Thursday, February 4, 2016

Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting (2014) review

Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting (Trouble in Mind Records, 2014)

In interviews Ultimate Painting often underhandedly indicated that they want to break away from their breezy 60’s inspired obsession of jangling guitars laced with hypnotic layering ... and to that I ask, “Why?”  This is what Ultimate Painting does best, and they’re doing it better and more seamlessly than most bands who’ve embarked on this adventurous sound. 

When this neo-psych genre first hit, I was making comparisons to The Byrds, Brian Wilson, Love, and so many other bands who rose from those wondrous nights so long ago ... but enough time as passed that current neo-psychedelia stands on its own now, and rightly so, revealing groups who are no longer relying on the past, rather building on it in a structural and emotional manner that’s in and of the moment.  There’s a dynamic richness to what’s presented here, and though yes, you could certainly say that these sounds have been heard before [sort of], though in all honesty, you have not heard these sounds in this manner before, or so satisfyingly jam packed with unrelenting hooks and swagger that you’ll find yourself nearly out of breath just from listening. 

This is an uncomplicated album to listen to, and of course that means that means that it’s far from uncomplicated, delivering interlocking guitar solos, washes of sound and a melancholy of brilliant haziness that will smother your soul.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Wheelers of Oz - Revivalised (2015) review

The Wheelers of Oz - Revivalised (2015)

Standing at one of the thirty-fifth floor observation widows of a very nice hotel, a bit chemically induced [legally], I was watching the lights of San Diego slowly flicker on as the sun was setting somewhere behind me, painting the sky with perfect shades of pinks and oranges, my headphones beginning to buzz with delight ... I was hearing Wheelers of Oz for the first time, and I knew it would never get any better than this. 

Revivalised is certainly lo-fi garage intoxication, yet in the same breath, The Wheelers Of Oz are so much more, inspirationally burring the lines between shoegazer and straight ahead hazy sun drenched psychedelia, while mixing in fuzzed out reverb to create a dream-pop psych atmosphere that’s very easy to get lost in. Their sounds are layered, almost cinematic, incredibly yet effortlessly tight, washed in instrumentation that moves both outward and inward, catching the listener off guard, but not unpleasantly, masterfully maintaining a dramatic movement that weaves outward, yet almost magically, always travelling back to the center before reaching out again with a purity I have not experienced in years.

I personally can’t wait for their next release, wanting so much to continue on with their magical mystery tour. So, whether you’re on a thirty-fifth floor or just sitting out under the stars Revivalised is going to stagger you.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Small Faces - Here Come The Nice (2014) review

Small Faces “Here Come The Nice” (Charly Records, 2014)
An Incredible Documentation Of Small Faces’ Immediate Records Recordings!

The legendary British mod rock band Small Faces’ recording career was split into two distinctive periods.  From 1965 until 1967 the band, managed by Don Arden and signed to Decca Records, spent the majority of time performing live and recording sessions were sporadic and time in the studio was limited.  However, from 1967 until disbanding in 1969 the group was signed to Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records label and studio time was virtually unlimited.  Guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane, keyboardist Ian McLagan and drummer Kenney Jones took full advantage of the extended studio time, evidenced by all the unreleased material included in this marvelous box set.  

“Here Come The Nice” marks the second 4 CD box set dedicated to Small Faces’ Immediate recordings, the first, also on the Charly label, being 1995s “The Immediate Years” compiled by Phil Cohen and containing every track the band released on the label in Germany, the US and the UK, 86 tracks in all.  The box sets compliment each other incredibly well as the new release concentrates mainly on previously unreleased material, all 34 tracks on discs two and three making their debut here, a huge addition to the Small Faces catalog indeed.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Disc One contains the mono single mixes of all ten singles released on the Immediate imprint, beginning with this set’s title track from 1967 and ending with the 1969 tour de force, “Afterglow Of Your Love”, released posthumously, Steve Marriott having left the band to form Humble Pie with ex-Herd guitarist/vocalist Peter Frampton.  Of the ten singles, six made the UK top 40, with three making the top ten:  “Itchycoo Park” (#3, and at #16 the only Small Faces single to chart in the US), “Tin Soldier” (#9) and “Lazy Sunday” (#2).  Small Faces’ Immediate singles were consistently strong and unlike their Decca counterparts were all band originals, written by the team of guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott and bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane.  Particularly memorable to American listeners is the trippy, phased “Itchycoo Park” a real psychedelic gem.  “Here Come The Nice” follows the drug theme, written about the group’s amphetamine connection.  Marriott’s guitar work is consistent throughout, but particularly interesting on tunes such as the classic “Tin Soldier” and my personal favorite the amazing “Afterglow Of Your Love”.  With twenty tracks and a run time nearing an hour, disc one is an incredible introduction of things to come.

Discs Two and Three contain nothing but previously unreleased material, 34 tracks total, an honest to goodness treasure trove for collectors and fans alike.  Ranging from first takes of later finished tunes like “Green Circles” and “Wide Eyed Girl On The Wall” to alternate mixes of “I Can’t Make It”, “Wham Bam Thank You Man”, “Penny Rides A Penny A Glass” and “Red Balloon”.   There are alternate takes on tracks like “Collibosher” “Wide Eyed Girl” and “Call It Something Nice”.  Tracking sessions for never issued songs are included giving the listener a hint of what could have been on tunes such as “Anything”, “Wit Art Yer” and “Doolally”.  Backing tracks like “All Our Yesterdays”, “Fred” and “Jack” while not finished products prove quite interesting even in instrumental format.  An early mix of “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” offers a look inside the band’s songwriting technique.  While the run times on these two discs may be relatively short, the presence of previously released songs such as “Fred”, “Mind The Doors Please” and “Jack” make this set absolutely essential for fans of Small Faces, mod rock and psychedelic rock.

Disc Four collects alternate and out-takes along with the five live tracks posthumously released on “Autumn Stone” in the UK and “In Memoriam” in Germany.  Stereo mixes of single tracks “Itchycoo Park”, “Here Come The Nice” and “I’m Only Dreaming” released originally on “There Are But Four Small Faces” get things going.  The band’s song building is displayed on take 2, alternate mixes of “Eddie’s Dreaming” and “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me”.  Of particular interest is an alternative mono single version of “Afterglow Of Your Love” presented at the original LP speed, the original single having been deliberately speeded up.  Mono versions of “Me You And Us Too”, “Don’t Burst My Bubble” and (If You Think You’re) Groovy” credited to The Lot-P.P. Arnold & The Small Faces sound ready made for AM radio.  Alternate mixes of “Piccanniny”, “Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire” and “Get Yourself Together” vary sufficiently from the released versions to prove quite interesting.  The disc closes with the five live tracks, recorded at Newcastle City Hall in late November, 1968 and released on “Autumn Stone” and “In Memoriam”.  They have been corrected for speed and have had some of the audience screaming, added in 1969 at Pye Studios, removed.  High energy stuff and a perfect way to end the set!  But….

