Over the course of their three previous Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble collections, not to mention blissed-out albums of their own work and remixes of material by the likes of Oasis and Paul Weller, The Amorphous Androgynous – one of the many guises taken on by UK electronic duo The Future Sound Of London – have shaken off the well-worn clichОs of distortion, paisley and going far out (maaaan!) to offer up a far broader take on psychedelia.
Their fourth Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble album, The Wizards Of Oz, sets its sights squarely on the aural delights of the antipodes. As one half of the duo, Gaz Cobain, explains, ignorance played a large part in the album’s genesis.
“We started doing some production work for Warner Australia. Tony Harlow, the MD, is a huge fan of Monstrous Bubble, which is why he got in touch with us in the first place; he loved our Oasis ‘Falling Down’ mix.
“We started joking – ignorantly – that the only thing of note to come out of Australia was AC/DC, Rolf Harris, Olivia Newton-John and a bit of a dubious claim on the Bee Gees. Basically, Tony and another guy who works for Warners, David Laing, started sending us tracks while we were working with this other band. We kind of suddenly started to realise that yeah, the ignorance was fun but actually we didn’t really know that much and after 18 years of doing Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble, it began to get quite interesting why we didn’t know more about this continent.”
Beginning with Russell Morris’ epochal ‘The Real Thing’, the new two-disc set drifts fluidly, unhindered by preconceptions of time, culture or notoriety. Instead of generic guitar band psychedelia, the album takes in everything from “Eastern mysticism folk to big band orchestral weirdness to cosmic funk”.
As Cobain elaborates: “We’re not interested in being historians. We don’t claim it’s some kind of definitive psychedelic compilation; there’s hundreds of those. We’re very different from those in that we’re not saying that everything on this is generically psychedelic. What we’re saying is that it’s a Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble and what we’re interested in is actually creating a new psychedelic revolution now. That’s what we’re interested in. So we’re only interested in carrying forward ingredients that can do something to activate together.
“If you take the tracks and listen to them individually, you wouldn’t say that they’re generically psychedelic, but the point is, in the mix, they’re grouped together to be a contradiction and surprising. The idea is that it’s a new cosmic space music.”
Cobain says he and Brian Dougans tried to go into the making of the album with an open heart and a focus on what works musically and what moves them. “When it’s heart, it enables you to be in the present because who’s the best and who’s the first, all that stuff’s been done,” he says.
“The West – America and England – will claim to have the sole heritage of the psychedelic history. You were ether on the bus or off the bus. That had a lot to do with time; who was first and who was local. It was a pre-internet age. A lot of these artists didn’t even get on the bus, they were miles away. They were in Australasia, for God’s sake! They had no chance.
“There’s no denying that they reacted to the West – the West had a lot of the inspiration – but I’m not interested in that, I’m interested in just great music. So I don’t really care if Molly Meldrum, when he did ‘The Real Thing’, it was two years behind George Martin and Mickie Most. I’m sure he was influenced by those when he found Russell Morris to produce ‘The Real Thing’ in ’69; I can hear the influences. Point being, it’s just a great song.”
Cobain adds, “We’re not against being popular. It’s not about being more obscure than everybody else, it’s about putting obvious things against obscure things to make something that is coherent and speaks to people.”
The producer mentions that there were a number of artists The Amorphous Androgynous had hoped to include on the album – including Terry Britten, Mantis and Stoned Guitar – who, due to factors beyond their control, didn’t make the final cut. They may, however, figure in future projects, including some possible live appearances.
“I’m talking to Warners about that,” Cobain says. “I might come over with my sitarist. We do DJ performances where I play with a sitarist and a couple of other instruments and I feed them into the desk as a mix.”
Until then, there’s new original Amorphous Androgynous material to work on, as well as a number of other collaborations both ongoing and in the pipeline, including with an Australian artist whom Cobain politely declines to name.
“We’ve done some tracks with Paul Weller, including one on his new album called ‘White Sky’. There’s two tracks on Noel Gallagher’s album that we produced – we actually wrote those as well but he was a bit naughty. We’ve done a remix album with Syd Arthur; a whole album of Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble remixes. We’re doing some Kooks remixes at the moment as well.
“We try and delight in the whole exotic arrangement in what psychedelia can be now. We’re very interested in now. A revolution, now. It’s not just sound, actually. I come across a lot of people who think it’s about sound; the latest wacky bunch of sounds. It’s not that much either. It’s to do with spiritual linage as well. There’s very much a cosmic connection.”
A Monstrous PsychedelicBubble (Exploding In Your Mind) – The Wizards Of Oz out now through Monstrous Bubble/Festival Records.