Tag Archives: Psychedelia

Where are the yellow bits?

The other night we were watching RocKwiz on SBS and the band and a guest singer did a cover of Goodbye Yellow-Brick Road, a major early 1970s hit by Elton John, which was a very nostalgic experience as I haven’t heard that tune much since the 1970s when by best friend was a mad-keen Elton John fan. Two things struck me: what a great and unusual song, with interesting lyrics and music that rather reminds me of another unusual and sad hit tune (How Soon is Now? by The Smiths), and what amazingly high falsetto singing the hit recording had, but the most interesting thing that I noticed when I heard the cover-version was that the bright-yellow pineapple-jelly bean-flavoured bits were missing.

They say you don’t notice things until they are gone, and I hadn’t realized that the falsetto bits of the original recording had been, for me, such a dominant (visual) feature, till I listened to a relatively colourless but enjoyable cover version, with decipherable lyrics. That amount of falsetto in a rock song is I think quite typical of the psychedelic era when the tune was created. Would it be pushing an idea to far to say this is a psychedelic recording? I don’t know why, but most of my favourite music, since I was a kid to now, has had some element of psychedelia; hypnotic repetition, extreme forms of singing, unusual instruments, unusual sound effects, extreme emotionality, etc.

Tunes that I listened to as kid or teen seem to be more often coloured than music from recent years, I guess because synaesthesia is less likely to form anew as one ages, just as new brain connections are less likely to form. It seems likely that I got the idea of that song as a yellow song from the title, but this merely abstract idea becomes an experience only when evoked by that singing, Elton’s yellow singing.

The yellow-deficient cover-version:

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Harts seems to be describing musical synaesthesias

The Indian born singer-songwriter who was invited to hang out and jam with Prince. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Broadcast: 22/04/2016 on Lateline
Reporter: Simon Smithers

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4448965.htm

I was just watching Lateline on ABC television (Australian), and following the passing of the legendary American musician Prince Lateline ran a story about the young Australian musician Harts who has been a guest of Prince and has also been mentored by the famous musician. Both musicians clearly share a major influence from the late synaesthete guitarist Jimi Hendrix. In the Lateline story, which is yet to be posted for viewing at the Lateline website, Harts described associations between colours, textures and music that is clearly synaesthesia. It seems to be a very common thing for synaesthetes to experience coloured music, and synaesthesia itself is a quite common phenomenon so the fact that Harts seems to be a synaesthete is not hard to believe or that big a deal. I do think it is interesting though. Harts, Prince and Hendrix all typify the notion of the musically creative individual, as artists following their own creative paths, playing a style of music that is full of colour and innovation and improvisation. Synaesthesia is thought to be linked to creativity. Could even be true.

I’m not an expert in music but I think the music of all three would all be regarded as psychedelic rock, a genre of music that has fascinated me since I was a child despite no cultural nor family influences pushing me in that direction. The music that I grew up listening to was cheesy nonsense that my folks enjoyed, hideous trad jazz, 1970s musicals, theatre organ music, disco….. And I survived! The closest things to psychedelia that I heard as a child was early electronic music and psychedelic rock of the 60s and 70s played on the radio, including the Beatles later stuff. Right until my 5th decade I hadn’t realised I had been a mad fan of psychedelic rock all my life until I started reading music reviews on Allmusic, and found that a the very disparate collection of musicians and groups who are my musical favourites all produced some music that had been categorized as psychedelic, even a favourite Australian musician Ed Kuepper, who I had the pleasure of meeting recently. Colourful as it might be, the colours aren’t the reason why I enjoy this type of music. I think the appeal is the strange and otherworldly feelings evoked by the music; the mesmerizing repetition, the emotionalism, the surprising twists, the fear and the awe. Maybe you need to have a hyperconnected brain to get all this out of mere sequences of sounds.

I’d bet my hat that the colourful and creative purple Prince was also a synaesthete, one way or another, but unless he spoke about it in the past we will never know.

Some music clips featuring personified objects

Reflections by Django Django

How could anyone listen to these vocals and not see colours? Sounds like the Dandys, don’t you think?

