February here and gone already! We've almost made it through the Winter doldrums, still treading (frozen) water. This month's episode delivers a warming fire of anti-war acid rock, classic Michigan grit, eerie piano exorcisms, prophetic German prog, acoustic six-string levitation, cavernous folk-drone, and beyond!
Non-stop music on the program, so we’ve included a few words along with the full playlist below.
Easing in with The Spoils of War, a long-time favorite. The band was named after a musical instrument invented by Harry Partch, and was the brainchild of the brilliant James Cuomo, who received a masters in music at at the University of Illinois. Coumo later went on to form the group Mormos, even repurposing a few of these early Spoils of War songs for that bands debut. There's only a single and the one album recorded in '69 that The Spoils of War ever produced while they were together, but more tunes have surfaced in the time since. Once years ago, I played this album a bit too loudly while staying as a guest at a friend's place, and the crazy track "E-Thing" came on full blast and totally ruined an otherwise relaxing private bath time, still feel bad sometimes about that one. (Sorry Amy!) Really though, the album expands from seedy cocktail lounge core, to groovy art-psych, only to launch into a surprise of blistering tonal electronics through harsh testing equipment drone and bizarre stereo field manipulation. The album is replete with heavy tape experimentation, surrealist political lyrics, tons of instruments and a heady mix. There's a great interview with Cuomo over at It's Psychedelic Baby, for further pursuits. The album has been reissued a couple of times, but officially and most notably by the great Wah Wah in 2015, as a deluxe expanded 2LP including a bonus 7", and it even looks like a few copies are still available through the label's Bandcamp here. Mind boggling.
Nicodemus aka (St. Nic of Detroit) is legendary and notorious, and rightfully so, this isn't his first appearance on our program and I'm sure it won't be the last. Some day there needs to be a proper book written about the man. We've got quite a few of his records, but the track featured here, "Me & Suzie" is a real stomping barn-burner rarity, with his loyal conspirator bro Matchez the Congo Kid pounding away maniacally on the skins. Selected from one of his toughest to find vinyl treasures, the album "What For?" was self-released on his own label Zedikiah Records in 1980. If any readers have a vinyl copy of this one up for grabs, please get in touch. Nicodemus' real name was J.R. Houvener, Jr., and he wrote, recorded and published his own music from as early as 1977 with his strumming folk-rock debut LP "Spacechild Squall", but things heated up quickly and got continually much weirder and louder as his catalog continuously grew over the years. J.R. dedicated his life to music, and continued to write, record, and collaborate until his passing in 2013. Biker rock mystic, visionary DIY producer, anti-racism advocate, stoner legend, forever rest in power Saint Nic of Detroit.
The 1969 single “Where Was My Mind?” by Florida garage band The Minority is another real rarity, with the original 7" fetching pretty high prices if it ever occasionally surfaces on the collector's market. Not a lot of info to be sussed out on this band, but both sides are pretty great slices of fuzz, with the B side almost equally as captivating. The labels each credit different songwriters on the A/B flips. Discogs has a full length LP credited to this band called "Show Me Jesus" released on Atlantis Records, and even though the cover is amazing, I'm pretty sure that listing is incorrect, and "Show Me Jesus" is actually by this other different, overtly Christian band also called The Minority. The "Where Was My Mind" b/w "High Flyer" single was released on a cool little Florida label called Hyperbolic out of Ft. Lauderdale, who put out a handful of singles in that time. The Discogs page for Hyperbolic links to a more complete discography post on the website for Savage Lost, which is a well informed book about Florida 60's garage rock bands, written by Jeff Lemlich. His blog is pretty cool too, covering all sorts of stories and ephemera from rock & roll history. If you dig into the Hyperbolic catalog, cat #110 has no artist officially listed, but features a different version of the same song "High Flyer" from the B side. Different band, same song? The world may never know. This track is a cracking gem though, with wind swept vocal melodies, killer fuzz-wah guitar tone, and rooted in that powerful, swinging bass groove. The song has been comped a few times, but you probably won't ever find an original copy of this one!
