MIND DE-CODER (2013) 31

MIND DE-CODER (2013) 31


“I was wide awake…in a dream”
Syd Matters, otherwise known as French musician Jonathon Morali, released the debut album, A WHISPER AND A SIGH, from which this track is taken, in 2002. On it he creates elegiac, finger picked folk over etherial electronic rhythms that place him somewhere between Nick Drake and Radiohead. It provides the perfect introduction to this evening’s show, an altogether more gentle soundtrack to come down to.
The Pretty Things’ album SF SORROW, recorded in 1967, has the dubious distinction of being considered the world’s first ‘Rock Opera’, pre-dating The Beatles and The Small Faces by a year. In it, we follow the story of Sebastian F. Sorrow, from birth, through love, war, tragedy, madness and the disillusionment of old age. (It’s a comedy). It’s widely regarded as something of a psychedelic classic, and was recorded in the same EMI studios that Pink Floyd and The Beatles were using to create their own psychedelic classics, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and Sgt. Pepper’s. For one reason or another it failed to create the same impact as either of those two albums, and became one of the great lost albums of the sixties, which is where I found it. Bracelets Of Fingers seems to be about our hero’s job at The Misery Factory. Do you know, I think its narrative may have had something to do with that whole business concerning its popularity.
A bit of electronic noodling from Weller’s 2008 release, 22 DREAMS, the album that saw his renaissance from trad-dad rockist to an artist suddenly alive to all music’s possibilities; embracing electronica, krautrock, classical, folk and psychedelia in a late career arc that’s seen him through two albums since then, each a giddy musical call to arms. 111 is a chaotic mix of Moog, mellotron and free-jazz experimentation that takes the listener to a lovely little place and drops them off right here…
For Many, it’s Surrealistic Pillow, for others, it’s After Bathing At Baxters. I’m an AFTER BATHING AT BAXTERS man, myself. Granted Surrealistic Pillow has got Somebody To Love and White Rabbit on it, as well as the lovely acoustic ballad Comin’ Back To Me, but After Bathing At Baxters, recorded and released in 1967, the same year as Surrealistic Pillow, is literally a trip. Released at the height of the west coast hippy vibe, this is an album soaked in LSD use, offering up a unique, experimental sound of the sixties waiting to implode; but for now, everyone is clearly having a whale of a time as is in evidence on this particular track. There’ll be a better one later on in the show.
The opening track from Wolf People’s debut album, TIDINGS, released 2010, in which they pretty lay out the blue print for the rest of their album – a messed-up bluesy guitar riff of the Steppenwolf variety, followed by an excursion into Faust-like noodlings – and very fine it is too. For their second album, STEEPLE, released later that same year, they chose to go with Steppenwolf riffs, but I’m hoping for their third album they might explore their more expansive ideas (but that might just be me).
The opening track from Cranium Pie’s debut album, MECHANISMS PT. 1, released 2011, in which they pretty much lay out the blue-print for the rest of their album – a kind of hypnotic etherial flair coupled with krautrock leanings and a touch of Obscured By Clouds-period Pink Floyd. Music from the 11th-dimension – marvellous.
Colleen creates simple, fragile and instrumental tunes of child-like, folk-speckled psychedelic bliss (in a fuzzy-hearted, etherial sort of way, that you may or may not find captivating). THE GOLDEN MORNING BREAKS, released in 2005 and from which this track is taken, spins music as delicate as an early-morning dew-kissed web, and is as diaphanous and lovely.
Dutch musician, the marvellously named Freek Kinkelaar, has enjoyed a long career that didn’t reach me at all, until he released THE BEE KEEPER’S DREAM in 2006 that compiled 13 recordings from the 13 years he’s recorded under that particular moniker. On the whole it’s an understated affair with sparse arrangements that create a subdued atmosphere perfect for rainy Suday mornings – Cover Me enjoys a low-key psychedelic chamber arrangement that recalls prime Scott Walker but with electronic flourishes burbling around the edges, but the whole album is never less than lovely.
Isobel Campbell, of course, used to be in Belle And Sebastian, where she was often accused of adding a certain twee-ness to the band’s proceedings. She put paid to that kind of criticism with her work with gravel-voiced bluesman Mark Lanegan and The Ballad Of The Broken Seas, which I never really cared for, myself, because I really can’t be doing with gravelly-voiced bluesmen myself. On this album, however, MILK WHITE SHEETS, released in 2006, Campbell’s voice is almost weightless in its delicacy, which puts me in mind of Vashti Bunyan’s Just Another Diamond day, although Campbell herself reckons she owes more to Shirley Collins who covered the track on her album Folk Roots, New Routes with Davy Graham in 1964. I have it on (fairly good) authority that the words Hori Horo are used by Scots to indicate sorrow.
From the opera Lakme, by Leo Delibes, of course and, sadly, very popular amongst advertisers these days. I first heard it in the film THE HUNGER, Tony Scott’s seductive 1983 vampire movie, featuring David Bowie and the legendary lesbian scene between Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon for which it served as a very erotic accompaniment. Despite the fact you can hear it everywhere these days, from shopping malls to elevators, to British Airways adverts, to bloody cellphone ringtones, it still remains one of the sexiest, most exotic pieces of music you are ever likely to hear. It certainly had an effect on me, and I’m not going to not play it just because every bugger has heard it. I don’t know who is responsible for this particularly ravishing recording – but you can find it on The Hunger soundtrack.

