Najbolji freak-out album '60-ih. Nekoliko stoljeća ispred svog vremena. U jednoj verziji album se zove Cave Rock, u drugoj Orgasm.
Already commercially successful as tune-smiths for teenyboppers, Austin Grasmere and Brian Elliot approached Bernard Stollman looking to focus their talents on something more original and unrestrained. Stollman asked, “What would be your theme?” and Elliot replied: “Everything is one.” Bernard said, “Go do it.” What followed was Cromagnon's (Grasmere, Elliot and the Connecticut Tribe) non-linear journey through the subconscious, weaving together bizarre instrumentation and meter with a psychotic blending of musical styles. Bagpipes, pounding percussion, blood-curdling yelps, chanting, laughing, and billowing subterranean rumblings create the otherworldly soundscape that is Cave Rock. Heralded as one of the best freak-out records of all time, Cave Rock was ridiculously ahead of its time and brings to mind the savage sound-fuckery of Nurse with Wound and Throbbing Gristle as well as the hallucinations of early Red Krayola.
"An aural stew of experimental vocal sounds (tribal chanting, eerie whispering, animal-like screeching, monster sounding growls, ghostly howls, outright screaming, violent puking sounds, etc), various effects (over-dubbed sound bites played backwards, old sirens, common household sounds, manipulated electronics, field recordings) and the occasional use of a conventional instrument (spooky bagpipes, frantic rhythm guitar, scratchy fiddle) that are all meshed and held together with various forms of primitive percussion. A couple tracks have no rhythm instruments and are simply gravity defying acts of freeform music. Surprisingly, after being subjected to over 30 minutes of unintelligible voices, Cromagnon finally reap the benefits of evolution and use coherent words from the English language on the final two songs on the album. Cromagnon is ominous and experimental tribal music for the bad acid trip." - J Scott Brubig
“An anomaly, even on the always far out ESP label, Cromagnon was the brainchild of Brian Eliot and Austin Grasmere,...They made a truly inspired music, a sort of Dadaist psychedelic folk, tribal and raw, ridiculous but enchanting. It's hard to believe that a record as completely far-out as Orgasm was recorded in 1969. Bands these days can't be this whacked even if they try, especially if they try." – Andee Connors
Originally released in 1969 (as Orgasm), Cromagnon’s first and only full-length is intriguing and utterly confounding, a jumble of rackety percussion, chants, shouts, moans, giggles, whispers, drones, found sounds, bizarre rituals, ethno-freak-outs and one actual song, “Caledonia,” a sort of metal bagpipe reel. Its two main songwriters, Austin Grasmere and Brian Eliot, were, by all accounts, bumping hard against the limits of writing bubblegum pop for money. They heard somehow about the eccentric ESP-Disk label and dropped in to its studios for one day to record this odd, possibly brilliant, but only marginally listenable CD. The album went on through the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s to become a kind of lost Atlantis type of recording, heard about more often than heard, an entry on Stephen Stapleton’s famous list. It was released on CD for the first time in 1993, again in 2000, once more in 2005 and this time, possibly prodded by Ghost’s cover of “Caledonia” two years ago, in 2009. It is always released by the original label, ESP-Disk, and the critical reaction always seems to be the same: How could anything this weird, this prefigurative of industrial out-rock and experimental psyche have possibly been produced in 1969?
Certainly, you can listen a long time without hearing much overt reference to the 1960s. There’s a jangly, campfire-ish guitar at the foundation of “Crow of the Black Tree,” though it’s mostly obscured by wild group shrieks and moans, women and men together, though not exactly in unison. Scrubbed and well-behaved 1960s radio-jingle harmonies kick off “Fantasy,” but it doesn’t take long for the cut to dissolve into maniacal cackles and an altered voice careening through Doppler-altered non-linear observations (“I’m bleeding.” “Having died there…”). The tone is both stone-aged and futuristic, sirens cut through with stray radio broadcasts, tribal celebrations framed by electronic squiggles and blasts. “Caledonia,” by a huge margin the most accessible cut on the disc, thunders with drums, whines with bagpipes. Other bands of the era – Pentangle, Fairport Convention, etc. – were working with updated takes on Celtic folk, of course, but none of them were adding this kind of harsh, over-amplified vocals.
In fact, most of the bands that Cromagnon recalls – Faust, Throbbing Gristle, Nurse with Wound, etc. – didn’t exist in 1969. The band’s total disregard for melody, structure, narrative or time signature is shockingly modern not just for 1969, but even now. “Ritual Feast of the Libido” tests the listener with an extended barrage of really unpleasant, unmusical sounds – a whip-beat, and a man howling in either pain or pleasure. “Organic Sundown,” where members of the “Tribe” credited on the album trade whispers, yelps, hisses and intonations of the word “Sleep,” rides a ramshackle percussive rhythm that could be NNCK or Sun City Girls.- Jennifer Kelly
Turns out the 1960’s were even more ground breaking than we previously thought. The 60’s already pushed many boundaries in music by creating heavy metal, Baroque pop, prog rock and psychedelic rock. However, those innovations are nothing compared to what’s on 1969’s Cave Rock, a radical album for an already radical decade.
