The Mysticism of Sound and Cosmic Language by Hy MayaRelease date: November 24, 2017
Label: Smog Veil Records
There’s a theory among music fans that with the advent of everything online, there are no more hidden gems from bygone eras to be discovered. And yet, from time to time, a number of-of devoted reissue labels, big and small, keep coming up with such gems that were either completely forgotten or never actually saw the light of the day in their own time. Smog Veil Records from Cleveland are obviously devoted to unearthing music worth being presented to current music fans that originates from the local scene or close by. The obvious reaction would be that the supply of quality material would be limited. But on the evidence of this, their Hy Maya reissue (well, actually an issue, to be precise) with such a psychedelic title as is The Mysticism of Sound and Cosmic Language, they’ve struck on some golden musical streak over there.
The album consists actually of previously unissued jam/improvisation tapes and some live recordings done in 1972 and 1973 by a loose musical collective led by Robert Bensick, that came about as a part of his performance piece at Cleveland State University. The revolving membership, among others, included Scott Krauss and Alan Ravenstine, later members of Pere Ubu, while Ravenstine, also made his name as a member of Red Krayola and solo as well.The number of musicians varied, as did the input of various musical elements, but although the audio fidelity is as expected for the music that most of the time wasn’t actually recorded under standard studio conditions, its quality is at moments astounding and never drops under at least very interesting.
The Eastern spiritualism-inspired title serves as a good indicator of the wide range of musical influences that could be heard on this album – from the expected psychedelia of the period that preceded it, through space explorations of Sun Ra, to then-current influences from bands like Faust, Can and Amon Duul II, actually negating the notion that Krautrock was late in catching up in America. It also definitely serves as an informative guide where bands like Ubu got their inspiration later on. Some of the material like ‘The Fabric of Time and Space’ is of a purely improvisational, exploratory nature but even today still attracts the listener, while quite a big part of it, like the monumental ‘Dance of Illusion (Camel Song)’ and ‘Consumption of the Core Self’ (uncannily sounding like stuff later done over the Pond by Rip, Rig &Panic), are simply brilliant. And then there are over two hours of stuff like that.
This Hy Maya double LP (CD, download, whatever) is actually the third album in a second special series Smog Veil has done so far, so obviously they know something we don’t since The Mysticism of Sound and Cosmic Language is both mystical and cosmic.