Crashing back to earth — so there's a way back after all — spiral strains of Wilmot echo through the valley, The Sabres Of Paradise in full flame and lost in elemental motion. Enter stage left it's “Thomas The Fib”, sauntering right out the room into the sun-glazed cascade of high noon, Trainspotting rifles and For A Few Dollars More, Vanishing Point left to settle on burning blue horizons (“'Tis A Pity She Was A Whore”. Slow-motion Link Wray and The Ventures In Space, “Out Of Limits” into “Cross Ties” and Desperado dreams.
It all dissolves, into longstanding visions, scenarios and possibilities where rock had evolved out of the surf-rockabilly-spacerock slipstream — what if there was no British Invasion — half unfolding on 7" records and EPs as a far less ego-driven (in the Freudian sense) affair, some unmediated unfurling of the subconscious materializing like the Altair Beast to roam the desolate landscapes of the Forbidden Planet. Hard rock as Population II by Randy Holden, great slabs of feedback in colossal motion, coalescing into some freeform prog mirage in the lead up to Miles In The Sky and Atlantis, as if Comets On Fire dropped Avatar on an unsuspecting public in 1967.
Even without the benefit of some window into an alternate desert dimension, there were currents — water flowing underground — like The Sonics in '65 and The Byrds’ explorations of the Fifth Dimension just one year later, 13th Floor Elevators by then in full effect — “Thru The Rhythm”, “Nobody To Love”, “Street Song”, “Rose And The Thorn” — and Big Brother dawning (don't gimme dat — what about “The Last Time”, “Coo Coo”, “Down On Me”? Case closed.), Quicksilver moves and The Airplane in full flight (the artwork, the producción, the starships), breaking through the clouds and cutting down overcast skies into rain falling on Morrison Hotel.
Oceans swell with the rains, coarsing through the Veldt and out across the pond, “Lucifer Sam” Siam cat), Syd Barrett — The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn — roaming the countryside, A Field In England and those Fairport Convention dreams bleeding through “Jack O'Diamonds” into “The Lobster”, on past “Matty Groves”, “Tam Lin”, and beyond, From Genesis To Revelation. “Beware of the future” — “The Serpent” — Then Play On through Peter Green’s forays into the darkside — black magic all around — running that voodoo down through “The Supernatural” into “Black Magic Woman” and beyond.
Look again and it's no surprise you can hear the shadow of his guitar stretching through the Santana sound, after all Carlos always seemed to want to submerge all ego into the deepest waters of the sound itself, transforming into a pure, unfettered explosion of emotion's intellect, totally untethered from the charts and figures and diktats of the industry, breaking through to the great beyond. If you don't believe me, just follow the trail from the “Woodstock” trilogy through Caravanserai, Welcome, veering off into leftfield with sprawling live discs like Lotus and Moonflower — more interstellar voyages than mere rock concert recordings — file alongside Miles’ Agharta, Dark Magus, and Pangaea. Space Is The Place, for real.
Suddenly, all those jazz collaborations come into focus — records with John McLaughlin and Alice Coltrane — even pulling Leon Thomas on vocals for an age. Sure, Carlos might court the mainstream every no and then, but then so did Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band, and where would we be without “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles”? Besides, if all you know is Supernatural and Rob Thomas acting like he's Ricky Martin, I may not be able to help you. But I'll try... Lord knows, I'll do what I can.
When in doubt, start at the beginning. 1969, self-titled. “Jingo”, “Savor”, “Soul Sacrifice”: like the best Jefferson Airplane, this stuff melts into the same innerspace trip that takes you to Kosmische shores. Amon Düül II’s Wolf City and Ash Ra Tempel lost in some parallel dimension, after all it was only five years ago that Santana IV’s “Forgiveness” came on like some dream jam that nobody had ever dreamt before, Ashra and Chris Rea locked in some unstable interplanetary orbit, lost in You're Not Alone by Roy Buchanan and some long lost Ozric Tentacles memory played out under the desert sky.
That's gotta be what FSOL were tapping into circa ISDN, what with “Quagmire” sampling the “Soul Sacrifice/Head, Hands & Feet (Drum Solo)”, "Soul Flowers" cropping up in their BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix 2, the groovy "Carlos" (that great lost track of downbeat organ-drenched 21st century psychedelia). The points of reference came thick and fast and all across the map, data overload style like the surreal phantasmagoria of Buggy G. Riphead’s artwork, Yages crossing the threshold to the other side where Electronic Brain Violence leads to inner peace, knowoness and beyond. Translations. “Love Is The Lovers” and “Papsico”, “The Great Marmalade Mama In The Sky”, “Wooden Ships” on the water, “Things Change Like The Patterns And Shades That Fall From The Sun”. “Requiem” for all your former selves and then out into “The Big Blue”.
A lullaby for the Chile Of The Bass Generation.