MIND DE-CODER 21
‘When the ride is over you can go to sleep’
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THE AMERICAN METAPHYSICAL CIRCUS
I read somewhere once that, in some lists at least, this is generally regarded as the greatest psychedelic track ever recorded, and I can’t say that I entirely disagree – it would certainly make my top 10. It’s to be found on the only album by the progressive, avant-garde psychedelic band The United States Of America whose eponymous album was released in 1968. The song is notable for including no less than 5 layers of sound: A calliope playing National Emblem, a ragtime piano playing At A Georgia Camp Meeting, two marching bands playing marching Through Georgia and The Red, White and Blue switching between left and right channels, and two tracks of electronic noise. Towards the end of the track the singer’s voice becomes so distorted it becomes unintelligible. Marvellous.
Welcome to Mind De-Coder 21.
RED KRAYOLA HURRICANE FIGHTER PLANE/FREE FORM FREAK-OUT 2
Another psychedelic band of the avant-garde variety, Red Krayola were an extremely influential group in certain circles whose sound pre-figured both punk and post-punk with its lo-fi aesthetic; Spacemen 3 were big fans. In a Pitchfork review by Alex Lindhart, that’s worth repeating verbatim, he refers to the band as having “no idea how to play its instruments. In fact, they don’t even know what instruments are, or if the guitarist has the ability to remain conscious long enough to play whatever it is a ‘note’ might be.”
They released their debut album, PARABLE OF ARABLE LAND, in 1967 featuring six songs interwoven with a cacophony generated by approximately 50 anonymous followers known as The Familiar Ugly who appear on a number of noise tracks called Free-Form Freak-Outs. 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson also makes a guest appearance on Hurricane Fighter Plane playing organ – this is possibly the most tuneful thing on the album, and owes much to Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, but the band were capable of going much further out than this. I’ve included one of the Free Form Freak-Outs for your further listening pleasure.
DJ FOOD VS. THE AMORPHOUS ANDROGYNOUS
DON’T PRAY DON’T BOTHER (WE’RE EVIL)
DJ Food exists as an electronic music project originally created to provide a series of records consisting of breaks, loops and samples that could be used by other DJs for mixing, remixing and producing. Over the years the project has moved away from its initial premise and now, under project manager Kevin Foakes (Strictly Kev to his mum) produces albums in its own right. THE SEARCH ENGINE, styled as a kind of psychedelic rock album made with samplers, was released last year, and then given a Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble remix by Amorphous Androgynous, from which the track Don’t Pray, Don’t Bother (We’re Evil) is taken, part 2 of a sprawling 17 minute mix that takes in three tracks from the original album, and then released as THE ILLECTRIC HOAX.
WOLF PEOPLE INTERLUDE SCRAPS
Wolf People’s debut album, TIDINGS, released in 2010, combines mead-soaked English folk, classic rock wig-outs and psychedelic flourishes which take in trippy flutes and backwards guitars, mixes them all up and then presents them as strange whirrings and aimless, unfinished, strummings that seem pregnant with ideas and directions to explore. Many of the tracks are simply labeled as interludes and last less than 30 seconds or so, but as a whole, the album comes on like The Faust Tapes played by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Expect to hear more in upcoming shows.
THE GANGLIANS TO JUNE
The Ganglians are a psych-folk bearded four piece from Sacramento who do a fine line in light-dappled, hazy outdoor psychedelia enriched by bird-calls and cricket chirps of the summer evening variety. To June is taken from the album MONSTER HEAD ROOM, released in 2010, an album of melodic, yet slightly unhinged tunes, following its own path through the woods of mood and texture. As the band say on their MySpace page: ‘None of this should work but it does’.
A MOUNTAIN OF ONE RIDE (TIME AND SPACE MACHINE REMIX)
A Mountain Of One are something of an all-encompassing 21st century rock band whose sound takes in hypnotic rock, pastoral folk, krautrock, gospel and life-affirming soul (as opposed to the other kind). Ride can be found on their album COLLECTED WORKS, released 2008, which seems to be a round up of their EPs to date. The Richard Norris Time and Space Machine remix is from the RIDE EP, available on 12” vinyl, and is essentially a side-long expansion of the version that appears on COLLECTED WORKS that generally gives more bongo for your bucks.
