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Time Has Told Me: The Necks

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“I often visualise music in terms of light. When I play with the Necks, I always play with my eyes closed. I like to face the stage lights with my eyes closed. I can sense this light through my eyelids, I can also I feel its energy. It seems a perfect analogue to the music, especially when things seem to be really building somewhere.”

—Chris Abrahams, The Necks

Words: Mark Carry


Described by Financial Times (UK) as “absolutely riveting” and “entirely new and entirely now” by The Guardian, it’s one of life’s great fortunes to have been blessed by such an extraordinary, innovative and richly compelling band, namely Australia’s The Necks. Releasing their debut record, ‘Sex’ back in 1989, the trio of Chris Abrahams (piano), Tony Buck (drums) and Lloyd Swanton (bass) have unleashed a plethora of shape-shifting records – the other-worldly mid-90’s double-album ‘Silent Night’, the band’s string of colossal live records (including 2007’s ‘Townsville’), and the band’s latest crowning jewel of ‘Open’ containing 68 minutes of raw, intense beauty, is to just name a few – whereupon a revelatory experience lies at the pulsing heart of each artistic treasure.

The gradual music of The Necks is borne from improvisation, where a deep musical telepathy is forever forged between each member of the spell-binding trio as a sacred space is ceaselessly explored. Featuring lengthy pieces which slowly unravel in the most mesmerizing fashion, frequently underpinned by an insistent deep groove, the sixteen albums by The Necks stand up to re-listening time and time again. In short, the music of the Australian trio is utterly timeless.

I recall first hearing The Necks in my local record-store one morning in early Spring where a mesmerizing sound of piano notes, drums and hypnotic bass-line flooded the surrounding space. In a short period of time – moments after the stylus hit this unknown (and deeply mysterious) vinyl – returning motifs of piano patterns forged an imprint on the forefront of my mind. Like ocean waves, the crescendo of piano notes formed ripples in the sea.

With each and every subsequent release of The Necks, this magical sense of discovery and awe has always remained.  An intense beauty, tenderness, solace, hope, pain, and longing is carved out on a canvas of enlightening soundscapes. Not entirely avant-garde, nor minimalist, nor ambient, nor jazz, the music of The Necks defies boundaries and constantly pushes the sonic envelope.


Interview with Chris Abrahams.

[The following are excerpts taken from an interview with Chris Abrahams, the resulting interview here is unedited from the initial interview and is reproduced here all in the words of Chris Abrahams.]

I can really only speak for myself when it comes to the Necks as I think we each have differing opinions as to what the whole thing means. For me, the idea that best describes the Necks’ music and approach to being a band is pretty simple: one thing leads to another.

I met Tony when I was sixteen, at a jam session in the suburb where we both grew up. I met Lloyd about a year later. We all three of us played together a lot, in different combinations, before we formed the Necks. What it was we wanted to do with the group, apart from playing music, was never really overtly considered. For the first ten years of its existence the band played maybe three or four shows a year. Nevertheless, it was incredibly important to us.

The reasons I played music are embedded quite far back in my childhood. My father was very passionate about Jazz – Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman especially. He’d spent time, in the late forties, in the USA and I think the music brought back to him powerful memories of his time there. One pianist whose records he played a lot was Jimmy Yancey. There’s a bar in Berlin called Miss Hecker and they often put Jimmy Yancey on the sound system. The music is very evocative of childhood memories. I remember being about seven and trying to play a simplified version of Five O’clock Blues on the piano.

My teenage years were fairly unexceptional in terms of what I listened to – the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix. I tried to play bass guitar in a rock band I formed with some school friends. I had an upright piano in my bedroom,which I played regularly and on which I tried to write songs. The reason why I became a musician as a career choice came about through listening to modern jazz records, which began when I was sixteen or so.

Up until my early twenties, Afro-American modern jazz, mainly from the sixties, was chiefly what I listened to and tried to emulate – particularly the piano players Mal Waldron and McCoy Tyner.

As a young person, apart from African-American modern jazz, I listened to rock music. I think John Cale was quite an influence on my piano playing, particularly in the Velvet Underground. I was a big fan of the Modern Lovers and Nico albums he produced as well. I also listened to a lot of African music –Fela Kuti, Tabu Ley, King Sunny Ade, Salif Keita. Reggae was also big thing – Lee Perry, Gregory Isaacs, Bob Marley, Yellowman, King Tubby. In fact, Tony and I spent an extraordinary week in Jamaica in 1987 where we met Gregory Isaacs and got to see Yellowman and Pinchers performing live at a drive in cinema in downtown Kingston. I also listened to a lot of soul music and played Hammond organ in a soul group led by the great Jackie Orszaczky. I listened to classical music; the Beethoven Sonata cycle played by Alfred Brendel was much listened to as was Pascal Devoyon playing Ravel; John Ogden and Brenda Lucas playing “Visions of the Amen” by Messiaen was also on high rotation.

In my early twenties I became involved with an Indie record label, Hot Records, in Sydney. Through this association I got to meet and play with many young musicians that were in bands. I ended up playing on Laughing Clowns’, Triffids’ and Peter Walsh albums. I lived in Newtown, an inner city suburb which at the time was a bit of a music area and I consequently socialized and played on quite a few other records – records by Crow, Big Heavy Stuff and Love Me amongst others. I also wrote songs with a singer called Melanie Oxley.

I was also involved in the improvised music scene in Sydney. Although not huge in number, there are some incredible improvisers in Australia. In the eighties I played with such people as Jim Denley, Rick Rue, Sherre Deleys, Jamie Fielding and Amanda Stewart. I had the honour of guesting with such groups as Mind Body Split and Machine for Making Sense. There was also the towering figure of Jon Rose, who was very active in the early eighties in Sydney before relocating, for a number of years, to Europe.

Another musician who had a big influence on me was a saxophonist called Mark Simmonds with whom I played in the group, The Freeboppers.

The form of jazz soloing whereby a melody is played and then various soloists display dexterity by improvising over a set of harmonic changes was something I lost interest more or less by my early twenties, possibly because I wasn’t very good at it. I began to think of music not as a display of individual brilliance. I began to see music’s ability to express things more profound than cleverness or hard work.I began, in fact, to see it as something beyond individual expression. Through the Necks I realised that I could be both performer of and listener to the music that we made – and that was an exciting discovery. Maybe we all made that discovery together when we first started playing in the group.



Our approach to making music is not very intellectual. I think its true to say we just play. We’ve been doing it now for thirty years and what we are as a group is a result of us having played together for so long. We’ve developed an identity, a way of doing things, and when we play, a certain music happens.

When we perform live, we never look at each other. Nor do we discuss beforehand what we’re going to play. Some people find this strange, but to me it feels perfectly natural. Our music can’t rely on rehearsal or signals from a bandleader – it has to rely solely on the playing of music, without a preordained teleology. That’s not to say are music lacks direction – far from it. I think there’s a compelling teleology, it’s just that this seems to be there innately. Scores, words or signals would be distracting from our goal.

I think our music requires stamina and relaxation to make. I love the feel of playing the piano, the sense of my fingers pressing down on the keys. I find this to be expressive in itself. In the early days sometimes I’d find myself barely hanging on and struggling with fatigue. Nowadays that doesn’t happen so much. I like sitting very still when I play, I like the sense of focus and relaxation. I like to think that the things I do in the Necks I could do for hours and hours.

I don’t like to think about where I’m going during a performance. I don’t want people to listen to me making decisions. I often find myself carried along in the excitement of the music – its crescendo, it’s ebb and flow – as if I were part of the audience. Sometimes I don’t know what it is I’m playing; there might be a strange melody I hear and I think it’s me playing it. I stop and it keeps going. Sometimes, through the combination of a strange instrument and weird acoustics, I have heard the piano speak words. The same sonic hallucinations that audience members have told us they’ve heard during a performance, we too have heard.

The Necks are site specific. We play and when we gradually start to interact with the acoustic environment, we begin to intuitively shape the music. Every space is different, every instrument is different, and every PA is different. Our music uses these things as structure defining elements.

