are, in my opinion, the great lost psych band of all time. Theyīre certainly a lot better than any Western band around nowadays. They really deserve to be more famous-I would never have even heard of them were it not that my friendīs dad is Majick Mark Huxley. Their first album, Number 9, is certainly worth a listen although it relies a bit too much on samples and is probably too tripped-out for most people.
Their second album, At Last, is more of a conventional rock album, but it suffers from very poor 80īs production values. The vocals all get a bit smothered and the whole thing just sounds a bit muddy, although there are also some good tracks on it.
Fortunately, their third album, Book Of Changes, was much better produced and is an absolute classic. It combines both the rock sensibility of At Last with the tripped-out sounds that abounded in Number 9. The first track, Inner Days, is one of the best songs as it has everything a great song needs-fantastic lyrics, blinding soloīs and a wonderful groove. The line
"I think I see the light now/
Shining down on me/
Is this a revelation/
Or just the LSD?"
has to be one of the greatest moments in rock history. The next song, Spiral Dance, is an 8 minute instrumental that brilliantly shows off the bandīs instrumental virtuosity. The last track is the title track, Book of Changes, a 17 minute far-out prog classic celebrating the I-Ching. This album is a true classic and really deserves to be heard by more people.
But even the brilliant Book Of Changes pales before īs true opus-Mushroom Bungalow Musick. This is one of my favourite albums and I believe it to be one of the best albums ever. Itīs certainly a lot, lot, lot better than anything their contemporaries (Ozric Tentacles, Porcupine Tree, Magic Mushroom Band, Here and Now) could ever dream of doing. The first track, Trip Sequence, pulls you straight into their trip with some whirling synths, far-out guitar and Psi-Steve intoning
"Trip sequence, trip, trip, trip sequence", all of which combine to create a blissful cocoon of sound that takes your soul higher and higher into the sonic stratosphere until you reach sweet oblivion in the cosmic void-and then it all skillfully segues into Rainbow Warriors, a stoned-out reggae track about a "tribe of people from all races, creeds and colours who will make this world green again". It proceeds at a very relaxed, very stoned pace and you can almost smell the weed they were smoking when they made it. Itīs also another classic and the very definition of ambient dub. Then the ambience suddenly ascends into guitar overdrive to announce the coming of track three, Red Alert, a heavy-rocking psych-out that borrows lyrics from Book of Changes. The guitar is the real star here-it keeps ascending into widly distorted solo magic that sends your brain spiralling into the heavens. The last few seconds introduce a paranoia-inducing electronic noise that dominates the minute-long scary side-trip that is the Hipsterīs Disease. Then, after sketching you out for a minute, it turns into the Dance Of A Thousand Spliffīs, a classic tune that combines ambient dub with more distorted guitar alchemy and some truly brilliant lyrics. Wild laughter announces the arrival of Kozmik Klown, the poppiest song ever did and one that really deserved to be a hit. After that excursion into the realm of space-pop itīs back to basics with Kingdom Of The Night, a 9 minute wonder that contains all the best trademarks-druggy, far-out lyrics all about the psychedelic experience, spacey synths and long distorted guitar soloīs. It summons up technicolour visions of an England long past, an England of sacred groves guarded by magical shamen-wizards, of superpowered heroes and supernatural foes. In short, itīs a really good song and it leads into another minute long side-trip of slightly unsettling electronic effects coupled with some spoken word weirdness. This then becomes World-Go-Round, a song that shares the same ambient vibes and mystic lyrics as Kingdom Of The Night, but just when you think youīve heard it all before it breaks into spaced-out solo and takes you there! It soon settles down again only to launch up into the stratosphere in the closing moments and descend into Tibetan chanting that starts Treading Treacle, a short return to their Number 9 days, meaning that itīs a bit too tripped out for itīs own good. But itīs soon over and into Fire and Water, a track thatīs got the same general vibes as Kingdom of the Night and World-Go-Round, carrying on the ambient, dreamy feeling with New Age lyrics, soupy synths and very jammed guitar plucking. Test Tones is 13 seconds of some guy talking about electronics, and it leads into possibly ther best track on the album, Journey. It starts with a driving beat coupled with trippy synths then Psi Steve starts singing about his shamanic trip and the whole thing pulls you irresistibly along into its tribal psych-out that confirms as the finest musical shamen since Lemmy-era Hawkwind. Prisoner, the track that follows Journey, is a wildly groovy number about escaping from the prison of the ego into union with the golden void from which the universe sprang. From here the album enters perhaps the weirdest trip ever recorded. Arthurīs Kingdom is 5 minutes of completely tuneless electronically enhanced intonations of truly weird sayings. I wonder just how much LSD they were on when they made that. Various One Liners is similarly weird and sounds like a particularly strange episode of Flash Gordon.
