Saturday, February 28, 2015

Zoltan - Sixty Minute Zoom (2014) review


Zoltan "Sixty Minute Zoom (Cineploit, 2014)

In only a few short years Zoltan have managed to chalk up an impressive back catalog of releases, with Sixty Minute Zoom being their second full-length album since 2012.  But what’s much more impressive, is the quality of the music on the releases.  I keep waiting for Zoltan to put something out that isn’t up to par, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to be happening anytime soon.  While I absolutely loved First Stage Zoltan, and both the Psychomania and Tombs Of The Blind Dead are amazing pieces, Sixty Minute Zoom shows the growth and progression that have taken place in the band much more clearly in my opinion, airtight arrangements and compositions so creepy and atrophied that they might as well be embalmed corpses rising from the grave to be committed to tape!  Starting with “Antonius Block” you know from the moment that Sixty Minute Zoom starts it’s going to live up to its’ title!  Recalling heavy Phantasm vibes before moving into a more Giallo like territory, Zoltan’s specialty in my opinion, “Antonius Block” is one of the best album openers I’ve ever heard and ensures that you’re not going anywhere for the next hour or so.  Flowing into the ethereal soundscapes of “Uzumaki”, Zoltan quickly turn on the heavily melodic and motorik rock sounds that open the album to reveal their love, as well as an impressive knowledge, of kosmiche, prog, and avant-garde soundtrack music.  While there may be a lot of bands that are trying to do the ‘horror soundtrack’ thing these days, Zoltan are one of the few bands that I’ve heard which have the knowledge and skill to actually pull it off.  Deftly moving into a definite Goblin like groove “Uzumaki” also has these awesome little chasms where the beat will drop out and these piercing stings of synthesizer pierce the veil of gaping space and cleverly constructed dropouts.  Quickly recalling a litany of Italian composers and combining it with their own unique take on the full-band elements of Goblin and American horror cinema soundtracks of the 70s and 80s, “Uzumaki” is an amalgam of everything that makes Zoltan who and what they are in a tight five minute package.  “Table Of Hours” is a more abstract piece, something that’s nice to hear on one of these albums which are normally consumed with Carpenter-espque heavy sythn driven songs for the most part.  One of my major fascinations with soundtrack music is that it actually exposes a larger audience of people to instrumental avant-garde music, and while most people will remember tracks like the opening title theme to Escape From New York, I’ve always loved the more out-there stuff like “Reel #9” from The Fog.  Tapping into that ghostly spectral aesthetic Zoltan crafts “Table Of Hours”, an ominous tension fueled track that instantly sets the listener on the edge of their seat, constantly glancing over their shoulders, peering at the shadows in the corner of the room with apprehension and bated breath.  It’s amazing how dark and foreboding Zoltan manage to make “Table Of Hours” with the sparse sounds and uncluttered composition leaving plenty of room for the song to really sink in and take hold; have no doubt this is the real deal here and Zoltan is just getting started.  “The Ossuary” recalls the high-octane energy feel of the album opener “Antonius Block” while incorporating the extended pallet of sounds and compositional arrangement demonstrated since.  I can’t help but think of poor Francesco Dellamorte and his star-crossed love walking through the Buffalora cemetery admiring the beautiful ossuaries while being stalked by her dearly-departed husband recently returned from the dead turned zombie!  There’s a certain tenderness, a brooding and emotional melody, at the heart of the pulse-pounding arrangement of “The Ossuary” and it emerges more and more the farther into the song you get, before you’re completely engulfed in a sweeping wave of cosmic distortion that dissipates into the fifth and epic final track of Sixty Minute Zoom.  Building from sweeping echoes of distortion and sparse keys “The Integral” would be just as at home in a sci-fi disaster flick like Aliens as it would in a psychological slasher horror film like Maniac.  Towing a thin line and managing to evade simple label or definition, “The Integral” makes its first transformation at around three minutes in, the drums shedding added weight and building to a muted crash behind pulsating balls of synthesizer.  Later, again breaking down and transforming, “The Integral” shutters to a complete halt at five minutes and is reborn from the ashes by the glimmering hope of a shinning line of keys splitting through the deafening silence.   Obviously offered as a complete suite composed in sections, like you would find in an actual soundtrack, “The Integral” is the song on Sixty Minute Zoom that should drive home how much time Zoltan puts into writing, composing and arranging a song.  It’s damn near impossible to get a twenty-minute long song that doesn’t just repeat the hell out of itself or completely derail to sound like there’s any sort of coherency or sanity to it.  Zoltan just keeping proving that anything’s possible if you have the talent and determination to make it happen though, retreating back into the singularity of keys again around nine minutes in.  The bass becomes a much more integral, holding time as much as the drums and taking up about as much space in the mix, the sound growing tense and restrictive.  It’s like you’re stuck in slow-motion running from some hideous nightmare coughed forth from the grotesqueries of your own mind in quick sand, and just like a nightmare things slowly begin to melt and change, taking on new shapes and contorting into deformed reflections of themselves.  The sounds that follow are some of the most sinister and unnerving sounds I’ve heard summoned up from the dark Lovecraft-ian bowels of Hades in a long while.  This section of “The Integral” is like listening to Coil’s Unused Themes For Hellraiser for the first time; it’s actually scary.  The strings rise to a frenzied peak before the heavy thud of the synth comes crashing down and the drums rise from the grave to pound a frantic SOS to anyone in earshot.  Things get almost downright sci-fi for a moment again, the pulsating sounds of the keys in the back oscillating and degrading into more sporadic chaotic stabs and stings, fading and gliding through the mix like dark mysterious serpentine figures you catch in the corner of your eye just outside the window of the small shuttle rocketing you through the terrifying expanses of space.  This section of “The Integral” has all the wonderful elements of disjointed gonzo The Fog-era John Carpenter stuff that I love going on, but Zoltan are able to expand on that sound, adding a layer of gritty Giallo energy and funk to the mix.  The cyclical nature of “The Integral” didn’t really strike me that heavily until I had listened to it for the fifth or sixth time but the song makes an almost a complete circle back to the melodies and rhythms that began it some eighteen minutes before, reprising the unhinged, psychotic sounds that started it.  Not only would the music operate perfectly as the soundtrack to a film but if you pay enough attention to the composition, it’s actually written in such a way that it creates its’ own characters, situations, settings and scenes in your mind’s eye.  Sixty Minute Zoom is an impressive notch in Zoltan’s belt, proving that they don’t even need a film to score; instead they’ll make you come up with your own.  With Zoltan being as prolific and active as they are, I’m super excited to see what they have in story for 2015 as each release they drop is even better than the last…  Out now on Cineploit Records, the geniuses behind a ton of Orgasmo Sonore’s releases, if you enjoy horror, dark wave, soundtrack, avant-garde, prog, or even just good instrumental rock, I highly recommend that you pick Sixty Minute Zoom up now, even the CD is limited to only 500 copies, and seeing as this is definitely one of the best albums of 2014 there’s one thing for sure, Sixty Minute Zoom is not gonna to be around for long! 


Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Friday, February 27, 2015

Montibus Communitas - Ananda Samgha (2014) review


Montibus Communitas "Ananda Samgha"(Sky Lantern Records, 2014)

Sky Lantern Records specializes in recordings that might not necessarily find appreciative homes elsewhere, Sky Lantern embraces the strange, the weird, and the avant-garde sides of music taking chances where others might shy away and my hat’s off to them!  


They were the first to release Kikagaku Moyo’s Mammatus Clouds (Interview here) in a limited cassette run before it’s highly lauded vinyl pressing on the recently relocated Captcha Records.  I’m lucky enough to know Nik Rayne who helps run Sky Lantern and get to check out their releases, and they literally never cease to amaze.  They push the boundaries, even for a veteran rock journalist and music enthusiast of thirty years like myself, challenging my tastes and encouraging me to get into new stuff with nearly every announcement.  Their latest offerings include Montibus Communitas’s Ananda Samgha, a collection of early live recordings of the band in action offered up to the public for the first time.  The percussion heavy, droning sounds of Ananda Samgha are infectious to say the least; they are after all from Peru.  The deranged flute work, teamed with keyboards, twisted guitar, strange guttural barks and some truly unnerving strings combine to create the psychedelic trip inside the altered states of consciousness that is the opening track “Catequil”.  The initial drone of the song lulls the unsuspecting listener into a state of unsuspecting hypnosis before things really start getting hard and heady about ten minutes in.  The drums switch from the primordial hand-percussion that started the song into a much, much heavier full drum-set accompanied by sporadic and fractal electric guitar, both joining in and constructing an ominous brooding tone of mesmerism all it’s own.  The sprawling opening drone of “Catequil” is supplanted finally by the much shorter, and again, much heavier sounds of “Verðandi”.  “Verðandi” brings the guitar in from the beginning, along with much more prominent and primitive vocals, chanting and howling throughout.  The crash of the drums is all that seems to hold the ethereal threads of music which are so perfectly constructed, they sound as though they might derail at any moment, but never quite do.  “Hridaya” is another relatively short track, clocking in at barely over five-minutes.  While earlier tracks definitely showoff the more primitive, Peruvian sound of Montibus Communitas, “Hridaya” definitely highlights their free-jazz chops.  The electric guitar is all that holds the song together, an otherwise untraceable litany of sounds and beats slithering underneath a sonic cathedral of noise.  The drums seem to unhinge their jaws like a snake, devouring the existing rhythm and exhaling something entirely new constantly.  The gaping maw of the final track “Medhā” however, starts off innocuously enough.  These are obviously audience recordings, as you can hear some people talking from time to time.  It’s not distracting to me in the slightest and the only reason I mention it is because it actually adds some life to them in my opinion.  The deadening silence of soundboard taps can be just excruciating to me and having a recording that has some real character and life to it is what’s important; at least for me.  “Medhā” drives that point home, breaking from droning background music, the crowd milling about and talking until about eight-minutes in when the melody has finally overtaken them, the sounds permeating from the stage and into their brain like fumes, intoxicating and entrancing.  “Medhā” allows you to loose yourself in its folds, the incredible vocals ten minutes in transporting you off to another place, the strings and drums overtaking existence once again and leading the mass hypnosis to a deceptively simple conclusion.  The sprawling magnificence of “Medhā” is the most fitting way I could think to end Ananda Samgha echoing and reverberating claps clamoring for space in the tightening echoed wavelengths of sound as they submerge into the blackness of silence and tape hiss.  Limited to only 100 tapes make sure you scoot on over to the Sky Lantern Records’ Bandcamp page and snag yourself a copy, or at least a download, before you’re left kicking yourself!


