MIND DE-CODER 13
If there is a Universal Mind, must it be sane?
JULIAN COPE BOSKAWEN-UN
The mighty Julian Cope (©) with the opening track to his 2011 release THE JEHOVAHCOAT DEMOS, an intense 65-minute journey through the music and mind of the Archdrude during the research period for his two indispensable guidebooks, Krautrocksampler and The Modern Antiquarian – in other words, 15 unreleased tracks and 5 poems written throughout 1993 in direct response to having been dropped by Island Records the previous year.
Boskawen-un is a mellotronic wig-out of pagan-astral proportions.
Welcome to Mind De-Coder 13.
MOON WIRING CLUB AUTUMN THEATRICALS
This is excellent – more weirdology from Ian Hodgson’s Moon Wiring Club (or, ‘hauntology’, if, like music journalist Simon Reynolds, you’ve read Jacque Derrida’s SPECTRES OF MARX (1993) and taken his ideas about the present existing only with respect to the past and applied them to a genre of music that takes half-remembered childhood memories and rewires them for subsequent re-use in their music, but I haven’t, so weirdology will do) and another track from the very fine A SPARE TABBY AT THE CAT’S WEDDING, released 2011.
TRAFFIC HOUSE FOR EVERYONE
My favourite track from Steve Winwood’s Traffic, taken from their trippy debut album MR FANTASY, released in 1967. Traffic were one of the first bands to leave the distractions of London and, instead, get it together in the country – in their case, The Cottage, a remote dwelling near the Berkshire hamlet of Aston Tirrold – where, thanks to the enormous amounts of drugs they took with them, they were able to experiment freely musically and otherwise enjoy nature in all its loveliness which, in itself, fed back into the way they made music in the first place. The wind up intro to House For Everyone playfully replicates the disassociation one might feel whilst tripping and, as author Rob Young suggests, in his excellent book ELECTRIC EDEN, it’s the sound of a band chugging along until the energy was used up (or the drugs wore off).
THE MOVE I CAN HEAR THE GRASS GROW
A stone-cold psychedelic classic from The Move, with their second single, the lysergic I Can Hear The Grass Grow, released in 1967. I’ve never heard the grass grow myself (God knows I’ve tried), but I have seen it turn into little stick men who run around in circles and generally get into a right state.
VIRGINIA ASTLEY A SUMMER LONG SINCE PASSED
More loveliness from Virginia Astley and another track taken from her cult album, FROM GARDENS WHERE WE FEEL SECURE, released 1983. This song has a holy quality to it that captures the spirit and takes it back to times long forgotten, to times half –remembered and safe. (That might just be me though).
H.N.A.S. GANZ UNVERBINDLICH
Yes, well, quite. H.N.A.S. (or Hirsche Nicht Aufs Sofa, if you prefer, but I understand it translates approximately as ‘no deer allowed on the sofa’) was founded by Christoph Heemann and Achim Flaamin, also known as Dr. P. Li Khan, in 1983, and for many, if not all, that would be more than enough information. In actual fact, there’s not much more to know about them – they are of the experimental/electronica variety, German (I expect), and the lovely Ganz Unverbindlich can be found on their 1987 release IM SCHATTEN DER MÖHRE, which is generally regarded as their masterpiece. I’ve probably said too much.
This is just one of those pieces of music that I love unconditionally. That repeated riff on xylophone and acoustic guitar is a thing of rare beauty that the band fail to spoil by yelling SOUP! all over it. This is taken from Tuung’s third album, released in 2007, called GOOD ARROWS, on which they lose much of the awkward (but fairly entertaining) electronica, and become, instead, a delightful experimental pastoral pop group whose influences include Icelandic prog rock, choral music and film sountracks.
AMON DÜÜL II SHE CAME THROUGH THE CHIMNEY
A lovely little track, almost throwaway in its simplicity, and compared to some of the other tracks on the album that engage in more of your Krautrock wig-outs, She Came Through The Window manages to be understated and pretty while it’s at it. It’s taken from the band’s third album, the mighty YETI, a sprawling double-album released in 1971 That Julian Cope reckons is possibly the Ur-Kraut album of them all.
OS MUTANTES O RELÓGIO
If The Velvet Underground and Nico had played Brazilian psychedelic pop, it would have sounded like this. O Relógio (which translates, rather surprisingly, as ‘the clock’, and not as ‘oh religion’, say) is taken from the band’s debut album, the eponymous OS MUTANTES, released in 1968, and a hugely influential part of Brazil’s tropicália movement – which, of course, rose in the late 60’s and took in theatre, poetry and music (but you probably already knew that). The album, though, is as fizzy and as colourful as a packet of psychedelic sweeties from Señor McNobby’s Olde Psychedelic Toffee Shoppe.
