The Wailers' (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh & Bunny Wailer) Catch A Fire hit with the force of a revelation when it was released in 1973, and though Chris Blackwell tailored its sound with a rock audience in mind, the album was still unlike anything that had ever come down the pike. Even after everything that followed, and the cult of idolatry that formed around Marley, this remains soulful, message-driven music that goes straight to the blood. Utterly essential.
Catch A Fire
Lee Perry - Kung Fu Meets The Dragon (1975)
Lee "Scratch" Perry (aka Rainford Hugh Perry; aka The Mighty Upsetter; aka Pipecock Jackson; aka Super Ape) is the father of reggae's cousin, dub. He took elements and samples of reggae and, through a mixing process no one is quite sure of (echo chambers & tons of reverb), turned them into semi-psychedelic instrumentals, complete with tape effects and occasional banter from Perry himself.
Kung Fu Meets The Dragon
Burning Spear - Marcus Garvey (1975)
Although this is not Winston Rodney aka Burning Spear's first album (he released two albums on the Studio One Label before this) it is the one that busted through the Jamaican market and went international. It's, in my opinion, his best album.
Marcus Garvey (password: villanz)
Twinkle Brothers - Rasta Pon Top (1975)
Their best and near widely known record, a rasta-infused, roots-heavy demi-masterpiece that included soul and church doctrine vocal stylings inside the deep grooves.
Rasta Pon Top
The Upsetters - Super Ape (1976)
This is classic dub driven by one of the original masters, Lee "Scratch" Perry, whose mad genius molded the collective entity known as the Upsetters (his studio and/or backing band). It's often hard to tell whether a given album is an Upsetters album or a Perry album, but Perry's fingerprints are all over this one, from the zany cover to the slow, heavy bass and African drums that permeate it.
The Abyssinians - Satta Massagana (1976)
There is a heavy spiritual vibe in the vocals of the Abyssinians. The trio were blessed with some of the most gorgeous three-part harmonies in all of reggae. The music is heavy 1970's Roots Reggae, played by Reggae's top musicians. Lot of easy skanking one drops, horn themes on this one.
Bunny Wailer - Blackheart Man(1976)
Following Bunny Wailer's 1973 departure from The Wailers, he spent three years retired in the Jamaican countryside before returning to the recording studio. The result was the triumphant Blackheart Man, featuring a number of legendary Jamaican musicians including the Barrett Brothers (Carlton and Aston), Robbie Shakespeare, Skatalite Tommy McCook and former bandmates Marley and Tosh.
Peter Tosh - Equal Rights (1977)
Even though Captured Live might be Tosh's greatest recorded gift, this 1977 studio album was his best, by far, away from the stage. Equal Rights opens with two great salvos, "Get Up, Stand Up" and "Downpressor Man," both of them politically unequivocal in their support, aptly, of human rights and political equality. In his post-Wailers days, Tosh seemed ever in dialogue with his conscience and his obsession with Bob Marley's fame.
The Congos - Heart of the Congos (1977)
No reggae album more obscure than the Congos' (airborne falsetto Cedric Myton and tenor Roydel Johnson) Heart of the Congos is as rich, and no richer album is as obscure. Yet another child spawn from "Scratch" Perry's Black Art Studio and easily one of his best.
Heart of the Congos
Augustus Pablo - King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown (1977)
Deep deep bass, tight springy drums, sharp guitars, and the evocative melodica of Pablo drifting in and out on waves of delay, mysterious ambience, cross-talk, reverb, and the tightest playing - all dubbed within an inch of its life by King Tubby. One of the best dub records of all time.
King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown
Culture - Two Sevens Clash (1978)
Culture's most influential record was based on a prediction by Marcus Garvey, who said there would be chaos on July 7, 1977, when the "sevens" met. With its apocalyptic message, the song created a stir in his Caribbean homeland and many Jamaican businesses and schools closed their doors for the day. Prophecy aside, this is a roots reggae classic.