I often visualise music in terms of light. When I play with the Necks, I always play with my eyes closed. I like to face the stage lights with my eyes closed. I can sense this light through my eyelids, I can also I feel its energy. It seems a perfect analogue to the music, especially when things seem to be really building somewhere.


the necks at the blue whale

I think there’s a narrative dimension to what we do. Seemingly, we are repeating small actions over and over – actions that can be melodic, rhythmical and textural –and this has the effect of being mesmerizing. But these units are all slightly different, largely because they are physically played, and thus, over time, the music changes. A Necks’ piece is normally about fifty minutes long and, by allowing one thing to lead to another, where we end up can be vastly different from where we started. Some sort of abstract narrative is told. I am gripped by the hypnotic sameness of the “repetition” and am being pulled along a slowly but profoundly shifting musical terrain.

I try to express emotion through my playing. I try to express the excitement of the music that I’m playing. There’s a circularity to it.

A very big change happened to my approach to the piano when I bought my first sampler – the Kurzweil K2000. Up until that time, I wouldn’t have known what the term “envelope” meant or what an “LFO” was.

Let me backtrack… I never really had a very good piano when I was young. Neither of my parents was a practising musician. However like many parents, they wanted to give myself and my sister the opportunity of having piano tuition, probably expecting it to be a passing phase after which the behemoth would sit largely unplayed in a corner of the house – a sentimental memento of our childhoods. The instrument I got to learn on was a sixty-year-old Richard Lipp and Son upright – an old warhorse that couldn’t be tuned within a semitone of A440. (In its day it would have been a beautiful instrument) It had an inbuilt chorus effect, which no piano tuner was able to tame. (I discovered that by threading a necktie through the strings, the piano sounded more in tune.)I was in no way a child prodigy and by the age of eleven I had in fact given up on formal lessons. But the piano ended up in my bedroom, so I played it. I think possibly the out of tune-ness of the instrument may have pointed me in the direction of a more textural approach to piano playing, without me actually knowing it.



Let me backtrack even further… I can remember the first time I ever played a piano. I would have been about five years old and we, my family, were visiting another family. They had this strange-looking wardrobe thing in one of the rooms. My sister and I lifted the lid on the keys and began to play with them, with me down one end and her at the other. I remember being amazed that the action of pressing a key down could produce such a loud sound. I recall us both being enthralled by the high notes and low notes. With its simple exploration of lightness and darkness, I’ve often thought there was something about that initial meeting with the piano that’s stayed with me.

When I got into sampling and synthesisers, I found that I had a whole lot of new words and concepts that could be applied to the various sound elements I explored on the piano; I could, for instance, understand the sustain pedal as a form of reverb; I saw the una corda pedal as a form of EQ; I saw that these pedals could be used in such a way so as to produce a Low Frequency Modulation effect; by rapid striking of a single string, I could overload its vibration and cause a distortion effect; and I became aware that as the string struggles towards stasis, the pitch produced gets higher with the concomitant frequency increase. All these ideas were directly a result of my self-guided explorations into the physics of sound production that the sampler opened up for me.

I made two solo piano records in the mid eighties and then didn’t make another one till “Glow” in 2003. My approach to Glow was one of developing pieces over a period of time, booking a studio and then doing take after take of each piece until I got something I liked. My next solo album “Streaming” had different approach. I chose to work with performance techniques that eschewed the idea of “mistakes” or difference in the quality of performances. Here the pieces were longer. I’m quite proud of the track “Christmas Island” on Streaming. It’s a piece that involved placing my hands above the keyboard so that they readily played a tonal “mode” and moving my fingers so as to brush against the keys. Although I had control over the note range, how many of the notes would “sound” was to a large extent unknown. The piece is therefore personally expressive but very much uncontrolled, left to chance – an authorial stance I most prefer.

Since “Streaming” in 2005, I haven’t released a solo piano record. However I’ve finished four solo albums on the Room 40 label – “Thrown”, “Play Scar”, Memory Night”, and soon to be released “Fluid to The Influence”. These have elements of piano solo on them, but are much more electro acoustic in content.

The Necks are two different entities. On the one hand there is the live Necks, which is nearly always acoustic piano, acoustic bass and drums/percussion. On the other hand there’s the “studio” version of the group, which uses anything – guitars, synths, organs, samplers, field recordings, electric bass – even other musicians.

With the live Necks, we don’t really ever discuss what we are about to play. Intuitively our pieces last for around fifty minutes – this was a time frame we hit upon within months of forming the group. I have the feeling it’s a natural human length of time. I feel extremely safe on stage with the Necks, I am never nervous or stressed. Although there is a strong identity to the music we play, I don’t feel I have to consciously force myself to play that way. It’s as if it’s impossible to play any other way; impossible to do something that’s not “the Necks” – even not playing sounds like the Necks. Somehow we all know when the piece is over. I don’t know whether this is telepathy or music, I suspect it’s the latter. I think we’ve been doing this one thing for so long that we can communicate with each other through music. The fact that it’s incredibly enjoyable helps too.



We all met when we were still teenagers. I met Lloyd during my brief attempt at attending the NSW Conservatorium of Music. We shared a similar sense of humour and quickly formed a group – a jazz quartet called The Benders comprising piano, bass, drums and saxophone. The group stayed together for five years and we released three albums. I think playing in this quartet was responsible for me developing technique on the piano. The drummer, Andrew Gander, taught me a lot about time and tempo. It ended in 1986.

Tony and I met while I was still at high school. It was at a jam session in the suburb we grew up in. I played in various groups in the early eighties with him. He had his own group, Sketches, that I played in and he sometimes played with the Benders.

There was also a musical collective called “The Keys Music Association” which organised concerts and festivals. All three of us were a part of this and played in various groupings. I guess, like in most scenes, in Sydney everybody played with everybody else.

In 1986, some months after the Benders finished, Lloyd rang me with the idea of forming a trio. We both thought of Tony. We began “rehearsing” in a room in the compounds of Sydney University and straightaway hit upon something that felt new to us. We actually had no intention of rushing into playing gigs – in fact we enjoyed the idea of performing stress free in front of no audience, well away from the “industry” of music making. We wanted to free ourselves from the desire to play music that we thought people would be impressed by.

Previously I had toyed with the idea of playing music where there was no “soloing” as such; where the ambience remained static and non dynamic. The early Necks’ sessions took these ideas to a far more meditative stage. I felt a relaxation hitherto unexperienced; a contentment in letting things unfold of their own volition. Possibly this is merely the crossing over that every musician/artist has to make in order to become a mature artist – the relinquishing of the self, the using of a skill to create a third-party “thing” that’s not just the representation of individual desires. I think we all discovered this together then, whilst playing music in that room, but I can really only speak for myself.

Silent Night ranks up there with my personal favourite Necks’ recordings. I like the doom quality it exudes and it’s unrelenting feel – Lloyd’s bass playing and Tony’s drumming swing! Conceptually it was a breakthrough for us. We used samples of movie soundtracks – bits of sound design and snippets of half-heard dialog – to create an abstract narrative. It feels like there’s a film there, but what’s being projected is black. It was the album that got us the invitation to write the music for “The Boys” – an Australian film about abject male violence. For a while there our music would crop up regularly behind television reports about horrific crimes.


—Chris Abrahams, in conversation November 2015





Written by markcarry

November 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Time Has Told Me: One Of You

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Interview with One Of You.

I just realized looking at the Saint Georges ribbon lying on the table that it has exactly the same colours as the picture on the cover of the record. It must mean something, perhaps there is hope which I cannot see yet.”

—One Of You

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry


One of the most intriguing re-issues of recent times arrived early last year via the Portland, Oregon-based label Little Axe Records (a label founded when Mississippi Records split into two labels in 2011), with it’s issuing of a self-titled LP by One Of You. The author’s name and identity remains anonymous but we do know this startling collection was made by a Czech immigrant to Canada who set up her own Scarab label in the early ‘80’s, releasing music under the pseudonyms One of You and The Triffids. Having fled her homeland in the late sixties to emigrate to Canada for hopes of a better future and life there, One Of You’s music would be imbued with a prevailing sense of loss, regret and much hardships.

The music itself, written in both Czech and English, and arranged in typically minimal fashion (synthesizer, guitar, organ) touches upon outsider folk, folk-psych, Eastern European folk and minimalist music traditions. One Of You’s deeply affecting, timeless music yields moments of powerful intensity while a whole spectrum of emotions, images and textures are unleashed beautifully upon the listener all at once.


‘One Of You’ is available now on Little Axe.


Interview with One Of You.

