December 1, 2011

Come On A Trip With Us!

We begin with a trio of bands representing swinging sixties London and the psychedelic "happenings" at the U.F.O. Club and other venues, pre-dating raves by more than a generation. The most important band, or at least the one with the most longevity, to arise from this loosely-connected scene was, of course, Pink Floyd (or THE Pink Floyd as they were known then, under Syd Barrett's leadership). This track, improvised live nightly for the heads to trip and somehow dance to, needs no introduction. Supposedly this version, appearing on their debut album, was edited together from multiple studio takes as Syd was falling aprt mentally by the time of the recording sessions. A mostly overlooked peer of theirs, except in underground circles, was The Soft Machine. Though they could hardly be called "rock" - and indeed they took their cues from jazz, and featured keys, bass, drums, sometimes horns, and the rare electric guitar - they were truly psychedelic, as illustrated by the triptych featured here. Another band from the U.F.O. scene was Tomorrow, featuring future Yes guitarist Steve Howe and future Pretty Things/Pink Fairies drummer Twink. Their kaleidoscopic pop was less experimental than the others featured here, but typified a lot of the more "above ground" psychedelia of the time. The song featured here supposedly refers to the apocryphal tale of Dr. Albert Hoffman's famous bicycle ride, tripping his balls off upon ingesting his first dose of his new invention: LSD.

The Bicycle Ride

David Normal | Myspace Video

Fitting soundtrack to the above video, eh? Yes, that's The Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother"! Very apropo.

Moving right along we encounter a conundrum: a young British band, on their first album aping the dark, swampy, spastic mannerisms of the Birthday Party and the Cramps, who then morph into a neo-shoegazer outfit, with stunning results. This track is from The Horrors recent third album and they seem to be sticking with the latter formula - a wise choice. Seemingly unprecedented? Untrue - My Bloody Valentine started their existence as a similarly-styled psychobilly band, albeit with a different lineup than the one that produced their trendsetting output in the form of Isn't Anything and Loveless. Ganglians are all over the place, with ramshackle psych, freaky folk and a sometimes shoegazey sound as on this track. Collections Of Colonies Of Bees bring a smooth melodicism and precision to the Tortoise school of post rock. Tammar meld the best aspects of both proto-shoegaze and post rock tendencies. And, as the godfathers of quiet-loud-louder-LOUDEST post rock, Mogwai need no introduction. But this is absolutely the greatest version of "Helicon" I've heard, captured live in all its grandeur.

Opeth are a band that missed my radar in the past since their previous incarnation could be defined as black metal, but they ditched the cookie monster vocals and have taken their cues from classic prog rock, and it suits them completely. Their recent album, from which I culled this track, features some of the most inventive heavy prog I've ever encountered - a contender for album of the year, I dare say. Another track from vintage metal-worshipers W.I.T.C.H., where indie-sludge guitar god J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) takes a back seat on the drums... and thoroughly rocks 'em. Continuing their oeuvre of exultant post metal, Helms Alee wowed on their sophomore release this year, and I'll get to that on the Best Of 2011 installment next month. This track's another great one from their first album.

And now another segment dedicated to heavy motorik and trancey, fuzzy grooves, starting with San Francisco's illustrious one-chord wonders Wooden Shjips with a track off their latest, with yet another variation on the same theme. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! Then an extended journey with motorik mantra masters Cave, from their masterful 2011 release. Time to drone out on this one - the title of this track says it all. Shifting gears after that lengthy journey, Wet Hair put on the cruise control through undulating countryside and altered states. We arrive just in time to meet solo psych experiMENTAList Sun Araw for some groovy inner space astral traveling, then it's up into the stratosphere with the mighty White Hills, from their stellar recent release, destination: nirvana. Bon voyage!

For you traditionalists who don't mind streaming from this site, the following tracks should appear in the first player below:

The Spacerock Continuum Theme - bRambles
Astronomy Domine - Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Hope For Happiness/Joy Of A Toy - The Soft Machine - Volume 1
My White Bicycle - Tomorrow - s/t
Dive In - The Horrors - Skying
The Toad - Ganglians - Still Living
Vorm - Collections Of Colonies Of Bees - Giving
Deep Witness - Tammar - Visits
New Paths To Helicon Part 1 - Mogwai - Special Moves
I Feel The Dark - Opeth - Heritage
Rip Van Winkle - W.I.T.C.H. - Witch
A Weirding Away - Helms Alee - Night Terror
Black Smoke Rise - Wooden Shjips - West
This Is The Best - Cave - Neverendless
Liquid Jesus - Wet Hair - In Vogue Spirit
Impluvium - Sun Araw - Ancient Romans
HP-1 - White Hills - HP-1

But don't forget, you also have the option of spacerock to go:

1. Click on the Kadoo logo instead of pushing the play button in the player below.

2. Click "download" when redirected to the Divshare site.

3. Once downloaded drag it to yer iTunes and sync it with yer pod - simple!