Sunday, February 21, 2016

Albert Ayler - 1964 - Spiritual Unity

Albert Ayler
1964
Spiritual Unity

 

01. Ghosts: First Variation
02. The Wizard
03. Spirits
04. Ghosts: Second Variation

Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone
Gary peacock: bass
Sunny Murray: percussion



Fifty some years after the recording of Albert Ayler's Spiritual Unity, the music (and the man) are still causing tumult. It is not so much that free jazz hasn't been on our radar these past decades, it's just that this recording remains one of those "where were you, when you first heard it?" experiences.

Recorded in a very small, hot studio in July of 1964, the album which thrust the new label ESP onto the map, consisted of just four songs—thirty minutes of music. But it was to be 30 minutes that changed the direction of jazz. John Coltrane had been searching for new forms of expression, and paid close attention to Ayler's music. His influence on Coltrane's approach can be heard on late recordings including Sun Ship (Impulse!, 1965) and Meditations (Impulse!, 1965). Today, you can hear his sound across the free jazz spectrum, in the music of saxophonists Ivo Perelman, David Murray, Vinny Golia, Peter Brötzmann, and Joe McPhee. But he also has guided musicians like guitarists Marc Ribot and Joe Morris, bassist William Parker, and rockers Neil Young and Violent Femmes.

The sound of Spiritual Unity was/is rejected by many as primitive and unformed, but its unrefined nature is its beauty. Ayler taps into the earliest form of music, collective improvisation. Form and structure give way to emotion. While academy trained musicians miss the point, children listening to his music naturally pick up on its clarity and open, unassuming approach.

Ayler (like Ornette Coleman before him) withstood the criticism and pressure of critics and his fellow musicians, and carved a path through this "New Thing." He was to die just six years after this date (at age 34) under mysterious conditions, his body found in the East River.

Spiritual Unity is a trio record unlike any trio to date. Bassist Gary Peacock, who we know from Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio, doesn't so much keep time as freed the fires of Ayler's free folk jazz playing. Peacock bridged from his work with pianists Bill Evans and Paul Bley into this open expression with Ayler. Hearing him bow lines on "Spirits" or pull energy bombs on "Ghosts" is akin to watching a boxer working out on a speed bag. The same holds true for drummer Sunny Murray who eschews the presumptions of pulse for accent. His cymbal work sizzles throughout.

Ayler's marches, his folk-jazz and New Orleans brass sound was (is) an audacious and indomitable approach to music making that was both revolutionary and an "ah-ha" moment in the development of free jazz of the 1960s that still resonates loudly today.

John Mills-Cockell - 1974 - A Third Testament

John Mills-Cockell
1974
A Third Testament
 


01. Yasnaya Polyana 3:09
02. The Sands of Jutland 2:17
03. Voices in Westminster Abbey 2:54
04. The Sad Trumpets of Albion 3:02
05. Innocence and Experience 2:58
06. Vision of Fire 1:37
07. The Age of Discovery 3:02
08. Berlin Cabaret 2:13
09. The Prisoner of Tegel 3:29
10. On the Heath 2:28
11. North African Glandiator 4:09
12. All Things That Hve Breath 1:18
13. Sunset at Nurnberg 2:00
14. Winter Farewell (Dedication to Leo Tolstoy;) 6:51



After a stint in the avant-garde mixed media project Intersystems in 1968 and forays into the rock forum the following year with the Kensington Market in Toronto and the lesser-known Hydro Electric Streetcar out in Vancouver, electronics composer John Mills-Cockell formed the groundbreaking, though criminally ignored, Syrinx in 1970. This led to a pair of LPs, the meandering synthwork of 1970's Syrinx and the follow-up Long Lost Relatives, which contained the perky moog moments of 'Tillicum', a chart hit for the band at #37 and the soundtrack to the CTV series Here Come the Seventies.

The years 1972-74 were spent across the pond in Europe, with Mills-Cockell soaking up old world influences for the recording there of A Third Testament, the score to the CBC/Time-Life series of the same name. A Third Testament was a six-part series exploring issues of faith and religion through the likes of St. Augustine, Kierkegaard and Tolstoy among others, and the music here reflects the depth of the series, grafting pipe organ and choral elements onto Mills-Cockell's trademark moog tinkering. As with most soundtracks, what would normally be fully-fleshed out pieces are mere snippets, with many tracks clocking in at under three minutes. And though this "incidental" nature of the music is disappointing, A New Testament would anchor a long and fruitful career for Mills-Cockell composing for film and the theatre.

Syrinx - 1971 - Long Lost Relatives

Syrinx 
1971 
Long Lost Relatives


01. Tumblers To The Vault (3:26)
02. Syren (5:57)
03. December Angel (8:58)
04. Ibistix (8:04)
05. Field Hymn (Epiloque) (2:52)
06. Tillicum (1:54)
07. Better Deaf And Dumb From The First (2:54)
08. Aurora Spinray (3:26)

- John Mills-Cockell / synthesizer, keyboards
- Doug Pringle / saxophone, bongos, bells, guiro
- Alan Wells / congas, timpani, gong, tambourine

Additional musicans:
- Milton Barnes / string section director


A masterwork which against all odds, prevails up to this day.

Against the odds of sharing their name with 2 other bands, being way, way ahead of their time music wise and coming from a not exactly "Electronic nor Avant Garde/RiO" country like Canada in 1971 (Tim Hecker and Aidan Baker came much later ).

Not to make a big fuzz, but this work would have been by far, more appreciated in the more "open-minded" , Avant Garde and RiO sub-genre.

It deals a fair amount of synths and electronics, but basically, its music structure is not exactly electronic-like based or better yet, it is the perfect balance between both sub-genres (although the RiO spirit outweights the electronics.)

John Mills-Cockell who makes his synths sound like "real" strings (not joking), headmaster of this SYRINX, had an electronic project in 1968 which went by the name of "INTERSYSTEMS" , which only release appeared the same year, by the same name. So it is undisputable, that Syrinx has an "electronic" upbringing. But bandmate Doug Pringle's bold, , strong yet subtle saxophone lines, makes this kind of "magic blend" happen. In short, in this, their second 1971 last release, they went for all the marbles. (of course the percussions of Malcolm Tomlinson and Alan Wells (deceased November 3, 2010), build up this alternate structure.)

Daring, original, genial, well balanced, way ahead of their times in both sub-genre's musical composition language and absolutely unpretentious. The mark of the true geniuses

Syrinx - 1970 - Syrinx

Syrinx
1970
Syrinx



01. Melina's Torch (2:59)
02. Journey Tree (4:48)
03. Chant For Your Dragon King (10:22)
04. Field Hymn (1:46)
05. Hollywood Dream Trip (5:15)
06. Father Of Light (2:14)
07. Appalosa - Pegasus (11:34)

- John Mills-Cockell / synthesizer, piano, organ
- Doug Pringle / saxophone
- Alan Wells / drums, gong



The history of SYRINX began in Toronto in the late 60's with musician John MILLS-COCKELL; his first musical endeveaours started out in avantgarde electronic group called INTERSYSTEMS with which he recorded three albums by the year 1970. Later on he moved to Vancouver and joined HYDRO-ELECTRIC STREETCAR, which is when he met with percussionist Alan WELLS. With producer Felix PAPPALARDI on their side they began recording tracks for the new album and recruited Doug PRINGLE as a saxophone player when they moved back to Toronto.

The first album was released in the 1970 which blended electronic, pop and world music where MILLS-COCKELL was able to express his talent for both orchestral and electroacoustic music. Group gained much exposure from live performances where they were among the first Canadian musicians to use Moog synthesizers, some of their most intensive tours being in the early 70's with Miles DAVIS on 'Bitches Brew' tour. Other efforts of the group included writing music for theaters and one memorable single has come out of a television theme song called 'Tilicum' for the series 'Here Come The Seventies'. The second album encountered problems when an accidental fire destroyed their studio, but a benefit show helped them out in getting on their foot again. 'Long Lost Relatives' was released in 1971 and was more theatrical then their debut, with several songs on the album making up a greater composition called 'Stringspace'; while 'Tilicum' entered Canada's RPM charts in the top 100, and peaked at #38.

Afterwards they toured with addition of Malcolm TOMLINSON on drums and vocals, and they had shared the stage with big acts like DEEP PURPLE for example. The group disbanded in 1973 after members got involved with their separate projects; John MILLS-COCKELL continued making electronic music as a solo artist and like PRINGLE worked with film music. PRINGLE eventually became a successful producer for all kinds of media projects and is still making music, WELLS unfortunately passed away in 2010.

The 2 record prog/electronic canadian legend begins.
Yeah! That's it, only 2 albums!

This first one, self-titled "Syrinx" 1970, started the whole thing on its right foot. It is unmistakable, the kind of music "artists" propose, opposed to the "artistic" kind. The love for art itself, demands an interior discipline, which has no accomodation, for banalities like God money's rat-race. It is unmistakable, when musicians just compose, perform, record and release, because that is the natural cycle in any art form. Money is only parasitic in this part of the process, what follows is your choice.

Anyway, the freedom of creation in this kind of efforts, would be impossible to achieve without a clear notion of your own art. John Mills-Cockell had a very clear picture of to where he was heading music wise. This first album offers as a whole, a very serious amount of possible paths, so well attained, that this one , as their next effort, are hard to pin down to a single prog sub-genre, but also, kind of have to think of more divisibles to this equation.

