A Seance at Syd’s – An Anthology of Acid-Haunt-Folk-Psych-Prog- Kraut-Radiophonic-Garage-Space Etcetera is…
A collection of words, wit and wisdom from some eighty different bands, performers, artists and label heads, heralds of and spokesmen for the sprawling mass of musical notions that have made this decade so unexpectedly enthralling.
Includes an Introduction by Nik Turner (Hawkwind etc); a brand new Tale from the Black Meadow by Chris Lambert; cover art by Gregory Curvey (the Luck of Eden Hall); almost 100 illustrations; and featuring in-depth and illuminating interviews with….
Black Tempest, Sproatly Smith, Palace of Swords, Beaulieu Porch, The Rowan Amber Mill, Mooch, The Owl Service, Lost Harbours, The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies, Sendelica, The Sunchymes, Alison O’Donnell, Midwich Youth Club, Reverb Worship, Us And Them, Chonyid, Angeline Morrison, King Penguin, Comus, The Bordellos, Crayola Lectern, Army of Mice, Chris Lambert, Sky Picnic, Dodson & Fogg, Crystal Jacqueline, The Chemistry Set, United Bible Studies, Diana Collier, Drew Mulholland/Mount Vernon Arts Lab, the Striped Bananas, Crow Call, Emily Jones, Francois Sky, the Nomen, Gordon Raphael, Head South by Weaving, the Luck of Eden Hall, Amanda Votta, The Hare And The Moon, Icarus Peel, Octopus Syng, Schizo Fun Addict, Grandpa Egg, Eschatone Records, Jefferson Hamer, Ghost Box, The Familiars, Beautify Junkyards, Mega Dodo, Stay, Judy Dyble, Fruits de Mer Records, the Past Tense, The Soulless Party, the Thanes, Tir Na Nog, the Child of a Creek, Astralasia, the Gathering Grey, Mark & the Clouds, Marrs Bonfire, Black Psychiatric Orchestra, The Loons, Mikey Georgeson, Mordecai Smyth, La Meccanica Sonora, Bevis Frond, Paolo Sala, Sand Snowman, the Seventh Ring of Saturn and Will Z.
AND AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY – MELMOTH THE WANDERER
Ace remixer supremo, visionary seer of the sonic pastures that lurk beyond the imagination, Melmoth the Wanderer’s intoxicating brews can be listened to here – and they should be. Here he takes time out from manipulating sound and dreamscape to answer the questions that Syd’s seance demands.
1. Tell us about yourself… about Melmoth the Wanderer; how long you’ve been doing it, how you started, etc etc
I come from a very musical family and have always been in bands. Alongside this, I would create sound collages and sample loops for mine and my friends’ listening pleasure whilst out in the countryside taking in the night air (ahem). On top of this, I also DJ’d chillout and ambient stuff, but rather than mixing beats I would use samples and spoken word LPs picked up from charity shops to pull the mixes together. I guess I was always more about the weird psychedelic surreal possibilities of mixing sounds rather than a banging set list.
The Melmoth mixes started when I first heard Investigating Witch cults in the Radio Age by Broadcast and the Focus Group. I was mesmerized, and to me it not only echoed albums like Lifeforms and ISDN by Future Sound of London, but it was also a lot like the cut and paste approach to my chill out mixes. This coincided with a diagnosis of narcolepsy and a sever bout of insomnia which would have me getting about an hour’s sleep a night for weeks. During those long depressing nights when sleep deprivation started playing with my mind, I started creating The Insomniacs Almanac, which was a pretty dark amateurish exploration into the world of Hauntology, and once it was finished I immediately had ideas for the next…and so it continues.
2. Tell us about your earliest musical experiences, either as a musician or a listener.
My earliest memories of music all come from different members of my family. I remember with great fondness hearing my mother in the kitchen, cooking and singing along to the Fisher Folk and then after tea going up the room I shared with my two older brothers to find them under both sat on the top bunk listening to Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers – `Rubber Ball’ always stands out in that memory. Finally, my Dad would return from work and after he’d had his tea, he would often get the old record player out and relax to Beethoven or Mozart – I favored Beethoven!
The first time music meant something to me personally, and had a real effect on me, coincides with the birth of my Sherlock Holmes obsession and love of dark folkloric stories. As a young child I was given The Hound of the Baskervilles Ladybird Horror Classic on storytape and the music used throughout was `A Night on the Bare Mountain’. I fell in love with the story and the music and since then have always been inspired by the way that a piece of music can almost become another character in a story or a film – shaping the mood and the pace. Each Melmoth mix aims to recreate the atmosphere and effect that listening to that storytape at night under my covers had on me as a very young child.
3. If the Spanish Intuition came to your house and demanded you describe the music you like/work with, what would you tell them?
Music of the night, the light and the half-light. Like the backing track in a great horror film that goes unnoticed, and yet is essential to its mood, atmosphere, suspense and ultimate success. It’s music soaked with haunted echoes.
