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Review and Interview: Um Corpo Estranho e Saturnia- O Místico Orfeão Sónico (2021 Malafamado Records)

Perhaps one of the most underrated and unnoticed releases of last year was this gem of a collaboration by Portuguese psych wizard Saturnia and Setúbal stoner rockers Um Corpo Estranho. Together they have created a perfectly exotic mixture of psychedelic space rock and desert rock tribalism, all sang in their native tongue Portuguese, which gives the album an outlandish and mystical feel.

The music runs the gamut between hazy and rhythmic desert rock that at times reminds of Queens Of The Stone Age at their dreamiest, and folky tribalist space rock on the other side, definitely more the Saturnia influence on it all. Of course Luís Simōes’s sitar plays an important role, but Um Corpo Estranho‘s rhythmic approach and multiple vocals layers definitely add to a rich more = more approach that works terrifically well for this project.

Perhaps the only big mistake these brilliant Portuguese artist made is that they did not bother to market their album outside their home country much. That’s why a lot of psychedelic and hazy rock appreciators out there will unfortunately miss out on this gem. So in order to counter some of that error I contacted Luís Simōes to talk about his life and about this great record he made. This is what he had to say:

How have you been these past Corona times? Has it affected your musical career in any way, and if so how?

Luís Simões – I’ve been OK, as Saturnia is primarily an artist that mainly does albums and I don’t play live a lot, it didn’t really affected me that much; I did a one off unique presentation for a film festival over here in Setúbal and two special shows with O Místico Orfeão Sónico.

My internet activity increased significantly, and at a certain point, my CD and LP sales had a boost. As I am basically a loner, the confinement that the authorities forced had little difference from my usual day-to-day life. I know a few people who got COVID really hard, and sadly, I lost a relative.

You released two brilliant records last year: Stranded In The Green as Saturnia, and a great collaboration with Um Corpo Estranho, congratulations! How have the responses been so far?

Luís Simões – Thank you very much for your kind words.

The reactions have been very good. Stranded in the Green had a very good response from both the public and the press, even more so than usual. I think it’s one of the best works in my discography and it shows. The O Místico Orfeão Sónico album with Um Corpo Estranho also had great reactions.

Can you tell me what your average day looks like? How do you keep creative?

Luís Simões -Well, there is really no specific usual routine. I basically hang around with my set up always ready to record and when something comes up, I just try to capture it. That’s it. My mind and spirit are permanently wandering and drifting into odd interior universes, creating fantasies and plots of a conceptual, visual, lyrical, and musical nature. It has been like that all my life, it’s the way I am. In my experience, you should never force creation; instead, you should always be open and ready to pick up when the muses grace you with their presence.​

Can you tell me about where you live in Portugal, and how it affects your music?

Luís Simões – I am from Linda-a-Velha a middle class suburb of Lisbon, known for its Hardcore scene but I’ve been living in Setúbal, the first main city one hour drive south of Lisbon, since 2007. When I was in Lisbon the vibe was more uptight and I was much more an alienated bedroom suburban dreamer, maybe because of the snobbery of the capital, everybody just pretends to be cool, I never liked the poseur-ism…
I love Lisbon but Setúbal is a city that retained its more traditional vibe, I feel really comfortable and have a real sense of belonging, I have real countryside, beach and mountain nearby, not to mention the wine… So, since the Alpha Omega Alpha album I think my music became much more pleasurable and total because I live in a much more pleasant place.

What can you tell me about Saturnia, how did you start it, how did you get into contact with record labels, how did you decide on your style and sound?

Luís Simões – I started Saturnia in a period when I needed to work in a different way that I had worked up until then, which was a Heavy Metal, Rock modus operandi. I was tired of being locked all day long inside a dark room with a couple of guys, just banging away in a noisy atmosphere. For several reasons, not just musical, I needed peace of mind and had to go in another direction.

