Record Crates United’s Keith Hadad takes the lead on a highly meditative sonic journey
As the radio show host and music writer for Record Crates United, music soundtracks pretty much every moment of Keith Hadad's day. But his favourite smoking activity is slipping on a pair of big headphones and listening to a stack of records with a mellow bowl. Join him as he drifts high above the soundscapes in this highly meditative sonic journey.
Heads Lifestyle: Hi Keith, where are you now?
Keith Hadad: I’m in the small town of Cranford, New Jersey, which is about 20 miles outside of NYC.
HL: What do you do with your time?
KH: I write and manage a music blog called Record Crates United (www.recordcratesunited.com), which focuses on independent and underground esoteric sounds. I’m also a freelance writer and I contribute music reviews and features for the likes of Phil McMullen’s continuation of his legendary Ptolemaic Terrascope zine, The Terrascopaedia, and a German newspaper called Blicker Magazine. As an extension to RCU, I host a web radio show on Dunebuggyradio.com called The Record Crates United Mixtape, which features a great deal of the music that I cover on my site, plus interviews with the likes of Josh Kimbrough and Buck Curran.
HL: Do you get high when listening to music?
KH: Music soundtracks pretty much every moment of my day. But my favourite smoking activity is listening to my records, so I save that righteous combination for when I can sit down and fully immerse myself into the experience.
HL: Describe a typical music-weed session?
KH: As I was saying, I prefer to make listening to music while high a full experience. It’s a total event for me! I gather up a stack of records or recent finds on the Bandcamp app that take your mind on a journey, so usually something performed or mixed from a psychedelic frame of mind. I then light up a bowl of a particularly mellow Indica and slip on a pair of big headphones and lay back on the pillowy soft couch in my writing room. The headphones are key, as I like to close my eyes and focus on the sounds. This helps make the stereo spectrum feel incredibly immersive, like the instruments and vocals are passing all around my entire body. I love the feeling that I have sunk into a song as deeply as I have sunk into my couch.
HL: What is your earliest memory of connecting the dots between music and cannabis?
KH: I started listening to acid rock at a fairly young age and had watched both the Monterey Pop and Woodstock documentaries by the time I was 11, so that clued me in quite early on. Plus, my mom constantly told me at that age that she didn’t approve of me listening to bands like the Grateful Dead or Country Joe and The Fish, as they would absolutely lead me to smoking, so that helped (sorry, Mom).
Tall Bearded Iris Speckled
Ryan Jewell is not only one of the best drummers of our time—he’s also an expert sculptor of psychedelic soundscapes when playing under the moniker Mosses. I enjoy music that takes me on a journey, to totally envelop me, and Mosses’ collage-styled acid pop record TV Sun does that in spades. I want this entire playlist to take the listener on a voyage, so Tall Bearded Iris Speckled is the perfect intro, as it feels like you’re opening a door to a Wonderland-like universe of sunny sonic curiosities.
Boat Ride II
Talk about going on a trip! Kendra Amalie is one of the most inventive and wild guitarists out there right now, and this hurricane of a jam proves it. A whirlwind of shredding 12-string acoustic guitars slingshots you across the galaxy and leaves you feeling dizzy and gasping for air by the end. A total showstopper!
Reverb-drenched sitars swirl from ear to ear as you nod along to the funky laid-back grooves on this one. The whole Eastern Flowers album feels like homage to the period in the early ’70s when “world music” began to hybridize with prog and psychedelia, but on this particular track, Wunder seems to be specifically conjuring the vibe of Ananda Shankar’s classic work.
If you want to feel like you’re whipping down an empty highway without leaving your chair, Wizard Todd’s got you covered. Even Daft Punk realized this, as they used International Feel to soundtrack such a drive in their movie Electroma (it’s the only part worth watching).
On the Corner – Take 4
This whole playlist could easily have been made up of tracks from the On The Corner Sessions, but Take 4 of the title cut from Miles Davis’ infamous acid-influenced 1972 LP is pure gold. A (nearly) motorik beat guides John McLaughlin’s writhing wah-wah guitar through a murky backdrop of sitar, spooky organ and Davis’ trumpet war cries. Spacey and compact at the same time, this is a song you’ll gladly get lost in.
Spirits of the Ancestors
For a more modern take on spiritual jazz, check out Josef Leimberg’s Astral Progressions. The whole record is a brilliant fusion of many different genres, including hip-hop and funk, that never loses its peacefully cosmic vibe. This track will make you feel as though you’re drifting through shimmering waves of the aurora borealis. How can you not love that?
