Cosmic Invention - Help Your Satori Mind - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Cosmic Invention - Help Your Satori Mind

by Bill Golembeski Rating:10 Release Date:2018-08-17
Cosmic Invention - Help Your Satori Mind
Cosmic Invention - Help Your Satori Mind

Ohh is this great.

Now, I’m not talking about this record, Help Your Satori Mind, by Cosmic Invention. No, I am simply quoting Ken Golden from Laser’s Edge’s Fall 1990 comment about Aragon’s Don’t Bring the Rain album. Back then, paper catalogs were eagerly anticipated postal deliveries that were stamped, addressed, stapled, adorned with a cool cover, and easily carried from place to place without a necessary wi-fi connection. Imagine that.

Ohh is this great. But this time, I am talking about Cosmic Invention’s album. Beauty is often in the eardrum of the beholder, so if the swirling sound of rock, circa 1972, especially German rock, circa 1972, makes your membrana tympani demand an itch, well, this one may well render the required scratch.

A tangential history: this record was recorded at the Ogikubo Civic Hall (without audience applause) and released in 1997 on the Now Sound label. It’s a side project of Masaki Batoh’s from the psychedelic band Ghost (not to be confused with the Swedish doom-metal band with the same name, but vastly different sound). This Japanese Ghost began as an acid folk band, but through several albums have morphed into a beautifully complex blend of psych, folk, and weird chamber jazz with an Eastern vibe. Their album Hypnotic Underworld is a full-flowering of the band’s muse.

So, Drag City, who released Ghost’s records, has now resurrected this beauty and included the unreleased twenty-one minutes plus “Long Jamming” to complete this package.  

The first song (and title cut) “Help Your Satori Mind” could be a heavenly audio advertisement for the necessity of rewriting The Bible and, while still giving God the seventh day to rest, suggest that siesta only occurred after He had created the electric guitar wah-wah pedal, and, of course, (like everything else that had popped into existence the previous days) God saw that it was good. So, this is German hard progressive rock ala bands like Dschinn, Hairy Chapter, Kin Ping Meh, Gift, or Jeronimo. This tune has nothing to do with space travel or conversing with aliens as they causally discuss their assistance with building the pyramids. 

But then “Blue Link/Sky Was Falling” starts quietly, with an almost Traffic John Barleycorn folky sound, until it gets peanut butter heavy. Ah, but the melodic guitars return only to tread further into the tough grip of the chorus.

This band fuses light and dark into commonplace melodic verbiage.

The third track, “Lao Shorai,” begins with a sound collage and abandons the wah-wah onslaught for a slow ride into deep space, when indeed, those aliens (sort of mentioned in a paragraph or two above) do actually casually discuss their assistance with building the pyramids.

The thirteen-minute plus “Ryujin” has a piano bit that wouldn’t be out of place on a Gary Brooker-Procol Harum tune from their Home or Broken Barricades albums. But then it evolves into (what just has to be) an homage to the great band Can during their Ege Bamyasi period. This is dense funky rhythmic music with vocals that recall the whispers of Damo Suzuki as he warns us are all that we are “losing Vitamin C.”  This song simply swirls in the cosmos…until, of course, it crashes down to Earth with a bluesy guitar and organ duet that could be mistaken for an early (post Syd) Pink Floyd instrumental ride.

Yet another tangential bit of history: I’m a literature guy, and there’s a passage in Twain’s Huck Finn that I missed for years and years. But Shelley Fisher Fishkin (in her book Was Huck Black?) explains the importance of The Widow Douglas’ complaint about the “victuals,” although Huck says, “there warn’t really anything the matter with them—that is, nothing only everything was cooked by itself.” But then our Huckleberry explains, “In a barrel of odds and ends it is different; things get mixed up, and the juice kind of swaps around, and things go better.”

And that’s exactly what this album does, like much of the great music of the late 60’s and early 70’s, it simply “kind of swaps around,” and because of that, “things go better.”

Mark Twain understood the beauty of America’s cookbook.

That said, and because this is just a rock ‘n’ roll record, let’s just say the next song’s title, “Baby Callin’ Me” surely sounds like an exercise in blues, ala Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. But, truly, the acoustic intro is a dead ringer for early Genesis, say the guitar intro to “Stagnation” from Trespass. Sure, the tune extends itself into a languid blues, but to (almost as I am wont to do) quote Jerry Lee Lewis, There’s a whole lot of swapping goin’ on.  

And that’s why these VINYL victuals taste so good.

But the original album had almost twenty minutes more of bliss. “Cosmic Green” rambles through the electronic universe a bit, and it’s a universe that rewards patient eardrums. Of course, there will always be blues in space, what with stars going nova and all of that. It’s a universal constant in astrophysics: E=MC2 and the blues. And this epic rocks with cosmic blues with a funhouse deep laugh at a distorted mirror. After a bit of space wandering, blistering guitar leads vie with keyboards for intense melodic supremacy.  As I said, beauty is in in the eardrum of the beholder. And for those of us who raised concert lighters to all musical things of 1972, this may well be some sort of euphoric listen.

And, by the way, that Laser’s Edge review of Aragon’s album is correct: But it’s solid neo-prog album, while this, even though recorded years after the event, is the real and very beautiful deal.

As stated, Drag City, in order to sweeten the pot, so to say, has included the bonus of a twenty-two minutes of a tune called, appropriately, “Long Jamming.” And its title reveals all: The song is a full-throttle lump of heavy cosmic rock. It is an intense journey, well worth the price of a ticket; however, it does lack the dramatic construct of the album’s actual epic and quite heavenly closer, “Cosmic Green.”

But who’s complaining? This band gives color to an old museum. It frees the animals from an antiquated zoo. It makes an old prog guy feel like a much younger prog guy; and, ultimately, it swaps around all the musical victuals, and when that happens, as Huck Finn tells us, with years and years of Mark Twain’s universal wisdom, “things” (even with a Japanese prog band’s record), indeed, just “go better.”

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