Moolah was an experimental duo project from New York City, formed in the early 70's by Walter Burns and Maurice Roberson, aka Maurice the Archer and Walter the Lion. The project is sometimes lumped in as a "Krautrock" band, I suppose given the era in which it was released, and for some compulsive need to classify things, but that isn't quite right, since this is very much an American band and project. Woe Ye Demons Possessed is the band's only album, released in 1974 and referred to as a "Paranormal Concert Work". Moolah avoids guitars and opts instead for a duo setup of piano and electronics with drums and percussion, and liberal processing effects, conjuring a sprawling cloud of eerie atmosphere. Despite placement on the infamous NWW list and inclusion in The Acid Archives, this one seems mostly slept upon. The track "Courage" brings a rumbling cluster of keys, with strange gurgling oscillations weaving throughout. The vinyl reissue on EM isn't too hard to find, and the whole thing is a great, challenging listen, straddling the lines between an unsettling dream state and harsh reality, an exorcism of the strangest sort. The duo also released their "Album II" on cassette in 1987, under the name Burns & Roberson, which I am very, very curious about. The album cover shows the pair standing together, smiling in suits, with the subtitle "Cosmic Music" superimposed. With song titles like "Space Disco" and "The Aliens Have Landed" to go on, we can only imagine what that might actually sound like. Maybe someday we'll be blessed with further insight.
Given the sad, violent state of the world, it seems like the perfect time to dust off this classic anti-war acid rock anthem, "War Sucks" by The Red Krayola, from their legendary 1967 album "The Parable of Arable Land". Formed in 1966 in Houston, TX as part of the same scene that birthed the 13th Floor Elevators, The Red Krayola went on to be hugely influential and important well beyond the band's actual lifespan, with their songs going on to be covered by bands like Spacemen 3, Pere Ubu, Nik Turner, Galaxie 500, and Alien Sex Fiend. Of course Spectrum aka Peter Kember also released the dreamy "War Sucks" EP back in 2009, but the energy and conviction of the original Red Krayola version seemed to best capture the fire of resistance and spirit of revolution for these latter days. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited back to us like a list of threats, a solemn promise of refusal.
"Lindon, a good general he does weep,
Ah, when he sends his troops out into battle.
I'm sick to death of your endless prattle,
'Cause you remember what happened to Hanzel & Gretel.
Magic Tuber String Band hails from the mountains of Durham, North Carolina, and their latest album "Wind Machines" is a doozy, spanning various forms of folk drift and magical acoustic drone, incorporating field recordings and gritty process to create a dense texture in dimensional space. Magic Tuber String Band is the duo of Evan Morgan and Courtney Werner. Their work is rooted primarily in traditional folk music, with their primary instruments being fiddle and guitar, and the music touches aspects of Appalachian and even old time stylings, but the music is augmented by a modern composer's sensibilities, and harnesses an appreciation for the sculpture of sound into compelling new shapes and forms. Rather than allowing themselves to be constrained by what could be seen as the limitations of traditional string / folk music, the players use these conditions as starting points of reference, acting as a launchpad into outer orbit, and ultimately forming their own creative voice. "Wind Machines" is a unique 40 minute offering of hypnotizing trance-folk, carrying a vibrant sense of realism and painted with a technicolor pallete. The track here "Vollis, Volant" swells to a cavernous, engulfing drone, an echoing tunnel through which we carefully travel. I can't hold it against the band that their label Garden Portal took two months to actually ship my tape. Not even a pre-order or anything, just amazingly slow. No hard feelings really, obviously shit happens sometimes, but that's a bummer. All of The Magic Tuber String Band's music is beautiful and fascinating, and they look to be playing a few shows coming up in March. Support the band and get yourself digging.
