Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bobby Brown - 1972 - Enlightening Beam of Axonda (very rare US sitar psych folk)

Not to be confused with the famous R'n'B star of the same name, Bobby Brown became known to the public for his bizarre self built percussion set which he played with hands and feet creating a very unusual and peculiar rhythm carpet, not to mention his odd vocal style which added to his intriguing musical choice a touch of captivating madness. Although not electronic, his musical take will be particularly enjoyable for who listened to experimental musicians such as Silver Apples, United States Of America, Moondog and Fifty Foot Hose. This 1972 The Enlightening Beam Of Axonda is a supreme introduction to the bizarre world of Bobby Brown and the cover artwork confirms Brown's oddities.

The California of the 1960s was a breeding ground for eccentric characters: psychedelic prophets, cult leaders, crank scientists, charlatans, fringe artists, bizarre self-taught musicians and psychotic burnouts. Some individuals, it seems, were able embody all of these archetypes at once; and of these, at least one managed to record and release an album. Bobby Brown's 1972 LP The Enlightening Beam of Axonda is a holy grail for collectors of rare psych, and one of the most idiosyncratic works to emerge from the West Coast petri-dish of psychedelics and self-motivated outsiders. The LP was originally issued in a small run on Destiny Records, and today trades hands for absurdly inflated prices, which makes this deluxe digipack CD reissue on Italy's Akarma label a particularly welcome release. Bobby Brown has the misfortune to share a namesake with the notorious R&B artist and Whitney Houston/crack abuser, making Google searches problematic to all but the most persistent. This Bobby Brown was a blonde, blue-eyed flower-child surfer from Sacramento who traveled up and down the West Coast throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, performing live at acid-drenched beach parties and hawking his records from the back of a van. Brown played more than 50 self-built instruments — harps, bells, zithers, woodwinds, sitar and percussion — all arranged into an ingeniously constructed series of cross-triggered racks that surrounded him during live performances, making it possible for him to play several instruments and sing simultaneously. His voice stretches across six unusually expressive octaves, vacillating lysergically one moment and perfectly mimicking the sounds of a theremin the next. It's tempting to try to fit this "Universal One Man Orchestra" into a framework including other outsiders such as Harry Partch and Moondog, but the Axonda album resists such easy categorization. It's a concept album, relating the journey of a spiritual adept named "Johnny" from his pastoral Hawaiian home, across the globe and eventually into the cosmos. Johnny makes contact with the God-machine Axonda and its clear beam of consciousness light, which reveals to him the future of mankind — the reconciliation of all world religions and a merging into pure, perfected Godhead. It's undeniably hokey and quite often banal, but Bobby Brown's sincerity sells it, hypnotizing with trippy, beatific melodies and an unorthodox marriage of exotica, island music, Indian raga and African rhythms. Brown's speaker-vibrating bass and oceanic tenor coos perfectly express his impossibly utopian philosophies, coasting along with multi-tracked instrumentals and overdubbed vocals, pausing between songs for spoken-word narrative transitions. Brown's painstakingly scribed liner notes are reproduced in this edition, full of hilarious boasts about his explication of the fictional scientific concept of "the Bray" — "an original contribution to the field of Religion & Science...not yet discovered by other humanoids" that will one day "lead to the most significant change in the history of humanity (plus total religious unity)." Perhaps Bobby's ambitions were ultimately unrealistic, but The Enlightening Beam of Axonda is an original and uncompromising work of art, and a valuable contribution to the field of outsider art.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Many smiles and some outright knee slaps as I fell into the cosmic unity so sincerely emanating from Mr. Brown. It is a thing of beauty even though so seemingly out of place and time. Was the Akarma CD mastered from vinyl? Would like to see an LP reissue of this from them. Thanks again.
Paul Spanbauer

Art said...

What an incredible album! I saw Bobby play at Long Beach City College, in the 70's and bought an album from him. It blew me away at the time..I lost the record...found one again, 30 years later...it still blows me away.

He sings and plays so good it almost makes me wonder if what he's talking about might be true, (I know, I know) but whether or not it's true, the heart, sincerity and pure, incredible talent make this a gem and a prized treasure to me.

