Thursday, March 12, 2009

10 Questions

Greetings & Hail Voyagers! We're ready to plumb the depths of yet another eager participant in this exploratory exercise known as "10 Questions." (Hey, 20 wears 'em out.)

Today's guest qualifies as one busy bee in the world of psychedelia as he's a member of not one but two different bands from (one of) the hottest psych' scenes in the nation: Psychedelphia! It's our pleasure to welcome Damien Taylor of both the Asteroid #4 and (the sounds of) kaleidoscope!

(Bottom photo: Cristina Martinez; Damien-far left)

I imagine Damien & Co. are on their way to Austin getting ready to blow minds at PsychFest #2! ("If wishes were horses...", indeed!)

(the sounds of) kaleidoscope have just released their album, All This Heaven, and it's now available through iTunes!

(As well as three previous albums via Apollo Audio: here, here, and here!)

Let's go inter-cranial with him, shall we?

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

Echoes that lead you to new rooms of your mind

2. What is the most psychedelic instrument, why?

Ooh, I am having a bit of trouble choosing just one! Perhaps I should stick with my first thought, which was the tape machine. Ha! But really; tape can be used to create delay, phasing, it can be reversed to mind altering effect, it has the magnetic power to capture it all and give it back to us, and hell, you can chop that shit up and tape it into something completely unknown.
It is only simple in the understanding of its design; the inexplicable nature of magnetic sound force capture is something we only understand through our assignment of words to properties we cannot truly explain. The powers of tape and tape machines take on anomalies and character that lend them individuality and inconsistency, to an almost human degree. That’s pretty damn psychedelic to me! We’re talking magnets here too, which is also the heart of the theremin, microphones, pickups, etc. Yeah, the tape machine is my pick.

3. Favorite psychedelic album of all time? Why that one?

Of all time!? Wow. “Psychedelic music” is such a succinctly vague phrase… I feel like psychedelic music incorporates all styles and genres and is the only genre that appears in all others in some form. I know some Ghostface shit that is way more psychedelic than some decked out fuzzbox moptops, Erik Satie is way more psychedelic to me than the Lemon Pipers. I think I’d say my favorite psychedelic record is “Free Jazz” by the Ornette Coleman Double Quartet. It locks in and leaves and swings and sways and crumbles and climbs and dissolves and resolves. Just like walking through the city on a clean piece of blotter and then going home to put the puzzle back together for the piece/ peace.

4. What are your three favorite 1980s neo-psychedelic albums?

I kinda disagree with the notion of neo psych, only in that I feel psychedelic music is, was and always will be! I think my favorite psych records from the 80’s are:
The Fall- Perverted by Language
Dinosaur Jr.- You’re Living All Over Me
The Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle

5. What song or album that wouldn't fall into the classic "psych" definition is, nevertheless, psychedelic to you?

Morton Subotnik - A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur

6. Is there an advantage in being the pioneers (60s psychedelic bands), or being the continuing explorers armed with the knowledge of those pioneers work (the modern psychedelic bands)? Why?

I think that it is safe to say that even the people we think of as pioneers drew their motivation from either historical understanding or collective consciousness, or some sort of (in)/balance between the two. And, how you interpret that. Are the Beatles the pioneers? They incorporated many different syles into formats that they developed. But then, so did Stockhausen, and Damo Suzuki. I think there are touchstones in the timeline of ‘psychedelia’ and anyone who attempts to further what they already know by putting their personal adventure into the story-in-sound is as important as a modern day pioneer as anyone who is now regarded as such through the gift of hindsight. We’re all on the same train, but everyone has a different part, and different seat. Some of us are the conductors, some of us are in business class, some of us are selling the coffee in the café cart and on and on and on down the line. And, we’ve all agreed: Destination Unknown!!

7. What about psychedelic music compels you to create it, as opposed to other genres?

I like the correlation of psychedelic music and art. Music as art. Sometimes you draw the outline of the image and scribble in the lines. “Psychedelic Music” just ‘is’. It can be anything you decide it should be, and can be very broad and very specific at the same time. The finite line that separates its duality is strictly determined by the mood of the song’s context and thusly, it is a variable constant. It offers ultimate freedom within parameters you assign, and can be approached equally through strict compositional measures, precedents, and imagination.

