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8 Aug 2017

Father Yod And The Spirit Of ‘76 ‎" Kohoutek"1973 US Psych Space Rock


Father Yod And The Spirit Of ‘76 ‎" Kohoutek"1973 US Psych Space Rock
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The first album by the musicians affiliated with the quasi-cult leader known as Father Yod (later known as Yahowa) is, like several of their productions, somewhat of an amateur effort. Divided into two side-long tracks (simply titled "Side A" and "Side B") totaling 26 minutes together, these sound like extemporaneous sermons with improvised late-period psychedelic rock backing. On "Side A", searing distorted guitar, funk-rock piano and organ, female backing vocals, and odd dabs of miscellany set the instrumental mood against which Yod pontificates. The chief drawback, is not Yod's followers, but Yod himself. The lyrics are embarrassingly over-the-top cosmic hippie homilies. His vocals are tuneless, which doesn't stop him from trying to exploit several octaves' worth of range. The result is something like Tim Buckley at his most avant-garde vocally and musically -- the Buckley Starsailor and Lorca albums, in particular -- without the considerable talent Buckley and his accompanists brought to those challenging but rewarding endeavors. "Side B" is the more bearable and subdued of the two cuts, with low hum-sing vocals (another possible Buckley reference point) flitting near the border of inaudibility, ending with what sounds like a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The album has been reissued as one disc of the 13-CD God and Hair: Yahowha Collection box set...by Richie Unterberger...


Once upon a time there was a comet that flew through the sky and was mistaken, by some, for some sort of pure, angelic manifestation of God. That time was the 1970s (never heard of it) and one of those people was Father Yod, who is kind of the avant-garde equivalent of Scully from the X-Files -- he wants to believe. It’s just a lucky coincidence that along with his intense spiritualism he was a krautrock genius who had weird, experimental compositional skills to channel his unbelievable but divine conspiracy theories through. ‘Kohutek’, an album long tribute to the comet as a “projection from the mind of God”, is full of randomly assorted sounds: thrilling piano ballads that move urgently, Hendrix-esque guitar solos as channelled through the blues of Beefheart, and the booming preacherman voice of Yod himself. 

Father Yod’s cultish tendencies were explained in great depth through his music, his lyrics almost entirely expositional in style, never flowing quite right and always bleeding over the edges of the page -- his long, lethargically wailed narratives barely felt like they belonged to his songs at all. That makes the occasional groove that ‘Kohoutek’ settles into quite glorious -- his wails are tempered by rhythmic, intuitive guitar and the backing vocals provided by his choir, who attempt to bring him back from the periphery and into focus. Listening to ‘Kohoutek’ is kind of like witnessing a creative struggle in the best way -- you can feel Yod’s energy, and his wish to impart his knowledge to his listeners (kind of like Exuma in his early days), but that energy is responsible for creating this mismatched record of impossible knots. It’s a fun bit of nonsense, though: to quote Marnie Stern, it’s a pretty good mystery.....by..Robin.



High atop the mountain of New Age and psychedelic reissues resides a throne for a man not quite of this earth. Hirsute with a colossal presence that was equal parts yoga master, health food prophet and hippie Santa Claus – Father Yod (later Yahowha) is the granddaddy of spiritual-private-press-cum-cult-esque music. However, before his spiritual enlightenment Father was born James Edward Baker in 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He later earned the Silver Star as a United States Marine in World War II and became an expert in Jujitsu. Desiring to become Hollywood stuntman his efforts were derailed when he became enamored by the Nature Boys, a Los Angeles-based group of a beatniks who lived “according to Nature’s Laws.” His time was soon all spent studying philosophy, religion and esoteric spiritual teachings before becoming a follower of Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh spiritual leader and teacher of Kundalini Yoga. Disenchanted when Bhajan declared he was not god, Baker decided to assume the mantle. In 1969, Baker gathered a group of followers dubbed The Source Family and opened a health food restaurant, The Aware Inn, in the Laurel Canyon section of Hollywood. Now christening himself, Father Yod, Baker adopted a credo based on kindness to animals, a fruit diet, the wearing of cotton clothes and, finally, sex without orgasm. Amongst those who worked in The Aware Inn were a number of budding musicians and Father formed the psychedelic free rock band Ya Ho Wha 13 around their talents in 1973. 

Ya Ho Wha 13 recorded all nine of their albums in a soundproofed garage that served as a makeshift studio at the family’s communal residence. Most were recorded after their pre-dawn marijuana enhanced meditation allowing their dark psychedelic stream-of-conciousness sound to be fully improvised with no rehearsal. The first spontaneous release, Kohoutek, was credited to Father Yod and The Spirit of ’76 and came out in 1973 – the year of the comet Kohoutek. With the arrival of this otherworldly astral body it brought a renewed interest in cosmic consciousness in both the media and popular culture. Father Yod devoted himself to daily chanting and meditating on the comet as evidenced across the two sprawling side long jams — simply titled Side A and Side B. Blistering guitar, funk-rock piano and organ with female backing vocals set the mood as Yod waxes his cosmic sermons. As the emotions move from tranquility to elation, the chants slowly descend to near inaudible vocals culminating in a piercing Emergency Broadcast System-like tone that signals the comet’s arrival. 

