The Lickets: They Turned Our Desert Into Fire

Issued concurrently, The Lickets’ Her Name Came on Arrows and They Turned our Desert into Fire make the strongest case possible for the San Francisco trio’s enchanting brand of psychedelic folk music. As they did on their previous outing Journey in Caldecott, [the group] deploys a mini-orchestra of acoustic instruments—cello, flute, acoustic guitar, organ, sitar, harmonium, hand percussion, et al.—to call into being undulating vistas of luminous mantras and soundscapes. The Lickets’ raga-like settings suggest a strong Indian influence, and traces of visionary ‘60s jazz artists like John and Alice Coltrane, the time-transcending drones of La Monte Young and his Theatre of Eternal Music, and ‘60s psychedelic rock surface too as parts of the trio’s trippy mix.

Textura

Available here.

The Lickets: Her Name Came on Arrows

Issued concurrently, The Lickets’ Her Name Came on Arrows and They Turned our Desert into Fire make the strongest case possible for the San Francisco trio’s enchanting brand of psychedelic folk music. As they did on their previous outing Journey in Caldecott, [the group] deploys a mini-orchestra of acoustic instruments—cello, flute, acoustic guitar, organ, sitar, harmonium, hand percussion, et al.—to call into being undulating vistas of luminous mantras and soundscapes. The Lickets’ raga-like settings suggest a strong Indian influence, and traces of visionary ‘60s jazz artists like John and Alice Coltrane, the time-transcending drones of La Monte Young and his Theatre of Eternal Music, and ‘60s psychedelic rock surface too as parts of the trio’s trippy mix. – Textura

Available here.

Mary St John Sound Projector Review

Sound Projector Issue 17 is out. As always packed with reviews and crits that will keep you reading and getting into more music for months. Mary St John had a very nice review and had a copy delivered to her lab in an air tight contamination free mylar bag. She was very touched and grateful, and elicited a polite and very heartfelt wave of her hand from behind 30 feet of protective glass.

From Sound Projector: “A gorgeous record of 14 melodic tunes, played with a charm and slightly off-beat mannered style by St John using electronic keyboards and electronic organs, occasionally with a little beat box to send each piece skipping along on its jaunty path. Fans of certain strains of 1970s German electronic music – perhaps we should suggest the chords and melodies of harmonia rather than the severe experimentation of Kluster or early Kraftwerk – should enjoy this record enormously. Suggestions are made, through titles and artwork, of some interesting fantasy environment which repositions technology and nature in a more harmonious relationship, and suggests future models for sustainability.

One image among the CD artworks headed ‘Psychometric Chart / Normal Temperatures’, locates an enormous cityscape and factory sprawl inside a Geodesic dome, its positioning calibrated by very exacting grid overlays, while two gigantic flowers dominate the foreground. i very much approve of this, something I take to be a nature-friendly update on the ideas of Xenakis and Buckminster Fuller. Every moment of the lovely music, while sometimes darkened with the vague alienation of that strange Atomic Age combination of optimism and apprehension, shows that St. John is a compassionate and caring human being, and keen to outline her plans (albeit in a very oblique and allusive fashion) for a better living environment. "Permanent Autonomous Bases on the Moon” (track 9) is one possibility. “Solar Illumination and Sensor Viewing Condition” (track 14) is another, although even I am not quite clear how that last one would be translated into blueprints for a house somepme could actually live inside. No matter. In St. John’s brave new world, “The Flowers are Edible and Delicious”, there is a “Vegetation Management Plan”, and the artiste herself (on the front cover) lives serenely inside a miniature vivarium surrounded by plenty and verdancy while three friendly small exotic birds cluster around her.