The four discs are housed in a gorgeous 72 page hardbound book with a foreword by Pete Townshend, remembrances by band members Kenney Jones & Ian McLagan, an introduction by reissue producer Rob Craiger, an essay by Mark Paytress and track by track comments by Craiger & Tosh Flood.  Tons of photos and an Immediate years discography are also included.  Then…..

There’s the 64 page softbound book of lyrics, chock full of photos, trippy photos in lots of colors.  But it doesn’t end there…..

There are three replica 45s on red, white & blue vinyl as well as an Olympic Studio acetate, facsimile posters, postcards, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake press kit and Gered Mankowitz fine art prints.  Whew!  I think that’s it.  All of this in a giant sized lift top box that weighs kilograms.  A heavy weight box set for a heavy weight mod band!

Review by Kevin Rathert/2016
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It's Psychedelic Baby presents: The Lopez - Kill Yr Selfie premiere

We have a new four-song 7-inch coming out in April titled "Kill Yr Selfie"...

The Lopez are a noisy, electro synth-punk combo from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since 2010, they've been putting out releases on their own and booking their own tours - two to the west coast and a bunch of regional tours. They played with the likes of No Age, The Dead Milkmen, Speedy Ortiz, Shannon and the Clams, Shonen Knife, Tacocat, Colleen Green, and Screaming Females.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Holydrug Couple - Moonlust (2015) review

The Holydrug Couple - Moonlust (Sacred Bones, 2015) 

Bright and airy, almost ambient, Moonlust, by The Holydrug Couple is a step in the evolution of dream-pop, creating a sense of transparentness, space, romanticism, and the need for infusing a sense of clarity and privacy into our very beings.  The Holydrug Couple do this through music, though with a name such as Holydrug, the notion of narcotic pop-music might just be a genre that’s slowly ebbing its way into the musical lexicon of our lives.

There’s a yearning vagueness to this sound, creating a desirable melancholia that is purposeful and enticing, envisioning an illusionary atmosphere of being alone in the crowd.  The Holydrug Couple don’t so much relay stories to you through their vocals, it’s more that they create a palette onto which the listener is able to project their own thoughts, visions, wishes, longings, and objectively channel the core of their inner desires through the contours of this dream-laden soundscape. 

There are few edges to be found anywhere in this release, even in the vocals, where voices are used as much as instrumentation.  In the same manner there’s a distillation of any solid surfaces onto which one might attempt to extract an essential meaning or central aspect of Moonlust.  The music is disarming, in much the same manner as were the Cocteau Twins, or even Galaxie 500, where it’s all about the smoothness, the lack of challenge, and the readiness allow ourselves to be swept away with total disregard.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Small Faces “The Decca Years 1965-1967”

Small Faces “The Decca Years 1965-1967” (Decca Music Group Ltd., 2015)
The Definitive Collection of Small Faces’ Early Recordings!

A hefty five CDs, 86 tracks in all, compose Universal International Music (Netherlands) late 2015 compilation “The Decca Years 1965-1967” by The Small Faces, far and away the most complete collection of the band’s early recordings.  The foursome of guitarist/vocalist Steve Marriott, bassist/vocalist Ronnie Lane, keyboard player Ian MacLagan and drummer Kenney Jones recorded, and wrote, some of the most memorable mod music of the mid to late 1960s, the earliest of which is contained in this absolutely essential box set.

Disc One opens with both sides of the eight singles released by the band on Decca, from their 1965 rhythm and blues debut “What‘Cha Gonna Do About It” featuring Marriott’s incredible bluesy vocals to their late 1966 psychedelic gem “My Mind’s Eye” which turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back in relations between Small Faces and their label.  The 45 was released by manager Don Arden without the band’s approval, the bottom line being the band’s contract was bought out by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records and the second half of the Small Faces’ recording career began, although two further singles (“I Can’t Make It” and “Patterns”) were issued jointly by Decca and Immediate as part of the agreement.  The Decca singles include four top 10 UK hits: “Sha La La La Lee (#3), “Hey Girl” (#10), “My Mind’s Eye” (#4) and Small Faces’ lone #1 single “All Or Nothing”.  The first two are Small Faces at their r and b best, the latter two symbolic of their shift toward a heavier, more psychedelic sound.  The disc is completed by five songs originally available only on EPs, a total of 21 tracks, all recorded, released and reissued in mono and sounding crisper and cleaner here than ever before.

Disc Two contains the “Small Faces” LP released in May, 1966 which peaked at #3 on the UK charts.  The album’s 12 tracks show the band at its raw rhythm and blues best,   presented here, as recorded, in mono and sounding wonderful.  Six of the album’s twelve tracks were written or co-written by the team of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane.  There are duplications of tracks as Decca used the same takes and edits for 45s and LPs alike.  These include “Shake”, “It’s Too Late”, “E Too D” and “Sha La La La Lee”, as well as “Come On Children” which is presented in a version different from the one found on the band’s French EP . “Sorry She’s Mine”, “Own Up Time” and “You Better Believe It” are the only tracks not included elsewhere on the set.  Arguments can be made for and against these duplications, but in the name of musical integrity the album is presented in its entirety and in its original running order.  Additionally the quality of songs found on “Small Faces” speaks for itself.  

Disc Three contains “From The Beginning” Small Faces’ second and final Decca LP which peaked at #17 on the charts and was released to compete with the band’s Immediate Records debut LP, “Small Faces”.  The album showed a band who had grown musically and had moved from a raw rhythm and blues sound to  heavier, more psychedelic songs with much more introspective lyrics.  Like its predecessor half, seven, of the album’s 14 tracks are band originals. The album contains the band’s two top charting Decca singles, the top 5 hit “My Mind’s Eye” as well as the chart topping “All Or Nothing” and is a harbinger of things to come in the band’s recordings on the Immediate label. 

Disc Four consists of 23 rarities and outtakes.  Alternate versions of early rhythm and blues numbers like “What’Cha Gonna Do About It”, “Shake” and “What’s A Matter Baby” are joined by alternate versions of later, more psychedelic numbers such as “My Mind’s Eye”, “(Tell Me) Have You Ever Seen Me” and ”E Too D”.  Alternate mixes on display include “What’s A Matter Baby”, “Runaway” and “That Man”, along with backing tracks of “Talk To You”, “All Our Yesterdays”, “Show Me The Way” and “I Can’t Take It”.  One track “Things Are Going To Get Better” is previously unissued and take 14 has been selected for inclusion here.  This is the disc which will be of most interest to fans of The Small Faces and 1960s mod rock and it will not disappoint!