Two Sevens Clash
Saturday, August 9, 2008
When it comes to my knowledge of Nigerian music, it can be summed up in three words: Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat. I’ll surmise that the same can be said of most Western listeners. With that, listening to Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump was a refreshing dose of new music for me. It’s the newest title from Strut Records.
Like I said above, I know next to nothing about the development of music in Nigeria in the last 50 years, and won’t pretend otherwise here. I did however learn quite a bit from reading the extensive and informative (as typical for Strut’s releases) liner notes that accompanied this compilation. Not surprisingly, the only musician’s name I recognized in the track list or in the notes was Fela Kuti, but his is a name, and contribution, that only builds on preceding artists.
Without getting into the history and development of the music too much, I’ll say that the tracks here represent many musical movements that took place within Nigeria. The basis for much of the music on the album comes from two contrasting musical styles: Highlife dance band music which revolved around big bands that initially mimicked and then built off of American Swing music, and Juju music which was more of an organic traditional music.
The popularity and prominence of these two very unlike styles waxed and waned as the country went through political strife, but with the infusion of western pop music in the 60’s, things would change - permanently. Rock and Roll, Soul, and Funk made inroads with young musicians who started incorporating these western styles into their own music, beginning the development of Afro-pop, then Afro-jazz, and of course Afrobeat (which Fela Kuti is celebrated for pioneering and why his name is indelibly branded in musical history). The sixteen tracks on this disc are an audible expression of how African musicians took in outside music, played with it, adopted parts of it, and created a fusion of styles of their own.
This disc is in some ways a follow-up to another release that Strut put out in 2001 their first time around titled simply Nigeria 70 (a 3 CD set that goes for insane prices now - if you can find it that is). Whereas the previous release included many established names such as Kuti and others, Lagos Jump focuses on other relatively unknown artists.
In the Ethiopian musical world Mulatu Astatke is atypical, totally unique, a legend unto himself. He was the first Ethiopian musician educated abroad, object of tribute and admiration. Mulatu is the the inventor and maybe the only musician of Ethio-Jazz (Jazz instrumentals with strong brass rythms and traditionnal elements of Ethiopian music).
To some, the term "Ethio-Jazz" might seem impossible; after all, it's a very American form. But what's truly surprising isn't the fact that these musicians play jazz so well, but the range of jazz they manage, from the George Benson-ish guitar workout of "Munaye" to the twisting sax of "Tezeta." Really, though, it's more Jimmy Smith than Duke Ellington in its aim (although Ellington is on the cover, on stage with Astatke, the bandleader behind all these selections). The grooves often smoke rather than swing, with some fiery drumming, most notably on "Yekermo Sew,"(featured on Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers) and throughout the guitar is very much to the fore as a rhythm instrument. Perhaps the most interesting cut, however, is "Yekatit," from 1974, which is Astatke's tribute to the burgeoning revolution which would oust Emperor Haile Sellassie. Some of these pieces, certainly "Dewel," has seen U.S. release before; the track appeared in 1972 on Mulatu of Ethiopia, which was Astatke's third American LP, showing that jazz aficionados, at least, had an appreciation for what he was achieving in the horn of Africa. Given that many of his musicians had graduated from police and military bands, they knew their instruments well, and had plenty of practice time, which shows in the often inventive solos that dot the tracks. Varied, occasionally lyrical, but interesting throughout, this shines a fabulous spotlight on a hidden corner of jazz.
Friday, August 8, 2008
In the 1960s and 70s, both in the UK and in America, there was a burgeoning interest in Indian culture and music, most famously spear-headed by virtuoso sitar player Ravi Shankar and sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, amongst others. Numerous UK bands of the era began to use sitar and Indian musical sounds generally to add a flavor of the east to their recordings. By contrast, Magic Carpet was a more cohesive Anglo-Indian fusion, the Indian instrumentation generating and being integral to the music, not simply an addition. Based around the classically trained sitar virtuoso, Clem Alford, and the ethereal voice of Alisha Sufit, Magic Carpet created a distinctive sound described (perhaps misleadingly) as "psychedelic progressive folk" music.