This is another release on the strange International Corporation label, who package everything inside luxurious printed envelopes with press release, business card, and other inserted material doing their best to persuade you that they are a giant multinational organisation poised on complete domination of their chosen markets. In their fantasy world, Mary St John is one of their funded scientists involved in futuristic environmental research. All this is an amusing hoax, of course, but its a strong label identity and their family of releases is made stronger with each record as good as this one.“

Mary St John: Some Leaves Turned Red, Some Still Green

Mary St John weaves ethereal tapestries of analog electronic haziness in fourteen settings that are generally more tranquil in spirit than Cloudland Canyon’s time-travelers. Some Leaves Turned Red, Some Still Green might be likened to the bucolic experience of lying in a summer country field watching clouds roll by and soaking up the sounds of insects and birds while tripping out on time-suspending hallucinogens. Shimmering organ, spidery Moog melodies, and softly puttering drum machines lend Vegetation Management Plan a krautrock-lite feel while the harder-edged Preprocessing and Recognition plunges the listener into a full-blown cauldron where carousel melodies meet swelling bass rhythms. Colliding shards of electronics suggest a late-20th-century showdown between Xenakis and Stockhausen in The Treatment is Done in Complete Darkness. Pretty synth interludes ( Snow From Clouds ) and white noise cacophony ( Input Parameters ) cross swords with diseased spacewalks ( Permanent Autonomous Bases on the Moon ) and disheveled harpsichord jaunts ( Soil Surface Background ). Disturbed drones and echoing spaces resound throughout the fifty-five-minute collection. –Textura

Available here.

The Lickets: Journey In Caldecott

Recorded in Chicago during 2006-07, Lickets’ Journey In Caldecott collects fifteen hallucinatory forays into multiple genres, with haunted psych-folk the most prominent. Mitch Greer and Rachel Smith deploy a mini-orchestra violin, cello, guitar, double bass, flute, Farfisa, mellotron, vibraphone, Theremin, Mini-moog, chimes, xylophone, and percussion to create their thoroughly trippy travelogue. Often it’s a challenge to identify the instruments within a given piece when they’re so wholly subsumed within Lickets’ densely layered mix; some instruments manage to stay at the surface, while others blend into the overall hazy fabric. The material sometimes calls to mind the image of a mushroom-addled escapee from the 60s (e.g., the hazy drone Pollen with its Doors-like organ warble, and Eye of Horus Computer Repair Shop, where sitars blaze over its swirling masses); leaving nothing to chance, the mere title of Smoking Hippie gives the game away.

The mix of vibes and lazy head-nod in Children’s Magical Death could pass for crate-diggin’ instrumental hip-hop but generally Lickets opts for hypnotic, aggressively thrusting streams of acoustic guitars, whispered vocals, vibes, and cellos. Standouts include Crowd of Pimps in the Rain, a meandering, sleepy flow of willowy acoustic sounds, Tears Into Leaves, a vertiginous psych-folk drone filled with haunted voices and swirling harp strums, and Costa del Concrete, whose harmonium-like wheeze is generated by a mix of organ smears, string sawing, and xylophone percussion. Melodically, one of the most distinguished pieces is It’s All at the Co-op Now whose wistful melodies elevate it above the rest. The perfect gift for both your resident 60s survivor and fellow psych-folk fanatic. –Textura

Available here.

The Lickets: Fake Universe Man

Sounding almost like a naturally flowing folk band plucking away at perfected instruments driven by nature?s desires and passions, The Lickets deliver a desirably tripped-out record of high standards.With added electronica beats and structures, Fake Universe Man feels as though it should belong to an epic sci-fi/western movie in places but in other places it could be part of a carnival but experienced through DMT? Think following the Pied Piper in 2022 across all lands and gradually building up a band of all sounds with an aim to drive out the mechanical rats. The LP sways in and out of beauty and misunderstood underdogs yet effortlessly showering sounds of beauty over the scape before itself. Conjuring images of conventional scopes of natural sound and many layers softly peeled away, showing shimmering effects. Both relaxing and constantly intriguing, this record is perfect for summer days sitting among the trees watching the haze of the evening drift to dark dancing nights. –The Fly, Adam Gill

Available here.