Third Eye Weekly Listening: 5/5/23

Happy Cinco de Mayo! While we don’t have any Mexican psych artists to help us celebrate in this weekly Third Eye listening installment, we have plenty of other good tunes to trip out to. I decided to include some more well-known artists this week and a debut album from a London-based psychedelic folkie. Enjoy!

Psych Jams of the Week

Remix the Universe by Lee “Scratch” Perry & New Age Doom

Lee “Scratch” Perry is the legendary Jamaican record producer, composer, and singer who left this world in 2021. He was known primarily for his innovative studio techniques and production style, being a Seventies pioneer in dub music.

Remix the Universe was released in January 2023. It’s a collection of hypnotic re-imaginings of one of Perry’s last recordings, which was also a collaboration with the New Age Doom collective of musicians, called Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Guide to the Universe. I can’t say I know much about these projects or Perry’s towering legacy and career. But I will say that Remix the Universe is a trippy, psychedelic delight.

Several DJs and musicians worked on this remix, which is complex, multi-layered, and uses recordings of Perry’s spoken word ramblings. Some of Perry’s commentary is spiritual and visionary, while others are nonsensical. Nevertheless, it all comes together seamlessly. The result is 40 minutes and 33 seconds of music over 12 tracks that play like one continuous cosmic song, like Perry is speaking to us from the other side.

Even if you never were a Scratch Perry fan, you may still enjoy this one. It carries on the spirit of his highly experimental style, and it is probably one of many memorial albums that will be made to commemorate his influence.

Richard Olson & The Familiars

This is the debut album from Richard Olson & The Familiars via the Alabama-based Cardinal Fuzz Shop label. The vintage psychedelic folk sound immediately grabbed me. It’s an album full of dreamy harmonies and singer-songwriter pop music reminiscent of the Sixties and Seventies. Each track is a gorgeous earworm that you’ll hum along to.

London-based Richard Olson was a member of the band Eighteenth Day of May before forming The See See, which would later evolve into The Hanging Stars. Richard’s debut LP features plenty of acoustic guitars and his most personal and reflective songwriting. The tracks are warm and hazy, and according to some, harken back to great folk-rock pioneers like The Byrds.

I’ve been reading a book about Laurel Canyon, the famous L.A. neighborhood that was the launching pad for so many great early folk rockers, so maybe that’s why I was particularly drawn to Olson’s album. Fans of that era of music and legendary acts like CSNY and Buffalo Springfield should love this one.

Lanquidity by Sun Ra & His Arkestra

Along with digging into the works of Lee “Scratch” Perry, I’ve been checking out the voluminous catalog of the psych-jazz pioneer Sun Ra. Sun Ra was just as weird and experimental (and fascinated with aliens and space) as Perry, and some of his music is frankly unlistenable. He released a ton of stuff over the years and passed away in 1993.

Lanquidity was released in 1978, recorded in a single night following a performance by Sun Ra & His Arkestra on Saturday Night Live. The album differs stylistically from Sun Ra’s earlier recordings, drawing heavily on funk, R&B, and jazz fusion. Lanquidity also features dueling guitars, which were rarely used in Sun Ra recordings. 

The album has been well-received by critics over the years and for a good reason. It’s an excellent place to start and enter the bizarre Sun Ra psych-jazz omniverse, featuring enough down-to-earth jazz playing mixed with experimental and sometimes funky sounds. Lanquidity is also often compared to Miles Davis’ heaviest jazz-funk-rock fusion. 

I listened to the definitive re-issue edition from 2021, which has 10 tracks, some re-mastered, and a few other alternate mixes. Most of the songs are pretty long, with the longest one, an alternate mix of That’s How I Feel, clocking in at more than 12 minutes. Like the Perry Remix The Universe, this is a hypnotic listening experience to get stoned to or just space out to.

It’s Bandcamp Friday, so you know what that means – head to the site, support some of these hard-working artists, and spread the news! Sun Ra’s recording isn’t up on Bandcamp, but you can find Richard Olson and the New Age Doom’s Remix the Universe there.

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