Watch this wondrous "house of cards" illusion about COVID-19 and our tenuous realities

Magic experience designer Ferdinando Buscema and High Weirdness author Erik Davis, both Boing Boing contributors, created this wondrous illusion--a "visual meditation" on the ongoing pandemic, disorder, and the opportunity emerging from the entropy.

In the piece, Ferdinando manipulates the cards while Erik takes us on a trip with his words. Italian mentalist Francesco Tesei made the video with a soundtrack by Bluetech. Read the rest

Two far-out books about California counterculture reviewed by Erik Davis

I'm honored that in the latest issue of The Burning Shore, Erik Davis, scholar of West Coast counterculture, reviewed The Family Acid: California, Roger Steffens's far-out photo album I published with my Ozma Records partner Tim Daly! Erik's excellent essay is a double review, also focusing on the Anthology Editions reprint of Dennis Stock's striking California Trip book from 1968.

From Erik Davis's The Burning Shore:

Steffens’s use of multiple exposures is perhaps the key gesture here. The decision to re-expose film is a dice throw, an act of faith in the playfulness of multiple perspectives and the value of subjecting an already captured image to the serendipity of leaps through time. Such images are also, of course, hallucinatory, and some of Steffens’ are trippy as shit. They not only recall the formal and symbolic palimpsests of psychedelic vision, but loop the question of the photographic object back into the eye of the beholder: seeing these impossible scenes, we glimpse our own seeing, our own congealing of reality from the virtual.

Other Family Acid images feature artifacts like diffraction spikes, iridescent orbs, and weird lensing effects. (Check out the cover shot up top, which juxtaposes the classic clerestory light of redwood groves with a mandalic UFO flare.) These are special effects, my friends, evidence of that hippie will to hack media tech in the quest for unusual experiences. They also recall the more sacred lights you can only chance upon, in the strangest of places if you look at em right, those wink-wink psychedelic glimmers that occasionally illuminate parking lots, or crumpled beer cans, or goofball commercial signage—Phil Dick’s “trash stratum,” temporarily kindled into something high and holy and wholly profane.[...]

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Try this freaky webcam tool to transform your image in weird ways

Back in the late 1980s, I would sometimes amuse myself by running a microphone through a digital audio effects processor and twiddle the knobs to transform my voice in very weird ways while listening in headphones. It provided hours of mindbending entertainment. Ah, the good ol' daze. Léo Chéron's WebGL particles experiment, called "Sand Ghost," gives me a similar feeling but it's visual and uses a webcam. Freak yourself out.

(via Waxy) Read the rest

Psychedelic reggae for deep heads

For nearly forty years, master Nyabinghi percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah has collaborated with dub magician Adrian Sherwood/On-U Sound and friends in a psychedelic reggae ensemble called African Head Charge. Sherwood has said the idea for the group and the first album, "My Life in a Hole in the Ground" (1981) was sparked by Brian Eno's "“vision of a psychedelic Africa," a phrase he used to describe his wonderful album with David Byrne, "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts." Throughout the 1980s, I'd often return to "My Life in a Hole in the Ground" as the soundtrack for my own personal journeys into inner space.

On March 6, African Head Charge is following up a series of vinyl reissues with Drumming Is A Language: 1990-2011 a CD box set or vinyl bundle containing five essential albums along with "Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi," a collection of unreleased version mixes from the early 1990s. For a taste, immerse yourself in the gorgeous expanse of "Peace and Happiness" above. The way out is the way in.

(via Dangerous Minds) Read the rest

The Family Acid book release and party in Los Angeles!

The Family Acid: California is the new book of photographs by Roger Steffens that I published with Timothy Daly, my Ozma Records partner and co-producer of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Limited to just 1,500 clothbound copies, it's a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family.

We hope you can come meet the whole Family Acid (and us) in Los Angeles next Thursday, November 7, at The Standard Hollywood for a photo show and reception from 7-11pm! And if you can't make it, we have some copies available directly from our site, Ozma Records, along with a limited-edition Family Acid photo print on perforated LSD blotter paper (undipped) signed by Roger himself!

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. Since then, with his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he has sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it finds him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other. Steffens took the spectacular snapshots in this new collection between 1968 and 2015 during his family's freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home.

A full-color, 192-page hardcover with foil stamping and tipped-on cover photo, The Family Acid: California contains hundreds of stunning images curated by Kate Steffens along with detailed captions and original essays by Roger Steffens and Tim Page. Read the rest

Take a trip with the Family Acid

I'm thrilled to report the release of The Family Acid: California, the book I published with Timothy Daly, my Ozma Records partner and co-producer of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Limited to just 1,500 clothbound copies, it's a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family.

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. Since then, with his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he has sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it finds him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other. Steffens took the spectacular snapshots in this new collection between 1968 and 2015 during his family's freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home.

Steffens is an intrepid explorer of the fringe but he’s also a family man. He met his wife Mary under a lunar eclipse in a pygmy forest in Mendocino, California while on LSD. Soon after, they conjured up a daughter, Kate, and son, Devon. Family vacations took the foursome up and down the West Coast, from the gritty glam of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to reggae festivals in Humboldt, fiery protests in Berkeley to the ancient redwoods of Big Sur and the wilds of Death Valley. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with likeminded freaks, artists, musicians, and writers, from Bob Marley and Timothy Leary to actor John Ritter and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. Read the rest

Chuck Klosterman on space rock

In Technology Review, author and essayist Chuck Klosterman delivers a short introduction to the stars of space rock, from Pink Floyd (above) to Hawkwind to Spacemen 3:

Space is a vacuum: the only song capturing the verbatim resonance of space is John Cage’s perfectly silent “4'33".” Any artist purporting to embody the acoustics of the cosmos is projecting a myth. That myth, however, is collective and widely understood. Space has no sound, but certain sounds are “spacey.” Part of this is due to “Space Oddity”; another part comes from cinema, particularly the soundtrack to 2001 (the epic power of classical music by Richard Strauss and György Ligeti). Still another factor is the consistent application of specific instruments, like the ondes martenot (a keyboard that vaguely simulates a human voice, used most famously in the theme to the TV show Star Trek). The shared assumptions about what makes music extraterrestrial are now so accepted that we tend to ignore how strange it is that we all agree on something impossible.

