The History of The Albums – n° 344
The feat realized in 1967 by the Texan trio Red Krayloa/Red Crayloa demeures one of the most significant underground symbol of the Rock music. However, apart from a few famous critics, this innovative masterpiece remains very little represented, even evoked in books or in the rankings of must-have albums. Let's just say that it is an unforgivable mistake. Red Krayloa were visionaries, main actors of the Avant-Garde who have the merit to be still active, although they have not released anything since 2010. Not only they are part of the pioneer bands of Experimental Rock, Sound Collage and Free Improvisation incorporated in Pop Rock, but they are also known to have established with years of advance some of the bases of Noise Rock and Industrial Rock. So I let you imagine the number of spiritual and incalculable children they are responsible for. It may not be as musically brilliant as the legendary bands/artists of that time, but this album must be placed next to classics like Revolver/Sgt Pepper's, Freak Out, Velvet Undergound & Nico, and so many others like for example The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators quoted every time as a reference when they are almost next door and deserve almost as much. I think above all that Red Crayloa is a victim of their too experimental content for the time, of a misunderstood creativity that probably exceeded the limits of the Rock boundaries, as something reserved for the purist or those who are not afraid to swim in a dominant complexity.
Formed in 1966, the story of Red Crayloa began with a performance in a shopping mall that ended in a deal with International Artists, a young local independent label specialized in the search for new and innovative musical flavors. Composed of guitarist and vocalist Mayo Thompson, bassist Steve Cunningham and drummer Frederick Barthelme, Red Crayloa had the ability to captivate an eclectic audience while playing music that was so difficult to understand and appreciate. Producer Lelan Roger's (brother of Kenny Rogers) sensed that this band had tremendous potential, having signed the Texan band 13th Floor Elevators some time earlier. But Lelan Roger's was half right. On the one hand Red Crayloa has become a cult in the underground scene and today retrospectively thanks to their legacy, but on the other hand this band has never managed to have a consistent commercial success, with a too unstructured content that prevented them from releasing singles. One more factor that explains why this group could not settle down at the table of the popular legends. After 2 albums in the 60's, the band dissolved because of that, but also because International Artists collapsed. It will be necessary to wait for the emergence of the Post Punk at the end of the 70s so that Mayo Thompson forms a new line-up on the interesting Soldier-Talk (1979).
Recorded in March 1967 and released a few months later, The Parable of Arable Land is a kind of concept album in its structure.On 12 or 13 tracks according to the versions, the group leans on a guideline of "Free From Freak-Out", alternating and returning between each independent song on this form of instrumental expression which is thus similar to Free Improvisation. Moreover, The Parable of Arable Land distinguishes itself by a transitionless sequence between each song without a moment's pause, by the mastery of fades, even between the change of the 2 Faces. For this, the trio first recorded the more "conventional" songs, before the whole is assembled rigorously by the intermediate tracks "Free Form Freak-Out". By the way, all these tracks are played by The Ugly, a group of 50 people who had the freedom to play what they wanted with what they had. If one notices incontestably a direct wink to Frank Zappa of The Mother of Inventions, one feels the influence of jazzmen Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler or Coltrane, the contextualization by the Beatles but also the pioneers John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen or Jean Dubuffet. In reality it is difficult to classify exactly the cacophonous essence of the more conventional songs, let alone the totally improvised ones. We observe a fusion of psychedelic, proto-punk, folk, noise that give birth to a sonic cyclone that sounds like something totally new. To solidify this surrealistic art, Mayo Thompson adds an abstract poetry in a disillusioned way that creates this so particular atmosphere. Sincerely The Parable of Arable Land is an absolutely incredible adventure for its time and still fascinating to this day.With the presence of Roky Erickson from the 13th Floor Elevators on Hurrican Fighter Plane or Transparent Radiation, the major strength of the project is not especially based on 1 song, but rather on the overall experience, as well as the involuntary genius of the Free From Freak-Out parts. In other words it is difficult to single out one song in particular, although Pink Stainless Tail or Hurrican Fighter Plane stand above the rest. This album will of course be a commercial failure that will be unearthed decades later, as an evidence that was too far ahead of its time.