by Marcus Kellis - Summer Arg
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
I like the employees of Tie-Dye Everything. They are my friends. But
I am afraid I have no interest in ever owning any tie-dye … ever. The
Grateful Dead are okay by me, and after a few beers, depending on
company, I might admit that Phish is not the worst band.
I'm sorry, I have love and respect for humanity, but I do not easily
tolerate hippies. The scent of patchouli, white guys with dreadlocks,
"coexist" bumper stickers. If I have a kryptonite, it may well be this.
Just as Christians are in the world, but not of the world, however,
there are aspects of psychedelia I can appreciate on merit.
Out May 26 is "Eating Us," Black Moth Super Rainbow's fourth album
and the first recorded in a proper environment. BMSR was one of my
must-see groups for last year's South By Southwest, and alongside
Jens Lekman and Handsome Furs, a highlight of the dozens of bands I saw.
BMSR, from Pittsburgh, hasn't changed a whole lot since it started up
six years ago. None of its songs have clear vocals: if they aren't
simply run through a vocoder, then they sound as if they've been
transferred to eighth-inch tape and run over by a truck. (Sometimes,
both.) Occasionally you'll hear guitar, but the brunt of the work is
borne by hard-working synthesizers.
"The Sticky," my favorite track from "Eating Us," has a refrain of
"you and me are gonna melt away like apples in the ground." Even
without the music (evocative of "Electric Company" interstitials)
that would be a strongly psychedelic lyric.
My favorite example from the world of film is not "Easy Rider" or
"Yellow Submarine," but the 1973 French film "Fantastic Planet" ("La
planète sauvage"). "Fantastic Planet" is an animated science fiction
tale about two races, the Oms and Draags, which are tiny people and
huge blue aliens, respectively.
Broadly, it plays a little bit like "Planet of the Apes," with a pet
Om adopted by a Draag child who goes on to rebel against his former masters.
The visuals are trippy, as trippy as Ralph Bakshi's "Wizards," but
the score is really wonderful. It was composed by Alain Goraguer, a
French jazz pianist, based on three themes, and after a long
out-of-print period it's again available on CD and LP. (Like
"Scarface" and Phil Collins, it's also become a point of reference
for hip-hop producers both Madlib and Jay Dee have sampled it.)
The soundtrack is great music ("Le Bracelet," "Ten et Tiwa" being
highlights) and it captures the dark aspects of psychedelia the
occasional bad trip, or maybe a run-in with the fuzz.