on 25 March 2009
You often read about bands in the sixties going wild, sonically speaking, on stage and playing long freeform noise and, in my case, always end up wondering and frustrated at what they actually did (the Move doing 40 minute long freeform sets at the UFO club, or John's Children in Cologne). Well, here you go ! A satisfying chunk of the Red Crayola playing live in liberal and tolerant Berkeley, bang in the middle of the so-called Summer of Love. And what a performance ! We are talking completely freeform soundscapes, some extraordinarily minimal using a skipping needle on a record player as 'backing' for all sorts of guitar tweakings and feedback. Though we don't get to see the performance you can hear moments where the band, obviously being mischievious and deliberately pushing this liberal and tolerant audience to extremes, break the slightly awkward atmosphere with some sort of visual gag. Brilliant moments include the classic introduction by your typical american radio presenter announcing the performance for listeners back in Texas (that must have gone down well!) and informs them the band is still tuning up when in fact the performance has started. Also hearing them setting up and being told they can't do this or that and kids in the background responding to what's happening. One of the performances includes John Fahey participating in the sonic assault.
This is obviously not for casual listening and requires the listener to really WANT to listen to it and immerse themselves in the soundscapes. The sound quality is extremely good for a live recording of the period, apart from slight glitches here and there.
Two of the pieces included on one of the two discs are hotel room recordings of random jams in the vein of Coconut Motel which are also of interest.
To sum up: A brilliant document (in my opinion and taste) of the more avant-garde and extreme side to the psychedelic sixties. Not to everyone's taste though. Those who enjoy Coconut Motel should investigate...