26 January 2016


Various Artists - 1967 - Tropicalia: Ou Panis et Circencis
Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

Caetano Veloso - 1967 - Caetano Veloso
Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter; 4.5 out of 5

Gilberto Gil - 1968 - Gilberto Gil
Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Caetano Veloso - 1969 - Caetano Veloso
Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5

Gilberto Gil - 1969 - Gilberto Gil
Quality: 4.75 out of 5
Tip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Milton Nascimento - 1970 - Milton
Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

I've got to admit, I've been staring this post down in the face for almost two months.  It's not necessarily writer's block.  The Tropicalia scene in late 60's Brazil carries the cajones of any Beatle-boot wearin' prog rocker among the English speaking music set, so it's important, groundbreaking stuff.  These artists' names typically get tossed around the musical hipster crowd, especially with the more proactive efforts of David Byrne, but the fact remains that I've been looking for a few of these albums for almost 20 years.  I'll blame the language barrier.

I've got a lyric sheet in Portuguese, and one in Japanese, and I'm not to sharp on reading either.  Tropicalia is a wild fusion, owing a base in traditional Brazilian music forms, but basically incorporating outside influences in an indiscreet, and often very trippy way.  Now our British and American musical heroes were not lacking in trying to lyrically take down the Man a notch, but Brazil was under the thumb of a military dictatorship at the time, and the abstractly political lyrics actually put Veloso and Gil in prison for a spell, and then exiled to the UK for a few years.  They were saying important stuff, but I don't know what it is, and thus I've had trouble considering each album as a whole.  That's why I've elected to write about the musical tend as a whole.  So lets get musical.

The Tropicalia compilation is about the most definitive that one can muster for a musical form on a single LP.  It probably helps that despite the various artists nature of the thing, it seems that most of it was recorded as an album, with Caetano Veloso ring leading, and Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Brazilian space rockers Os Mutantes, and LSD-drenched composer and arranger Rogerio Duprat making important contributions.  Some of the tracks are just mildly twisted bossa novas, which are pleasant enough, but the key tunes are real mindbender.  I think I've preached the Os Mutantes performance of "Panis et Circencis" as being completely on the level of a "Strawberry Fields Forever" or "Good Vibrations," and I'll second that here.  The Mutantes also help Gilberto hit one out of the park with the Carnival-funk of "Bat Macumba,"  and Veloso and Costa turn in the absolute best version of "Baby," which I think has become somewhat of a Brazilian standard.  Oop! and let's not forget the Tom Ze-led musical concrete pop of "Parque Industrial."

Following this set, Veloso and Gil both turned in their first post-Tropicalia solo albums (they had done some straight-up bossa nova in the past).  While firmly in the cockpit, the musicians could take their spaceship further out there.  These albums are sort of like bouncing signals of Sgt. Pepper off of the surface of Mars and picking the transmissions up again in Rio.  Veloso's LP is lusher, with Duprat's twisted orchestral arrangements taking the Lewis Carroll whimsy side of British psychedelia and putting it up in a swinging Sao Paulo penthouse.  Although Veloso claims he never liked the tag"tropicalia," this album contains the track that gave the sound its name, along with one of his signature tunes, "Algeria Algeria."  Gil had the Mutantes still in tow, and skews a little more acid rock.  This helps since Gil tends to put the emphasis a little more on the rhythm, so you can twerk to more of this if you want to.

After this happy flowering of Brazilian psychedelia, the sound starts to darken (it would morph into 70's MFB style, which you can hear most easily on David Byrnes essential Beleze Tropical compilation ).  The word is that Veloso and Gil would wrap their political messages in poetic double and triple entendres, but they still ended up in jail for bucking the system.  And this is where they recorded their 1969 albums with only vocal and guitar.  That's not all you hear though, as the tapes were then shipped of to Duprat for full psychedelicization.  Gil comes off a little better under such a dark mood, with the first two tracks being among his best and the closing "Objeto Semi-Identificado" serving the listener with a full-on, experimental freak-out.  Veloso practices his English on a few tunes, but makes a perfect two point landing with "Nao Identificado."  I don't know, maybe I just think 'Identificado' is a cool word.

