Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mirthrandir - 1976 - For You The Old Women

For You The Old Women

01. Number Six
02. Light Of The Candle
03. Conversation With Personality Giver
04. For You The Old Women
05. For Four

Bass, Flute – James Miller
Drums – Robert Arace
Guitar – Alexander Romanelli
Guitar – Richard Excellente
Keyboards – Simon Gannett
Vocals, Trumpet – John Vislocky III

Originally recorded at Vantone Studios. W. Orange NJ 1975

Mirthrandir's roots go back to 1973 when New Jersey based drummer Robert Arace, keyboardist Simon Gannett, bassist James Miller, and lead guitarist Alexander Romanelli started jamming. Over the next couple of years the group when through a series of personnel changes, eventually expanding to a six piece with guitarist Richard Excellente and singer/horn player John Vislocky.  

Unable to interest a major label in their wares, in 1975 the band decided to go the independent route, forming their own Mirthrandir label.  After extensive, five day a week rehearsals the band went into West Orange New Jersey's Vantone Studios recording 1976's "For You the Old Women".  As most folks would have probably guessed from the band name, these guys were interested in old fashioned progressive moves.  Exemplified by material like the opening instrumental 'Number Six' and the title track these songs were full of complex melodies, time changes and challenging arrangements.  These guys were exceptional instrumentalists with Excellente and Romanellin providing considerable octane with their twin lead guitars.  In the role of lead singer Vislocky had one of those high pitched pseudo-Geddy Lee-styled voices that you either loved or hated (though his performances tended to grow on you).  Interestingly while lots of reviews compared them to Genesis, King Crimson and Yes, I'd suggest Gentle Giant was a more accurate comparison.  Perhaps not a major point, but at least to my ears, like much of the Gentle Giant catalog, these guys weren't as shrill or outright experimental as Crimson or the Yes family of pretense.  Sure, tracks like the group penned 'Conversation with Personality Giver' were complicated and certainly wouldn't do much for garage rock fans, but by the same token these guys understood the concept of melody (check out 'Light of the Candle', or Gannett's synthesizer moves on the opening moments of the extended 'For Four').  That may also be one of the factors that made this an album that tends to sneak up on you.  For whatever reason, it's one I've transferred over to CD-R and occasionally play on rainy Sunday mornings.

America was a relatively minor contributor to 70's progressive rock, but even amongst the genre's short roster of American bands there were two well-established schools of thought.  There were those groups who found mainstream success by recasting British symphonic prog in a somewhat poppier, AOR-influenced light (Kansas, Starcastle), and then there were those groups who crafted challenging eclectic prog that owed as much to Frank Zappa or jazz fusion as to any British source (Yezda Urfa, Happy the Man).  Mirthrandir fall firmly into the later category, and as with many such bands they toiled away in obscurity before releasing a single ill-received record at the end of the prog era.  For You the Old Women is that sole release for this long-active New Jersey-based group, and is considered by many to be a leading "lost gem" of classic prog.  I'm significantly less enthusiastic about this release than many diehard progheads, but still recognize a surprisingly mature debut whose quality vastly outpaces its footprint.  Stylistically, Yezda Urfa is the clearest comparison for Mirthrandir's sound.  This means that they present a self-consciously difficult and occasionally quirky potpourri of British prog titans like Gentle Giant and Yes.  The album definitely runs toward the "eclectic" end of the prog spectrum and, although I'd never categorize it as experimental/avant prog, it's a chaotic mix of styles with numerous abrupt transitions.  Also unconventional are the vocal stylings of John Vislocky, whose strained tenor spends most of the album on the verge of falsetto-esque screeching.  An acquired taste to say the least, and a potential deal-breaker for many vocals-sensitive listeners.  For You the Old Women does deliver a handful of refined symphonic prog-inspired segments, especially over the slower-building instrumental bridges, but if you're looking for "epic-sounding" symph prog you'll probably be disappointed by the relatively hook-less nature of many of the themes.  On the flip side, lovers of challenging and occasionally discordant prog should be suitably impressed; amongst such fans, I suspect that For You the Old Women will stand alongside Yezda Urfa's Boris as a favorite of American prog.

