Unfortunately for The Incredible String Band, this is around the time that shifting musical trends and their magic were beginning to work against them in their favour. Nonetheless, this album is likely the last album by The Incredible String Band that is worth paying attention to. Delivered way back in 1969, this should have some varied and interesting music on it. Let’s take a listen and hear if this is so.
Big Ted launches this album with some dark acoustic strumming, interesting percussion and gorgeous slide guitar. A very interesting and different tune, this sounds really inspired and excellent music. A strange mesh of instrumentation, this Psychedelic Folk tune is very unusual, even for the late 1960s. After a little bit, some harmonies and tempo changes emerge that are very much like The Beach Boys, before returning to the acoustic greatness here. A very lovely and gentle song, this sounds pretty and extraordinarily good. A unique audio piece of history from many decades ago, this does hit the spot very nicely. The structures and delivery of this song are definitely impressive and amazing. The call-and-response between the instrumentation towards the end is really great. A weird, yet wonderful tune.
White Bird is a very lengthy piece at just under 15 minutes long. It begins with some subtle acoustic guitar, gorgeous flute and some lovely singing. This is a really pretty and unique piece of beautiful music that never wavers in its appeal, it is simply that good. In any case, this sweet ballad sounds excellent, complete with a gorgeous keyboard in the background. A really pretty and unique listen, this is 100% worth your time and gradually changes in variety and beauty throughout. After a little bit, there is an instrumental section that just sounds really fantastic, before pretty harmony based singing resumes. Singing about said white bird in a very iconic and wonderful way, The Incredible String Band live up to their name. Eventually, multitracked vocals enter and this piece evolves into a gracious and gorgeous tune that has been rarely matched in musical history. The lyrics here are super surrealistic to match, and this piece of music lives up to its name. Some eerie violin (or, at least what sounds like it) enters after some time. The band then gets its acoustic rock styled groove on, and drums support this next section. The acoustic guitars and LSD styled lyrics are a great combined mesh of beauty. A really excellent listen, this is never dull nor boring. Eventually, the piece slows down and acoustic guitar, along with more flute is played. The dynamics here are very amazing. This tune does really do justice to the listener, with harmonies softly chanting about the said White Bird in the middle of the song. Soon enough, this piece changes dramatically in the second half with some weird plucked acoustic guitar parts. A discordant riff then emerges, and this sounds really pretty and fantastic all the same. There is an undercurrent of tragedy in the emotional singing present, and this song sounds very amazing. Although this certainly is weird, this song is nonetheless listenable and enjoyable. The lone acoustic guitar parts honestly do not sound that great, but this is still worth hearing if you dig acoustic guitar-based music. In any case, this is a strange and imaginative listen that takes one places. Soon after the solo section, some better acoustic guitar parts enter along with pretty singing to shake things up. Towards the end is a typical organ sound to layer up with the multitracked harmonies and other unique sounds by The Incredible String Band. A really different and eclectic listen, this piece sounds very unusual towards the end, with strange percussion, acoustic guitars and chanting about said white bird. A really awesome listening experience from beginning to end regardless. A very interesting tune throughout. It ends fairly abruptly.
Dust Be Diamonds is considerably shorter at over six minutes long. It’s an unusual piece, complete with a kazoo riff. It’s actually not a very good piece, sadly so for The Incredible String Band. The melodies are quite awful. Despite that, one can appreciate the effort but still, this is not good enough. Lyrics about religious figures are interesting indeed, and this is once again, very surreal. The music here in this song is quite forgettable and ordinary. It’s listenable but not excellent and is somehow proof that, by this point, The Incredible String Band were beginning to lose their consistency and quality as a band. Anyway, a lot of those who dig Hippie music will also dig this song. An interesting and detailed piece of music regardless, despite the fact that this is clearly trash. Interesting lyrics and melodic structures are also present in this song. In any case, a weird piece of rather repetitive and totally out there sort of tune that has not aged well. The singing present is very pretty, and it sounds good regardless as a song. Rather lengthy, it is somewhat a relief once this is complete. Weird but certainly in need of editing.
