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The Orkustra - Adventures In Experimental Electric Orchestra From The San Francisco Psychedelic Underground (1966-1967)

Bobby Beausoleil may be best known for who he knows. Whenever his name is mentioned, it's often in the same breath as either Kenneth Anger or Charles Manson. The former association is strong-- in 1967, experimental filmmaker Anger cast Beausoleil in his film Lucifer Rising and commissioned him to create the soundtrack. But the latter association is muddier. There's no question that Beausoleil lived on Manson's ranch, and, in 1969 at age 22, killed a man during a botched drug deal. But Manson's involvement, and whether it's fair to lump the crime in with his more famous ritual murders, are matters of dispute. Either way, it landed Beausoleil in prison, where he remains today.

But back in 1965, before he met Anger or Manson, Beausoleil was a wide-eyed teenager who decided while sitting on a rock in San Francisco's Golden Gate pond "to assemble the first electric symphony orchestra". The band he did form-- at first dubbed the Electric Chamber Orchestra, then the Orkustra-- was actually a five-man rock/jazz/folk hybrid. Taking cues from modal bebop and Hindu ragas, their sound was wandering and mystic, not far from the meditations of their contemporaries to the south, L.A.'s YaHoWha 13. But Orkustra music could also be sharply-crafted, using non-rock instruments like oboe and bouzouki to inject worldly flavors, anticipating similar fusions by Dead Can Dance, Camper Van Beethoven, and Sun City Girls.

The Orkustra caught on quickly in the hippified Bay Area, and soon shared stages with the Grateful Dead and Buffalo Springfield. Their genre-straddling approach also landed them spots in folk and jazz festivals. A turn at the 1967 Invisible Circus festival inspired Anger to approach BeauSoleil, and the band broke up soon after, before they could record a proper studio album. Fortunately, Orkustra violinist David LaFlamme saved tapes of live shows and practice sessions. Two pieces from these archives surfaced on Arcanum's 2004 Lucifer Rising reissue, and now Mexican Summer has released the entire LaFlamme stash as a double-LP, with the aptly-rambling title Adventures in Experimental Orchestra from the San Francisco Psychedelic Underground.

The result is not as exciting as the 4xLP box set of complete Lucifer sessions recently issued by the Anja label, since the Orkustra recordings are rougher and sometimes glitchy. But even during the murkiest stretches, Beausoleil's creative fire is clear. Bright Eastern melodies like the lilting "Bombay Calling" meld into floating improvisations like "Hungarian Stomp". The slow sway of "Bousaki Blues Experiment"-- a dead ringer for the Dirty Three-- matches the proggy riffage of "Flash Gordon" and the braying loops of "Punjab's Barber". Throughout, LaFlamme's searing violin winds around Beausoleil's sandy guitar and Henry Rasof's winding oboe. The effect is hypnotic, eerie, even sinister-- a drifting take on "snake charmer music," as Beausoleil himself calls it in his entertaining liner notes. The peak is "Gypsy Odyssey", a 25-minute live piece performed in a church on Christmas Eve. Snippets from other Orkustra songs drift in and out of the track's muffled sound-fog, as LaFlamme pulls the group skyward like a hot-air balloon.

The Orkustra's demise didn't stop Beausoleil -- he formed two more groups for the Lucifer soundtrack, recording the final version behind prison walls. While much of that music is more sophisticated than the Orkustra material, Adventures has an eagerness that Beausoleil could probably never capture again. We may someday find out-- the 63-year-old's next parole hearing comes in 2013, 44 years after he was last free to create this wide-open music. (Marc Masters)

Jaime Leopold - Bass
Terry Wilson - Drums, Percussion
Bobby Beausoleil - Guitar, Bouzouki
Henry Rasof - Oboe
David Laflamme - Violin

The tales of Charles Manson and his family have been recounted from those who lived it, those who witnessed it, and those who were victimized by it. Deep within the sociopathic tendencies of a man who was abandoned by his blood family and left to rot on the streets and within the U.S. prison system during his youth, there laid a child fixated on the majesty and tranquility to be found in music. A move to San Francisco — and eventually the star-studded hills of Los Angeles and its surrounding hamlets — gave Manson a mainline into communities attuned to his actual music talents. Before these talents transformed themselves into the hideousness that became the Manson Family, the group embraced an intellectual and creative vibe that most define the early stages of cults.

It happens that the multi-talented Bobby Beausoleil fell into the Manson family’s clutches like any wide-eyed, young, and eager talent did if they came into contact with Manson’s perfumed poison. Now sitting in a prison cell for murder — a changed man too late in his life to rectify his missteps — an energized scene hypnotized by the neglected psychedelia of the mid-60s is able to hear the talents of Beausoleil with Adventures in Experimental Electric Orchestra: From the San Francisco Psychedelic Underground, a catch-all of one-time Beausoleil outfit, The Orkustra.

Vinyl label Mexican Summer shows no fear delving into two LPs worth of The Orkustra’s recorded freakouts. One may be surprised that the music within Adventures in Experimental Electric Orchestra is less psychedelic than the mainstays of the San Francisco scene (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, et. al.), driven more by the flushed out sounds of jazz and blues. At the time, a band driven by oboe, flute, and violin mixed within the usual rock aesthetic of guitar, bass, and drums proved an oddball and highly thoughtful approach to the music at the time. Adventures in Experimental Electric Orchestra proves more as a heady historical blueprint than that of mere documentation. The Orkustra’s output is truly experimental to the scene and the era in which it was recorded but it also has an abundance of feeling and soul; a near obsolete possession in much of the assembly line rock and pop derivatives of present-day music. The idea behind Adventures isn’t so much as to push the envelope but rather to carve a path the band finds ideal for their sensibilities. Throughout the LPs, there is no sense of the darkness that will eventually consume Beausoleil; there is no stoned pretense of rebirth; there is no fear of what The Orkustra will become should it follow down the path blazed on these recordings. Adventures in Experimental Electric Orchestra is just the sort of fun flashback that proves that it wasn’t all done before and only the lazy and uninspired think it’s all been done. (Justin Spicer)

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7 komentarzy:

Ankh pisze...


Record Fiend pisze...

Fucking awesome. Thanks, Ankh!


Ankh pisze...

I'll give a second link cause' somethings is wrong with this multiuploadres. Stay tune. Thanks My Friend - Record Fiend.

Ankh pisze...

I think now it's fine with first link but in the case - second link

mr.A pisze...

Awesome thanks for this!!!!!

Anonimowy pisze...

Big thanks for this.I was looking for this album few months.Grateful Boki,Zagreb

Ozzy pisze...

Thanks a lot for this precious rarity!!

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