Thursday, August 14, 2008

10 Questions

Hail & Happy Thursday to all and sundry. I have to admit I sometimes badger the guests on this sometimes verdammt silliness that is Trip Inside This House, so when someone actually volunteers I give pause to wonder about that individual's grip on sanity. The act baffles me. (Lines such as: "..'ere, wot's he up to?!" come vividly to mind, and more which I dare not type.)

Such is the lot of our delightful Guest today-a true oddity, a condundrum-inducing hellion of the first rank, and a damnably good songwriter, too!

Gentleman, protect your vinyl collection, then perhaps the women! It's Martin "Marty" Ratcliffe of the Higher State!

(Pictured above, circa ..erm....1989?)

Marty's been at this music thing for quite some time, as the photo' quite clearly indicates! I also have it on good authority he's a rabid collector of psych' & garage 45s, just like his bandmate and friend Mole. We believe he knows his stuff & is highly qualified to take on the secret traps and hidden meanings within our survey. It began in a sleepy little hamlet called Folkestone.., (say isn't there a rather famous prison there? I'm thinking of Kennelmus now, dammit!), and two friends got together and formed the Sheds, this lasted a fortnight as far as I can ascertain, whence these friends were joined by others and created the Mystreated. None other than 'Mojo' Mills, editor of Shindig! magazine, wrote their Bio' for AMG:

"Their debut album, 10 Boss Cuts, was released in 1992 on Hangman Records, produced by label owner and beat/punk legend Billy Childish (the Pop Rivets/the Milkshakes/the Mighty Caesars/thee Headcoats). Brimming with a lo-fi, no-messing Childish sound, the album gained both admirers and critics due to it's basic production. Regularly playing in London to avid fans the Mystreated very soon became one of the most popular acts of the backroom circuit. The following year, lead guitarist Dom Bennet left to go to college and was replaced by Sean Thomas, who had previously played in Bristol mod revival band the Reaction. With this new lineup, after a year of playing as a three-piece, the band entered the vintage Toe-Rag studio in East London in early 1994 to record Looking Right Through for the English/German label Twist. This album, produced by Toe-Rag owner Liam Watson, had a far cleaner sound and saw a wider array of moods and tempos approached. It even featured a sitar, and began a flirtation with psychedelia that the band would continue until their demise. Gentler folk-rock influences could also be heard. By the middle of 1994, a number of European tours were undertaken, with a proportionate fan base forming in Germany. The end of the year even saw them recording a session for national radio (BBC Radio 1), which was later released as an EP on Twist. After such success for an underground garage band, Twist issued the follow-up album with a gatefold sleeve and insert. Again produced by Liam Watson at Toe-Rag, Ever Questioning Why took the psychedelic influences of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Golden Dawn to new heights, dealing with spiritual subject matter, and displayed a newfound maturity in songwriting and playing. Sean Thomas left in early 1996 due to band politics and was replaced by original guitarist Dom Bennet, who had returned from college. A 10" mini-album was soon recorded by this reshuffle, and once again showed a change in style. This outing was almost a return to the more melodic folk-rock motives explored a few years before, and featured plenty of 12-string guitar. By 1997, the music climate had changed drastically, and bands that weren't so dissimilar from the shimmering, guitar-based style of the Mystreated were entering the charts. Lovely Sunday Dreaming (1997), the final album, was a majestic effort of Byrds-esque guitars, soaring harmony vocals, and songs with a psychedelic edge that almost evaded the retro tags that they'd picked up over the years. Unfortunately, the album sold moderately and the band seemed uncertain of the direction in which they were heading. In 1997, they split with drummer Mole, forming the Embrooks (a mod/freakbeat band), who wowed the audience in both Europe and America." (Thanks 'Mojo'!)

The Higher State were created in 2005, with the reunification of our wayward heroes, Marty and Mole. Their debut album, From 'Round Here, came out in 2006 on Italy's Misty Lane label. Our good friend "Garwood Pickjohn", (see link on right),wrote the following review for Popism:

"Being among the most eagerly awaited albums among garage heads this year, From 'Round Here finds ex-Mystreated members Marty Ratcliffe and Mole, reuniting for an equally Americanized jangly affair that is sure to elevate you onto an even "higher state".
The highest I get myself, is along with the mid'60s fuzzed-out garage beat, delivered by way of the genuine genre soulmates such as The Chesterfield Kings or The Miracle Workers, as heard in the opening Every Word, with it's instantly catchy guitar riff, slightly reminiscent of the The Barbarians' Hey Little Bird, and Yeah For Sure, as well as in the equally fuzzy, though a bit more Seedy moods of Look Around, Ballad Of A Loner and Cos You're Wrong.

For a more "mystreated" kind of a folk rocking jangle, check out Not This Time My Friend, which might even pass for an imaginary Dylan cover, the dancably upbeat threesome of Don't Think I'm Lost, Nothing You Can Say, and a kind of a more punk-ish Beatles-through-Byrdsounding title tune, or the slightlydelic I Don't Know Why.