Sleepers, Awake! is a sub-four-minute long piece that begins with some lovely singing, accompanied by female backing vocals as well. This chanted singing continues along nicely and sounds really amazing and beautiful. It’s the Hippie answer to Opera based Classical Music, and this just sounds really interesting and well sung. A good piece of gorgeous singing, this is definitely underrated. Pretty, like a gorgeous piece of art by Salvador Dali, this is really fine art set to music. A nice vocal piece, this is different, yet amazing listening. If only one could set their alarm to this piece, they would have an awesome day. Good effort throughout.
Mr. & Mrs. is around five minutes long and begins with plain and beautiful singing over 1960s/1970s style organ and acoustic guitars. This sounds really pretty and different and breathes life into an otherwise mixed album. The music here, although not as good as their earlier works, does sound very incredible regardless. The lyrics deal with more religious concepts and musically, this sounds like real ear candy. Towards the middle, this piece changes into a bongo led romp that sounds very awesome. A really awesome and interesting piece of music, it makes you wish to grab an acoustic guitar and make some interesting Acoustic based music, just like these guys or Bob Dylan. The second half of the song is more textural but retains the freshness and energy of the first half of the song. A really pretty and lovely song that sounds rather nonsensical, it finishes with a slowed-down outro. Great work here.
Creation is the closing song of the album, and also the longest song at over 16 minutes long. It begins with strange chanting and eerie sounds in the background. Soon enough, acoustic guitar enters and this piece gets going. It is rather slow, to begin with, but bongos and sitar enter as this piece gets louder. There are spoken word lyrics over the top of this song, and this piece of music does really sound good. It sounds deeply spiritual, soul searching and uplifting, a rare combination of music these days. Cool and different, this is certainly a song worth appreciating, even if this is not a perfect album. This longer piece of music looks forward to Progressive Rock and other forms of 1970s music. The majestic and beautiful sounds present here are really different, this just sounds very great and extraordinary. The opening of expanded human consciousness can be achieved through music such as this piece. Towards the middle is some interesting acoustic guitars, before launching back into the main sections of music. Soon enough, a dramatic musical change occurs. This is something that needs to be heard to be experienced, words do not do enough justice to explain the music present. The combination of pounding percussion, strummed acoustic guitars, backing vocals and sitar make this a clear winner. A really different and delicious listen, one is audibly rewarded by the 1960s sounds and surreal lyrics. If you need anything to contest a fan of Punk such as The Sex Pistols, just blast this at full volume to annoy them. The chanting harmonies and spoken word delivery are really good. In the middle is another dramatic change with a noticeable gradually sped up tempo. Interesting music to hear, it falls apart after some time, before resuming the earlier section of music, complete with sitar. Sure, this is fairly dated, but The Incredible String Band still sound amazing on this record. This is pure artistry, all the same. It sounds like very little out there, and this is an excellent reason to value The Incredible String Band. The main flaw with this album is repetition and length, as is very noticeable in this song in particular. Soon enough, some wordless chanting and strummed acoustic guitar build up some greater suspense, along with piano in the right channel. Very, very weird but enjoyable. This floats in and out of audibility. A kazoo and piano make up the next section before another structured acoustic-driven section with singing emerges. This does sound rather weird, as though these guys had a bit too much LSD to consume. Regardless, this is an interesting and intriguing listen, it just sounds really different. Towards the end, this weird jam gets a touch repetitive and unnecessary. Still, it is a genuinely good effort. More weird sounds and instrumentation emerge to complete along with the “whodunit” melody. This song then finishes up very well with a strange mesh of instrumentation and singing. A very peculiar way to finish off a good album.
In observation, this is obviously where The Incredible String Band were losing some of their magic as a group amongst internal pressures and shifting trends. It is a good, but not great listening experience. Despite that, some 1960s fans and Hippies alike will appreciate this. An interesting batch of tunes, but check out earlier works from The Incredible String Band to hear a better effort overall before you hear this one.
Wacky and surreal.