Review made by Roman Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Bevis Frond interview with Nick Saloman


The Bevis Frond, the band name used by Nick Saloman for his projects. Debut Miasma is a well regarded psychedelic album. A steady stream of LPs since then showcase Nick's strengths of strong songwriting, finely crafted lyrics, and a musical mixture from wig-out guitar jams to sensitive folky numbers. They are still very active and we managed to do an interview.

When did Bevis Frond form? Could you tell us the story?

I’d been playing in bands since I was about 15 in the late sixties with not very much success. I always had quite a lot of confidence in my abilities as a guitarist and songwriter, but for various reasons (often of my own making) I never really got anywhere. I left home at 18, and needed money for rent etc, so I never had decent equipment. I think if I’d been a bit more dedicated, I might have found ways to get a good guitar and amp. By the time I was around 20, the prog scene was in full flight and I never really got my head round that stuff, so that was when I started collecting old vinyl. I played in a folk rock band while I was at college, and did some solo acoustic stuff. By the time punk took hold, I was back in London, and I got a band together with some old mates with the idea of doing a mix of punk and psych. We called this band The Von Trap Family and we played loads of shows round London in the late 70s. We even got played on John Peel’s show. After that, the band sort of morphed into Room 13, and then I had a bad motorbike accident, which kind of finished the band. When I was okay again, I decided to do some solo recordings, and I issued a self-financed album called Miasma. I called my project The Bevis Frond as I’d been in a band called The Bevis Frond in the 60s, and I always liked the name, which was thought up by an old school friend Julien Temple (now a famous film maker). Much to my surprise, Miasma went down very well, so I continued making albums, and eventually I was asked to do some shows, so I put a live band together. This would be around 1989. We’ve had quite a few personnel changes since then, but Adrian Shaw has been on bass since the beginning, and is still an integral part of the band.


Who are some of your favorite artists and LP's?

Wow! How long have you got?? I started buying records when I was about 5 years old. I really like Rock & Roll, Gene Vincent, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates. The Shadows figured big, then of course it was The Beatles and the British Beat thing. When psychedelia took off in 66, I was about 13. I just went for it hook line & sinker. I guess my favourite bands from that period would be Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe & The Fish, Mad River, HP Lovecraft, Ultimate Spinach, Savage Resurrection, Clear Light, Spirit, Pretty Things, Love, Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Steve Miller Band, that kind of thing. I started going to gigs regularly in about 68. I lived in Central London, so it was all virtually on my doorstep. Over the next few years I really got into bands like Patto, Caravan, Blossom Toes, Taste, Cressida. I thought it was just going to continue like that forever, but by about 72, it was over. You had bands like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant etc etc doing things like ‘Return Of The Space Goblins parts 1 -5’ in 17/8 time, and it did absolutely nothing for me. I was delighted when punk kicked all that stuff out. I really liked The Damned, but The Wipers for me were the key band of the late 70s/early 80s. For songwriting you can’t beat David Ackles or Joni Mitchell, and Dave Crosby’s ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’ is an important record for me. I love my UK folk too...Sandy Denny, Shirley Collins, Barry Dransfield, brilliant. More recently, I’ve got a lot of time for Teenage Fanclub, and I really like The Wellwater Conspiracy’s ‘Brotherhood Of Electrick’ album. I could go on (and on)....


What is the audience reaction to your live shows?

It’s usually very good. We don’t gig very often, so when we do, it’s a kind of minor event I guess, so people tend to travel a bit to see us, and they’re always up for a good time. I suppose because we’re not that young any more, there’s always a chance that we’ll die, and they’ll never be able to see us again!

Roadburn

How does the band work out the tracks on each record? Do you jam first?

There’s no set pattern. We do some jamming, but we also have things rehearsed. Remember, when we go into the studio, I’m paying for it, and I’m not rolling in money. It’s a bit like sitting in a taxi with the meter running. I have to be a bit thrifty, so there’s not too much spare time for working things out in the studio.


Why is psychedelic music, or heavy-psych still so popular?

Personally, I reckon, it’s because it’s so artistically free. Psych is pretty open-ended, it doesn’t really have rules or restrictions. After all that’s the idea behind it isn’t it? So there’s a lot of room for experimentation, and when the whole point of it is to ‘expand the mind’, it gives the artist a lot of scope to do just that. And I don’t think it’s a revelation to say that lots of people like to have their minds expanded.


Could you tell us about any Bevis Frond side projects?

Well, at the moment there aren’t any. In the past I did the Fred Bison V album, which was a little trip into garage psych. Then a few of us did the Scorched Earth record, which was a kind of heavy, late 60s type of thing.

Is the band interested in occultism?

In a word, no.

Do any occult writings inspire your music?

Again, no, not really. I really like writers like MR James and HP Lovecraft, so I’ve incorporated a bit of that into some stuff. The name Room 13 was taken from an MR James story called ‘Number 13’. But I don’t really think they’re occult are they?


What lies in the future for the band?

I’m planning a new album for 2015, and we’ve got some shows lined up for the Summer, and a tour of Europe might happen in the Autumn. Other than that, I don’t know. I tend not to make too many plans, as they have a nasty habit of not happening. I usually just wait & see what comes along.

