'THE SOUND OF BLISS FOR EVERYONE TO HEAR'
When someone's into psychedelia that person will eventually reach for the sonic landscapes of yore. The music of the present might be interesting but the curiosity of what was done in the past reveals that this particular wheel was invented a long time ago.
From time to time though, there's a new act that comes along and grabs your attention as if it was some forgotten psych gem from 1966. This time round, my attention gets drawn to Australia.
MEET THE DANDELION!!!
'The Strange Case Of The Dandelion' kicks off with Strange Case Opening and the morse code like organ sounds grants you permission to enter the world of The Dandelion. Mellow paranoia creeps in but the soothing flute permeates the tracks of this record and the dominant feel is one of oozy dreaminess.
Throughout the record this dreamy trippiness follows you along and even if there are hints of shadows here and there, it never gets too dark and it's as the summer sunshine that you feel warming your skin after an early morning ocean swim.
'I Turned On As You Turned Around' and 'Here Comes Love' let you seep deeper into an endless summer. Soft fuzzy guitars swirl around a plethora of organ lines that make you swing like a slow motion go-go party.
To make it all more than just a '60's pastiche, the cinematic element in The Dandelion's music comes to the fore like a Leone film with a caravan roaming lazily through the desert before being attacked by some clumsy hoodlums only to be rescued by some deus ex-machina anti-hero the audience roots for.
There's never a bad trip on this record, just a relentless good feeling without ever falling too much into hippie naïvité. 'Ships To Tarshish' opens the scope of sounds even more with such a class not seen since acid folk's heyday. 'Pleiadian Love Vibration' brings you back to the garage but again, the way the fuzz is used takes the song and the record to a different plateau with suave and knowledge.
'Paranoid Floyd In A Bliss You Can Hear' continues with the same idyllic tone and 'Toxic Flower Power & The Ascension To Infinity' acts as an exotic New York velvet brought to the west coast with some rough edges near the seams. To bring it all to a close, you get treated to a rendition of Lee Hazlewood's 'My Baby Cried All Night Long' that lulls you to a sleepy day where nothing and noone will annoy you and distract you from your good vibes.
Not wanting to reduce the record down to comparisons, but if you're into Brian Jonestown Massacre but you don't really have the patience to put up with deranged arrogant claims for world domination, this is the record for you.
This record got me curious in a such a way that I needed to find out more about The Dandelion. Hence, it got me to talk to former dolly rocker mover Daniel not only about the past, not just about the present but also about the future for The Dandelion.
Here's what he has to say:
How long has The Dandelion been in existence?
I used The Dandelion as my alias back in 2006 during the early Dolly Rocker Movement days to credit the songs where I played all the instruments. I decided to put all the new songs I’ve been working on under The Dandelion name about 4 months ago.
You already have/had a few bands. What propelled you into doing The Dandelion?
I decided to move out of the city (Sydney) half way through this year and I recorded an album of songs which became “strange case of The Dandelion”. It was time to start something new as the other bands and projects had come to a close. The Dandelion is basically a continuation of my previous work.
Is it a one man thing or a proper band? I.e., is it your own thing with some help with other musicians or is it a proper band?
I played all the instruments on the recordings so far but I am currently putting together a band to play live shows and we will record some songs together. I’ll still always record songs on my own as I really enjoy that process but I really dig playing and recording music with other people too.
Your sound seems to be quite influenced by the 60's rather than other era in music. Do you have some special references or is it just an amalgamation of sounds you've been listening over the years? (of course the Lee Hazlewood cover gives you away a bit as not being just a simple Byrds/Strawberry Alarm Clock fan).
My biggest influence is song-writing. I don’t mind what era or genre it’s from, a good song rules. I’m not trying to sound like a particular band from the 60’s though I prefer to use old technology to record on and play real instruments which gives it that sound. Sometimes when I’m writing and recording I want my songs sounding more like Air (French band) or Goldfrapp but I don’t possess the technology to produce music like that and I realize that‘s not my style anyway. I think the limitations had a lot to do with the 60’s sound which is really special. Being limited to four or eight tracks makes you think more creatively about what your laying down. Also with a lot of 60’s music the different genres blend so well together which makes it great DJ music. Today music is so radically different that it can sound so out of sync with each other. Whereas with 60’s music you can play a stax/motown soul song, then a garage punker then a hippie folk tune back to back and although they have a completely different attitude they still compliment each other.
Also, when and how did you start to dwell into psychedelia and what made you do so? (for instance, there's a Swedish band called Dungen and the main guy behind was into hip hop until he started to investigate the samples he liked the most only to find out that it was all psychedelic music).