All in all, are by far the best Neo-Psychedelic band and are among the finest bands in history. I recommend all their albums but you should probably start at Mushroom Bungalow Musick, their best and most accessible album and then work your way backwards. If you like what you hear then spread the word!!! deserve to be sold in shops and on iTunes. You should also check out some of their live albums, or better yet see them live to get the full experience.
NUKLI The Time Factory
Review by proghead0
4 stars Totally ignored British prog rock band that surfaced in the 1980s free-festival scene, the same scene that spawned the OZRIC TENTACLES. Like the OZRICS, NUKLI released a series of privately issued cassettes in the 1980s, and it was only in 1997 that any of their material ever made it on CD with "The Time Factory", released on Delerium Records, same label PORCUPINE TREE used to be on. OZRIC TENTACLES and PORCUPINE TREE are now widely known by many, NUKLI basically slipped through the cracks. The band apparently had lineup changes (they were even known to have OZRIC members like Roly Wynne and "Generator" John as guests - not to be confused with the other John, John Egan the flute player) but on "The Time Factory", the lineup was guitarist/vocalist Kev Hegan, bassist Mark Huxley, keyboardist Eric Pavlyak, and drummer Colin Wareham.
The music on this CD tends to be rather lengthy, with two 17 minute cuts, a couple of nine minute cuts, and one short three minute experimental piece. How to describe their music? Well I hear some elements of traditional symphonic prog, with some Steve HILLAGE, HAWKWIND, and OZRICS (but unlike the OZRICS, there are vocals, and Kev Hegan sounds surprisingly like Dave Brock, especially on "Inner Days"). For some weird reason, the band loved including snippets of movies and television programs in their music, donīt ask me, because I think they overuse that. Ocassionally you hear some Middle Eastern influences (something common with the OZRICS).
"Book of Changes" starts off quasi-HAWKWIND, but there are some almost PINK FLOYD-like passages as well. "Inner Days" sounds a whole lot like HAWKWIND but without the heavy metal guitar licks. You can almost swear Dave Brock was singing this song, but as mentioned, it was Kev Hegan. Somewhere you hear excerpts from movies and television programs, including what sounds like something from the 1950s where a kid was saying "Last night, we were listening to space music" and his mother said, "Space music?" and you even hear a clip from Cheech & Chongīs Up in Smoke where Tommy Chong says, "Oh Wow Man" (because of the dog [&*!#] joint he was given, if Iīm not mistakened). "Spiral Dance" is a guitar-dominated piece that most resembles Hillage, while "The Inner Spectrum" is a short experimental piece that leads in to the final cut, "Pscychelektra Trip Sequence". There are a couple passages that feature some rather '80s sounding synthesizers I can live without, but for the most part, the synths you hear are VCS-3-like synth bubbles. Aside from the overuse of movie and television program snippets (although I did like the inclusion of Cheech and Chong and the "Space Music" stuff), this is truly a wonderful and hidden gem of prog rock, and if you can find the CD, get it.
My rating: 4 1/2 stars