Exploring the Spacey Surreal Soundscape

Exploring the Spacey Surreal Soundscape

It is no surprise that surreal music is, even after all these decades, still A THING. So at Joe's Exploding Zoo, there is a never ending bughunt for new unusual sounds.

At the Zoo, our interests extend to French science fiction soundtracks from the 70s, experimental albums like those by Throbbing Gristle-era outfits, Captain Beefheart, the most surreal instrumental Zappa moments, remixed vaporwave, and field recordings of synthesizer nerds playing shows in the middle of the forest to NO ONE.

Perry and Kingsley likely weren't really sure WHAT they had started when they began recording together, the same as when Sly and Robbie started--the reverbrations of these partnerships wound up being felt all the way here in the 21sr century.

So where does one begin exploring the surreal soundscapes, the space walking dreamtime weirdness?

Vinyl records are the gateway drug for many--look in any used bin under the Weird, Unclassifiable, Novelty, Spoken Word, Literature, and Horror sections of your record store to begin a long and endless voyage of discovery.

There are prize finds waiting out there...everything from Japanese noise to Learn Welsh records (dear BBC Records, you cannot POSSIBLY learn Welsh from a SINGLE LP.) You want a documentary record made "back in the day" about LSD? It's out there.

You want secret, under-the-counter dirty xxx vinyl created for "educational and party use only"? They are out there, too. You need to hear what music intended to help PLANTS GROW sounds like? Yes.

Then there are the serious sonic adventurers like Nurse With Wound and Negativland, you see where all this could be going for you if you persist. A universe of undiscovered, underappreciated recordings that may or may not be 3 minute pop songs, but more likely are extended play brain reboot sessions worthy of repeated listens.

Some important names to look for when learning to navigate the strange sonic spacelanes of sound include:

  • Perry and Kingsley
  • Pierre Henry
  • Mort Garson (Music for Plants, Black Mass Lucifer)
  • Harold Budd
  • Fripp
  • Hawkwind
  • Ennio Morricone (especially his Italian horror soundtrack phase in the 60s and 70s)
  • Piero Umiliani (especially To-Day's Sound)
  • Divine
  • Nurse With Wound
  • Legendary Pink Dots
  • The Orb
  • Boredoms
  • Space Streakings
  • Butthole Surfers
  • Scientist
  • King Tubby
  • Lee Perry

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