As the two intrepid singers were scuttled off to the UK, we've got this 1970 album release from Milton Nasciemento.  Although a talent equal to the tropicalia gang, he wasn't really a part of that scene as far as I know.  I think he was flirting around with Verve Records, which established a jazz connection which has allowed Nasciemento to appear on more American recordings, so I suppose it was a good idea.  His songwriting isn't quite as effortless as Veloso and Gil, but it's not shabby at all and his voice is absolutely distinctive in a way that few singers can muster.  I enjoy this CD, but I can't say I know much about it other than the sound.  There seems to be little hard information for this one drifting around on the net.  There is a jazzier glide to the sound, as well as a bit more of a band sound here.  It's sort of a transition from the 60's tropicalia to the somewhat spikier and percussive sounds Brazil would produce in the 70's.  You can get an earful of that at this retro-post: http://psychedelicobscurities.blogspot.jp/2008/01/milton-nascimentolo-borges-1972-clube.html

So there we go.  I totally dig these albums - I want to share them - I'm probably not that qualified to talk about them.  Don't let that dissuade you, though, and dive into to some of the best music the world has to offer.  Tell me if you're into this writing format as well.  I may continue with it a bit.

25 January 2016

Meridians : A Short Film by Scott Atkinson and Matt Comegys

The only way to hear the music we really want to hear is to make it ourselves.  And the only way to see the (art) films we really want to see is to make them ourselves.  We made this for ourselves, but maybe you'll dig it a little too.

25 December 2015

Astral Soothsayer : A Film by Scott Atkinson and Matt Comegys

As you could see on a few recent posts, we’ve been busy cooking up a more multimedia angle for our homegrown psychedelic excursion.  This is a journey of the passage between the conscious and unconscious hovering over a multicoloured lava flow of electronic sound.  We’re not throwing a band name on it – it’s simply a film called Astral Soothsayer.  That said, Glaze fans may find the quickest connection with “Offering to the Water God.”  If you’ve got 19 minutes to spare, groove to the whole thing:

And here are some links to dig them one at a time:

Endless Cosmic Rope Revolving:
Offering to the Water God
The Cenote Pilgrimage Acolyte

We’re not abandoning the musical angle, so if you like it, support us a bit with the soundtrack here:

Merry Christmas and a groovy New Year.  We’re gonna take you on a trip.

07 November 2015

Visualizations of the Roving Sage

While my musical productivity is going only without change, we're shifting our presentation to focus more on film.  Y'know, the bizarre sort of experimental films which can fill in the background at your next 'happening.'  This is Blueshifter, the first clip from the electronically-minded 'Astral Soothsayer Part I," which will be coming your way as a 16-minute or so film and soundtrack late this year or early next year:

If you've been digging 'The Amorphous Infinity,' the whole album now has a film.  Here 'tis:

And you can find the downloadable album here:

05 November 2015

Bobby Lyle - 1977 - The Genie

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

Sorry to have been a bit scarce - using your iPhone as a home Internet connection turns out to not be such a great idea as I keep getting bandwidth booted from the net.  Anyway, I'm he delving a bit deeper into the neon sparkles of 70's jazz-funk.  It seems that Bobby Lyle is one of those fellows who gets a lot of flak for blurring the lines between serious jazz and R&B, sort of like Roy Ayers.  I dig both forms of music, so it doesn't bother me.  This album stretches out to both poles to pretty good effect and finds some serious deep groovy to muck muck in.  But I will note the Lyle is best presented as a keyboardist, where he is first rate, rather than his stints as a second rate vocalist.

The title track is one of those things I probably heard somewhere as a kid and it's been bouncing around in my head ever since.  Until I picked this disc up, I wasn't sure if I made it up or not.  "Pisces" takes the mirror image of that melody and converts the groove into a slow burner.  "Magic Ride," "I'm So Glad (and I'm Thankful)," and "You Think of Her" are the vocal numbers and they wouldn't be out of place on a Roy Ayers album.  The third of them is very much your 'midnite luv' scented booty thumper.  "Mother Nile" changes up the groove a bit - matching up a wall of polyrhythms with the most flatulent synths ever.  The album closes with a solo piano piece which is fine when taken on its own, but in the context of the album it ends things with a bit of a fizzle.