On the other hand, when it came to Satie’s Gymnopèdies, I did think – hang on, every bugger really has heard these, but they fit the mood I was trying to create so perfectly that I had to use one of them, albeit a little reluctantly. But only a littl

e. Anyway, I chose Gymnopèdies #2 because it’s the least well known of the series, but also because I’ve discovered that it has a hypnotic like quality that can lead to an almost out of body experience, if listened to properly. Which is perfect because it allows the next track to arrive almost unnoticed…

The numbed-out, narcotic bliss from Spacemen 3’s key recording, THE TRANSPARENT RADIATION EP, released in 1987 in which they take the original recording by The Red Krayola some place so far out that you may not get back again. This record blew my mind the first time I heard it, and even now I still get a shiver when I hear vocalist Sonic Boom utter, “I was wide awake in a dream…” only to follow it some 7 minutes later with the immortal, “You know? It sounds like…ecstasy”.  Yes, yes it does.
And back to earth with a bang. Returning to England in 1968 from a stint in Spain and just in time to catch the tail end of the psychedelic craze, The Tomcats hastily renamed themselves July and got out a quick album, called JULY, which has since become a much sought after psychedelic artefact. They were never as good as Pink Floyd, say, but the album does hold two genuinely weird psychedelic classics – Dandelion Seeds and My Clown. It also has this track, Hello Who’s There, a kind of chirpy cockney knees up in Small Faces stylee which I included because sometimes one doesn’t want to disappear up one’s own arse. And it makes me laugh, of course. Mind you, I edited about three verses out of it because it does get a bit much, and then I had it disappear into a bit of Faust I had left over from last week.
The second single that was released from AFTER BATHING AT BAXTERS and one on which Grace Slick’s vocal just soars in a way that always makes me soar too.
I have it disappear into a rather fine radio ad they seem to have made for Levi Jeans round about the same time as the album release in 1967 – the thing is, is it possible for a counter-cultural group to make an advert, no matter how ironic or trippy, without shredding any remains of their artistic dignity? However, I happen to own a collection of psychedelic promos and radio spots from the sixties (every home should own one) and they all do appear to be at it. It is a very good promo, though.
Having played a track from their new album last week, I thought I’d include a track THE TREMELO EP, released in 1991, as an accompaniment for the Loveless LP, to remind everyone what all the fuss was about in the first place. It’s a lovely tune, for a start, a strange collage of faintly Middle Eastern noise over which vocalist Bilinda Butcher’s voice floats like a giddy swoon. It still gives me goosebumps.
And so to the Boo Radleys, rather ungenerously referred to as the My Bloody Valentine that Creation Records could afford, who, in 1993 took everyone by surprise with their album, the appropriately titled GIANT STEPS – a record of unbridled kaleidoscopic psychedelia; taking in brass, dub, psych-pop, white noise, jazzy segues (it was named after John Coltrane’s album), Wilson-esque harmonies and soaring pop blasts that blew everything else away. Trying to seperate one track from the melange of sound was always going to be difficult as the album works best when experienced in one sitting, but Spun Around gives a small indication of how far out the Boo Radleys were at this point. Sadly they could never be this good again – nobody could ever be this good again.
The closing track from THE FAUST TAPES (1973), the almost unbearably lovely Chère Chambre, sung by Jean-Hervé Péron  that concludes an album of otherwise arch avant garde experimentation with something that’s simply magical.
I played a track from this album a few weeks back and explained how Mario Schifano, the acclaimed Italian Pop-Art artist, who was visiting London in the mid-60’s realized that, despite his success, the only way he could ever be considered as cool as the rock aristocracy of the time (The Beatles and The Stones) was to either steal Jagger’s girlfriend (which he did) or to form a band of his own. The result was DEDICATO A…, released in 1967 in which Schifano collected together four unknown musicians and schooled them in the kinds of sounds he was expecting from them. The opening track was to be one incredible cosmic jam featuring two grand pianos, a percussionist, flautist plus a pre-recorded Greensleeves’type haunting ballad which was to be inserted into the recording during the final mix. As Julian Cope points out in his very fine book COPENDIUM, this unwieldy freak-out is the only track he’s ever heard that includes listening instructions and special guest star right there in the song title, which more or less translates as: the Last Words Of Brandimante, As Taken From Orlando Furioso, With Guest Peter Hartman (Which Should Be Listened To With The TV On, But The Sound Off). If you can take it, it will blow your mind.
In the meantime, The Beatles were working on their own avant garde piece, the semi-legendary Revolution 20 (Take 2), that appeared on the internet for about 5 minutes a few years ago before getting taken down by the powers of darkness. Fortunately, I just happened to be on line at the time. So here you are, a genuine curio for your listening pleasure…
From 22 DREAMS, again; Paul Weller with more acid-folk charm. And that would be Terrence McKenna positing the theory that you and I might actually be the centre of the mandala. Or something.
And that was Mind De-Coder 31.
I thank you.

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