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ANTON BARBEAU – IN THE VILLAGE OF THE APPLE SUN (BLUE MATTER RECORDS) (2024) (LP /CD)

I remember reviewing this album in 2006 and, checking my archives, described it at the time as “intelligent fractured pop, flowing like a stream of psychedelic consciousness with a brave experimental edge, celebrating psychedelic rock in a way I’ve heard on few other albums.”

Wow, quite a sentence!

 

Anyway, what was it like listening to it after all these years? (And, of course, a big thanks to NICK SALOMAN for sending me a review code). Well, I’ve just reviewed “An Introduction to” on Fruits de Mer, and was glad to get reacquainted, having not realised what a great interpreter of past psych classics as well as original song writer Anton is. After a brief psychedelic violin intro (Ant is a multi-instrumentalist), one of his all-time classics ‘On A Bicycle Built for Bicycle 9’ shows this artist’s iconoclastic poeticism, singing about “tangled webs” and “fears of failing”: it may be a song about stress relief and escapism as our narrator goes “soaring through the sky”; the strings and synth are welcome additions towards the end. ‘The Bane of Your Existence’ is creepy, seemingly concerning a personal nemesis: the drums, violin, synth and trebly bass embellishing the song rather marvellously, I think. There is a fabulously fractured guitar break on ‘Creep in the Garden’ which exemplifies the fairy tale, Alice in Wonderland vibe that permeates Ant’s music. I cannot help but admire anyone who can write a song entitled ‘In the Meadow of the Mellotron’ and lines like “there’s a blackbird in your head”. The mysteriously entitled ‘This is Why They Call Me Guru 7’ has some more mellotron and is as catchy as hell. ‘Seeds of Space’ is even more enigmatic: and who can resist the line “a wad in his wallet, he doesn’t know what to call it.” Also, something about whether there is any truth that seeds of space carry mind information! Before a brief outro the album ends with two classic numbers recalling THE BEATLES at their most psychedelic, the second of them, the title track, an all-time psychedelic nugget for sure. Ant has a distinctive nasal style of singing, but reaches a falsetto here in an impassioned song about a place where “the bees don’t sting just anyone”: when the fuzz bass comes in and the backwards guitar you long for an extended version.

 

Anton Barbeau’s music has been described as unique, irreverent, and eccentric and a force of nature It’s hard to argue with any of these descriptions, especially the last. As for connections: SYD BARRETT and JULIAN COPE have been suggested although I would say he’s further out and certainly as gifted than either, and “In The Village of the Apple Sun” is absolutely essential listening if you’re into psychedelic music.

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