The setting: a large, dimly lit room with colorful oily fluids dancing around on the walls and no fewer than fifteen (!) musicians inside tripping their balls off and creating an album of psychedelic prog cacophony for over 40 minutes. There’s members of Acid Mother’s Temple, Giraffes Giraffes, and many more. It’s a modern day acid test of sorts, with each artist adding their own color, slowly and gradually creating their own musical version of a Jackson Pollock painting, not unlike the re-imagined artwork displayed above…
Being new to Perhaps and their style of psychedelic prog wizardry, I read the promo sheet, took in the fact that there was just one song and thus I was bracing myself for 40+ minutes of self indulgent noodling and semi-deep hippie bullshit chanting.
Man was I wrong.
On this fourth album Boston creative leader Jim Haney and his progpack have carefully built a musical juggernaut of psychedelic sound, layers upon layers, making it a wildly creative and extremely musical trip with new nooks and crannies to explore each time you spin it. It’s almost a pity a record has two sides, because this megalomaniac jam was meant to take in all at once, without pause. Only then you’ll travel the same journey, till the “whites of your eyes start to bubble like fried eggs”.
I hear influences from bands like King Crimson, The Mars Volta (vocalist Dave Khoshtinat is a very talented dude), Can, and of course Japanese noise freakouts like AMT, but mostly I hear a singular vision and sound that I wasn’t able to completely trace back to anything. It’s something to take in and experience with all your senses.
I found Jim Haney on Instagram, we connected and the following interview was the result:
Hi Jim! How have you been these pandemic times? How did it affect your music? And personally? Honestly it has been fine for me, no worries really… Musically however it has been very interesting to hear how each individual is handling things by listening to their playing ! Can you introduce the band Perhaps to our audience? I started Perhaps as a solo project in 2008 and it has only continued to grow and grow. I think some people are drawn together by fate and a similar vision of the universe… music is one of the best ways to create a telepathic connection with people and ultimately “create” something that is much bigger than any of the individuals could do alone. Perhaps is a collective of freaks. Echodelick Records is releasing your album 4 on vinyl (tomorrow) 28 December, how do you feel about that? Why wasn’t it ever released on Cd or vinyl before (just on cassette)? And what would be the ultimate media to release this 40+ minute monster on? It’s so exciting to finally release Perhaps 4 on LP. I have been trying so hard to put it out on vinyl for a long time because I’m very proud of it! Echodelick is an excellent record label and recognized what we tried to do with 4. Maybe the ultimate media would be if the album were constantly playing on every speaker in every supermarket, shopping mall and public place in the entire world.
Can you tell about the making of 4? Was there a set plan? Did you write much in advance? It was both a very compositional intricate process and a very intuitive / improvisational process. Many elements are structured, many parts are improvised and some of the music comes entirely from sessions that were never intended to be used for this album! It was simply a matter of locking myself in and obsessing over details and layering things just exactly right. You say in the promo sheet that there were 15 people involved making the record, who were they? How come it ended up so many people? With more like-minded musicians there is always the possibility of new perspectives which may not have been previously thought of. It was split like 50/50 between recording live or recording remotely. For instance some of the Japanese artists recorded remotely because it is super difficult to travel here. I would heavily “edit” and manipulate each musician’s parts. It’s my insane vision of music… What about the recording process? I imagined some kind of super colorful acid test style party…am I far off? I can’t speak for the other members of Perhaps, however…. yes usually when making a Perhaps album (and especially 4) there was some heavy “mind exploration” going on.
Perhaps is a super spacey sounding psychedelic band, how much of that is drugs inspired? And if not or just partially, what other explanation do you have for that -completely out there- sound? Again, I only want to speak for myself here and not for the other members of Perhaps. Yes there were substances involved in the creation of 4 but certainly they were only a minor element / tool. Drugs don’t make music, people do! Can you tell me where your lyrics come from? I mean; “The whites of my eyes boil like fried eggs…” sound hella trippy! Not sure! Dave (Khoshtinat-ed) wrote the lyrics and he is very intensely creative. I hear some more modern influences like Acid Mothers Temple and Mars Volta on 4, but I imagine your musical inspiration was mostly mined in the 60s and 70s? Where should we look to when diving into your musical background? Hanson. What else can we expect from Perhaps in the future? And will we ever experience the acid test trip live on the European mainland? I really really really want to come back to EU. Our last trip there was truly magical, and I’ve been trying to make it happen again. Hopefully soon.
What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do directly after this interview? Masturbate.
I listen to a lot of music, all of which in some ways I connect to and feel things for. Rarely however is that connection and feeling so profound as when I discovered Ivan The Tolerable’s The Long Year, and perhaps more importantly; the spoken word of poet Karen Schoemer. Her words spoke to me the way few lyrics ever do, and so I had to know more about her and her work. I looked her up, and lo and behold she had done other spoken word music projects before in Sky Furrows and Jaded Azurites. Who is she? How did she become a poet? What records should we buy? We talk about all of this and more…
How have you been in these pandemic times? How has it affected your life and work?
The pandemic has been brutal! I broke up with someone in February 2020 and was living on my own for the first time in decades when the pandemic hit. I had moved into a cottage in a remote corner of upstate New York near mountains and farmland. I was next door to a tree nursery. I went from a pretty busy social existence to befriending chipmunks. As a writer I have a certain amount of isolation built into my daily routine, and I relish that, but I balance it by working or seeing friends or performing. All that external living disappeared, and it’s only partly come back. I’ve done a lot of writing these past two years which I hope to revisit eventually. It’ll be weird for sure.
I was born in the mid-1960s, and my life until the pandemic spanned a time of relative prosperity and stability that I took for granted. A writer friend of mine wrote an essay about climate change where she said the biggest problem she had as a teenager was worrying about what color Levi’s cords to buy. Meanwhile the planet was starting to melt. I feel that way—like I’m soft and unprepared for the hardship we’re coming into. Even though I have problems just like everybody else, I’ve lived in a period of astounding comfort and security until now.
