Saturday Night, Sunday Late Afternoon #2

Once again, get comfy, people. Whether you've been out all night, filling your body with things that have no business being in there, or whether this is your only day off to lounge about in your secluded back garden, soaking up sun for some free and delicious alone time, here are sounds, stories and even philosophy to make immediate reality take a back seat to flights of fancy/higher truth (delete as appropriate).

Welcome to the second instalment of Toilet Guppies' escapist series, Saturday Night, Sunday Late Afternoon, where voice and instrument collide to create a third eye, transforming the listener into a sightseeing astral traveller. (Tourist, if you must.) This time we're heading to the Orient. That's right, the Orient. A time when Hong Kong was still British, and India was the crown jewel of her empire. An era when most of Southeast Asia was known as French Indochina, the War on Drugs was called the Opium Wars and the Hippie Trail had not yet become the Banana Pancake Circuit. Forget the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Arab Spring and the fact that everyone's big in Japan these days; we're going to a time before Gandhi, Mao, Edward Saïd and Sai Baba.

Drift off to exotica instrumentals written and recorded by people who never even left the Northern Hemisphere, let alone the Western. Follow the stated intentions of an American to go to spiritual India to get away from American war in Vietnam (and be a little afraid for the Indians). Get a little randy to sultry sitarsploitation by '60s hipsters who must have thought moksha was a kind of particularly intense orgasm. See through early acid enthusiasts trying to lend their cockamamy theories credibility by associating them with the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but allow yourself to float along with the hypnotic sounds and languid narration regardless. Endure idiotic Christian-Buddhist syncretism until eventually you're able to enjoy the sonic textures and unbridled enthusiasm of its hippie reciter, even loving her a little for her ditzy whimsy. (She never hurt nobody.) Marvel at occasionally abrasive instances of original New Age music, from a time before the entire genre degenerated into mere spiritual laxative. Not yet corrupted by washes of synthesizer, wind chimes and whale song, relish in its evocatively sampled field recordings, drones and sudden bursts of disharmony. Concentrate on nice, piano bar Beat poetry inspired by the Buddha, as well as a genuinely Vedic take on ancient Indian philosophy, from one of the first Occidental popularisers of Oriental mysticism, imparting actual wisdom. The latter will be the closest you'll get to the real thing on this collection. But then this is all about fantasy.

If you're an Occidental woman, or man, in an Oriental mood for dreaming, Toilet Guppies prescribes that you either sit upright in the lotus position and close your eyes, or else lie down to smoke a little—opium or hashish, take your pick—as you listen to this drone-and-sitar studded comp. If the lotus position is too taxing on your joints, or you don't have an opium or even hash connection, I recommend making yourself comfortable in plenty of heat and, where possible, breeze.

May you be transported.


Saturday Night, Sunday Late Afternoon #1

For a long time, I have fantasised of a Toilet Guppies soiree—a Sunday salon for hungover dreamers and incoming comedowns. A lounge where people may come to enjoy an afternoon of soothing atmospherics that, unlike café chill out or barely existent ambient music, are tripped up by mysterious sounds, unexpected instrumentation and swirling words. The place would be decked out in soft, Afghan carpets littered with ridiculously large cushions, and lit with scented candles distancing you from the odours of the body. Bearded ladies would serve you space cakes, opium tea and foot rubs. All of it serenaded by a soft, sonic dreamscape.

These sounds are for reclining, not for dancing. They're not for the moment, but for taking you away from your immediate surroundings. Knowing that most people don’t listen to lyrics, I’ve selected spoken word pieces to take the listener on a guided tour away from the body, sequenced in a way to tell a continuous narrative of sorts. Of course, an unbroken series of spoken word pieces would demand too much in terms of attention span, and grate against the patience. So every spoken word piece is interspersed with an evocative instrumental to flesh out the story. Most of these contain soundscapes beyond the merely musical, with field recordings, found sounds and various imitation foleying to convey the sea, wind or places far away from the enclosure of present reality.

Each compilation will have a theme, and for this first instalment it is wind and sea. Hear a mish-mash of exotica, tropicália, easy listening, Space Age pop, New Age folk, surf rock, golden oldies, novelty goofs, avant-garde experiments, field recordings, serious philosophy, earnest poetry, ribbing parodies, horror stories, unintentional outsider art, bandwagon psychedelia and various forms of exploitation genres, and be transported.

Now, these words and tunes may be, in part or in whole, naff, corny, silly, stupid, kitsch or poor taste. But everything is flawed, and sometimes the flaw is the most poignant characteristic. To enjoy something that’s also funny (perhaps unintentionally) is not a form of sarcasm. It is possible to take pleasure in something without taking it or yourself too seriously. There is no posturing smugness on this comp—no pop culture references and obscurity for the sake of it. All of the pieces of music here are eminently listenable, some on multiple levels, even. Nor is this compilation—with its mostly old music—an expression of irony’s kissing cousin, nostalgia. It's good, clean fun, that's all.

Just what you need after a night on the tiles.