Interview made by John Wisniewski/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Alan Mair - Four Winds (2014) review


Alan Mair "Four Winds" (Ika Records, 2014)

This here is the first ever solo release from Alan Mair, bassist and founder member of Glasgow, Scotland mid-sixties beat combo The Beatstalkers, and who also played a crucial role in the life – ongoing – of celebrated punk-era rockers, The Only Ones. With its dense layers and hovering, spectral keyboards, 'Four Winds' is quite remarkable. Written, sung and produced by Mair himself it utilises the very latest in modern studio technology, yet at its heart the wide panoramic arcs of sound still exude life, bite and possess a fine rock'n'roll charm. The lyrics can be deemed cosmic / spiritual / psychedelic (depending on your viewpoint with regard to such definitions) and are as eloquent as they are thought-provoking. Friend, ally, and original string-bender with the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Zal Cleminson, is also on hand to provide one of his trademark, wiggy-sounding rock guitar cameos too.
While the various reference channels hint at the likes of Bowie, Reed, even Donovan’s Celtic-infused style at times, this is undoubtedly Alan Mair, and it speaks very clearly of a singular musical vision to be expanded upon further when Mair's debut full-length album Field Of One hits the racks sometime later this year.

Review made by Lenny Helsing/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mascots - Your Mascots (1965-66/2014) review


Mascots’ story in two volumes (“Your Mascots,”1965/”Elpee,” 1966)  (2014 RPM)

Between the years of 1964 and 1969 Swedish pop rock band Mascots released two LPs, “Your Mascots” and “Elpee” both originally released by Decca and an impressive 21 singles, released on 4 labels, 57 tracks total. The bands’ complete works are chronicled in two releases by RPM International Records, UK.

The story begins with an expanded edition of the band’s 1965 debut album “Your Mascots” originally released by Decca.  The original album, recorded only in mono, is found here supplemented by 9 single sides for a total of 21 tracks, with a run time of about 44 minutes.  From the beginning it is obvious that Mascots were heavily influenced by British Invasion bands, The Beatles and The Zombies being the two most obvious.  Jangling guitars, delicate vocal harmonies and short, tight compositions are the order of the day.  Highlights of the album include “Tip Of My Tongue”, “A Sad Boy” and “My Very Best” showcasing the band’s vocal harmonies and delicate guitar work.  Also among the album’s 12 tracks is a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” featuring a mouth harp break and a driving beat.  Among the single sides, “Baby, Baby” stands out with its up tempo beat and stinging guitar solo.  “Stones Fell” is memorable for its chugging guitars and gorgeous vocals.  

The second part of Mascot’s story centers around the group’s 1966 album “Elpee”  (also released by Decca) presented here in two disc, expanded edition.  Disc one contains the LP’s 14 tracks in stereo (it was not released in mono), while the second disc contains 22 single sides, all but two presented in their mono mixes.  In stark contrast to their debut album,  “Elpee” (in keeping with the times) greets the listener’s ear with fuzzed out guitars on the album’s opener “The Winner.”  “I Close My Eyes” is another fuzz fest with gorgeous harmony vocals, reminiscent of their British Invasion influences.  The album features a more mature, much heavier sounding version of Mascots, especially guitarists Stefan Ringbom and Gunnar Idering who supply top flight solos on up tempo rockers like “I Want To Live”, “This Time Girl”  and “Nobody Crying.”   The rhythm section of Anders Fosslund on bass and Rolf “Buff” Adolfsson on drums is tight.  The band does, however, still display plenty of harmony on tunes like “Every Way I Think Of You” and “Droopy Drops.”  The second disc of the set contains over 55 minutes of single sides, released between 1966 and the band’s ultimate demise in 1969.  That means there are singles on the Decca, Hep House, Polydor and Parlaphone labels!  This is the first time the Mascots’ story has been told outside Sweden, aided greatly by an exclusive interview with guitarist/vocalist Stefan Ringbom.

The RPM International packaging for “Your Mascots” and “Elpee” are each rounded out by 12 page full color booklets containing informative liner notes by reissue producer Kieron Tyler.  The sound is fresh and crisp thanks to the wonderful remastering job by Simon Murphy.   So what we have here is the definitive documentation of the recorded legacy of Mascots, without question one of Sweden’s best rock acts ever.  Once again the fine folks at RPM International have been good to their word and gone “beyond the scope of ordinary musical experience.”   

 Review made by Kevin Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Acoustic Preference sponsoring It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine


Acoustic Preference are well established audio hi-end company. They are sponsoring our magazine with their phono stage. We received two phono stages; one for moving magnet cartridges and one for moving coil.
We are running Clearaudio turntable with their phono stage and the result is absolutely wonderful. Sound is very pleasant and full of little details.