It is a real pleasure to ask you some questions about your unique and deeply touching music. Can you please take me back first of all to the beginning of One Of You. I would love to gain an insight into the influences and inspiration that found its way into your own music please?

One Of You: Growing up in Eastern Europe under socialist regime I had a false impression (typical to most young people there) that the West must be good, full of good people, everything is nice and honest. Realization of the truth that people are same everywhere, good and bad, mostly bad, there is no perfect place on this planet was what created the feeling of despair reflected in my songs.

There is something very magical about your voice and the added organ instrumentation. Songs such as ‘Faded Flowers’ and ‘When The Sun Comes Up’ cast an everlasting spell. Was this the first instrument you began to play? I wonder were these intimate recordings made at home? I love the purity and sheer emotional depth that permeates throughout.

OOY: I wrote those songs with the help of guitar on which I knew 3 chords. I never mastered any instrument really. Then I arranged these for organ, which I never learned to play, but I somehow had to.

These more organ-based songs were released originally as separate singles on your own Scarab label in the early 80’s. What are your memories of recording these particular songs? I would love to learn more about the Scarab label and indeed what releases did you release during this time?

OOY: It was all recorded in the dining room of our house on 4track reel to reel recorder. The Scarab records was created just to release these records at the time. Scarab released the total of 3 singles, which are all part of this record.

I absolutely adore the instrumental opus, ‘Brainbroom’. This sonic creation feels so current and certainly belongs to the here and now. Please discuss the instrumental music aspect of your output please? How does the creative process change (if so) from the vocal-based songs? In terms of the musical equipment and technology at your disposal, what was your set-up like?

OOY: ‘Brainbroom’ was recorded in the same environment, only with additional bass, guitar and percussion with the help of my husband. Technology was pretty much the same. The creative process can be described as fooling around, accidentally coming up with a motive and then building on it gradually.

The recently released One Of You compilation was my first introduction to your utterly beguiling works of art. It must be a lovely feeling to have a label such as Little Axe to introduce your music to a new generation of music fans worldwide. Please talk me through the album cover artwork? It’s really beautiful and shares a similar aesthetic to your spellbinding music.

OOY: The connection with Little Axe was the work of my daughter. For some reason she adored those songs since the childhood and kept showing them without my knowledge in her circle of friends until she succeeded to make someone interested.

As for the artwork. At one time I had painted my room black and orange and I painted the face on the board with the same colours. The picture somehow survived several moves, until we were making the recordings and we decided to use it not only for the cover of the first single but also as a logo for Scarab records. It is the same as on the cover of the new Little Axe record. The second single’s cover was a picture expressing my desire to protect the planet and all its inhabitants. That is the picture on the brochure.

Several of the tracks on the compilation comprise of instrumental Triffids tracks. I love the wide-ranging sonic terrain you masterfully venture down. Here, there are gorgeous additions of synthesizer and warm percussion. Were you joined by any other musicians or was it very much a solo DIY process? Please take me back to your first introduction to the Triffids and indeed why you chose to interpret their music?

OOY: The Triffids was a creation of me and my husband just for fun, since we already had a studio setup in our dining room. All the tracks were added one by one. So the Triffids was us, so was their music. The fun was that the Triffids was only two of us.

Side B consists of guitar-based demos recorded in the late 70’s. Can you take me back to this period of your life – the late 70’s and where these songs came from? Like your organ-based songs, the combination of your ethereal vocals and rich tapestry of guitar notes forms a heavenly sound.

OOY: These were only meant to be only as a record for me. There were created at the beginning of the 70’s from the deep despair with the state of the World and in the mid 70’s we put them on tape so they do not get lost, not to be released.

The gorgeous ‘Life Is A Puddle’ transports me to Vashti Bunyan’s ‘Waiting For Another Diamond Day’ such is its delicate beauty. I love the added use of flute here. It feels like the beginning of an enriching journey. I would love for you to talk me through this song and the central themes? Also, is there a common theme present across these earlier works of yours?

OOY: In that song I still have a deep conviction that people can be much better that they actually are. It was an expression of a need to wake the people up to reach their potential and be as good as they can be. Now I have less and less hope for this, seems people are getting worse and not better. As for the flute, we wanted to add the flute, so we placed an ad in the Pennysaver and this girl responded and created the track for us. Unfortunately we no longer remember her name.

Do you have particular favourite records or artists that you feel served inspiration in the pursuit of your own art? How much an influence was Eastern European folk music on One Of You? The guitar-based songs seem to be steeped in this otherworldly spectrum of enchanting sounds.

OOY: Not really. I just wanted to express myself. I am not aware of any influence but who knows.

Looking back on the musical output of One Of You, what are your most cherished memories? You must feel deeply proud of the artistic works you have created and released into the world. Do you see this music in a new light as you think about One Of You today?

OOY: Well I said what I wanted to say, what I was feeling deeply at the time. But it is a very nice feeling that people are still interested in it today, so many years later. All I can say that it seems I was more
hopeful for humanity at that time than I am now. I just realized looking at the Saint Georges ribbon lying on the table that it has exactly the same colours as the picture on the cover of the record. It must mean something, perhaps there is hope which I cannot see yet.




‘One Of You’ is available now on Little Axe.


Written by markcarry

February 3, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Time Has Told Me: K. Leimer

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Interview with Kerry Leimer.

“There was a sense of the many quiet nights spent bewildered by tape recorders and analog synthesizers, stuff just constantly getting away from me and the few moments when ideas and ability met on level ground.”

—Kerry Leimer

Words: Mark Carry


RVNG Intl. is a Brooklyn-based music institution that operates on few but heavily fortified principles, dealing with forward-reaching artists that ceaselessly push the sonic envelope. From visionary luminaries such as Julia Holter, Holly Herndon, Blondes, Maxmillion Dunbar et al, RVNG Intl. has consistently delivered some of the most adventurous, enthralling and breathtaking records this past decade. One of the label’s cornerstones has become the awe-inspiring archival series which has featured (and celebrated) musical pioneers Craig Leon, Ariel Kalma and K. Leimer. The third installment of the archival series — released last year — was Seattle-based sound sculptor, K. Leimer and a vast treasure of ambient voyages entitled ‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’. I simply cannot think of a more special musical document to have graced my life this past year than Kerry Leimer’s resolutely unique and deeply human canon of pioneering ambient music.

A glimpse into Leimer’s creative process is touched upon on the compilation’s liner notes: “The loop provided an instant structure – a sort of fatalism – the participation of the tape machine in shaping and extending the music was a key to setting self-deterministic systems in motion and held clear relationship to my interests in fine art.”

‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’ offers the perfect entry point (across an exhaustive double-album and thirty spellbinding tracks) into the beautifully enthralling and ever-revolving world inhabited by the special soul of Mr. Kerry Leimer.

Recently released on Leimer’s own imprint Palace of Lights, ‘The Grey Catalog’ encompasses an entire spectrum of enthralling sounds and textures; incorporating percussion, electric guitar, bass as well as found sound, digital and analog synthesis and sampled instruments. Album opener ‘Allegory’ gently fades into focus with gorgeous string passages reminiscent of the likes of Kranky’s Christina Vantzou and Leaf Label’s Murcof. Drifting tones of chimes and soft electronic pulses envelop the electronic balladry of ‘Ritual Thinning’. Elements of analog synths and bass are wonderfully incorporated into ‘Clasp’ before the drone soundscapes of ‘Gesture’ evokes ethereal and surreal dreamscapes of blissed-out sounds.

One of the album’s defining moments arrives with the hypnotic ‘Sung’ built on a returning violin motif that is masterfully melded with piano and bass, in turn, creating an utterly transcendent electro-acoustic exploration. Field recordings and thudding percussion expands the dynamic range on ‘Poesie’, further highlighting the wonderful diversity on display throughout ‘The Grey Catalog’. Neo-classical elements are masterfully embedded in the cinematic cut ‘Europe’, whilst the proceeding ‘Casual Suffering’ – the album’s longest piece – further expands the sonic envelope with dense strings reminiscent of the Touch catalog. The stunning closer ‘At Remove’ feels a distant companion to the opening ‘Allegory’ with its scintillating strings that ebb and flow into the forefront of your heart’s mind.


‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.



Interview with Kerry Leimer.

Please discuss for me your childhood and your early exposure to music while growing up in Chicago. Was there a strong musical background in your family? What records would your parents have been listening to at home?