All in all, it is more electronic in comparisson to its younger brother. It explores single-handedly (with a soloing synth), creative "metamorphical" melodic textures, which seem to have been stripped away of any kind of useless "electronic" paraphernalia, so many artist were tempted to use in that great era of "new" electronic gadgets.

No, on the contrary, in the true spirit of an artist, he will never sacrifice composition for mere innovation. Therefore intelligent compositions of attractive melodic lines, that move alongside a subtle almost invisible train of distant and hypnotic percussions, which never stop being creative yet low-keyed. Doug Pringle's sinuos and enchanting sax appears and disappears with elegance throughout the whole project (thus the connection many make of Syrinx also to the modern prog/Jazz scene).

A flawless, low-keyed, no paraphernalia, straight to where it matters, even though nobody notices, progressive/electronic masterwork. Which crosses over to other prog sub-genres, once in a while, in perfect balance!

Kensington Market - 1969 - Aardvark

Kensington Market
1969
Aardvark



01. Help Me
02. If It Is Love
03. I Know You
04. The Thinker
05. Half Closed Eyes
06. Said I Could Be Happy
07. Ciao
08. Ow-Ing Man
09. Side I Am
10. Think About the Times
11. Have You Come to See
12. Cartoon
13. Dorian

*Keith McKie - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
*Gene Martynec - Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards
*Luke Gibson - Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Watson - Percussion, Drums
*Alex Darou - Bass
*John Mills-Cockell - Keyboards
Guest Musicians
*Felix Pappalardi - Organ, Trumpet, Piano, Bass



By the end of the 1960s, the psychedelic-rock revolution was peaking. Dream-laced lyrics and trippy effects, including distortion, tape-loops, echoes, delays and phase shifting, were rampant. Adventurous musicians were busy employing a new array of instruments to conjure up kaleidoscopic sounds. The Beatles, leaders in the new music, had already introduced the sitar on Sgt. Pepper’s and the Mellotron on “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The year 1969 saw numerous bands tripping out with delightfully freaky albums, including Skip Spence’s Oar, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers and The Moody Blues’ On the Threshold of a Dream.

During the winter of ’68, the members of Toronto’s Kensington Market were dreaming up their next psych-rock move. The band had already garnered praise for its debut album, Avenue Road, both at home and in America and Japan, where a picture sleeve of “I Would Be the One” had been issued. And several of its songs featured sitar. But now the group was looking to expand its horizons with new songs by singer-guitarists Keith McKie and Luke Gibson and guitarist-keyboardist Gene Martynec. Help would come from a close encounter with a Moog Synthesizer, a futuristic piece of equipment that had made its debut appearance that year on a classical album called Switched-On Bach, by electronic composer Wendy Carlos.

The Market’s members were introduced to the land of Moog and its strange and wondrous sounds by their road manager, Bart Schoales, who was an enthusiastic fan of Intersystems. An experimental, mixed-media Toronto group, Intersystems was comprised of sculptor Michael Hayden, architect Dick Zander, poet Blake Parker and musician John Mills-Cockell, whose instrument of choice was the Moog. Excited by the prospect of adding a synthesizer to its next album, the Market—including bassist Alex Darou and drummer Jimmy Watson—invited Mills-Cockell to join them in the studio. The marriage of the Moog’s alien sounds with the group’s latest songs would prove to be a freakishly fruitful partnership.

Avenue Road had been recorded in New York’s Century Studio, which suited producer Felix Pappalardi at the time. The New York-based Pappalardi had just finished recording Cream’s best-selling Disraeli Gears and had quickly become one of America’s hottest producers. But for the Market’s next album, Pappalardi liked the idea of setting up shop at Toronto’s Eastern Sound studio, right in the heart of the Yorkville hippie district. “For Felix, it was a real adventure,” recalls Bernie Finkelstein, the Market’s manager. “Everyone in the band was living around the village, just a few hundred yards from the studio. And we could record a little, walk down the street, drop in at a coffee house, have a drink, talk to friends and just hang out. Felix loved the whole neighborhood vibe of it.”

Sessions for the new album at Eastern began in earnest. All three of the Market’s principal songwriters brought forward strong new material. McKie had several fully formed songs, including “Is It Love,” “Think About the Times” and “Half Closed Eyes,” a Renaissance-style ballad with imagistic lyrics about a winter’s day. McKie, Martynec and Gibson all co-wrote songs, either with each other or with Pappalardi, who was bringing his skills as an arranger and multi-instrumentalist to the sessions. And even Finkelstein got in on the act, co-writing the technicolor feel-good number “Cartoon” with Martynec. Experimentalism—not to mention the group’s hallucinogenic diet—fuelled everything. “It may sound arrogant today,” says Martynec, “but at the time we felt we were pursuing art rather than trying to fixate on making hits. The music world was a bit more experimental then and you really could try new things.”

A distinctive Sgt. Pepper influence showed up on several tracks, including the psychedelically-enhanced “Side I Am.” For the song, an epiphany about a stoned-out chess game, Pappalardi added some distinctly Pepper–ish trumpets to Martynec’s piercing guitar and the mellifluous harmonies of Gibson and McKie. Martynec, meanwhile, created a medieval mood on “If It is Love,” by conjuring up a harpsichord-like sound on his keyboard. And “Said I Could Be Happy,” with its skipping, ? beat, is a gentle daytime reverie with Beatle-esque lyrics: “She’s all free fall lately on the moon,” sings McKie, “Sunshine on my mind above the afternoon.”

The recording sessions took their most adventurous turns on tracks featuring the Moog. Mills-Cockell extracted a slow, unearthly groan from the instrument to compliment Gibson’s plaintive cry on “Help Me.” The oscillating synthesizer creates an almost vertigo-inducing thrum on the track, as Gibson sings about climbing and slipping and needing a helping hand. And it added a haunting swirl of sound on “Half Closed Eyes.” Some of its most other-worldly sounds showed up on “Cartoon,” where Mills-Cockell crafted a mind-boggling assortment of spacey effects.

Having the analog Moog in Eastern Sound Studios was like having a proverbial elephant in the room. “It’s not like today, where equipment is digitized and small and you just have to push a button and there’s sound automatically,” explains McKie. “The Moog was this huge monstrosity, with large, modular components and all kinds of plug-ins. It looked like one of those old telephone switchboards. And John would plug in various jacks and eventually he’d draw out the most extraordinary sounds.” Added McKie: “Sometimes the sounds were absolutely gorgeous and almost impossible to describe—like angels dancing on a skating rink.”

Mills-Cockell’s $18,000 Moog made its historic live debut on March 22, 1969 at Toronto’s Rockpile, where the Market premiered the newly recorded songs from its forthcoming album, Aardvark. Opening for the band was Leather, a Yorkville group that featured the Market’s roadie Schoales. More than 900 people gathered in the former Masonic Temple to hear the Market perform both familiar songs and its latest material. Unfortunately, the sound mixing at the Rockpile failed to capture the Market’s thrilling new sound with the Moog. “Much of its effect was lost in poor sound balance,” wrote Globe and Mail reviewer Ritchie Yorke, who noted that some people in the audience, baffled by the new electronics, left before the concert ended.

The Market had greater success when it returned to the Rockpile two months later, in May, to coincide with Aardvark’s release. Appearing with Edward Bear in between dates by supergroup Rhinoceros and just two days before The Who made its Rockpile debut, the Market thrilled its audience with a triumphant showcase. The band played the Rockpile once more that month, appearing with Grand Funk Railroad, along with Milkwood and Leather. Then, in June, the Market performed before the largest audience of its career in June at the city’s Varsity Stadium, in front of over 50,000 people at the Toronto Pop Festival, joining a lineup that included Steppenwolf, The Band, The Byrds, Tiny Tim and Blood Sweat & Tears.

All of these appearances with the band’s secret weapon, Mills-Cockell’s dazzling Moog, helped to promote the group’s daring new album, which featured the avant-garde work of celebrated graphic artist Bruce Meek. Why did the band choose to call it Aardvark? “We liked the fact that the word was high up in the alphabet,” chuckles Martynec. “Avenue Road got listed near the top of the Warner Bros. catalogue. We thought with Aardvark it’d be right at the pinnacle.”

Ultimately, the Market’s heavy use of hallucinogens, LSD and MDA in particular, took its toll. Another attempted tour of the U.S. ballrooms proved a disaster. “It’s all a bit of a blur now,” admits Gibson. “Everyone was pretty stoned in those days and we didn’t live anywhere. We were just in hotels and on airplanes constantly, so that was hard. But, mostly, people were just doing a lot of drugs and that causes a lot of confusion.” Finkelstein agrees. “I think the drug culture got the best of the band,” he says, “and it got the best of me to some degree as well.” Within a year of Aardvark’s release, the band was disintegrating.

Finkelstein and Gibson left Yorkville and moved out to the country to live on a commune in Killaloe, Ont., 200 kilometers north of Toronto. McKie carried on performing as a solo artist. Martynec, who’d been inspired by Pappalardi’s musicianship and studio skills, set his sights on production work. Watson and Darou disappeared from the music scene altogether, with the former going AWOL while the latter met a tragic end. Darou retreated to his Yorkville crash pad, plunged into an apparent deep depression and never came out. He was later found dead of starvation.

