The fourth and final entry in Monday Magick's month-long tribute to "Season of the Witch" comes to us via psychedelic cover band extraordinaire Vanilla Fudge. It was suggested by my co-worker Bruce, a record collector, raconteur, and 30+ year veteran of the firm where I'm currently employed. Interestingly enough, despite being another cover of a well known tune, it appeared on the first of their records to feature mostly original material, 1968's 'Renaissance'.

Like last week's entry from Bloomfield, Kooper, and Stills, the Long Island-bred psyche-Rock crew's take on "Season of the Witch" is lengthy, clocking in at almost eight minutes! It's also one of the few genuinely creepy versions of the song I've heard, as the band's signature psychedelic vibes take a turn for the paranoid. Slow and sparse, with creeping organs and ceremonial, almost call & response style vocals, replete with ranting, spoken word breakdowns, it feels druggy and esoteric, which honors both Donovan's original intentions in writing the track, and the weird occult overtones it lends itself to so well.

Vanilla Fudge would go on to release two more studio albums after 'Renaissance' before breaking up just a year later. Various members of the group did go on to take part in other projects over the years.

Music is magick!
Posted by El Keter
At 10:25 PM on 10/27/14
Filed under Music

I feel like Tiga's one of those big name dudes from the world of Electronic Dance Music production and disc jockeys who can be kinda hit-n-miss.

But for the most part he's managed to deliver dope joints and avoid some of the "EDM star" pitfalls that have swallowed a lot of his contemporaries whole.

"Bugatti" is definitely an example of one of his "hits" with its simple, clean throwback production and vocals.

I mean, that bassline that comes in at 2:08? That's what I'm talking about!

And the video is ill too, extending the minimalist, old school production aesthetic to the visuals.

Besides, anytime anybody mentions a Bugatti I can't help but think of my man Hagbard Celine and his gold Bugatti in the 'Illuminatus!' trilogy.

Posted by El Keter
At 11:23 PM on 10/23/14
Filed under Music

Young Ringgo Ancheta spent his youth without electricity on a commune in the forests of rural New Jersey. His parents were members of a terrorist cult in the Philippines granted asylum here in the US. His father was a scientific researcher at Princeton. Eventually he made his way West, learned to make beats, settled in Los Angeles, and changed his name to Mndsgn.

That's pretty cool.

So is his new video for the Towa Tei/A Tribe Called Quest interpolating "Camelblues", from his debut Stones Throw LP 'Yawn Zen'. Directed by Ross Harris, it features some awesome footage of Southern California thrift store locations and a whole bunch of keyboards that should make you say "oooh, I want that!"

Posted by El Keter
At 10:53 PM on 10/23/14
Filed under Music

The third week's entry in Monday Magick's month-long tribute to "Season of the Witch" comes via an epic voodoo-Funk rework of the tune courtesy of Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, and Steve Stills. It comes from their 1968 "all-star jam" album 'Super Session' and takes the shape of a nearly 10 minute long extended "jam" take on the song.

Initially meant to be a collaborative jam session featuring Bloomfield (of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Bob Dylan fame) and Kooper (again, known for backing Dylan, as well as forming Blood Sweat & Tears), the session soon grew to include Stills (who had just left Buffalo Springfield) after Bloomfield failed to show for the second day of recording. That said, the lengthy and languid version of "Season of the Witch" that appears on the album could probably more fairly be billed as a Kooper, Stills track. The song's uniquely funky groove, serpentine bassline, shuffly drum break, and churchified organs have provided sample fodder for a number of notable Hip-Hop tunes, including one where A Tribe Called Quest frontman Q-Tip raps about having anal intercourse with a woman already engaged in copulation with Black Sheep's Mr. Lawnge. What? Orgy raps? Could we be talking a little sex magick here?

I doubt that. But regardless, this remains one of my personal favorite cover versions of a widely covered tune, cut in a unique style, by an amazing group of musicians. Kooper is still around, recounting storied legends from the golden age of popular music where and when ever he can. Stills, as you may know, went on to form another supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash, which had a huge amount of success during the post-Hippy era. Sadly, Bloomfield passed away from a drug overdose in 1981.

Music is magick!
Posted by El Keter
At 10:21 PM on 10/20/14
Filed under Music

Head Lopper

Not too long ago a neighborhood non-profit hosted a Comic Con, the 2nd Annual Bing Con, literally a block away from my apartment. While I had been a regular attendee of cons in my youth, I hadn't attended a con in a decade or more, so I was super-psyched for this.

It proved to be a well attended event and featured a plethora of local and regional comics talent plying their wares. I made the rounds several times trying to get a feel for items I might want to purchase and lamenting the fact that I had a very limited budget. I kept coming back to a large sign that read HEAD LOPPER but was blocked every time by crowds surrounding the table preventing me from potentially dropping my ducats on reading material.

Eventually the crowd parted and I was finally able to inspect what the artist, Andrew Maclean, had for sale. I asked "so, what's this Head Lopper all about?" and was intrigued enough by the Salem, Massachusetts-based artist's quick synopsis describing it as a book about a barbarian who carries around a disembodied head in his wanderings that I immediately picked up both issues he had available for sale in addition to a couple of other items which I may get around to reviewing in the future.

The books, 'Head Lopper Part One: The Island', and 'Head Lopper 2: The Wolves of Barra', proved well worth the price of purchase. They introduce readers to a tale of magic and intrigue with the titular character, barbarian Norgal, known far and wide as the Head Lopper, and his traveling companion, the shit-talking head of Agatha the Blue Witch, being pulled deeper and deeper into matters he'd otherwise prefer to avoid entanglement in, resulting in piles of dead mythical monsters and other enchanted creatures left in his wake.

Maclean's storytelling is brisk, and his art style (which is loose and inky) reminiscent of Mike Mignola, Jim Lawson, and the great Jack Kirby, with a focus on dynamic action and large scale battles. It helps that he's also got a sense of humor, which roots Head Lopper firmly in the grand tradition of indie comics pioneered by the likes of Cerebus and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in the day. By the end of the longer (43 pages!) and meatier second issue I was really hungry for more, and I still hope Maclean is able to continue Norgal's adventures sooner rather than later.

Please, visit Andrew's website and drop him some coin so he can make more books and I can find out what happens to the Head Lopper!

Andrew Maclean
Posted by El Keter
At 10:12 PM on 10/18/14
Filed under Literature

In honor of the 30th anniversary of Def Jam Recordings, Rolling Stone followed label founder and groundbreaking Hip-Hop producer Rick Rubin back to where it all started.

I only wish the Def Jam roster of today, after the company has been manhandled by various corporate overseers through the years, was like it was circa '86-'95.

Def Jam
Posted by El Keter
At 07:47 PM on 10/18/14
Filed under Music

Legendary Electro producer Arthur Baker has been working behind the scenes for some time to make it happen, and it looks like '808', a documentary film about the Roland TR808 drum machine, is finally here!

The film features the talking heads of folks like Afrika Bambaataa, Rick Rubin, Pharrell Williams, Fatboy Slim, Felix the Housecat, and others, and will hopefully delve into some real history of the machine itself outside of any specific musical genres.

It's due out some time next year.

Posted by El Keter
At 11:41 AM on 10/18/14
Filed under Cinema

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