19 January 2012

Damaged Tape & Andrew Bland - 2012 - Beyond the Ghost House

While we're on the topic of collaboration, here's a new set of recordings that I worked on with Andrew Bland. This is the first time we've shared space on a record since 'Paper Fences' in 2006. From what I understand, Andrew spent 2007-2010 working on his "Field Pictures of Echoes" album (which you'll find at his website http://andrewbland.net/. I took a bunch of bits and pieces that didn't end up on the album and worked them into finished tracks. I sort of assumed that we'd be working with a rustic groove (as you'll hear on his 'Cosmic Relief' album), but I guess that he'd been infected with the synth bug at the time, so I ended up adding a lot of percussion and guitar to the soundscapes in order to get them nice and warm.

I enlisted Scott Atkinson to add a bit of spoken word, and he came up with most of the song titles while flipping through a biography of Chairman Mao. I didn't touch Andrew's track for 'Sailing on the Mekong,' while 'Riptydes of Existence' is actually an outtake from the Damaged Tape album 'Ambiguous Reality.' It didn't make the cut for that one as the completed album was a little too ambient for the tune.

I do hope that you dig spending a little time in our miniature sonic worlds. I welcome any comments and if you're running another blog and like this, I'd be happy for you to repost.

Listen to Me:

Cosmic Relief - 2011

Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

Here's the latest release from one of my past, present, and likely future collaborators Andrew Bland. His musical trade has basically become creating miniature, instrumental sound paintings and the pallet on this album comes out sounding quite colorful. The instrumentation here is rustic and organic, with a variety of percussion, bass, and electric and acoustic guitars mind-melding with flute and violins. The atmosphere reminds me of the rural cult sound of A Cid Symphony, which I reviewed way back when. Really this one is better - where the A Cid Symphony tends to drone on, Cosmic Relief provides a little more melody and texture.

This music is pretty much meant to meander on in the background in its entirety, but there are a few choice cuts that you may want to explore. "Manic Gaze Rag" does a fine job of occupying the sound of a long-in-decline hippy commune in the Ozarks. Meanwhile, you'll find a groovy, lumbering Crazy Horse with violin epic in "Wetlands." And I'm always up for the percussive, Indo-pulse of "Panorama." Really, you'll find a lot of short 'sound paintings' throughout the length of this set, and different ones will probably strike you in different moods.

I"ll admit that there may be a touch of conflict of interest with reviewing this as the primary artist was my roommate in uni, but I have found this album stuck in my regular listening rotation in the past few weeks. There a very nice variety of sound permeating this album which should interest the sonic mind explorers out there. The music definitely reeks of bohemian weirdness going on behind closed doors, and albums like that tend to get the Doctor's interest. I hope you'll have a groovy journey into this forest of sound.

You'll find me in the downloads section of this website:

11 January 2012

Timothy Leary - 1970 - You Can Be Anyone This Time

Quality: 4.25 out of 4
Trip-O-Meter: 4.5 out of 5

So, realistically Timothy Leary, the Ron Jesus of LSD, probably shouldn't have stretched out into the musical arena, but I'm pretty glad that he did. While his collaboration with Ash Ra Tempel, "Seven Up," is typically pooed upon, it's actually one of my absolute favorite psychedelic albums. This earlier effort isn't as good as that one, but it's still a damn entertaining slab of vinyl. This disc was issued in conjunction with his strange gubernatorial campaign in California against Ronald Reagan. Of course, Leary probably had real business entering that field either, but it's way more entertaining that Donald Trump pretending to run for president. In Leary's words, "The function of government is to get everyone high and feeling good." Of course the truly disturbing parts are when Leary makes sense.

"Live and Let Live" takes up the first side with clips of Leary on the campaign trail backed with a musical jam from Leary's buddies. Fortunately, Leary's buddies consisted on Jimi Hendrix on bass, Stephen Still, John Sebastian, and Buddy Miles. None of them are at the top of their game - I imagine part of the deal was that Leary would keep them heavily 'medicated' - but it's still pretty to hear these guys casually rocking out. And of course if you lend your ears to Leary himself, you'll probably giggle a bit at his political platform, yet dig the words of the man. Side two gives us the title track, which is probably the best thing on the album. A heavily echoed Leary rants on about Hinduism, reincarnation, and the rat race as the music continually shifts - melding R&B jamming with classical Indian music, and a touch of the Beatles and the Floyd, along with some various electronic meddling. "What Do You Turn On When You Turn On" gives Leary a chance to explain his views on astrophysics and brain physiology, I guess. We'll just have to trust the professor on this one. The music simply jams out with tribal percussion, oscillators, and a bit of piano.

I think this album is a wonderful way to let Timothy Leary brainwash you from beyond the grave. Maybe my fellow Americans will even write him in for president in November. North Korea's got a necrocracy, why not us as well? Anyway, this disc will likely put off a fair amount of you, but if you're willing to follow Leary down the rabbit hole, you may dig what you find.

Alan Hull - 1973 - Pipedream

Quality: 3.75 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.5 out of 5

Hull's solo career sprang forth from Lindisfarne, the English folk-rock band that he fronted. I must admit that I know next to nothing about that band, but the music on "Pipedream" claims some very 1970's which incorporates a bit of folk-rock, a bit of prog, a shot glass of the singer/songwriter vibe and a dash of psych rock. This album doesn't really do anything that's going to knock your socks off, but it's got a few worthy attributes that make a few spins worth your time. The production here is super crisp with that early 70's analog glow. The basic tonal palette here is very groovy. Also raising this disc's stock is Hull's very good songwriting skills, running a nice spectrum from power pop to English folk.

"Pipedream" is a pretty solid listen through and through, but there are definitely a few highlights of note. The disc really gets cranking with "Song For a Windmill," which greatly benefits from a throbbing pulse from some kind of British folk drum. "Blue Murder" tests the waters of the folkier sound of Pink Floyd (best illustrated on their soundtrack for "More"). Hull does a pretty good echo of early power popsters like Badfinger and Big Star with the one-two punch of "Breakfast" and "Just Another Sad Song." As the album progresses, Hull gets even groovier with his folk side, with "Money Game" and "United States of Mind" ranking as the best of a few lightly tripped out acoustic tunes.

Hull's debut solo album is a very pleasant and infectious listen. It's sort of a musical tour of the more creative side of British rock in the early 70's. I don't know if Hull necessarily deserves a spot in the Pantheon of rock (maybe I've got to hear some Lindisfarne before I know that), but he definitely had the cohones to piece together a fine album.