Kerry Leimer: There was no musical background to speak of. My parents immigrated to the U.S. from post WWII Austria, via Canada. They gradually adopted American MOR of the time, stuff I refer to as misogynist cocktail pop — repulsive on many levels. As befits a lad of Austrian extraction I was given a few accordion lessons, mostly focused on learning the accompanying dance steps. It strikes me now that I was most probably tone deaf: music made no sense to me whatsoever. Tonality was something I had to learn to recognize, and given the environment, there was no real compulsion to do so. Early rock was completely lost on me — experiencing even a two minute song from that period remains nightmarish. So I came to an interest quite late, and it took some very specific exposure. A von Karajan recording of Mozart’s Requiem; ‘Epitaph’ and ‘Dust be Diamonds’ managed to cement an interest that had begun to make itself known a few years earlier, through some ill-defined attraction to parts of ‘Revolver’ and most of ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’. This interest expanded rapidly but to mostly obscure music. I had a suspicion of and dislike for widely popular forms.

Your family permanently settled in Seattle in 1967. Can you please describe Seattle in the late 60’s/early 70’s? What music of the time resonated powerfully for you that would inspire you to create your own unique blend of music?

KL: Seattle’s effect on me was principally depressive. The town was referred to at the time as The Space Needle and the Box it Came In, the box being the only office tower downtown, headquarters for what was then SeaFirst Bank, no doubt the money laundering arm of Boeing. It was a blue collar town, nice landscape, with an unremarkable manscape bereft even of sea shanties. The only things of immediate interest were learning about the Wobblies and to somehow live in nearly perpetual dark. Most of the people I met and went to school with were actively hostile to the arts, pro-war and, between bullying sessions, deeply involved in various sportsball activities. But my overriding interest was the visual arts, so early days were preoccupied with a study of 20th Century art that isolated me from what I took to be an ignorant and angry social order. In many ways, the ideas I pursue were shaped by the visual arts.

Please take me back to your first experiments with sound. What equipment did you have at your disposal? I believe you collected instruments from the local pawn shop- I am sure you must have some beautiful stories – and magical discoveries – born from these trips. I wonder do you feel the creative process involved, very early on has changed or altered in any way over the subsequent album releases?

KL: That would be tape collage with a little AIWA reel-to-reel. It had a splicing block and some splicing tape and I’d just cut up voice recordings, sometimes shredded to unusable size. It was all there: speed change, direction change, odd juxtaposition. Great fun and instantly rewarding: much less work than drawing or painting and generally neater than collage. Then found sound: mic’d stuff off television, radio, random sounds in- and out- of doors. The equipment was always of greater interest than instruments, if such distinction need be made. I found parts in pawn shops, built a primitive bass guitar, located an echoplex, then acquired a few MXR boxes, a Mu-Tron Bi-Phase. Thanks to an interest I had in piano my parents acquired an electric organ — I still do not comprehend this — so first up were loopy echoed drones between rote instruction of “Beautiful Dreamer” and the like. Multi-tracking was still some years off for me, so things were restricted to a single pass and a very few bounces. The first “albums” were done with an art school friend. John Holt had a Les Paul and we produced two cassettes of these sorts of mash-up titled I’d Rather Cadaver, probably a reference to the Surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse, and Grey Cows which culminates in a sparkling interpretation of Faust’s ‘The Sad Skinhead’.

In terms of ambient music, who do you feel have been pioneers of the genre? I was very interested to read that you felt Cluster’s II record was a key revelation early on. I would love for you to discuss this particular record and its significance on you as an artist and sound sculptor?

KL: All the early work of those artists — Cluster, Harmonia, Neu! –– even to some extent records such as IrrlichtCyborg and Zeit –– seemed in a very particular sense to be simple and within reach. I wouldn’t call them ambient and, given the manner in which the meaning of the term has changed, I wouldn’t really call much of what I do or am interested in to be ambient. The horrors visited upon our understanding by genre definitions remains an issue for some other discussion, but the general attractor for me was a form of simplicity, free of grand gesture, self-regulating and owning to the often overt presence of tape or some recording medium.

In the liner-notes of the RVNG Intl’s compilation ‘A Period Of Review: 1975-1983’, you describe the “instant structure” and “sort of fatalism” the tape loop provided you with. This sense of wonderment and fascination with sound is dotted across the multitude of beguiling tracks contained on this very special compilation. I would love to gain an insight please into the looping process that is inherent in these sonic creations and indeed the layering of the various sounds.

KL: The open loop’s appeal is twofold. If the work is to be additive, the open loop is a very efficient tool for piling up a lot of sound without a lot of instruments or tracks — things that were in very short supply at that time. The other is that it’s somewhat self-deterministic. It doesn’t have to be, but it tends to behave as an automatic way to set limitations and then keep you within them.

There is very much a DIY aesthetic to your unique and revelatory music. I love how there are a myriad of ideas in each and every pristine ambient cut. It must have been a fulfilling project for you to cull together these – many of which are previously unreleased – tracks that offers a wonderful snapshot and retrospective of your work? Which songs in particular do you feel you’re most proud of or in a way surprised you, when you first listened back to the final recordings?

KL: Writing and recording are actually pretty difficult for me. Listening to the work, no matter how far removed in time, becomes a sort of chore. The memories are usually about the particular struggles and consequent shortfalls. There was a sense of the many quiet nights spent bewildered by tape recorders and analog synthesizers, stuff just constantly getting away from me and the few moments when ideas and ability met on level ground. In this instance, at the distance of A Period of Review, there was a bit of nostalgia for other people involved or in proximity. But recall that APOR was curated by individuals other than myself and that at least as many pieces were left out as were included.  There’s simply no point in favourites for me: now that it’s been circulated listeners make their own interpretations and the music assumes its own, independent, life.

You launched the Palace of Lights record label in 1979 with your wife Dorothy Cross. A plethora of innovative albums, on various formats would see the light of day on this pioneering label, including your own solo works. Please take me back to the label’s origins and the year of ’79 when the label was given its wings, so to speak? Can you recount some of your most cherished memories from the Paradise of Lights’ musical venture? 

KL: I need some time to consider this question. It’s Palace of Lights and still exists. It started in 1978, a few years before Dorothy and I met… it was a lot of work and many people wanted us to make them stars, which wasn’t the idea. So the memories oscillate between the great joy of building a studio / label and the utter disillusionment of being confronted with people seeking fame and fortune…



‘A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975-1983)’  is available now on RVNG Intl.


Written by markcarry

January 29, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Time Has Told Me: The Clean

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Interview with David Kilgour, The Clean.

“Then there are other times people have come up to me and said “your music stopped me from killing myself”….“your music got me thru a very bad time in my life”.. I had that a few times……now that’s special, job done huh?”

—David Kilgour

Words: Mark Carry


Formed in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1978, The Clean’s unique blend of home-made garage rock, hook-laden melodies and swirling psychedelic gems has proved a trusted constant in a storied career that continues today. The Clean’s distinctive lo-fi indie-pop sound influenced an array of bands, particularly in the U.S. (Yo La Tengo, Guided By Voices, Pavement, Sonic Youth to name but a few).

The Kilgour brothers of Hamish and David formed The Clean in ’78. Hamish played drums, and David played guitar. After some rotating line-ups of those early years, Robert Scott (who would later form The Bats) joined on bass. The core trio of Hamish, David and Bob all wrote songs and absorbing the music that surrounded them – Richman’s rock ‘n’ roll, punk and dreams of bigger things – the band’s debut single ‘Tally Ho!’ was released by the renowned New Zealand independent label Flying Nun in ’81 (in fact, a fan of The Clean formed the label to release their first single). Second single ‘Getting Older’ followed a short time later. During the early 80’s, the band released two EP’s and two singles. ‘Tally Ho!’, ‘Boodle Boodle Boodle’ and ‘Great Sounds’ all charted in the New Zealand top 20.

Spanning from The Clean, David Kilgour has amassed a reputable solo catalog; Robert Scott later formed The Bats (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), and Hamish Kilgour would become an enduring fixture in New York playing with assorted combos (forming The Mad Scene in the early 90’s). As part of the U.S. independent label, Merge’s 25th Anniversary, The Clean’s ‘Anthology’ (originally released in 2003) was released in splendid quadruple vinyl earlier this year.