Disc Five contains 17 tracks recorded for the BBC as well as four interview segments with Steve Marriott.  The performances span the band’s entire tenure at Decca, from the very early “What’Cha Gonna Do About It”, “Shake” and “Sha La La La Lee” to the late recordings like “E Too D”, “Understanding” and “All Or Nothing”.  Unlike many bands of the day Small Faces’ BBC song selection was made up almost entirely of tracks recorded as single or album cuts by the band.  The sound quality on the BBC Recordings is good, a marked improvement from previously available versions.  

The five CDs are joined by a 72 page color booklet that includes an essay by Mark Paytress, full track annotations and tons of photographs, press clippings, short bios of each Small Face and in depth track discussions, including lots of quotes from the members of the band, with Ian MacLagan and Kenney Jones acting as supervisory producers.  Four postcards round out the package which is available at a pleasantly affordable price.  In addition, the remastering job by Nick Robbins at Soundmastering Ltd. is the best ever for The Small Faces’ Decca recordings.  

“The Decca Years” follows the 2014 release of the four CD box set “Here Come The Nice” which anthologized The Small Faces’ Immediate label recordings 1967-1969.  The box sets, both outstanding in their own right stand in sharp contrast of each other with “Here Come The Nice” including a hardbound book, a lyric booklet, and a facsimile acetate among other goodies, housed in an enormous tortoise shell box and weighing kilograms.  “The Decca Years” by contrast is a modest package, containing considerably more music but far fewer amenities.  The price difference between the two sets reflects the differences.  “The Decca Years” actually makes a nice companion to the 1995 Charly Records, Phil Cohen compiled, Small Faces “The Immediate Years” 4 CD, 86 track compilation which I highly recommend and cannot speak highly enough of.  

The Small Faces, (from left) Steve Marriott, Kenney Jones, Ronnie Lane and Ian McLagan. Photograph: GAB Archive/Redferns

Fans of The Small Faces and 1960s mod rock will appreciate the care taken in compiling “The Decca Years”.  As was the label’s practice at the time the band was recorded almost exclusively in mono, with a few tracks, very few being released in either electronically processed or true stereo.  To his credit project manager Rob Craiger refrained from including any of the electronically processed tunes found on the 2012 Deluxe Editions of “Small Faces” and “From The Beginning”.  Thus, the only possible relevant criticism of “The Decca Years” is the inclusion of the same take and edit of tracks issued both as single and album tracks.  In my opinion project manager Rob Craiger made the right call, in the name of continuity, presenting the two albums and eight singles as originally released. The short run times of Discs Two and Three are more than compensated by the extremely reasonable cost this set can be obtained for.  Bottom line, pick up Small Faces’ “The Decca Years” while it is in print!  A great package at an affordable price, what a wonderfully pleasant surprise!

Review by Kevin Rathert/2016
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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Paul Levinson interview

You've been a musician for your whole life and thanks to South Korea's Big Pink/Beatball and Whiplash/Sound of Salvation labels we can listen to your music, that was originally issued on a private label you named HappySad Records back when initial release of Twice Upon A Rhyme came out. Paul Major mentioned your album in a book Enjoy the Experience saying that “Forever Friday” is so amazing and real lo-fi he still gets chills when he hears it, and also the long track “The Lama Will Be Late This Year” sweeps whatever floor is left in this department.

What can you tell us about preparing and getting ideas together to record your album back in 1972?

Twice Upon a Rhyme began in Ed Fox's little apartment on East 85th Street in New York City in the Fall of 1968. We wrote at least 10 songs from October of that year through the Spring of the next year. I mostly wrote the lyrics and Ed wrote the music, and we put the two together in every conceivable way. I had an idea for a song, "Looking for Sunsets – in the Early Morning," I said it to Ed, he started playing the piano, and we wrote the whole song in about ten minutes. One time we were looking at a newspaper, and saw a headline, "The Lama Will Be Late This Year," and the rest of the song practically wrote itself. One day Ed said he saw a sign about a "rain check policy" at a local supermarket, and that's how we got the idea for "Raincheck". Another day, Ed was playing a mournful melody at the piano, and "Forever Friday" just came to me.

We knew after we had written a few songs that we wanted to record an album. Our original plan was to record a couple of demos and take them to record companies. Ed and I already had a contract with Buddah Records for a bubblegum group, Protozoa, that we had recorded. We also had worked with Jimmy "Wiz" Wisner, on another bubblegum music project. But the songs Ed and I had come to write were not bubblegum, and we didn't have the patience to shop the album around before recording it, so we talked to Herb Abramson, one of the founders of Atlantic Records, but now owner of A-1 Recording Studios on the West 70s in New York City, about recording some of our songs at his studio. We had recorded the Protozoa songs there, and Herb was amenable. He's let us record our new songs, at no charge, and we agreed to give him a cut of profits from the album.

We assembled our musicians. Pete Rosenthal was a guitarist. We had first met a few years earlier, when Stu Nitekman (one of the members of an earlier folk-rock group I had been in, The New Outlook) and I had produced a demo of one of the songs Stu and I had written, "If Leaves Fall Tomorrow". The group singing our song was Monday's Children, and Pete was their guitarist. Donnie Frankel, Jay Sacket, and Alan Fuhr came from another group Ed and I had briefly been producing – in fact, they did the first recorded version of "Looking for Sunsets". I had written a bunch of songs with Boris Midney, a Russian jazz musician, and got him to play saxophone and clarinet on the album. We brought in other musicians, such as Mitch Greenberg on keyboard – Mitch went on to have a career as an actor (as has Donnie, in commercials). In fact, Mitch is currently on Broadway in a new production of Fiddler on the Roof. We brought in Jesse Stiller and Mike Dorfman on drums – I can't even recall how we met them. (Donnie and Robbie Rist of the Brady Bunch and Ninja Turtles fame formed a new group, Sundial Symphony, and made new recordings in just the past few years of "Looking for Sunsets" and "Today Is Just Like You," released digitally on HappySad Records.)

The New Outlook - Ira Margolis, Stu Nitekman, and Paul Levinson (1966).

In the end, Ed and I wound up recording the album at a half a dozen recording studios, all on the same terms as our arrangement with A-1. Because we were getting the studio time free of charge, we usually were obliged to record in the middle of the night – and we loved it. Ed and I wrote the charts for violins for several of our songs. I clinked ice in a glass for the beginning of "Today is Just Like You". That song was written entirely by me, as was "The Soft of Your Eyes" (a song I wrote for Tina, who became my wife). I wrote "Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye" with Linda Kaplan, who decades later wrote the world-famous "Toys R Us" jingle, and has become a best-selling author. "Antique Shop" was written by Pete and me, and "You Are Everywhere" by Danny Kaley (I had written a couple of songs with him in the late 1960s) and me.