The Killaloe dropouts eventually returned to Toronto. Finkelstein formed True North Records and launched the recording careers of Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan and Gibson, who reunited his band Luke & the Apostles briefly, before releasing a fine solo album, 1972’s Another Perfect Day. Martynec went on to become one of Canada’s most successful record producers, working on albums by Cockburn, McLauchlan and others. Mills-Cockell formed the electronic rock band Syrinx and released two groundbreaking records on True North and scored a cult hit with “Here Come the Seventies.” Schoales, meanwhile, became an award-winning designer of True North album covers.

Kensington Market made its mark as Canada’s quintessential psych-rock group, a band of hippie musicians from Yorkville with lysergic dreams of greatness. Born during the Summer of Love in 1967, the Market released two classic albums before dissolving as the Sixties gave way to the Seventies. Aardvark, one of the first rock recordings to embrace the sonic possibilities of the Moog, is the sound of a band venturing deep into pop music’s outer limits. It’s a significant legacy to have left behind: an album that takes the listener on a journey to the far-off corners of the mind, a place as wild and wonderful as any fantasy novel or Fellini film. So sit back, slip on the headphones and roll ’em if you got ’em. The Aardvark adventure is about to begin.

Kensington Market - 1968 - Avenue Road

Kensington Market
1968
Avenue Road




01. I Would Be The One
02. Speaking Of Dreams
03. Colour Her Sunshine
04. Phoebe
05. Aunt Violet's Knee
06. Coming Home Soon
07. Presenting Myself Lightly
08. Looking Glass
09. Beatrice
10.Girl Is Young 


*Alex Darou - Bass
*Keith McKie - Guitar, Vocals
*Jimmy Watson - Drums, Sitar
*Gene Martynec - Guitar, Piano, Vocals,
*Luke Gibson - Vocals, Guitar



Kensington Market (named after a street market in the city’s west side) was formed initially to promote the song writing talents of English-born Keith McKie (b. 20 November 1947, St Albans).

McKie’s musical abilities first came to prominence after his family had emigrated to Sault Ste. Marie in northwest Ontario in 1953 when he began singing in local church choirs. Learning the guitar in his teens, he formed his first band, the Shades, with fellow guitarist Bobby Yukich.

When the Shades broke up, McKie and Yukich next pieced together the Vendettas with three members of rival group, Ronnie Lee and the Five Sharps - sax player John Derbyshire, drummer Bob Yeomans and bass player Alfred Johns, who soon made way for Alex Darou (b. 6 January 1943, Sault Ste. Marie), a former student at the Oscar Peterson School in Toronto.

Several years older than the others, Darou had recently come off the road with a jazz trio helmed by Geordie MacDonald, later drummer with Neil Young’s short-lived group Four To Go. Darou’s intellect and musical abilities had a profound influence on the rest of the band and Keith McKie in particular. “Alex taught us a lot about feels and jazz and kinda got us really aware of time,” says McKie about his future Kensington Market band mate.

In the summer of 1965, the Vendettas accepted an invitation to audition for singer Ronnie Hawkins, who’d been passed the group’s tapes by Mary Jane Punch, a female fan studying in Toronto. The promise of a deal with the singer’s Hawk Records never materialised but the band did get to play some dates on the local bar circuit. By this point, John Derbyshire had made way for Toronto University music graduate, Scott Cushnie. An accomplished pianist, Cushnie ended up playing with Aerosmith’s road band during the 1970s. Towards the end of the year, Bob Yeomans also moved on to join the A-Men, and was replaced by a 15-year-old drummer from Thunder Bay named Ted Sherrill.

Returning to Toronto the following spring, the band gigged regularly at Boris’ Red Gas Room and during June 1966 recorded two McKie-Yukich songs - ‘Hurt’ c/w ‘You Don’t Care Now’ for a prospective single. For some reason, however, the single never materialised, prompting Alex Darou’s departure for New York to work with David Clayton-Thomas. The group never really recovered from losing its inspirational bass player, and although Wayne Cardinal from Satan and the D-Men came to the rescue, McKie’s thoughts turned towards forging a new musical path, one where he could promote his increasingly introspective and anecdotal songs.

Such an opportunity arose in the spring of 1967 when aspiring rock manager Bernie Finkelstein approached McKie and offered to build a group around him. Finkelstein was on the look out to launch a new, progressive band after selling his interests in the Paupers to Bob Dylan’s manager Albert Grossman. In fact, it had been Paupers’ guitarist and lead singer, Adam Mitchell, who’d first told him about Keith McKie and encouraged him to check out the talented singer/songwriter.

“At one point I was living with Steve Gervais, who was later a successful actor, in a station wagon and he wanted to be my manager,” says McKie. “But it seemed like Bernie was the better deal. In retrospect, and in spite of the fact that Bernie was really good, I probably should have stayed with the guy I was with at the time because it would have been more fun in the long run and more organic. Bernie had a lot of experience and that was probably a smart move to make if you were being a business person.”

First on the list for the new band was Gene Martynec (b. 28 March 1947, Coburg, Germany), a brilliant guitarist with a Polish/Ukrainian background, who’d recently quit local folk/rock band, Bobby Kris & the Imperials after two singles for Columbia Records.

Intersystems - 1968 - Free Psychedelic Poster Inside

Intersystems 
1968 
Free Psychedelic Poster Inside

 


Tracklisting on Original LP

01. Untitled    6:35
02. Untitled    5:32
03. Untitled    1:55
04. Untitled    7:52
05. Untitled    9:08
06. Untitled    8:23
07. Untitled    1:32
08. Untitled    4:11
09. Untitled    5:27

Tracklisting on LP Reissue

01. Mirror Maze 06 :25
02. Red Strobe, Green Strobe 05 :09
03. Blue Strobe 02 :14
04. White Strobe 02 :20
05. Changing Colours 03 :54
06. Floating Room 07 :29
07. Pastoral 08 :23
08. Fog Room 04 :28
09. Kaleidoscope 06 :37
10. Confetti Room 02 :51

John Mills-Cockell
Blake Parker
Michael Hayden
Dik Zander

First released in 1968 as a privately pressed 30cm 33 RPM LP.
Cover design based on the original album art by Michael Hayden.
The title is also given in French ["A L'Interieur Un Poster Psychedelique Gratuit"] on the booklet cover, but nowhere else.



As the experimental electronic duo Intersystems, synthesizer pioneer John Mills-Cockell and performance poet Blake Parker put out three records in the late 1960s: the relatively acoustic Number One and the synth-laden Peachy for Jack Boswell's Allied Records in 1967, as well as the self-released Free Psychedelic Poster Inside the following year. The totally futuristic sounds on Free Psychedelic... were actually part of an architectural installation at the Mind Excursion Centre in Montreal on July 8, 1968 involving Michael Hayden (album art design and lighting for installations) and Dik Zander (architecture for installations).

The nine untitled tracks on Free Psychedelic... take Mills-Cockell's experimentation - an ambient array of humming, pulsating and oscillating synthesizer sounds - and set them as backdrops to Parker's spoken word narrations. Parker wryly introduces us to "a plastic boy and girl. His name is Gordie. Her name is Renee", who are thrust into the ordinary world of love, marriage, suburbia, drudgery, etc. Meanwhile, Mills-Cockell wrings sundry squeals and drones from his synths, unsettling sounds that must have been anathema to the peace-and-love world at the time.

Parker pressed on for some forty years with his post-Beat poetry until his passing in 2007. And after a brief stint with well-known hippie faves the Kensington Market on their sophomore Aardvark LP, Mills-Cockell would go on to form the criminally ignored electronic trio Syrinx, releasing their spacy debut on True North in 1970. A less-pricy though equally hard-to-track-down CD version of Free Psychedelic Poster Inside was reissued on the German Streamline label in 1994.

Intersystems - 1967 - Peachy

Intersystems 
1967 
Peachy


01. Experienced Not Watched    3:01
02. Carelessly Draped In Black    2:18
03. Draped In Fluorescent Orange    1:58
04. Grand Piano    3:45
05. 2 Apples    1:50
06. Assortment Of Lead Pipes    3:45
07. Ear Splitting Trumpet    4:57
08. Music Growl & Scream    2:06
09. Fred & Harry Finding Guns    1:59
10. For Two To Four    0:47
11. Fancy Took Them    2:53
12. From The Game To Pluck    3:58

John Mills-Cockell
Blake Parker
Michael Hayden
Dik Zander


Intersystems is a Canadian experimental and musique concrete group whose music, despite being released as early as 1967, still defies specific classification. Peachy came out in late 1967, after their previous 1967 album “Number One”. The combination of Blake Parker’s dystopian narratives and John Mills-Cockell’s flittering sound collages and noise experiments create a heartless and fantastical world that is as self-aware as it is nihilistic. The album opens with the resonant dings of bells and banging of pipes, along with a low organ. The track later drops off into sounds of shuffling, which ping pong across both headphones. The next track picks up where the previous left off, featuring more of the same with the addition of the sounds of an old record being played, and some groans growls made directly into the microphone. Noisy, brutish cackles can be heard in the background emerging.
Blake Parker begins speaking on this track, but the stories do not truly start until the beginning of the fourth track, Grand Piano. The stories involve a boy and his friend finding a cave in the country full of guns, which spark the interests of the primeval villagers from their town. However, the story is told several times over, each ending and beginning in a different way. They often end abruptly, and they mostly feature the same characters. Along with the main cave story, several other short pieces are recited; dealing with everything from a boy feeling intense shame for being such a poor hunter that he is starving to death, to a description of a room that is recounted in the most eerie and unsettlingly emotionless way. At the end of each vignette, Blake claims bluntly that “The story has been told. It has ended. It is the end.”