Interview with David Kilgour, The Clean.

It’s a real honour to ask you some questions about The Clean – a band cherished by many the world over – who have released a plethora of indie pop treasures these past few decades. Firstly, please take me back to Dunedin, New Zealand in 1978 where The Clean were formed. What was the music scene like in New Zealand during this time? Leading up to the formation of The Clean, I can imagine the Kilgour brothers were always making music and swapping ideas with one another? Who came up with the name of The Clean?

David Kilgour: Hamish came up with The Clean title. Pinched it from an old surf movie (‘Free Ride’?) that has a character called Mr Clean, a shaven headed biker. Punk kind’ve “hit” here a year or two after it started really. Leading up to the formation of The Clean, the music scene was all over the place really: Disco, kind’ve post glam/70s soft rock and a touch of prog. Not a lot of independent labels. Yeh, Hamish and I started toying with the idea of music in our bedroom in the mid – late 70s.


As the trio of Hamish (drums), David (guitar) and Robert (bass), you all wrote songs so there was this creative spirit inherent in the group from the very beginning. Can you reminisce for me please when you made your first recordings for the Flying Nun label in 1981?

DK: We wanted to write our own music from the very beginning with Peter Gutteridge. As we couldn’t play anyone else’s music, it was much easier! After our experience recording  we decided to go back to self-recording (we had been recording ourselves on a Revox 2 track previous to making ‘Tally Ho!’) with the Teac and Chris Knox and Doug Hood. We realised after making ‘Tally Ho!’ that we could’ve made a better recording with our 2 track!


It’s amazing to think the band’s debut single, ‘Tally Ho!’ was recorded for a total sum of $60. Can you remember recording this song to tape? The organ and jangle-sound guitars makes such an utterly perfect pop sound. Was this song recorded in a single take?

DK: I think it was one take, with a vocal overdub and a keyboard overdub recorded in a studio which was a heavy metallers living room! Really disappointed with the pressing when it came out, not realising it was probably the recording! I think the studio had an 8 track tape machine. I rang the guy who recorded it a few years ago to see if he still had the master to ‘Tally Ho!’ (yeh it was a longshot) and he said “oh no, we would’ve wiped over that the next week we were so poor and needed tape!”. I didn’t bother pointing out to him that we owned the master!


The early EP’s ‘Boodle Boodle Boodle’ and ‘Great Sounds’ have undoubtedly stood the test of time. Can you please discuss the writing and recording process for these songs? I imagine were the songs recorded onto a 4-track? There is such a special, raw and dynamic sound captured on these recordings.

DK: Both EPs were recorded on a Teac 4 track. Usually straight to tape without too much EQing etc. ‘Point That Thing’ dated back to ‘78, as did ‘Anything Could Happen’. We jammed and wrote together but we also brought in songs and ideas. In the early 80’s we would try and get together 3 times a week to play and write.



During this time, the band’s singles charted in the New Zealand top 20 charts. Did you tour extensively circa the early 80’s?

DK: Yes we toured NZ a lot in this period but no overseas tours.


I wonder did you play outside of New Zealand at all during those early years? What other bands were you impressed by during those early days?

DK: Punk, post punk, and the history of music in general. Hamish and I had a big hunger for checking it ALL out. We were vinyl junkies before we picked up instruments. All the obvious likes at the time: Ramones, Pistols, Buzzcocks, Wire, New York Dolls, Richman, etc etc


One of my all-time favourite Clean songs is ‘Slug Song’ with its dreamy feel and deeply affecting chorus refrain of “Don’t ever change your mind”. Who is responsible for writing this gem?

DK: Bob came up with the music/organ riffs I filled in with lyrics and melody. It’s a song directed to the love of my life, Genevieve.


Can you reminisce for me please recording this particular song and the space and time in which the song was given its wings?

DK: Jammed on the riff in our practice space in Christchurch, where we lived for a while. It all came together straight away from what I can remember. We didn’t bring the keyboards into the line-up (apart from the ‘Tally Ho!’ recording) till just after Boodle I think….the keyboards certainly helped paved our way and inspired a lot of writing.


One of the greatest possible compliments (and a fitting testament to the legacy of The Clean) must be just how hugely influential the band’s unique indie pop sound have been on a seamless array of bands in later decades. For example, I recall first coming across The Clean in the early 00’s in the form of a Rough Trade compilation in which The Hidden Cameras covered one of your songs. Looking over the band’s career, what were your most cherished memories? It must be a nice feeling to know many bands out there have drawn so much inspiration from your work?

DK: It continues to blow my mind that the interest is still there around the world albeit in that underground way. Cherished memories?….mmmmm, that’s a hard one, there were some magical moments recording, like wow we are quite good and we have caught something magic e.g. ‘Point That Thing’, ‘Getting Older’ etc. Someone asked my partner Genivieve about how great it must’ve been during those early 80s and she kind’ve nailed it by saying the really magic years was when it was all coming together, late 70’s period when we were all trying to get it together and seeing the “scene” grow outta that. Yeh it was a special time.

Then there are other times people have come up to me and said “your music stopped me from killing myself”….“your music got me thru a very bad time in my life”.. I had that a few times……now that’s special, job done huh? The music has given me a life outside of the norm, thank goodness, I’ve also made so many good friends all over the world really thanks to the music. The travel has been fantastic too though most of it has been in the USA, I know the USA pretty well! To write some music 30 years that still seems to resonate round the globe is also mind-blowing for the country kid from the bottom of the world!


After a brief hiatus, you recorded ‘Vehicle’, the band’s debut album in 1989. A collection of psych pop odysseys and enlightening garage rock gems are dotted all over this special debut record. How was the album received back in New Zealand when ‘Vehicle’ was released originally? The album was amazingly made in three days. What are your memories of these three days? I wonder did you all have the songs fleshed out before arriving to the studio?

DK: The LP was well received here, there was some scepticism about us reforming and recording but the tour we did to promote was really successful and people dug the LP.

I remember running between control room and studio…there’s a good explanation of the recording in the liner notes! I recently discovered it was actually four days recorded and mixed. Geoff and Alan later remixed 2 tracks. Yeh we wrote all the songs before we toured, we realised straight away that we could only reform if we had new material to play. We wrote most of the LP in Dunedin over a week or two.


In 2009, The Clean’s immaculate pop record, ‘Mister Pop’ was released on Morr Music. Two years previously, your toured New Zealand and celebrating a 50th birthday while playing a show in Auckland. It must have been a very special feeling to come back and make new music together again? Did the creative process change or alter in any way for the making of ‘Mister Pop’ in comparison to the previous LP’s? I love the tight sound that the band has on ‘Mister Pop’ and also the glorious production.

DK: Well we have been regularly getting together to tour over the years and making LPs so it wasn’t super new. But yeh it’s always refreshing to have breaks. We mainly jammed the songs up. Bob and I brought one or two songs in. No big change in the process.


One of the great hallmarks of The Clean is the wide range of sounds you effortlessly unleashed, lovingly reflected on The Clean’s ‘Anthology’ collection. The piano ballad ‘Franz Kafka At The Zoo’ is incredible. ‘Linger Longer’ is a classic. There are so many new discoveries and rarities present on this career-spanning collection. You must have enjoyed compiling these songs together? I must ask too who is responsible for the band’s beautiful artwork? If you had to pick (just!) one, what song are you most proud of writing? What’s next for The Clean?

DK: The art work on Anthology is Hamsih’s. I think ‘Getting Older’ is one fave. Also ‘Point That Thing’. We actually put the track listing together when making the CD many years ago. I think we sat in Flying Nun’s office and made it up in about 30 minutes!



Written by markcarry

November 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Time Has Told Me: Linda Perhacs

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Interview with Linda Perhacs.

“The universe has many, many interesting sounds – the sound of a whale; the sound of a planet moving, its torque and movement through the universe – there are sounds everywhere.”