I think this unease is active in everything I write now. I find myself questioning the relationship to my immediate surroundings: the house I’m in, the town, the local landscape. It’s as if I’m constantly putting a toe out to see if the ground is shaking. The area where I live is rich in industrial archeology. There were mills and factories in my town that are ruins or shells now. Railroad beds with the ties removed, leafy unmarked berms in the woods. So I’m around fascinating decay and a very loud, apparent past. That’s a weird overlap with unease about the future.
Can you tell us about your background, where you grew up, where you studied, your current job…?
I grew up in suburban Connecticut, in an affluent white suburb about an hour from New York City. I was a sensitive kid, socially awkward, loved animals, loved books and reading, loved listening to the radio and playing my parents’ Beach Boys and Carpenters LPs. In 8th grade I had an English teacher who encouraged my writing and I’ve felt like a writer ever since. In high school I wrote a music column for my school newspaper, and in college (at William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia) I got involved with the radio station and discovered punk and post punk: the Replacements, Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Robyn Hitchcock, the Feelies. I began writing for fanzines and after college worked at a variety of magazines—I was the record reviews editor at Spin in 1989 and the pop critic at Newsweek from 1994 to 1999. Then in 2000 I had a baby and cut back on journalism. I wrote book called Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair with ‘50s Pop Music, published in 2006. By then I was living upstate, raising my daughter, and transitioning to creative writing. I wanted to write a novel, but I fell in with local poets and began writing poetry as well. At some point I felt that the poems were better than the stories and the attempts at novels, so I began focusing almost exclusively on writing poetry.
Currently I have two (three?) jobs: I work as a server at a restaurant in Hudson, NY called Café Mutton; I’m the office manager for a paint company called Liberty Paint in Athens, NY; and I help out at a used bookstore in the woods of Columbia County called Rodgers Book Barn. All small businesses run by wonderful, eccentric people.
I write lyrics myself, but I have always been hesitant calling myself a poet, so I admire you being bold enough to do so! When did you know you were one? And what is a poet in your book?
I call myself a poet because I write poetry! And if you write poetry, you can and should call yourself a poet. Poetry belongs to everyone. Poetry is not locked in an ivory tower and available only when someone with a pince-nez and book of spells admits you. Having said that, it’s hard to write good poetry and I work very dilligently at the craft. I’ve done workshops with amazing poets like Bernadette Mayer, CA Conrad, Hoa Nguyen, Randall Horton, Fred Moten, Eileen Myles. I read poetry, I read craft books, I listen to poetry, I talk with other poets. In 2019 I got an MFA from a program called the Writer’s Foundry in Brooklyn and I continue to attend their lectures whenever possible.
Great poets aren’t great because they woke up that way. They’re great because they have studied and consumed, they have clawed their way into knowledge, they have wallowed in Sylvia Plath and Gwendolyn Brooks and John Ashbery and James Schuyler and John Donne and Jack Gilbert and Derek Walcott. Anyone can write poetry, but I don’t know if it helps to write it lightly or casually. You have to be willing to put your neck on the chopping block, you have to rip through the many layers of protective psychological coating we all surround ourselves with, because bullshit feeling makes for bullshit poetry.
Can you tell me about your spoken word and poetry works so far? What have been the highlights and proudest moments?
In the broadest way, I’m happy that through writing poetry I’ve been able to work with musicians. I never expected to or desired to perform—I thought of myself very much as a writer on the page. But I have always loved music and musicians and it’s mind-blowing to me that in my mid-40s I stumbled into these opportunities.
Mike Watt has been a friend and mentor to me and without his encouragement I probably wouldn’t be doing it. About ten years ago, I was writing poetry and struggling with it because I could tell the poems were not very good, and I didn’t know how to break through my limitations and advance to better work. One day Mike and I were talking and he said, “I’m a Karen Schoemer believer.” That knocked me out so hard. His belief in me jarred me out of my feelings of failure. Not long after that, he was doing a project with Oli Heffernan, a band of Oli’s called Detective Instinct. Oli had given Mike some tracks and Mike was supposed to come up with lyrics. Mike said to me, “Why don’t you write the lyrics instead?” So I did, and Mike recorded the vocals, and Oli liked them as asked us to do two more. Those four songs became a Detective Instinct EP called Schoemer Songs that came out on Third Uncle Records in 2013.
Then Oli gave Mike six more tracks, and Mike said, “Why don’t you write the words and record the vocals?” So I did, and that became another Detective Instinct EP called Falling into Lilacs.
Wreckless Eric was a friend and neighbor—he and his wife, singer-songwriter Amy Rigby, had moved to the Hudson Valley. He helped me record the Falling Into Lilacs vocals at his home studio, and we ended up putting together a band called the Schoemer Formation that played around for a couple of years. Eric thought it was funny to name the band after the person who had no experience being in a band. Those were my first times performing live and I took to it, just loved being on stage while these brilliant musicians made a racket around me. Then Amy and Eric got busy with their real music careers and I didn’t want to give up performing, so I got in touch with musician friends from Albany and that’s how Sky Furrows started. We’re a four piece and we’re really loud when we play, everyone’s steeped in Sonic Youth and noise and psychedelia and New Zealand punk like the Clean. We released our first album in late 2020. The pandemic slowed us down, but we’ve started doing shows again and we’re hoping to record a new album next year.
Some of the pieces I perform were finished poems before they were set to music. Jaded Azurites, my duo with Mike Watt, generally works as me giving Mike a batch of poems and he composes bass around them. Mike is an exceptionally brilliant thinker and he pays a lot of attention to line length, stanza, how the poem is organized, and composes with that in mind. He does this just by reading the piece on the page. Then he sends me bass recordings and I add the vocals and the result is a kind of marriage of the two.
But sometimes I adapt writing that I have lying around to music that I’m given. That’s more how I worked with Oli on The Long Year. He gave me a batch of recordings and I looked for words that I thought suited them in terms of rhythm and mood and tone. The only piece on the album that was a finished poem before music was “The Night Hospital.” That’s a pantoum, a poetic form where the second and fourth lines of each stanza repeat as the first and third lines in the next stanza. The other pieces I tended to adapt writing into the spaces he gave me. I don’t really consider those pieces poems—they’re a hybrid of poem and lyric. They’re constructed to be experienced as music, and I don’t think they particular work as poems on the page, without music.