Initially, I had no real Stylistic plan, I just wanted to work from home and do a type of music that happened naturally and felt good, picking a few elements from several types of music, mainly Psychedelic and Space Rock and to a much lesser extent Prog. Saturnia always had many influences, that range from indo-Jazz to Classic through easy listening, ambient Electronica and musique concrete.

Initially I meant Saturnia to be like a multimedia artistic collective, but I quickly realized that it would be wiser to just stick to a more orthodox band format, but as time went by I just started doing everything on my own and Saturnia turned into a one man band with some friends helping out on live shows. Curiously, although early Saturnia was consciously a bit removed from Rock, with the passage of time my Rock roots worked their way back in and what Saturnia is now, and has been since the Muzak album, it’s pretty much inside the area of what is traditional Rock music.

Your collaboration with Um Corpo Estranho is very special, as it brings together two unique sounds and really melts it into one. How did the two bands find each other and how did you decide to make this record?

Luís Simões – Me and Pedro Franco, guitarist of Um Corpo Estranho, just kept bumping into each other over here in the Setúbal night scene and talking for hours and hours about our favorite music and bands and also about music gear and general instrument fetishism. It was always clear that we could do something together and at a certain point they had a song that they wanted some sitar in and that was what triggered the whole process.

We started to work together, sharing ideas and then we realized we had a full album in our hands, it really happened that naturally.
This O Místico Orfeão Sónico album with Um Corpo Estranho is one of those situations when you never know where things are going, just take a chance based purely on feeling and hope for the best. We fused naturally and it was a pleasure to surprise them and be surprised by them. I think the result is quite unique and we did a very strong album at a level that Portuguese music hasn’t really heard for quite a while.

Can you tell me about the beautiful artwork and the lyrical concept? As I don’t understand much or any Portugese I feel like some explanation is very welcome 🙂

Luís Simões – The cover was made by Illustrator Paulo Buchinho, he did a colorful composition with elements of our own personal universe and some Setúbal historic references such as eighteenth century Arcadian poet Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage and lyrical Singer Luísa Todi. Lyrically the album is a loose concept about Setúbal and its river Sado with Classic mythology and Tarot mixed with our own personal experiences.

The album has a great production and sound, and the songs are really good too. Still, the release felt a bit restricted to Portugal only, was that intentional? I feel like a lot more people would be enjoying this if they knew about it!

Luís Simões – Thank you for your kind words.
Yes, it was intentional, we see this record mainly as a Portuguese experience that is why we never even looked for any distribution, its a boutique thing, we have the album and sell it ourselves and that’s it. I agree, this album has qualities that could reach a very wide public.

Can you tell me about your future plans? Was the album with Um Corpo Estranho a “one off”? Will there be more live shows also in Europe? Will there be a new Saturnia album? Anything!

Luís Simões – Although for the O Místico Orfeão Sónico we never thought of doing more than one album, we already got carried away and we do have new material, if this turns into another album or not its still early to say. Yes, there Will be a new Saturnia album, i have lots of material for a new album but everything is still at an early stage. Regarding concerts with O Místico Orfeão Sónico outside Portugal I don’t think that’s possible due to everybody’s agenda.

Regarding Saturnia, I would truly love to tour Europe constantly but without some sort of agency or booking structure support, which I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to find for years, that is just not possible. That is one of the main reasons why Saturnia is mainly an album artist and not so much a live artist.

What is your ultimate life goal, personally or musically?

Luís Simões – To be free, to do art which is authentic, honest, pertinent, based on instinct and intuition but crafted with Intelligence with intrinsic quality regardless of any opinions or trends. I don’t really separate personal from artistic that much but on a personal level its the same.

Who are your heroes and inspiration?

Luís Simões – I have respect for a lot of different artists and I am a fan of lots of things in art in general and music in particular but i am simultaneously also very critical of my heroes and to a certain point an iconoclast.

