The blog has been a little stale over the summer. I apologize.
I've heard some good music in that time... Here are some things to check out, if your taste is similar to my own you'll probably enjoy them.
RANDY HOLDEN - 'POPULATION II'
This record was brought to my attention by my friend Tim. It has had me pretty hypnotized since that time. Dominated my iPod (can't afford the reissue, $70 on discogs OUCH) for a solid month or so...
Randy is maybe best known for his brief membership in Blue Cheer (he appeared on side B of New! Improved! Blue Cheer), though this record destroys anything that I've heard by that group. What makes it so special is the intensity of his vision. He had an exact idea in his mind of how he wanted his music to sound, an idea that becomes clear when you read the few interviews of him that you can find online. I'm going to mash two quotes into one below here:
'The guitar for me was a total, full-blast, full-on love affair. The louder and clearer that baby was, the more beautiful it was.
So that's where it came from… I went directly to pursue my vision of sound I was trying to reach… I had to go a different direction if I was going to follow the dreams of sound I had as a constant.
I once tried to imagine what a nuclear blast would sound like in close proximity, and imagine my surprise when my imagination concluded perfect silence... I was envisioning a volume level so far over the top, it would create silence, and within the silence would reside beautiful music never heard before.'
...Fucking heavy right? Stack that on top of the fact that almost all the lyrics on the album are about being in love with guitars, and playing them and you have a kind of monolithically focused vision. Songs where even the lyrics' emphasis is on relaying to you the doctrine of the music.
This is an idea that has always fascinated me, epitomized in my mind by Silver Apples 'Oscillations'. Songs whose lyrical content is focused only on the musicality, feeling and ideology of it's own being and sonic creation. Songs like these become so self contained, they translate in your mind as a single vibrating idea as opposed to a collection of ideas forming something gathered. It's in this kind focus and intensity of vision that this record distinguishes itself from being a merely good rip on Cream / Sabbath / Hendrix heavy-blues rock and becomes a work of art unto itself.
The other detail about Population II that I find really fascinating is that it was recorded and performed as a duo, the drummer playing bass lines on an organ while he plays drums. Having played in a duo myself for several years, I'm astounded. I'm also amazed that in the time that my duo existed and while we had never heard of this record we never came up with the title Population II for a record.
To finish up with Randy Holden check out this amazing story he relays about playing Hendrix's guitar through his own amp setup.
'One day, out of the blue, a friend of Hendrix (who was interested in managing my new band) borrowed Jimi's Strat and brought it over to my house for me to try out. I never forgot how beautiful that guitar of his sounded, and played. Never had one like it before or since...
It wasn't customary to give away your trade secrets to anyone. So what was the deal - who wanted something that I had, and why? What I had were the new Sunn amps that were secret, no one had or could get. It wasn't clear to me at the time, but there was more to it than met the eye.
This guy who hung around with Jimi began hanging around us quite a bit, coming to rehearsals, bringing his friends to our house, knew what I was doing, and was really into us. I didn't really know anything about him though, except he did introduce me to Hendrix, so he had established some credibility...
In retrospect, if he wanted to give me Jimi's guitar and sound secret to check out, and then set it up to bring Jimi around to check out my Sunn amps set up secret, he'd be doing something for both of us. But I didn't get what he'd get out of it, or how it would all shake out in the end. What didn't feel right about that idea is what role Jimi would have had in the idea. My feeling tells me Jimi didn't have any idea what this guy was doing, and this guy was just working both ends, doing favors for both of us, with an objective of something in return for him down the line somewhere. That's as far as it's made any kind of sense to me. That's what seemed to be implied going on behind the scenes. What did not make any sense to me would be Jimi having any personal interest in anything I was doing, unless and except he had been told about me, and wanted the inside info on what I was doing, and what I had, from a competitor point of view. But that seemed a little cynical, unless somehow he was led to imagine I posed a threat to his crown, and he wanted what I had before I could use it, and to get close to me, and get my secret from me, I was given a secret of Jimi's as a pretty dramatic bait favor.
I plugged it in, and incredible, there was Jimi's exact sound, and everything he played was suddenly so easy to play it was magical, and effortless. It was totally beautiful. I was really taken aback by that. More yet, that particular sound made playing the guitar so easy, and effortless, with no struggle. It permitted playing anything I could imagine, as quickly as imagined. It was the dream sound. It was beautiful, and fun/enjoyable to use. There is nothing more enjoyable to a musician than a sound that allows them to play with ease anything they can imagine. Jimi had that sound.
The really amazing part to me was how on earth it was arrived at. I was told by the guy who knew him, who brought me that guitar, that it was an experiment done by tech guy who handled Jimi's equipment.
Until I plugged it in, and I never had a Strat either before or after that produced that sound. It was only that Strat of Hendrix given to me to mess around with, that had that sound. It was really amazing.
I know for a fact that had I been able to keep his guitar I would have wreaked literal havoc on the rock guitar scene with it in conjunction with my Sunns. That would have been seriously damaging. I also know that had Jimi been able to get hold of my Sunns, and use his guitar through them, he would have cleaned my clock before I had the chance, and I would have stood to be accused of mimicking him.
Whatever that whole scene was about, the one thing I can say with direct certainty is my entire style of playing would have changed had I had that guitar, or mine wired like that one. It was completely different sound than what I had...'
ps. If you're into this recommendation you will also like the Round the Edges reissue by Dark that came out this year, another LP I have been enjoying. GITTARS, MAN.
FIFTY FOOT HOSE - 'CAULDRON'
I'm not going to write as much about this one... My friend Anthony earlier in the summer found himself in that position record collecting folk often have wet dreams about. He went to some kind of Hot Rod car show and randomly some guy was selling a wet box of records for a buck a piece, most of them seemingly rare psych titles the fellow didn't know or care were worth money. The result was I had the good fortune to have a nice friend who shared his wealth by giving me OG copies of this and the second H.P. Lovecraft (also awesome) album for my birthday.
Fifty Foot Hose is one of the best psych record I've heard to feature a significant amount of electronic weirdness while still having excellent songs. It was also sampled on one of the best rap albums this year! If you like United States of America, White Noise etc... you will dig this.