You can check their products at:

The Exception - The Eagle Flies On Friday (1967-1969/2014) review


The Exception “The Eagle Flies On Friday:  Complete Recordings 1967-1969”  (RPM Retro 956, 27 October 2014)

Hailing from Birmingham, The Exception, who began life as The Exceptions, were a pop trio formed in 1967, who released a total of seven singles and one LP in their two and a half year lifespan.  The band was unique in that it was led by drummer and lead vocalist, Alan “Bugsy” Eastwood, who also penned most of the band’s songs, and employed vibes as an essential part of their sound.  Eastwood was joined by guitarist Roger Hill and bassist Dave Pegg.  RPM Records, UK, gives The Exception the royal treatment on this compilation which not only contains the band’s complete recorded output, but five previously unreleased tracks, thus totaling 26 tracks with a run time of more than 70 minutes.
The set opens with the title track, issued in March, 1967 on the CBS label, under their original moniker, The Exceptions.  Featuring vibraphone and a blazing guitar solo by Roger Hill, this may well be the high water mark for the band’s releases.  The tune’s title referred to the eagle’s head on US currency and Friday being payday for most workers, so the “eagles fly on Friday.”  Unfortunately, the meaning was lost on most UK record buyers and in turn the single failed to sell.  CBS released a second single, but it suffered a similar fate and the remainder of the group’s singles and its long LP were released on the President label.  At this point the trio’s original bassist, Dave Pegg, left the band, eventually joining Fairport Convention and then Jethro Tull.  Pegg was replaced first by John Rowland and later Malcolm Garner.
On stage The Exception were a blues based band, and their fifth single, “Tailor Made Babe” reflects this with its barrelhouse blues piano leading the way.  The b-side “Turn Over The Soil” features stinging guitar bursts courtesy of Roger Hill, and is definitely one of the highlights of this retrospective, seting the tone for the bands’ later recordings such as “Jack Rabbit” which features psychedelic guitar work by Hill.
The band was given artistic control on their first and only LP, and the resulting album “The Exceptional Exception” released in February, 1969, certainly deserved a better fate than it experienced.  Highlights include the psychedelic “Don’t Torture Your Mind” written by Hill, as well as inspired Eastwood tracks such as “Mrs. Cocaine” and “Woman Of The Green Lantern.”  Unfortunately, Eastwood became restless and left the band, effectively marking the end of The Exception although Hill and Garner did carry on with a new drummer and Hill taking over on lead vocals, by May, 1969, The Exception were no more.
Thanks to project manager John Reed and sound engineer Simon Murphy, “The Eagle Flies On Friday” is a wonderful package for fans of mid to late 1960s pop music.  The group’s tasteful use of vibes and wonderful tinges of psychedelic guitars as well as Eastwood’s unique lyrics set it apart from its contemporaries and definitely makes this collection worth exploring.  The accompanying 16 page color booklet featuring complete track annotations and informative notes by Reed are icing on the cake for this release.  As always, the folks at RPM Records live up to their motto, “By Collectors For Collectors.”

Review made by Kevin Rathert/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

TAU interview with Shaun Mulrooney


TAU is the new collective project formed by Shaun Mulrooney who has been a member of Dead Skeletons and invisible man with Berlin 'kraut' rockers Camera over the last 4 years. The music has been inspired by the shamanic experience and spending time with indigenous.
https://tauofficial.bandcamp.com/

The recordings were done with Tiger Bartlett from Kadavar who also guested on drums and co-produced a couple of tracks, including "A Wink To The Elements" shown here.

Shaun "Nunutzi" Mulrooney of Dead Skeletons and Christoph "Tiger" Bartlett (Kadavar) have their own project called TAU. They are recording in Berlin. TAU have an interesting concept behind and their latest work is based on Nunitzis – sacred desert in north west of Mexico. They are inviting many guest musicians such as John Jeffery of Moon Duo and Valo of Soft Moon. Mulrooney will explain some details regarding his work with Bartlett.


You are currently based in Berlin. Where are you originally from?

I'm a Dubliner.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up? Do you feel like you were very influenced by that scene?

It was great, there were a bunch of bands who we all grew up with, learned our trade from you might say.

We had a real DIY ethic, I look back at that time in Dublin with very fond memories. Being a young man in a band is priceless.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?

I've been writing since I could hold a guitar (aged 16) but went through a writing slump a few years back as I was getting too much involved in the business side of things. Not the best situation for creativity. After I got back from Mexico I quit almost everything.
That's when TAU came around....

When and how did TAU form? What can you say about joining forces with Bartlet?

I went to the desert of Real De Catorce (Wirikuta), the magically desert in the San Luis Posta region, known to the locals as the  earths navel. A highly charged energy point of the planet, and who knows - possibly the universe. I was lucky enough to be led there by indigenous people called the Wirarika or Huicholes in Spanish .
That trip made me see things very clearly and I realize that I should be working on my own music and not for other people. It was a real Erreka moment and I continue to be inspired by that experience and other yet foreseen experiences that will come along the way.

I've been friends with "Tiger" for a while. Everything was very spontaneous and natural. I had these new songs fresh from the desert and was dying to let them rip when I got back to Berlin. He has a studio in Berlin so we went in and knocked the basics out and built it from there.
I would say it's one of the most pleasurable experiences I've had in the studio. He can also play a lot of instruments so there was no shortage of ideas!

Can you talk about the concept behind TAO music?

Basically to keep all possibilities open, listen well because the sound is often too soft to hear.

You have two singles available on Bandcamp, but you're also preparing an EP, which will get released on Fuzz Club Records (June) and also a cassette is coming out in Argentina.

One song on Bandcamp is my version of an Aztec Prayer called "Huey Tonantzin", which means Mother Earth. It is a traditional song sang in sacred spaces.  


Are you still in the middle of recording process?

Yep, new ideas are coming every day, lots of fresh ideas as I've been spending a lot of time in remote locations.
I will work on the LP in March when I'm back in Berlin.

What can you say about song writing process?

Puff, it seems to be continually changing, expanding, shrinking, blooming, inspired, self critical, fragile yet confident.
It's the thing I love doing most and grateful that I continue to live life in this way.
  