TAPPA ZUKIE RUSH I SOME DUB
Lest we get too white, here’s the great Tappa Zukie with a track taken from his semi-legendary TAPPA ZUKIE IN DUB album, originally released in 1976 and limited to a pressing of only 300 copies. Rush I Some Dub is taken from a Linval Thompson tune and captures the deep resonant basslines, sizzling drumplay and sonic playfulness of real Jamaican dub in all its former glory. Just say Jah.
THE TIME AND SPACE MACHINE FLOW RIVER FLOW
Gorgeous, mellow, lysergic vibes from The Time And Space Machine, courtesy of Richard Norris from his second album proper, 2012’s TASTE THE LAZER, an album otherwise characterized by the kind of hypnotic, motorik, psychedelic grooves of which he is so fond.
BRAIN TICKET PLACES OF LIGHT
Generally acknowledged as one of the more obscure krautrock classics, Brainticket was in fact more of an international band anchored by the magnificently named Swiss organist Joel Vandroogenbroeck. On this debut album, COTTONWOODHILL, released 1971, the group set out to document an LSD trip as the Grateful Dead did on Anthem Of The Sun and Ash Ra Temple would later do on Seven Up. It is, as you can imagine, full of sonic weirdness and at point it becomes completely deranged, but with Places Of Light there’s an altogether spacier groove. Expect to hear more in later shows.</di v>
TRINIDAD STEEL DRUMMERS CISSY STRUT
I first heard this track around about 1997 when David Holmes, with his usual impeccable taste, included it in some set he was doing for The Evening Session on Radio 1. I’ve been hoping to come across it ever since, and finally discovered it on the SUPER ALBUM, by The Trinidad Steel Drummers, released some point during the 1970’s. Of all the versions of The Meter’s funky classic I’ve heard, this heavily narcotized version remains my favourite. If you had tail feathers, I dare say you’d be shaking them.
POP LEVI BLUE HONEY (A MONSTROUS PSYCHEDELIC BUBBLE REMIX
BY AMORPHOUS ANDROGYNOUS)
Pop Levi is an English singer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and film-maker (he’s also the bassist in Ladytron, trivia fans) whose self-produced debut album, THE RETURN TO FORM BLACK MAGICK PARTY, released in 2007, was self-produced solely on a lap-top and contains within its grooves an authentic cracked homage to 70’s glam rock and boogie. Blue Honey was released as a single from the album and refers, apparently, to the colour honey retains after prolonged exposure to to the hallucinogenic chemicals Psilocybin and Psilocilin (although, in my naiveté, I’m not entirely sure why anyone would expose honey to the hallucinogenic chemicals Psilocybin and Psilocilin, but it sounds great). Amorphous Androgynous take the track and do their usual job, turning it into a magnificent, sprawling, kaleidoscopic 16 minute re-imagining of cosmic proportions – but then, I’m a fan of all things monstrous and psychedelic, me.
WAX AUDIO BALI PRAYER
9 COUNTRIES is a truly remarkable album, created by Wax Audio (Tom Pagnoni to his mother), an Australian mash-up artist , entirely from field recordings during a two year trip around the far east and beyond on the way to Scotland. Bali Prayer, for example, is the sound of a woman singing prayers at Gunung Kawi in Bali, Indonesia with added rain, insects and thunder recorded at Aow Mai Pai beach on the island of Ko Lanta, Thailand. I often use the album as a get-out-of-gaol-free card as I skip from one genre to another, but in truth the album is one of the finest field recordings I’ve come across, and I’m quite a fan. You can download a copy for free from the Wax Audio website at http://www.waxaudio.com.au/audio/special-projects/9-countries
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.