 

Fish Heads by Barnes and Barnes

This was one of the clips shown on Rage when Noel Fielding was the host. I didn’t get much sleep that night. We can always rely of Fielding for a good dose of psychedelic nonsense. Don’t be afraid of the fish at the seafood counter, little girl. They aren’t alive.

That’s odd. Both musical groups have names that are the same thing repeated twice. I guess there’s a lot of repetition in psychedelia.

This clip has got to have something to do with personification synaesthesia

Dan Deacon – Feel The Lightning.

http://youtu.be/kK-1axSGkXc

More strong colours and psychedelic faces – just what I like

Street art mural by Vans the Omega and Beastman at 140 at the Wellington Street end

Mural by Beastman and Vans the Omega at 140 on Wellington Street in Perth

Omega and Beastman

mural by Beastman and Vans the Omega and skyscraper at 140 in Perth

blue and green view from the Wellington Street end of one40william in Perth

Last time I checked this new collaborative artwork by Vans the Omega from Adelaide and Beastman from Sydney was mostly obscured by construction in progress. In keeping with their established style which can be viewed in their earlier mural in a Murray Street carpark, there are plenty of faces and colours and swirly-whirly bits in this new piece. Love it.

 

 

Links:
http://www.form.net.au/2014/07/beastman-vans-the-omega-at-140/
http://visitperthcity.com/news/beastman-vans-omega-140

 

 

 

 

Personification of inanimate objects a common factor in classic British comedy TV shows?

I noted in a previous post that there are many surreal or psychedelic elements in the rather amazing British TV series Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy that seem to hint that various types of synaesthesia, including the personification of inanimate objects, could have been an inspiration in the making of the show. I have also noted that I seem to have an attraction to genres in the arts that appear to be inspired by or incorporate synaesthesia, including Symbolist art and other art of the fin de siecle era, psychedelic music from the 1960s to the present, from all corners of the world, and Fielding’s psychedelic TV series. The other night the kids and I were watching a repeat of the classic 1980s British comedy TV series The Young Ones, and I noticed that like Fielding’s show, it features quite a few characters that are personified inanimate objects. The episode we saw featured a speaking stairway banister and a fridge full of speaking and rotting vegetables, including a bad tomato singing the blues. I’ve realized that there are heaps of similarities between The Young Ones and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, including the fact that they are favourites of mine, and are both surreal and thus reject and make a joke of the notion of realism in a TV drama. Both shows are very self-referential in a way that was quite a new and interesting thing back in the 1980s, and The Young Ones was probably was inspired by ideas of deconstruction, semiotics and postmodernism which were very much in fashion in academia in the 1980s. One point of difference between the shows is the extraordinary saturation of colour in Fielding’s show, which might be there because the show is more of a creation of one person than the 1980s TV series, and thus possibly is more a reflection of  a hyper-colour-conscious imagination or thoughts of one creator. I am merely speculating here.

I’m not sure what to make of the personification of objects in these TV shows. I guess it is obvious that characters that are objects are unique to these shows among adult TV shows because other TV series for adults are anchored to the notion of realism, while these shows are free to include features that can’t be real. But why would you want to have talking objects in a show? I think they are included because they add to the unsettling nature of the shows. Both series were clearly made with the aim of challenging the viewer in various ways. Even though I am a synesthete who experiences personified letters of the alphabet and numbers, even I felt unsettled and irritated by the singing tomato in The Young One’s, when I first watched the series in the 1980s. Back then I had no idea that I was a synaesthete and had never even heard of the term synaesthesia. I only knew that in the back of my mind I felt that letters and numbers had essential traits such as colours and genders, but in the front of my mind I knew that such ideas made no sense at all, and I had no idea where my fanciful ideas had come from, except that I knew that they had somehow come from my childhood. I thought of my synaesthesia as an odd and embarrassing feature of my childhood which I wished to forget, rather like thumb-sucking, bed-wetting or reliance on a teddy-bear. Coloured numbers were a silly, patently irrational and childish thing, never to be mentioned ever again. I tried to forget, and the associations dropped out of my conscious experience, to a degree that when I discovered the concept of synaesthesia as a fascinated mother and housewife in her late 30s, my documenting of my many synaesthesia associations and experiences often felt like remembering things from my long-ago childhood. Maybe this is why, when I quite excitedly watched the funny and anarchic new British TV series The Young Ones, as a marginally-interested student of cinema theory and semiotics in a university English department in her 20s, the singing tomatoes bit was the one bit that left me feeling very irritated more than amused or interested.