I only very recently discovered you through Ivan The Tolerable And His Plastic Bands‘ album The Long Year. Can you tell me about that project? Also; how does it work practically? Was the music already done, or do you “jam”? Will there be live performances?
Oli handled all the tracks and I know they evolved from the skeletal tracks he gave me originally. He’s a master at splicing different people’s contributions into a solid whole. I would love to perform with Ivan the Tolerable! Maybe someday Oli will invite me! That is a hint, Oli!
I especially like the poem about the sunset in the song Indigo Blue, can you tell me about it? How did it come about?
I’m really glad you like that song—thank you for saying so. That piece developed out of a rudimentary poetry exercise, which is to personify an inanimate thing. The last hour of the day is my favorite—I love to be outdoors when the light changes. I did a bunch of writing on my porch in Hudson, NY during the summer while the sun went down. Somehow the sunset became an alcoholic who rages every night, passes out, and wakes up the next day to do it all over again. The last part of the song grew out of a visit I made to Salt Lake City, Utah in 2018. My daughter was living out there, and one day we drove to Spiral Jetty, which is a monumental work of land art from the 70s by the artist Robert Smithson. The Great Salt Lake’s waters are pink because of high salinity. It’s an extraordinary visual experience. I guess I thought, what kind of spurned lover would a raging sunset have? A pink salt lake.
Can you tell me about your inspiration? How does your head work when forming these beautiful words and sentences?
Again, thank you for these kind words. I generally free write for 15-20 minutes a day or more. Sometimes I go to the same location several days in a row: my porch, or a meadow, or the Hudson River waterfront, or the ore pit pond in Taconic State Park. Then I transcribe that writing into the computer, adding more free writing at the beginning and end. I try to write unintentionally—that is, to write until I barely know I’m writing. Then I look for things I didn’t know I knew. Unexpected word combinations or unconscious expressions. I throw everything into the kitchen sink, then fish a few salvageable things out.
Who are your inspirations? What other poets, spoken word artists, musicians do you admire?
I love Bernadette Mayer and John Ashbery and CA Conrad. I love John Cale. I loved the Velvet Underground documentary because I could stare at John Cale all day and listen to his lilting Welsh accent. I love hiphop artists who are incredible poets and brilliant word stylists. Like Madlib. I loved the Paul McCartney/Rick Rubin documentary—I loved hearing those songs dissected. I try to read a lot of African-American literature because no one told me to read it when I was younger. Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, James Weldon Johnson. My favorite writer is Herman Melville.
What are your immediate and longer term future plans? What are your ambitions as a poet?
I would like to publish a book of poetry eventually, when I have enough good poems to make a collection. In the meantime I am thrilled to continue collaborating with musicians. Wreckless Eric and I made an album together that I hope will come out next year. He did all the instruments, wrote all the music, recorded and produced it. I’m very proud of it and I tell Eric I think it’s a minor masterpiece. He says, “It’s good you think that because no one else will.” And Jaded Azurites hopefully will put out our five digital EPs as a vinyl album.
What should Weirdo Shrine readers do immediately after this interview?
Listen to “White Light/White Heat,” make a cup of coffee or mix a cocktail, go outside into the sunshine or the dark night, eat Chinese food, read the first page of Moby Dick, pet the cat.
Ten people in a band, ten people tripping balls, ten people tripping balls in a band, through your speakers, from all angles, in technicolor stereo sound.
How?! How have I been ignoring these TEN (or six? sometimes five…) people that have been jamming for over THIRTY years already in this outrageous all out psychedelic freakshow style is beyond me. I am embarrassed to admit it, really. Especially since this is music that SCREAMS to be heard.
Over And Over Again was recorded live during this pandemic on one of the very scarce moments that the band was allowed out, and they fully grasped that opportunity to dive balls deep into freaking space and far, far beyond. I think it is good that they recorded it because the people in the audience are probably still tripping on the after-tremors as we speak and unable to utter anything else than blissful gibberish….
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?! I hear you cry, well, it obviously sounds a bit “live” and raw, but through all the murk and feedback we hear a throbbing beast of a band channeling their inner Butthole Surfers through Hawkwind amplifiers while The Cosmic Dead look down from their astral planes and oversee that it is good. Frantic vocals, frantic feedback, frantic antics, all is very loud and very, very tripped out psycho-delic.
Also it tastes like more, which their is in abundance, both in hindsight (hello 30 year career!) and in the future, as their new full length Ballardesque is ready and waiting to be released some day soon too. It’s almost too much. And that of course, is also highly fitting for ST37.
Dulbin based fuzzy garage rock band Krypton Bulb have just launched their second single Come On Over, a tasty teaser for what will be a full length out on Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records. The track will be released as a 7” single as well. The new Kryptobulb album is currently recorded at frontman James Lister’s home studio on what is promised by Fuzzed Up label boss Andy Marke as “vintage reel to reel equipment. No computers involved!!”. Exciting stuff, if the single is a good example of what is to come we can expect a bunch of catchy, vintage style garage-crunched rock songs with a psychedelic swirl in the tradition of bands like Money For Rope, The Black Keys, and Rival Sons.
Sitar-emulating guitars and snippets of mellotronic violins lead up to the hazy vocal lines of Return As Light, the first song of the new Lamp Of The Universe album The Akashic Field. New Zealand native Craig Williamson has once again taken a dive into an ocean filled with kaleidoscopic transcendentalism, and this is what he came up with.
I thought about how cool it was that we came into contact, just shortly after he was recommended to me by Scott Dr Space Heller in his interview on this very blog. He felt Williamson with his bands Datura, Arc Of Ascent and Lamp Of The Universe was a kindred spirit and wished to meet him some time. On The Akashic Field it is demonstrated where those warm feelings stem from.
