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Fifty Foot Hose - Cauldron CD (album) cover


Fifty Foot Hose


Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.71 | 32 ratings

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4 stars Outsider

Flipping through the American side of my record collection, I keep realising just how many underground and slightly left-field albums those Yanks produced during the late 60s/early 70s. Many which, listened to with foreign ears, sound remarkably close to what one would hear oh so far away in the experimental German scene, that later on was dubbed 'Krautrock'.

The first couple of things flying through my mind when I initially heard this album was: Amon Düül ll? From The States? 1967? What.......? Those same see-sawing rhythm guitars, raw and fabulously simple yet played with a delightful arrogance and nonchalance, that works oh so well with the rhythm section. Together these two pieces of the puzzle create a melodic, often late 60s inspired psychedelic rock, that could've been taken right out of Jefferson Airplane's most wondrous take offs. The female vocals fall smack in the middle of Grace Slick and Renate Knaup, so again, it seems like the two main influences should be out in the open by now.........or one would at least think so.

First of all Fifty Foot Hose were far too experimental for ever rightfully to be compared with The Airplane. Not even during their wildest rides did they sound as off kilter and unhinged as the scattered make shift synthesiser sounds that wreck havoc all throughout this debut entitled 'Cauldron'. Secondly, the way the blues is implemented in the back beat of this thing makes it an altogether different beast than what you hear from those crazy Germans. On here you feel as if you're listening to musicians who've been exposed to the blues since their early childhood years. Like I said, it's only accentuated in the back beat and the walking bass lines, but other than that - there's really no adept description of this thing.

The electronic device, that for some remarkable reason is able to mimic robotic birds, deep underwater chirps, disco rattlesnake jitters, disturbing animal mating screeches and other such mad buffoonery, is in fact made of various parts taken from a theremin, fuzzbox, a cardboard tube and a speaker from a World War II aircraft bomber. This facet of the music takes the sonic imagery close to the early electronic rockers, like The Silver Apples and perhaps even more so, White Noise. If there's anything remotely close to the synth experimentations on this baby, then it's probably the pioneering sorcery of one Delia Derbyshire.

Consisting of Louis Marcheschi (synth mad hatter and if I am not mistaken, inventor?), David and Nancy Blossom (guitars, piano and Nancy on the mic), Larry Evans (guitar), Kim Kimsey (drums) and Terry Hansley (bass), Fifty Foot Hose neatly taps into the prevailing psychedelic whims of the season, yet with a dirty thrust here and a highly evocative and brutish synthesiser bleep there, you're never as warm and cosy as you'd like to be. Don't get me wrong, this record is chuck full of the kind of music coming out in the late 60s that just hits the nostalgia button like the proverbial shiyiait hits the fan. Twangy surfer guitars and a breezy note to the proceedings, and suddenly you could swear you were listening to some of the more experimental parts of Brian Wilson's bastard child 'Smile'.

Personally, I think 'Cauldron' deserves far more attention from the old school proggers here on PA, as well as those who feel compelled to hear one of the coolest early American outsider sounds. It's certainly one of the very first American albums to merge the European electronic avantguarde feel with psychedelic rock and jazz. Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you, right on the ridges of this band's sound - right there in the sweet pocket, right there you get a distinct whiff of the infinitely nimble and always infatuating softness of the old school jazz spirit. It's only a whiff, but it's there.

I keep this close to the stereo, just in case it snows, or the world explodes, or the rain stops - I always want to be in the vicinity of those trusty 'albums to put on in case of emergency'. You just know in your heart, that it's albums you never tire of, and that they're always safe to revisit. 'Cauldron' reminds me of high school and all those young hot freak chicks listening to the sounds of the 60s. Only this is the 60s with an electronic snarl to them. One I've loved since first listen.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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