Regardless of a few misshapen edges, the prime cuts secure this albums spot as an absolute jazz-funk classic.  One look at the cover illustrates the psychedelic/visionary undercurrent of the music, and that's why we're discussing it here.  There are so many eyes.  It's tangible music for me - with the notes forming globs of glowing plasma converting the entire room into a lava lamp.  Well, figuratively at least.

25 September 2015

Gabor Szabo - 1971 - High Contrast

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5

So a jazz-funk offering from a Hungarian guitarist isn't really a shoo-in for the psychedelic genre, you can pick up on that as he judges you with his eyes on the cover - but follow on through with my logic.  Play this set by a group of crack musicians including the headlining guitarist along with Bobby Womack (of "Across 110th Street" fame) and some of his cronies, and we're entering the waters of oddball 60's studio team endeavours such as Elektra Records "Zodiac" or the Electric Prunes religion-themed albums.  Factor in polyrhythmic percussion and lava lamp guitar lines to reach some vibrations only a step or two removed from the Grateful Dead in full-on concert flight.  That one or two steps reflects on the fact that these fellers are jazz masters at their respective instruments, which the Dead could never really claim.  Look under the hood and I think this record has some psychedelic power.

Szabo's name is on the cover, and he throws in some great playing along with three strong writing contributions, but Womack is the name that we tend to consider when this album comes up.  The original recording of Womack's "Breezin'" is present, which George Benson would record a few years later to kickstart smooth jazz for better or for worse.  The last three tracks are also Womack's, and interesting to hear as he would recycle some of the music for some of his R&B epics later in the decade.  Of course the devil is in the details and the jazz vibe paints the tunes very different colours.

If you are a psychedelic soul who grooves on the sounds of David Axelrod or the jazzier moments of the Dead or the Allman Brothers, this is actually something you want to hear.  It's all in the marketing.  You look at the cover, run a basic scan on the history, and you're looking at early fusion/smooth jazz romp.  But take the sounds themselves, and you're on a magic carpet, wafting through the L.A. haze with the Dude alongside.

07 September 2015

Hour Glass - 1968 - Power of Love

Quality: 3.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5

Speaking of artists' baby pictures, here we've got Gregg and Duane Allman stuck in a blue-eyed soul group.  It's not embarrassing - the future stars shine well - but it's not quite a good fit.  Still, this is the second album, which I've read is more in the right direction than the first.  Diverging a bit, I should admit that's I've never quite know what to make of the Allman Brothers.  For many years, I sort of just assumed that they were a solid band that I didn't rally want to listen to.  Then I started warming up more and more to there spacier instrumentals, better ballads, and "Rambin' Man."  But I'm from the deep South, and I start getting repulsed when the more redneck-y, Lynyrd Skynyrd vibes start kicking in.  Then again, I string my Les Paul just like Duane Allman (wrapped over the bridge) to optimize for slide guitar - so I guess I have to be a bit of a fan to do that.

Getting back to Hour Glass, there is a notable disconnect between what the record company probably wanted, and what the bros. wanted.  Most of the tracks want to be the Grass Roots, although with more powerful vocals and significantly better lead guitar.  I'm not going to say the Grass Roots straight-up sucked, but I will say the the best thing to come out of the band was Creed from the Office.  Then there are three tracks with the Allman DNA struggling to come out.  "Changing of the Guard" wouldn't be completely out of place on an Allman's album, "To Things Before" seems to test out the chord pattern for "Melissa," and "Now Is the Time" hints out some of the later band's jazzier vibes.  We've also got an outlier with a cover of "Norwegian Wood" featuring Duane on electric sitar.  Do I need to say more.  With the bonus tracks, you get some notable added value with several tracks from an aborted Gregg Allman solo album, which definitely comes closer to the sort of sounds you would expect, especially with an early run of "It's Not My Cross to Bear."