Mirthrandir's eclectic style seems far better suited to extended tracks, seeing as they give the band the room necessary to flesh out their highly non-linear compositions.  "For Four", the album's fifteen minute closer, is the best demonstration of this and eventually delivers what is undoubtedly the finest theme of the album over its final three minutes.  The title track is another extended cut with a lot to like, but even on that track meanders around a bit too much for me to consider it a highlight.  Special kudos still go to that track's successful incorporation of horns, which tend to overwhelm many such compositions but here perfectly complement the complex keyboard/guitar leads.  The record's three shorter selections are just as hit-or-miss as the title track.  "Light of the Candle" is the best of the trio, mostly because its idiosyncratic melody is tied together by a noticeably stronger (some would say more generic…) guitar/organ groove.  That leaves "Conversation with Personality", which sounds like a more scattered rehashing of the title track, and the especially aimless instrumental "Number Six".  With an inconsistent track-listing and only one potential highlight in "For Four", I can't grant For You the Old Women anything more than a "merely good" rating of 3.0 stars.  "Interesting yet unexciting" is the most succinct way to describe my overall feelings. Nonetheless, For You the Old Women is still a nice acquisition for any seasoned prog rock fan, given that you actually get your hands on it.

MIJ - 1969 - Color by the Number

Color by the Number

01. Two Stars 3:44
02. Grok (Martian Love Call) 7:03
03. Romeo & Juliet 3:19
04. Little Boy 4:18
05. Lookin' Out Today 3:32
06. Door Keys 4:48
07. Planet of a Flower 4:19
08. Never Be Free 4:23
09. Look Into the (K)Night 8:07

Recorded in 3 hrs, Jan. 12, 1969

MIJ (Jim Holmberg): vocals, guitar

MIJTo tell the truth I had no song written to do the high voice. So I just took some ideas from already made songs like 'run sinner man' and threw it all together right there in the studio. the High voice is not stable and the throat must be clear or I can't do it. so you can hear it break sometimes or I attempt to do it and only get a mid range falsetto. it is actually 2 falsetto ranges. the first is weak and when the second one kicks in it is strong and carries 6 blocks without a PA system. Bernard Stollman was on 11th street when he heard me singing in Washington square on 4th street. I gave my brother one of the albums and asked him if I can borrow it back. He sent it to me and I opened it up and the record was broken. I had no other copies. then I just thought I would google it to be shocked to see I'm all over the internet.
the reverb echo thing was a freak accident in a recording studio in North Hollywood. the effect was kind of a push pull of the system back and forth thing. we actually slowed it down to see what happened. and as you turn the tape you can actually see the right speaker coming out while the left speaker was going in ... totally 180 degrees out of phase. I was trying to create that in the studio with the Engineer and I thought it had something to do with the exact rhythm of the guitar that did it. that is why I tried to create that rhythm at the end of each song which made the songs longer. I did all the songs and suddenly on the last beat of the last song it happened. there was only one beat and it took off like a space shot and I just added to it. if it didn't happen on that last beat that would have been the end of that last song but it lasted a few more minutes after. I thought they were going to give me more studio time but they said "the whole thing is great ... just leave it this way". I had all these effects they've never experienced happen and now I'm looking at all the mistakes I made .... awwwwwhhhhhh ... but no one else seems to see the mistakes
and I had no chance to create a better song with the high voice.
the songs ... well everyone was trying to do Dylan or Donovan, biaz or something else. I just played around with words and made a few songs I already had that I never refined either ... hahaha ... so it came out how it did. I suppose people think I had some emotional experience from the accident ... that created all these ideas and feelings ... actually the best songs like planet of a flower came out of me in 20 minutes. I keep looking at the poetic genius of Planet of a flower and how all the parts fit perfect .... I still can't believe that song came out of me. and we couldn't get our songs out in those days, unless it was sex related or a protest song ... just take your album to a record company and he check 5 seconds on each track and say it isn't what he wants ... without ever hearing the high voice.