What I mean is that I don’t love all albums by my favorite bands, when something sucks, it just sucks, I can’t and won’t brainwash myself to love something I don’t love.
Some of my main references: Johann Sebastian BachNik Turner, Bill BruffordSteve HarrisRay Manzarek, Mike Rutherford, Klaus Schulze.

What will you do after this interview, and what should the Weirdo Shrine readers do? (and especially: where should they go if they want to buy your records?)

Luís Simões – Well, after this I’m going to finish the mixes for a live show of O Místico Orfeão Sónico that my friend, film maker João Bordeira kindly filmed in January, I’m also remastering the second Saturnia album, The Glitter Odd, for a possible special LP limited release and start organizing the new material I got for a new Saturnia album.
Weirdo Shrine readers should do whatever they like and just keep it Weirdo!!!
To get our albums the best thing is to contact Dave Schmidt on Sulatron records or myself through our respective websites or Facebook.

Meditation In Space: Fred Laird’s Empty House, Dave Read’s El Hombre Al Agua, Chino Burga’s Invokaciones, and Angad Berar’s A Broadcast Under Water.

Space rock vs. meditation…a good pairing?

Through all the noise of daily life, the constant pull of social media, the wars that are fought allover the world, the stress of pandemics and the worries about climate change, it would seem like a good idea to escape everything and push all of those things away and out of your head. In stead of constantly being on edge about everything it would seem like a better idea to try to live in the moment, with nothing more than your senses. Try for a second to just sense your surroundings without judgment. It seems impossible. And yet, mindfulness and meditation are based on that principle; to live in the moment and to empty your mind. Some musicians are aware of this, and they write music to accompany this idea. In this article I tried to experience a meditative state while listening to their music, and I asked the makers about their own experiences.

El Hombre Al Agua- Memories Can Be Injected (2022, Echodelick Records/Up In Her Room Records)

El Hombre Al Agua

Starting off with Dave Read’s solo project El Hombre Al Agua, basically the reason why I came up with the idea in the first place. Very differently from his work in bands like Moths & Locusts or Annunaki, Read here completely lets go of the principle of the “song” and simply goes with the flow, letting the sounds, bleeps, and effects do the talking. Is it music for meditation? Well, the first track is called Three Minute Meditation, which features a singing bowl, and a deep male voice telling us to “relax” and how to breathe. I tried this, and it works! Closing my eyes, and breathing in deeply twice, then letting go I got in the right mood to let the other songs wash over me in a very dreamy mental state as well. I wouldn’t directly say I was already meditating, but I was definitely listening more intensively and with full attention. I have to say though, the exercise worked better with the tracks without any rhythmic throb or beat, especially on the title track Memories Can Be Injected that got a little in the way of my quiet state of mind.

Do you meditate, what brought you into contact with it?  

I do meditate, in my own personal way, generally just taking time daily for mindfulness and reflection. It helps me calm my mind and focus on whatever needs focussing on.  I have a bunch of meditation LPs in my collection, some I’ve had for many years, I guess you could say that’s how I got into it.  That and reading people like Thich Nhat Hahn who inspire me to pursue the best life possible for myself and others.

In what way does (your) music play a role in meditation? 

 I apply breathing and repetition exercises in both music and meditation, and I find drone music in particular is especially receptive to using these techniques.  I’m a big fan of long form musical pieces that slowly ebb and flow, they feel like the musical equivalent of meditation.  I also take inspiration from old 1970s New Age spiritual guru type records.

Can you describe the importance of meditation in your life and in general? 

It is something that helps me keep calm and focussed, not an easy task in today’s society.  I find it’s important to take a few moments each day for meditation, it helps me stay positive and productive.  Ram Dass introduced me to the philosophy of Be Here Now.

Do you have any tips/tricks for starters? 