The music is a mixture of classic 60s psychedelic rock, intertwined with Middle Eastern folk elements, and extremely dreamy multi-vocal patterns. Further on the album sometimes his spaceship takes flight into heavier, fuzzier, space rock territory. It is music made for mind traveling, and meant to take the listener on a magic carpet ride over multi-colored dunes, acidic green oceans, and through wondrous caverns and glowing riverbeds. It is such a satisfying flight, tailor made for headphone heads, with lots of nooks and crannies to explore by ear for days to come.
Spending the Corona years in New Zealand, Craig Williamson wasn’t too much affected in his daily routines. I talked with him about this and the new record, and luckily he was willing to shed some light on all of that and more…
How have you been in these pandemic times? How has life been in New Zealand for a musician? For me musically, it hasn’t changed anything. Obviously there has been a few disruptions with work and what not, and life in NZ isn’t quite the same as it used to be yet, but its getting there… fortunately we haven’t been too effected like the rest of the world.
Can you explain what living in New Zealand has meant for your music? What was beneficial, what less so? It’s hard to say, as I haven’t lived anywhere else and it’s all I know. But from visiting other countries I feel the amount of extra space we have here gives you a different perception, and that seems to help quite a bit. There are downsides to being so far away from bigger scenes, but its something that is known, and worked around, so isn’t so bad I guess.
Can you sketch your career so far for our readers? What are some of the absolute highlights? My career started in 1999, as Lamp of the Universe…and has slowly expanded in many different ways. I’m about to release my 13th full length album next month (January 2022) and am still excited by the new music I’m hearing from others too. Highlights would be releasing the first Lamp of the Universe album “The Cosmic Union”, hearing about artists I look up to say they’ve heard about me or have said they like my stuff. To be honest all the positive reactions from everyone to what I do is a highlight for me.
Can you tell us about the way the new album came into being? How was it written and what did you set out to achieve? I always write for myself first, and I’m continually writing. But this time around I wanted it to be more energetic, more band sounding, so I think that’s how it’s going to be perceived. I wanted to achieve a bigger sound too, improve the overall vibe by making everything a bit more clear and full.
When are you satisfied with your music? Is there a certain formula for a Lamp Of The Universe song? There’s no real formula, I just go by what feels right. It’s hard to say when I’m actually satisfied with each track, because you could go on adding things forever, but usually just when it just feels and sounds as close as I can get it to how I hear it in my head.
What music are you listening to these days? Are you more of an oldies guy or do you still like to explore new artists? I like to explore, constantly. I still love the “oldies” too though. My latest things I’ve been listening to would be Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Electric Wizard, Naz, Mastodon, Adam Geoffrey-Cole, Miles Davis, Napalm Death, Pete Namlook, Klaus Schulze, Archgoat, Laszlo Hortobagyi.
Can you tell me about the lyrical concept of The Akashic Field? It changes from song to song so there’s no concept as such. The Akashic Field as a title though could basically be seen as a receiving of all influences, an accepting of all information I can process to create a new album from influences that I’ve experienced over many years.
If you could curate your dream band, who would be in it and why? I certainly wouldn’t play!!! I’d just watch in amazement!!!! The band would be Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Klaus Schulze, Ravi Shankar and Ringo Starr.
What does the word psychedelic mean to you in the fullest sense of the word? It means freedom to do what you want musically… to drift into the worlds beyond and back again.
What are you doing after this interview? What would you like our readers to do? After this interview? Probably have dinner and then, like I usually do, work on new music into the night, and listen to LPs. The readers can do as they please, just be nice to each other!!!
After having had a wonderful chat with Dave Schmidt aka Sula Bassana, I felt there might be more iconic people in the psychedelic scene that would be willing to chat to Weirdo Shrine. Lo and behold; I got into contact with Scott Heller, who was more than willing to open up about his life, and most of all about his musical accomplishments over the years. It has been quite a trip! From becoming a successful scientist at Harvard to orbiting around the planets with his many space rock outfits, when Dr Space starts something he makes sure it is worth his while. So buckle up, it’s going to be a long journey into psychedelic space…
Hi Scott, how have you been the past Corona period? What has the effect been on you and your art?
It has been quite good in many ways but I miss the social contact a lot. Not getting to see my daughter, my friends, my band mates, etc.. I have an amazing place where I live so I can focus on working on our lands (lots of trees, garden, grass to manage), take more walks with my dogs, spend more time with my lovely wife, Sue.
Artistically, it has been only great. I painted 110 album covers for the first Øresund Space Collective bandcamp subscriber vinyls, got a new synth and a mellotron micro and Doctors of Space, we have really grown musically, as we were able to play and jam once a month most of the time. I have also recorded a lot of solo material and used this on new volumes of Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip and new collaborations as well.
Can you tell me bit of your history as a person? Where do you come from, what is your professional background, etc, as much as you like to share to our readers 🙂
I was born in southern California and spent most of my youth in Valencia. I was an avid skateboarder and also tennis player and really into rock music. I played guitar for 2 years but then tennis took over my life. In 1979, we moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico and I would finish out high school there and go to college in the south of NM, Las Cruces from 1981-1988. During that time I completed my bachelors degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Psychology. In 1984 I managed a local Albuquerque band with my friend Rob Romero called Max Trixxie. That was my first intro into the music business. The band only lasted 6 months though. Also in 1984 I started a metal fanzine called Metal Madness with Rob as well. This lasted until 1988. In December 1987 I got my masters degree in Biology (Animal Physiology). In 1988, I got married and I moved to California to start my PhD at UC Berkeley, I would spend the next 5.5 years learning, teaching, and obtaining my degree in Endocrinology (the study of hormones). I also saw a lot of concerts as it was easy to win tickets on the college radio. I met a lot of very interesting people as well all into music. After I got my PhD, I was looking to work in Europe but by luck, I met the leading researcher in my field of study at a conference and asked him if he had room in his lab and wrote him and he offered me a position so I was off to Harvard (Boston, MA) for the next 3.5 years of my life. After that I was recruited for a job at the Hagedorn Research Institute in Gentofte, Denmark, where I worked for 14 years before they dissolved the institute and half the scientists left for the University and the other half entered Novo Nordisk. I worked for Novo for 4 more years and then retired from science to move to Portugal and focus on music.
