It’s a question we often idly lingered on at OBLADADA – how many more hidden gems are out there to still be discovered?
That box of tapes that was found decades later that formed International Harvester’s absolutely first-class boxset Remains, might have still been hidden away in some cupboard. Other things like the random Frimely Embankment Tape that was sent to Tuluum Shimmering containing a mysterious but insanely good music that could easily sit amongst the best work of Harmonia. O.W.L. Of Wondrous Legends, discovered as a bargain bin find at a shop nearby where the actual musician lived in obscurity for decades after its release.
Sure, there is loads of junk being rebadged as another lost masterpiece that aren’t remotely that, but occasionally, the collective search does strike gold. Bizzarophytes by Carl Erdmann is probably only known to a select few, but as the label Morning Trips consistently do – this is another superb discovery.
Erdmann clearly saw making music as a personal project, a professional geologist spending his spare time playing, experimenting, and recording. His knowledge of the Arizona desert, the rocks, the valleys, peaks, and landscape all seemingly informing his musical approach like sonic strata.
Free from any idea why he was making the music, beyond personal enjoyment, Bizzarophytes is a collection that spans all sorts of late 60’s idealism and grooviness that belies its relatively late vintage of 1980.
The ghosts and shadows of John Fahey, the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Ravi Shankar all wrapped up into an acid folk desert psych outsider opus. Majesty tumbles and twists like dust covered heatstroke. Turitella Flats wobbles and oozes around a kosmic groove. The sense of heady transportation rises out of the sitar forms of Dhun, whilst Carried Away could easily have soundtracked the Zabriskie Point riverbed love scene… Within is pure eyes closed ecstasy.
The two-part Holobizzare, as the name suggests is the first time, we head somewhere genuinely odd. A 4-minute meditation on some effect allow to dance and consumed in vibrating strings. The 6 and half minutes of Portugal is a sun-baked groove that slowly tears itself into layers.
Devil Worship is an odd blend of jazz and thumb piano, Lanterns is a pattern of acoustic guitar strings slowly bending into light, and In Closing is a joyous heady celebration, the journeys end around a welcoming late-night campfire.
There is a personal element that runs through much of this album. The space that someone might enter where you simply make the music you want to hear rather than just hitting play. Bizzarrophytes is a collection of rough diamonds, undoubtedly with a budget and maybe even a bit polish, much here could have developed into something more. But, of course, that misses the point of the entire project, simple and honest and heartfelt, these 11 tracks fizz with a joyful optimism.
Bizzarrophytes is an album that seems to exist outside the shitstorm the modern world somehow continues to insist on becoming… which makes it a perfect hangout.
Bizzarophytes is released 8th April digitally and on vinyl here