Peachy is horrifying and unique, yet strangely accessible for its genre.  Its tales show Intersystems’s fascination with termination and brute insanity.

Intersystems - 1967 - Number One

Intersystems 
1967 
Number One
 


Tracklist on original LP
Side 69
A1    Lately    3:03
A2    Vox 3/13/67    14:56
Side F
B1    Orange Juice & Velvet Underwear    3:00
B2    Blackout Mix    16:14

Tracklist on Reissue (Same music, differently tracked)

01. Orange Juice and Velvet Revolver
02. Just Outside of Lyons
03. Mother of Inconsequential Babies
04. In a OneRoomed House in the Woods
05. Bored
06. This is a Dictum Against...
07. I've Got this Town, This Town Has Got Me
08. Lately There Has Been A New Spring
09. Tired Bells
10. Vox 3/13/67

John Mills-Cockell
Blake Parker
Michael Hayden
Dik Zander


Drug induced wild electronics by John Mills-Cockell and trippy outsider narrative by Blake Parker. Psychedelic environments that Intersystems created (for example, the Mind Excursion Center) during the 1960's, with the time-capsule effect as reported by the media including the Toronto Telegraph and Time Magazine. (The Mind Excursion Center by Michael Hayden and Intersystems, was the pre-cursor to the Electric Circus in NYC, also designed by Michael Hayden.

"until her thighs smell of the one true rose in a tin bucket on my roof."

That's how "Lately" ends.

I could hear Throbbing Gristle all through "Blackout Mix", and I could hear the deranged drone madness of Cale and Reed's early Velvet stuff on "Orange Juice and Velvet Underwear". You'd think the latter would be a pastiche, going on the title. But I'm not even sure Intersystems (or anyone but a handful of people nationally) had even heard of the Velvet Underground when this was recorded. Mind you, "The Velvet Underground and Nico" WAS recorded before this was, but it was released after.

The interesting thing about this group is that they seem to have shattered a long-standing rule in musique concrete and tape music: you're either one person, or you're an institution. That realm of classical had never been infringed on by "some guys". The only thing even nearing a traditional group structure doing collective musique concrete and tape stuff was the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and they were LITERALLY an institution.

Is this, then, the first indie electronica album? Does anybody give a shit?

I dunno. What I do know is that the insanely surreal and at-times frighteningly aggressive spoken word passages through the album act as a kind of vessel to latch onto during the haze, much in the same way that free jazz for me becomes significantly more approachable with something nearing a steady drumbeat. Something to latch onto in the chaos.

Pôle - 1975 - Kotrill

Pôle
1975
Kotrill



01. Kotrill 16:35
02. Osiris 3:30
03. Villin-Gen 20:52


* Eric Dervieu - Bass
* Christian Rouch - Vocals
* Marc Azad - Guitar


'Kotrill', by Pôle is one strange, avant garde, heavy as a terminal illness, synth concrete LP.

A little backstory: Started in 1975 by the husband and wife team of Paul Putti and Evelyne Henri, Pôle Records put out some of the most challenging records of the 1970's; some just as good, if not better, than their 'Krautrock' contemporaries in Germany.

Early on, Pôle Records was also home to 'Pôle' the band (although it was more a collective than a band proper), consisting of label head Paul Putti, Thierry Aubrun, Daniel Bodon, Jean-Louis Rizet, Eric Dervieu, Christian Rouch, Marc Azad and Pierre Chavigny. Paul Putti is the only constant for both albums, though he doesn't play on all the tracks (for example, Daniel Bodon's only appearance is his solo composition 'Osiris' on 'Kotrill').

SO! On to the review:

The titular track - 'Kotrill' - is sixteen plus minutes of synth screaming, delay effects, pounding backwards proto-drum machines, reversed vocals, sub basement bass throbs, pitch shifting acoustic drum attacks and other assorted sci-fi apocalyptic insanity.  The track is pretty thrilling for the more adventurous listener and an absolute deal breaker for the majority of the populace. 

The second track 'Osiris' (by Daniel Bodon) is like 'Kotrill' as a new born:  The synth screaming is still there, but higher pitched, the bass rumbling returns, but all of the ephemera, the voices, the drums, the effects, the corruption if you will, is gone leaving an... atonal innocence.

The third track, 'Villin-Gen', is a sidelong two note / chord drone with pulsating organ like tones orbited by jabbering square wave space junk and kept alive by a colossal heart beat.  Ultimately, it sounds like a barbiturate addled Terry Riley until about thirteen minutes in, when someone turns on an electric sink. A hymn to the god flow from said sink follows until it's drowned out by the returning space junk, ready to crash land in your ears.  All the while that heart keeps beating...  

For those of you who enjoy CAN at their furthest reaches of outré meltdown, Conrad Schnitzler records from the period, or NYC's Excepter will certainly get pleasure from this.


The obscure French Pôle label produced a varied and often experimental range of LP’s in the mid 1970’s, which have since become sought-after items of high interest amongst the small group of record collectors who are aware of them. An air of mystery has surrounded the label and many of the artists who recorded for it. A fair portion of the music released on this label was highly original, experimental and ahead of its time.
Pôle was established and managed in Paris by an entrepeneur named Paul Putti, with his wife Evelyne Henri. Aiming at attracting attention by confusional tactics, Putti made the first release (this one) himself with others, under the group name ‘Pôle’. Several following albums released on the label had this name prominently on the cover alongside the artist’s name, even when totally different musicians were involved, creating further confusion about what was the label, what was the band, and what was the album title! The label released 15 LP’s from 1975-1977, which were sold door-to-door by students and other young people in the poor neighbourhoods of Paris. Presumably some were sold through the mail in small numbers to music vendors in other countries, where some of the records have ended up. At least some (and probably all) of the musicians who recorded for the label did not get any royalties from albums sold, and after this short period of activity the label went bust. Putti went on to found a porn mag named ‘Pulsion’ which apparently did quite well. Many of the Pôle label releases were shortly after reissued on the Tapioca label, but many of these suffer poor sound quality at least in part. I have been told this was due to the use of acetates shoddily ‘remastered’ from the original vinyl, or something like that. On the other hand, many Pôle pressings I have bought or borrowed, that appear to be in near-mint condition, still often don’t sound as clean as they look, at least in part (ie. some tracks or an entire side will be pretty crystal clear, whilst others suffer from lots of high-end distortions on louder trebly bits; a fair bit of surface noise also seems to be common).
Note: although catalogue release numbers for the label run from 0001 to 0020, 0016-0019 were never released as far as I know.
Pôle ‘the group’ was not really a proper group, but rather a loose assemblage of experimentalists (note: there’s a more recent group or person around using the name Pole, and I think they do some kind of techno, but they’re nothing to do with this lot). Initially this consisted of Paul Putti, with the aid of like-minded friends or associates. On ‘Kotrill’, the first release for the new label, Paul Putti contributed to tracks 1 & 3, Thierry Aubrun tracks 1 & 3, and Daniel Bodon track 2. Instrumentation credited on the sleeve was synthesizers, magnetic tapes and treatments, but without noting who did what.
‘Kotrill’ featured pretty rudimentary black & white hand drawn artwork, with a few photos of the group members (or are they just different-looking pictures of Putti alone?) stuck on for good measure. In the middle was the drawing that would grace the label of each Pôle release to come – the sketch of a long-haired person reaching up with one black-sleeved arm to push a button. What it’s meant to signify, if anything, is beyond me – it may be intended to be similarly meaningless as the choice of band and label name. The back cover was just French text written out in pen on a plain white background.
The album featured three tracks (2 of them very lengthy). The title track ‘Kotrill’ [16:35], opening side one, is an abstract slab of weird electroacoustic experimentation that is the most obvious inspiration from this album for Nurse With Wound, who listed Pôle in their notorious list of influences, and it also sounds a bit like the obscure Finnish experimental group Sperm, who are included in the same list. It sounds rather like they were making it up as they went along, and they probably were, but it’s a fascinating sonic stew regardless. Beginning with stereo backwards machine-like sucking sounds looping away, it soon fades and gives way to an ominous wavering drone straight out of an eerie horror movie, and the backwards loop sounds drop back in and out of the mix. The drone builds in creepiness, a primitive rhythm machine joins in, followed by a crappy taped drum loop and various other low synth throbs murking about. There’s backwards melting vocals, everything is rising and falling, like a sea-sick ship of dead souls floating through dark fog to damnation and madness. After a while the darkness fades and it’s just weird, instead of weird and dark. The middle of this track sounds to me like a primitive precursor to parts of Boredoms bassist Hanadensha’s album ‘Acoustic Mothership’, and then fades out to frenzied drumming over electronics that could be a peek into Can’s ‘Tago Mago’. ‘Osiris’ [3:30] concludes the side, with subtle gong strokes setting a slow pulse under rising and falling oscillators and freaky tones. All up a pretty subtle affair.
‘Villin-Gen’ [20:00] takes up all of side two, and is more synth-drone-based, slow and minimal. It’s still dark-ish in a low-key kind of way; perhaps sombre is a better description. There’s not much in the way of changes here except for the backing electronic sounds passing by slowly like deep sea fish freaks, with the main synth only ever really hitting the same two chords throughout the first half of the piece. Perhaps Terry Riley would have sounded like this if he was really into tranquillisers... This is definitely a track for late at night when you want to start shutting down your brain ready for sleep, not that it’s boring (though some people would probably say it is), but rather pleasantly calming and soporific without being saccharine or clichéd. Around the 13 minute mark everything falls away to a slow heart-beat click loop, before growing back with a shimmering drone and the sounds of trickling water, and suddenly we’re washing in a brook or waking up in a daze in the bath with the tap running, take your pick. The drone gives way to an alien operating room and the water sounds fade like a nitrous oxide hallucination, and for the remainder of the track we’re lying there unable to move, pleasantly drugged and anaesthetised while the interdimensional beings do their tinkering and take notes. Then, that wasn’t too painful was it, they’ve finished up, fly off to whatever loophole they came out of, and leave you with your heartbeat ticking away, comfy in your own bed and ready for a good sleep.