When did you start being a musician? Can you tell me a little about your developments as an artist from the early days until now?
After stopping playing guitar (my biggest regret in my life!), I did not play music again until 1999, when I used to go to most of the Danish band, Mantric Muse´s rehearsals. Their band leader, Magnus, we were already good friends and hung out and listened to a lot of music through our mutual love of Ozric Tentacles! He played the guitar and synthesizers in this band so one day he said I should play the OSCar while the band jammed and I started to do that and learn a bit about synthesizers and after a few months decided i need to buy one. My first synthesizer was the Nord Lead 2. It was way to sophisticated for me but I could straight away make a lot of cool sounds with the presets so I went for that. Mantric Muse´s music was far too complex for me to every be the synth player (not even today!) but we had a lot of fun and this got me into it. Not long after that I was hanging out and managing the guys in Gas Giant and that was the first band that I really played with adding some spacey wind and bubbles and strange sounds on some of the songs to give it a more psychedelic space rock feel. That lasted until from 2001 to 2004. After I stopped playing with them, I stared organizing the jam sessions with Mantric Muse (DK) and Bland Bladen (Malmo, SE) members and this lead to the formation of the Øresund Space Collective.
Do you have a philosophy for creating good music? When are you happy with the result? What are the ground rules for making it a success in your view?
My main philosophy for my solo music is to just go for it and try to create something I have never done before and if I listen to it and like it then cool.. Connect up the synths in a different way, use different presets and tweak them and see what works and does not work. Maybe add some strange effects… I want the track to affect you emotionally in some way, be it good or bad, but at least make you take notice. This is not always successful of course. If not then it just stays in the archive to be revisited later, perhaps or not. If I am having fun, then that is really the most important part. I don’t want it to feel like work… As far as creating good music in the band setting (ØSC, Black Moon Circle), I just want to feel like I contributing, paying attention, being active in the process and try my best to listen and give the best performance that I can on that day. I am always very active in the parts after things are recorded, giving feedback on mixes, etc..
Can you tell me about a couple of highlights from your career so far?
In my personal life, obtaining my PhD, which was really hard work and getting to work with amazing scientists over the 30 years of my science career, training the Phd and Masters students and publishing papers in good journals that had an impact on the field. This was great.. I am very proud of being able to accomplish this..
As far as music, well, playing the High Times Cannabis Cup with Gas Giant in 2002 was just a surreal and incredible experience… We had so many incredible concert experience. The concert in Leipzig was one of the best we ever played and something I will never forget the way the entire audience and band were just so into and the roar from those 50 people was mind blowing. I had never felt anything like that in my life.. Gas Giant crowds (outside Denmark) were always so intensely into the spaced out jams we had. It was an incredible band to play with. Stefan was a mind blowing guitar player (still is!) and never played the same thing any night and he had the awesome backline of Thomas and Tommy.. Jesper was also an incredible front man and what a voice until he would lose it after a few gigs… The Gas Giant- Colour Haze 5 show tour in Oct 2002 was also totally amazing as we each traded who played first each night and we would change our set every night and this was getting Colour Haze to do the same so they played almost all their songs from the 2-4th records on this tour and Stefan (CH) would jam on an encore or lots of fun stuff.. Great times and cool shows…
When ØSC headlined the Freak Stage at Burg Herzberg Festival, I had never played for so many people. It was people as far as I could see in the dark.. I guess 1000 or more. We played 3.5 hrs!! Just an awesome experience. This year when ØSC played the Fuzz Fest in Esbjerg, Denmark, it was our first concert in 1.5 years and it was also incredible to get up on a big stage again and play for people. The lights were so cool and the vibe and even though it was only 100 people sitting down (due to Covid regulations), we played intensely and people loved it.. We have a great video of this show with multitrack audio as well… There are many more of course. Recently, we played in this huge church in Oslo and that was unlike any place I had ever played and the audience was so in to it. A really great experience..
What is your idea of the psych/stoner scene? How has it developed over time in your view?
I was lucky to be playing with Gas Giant in the mid period of this scene when there were so many cool bands playing and developing and due to Ralph Rjeily (RIP), he managed On Trial and did sound and worked in the studio with Gas Giant, but on the side he worked as a concert promoter. He was bringing a lot of the cool bands to Copenhagen (Nebula, Spirit Caravan, 7zuma7, WE, Motorpsycho, etc..) I was also writing reviews for Aural Innovations (US), Lowcut (DK), Bad Acid (UK), etc.. so I got a lot of stoner psych stuff to review and knew almost all the bands on the scene. It was great times for sure.
In Copenhagen, we had an amazing underground club called Dragens Hule (Dragons Cave) that put on a lot of the psych and stoner bands as well and this was a very intimate place on the outskirts of Copenhagen out past Christiania. We saw and played many great shows there. The first 2 times Graveyard played in Denmark were there, Brutus, Orange Sunshine, Asteroid, Siena Root (their first 3 shows in DK), Hidria Spacefolk, La Ira de Dios, Bland Bladen, Seid, Black Moon Circle, many many bands..
As for the scene today, I think it is still pretty active with a lot of cool festivals but I think musically it is very challenging for any of these bands to create music that grabbed you the same way as 20 years ago. It is not easy today to do something new. It has all been done. I have to say I was really blown away by the Lowrider album though, after 20 years they came back and still had that core sound in some way but made an incredible album, even better than their debut!!
What are your influences? Which artists inspired you to explore the psychedelic realm?