What's your musical background? Take us back to your home town and explain what influenced you to become a musician?

I had no musical training, other than taking clarinet lessons for a few years when I was a kid. I did always have a good sense of harmony, and began singing doo-wop a capella when I was about 12 years old. My first group was Little Levi and the Emeralds. Later, I formed a group called The Transits, which is where I met Stu Nitekman and Ira Margolis. The three of us began The New Outlook after the lead singer of The Transits – Dave – disappeared. You can hear a few Transit cuts on my Paul Levinson page on Soundcloud. About a dozen New Outlook recordings are on Spun Dreams - an album I released at the end of 2010, consisting of studio and home demos. We were signed by Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow to Atlantic Records, where we released two singles, which sold a negative number of copies (see below for more). Meanwhile, around this time I also wrote a song, "Unbelievable (Inconceivable You)," recorded but never released by the Vogues (who had hit records with "You're the One" and "Five O'Clock World").

What influenced me to make music was my love of music, the way it's always lit up my brain, ever since I can remember. Every time I heard a Beatles song – every time I hear a Beatles song, or any great music, to this very day – my brain starts making music of its own. For as long as I can remember, I've been singing harmonies, out loud in the car, to myself in crowds, when I hear a good song.

Your first recording was made in the '60s where as part of The New Outlook aka The Other Voices you recorded for Atlantic Records. The single May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone / Hung Up On Love came out in 1968 and it was produced by Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow. What's the story behind The New Outlook and who were members of this group?

Here's more of The New Outlook's story: Stu, Ira, and I first met in Krum's, an ice-cream parlor. After singing in The Transits, a five-man doo-wop group, we formed The New Outlook, with the three of us singing and Stu playing guitar (I came up with all of those names – as well as the name Twice Upon a Rhyme). One Sunday afternoon, The New Outlook was singing in Central Park. Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow were strolling by, liked they heard – we were singing a song Stu and I wrote, "Yesterday's Rain" – and Ellie and Mike signed us to their production company.

One of our disappointments, though, and a source of friction in our relationship, is that Ellie and Mike didn't go on to produce any of our songs. "May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone" was written by songwriters who wrote for the Four Seasons. "No Olympian Height" was written by Brute Force. So not only was our name changed to "The Other Voices," but our music was, too. I did write the lyrics to "Hung Up On Love," and Mikie Harris, then Mike's wife, wrote the music. That recording was the B-side of both our single releases on Atlantic Records. But even on that recording, there was aggravation – Mike didn't like Stu's lead, so he sang the lead himself. I was happy, though, that "Hung Up on Love" was re-released on the Come to the Sunshine compilation put together by Andrew Sandoval for Rhino Records a few years ago.

Would it be possible for you as an author of songs to share your insight on the albums’ tracks?

Here's a brief run-down – of some of the songs I didn't mention in my first answer in this interview. "Today Is Just Like You" was one of a bunch of songs for which I wrote the words and music – bright, sunny tunes, including "Sunshine Mind" (recorded by Donna Marie of the Archies), and "Waking Up to Love," a demo recorded by no one. "Gentle Blue Cherry Bell" is one of my favorite lyrics, and I guess inspired in some way by "Crystal Blue Persuasion". "I'm Seeing You in a Different Light" is also one of my favorite lyrics (written before "I Saw the Light" by Todd Rundgren). "Forever Friday" was probably influenced by the Moody Blues' "Tuesday Afternoon". "Learn to Learn" was just a clever play on words, but I always liked my line, "my world is cardboard when it rains".

How many copies were originally made and what's the story behind HappySad Records?

500 copies, and I still have plenty in my attic. When the tracks were mostly finished, we began shopping the album around. Al Gallico, a big music publisher, was interested for a new label he was starting up, and we got some other interest, but this was taking months and months, so we decided to release the album ourselves, on our own label. I came up with the name HappySad Records. We scrounged up the money needed for the mastering and pressings. We decided not to go for a stereo mix and keep it mono (again, before Phil Specter came out in favor or mono). Tina's friend's boyfriend designed the cover photo, and I got a guy at Bard College to layout the lyrics on the cover. But I guess the pressure of doing all of this was too much for Ed and me – he decided to leave HappySad Records, which I took over entirely. The very last thing we did together was pick up the boxes of Twice Upon a Rhyme records in New Jersey and take them to our apartment on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, where Ed and I were living. He shortly after moved out, and we didn’t' write any more songs together after that.

Ed Fox and Paul Levinson (1970, Grand Concourse).

Did the whole 'band' ever make an appearance to promote album?

Never. After the album was recorded, Pete, Donny, Jay, and Alan made some appearances in the Catskill hotels in New York. And just this past August, Pete and I did a little concert at a science fiction convention in Ronkonkoma, NY – here's the video And a guy in England has been talking to me for about a year about setting up a concert there. In retrospect, I'm sure Twice Upon a Rhyme would have done better if we had gone around and performed and promoted the album. But after Ed and I split, I became more of a record executive, running HappySad Records, and less a performer. It was an interesting progression, because the Transits did lots of live performances, and so did The New Outlook.

Alan Fuhr standing, seated left to right: Jay Sacket, Bruce Kanter (not on Twice Upon a Rhyme)  Donnie Frankel, Pete Rosenthal (1970, Catskill hotel).

I don't have all the information about your discography. The only release that caught my eye is an archival release titled Spun Dreams…

The Park at Night (Levinson - Gorman) Paul Levinson (lead) & Paul Gorman, studio demo

Once Upon a Summer (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Please Don't Cry Little Dove (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Sunshine's Mine (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Paul lead
Precious (and Golden) (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
The Flavor of Spring (Levinson) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Water Proof (Levinson) New Outlook, home demo, Paul lead
Two Minus One (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Time On My Hands (Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Late Afternoon (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Keep Off the Grass (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Happy Goodbye Baby (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
Don't Blame It On Love (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, home demo, Stu lead
The Outcast (Mark Goodman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Down by the Magical Sea (Mark Goodman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
If Leaves Fall Tomorrow (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Just That Kind (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Yesterday's Rain (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
Sunny Side of the Street (classic: Fields & McHugh) New Outlook, studio demo, Stu lead
The Winds of Change (Levinson-J.Krondes) Good News, Murbo Records, L. Carabalo lead