The Magic Carpet album has been described as "a psych folk gem - a unique and extraordinary fusion of east and west, Magic Carpet being one of the very first bands to truly combine Indian and western instrumentation". After a launch at the 100 Club, London, UK, the Magic Carpet band performed at Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth's Wavendon, enjoyed airplay on Pete Drummond's Sounds of the Seventies on BBC Radio, plus made several club and festival appearances. However, this novel collective split up shortly after the first album was released. It was only after a lapse of some fifteen years that recognition followed. Widely and more positively reviewed, the original Magic Carpet album has now been reissued on CD and vinyl by the UK Magic Carpet Records label.
Seven of the vocal tracks written by Sufit employ modal tunings in the guitar accompaniment. These 'open' guitar tunings, first introduced and popularized by musicians such as Davey Graham and Joni Mitchell, are supremely compatible with the modal tuning of the sitar, allowing a true integration of sounds. Sufit's vocals feature on nine of the twelve tracks, the remaining three being purely instrumental.
Monday, August 4, 2008
While Germany is most known for being at the forefront of electronic psychedelic music, Japan certainly had its share of cosmic travelers. Love Live Life + 1, Hiro Yanagida, Food Brain, Kimio Mizutani, Flied Egg and Far Out were but a few examples of music acts at the edge of rock, jazz and the experimental. One of the more mythical of these groups was Far East Family Band, a group who would gain some stature throughout the world during the latter part of the 1970s.
Klaus Schulze was one such luminary to be attracted by this large Japanese ensemble. Helping produce their early albums, Schulze saw a chance to promote cosmic rock all over the globe. However, I always felt their first two albums were trying too hard to be the next Dark Side of the Moon. The instrumental bits are great only to be ruined by sensitive pop ballads - not FEFB's strong suit I'm afraid.
But it all came together on Parallel World. Focusing on their instrumental cosmic sound and pretty much foregoing the pop commercial-oriented songs, the six-piece FEFB unleashed a gem that easily could've found itself on the Kosmische Kouriers label. In fact, the recording comes closest to sounding like the first Cosmic Jokers album with more focus given to the whooshing synthesizers than the guitars (Schulze's influence?). As one can guess, the two keyboard players are featured most prominently, and it's hard to imagine that FEFB actually had two guitarists as well!
The album opens with "Metempsychosis" (Arzachel anyone?) which is a tribal drum and synthesizer atmospheric backdrop piece that sets the stage for "Entering" which contains some intense fuzz bass and a ripping guitar sequence amongst the 12 minutes of keyboard ecstasy. Brilliant, and this is the finest track FEFB has ever recorded! "Kokoro," thankfully, is a short psych ballad. This is the sort of piece their first albums featured, so one can get a brief whiff of this style. The side long closer "Parallel World" sounds like a long-lost Galactic Supermarket recording and aptly finishes a masterwork of cosmic progressive space rock.
The Cave Down From Earth (1974)
Parallel World (1976)
password - contramao
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Take a look at any Acid King photo from the past decade—a stack of retroactive shots resembling Dazed and Confused and That ’70s Show—and it’s easy to assume that the San Fran trio spends their free time doing one of two things: a) smoking from a chronic-grade gravity bong for hours on end, to the point where they actually think Black Sabbath is a new band, or b) scouring vintage stores for dead stock bellbottoms and weathered leather. As it turns out, both assumptions are easy to make and completely off base. For one thing, guitarist/vocalist Lori S. balances her time between writing riffs and post-production work with a reputable film company. Interestingly enough, the latter led to an eye-opening year as an assistant on the set for Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofky’s acclaimed Metallica documentary, Some Kind of Monster.