Can you talk a little about what TAU means?

"Tau means padre sol", father sun in Wirrarika or simply just sun. It also happens to be the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet and has been used as a symbol for life and resurrection

Do you have any music influences you would like to share with us?

At the moment I'm listening to mostly Greek Folk Music from an Island called Karpathos.
It's based around 3 instruments the lyre, tsambouna and lauto. A friend recently got the Lee Hazelwood box set which is mind blowing,
When I wanna mood changer I listen to Tinariwen which works instantly.

What influences you beside music?

Everything is influential and everything is energy. It just depends on what you let in and what you are aware of. Thoughts, emotions other peoples thoughts, dreams. All of these things effect the creative process

You are involved with Dead Skeletons. How did that came along?

That's top secret.

When did you join them?

2012.

Have you ever released music in the past with anyone else? If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes indeed, going from last to first.
I was the invisible man and co manager for Berlin band Cameras first record and did a lot of tours with them.
I released a solo record under the name Admiral Black.
I had the pleasure to produce Mueran Humanos debut album, proto punk duo from Argentina.
Let me think, there was my first band Humanzi, we did two records but only Irish people know us as we were gobbled up and spat out by the major label music industry quicker than you could say recoup!

Is there a lot of time and preparation that goes into recording and producing songs?

Not really, most songs are written very spontaneously, the preparation is usually trying to get studio time or trying to convince my friends to record me for free.

I like to keep the songs and structures loose in the studio which tends to make room for that bit of spontaneous error or magic.

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Leaves - All The Good That's Happening (1967) review


The Leaves "All The Good That's Happening" (Capitol Records, 1967)

Adultery and murder is the theme of "Hey Joe," which was written by Billy Roberts and became one of the most covered songs of the decade. The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix, The Shadows Of Knight, Tim Rose, The Cryan' Shames, Love, The Stillroven, The Creation, and The Music Machine are just an slim mention of acts that tackled the grim narrative. But The Leaves achieved the greatest commercial success, at least in America, with "Hey Joe," as their smoking hot version reached the number thirty-one spot on the charts in the early summer of 1966. Prior to assaulting the airwaves with the song, the Los Angeles band had already made an impressive name for themselves on a local scale and, now that they scored a heavy hit life looked mighty promising. The band's debut album, also titled "Hey Joe," proved to be equally invigorating with its mercurial menu of folk rock, garage grit, British Invasion styled sounds, and sonic experimentation.

Fired by youthful exuberance and a well-rounded repertoire of musical fashions, The Leaves, by all rights, should have turned into major stars. Despite the fact the band's second and final album, "All The Good That's Happening," parented no winning singles and isn't quite as potent as the first disc, the platter remains terribly underappreciated. Tracks such as the moody stupor of "On The Plane" and the ping-pong pulsations of "Lemmon Princess," which carries a chaotic circus-like air, are decorated in psychedelic decals, while "Twilight Sanctuary" features some hard-driving harmonica blowing chained tight against giddy blues rock jamming. The band's blues influences additionally prevail on honest recyclings of Jimmy Reed's raspy-throated "Let's Get Together" and Buffy Sainte-Marie's candidly cryptic "Codine," along with "Flashback (The Rhythm Thing)," a retooling of John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake" that morphs into an intense boogie woogie instrumental. A copy of Manfred Mann's "The One In The Middle" weighs in as another blues based item, and "To Try For The Sun" is a stark and haunting folk ballad. Snapping guitars, compounded by strong and solid harmonies give the album a strutting garage rock edge, where smatterings of offbeat arrangements and curious effects zone in on the freakier side of The Leaves. To call the album trail blazing would be stretching the truth, but there are enough amusing and exciting ideas to keep listeners awake and interested. Personnel issues, paired with lack of promotion prevented “All The Good That’s Happening” to be heard, resulting in the end of a band that died on the vine (pun intended) way too soon.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015

Psychedelic Attic #14


Vinyl:

Mazhar ve Fuat
Hamlet  Linnanhera
Delta Blues Band
Session Unikuva
Yuri Morozov

Blue Oyster Cult
Fleetwood Mac
Bloomfield Kooper Stills

Saffron Sect
The Higher State

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Country Joe and the Fish interview with Joe McDonald


Country Joe McDonald is one of the most important names in history of rock music. From folk start to psychedelic rock music. He's most well known for his appearance in festivals like Monterey Pop Festival (1967) and Woodstock (1969). His band Country Joe & The Fish made truly one of the very first and by many opinions the very best psychedelic album. Their mixture of blues with usage of LSD made a huge mark in psychedelic rock history. Here's our interview with Country Joe himself. 

Photo: Paul Ryan

We are really glad to have you, Joe. Since your carrier is long and very impressive we think it would be the most appropriate to start at the very beginning and then moving on until the present time, but anyway let's start with a basic questions. How are you, Joe?

I am feeling fine. 

You were born in Washington, D.C., but spent your childhood in El Monte, California.

Yes, I lived in California from the age of three years old until now with the exception of two years I spent in Japan with the United States Navy Air Force.

What can you tell us about your home growing up?  Was there a lot of music around you?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested or involved in music?

There were no musicians in my family except for my grandmother who played piano in church. My parents were part of the left wing so we had Woody Guthrie 78 rpm records and other left wing union and popular records. In southern California there was all kinds of music on the radio: Country & Western, Dixieland, Jazz; R&B, and gospel.