May My Heart Be Cast Into Stone (Randell-Linzer) Other Voices, Atlantic Records, Stu lead
No Olympian Height (Brute Force) Other Voices, Atlantic Records, Stu lead
Hung Up On Love (Levinson- Mikie Harris) Other Voices, Alantic Records, Rashkow lead
Evening's Evergreen Morning (Levinson-Nitekman) New Outlook, unreleased master, Stu lead
Picture Postcard World (Levinson) Definitive Rock Chorale, Decca Records
Lemons and Limes (Levinson) Fuzzy Bunnies, Decca Records 
Love Colored Glasses (Levinson - Harris) Mikie Harris, studio demo
Mr. Kringle (Levinson - Harris) studio demo 
Teardrops Make No Sound (Levinson - Jimmy Krondes) studio demo 
Waking Up to Love (Levinson) studio demo
Skyscraper (Levinson - Kaplan) Linda Kaplan, studio demo 
Cloudy Sunday (Levinson - Peter Rosenthal) Linda Kaplan, studio demo 
A Piece of the Rainbow (Levinson - Kaplan) Linda Kaplan, studio demo

Sunshine Mind (Levinson) Donna Marie, Columbia Records
Teacups and Tapestry (Levinson - Boris Midney) studio demo
Snow Flurries (Levinson - Jimmy Krondes) Good News, Paul harmony, Murbo Records
Sunday Princess (Levinson - Ed Fox) Joey Ward & Paul Levinson, studio demo
Unbelievable (Inconceivable You) (Levinson) The Vogues, Reprise Records (unreleased)

Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye (Levinson - Kaplan), Tony DeSanto, studio demo

Merri-Goes-Round (Levinson - Ed Fox) Trousers, Paul harmony, Wizdom Records
Ring Around My Rosie (David Fox) Protozoa, Paul harmony, Buddah Records


Murray the K's Back in Town (Levinson) Paul Levinson, studio demo
Twice Upon A Rhyme (LP)
Paul Levinson 
with Ed Fox and Peter Rosenthal
1. Today Is Just Like You (Levinson) Paul
2. Looking for Sunsets (in the Early Morning) (Levinson & Fox) Paul
3. Gentle Blue Cherry Bell (Levinson & Fox) Paul
4. I'm Seeing You in a Different Light (Levinson & E. Fox) Paul
5. Learn to Learn (Levinson & Fox) Paul
6. Looks Like a Night (I Won't Catch Much Sleep In) (Levinson & Fox) Ed and Paul
7. Raincheck (Levinson & Fox) Paul
8. You Are Everywhere (Levinson & Danny Kaley) Paul
9. Forever Friday (Levinson & Fox) Ed & Paul
10. The Soft of Your Eyes Levinson) Paul
11. Antique Shop (The Coming of Winter) (Levinson & Rosenthal) Paul
12. Not Yet Ready to Say Goodbye (Levinson & Linda Kaplan) Paul
13. The Lama Will Be Late This Year (Levinson & Fox) Ed

Originally released in 1972 by Happysad Records; re-issued on mini-CD by Beatball/Big Pink Records in 2008 and on Vivid Records in 2009; re-issued on re-mastered vinyl by Whiplash/Sound of Salvation Records in 2010 and 2012

PAUL LEVINSON: vocals, keyboard, percussion
ED FOX: vocals, keyboard 

Jay Sackett: bass; Cyril Penn: recorders; Mitch Greenberg, Jesse Stiller: drums;
Donny Frankel: organ; Joe Szalacsi: trumpet; Israel Esquenazi, Sasha Humek: violins;
Boris Midney: saxophone, drums

Produced & Arranged by 
Paul Levinson & Ed Fox

I Knew You By Heart (Levinson - Rosenthal) Peter Rosenthal, studio demo 

Alpha Centauri (Levinson - Rosenthal) Peter Rosenthal, home demo

Lime Streets (Levinson) Paul, demo

Tau Ceti (Levinson - Anealo) John Anealo, Paul harmony, home demo

If I Traveled to the Past (Levinson - Anealo) John Anealo, Paul harmony, home demo

Mitch Lewis (cousin of daughter-in-law Sarah) and Paul Levinson singing "The Soft of Your Eyes" at Simon and Sarah's wedding, 2010.

Is there any unreleased material?

Lots – ranging from the dozen or more songs that Ed and I wrote, to lots of songs I wrote with Stu that are not on the Spun Dreams album, to songs such as "Lime Streets," "Tau Ceti," "If I Traveled to the Past," etc. Pete has also written dozens of new songs. We performed two of them at our Ronkonkoma concert in August, and are going to keep performing them in our concerts.

Paul and daughter Molly, 1988.

What currently occupies your life?

Music was my first love and creative endeavor. I added writing – both science fiction and scholarly writing. When I was writing my doctoral dissertation in the mid-late 1970s, I was also writing a science fiction novel, and had the idea that I could write both, at the same time. But I soon discovered I wasn't making much progress on the dissertation, because writing science fiction was more fun. So I put the fiction aside – for 10 years, it turned out – and wrote only nonfiction. But then I got back to the science fiction, and now happily write both. People who read my scholarly nonfiction about the evolution of media sometimes say it reads like science fiction. People who read my science fiction sometimes say it reads like philosophy. I take them both as compliments. Both kinds of writing have won awards for me, and both sell pretty well. Lately, I've taken some of my books brought out by traditional publishers, and put them up myself on Kindle, under my own company, Connected Editions. Sort of a replay of HappySad Records. And my music continues to percolate. I'm a Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University in New York City, and I sometimes sing a song to my class.

Paul Levinson and Pete Rosenthal in concert, Ronkonkoma, NY, 2015.

Interview by Klemen Breznikar/2016
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Friday, January 29, 2016

You Gotta Ride, Said the Doctor of Space…

Paul Lorin Kantner 1941-2016

       Tonight, All-News radio announced his death with a 30-second blurb which referenced two hit songs from the Summer of Love (that he didn’t write), and mentioned Woodstock. They also got his age wrong.
        This blurb will be longer.
      I first heard of Paul Kantner in the fall of 1975 (which makes me a second-generation fan, I guess). An older relative turned me on to the Red Octopus album, and like all the rest of the world that year, I was grabbed, and not least because the guy sitting in the middle of the top row in the back cover photo was wearing glasses, which seemed almost unheard of for a rock star in 1975. Wow! Somebody in a cool band wore glasses! I could relate.

       While everyone else loved “Miracles”, I gravitated to “I Want to See Another World”. My 12-year-old self had never heard music with a science fiction theme before, especially music with such a cool guitar riff. “Fast Buck Freddie” was another highlight; Kantner’s banjo blending with David Freiburg’s piano to sound like every summernight country road in Ray Bradbury’s memory. Where’s Douglas Spaulding from The Sound of Summer Running? This is his music. Dragon Fly was next, and Paul’s folkie voice on Tom Pacheco’s “All Fly Away” was like a space age troubadour riding the solar wind through time while “Ride The Tiger” was my first taste of his fascination with China.