The Shalabi Effect formed in 1996, a union of Egyptian-Canadian oud player and free-improv guitarist Sam Shalabi and experimental musician / filmmaker Anthony Seckand. Shalabi himself is active in his home town of Montreal, building a deep catalog of exploratory solo works on his Bandcamp, and might be known for his actions with other groups such as Land of Kush, Karkhana, and Dwarfs of East Agouza with Maurice Louca and Alan Bishop. The Shalabi Effect is still active today, and put out a record as recently as last year on German label Unrock, called "Friends Of The Prophet 6". These days the band has expanded to include Alexandre St. Onge on bass, electronics, and voices, and Will Eizlini on percussion, electronics, and trumpet. This enigmatic self titled album was originally recorded and self-released by the band in 1998, and now has finally been reissued and made available digitally by the great Netherlands based label Radio Khiyaban. The beautiful new cassette reissue features new artwork by N.R. Safi of Naujawanan Baidar, and should definitely be sought out, looks like a few copies are still available. A rough gem of oud and electric guitar transmissions from another place and time, essential.
The '72 self-titled debut from Berlin band Mythos is a confounding, amazing listen, simultaneously disturbing and endlessly captivating. Man, what a record! The album was produced by Dieter Dierks, who worked with many legendary artists of that period including The Cosmic Jokers, Timothy Leary, and Ash Ra Tempel. I actually came to this band sort of backwards, through picking up their later 1983 LP "Quasar" on Sky Records, which is more a timeless propulsion head trip, but this initial self-titled debut is an organic, flowing rock & roll dream, much more rooted in trad prog moves with processed flute and keys wrapping around angular riffs, this is epic! The band was formed and lead by Stephan Kaske, who played flute, keyboards and sang. "Encyclopedia Terrae" takes up the full 2nd side of the record, so the excerpt featured here is only a small sweet taste of a much larger fruit. The whole album rips, with relentless bass groove, heavy effects, and washes of synthesizer space dust. The excerpt featured here is actually a fairly mellow affair comparatively, but tells a sad story concerning the future of mankind. The originals on Ohr aren't common, but the later Australian '79 pressing sounds excellent and can be found much more easily. Whew!
Guitarist J.R. Bohannon's song “Intention” is a shimmering whisper, an expansive embrace. The album Compulsions came out earlier this year, and has found itself getting returned to regularly for the sense of comfort and warmth that it has to offer on each listen. The album arcs across several disciplines, with Bohannon's guitar central to the work. J.R. has had past releases on labels like Figure Eight, Ryley Walker's Husky Pants label, and Auasca, which admittedly weren't familiar before this, so thanks to Astral Editions for introducing such a fine player to new listeners, and thankfully there is a rich back catalog also well worth investigating. The album "Compulsions" is still available as a limited edition cassette through Astral Editions here, it's a lovely, intimate work that feels infinitely rewarding.
The New York duo Elkhorn have been active since 2013, and have made some incredible music over the last years, with albums released on excellent labels like Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Centripetal Force, Cardinal Fuzz, Feeding Tube, and Eiderdown. Drew Gardner and Jesse Sheppard have each respectively built a tidy body of work, but together transcend space and time and deliver full blown zero gravity with their doubled-down 12/6 string manipulation. Their latest EP is titled The Golden Lag, released on limited edition cassette by Blue Hole Recordings in the UK. The simply titled “Part One” is the first half, and with it we travel great distances. The cassette editions from the label are quite lovely, an assemblage of several physical elements, building the artwork in printed layers. The music itself echoes the package, holding many intricate secrets to unfold.
"Walk in the Country” is taken from the singular album "Music Performed By The High Mass" from the mysterious Jim Collins. This is from one of the best LPs released by the underground loner-folk / sound artist mysterioso also known as Robyn Nice aka Boots, Terry, TSA, Snake & Remus, Wallace Drury, Harry Cologne, etc. The artist's career follows a strange path of a self-designed obscurity, changing his name for each and every release, listing no other credits or contact info, and putting out mostly self-released DIY vinyl and small run lathe-cut records with minimal stamped labels and packaging, to be distributed through only a very small group of specialist mail order lists, or anonymously dumped in independent record stores and placed in thrift store donation boxes. Believed to have originated from Louisiana, and eventually relocating to the Chicago area, Robyn Nice remains officially anonymous even today, which is no mean feat. The mystery is strong, though there have been a few small clues to co-conspirators through the years. Thankfully some people care enough to document and archive it all for us measly mortals. Explore the unofficial, but extensive Robyn Nice Bandcamp, well worth digging into.
