“Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox” is a compilation of tracks by TEB frontman and percussionist Glen Sweeney, as well as some original Third Ear Band numbers. For all that, it’s a fascinating and highly entertaining set of music.
TEB began as an improv jam, held at venues like UFO and Middle Earth in London, using members of the public and normally after the crowd had been acid-fried and danced around.
The band created music based on Eastern forms of raga and gradually evolved into what we would recognize today as psych/trance – heavy, hypnotic rhythms, repetitive modals and monotonous vocals.
Needless to say, TEB were contemporaries of early and mid-period psych bands such as Hawkwind, Gong, Global Village Trucking Company, Suns of Arqa, Quintessence or Incredible String Band, and both of these albums feature music that fits well into acid/trance. or oriental/trance categories.
The ‘…Hydrogen Jukebox’ set contains some great tracks including ‘Ab Ra Ka Dab Ra’ with its haunting bassline and Hawkwind-esque phasing and ‘Water Into Wine’ which has a folky, Indian twist. “Life Is An Art” almost seems to start in the middle of the song and has a mystical edge to it.
The ‘Live’ album has what you would expect in terms of extended numbers and improvisation. ‘Sun Ra Raga’ is a combined raga and tonal poem, loaded with trance and tabla elements bringing a sense of rhythm. ‘Live Ghosts’ meanders but somehow gets you there so there’s nothing else around you – very effective.
Together, an intriguing pair of albums.