Maybe the "beam" isn't a God ray from "Axonda," and not something which will immediately change the world and unite all religions... maybe it's just an unnamed something that works slower, but with the same magnificence, through talent seemingly rooted in God, love, hope, devotion--whatever you want to call it--that can be heard in such music as this.

Anonymous said...

i love you, mutantsounds.

does anyone have his 1978 live album or his 1982 release prayers of a one man band? i'd swallow oceans to hear them.

i've been utterly obsessed with this guy since stumbling upon this album a couple of years ago in portland, but i've yet to come across any of his other output.

light & love,
paul

Anonymous said...

philip k dick wrote all about this
axonda=valis?
crazy things

gorg said...

hey april 11 anonymous paul,
i still can't believe it, but i found the live 1978 on cassette at a thrift store 2 days ago. i can't find any info about it online. maybe you can help me out, or you mutant sounds-help me out. it's realllllllly goooooood. i'm almost tempted to think that it's more live in his living room. who knows. the cover is pretty misleading too.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Track 4 in the archive is corrupt.

Gorg - I know, it's extremely good. There is info about it at lysergia.com and waxidermy. Please upload it!

Bukkake said...

Yo

Love this blog.

If anyone is looking for the 3rd LP, you can find it here: http://fucklameshit.blogspot.com/2008/12/prayers-answered.html

*

d said...

fuck mang!

zardoz1984 said...

As always, Mutant Sounds uplifts my day! Crazy times & crazy things for sure. Gorg, please, upload your live K7: i'm eager to hear it. Thx to every mutant sounds lover sharing his addiction.

paul said...

gorg, the origin myth of the 1978 live album i'm familiar with says Bobby had opened for fleetwood mac at berkeley and hoped to release the set as a live album but was unhappy with the way the tapes turned out so he piled all his instruments/recording equipment in the van and rambleroared on down to the beach where he manifested the sunsoaked lovejam contained on that plastic! ahhhh i'd love to hear it.

and bukkake, i love you.

haha that may have come out wrong. or maybe just right...

THANK YOU.

Bob said...

Anyone know what happened to this guy post 80s? Is he still alive? I'd love to hear if he's been up to anything.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Honolulu from 1978-1980 and used to catch Bobby Brown and his dog, jamming on Kaiulani St. between Kuhio and Kalakaua St. in Waikiki, outside of a British Pub called "The Rose & Thorn". He always had a big crowd around him with a coin jar for donations and he sold albums and tapes for $5.00. I have them buried away somewhere and one of these days i'll find them. So thank you Mutantsounds for this album and your awesome blog. "Q" Doggy

nicknpas said...

I rented a room in the Theta Delta Chi fraternity house in Isla Vista (UC Santa Barbara) for the 1975-76 school year, and Bobby Brown lived there during part of the year; I guess he wanted to live in SB at the time. I never saw him perform, but I did buy the LP from him then. He was also a boarder, not a frat member (and very much like you'd expect him to be from the LP). His dog (as seen on the cover) was named Mom.

nickn

MAP said...

My dad gave me an autographed copy of this and one other Bobby Brown LP. I haven't listened to them in a long time.

gypt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PRICE RIGGER FORD said...

Hi all, I ripped Bobby Brown's "Live" record tonight and made it the inaugural post of my new blog - get it here:

http://dopecastle.blogspot.com/

thank you mutants for all you do, seriously you guys rule blogtown. enjoy!

cottageorgan said...

My friend, NZ musician Pumice, also a freaky electro home made one man band guy played me the live album, on vinyl no less a few years back and it spooked the shit out of me. This is equally fractured, spooky and down right weird, but I can't stop listening to it. Thanks mutant sounds...f**king excellent blog chaps. A.

V ! said...

After watching Gandhi (1982) last night my wish for aural desert leaded me here. Pure enlightenment. Thank you for Bobby Brown & nice guys for uploading other recordings from Bobby!

Anonymous said...

saw/heard in in summer 1972. bought the vinyl. never heard about him again. Any update on where he might be?

lucky@pingpongcountry.de said...

trying also to find out where bobby lives nowadays but this seems to be constantly leading to nothing, this blog is the closest in details but from the 70´s. Nobody any better tips?

Ed said...

