Magnificence In The Memory
01. Camp Of The Gypsies 6:50
02. Nam Yo Ho Renge Kyo 3:53
03. Treat You So Right 3:25
04. Sunshine Man 6:38
05. Most Prized Possession Of All 1:40
06. Fertility Dance 6:50
07. Father Whistling 2:53
08. It Doesn't Matter What You Do 6:10
09. It's A Knack 2:10
Recorded in Source Family days, 1973 and 1974.
- Father Yod / vocals, kettle drum, gong
- Djinn / guitar
- Sunflower / bass
- Octavius / drums
Yet another comp of unreleased Yahowha 13 songs, drawn from the Family's archives. While the quality of the music is generally high, the overall effect is diminished somewhat by the scattershot approach. Give us complete recordings, please.
Tere's so much easily-found information about 1970's spiritual group the Source Family, and its musical arm Yahowha13, that covering it all in a record review is both impossible and pointless. Suffice to say that this fascinating community, centered around the charismatic Father Yod and his vegetarian L.A. restaurant The Source, was really into rituals-- especially 3 a.m. meditations. These were sometimes followed by jam sessions, often because Yod simply said "Let's play some music!" The result: nine albums released under the YaHoWha13 name in the 70s, all reissued a decade ago as part of the stunning 13-disc set God and Hair (a set curated by Seeds founder Sky Saxon, a devoted Source member who has since sadly passed away).
But much more of the group's music-- a raw mix of psych, improv, and spoken-word-- was recorded by Source member Isis Aquarian. Magnificence in the Memory represents a small slice of her vast archive, known to insiders as "The Lost Music". The album came together when Source compatriot and No Neck Blues Band member Dave Nuss combed through some of Isis' tapes, settling on nine tracks totaling 40 minutes. Nuss intended Magnificence to flow like an album rather than a sampler, and his work paid off, as the record has a remarkably consistent vibe.
How that vibe strikes you will depend on your tolerance for loose, meandering sounds, recorded with varying fidelity and overseen by a frontman who valued enthusiasm over convention or precision. For reference, the collective-based music of descendents like Sun City Girls, Bardo Pond, and Nuss's NNCK comes to mind. YaHoWha13's music sometimes sounds like rock, jazz, blues, even pop. But it's rarely anything you could call easy listening.
Still, you might be surprised by how interesting Magnificence is considering its origin. The Source Family had a lot to say about life and how to live it, but in YaHoWha13, the music was the message. So rather than opening with loud proselytizing, Magnificence begins with Yod's slow whisper on the slinky "Camp of the Gypsies". Halfway through, he suddenly screams "Let's Go!," and the band slams into raucous jamming. But even that sounds more like a cloudy seance than preachy gospel. When Yod howls "I'm gonna lead you home, but not in the usual way!," it's hard to deny the second half of that lyric, even if you aren't sold on the first.
The rest of Magnificence slyly dodges expectation. Wry humor dots "Nam Yo Ho Renge Kyo", whose anonymous intro is delivered in what sounds like Bugs Bunny's faux Asian accent. The clucking guitars of "Treat You So Right" bear an the odd logic akin to Captain Beefheart, while Yod's flute-like whistle on "Sunshine Man" creates an acid-soaked jingle. Sure, there are recognizable hippie moves here-- "Fertility Dance" is basically a drum circle, and "It's a Knack" is weirdo-folk in the vein of Syd Barrett or Skip Spence. But that doesn't diminish the warpy noise of "It Doesn't Matter What You Do" or the wind-and-drone duet of "Father Whistling". Even those tracks reflect the time period, but they still don't sound much like anything else made then or now.
The uninitiated might wonder whether Magnificence is the best introduction to YaHoWha13, as opposed to God and Hair or individual album reissues. But the group was so devoted to Yod's vision that pretty much everything they did provides a portal into their sonic world. Magnficence in the Memory is simply a chance to enter new corners of the Source universe, and future releases-- whether archival or new (the band still tours, though Father Yod passed away in 1975)-- should offer more doors to YaHoWha13's unique perception.