—Linda Perhacs


See the waves that break,
Upon the rocks and stones,
Hear the winds that play,
Upon the ice and foam,
And it breathes, it breathes,

— ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’

Words: Mark Carry


2014 has marked the eagerly-awaited return of song-writing greats Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan and Mark Fry who have all been synonymous with the golden age of psych-folk music of the early 70’s. This autumn, English singer-songwriters Vashti Bunyan and Mark Fry have released their latest masterworks in the form of ‘Heartleap’ and ‘South Wind, Clear Sky’, respectively, having forged their own unique footprint in the psych folk explorations at the turn of the 70’s. This effect – which is enlightening, powerful and deeply touching – has lasted all these decades later. The title-track of Bunyan’s ‘Just Another Diamond Day’ is one of the most stunningly beautiful folk gems to have graced this earth. Similarly, Fry’s ‘Dreaming With Alice’ contains some of the most other-worldly psych folk creations – ‘Dreaming With Alice’’s dreamy verses, which are dotted across the record’s rich canvas – that belongs to the here and now as much it ever has. Some forty four years on from the release of the richly compelling and timeless psych-folk gem of ‘Parallelograms’, the American songstress, Linda Perhacs has returned with the follow-up, ‘The Soul of All Natural Things’. Sharing the aspects of ‘Parallelograms’’s healing force, cosmic spirit and visionary soundscapes, ‘The Soul of All Natural Things’ feels like the natural progression from this special soul and resolutely unique artist.

Raised in beautiful Mill Valley, just north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, music and nature would attract Perhacs, even as a child that would become a reoccurring motif throughout her life. At the very young age of six and seven years old, Perhacs started to write fairly complex compositions wherein song-writing surfaced naturally and freely, amazing people that surrounded the young girl’s family and friends. In the mid-60’s, the San Francisco-native attended USC (University of Southern California) on a full-tuition scholarship, focusing on a dental hygiene career. The career path entailed a healing profession, something that served a strong parallel with the songs Perhacs would later begin to write (and form the songs contained on ‘Parallelograms’).

A turning point occurred a short time later when Perhacs moved to Topanga Canyon; a rich environment full of artistic people, described by Perhacs as “an upward energy consciousness”. The music of the time included Crosby Stills & Nash, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell and the songwriters of the Laurel Canyon. Inspiration surrounded the young student in the act of travelling up through the Big Sur coastline and up to Alaska and a deep reverent love of nature- the wilderness; pure, pristine and wild. The pivotal role played by the movie composer Leonard Roseman (who was a patient at an upscale Beverly Hills periodontal office) was hugely influential that led to Perhacs following down the music path (Roseman would produce the 1970 album ‘Parallelograms’). The unique mind of Perhacs was nothing short of staggering, as the gifted artist entered an “incredible sphere of musical imagination”. Central to the music-making process (and which continues on this year’s ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’) is the innate ability to visualize sound and colour wherein songs would be envisioned in picture form: “I have seen colours, sound and form inwardly all my life” (Perhacs would write on the liner notes of ‘Parallelograms’).

The essence of the rich musical tapestry of Perhacs’ cherished songbook is the empowering spiritual element that prevails throughout the American artist’s tower of song. For me, this is what bridges ‘Parallelograms’ and ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’- a cosmic spirit that floats majestically with each quivering voice and rise and fall of each musical note. As Perhacs as previously explained: “As I compose, I am working from the spirit. This is why I can jump from the healing sciences and musical composition with a fast pivot, because they are all one in spirit.” Forward several decades to ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’ and the album closer ‘Song of The Planets’ serves the perfect embodiment of the creator’s masterful works, and relight my first glimmering memories of hearing the song ‘Parallelograms’ for the very first time, some years ago:

Like a hymn, like a prayer,
Filling all the universe
The most beautiful tones,
I have ever heard

Song of The Planets

On ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’, Perhacs collaborated closely with some of the leading lights of the current generation of luminaries; Julia Holter (a next-door neighbour and close friend), Ramona Gonzales (aka Nite Jewel) and the album’s co-producers (and co-songwriters on several songs) Fernando Perdomo and Chris Price. A special and illuminating batch of songs would be constructed that soon would see the light of day.

The angelic lament of ‘Freely’ is built on a gentle ripple of acoustic guitar notes and piano accompaniment that shares gorgeous shades of Leonard Cohen. The lyrics are sheer poetry: “High as a bird that flies/Warm as a wind on the rise” is sung by Perhacs on a later verse. ‘Intensity’ feels akin to ‘Parallelograms’ re-worked for the 21st Century such is its achingly beautiful three-dimensional sphere of sounds. A soulful symphony is forged like stars in the night-sky with mesmerising harmonies blended effortlessly together. The sound waves and vibrational energies ascend into the forefront of one’s heart and mind, where each sumptuous tone and texture offers a personal geography of the earth. The song’s intense groove is rooted in “the rhythm of an energy sea”. Holter’s voice coalesces masterfully with Perhacs on the uplifting chorus refrain, feeling a cross between Spector’s wall of sound and ‘Rumours’-era Fleetwood Mac. The universe and all its complex, inter-weaving systems serves the vital pulse to ‘Intensity’’s immaculate song-cycle.

A similarly other-worldly feel ascends on ‘Prisms of Glass’, a duet between Holter and Perhacs, sung beneath an ambient backdrop of celestial harmonies and shimmering keys. The heartfelt lament is closer to a prayer as a meditative quality exudes from the prisms of musical patterns. Music rarely feels so divine. A peace and tranquillity breathes like “the wind that play” as a vivid sense of joy and awakening floods through each and every aching heart pore. The resultant effect of ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’ is the healing power that spirals from each of these stunningly beautiful and highly-innovative sonic creations. To enter the incredible sphere of musical imagination sculpted by Perhacs is a feeling of pure joy and wonder.

Having re-visited the sacred opus of ‘Parallelograms’ endless times (and attaining infinite solace and healing from the album’s spell-binding creations), I decided to write a fan-mail to its peerless creator (at the tail-end of 2012). Little did I know what beautiful set of events would soon transpire. A short time later, a lovely and detailed message would come back, directly from the gracious artist. Included was a news update that a new record was in the works. After a few more correspondences, Linda very kindly sent on a few working demos of these new songs, namely ‘Freely’, ‘Intensity’ and ‘The Soul of All Natural Things’. In much the same way as the bewitching effect of ‘Parallelograms’, the new songs immediately cast an illuminating spell to truly sweep you off your feet, and heighten, empower, and strengthen your very being and the world that surrounds you.

A few months later, I would finally get to talk with Linda from her California home, on a Saturday afternoon in August 2013. During this time, Linda had begun touring the West coast with her band featuring Julia Holter, Ramona Gonzales, Fernando Perdomo and Chris Price in support of the new album, ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’. Just like her music, the voice at the end of the line offered an endless array of inspiration and enlightenment.

Still, maybe the stars will disappear,
Still, maybe the clouds will reappear,
Yet morning comes and you are still the same,
Daybreak comes and you’re amazed as anyone



Interview with Linda Perhacs (August 2013).

Linda Perhacs: We just did a show in Pasadena – I’m sure you saw the pretty pictures on the website – it’s the one in the little amphitheatre with pretty lights. Well, Julia [Holter] was onstage that night and then the next day she left for Europe. She was helping us and Ramona Gonzales [Nite Jewel] was on keyboard that night and then Chris [Price] and Fernando [Perdomo] were both onstage; they handle all kinds of keyboards and guitars. And then the two back-up girls – there’s a beautiful history here – there was a black woman there and her name is Durga McBroom. But she was the backing singer with Pink Floyd when they were doing major, major work with a tour for two years where they toured constantly and they had this huge display of light show and visuals – it was exceptional for its era, it was one of the biggest ever – and she was one of the three black ladies onstage doing all the back-up singing. So, Durga was with us for the last two shows and it was so much fun. We did one in Big Sur – the last day in June – and then we did this one in Pasadena which would have been the Fourth of July weekend. And they were both just wonderful experiences, I can’t tell you; it was just great.


It must be lovely to be playing both your songs off ‘Parallelograms’ and these new songs at these shows. It must be a special feeling.

LP: It is, it really is. As long as I am talking the creative end of it, I am in my element and totally in love and we’re having just a ball. But the contractual stuff; thank heavens for my two co-producers Chris and Fernando because I don’t think I could handle it. It’s very very digital type stuff, it has understandings that you would have to have from more their era – Chris is about 28 and Fernando is about 33 – they’re just prime for understanding all that. It goes over my head to be honest [laughs].


The music should be the priority, I mean it must be difficult when all the other things become the focal point.

