Labels 1: Mizmaze

SP | Of course there’s nothing in the rulebook that states that we at ‘Doppler Mansions’ can’t on occasion, look back and cover worthy releases from yesteryear, that are still available. This time round, the focus of attention is on Italy’s Mizmaze Records, whose purple patch took place from the late nineties to the mid-two thousands and was home to nth generation psychedelia, dilated pupil acid folk and a few ‘certain others’ that simply fell inbetween the cracks.

So let’s start with ‘Floralia’, the label’s flagship compilation series which ran to four perfectly formed volumes of exclusive or near-exclusive trackery. I’ve been fortunate enough to snag the last two sets, so onto volume the third’s highpoints and there are quite a number: We open with German duo The Cosmic Gardeners, who realise that with a sitar as a lead voice, a little goes a long old way. Thankfully, their I.S.B./Orient Express smudged ‘Moment Opens Moment’ follows the ruling of rock’s golden section, and here the correct ratio has been thoroughly nailed. U.K.’s Amp are somewhat slightly out of place with ‘Left It’, veering towards post punk Prag Vec territory, but nevertheless, it helps me try to boost my collection of Amp/Amp-related releases that are found scattered on labels such as Wurlitzer Junction, Darla, Enraptured, etc. Following suit style-wise, Italian quartet Le Forbici di Manitou’s ‘Division 6’ is a grim psyched industrial slice of high level strangeness, with hints of Clock DVA and Metabolist. Its declamatory vocal lines referring to Mr Mojo Risin’s plot number at the Pere La Chaise boneyard (!) Our next entrants; Ohm should really have gigged with Amp in some kinda ‘Night of Electrical Entertainment’ concept, possibly as a homage to Tesla or some other scientific whizz. Their ‘Super Breakout’ sees Kluster’s ‘Klopzeichen’-like textures transferred to a planet with a far denser gravity. By the way, ‘Raw Ohm’, their stand-alone release on Mizmaze remains, to this day, a fascinating leaf from the pages of this Texas trio’s tour book. Lastly, from Mexico, is Smoking the Day Away’s oddly named ‘Professing the Non-Pasteurized’. Led by composer Jorge Beltran, this particularly dynamic exercise in whacked-out fusion has just enough ersatz gamelan and bass clarinet squawk for it to be mistaken for a Recommended or Cuneiform release.

By comparison, ‘Floralia Volume Four’ ventures considerably further into those less travelled caverns of the psychedelic underground. Take UK psychedelicists Solar Mumun’s ‘An Angel’s Egg Lays in Your Mind’ for example. A plummy female voice, much like Deborah from The Flying Lizards, intones poesie of deep cosmic import. ‘Relax and set your senses to receive, let the music weave through your severed spheres…’ ‘8mm’ by a small crowd of Russian multimedia types called Group 2012 is a soundtrack to a hand-painted film and resembles fellow countryman Artemiy Artemiev’s numerous electroacoustic projects from the previous decade. Schwarz’s ‘Punkadelic’ is a staccato rich electroid thrash from this Spanish three-piece, which beams out 625-line transmissions of a desolate futureworld that’s governed from a ramshackle tenement by Messrs Creed and Edge. Love this. Alongside electric saz, theremin and samplers, Turkish combo Baba Zula have two band members that are credited with manipulating mobile phones. Surprisingly, those dialtones come through loud and clear on ‘Dep’ (Earthquake Song) and sit on top of a mix of bass prominent Cab. Voltaire/Biting Tongues/Hula-type constructs. ‘The Sound of Sheffield’ is now thought of as a far-reaching virus. Spluttered vocals about ‘Judgement Day’ and ‘trusting in Nostradamus’ only add to a general sense of unease. I did think Murder in the Cathedral’s ‘World in Flame’ might offer up another take on an end times scenario, but instead we’re greeted with a robust instro from this French outfit, which suggests Greg Sage’s Wipers paying tribute to Davie Allen and St. Link of Wraysville. And that concludes this volume’s key moments, where the broad church of psych has been stretched to e-x-t-r-e-m-e lengthitude.

‘Discolor III’ and Ektroverde’s ‘Integral’ were also in the ‘received pile’ from Mizmaze label boss Giampiero Flebe. With the latter CD, I’m uncertain as to whether this is still available. Website says not (?) but it’s certainly worth investigating; being one of the first splinter groups to emerge from Circle, the legendary Finnish combo sans pareil. Helmed by Jussi Lehtisalo, ‘Integral’ proves to be quite a departure from their cyclical Spacemen 3-derived heavy churn, being an eight-point exercise in experimentalism, from a ‘Studio as Instrument’ standpoint, filtered through indigenous folk themes (‘Tractors’) and krautrock signatures (‘Orange’ and ‘Tanzania’).

My favourite though, has to be the opener ‘Harvest’: Durutti Column lyricism combined with a neat, jazzily swung drum shuffle. The man behind ‘Discolor III’ is Nuremburg citizen Stefan Leinemann, former leader of German garage band The Shiny Gnomes and is also the ‘Limo’ behind lysergic psyche-folk evergreens Fit & Limo – a duo revered (quite rightly) through the pages of the underground press back in the day. Ten years since its initial release, ‘III’ remains a rather enticing melange of drifting, psychy dream-pop styles, at times recalling such names as Turquoise, July, Kaleidoscope (UK) and kozmik troubadour Mark Fry. There’s some nicely placed backwards guitar on ‘Glass Keys to Open’ and in ‘Solar Bird Fly’, some ace ‘Planet Zeit’ dialling set against the moody bow and scrape of the Neireide Neith Trio.

But, as for ‘What Remains of Her’ – it’s as if a Yellow Balloon or Jan & Dean number has been revived (with due respect) by Harmonia & Eno. A great track… Plant a ‘Please Kick Me’ sign on me for missing this one the first time round…

This entry was posted in Experimental, Folk, Krautrock, Labels, Post-rock, Psychedelia, Steve Pescott. Bookmark the permalink.

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