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January 25th, 2013


Mij - Grok (Martian Love Call)

After his accident, Jim Holberg started to hear things differently. He had fractured his skull, so it's possible there was some neurological impairment, or at the very least a radical change in the resonant properties of his own head. He started a strange form of falsetto yodelling, and would accompany himself on guitar on the streets of New York. It was there that Bernard Stollman of ESP-Disk Records heard him, and within 24 hours Holberg had been rushed to a studio to record his 1969 album Yodeling Astrologer.

It's a truly odd record. In addition to Holberg's unique vocal style, the whole thing is slathered with reverb and echo. Yet despite this, it's frequently more sunshine pop than acid folk. Grok (Martian Love Call) is probably the track where the strangeness burns brightest. For a start there's that title, taken from Robert Heinlein's puerile love letter to individualism and entitlement, Stranger in a Strange Land. Then there's the fact that it morphs into a version of Sinner Man part way through. It's derivative, it's lacking in sophistication, and yet with Holberg's whoops and howls and whistling it remains an utterly unique and compelling recording. Its faults are those of the time it was made, but its merits are all its own.

Mij - Grok (Martian Love Call)
(alternate download)