While still kinda psyched out, within the slowed-down "higher state", there's also the slightly Eastern-tinged kind of a hippy chant Highlife, and a stripped-down, acoustic rendition of Gene Clark's So You Say You Lost Your Baby.

Hoping that they won't get "mystreated", I myself just can't wait to hear where they'll be heading "from 'round heare"."

All that out of the way, methinks we're prepared for Marty's answers! Shall we?

1. In ten words-or less, define "psychedelic music."

Music that makes you think in a different way...

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?

Got to agree with Mole on this one !..The recording studio, but only in the hands of someone who truly understands psychedelia !!

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time?

I guess the first 13th Floor Elevators LP .., although Electric Music For The Mind And Body-Country Joe and the Fish, comes close.. mind you, saying that.., so does Love's Forever Changes !!

4. Of all the psychedelic rock legends who were casualties which one do you lament the most as being cut off-creatively, way too short? Why?

Probably Syd Barrett .., I think we'd have had a very different Pink Floyd had he been able to keep it together more.

5. In the 60s psychedelic bands often referred to Alice In Wonderland or The Wind In The Willows; is there any book within the last 20 years that holds the same influence on musicians in this genre? (If not, what's taken their place?)

I can't say for certain as I never really read books but I don't really think it's the same these days ? I guess the media provides most influence these days? There's so much more information for people to write songs about now

6. If you could be a member of any band in history, what band would it be and what would you play?

Guitar in the 13th Floor Elevators…but.., that's only from a musical point of view ! Hahaha, as people and stories go I'm quite happy in the Higher State thanks !! hahaha..

7. You've been given a one-time opportunity to travel back in time and witness the recording of one album: what band & what album do you choose?

Again, only from a musical point of view.., Love's Forever Changes !! I’ve always been intrigued as to how a band in such a state was able to come up with that ?.. it defies all logic !!

8. What band, active today, most defines "psychedelic" to you?

I really enjoyed a German band called the Magnificent Brotherhood.., really great players and great to watch on stage…

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?

ok, in no particular order..

1523 Blair - the Outcasts
Section 43 - Country Joe and the Fish
8 Miles High - the Byrds
Levitation - the 13th Floor Elevators,
White Rabbit - Jefferson Airplane,
Smell of Incense - the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
7+7 Is - Love
Rollercoaster - the 13th Floor Elevators
Starvation - the Golden Dawn
Hurricane Fighter Plane - the Red Crayola

plus millions of others...

10. Turn the tables, if you'd like, and ask me a question.

Marty: Please, can you persuade everyone you can think of to buy our new LP ?

-valis: Dear readers, this new album by the Higher State, Darker By The Day, due any moment now from Dr. Mushroom's Optical Illusion label, is the perfect antidote to whatever may be troubling you! The act of purchasing it alone transforms humans from their mundane cares and worries into a savant of psychedelic music, imparting ancient encoded wisdom handed down via Hermes Trismegistus.., your brain might grow beyond the ability for your skull-wrapper to encapsulate it! Why, you'll be the envy of all who come in contact with you as they can plainly see what a colossal-brained biped you are!

Get your own widget and share anywhere!
O' such joyous mysteries await you! Please let us all e-mail Dr. Mushroom- until he begs for mercy, demanding the release of this album!

Thank you Marty!

Finally, to close this out, as I'd hinted at above, the Higher State know their stuff when it comes to classic psychedelia; on Saturday, August 30th, at Rough Trade East, Brick Lane, London, they're set to:

Shindig! Magazine Presents
It's A Happening Thing:
An in store freak out in honour of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.
Reading and Q&A with WCPAEB authority Tim Forster.
30 minute set of WCPAEB covers by the Higher State
Wine, beers and Shindig! related playlist.


Cliff said...

Marty is such a nice bloke. Enjoyed his answers and will certainly have to check out Magnificent Brotherhood.


Casetta said...

I enjoy these "10 questions" greatly and as usual, thanks for the tips towards great sounds. Anyway, if you have yet to see, hear or cosmically become intune with it. Check out the Youtube series "Trippin Balls w/ Brother JT"
There are a couple episodes out there. Here is one. Seems to fit it with your blog here so wanted to make you aware (if ya haven't)

Colin Mohair said...

Well this ol' blog just gets better and mo' better! Higher State indeed! Such dedication to one's sound is to be commended. (Pretty sure that's a word... might be blasted...)
Back when the lads were the Mystreated I was missing out waay too much. Glad they shuffled the deck and sat for another hand.

sr-71 said...

As a librarian I have a hard time with anybody who doesn't like to read, but then his Gene Clark cover is so damn fine that I'd forgive Marty anything.

Anonymous said...

it's not that i don't like to read..i'm just a bit dyslexic and find it really difficult !!.. so have always avoided it !!..i like picture books if that counts ?..hahah..
and as for that photo !! 89' ?..hahaha..try 70' !..
be well..
love to all..