The original LP is pretty rare, and remains to be reissued on CD. After this, Pôle the group made one more album (see review for ‘Inside the Dream’), though the label of the same name continued to release albums for a couple of years, some of which as mentioned above were presented in such a way as to make them appear to be also by the group Pôle – such as the Besombes-Rizet and Henri Roger albums. Julian Cope's Head Heritage
Included into highly acclaimed NWW list

Pôle - 1975 - Inside The Dream

Pôle 
1975 
Inside The Dream 
 


01. Inside The Dream (24:48)
02. Outside The Nightmare (14:44)
03. In The Mäelstrom (4:37)

* Eric Dervieu - Bass
* Christian Rouch - Vocals
* Marc Azad - Guitar

* Arranged By, Effects:
Arp 2600 - Paul Putti
Arp 2600 - Jean-Louis Rizet
Arp 2600 - Pierre Chavigny.




Hazy outsider French Acoustics and Electronics released on the legendary Pôle label in the mid 70s. Properly dedicated to friends Heldon this record sits in a similar synth drone realm. But the first track is a beautifully soft acoustic affair that makes me think of the Charlambides.
“To start, "Inside The Dream” by Pôle the band / collective is a completely different beast from it’s predecessor, “Kotrill” (both 1975). Not just musically but, beyond synthesist and Pôle records major domo Paul Putti, the line up is entirely different. Where “Kotrill” started with it’s title track exploding out of the speakers in a synthoid götterdämmerung, “Inside The Dream” begins with an acoustic tranquility. A mellow folk riff (Michael Azad) rises into focus and is joined by a sopping wet electric guitar (Paul Putti) and near subliminal bass (Eric Dervieu). Then a smooth pleasant vocal (Christian Rouch) follows “Walking inside your dream now / So sweet, so cold / Watching your face in rainbows” . As so it goes, but somewhere along the line the electric guitar decides it’s sick of playing nice and forces it’s way into the front of the mix; if that means it’s completely out of key and pushing the needle into the red - so what? The following track, ‘Outside The Nightmare’ (solo composition by Jean-Louis Rizet) is more in keeping with ‘Kotrill’ in that it is based in the realm of synthesizers, but if ‘Kotrill’ was the soundtrack to the apocalypse, then ‘Outside The Nightmare’ is most certainly the soundtrack to the post-apocalypse. You may have lived through the worst, but you’re not out of the woods yet, kid. The third and final track, ‘In The Mäelstrom’, bleeds in from ‘Outside’, the sound of acceptance of the horrible turn the world has taken, and the will to face it, come what may. Slashing synths (courtesy Mssrs. Putti, Rizet, and Pierre Chavigny) march along with our hero, bloodied but unbroken. Along with “Kotrill”, “Inside The Dream” fee

Cromagnon - 1969 - Orgasm

Cromagnon
1969
Orgasm
 


01 Caledonia 3:42
02 Ritual Feast of the Libido 3:25
03 Organic Sundown 7:13
04 Fantasy 7:15
05 Crow of the Black Tree 9:45
06 Genitalia 2:42
07 Toth, Scribe I 10:33
08 First World of Bronze 2:32

Austin Grasmere (lead vocals, music)
Brian Elliot (lead vocals, music)
Connecticut Tribe:

Peter Bennett (bass guitar)
Jimmy Bennett (guitar, bagpipes)
Vinnie Howley (guitar)
Sal Salgado (percussion)
Nelle Tresselt (honorary tribe member)
Mark Payuk (vocals)
Gary Leslie (vocals, multi-sound effects)




Yeah sure, everybody prattles on about these so-called “fucked up” records alla time to the point where the term loses its edge entirely. Is it REALLY fucked up, or does it merely offend the sensibilities of the same twits who have built little Ikea record collections based on MTV or “hipness”? Shit, some people think Ween or John Zorn is/was way out there, whereas I find them to be disposable pap that stole its soul from early Zappa (former) or Carl Stalling’s work on Warner Bros. cartoons (latter). Which brings me to an album that truly IS fucked up: Cromagnon’s ORGASM. Before I go too deep into scribing here, for history’s sake I’ll point out that this sucka appeared in 1968 on ESP-disk, mavericks among mavericks in the musick biz. They brought us Sun Ra’s HELLIOCENTRIC WORLDS, the first two Fugs platters, Albert Ayler’s SPIRITUAL UNITY, and of course, the entire catalog of proto-punk heroes, the Godz.

Now, when you stick needle into groove that is opener, “Caledonia,” you’ll immediately think you’re listening to Einstürzende Neubauten gone black metal… then you’ll realize you’re WRONG and that there were no reference points such as that available in 1968. Geezus! Is that an army of bagpipes making that infernal racket??! Wow! The next track, “Ritual Feat of the Libido,” is simply “Caledonia” slowed down to 1/3 speed; it makes yer hands kinda clammy… music shouldn’t scare ya right? Especially not the kind made by two guys who useta write bubblegum hits that woulda make Herman’s Hermits blush??! Ooops! Shouldn’t listen to those voices in your head: not only is it possible, that’s exactly what’s happenin’. And who are these mantra-chanting freaks cryptically referred to as their “Connecticut Tribe”? OK, you can’t see me, but I’m shrugging my shoulders nervously…

The Sperm - 1970 - Shh!

The Sperm 
1970 
Shh!




01. Heinäsirkat I 16:09
02. Korvapoliklinikka Hesperia 6:02
03. Jazz Jazz 8:49
04. Dodekafoninen talvisota 19:59
  Suite71
05. Bra bonata 6:02
06. Prem 2:48
07. Aktio bra 6:30
08. Con prix 3:23

- Pekka Airaksinen / electronic devices, guitar, tapes & effects
- Vladimir ?Nikke? Nikamo / guitar
- Antero Helander / saxophone



Originally released through unclear "O Records", this most coherent output from the Finnish capital based underground freaks has been reissued later on CD-R by Pekka Airaksinen's "Dharmakustannus" and also on vinyl by De Stijl label. The first side of the LP begins with "Heinäsirkat I" (Locusts I). This over sixteen minutes long ambient journey space starts with echo-delayed oscillations of a guitar and distant analogue electronic humming. These two sonic entities quietly entwine, and resemble a darker version from Galactic Explorer's or Tangerine Dream's "Zeit" aural landscapes. Later the darker humming evolves as more high pitched feedback, altering the start's serene sequence as more disturbing abstract musical stagnation, which later gains rhythm from volume pulsing. I would believe this song mostly documents Mr. Airaksinen testing his electronic audio generators and possibly doing a second track layer with a guitar over it. On "Korvapoliklinikka Hesperia" it is possible that Nikke Nikamo holds the awesomely roaring low-pitched guitar, at least he has been credited as a composer for this track. It is also possible that the played instruments are also here done by Airaksinen, and the members of the collective participated to the creation process of these tracks with some other mysterious manners. However, the appearing celestial carpet of sound from this reverbed instrument unites with unearthly brilliance of electronic devices and excerpts from official-sounding radiobroadcast, which I believe are from traffic guidance systems of either taxis or emergency patrols, the final phrase stopping to location "Korvapoliklinikka" (an ear dispensary). The B-side spins forward with "Jazz Jazz", freely flowing saxophone solos casting shadows over electronic acoustic walls of tones, staying on very minimalist groovy level. The composition has been credited for Ilkka "Emu" Lehtinen, who later committed to prosperous record dealing and music business, and Antero Helander, who I believe played the saxophone. Mr.E. Kuitunen is also credited from the composition. The final long track "Dodekafoninen talvisota", who also has Nikke Nikamo credited as a composer, stands for twenty minutes lasting aural collage of percussions, noises and ambient humming. All this concludes as an album certainly worth of recommending for collectors of vintage avant-gardist psychedelic electronics, delivered from the iconic Finnish underground pioneers.