 John Lennon says it best, ‘Turn off your mind and float downstream’

Anything you would like to add, names to drop, etc  

Check out Ram Dass, Sufi Inayat Khan, Thich Nhat Hahn, Chino Burga, Wasted Cathedral, Ravi Shankar, Brian Eno and Sunn O)))

Empty House- Blue Bamboo (2022, self-released)

Empty House- Blue Bamboo

For my next exercise I used the latest Empty House release Blue Bamboo by UK psych wizard Fred Laird, also known for his work in space rock band Earthling Society and his current endeavor Taras Bulba (which featured on this blog twice before). Needless to say I am a big fan, and follow his ever growing creative outlets under various different monikers with great interest.

For Blue Bamboo he wrote: “Blue Bamboo consists of four improvised pieces for meditation or total chill out. Recorded over a few days in February and built upon drones created by the organ through a dream pedal or Tanpura box. The tracks were then splashed with colour and hues with treated piano, shakuhachi flute, bells, synth, field recordings and other instruments. Inspired by my faith in Buddhism as well as the music of Eno, David Sylvian, Midori Takada and Popol Vuh – Blue Bamboo is 30+ minutes of escape from a bullshit warmongering climate.”

And so I prepped myself with the breathing instructions I gained from Dave Read’s Three Minute Meditation and dove right in. The music on Blue Bamboo is very tranquil, very open, and less focussed on spacing out. Perhaps its more written about spacing “in” if you catch my drift. There are lots of beautiful moments to ponder about, similar to taking a morning forest walk and really taking in the beauty of what you see. Like El Hombre Al Agua, some spoken word is used, which adds to the experience, and can be pushed aside if you will your mind to it. Thirty minutes later I return back into my room. I open my eyes and for a moment think of nothing. I think I succeeded.

Fred adds: I started practicing meditation from the date the first lockdown began in March 2020. Whilst my employers where wondering what to do with the work situation and the rest of civilisation thought we were entering the opening chapters of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’, my lazy old self thought it was ample time to kick back and practice some Chi breathing and other relaxing pursuits. I started reading the books of Taoist master Mantak Chia which taught you how to develop the cosmic orbit meditation. This technique is performed by breathing through the naval similar to how an unborn child breathes when attached to the umbilical cord, or when you see an infant breathe and the tummies extend because they still have the antenatal instinct. This enables you to fully engage your lungs rather than a fraction of what adults use. Apparently you lose the art of how to truly breathe.

However as normal life starts to come back and crush your spirit, trying to put 30 minutes aside to stare at a wall and breathe like a baby starts to become an impossibility.

Instead I incorporate meditation into other concepts. I put 20 minutes core exercise into my routine 4 times a week. This involves a number of abdominal and leg exercises that are pretty steady and usually performed to music. I prefer Brian Eno’s ambient albums or Tony Scott’s ‘Music for Zen Meditation’ which is an absolute classic. I started to paint in watercolours to music as well. A lot of my paintings feature clouds and blue skies, pretty aimless images, bamboo, flowers that kind of thing. I like to listen to Susuma Yakota’s Sakura album, Midori Takada, Mkwaju Ensemble or Popol Vuh whilst I paint.

As I practice martial arts, I use the poomsae which is the patterns you learn for grading as another form of meditation. Emptying your mind and focusing your energy on the poomsae helps block out things that maybe troubling you and helps you focus on the now.

So there are lots of ways to meditate without sitting under a bodhi tree waiting for enlightenment. Meditation walking for another example.

A good guide to start would be the book ‘Peace is every step’ by Thich Nhat Hanh. It’s a very clear and simple book from a zen master.

Chino Burga- Invokaciones (2021, Echodelick Records)

Chino Burga- Invokaciones (2021)

Invokaciones by Peruvian psychedelic drone master Chino Burga was brought to my attention last year by Echodelick Records when they sent me a test pressing of this piece of dense instrumental drone. I have to say it took me a while before I knew what I was to do with this, but in writing this piece about meditation all fell into place. I contacted Chino, and to my delight he was already deeply immersed into meditation.

