Κυριακή, 18 Νοεμβρίου 2007

Can Am Des Puig - The Book Of AM (1978 French,US psych hippie-folk outfit)

"The Book of Am" is the title of an album by an ad hoc ensemble called "Can Am Des Puig". This is Catalan and translates as "The House of Am on the Hill".

The ensemble formed during the winter of 1978 around Juan Arkotxa and Leslie Mackenzie in the mountain village of Deya (Deia) in Mallorca. The village is famous for its artistic and musical heritage and its association with Robert Graves and the early Soft Machine among others. The Soft Machine connection is significant for two reasons: 1) the "Book" was conceptualised as an album, then recorded in a house that the Softs used as a rehearsal studio in the early 60s, and 2) the four-track TEAC tape recorder upon which it was recorded was provided on loan by Daevid Allen - founder member of the Softs, followed by Gong and other musical ventures.The music for both albums was arranged, rehearsed and recorded in a 48 hour period in late February 1978.

Only the first album was mixed, mastered and prepared for release at the time due to limited funding. Juan Arkotxa finally oversaw the mastering the second album in 2005.The initial idea for the album sprang from the creation of a series of engravings by Juan & Leslie, representing the states of mind a man goes through in a day. While these were on exhibition in Madrid, the artists had the idea of creating some associated music. More background information, together with colour pictures of the original engravings, is available in the form of detailed sleeve notes by Juan Arkotxa on the recent re-release on Wah-Wah Records.

Book Of Am were a communal hippie-folk outfitconsisting of musicians from various countries (England, France & Spain) who lived as a commune on the Spanish island of Deya on the Balearic Islands & were acquaintances of Daevid Allen and Gilly Smith.

Their album is an attractive journey into the more mystical realms of hippie-folk, somewhere between Robin Williamson, Daevid Allen and some tracks by the German band Popol Vuh. Many songs have a strong Eastern touch with tamboura, acoustic guitar, flute and male/female vocals. This album will satisfy anyardent fan of psych-folk! Some members of Book Of Am might have helped out on Daevid Allen's solo albums from this period.
Juan Arkotxa: Vocals, Flute, 12 String Guitar
Leslie Mackenzie: Tamboura, Vocals (1,7)
Jerry C. Hart: Guitar, Drums, Synthetizer (6), 12 String Guitar (11)
Carmeta: Vocals
Jean-Paul Vini: Synthetizer, Vocals (1) Guests:
Phil Shepard: Vocals & Drums (9)
Pat Meadows & Stephane Shepard: Flutes (2,8,12)
Rabbi Gaddy Zerbib: Vocals [6]

Music composed by:
"Can Am Des Puig"

Recording Studio:
Can Am Des Puig, Deya

Their initial plan was to release four LP’s in combinationwith a beautifully illustrated book, full of mind expanding art, focussing on world folklore and various traditions.In the end however(we’re talking mid 70’s here) the costs of realisation were too high, and –though the music for all 4 records already was put to tape- theeventual release got stripped down to ‘just’ one LP, coming with a gatefold sleeve i.s.o. the complete book. Which obviously didn’t keep thisunbelievable album from becoming a major collector’s idem. Now, some 30 years later, Wah Wah Records at last present the book (over 100 pages!) in its full glory, together with 2 LP’s/CD’s. (A reissue of the original LP, plus a record/disc featuring many highlights of theunreleased material.)
Musically this is superb, extremely psychedelic and mystic folk with haunting melodies full of exotic instrumentationand trippy elements. This 2006 Book Of Am edition is a (soaking wet) dream come true for all connoisseurs of acid-, psych- and freakfolk.

Originally projected as a 2LP + Book set, this is the first time ever this great work is released as it was conceived, since the mega rare french release from the mid-70's only included one of the LPs and was missing the great book with the beautiful engravings by Juan Arkotxa.The reissue of the legendary Book Of Am, a unique combination of recordings and artwork which stands up as an enduring testament of the fertile hippie scene which flourished in the Baleric islands during the seventies. Known to record collectors and psych/folk/prog music aficionados alike, this multi cultural band formed in the island of Mallorca in the mid 70's recorded a beautiful (and outrageously scarce) album which has gained cult status as years passed by.

This release will be extremely limited, less than 500 copies for sale worldwide. So the only absolutely certain way of getting a copy is by pre-ordering. But as the company are still getting quotes we don't know what the final retail price will be, I guess between £20.00 - £30.00, and the postage will be quite high due to the weight. However I will let all who pre-order this release know a total price before debiting any cards and give you a chance to confirm, or decline your order. I've recently been told to expect a release date sometime later this year (2006).2LP set in a gatefold sleeve that is actually a book with more than 100 pages, more than half of them in full colour. Plans are to print/press 500 copies only 250 of which will be for distribution.

