A few years ago I heard a song called The Sun off of an excellent compilation of psych music from Korea. The compilation was called Beautiful Rivers And Mountains: The Psychedelic Rock Sound Of South Korea’s Shin Joong Hyun 1958-1974 and I always figured that the female vocalist was brought in for this session but that the song was released by Shin Joong Hyun. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that The Sun, or Haenim, was just one song off of an excellent album called Now by Kim Jung Mi which also included Your Dream. Of course the album was produced and written by Shin Joong Hyun and he provides the fuzzy guitar as well, but the whole album is really a treat. In addition to the compilation, Light in the Attic also reissued Now and it must have struck a chord with others because it appears to be sold out on their site. Light in the Attic is similar to Numero Group in that they appear to have been created to reissue things that I will like so if you like this and haven’t done so before, definitely check out their other releases.
Kim Jung Mi released two more records after Now, but only Now has been reissued by Light in the Attic. I don’t speak or read Korean so it’s hard to get too much information, but you can hear the other album she released in 1973 here.
Though this sounds like it was commissioned by an advertising agency on behalf of Big Kite, it is actually the title track from the debut of a 1960s family band. The work of the Dedrick siblings went largely unnoticed until it found a cult following decades later thanks to attention from artists like Cornelius and Pizzicato Five and others in Japan’s Shibuya-kei scene. The Free Design released eight albums with Project 3 before disbanding in 1972, with Kites Are Fun remaining their only appearance on pop charts. In the mid-70s they formed the core of the Star-Scape Singers, a vocal ensemble assembled by New Age Renaissance man Kenneth G. Mills. Mills is a fascinating character at the heart of the New Age movements of the mid-20th century. After a transcendental experience that convinced him he had a duty to speak “the Word” again, he agreed to speak to his inner experiences and spiritual feelings but only if others sought him out to do so. He described his speaking as
an impromptu performance under the impelling of divine ideas. It is a projection from another dimension or plane of consciousness, causing those prepared to hear to awaken to the higher or greater possibilities of living beyond the limits of three dimensions and translating what seems to be the ordinary into another level of consideration
You can hear/see the Star-Scape singers perform one of Mills’ original compositions here, which he composed in the hopes of being a song that the whole world could sing together to unify all people. Kites Are Fun was reissued by Corenlius’ label Trattoria in 1994 and then by Light in the Attic.
If this doesn’t appear in a Wes Anderson movie at some point I’ll be shocked.
Gimmer Nicholson had been poking around the Memphis blues/folk scene for a number of years before moving to San Francisco in the mid-1960s. He recorded a few demos on a crude reel-to-reel deck and sent them to his brother, who brought the tapes in a brown paper bag to Terry Manning back in Memphis. When Nicholson returned from the Bay Area, he went into the studio with Terry-the same studio where Big Star would later record-and they began combining Nicholson’s acoustic playing with electronic delays.
In a forum post about this release at ProsoundWeb, Manning described the recording process
I recorded on an 8 track 1″ Scully at 30 ips. Although most of the guitar is acoustic, there is actually some electric also. Gimmer had a Gibson Howard Roberts, a beautiful jazz guitar that is almost an acoustic (I liked it so much that I bought one a few years later, but I stupidly sold it when I moved here to Nassau in ’92). He played that through a Fender Bassman blackface amp, through some kind of guitar delay/repeat box I had, which had just come out. Gimmer was euphoric about the delay, and loved to set it very long, then play a phrase, and when it repeated, he would play live a copasetic second phrase, then do the same for the next bar, playing with the second phrase, and so on (sort of like a “round”). When we did the acoustics, I got the longest tape delay that I could to accomplish this. It had to be carefully timed to the tempo of the composition. EMT 140 plate reverb was also used.
With recording finished, Manning began the mastering process only after providing a rough mix for Nicholson to take home. This proved disastrous, as Nicholson was outraged when he heard this new, cleaned up mix and left Memphis in a huff. The album gathered dust and Manning moved on, but not before the sounds of the album would infuse other artists in that milieu, most notably Chris Bell. Manning released the album, titled Christopher Idylls on CD in 1994 on his own imprint, Lucky Seven Records, the first time the songs got any wider audience. However, the good folks over at Light in the Attic Records have recently announced a new vinyl reissue of Christopher Idylls that is available for pre-order and set to ship later this month. Gimmer Nicholson passed away a few years ago after years of working for the Red Cross, according to Manning. He had contacted him regarding some new compositions, but nothing materialized. It appears this beautiful release will have to suffice.