8. What musician or album in psychedelia do you feel gets overlooked too much..?

I think every band has its place in the pantheon, as I had touched on with the train analogy. Some people really love to hang out in their aisle seat and just look ahead at the seat in front of them. Some people insist on the window seat to watch the world fly past. Some people just want to take a nap. And the Strawberry Alarm Clock are shoveling the coal for the whole trip, so don’t pick on them either!!

9. Top Ten Psychedelic Songs?

1. July- Dandelion Seeds
2. Syd Barrett- No Good Trying
3. Os Mutantes- Dom Quixote
4. The Human Expression- Optical Sound
5. Sonic Youth- Hits of Sunshine
6. Gal Costa- Com Medro, Com Pedro
7. The Vegetable Garden- Even Stevens
8. Alice Cooper- 10 Minutes Before the Worm
9. The Red Krayola- Pink Stainless Tail
10. The Dee Jays- Striped Dreams

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

Damien: What was the album that first affected you in such a way that you knew that you and psychedelic music were meant for each other?

-valis: Alright Damien! This is a question I was asked back in September, (by Måns Månsson), and the answer can't/won't change-if I'm maintaining honesty. So, here it is again:

Interesting query. I'd love to be, at this moment, one of those "revisionist history" people who can just flat out lie and say I'd been into this since my teens, but that just isn't true. At all.

While I can point to the album(s) which led me down this rabbit-hole I think a little back story is called for. In the late 80s, probably 1988, I was recommended a book which would turn my world upside-down and change everything I wanted to know & be: Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea's Illuminatus! Trilogy. After that I began reading everything I could by RAW, (including subscribing to his "wonder-when-it's-coming" newsletters.) He turned me on to virtually everybody I now hold dear as authors: Borges, McKenna, Colin Wilson, Peter Lamborn Wilson,etc., he also urged me to get back into PKD's oeuvre. (Which I did, with a vengeance)
These authors were doing to me much of what the musicians you've cited were doing to you per your brilliant (!)response to Q#2: they showed me the infinite extent of the mind's universe. So I was a vessel just waiting for analogous experiences in my musical intake. In 1991 my wife and I decided to completely change our lifestyle. We moved and basically started all over. I read a review of the new Primal Scream album in a magazine someone had loaned me so the next time we drove into the nearest city, 90 miles away, I bought it. By the 9 Lords of Xibalba!
I literally stayed up all night, that first night, playing that cassette (heinous format!), in my little Walkman, on "repeat." Over and over and over. I just couldn't stop! The track which especially resonated with me was "Slip Inside This House." I mentioned it a few days later to a friend's wife and she handed me, the next day, a compilation called "Where The Pyramid Meets The Eye." She didn't say anything else. I played it and was blown away AGAIN! The Julian Cope track, "I Have Always Been Here Before" made me scream, (the line "...believing my mind's opened the door" particlarly)......when I told her I loved it she handed me a stack of Spaceman 3 cassettes.....the doors of perception had been cleansed. I now knew the map of the territory. Roky's Elevators led me to other bands of the ilk; the compilation gave me a roster to look for further likely suspects....

(The above was the original answer; now I'd like to add I'm still drawn, like the proverbial moth to the flame, to psychedelia because of the people inside the genre. They're typically not stuck in mental ruts and have that "explorer mentality" where no limits are viewed...just open horizon. They've (usually) been "way out there" by one thing or another, as have I. I'm also drawn to novelty, not just for the sake of novelty but for the drawing out of the ordinary sameness that is the average life. Being an info-junkie is applied, on a daily basis, for seeking out all of you who do what you do in creating these tracks for my own "theatre of the mind." THANK YOU!)

THANK YOU Damien! Tear up Austin!


Anonymous said...

Now THAT was an illuminating interview!

Jim K.

Cliff. said...

Answers 2 and 7 made excellent reading, Damien's definitely 'in the house.'

hemizen said...

"All This Heaven" and "Screamadelica" are my latest purchases based on this weeks blog. My mind is ever expanding.

sr-71 said...

I had some pretty far out experiences in the 80's w/ Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me. Me & my buds practically practically wore that vinyl out. Interestingly enough, thanks to Guitar Hero, my 12 year old stepson has been getting introduced to the magic of J.Mascius.

Chris said...

Damien's oblique and meandering answers make perfect sense to me.
Questioning himself as he answers is also cool too. A very entertaining interview.

20 where's them out... Too funny Valis!