The songbook :
The 144 paged book can be read partly and vaguely as a story but can more be seen as a source of inspirations with some common themes that holds them together. I’m glad to see how most texts refer to the inspiration of music and a definition and spiritual/religious context of music. Just a few texts are more vaguely ideas that they wanted to take with them as some/luggage on their travel/quest, while a few other stories sound like experiences on a journey, within the triple context of morning/afternoon/evening. Visually it has something of William Blake’s poetry with drawings and engravings. -(William BLake also showed his uniting mystic visions on religious and human-spiritual themes, of which some of his work now and then was partly put into music as well)-.

This is more like an amateur form of the kind, with clearly structured lines and forms, associated from known or less known drawings and sources and compilations of their own invention. The texts that come from Welsh (book of Taliesin, Mabinogion) and British origin (British Edda, R.Graves, W.Blake), and come from Ancient Egyptian (book of the dead, papyrus of Ani, pyramid texts, book of breathings), Hermetic, Chassidic, Greek (Hesiod theogony, Aeneid), Icelandic (Edda), Biblic, Tibetan Buddhist (songs of Milarepa), Indian (poems of Kabir, Tantric yoga, Upanishads, Abharva Veda), Babylonic and Zoroastrian (Nuyaishes), Taoist and other sources, while the etchings also contain herbal associations. This whole collection looks for a timeless, inspiring and commonly uniting source. The art book in this way can work also inspiring for any future musical inspirations, for who knows any followers who can try something similar, based upon this book.
All the necessary background notes and references were added on additional pages.

Associated interesting links :
The poetry with engravings of William Blake : http://www.newi.ac.uk/rdover/blake/poetry.htm
& http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/indexworks.htm

The Background Story
After having settled down in Ibiza after their studies, Juan Arcocha and Leslie MacKenzie decided to go on a kind of spiritual quest, looking for a creative source of inspirations. The last stop of their long journey was Bodh-Gaya in India, in December 1973, where the Tibetans prepared New Year celebrations with the Daila Lama. It was the place where Siddhartha became the Buddha some 4000 years ago. It seemed to be the same ideological destiny point for any foreigners with similar goals. They met a Mexican improvised revolutionary music group led by one Alberto Ruz, Icelanders led by Gerhardt of Ice, who made illustrations with poetry, based upon Moslem, South American and Greek thoughts, and Brother John, who was specialized in Christianity and Zen. For them it seemed as if religions and philosophies of the whole world came gathered together in a summit of an experience.

Back in Ibiza they wanted to transmit their collected visions, which led to an etched book, ‘Garland of Visions of the Absolute’, based upon an obscure poem that was the basis of Advainta Vedanta (experiencing the non-dualistic reality). The times were right and the book sold well. So in 1975 they started a second book based upon three parts : morning, afternoon and evening, with 25 etchings, and texts based upon a collection of poems and songs they found representable as examples of what inhabited common ideas in religions and some other group philosophies. The texts were collected along their travels and from a research session at the Warburg Institute in London. The first idea was, to accompany the art with song improvisations on guitar, flute, suji-box and drum. The book was finished mid 1977, but the colours were too subtle that they said in Madrid they couldn’t print it. Disappointed they returned home via Deia, where Robert Graves had lived since 1929, trying to meet him, because a Welsh poem “Song of Amergin” was in this book and the group had liked his version in “The White Goddess”, and refered many times to it. At the place there was held a meeting with musicians, where Daevid Allen turned up. Daevid told him about his work with Soft Machine, about Gong, presented his partner and artist Gillie Smyth, and the Banana Moon studio. He loved the idea of making a record of the book of Am, and the group quickly took the opportunity.

Guests were Patrick on 12-string guitar, Stephanie Shepard and Pat Meadows (not mentioned in the liner notes) on flute, Phil Shepherd on percussion and some vocals, and Lally Murray on voice (not mentioned on the published LP). At the end of the session two Gong enthusiasts from UK also participated: Jerry C. Hart and Tony Bullocks, together with Catalan singer Carmetta Mansilla, a trio that joined their weekly improvisation sessions and became part of the group. Daevid sold them cheaply a 4-track recorder. At that stage Jean-Paul Vivini, came to the group with a synthesizer. From January to March 1978 they recorded two open real tapes of 45 minutes each. The recordings were produced in a logic order to accompany the etchings. Daevid also took care that the first album found a publisher that printed the first master by the end of that year. They didn’t come to publish part 2, or to go further that part II of the morning section because of family obligations. Perhaps we can still expect in the afternoon and evening times of their lives the continuing of this project ? I surely hope that the release and recognition of their hard work now becomes or is like their midday experience .
(many thanx to Opa-Loka "Lost-In-Tyme" for his inspiration & support.)

Also Known As "The House of Am on the Hill", " Book of Am".
Formed : Deià, Mallorca, Islas Baleares, Spain
One of the best albums ever !!!

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3 σχόλια:

timelordmichalis είπε...

Thanks for this one!
I've been searching it for ages!!
Missed the chance to get the recentky reissue.
TimeLord Michalis

Standin'AtTheCrossroads είπε...

never too late mike..

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