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The Rough Guide To A World Of Psychedelia
In the minds of most people, the psychedelic era lasted just a few short (though eventful and multi-coloured) years. As the Beat Generation of Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg morphed into an LSD culture inspired by the writings of Timothy Leary and Aldous Huxley, bands like the Holy Modal Rounders and the Incredible String Band opened their minds not only to hallucinogens but to the sounds of Indian drones and middle-eastern musical modes. Soon everyone from the Yardbirds to the Monkees were using distortion, reverb and taped sounds played backwards or looped to create new rhythms and textures. But as flower power wilted, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died young, rock bands became pompous or progressive and pop groups discovered platform heels and glitter. However, while psychedelia appeared to have flatlined in Europe and the USA, its pulse remained perfectly healthy in other parts of the world. African bands layered fuzztone guitars over highlife beats and Indian sitarists responded to the appropriation of their instrument by creating totally new soundscapes. In parts of Latin America counter-culture politics went hand in glove with musical exploration while Cambodian pop artists borrowed the psychedelic trappings of their American counterparts.
This Rough Guide reflects many aspects of the global psychedelic sphere, not only from the sixties, but continuing through the decades and on into the 21st century. Latin America heads up nine of the tracks on this collection. The 1960s and 1970s were typified by activist rebellion and bands of the day communicated their passion with heavy reverb and re-imagined trad percussion gone west. Laranja Freak from Brazil make 'Frantic Psychedelic Music' on 'Alergico De Flores'. Colombian dance style cumbia was also adopted by vintage psychedelic troubadours Juaneco Y Su Combo. Modern interpretations come via Chilean 'cumbia-punk-psychodelia' outfit Anarkia Tropikal. Salsa and samba are, in turn, psychedelicized by Iuri Andrade and Bacalao Men.
Skipping across the Atlantic we land in Africa. The 1960s and 1970s here were defined by clashing sensibilities and political optimism. Celestine Ukwu's classic track mixes highlife with pedal steel guitar. Tanzanian group Milmani Park Orchestra are heard on horn-heavy 'Taxi Driver'. Victor Uwaifo's seminal 1966 'Guitar Boy' tops off the mix.
During the 1970s drug culture wasn't flooding India's shores but the country was undergoing its own social transformation and a DIY garage band scene evolved. Ananda Shankar's 'Dancing Drums' is a cult classic from this era. The Virji Shah brothers appear under their duo moniker Kalyanji - Anandji on the wonderfully bizarre 'Cabaret Dance Music'. Cambodia's psychedelic archive was almost eradicated during the time of the Khmer Rouge but the sounds live on via legendary balladeer Ros Serysothea and Yos Olarang's 'Cyclo'.