27 April 2012

Between - 1974 - Dharana

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

     Between continues their decent down the rabbit hole here, cranking up their world fusion voltage on this LP.  I certainly wouldn't accuse these Germans of copying Mike Oldfield, but the dense walls of arpaggiated sound does echo some lessons learned from that artists "Tubular Bells."  Of course, here they relieve the tension by juxtaposing that sort of thing with tricks like throat singing.  The rugged krautrock vibes of their last album are played down here for a journey to the center of your soul.  You need to be up for a meditative ayahuasca space ride when you throw this one on the turntable (or more likely hit 'play' on your mp3 player).

     Again, the star of the show is probably the title track, running more than 20 minute and giving you the closest experience that you'll get to mind dancing with the Peruvian Amazonian shaman short of hiring a boat in that direction yourself.  "Joy... Sadness... Love" recalls a touch of Terry Riley-like oscillating organ set amongst a chant and flute led drone.  "Listen to the Light" presents us with a dew-dripped mind voyage into the primordial garden of delights, while the closing "The Voice of Light" is a stew of ambient sound and chanting that encases your being into warm carbonite.

     This music existed a few steps outside of typical existence when it was released, and it still sounds like it's being broadcast from a hyperspace cosmic bubble.  It's a very groovy thing to massage your mind and presents us with a intriguing alternate history of the boundless musical scene pulsing out of Deutschland in the early 70's. But what do I know?  I'm just sitting here slamming chu-hi and rambling about tones that you've just got to hear for yourself.

Between - 1973 - And the Waters Opened

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

     This is an early effort in the fields of what we now call world fusion and new age.  The group originated from Germany and definitely had a hint of the krautrock vibe that emanated from acts like Popol Vuh, Can, and Tangerine Dream, but I wouldn't quite put this under the banner of krautrock.  Basically, the rock is missing.  Fortunately, this doesn't turn out to be a problem.  Between gives us some very groovy early ambient vibes and this music exists in that rarefied air when new age still had a worthwhile hangover from the hippy supernova of the late 60's and before it curdled into a layer of cheese.  Strange sound effects and tribal drumming run rampant here.

     The opening title track makes a strong case as the main event.  It comes across a little like the first couple of Popol Vuh albums, rife with percussive craziness but replacing the Moog tones with flutes, a touch of acoustic guitar at the end, and God knows what floating layers of sound to mark it as a minor masterpiece. With "Uroboros," the group takes us through an astral dream flyby of a caravan on the Silk road, while "Syn" brings in the bass synths to send warbling ripples through your mind.  I suppose "devotion" ranks as their echoing, should've been, would've been, chanting drum circle hit single in an alternate dimension.  The epic length "Happy Stage" and "Samum" make up a mini-suite that drops your wandering spirit into a ancient faux-Indian court where the blue smoke of sacred opium wafts through the air.

     This music exists at a happy crossroads that puts firm pressure on more than a few of my aural pleasure centers.  Hopefully it does the same for you.  The spinning reel-to-reel recording and the consultations from krautrock pioneers set it several squares apart from the saccharine bliss merchants that would come to define the new age sound by the mid 80's.  You can fill your ear with the real deal here.

04 April 2012

Damaged Tape - 2012 - The Floating Existence

There's no particular concept to this album, it's really just a set of psychedelic musings. Pretty much all of the music here spilled out rather effortlessly over the past few months. Making music for me never feels too much like work, but this one was even more fun and games. I think it helps that everything here is analog hardware (with the sole exception of the robotic voice on the first track), so I didn't have to endure any programming cyber-headaches. There's also more guitar present than on other Damaged Tape records - I honestly can't really play keyboard that well, but I can rock it funky on guitar. I've also included a few tracks with lead vocals, which is a first for Damaged Tape. If my music evolves, I'm happy, and I think this one has a somewhat different vibe from other sets I've done for the Damaged Tape project. Here's some track-by-track notes for your perusal:

1. Shadows of the Future - Probably the closest we get to this dance floor on this set. The opening sample is from Alan Watt's brain-blowing "Om" from "The Sound of Hinduism," which you'll find elsewhere on the blog. My image for the second half of the track is of a bunch of robots blasting you with lasers while pontificating on their robot philosophy.

2. Craters of the Sun - I sit around playing Tetris and listening to classical Indian music a lot. Of course, many of you know that I have a sitar obsession. Unfortunately, I don't have a sitar, so my electric guitar will have to do for this faux-raga.

3. Melted Into Angel Form - Here's another second solar track in a sort of mini-suite of hymns toward the sun. I was trying to get my Eno on a little more than usual for this one. If you can figure out what movie I based the lyrics on, then you may have ESP.

4. The Solar Petroglyphs - I guess this really makes more sense as a Glaze of Cathexis tune, but the track did start with the percolating synths and I like it here. The lyrics are a mixture of good and bad advice. It's up to you to parse out which is which.

5. Sharkfasting of the Wyld - It's a shojam! This one has kind of a weird swing that I don't think shows up in electronic music too much. You'll have to ask Scott what he's talking about on the track.

6. Bohemian Astronaut - Not quite a hippy in space - a little sharper than that. We'll dedicate this one to Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist who made it to the Moon during the Apollo program. Maybe that made him seem a touch bohemian amongst all the navy and air force dudes.

7. Tara Poets and Edo Priests - Or maybe it's the other way around as the file name says. Honestly, I sort of forgot. Hell, both ways are fine with me. Until Scott made his contribution, I had an unfortunate urge to name this track "The Hippy Revolution," but it has to be an exploitation revolution like you can see in the double feature DVD "Wild in the Streets/Gas-s-s-s"

8. Conversations With the Psychedelic Wyzard - All of these tracks started off with the file name "cheecream," but this one really earns its title. We've got a question posed by the lead synthesizer, and answer from the lead guitar, and another response from the synth over the course of the track. You can decide which one of these voices is the psychedelic, uh, wyzard.

9. Magnetic Vulcanology - The initial tune made me think of a synthesized communist anthem or something, and then I decided to do the Cookie Monster for the vocals. I don't think I can touch Tom Waits Cookie Monster impression, but I am a big fan of both of those iconic figures.

10. A Dedication of the Deserts - I may need to get Scott to post a bit about the intentions of his words. Although it is ostensibly about the deserts, I keep feeling that it's more of a peace, love, and tantric sex thing. I don't know, the artist is typically the worst person that you can ask, "So, what does it mean?"

11. Tribal Physics - I think I figured out how to make my Roland Juno 60 sound reasonably like a Fender-Rhodes electric piano - at least that's what I was going for. Something deep inside of me thought about naming this album "The Happy Bongo" as well. This track is further support for that idea.

As always, I'd love to hear your comments, and if you dig the sounds, you're welcome to repost. Let me know if you do.

Listen to me: