Amazing! After many years of sitting shelved in a box (unloved...sniffle) alongside CD's and tapes from my now defunct label, Bickering Bray, one of my personal favorite recorded solo efforts finds it's way into the hands of the fine folks at one of thee best record stores in the U.S. (if not the world), Aquarius Records in San Francisco.
It's been nearly 4 years since this album of drones, guitar ragas, and meditations was recorded at home after months of backpacking through Europe (with my lovely wife) and thinking about the vast world I had explored and the places I had to, however sadly, leave untrodden. A lot had happened in my life on and after that once-in-a-lifetime trip. I wanted to pour every ounce of creative energy and mystic soul I had into some recorded music to reflect on the life-affirming effect that world travel and molding one's global consciousness can have. It's taken this long, but here it is for all to hear! A reminder of the friends we met along the way, and the sights, sounds, art, food, and images that still burn like summer fires in my mind.
Thanks so much to Andee and all the staff at Aquarius Records for getting this to the public for me! Also, mucho praise and good vibes to Jim Lechocki for dropping this off for Andee to hear two years ago while visiting San Fran! Wouldn't have happened without ya!
Please read the review below, and if you're interested, pick up a copy of the record from Aquarius or get in touch with me! If you'd like to hear some samples, simply check out the Aquarius website and search for Johnny Miller. Enjoy!
"It's a sad story, but it continues to happen, someone sends us an amazing record, one what will no doubt blow our minds, one that we won't be able to help but want to share with all of you, one that begs to be reviewed and hyped to high heaven, but then that single amazing record, somehow slips through the cracks, ends up in a box, in a closet, on the floor, in a pile, and sadly, sometimes disappears forever, but thankfully, like it this case, miraculously makes its way back from the great beyond.
We were going through piles of cd-r's, from boxes that had been piling up, and we came across this mysterious disc, adorned with a strange bearded mystic, painted with a third eye, a triangle superimposed over his face, that photo affixed to a cool looking digipak, surrounded by a mandala of some sort, lots of pyramid imagery, a Japanese style obi, and some strings with bells attached. We threw it on, and BLAM, totally mesmerizing tripped out raga like trance, the opening track alone, the 17 minute title track we ended up playing over and over. Andee loved it so much he played it on his radio show, after which he seemingly randomly emailed a friend of his, to ask if he knew anything about said record. To which that friend responded "I SENT YOU THAT RECORD. TWO YEARS AGO!!!"
After enduring a bit of well deserved mockery, it was time to get down to business, and track some of these down for the store, and for YOU. Johnny Miller was a new name to us, but he played in a Chicago psych-kraut combo called Sadhu Sadhu, who we have yet to review on the list, but from whose ranks recent aQ Record Of The Weekers the Great Society Mind Destroyers were born. Miller though doesn't traffic in the same sort of blown out psychedelic heaviness as TGSMD, no all that shamanistic imagery was our first clue, but Miller is more about serious blissed out raga-drone, looped cyclical mesmer, heady ur-drone shimmer, and abstract free folk drift. The aforementioned title track is one of the greatest things we've ever heard, laying down a thick, slowly undulating sheet of high end shimmer, sounding like a dreamier more soft focus Sunroof!, underneath which, Miller lays down a mesmerizing latticework of melodies and rhythms, playful and looped, circular and cyclical, it adds a subtle bit of propulsion, to the otherwise seemingly weightless drift, he also adds soft swoops of backwards guitar, it's really utterly divine, and we say it a lot, but this is the sort of song that should probably go on forever, and we like to think does, somewhere.
But the cool thing about Miller's record is precisely that it does NOT just do that, instead, it's surprisingly varied, layering tinkling thumb piano melodies over wheezing harmoniums, wreathing simple steel string strum in clouds of simpler percussion and softly swirling tape hiss, unfurling spare, dreamlike Appalachian folk, bare and unadorned, simple and beautifully hushed, and unleashing some churning heavily distorted riffage beneath a glimmering sky of hypnotic looped electronics and buzzing synths, sounding like a fantastic hybrid of Zomes and Amps For Christ. The other epic here, a gorgeous 12 minute sprawl, does return to the sound of the opener, but adds some gorgeous crooned chantlike vocals, the result like some ancient spiritual ritual revved up and modernized, a buzz drenched blissed out mountain top raga.
LIMITED TO JUST 50 COPIES!! Each one in a hand numbered cardstock digipak, hand painted, silkscreened and stamped, with a Japanese style obi, a folded full color origami like insert, and a little string with bells hanging from the spine!"