The application of these clichés is most readily seen in the dawn of heavy metal. The 1970 Black Sabbath song “Planet Caravan” processed Ozzy Osbourne’s vocals through a Hammond organ to create a sprawling sense of ethereal distance. Deep Purple’s 1972 “Space Truckin’” used ring modulation to simulate a colossal spacecraft traveling at high speed. The lyrical content of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” is built on Norse mythology, but the dreamlike drone of John Paul Jones’s mellotron and Jimmy Page’s ultra-compressed guitar mirrored the sensation of exploring an alien landscape.

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Magnificent photos from a psychedelic family's California trip

For more than 50 years, Roger Steffens has traveled the electric arteries of the counterculture embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. And he’s captured it all on film. After serving in Vietnam during the final 26 months of the ‘60s, where he won a Bronze Star for founding a refugee campaign that raised over 100 tons of food and clothing, he spent a year lecturing against the war before settling in Marrakech. Finally returning Stateside in 1972, he immersed himself in the vibrant bohemias of Berkeley, Los Angeles, and beyond, touring his highly-acclaimed one-man show, “Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry.” A psychedelic polymath, Steffens worked as an actor, poet, editor, archivist, lecturer, author, NPR radio DJ and interviewer and, yes, photographer. Driven by his own insatiable curiosity and passion, he was on a perpetual quest for the eccentric, the outlandish, the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, smiling, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.

Roger Steffens is an intrepid explorer of the fringe but he’s also a family man. He met his wife Mary under a lunar eclipse in a pygmy forest in Mendocino, California while on LSD. Soon after, they conjured up a daughter, Kate, and son, Devon. Family vacations took the foursome up and down the West Coast, from the gritty glam of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to reggae festivals in Humboldt, fiery protests in Berkeley to the ancient redwoods of Big Sur and the wilds of Death Valley. Read the rest

The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

The Flaming Lips cover David Bowie and Bing Crosby's "Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy"

"Every child must be made aware."

Directed by Flaming Lips madman mastermind Wayne Coyne and longtime Lips visual art/video collaborator George Salisbury.

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Bend your spacetime continuum with these far out black-and-white GIFs

Applied mathematics/computer science student Etienne Jacob makes mesmerizing black-and-white animated GIFs using Processing, "a flexible software sketchbook and a language for learning how to code within the context of the visual arts." You can see much more of Jacob's stunning work on his Necessary Disorder site and read Jacob's tutorials here on his blog.

Far fucking out.

(via Colossal)

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A handful of psychedelic "Atlantis" mushrooms in Amsterdam

Frites, truffles and canals are awesome. Also doner kebab. Read the rest

Fantastic German psychedelic animation from 1970 by Yellow Submarine's art director

Heinz Edelmann (1934-2009) was the German illustrator and designer best known for art directing the Beatles' 1968 animation Yellow Submarine. In 1970, he created this magnificent opening animation for the ZDF broadcast movie series "Der Phantastische Film."

(r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Enjoy the psychedelic sounds of West Coast Fog Radio

West Coast Fog Radio is the absolutely wonderful podcast of garage psych, avant-rock, desert drone, loner folk, ambient cut-ups, spoken word, and other far-out sounds hosted by Erik Bluhm, former editor of the greatly-missed "Great God Pan," a killer 1990s 'zine about outré California culture and news. Turn on, tune in, burn out.

Your host Erik Bluhm takes you on an audio tour of the West you might be unaware of, visiting obscure moments in musical history along the way. You might hear folk rock and proto-raga rock 45s from the mid ‘60s, rural psychedelic private LP meanderings, self-released audio poetry and sound collage, obscure history lessons and readings, New Age/ambient/ethno-honky visionaries, DIY art/synth, punk, and post punk sides, and/or experimental nothingness in tape form.

West Coast Fog Radio (Thanks, Jess Rotter!)

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Fantastic psychedelic Levi's commercials from the early 1970s

In the early 1970s, Levi's ran these fantastic psychedelic TV commercials with narration by Ken Nordine, the beat creator of the pioneering Word Jazz albums of the 1950s that melded far-out poetry with hip musical accompaniment. Far fucking out.

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Mindbendingly cool Mexican psychedelic music from 1981

I'm familiar with the psych music scene that emerged in the 1960s-1970s in some Latin American countries like Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, thanks to fantastic reissues of rare LPs on labels like Luaka Bop, Goma Gringa, Now Again, and Mr Bongo. Now, the esteemed diggers at Mr Bongo have brought us a stunningly spacey psych record from Mexico: Luis Pérez's "Ipan In Xiktli Metztli, México Mágico Cósmico, El Ombligo de la Luna."

In the 1970s, Pérez studied the pre-Columbian instruments and musical traditions across Mexico, from the Maya and Nahuatl to Raramuri and Wixarika. He then channeled those influences into his own gorgeous electronic and experimental psychedelic songs that make up this record first released in 1981. Listen below.

As Mr Bongo writes, Pérez "delves deep into the past but also exists entirely outside of time."

Far fucking out.

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Ott is crowdfunding Skylon on double vinyl

Ott's Skylon ranks among the century's great psychedelic chillout albums, and now it's set to come out as a double vinyl. Get in on the Kickstarter for box sets and more. Read the rest

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