‘Your Guide to Revolution’ by Mary Ocher | Tracks That Inspired

Uncategorized June 11, 2024

‘Your Guide to Revolution’ by Mary Ocher | Tracks That Inspired

Explore the eclectic electronic psychedelia from around the globe that influenced Mary Ocher’s 2024 release ‘Your Guide to Revolution.’

Mary Ocher, a boundary-breaking force in pop and avant-garde music, is preparing to unveil her latest album, ‘Your Guide to Revolution,’ through Underground Institute. Set for a European release on June 14, 2024, followed by a global launch on July 19, Ocher’s work promises to blend avant-pop anthems with politically charged concepts. 

The third single from the new album ‘The Rubaiyat Medley’ is a rework of three pieces by harpist Dorothy Ashby, set to the words of the legendary Rubaiyat of 12th-century Persian poet Omar Khyyam. Accompanied by a music video, or rather, a short film that echoes Sergei Parajanov’s 1969 classic The Color of Pomegranates.

Mary writes: I had a great time putting this playlist together. While I was also asked to create a playlist recently for Flood Magazine, this one focuses on tracks that inspired the new album sonically. The other playlist delves into its themes of protest and revolution. It was really fun because the playlists couldn’t have been more different.

The new album ‘Your Guide to Revolution’ was crafted during the same recording sessions as the recent ‘Approaching Singularity: Music for The End of Time.’ Making a double album in this day and age would have been suicidal, so I had to split them into two releases and a bunch of singles with b-sides.

The recent album contains more abstract and experimental electronic pieces, while this one features lighter, psychedelic ones, which we thought might be more suitable for a summer release. Though the themes, as usual, remain quite serious – with the exception of the ‘Autotune interlude,’ which demonstrates just how much I resent everyone’s favorite fixture in contemporary pop music…

There’s a lot of 1970s spacey references in the new album, and the rhythmic patterns owe a lot to non-European music that we like. Since there is mostly no bass, the two drum kits (that’s my band Your Government) take on a melodic role in certain pieces; in ‘Sympathize,’ for instance, the toms are tuned to the root notes of the synth, to replace the otherwise absent bass.

Dorothy Ashby – ‘The Moving Finger’
This is one of three pieces from The Rubaiyat by Dorothy Ashby, set to the English translation of 12th-century Persian Poet Omar Khayyam’s words, which we made variations on in this album. I just love this record so much! And I wish it was better known; last I checked, the record was nearly out of print (but I managed to get a copy!).

Carol Kim – ‘Nỗi Buồn Con Gái’
I always half-joke (but only half) that if Tarantino or Wes Anderson should ever let me curate a soundtrack for one of their films, this fabulous Vietnamese song should be in it. Imagine a lush scene in Kill Bill III, for instance, with The Bride walking down the stairs with a fierce look in her eyes to this song… Tarantino usually picks excellent songs on his own, but I feel like Anderson could use a bit of help in that department… That said, I really just want to do the creative part, but not the part which music supervisors normally also have to deal with, which is the legal part: acquiring the rights for the songs, etc.. The title, by the way, translates strangely to “The Sadness of Being a Girl.” There are also newer and heavier versions of this song, but this one from 1973 is my absolute favorite.

Onuma Singsiri – ‘Mae Kah Som Tam’
And onward to Thailand… Jokingly, I named one of the tracks on the album ‘Digital Molan’ because of the odd intervals in the digital clipping, which reminded me of some of the genre’s characteristics. Anyhow, this is a rather western pop song in Thai, and it’s amazing. The lyrics are about a lamenting lonesome Papaya Salad Merchant working at a gas station.

Rita Maria Stumpf – ‘Cântico Brasileiro No.3 (Kamaiurá)’
This is an excellent Brazilian electronic piece from 1988. I don’t know very much about the artist, but I suspect she may have German roots?

Richard Wahnfried – ‘Time Actor’
Which brings us to the title track from this odd and fairly unknown collaboration between Klaus Schulze and wacky vocalist Arthur Brown. It’s by far my favorite track on that record, and it has absolutely fantastic lyrics.

Gocken Kaynatan – ‘Clearway’
Mr. Kaynatan is a pioneer of electronic surf music, who made incredible recordings in the 1970s. I have reached out to him, and he was very welcoming when we last visited Istanbul. Alas, due to technicalities, we were unable to collaborate on that trip, which I hope to remedy one day. His works were collected into a compilation by the wonderful Andy Votel from Manchester’s Finders Keepers.

Ahmed Fakroun – ‘Falah’
This is a groovy Libyan new wave track from 1981, whose lyrics remind me of the nonessential sophistication of the Sicilian master songwriter Franco Battiato.

Mary Ocher (feat. Your Government) – ‘Swedish Samoa’
This is the second single from the new album ‘Your Guide to Revolution,’ which this playlist is referring to. It’s an odd dancy instrumental, with a certain reference to Cumbia. Oh, and we made a sci-fi dance video for it, which was unexpectedly very much fun to make!

Colette Magny – ‘Feu et rythme’
It’s a hypnotic, arresting piece by Colette Magny, who is shockingly not as well-known as I suspected, even in France where she was from. It is rather her earlier, more conventional chansons that people seem to know. But in my opinion, this is so, so much better!

K-Model – ‘Kameari Pop’
Say hello to a 1979 Japanese technopop track ‘Kameari Pop.’ It was this or the better-known “Seoul Music” by Yellow Magic Orchestra. Somewhat similarly to Kraftwerk or even Joy Division at that time, it seems to be criticizing the cold, “optimization” that society was facing at that time. The isolation was growing in large apartment blocks (and in factories, or on the autobahn) in Japan, England, and Germany.

Holger Czukay – ‘Cool in The Pool’
This is the first single from arguably the first album ever to use samples – stolen(!) from Stockhausen’s personal sound library to create my favorite Can member’s solo record ‘Movies.’ I don’t know what the source of the samples is, possibly Iran, but it sounds so fresh and wonderfully weird. There is also a really entertaining music video that goes along with it.

The Electrosoniks – ‘Orbit Aurora’
This is Dutch early 60s space-age electronica, now billed under one of the artists Tom Dissevelt (The Electrosoniks were a duo).

Bonus: Talking Heads – ‘Listening Wind’
David Byrne’s fascination with non-western music is well-documented, a passion shared with producer Brian Eno. This song is a sad tale about an African boy whose people’s land was stolen by the colonizers, leading him to most likely trigger a suicidal bomb attack.

Headline photo: Kai Heimberg

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