it is strange too ... I was only trying to see how high I could get my voice when it suddenly cracked into another falsetto range I never knew about ... that is my life ... a free spirit ... and it is exactly like that tarot card "the Fool" ... actually no one gets it too .... that is the same tarot card the Beattles sing about in "a fool on the hill .. a man with a thousand voices sitting perfectly still" ... you see the FOOL KNOWS .... that is the difference. ... though the rest of the world sees him as a fool ... his wisdom is beyond all comprehension ...

everyone added ideas to the album like the tarot card going through my head ... and Color Mij by the numbers ... haha ... and all the numbers are ZERO ... I've been to 20 countries and seen the world ... with a guitar in my hand a lot of times ... a lot of it happened like pure miracle .. where the money would suddenly show up or the ticket to take me there ....

but to tell the truth ... I will give you the real mystery ..... the one maybe they talk about ... that can't be explained ....

I went out of my body in a football game ... 200 feet over the field seeing the trees and buildings below me ... before I suddenly re-entered the body like a shock wave ..... but that instant of time looking down I suddenly KNEW ... .. and this is the strange thing about it .... this was TOTAL KNOWINGNESS ... I just KNEW that I KNEW EVERYTHING ..... but I didn't KNOW WHAT I KNEW ... I JUST KNEW I KNEW .....

so the rest of my life came in shock waves like this ....

I had spinal meningitis from the scull fracture of the motor cycle wreck .... I was rushed to LA county hospital from Lancaster California which was 70 miles north of Los Angeles with the highest spinal count of this disease that ever entered LA County Hospital. It can enter the spinal column if the seal around it gets broken. there were three others in the same room not near as high in spinal count than me died that night. The doctors didn't know what kept me alive ... My spinal count was dropping in halves every day for a month and I was out of the hospital ... the doctors couldn't explain why the spinal counts were going down so fast on just those penicillin shots in the spin they gave me.

so where does the astral stuff come from?????

there is a lot more that I can't talk about ... literally without everyone thinking you're totally nuts ...

one was this... I was half asleep in my bed when suddenly I was out of my body again but this time inside an operations room of a UFO .... and I KNOW the difference between OUT OF BODY and some real life like dream ... what is OUT OF BODY ????? .... it would be like BEING OUT OF YOUR BODY ... and what would happen???? NOTHING UNUSUAL REALLY .... except this one thing .... you can't feel weight like weight of the body .. you can't feel temperature ... humidity ... sweat ... none of it ... all sensations you would feel in a body are gone ... just like being in a complete void with full perception ....

what kind of perception .... well that was what I was about to find out ... some how everything in the ship was familiar to me ... suddenly the Gray got my attention and I could hear him like a kind of telepathy ... I could actually hear sounds ... but it was like he was putting the sounds in me .. I know because OUT OF BODY ... there was no sounds .. no EARS to hear them ... I turned and look at the gray with big oval black eyes and the telepathy was ... "I'm going to Heal you" ... he meant spiritually .... MY BODY WAS NOT THERE .... I turned and knew what he was going to do ... they will run some kind of data in me to change my future .... next I wake up in my room ... I saw the gray before I ever saw any movie that had this gray in it or before there were any photos of them anywhere ... so when I really did see a picture of one ... WOW what a shock .... coming back into a body kind of DULLS your KNOWINGNESS ...