“It was like living with a bunch of grown-up millionaires, who were all trying to write a record the same way most people work a 9-to-5 job,” she explains. “Like [in staccato voice], ‘We are going to write rock tunes now, and then we’re going to go spend time with the kids.’ I don’t see any creativity in that. I just see a record label saying, ‘We need a bunch of hit songs. Get to work!’ I can’t imagine having the luxury of being able to sit around all day writing Corrosion of Conformity riffs.”
No kidding. The fact that Acid King’s been toiling around the Bay Area since the early ’90s—back when stoner rock was barely a concept and the Northwest was dominated by Sub Pop, the hyped home of Soundgarden and Mudhoney—and many locals still don’t know who they are is both ironic and, well, kinda fucked up. After all, Acid King were playing the same school of Kyuss rock as many of the other artists in this very issue back when said artists were still in junior high. Case in point: a recent opening slot for Boris, a successful set that led many excited locals to the Acid King merch booth asking, “Who are you guys? You’ve been around since 1993? Really?”
Busse Woods is such a daunting, claustrophobic, evil album that will pull you down like a twenty ton block of concrete, making you never want to get up again. Groovy as fuck, the sound here is very bass-driven, with the bass down tuned fuzzy below sea level with psychedelic guitar overtones playing unbelievably hypnotic riffs. No doubt the highlight of this band is the vocalist, Lori S. Although the vocals are sparse, they are spellbindingly trippy, very drawn out, and surreal. Listening to the thick melodies between her echoes and chants will make you feel so dreamlike. Just close those red eyes and embrace these tunes.
Lori S. [Lori Crover] (guitar, vocals)
Joey Osbourne (drums)
Brian Hill (bass)
An excellent album from this British progressive group recorded in 1969 by a band of mysterious pseudonyms. In fact, this was a formation of some of the biggest names in UK progressive rock including Simeon Sasparella & Njerogi Gategaka (aka Steve Hillage from Gong). The other 3 members Dave Stewart, Clive Brooks and Mont Campbell formed Egg. Originally released on Evolution this heavy, spacey keyboarddriven album is often compared to Pink Floyd's Saucer Full of Secrets. For fans of Egg, Gong, National Health and Caravan.
A classic late sixties heavy, bluesy, psychedelic guitar album. Full of fine guitaring, major organ work with some weirdness and sound effects. Originally released in 1969 on Evolution Records (mint copies now cost well over £200) and in very small quantities periodically since on various strange small labels.
You can certainly hear echoes of Steve's later work in Khan and even his first solo album 'Fish Rising'. Probably another fleeting chance to hear a vital piece of Steve's musical development.
The production has oft been remarked upon, for this psychedelic fuzz-fest, but to my ears, this simply makes it all the more compelling, and lends the music the correct "free-festival" atmosphere.
In actual fact, the main problem with the production seems to be the almost complete absence of compression, and omnipresent and over-worked reverb, leading to what might be considered excessive distortion. However, I have to say that I find it a veritable feast of fuzz and feedback, with a great range of dynamics and a very full sound for each instrument - a beautiful and powerful sound.
The self-titled album from the psychedelic pseudonyms is a surreal trip through a variety of musical styles that go beyond psychedelia and into the realms of Progressive Rock proper. The band get into some seriously good grooves, and seldom if ever make the kinds of mistakes and fluffs that plague many Krautrock albums of this time, and Hawkwind albums for decades to come.
I've seen many comparisons made to Pink Floyd, and I'd like to scotch most of those rumours here and now. The huge organ sound that Dave Stewart produces is far more akin to Deep Purple - or more accurately, The Nice, inspired, as it was, by Keith Emerson, and Hillage's guitar work, although not the polished leading light of space rock that he would become in Gong and his solo work, is utterly remarkable. Especially when you consider that he was 17 at the time. Come to that, not one of the musicians were in their twenties when they made this recording, so the professionalism of musicianship is extraordinary.