The album starts out strong with “Caledonia,” an opening that is guaranteed to cause shivers. Anticipating industrial music, the loud threatening whispers, the heavy percussion and bagpipes all create a march of impending doom. Other than “Caledonia,” only “Crow of the Black Tree,” a repetitive acoustic guitar tribal chant, even closely resembles a song. For the rest of the album, imagine collection of “Revolution 9s,” but even more indulgent and frightening. “Ritual Feast of the Libido” only consists of cave men grunts. “Organic Sundown” contains people pounding on pots and yelling gibberish. “Fantasy” starts out like a doo-wop song before literally becoming a siren. “Toth, Scribe I” is “Caledonia” slowed down and it sounds like an explosion in slow motion. “Gentalia” mixes A capella singing, spoken word and high-pitched squealing. The final track, “First World of Bronze,” juxtaposes a calming Gregorian chant with guitar shredding. Easy listening this is not.
Yes, there are many faults with Cave Rock. No other track comes close in terms of quality to “Caledonia.” “Crow of the Black Tree” and “Organic Sundown” drone on for too long and become tedious and repetitive. “Gentalia” and “Ritual Feast of the Libido” are too unmusical to even be analyzed. But because Cromagnon keeps everything unpredictable, it keeps you drawn into what Cromagnon could do next. “Fantasy,” “Toth, Scribe I” and “First World of Bronze” all evoke a sense of panic. If there’s one thing Cave Rock can effectively do, it’s keeping you on your toes.
The sheer lack of structure and predictability, the juxtaposition of vastly different musical elements and the fact that this was released in 1969 makes this album sound otherworldly. If you didn’t know the back story, Cave Rock is like an out-of-place artifact or a lost 8mm film. Cave Rock is too indulgent to be enjoyed, but the album’s atmosphere, along with awesomeness of “Caledonia,” makes this album worth challenging yourself with. - metacriticdoesntreviewthis.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/review-cromagnon-cave-rock-1969/
Okay, we really went into the vaults for this one, kids. Cromagnon was a project formed in the late ’60s for the influential ESP-Disk label, which put out some of the wildest, most freeform music of the era, including albums by the Fugs, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and even the godfather of the psychedelic era, Timothy Leary. The official story behind the band is that it was started by a pair of successful pop songwriters named Brian Elliot and Austin Grasmere who wanted to do an experimental album. When they approached ESP-Disk founder Bernard Stollman about the project, he allegedly asked what their theme would be, and when they replied, “Everything is one,” he gave them the go-ahead.
At this point, the story gets a little murky. Supposedly, Elliot and Grasmere decamped to some kind of hippie commune to record with a group of musicians known only as the “Connecticut Tribe” that may or may not have included future members of The Residents and Negativland. Whoever they were, the Tribe helped Elliot and Grasmere record a single album under the Cromagnon name. Originally released in 1969 as Orgasm and later reissued as Cave Rock, it’s an absolute mind-fuck of a record, a dadaist/tribal freakout combining primitive percussion and musique concrète; creepy non-verbal groans, grunts, chants and shrieks; bagpipes; Hendrix-esque blasts of psych-rock guitar; Brian Wilson harmonies; sampled radio broadcasts; and a whole host of other sounds whose origins are impossible to discern. At the time of its release, it must’ve been enough to send even most the tripped-out “Revolution No. 9″ enthusiasts scurrying back to their parents’ Johnny Mathis records.
The mystery of the Connecticut Tribe’s identity, and the complete lack of any further Cromagnon releases, has helped fuel the myths and rumors surrounding the group. Even the identities of Elliot and Grasmere have remained somewhat enigmatic. Who were these alleged bubblegum hitmakers turned hippie/freakout psychonauts? And why have we heard nothing further from them since 1969?
Well, we can’t answer that last question, but thanks to the crack team of researchers here at TWBITW, we can shed some light on the true story behind Cromagnon. Turns out the “Connecticut Tribe” wasn’t a hippie commune at all, but a bunch of dudes from a ’60s pop-rock group called The Boss Blues (plus various friends, guest musicians, and even people who just happened to be passing by the studio when they needed an extra pair of hands to bang on stuff). Elliot was the band’s producer and Grasmere was their lead guitarist; you can see a picture of the band’s full lineup, including the late Grasmere, on this guy’s page (you’ll have to scroll down a bit, but it’s there). In 2002, the three surviving members of The Boss Blues–Sal Salgado, Peter Bennett and Vinnie Howley–gave an interview with Connecticut radio station WXCI where they talked at length about Cromagnon and the recording process for Orgasm (which was in fact not recorded on a hippie commune, but mainly in a makeshift studio in New York City). In 2009, some kind soul transcribed the interview for the ESP-Disk website, so the band’s history is now laid out for all to see. (Sorry, everyone who was really, really sure The Residents were actually behind the whole thing.) The interview is long but well worth reading for anyone who’s at all interested in the band; it also features MP3s of most of the tracks from Orgasm, so you can hear for yourself just how off-the-deep-end these guys got.
Sadly, both Grasmere and Elliot–the latter of whom, the other guys admit, was the principal architect of the Cromagnon sound–have passed away, so despite the occasional reunion-tour rumors, we’ve probably heard all we’ll ever hear out of this strange little footnote from the psychedelic era.
As far as we can tell, this video for Cromagnon’s best-known track, “Caledonia,” is not an official one, but it’s pretty awesome nonetheless. Trippiest use of bagpipes ever? We’re gonna say “aye.” - - weirdestbandintheworld.com/2010/04/28/cromagnon/