I was probably about 14 or 15 years old when I first read the word psychedelic. It was in a drug education book I borrowed from the school library and in the chapter about LSD I read about how the Beatles and other late 60’s artists were influenced by the drug and I started to become interested in what this “psychedelic” thing was all about. Then a few months later I came across a documentary about the San Francisco Haight Ashbury scene which had all this trippy imagery which really appealed to me so I bought some albums by The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and although I love those bands now, at the time, I was disappointed as it didn’t sound like I expected it to be. I then came across a Beatles compilation which had stuff like Strawberry Fields, Tomorrow Never Knows and I am the Walrus etc and someone lent me a cassette of The Doors which I thought sounded really cool and still do. I really got into the Monkees at that time too. When I was about 16 I finally got to try acid which I was wanting to do for a while. I was so young and naïve and this might sound like such a clique, but I remember tripping at a friends place and finding a copy of Iron Butterfly’s In a Gadda da Vida in his dad’s collection of LP’s, I listened to the whole album and loved it. Changed my life, man.
Being from Australia, how does the success of Tame Impala/Pond reflect on a general psyche for other psychedelic acts?
How their success reflects on other bands I can’t really say. They’re just one of those bands that has the right formula and songs that appeals to a lot of people. Because they’re popular they’ve become open to the haters hanging shit on them, but a lot more people like them and I believe their music is sincere.
Australia is famous for AC/DC, Radio Birdman and Nick Cave (amongst others) which gives the idea of being a rough place if you want to become a musician. And if you look into the past, there are bands such as The Eloys and The Black Diamonds or the more psychedelic hard rock of Masters Apprentices that have a rougher edge than most of the American/English garage psych axis. What do you think about the Aussie heritage and how does it reflect in today's world? Or is there a reflection at all?
I didn’t form a strong appreciation towards Australian music it until I lived overseas for year and realized that yes Australian music does have an identity. The bands you mentioned came out of an era when Australia was generally very racist, homo-phobic and isolated. In a lot of ways it still is. The sweet irony of macho rock n roll bands, with the is their music seems to appeal to a very hetro-sexual, male dominated audience but underneath Australia’s tough bravado it’s all very camp, flamboyant and homo-erotic. The macho audience is unknowingly connecting with their suppressed feminine side while they’re shoulder to shoulder watching in awe at long haired rock boys strut the stage with such female finesse. Magick. By the way, early AC/DC rules in my opinion. I really dig Radio Birdman too and they have aged well. I saw Rob Younger and Deniz Tek perform recently and they still got plenty of charm and energy. And yeah Nick Cave is in a league of his own. Australia also has a more gentle and intellectual side to it’s cult music, bands like The Triffids and The Go-betweens are a good example of this.
With that in mind, do you think there's a 'risk' of psychedelia becoming just a trend ruining it for bands who have been doing it for years and also putting to risk new bands that show up in the jumping the bandwagon connotation as opposed to the 'real deal'?
I don’t think a trend can ruin a band or artists career. An artist does her or his art out of necessity and will carry on regardless of what’s popular, also time is a great filter and if something is good it stands the test of time and will be remembered. Trends aren’t necessarily a bad thing either because a good portion of collectable and great records have come from past trends. When Status Quo wrote “pictures of matchstick men” they were definitely victims of the zeitgeist but it’s such a great piece of “trendy” psychedelia.
Back to The Dandelion, when I listen to the record, apart from the obvious psychedelic appeal, I feel there are bits of western spaghetti sounds in there. Especially on instrumental tracks. Not exactly the dark Morricone but more the playful bits (like Tuco in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly or Duck, You Sucker). What I mean is, it's very cinematic here and there, not just garagey or Technicolor Dreams. Do you dwell in that universe as well or does it just happen by chance?
I really like cinematic music and it definitely has had an influence on me. Although with this album I didn’t have any pre conceived ideas about the songs as I may have in the past. I just let it evolve into what it is and I wasn‘t really listening to any other music at the time besides some traditional folk music which had a big influence on these recordings.
Do you have any plans to tour Europe and if so, how is it coming along? Also, do you play mainly in Australia or did you already tour somewhere else with The Dandelion?
I really hope to visit Europe in 2014 even if it’s just for a few shows. I spent some time in Los Angeles a few years ago and relocated The Dolly Rocker Movement over there which was a great experience. Hopefully I’ll be able to spend some time in Europe and explore your continent and different cultures.
Also, what's the plan (if any) for The Dandelion? Do you have new stuff for a second record and also what's your writing method? Do songs just pop out or are they thought through a composing process?
I’ll be putting a band together to play shows very soon and I’ve been working on the second album since “Strange Case” was finished. I’m just taking my time and doing bits here and there when I can. It should be finished very soon though.
Well most of the songs on “Strange Case” I wrote as I recorded them, I would generally play the drums first with no or little idea about the song then just make up the other parts as I went along. I’ve collected a few different instruments over the years and figured it’s about time I learned how to play them, so a lot of the album is me learning to play the instruments with the exception of guitar which I’ve played for some time. Although my guitar playing is still proudly naïve and I’m still learning new tricks on that.
Interview made by Carlos Ferreira/2013
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