Monday, January 27, 2014

"...acting as an aerial, picking up the sound..."

Space Pirate Radio is 40 years old.  And we are celebrating the music.  The soundtrack to the madness and mental state of my little midi-minuit fantastique.  The wireless of the weird.  "That space music."

As discussed before, this odd new musik coming out of Britain and Europe, inspired by psychedelic rock from San Francisco, Eastern music, jazz, classical, sci-fi film soundtracks and cheesy lounge music...this mix of moods and enthusiasms motivated the birth of the show.  The Beatles and Pink Floyd had broken the rules, others were following.  Why wasn't the U.S. of A. tuned in?

This had to be changed. Freeform non-commercial FM radio was the hope for innovation.  But commercial radio had to be subverted.  AM radio would play the edited version of The Doors' "Light My Fire."  FM the full piece.  Plus "The End" and "When The Music's Over."

Longer cuts over the 2 minute single played on a turntable that was sped up, creating that Chipmunks quality so necessary for extra ad time.  Basta!  "We want our sounds, and we want it........NOW!"  :)

Pink Floyd's "Echoes" and/or "Atom Heart Mother."  The Beatles "Revolution #9."  Brian Auger & Julie Driscoll doing Donovan's "Season of the Witch."

So how about this new stuff?  Tangerine Dream's "Atem."  Amon Duul 2's "Yeti."  Ash Ra Tempel.  The Cosmic Jokers.  Popol Vuh.  Heldon.  Banco del Mutuo Soccorso.  Le Orme.  Can, for Goddess' sake!

George Harrison, liberally helping himself to others' music on "Wonderwall" and "Electronic Sounds."  Zappa's "Freak Out"?  Slide into Guru Guru's "UFO" or "Kanguru."  Early Kraftwerk, Kluster (with a K, followed by Cluster with a C ), and Klaus Schulze, the pre-Wagnerian dreamer.

And Mike Oldfield.  Because of Soft Machine and Kevin Ayers.  And Robert Wyatt.  And Daevid Allen.

Gong.  Caravan.  Hatfield and the North.  Egg.  National Health.  Canterbury or Oxford?  The English Magick...from Small Faces' "Ogden's Nut Gone Flakes" (one of my first import purchases, in the plastic snap case, with fold out and ciggie papers) to Manfred Mann with and without the Earth Band.

Kate Bush, Incredible String Band, Gentle Giant, Gryphon and Third Ear Band.  Curved Air and Darryl Way's Wolf.

France: Ange.  Mona Lisa.  Atoll.  And Magma!  Spain: Granada.  Triana.  Japan: Sadistic Mika Band.  Far East Family Band.

Alquin, Kayak and Earth & Fire from Holland.  Telex from Belgium.


I still have my hand written, improvised playlist from that first Space Pirate Radio show of Saturday night/Sunday morning January 27th, 1974.  (This was in essence an audition show, live and at full tilt bluff.  The midnight to six experiment fooled the teachers, and Sunday night/Monday morning, the Deadest of Airtimes, would become my grave robbing broadcast home.)

The show opened with Hawkwind's "Earth Calling" from the double live "Space Ritual" album.  Perhaps not the aesthetically best first choice (after all, Hawkwind permanently deafened my left ear at their Space 1999 show with Man in Los Angeles at the Embassy Concert Theatre), but its "We've landed Earthlings...Protect Your Women" tone seemed appropriate on a radio station accustomed to Jackson Browne.  :)   I was making an entrance.  And trance?

Entranced!   :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
                     :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

"...hidden around the house somewhere..."

Never trust anyone over 30, was the famous line.  So 40 has to be even more suspect.  Space Pirate Radio is 40 years old.  "Good Heavens, Walter!  Call someone official.  IT'S moved into our neighbourhood!"

Inside the heart of Space Pirate Radio screams the voice of a hyper active 8 year old.  Also a precocious 17 year old.  A slightly misguided, hormone fueled 26 year old.  An ambitious, partially driven 35 year old.  A sly Humbert Humbert winking/wanking 44 year old.  A creaking, panting, still thinks it's got the moves 53 year old.  A fearful, death obsessed, but loaded with ironic humour 62 year old.  A Yoda like font of wisdom, equipped with day-glo toupee and extra naughty thoughts 71 year old.  A newly reborn pagan godhead seed from the planet Zontar 80 year old.  A...oh, sorry, I dozed off there.  Probably you did too.

The connecting rectal plug of rare beads from India here, amongst the diverse aged, is One Magick Factor (Max Factor's black sheep brother, founder of The Order of the Golden Dawn, Go Away, You're No Good For Me)...The factor?

It is...The Musik :)

It makes the whole marvelous thing timeless.