Getting rid of time and tempo is exactly what Invokaciones does. It lurks and lumbers in a very eerie, and unfathomable way. It rather fills up an entire room with audio smoke, engulfing its listener with its soundwaves and lulling you in a trance. I could very well see me losing myself in a tranquil meditative state on this record. The way Chino Burga himself talks about, it might even been written to do so…

Do you meditate, what brought you into contact with it?

I passed throught a very dark period where I had almost no control of my own life, leading by anxiety, depression and addictions, it was reflected in several months with no sleep at all. So I started to calm down my brain with binaural frequencies and that was the first step for a deeper search

 In what way does (your) music play a role in meditation?

My music is the result of a lot rituals, where meditation is one of the phases that I set up to be able to process a new album. I found the act itself of playing as a meditation practice. As I try to play with no tempo and repetitively, soon I lost the sense of time, leaving me in a no-space-or-time place, perfect for introspection. But of course it’s a very own thing

Can you describe the importance of meditation in your life and in general?

Most people think meditation means close your eyes and relax for a certain period of time. To me represents a state of mind where you are aware of yourself, can happens listening music, reading a book or watching the trees, it just takes me to a silence in mind state that I appreciate each day more

Do you have any tips/tricks for starters?

I’m not a point of reference for sure….but…Try to keep silence in every sense in order to be able to listen in every sense

Anything you would like to add, names to drop, etc

Thank you and Echodelick for the support

Angad Berar- A Broadcast, Underwater (2020, self-released)

I got to know Angad Berar through his 2019 album Elephants On The Beach, that was re-released on vinyl by Echodelick Records last year. I was immediately struck by the immense tranquility and peace that emanated from his work. Samples of birds chirping and spoken word are worked delicately into his layered solo guitar structures, making for beautiful soundscapes that stay wonderfully captivating. A Broadcast, Under Water is a later release on which Angad Berar explores an even more tranquil and silenced mode of himself. It is a record that seems purposed for meditation. And so I contacted its maker, and once again asked him to comment.

 Do you meditate, what brought you into contact with it?

Yes, however the frequency is lesser than I would like (hahaha). I got introduced to meditation whilst living~working in a community located in South India. Invoked by the lush green vegetation, the quiet neighbourhood and the beauty of nature near the equator — the place offered dynamic meditation. We were gently motivated to live our day consciously and actively meditate on the tasks in hand.

In the evening, we collectively meditated in a shared space. A practice similar to Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa’s teachings — a branch of conscious meditation.

This new found approach to life brought significant changes to my approach to music, in terms of listening and playing. Hence, it was natural to continue this practice.

In what way does (your) music play a role in meditation?

Music is both the path and the vehicle when it comes to meditation. Often, it takes a form of either and on those rare occasions, it embodies a dual nature.
As a role, currently my music is still maturing and the preferred form is yet to be established. Most of the music I play is intended to calm the listener or to the very least induce joy. That’s the dream, you know?
Until now, I haven’t yet consciously created music for meditation. However, I feel its meditation which has played a role in my music. There is more air and pace between the notes.

Can you describe the importance of meditation in your life and in general?

I think it boils down to Cause and Effect. If the ‘cause’ is created mindfully then the ‘effect’ of it is true to it’s intent. For example if a song is created to induce peace or happiness, and for some reason the artist wasn’t mindful about what they were playing and how they were playing, it might happen that the final piece does not fully solve its purpose (of spreading happiness). In my family often when my mother or grandmother cook food – it induces happiness and joy amongst everyone. I feel that they cook mindfully with love and that gets translated into the food.

Meditation helps me clear the noise and centre myself. This ‘state’ allows me to be 100% focussed on the matter in hand – a being, task, dance, music whatever : )

In the words of Satprem – When the mind is silent, words come, speech comes, action comes, everything comes, automatically, with striking exactness and speed. It is indeed another, much lighter way of living.

Do you have any tips/tricks for starters?

