Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Incredible String Band|
Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
Genres: Folk, World Music, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
If any musical combo ever meshed perfectly with the times it was the Incredible String Band. And here's the proof: 1968's The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter on deep-grooved, High-Definition Vinyl. The wildly eclectic Scottis... more »
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If any musical combo ever meshed perfectly with the times it was the Incredible String Band. And here's the proof: 1968's The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter on deep-grooved, High-Definition Vinyl. The wildly eclectic Scottish folk outfit--with the airy vocals and fretboard prowess of Robin Williamson and Mike Heron as its two constants--began life resurrecting wondrous and ancient Celtic ballads, then was transformed by the perfumed winds of 1967's psychedelic revolution to add sitar, oud, gimbri and all manner of exotic axes to its arsenal. The result is a gently mesmerizing psychedelia and anti-folk stance--consummate counterpoint to current psych heroes like Mogwai and Beachwood Sparks--that makes perfectly clear why the Incredible String Band remains just that: Incredible!
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Andreas Faust | Tasmanian Autonomous Zone | 12/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
A classic, classic album that gets in your blood like few others, so the opening notes of 'Koeeoaddi There' always summon a timeless nostalgia, timeless yet constantly changing, and an atmosphere of early childhood where, as Ernst Junger put it, "the dark gate which separates us from our timeless homeland" has only recently been shut, and "the child still understands the language of the runes of Things, which tell of a profound brotherhood of essences..."
Some of the lyrics read like they were written by a child, but this is deceptive - on repeated reading/listening their subtlety and sophistication is revealed. Some songs are serious, others great fun - and some are both. But don't mistake this for a 'serious playfulness' of the type a Steiner school advocate might endorse - it's far more anarchic than that, anarchic to the point of transcendence.
The songs are wonderfully varied, but all feel totally at home on this disc. 'A Very Cellular Song' takes things down to the level of the unicellular organism, while 'Mercy I Cry City' exposes the shallowness and superficiality of modern 'civilisation'. 'Swift as the Wind' tells of the numinous realm of gods and heroes from the point of view of a child who is told to "stop imagining things", "for your own good." But the child resolves not to shut his mind to the numinous, even as he realises he must live on a mundane level from day to day. 'Nightfall' and 'The Water Song' are beautiful tributes to night and water respectively.
I give this album five stars - only awarded when I consider a work of art to be essentially beyond criticism, and where even the 'faults' contribute to the timeless miracle of the whole. Albums like this don't come along every day."
Re: 2010 Remaster
Steven Moore | Ann Arbor, MI USA | 05/22/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Comparing this via headphones to the Hannibal/Rykodisc CD of yore, I honestly couldn't hear much of a difference. But you do get a 16-page booklet with impressionistic liner notes by Robin Williamson, lyrics, and some rare photographs and concert posters. The music, of course, remains magical; not only one the greatest albums of the '60s but of all time."
benshlomo | Los Angeles, CA USA | 11/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At times, you hear about some person or group that was once extremely popular and considered very important, and now they seem to have disappeared from the haunts of men. Sometimes these people retain a cult following to this day, and you probably know of several yourself. The Incredible String Band is one such. The appeared at Woodstock, for goodness's sake, but they didn't get into the movie and no one ever plays their material on the radio. You listen to "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" and you have to wonder why.
The fact that the record is available on CD indicates that someone or another is interested, however. There's another phenomenon to wonder about, at least until you listen to the music.
Now, let's face facts; this stuff is very much of its time in the late 1960s. It's full of unusual instrumentation (at the end of "The Minotaur's Song" it sounds like someone drops a pile of stainless steel cookware from the ceiling onto a hard stone floor), obscure references (who writes a song about the Minotaur to begin with?) and a sort of innocence that can be a little grating at times. Even the album cover is a few years out of date - it's a picture of a bunch of people dressed like hippies hanging out in the woods. You can't even tell which of them are band members until you flip the thing over and discover that the ensemble consists primarily of two men. Weird.
All this really means, though, is that you don't go into this record expecting "Anarchy in the UK". Take this music on its own terms and, like the title says, it's beautiful. Also, thankfully, it doesn't take itself with that grinding seriousness you sometimes get with hippie bands.
First of all, Robin Williamson and Mike Heron actually knew what they were doing. Under all the flutes and finger cymbals and harps and stuff, there's a solid basic grounding in rhythm guitar or keyboards, and a lot of the songs owe something to good old-fashioned English folk music or some other kind of world tradition, such as the quotes from the music of the Bahamas scattered all through "A Very Cellular Song". The originality and flights of fancy take off from there, so you get a sense of solid reality and dreamy fantasy both at the same time.
A good example of this is "Waltz of the New Moon". The instruments are harpsichord, guitar and harp, which sounds totally ethereal, but it's a waltz, all right. Someone keeps up a steady "oom-pah-pah" almost all the way through, which means that when Robin Williamson wonders poetically if garden snails even know the stars exist, he's not just dropping warm fuzzies all over the place.
Even the less rhythmic songs stay grounded pretty well, although in some cases I can't quite tell how they manage it. Part of it, I think, has to do with the commitment these guys have to emotional reality. The album closer, "Nightfall," is one of the most peaceful songs ever recorded, but when Williamson sings "Oh sleep, come to me," it sounds like he hasn't had any rest in weeks.
Elsewhere on this record, the guys sound like they're just out for a good time, especially Mike Heron on "Mercy I Cry City". It seems to be about a guy from out in the country somewhere who's moved to town and finds that it's slowly driving him crazy, but the tune is a joyful little jig for acoustic guitar, tin whistle and harmonica. What's more, at one point you hear Heron chirp "Mercy I cry, city, you're all upon my mind!" and way behind him, Williamson mutters, "But the opposite is also true." A cheap joke in the middle of an anti-urban protest song? Yep. And sung from the gut, just like everywhere else on this record.
I'm told that in their subsequent work, the Incredible String Band lost that grounding in reality and turned into robe-wearing, flower-eating, musical-discipline-shunning annoyances, at least according to some people. I can't confirm or deny this, but I'm not terribly surprised that they lost that delicate balance between the sky and the earth - that is, between the beautiful daughter and the hangman. It takes terribly hard work to dig deep and produce that kind of perfection (not to put too fine a point on it). Most don't even want to try. Thankfully, like these guys, some do.
Benshlomo says, It's hard to keep one foot in the air and one foot on the ground, but that's how you walk."