My influences are extremely broad as I like a lot of different kinds of music, just not pop music. For synthesizers, my greatest influence and inspiration is my old friend Doug Walker (RIP). He had an amazing group of inspired people around him and made a lot of music under the name Alien Planetscapes. Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, and Black Sabbath are my fave bands from the 70s. Tangerine Dream of course since I got into synthesizers and Klaus Schulze. Very adventurous people and players… I love 70s Miles Davis, Fela Kuti, Allman Brothers, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic…
Psychedelic inspiration just comes from being in touch with the music scene as I am an avid collector and have been reviewing music in this scene for the last 25 years. I am also friends with a lot of people from the scene through my connections with my bands and reviewing music as well.. All these people inspire me to want to keep exploring music and sounds that can alter your consciousness in some way…
Which contemporary artists do you feel related to these days and why?
Sula Bassana (Dave Schmidt).. We have known each other since the late 90s and always got on very well and it is hard not to have immense admiration for Dave. Wow.. He is way more talented than me but we have a lot of similar parallels, with having a record label, doing solo music as well as playing in lots of groups and also bands that do a lot of improvisation. His band Zone Six was the first band doing totally improvised music on the scene. I dig Craig Williamson¨s stuff from New Zealand with his groups, Datura, Arc of Ascent, and Lamp of the Universe. I would love to meet him one day… Jonathan Segel, is also some one I am in awe of and feel so lucky and honoured to have played a lot of concerts and recorded many albums with him. A super talent in the world and he has created tons of great and interesting music. Uffe or Lorenzo or Guf (as his close friends in Denmark call him) from On Trial, Baby Woodrose, Dragontears, Spids Nøgenhat, Lydsyn, etc… is amazing and inspiring and such a nice person. I used to hang out with the On Trial guys and go and record all the shows, visit them in the studio, and they were always so cool and nice to me. I have a huge respect for Guf and the guys. All these guys inspire you to just follow your artists heart and make the music you are passionate about. I could mention others as well. Dave W and Ego from White Hills are also very inspiring to me. They are following their musical heart and not doing what people want. They built up a huge following in Europe doing 2 big tours every year playing heavy psych space rock but they are doing something completely different now. They have really evolved. I know they have lost some of that core audience but artistically they are progressing and a lot of artists are not. I respect that. It has been such an honour for me that they allowed me to jam with them 3x. I hope we will make some music again one day at my studio that I am building.
You are super prolific, with many bands and many albums 🙂 Can you tell me your secret?
I don’t think there is any real secret really beyond making the right connections and a lot of hard work. I am always busy doing stuff. I can’t just sit around. My whole family are like this. Also, I just try to be a nice person, treat everyone kindly, be there for you if you need me, and I think this makes it easy for people to approach me for collaborations, mixing, mastering. Also, if there are bands I really like and want to work with, I am not afraid of being rejected and just ask. Maybe they want to make music with me or not. Life is too short and I am on the downhill side now, so every day is one step closer to not being on this planet anymore as you approach your 60s…
Do you consider yourself more European or American? Which continent do you prefer and why?
There are only two things in life you can´t change and that is who your parents are and where you were born. These are out of your control. I can´t shed my American roots but I also have strong roots to Europe. Two of my grandparents were not even born in the USA (one Spanish, the other Hungarian). I for sure prefer Europe. I left the USA 24 years ago and I don´t regret it at all. I feel much more comfortable over here. I don´t understand the culture and the politics is just awful in the USA. The people have no say at all. Very sad..
Can you tell me about your endeavors with your record label? When did you start and how has it been so far?
The first record label I was involved with was Burnt Hippie Recordings, which was started in 1999 with Henrik (On Trial), Lars Lundholm (Black Tornado Studio owner), Ralph Rjeily and myself. We each put 5000kr in. We only made 7 records as we ran into some financial issues as Ralph thought we could get away without registered some of the records with NCB and it all came back to bankrupt us! You can check Discogs but we released Dark Sun (Finland), Gas Giant, WE, On Trial, Korai Orom and a compilation CD.
My next and still current record label is Space Rock Productions. This was founded and created by Nicklas HIll (The Univerzals, ØSC). He had released the first Univerzals CD on this label he had created and I asked if I could be a part of it and we could release ØSC stuff through this label as well and he agreed so I poured like 20,000kr in so we could release Dead man in Space, Live at Roadburn, etc… but it turned out that Nick was a terrible business man and the accountant who we were working with said that Nicks part of the company was not making and only losing money and he would recommend we split the company and Nick had to go. Anyway, I ran it on my own for a while but then Sabine (my business partner in Hamburg) bought into half the company and now we do everything together and this has been very successful as have had nearly 80 releases in the 11 years since the first one in 2010. It has mainly been ØSC but also other bands primarily from Scandinavia (On Trial, Gas Giant, Deep Space Destructors, Dark Sun, Tangle Edge, Organik, Mantric Muse, Black Moon Circle, Tuliteria, 3rd Ear Experience, Sista Maj, etc… ).. http://spacerockproductions.com
What can you tell me about your experiences producing? What are the highlights?
Well, I have not really done any real producing yet!!! It is my dream and now that I will have my own studio, it will be possible. I quess you could say I have acted like a producer to pull together all the musicians for the ØSC studio sessions, suggested styles of music we should try to play and been involved in creating the actual albums from all the sessions and mixing some of them as well. The highlights would be getting another album completed and seeing the fans really enjoying it.
Tell me more about the studio you are building!
In Copenhagen I had my own mixing studio in my apartment but it was very small. I have been on some music studio forums for some years (John Sayer, Soundman 2020- Studio Design Forum) and reading books like Ron Garvals- Home Recording Studio, Everest and Pohlmann- Handbook of Acoustics and now Recording Studio Design by Philip Newell, so I have been really into it on a theoretical level and decided I would like to have my own studio. It is a bit late in life to start this but I really needed to do this so when my wife and began looking for houses in Portugal, we needed to have a private place where we could build a studio. It took us 4 years to find the right house and location where we could get permission to convert or build a studio. It has been a crazy and frustrating adventure to finally have the building next to our house. Too long to describe here but lets just say we will have a world class 3 room studio finished in 3 months (March 2021). Built by world class studio builder Joules Newell (his father worked with Gong, Hawkwind, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hillage, and many many more people) and wrote that book above and built studios in the UK. Joules knows what he is doing. Anyway the studio will be a control room built specifically to provide the ideal acoustic environment for mixing (also 5.1 audio) and mastering. As much money as making the building itself is going into making the control room, so you have a room as good as Abbey Road or other high end studios. The live room is about 35m2 with a high ceiling and amazing acoustics. We have a great view into the river valley and a very peaceful place (no sound of cars, neighbours or other noise pollution). It will be an inspiring place for people to record and get creative. I am looking so much forward to inviting bands down and recording, mixing and mastering services will also be offered. I hope once I learn how to do 5.1 surround sound mixing (like the master Steven Wilson!!), we can offer this service as I can image a lot of bands in the psych space rock scene might like to have a 5.1 dvd audio release. IT is the perfect media for psych as you can really make it psychedelic and immersive.. We will see..
