psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present
psychedelic and avant-garde music from the 1960s to the present

Reviews

Bardo Pond
Acid Guru Pond

Acid Guru Pond cover art
Bardo Pond
Acid Guru Pond
Fire Records

A collaboration between, as you might infer from the title, Acid Mothers Temple, Guru Guru (or Mani Neumeier, at least), and Bardo Pond, recorded in 2007 but only released in April 2016 as a limited edition pressing for Record Store Day

Five long tracks, named, not particularly creatively, after colors. However, they do correspond to the colors of the vinyl (the tracks Orange and Red are on either side of an appropriately colored disc, as are the tracks Green and Blue - Purple is also on the Green/Blue disc, which has a purple label to maintain the color-coding). If you're familiar with any of these bands, the music is... exactly what you'd expect. Sprawling, largely instrumental tracks accented by Isobel Sollenberger's flute and occasional vocals by Etsuko Neumeier, Mani's wife.

In this case, the whole is not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts, but rather roughly equal to it, so that 1+1+1 ≈ 3. It's worth seeking out, even if you aren't willing to pony up for the pretty-colored vinyl, but instead acquire it from the electronic ether.

Kurt Stenzel
Jodorowsky's Dune OST

Jodorowsky's Dune cover art
Kurt Stenzel
Jodorowsky's Dune OST
Light In The Attic Records

The soundtrack to Dune, if Jodorowsky had succeeded in making his completely unproducable version of it, was to be provided by Pink Floyd and Magma. Interestingly, the soundtrack to Jodorowsky's Dune, the documentary, while it doesn't sound like either of those bands (well, maybe, during some of their dabbling in minimalist electronics) would have made excellent incidental music for the only-imagined film, interweaving throughout the prog bombast.

(As an aside: the band that provided the soundtrack to David Lynch's Dune was none other than ... Toto. Yep, hot off their Best Song Grammy for Rosanna, the studio musician supergroup cranked out some unbelievably overwrought, The Final Countdown-esque 80s opera-metal for what turned out to be an utter mess of a film (I've rewatched it several times since first seeing it on VHS in the late 80s and it somehow gets less bearable with each viewing))

Really lovely analog synth instrumentals, a number of which feature excerpts of Jodorowsky rambling his trademark self-aggrandizing, pseudo-mystical nonsense (that are nonetheless incredibly charming) taken from the documentary

(As another aside: As I mentioned when I played this on the show, why can't Jodorowsky find some tech zillionaires to finally make his version of Dune - or at least a close approximation - profits be damned. Both of his well-known movies from the 1970s, El Topo and The Holy Mountain were financed by rich weirdos of that era - namely John Lennon and George Harrison.)

Bitchin Bajas and Bonnie Prince Billy
Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties

Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties cover art
Bitchin Bajas and Bonnie Prince Billy
Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties
Drag City Records

An unexpected, but surprisingly fruitful collaboration between Bitchin Bajas, the ambient offshoot of the band CAVE, and Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy. The result is sort of like what might have come about if Father Yod, of Yahowha 13 fame, had collaborated with Greek ambient pioneer Iasos during their respective heydays in the 70s. Lanquidly chanted positive thinking mantras backed by analog ambience.

I'm not totally certain, but I think the idea motivating this album is as follows: During the 70s, quite a few albums came out that, rather amusingly, ascribed health benefits to listening to the synthesized music they contained (see for instance Steven Halperin, whose albums I have periodically talked over between sets of music on the show) Now, it was the case throughout the 20th century that nearly every scientific breakthrough was believed to have medicinal benefit - you can find numerous ads from the 20s and 30s extolling radiation as some sort of cure-all - but making such claims about music was somewhat rare. There apparently, however, was something sufficiently other-worldly about the sound of an analog synthesizer - at least to music fans of the 70s - that inspired belief in its possessing some sort of supernatural power.

In retrospect, this seems rather ridiculous, especially since analog synthesizers are, to most people, associated mostly with either tedious prog rock or schlocky sci-fi soundtracks. But, that said, there is something about this album I find quite relaxing, even more so than most ambient synth fare, of which I have listened to quite a bit. I really start believing the platitudes, that everything is going to be OK, that good things are on the horizon, just hang in there baby, and other sentiments worthy of inspirational posters.

Gnod
Mirror

Mirror cover art
Gnod
Mirror
Rocket Recordings

Over the course of a number of albums, Gnod has been moving away from space rock, and toward a more gloomy, almost 1980s goth/industrial sort of sound. It's something of an odd evolution, but they've managed to pull it off. Of course, now they just sort of sound like early Swans. Which I guess is fine, since Swans no longer sounds like early Swans. In sort of the same way Earth sounds totally different now than they did circa Earth 2, say, while at the same time there are a gazillion bands who sound like early Earth, it would sort of make sense that since Swans sounds totally different now as well, that there would be a bunch of bands trying to sound like the Swans of the 1980s. But so far that doesn't seem to be the case. I suppose that makes Gnod pioneers of a sort.

Anyhow, it's kind of too bad this album came out in the late spring, because it really deserves to be listened to in the late fall. It is the perfect accompaniment to a stroll on a late-November evening, when it's already been dark for a few hours, most of the trees are barren of leaves, and the ground is damp with drizzle. See, I sound like a teenage goth kid just writing a review of this. Moody, jagged-edged ("Ow, stop poking me with your jagged-edged music" I blurted out while listening to this), the kind of reverb that makes it sound like it was recorded in a warehouse (which I'm sure is way more complicated to approximate in a studio than actually recording in a warehouse), angsty, screamed vocals. You get the idea.

Jonathan Snipes & William Hutson
Room 237 OST

Room 237 cover art
Jonathan Snipes & William Hutson
Room 237 OST
Death Waltz Recording Company

Who knew that documentary soundtracks were now some of the best ways to get a fix of retro-electronic ambience? First there's the Jodorowsky's Dune soundtrack, and now this. I'm sort of expecting Michael Moore to get, like, Oneohtrix Point Never to soundtrack his next documentary.

Anyways, if I can just digress and talk about the movie this is soundtracking for a moment: I tried to watch this on Netflix, but I just gave up about halfway through because the subjects of this documentary - four people with bizarre interpretations of the meaning of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining - are completely insane. And not fun insane like the ladies of Grey Gardens; but, like corner you at a party and spend an hour rambling at you about the intricacies of their crackpot theory insane.

But even though I couldn't get through the movie, I did notice that the soundtrack was rather interesting, and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that it had actually been released as an album. Pleasant, burbling analog-y synth incidental music. Perfect for reading, or intensely scrutinizing a film for evidence that it's secretly all about minotaurs (seriously, that's a theory about the Shining one of the screwballs in this movie has - you may as well try to convice me Full Metal Jacket is about satyrs or wood nymphs)