I met Bobby while living in Hawaii in 1982.Spent many evenings listening to him play @ Kings Alley.We would travel the island taking photographs of animals to be used as a slide presentation behind him as he preformed. I enjoyed a 5-6 month time with him, including having him visit me in my Southern California home and having dinner there with his dog "Momm" and his lady friend who was the harpist performing at the Pagent of the Arts, in Laguna Beach. i think of him often and would like the opportunity to locate him. In addition to his musical talents, I found him to be a person that was really concerned about the world we live in.

Diane Brooks said...

I met Bobby Brown at the Fair in Del Mar. He would come by and visit when he wasn't singing and performing. I had the Old Tyme Photo booth in the Paddock area. We became friends and I went with him to a school in the desert to perform his music. He had his dog "Mom" then. Later I saw him in Del Mar and his dog had come up missing and he was very sad. I miss him terrible. I was so excited to find this about him since I haven't been able to find out if he lived in Hawaii still.

Anonymous said...

My dad gave me his lp and still has another put away signed & its hard to believe that a human being is capable of making those sounds. i wish music was still filled with this much love & art :)

Anonymous said...

You can tell by the posts here that this person embodies what music should be (love) I pray he found his dog.. I just lost my album (Enlightening Beam) in an insane move...and would love if anyone could help me get another one. Anyone?

Jimmyalaska said...

Hi i got a signed copy of the live cassette in waikiki in 80..please drop me a note and say hello and tell me about what the music means to you..at...mandino36@yahoo.com
namaste..Jimmy

Anonymous said...

Hi there. I've downloaded this but there only seem to be four tracks instead of ten. Is that right or has something gone wrong with my download? The four tracks are amazing and I'd love to have the full album!

Anonymous said...

I met Bobby in Hungary around 1996. I really like to know what happened to Him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful comments posted here I just cried from reading one. Many stories to tell I've been traveling the world continued to perform an rebuild my instruments. I'm happy to report many of my predictions in particle physics have come true or at least possibly played a part in the evolution of string theory an much more. But I've went way beyond that an am anxious to share that. The label Drag City is distributing my Axonda an Prayers of a one man band album an. Cd very soon. An projects I've been workin on will gradually come out Someone may mention to the original writer of this blog to look an see how Many of the breakthrus in particle physics that I predicted have indeed come thru. An that words like psychological burn out an charlatan an crank scientist have hurt me an are not true. He is forgiven for the fruit of the commenters has yes made me cry

Anonymous said...

You meet the most interesting people in McDonalds. Will be in touch soon B. e

anonymous said...

Not sure if I imagined this, but I think Bobby Brown played at Paddington Village Bazaar in Sydney in or around 1978-9. I bought the Bobby Brown LP from him wherever it was I heard him.

Anonymous said...

Bobby, This is Eszter from Vac. Email me at photosbyeszter@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks mutant well be friends. If anyone wants to reach me at godspalbob@yahoo.com please do I started rambling an kept goin to 79 countries living with gypsies in Hungary (they like to be called Roma)An Aboriginies in AuSTRALIA. CHINA STORIES. Russians in sooo oh so many wonderful experiences. Hope to make films like a travel log an also a musical comedy animated Drag City will distribute some CDs soon. I'm ssslow but have been focused an extremely blessed by GOD.

FUTURE APE TAPES said...

just wanted to say that this work of art has definitely transformed my life for the better. for anyone reading this who like i did, thought it sounded cool, treasure it. this is special.

pamela said...

I used to work in a little hot dog stand in front of kings alley.. Bobby was there playing his amazing music... I just loved him... he even autographed a Tape and gave it to me one night (yes 8 track tape) i still have it although can't play it...:( ... it says to the pretty little girl in the hot dog stand... still love you bobby..where are you now.. i am in costa rica...puravidapammy@gmail.com ...

Anonymous said...

wow! the man himself! where are you now bobby? i've been compared to you, you can find me on idaho joe at soundcloud

marty klein said...

Bobby, I saw you at the Goleta Swap Meet in '83 or '84. I had just started playing music myself and you were inspiring! I remember that one of the songs you performed was "I Must Be Born." I hope to find copies of your recordings soon.

Perry said...

I have the album in excellent condition I believe he is my cousin by marriage. I am looking to sell it my # is 562 756 3899 my name is Perry