Tequila Dementia (1988)

Honolulu Mountain Daffodils 'Tequila Dementia'Honolulu Mountain Daffodils

“I’m going to all tomorrow’s parties / popping mescaline like smarties.”

Tequila Dementia is the second of three albums recorded by the Honolulu Mountain Daffodils, an overlooked cult 80s band probably best known for containing among their ranks Adrian Borland, of that other overlooked cult 80s band The Sound. Here, like the other members of the band, he appears under a pseudonym (Joachim Pimento).

I’ll admit, I picked this one up out of curiosity more than anything. I recognised the cover from back-in-the-day and liked the thanks on the cover to “the music of Neu, ENO, B.O.C., VU MK1”. I wasn’t expecting much more than a thin, dated sounding late 80s indie guitar album, but this turned out to be real gem.

Proto-punk and psych influenced grungey noise rock (‘Disturbo Charger’, ‘Death Bed Bimbo’, ‘Tequila Dementia’, ‘Mule Brain (Brain of Mule)’), Krautrock (‘Also Spracht Scott Thurston’) and gothy art rock (‘Collector of Souls’, ‘Menace in the Font’) delivered with plenty of fuzzed up guitars and keyboards. The songs themselves all have plenty of character, each with its own identity but working together as an album should. There’s also some tasty locked groove noise at the end of each side.

There’s not much information available online about the band, and what there is doesn’t make for happy reading. On the sleeve of Tequila Dementia it reads “Drink Until Death & Beyond”. Two of the band’s members, Lord Sulaco (Pete Williams) and Daiquiri J. Wright (Graham Pearson), died as a result of alcoholism. Borland, who also had a drinking problem, died by suicide in 1999, after years of struggling to live with a mental illness that made him severely depressed and agitated and gave him auditory hallucinations.

But the music remains, cherished by those who were there at the time (Pete ‘Sonic Boom‘ Kember is a fan and there’s a glowing review of their third album Aloha Sayonara over on Julian Cope‘s Head Heritage site). It’s also ripe for discovery by those of us who may have missed it first time around, though it appears absent from most legit streaming services, most of the album can be found on You Tube.

Here’s the near-instrumental Iggy Pop sampling ‘Also Spracht Scott Thurston’…

…and the completely different opening track ‘Disturbo Charger’

…and an excellent appraisal and tribute to the band from their contemporary Adrian Janes (drummer with Borland’s pre-The Sound band, The Outsiders).

Rice Music (1982)

Masami TsuchiyaRice MusicMasami Tsuchiya

With Sydney being closer to Asia than it is my homeland (the UK), one might expect to come across more Japanese music in the op shops. But this one, despite being by a Japanese artist, is actually a UK pressing.

Masami Tsuchiya was the frontman of Japanese new wave band Ippu-Do who had a small amount of interest in the UK in the early 80s. How small? Well, as of the time of writing, they don’t even have their own Wikipedia page. Thirty years ago Tsuchiya was best known to me and my friends as the guy who played guitar on tour with Japan after Rob Dean left (he can be heard on the live album Oil On Canvas (1983)). He later went on to play alongside David Gilmour and Carlos Alomar on Arcadia’s So Red The Rose (1985).

Rice Music was his first solo album and should be of interest to fans of that late 70s / early 80s intersection of Western and Asian pop styles; synths and guitars; and the kind of new wave branded New Romantic.

While Tsuchiya is a talented multi-instrumentalist, for this album he also enlisted a who’s who of sympathetic musicians of the era: Bill Nelson (who supplies “flying e-bow” guitar) , Ryuichi Sakamoto, Steve Jansen and Mick Karn of Japan,  Percy Jones (along with Karn, the other notable fretless bass player of the period), Toshio Nakanashi (of seminal Japanese new wave band Plastics).

Musically it ranges from territory similar to late-period Japan as on the closing ‘Night In The Park’ to the more experimental likes of ‘Haina-Haila’. While my current favourite is ‘Kafka’, the track that features Sakamoto. A proto-industrial, scratchy funk number with a bassline that recalls the tuned down guitar of The White Stripes ‘Seven Nation Army’.

Flammende Herzen (1977)

Michael Rother Flammende HerzenMichael Rother

In the eighteen months I’ve been scouring the Op Shops of Sydney for second hand vinyl I’ve not come across much Krautrock. So why did finding this debut solo album from Michael Rother for $1 leave me with mixed emotions today?

Not because it isn’t great. Flammende Herzenn  (trans: Flaming Heart) was recorded in 1976 in between the second and third Harmonia albums and after Rother had spent time (very briefly) in Kraftwerk and, more pivotally, Neu! His Kosmiche pedigree is second to none and this album is up there with the best of his work.

Produced by the equally legendary Conny Plank, it’s entirely instrumental with Rother playing nearly everything on the album, his guitar and keyboard work instantly recognisable – the only other credited musician is Can‘s Jaki Liebzeit on drums ( or “Schlagzeug” as it says on the cover. Yes it’s the original German Sky label issue). Rother. Plank. Liebzeit. Now that’s a recipe for something special.

No, the reason I’m feeling a little less than elated is I can’t help but think that whoever originally owned this also owned some other equally great Kosmiche music and someone must have beaten me to those records at Vinnies.  Why they missed this one, I don’t know but I’m grateful they did – although I’m also thinking “what if I’d got there a bit earlier?”. First world problems, eh?

Anyway, if you’re not familiar with this album it’s well worth checking out. The whole thing is on Spotify:

Michael Rother – Flammende Herzen

or if you just want to try a little dip, here’s track 3 ‘Feuerland’ on YouTube.