Album cover Psychik Almanack Vol. 1 - James Pants
Psychik Almanack Vol. 1James Pants8/10

James Pants - Psychik Almanack Vol. 1

28 Jun 2009 macron1

The arrival of brand new Pants material provides the dual opportunity of allowing the reuse of an old joke about Pants material (see here), and also a reappraisal of the artist following the last somewhat disheartening Pants experience (see here also).

Psychik Almanack Vol. 1 is the latest post-Welcome mixtape to emerge from the mysterious/enigmatic Pants, following up from Rhythm Trax: Vol. 1, Ice Castles - The Coming Of The New Age, and the hard-to-find Electric Finger, and occupies the awkward and rarified region between excellent and ludicrous. Essentially, the Psychik Almanack is straight-up collection of tracks from the 60s and 70s, from a variety of well known (e.g. The Doors, Donovan) and more obscure artists (everything else), melded together with trademark Pants... queerness, for want of a better word - i.e. those familiar with the artist will immediately recognize its Pantsian qualities.

Included in the array of artists on Psychik Almanack Vol. 1 are several that also appear on the Ice Castles mixtape, such as children's composer/space age pop musician Bruce Haack, Swedish electronic artist/author Ralph Lundsten, and experimental rockers United States of America, along with a throng of others including Hair composer Galt McDermott, British psychedelic rock band Soft Machine, psychedelic electronica weirdos Silver Apples, Pierre Laurency/Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and many, many others i cannot be bothered typing (see below for full list of artists appearing; apologies for the multiple use of "psychedelic"). Each track tends to be brief in its appearance - track 11 "Caldara - Virgin of Virgins" for example only features for 21 seconds - and the compilation consequentially stretches out to 26 tracks, of which many appear largely unaltered from their original source, which may come as a surprise for some of the tracks featured.

The latter point is especially pertinent upon tracking down the original recording of "Incantation" by Bruce Haack, perhaps the standout moment in the Almanack mixtape. The track itself features a ridiculous... incantation, sung/chanted/incanted across a cartoonish futuristic soundtrack that finishes with a robotic sounding interlude about (possibly) getting married, giving birth, and then some other stuff about planting seeds - I mean, the first impression on hearing "Incantation" was, "surely this shit is a joke?, Good work, Pants!", as it definitely conjures up an image of what people in (say) the 1930s might have thought music would sound like in perhaps 1990, at the same time seeming like it could only been imagined this way with the benefit of hindsight, and as such "Incantation" is an anachronistic joke - a piss-take of early- to mid- 20th century science fiction and futurology as music (with an odd hippy angle what we wont bother with for the purposes of this review). However this is not the case, it actually happened, and Pants hasn't really done much to "Incantation" other than include it on the compilation as is. This is not to disparage his work or the collection at all - were it not for Psychik Almanack it is likely few would ever come across such a track. And it is with this in mind that what was meant by the above comment regarding Psychik Almanack occupying the region between excellent and ludicrous becomes apparent.

In conclusion, Psychik Almanack Vol. 1 again serves to illustrate what an interesting artist James Pants is, and the potential he has, while at the same time serving to enhance the non-event that was Welcome. Additionally, Psychik Almanack, along with Ice Castles, Electric Finger and Rhythm Trax: Vol. 1 shows Pants carving an impressive body of work in the field of mixtape, which may or may not be a real thing.

Sardless Tracks

  • Incantation

Track Listing

  1. Pulsar - Strands of the Future<br/>(Psychik Almanack Introduction)
  2. Bruce Haack - Incantation
  3. United States of America - <br/>The American Metaphysical Circus
  4. Harumi - Talk About It
  5. Galt McDermott - <br/>Never Die, Desire Not
  6. The Doors - Not To Touch The Earth
  7. The Soft Machine - Why Are We Sleeping?
  8. Gary Wilson - In The Midnight Hour
  9. Aphrodites Child - Seven Bowls <br/>(Psychik Almanack Intermission)
  10. Mort Garson - I Ching
  11. Caldara - Virgin of Virgins
  12. Suicide - Girl
  13. Klaus Bloch - Hamburg Ankara
  14. The Association - Pandoras Golden<br/>Heebie Jeebies
  15. Silver Apples - Tabouli Noodle
  16. Can - Tango Whiskeyman
  17. The Glass Family - House of Glass
  18. The Seeds - Just Let Go
  19. Gong - Flying Teapot
  20. Poppys - Noel
  21. Ralph Lundsten - Computerful Love
  22. Donovan - Get Thy Bearings
  23. Cosmic Sounds - Taurus
  24. 50 Foot Hose - Cauldron
  25. Czeslaw Nieman - Z Listu Do M
  26. Pierre Laurency - Mecanique<br/>(Psychik Almanack Goodbye)