What do you consider as your first real exposure to music?

I started playing trombone in the grade school orchestra at about age 12 years and taking music lessons on piano and trombone.

You were already active in your high school years and were a conductor and president of high school marching band. Then after high school you decided to join the Navy and went for whole three years to Japan. Did those events have any impact on your further life?

Both events had impact on my life. In school I learned how to read music. I also had my first rock band in high school called The Nomads and wrote my first songs. In the navy I got to see and live in another country and formed a bond with other military people that lasted my whole life.

You came back and went to college. What college did you attend?

Mount San Antonio Junior College in Pomona, California. And Los Angeles State College in Los Angeles Calif.

At the time you were already influenced by folk musicians such as Woody Guthrie and you started hanging out and playing on the street of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. With who all did you hang out and what influenced you the most back then?

The guitarist John Fahey had influence on me in writing instrumentals, but mostly it was just finding a place where there was an audience for my songs and being able to go electric when Bob Dylan went electric and become a rock band.

Can you pick a moment where everything seemed to change, when you saw all possibilities that music presents?

Well the mid '60s when electric music was invented as we know it today changed everything. But my interests were always eclectic and I always enjoyed listening to all kinds of music and playing it.

The Berkeley String Quartet (Carl Shrager, Bob Cooper, Joe, and Bill Steele on the Sproul Hall steps)

What brought you to start writing your own material?

In high school I just became aware that I could write my own songs. It was simple for me to do.

Were you politically active in your song writing from the very start?

I always wrote all kinds of songs, but since I grew up with topical songs and political songs it was natural for me to write some of that kind of song.

In November 1964 you began to work as the Jabberwock house band. What can you tell us about this Jabberwock house?

I came to Berkeley in the summer of 1965, not 1964. The Jabberwocky was a small coffee house that held about 100 people. It was one of the only places to play in Berkeley and featured acoustic music so that is how we started acoustic. Then we took to playing electric and that was the reason the place had to fold because of complaints about the volume.

You were called as The Instant Action Jug Band. There were a lot of members, including upcoming Country Joe & The Fish lineup.

There was an Instant Action Jug Band that I participated in sometimes, but I was not a regular. Some folk were part of it, but not all. It did not have drums, you know.

You once supported The Fugs and Allen Ginsberg…

There was a concert on University of California campus held in a biology lecture room. We were on top of the counter where experiments and lectures took place. It was more of an equal billing event. The guitar player for The Fugs took LSD and did not even know he was unplugged into his amplifier the whole show.

The Instant Action Jug band split up into various of solo acts (Alice Stuart), including The Cleanliness & Godliness Skiffle Band, and Blue Bear (Pete Frame).

That sound right.

At the time so called Folk Revival was coming along. Who in your opinion are major persons in this revival besides you?

That is too complicated for me to answer. But there were lots and lots of people involved.

At the time you started your own magazine called 'Rag Baby'. Is there anything archived? How many volumes came out?


There were four print issues and one talking issue. They are not available, but I have a few copies of each.


You decided to press an EP under the name of your magazine - 'Rag Baby Records'. Four songs were featured; two by a group which included you, guitarist Barry Melton, singer Mike Beardslee, washboard player Carl Schrager and bassist Richard Saunders. And two songs by folk singer, Peter Krug.

Yes we did not have “copy” for the print issue of the magazine so I got the idea to make a talking issue with songs on it in an EP format, seven inch (33 and third rpm). We recorded it in living room of local record company. Owner was Chris Strawcwitz.


In late 1965 you released first EP, that also featured Paul Armstrong (bass) and John Francis Gunning (drums). What do you remember from it? It was actually out on label, that you founded and it was simply called after your magazine - 'Rag Baby', right?

That is correct. We recorded it in local Berkeley studio. It was four track studio.

If my information are correct you released your very first DIY EP on October, 1965 and it contained "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag", which became later an counterculture anthem and also "Superbird".

 Yes!

In June, 1966 you released another EP on your own and it features "Bass String"s, "Thing Called Love" and "Section 43". Material was way ahead of its time. Paul Armstrong and John Francis Gunning were still part of the band. What do you remember from making it?

Well since we had only four tracks, we had to keep it simple. I do not remember much from the sessions.
  
But before forming a band you and Barry Melton played as a duo. Where did you meet and what kind of songs did you play?

We met on the steps of the local University Of California Student Union Building during one of the folk festivals. I was playing folk songs and some of my own stuff and Barry started playing guitar along with me. We got along and enjoyed doing it.
  
How did you came in contact with Paul Armstrong and Joe Francis Gunning? And where did you meet David Bennett Cohen and Bruce Barthol, who later became band members?

It was Barry Melton who found all the other players.


At the certain point you went to NYC with Barry Melton and there you met Ed Denson, who agreed to be your manager. After the second EP you got quite airplay and Denson made a nice job letting the audience know what was happening with the band. He wrote for Berkeley Barb…

Actually Ed Denson lived in Berkeley and we knew him because he was a partner in the Rag Baby Magazine and the Rag Baby EP.


At the end of 1966 you got a contract with Vanguard Records. There were some lineup changes. Paul Armstrong left the group, John Francis Gunning was replaced on drums by Chicken Hirsh. How did you get Hirsh? He was studio musician.