ASH RA TEMPLE AMBOSS (excerpt)
And referring once again to Julian Cope’s essential Krautrocksampler, we learn that the 20-minute freakout blitzkrieg that is Amboss, the opening side long track of ASH RA TEMPLE, released 1971, is less a heavy metal assault and more of a methodical breaking down of the senses until you are crushed and insensible. So halfway through it, I have it evolve into…</d iv>
DRUIDS OF STONEHENGE I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
…one of the best versions of this song that I ever heard. The Druids of Stonehenge were, surprisingly I guess, given the name, an American psychedelic rock outfit who exemplified the surely essence of teen garage-punk and the experimental spirit of psychedelia on their only album, the snarling CREATION, released in 1968. As you might imagine, an earlier, more blues-based, version of the band, simply known as The Druids, also recorded a killer version of Who Do You Love which may appear in a later show. This drifts off into psychedelic bits and bobs that seem to involve Pink Floyd and Alice in Wonderland, then it’s back to…
ASH RA TEMPLE AMBOSS (excerpt)
…for the conclusion of Amboss, the greatest Detroit-est trip of all time (© J. Cope), and absolutely thrilling (me), which eventually, and rather organically, I thought, fell into…
GYÖRGY LIGETI REQUIEM
…recorded with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, used by Stanley Kubrick as part of the score for the 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY soundtrack. Ligeti, who actually comes from Transylvania, was famous for his otherworldy electronic and micropolyphonal work(if that’s your cup of tea), but I first came across him on Waiheke Radio’s very own Variations On A Theme, presented by Mark Smith on a Sunday morning, and I knew then I could find a place for him on Mind De-Coder.
POPOL VUH HOSIANNA MANTRA
This is devotional music, which treads the divine line between the Eastern musical discoveries of the time with the utterly unexplored world (in rock music circles at least) of Christian spirituality (Copey again). HOSIANNA MANTRA, taken from the album of the same name, and released in 1972, is truly healing music, almost transcendent in its loveliness, and one of the core reasons I love Krautrock so much – it takes me to places I haven’t been before.
KING CREOSOTE AND JON HOPKINS FIRST WATCH
This is the opening track to DIAMOND MINE, released in 2011, an album that, according to Creosote (Kenny Anderson to his mum) exists as a ‘soundtrack to a romanticized version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village’, in this case Fife. It’s a lovely combination of plaintive folk-like songs sung by Creosote over Hopkin’s classical Eno-esque backdrops. Seven years in the making, it’s an intimate album of low-key but surprisingly affecting songs that accrue a real emotional weight.
THE UNTHANKS GAN TO THE KYE
You’d think that they don’t make them like this anymore, but they do. The quietly eerie Gan To The Kye can be found on The Unthanks 2011 release LAST, an album of gentle melancholia and elaborate, icy autumnal arrangements that revel in an emotional space that is as haunting as it is beautiful.
THE STONE ROSES TIGHTROPE
Since Shaun Of The Dead, everyone rushed back to their copies of THE SECOND COMING, released in 1994, just to see whether they’d simply misunderstood it first time round and there was, in fact, something to recommend it. And, of course, there wasn’t – except this, the very fine Tightrope, and Begging You, which are, no doubt, the two tracks that saved the album from being shattered on a zombie’s forehead. And who knows, now that they’ve reformed there may even be another album in them, but unlike last time, I’m not holding my breath.
PETER HOWELL AND JOHN FERDINANDO THROUGH LOOKING GLASS WOOD
Peter Howell and John Ferdinando were residents of the small Sussex village of Ditchling at the end of the 60’s, two local musicians with a string of minor bands behind them, who were approached by members of the local dramatic society, The Ditchling Players, to provide musical interludes for their production of Alice In Wonderland. The two were so pleased with the results – full of sound effects, backwards tapes and distorted vocals – that they felt encouraged to press a limited edition vinyl album as souvenirs for the cast and audience alike. The two edited together the songs and incidental music, added dialogue from the production and added three extra songs that had been excluded from the show as surplus to requirements and optimistically had 50 copies printed up that pretty much sold out immediately, so they had another 20-30 printed up and that should have been that. These days, of course, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, released in 1969, is a much sought after artifact by fans of your acid folk as a uniquely English hybrid of folk and pastoral psychedelia. It’s as lovely and as whimsical as it sounds.
TANGERINE DREAM FAUNI-GENA
The lovely, flutey, Fauni-gena, taken from Tangerine dream’s fourth album, ATEM, released 1973, probably my favourite album by the band – and one that is (quoting Copey again!) as glorious as a Cecil B. De Mille movie and about as dramatic. Float away to this track and come back a different person – no one will miss you for 10 minutes.
AGINCOURT THROUGH THE EYES OF A LIFETIME
Peter Howell and John Ferdinando were so pleased with Alice Through The Looking Glass, they recorded three more albums with each other, this time under the name Agincourt. The album is called FLY AWAY, was released in 1970 and includes the lovely Lee Menelaus on vocals. Once again, it was privately released affair of no more than a hundred copies, and is folkier than Alice…, but it’s a lovely slice psychedelic whimsy nevertheless.
THE FOCUS GROUP SWIRLING PATHS
And finally, a trifling little piece fom The Focus Group to end the show. Swirling Paths is taken from the 2004 album SKETCHES AND SPELLS by Julian House, another artist inspired by old library music, sound collages, musique concrète, and soundtracks to films and documentaries from the 1970’s. In House’s case, he created his own record label, Ghost Box, to release his own work under The Focus Group name and it now seems to be the go-to label for all weirdology releases. SKETCHES AND SPELLS was his first release and is a psyched-out stream-of-consciousness patchwork of collaged samples evoking the school music room, dusty ar
chives and hidden rural rituals.
And that was Mind De-Coder 13. Thank you for your time.