HELLO GOOD CHILD
Given half the chance Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple will launch into an hour long mind-swallowing, uncontainable, relentless, furry cosmic freak-out that will shake the fillings from your teeth, but on this track, Hello Good Child, taken from their 2004 album DOES THE COSMIC SHEPHERD DREAM OF ELECTRIC TAPIRS, we find them in an altogether different place, drifting lazily across a gentle soundscape of acoustic guitar and Battlestar Galactica sound effects – it really is quite lovely.
TANGERINE DREAM ATEM
Julian Cope says it so much better than I ever could: ‘ATEM’, released 1973, ‘is as glorious as a Cecil B. DeMille movie and about as cinematic. The pounding tom-tom drums and the fanfare of mellotron on the opening bars of the title track are like background music for building pyramids to. A huge slab of pounding meditational rock that eventually subsides into a massive groovy meditation. This takes up all of side 1…’ It’s not something you hear everyday on the radio, so I thought I’d give you the full 20 minutes.
MILKY WILLOW’S SONG
This is by far my second favourite recording of Willow’s Song which is, of course, my favourite song ever. Milky are a collaboration between Shazna Nessa, who also records under the name Maria Napoleon, and her ex-husband, Scottish indie pop legend Momus. They only recorded one album together, Travels With My Donkey, released 2002, but do seem to have contributed a lot of tracks to various Siesta record label compilations; I found this version of Willow’s Song on the album SONGS FOR THE JET SET 2000 VOL. 3, released in 2000.
JAN AND LORRAINE NUMBER 33
There’s a childlike delight that wraps itself around this track – a genuinely strange little song from the album GYPSY PEOPLE, released in 1969, by the American artists Jan Hendin and Lorraine Lefevre. The rest of the album is acid-tinged folk pop with a spooky Indian tribal influence going on underneath it all, but this particular track, featuring Jan’s young daughter (credited as Taki – Greek for loved one), manages to be pretty and weird and spooky all at the same time.
RIAA SATURN SEA ORGAN
Just a short excerpt of some weird, organic sounds by Mr. Fab, from his album THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF SOUND, released 2012, a retrospective of previously released sound collages and mashups from his vast back catalogue. Saturn Sea Organ is possibly the worlds’ first sound-effects mashup, combining a ‘sea organ’ (an experimental musical instrument, located in Croatia, which plays music by way of sea waves and tubes positioned beneath large marble steps), pitch-shifted to give it melody (it says here) vs. radio emissions from the planet Saturn. You can find the whole track at http://mrfab-riaa.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/last-riaa-album-wonderful-world-of.html
PAUL WELLER SLEEP OF THE SERENE/TWILIGHT
Taken from his 2012 album SONIK KICKS, an album that throws out ideas like an exuberantly cosmic Catherine wheel – Sleep Of The Serene consists of beeps, bloops and pizzicato strings followed by the 20 second verse of clanging musique concrète that makes up Twilight. Marvellous.
SUFJAN STEVENS NOW THAT I’M OLDER
Hmm. I’m deeply divided over this track which, now I come to consider it, is no surprise given that the album from which it’s take
n, 2010’s THE AGE OF ADZ, was inspired by the work of schizophrenic outsider artist Royal Roberstson. This track seems to ache with pain and hard-earnt self-realization but this is balanced beneath a fairly attractive tune. However, listened to under suitably enhanced conditions (you know what I’m talking about) the electronically distorted voice sounds either hilariously tortured, or simply hilarious, or simply tortured; and depending what mood you’re in, will have you laughing uncontrollably or on your hands and knees scrabbling around for the controls – as such, it kind of works perfectly as the penultimate track on the show. It could only be followed by…
PINK FLOYD JUGBAND BLUES
Syd Barrett’s farewell to Pink Floyd and the sound of a man unplugging himself from the world – with added Salvation Army band. The final track from 1968’s A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, of course, and the only song written by him on the album – after this, Syd disappeared and the legend took over.
And that was Mind De-Coder 21. I thank you.