What are your future plans? What can we expect from Dr Space and his bands/label?
Less touring and live gigs and more studio work. A lot of releases and collaborations are planned for 2022 though including these:
2022 ØSC- Sleeping with the Sunworm 2LP (Space Rock Productions SRP072)
2022 ØSC- Zion is Flying LP (OSCLS-009) bandcamp subscribers 100 copies)
2022 Dr Space’s Alien Planet Trip Vol 6- Space with Bass II (OSC2022-LS011)
2022 Cosmic Cassiopeia- Music for Late Night Listeners (Self Released)
2022 Albinö Rhino- Return to the Core (Space Rock Productions SRP076)) 2022 ØSC- Oily Echo of the Soul 2LP/CD (SRP075CD)
2022 The Dark Side of the Cult- A Tribute to BOC 2CD (Black Widow)- Doctors of Space
2022 Dr Space- Muzik to loze yr Mynd Inn (SRP074)
2022 Perhaps-????- recorded some stuff for these guys 2022 Black Moon Circle- Snake Oil Voodoo Launch (???)
2022 ØSC- Live at Roadburn 2010 CD/DVD (Space Rock Productions)
2022 Doctors of Space-Mind Surgery 2LP (Guressen)
2022 ØSC-Picks from Space Vol 1-12 Box Set (SRP0XX)
2022 ØSC- Dresden 2019 CD (OSC2021-LS007)
Who knows what else. The material for another Dr Space solo album has been completed and Doctors of Space, we have some great material from the last few jam sessions that I would like to make another release of as well. And ØSC, West Space and Love will for sure be recording in the studio this year.. Thanks for letting me chat…
What defines good music? When exactly is it good? Can there even be a completely objective answer? To me music is good when I hear it, like it, and feel like it has been there all my life. It has not been tampered with by humans, in stead it has been conjured out of star dust and made listenable to our human ears. But had already been there long before we heard it. I feel this way about The Long Year by Ivan The Tolerable And His Elastic Band.
Strangely enough I don’t feel the need to pigeonhole this sound they are playing. I wouldn’t very well be able if I wanted to, but I don’t, so that’s fine. I do want to talk about this poet they talked into reciting her amazing and mindbogglingly profound poetry onto their tunes and make this record so, so, so good.
Her name is Karen Schoemer, and she is a miracle of language. Her spoken word poems hit me so hard, I wish she had it written down somewhere so I could post it here, I’d buy her poetry bundles! But alas. I love her “sunset” analogy in Indigo Blue the most. It is a story about the sunset being a drunk, sad middle aged man stumbling through his life partying, neglecting his wife, and being obnoxious. I am probably describing it wrong, the best thing you can do is just clicking on that Bandcamp link I posted underneath the artwork and listen for yourself.
It is art. And it is music. It is good art music, or music art. I bet people will categorize it and put into a box, but that is irrelevant to me. What matter is that it is here, and that it is gloriously good to me.
This year has been insane on so many levels it’s not even funny anymore. One of the few lights in the darkness however has been the steady flow of good music coming at us from all those musicians trapped in lockdown with little better to do than jam and record new tunes. It’s been such a tsunami of cool releases that being just a loner doing a blog, while also trying to be in a band, holding on to a job and being a husband and father it became absolutely impossible to write about everything I liked that was thrown at me through my blog inbox, or that even about those artists I actively looked up and intended to write about. So here’s an article trying to make up for that lack of time and giving these artists some credit where it is due. Don’t forget them in your yearlists!
Weedpecker- IV: The Stream Of Forgotten Thought (2021, Stickman Records)
The new Weedpecker album is one of the most highly anticipated pieces of music to come out this year in the Weirdo Shrine headquarters. I have to say though; album opener No Heartbeat Collective caught me off guard! It starts of thundering out of my speakers reminding more off Mastodon than Pink Floyd. Fortunately for the love of all that’s proggy, spacey, and mellow the rest of the album leans much more in that direction. A huge role is laid out for mellotron melodies and romantic reverb drenched guitars. It is an album to get lost in and I am in no way done with it yet nor is it with me.
Eldovar- A Story Of Darkness & Light (2021 Robotor Records)
Elder (USA/Germany) and Kadavar (Germany) meeting each other, jamming, and recording a bunch of songs together, do you need any more information? Of course not, you go and buy that shit, it’s awesome by default. With a sound that dives deep into both bands’ softer, proggier side there is space to explore for Pink Floyd fans to Elder’s The Gold & Silver Sessions and Kadavar’s own Isolation Tapes.
Kosmodome from Norway brings some more of that scrumptious Norwegian vintage prog rock to the table for fans of Spidergawd and Motorpsycho. The music is very guitar oriented, catchy, yet intricate enough to keep the alternative music listener tied to the edge of their seat. Before you’ll know it you are humming these riffs while driving your car through wavy green forests…
Octopus Ride from Sweden released their second record in November. Their sound distinguishes itself from many other bands by being hypnotic and repetitive in a krautrock way on the one hand, and dark and danceable in a post punk way on the other. This is trip music for non-hippies. After the brilliant Den Der Hale, this is the second impressive release by Greek label Sound Effect Records. Better take notice!