For starters, I would suggest finding a mentor / guru to guide you. It might take some time to find the right person but in the end it will make all the difference.

Anything you would like to add, names to drop, etc

Songs that help me get there –

Madeira by Debashish Bhattacharya 

A Meaningful Moment by Stars of the Lid

Raga Yaman – Zia Mohiuddin Dagar

Zakir Hussain and Rakesh Chaurasiya 

Anti-Stress for babies and families by Suso Saiz

HifiKlub + Duke Garwood – Last Party On Earth (2021 Subsound Records)

Mark Lanegan has just passed away. I just read his memoirs and despite the hurt of the loss I can’t help feeling he was living on borrowed time already. He told his audience so himself more than once. Still, 57 is too young to die, and I spent some time mourning him and listening to a couple of the many records he made. I love his voice, and I am grateful so much of his singing was beautifully recorded and preserved forever. Some of these recordings he did with his British counterpart and similarly dark voiced vocalist Duke Garwood, and today I listen to a contemporary record of his and feel solace; the torch of dark gravelly voiced melancholy is carried on.

On The Last Party On Earth Duke Garwood finds himself accompanied by the French art rock ensemble Hifiklub and a trio of modern classic artists subtly painting the musical postmodernist palette in ways reminding of arthouse movies, smoked out student’s coffee houses and empty squares, cleaned out by Corona. It is beautiful, atmospheric music that places the listener right in the middle of the global pandemic when it was released back in December 2021.

“There’s a party down there, the last party on earth…”

And then 2022 started, a shimmer of hope and Corona subsiding. Then Mark Lanegan passing, and now, at the time of this writing, bombs dropping on Kiev and the world holding its breath for the shitstorm about to hit our collective fans. It’s time to revisit this piece of music and reflect some of the peace and eerie calm it echoes from this not so distant past. How bored we were then by it, how welcome it feels now. The Last Party On Earth is a piece of recorded historic feeling of an era that shifted a lot of paradigms, rattled a lot of cages, and, like all times of adversary, showed human resilience, and the need to make beauty out of darkness no matter what.

It is an important piece of work, that does not seem to have gotten the praise it deserves at the time. Listen to to it and know this. Mankind is capable of many atrocities, but also of creating beautiful art like this. Duke Garwood carry the torch, and may you live to record many more pieces of importance like The Last Party On Earth.

Perhaps- 4 (2021 vinyl re-release Echodelick Records)

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.

Perhaps, live

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?


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?

Interview with Karen Schoemer (Sky Furrows, Jaded Azurites, Ivan The Tolerable)

Wreckless Eric and Karen Schoemer

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. 

Mike Watt and Karen Schoemer

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. 

Sky Furrows

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.  

Sky Furrows

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. 

ST37- Over And Over And Over Again (2021 Pariah Child Records)

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.

Holy cow.

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.

Ivan The Tolerable- The Long Year (2021 Stolen Body Records)

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.

I hope it’ll find your heart and ears too.

Ivan The Tolerable

Short but sweet review Megapost: Weedpecker, Eldovar, Kosmodome, Octopus Ride, Orsak Oslo, Daily Thompson, Electric Moon and Talea Jacta, Vespero, Lubianka, Temple Fang

Weirdo Shrine’s updated Spotify playlist

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.

Get it at

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.

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Kosmodome- Kosmodome (2021, Karisma Records)

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…

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Octopus Ride- II (2021, Sound Effect Records)

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!

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Orsak:Oslo- Skimmer/Vermod (2021, Kapitan Platte records)

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.

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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 God Of 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.

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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.

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Vespero-Songo (2021, Tonzonen Records)

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!

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Lubianka- Radio India (2021, Tonzonen Records)

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.

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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…!

Get it at:

King Buffalo- Acheron (2021, Stickman Records)

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.

King Buffalo

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?

Acid Moon and the Pregnant Sun- Speakin’ Of The Devil (2021 Tonzonen Records)

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 and the Pregnant Sun

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.