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Friendsound - Joyride CD (album) cover





4.08 | 14 ratings

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4 stars Perpetuating the naive

Music is perhaps one of the only genuine universal languages. The sheer emotional scale it covers is more than enough to quench even the thirstiest traveller. Show me a feeling and I'll play you a note - drop you a howl, or simply jump on top my old trusty banjo. The sonic opportunities are endless, and nowhere else will you find a more appropriate album to showcase this, granted, somewhat illogically huge fact, than on Friendsound's sole release 'Joyride'.

Here the other day I was on about fellow American compatriots, Fifty Foot Hose, suggesting a surplus of properly cool outsider artists stemming from across the pond. Friendsound belong to this incredibly obscure 'club' - a mixed bag of artists who, to my knowledge, had absolutely nothing to do with one another, yet still managed to sound alike - perhaps not entirely soundwise, but moreover in the way they experimented with the music, the all-important approach as the pilots have a tendency to call it.

Playfulness in the front seat, and I'm not merely thinking of a wee solo here and there - the odd b section that's joined with a country singer and a pheasant in your pants no no no - we're talking triangles, whistles, chimes, all sorts of reeds, tambourines, flutes, castanets and without a shadow of doubt the good ol kitchen sink to boot. This is a cornucopia of different instruments teaming up, sometimes acting slightly cacophonous and childishly though always coming off rather pleasantly and purposefully. These guys are wilfully naive - they mean to sound like spastic toddlers during those wild stomp sections from the shed, don't worry. They intentionally seek a no nonsense attitude towards music by diving straight into nonsense and things that are likely to not have any intrinsic meaning outside of the one applied by the poor demented enlightened of us who feel comfortable around squid and lawyers in tank tops.

Released on the RCA brand in 1969, Joyride never really made a splash - hell it didn't even manage to create ripples. Sad thing really, as the American crowd already a few years later on would be thirsting for the most out there treats the European scene had to offer, in particular the multicoloured sweets flying out the fascinating Krautrock bunnyhole. With Joyride they had the real deal on their doorstep without ever paying attention. Think Zappa on acid or Quicksilver Messenger Service out of Bavaria and you're not that far off. How this baby seeped through the cracks, I will never know....

As for the music, you're indeed stepping on board the unholy freak train of saucy irregular blues rock with some seriously loose fittings. Often incessant like the more motorik laden Germanic groups, gentle and floating at other times - occasionally hitting that ever so thrilling high, where both improvisation and song coalesce in the most beautiful and imaginative manner.

Take the tune 'Childsong' for instance. A perfect way of illustrating the unique approach on offer, and a chance to highlight the omnipresent naiveness of 'Joyride'. Disregarding all sorts of mainstream behaviour, the track takes it's cue from the field recordings of a busy playground. The main ingredient is not the subtle understated guitar - nor the dreamy atmospheres cooked up by wind chimes, no it's the laughing kids, the ambiances of children playing tic tac toe, talking, singing and roaming the airwaves in a way that is oh so child-like........ AND it works - it works because everything else about this band is naive and playful. It works because it sounds like real music - only here developed through another medium. Sheer genius if you ask me, however simple and un- aristocratic it may be.

Still it's obvious these guys grew out of the sub culture that birthed acts like Ultimate Spinach, Fifty Foot Hose and 13th Floor Elevators and sure quite often will you find yourself bathed in that exact same honeydripping, sensuous and warm feel, only with Friendsound you get something else entirely - something infinitely more esoteric and adventurous. A will to experiment beyond the wah wah pedal and new synthesisers of the day. To me it genuinely sounds like they produced this album the same way I would've done it. Not that I know anything of worthy mentioning inside the labyrinthian world of making experimental rock albums, but I do know what I like and what I don't, - and these fellas sound like they did as well. Joyride feels like an album made up entirely of sounds the band loved. "Wow the triangle played like that sounds so groovy!! Alright, it's settled! It gets to go on record!!! and everything else feels like that with this thing! Spontaneous eclecticism ruling the chicken roost at all times, and with a recipe for disaster at their hands - they came out the other end triumphantly. I certainly think so at least.

All the mad talkative echoing vocal segments, the player piano Lucky Luke breaks, the sultry celesta runs, the crackling of the helicopter synth sounds, the unorthodox measures and all the misplaced sarcasm, claps and guitar screeches - all of that zooms together like a pulsating Dadaistic polaroid picture of the non-existent US Krautrock scene at a time where it materialised into a shimmering beacon of unadulterated musical joy. Trust me, the title 'Joyride' was never any attempt at misleading the world - it was merely stating the obvious. 4.5 stars.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |


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