LP: Yeah, well I’m so glad that I am working with people in that age bracket to be my co-producers because in this era you have to be very astute to understand all that. Between the three of us, it’s been a tight team and a wonderful, wonderful experience and all the other people that contribute musically have been – like sentiment I can’t tell you; it’s not like studio work where you just call someone in who is an expert in something. This has been like God almost sending me these people, it’s just so, so special.

Tell me about you, Mark? I never quite understood, do you have other things that you do, like another job on top of that?

Oh I do, Linda. Well my passion has always been with music so I love this hobby of interviewing musicians like yourself and you know, just to write about music. But then I actually have a degree in science. Well, it’s not quite your path but biotechnology.

LP: Well, fantastic. No wonder you like all those layered sounds that are closer to the universe that draw you into thinking about it. It’s those of us who have that background where we come from nature and from a study of the universe. Close to music, it’s a wonderful combo because it’s all united, you know.


In relation to your music Linda, nature and the universe is something so integral to your music.

LP: Yes, yes. I love the co-creation of it. You know, we make medicines and we try heal people and try to help; I hate to say this but in our country, it’s becoming very mechanical and it’s a business disguised as a healing profession. We’ve kind of become disassociated with healing for the sake of helping people –well I would say very disassociated – and money is just way too out there in the prime importance is the flow of the money through this whole healing situation and healing is getting lost in the shuffle. So, when I look at nature and God and the universe, I see a creation like the DNA molecules, it has a little repair crew. I mean what kind of mind would create something so beautiful? So I’m in awe of him because it’s taking care of the system while it uses the system. In man’s way, we destroy the system while we use the system. We have so much to learn. So much.


I agree with you absolutely. You were very kind to send me two songs, two demos, and the song ‘Intensity’ encompasses so much of this feeling as well.

LP: Well it takes a special person to have the patience to even listen through that piece. I want to send you the title-track of the album, which is called ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’. I was thinking of making ‘Intensity’ the name of the album and also the title-track but it’s going over too many people’s heads, because they’re in a hurry and it’s a very long piece. The song ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’, when we played that for anyone and watch the reaction, it’s just 100% wow and it’s quiet and they just stay with it. It’s also a good title for an album that’s trying to still remember the people who love the 70’s album [‘Parallelograms’] as well as people who are merging into this era.


The title itself – when I read it first – I feel those words really sum up your whole ethos and musical philosophy.

LP: Yes, we’re kind of growing into that. It’s pretty much decided that we’ll put it first and that will be the title [laughs]. And at the shows, I take the time to talk to the people and tell them the stories that go with some of the songs that will draw them even more towards thinking more about these balances. And the crowds, Mark are predominately aged 19 through 37 and any age after that. But so many of them are what I would call young and the best the world has to offer to face the future, you know that’s a very important age bracket. And the questions that they ask are marvellous but I know that many of those questions are because they want to explore invisible energies; they realize taking artificial substances has a risk but they also realize they need to understand it. And I’m really good at explaining to them how to deal with this choice between taking too much that’s not natural and being able to do this in a natural way.

I come from a family line – I don’t know if I told you this Mark – where many of the people would be able to see ahead and they could tell years ahead, how many children they would have and little things like that. But my father was astounding, he was in World War II and he saved many, many lives because of his keen, almost – it was almost like an Indian where they just knew there was danger off to the left, whether they could see it, smell it, taste it, whatever; they perceived it vibrationally. And my father was drafted I guess for World War II and he ended up being an active duty in the middle of Italy and then into the area where Hitler was and so it was very, very dangerous. He was asked to train the troops in survival I harsh cold, like mountain-climbing, back-packing; all the harsh conditions that would be the mountain.

Then the rest of his career they sent him all over the world into Japan, Alaska, Colorado; any place that had high, cold, snowy, icy conditions to train troops in survival. So he took his intuitive which was a gift that we seem to have in that blood line, and he would say to the troops “don’t go over there to the left, there are mines there; you can’t see them but they’re there” and when people disobeyed them they usually got blown up. So he developed a reputation for, you know pay attention to what this man says and he was an officer so that helped. Many times they would use him for that purpose; they would put him on a jeep – on the front of the jeep – and ask him as they drove through places like where Italy might be; where are the Turkish people, whatever the different groups are. He would tell them where they were; which part of the mountains they were hiding in or which part of the train because he could sense it, he knew where they were.

And then the one astounding one is that they put him on a battle boat at about three in the morning to land in Alaskan waters where they were trying to get rid of the Japanese because the war wasn’t over yet and the Japanese were still trying to attack through the Alaskan islands. So they put him on the bowel of the boat and they had to turn the lights off on the boat and the engine and drift ashore because they couldn’t afford to make any noise. And they pulled him up on the bowel and said “can you give us any idea the amount of danger? Where are we at out here?” and he said “it’s extreme danger at the moment; they are on the island”, he said not only do I know they’re there but I can smell the cigarette, I can smell the fire, I can smell the food; it’s very, very current that they are here. And actually by the time they walked on ground, the Japanese were so scared that they ran away. He would give a twelve hour prediction of what they would find in a situation; a twenty four hour and a forty eight hour; he kind of made a time-frame for them so they would know how fresh the signals were; those intuitive signals as well as smells, anything he could pick up.

So I came through the doorway of nature. My young husband when I was married introduced me to nature in a very beautiful way, we’d only go to wild and beautiful country. I met him when I was at UFC. But anyway, he got me out into raw wilderness, it was the first time ever I was in country that wild and he taught me so much and I’m so grateful for what he taught me. But the whole point I’m making is even in my love for God, I had to come through nature first; nature came first, nature and sciences and the understanding that this kind of magnificence has to be the result of a very, very clear, high, clean, loving being; it’s just the natural progression. And the more you study the more involved you are [laughs]. I am sure you can relate to that Mark.


Definitely, Linda. They were some beautiful stories about your father.

LP: Yeah, it’s all true. It’s documented. My family on that side have saved the documentation of these things. It’s all true, that’s what he did. But it runs in that family line, they’ve been listening inwardly for two hundred years that I know of in history and most of them are from Ireland, Scotland and England, almost the whole blood line through my father’s line. My mother’s people would have been England more; proper and a little colder but not as loving of God so it’s my Dad’s people I relate to the most and he’s no longer alive but neither is my mother. But all my blood line comes from the same part of the world where you’re in. Well I feel it you know, as I hear a Celtic piece of music or those wonderful modal tones, I mean I just stand still, it just gets to me; I just love those sounds [laughs].


I love how you’ve said before – exactly what you said so nicely there about your blood line – how you’ve always seen colours and sound and form, you know, inwardly all your life. It must be an amazing process that goes on to make your music.

LP: Yes. The title-theme, ‘The Soul of all Natural Things’, that was probably one of the closest where I had to work. I think inwardly; I pray inwardly; I listen inwardly and this particular piece I can tell you there was a light in the room over my head; the lighted beam over my head, at like twelve at midnight when we had time to create this piece and I did not do it all by myself. Sometimes if you just ask for it, He will come to anybody if they would just take the time. You know what it is, you know we’ve got these cell phones and we call each other, which is like sending signals out to the world, and we’re on these things constantly and all our digital stuff constantly. When you really need help, like if it’s a 911 situation and buildings are blowing up, you’ve got to send the signal straight up – I’m sure you know that – like, help and you have to have the signal reach its mark in seconds if not sooner and you need to know how to hear the answer. It’s our mechanism; it’s available to all of us, it’s just a matter that we know how to use the cell phones, we need to take a little time to figure out how to go straight up and ask God for help too. So, do I do this daily? Yes. Did my father? Yes.

I think we need to work in the world we’re in. Our children who have now become teenagers; making marvellous discoveries even in medicine at age fifteen. I can only remember one of them but all of these people were fourteen or fifteen and one of them was from a very poor part of our country – I think he was in Harlem and he was in the advanced programming and he was put into a more advanced school because he did seem to be pretty exceptional- there was three very recent occurrences where they knocked the medical world on their feet by learning how to do a cancer screening from blood or something like that. Apparently it was amazing enough they asked the young man, “how did you come up with this idea?” and his answer was “well how come you didn’t?’” [laughs] So yes, our children are going to be such a help because they understand that world but we cannot forget the invisible part too which is also an energy-based wavelength phenomenon.

