MIND DE-CODER (2013) 30

MIND DE-CODER (2013) 30

“I’ll play my flute, if you’ll play your lute, and we’ll dance and make merry all day…”
The Great Beast himself introducing tonight’s show with a poem taken from a special selection of wax cylinder recordings made between 1910-1914, and made available in 2001 as THE GREAT BEAST SPEAKS.  The crackles from the cylinder recording are eventually swallowed by the opening track from Faust’s debut album, released in 1971 and one of the most joyfully bewildering avant garde albums ever recorded, which begins with a translucent electronic barrage that drenches the room in a wall of drizzling white noise – amidst the aural haze snatches of the Beatles and the Stones can be heard, fading in and fading out, swallowed whole by the intensifying volume before the noise finally and unexpectedly fades away into…
2007 saw the re-union of Dr Alex Patterson with original sonic conspirator Youth to produce THE DREAM, an album that sounded rather like 1991’s seminal Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, and which kind of made every other Orb album since that release until this one irrelevant. That is to say, it’s got the tunes, and lots of little tripped out, dubbed up, ambient bubblebath type bits that made The Orb so splendid in the first place. I’ve plundered those bits shamelessly for tonight’s show.
Lovely track, this, taken from her third album EXALTATION OF LARKS, released in 2007. Dot Allison was once part of One Dove, whose album Morning Dove White, released in 1993, remains a beautiful, gorgeous, intoxicating benchmark in ambient dub pop. Exaltation Of Larks is a very different affair, rejoicing in its gentle loveliness – this is an album of soft, heart-breaking, fragile folk songs that manages to sound like a hazy velveteen swoon. Or something.
I spent some time debating with myself whether to call this show Meadow Meal, or not, before opting for the ever popular Mind De-Coder (another option was The Sunshine Playroom). Meadow Meal is the second track from Faust’s first eponymously titled album, released in 1971, and between the three possible names, you can pretty much see where my psycho-geographic mind map is laid out – Meadow Meal (krautrock), Mind de-Coder (The Byrds at their most psychedelically informed) and The Sunshine Playroom (Julian Cope on his Syd-est Syd Barrett trip).
There’s never been anything like the first Faust album before. Copey, in his by now trustworthy reference guide KRAUTROCKSAMPLER, calls it a horrible noise, but in a mythic way, syrupy in the weirdest places and super-gimmicky in a way that cannot be overstated; it was a truly a revolutionary step forward in the progress of “rock music”. It was pressed on clear vinyl for a start, packaged in a clear sleeve, with a clear plastic lyric insert. The black X-ray of a fist on the cover graphically illustrates the hard core music contained in the grooves, an amalgamation of electronics, rock, tape edits, acoustic guitars, musique concrete, and industrial angst. Meadow Meal contains all these facets but eventually evolves into a pastoral guitar melody before concluding with a haunted pier organ spot that sounds like ‘music from some parallel universe suspended in time and played through the oldest radio’ (Copey again).
The Gordian Knot were a short lived band from California, by way of Mississippi, who did in a very fine line in West Coast soft-pop/soft-psyche/country rock of the largely lame variety that produced just the one album, TONES, released in 1968. That being said, Year Of The Sun is pure pop perfection with soaring complex harmonies, flute and acoustic guitar that was released as a single that got absolutely nowhere. Nancy Sinatra was a big fan.
MAMIFFER     TICHÁ TOC (excerpt)
I came across the cryptic Seattle duo Mamiffer in Julian Cope’s Address Drudion, his monthly round up new releases and general observations regarding the state of the UK these post pre-apocalyptic days (check him out at http://www.headheritage.co.uk). They’ve recently released an album with elusive Texas band Pyramids on a split release simply called MAMIFFER/PYRAMIDS (2012). Both bands have a young but prolific history of exploring various uncharted corners of sonic space and re-envisioning the templates of drone, doom, neo-classical, and dark ambience, and Mamiffer in particular harness a unique kind of understated beauty nestled within layers of caustic noise. As Copey himself says, Tichá Toc’s ‘ghostly antique sound conjures up some remote deserted English fair-at-the-end-of-the pier in November, then proceeds to unleash El Nino on its unfortunate participants’.
I decided to break it down into two parts because I needed something pretty special to contain…
It took 22 years to arrive but My Bloody Valentine’s new album, MBV, their first since 1991’s seminal LOVELESS, more than exceeded expectations – as if we could expect anything less. Wonder 2, the closing track on an album of woozy, dissonant, hugely disorientating and yet hugely exciting hypnotic loops of guitars and drums, is unlike anything they’ve done before and if nothing else looks to replace You Made Me Realise as their new set closer. It manages to combine a much touted drum n bass direction into an astonishing swathe of guitars that like nothing less than underwater trumpets in a whirr of spectral phasing and filters; or like one critic put it – like the sonic counterpart of a dust storm.
