Written by Adam Kaufman
This is a list of some of my favorite trippy albums. I’m highly confident that you’ll find any of them sufficient the next time you’re in a situation that calls for something potently mind-expanding. I should note that I separate trippy from psychedelic. Psychedelic music is, to me, energizing body music. On the other hand, trippy music is more contemplative brain music and much less suited to sociable situations (unless, of course, the situation in question is you and two or three tight bros sipping down bottles of Robitussin). You might now be thinking that my concept of trippy music sounds seriously boring. Fair enough, I guess. Although I would gently suggest the issue might be the gates to the synaptic pathways that lead to the mind’s eye in your particular head might not be sufficiently ajar.
I’ll list the albums chronologically and try to helpfully describe them so you can decide for yourself if you’d like to give them a listen or not.
Annexus Quam – Osmose (1970)
Sounds like the ghosts of a drug-addled but now dead college rock band decided to record a jazz album in their haunted house using a still living homeless man they found sleeping in a cardboard box as a drummer.
Popol Vuh – In Den Garten Pharoas (1971)
Sounds like what interfaith religious ceremonies might sound like in the secret city built into the center of the Earth if the Earth is actually hollow and the city is populated by Tibetan monks, Medieval explorers and German time travelers.
Dom – Edge Of Time (1971)
Sounds like a frozen ice cube of distilled sadness extracted from the hearts of some Floyd loving Eastern Bloc-ers who made an album to express their shared experiences growing up in cold communist countries where they could be shot in their collective heads by secret police at any time to die like bleeding dogs in the feet of snow piling up outside the basements in which they clandestinely practiced.
Gila – Gila AKA Free Electric Sound (1971)
Sounds like a band found a mirror through which they could peer into a parallel dimension which was an almost exact duplicate of our own and saw their doubles looking through the same mirror back into our dimension and the two bands, which were really one band if you think about it, tried to record an album together in tandem, eyes locked on each other through the magical glass.
Älgarnas Trädgård – Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden (1972)
Sounds like a really hard to tune Swedish radio which can scan the entire timestream and is catching frequencies from the early dawn of Sweden all the way to its collapse thousands of years from now.
Terry Riley – Happy Ending: Music Composed For The Film Les Yeux Fermes (1972)
Sounds like if you were stabbed repeatedly in an alley and were crumpled there dying and your thoughts (happy thoughts, generally) were flashing through your head as you calmly bled out but you were found and brought to the hospital and were lying there as people spoke around you but you couldn’t make out what they were saying because you were gracefully floating into the light.
Bill Holt – Dreamies (1973)
Sounds like if two brief Beatle-ish songs became corporeal and snuck out of the studio where they were created, purchasing and ingesting some heavy psychedelics which caused them to lose their structural integrity and fall apart and they then limped back to the studio and tried desperately to put themselves back together but their brains were too hopelessly scrambled to do a rational job of what was now akin to placing an entire length of small intestine which has been ripped out of a belly neatly back into the appropriate abdominal cavity.
Code III – Planet Of Man (1974)
Sounds like what the produced only in audiobook format bible of a secret tribe of eyeless but generally technically proficient mountain dwelling humanoids might sound like.
Brainticket – Celestial Ocean (1974)
Sounds like a group of unstable Europeans on a bender met an Egyptian man for the first time in their lives and freaked out, assuming he was a time-traveling pharaoh infiltrating modern society and wrote an album to serve as a warning to the rest of humanity that a pharaonic invasion was underway.
Dzyan – Electric Silence (1974)
Sounds like a band was abducted by aliens who, from their hovering cloaked ship, noticed the arrogance of the band members and took them to their homeworld where they had to learn to play nicely with other musicians by jamming with the aliens and their otherworldly instruments or be devoured by the huge monstrous worm which ruled the planet with great wisdom from a pit in the center of the planet.
Brast Burn – Debon (1975)
Sounds like a talent show put on by the heavily medicated inmates of an insane asylum built deep in a cave on an isolated Japanese island who, once a year, were allowed to see daylight when they’d be brought from the dark cave bowels to its mouth, from where they performed for the residents of the neighboring islands who never came ashore, listening instead from the safety of their humble fishing boats.
Persona – Som (1975)
Sounds like there was an industrial accident which leaked an experimental gas possessing the properties of distorting all facets of reality including thought and sound into a studio where a couple of Brazilian folk musicians were trying to record an album and no one noticed until the album was already pressed and released.
Clearlight – Clearlight Symphony (1975)
Sounds like a soundtrack to a movie about the wedding ceremony between two sentient planetoids in a distant galaxy, in which as they slowly move towards each other the very laws of physics in their universe warp, resulting in, for instance, the stars realigning and gravity to fluctuate in ticklish ways, and how this affects the life forms on the planetoids who are bathing in the euphoric auras of love radiating from their home planets’ cores.
Takehisa Kosugi – Catch Wave (1975)
Sounds like a tongueless man trying to communicate with the whale aliens from “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” using a magical violin.
Far East Family – Parallel World (1976)
Sounds like if Pinocchio was a finely crafted synthesizer rather than a wooden puppet but still desired to be turned into a boy so it could try all the drugs it observed people using in the studio in which it was situated and a fairy finally granted this wish and the synthesizer boy with his microchippy brain was able to do all the drugs he desired and discovered Pink Floyd, inspiring him to record an album of his own.
Tim Blake – Crystal Machine (1977)
Sounds like being sucked into a dimensional vortex which gently but firmly spins you through various realities fast enough so everything looks like nothing more than vibrant and chattering pulses of color but not fast enough so that you’d throw up from the ride.
Haruomi Hosono & Tadanori Yokoo – Cochin Moon (1978)
Sounds like a futuristic city of tiny insectoid and humanoid drones has just woken up as a huge pink artificial sun rises in the background, signaling the beginning of their day of pacing back and forth down assembly lines working together to build a gigantic crystal pyramid.
Richard Pinhas – Chronolyse (1978)
Sounds like a Robert Fripp admirer welded a digital alarm clock to his own skull and jabbed the clock’s wiring right into his soft pink brain matter where the wires became entwined with his nerves and synapses and he expressed this situation through music.
Steve Hillage – Rainbow Dome Musick (1979)
Sounds like a colony of mellow hippies are in the middle of a rapturous ascension from their commune through a sunny sky towards a brightly glowing space ark, waiting to take them to a happier and more verdant place in the galaxy.
Jon Hassell – Dream Theory In Malaya (1981)
Sounds like being stalked through a digital forest by a cybernetic panther as pixelated crickets chirp all around. But in an exotic “on a safari” way and not in a nightmarish way.
Woo – It’s Cosy Inside (1989)
Sounds like two odd British brothers along with their guitars and percussion instruments were replaced at a recording session by robotic facsimiles who attempted to follow through on the album to maintain their ruse of humanity, only partially succeeding in keeping up the fleshy facade.