Chicken was playing live with another rock group in Berkeley and Barry Melton asked him to drum with us and he accepted.


Soon you started to record what is in my opinion the very best psychedelic rock album out there – 'Electric Music For The Mind and Body'. Your producer was Sam Charters, who was also a well respected blues writer, poet and of course a producer. Album was recorded at Sierra Sound Recording.

Yes!

What are some of the strongest memories from recording it?

It was a four track studio so we had to bounce tracks around to overdub. We had of course not recorded as a group. I had made an album with a friend of mine in Los Angeles, but this was more complicated.

What gear did you use?

We just played the small amps we had.

I would love if we can talk about the material featured on album. Was there a certain concept to it?

Sam Charters picked the songs and we just recorded them. He picked the order for the album. I did ask him to run all the songs together to make it a real concept like opera thing but he did not do that.


It's almost impossible for author to answer questions about song meaning, but still I would like to ask you if you can comment songs from the LP?

A1 Flying High
A true story of hitchhiking LA to San Francisco.

A2 Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Strange blues song about women in my life

A3 Death Sound Blues
Hmmmm don’t know, just a blues. I guess I felt depressed.

A4 Porpoise Mouth
About my first LSD experience.

A5 Section 43
Composed after listening to John Fahey in drop D modal tuning with a G major harmonica.

B1 Super Bird
Just a funny song about the president.

B2 Sad And Lonely Times
Left over from folk song days in Los Angeles.

B3 Love
They say it was a song John Francis used to sing.

B4 Bass Strings
Just popped into my head one day.

B5 The Masked Marauder
Invented while we were at The Barn rehearsing for the recording sessions. Very odd piece. Composed like the rest on the guitar.

B6 Grace
After seeing Grace Slick sing with her old group. I wanted to write something more complicated for her to sing. I never told her that we will play it.


Did hallucinogenic substances play a large role in your songwriting, performance or even maybe recording processes? I believe it can really inspire you in various of ways, you can't imagine before using it… What's your opinion about it?

Hallucinogenic substances did not play a role in my writing, but did give me subject matter. Like the song "Porpoise Mouth" is about my first LSD trip.

It's an amazing achievement, that your LP was recorded live in the studio with exception of vocals, which were dubbed on afterward. You must have rehearsed a lot? Cohen told me, that you were playing in a place called Barn in Santa Cruz, where you used to rehearse and played at night…

It was a venue that had shows and it was called The Barn. John Francis was not the drummer and our new drummer Chicken Hirsh needed to be taught the material and we needed to get it all together for the upcoming recording of our first album so that is why we went to The Barn to rehearse.

Debut was quite successful and you managed to get concerts everywhere, even in Europe. How was it to tour old continent?

Well we did enjoy going new places and found the audiences receptive to our new kind of rock and roll.


How do you feel about the fact, that you probably recorded the best and most original psychedelic album out there?

Well, thank you for the compliment and I agree with you. But it just turned out that way. Our music and my songs were not really mainstream, so our success was somewhat limited compared to the other groups who had a sound that was more like pop music and way more accessible for the public.

What psychedelic groups did you personally enjoy back then? West Coast had a lot of great bands with whom you shared stages.

I liked to watch Jerry Garcia play. But I thought really that our psych music was the best and that was all I needed.


'I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die' was your next album, which had the legendary anti war hit on it. What do you remember from recording this one? Around this time you had some crossfire in the band and you decided to quit the band for awhile. But later you came back and you started recording 'Together', and Bruce was replaced by Mary Ryan on bass.

It was Mark Ryan on bass. Of course the invention of the fish cheer led to the fuck cheer which was the first time people heard fuck being used on stage. It was hard to continue because we had a contract of 12 albums one every six months so the second album was using up all my material and with travel and recording we all started to get very tired and unhappy.


After you came from Europe, 'Here We Are Again' was recorded, with another lineup change. What was happening?

We were more successful, but tired and crabby and not having fun any more.


You dedicated a lot of time to record your solo albums. 'Thinking of Woody Guthrie' came out in 1969, followed by 'Tonight I'm Singing Just for You' and many others followed, including your work on soundtrack for 'Quiet Days in Clichy'. What would you say is the main difference working on your solo albums?


Well I did not have to fight with other people about what I wanted to do. But they never would have joined me with my ideas so it was impossible. There is a special chemistry in working as a band but by that time the original members were gone and the chemistry was gone, I had to pay the bills and the only way to do that was to continue to make records and tour. I do enjoy doing that and think that quite a few of the solo albums were very good.


Any comments on Monterey Pop Festival or Woodstock Festival?

Well I enjoy playing performing in open air events. I always like to hear the other bands playing as I learn new things from them. I saw lots of the acts at Monterey and Woodstock and enjoyed myself very much.

You played with so many bands and experienced many things, BUT is there any crazy story you would like to share with our readers?

Well there have been several times when the audience controlled my performance. Like blowing pot smoke in my face so I got stoned and could not remember the words. Or clapping in three quarter time forcing me to play a waltz three times in a row. Or insisting that I sing "Fixing To Die Rag" as an encore after closing with it and then singing it again...


What currently occupies your life?

Cooking for my family and writing songs about nurses.

You have a new 2 CD set 'Time Flies By' out…

It was fun to do it and I tried to make a back to roots folk jug band album.


Thank you so much for taking your time and effort.

Thank you.



Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2015
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2015