The Sperm - 1968 - 3rd Erection

The Sperm 
196
3rd Erection




01. 3rd Erection
02. Hero
03. Pillow
04. Staffstaff

- Mattijuhani Koponen / vocals and random instruments
- Pekka Airaksinen / guitars

with P.Y. Hiltunen & Isä McDullan



The Finnish underground movement started to formulate after JIMI HENDRIX's year 1967 concert at Helsinki's Kultturitalo venue, and as the news from Monterey's hippie concerts stranded to the far-away arctic peninsula. On that year art critic J.O. Mailander, film director Peter Widén and musician Pekka Airaksinen formed a group named as "Pyhät Miehet" (Holy Men) in Helsinki. Later that year the group was joined by writer and performer Mattijuhani Koponen, who would be a clear leader of the collective establishing its final name SPERM. Along with Turku-based group SUOMEN TALVISOTA, they were the true pioneers of 1960's underground movement in Finland.

Though the few recorded music albums along with some fuzzy photographs are the only available documentations of SPERM's artistic activity, they were witnessed to commit to all kinds of happenings, stage plays, festivals, performances and concerts. Their dadaistic and aggressively chaotic primitive approach was a new thing in a civilization with severe mental scars from the early 20th century wars, but most shocking impact of their activity were their focus to sexual themes, aggressive opposing of formal society's standard values, and open adornment of the shunned weed-smelling lifestyles related to hippie movement.

In the actual happenings, the musical elements were atavistic bellowing, random usage of pianos, flutes and self-constructed instruments, and all these being united to pre-recorded tapes following the logics of free association. Especially these recorded sequences and the early electronic ambiences on SPERM's musical appearance were mostly created by Pekka Airaksinen. These tonal concepts were freely adapted to analogue visual installations and acted performances. Music to one of these theater productions, "Sisyfos" from 1968, is preserved on Pekka Airaksinen's album "One Point Music" released 1972. From the levels of atonal chaos related to the SPERM's philosophy, the early album "3rd Erection" possibly gives a most correct hint, having Mattijuhani Koponen whipping out vocal free flow, and Airaksinen testing new tuning possibilities and playing methods of electric guitar.

The group's members got quite much publicity from their provocations, and Koponen was convicted to jail in 1969 from the obscenities of both performing a poem at an United Nations event dressed only to a wool cap and socks, and performing a sexual copulation with a woman upon a piano as part of a performance; A deed which was later claimed to be an acted out event without real penetration. In 1970 after Koponen was released from the prison, SPERM grouped for live concerts with Heikki Hietanen on keyboards, Nikke Nikamo (early WIGWAM) on guitar, and Wando Suvanto playing drums. After touring Finland they recorded their most known album "Shh!" with Pekka Airaksinen, and his impact to the record was possibly stronger than the musical ideas borne from the live band's road trips. Later Airaksinen and Koponen were involved with a band SAMSA-TRIO doing more serene psych music, captured to an album released year 1972. During that time the rock scene in Finland had evolved further from underground avantgarde and commercial pop towards more non-political mainstream rock, left-wing political singing movements like AGIT-PROP, progressive rock acts with lesser anarchistic motives (WIGWAM, TASAVALLAN PRESIDENTTI etc), and transcendental psychedelia taking refugee to PEKKA STRENG's visionary albums. Though Pekka Airaksinen would continue his hermetic musical career actively, walking towards paths of Buddhism and new age avantgarde impressionism, the story of SPERM was eventually over.

The most significant impact of this group in my opinion was its sociological commitment; Being a fundamental part on the local movement which broke the stagnant mental atmosphere of post-war Finland, made the needs of demonizing both open sexuality and disagreement of social standards by practicing these misdeeds more minor. These pioneers had to pay the price through legal martyrdom, and after this reveal for the society that their shunned activities had not caused any harm, and through pragmatism the basis for moral hysteria was thus lowered. In my own personal contemplation the gained tolerance from authorities to such vulgarities and open disagreements of existing political system are signs of both civilisation and sophistication from the leaders, and the co-existence of these opposing forces strengthen the standards of practiced democracy, allow alternatives and choice of freedom for the citizens, and prove the tolerance of the state rulers following The Spirit of The Enlightenment.

Musically their 1968 freak out record could be admired as good artifact among the other similar albums on global scale, and their "Shh!" album a recommendable target for collectors of vintage avantgarde electronic psych recordings. The adorers of anarchist global hippie revolution movement might be interested of this group, being the persons doing this stuff at the early days in a small distant Nordic country. About the group's name, in many international occasions it has been formulated as THE SPERM, but the original Finnish name is simply SPERM.


This is a bit more along Godz lines than the weird electronic-influenced drone-rock they perfected two years later, but it's certainly entertaining and still VERY good. The title track (also available on the wonderful Arktinen hysteria: Suomi-avantgarden esipuutarhureita compilation) sets the tone for the EP, with weird and warped guitar mangling backing up some truly odd vocals. Basically think of a Finnish Nihilist Spasm Band and you have a good idea of what's going on here.

What does this sound like? Imagine some poor sonofabitch sat around off his head on LSD strumming a crap guitar and rasping into an even crappier microphone and you'll have a pretty good idea, though most of this simply cannot be described. What the hell is going on in "Staffstaff"? Answers on a postcard please.

You could say that this is ahead of it's time. That might sound like a cliche, but it seriously sounds like he's using a desktop mic and they didn't have that technology in 1968. And i'm sure i'm not the only one who detects some traces of Black Metal here and there.

Listening to this makes you sorry for the poor suckers who think that Frank Zappa was the weirdest musician in the 60s. This is so weird I had play it again after it had finished just to make sure that what i'd just heard was real. And it is real, I didn't imagine it. I think.

(And I did have an erection while listening to this, thank you very much.)

Mayo Thompson - 1970 - Corky's Debt to His Father

Mayo Thompson
1970 
Corky's Debt to His Father



01. The Lesson 2:42
02. Oyster Thins 6:04
03. Horses 3:14
04. Dear Betty Baby 3:52
05. Venus In The Morning 2:33
06. To You 2:52
07. Fortune 2:14
08. Black Legs (Mayo Thompson, Ricky Barthelme) - 3:54
09. Good Brisk Blues 3:11
10.Around The Home 2:55
11.Worried Worried 5:02

Mayo Thompson - Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Frank Davis - Fiddle Guitar, Timpani
Roger Romano - Percussion
Joe Duggan - Piano
Mike Sumler - Slide Guitar, Bass, Tenor Saxophone
Le Anne Romano - Baritone Sax
Chuck Conway - Drums, Bongos, Percussion
Jimi Newhouse - Drums
Carson Graham - Drums
The La Las - Backing Vocals
The Whoaback Singers - Backing Vocals


Mayo Thompson's  first album was produced in Houston, Texas in 1970 by Thompson, Frank Davis and Roger 'Rocket' Romano for the short-lived but nonetheless legendary Texas Revolution label of Walt Andrus.

Though pressed and advertised in the pages of Rolling Stone, the demise of the label meant the album went largely undistributed until the mid 1980s when Glass Records (London) gave it its first proper release. Coming as the sun set on the first psychedelic rock era, Corky's Debt evokes the early days of acoustic blues, but is already in the maelstrom from which punk rock would emerge just a few years later.

The set features innovative performances by some of Houston's finest musicians of the time playing eleven songs by Thompson -- one with Frederick Barthelme, with whom he started The Red Crayola. They represent a broad range of expressive manners and forms. Made to stand with the finest comparable work of the period, Corky's Debt shows Thompson at his most accessible.

Unique ballads, blues, rock and love songs flow one to another with style, grace and intensity, and the handling of diverse popular-music idioms and language that characterize his more widely known work in The Red Crayola are also to be found. The line between genius and madness is very thin.

The line between a million dollars and nothing is also very thin. Had Corky's Debt been heard back then, today, if someone mentioned Astral Weeks, you might say, 'It does?' The beat lives on."

