Clash Magazine 2010
It's pretty easy to knock the hippy era.
The wooly thinking. The token mysticism. White men with afros. Some aspects of the 60s and 70s are gone and - thankfully - will probably never come back. Yet the rampant idealism means that the finer points of the counter culture retain a lingering romanticism.
On the phone to Gaz Cobain, it's easy to see why. One half of Amorphous Androgynous, the man is a true believer. Probed about his latest mix the producer responds with a flurry of answers which stretch far beyond the realms of a normal interview. Seriously, the guy is a like a pinnate packed with cosmic theology...
"Well I think we always viewed ourselves as experimental. In whatever guise we appeared in we always wanted to experiment with music, you know? So I think although something happened in the 90s which formed a scene which we may or may not have been loosely attached to – and I say loosely – in my mind we were just experimenting. There were some minds open to experimental music at that time. Towards the end of the 90s we began to look towards a different kind of experimental music, we began to see it as a big palette which could applied to the song. As I began to age my spiritual needs, my spiritual quest for the lyrics of a song and what I needed out of music began to change.
"Quite frankly, I was bored by the limitations of so-called electronic music. I was never constrained by that anyway. We always listened to rock, classical- everything. So much music went into creating Future Sound Of London. When we decided that we wanted to explore the future of the song we wanted music which had a freedom, but also focussed on the song, the lyrics and also had an interest in technology. We wanted a balance between lyrical experimentation, sonic experimentation and spiritual experimentation if you like. We began to find at that point music from the year of my birth – 1967 – kept coming up. We kept finding music which was quite way out in terms of its sound, quite way out in terms of its lyric and seemed nicely poised between being free in both those respects. It’s not like we were constantly finding new music but it kept coming up.
"I think to be honest we were buying lots of cheap records from car boot sales. I lived in Old Street, Spittalfields around there so you have the markets going on. We both used to just buy anything which had a weird cover, which would suggest that there were musicians or studio equipment we liked. We got into sitars, because people who were into sitars were also into experimenting with lyrics. It grew from there and gradually, gradually we realised that here we were in the present – 1997 – and there they were in 1967. Some people were doing it earlier, Donovan was doing it in 65 / 66. We began to realise that although there were 30 years separating us there was a thread, a thread connecting us. Under the term spiritual soul, experimental spirituality in terms of the musicians. Liberation you could call it, the desire to be liberated. It created a thread from 1967 to the present day and we began to collect music which we thought went together between those two dates. And here we are a few years later. In a way, every question you ask me will end up the same way. No matter what question you ask me it will inevitably end up with the same answer. It all feeds from the same thing.
"We’ve done ten years of doing Amorphous Androgynous before finally getting the opportunity to do a mix album. Which was a long time overdue as we’ve done mixes on radio for years. We jumped at the chance and put a lot of love into it. We spent a lot of time doing it, we spent a year doing that first album. I remember our mandate was to kind of go ‘well actually there are some great compilation albums so let’s provide a mandate for sonic liberation for the whole modern condition of music with a psychedelic mandate for personal freedom’.
"I just love that we live in a culture which is so obsessed with the future yet we’re nicking so much knowledge from the past. We’re nicking pieces from the past every day but yet we’re also dismissing the past as primitive, barbaric and savage but actually if you start digging around then there’s a rather large... I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy because these days the word conspiracy is used to dismiss reality. Anyone who wants to uncover the truth is called a conspiricist. A lot of what is called conspiracy is just fucking interesting stuff which debunks the establishment.
"If you start searching into the past and ask some real basic questions like where do we come from? What does our anthropology actually tell us? It’s just incredible stuff. You look at ancient civilisations, ancient medicines and you just have your head exploding. Up until I was in my late 20s I had never asked any of these questions but in 1997 I started asking them and went on a journey which has just continued. Partly, that’s the Monstrous Psychedlic Bubble. It’s that journey, the search to find our where we come from. The more you ask that question the more you get in touch with the past and the present and the future becomes absolutely linked to a knowledge which was lost in the past. For anyone who says we’re retro, my riposte would be that if you think we can live in the future and ignore the past then you are little better than Darwin’s so called monkey.
"Actually, the ancient wisdom we really need some of it now because we’re really lacking it. If you look at everything now, from manufacturing to architecture we can’t make anything now as we don’t have the love or the expertise half as much as we think we have. We are missing a whole dimension of living by ignoring the past. I am not embarrassed by looking back to the past, as I actually think that as a society we need to. Also the point is the word psychedelic. I’m not obsessed with the word it’s in there for one reason and one reason only. Rather like the shamans viewed the word the universe is psychedelic. If you live your life to its full how can it not be psychedelic? Psychedelic is just an unlimited, colourful existence. I actually believe that we do have the ability to live like that, and they we all collectively have closed it down. Organised religion, governments have closed it down, for very good reason. We’re not living in the true dimensions which we have the ability to. The Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble has a role actually, as you can put anything together and it will be liberating."
1 post • Page 1 of 1