        For all that he could be a sort of politically pessimistic American George Orwell of rock (writing in “Wooden Ships”, “we are leaving, you don’t need us…”), Kantner’s work was ultimately hopeful about the future of the human race. Blows Against the Empire was about starting over, leaving Earth behind in order to wander “…a village of stars, stars that I have explored…”, as well as reflecting and referencing Theodore Sturgeon to remind us that “more than human can we be”. 

Later, Spitfire’s “Song To the Sun” follows up Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End to tell us that “there are children being born/Who will amaze you with their minds…You will see things in these years/That will ease all your fears/Help you build a bridge to the sky…”.  

       To this day Paul Kantner is one of the very few artists whose work is guaranteed to lift me up out of one of those real bad days. Somehow, I think many others share this feeling. He reflected the optimism of the 60s, and the disillusionment of the 70s but, unlike so many other groups, his work never fell into the whiny depressive drone of the 90s. Like the best science fiction, he expressed a sense of wonder. This clear-eyed hopefulness coupled with an adult’s take on childlike awe may be his most enduring legacy. His songs arise from a creative originality that is really unlike anyone else’s.
        I remember Jefferson Starship at New Jersey’s Stone Pony back in 2000. Paul sat like Jabba The Hut in a soft chair with an acoustic 12-string and opened the show by greeting the audience with “gather around now, pilgrims, let’s journey together”. This is the spirit I remember, and the thing that made his music special throughout my life; the inclusion, the questing, the freedom, the call to “go out and stuff the universe into your eyes”.  Sure, some of the Airplane albums had their share of cringe-worthy moments (often due to Grace Slick’s stoner attempts at comic sarcasm), but at their best, Kantner’s groups exemplified a uniquely American pioneer dream of a New World to explore. More so than the Grateful Dead or any of the other psychedelic cowboys, Paul Kantner (to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw), “dreamed things that never were and said, ‘why not?’“.  Goodbye and thank you, Sunfighter. 

      - K.F. Wozniak, Jan 29, 2016   

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Dandelion - Seeds Flowers and Magical Powers of the Dandelion (2015) review

The Dandelion - Seeds Flowers and Magical Powers of the Dandelion (2015)

Channelling mystical garage psych flower power vibes from the mid 60’s, Australia’s The Dandelion, are perfectly poised for a love-in, complete indie chunking California guitars, a mystical floating eastern atmosphere, frantic folky fluting, fuzzed reverb, and a teetering structure that dances so close to the edges of parody, that at times I wondered how they hadn’t fallen into the abyss.  Even the title of the album caused my eyes to roll as I began to sort though some of the longest album titles I could remember from those heady days.

This is one of those bands who are a lot of fun, though not to be taken too seriously as they attempt to charm the listener into their vision of cosmic pastures laced with sunlight and love.  They do have the ability to shine with spellbinding style, grace, and at times elegance, with their breathy intoxicating vocal deliveries and boundless energy.

I find all this revitalization of the psychedelic heyday to be charming, and a welcomed addition to my musical environment, as so many of these bands seem to actually get the sound and atmosphere correct, as opposed to those from the times, as all this was a work in progress as it was happening.  Having said this, I want to give pause for what the 60’s were really about, sincerely wondering if these new visionaries actually have visions, or are these merely acid flashbacks on a cosmic level?  With all of this leaving me to hope that these new travellers are sharing some sort of collective emotional memory for a time that could have been so much more than it was.

Review by Jenell Kesler/2016
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ron Geesin interview

Ron Geesin is a composer, performer, sound architect, interactive designer, broadcaster, writer and lecturer. In the following interview we will dig deep into his work, including making of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother and about his latest album titled RonCycle2, which is a very interesting project. Geesin recently released a book The Flaming Cow and there is also a brand new documentary about his life. Enjoy.

To begin with, when and where were you born and was music a big part of life in Geesin household?

I was born on the 17th December 1943 at 6.10am (Scottish birth certificates give the time). My Birth certificate says 'Stevenston, Ayrshire', but my mother always said that wasn't quite correct: it was Kilwinning Maternity Hospital! Stevenston was where I was gestated. We moved to Bothwell, Lanarkshire when I was about 3: my father built a bungalow there. Music was not a big part of life: we did have an upright piano on which he stumbled through simplified bits of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody In Blue' and popular melodies from the 1930s and '40s, 'Red Sails In The Sunset' and 'A Little Bit Independent' for instance, moving back to ragtime later. 

At what age did you begin playing music and what were the first instruments that you played?

I got fairly fascinated by the 'harmonica/mouthorgan virtuoso' Larry Adler, seeing him on the television, and was given a 12-hole chromatic harmonica, maybe when I became 11. I was soon playing bits of simplified Bach and the film theme from 'Genevieve'. Then I got more interested in syncopated music in general: the 'Trad' (traditional jazz revival) era had started in the 1950s in Britain, so I got a long-neck 'G' banjo for my 15th birthday, took the short 5th string off and played it as a 4-string plectrum banjo.

You are a man of great talents. Composer, performer, sound architect, interactive designer, broadcaster, writer and also lecturer. What college did you attend? Would you say that it had any impact on who you became later on?

I'm still trying to find out who I became. I never attended a college. I was becoming extremely rebellious and unruly at Hamilton Academy (secondary school) and was asked to leave at around 17. "Take this boy away - we can do no more with him." said the Headmaster to my father. This, supplemented by, "You'll never be any good at anything!" by my father, caused me to get my head down, or up, and get on with real life - into that university - and out the other side.

While browsing through your website I noticed, that you listed Victor Borge, The Goons, Chic Murray (Scottish comedian, deceased) as your main influences. You also mention Surrealism. Can you be more precise about what interests you in Surrealism?

They were some of my main influences, but see below. Surrealism, in the visual medium, depicted the impossible, dream and subconscious images, often with humour. This connected well with the verbal equivalent 'The Goon Show' on radio. All this bundle of endeavour was my rocket fuel to get out of middle class materialistic Lanarkshire.

How about musical influences, since you're composer? How did you embrace the whole rock'n'roll and later on Psychedelic Rock/Progressive Rock?

My main musical influences were, and still are, classic Afro-American jazz from the 1920s and '30s (actually musical surrealism), and most of the 'classical' composers' works, except those of Britten, Shostakovich and Stravinsky. I never embraced any kind of 'Rock' - it came to me in the form of Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd - I embraced these creators as individuals, but not their music.

