Andria Degens, aka Pantaleimon, Picks Her Top 5 Psych-Folk Albums
Ostensibly, there’s no form of music more simple, elemental and of the people than folk, and yet it pairs quite nicely with psychedelic rock, a sub-genre whose sonic doctors aim to mix up your brain chemistry and take you on a trip. The two have been simpatico since the ’60s, and Andria Degens, aka Pantaleimon, is something of an expert. The English singer-songwriter has released five albums of the trippy, strummy stuff, and on the heels of her latest, ‘The Butterfly Ate the Pearl,’ she nicely took the time to make us this list of her 5 favorite psych-folk albums. Scroll down and expand your mind — or at least your record collection. Then watch Pantaleimon’s latest video, ‘Ember,’ here.
‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’
The most psychedelic of Donovan records in my humble opinion. It is also his most cohesive album in terms of how the tracks run together. I like a cut with some kind of conceptual element, even if it’s pretty loose. This is the album I’ve played the most. But I came across ‘A Gift From A Flower to A Garden’ first, when Steve Stapleton from Nurse With Wound gave me a boxed vinyl copy. It was a bit damp and mouldy, ‘cause Steve lives in the middle of a nowhere in Eire and it rains a lot. Anyway, loved what I heard, even if it was a bit crackly, and went on to collect all Donovan’s early records. I was listening to the ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ album when I was recording ‘Trees Hold Time,’ so it had a big influence on me. I’m pretty partial to drones, so ‘Tangier’ and ‘Peregrine’ had me going for a while. And of course the title track is a classic…
What makes this the best Nick Drake album for me is the little instrumental cherry on the top, the track ‘Horn.’ And throughout the album the only percussion is the ghost beat of his fingernails on his guitar strings, which I especially love on ‘Pink Moon’ and ‘Place To Be.’ ‘Know,’ with its simple, insistent repetition, matching the very simple lyrics, comes out to you like a love forlorn chant, and ‘Parasite,’ with its whirly beauty of descending notes, has me every time. This masterpiece, being his last album before his untimely death, has so much depth and emotion. He stripped everything down, laying himself bare, shining a light brightly on his immense talent as a guitarist and songwriter. It’s a sad thing he never saw the success he deserved in his own lifetime, but so very glad he was here on earth.
‘Experiment In Metaphysics’
The fact that this record opens with an eight-or-so-minute track, ‘The Absurd Paranoid,’ made me sit up and listen. Mr Leopold’s second album, ‘Christian Lucifer,’ was the first of his albums I heard, but when it comes to the feeling of a record, I’ve always been more drawn to this one. His voice is deep and sage like. His guitar playing is crystalline and intricately woven in its delivery. This record was quite influential early in my career. Particularly the instrumentals ‘And Then, the Snow Came’ which drives with intensity until it succumbs to a simple discordant slide guitar — beautiful; and the title track, ‘Experiment In Metaphysics,’ which is imbued with so much emotion he doesn’t need to sing.
As it is known, there is a thin line between madness and genius, and this album teeters quite wonderfully. This is an album that blows my mind, from the beauty of ‘Little Hands,’ the psychedelic wash of ‘War In Peace’ and the glorious 9:38 majesty of ‘Grey/Afro’ (bringing to my mind another of my favourite artists, Can). And then on to the madness of such gems as ‘It’s The Best Thing For You’ and ‘Halo Of Gold.’ ‘Oar’ is a rich and sometimes chaotic tapestry of sound that your ears will be immensely grateful for.
From the first time that Ben Chasny played this album to me, I loved it. The album has to be listened to as a whole, as each track merges into the next one in an effortless way. I love the simplicity in the recordings. His music has this calmness about it akin to the feeling of travelling alone in the wilderness, holding one spellbound for the duration. His voice is so mellow and the songs are understated — just beautiful. My personal favourite tracks are ‘It Didn’t Take Too Long,’ ‘I Can’t Sleep At Night’, and ‘I Pick Notes From The Sky’.