After the successes of The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion and The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter albums, The Incredible String Band sought out to continue their successes with this album. The album is a blend of many vastly different musical styles, yet still sticks to its Psychedelic Folk music core. How does it sound to this day? Let’s take a listen and see if it was as good as it was upon release in 1968, which showed that the band was continuing to evolve their masterful craft with well-received music.
We begin with Job’s Tears which is a six-minute long piece that sounds top from the start. From there a beautiful, calm and gorgeous vocal, along with strummed acoustic guitar emerges, sounding ridiculously good. A very different sounding piece that sounds like Acoustic Folk music for those who love Psychedelic music, this is another top and seriously great listening experience, with zero autotune at all. The performance on this song with both male and female singer guest, along with the nicely played acoustic guitar, sounds sensational. A really grand and beautiful listening, this is much better than expected as a follow up to the previous album. This is simple, melodic and beautiful music to listen to from start to finish. It is nicely structured as well, with changes in tempo at the drop of a hat to surprise you. This still sounds very professional and amazingly played, and is a sign of an era of performance long gone. A very good listen and this takes one’s mind to places elsewhere. The title of the song refers to Biblical events, which is different. Great to listen to this song nonetheless.
Next along is Puppies which begins with some acoustic guitar and Indian instrumentation that gives this an interesting musical twist. Really good to hear, this sounds very much like an ideal 1960s song. Soon into it, the sound of this piece changes into a more upbeat piece with bongos. A Sitar is still here on this song, and is musically very near perfect and lyrically Psychedelic. With simple lyrics about having a musical adventure, the works of The Incredible String Band are hugely underrated. It is an interesting and very good listen throughout. This is also A Grade material to annoy Punk fans with, it is the sort of music that many such fans would detest. Very enjoyable and simple music. The harmony based singing, Sitar and picturesque sonic template here is awesome. A very refreshing listen from start to finish.
Beyond The See begins with an organ in the left channel, harpsichord in the right channel and some bass notes in both channels. It is an interesting and decent sounding piece of music, with a fiddle gradually entering, along with other sounds. This is very 1960s territory, and there is no doubt a vast array of different and concise sounds in this instrumental. Nice and tranquil to hear. It ends after two minutes, with a predominant emphasis on the organ.
The Yellow Snake is another very short piece, this time with a combination of a Sitar and acoustic guitar, along with vocals. This is likely something to take drugs to, namely Psychedelics. It is a very gorgeous and easy listening piece. This music blows away a lot of what was around at the time, and since. A really interesting and decent piece of musicality from the late 1960s, it paints a picture of music largely forgotten today, which is rather sad. A short and refreshing two minute long listen.
Next is Log Cabin Home in the Sky which has harmonica, fiddle and (what sounds like) accordion. It’s a very different and majestic sounding piece of music. The lyrics here are super imaginative, and the whole thing sounds ridiculously good. There are some interesting sounds in the middle of the song, and this piece sounds like village music from the 20th century. This particular song has a Country music feel to it, which certainly makes it sound lively and different. A real joy of a listen, all the same, this piece sounds like a sonic journey through Psychedelic Folk, Country music and other instrumental based performances that are just superb. It ends with harmonica and fiddle solos, before concluding well. Awesome.
After that is You Get Brighter which is a somewhat longer piece that begins with acoustic guitar, harpsichord and some lovely vocals. This is an enjoyable and decent listening experience with some intricate playing on the acoustic guitar that is especially worth paying attention to. This is about a lady who seemingly shines brighter every day, which is an unusual concept. Fairly Hippie trippy ideals on this song, and this piece is a wonderful and very decent piece that sounds really timeless. There are repeated references to (Hare) Krishna in the second half, which is very much one of the philosophical ideals the Hippies loved spiritually. Odd today in that sense, but normal in 1968. In any case, this is very enjoyable. This song ends with a glorious finale, great to listen to.
The Half-Remarkable Question begins with more acoustic guitar and Sitar sounds. The lyrics here are very much like an LSD trip of sorts, and it really does sound timeless and is an amazing piece of music that sounds solidly awesome. The mixture of harmony, melody, rhythms and texture are very near perfect on these songs. Surely these guys were serious rivals to The Beatles? This music seems to answer yes to such a question. The Sitar playing on this song is really interesting and dramatic, showcasing a talented group who knew how to create interesting sounds. The playing here is very much perfect, as is the smooth and restrained singing. Fresh and wonderful music. The song questions existence just before the end, before concluding well.
Air is a shorter piece at three minutes long, beginning with a Psychedelic organ in the right channel. There are some vocals and acoustic guitars that eventually enter, followed by a set of gentle vocals with references to love/sex ideals. Is the Hippie dream over? Likely so today, but we have some great music from that era, such as this gem of an album. Relaxing and enjoyable music with some interesting lyrics, it sounds very good for a bit of an odd piece of music. Well done though.
The last song on this album is Ducks on a Pond which is a super long piece at over nine minutes long. It is very much a beautiful piece of music about the simple animals in nature doing their thing. The instrumentation and variety of the sounds are the most variable of any song on this album. A really interesting set of lyrical poetry that does sound really cool, this is really enjoyable. Never for a moment is this record either dull or bad, it is a real classic of music excellence. The picturesque lyrics here invite one’s imagination to wander. This album also demands repeat listens, along with many other works by The Incredible String Band. Singing about chilly cold weather in Winter and hoping for Spring and other beautiful lyrical things, The Incredible String Band were indeed, incredible. This album is a winner, and songs like these, even at nearly 10 minutes long, are never dull nor drivel. A very gorgeous piece of music. In the second half, it dramatically changes with the addition of harmonica and (what sounds like) kazoo being played merrily away with piano. A real nice audio treat, this is totally decent and enjoyable. A really great piece that is very imaginative, this song is an awesome one. Fine music for those who dig Psychedelic music set to Acoustic guitar and similar instruments, this has a very quirky finish to an excellent album.
This album is definitely a great album. It combines poetry, acoustic guitar, sitar and a melodic Pop sensibility in such an inventive and original way that nobody, not even The Beatles, dared attempt to travel down for fear of not matching The Incredible String Band. This is one to have if you are a fan of the music of the late 1960s or just something with some imagination in it. A very great album, and timeless.
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