What were your first musical involvements? In the early '60s you played piano on a few recordings, as 'Original Downtown Syncopators'. What can you say about this jazz combo? You released an EP on major label such as Columbia (EMI) in 1964 (It's Jass!).

I think you should prefix 'musical involvements' with 'professional'. I joined the Original Downtown Syncopators in 1961. [see: and] As a passionate mid-adolescent, I always said they were a bunch of late adolescents having a fling before settling down. Their main aim was to copy the music of the very first jazz band to record 'Jazz', or 'Jass' as it was sometimes called in 1917, The Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Fortunately, the piano was fairly indistinct on those early acoustic recordings, so I just had to play within the general style - since I could never copy anything anyway!

Improvisation is a big part of your life. What's your view as a composer and performer on improvisational pieces?

Composing, in music or 'organised noise', is about forming a structure: building modules by any means. I have always enjoyed improvising as a way of allowing the subconscious to declare or reveal itself. If an improvisation is recorded, one can turn back on it, reflect and change if necessary. If not recorded, whoever hears it gets the picture - the executant might get some of it but is more free to move on. When composing in the more conventional way - writing onto manuscript paper - even when composing a solo melody, one might improvise a phrase many different ways, eventually settle and then write it down - draw the map.

What does it mean to you and to your perception to improvise?

Essential to the process of composing.

In 1965 you made an EP, which was recorded by Keith Knox in a club in NW London. What can you say about the material on this EP?

This consisted of four improvised piano solos - at a time when I had just moved from Crawley, Sussex, to London and left the Original Downtown Syncopators. Keith Knox was an amateur recording enthusiast from Crawley and we agreed to do some recording. It was only after I got the tape material that I thought to make an EP out of it. The recording was done one morning. A barman was clearing up glasses which can be heard clinking on one track: that's why I called it 'March Of The Wine Glasses'.

In 1967 Transatlantic signed you up and you went to record a very unusual album, which could be described as an Avant-Garde Musique Concrète experiment, but let's try not to put music into genres and talk about the recording itself. What was the idea behind making this LP?

One of my aphorisms is, "The easiest place to hide is in the Avant Garde." If there ever was an 'idea', it was to make a collection of my contemporary capabilities, by whatever means. In fact, I went to Transatlantic (a rather grand front for a fellow called Nat Joseph) with some demo tracks and he said, "We'll take a risk! Go and make some more stuff." So, out came early prototypes of my types of utterance: surreal mini-dramas (eg. "A Raise Of Eyebrows"); spoken pieces (eg. "A Female"); improvisations (eg. "It's All Very New, You Know"); written pieces (eg. "Two Fifteen String Guitars For Nice People"); tape manipulations (eg. "The Eye That Nearly Saw") and; jazzy reflections (eg. "Ha! Ha!, But Reasonable").

Then after this release you were in a way involved with upcoming wave of 'psychedelia', that was going on and you contributed two atmospheric sections on Amory Kane's 'Just To Be There' (released by CBS), John Peel 'Presents Top Gear', 'The Occasional Word' by The Year Of The Great Leap Sideways and also on a record produced by The Who guitarist Pete Townshend - Happy Birthday (Meyer Baba). How did you get involved?

Survival! At that stage of one's 'careering', one hears about things, one throws oneself on and off stages shouting, "Look at me! I can sing and dance, mister!", and mostly one says, "I can do that!" and then works out a way to do it. And every thing done adds into one's portfolio of life for others to experience and sometimes get attracted to.

In 1970 English producer Tony Garnett decided to adapt Anthony Smith's book "The Body" to the screen. Interested in commissioning a soundtrack, Garnett asked BBC DJ John Peel for some recommendations. Peel promptly suggested avant-garde composer Ron Geesin, since he was already familiar with Geesin's previous work. What's the story behind getting to work on this project?

Well, you've just told it - the start anyway. Some more of it is in my book on the real story of the making of Pink Floyd's 'Atom Heart Mother', THE FLAMING COW. 

You knew Pink Floyd and decided to invite Roger Waters. Why him?

Because I had become particular friends with him, also enlarged on in the book, and he could do original songs, which was not my thing.

I don't know if I understand the exact concept behind the film and soundtrack, but it is supposed to be about the effect of music on the human body?

You've obviously not seen the film! It was an attempt by Garnett and director Roy Battersby to put a deeply socio-human documentary about the human body into cinemas, using some then-pioneering micro-camera work: coursing along the various tubes and all that. The soundtrack did what all film soundtracks are supposed to do: duet with the visual content, for, against, unison, comment. The subsequent album for EMI consisted of most of that soundtrack, in its many parts: mine as originally recorded, Roger's re-recorded, supplemented by two original tracks, little to do with the film and all to do with Roger and me having fun, 'Our Song' and 'Body Transport'.

What was the process of getting ideas together with Waters? It seems both of you had a very creative freedom to experiment on this one?

The process was not so much 'together' as, "Roger, you go and make the songs - here are the rough timings. I'll go and make all the other sections, atmospheric and instrumental."

Even Pink Floyd were involved with "Give Birth To a Smile"?

Yes, they happened to be around and still friends at that time! So they came in, solely for the EMI album, to supplement our endeavours.

What can you tell us about techniques you were using to make this album?

As a 'one man operation', I was fairly hooked at that time on a long delay tape system that played the magnetic tape across, or between, two machines so that everything that was picked up on the playback head of the second machine could be fed back through the mix onto the record head of the first machine. Then I wrote some pieces, such as for violin and cello: 'Red Stuff Writhe' was originally for the Medical Titles of the film, but was dropped by Producer and Director, somewhat over-social reactionaries, because the classical-sounding violin and cello "glorified the medics"!! It was Roger's idea to mix all the chosen sections for the EMI album out of one another to impart a feeling of journeying through the body.

How were you satisfied with the result?


Can you go more into details regarding your friendship with Roger? How did you meet?

Again, see THE FLAMING COW. 

What kind of music would you listen to when having a couple of beer together?

Very little of any kind. We were more interested in joking. I might have played him a few jazz 78s.

What about with other members of Pink Floyd?

I listened to fairly modern jazz with Rick Wright.

And now let's move on to your involvement with 'Atom Heart Mother'. Pink Floyd didn't know what to do next and you were invited to be a big part of the band and their album. What's the story behind it?

I'm not repeating what's in THE FLAMING COW.

How difficult was it to finalize 'Atom Heart Mother' and would you say that you added your own concept to it?

I wrote all brass, choir and cello on top of their backing track. Anyone who says anything else can see me in my study!

I read that it was pretty difficult to work with session musicians for the release? What was going on?

!@%@$£&()))(*!*+_+_(@^^%£&%^$ ! ! !