The closest this album comes to Pink Floyd is in the cosmic "wooey noises" that begin the 14-minute jam "Metempsychosis", a track that threatens to drop into "Interstellar Overdrive" at any moment - but instead remains an energetic variation on a theme, albeit with slightly uninspired moments that drift off into stoned noodle. These, fortunately, are way more than balanced with moments of pure drama and psychedelic power with some particularly stunning vocal and keyboard work. Think Hawkwind at their very best and you're close.
As has been remarked upon, this album was recorded in a single day - Hillage himself is alleged to have said it was just done "for a laugh" - and the fun certainly comes across. The plethora of pseudonyms that plague the personnel were largely for contractural reasons, which the artists got around by using the invented names - even the band name was a pseudonym.
I guess that those fond of categorising are going to say that this is more of a psychedelic jam or Space Rock album than a "proper" Prog Rock album, and they'd probably be right.
However, it's so much more together than the average psych album, and so much more than pure Space Rock, that I'm just going to have to say that you really ought to have this in your Prog collection as an indeal representative of where Prog was at in 1969 (ITCOTCK excepted, of course!).(Review by Certif1ed (Mark)
It's a bit of a masterpiece really.
- Basil Dowling (Clive Brooks) / drums
- Njerogi Gategaka (Mont Campbell) / bass, vocals
- Sam Lee-Uff (Dave Stewart) / organ
- Simeon Sasparella (Steve Hillage) / guitar, vocals
01. Garden of Earthly Delights 2.45 (Arzachel)
02. Azathoth 4.21 (Arzachel)
03. Queen St. Gang 4.25 (K. Mansfield)
04. Leg 5.40 (Arzachel)
05. Clean Innocent Fun 10.23 (Arzachel)
06. Metempsychosis 16.38 (Arzachel)
From Chris Goes Rocks
Friday, August 1, 2008
Monster hardrock trio from Sweden. This cd release features this bands 1968 single and some overkill Heavypsych outtakes.
This band started of as T-Boones but when they started playing at Filips (a Stockholm Psychedelia club) their name was changed to Baby Grandmothers.
They basically did HEAVYPSYCH jams with Stack amps and Cream inspiration, but a helluva alot heavier.
A Finnish cult hippie dude M.A Numminen (Yes clown voice dude, if your a Finn ya know his songs) saw em play and was impressed. So he carted off the band to Finland to record a single "Being is more than life". This turned up later in a shorter version on Mecki Mark Men 1969 Lp "Running in the summernight" (there is also a way cool video for this song, with the band meditating in the forest in way cool hippie gear. A must see!)
This CD is a historic release. It's so rare that most US rarities are everyday stuff.
The music is wild, jaming HEAVYPSYCH that will rock all boats. Josefus and Stonegarden fans will feel home here with ease! Hear "Bergakungen" Mountain king That flattens most things outhere! More need not be said.
Kenny Håkansson (guitar)
Bella Fehrlin [Bengt Linnarsson] (bass)
Pelle Ekman (drums)
1 Somebody Keeps Calling My Name 9:14
2 Being Is More Than Life 5:40
3 Bergakungen 16:19
4 Being Is More Than Life 2 19:44
5 St George's Dragon 7:03
6 St George's Dragon 2 0:57
7 Raw Diamond 1:30
Rip from CD 256@ (artwork included)
From Orexis of Death
Friday, July 25, 2008
In 2000, the European label DC Recordings reissued on CD the soundtrack from the cult sci-fi animated film La Planète Sauvage (released in English as The Fantastic Planet). The René Laloux film, which won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, was supported by a soundtrack by Alain Goraguer, mostly known for his work as Serge Gainsbourg's arranger. Goraguer's music consists of 25 short vignettes. Each is a contextualized adaptation of one of three main musical themes. The main theme is very reminiscent of Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother Suite" (same half-time tempo, mellotron, harpsichord, and wah-wah guitar), and the other two are a ballad and a circus-like waltz. The music is very '70s-clichéd and will appeal to fans of French and Italian '70s soundtrack stylings. Although repetitive, the album itself creates an interesting marijuana-induced sci-fi floating mood, blending psychedelia, jazz, and funk (the album has been sampled by a few hip-hop artists).
