29 October 2013

Nectar of the Moon - 2013 - Self-Born in the Lotus Flower

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

Out here in the Psychedelic Garage I believe that the Damaged Tape tunes have touched on nectar, the moon, and lotus flowers, so it's pretty much a given that this one would catch my attention.  We've stepped through the mirror into tiny worlds of sound curled up in it's own dimension - there are no songs here to speak of.  There are coursing waves of sound - echoing the electronic experiments of the 70's and those glistening synthesizer trails similar to what Tangerine Dream managed right at the dawn of the 80's.

Side one start with an analog bubble bath, with the verdant patches of tropical alien jungle working its tendrils through the mind.  Around the seven minute mark the drones step up the pace, like the sun blasting the ground with equatorial heat.  Finally the intensity of the drones wither away and envelope the listener in moonlight.  Side two is a touch thinner sounding, with the focus often on high cutoff synthesizer spirals.  It's the early morning awakening of the jungle moon.  Eventually, we come full circle to the dripping banana leaves that began the musical journey.  With the loop of a day on this tropical moon charting a mere thirty minutes, you can spin around in sonic circles, especially if you're ignoring the controls on your media player as I often do.

With just the right images coming through and echoes of some of the better tones of early electronica, this is a very groovy platter for the astral journeyman.  Although not quite up there, this music is a least withing spitting distance of oblique sound voyages such as Tangerine Dream's "Alpha Centauri" or Vangelis' "Beaubourg."

At Bandcamp (but lacking this partuicular album)
Nectar of the Moon

11 October 2013

Tony Scott - 1968 - Music for Yoga Meditation and Other Joys

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

Tony Scott was a bop artists throughout the 1950's but he seemed to have lost the plot by the mid-60's. Fortunately, he did so in the best way possible, and stumbled into the sounds of the sitar after a 1964 flirtation with traditional Japanese musicians.  Unlike many of the sitar laden albums of the late 60's, and in spite of the cover art, there is nothing particularly exploitative about this date.  What we get is a great, likely improvised fusion of prime Indian drones and jazz flute skipping a path along more exotic scales.

Featuring only sitar and flute, the general timbre of the tracks are quite similar.  As the cover states, this is meditative music.  Both instrumentalists are masters, however, and the melodic variations speak of a lively duet of gurus on the wild mountainside.  A tabla would have been nice in a spot or two, but these tunes are of a strict duet nature.  I don't know if there's much use going through individual tracks.  I've been listening to this for years straight through and have never really brought my magnifying glass to the proceedings.  All of this flows downstream as a whole.

This album is a fascinating and enjoyable early example of the world's music seeping through Stateside. Tony Scott was a few steps ahead of the game.  This is more Indian than jazz, but Scott's fine flute playing brings just a touch of a midnight, rain-
swept Chicago alley to the proceedings and managed an album that is quite wonderful.

10 October 2013

Ton Vlasman - 1970 - White Room With Desintigrating Walls

Quality: 3.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3.75 out of 5

I've never quite been at peace with the acid folk/freak folk scene.  On the surface, it seems right up my alley - the idea of uber-trippy lyrics and warm acoustic instrumentation warped through recording sounds fantastic.  The execution, however, doesn't always do it for me.  I still need to be spoon fed the Incredible String Band, which is a key influence for this Dutch fellow.  Ton Vlasman's sort of a farm team player for the pastoral hippies, however. His voice echoes Dylan and the aforementioned ISB, but he lacks the control that those musical A-listers brought to their otherwise idiosyncratic vocals.  The instrumentation is pretty minimal, but Vlasman knows his way around a ramshackle acoustic a few of the embellishments ended up getting my attention.  Still, if you're a aficionado of the acid folk scene, you'll find a few things to groove into on this LP.

I'm all for the music journey, and the epic-length "Flight With a Circular Course" takes us on a weird minimal journey through the stratosphere of the ancient gods.  The tracks is based around picked acoustic patterns, which flip backwards for a few segments, and is augmented by the occasional strange delay and some single organ lines beaming in from Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets."  "Mithrandir the White Horse Rider" opts to journey through the Welsh countryside of the Britons instead with a bellowing flute to keep the guitar company.  There are some relections of Robbie Basho, whim I covered last month, although Vlasman can't touch his level of folk guitar genius.  "To Sell," "It's Alright With Me," and "Story of Too Many Prisoners" come off like second-rate Dylan, although I guess that's still better than the hordes of third- or fourth-rate or worse pretenders to the throne that even today proliferate the music scene.  Meanwhile, "Walking in a Country Lane" and "The End" have more to do with the ISB and "Pale Blue Eyes" is not a Velvet Underground cover.

There are a few sparks of inspiration, especially in the longer tracks, but for the most part Ton Vlasman was simply up for a pleasant freak folk journey down already trailblazed roads.  If you're already attuned to this kind of music, this deserves your ear.  The rest of you may as well flip a coin over it.