And my future was changed .. I ended up in 20 countries practically by miracle ... and the money some how just showed up in some way or a ticket .... for the next 40 years .....

so what you want to know ????? Grays .... IT IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK ..... Grays are like those half robots dressed in white uniforms in star wars .... they are servants ... they are a cloned entity .. really so you're not going to get much information out about them .... a kind of humanoid .... which is much different than a spiritual line ... people have NO IDEA what I'm talking about either ... but we are looking at 2 kinds of spiritual entities here ... but spirits and ghost are total two different kinds of entities ... a ghost is a manufactured thought form given a personality like a dog or cat and some kind of survival instinct ... it learns things by repetition it can not create thought or new thought .. it can only operate on what it learns from repetition ... the other is a REAL spirit .. this kind of spirit can create new thought and practically anything else too ... these ghost actually were originally created by spirits to animate matter .... that is their main function ... make the heart beat and all that stuff .... so you wonder about the difference between them ... you can see it everywhere you go .... you see one dog ... and you have to keep repeating everything to even get him the idea of what you want him to do .... you get another dog and he can almost pick up your thoughts as you give them and just does it like go after a ball or something .... well this is also the same in life .... maybe it would shock you to know that some people do not have spirits ... they have a ghost that runs the body and a personality ... but they are somewhat robotic ... go to the same grocery stores .. do the same routines every day ... that sort of thing ... not so easy to teach ... but you can teach him with repetition and people with real spirits in them are artists usually making new things everyday ... or creating fantastic new inventions ....

all people have a ghost to run the body itself ... like heart .. .but not all of them have a spirit too ...

what am I trying to say here .... it is simple ...
you can kill plants ... and eat them and it doesn't seem to bother anyone .... but you can't kill humans so easy right ????

the difference is the ghost is a creation just like the earth and the stars and sun ... but a spirit is not a creation ... it has always been here from even before this universe ... so if you kill a plant or animal ... (with no spirit in it) it would be the same as trying to kill a rock ... they are creations .. they are not creators .... that is the difference ... so if you ever killed a dog who had a spirit inside ... maybe you still feel guilty about it .... but for the rest ... I hope this helps to let you know .... more of this universe .. if you did ... you would not feel so guilty about eating an animal ... would be no different than a plant ... depends too ... some animals like horses and dogs and cats HAVE a spirit ... so there is REALLY a BEING THERE to love ... not just a nothing creation

there is more ... and ALL OF IT YOU CAN KNOW


Jim Holmberg (born James Gary Holmberg) is an American singer and songwriter. His only album, on which he was credited as Mij ("Jim" spelled backwards), was released by ESP Records in 1969, and has been described as "one of the best and strangest cosmic folk records of the 1960s".[1]

Holmberg grew up on a farm near Salt Lake City, Utah, and attended military school in California. He was a keen football player and claimed to have had an out of body experience during one game. He started singing and playing guitar while in the US Navy, and after leaving became an itinerant folk singer. In the mid-1960s he had a motorcycle crash in Lancaster, California, which left him with a fractured skull and near-fatal spinal meningitis, after which he discovered a new falsetto singing range.

In 1968, he was singing in Washington Square Park, New York City, when he was heard one day by Bernard Stollman, the head of ESP-Disk. Stollman offered to record Holmberg, and his semi-improvised solo album was recorded in three hours on 12 January 1969, with recording engineer Onno Scholtze.The front sleeve of the album showed an outline portrait drawing of Holmberg, with the instruction Color by the Number, the title by which the album is sometimes known although in more recent years it has often been promoted as The Yodeling Astrologer, despite Holmberg's protestations that he was never an astrologer and does not yodel.

Eventually released in September 1969, the record was not commercially successful, and Holmberg disappeared from view for several decades. He worked as an electronic and computer technician in the aerospace industry in California and also spent several years in Japan.Until the album was reissued by ESP in 2009, he was unaware that it had become a cult collectors' item.