Orsak:Oslo is a Norwegian/Swedish combo playing some amazing dark instrumental psychedelic post rock. On this new album they have combined two of their latest EPs Skimmer and Vemod. Skimmer shows the more jamm-y improv side of the band, while Vemod was recorded during the lockdown with the members living in different countries. The result is surprising and reassuring: no matter the crisis, good music and creativity will prevail.
Daily Thompson- God Of Spinoza (2021, Noisolution Records)
Heads up people, because my buddies in Daily Thompson have a new record out! The Dortmund three piece have been crafting their stoner-y grunge for a while now, and on GodOf Spinoza they sound better than ever before. With a sound that is firmly rooted in 90s guitar driven flanel shirted heavy rock, the band dares to expand their horizon and wander into space territories as well as more melodic waters (Cantaloupe Melon for instance has a really cool oldschool Smashing Pumpkins vibe). Though I do feel bassist Mercedes should sing more parts (her voice always completely opens up the songs to different moods), God Of Spinoza shows a Daily Thompson that feels very comfortable in their own skin and knows exactly what they want. Check out this hard working band live if you can, because they always deliver.
Electric Moon meets Talea Jacta-Sabotar (2021, Sulatron Records)
Somewhere in 2019 Electric Moon found themselves joined on stage by Portugese improvisational space duo Talea Jacta (with 10.000 Russos member) at the Sabotage Club in Lisbon. The result is a very cool and varied jam session ranging from atmospheric dark soundscapes to heavy kraut rock fire. It is Electric Moon and then some.
Vespero from Russia have returned to Tonzonen Records with their -if I’m correct- fourth full length album of meditative dream music. Songo is so tranquil and serene it borders new age music, and its folk-inspired chants wouldn’t have been out of place on the Vikings soundtrack. The heavy use of oscillation, reverb and electric guitars does bring it back to the realm of space and krautrock though, as if the band travels through ancient history in a futuristic time machine. A unique and recommendable experience!
Enigmatic psychedelic rockers Lubianka from Barcelona present themselves as a cinematic orchestra on Radio India, with each track representing different landscapes and emotions, in which the repetitive delay-driven guitar parts are backed by female chanting or spoken word. At times there are magnanimous eruptions of saxophone lead free jazzism, or stretched out hazy keyboard parts. It is mood music. And it is a record I haven’t fully wrapped my head around yet, which takes time, space, and the right vibes. Just like most good things in life I guess.
Temple Fang- Fang Temple (2021, Right On Mountain records)
Amsterdam psychedelic jam rockers Temple Fang live and breathe DIY. This record and the previous one (Live At Merleyn) are self-produced live recordings of the band jamming and give a perfect slice of the band’s reality at this time. They have the stubborness and experience to prefer playing live and letting the songs develop as they appear. I have a deep respect for this approach to letting your music happen to you, especially when it turns out so goddamn well. If they would have told me Fang Temple was recorded during an orchestrated studio session I would have believed it as well! It is fitting in these uncertain times that they release it too, because they would have rather just played live. In stead we now have this album on wax, which once again is a ray of light in the overwhelming darkness. I guess we should just hold on to that, and the thought that at this moment they are actually working on a proper studio album as well…!
Earlier this year in May I reviewed King Buffalo’s masterpiece The Burden Of Restlessness and talked with singer/guitarist Sean McVey about it. He promised us two more records then, and true to his word follow up Acheron is released this winter, and a third record will follow somewhere early next year. It is one the few upsides to these horrible pandemic years, that musicians like King Buffalo had nothing better to do than jam by themselves a lot and make lots of new music for us to enjoy and soothe our mangled spirits somewhat.
Acheron was recorded in a jam session in a dark cave with the band focussing less on songwriting and more on atmosphere and dynamics, resulting in four long songs all clocking in around ten minutes. They show King Buffalo at their most contemplative and inward, subconsciously reminding of their brilliant Repeater EP. It is definitely music to loosen your mind to, and let your thoughts float freely, guided by the sparse use of vocals, and the meandering jams.
What strikes me most upon listening more closely is that where on The Burden Of Restlessness the band was a lot more open and direct both in their songwriting and in their lyrics, with Acheron the band and lyric writer Sean McVey return to more distant sketches and natural symbolism to express their mood. It makes the record a much more “heady” affair, inviting the listeners more to create their own images and meaning. For me personally it is a more distant experience than The Burden, which was one of those rare pieces of arts that hit me directly in the feels. I felt related to it instantly, whereas Acheron is a piece of music that dig a lot, I still love their sound and I love the way it pulls me into the music and trips me out for ten minutes per song, yet it doesn’t touch me as personally as King Buffalo did before.
That does not make it any less of a musical endeavor though. Nor do I think there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to artists like King Buffalo. With a record like Acheron they made us jam with them in a dark room with them and turn a moment of isolation into a deep creative experience. What is not to love about that?
I know, I know, this record came out last year’s summer already but it totally flew under my radar and Tonzonen Records is just now releasing it on vinyl so that’s more than enough reason for me to talk about it. Aside from the fact that it’s a delicious piece of modern 60’s inspired psychedelic rock of course.
Acid Moon consists of eight(!) musicians out of Israel, some of whom already gained international recognition in stoner rock outfit The Great Machine. On Speakin’ Of The Devil they play a lovely brand of vintage style acid rock reminiscent of bands like Jefferson Airplane, CCR, The Rolling Stones, and more of your parents’ records that ruled. The way they rock and roll, it’s almost effortless, just jamming and having a great time enjoying the oldies while creating some thrilling new music that deserves to be heard.
I really like the way the band dares to be weird. A catchy pop song like I Love You seamlessly flows into the eight minute jam beast that is the title track, which in turn topples into the weirdo psychout pop of Creatures Of The Abyss. This is a band that defies conventions and plays with their heart, and with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks.
The replay value of Speakin’ Of The Devil is pretty high with its catchy songwriting and acid test jams. A final shout out is in place to the brilliant variation between male and female vocals which give the record a brilliantly varied color palette of sounds from all different angles of the 60s universe.