I’ve had the new Frankie and the Witch Fingers on the deck for a while now and it only gets better and deeper with each spin. The record is an interconnected odyssey of psychedelic excess that lifts the listener from this temporal plane and into a parallel dimension of glowing psychosis and psilocybin-induced evolution. The colors in the mind match the visual barrage of Will Sweeney’s saturated cover art and the band has never sounded hungry to cross the time-space rift than now. I snagged Witch Fingers’ driving force Dylan Sizemore to dig deep for a pick in the Hidden Gems series and he obliged with a psychedelic odyssey of his own. Check out Dylan’s take on Bruce Haack’s electronic epic The Electric Lucifer below.
“Permanent Records in Los Angeles has always been a staple for finding rare records,” notes Dylan. “I’d often pop into Permanent to visit friends employed there, but then of course, end up leaving with a bag full of delightful discs. Every time I’d go in to peruse, I’d notice a particular record up on the wall in the ‘you can’t afford this selection.’ The artwork on the jacket was mesmerizing. It had a biblical illustration of a devil with sinister demon faces, hellfire, and dragons. Yet, the watercolor tones and the drawing style had an almost innocent look to it. Finally, one day, I picked up the record to take a closer look. My friend Lance, the proprietor, noticed me gawking it, and nodded to me, saying “You’d love that record.” So I heeded his friendly advice and rushed home to learn more.”
“The first thing I notice about The Electric Lucifer,” recalls Sizemore, “is how incredibly ahead of his time Bruce Haack was when this record was made around 1969. There seems to be some early technique of sampling happening throughout, which aligns perfectly with the sci-fi, prophetic nature of the album’s over-arching theme. The story of the album seems to be about the battle between Heaven and Hell, and how the human race can be victorious with the power of love and a symbiosis with technology. Loaded with Moogs, insane sizzling synth-serpent sounds that are culled from homemade circuitry, spliced drum loops, and a primitive vocoder, this record sounds like demented cartoons, filtered through a brilliant schizophrenic, who holds the key to the secrets of the universe.”
“The deeper into this record you get, the more you begin to lose your mind. I would describe the listening sensation as enlightened madness. Some of the tracks aren’t songs, but rather sonic vignettes of deranged warbled carnival hell-scapes. A full listen through is quite the mental journey to embark upon, but well worth the ticket. “Program me” is definitely one of the standout tracks. I really appreciate the drum track in this song. Like many of the other tracks, I assume the drums are sampled. They sound like chopped up timpani drums snipped from an old classical piece. Everything is almost always a little off tempo, and Haack’s execution feels organic while also inducing a bit of anxiety. Throughout the album the vocal stylings jump around from chorally arranged epic crooning lines to maniacal vocoder incantations. It’s the perfect blend of holy, righteous, hippy, good-vibes, and brainsick, esoteric, fried-out evil.”
“I can’t say I’ve ever tapped into anything remotely resembling Haack, sonically,” admits Dylan. “However, the conceptual and immersive elements of this record are things that deeply inspire me. Records like this have shaped my perception of the potential magic power a record has to offer. Something that is made to be listened to, or better yet, to be strapped into and absorbed in-full, so that you come out of the other side with your mind reeling at full speed. That might not be what Haack’s intention was, but this record definitely cracks my skull wide open!”
Can’t agree with this pick from Dylan more and this is a piece that’s haunted Raven for some time. The cover wound up a pick in Robert Beatty’s design inspirations and lucky for all of you this one was reissued in 2016 on Telephone Explosion. If you’re looking for further encouragement to get this into your collection, you can check out my review from that time. Looks like some copies still exist directly from Bruce’s Bandcamp, so I’d encourage you to pick this up if you’re unfamiliar. Though, while you’re on the lookout for outre-psychedelic epics, pick up Frankie and the Witch Fingers’ new one on Greenway / Reverberation Appreciation Society now.
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