If you are down with the Allmans, you've either heard this already or you need to.  For the rest of use there are some groovy sounds to be had here.  A few essentials, and a lot of stuff that walk the line from fair to middling, with a small helping of surprisingly good.

The Stone Poneys - 1967 - The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5

I dunno.  Maybe I'm a bit too much of a youngin' to have Linda Ronstadt on my radar.  I know the name, the voice seems somewhat familiar, but I couldn't recall any of her hits.  I'm not even sure what "Different Drum" sound like.  This is not to say that the music sucks, I'm just saying that I'm coming towards this album from the dawn of Ronstadt's career with absolutely no context.  The L.A. fuzzy studio is definitely in place, along with some hickory tones wafting in from Elektra's west coast offices.  I'd be willing to wager that I'm hearing a little of the L.A. session pros the Wrecking Crew in the tracking, but I'm going by ear alone on that one.  What we've got in the end is a very well-crafted folk rock concoction that can at least make a respectable showing in the late 60's album race, although I don't think it would end up a finalist.

The Stone Poneys were not your kids screwing around in the garage.  There's a soon-to-be A-list vocalist in place,  the songwriting is several notches above average, and if the band is handling the instrumentation on their own, they have a lot of groovy spit and polish (and if it's the Wrecking Crew, that's cool too).  It's like 30 minutes with a very chilled out A.M. 60's pop station.  I keep thinking of selecting so-and-so track as the "should've been" hit single, but most of them actually come out that way.  I guess today it's "Orion," but it might be "If I Were You" tomorrow.  I also went looking for the track that crosses the twee/cheese barrier, but the band miraculously seems to avoid that (if presses, though, "All the Beautiful Things").  So if Fairport Convention was the British Jefferson Airplane, then the Stone Poneys would be the American Fairport Convention.  I swear it makes sense in the end.

You often delve into an artist's baby pictures to find them smeared in diaper butter, but this sounds pretty straight up solid to me.  I suppose if I follow this road to a collaboration with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, we'd find the trippier vibes drying up, but we've got a twilight mist wafting through this album to give it a nice spot in the Psychedelic Garage.

02 August 2015

Glaze of Cathexis - 2015 - The Amorphous Infinity

Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5

The best psychedelic rock album we've sent out into the world so far.  The past few albums have revelled in full-on 60's psychedelia, and that's not forgotten, but with this album, you'll hear a modernized, shoegazed, Sonic Youth-thunking conceptual cycle about the search for, and reclamation of the human soul in the grinding gears of modern society.  It's prog rock lyrics set to compact, catchy ditties brimming with far out drums and wires.  Jazzmasters, Casinos, Les Pauls, Strats, and bizarre Fernandes concoctions all sent into the slipstream for vistas of guitar noise.  Take a tour of the title track, Labyrinthian Alchemy, and Cadmium Glow for the quick fly-by.  Have a listen at Soundcloud, buy the thing for a paltry $2 at Bandcamp (with a vinyl option likely coming soon),  or if you're unfortunately destitute, have a look at the comments for this post.  We need to be sustainable, but we want to be heard!  We may be delusional, but we are confident that we are musical shamen looking for a way to reclaim the soul!

30 June 2015

Glaze of Cathexis - 2015 - Desolation Spirituals EP

We tread through a path of psychedelic rock, shoegaze, and folk-rock on our new, free EP, Desolation Spirituals.  This is a warm-up and a bit of a preview for the Amorphous Infinity LP showing up at the end of July.  Join us for the left-turn Jazzmaster jangle of the title track, the cosmic American of "Silver Lad," the garage rock stomp of "The Kashmir Effect,"  and the slightly tongue-in-cheek hippy freak out of "All Free."

You can dig it over at Bandcamp:


Or at the end of this link:


23 June 2015

Desolation Spirituals Video

Following our psychedelic muse a little farther, with a free EP cropping up next week and an LP next month.  Start grooving with this shoegazin' barnstormer.  Sort of our unauthorized, unasked for aural sequel to Kerouac's "Desolation Angels,"  one of me favorite books.