Since 1973, the musical purpose of Space Pirate Radio was, and always has been, to be that of a transmitter--a transmitter of new and unusual sounds, from around the world, incorporating all elements of musical style and instrumentation.  Before it became a bland term for 'relaxing background music' or 'modern muzak,' I used the term audio alchemy.  Mixing Debussy with Pink Floyd, jazz & classical with Martin Denny or Les Baxter.  Why couldn't The Phantom of the Opera's organ be played by Lenny Dee?  The violin in Saint Saens' Danse Macabre be replaced by a theremin or glissando guitar?  Carmina Burana performed on banjo?  The middle bit of "Whole Lotta Love" solo with household blender?  Dig?
The possibilities are endless.  Break down the fourth wall.
That is the musical purpose.  The other purposes are my own.  If you're on my wavelength, you understand the total picture.  If it's just the base metals, the glue that holds it all together, that is, The Muzik...that is good.  It is the beginning and to a degree, the end.  It is at least, the welcome mat, the entrance to the Melting Watchtowre.  That which was and still is Space Pirate Radio.
The Muzik: It is always new.  It is always odd.  And it is always smart.  Unless, of course, it is incredibly silly, in contrast or juxtaposition to what has been played before, and what will come after.  There is method to the madness.  I am not a musician, not in any classical or disciplined sense.  I do consider myself an illustrator with sound.  I can hear the final note of a Gentle Giant song and know it can connect seamlessly with another song from 30 years later, or 20 years before.  It is my curse.  To some, anyway.  For me and my friends, it is a blessing.  This glorious music.  These incredible sounds.
Now I apologize for the hyperbole and dense fecal tone of this entry.  Manic.  "Manics" was a great TV show.  Mike Connors.  "I feel GREAT today!  Well, maybe not THAT great.  In fact, I'm feeling kinda down.  A little frightened actually.  Well, TERRIFIED, if you must know!"
It's been a bit of challenge, lately.  ("A master of understatement, Marcel.  But at least you got out of bed.")  Therapy.
But what about this Muzik?  Music.  "The New Sound."
Progressive Music.  It must have progress...And therein lies the secret........

2B Count Tin Hued.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


There's been a returned interest in reclusive writers lately.  J. D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon.  One passed and the other passing by on the street.  So let's talk authors, shall we?  "Me so love me authors."

As well read as I like to think I am, the list of books and writers I've never opened is gigantic.  Immense proportions.  With Salinger, I have never been a fan.  Read Franny and Zooey in high school and was pretty unmoved.  I have never read The Catcher in the Rye.  If I did, it is completely erased from my memory banks.  Another assignment, rebelled against.  Oh dear, I wonder.  Today I suspect the book of being a manual for brainwashed, hypnotized assassins.  It scares me.  Like Wagner and the Nazis.

Thomas Pynchon is somebody I never read till very late, and only one title.  All his 'important' early works, I have still never read.  The one title is Mason & Dixon, and that was in 1997 when the hardcover came out.  I saw we both had similar verbal quirks and perhaps, in some ways, our minds ran down the same gutters.  I know who my conscious influences are.  One hates to be accused of unconscious ones.  When I read Mason & Dixon, bits reminded me of the Firesign Theatre.  Now I know I was influenced by them, but what of Pynchon & the Firesign?  Could one inspire the other and in turn, the inspired re-inspire the inspiration?  Or is it coincidence?  Or, probably just the drugs, which means yes AND no.  Either way, fool that I are, I'm trying Pynchon for the second time with his latest, Bleeding Edge.  I'm under a hundred pages into it as I write, and when this twaddle is published, I should be finished.  Some jokes remind me of stuff from Space Pirate Radio in 1974, but I'm taking it all in good spirits.  I admire his work and think one will weather any calls that I went back in time and stole his stuff.


There are many sacrifices in marriage.  One is giving up my library.  Most of my collection of books are in tubs, hidden behind other stacks of tubs.  These contain my wife's immense collection of Star Wars collectibles, Yes concert t-shirts and endless out of order back issues of Q and Mojo magazines.  Like the penultimate scenes of Citizen Kane on acid, or a cat walled up in an Edgar Allan Poe story, my ancient volumes scream out to me, unheard behind a stack of Jar Jar Binks pizza boxes.

Umberto Eco is there.  Two titles.  Bram Stoker.  Nabokov.  Three volumes, I believe, including his script version of Lolita.  Herrman Hesse.  Arturo Perez-Reverte.  The complete memoirs of Casanova.  Orhan Pamuk.  Kafka.  Some folks have works of William Gibson.  I have Walter Gibson, the creator of The Shadow.  A lot of Sax Rohmer too.  High art to low trash.  That's what a good library should consist of.  (I have a lot of biography, auto-biography and history as well.)

I loved libraries as a kid.  Gravitated to the Science-Fiction and Mystery sections.  At the Fullerton Library, the spines of the sci-fi books had Saturns on them.  The mysteries had poison labels.  Cute.

As mentioned above, biography and auto-biography always gives pleasure.  Rich information, over the joy of immersion in language.  Artists bios are seductive: Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, Nazimova, Vanessa Redgrave, Tamara de Lempicka, John Gielgud, Isadora Duncan, Sellers & Milligan are subjects still in the library that spring to mind.  Politics and history: Leon Trotsky, the Opium War, Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, suffragette Victoria Woodhull, Nazis, neo and retro (only the clothing changes).

Ah, the love of books.  I started reading very, very early.  A story I will bore you with later.  But if I could step back into my Re-Tardis, it would be to go back to an earlier time and catch up on all of the tomes, pulps, periodicals and paperbacks I've missed, or wish to rediscover.

In the Beginning was the Word.  And the Word was...A NOUN!

Who was the Author?  He was A NOUN AMOS!!!  :)