The Young Ones Interesting part 1 of 3. YouTubehttp://youtu.be/QMb4NogC4us

A transcript of an episode of The Young Ones featuring some personified inaninmate objects: http://www.4q.dk/theyoungones-05-interesting.php

A very lippy gash, things with personalities, animals who are people and a man who is a lion….very strange

How many personified inanimate objects can you count in the TV show linked to below; Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy? There’s the screwed-up chocolate stick soldier/teacher, the French signer made of croissants, the verbally abusive wound in the arm of Sgt Raymond Boombox (my personal favourite), the misunderstood mountains who go tisk tisk, the thing with a conch shell for a head, etc. And how many animals can you count that behave like people? There’s a  ruthless and deadly WWI flying ace dolphin, Dondylion, his disturbing animal companion, a spoon snake, and no doubt many more. There even seems to be an example of a real person being seen as having the characteristics of an animal; “David Lee Roth, King of the Lions”. I can see that – Roth (lead singer of Van Halen) did once have a mane and had a King of the Jungle sort of attitude, with great physical confidence. He was on the prowl. He was covered in fur.

What is psychedelia? What is psychedelic television? If it is a creative collision of concepts that shouldn’t but do go together, presented in a surreal, striking and colourful visual style, then Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy must be the only example of the genre that I’m aware of. That’s interesting – synaesthesia is also a collision of concepts that shouldn’t but do go together, and it is often very colourful, surreal and striking, and most types of synaesthesia seem to involve the sense of vision. There’s a belief that synaesthesia and creativity are linked. Psychedelic television and synaesthesia appear to have a collection of characteristics in common. What are we to make of this? The hyper-awareness of colour manifested in this television series is equal to the hyper-awareness of colour that I found in the autobiography of the synaesthete author Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory. Colour doesn’t mean this much to non-synaesthetes, not quite.

I’m reminded of the most psychedelic neuroscience journal paper that I’ve read this year – the one comparing auras in mysticism and synaesthesia, by Spanish researchers, which was published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. These researchers described a number of most interesting synaesthetes who had some interesting types of synaesthesia, including one person who experiences people-animal synaesthesia, in which a person might be seen by the synaesthete as having “the face of a bird of lion”. What’s the betting that this synaesthete would see in an instant David Lee Roth’s lion-like characteristics? I don’t know how anyone could miss it really. Does one need to be a synaesthete to see how much some people resemble animals? Noses can be beaks, people can be pigs and some of us do look horsey, or bug-eyed.

After very much enjoying the whole first series of Noel Fielding’s extraordinary TV series, (and keenly anticipating the next one), I can’t help feeling that personification and personality-related synaesthesia in general must have been one of the main ingredients that went into the creation of this strange psychedelic treat. The personification of inanimate objects and other forms of fusion or confusion of supposedly different states of being are themes that pop up constantly in this TV series. So many aspects of the series remind me of synaesthesia, in its various forms. Is it the creation of a synaesthete mind? What goes on inside Noel Fielding’s brain? Many people have wondered.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy http://youtu.be/u-HaEEv2p_o

E.G. Milán, O. Iborra, M. Hochel, M.A. Rodríguez Artacho, L.C. Delgado-Pastor, E. Salazar, A. González-Hernández Auras in mysticism and synaesthesia: A comparison. Consciousness and Cognition.  Volume 21 Issue 1, March 2012, Pages 258–268. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810011002868  (This paper is clearly a translation and difficult reading in parts)

Van Halen Panama http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-NshzYK9y0

Magnet by Bombay Bicycle Club

I wouldn’t know about this piece of pop music if we didn’t have any teenager in our family. I don’t know a thing about this band, except that they are probably young and talented. When I heard the sound of this tune floating out of one of the bedrooms of our house I wondered if it might be Tame Impala. This tune struck me as a bit psychedelic because of the colour in the chorus, with its wooo wooo wooo style of singing, which is the kind of thing that you might find in the chorus of a psychedelic song. The colour is a pleasant light mauve-grey, rather like the colour that is currently in the background of this blog.

http://youtu.be/WkKJHYHCt6Q