The cost of entry to the music industry is lower than ever. Record at home and release online. You don't need an expensive studio, production team or record label any more. Those things may well help, but they're not necessities in 2022, and that makes it a lot easier for personal projects such as this to see the light of day. Mud Spencer is a one man stoner rock project from Indonesia that's so old school that it can't even be called stoner rock. It's heavy psychedelia, because that's what a lot of the comparable bands called themselves back in 1969, man.
Which ones? Well, Back to Origin sounds like the 13th Floor Elevators starting to evolve into Black Sabbath. The title track features lots of wailing guitar and wild keyboard chords but, under them, there's an older rock 'n' roll framework, so the song sounds like Canned Heat turning into Vanilla Fudge and eventually even into Hawkwind. The Shelter kicks off with down and dirty blues, played slow but with some vicious tambourine, then it grows into a ponderous monster that just wanders off to explore what proto-doom will become.
Remember when Jimi Hendrix decided he was fed up playing his own material on one of Lulu's TV shows and launched into Sunshine for Your Love instead? Quest for Fire feels like the opposite, an initial cover of a Cream track turning into the man behind Mud Spencer, Sergio Garcia, launching himself into the stratosphere instead, like early Hawkwind. The Cheating Mole feels like the same thing but starting from a different place in psychedelic funk. This one sets an infectious funky riff into place and then improvises all over it. It's Sun Ra jamming with the Specials.
Ride the Mammoth hints at ethnic flavour but expands into space rock and proto-doom. This one scoots along gloriously, like an animated Indonesian rocket ship hurtling through the cosmos. I'm reminded of a short film I screened last year at my Apocalypse Later International Fantastic Film Festival called The Prospector. It paired a solo independent space miner with heavy surf rock from an American band called the Shivas. This killer could have had a place on that soundtrack without any hesitation. Tumulus starts out ethnic too and then adds the surf and even spaghetti western soundtrack styling.
Does any of that help? Probably not. Let's just say that this is vibrant music that goes back in time a lot further than we might initially think, into blues, rock 'n' roll and pop, drags them all forward to the psychedelic late sixties and then splits what we know off into a parallel dimension where an imaginative decade of heavy music can grow into new directions. I'm reminded of steampunk as a mindset that thinks that we didn't get what we were promised, so rewinds history back to a point where we can start again and do it right this time. I have a feeling that this album is Sergio Garcia doing that with music. Everything is built on roots we know but it veers away from our timeline in 1969, as if the last half century of history was just an acid trip taken by some hippie at Woodstock.
Of course, regardless of how much surf and space rock there is here, this would have been a heavy album indeed in 1969. Garcia crushes on songs like Ride the Mammoth and Tumulus, and wraps up his album with a heavy plodder in Narcolepsy that out-plods even The Shelter. This one simply ends too, with no direction forward determined, as if it's challenging us to pick up the baton and take it further down the track. Is this heavy psychedelia as mission statement? Screw fame, man. All you have to do is play.
And, if you're Sergio Garcia, you'll record your heavy space jams on your bed, then wander outside and ride your trail motorbike up the Javanese volcano of Ciremai to mix it on your iPad. That's the freedom of invention, dude. I believe I just took the red pill. I'm staying in Wonderland and seeing how deep the rabbit hole goes.