In 2008 you recreated 'Atom Heart Mother' live on stage at the Cadogan Hall, Chelsea, London, featuring brass, choir, cello, and Italian Pink Floyd tribute band 'Munn Floyd'. The work was presented alongside your solo performance; 'Atom Heart Mother' itself was extended to 35 minutes, to take in a segment as written and again as recorded. The second night saw David Gilmour join them onstage for the performance. What memories do you have from this event?

Good to be back onstage. Good to have David's exquisite lyricism flowing over. Bad to experience appalling management by the Royal College of Music, switching brass players through rehearsals and live, almost wrecking all the good work.

Let's move back to your work. In 1972 you released a very interesting LP for KPM Records. 'Electrosound' is an abstract electronic piece, which became quite influential these days. What was the concept behind making it?

Someone at KPM Music Library (music for The Media: hire by the metre) enjoyed my work on 'The Body' film and asked me to make an LP's worth of two minute electronic tracks that could be "used for The Media in general and had beginnings and ends, no fades". So I went away and visualised patterns, not in any way about films, but mood and sound patterns. Having been properly amused in making them, I was subsequently more amused to find a pure piece of syncopation 'Syncopot' used for a documentary that included beetles furiously scratching in desert sand. I became good friends with that director.

'Volume II.' was released three years later, but in the meantime you managed to record another album titled 'As He Stands'. Quite a different approach this time, wasn't it?

This album was made up of a mixture of new compositions, prototypes of which appeared in 'A Raise Of Eyebrows', and remixes of more-commercial radio and film tracks.

Later on followed many interesting works including 'Patruns', 'Atmospheres', 'Right Through' and others...

Well, 'Atmospheres' was actually the third KPM Music Library album. As a Jewish music agent once said, "Art for art's sake. Money for Christ's sake!" 

Some of your latest releases are 'Biting The Hand' and 'Roncycle1', which was released in 2011. Would you say that you're using a different approach when it comes to composing?

Well, 'Biting The Hand' is a collection of most, if not all, of my short pieces originally made for radio broadcasts, so they are what they are: different bits of my brain. 'RonCycle1: the journey of a melody' is in the form of a complete journey. 

It took more than 20 years to finish it…

From the notes:

This monster from the deep was started in 1986 as “Whatever You Fancy Next”, its closest ancestor being the 1976 album “Right Through”. As the idea took more shape, I changed the working title to the factual “Journey Of A Melody” in 1999. After the final mix in July 2010, I made a further list of 15 titles and then settled on a 16th, “RonCycle1” – because there are enough meanings in the Oxford English Dictionary for the work to qualify as a cycle, and it is the first in an intended trilogy, the second being “Journey Of A Rhythm”. The reason that it has all taken so long is that, as it grew, it frightened me so much that I had to walk away for long periods. I am sure that it did not take up more than 3 years of solid working time.


The overall plan, or sequence of events, was scribbled in words on a roll of paper, but not further than a few sections beyond the score. As this caught up, a bit more planning was done. I would also have Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition” in mind and sometimes work backwards from a landmark event. Working from the short score, I found or freshly constructed suitably toned and textured sounds as I went. Some parts were scored completely (eg. 5) while some others were written as top line and chords only (eg. 6), expanded into fast sequences direct in the computer, and others were built wholly in the computer (eg. 10).

So what's the journey of a melody? Those readers who missed your latest album would love to get an insight.

Again, from the notes:

Content – don’t read this if you want to make up your own story.

Here ‘Melody’ means ‘melodic line’, one of the two accepted, or universally identified, elements in music – the other is rhythm. Ideas or models for melodic lines can come from anywhere, from the tuning of a piano in this case. Extra notes are filled in to create a sequence, out from under which climbs a twisted monster melody whose notes are all derived from the sequence (1). Even at this gestatory stage there are interruptions. It settles down (2) and tries its legs along an open road but soon meets opposition in the form of an antagonistic voice (3). This might be asking, “Where are you going?” or “What are you doing to me?” Neither questions do much good in this abstract sound medium, so the frazzled melody breaks through some kind of partition, maybe of wire netting, and really settles into a glide out in the open with its feet just slightly off the ground (4a). Becoming rather precocious, it glides over a cliff (4b) and floats down into exotic undergrowth, through which it then moves with some difficulty (5), clawing its way through cobwebs and creepers, into and out of sunlit areas, up to some kind of huge building or cave housing very unfamiliar and misshapen creatures, some of whom may be mining or trying to escape (6). The melody has got fairly fluent and mature by this time. It climbs or slides up a slope into a hall of weathercasters, all pronouncing solemn judgements and predictions about that Great British transfixation (7). The melody is induced into an even more solemn state and circles the commentators. Underground becomes overground as we hover in a disorienting wispy mist (8). Suddenly, we encounter an enormous blackbird that has been practising the melody and are so distracted that we fall into a cellar where a jazz combo is being led by a talking saxophone (9). This cellar is in fact the foyer of the BBC’s Broadcasting House in the form of a very dusty valve radio (10). Presenters emerge from the valves to comment on the composition that has dared to invade their hallowed space. The melody turns upon them and encourages them to sing along (11). This new ensemble is temporarily moved to form a new group, but arguments between it and the melody soon grow (12). Exhausted by this activity, they all sit down, or fall over, and an Eastern European ethnic musician seizes the opportunity to entertain (13). Having rested and gathered new energy, the melody joins in, gathering up elements from its colourful journey (14). The flame is lit, and situations and characters from the journey turn up, join up and romp forward, or back, to home (15). That place is reached, but I have not closed the toilet door and am discovered still practising how to start! (16)

There was also a book published by The History Press about your collaboration with Pink Floyd…

Ron Geesin: An Improvised Life is a new documentary about your life...

This was started when director Tom McInnes of Callisto Productions shot my last full live performance - in Glasgow, 2013 - then decided to make a full documentary around it. Well, it could never be 'full', but it's selectively comprehensive.

What currently occupies your life? Any future projects we should expect?

The most gripping tale THE ADJUSTABLE SPANNER - History, Origins and Development (in the UK) is published in March 2016 by The Crowood Press. Nothing to do with organised noise or performance, except perhaps through the tenuous link of structure and form. This has taken me 25 years to research and write and will further confuse anyone who tries to pin down what I'm about. See the tour at:

Now I'm getting back in the studio to pursue 'RonCycle2 - the journey of a rhythm'.

We covered a lot of your prominent career. There are still a million of questions to ask, but let's just leave music to tell its own, true story. Thank you, Ron. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers?

When in doubt, spin about.
When behind, feign being blind.
When ahead, go to bed.
When in sky, flap and fly.
When you're dead you've got there.

Interview by Klemen Breznikar/2016
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