4. In every field of musical endeavor, there are bands we love and bands we hate. Xould you give us an example of each… and why? (I’ve found from other responses received that older, “classic” bands are the most comfortable target for the latter – so if you see yourself drifting in a similar field to, say, Rush, but wish that they would just go away, here’s your chance to say so. And why.)
I love Spacemen 3 – for me they hold a place in British music history alongside The Jesus and Mary Chain in that, despite being a fringe band, they have influenced, inspired and shaped so many people’s understanding of what is music and what you can use sound for. I think that much like the Velvets before them, if you got it then it stayed with you and changed how you listened to and wrote your own music. Plus, they spawned some amazing offshoots who have all produced epic albums.
I hate no one really – most manufactured pop music is shite, but it doesn’t warrant hatred. Just a lake of my attention is enough for me.
I will no doubt make myself very unpopular by admitted this, but I do get really annoyed by the reverence and respect that the likes of Kate Bush, Sting, Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry seem to inspire. I just don’t get why people fall over themselves to proclaim their genius and how it seems to continue to breed….. If you are really serious about your music and appreciate something a bit arty and inventive, how can you not love Kate Bush!!??… Quite easily, thank you, and I don’t need you judging me on it!
5. If you could have a band or artist record a cover of any one song from the past, what it would be – and why?
I would love to hear The Warlocks do a slowed down doped up blues drone version of Hendrix’s `Fire’.
6. Tell us one amusing/horrifying/interesting story concerned with a live performance… not necessarily onstage, either – getting there, getting home, backstage, suffering the support/headline band, absolutely anything as long as it happened on the road.
I had, for my sins, a headless bass for a while – and no backup – and my local guitar shop didn’t stock the strings, so I never had more than one set of spares. I had broken a string in rehearsal and, with a gig that weekend, had decided to clean up and completely restring in preparation. This meant, of course, that I didn’t have a spare set until the shop got my next order in. During the opening number that weekend, I broke a string but with lightning reflexes quickly worked out how to carry on without that string. Halfway through the set I broke another string and the panicked call went out to borrow the headline act’s bass.
The headliners were a three piece consisting of drums, guitar and hammond organ……no bass. I spent the rest of the set stood back to the crowd playing random notes and dying of embarrassment.
7. Ditto about the studio… recording mishaps or triumphs
I am afraid I can’t really think of any cracking anecdotes. Most of my work is done on my lonesome on a laptop. My triumphs come with the discovery of some great old radio show or original trailer for a long lost horror film.
Recently, I have been trawling through EVP and séance recordings and found some real treats. I have just finished a three-track EP based on the EVP phenomenon, and the last track is made up entirely from these EVP and Séance recordings looped, stretched, reversed and manipulated until they resemble otherworldly drones even more than they did before
8. Wax rhapsodically, please, about any unusual musical instrument that either you can play; that you wish you could play; that someone else in your band can play; or that you simply like listening to.
I always wanted a Sitar or Dilruba and, in fact, a friend who travelled to India bought me a sitar but the closest I got to it was a photo of it sat on the tarmac of the airport in India. where some jobsworth had claimed it wasn’t packed properly and wasn’t willing to load it in case it got damaged… so instead, my friend had to leave it there.
9. What is your favorite of all the recordings you have made, and why?
I am very proud of the mixes I made for Christmas over the past two years. Trying to create a nostalgic piece that has the warm comfortable feeling that a good seasonal book/film/programme has (like The Box of Delights, A Christmas Carol or the Ghost Stories for Christmas series) without being schmaltzy or too dewy eyed was a challenge. I feel I managed to achieve just the right balance, and yet still keep hold of the signature Melmoth twilight paranoia. A nostalgic recreation of the past using sounds and summoning up feelings – pure hauntology!
Listen here and here
10. What is the most bizarre thing that has ever happened to you, or that you have witnessed, in relation to being around bands?
The soundman at Reading Alleycats complaining to us that he’d had a band in the previous week and, try as he could, he just couldnt get rid of the feedback coming from stage – the band had been The Jesus and Mary Chain!
11. You have a time machine, which you can pilot to any time and place you like, for the purpose of making music. Where and when would you go, and why?
If you believe in the Stonetape theory, then studios should absorb something from every person to have recorded there and contain echoes of every track – so, based on that, I would want to record nowadays so as not to miss out on any influences and otherworldly assistance.
However I would love to sit in on Brian Wilson at the CBS Columbia recording studio, when he was in full mad, mad genius mode trying to record Smile, and I would gladly hang around all day every day making tea for The Band at the Big Pink.
A Seance at Syd‘s is available now as an e-book (USA, UK and more); paperback (USA, UK etc); and as a limited edition hardback with two CDs stuffed with music
Don’t miss the launch party at the Half Moon, Putney, Tuesday August 11