Joe Meek

Joe Meek

I Hear a New World

RPM

This dates from 1960, but the closest thing I can compare it to is the KLF’s Chill Out . Eerily ahead of his time, producer Joe Meek (the music is performed by Rod Freeman and the Blue Men) blends an alarmingly diverse variety of sounds into a conceptual album about life on the moon — the album’s subtitle is “an outer space music fantasy.” There’s plenty of guitars, drums, and other popular instruments of the time, but there’s also heavy use of found sound and rudimentary reverb, echo and flanging effects, and Alvin and the Chipmunks-like speeded-up voices. Sometimes the compositions sound like lounge music, sometimes they’re children’s music, and others it’s a spaced-out surf tune. The music on here doesn’t sound quite right, probably because the unmusical Joe Meek conveyed his ideas by recording his hums and beating on kitchenware, neither of which he was very good at. However — the man knew his way about a studio, a fact which I Hear a New World makes undisputable.

The album’s history is mostly one of obscurity, as it hasn’t seen complete release until now, living in legend and a few advance pressings and bootlegs. Time has vindicated Meeks’ bizarre vision as one ahead of its time. Years before terms like “ambient” and “concept album” were new and exciting, Joe Meek was constructing the music to fit those terms.

RPM Records, 41 Garfield Rd., London, UK E4 7DG

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