The Red Krayola - 1968 - God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It

The Red Krayola
1968
God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It




01. Say Hello To Jamie Jones   
02. Music   
03. The Shirt   
04. Listen To This   
05. Save The House   
06. Victory Garden   
07. Coconut Hotel   
08. Sheriff Jack
09. Free Piece   
10. Ravi Shankar: Parachutist   
11. Piece For Piano And Electric Bass Guitar   
12. Dairymaid's Lament   
13. Big   
14. Leejol   
15. Sherlock Holmes
16. Dirth Of Tilth   
17. Tina's Gone To Have A Baby   
18. The Jewels Of The Madonna   
19. Green Of My Pants   
20. Night Song

Steve Cunningham – bass
Tommy Smith – drums
Mayo Thompson – guitar, piano, vocals


Amongst the thousands of dissertations, portfolios and anthologies that slide across my desk claiming to classify epochs and develop new historical methodologies and schemas, there's one thesis I don't believe I've ever heard proposed in any of these texts: The 60s were fucking nuts. Like seriously.
The historian Alice Echols claims that the culmination of the 60s occurred at the infamous Rainbow Ricochet soiree on May 8, 1967. And indeed, it's difficult to combat any party (let alone that epic bacchanal) that found Timothy Leary, Otis Redding, Abbie Hoffman, Betty Friedan, Stanley Kubrick, Twinkle and the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Alan Boyd hovering (literally, according to some eyewitnesses) around a punch bowl that packed enough wallop to send eleven attendees home in body bags. The sheer wackiness must have been astonishing, righteous, revolutionary and filled with enough permanent brain atrophy to run for prime minister. Any lingering devotees of the 1980s still insisting that "well, um, that Frehley's Comet album was pretty crazy for too, uh, often as well" better pack up their belongings and go home. Fuckin' illiterates. Learn to read.
And yet, there was an even more momentous day in the marshmallow-sky twirling unicorn massacre we call the 1960s. In March 1967, The Red Crayola walked into the studio and spent a day making one of the most visionary album of the year, The Parable of Arable Land. It's a band that has no idea how to play its instruments. In fact, they don't even know what instruments are, or if the guitarist has the ability to remain conscious long enough to play whatever it is a "note" might be. Shattered psalms, wobbling percussion courtesy of poet Frederick Barthelme, patently overused echo chambers, and the clumsiest staircase bassline in garage history smashes into a bunch of clopping machine men as Mayo Thompson croons out the only serious line in his entire career: "I have in my pocket a hurricane fighter plane."
And that's just one of the actual songs. The "free-form freakouts" are about as fervidly psychotic as anything in any genre. This is a band that was paid ten dollars to stop a performance in Berkeley. If Berkeley's not having it, you know you're in for rough sledding. (Think amplified "Revolution 9" or the more scandalous Sun City Girls' field recordings.) Kazoos, tribal race riots, steamrolled radios, irate circus barkers, distressed toddlers, and spy themes assail each other over crackling soda pop. And then there's those oscillations and extravagant mouthfuls of static that are so heavy you may as well tattoo fake PCP lips onto your skull and shoot yourself in the legs because you thought the act of shooting a gun was the object chocolate worship goalosphere itself. And in the middle, Thompson hollers out "Woo-hoo!" like he actually thinks he's rocking out. He is mistaken; this is not a rockin' trip. It's a mind-milkshake where everyone's friends are dead in abscesses of lunatic incompetence at an epic pitch of stoner rock doom. How could it possibly get any more chaotic? Oh... I don't know. How about if you put Roky Erickson on an organ and told him to pretend he didn't have any hands? Yes, that does the trick nicely.
A year later and a drummer short, Thompson recruited Tommy Smith to make something their label, International Artists, might actually accept after the botched release of Coconut Hotel. This is not to say God Bless the Red Krayola is particularly accessible. First of all, they spell their name incorrectly. This may seem like a feeble move, perhaps even stupid, but let us recall that misspelling is #1 on the making-crazy-music-for-its-own-sake to-do list. For all the laudations heaped upon the Krayola by the punk and post-punk crowds, it might as well be bootleg Einstürzende Neubauten at its grimiest atonality and infuritating double integral time signatures: "The Shirt" and "The Jewels of Madonna" are vicious gorges brimming with abrasive wire-cutting, pop-gun propulsion, and whimpering, receding vocals.
That's not to say there aren't memorable "songs" here: "Say Hello to Jamie Jones"' stark drumming and lulled vocals are relentlessly dry and stoical, and the hilariously out-of-sync back-up singing on "Save the House" is the experimental rock version of call-and-response performed by stoners with Tourette's syndrome. The catchiest song might be the lost-love reverie of "Victory Garden", except the protagonist is Hitler patched onto what we'll have to call an "angular bop jam band" simply to get out of it intact. "Ravi Shankar: Parachutist" is delivered with such convulsive sincerity, the lengthy interruption by a flickering middle school choir's scales seems both disingenuous and ravenously insane. Most songs are under two minutes. Many more are under one. If your temperament's not what the 19th-century scientist Eberhard Wilkson called "amicable and shrewd through divertissement," this will be an interminable slog through everything that was ever bad in underground rock. It's indulgent, poorly recorded, entirely befuddled in its own crazy aesthetic, existing solely to counter the mainstream and prove they don't care about gloss, significance or talent. And, like Trout Mask Replica, it will feel like a halfway decent comedy album the first few times you listen to it. Persistence will pay off.


The Krayola would disband shortly after this release (and a lost double-album with John Fahey) only to reform in the late 1970s to sustain a legendarily spotty three decades of releases. The great Pitchfork meta-raconteur, Nick Mirov, once concluded a review of a recent Red Krayola album by noting that it has "nothing to do with entertainment. Or even art." Granted. Unfortunately, that's many people's definition of truly great entertainment and art. Way back when, no one wanted to call Duchamp, Michelangelo, Mozart or the Queen's portraitist "artists," either. The Krayola's legacy is surely bolstered by their location in rock history-- simply put, this was likely the most experimental band of the 1960s-- but until we've caught up with them, this remains essential listening for fried brains of all creeds.

The Red Krayola - 1967 - The Parable Of Arable Land

The Red Krayola
1967
The Parable Of Arable Land



01. Free Form Freak-Out   
02. Hurricane Fighter Plane   
03. Free Form Freak-Out   
04. Transparent Radiation   
05. Free Form Freak-Out   
06. War Sucks   
07. Free Form Freak-Out   
08. Free Form Freak-Out   
09. Pink Stainless Tail   
10. Free Form Freak-Out   
11. Parable Of Arable Land   
12. Free Form Freak-Out   
13. Former Reflections Enduring Doubt

Rick Barthelme – drums
Steve Cunningham: – bass guitar
Mayo Thompson – guitar, vocals

Additional personnel
Roky Erickson – organ ("Hurricane Fighter Plane"), harmonica ("Transparent Radiation")




Red Krayola (formerly The Red Crayola) was a psychedelic experimental rock band from Houston, Texas, formed by art students at the University of St. Thomas (Texas) in 1966. The band was led by singer/guitarist and visual artist Mayo Thompson, along with drummer Frederick Barthelme (brother of novelist Donald Barthelme) and Steve Cunningham. Their work prefigured punk, post-punk, indie rock and the no wave scene in 1980s New York City.

They made noise rock, psychedelia and occasionally folk/country songs and instrumentals in a DIY fashion, an approach that presaged the lo-fi aesthetic of many 1990s US indie rock groups. Reviewing the band has produced conflicted results - in an extremely positive review from Pitchfork Media, critic Alex Lindhardt wrote "It's a band that has no idea how to play its instruments. In fact, they don't even know what instruments are, or if the guitarist has the ability to remain conscious long enough to play whatever it is a 'note' might be."[1] He added, "This is a band that was paid ten dollars to stop a performance in Berkeley. If Berkeley's not having it, you know you're in for rough sledding."

Thompson has continued using the name, in its legally required permutation The Red Krayola, for his musical projects since.


In 1966 the band signed to International Artists, home label to fellow psych-rockers The 13th Floor Elevators that was run by Lelan Rogers (brother of country musician Kenny Rogers). In 1967 the label released the psychedelic album, Parable of Arable Land, featuring six songs by the original three members interwoven with a cacophony generated by approximately 50 anonymous followers known as The Familiar Ugly who appear on a number of noise tracks called Free-Form Freak-Outs. 13th Floor Elevators frontman Roky Erickson also makes guest appearances on "Hurricane Fighter Plane" (playing organ) and "Transparent Radiation" (on harmonica). The album's title track was a tape loop of electronic sounds with musical improvisations layered on top of it, a sound that foreshadowed the Red Krayola's second recording.

The album Coconut Hotel was recorded in 1967 but rejected by International Artists for its lack of commercial potential because of its complete departure from the full-sounding guitar/bass/drums/vocals rock sound of the Red Krayola's first album. Coconut Hotel featured such self-described tracks as "Organ Buildup", "Free Guitar" and a series of atonal "One-Second Pieces" for piano, trumpet and percussion. The album did not see release until 1995. During this period, the band performed a concert in Berkeley, California where they attached a contact microphone to a sheet of aluminium foil that was set under a block of melting ice; this performance is captured on Live 1967. The Red Krayola also performed with guitarist John Fahey and recorded an entire studio album of music in collaboration with him, but label head Lelan Rogers demanded possession of the tapes and recorded documentation of those sessions has been missing ever since.

The band's second album to see release (and the first to be released with the new "Krayola" spelling) was 1968's God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It. God Bless presented a middle ground between Parable of Arable Land and Coconut Hotel, having veered away from the cacophonous psychedelic approach of their first album, but performing short, minimalist songs on electric guitar, bass and drums (interspersed with occasional a cappella harmonies and piano interludes) to achieve some surprisingly melodic results and even more surprisingly off-kilter lyrics. Hints of the as yet unheard music on Coconut Hotel also revealed themselves (the track "Listen To This" is a one-second piece with spoken introduction, and "Free Piece" sounds like an outtake from Coconut Hotel). The album was not as well received as the band's first release and the Red Krayola's original lineup disbanded.

In 1969, Thompson recorded a solo album called Corky's Debt to His Father for a small label called Texas Revolution. The album, which has come to be regarded by many as the unheralded jewel of the Krayola catalogue, is devoid of Thompson's usual avant-garde indulgences, and consists instead of ten lyrically dense but warm-hearted pop songs, in various styles - Dylan-inspired blues-rock, Tex-Mex pop-rock with psychedelic touches, and early country rock not dissimilar to the contemporary work of Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Thompson was backed by studio musicians on the album and none of his usual Krayola (or 13th Floor Elevators) cohorts appear.

