The Time And Space Machine
Taste The Lazer
, May 11th, 2012 05:35
"I'm trying to make music that has a feeling of sensation to it, that moves your head, heart and body. I'm attempting to take the dynamics you get from a really strong piece of electronic dance music — hypnosis, repetition, trance, elevation, tension and release — and putting them into a band. It can only turn out to be psychedelic." So says Richard Norris whose Time & Space Machine project nestles in the same cosmic yet funky corner as bands as disparate yet connected as Wooden Shjips to Psychemagik. If the common bond between these bands is the kaleidoscopic glue of psychedelic music and what the aforementioned west coast space rockers call the "primitive dance" of groups like The Velvet Underground, it's something Norris is well placed to deliver.
As a teenager living in St Albans, Norris worked at Phil Smee's Bam Caruso label where he was introduced to the wild and wonderful British psych music of the 60s, getting a taste for records like Blossom Toes We Are Ever So Clean. In 1987 with his cohort Genesis P-Orridge he recorded the UK's first Acid Track 'Jack The Tab' and dived head first into a scene that he saw continuing the link between dance music and psychedelia that goes way back to David Mancuso's incense filled loft in the late '60s. Forming The Grid with Soft Cell's Dave Ball he was responsible for wonderfully experimental pop gems like 'Flotation' about as good an aural document of those heady times as you will hear.
When those mysterious Beyond The Wizard Sleeves records first surfaced on 3rd Mynd, it was not perhaps that surprising to discover that Norris was one of the conspirators. Alongside production partner Erol Alkan, this was the first time the 60s obsessive really started mining the music that had first inspired him, reworking tracks Illés' 'A Bolond Lány' and The Rolling Stones '2000 Light Years from Home'. The remixes that followed (collated on the Re-Animations LP) brought more of a beats edge to the lysergic flow, which is really where the first T&SM LP picked up.
While titles like 'Mushroom Family' might have given away the source of the inspiration, there was little of the far-out psych of groups like Samsara Blue Experiment, and in fact Set the Phazer to Stun shared more in common with the Balearic head music of bands like Quiet Village or the West Coast cosmic rock of Moon Duo. This was music that was more at home on an Andrew Weatherall play list than a Mojo reader's Top 100. in fact, Weatherall's show on XOYO radio was a perfect place to hear the wonderfully entitled 'Pill Party in India' from this the second T&SM LP. This glorious slab of lysergic dance music is about the heaviest track here but the whole sound of the album is denser yet looser and more assured than on the debut.
Another band to successfully meld rock and dance were of course New Order and there are touches of the band circa Movement on the opener 'Hiding in the Light' with soaring keys and melancholic guitar lines worked around a great cowbell hook. Picking up where the brilliant T&SM mix of Primal Scream's 'Can't Go Back' left off, the driving kraut/psych of 'Black Rainbow' looks to West Germany rather than Northern England with a track that reflects Richard Norris love of the freakier end of Germany's 70s movement. In fact the whole revolutionary electronic impulse of the krautrock scene can be viewed as the foundation for what Norris is doing in the space between dance and head music. But that is not to say that this latest outing is weighed down by its influences or in awe of the past and tracks like 'Studio 23' are tailor made for Stoke Newington basements in 2012 – dark and dirty dance music in fact.
Bringing us back to earth gently, the closing smoker's triplet of 'Magic Mountain', 'Flow River Flow' and 'Good Morning' are tailor made for that third summer of love we so need right now. With hook ups with the likes of Psychemagik and remixes for St Etienne on the way and rumours of a T&SM psych warehouse party, this looks like being another summer touched by the Balearic bliss of Richard Norris. On the eve of the LP's release he summed up the the new direction while whetting the appetite for the band's next phase: "I've been thinking more about how the record is going to sound live, when the five piece live Time and Space Machine band hits gigs and festivals next year. The result is a looser, more played record, with tracks like 'Black Rainbow' typifying the sound—hypnotic, motorik, psychedelic grooves and sounds that will be stretched, twisted, expanded on stage." The Green Man awaits.