14 June 2015

Bennie Maupin - 1978 - Moonscapes

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5

Another fusion fanatic who served with Miles Davis on his most far-reaching explorations of electronic sound as well as being a part of Herbie Hancock's 70's crew, including the Headhunters.  The funk extravaganza of the Headhunters is the main reference point, although with the better side of smooth jazz inflecting the proceedings.  Funny thing about the smooth jazz and new age.  They were pretty groovy in the analog 70's, but quickly melted into tross once early digital recording reared its head.  Anywho, I keep checking the liner notes to see if Herbie found his way into these sessions, and I guess he didn't (unless he used a pseudonym like on Roy Ayers "Virgo Vibes"), but analog synth expert Patrick Gleeson is present.  It's a interesting moment to come across Gleeson as he makes fine use of the polytonal pads that were unavailable at the time of his recordings with Herbie.

I keep running through the tracks as I tend to ramble specifically in my second paragraph, but I've got to take this album as a polished sphere.  While not monotonous, the tunes do pretty well glide on from one track to the next.  I guess that's also true of the Headhunter albums, although these songs are not the 10-15 minutes jam outs that that band slid so easily into.  Just start at the beginning, don't worry about the time, and let it stop or repeat at the end as desired.

There are only, like, two full-on studio albums with the Headhunters, so this isn't a bad place to come searching for another fix.  The electronic funk and mild sci-fi conceptual overlay is just about as satisfying.

John Klemmer - 1972 - Waterfalls

Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

John Klemmer is a saxophonist best known for making bangin' jazz to match your red velvet, disco bangin' pad.  I mean that as a complement.  Seriously.  This is a bit before all that though, with Klemmer following more experimental pathways.  Notably with his Echoplex, an analog delay sending his sax lines into infinity.  The rest is a groovy set of early 70's jazz fusion.  It doesn't quite reach the existential plains of a "In A Silent Way" or "Bitches Brew," but really, what does?

The two Prelude tracks are the zen heart of this album, and is one of the only things I've heard that make me recall the infinite space of Paul Horn's "Inside the Taj Mahal."  I think this is one of the only times I can recall the clicking of the sax valves to be a notable part of the sound.  These tones of orbital paths do crop up in window dressing on other tracks, filling in for the waterfalls of "Waterfalls I and II," but it's a more conventional setting.  "Utopia: Man's Dream" follows the fusion handbook pretty closely while also adding a touch of its own zang, while "Centrifugal Force" ups the funk a bit.

Jazz fusion can be absolutely unlistenable, or thrust jazz through the better parts of rock psychedelia and world beats.  Although not an absolute pillar of the form, John Klemmer's early career makes a great case for his saxophone's interstellar properties, and "Waterfalls" is an oft forgotten statement that reflects the colorful insanity of its front cover.

14 April 2015

Tim Hardin - 1967 - Tim Hardin 2

Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5

Tim Hardin ups the musician's quality in pretty much every area.  I know I'm pushing the Tim Buckley comparisons, but Tim Hardin 1 and 2 are somewhat analogous to Buckley's debut and "Goodbye and Hello." The production becomes more gossamer and textured while the tunes themselves become more transcendental.  Most of the blues grit from the debut has been scrubbed away, but the sound becomes more widescreen punctuated with adventurous percussion patterns.

There's straight away some money in the song titles - you'll now spot some stone cold classics like "If I Were A Carpenter" and "Lady Came From Baltimore."  Of course, they were popularized by others, but these do have the benefit of being the originals.  Plenty of other tunes here could've ended up with the same fate - the only one that doesn't do it for me is the Old West music hall scrapping "See Where You Are and Get Out."  "Tribute to Hank Williams" certainly leaves an impression - sort of a spiritual forbearer to Mark Kozelek's more modern burst of melancholic nostalgia as Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon.  That mid-60's L.A. session groove settles in a little deeper on many of the tracks, but they do better to serve the songs here and up the cinematic quotient.

Whereas Tim Hardin 1 deserves more recognition, Tim Hardin 2 is a classic that hasn't really seen its proper due.  I wasn't around for the man's actual career.  Maybe he had a screaming band of followers that we've all forgotten about.  But in the here and now, the fellow's been flying under my radar for too long.