Various Artists - A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble (Exploding In Your Mind) – The Wizards Of Oz Compiled & Mixed By The Amorphous Androgynous

by Rob Taylor Rating:9.5 Release Date:2015-03-30

The Amorphous Androgynous return with another in their first-rate psych series A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding in Your Mind, this one subtitled The Wizards of Oz. The Future Sound of London’s duo of Gaz Cobain and Brian Dougans are known for their meticulous attention to detail when compiling, cited as one of the reasons Noel Gallagher walked away from the last of his collaborations with them. Gallagher reportedly didn’t have the patience to sit it out. Or he wasn’t happy with the remixes. Choose your own legend.


Cobain and Dougans are supreme taste-meisters of the qualitative rather than quantitative kind. Its easy to gather together a few musical obscurities, and then trade off the names of a few better known artists. Often those big names outshine the lesser knowns by a large factor.


It’s much harder to recognise the glitter of the rare gemstone when all you see is gold. Cobain and Dougans though, have managed an incredible feat of cultural restoration. They’ve uncovered artists of which, to my Aussie shame, passionate internet testimonies exist, and the lamenting of writers as to how this music fell from consciousness is touching.

That these 33 tracks span 50-odd years from 1966 is never that obvious, remarkably not even in recording quality. There are the celebrated modern purveyors of Aussie psych like Tame Impala and Pond, and there is also the great ‘The Real Thing’ by Russell Morris from the 60s, the best song Europeans may never have heard. It's a stroke of genius to open The Wizards of Oz with ‘The Real Thing’ and also a nod to one of the great godfathers of Australian rock, still touring, still writing and still filling auditoriums. The track from Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker, ‘It’s Not Meant to Be’, is a John Lennon-inspired stoner classic.  

Even more remarkable is the inclusion of music that should never have been absent from underground folklore. Cobain and Dougans have questioned whether the same fate would have befallen these artists had they been European, with a bigger marketplace to attract some sort of cult status.

Among the more spectacular entries to this compilation, we have Leong Lau. Once [bizarrely] billed as 'the Malaysian Elvis’, Lau emigrated to Australia in the 1960s to study engineering, and resembled Jimi Hendrix. He wrote three great jazz/funk albums in the mid-1970s, and is represented here by two hybrid tracks reflecting a uniquely cosmopolitan view for that era in Australian music. Rock, psychedelia, folk, funk, jazz and blues meld into space-rock, influenced by the likes of John Coltrane, Jimi Hendrix, and the electro-funk of 1970s Miles Davis.

Space-rockers Cybotron sound like jazz-funkers Deodata, the Krautrock of Neu! and the new-age of Tangerine Dream, even Ultravox fused into a danceable head-trip complete with man-made fog and washed-out pastels. The slightly restrained, fuzzed-out guitar of The Sunset Strip’s ‘Mercy Killing’ is counter-balanced by a pretty folkiness which imbues a restfulness before another perfect storm of no-wave psych-fusion and screaming guitar brings seven minutes of psych joy to a close.

Ash Grunwald is better known as a blues/roots musician, but ‘Walking’ is a stomping wedge of punk-blues which will have you dancing your ass off. The psych-folk of Air’s ‘The Sea’ segues beautifully into the stunning harmonies of Flake’s ‘Dream If You Can’, as if the two songs were born to reside together. Doug Jerebine channels Beefheart on the wah-wah laden ‘Ain’t So Hard to Do’, with a tripped-out guitar so obviously inspired by Hendrix.


Tyrnaround’s ‘Colour Your Mind’ does it better than Syd Barrett with more acid intention. Railroad Gin’s ‘Matter of Time’ has a widescreen, rootsy, cinematic sound before the flutes go nuts, and the poppy female vocals resemble Bananarama on mushies. Might sound unorthodox (and it is) but it's majestic stuff.


Ever been at a loss to describe the flavours of a delicious meal you just consumed? Every artist on this album, every musical adventure, deserves a music lover’s ear at least once.


Amorphous Androgynous’s Wizards of Oz is the best compilation of 2015 thus far, and it's impossible to imagine its exuberant advocacy being trumped.  

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