La Planète Sauvage
La Planète Sauvage
Thursday, July 24, 2008
In C is an aleatoric musical piece composed by Terry Riley in 1964 for any number of people, although he suggests "a group of about 35 is desired if possible but smaller or larger groups will work". As its title suggests, it is in the key of C. It is a response to the abstract academic serialist techniques used by composers in the mid-twentieth century and is often cited as the first minimalist composition.
The piece consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase he or she plays: players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase. The performance directions state that the musical ensemble should try to stay within two to three phrases of each other. The phrases must be played in order, although some may be skipped. As detailed in some editions of the score, it is customary for one musician ("traditionally played by a beautiful girl," Riley notes) to play the note C (in octaves) in repeated eighth notes. This functions as a metronome and is referred to as "The Pulse".
In C has no set duration; performances can last as little as fifteen minutes or as long as several hours, although Riley indicates "performances normally average between 45 minutes and an hour and a half." The number of performers may also vary between any two performances. The original recording of the piece was created by 11 musicians (through overdubbing, several dozen instruments were utilized), while a performance in 2006 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall featured 124 musicians.
The piece begins on a C major chord (patterns one through seven) with a strong emphasis on the mediant E and the entrance of the note F which begins a series of slow progressions to other chords suggesting a few subtle and ambiguous changes of key, the last pattern being an alteration between Bb and G. Though the polyphonic interplay of the various patterns against each other and themselves at different rhythmic displacements is of primary interest, the piece may be considered heterophonic.
International Harvester only played together for three years, the first under another name, but they were an influential group for Swedish progressive rock. While making sonic experiments and deep excursions into psychedelic rock, their biggest contribution was probably that they were the foundation on which the more famous group Träd, Gräs och Stenar was built. International Harvester started as the short-lived experimental group Pärsson Sound. The group formed in 1967 in Stockholm by guitarist Bo Anders Persson and included cello player Ericsson and violinist Yman, both with a musical education and playing on homemade electric instruments. Saxophonist Tidholm was a film student and a poet, drummer Gantz had played with the progressive dance orchestra Mecki Mark Men, and at times the band also included an extra drummer, Berger. Pärsson Sound was mainly an instrumental group and their music was not very accessible. At times they let a tape pass two tape recorders on stage, one recording and one playing, which meant the music returned, overdubbed and distorted in an increasing mass of tones and noise. They played a number of gigs at the club Filips, the main spot for progressive rock in Stockholm, and started to get more well-known after a festival in Kungsträdgården, where Don Cherry and Peps Persson also played. In 1968 they changed their name to International Harvester and abandoned the most extreme sonic experiments, instead putting the focus on folk music and psychedelic rock. Tidholm's vocals were allowed more space and in stressing the collective and improvising aspect, the band gave a hint of what would come with Träd, Gräs och Stenar a few years later. Living together in a collective, they made films and composed music, including the soundtrack for a few professional films. On Öjvind Fahlströms' Du Gamla du Fria, the band created and improvised all the music while the cameras were rolling. The debut album Sov Gott Rose-Marie was released in 1968 on Love, a Finish label, since there were no Swedish alternative labels around and no commercial labels were interested. But already in 1969 alternative labels had started to pop up, and with the name shortened to Harvester the band released their second album, Hemåt, on Decibel. Later that year, Tidholm and Yman left. Tidholm formed Hot Boys but was to become most well-known as a poet and a writer of plays and children's books. The remaining members formed Träd, Gräs och Stenar and toured Scandinavia intensely for a few years, taking the idea of interactivity one step further by involving the audience in the music making. With a climate increasingly receptive for psychedelic music Träd, Gräs och Stenar were more successful than International Harvester, but otherwise they had much in common, building on elements of psychedelic rock, blues-rock, and folk music. ~ Lars Lovén, All Music Guide
The lone album by this post-International Harvester group, originally issued in 1970, once again led by the academic tape-composer turned radical folkie psychedelicist Bo Anders Persson. Accompanied by an able body of co-conspirators including Thomas Gartz (drummer/glue of the Mecki Mark Men, whose LPs on the Limelight label are not to be missed), Torbjφrn Abelli, and let's not forget Ulla on small cymbals. Thunder-plod of magnificent tidal proportions, recalling the burnt splendor of the Träd, Gräs och Stenar Live Gardet 1970 set -- TGOS in fact were nothing more than a stripped down quartet version of Harvester! Another piece to the incestuous little jigsaw that was the 1967-1972 Swedish druggist music school dropout sector. Completely burnt, devoid of restraint, massive (some of the best sounding drums this side of Zeppelin, to boot). Blown through and through and through.
