An occasional feature spotlighting rediscovered gems, randomly chanced upon, shuffled tracks that have floated back into the listening cycle.
The Five Day Week Straw People: Sunday Morning?
From the album The Five Day Week Straw People (1968)
I’ve always had a theory about 1968. Psychedelic music is regularly regarded as peaking in the year previously; my listening experience points to the truly deepest, trippiest music bearing fruit in ’68. Perhaps it’s just the distillation of the wild experimentalism of the previous year finally reaching a true climax before innocence and positivity waned…
The Five Day Week Straw People is one such album that ticks all the boxes. A twisting graphic sleeve with blocky perspective typography, the 10 songs are loosely formed around the theme of a weekend after five days in the rat race.
I’m Going Out, Gold Digger, Postmen, Car Wash and Feel Like Having A Party capture the Friday evening and Saturday with a psych tinged mod vibe. But what really makes the whole experience worthwhile is the chugging groovy whirlpool of Sunday Morning? A strikingly great shimmering flanged tune that perfectly outlines the warped highlight of the weekend. Sunshine guitar, fractilised drumming and displaced vocals. The band pretty much sank without a trace hereafter, but this far outweighs several more well-known tracks from the time.
Futher information on The Five Day Week Straw People can be found here.
Maryanne Amacher: Head Rythm1/Plaything 2
From the album Sound Characters (1999)
Maryanne Amacher’s music has always seemed to exist best outside of any traditional recording format. It’s a form of sonic landscaping that works as a 3 dimensional experience in some vast space. Playing with curious phenomena called “auditory distortion products”. An effect that make your ears hear sounds like an aural mirage caused between two carefully controlled existing tones…
Despite the exacting tolerances of her work, John Zorn’s Tzadik label invited Amacher to prepare pieces for a CD. The result is the stunning Sound Characters.
The disc rolls around in vast blocks that echo Merzbow, GAS and even Roberto Cacciapaglia. But it’s the album’s opening track Head Rythm1/Plaything 2 that more clearly outlines the outward quality of the sound world at play here. Starting off like a Venn diagram of a smoke alarm and some mutant techno, your brain is bathed in steel wool. The precision and sharpness of the sound is staggering. The different effect on speakers or headphones is marked. And the evolution, as the track morphs into huge warped smudges, feels like the speakers are hoovering up sound, rather than birthing it.
Amacher’s music carves out its own space and rules, and her tiny amount of recorded material is wholly unique and highly recommend.
Sound Characters is available on CD from Tzadik
Montibus Communtias: The Pilgrim at the Woods
From the album The Pilgrim to the Absolute (2014)
I get that the river and the tweeting birds that run through huge swathes of this flute and strummed album might come across as a very lazy form of music making. It’s got the droney inflections of Ash Ra Tempel and the cross-legged kosmicness of Amon Duul 1 but something very genuine emerges from this beautiful album by the Peruvian mountain dwellers.
In many ways, this is another album plotting a narrative arc – the journey of a pilgrim from earth to some form of enlightenment. However, as the second track The Pilgrim to the Woods unfolds, the muted groove hits perfection. Through a bank of debris, the guitar and drums carve out something so much more than the sum of their parts.
Think OM’s At Giza re-imagined by The Cosmic Jokers. The huge thumping resonance of the bass and drums intertwining with the chirping birds projects so much from so little.
This type of music could be thought of as aimless stoned noodling, but this track goes a long way to highlight how Montibus Communtias are masters of minimally constructed music that is totally engulfing.
The Pilgrim to the Absolute is available from Beyond Beyond is Beyond here
Typhonian Highlife: Giger’s Balinese Green Vaults
From the album H.R Giger’s Studiolo (2014)
The music of Spencer Clarke has always dazzled as he seems to draw inspiration from truly bizarre angles. His Fourth World Magazine and Monolopy Child Star Searchers projects both convey a strange new age tinged primitiveness which almost pull themselves apart, but somehow always regrouping into amazingly trippy sequences.
His vast and terrifying H.R. Giger’s Studiolo, an almost 3 hour journey offers an invitation into something I’ll admit to not really understanding. This is a strange drift through some form of decadence, coloured by the creator of the chest bursting alien creator HR Giger. Accompanied by multi-dimensional Cenobytes, flesh ribbons of streaming water spiders and annunciations of the facehugger it makes a creepy listen.
The strange bouncing ball spine of Giger’s Balinese Green Vaults feels like an oasis of calm and clarity in a mountain of uncomfortable weird shite. It’s a great example of having a gem buried in the rough. The more challenging the approach, twisting and tumbling in nightmares, the greater the impact of getting to this sweet spot of beauty and tenderness.
H.R. Giger’s Studiolo is available from Pacific City Sounds here