From here, I could only return to…
MAMIFFER     TICHÁ TOC (excerpt)
…whose own noise also thrives on hypnotic elegance, conjuring subdued melodies from unlikely sources. A lone gritty sustained guitar note feeds back in harmony with a sparse piano line; an oscillator weaves a woozy, narcotic tune amid a haze of white noise; a chopped up and manipulated vocal line yields an even more breathtaking ballad. Of course, you may only hear blocks of distorted dissonance, cacophonous sub-bass rumbles, electronic flutters and chirps, field recordings of bottles rolling, and various other forms of sonic detritus sprawling from your speakers and wonder how someone arrived at the conclusion that music should sound like this but both bands create a noise that works as a tense and occasionally jarring counterpoint to the moments of sublime beauty within.
The B-side to his single Hillyfields (1892), released in 1982, and which took a year to make. This track was recorded in one take. I’d be hard pressed to say which side I prefer – 49 Cigars often makes me sing out the title in inappropriate places whenever it pops into my head, though. All in all, the perfect pop record. A lovely bit of vinyl.
Taken from one of my favourite records, TREE CLOLOURED SEE, released in 2005. Nobody, otherwise known as Elvin Estella, has produced an album bursting with a rainbow of pop-coloured melodies and spiralling abandon that never fails to delight. You should check it out.



Taken from the album GIVE YOUR HUGS A KID, from cut ‘n’ paste genius Fortyone. It’s like listening to cartoons on the radio. Fortyone must have produced about 30 albums by now and they all sound like this. He is a man who needs to get out more. He will send you all his albums for free if you write to him at www.41music.net and ask him to. He’s nice like that.
Almost unbearbly lovely, Chimacum Rain is taken from the exquisitely otherworldly album PARALLELOGRAMS, released in 1970 – an album that shimmers with eerie beauty.
A song that sounds unlike any other song I’ve ever heard and is very beautiful indeed. Sergius Golowin was a disillusioned ex-MP, poet, mystic and disenfranchised Gypsy leader who hung out in the Swiss Alps with his three wives and a lot of acid. As Julian Cope states in Krautrocksampler, his one album, LORD KRISHNA VON GOLOKA, released in 1973, is one of the finest Cosmic rock LPs of all time, and it only has three tracks on it – a Kosmiche epic of high-magic proportions. This is holy music and it will get you high. Sergius Golowin lives in the mountains still. This album could only ever have been made there.
Ponder Ye is taken from the album SOMEWHERE A FOX IS GETTING MARRIED, Ian Hodgson’s weird and wonderful sampladelic parody of Kate and Will’s royal wedding. As usual it’s a combination of Radiophonic Workshop meets Miss Marples, only this time there’s a few mouldering hip-hop beats thrown in which are missing, it must be said, from the otherwise sinister/jolly vibe of Ponder Ye. Every home should own one.
The Beta Band were a band that promised so much and delivered so very little. Their debut album, THE BETA BAND, released in 1999, is a case in point. It lacked all the sparkle and inventiveness of their opening salvo, the 3 EPs, to the extent that the band disowned it themselves, stating that record company interference kept them from producing the album they wanted. It did have this one track on it, though, that hinted at the greatness they could have achieved if only they’d been left alone – the epic It’s Not Too Beautiful. Just in case you were wondering, that orchestral piece is taken from the John Williams score to the Walt Disney film Black Hole.
Probably my favourite track on tonight’s show, taken from the magical little album MUSICALITY, released in 1999. It is an album of light, pastoral, inventive, playful, whimsical, delightful psychedelic pop songs that sound like it was recorded in someone’s bedroom in Hull, which I think it was.
I never really cared for the album 13 when it came out – I just couldn’t find the tunes on it, and if nothing else, Blur are about the tunes. Over the years I kept returning to it and then, one day, much to surprise and indeed delight, there they were, the tunes! (Hidden behind varying shades of grief, it must be said). And William Orbit’s production is great, creating a whole world of sound to wrap yourself up in. Blur’s grown up and heartbroken album.
At this point I also added bits and bobs that I knocked together from pieces of a mix put together by MP3J, a mash up artist who creates long mixes based around The Beatles. At some point he mashes up Nirvana’s No Apologies with John Lennon’s Imagine. You can hear the full track at www.mp3j.podomatic.com where it’s hidden away on WTF 47
At some point I had to play this record; it is, after all, one of the most psychedelic pieces of music ever created – it would have been churlish not to have played it. It still sounds great. It’s never been matched, really. Nobody really knows how to, or aspires to, make records this fantastic these days. Can you imagine what the world would sound like if they did?