This is a completely astounding collection of dark shimmering drones and super heavy tranced out minimal psych-rock recorded in 1967 and '68. At times freaky and chaotic, but most often hypnotically locked into stoned grooves, this is some of the best heavy psych we've ever heard. Their shifting instrumentation (the list includes guitar, bass, drums, organ, double-bass, electric-cello, flute, cowbell, saxophone, hand drums, acoustic guitar, tape recorder, and...seance? huh?) is employed in both intricate and extended studio recordings and totally primal and euphoric live performances over the course of these two discs. Parson Sound crafted music that, while reminiscient of the Taj Mahal Travellers, Terry Riley, Flower Travelling Band and the like, is almost wholly their own. - Aquarius Records
02. Tio Minuter
03. From Tunis To India In Fullmoon (On Testosterone)
04. India (Slight Return)
05. A Glimpse Inside The Glyptotec-66
06. One Quiet Afternoon (In The Kings Garden)
07. Sov Gott Rose-Marie
10. On How To Live
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
September's the month we in the Northern Hemisphere grudgingly show summer to the door, but beginning September 2, the folks at Kemado Records will usher in summer year 'round.
The label is in the process of firing up a new vinyl/digital-only offshoot called Mexican Summer (hey, just like the Marissa Nadler song!). The imprint will focus on small-batch, hand-numbered releases on wax, each coupled with a download of all constituent jams. There will even be a record club-style subscription service, though those details appear to be forthcoming.
So what's in store for this Mexican Summer? First up is "Sätt Att Se", a previously mentioned 12" from Dungen limited to 1,000 copies and due September 2. The same day will also see the releases of Nachtmystium's "Worldfall" (1,000 copies) and Headdress' "Turquoise" album (500 copies).
Other fun stuff in queue: a reissue of Marissa Nadler's Ballads of Living and Dying (1,000) with a bonus unreleased 7", and a bonus 7"-bolstered edition of the Tallest Man on Earth's Shallow Grave on vinyl (1,000), both due November 11. After that, we can look forward to a Black Moth Super Rainbow picture disc (1,000), a double LP from Charles Manson associate Bobby Beausoleil & the Orkustra (1,000), and a 12" from Valet.
"McDonald & Sherby's sole contribution to the canon of 20th century music was Catharsis, an album which originally appeared on the appropriately-named Omniscient label (Omniscient Records 1426S) Some have speculated that given the band's prog/psych leanings, Catharsis was probably recorded in the '70s, although the accepted wisdom is that the album was made at Minneapolis's Sound 80 Studios on 1969. The album consists of six long tracks with a decidedly heavy guitar-based vibe, all well- recorded and delivered with considerable aplomb."
This shit is just straight up groovy man! Front to back...