The Twin Taboos, or, The Revolution According to Anton A. Newcombe

It would be insensitive to talk of you to lovers, former or present. It would be inappropriate to mention certain things—the stuff at the very core, yours and mine—to your family. Or to mine, who have finally taken your picture down. (An act pregnant with delicate symbolism.) There are things your friends wouldn't want to hear, and other things my friends wouldn't want to know. You're not forgotten, but you are a secret.

Of course, a secret and something forgotten are much the same. Forgive me, then, for remembering you in public. But today would've been your 30th birthday.

I recall your balancing act between anger and silliness—feisty opinions and an equally indomitable instinct for fun, each keeping the other in check. Your retro investigations into decades past finally brought you to the 1960s. Which made sense: as a decade it was all whimsy dotted with rage. Paisley naïveté, unintentionally funny bandwagon psychsploitation by the Man (that managed to be simultaneously cute and cynical), outbursts of flamboyant violence, the sweat & stink of rock 'n' roll, headache-inducing Op-Art and radioactive colours like so much astral sick exploding over retinas everywhere… the '60s had it all.

So I've made you a little mixtape of garage revival retro rock from a future you never got to see, sent by mind transferral to a past that still lives at an undisclosed address somewhere in the time-space continuum. This is what I'd DJ at your birthday bash, pouring loudness into the void, had your final birthday not been an unbelievable five(!) years ago now. Garage-psych seemed to appeal to you for its mix of chirpy sing-along melodies, spiralling, childish riffs and the occasional psych-out/vomited vitriol.

You appreciated that Hell hath no fury like a hippie scorned, her anger surfacing despite nobler intentions. A punk is expected to be furious, advertising his insufferably righteous indignation with slashed T-shirt and jagged 'do (all Rage Against The Sewing Machine). A hippie, on the other hand, is supposed to be above the indignity of negativity. Bitterness is selfish—not at all cosmic. Which means you can trust the hippie's rage to be real. She won't wear her pain on a self-harmed sleeve, like so many fashion statements. No, instead she'll steal into some celebrity compound at night to eviscerate the pregnant, love-bliss-consciousness only the slimy sheen atop the cloudy undercurrents of a mind that's bottomless, if not exactly profound.

Between the wide-eyed, chemically enhanced quest for enlightenment and the scuzzy hormones letting frustrations as old as our species rip & tear, some kind of balance is upheld. Whether funny or cathartic, the mid-to-late '60s delivered. The popular conception of the '60s, as curated by nostalgic revisionisms like Forrest Gump and that Doors film, has been amended somewhat by the recent surge of garage in «indie rock». There were similar revivals in the '80s (Spacemen 3, the Jesus And Mary Chain) and the '90s (the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Make-Up), spilling over into mainstream acts touted as «garage» in the early noughties (White Stripes, the Strokes). But some of the most ballsy, grizzly psych-out garage acts have emerged even after that. In the end, even the Stooges were tempted out of hiding, leaving them little option but to reunite.

For post-pre-punk drenched in fuzz and reverb, however, little of late can compete with this batch of electric Kool-Aid freakouts. Catchily pissed or blissed out the one minute, cosmically paranoid the next, these acts have managed to replicate a period that spawned what is arguably the apotheosis of rock 'n' roll: a decade where record companies encouraged experimentation and independent labels spewed forth diamond-in-the-rough-hewn gems at a rate that still bewilders collectors, connoisseurs and DJs. (Before mp3s, mind.) An era where rock, so primitivistic at first, sat down with loftier ideals and artistic ambitions, but before everything got a little «complicated» with synthesizers, endless guitar solos, stadium tours, MTV and narcissism. Its sexual politics notwithstanding, the '60s were still a virgin moment, mythical by now, before prog, pop rock, MOR, grunge, New Romanticism, alt. rock, nu-metal and countless other offshoots jutted persistently against its pristine hymen.

And while goths and metallers obsess over death as part of the wider Christian narrative of Hell and redemption, '60s rock and its adherents were, and are, less taken with childish ideas of mor(t)ality, and more concerned with coming to terms with the inevitable event that, for lack of a better word, we may call spiritual. No crosses and makeup in demonstrably glum black and white here; '60s skulls were dayglo, the emerging exit a psychedelic, decidedly groovy affair for which you have to prepare. Preferably with some drugs, a little sex and lots and lots of fuzz.

And screaming! Twisting and shouting as we know it began in the '60s, its echoes still more spine chilling, more of a call to wild abandon than the gargles of black metal.

To imbue your day with a little innocence absent even from the above '60s revivalism—contrary to popular belief, a fondness for the grit of five decades past doesn't have to be soppy or nostalgic—I'm also posting this old doozy of a playlist of music actually recorded in the 1960s that I never got around to sending you, in those days I was still trying to seduce you, unaware that you had already seduced me:

You had me at «We're in public!», hissed at me after our first night, as I tried to hold your hand in Tesco's…