A bit of noise, really, from the densely weird album MAJOR ORGAN AND THE ADDING MACHINE, released in 2001, by members of Elephant 6 (which either means something to you or not). The album is made up of sound collages, tape loops, distortion, spoken word pieces and sometimes songs. It is very psychedelic but also very frightening, depending upon the quality of your mood. It therefore disappears very nicely into the following track…
Tonight’s mash up, brought you by RIAA, from the album SCHIZOPHRENIA SUITE, an album made up of mash ups and sound collages inspired by mental illness. What you get in this track, then, are the paranoid schizophrenic rantings of Francis E. Drec versus Henry Mancini’s Background to Murder. Francis E. Drec was a disbarred US lawyer later known for the bizarre socio-political tracts of conspiracy theories with which he regaled the mass media. There are various websites dedicated to his spoken outpourings, streams of words spewing from his polluted, fractured mind, but I suspect that you’d have to be as falling-apart as he was to actually spend any time listening to them. This track lasts 10 minutes or so. I thought about 30 seconds was all anyone would want to deal with, so I bring us back to Earth with…
Recorded in 1972, DREAMING WITH ALICE, from which this track is taken, is one trippy little psych-folk record that comes over as a cross between Donovan’s erotic mysticism and the woodsy romps of Comus. If this song sounds like he’s taking the piss, then he probably is – typical lyrics from the album go like this: “Did you ever stumble on Satan’s smile or a Catholic Saint’s confession / And life is like walking on an endless mile, each step another lesson”. The album’s title track is split into 8 sections and spread out over the whole album. The overall effect is one of focussing in and out of a trip. The album itself is surreal, rural and magical, eventually submerging itself in echo, fuzzed wah-wah guitar and backwards tape. I love it.
The first outing for this song that Julian Cope seems to have returned to at least three times as far as I can work out, most completely on his 20 Mothers album. I like this version, though, which is tagged onto the end of Eat The Poor, one of the track’s on Cope’s first solo EP SUNSHINE PLAYROOM, released in 1983. I don’t believe it’s ever been released on CD so this is taken from my original vinyl copy, so it may sound a bit scratchy.
 Tractor were a two piece psych-prog band from Rochdale who formed in the early 70’s from the remains of three piece band called As The Way We Live. John Peel was so enamoured of them he signed them to his Dandelion Records label and suggested the name change to Tractor after gazing dreamily from the window of Peel Acres and more or less naming them after the first thing he saw (there’s a joke there. I know…). The debut album as the now two piece Tractor was simply called TRACTOR and released in 1972 – an almost flawlessly cosmic blend of psychedelic freak outs and acid folk loveliness. Julian Cope was so blown away by the heavenly Shubunkin the first time he heard it as a school boy in Tamworth that he decided there and then that this
is the record he wants played at his funeral, although I didn’t know that until I’d finished this particular Mind De-Coder – so it’s kind of fitting in a far-out synchronicitous  kind of way that it follows Land Of Fear like it does.
In which Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve take John Peel’s pleasantly whimsical story, Kingsley Mole, from the third album by Tyrannosaurus Rex, UNICORN, released in 1969, and reproduce it on their album SPRING, released and add some electronic going’s on behind it.
This track is from something of a psychedelic exploitation (psychploitation, anyone?) album put out in 1967 by Elektra records who wanted to cash in on two rapidly converging scenes – namely: psychedelia and the then hippy interest in all things cosmic and astrological. The resulting record, THE ZODIAC: COSMIC SOUNDS, was put together by a host of largely un-named session musicians pulled together by composer Mort Garson and sounds something like a cross between astral-camp psychedelic rock and the kind of incidental music that you heard on the original series of Star Trek when aliens appeared on the screen.
As you can imagine there’s a track (‘song’ is too strong a word for what you actually get) for every astrological sign with folk musician and producer Cyrus Faryar talking about each one of them while an early Moog synthesiser meshes with flutes and keyboards in a suitably far-out fashion. Whether Elektra ever made any money from it is anyone’s guess, but I suspect not – it’s apt to inspire more giggle fits than stoned, pull-the-shades-down reveries. Interestingly enough, though, whenever I play this record for anyone, they always end up liking the track that represents their own star sign so to this end, I hereby pledge to make a personalised copy of this show for anyone who asks, replacing my own Cancer – The Moon Child track for your own. Just drop a line to www.waihekeradio.org.nz
Yes, I know, that spelling of psychedelic does my head in too – it makes me want to write ‘(sic)’ right up there next to it, but after some thought, I decided I’m above that  sort of thing. Anyway, this came as a bonus track on the newly released and, I’m thinking, definitive version of SMILE that came out in 2011, which not only belies the idea that Brian was mad and the rest of the band were barely on speaking terms with him, it also ends on the show on a suitably light-hearted note, which is always nice.
And that was Mind De-Coder 30. I thank you.

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