And when I go to these concerts, after we do our singing and the young people come up and they just want to talk about that and they want to understand these energies. They have some very good questions. Well I try to work with them on these levels because of feeling it is so important they even ask these questions and study them. And you know, when you think about what my father could pick up and what I can pick up and all the family line and many, many, many other people but they just don’t talk about it – they’re working on those levels – it is a wavelength, someday we’ll be able to put it on a graph like a heartbeat and we’ll understand them better but right now, it’s still sort of a mystery but it is a natural phenomenon. It’s not an unnatural thing that I know.


I can imagine it’s like how the healing world and the musical world are like one entity.

LP: Absolutely and I can do more healing through the music now than I can in the fast clinical world.



I think the song ‘Parallelograms’ itself is a wonderful example of healing, it’s like this three-dimensional structure.

LP: Yes. Well when we do it live we sort of kick through and make it a little bit louder in the middle section because it’s fun for the audience. But I know what you mean Mark and again you can hear the Celtic sounds in there too. We were also asked to go to Big Sur. I’ve been there many times because of course it’s in California where I live. But they still have uncut timber there on the private properties and we were doing this special festival that they do once a year, way up high where the eagles might be looking straight down at the magnificent beauty of the cliff sides that go into the Pacific ocean. So we had an unobstructed view of nature from a very high point, right directly above the ocean and they put us into a little cabin like a Henry David Thereau type cabin, all very rustic and charming and then also a little house that was more modern. But the tickets I could read on their website were $120 a piece and they said it was limited to only five hundred people but that can’t be true it must have been five hundred cars because when we got there, there was no less than fifteen hundred people – maybe more there were a lot of people there [laughs] – and I think it was two to three days and we were the headliner for the Saturday night. I can’t tell you how breath-taking and wonderful the experience was; the crowd was a nature crowd and the vibes were just fabulous. It was very special and I will have to go back again [laughs]. It was really a lot of fun.


One of my favourite stories about ‘Parallelograms’, I remember reading about Leonard Roseman and how he was just a patient where you worked.

LP: To this day I’ve never knocked on a door, Mark. The powers to be have sent people to me. And sometimes I don’t recognise it right away, I have to be reminded you know. But Leonard and Kay were my favourite patients at this large, prestigious periodontal office in Beverly Hills. It was right almost on Rodeo Drive, it couldn’t have been more central to the entertainment world and just huge flows of money in the world passed through that area, especially in that era. And I have just come out of UFC and I’ve been there for free on this scholarship – a full tuition scholarship – for four years so I was sophisticated enough to figure all these things out but again I must have been led. The professor who had run that office in Beverly Hills was a professor in UFC and he asked for one hygienist student with the helping of a special project and he said “what I want is patience; I don’t want speed, I want patience” so they said “well Linda is the one to choose for that”. So they put us together and we did this research project together and then he said “when you have your licenses, as soon as you do, don’t even interview, come to my office and work for me” and that’s how I got into that whole arena of people; I never even did an interview. I was with him for fifteen years so I got some of the best training you could ever have and his whole clientele were world-class famous people and I had to learn to be in harmony with their level of thinking which for a person at my age at the time was a challenge.

But Leonard and Kay were my favourites because they were creators; they weren’t the stars of a film but they were creating the music behind the film. So after about ten or more appointments with both of them, finally Leonard, the husband spoke up and he said “I can’t believe this is all you do” and he was looking at me with curiosity because he sensed something and I said to him “well, I have a very creative husband and we live in Topanga Canyon and he has a bird collection; we had to move there from UFC where we had to keep his birds in a rural situation and there hawks, falcons and birds of flight. And then my ex-husband would take the birds to UCLA and lecture on aerospace dynamics showing the difference in the feathers, the wings and in the form and function of these birds. Then in addition he was a sculptor and a painter ad he was just an enormously creative guy”. So I’m telling Leonard that it’s my husband who is creative and Leonard said “well what do you do then when he takes you into the wilderness and he’s climbing mountains and cliff spaces and stuff?” I said “well not me, I take solitary walks and I write little songs” [laughs] and Leonard says “You live in Topanga Canyon, you’re in your middle twenties, the hippies are all over there as well as Laurel Canyon etc”, he said “we get a fineness to need to write music about the hippy world, we’re about twenty years too old to have that flavour and feel, could you help us?

So my original invitation from them to join them was to help them capture that flavour for their assignments. But once Leonard began to see the composition ‘Parallelograms’ that I wanted to somehow, he said “that’s it, we’ve got to do an album”, he said “this has to be done with you and it has to be your album”. So he walked over to Universal Studios where he knew everybody and said “we need a budget” and he had so much power and respect, they just said, “well do four of them- maybe four to six – we’ll give a budget for that, we’ll review it and see if we’ll give you the full budget for the album”. So as soon as they heard our first four, they said it’s a done-deal. But we didn’t do ‘Parallelograms’ initially for him because he said “that’s too small for them, they won’t understand it” so we did more normal songs. When they would come into the room, the black suited business men, he said “you can’t do this piece of music around them Linda as they won’t understand”. And yet that is the piece of music that has carried the album for forty years, the ones the executives didn’t understand.


And the world for the past forty years since the album has been out, you know there is such a deep love for this album.

LP: This has come as a surprise to me, Mark. I’m still sort of wondering what’s going on.


I remember too how you said that the song ‘Parallelograms’ just came to you one night.

LP: Oh I saw that one Mark. I saw it. I came home from Leonard and Kay’s house at eleven in the evening and then driving on a major freeway here in Los Angeles going back home to Topanga Canyon. And I looked up in the sky and I could see exactly what I tried to draw, I think you’ve seen the drawing of it. It looked like a light show; beautiful colours but yet it was moving like music would move, it was almost in a scroll like if you write music but at the same time it was creating three dimensional shapes of geometric shapes. There was just something about it I couldn’t hear any sound but I knew that what I was saying was the light pattern of music. So we have screensavers now that help this generation understand that phenomenon but this was a girl who only had coffee and some Italian spaghetti that day: Leonard and Kay had filled me with eight hours of all kinds of music; they played everything in their repertoire on big speakers in a very magnificent home as well, I was just infused with music as I was driving home in the silence and I saw this amazing phenomenon in the sky. I scribbled it down on tiny note paper in the dark and pulled off the freeway, and wrote it the best I could and I presented the idea to Leonard a week or so later. I said “I’ve already written a celtic tune, I didn’t know what to do with it; now I know what to do; I’m going to put the celtic sounds on either side to frame it like you frame a picture and in the middle I need to somehow convey these geometric shapes and the movement of the music the way I saw it”. And I said each colour represents a tone. Each colour, so if it was blue or green it would be a lower note. If it was high bright brassy yellow, it is a higher pitched frequency, you know like a high flute. And he loved the idea, he said “we’ve got to do this”. And that’s how it all happened.

Leonard was working in electronic sounds in his day at the time he is talking to me about this piece. He was using the only thing available to modulate the human voice and it was called a ring modulator. He was already attaching that to the sounds from a contralto; a beautiful woman contralto named Sally Cherry and he was using it in very avant garde classical pieces that were not meant for film or TV – it was his great passion to do these pieces of music – so he let me hear those sounds that day I saw this phenomenon in the sky. And I had already said to him “Leonard, we’ve got to use these sounds; I love it, what are you doing to that lady’s voice? It’s wild!” So Leonard was already using these sounds and then he would play some of the unusual tones and things in space movies when they assigned him to do a space movie. The point I’m trying to make is I made an era now in trying to make my second album –well now I’ve done it – but everybody wanted it to stay totally organic. In the future I’m going to start to do, maybe song by song – maybe even put out a single – I’m going to return to a great passion that I had and I was sharing it with Leonard. I like some of those electronic sounds. The universe has many, many interesting sounds – the sound of a whale; the sound of a planet moving, its torque and movement through the universe – there are sounds everywhere. I like those sounds because they are natural, we’re just a little primitive in the creation of them right now. In nature, those sounds exist everywhere, so I’m not afraid of them. I think there is a strong division between those who are doing techno sounds and those who are not. I believe it’s because the techno people have gone too corny in many ways; they haven’t used these sounds with great compositional skill, maybe. But I’m going to start experimenting with some of those pulsating sounds because I know they are in nature and I happen to be intrigued by them [laughs]. So, I’m not against those sounds, it’s how you use them.


‘The Soul of all Natural Things’ is out now on Asthmatic Kitty