Les Fleurs de Pavot - 1968 - Les Fleurs de Pavot

Les Fleurs de Pavot 
Les Fleurs de Pavot

01. Super girl
02. La caresse du fleuve
03. Psycha bourrée
04. Le marchand d'amitiés
05. La force fait l'union
06. A dégager
07. Dites le avec des fleurs de pavot
08. Pourquoi l'amour à deux
09. Les petits cochons l'ont mangé
10. Hippies nous voila
11. La puissance des ténèbres
12. Le râteau de la Méduse

Jack Haslehurst (Organe)
Pat Parker (Bass)
Jean Pierre Castellain (Vocal soliste)
Joel Parmentier (Batteur)

Way cool French pop psych album with some great songs. This band spent some time in the Hashbury, and the c.d. reissue contains a few good photos of them actually there, so you know they are not messing about!!!

riginally released in 1968, the now impossible to find self titled album by Les Fleurs De Pavot is considered as the first psychedelic/hippie record from France. A veil of mystery surrounded the real origins of the band at the time... according to their press release, they were formed by a couple of hippies, Groovy Pat from London and Jesus from San Francisco who met at some Soft Machine shows in Paris... the reality was more unglamorous: Les Fleurs De Pavot were in fact a twist band called Bourgeois De Calais, transformed into exploitation acid-eater hippies by their manager JP Rawson. The album was produced by the genius tandem of Jean Claude Vannier (famous for his involvement on Gainsbourg's Melody Nelson album) & Bernard Estardy (Nino Ferrer's organist / sound engineer). An explosive mix of psychedelic pop, yeyé music & bizarre studio experimentation featuring 12 superb tracks full of fuzz guitars, groovy vocals and swirling organ with very explicit drug related lyrics. Music ranges from mod psych dancefloor smashers like 'A Degager' to the final six minute lysergic freak-out 'Le Rateau De La Meduse' and even one cool bossa track."

This is considered to be one of the finest French psych records out there, and rightly so. Les Fleurs de Pavot were far from being actual hippies, however--their image was created by their Svengali, Jean-Pierre Rawson, in an exploitative effort that was rather typical of the era. The band had issued several EP's as the serviceable beat quintet Les Bourgeois de Calais before Rawson decided that transforming them into hippie freaks (one of them was supposedly named Jesus and from San Francisco) was the way to go. The album was produced by the unbelievable dream team of Jean-Claude Vannier and Bernard Estardy, and it shows...the arrangements are brilliant, the lyrics reference drugs as often as possible, and the atmosphere is highly lysergic. This album doesn't need drugs to be enjoyed--nay, this album IS drugs

Mickie D's Unicorn - 1979 - Mickie D's Unicorn

Mickie D's Unicorn 
Mickie D's Unicorn 

01. In Times Of The Unicorn 6:14
02. The Witch 4:54
03. Sundayborn Child 2:40
04. The Searcher 5:31
05. Little Red Riding Hood 3:57
06. Black Riders 5:06
07. West Of The Moon 3:35
08. A: Elbereth 6:08

Mickie D (vocals, guitar, synthesizer, sequencer, vocoder)
Manfred Opitz (Moog)
Michael Shrieve (drums)
Jan Fride (congas, drums)
Hellmut Hattler (bass)

First ever release on Klaus Schulze's own IC (Innovative Communication) Label. Mickie D. aka Mickie Duwe had already appeared on Ash Ra Tempel's Seven Up album and had been a short-time member of Agitation Free. Aside from that he became "famous" when Ashra played a benefit concert for him in Switzerland in 1979 to earn the cash to get him out of jail (lawyer? baksheesh??). Mr. D. at this time was imprisoned in Greece, accused of smuggling hashish into the country.

Here on his 1st album he plays an awesome Space Guitar (Hillage meets Göttsching) often accompanied by primitive but irresistible sequencers and he sings with a cool voice that reminds me slightly of uncle F. Zappa. He's supported by Hattler & Fride of Kraan fame, Göttsching (only programming on 1 track) and 2 ominous guys called "Mano" (Polymoog-Strings, Minimoog, Celli and Oboe) and "Sunshine" on drums.

I really love this album, I had forgotten how much until I got a request for it... Play it Loud!