What I love about Parable is that it's NOT 'avant-garde for the sake of being avant-garde'.  Parable of Arable Land BALANCED it well: 6 avant-garde songs, 6 pop songs. 

I like free improv and AMM and Luciano Berio and Bruno Maderna and all that stuff.  So I admit a personal bias.  However:

1) I find it funny how Parable is lumped in with 'psychedelic rock.'  It's funny because it's true, and yet none of their other albums wax psychedelic in the least.  Also, Mayo Thomson is one of very few people to be active -- musically -- in both post-punk (he played with Pere Ubu) and psychedelia.  I've never met the man personally, but I'd wager that Mayo's neither a hippie nor a punk.  I think he's an art critic. 

2) This album was recorded in mono.  I can't verify this 'cos I'm not a collector (though I do recreational perusal of popsike), but I'm pretty sure the mono version has never officially been reissued on vinyl, CD, cassette, or any other format.  Why is this important?  Because the stereo version is FAKE stereo, only this is the ONE case where I don't mean FAKE pejoratively.  All that crazy delay you're hearing, and all the phasing, is intentional/artistic/mandatory-for-legal-reasons-or-whatever.  It's come to be associated with psychedelic music, sure, but I think Mayo was cavalier, if not disinterested, about the mastering process.

All things considered, Mayo Thomson is an odd bird who led a great group of 3 musicians (himself included) for one album.  Coconut Hotel is not that album.

God Bless... is far more normal than Coconut Hotel.  I haven't even rated it and I probably won't.  It's minimalist, it's proto-post-punk - so it (e.g., "Dairymaid's Lament") sounds sparse, fast, catchy, and 'econo' like the Minutemen, but it literally came BEFORE the Minutemen, hence the two counter-referential prefixes.

Coconut Hotel is so unmusical ('avant-garde sui generis' if and only if 'unmusical'?) that it makes God Bless... sound normal.  Of course, history and context ALSO make God Bless... sound normal.

But this album is the ONE album where Mayo, Steve, and Frederick (and about 50 other 'ugly' people) pulled it off.  A true oddity, indeed.

The Nihilist Spasm Band - 1968 - No Record

The Nihilist Spasm Band 
1968 
No Record
 



01. Destroy The Nations    8:00
02. When In London Sleep At The York Hotel    5:30
03. The Byron Bog    10:40
04. Dog Face Man    7:20
05. Oh Brian Dibb    4:00
06. Destroy The Nations Again    12:30


Bass [3½ String Electric] – Hugh McIntyre
Clarinet [Slide Bass] – Archie Leitch
Guitar – John Clement
Guitar, Drums – Murray Favro
Kazoo – J.B. Boyle
Kazoo, Drums – Greg Curnoe
Vocals, Theremin – William A. Exley



Nihilist Spasm Band was formed in London, Ontario in 1965 and soon became one of the weirdest music collective to the present day. Back in the late '60s music became flooded with flower power fashion and everyone tried to join a 'rock'n'roll' band, but there were still a lot of groups who didn't care much about the fashion and tried to take their own music to the next level. Among them were experimental bands like Red Krayola, Cromagnon and a lot of others. Nihilist Spasm Band was even weirder than aforementioned groups and I can barely imagine a teenager, professor or anyone in particular buying their record solely because of the cover artwork, which looked pretty bizarre. Purchaser probably expected some innocent novelty record – but what happened next probably shocked them. We are talking about 1968, remember that. Sure you had a lot of freak'n'roll music around, but mostly people were used to regular radio friendly music (not that today is any better, even worse).
From the very start of their album you can hear loud growling voice screaming: "Destroy the Nations. England is dead! Destroy America. Sheuggghhhh on Canada!". You can only imagine how the recent LP owner felt when hearing this.
In the following interview we will go through their musical journey. They are still active after so many years. The beginning can be attributed to Greg Curnoe (1936-1992) (among other factors), who was a film director and wanted to do a soundtrack for his upcoming 16 mm film.
Curnoe decided to do something unconventional and bought a lot of kazoos and gathered some friends to perform free-improvisations using aforementioned instruments. They realized they are enjoying improvisational performance and after soundtrack was made, they built larger kazoos and added one-string acoustic bass and also an unusual drum set. They made another step and plugged everything into electricity. Soon they added electric guitars, electric violin, theremin and everything that they felt it was cool. Even building weird instrument like 'noisemaker' and stuff like that didn't stop them. They went further, recorded and toured in places like Paris and London, but most of the time they were really an obscure collective of friends, playing whatever they liked and that is the main reason why I find them as one of the most interesting groups.
I have always been a lover of improvisational music. I think a lot of people have whole different perception when it comes to improvised or experimental music. Technical ability is highly regarded among most of the regular listeners, but for me that is not important aspect of music; meaning that I truly believe music is an extension of individual performer who is translating the language of his soul or emotion into the language of music and when everything is made without any restriction or intention, catharsis is possible. To understand music you don't need any education, because music is the language we all can understand. We will always cope with obstacle of moral nature, which individual listener is experiencing while listening to music and his perception of understanding.

"NO" is a fine word to use in the advancement of the musical form. Say "NO" to accepted conventions,"NO" to corporate rock, "NO" to popularism.This record says a big "NO" to all of these things, and more;maybe even to itself!
Like biological evolution, where spontaneity and random actions lead to something better and beautiful; improvised "music" on improvised instruments lead to something similar.
If one had an infinite number of Nihilist Spasm Bands, we would end up with everything from Mozart's 40th to a Tony Conrad one note drone,or even "The Birdy Song".
Its NO coincidence that AMM and The Nihilist Spasm Band evolved at the same time,and have record covers with an inordinate amount of yellow on them! Evolution has a habit of producing a similar version on different continents,in different ways; and its also no surprise that it took both groups a decade to get another recording out. The new and unpopular is always shunned by the thronged masses, until it has either died or disappeared,or something even less desirable has evolved. The rise of Punk Rock related artworks in the late seventies made these groups seem relevant and even intellectual,when compared to the anti-intellectual stance of the charting Punks. A new market for extreme music rose from the ashes of the New Wave, and we could even be seen buying the new albums from AMM and that Nihilist Spasm lot.
What greater up yours to corporate rock could one have? A group that,in addition to the DIY home-made instruments, the members are encouraged to improvise,and the range of the improvisation is such that instruments are not tuned to each other, tempos and time signatures are not imposed,and the members push the ranges of their instrumentation by engaging in constant innovation.
Ahhhhhh, Freedom!

Nice interview

AMM - 1988 - The Crypt - 12th June 1968

AMM
1988
The Crypt - 12th June 1968





101. Like A Cloud Hanging In The Sky?    45:21

201. Coffin Nor Shelf    45:36
202. Neither Bill Nor Axe Would Shorten Its Existence    18:08

Guitar, Electronics, Artwork – Keith Rowe
Percussion – Christopher Hobbs, Eddie Prévost
Piano, Cello – Cornelius Cardew
Saxophone, Violin – Lou Gare

Recorded at the Crypt, Lancaster Road, London W11, 12th June 1968.
Previously released (two editions) as a two-album box set with music duration of just over 78 minutes. This is the first release of the complete session.



This early AMM double is one of their most highly-regarded.  Compared to the handful of other early AMM albums I own, it definitely falls into their "early" period--very noisy, a lot of feedback, and the audio fidelity is not exactly superb (but much better than on AMMMusic).  It's so hard to rate albums by AMM, since they exist almost completely apart from most other music genres.  To me, this album features the most homogeneous sound of all their releases I own--the album art ingeniously captures the sound of the first half of the show: it's a whole lot of screechy noise in which it's extremely difficult to differentiate instruments from each other.  What's so compelling, though, is the texture; since there are multiple instruments involved, it's constantly changing, fluid and undulating.  These guys are the masters at what they do.  The second half is still pretty noisy, but it hints more toward where the group was going later in their career, toward the more varied dynamics of albums I really enjoy like Generative Themes and Combine + Laminates.  So, the album's staticky sound is a bit of a drawback, but it's also one of the coolest things about it--since part of the point of free improvisation is actually hearing it only once in the unrepeatable moment, I'm sure the 40 minute expanse of feedback and high frequency was an incredible experience in which the homogeneity made the passing of time a very different feeling.  If you can't get in the mood, though, it's boring in addition to being potentially very irritating.  Therein lie my small complaints--I can appreciate this release, but there are other AMM albums for which I'm more often in the mood.

UPDATE: I've now wholly embraced this as a great album, though you still have to be in the mood.  Wrote a much more rhapsodic review here. 
Excerpt:
"Noise"-haters, please exit through the wings--I'm not here to argue about whether or not this is "noise" or music, nor am I here to apologize for the characteristics of the sounds contained here; I wholly understand that most people probably won't enjoy how this sounds, but the validity of the assertion that someone can and does enjoy this isn't up for debate.  Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but one great thing about being an AMM fan compared with loving Captain Beefheart and Trout Mask Replica is, for the most part, you don't have a chorus of sanctimonious people telling you that you're lying about liking how it sounds--even fewer people give a shit about AMM.