Hypostatic Soundblast Awakening is the project of Adam Matlock, and for his latest album, "Emanation of Insight", Matlock joins forces with accomplished percussionist Michael Larocca to deliver deep cosmic improvisations, with a series of impressionistic suites for synthesizer and drums. Matlock stays busy and works under various names in several forms, with an array of different solo projects mostly based on synthesizer, accordion, or keyboards, as well as performing with various partners and small ensembles. These live duo improvisations push the alien float of Matlock's synthesizers into a new real-world context, with the exchange and interplay between the players sparking magic thought and elevated consciousness. We can witness the adaptive elements of the work as it is physically formed, following the interchange of the artist's intuitive creation for us, the listener's transcendent benefit. This album would appeal to fans of broader cosmic / synthesizer jazz and improvisation, the music feels like being gently thrust into the heavens, comfortable and air-borne. The album is focused around themes of ancient Gnostic mysticism, which might be seen as a potential stumbling block for a less adventurous listener, but the depth of the themes are mostly up to your own imagination. The purchased album includes some pretty weird liner notes (written by yours truly) which probably don't clarify much, but the trajectory and intention behind the work is strong, and the playing levels are high. The track featured here, “It is She Who Is The Physician” is a damp soil shuffle, a comforting gesture towards infinity. Looks like the album has been picked up for a physical edition due out soon/eventually from private label Nightfall Records, it's always nice to see physical manifestations appear.
We close our program with a great song from another great Michigan band. Hailing from Grosse Pointe, we have the amazing Index, well reputed for their murky, adventurous sound, and the scrappy blend of fuzzy garage rock, heartfelt ballads, and Hendrix-inspired feedback blasts. The Originals Vol 1 & 2 reissues from Lion Productions are exceptionally high quality and sound amazing, and can be found for very reasonable prices. Everyone should have these records. The track chosen here, “It’s All in Your Mind” has all the elements of an instant underground hit, with it's chugging rhythm, mind expanding lyrics, and a relentlessly catchy refrain. The theme of the song especially resonates, describing how our human tendencies towards fear of death and pain is all a fabrication in our own minds. Fear is a creation of our own subconscious, which can be turned inside out and rejected, if we so choose. We all have the power to change our own thought patterns and restructure our mind set in search of a more rewarding existence.
THE SPOILS OF WAR - “Now is Made in America” from the album "The Spoils of War" (Wah Wah, 2015)
NICODEMUS - “Me and Suzie” from the album "What For?"(Zedikiah Records, 1980)
THE MINORITY - “Where Was My Mind?” from the single “Where Was My Mind?” b/w “High Flyer” (Hyperbolic Records, 1969)
MOOLAH - “Courage” from the album “Woe Ye Demons Possessed” (Atman Music, 1974)
THE RED KRAYOLA with THE FAMILIAR UGLY - “War Sucks” from the album “The Parable of Arable Land” (International Artists, 1967)
MAGIC TUBER STRING BAND - “Vollis, Volant” from the album "Wind Machines" (Garden Portal, 2022)
THE SHALABI EFFECT - “That Place We All Go” from the album "The Shalabi Effect" (Radio Khyiban, 2022)
MYTHOS - “Encyclopedia Terrae” (excerpt) from the album "Mythos" (Ohr, 1972)
J.R. BOHANNON - “Intention” from the album "Compulsions" (Astral Editions, 2022)
ELKHORN - “Part One” (excerpt) from the album "The Golden Lag" (Blue Hole, 2022)
JIM COLLINS - "Walk in the Country” from the album "Music Performed By The High Mass" (Prosper, 2001)
HYPOSTATIC SOUNDBLAST AWAKENING - “It Is She Who Is The Physician” from the album Emanation of Insight (Bandcamp, 2022)
INDEX - “It’s All in Your Mind” from the album "Originals Vol. 2 (1969)" (Lion Productions, 2019)
Portions of this program have been sourced from vinyl and cassette formats.
Thanks for listening!
Originally broadcast at 11pm CET on February 28th, 2022 via CAMP Radio.
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Please keep in mind that physical releases get top priority, but feel free to reach out with your latest tunes for consideration.