Primal, thunderous acid rock and celestial sitar ragas together in one song? Yes please!
Some of the most exciting music being made today is coming from the Tuareg guitarists of the Sahara. One of the artists taking this already hypnotic art form into new mesmerizing places is the electrifying Mdou Moctar. His latest album, Afrique Victime, finds the Nigerian musician taking guitar lines that wander like climbing ivy and distorting them with a Hendrixian ferociousness. Prepare for your ears to be scorched.
Bitchin Bajas & Natural Information Society
The New Age/ECM Records-influenced Bitchin Bajas and Joshua Abrams’ experimental jazz outfit, the Natural Information Society, are a match made in improvisational music heaven. Automaginary is a gorgeously meditative record that brings out the strengths of both groups, but Anemometer is where the two become truly transcendent. If this tune doesn’t make you feel like you’re floating, then nothing will.
This is the quintessential song of rebirth and renewal. If you ever start to feel lost, confused or paranoid, dear reader, this track will ground you and wash your worries away like a cascade of spring rain.
Matt Valentine and Pat Gubler have a knack for summoning the atmospheres of the cosmos and a forested mountain at the same time. This is especially true on the beautifully ethereal Goin.
Looking for Pine and Obsidian
Speaking of combining the rural with the celestial, Bobby Lee can easily shift from sounding like Ash Ra Temple (as he does here) to Bruce Langhorne within the span of just two songs. It takes a great ear and a great deal of talent to be able to find sounds that overlap between the worlds of Kosmische and country music.
A damn fine example of great Italian space-age jazz-funk from famed exploitation/porn/library music composer, Piero Umiliani. This track is the essence of mid-century modern cool. You can immediately imagine yourself sitting in an egg-shaped chair and hearing this through a nearby spherical 8-track player the moment the flute kicks in.
Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics
Addis Black Widow
The velvety grooves of famed Ethio-Jazz pioneer Mulatu Astatke meld perfectly with the acid funk breakbeats of The Heliocentrics on the wild Inspiration Information 3. This kaleidoscope of hot brass, fuzz guitars and kinetic drumming unfolds and runs circles around your head. To call Addis Black Widow exhilarating would be an understatement.
Jailu Mergia, another Ethiopian jazz giant, cools things down here with the breezy yet danceable Yegle Nesh. This snaky instrumental coils around you and forces you to sway to its sauntering rhythm, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. You’ve been warned!
Moebius & Plank
Kosmische legends Dieter Moebius and Conny Plank lock into a dub groove here that is as mechanical as it is primordial. On top of a bed of squealing guitars and manipulated voices, you have this thick, thumping troglodyte rhythm provided by a fuzzy synthesizer and drum playing in tandem, and it is the definition of infectious.
Karl Hector & The Malcouns
Karl Hector is known for perfectly replicating the vibe of classic ’70s Afrobeat records, but here, he leans further into space rock and heady library music territory. Mother Seletta is a psychedelic juggernaut that glows with iridescent organ work and blistering guitar solos. Make sure your headphones aren’t shooting off sparks when you listen to this song.
Keeping with the vibe of the Karl Hector tune, L’éclair’s Dallas is a funky gem with ricocheting beats and jagged guitar solos that slash through vaporous waves of warm synths. This is one criminally underrated band.
In and Out of den Gärten He Goes
Listening to this track is like gazing up at a sky full of stars, far away from the glare of city lights. You feel caught up in a great cosmic sea and relaxed by the sheer peaceful beauty of it all.
Galaxy in Turiya
If the Dire Wolves track feels like you’re looking up at the night sky, then Alice Coltrane’s Galaxy in Turiya is like you’re becoming one with the night sky. The overwhelming divine grace of this song swells within your heart, lifts you up and rests you high above the clouds. This is the perfect track to keep you glowing with positivity for the rest of the day.
Keith Hadad is the creator and author of the Record Crates United blog. His work has appeared in The Terrascopædia, Elmore Magazine, TheWaster.com, and a multitude of other web and print publications. He hosts RCU’s webradio show, The Record Crates United Mixtape, on Dunebuggyradio.com every other Thursday evening. You can follow him on Instagram @Recordcratesunited, on Twitter @RecordcratesUTD and on Facebook at @RecordCratesUnited. He lives in New Jersey with his wife Sarah and dog Miles.
Main photo: James Blank
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