A year later, in 1974, the Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa was released while adding Rhythm Aquarian to the line-up and moving Electron Aquarian to the vocal pulpit resulting in the most wildly rocking albums in their catalog. And while Father Yod does not appear on the album you need look no further than album’s cover to see he is still in the driver’s seat. Especially on the opener “Edge of a Dream”, with the refrain ‘I want to see/What’s going on’ echoing deep into your consciousness. The band is super tight as the music channels the raw, fiery San Francisco ballroom sound anchored with a funky rural backbeat – as Djin’s ripping Crazy Horse-esque guitar and Electron’s fried vocals pummel the listener on frenzied cuts like “Just Sitting Here” and “Man the Messiah”. 

Drag City has lovingly restored and reissued both LPs on vinyl for the first time in over 40 years. Both feature all of the original artwork, including an insert about the comet, Kohoutek. Also found within are new reflections from Isis Aquarian – caretaker of the Source Family legacy. words ...D. Norsen ..


Now that the story of THE SOURCE FAMILY is out there, as the subject of an acclaimed book and documentary film (as well as an ongoing series of rare, never-before-released recordings), it’s time to turn the light back on the records that made this whole thing a story in the first place. In the 1990s, it was a revelation to discover that there was a series of records made by a hippie cult led by a big Santa Claus-looking guy named FATHER YOD. It was of further interest that these records weren’t simple, predictable light-rock recitals about Jesus—far from it! Instead, they were darkly psychedelic, stream-of-consciousness jams, with Father and the members of his band (usually THE SPIRIT OF ’76 and YaHoWa13) reaching together for divine transformation, and often finding it, as Father screamed, pounding kettle drums ecstatically, while the band erupted with coils of enlightenment rock, over and over. Records like Penetration, Contraction, To the Principles For the Children, and I’m Gonna Take You Home were amazing home-recorded documents, adorned with hand-drawn phrases and logos and grainy color shots of what appeared to be truly magical everyday cult life with Father. Super-crazy, inspiring stuff. Now we return to the beginning, for the second coming of Kohoutek. This was the first spontaneous release that was made into a record, credited to Father Yod and The Spirit of ’76. It came out in 1973, the year of Kohoutek, when the immanent arrival of the big comet spawned a new round of cosmic consciousness in the media and with people all over the planet. This was more than a comet, its radiance was enormous, it came from ancient times to be experienced again by the enlightened people of the day. The Source Family were alive with expectation about the return of this long-haired messenger, and Father devoted considerable time chanting and eventually changing in his identity to Yahowa while meditating on the comet. Events like these were to be cherished for bringing infusions of energy that could only be accessed via the rare occasions. Life had to be lived in order to grow—and the two sides of Kohoutek are a special jam that passes through tranquility to exultation, a tapping of the passing flame in the skies and a greeting from Father to the messenger and bearer of such awesome gifts. Very pure. 



 Drag City’s taken on the task of archiving the vast material from The Source Family’s musical vaults, resulting in the release of music that at times can be challenging, humorous, and quite over-the-top. Based around the philosophy of millionaire turned cult leader Jim Baker (no relation, surprisingly!) who took the name Father Yod, the group was unique in that a large part of their time was devoted to jam sessions, making music, and recording all the things related to both. 

Father Yod & The Spirit of ’76’s album Kohoutek was released in 1973, and is, well, a very unique record. It’s actually a twenty-six minute long trance/chant/incantation in praise of the comet Kohoutek, which was to reappear that year, and which they felt would be the beginning of a new spiritual age and enlightenment. It’s hard to fully serve justice to this number; it goes from spoken word to a psych-rock freak-out and back again, and the tape hiss that shellacks the piece only makes it even more peculiar. As odd as it is, there’s a sincerity about Kohoutek that is undeniable; as weird and as strange as it is to listen to, you can’t experience this and come away not feeling that the Source Family is totally into what they’re doing—and furthermore, it’s appealing enough to make you wish you were there when it happened. 

Even more compelling is Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa, credited to Ya Ho Wa 13, was released in 1974, and though this was his band, he’s not performing here. His eccentricities as a performer are matched—if not completely outdone—by vocalist Electron. At times, the band turns in a Grateful Dead-style blues rock that’s actually rather kick-ass, like on the instrumental jam “Oh Ya Ho Wa” and the funky “Edge Of A Dream” and “Make A Dollar.” But it’s the numbers “Fire In The Sky” and “Man The Messiah” where things get really weird, turning into a bizarre, demented, spiritually possessed Tom Waits. These moments are striking, disturbing, and oddly compelling; the first listen might make you hit the skip button, but if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself fighting the desire to listen to it again, to see if you get it. 

Don’t fight this desire. Listen again. You’ll be glad you did.....BY JOSEPH KYLE...

Vinyl LP pressing. Digitally remastered edition of this recording from spiritual leader and health food chain owner James Edward Baker AKA Father Yod. KOHOUTEK was Yod's ode to the great Komet with the long hair, and more than a comment on a comet; the air of the ancients blasted past, making a transfiguring moment for the world's people, their spaceships and the whole holy planet, circa '73..............


This was the first spontaneous release that was made into a record, credited to father yod & the spirit of ’76. 

it came out in 1973, the year of kohoutek, when the imminent arrival of the big comet spawned a new round of cosmic consciousness in the media & with people all over the planet. the source family were alive with expectation about the return of this longhaired messenger & father devoted considerable time chanting & eventually changing in his identity to yahowa while meditating on the comet. events like these were to be cherished for bringing infusions of energy that could only be accessed via the rare occasions. life had to be lived in order to grow & the two sides of ‘kohoutek’ are a special jam that passes through tranquillity to exultation, a tapping of the passing flame in the skies & a greeting from father to the messenger & bearer of such awesome gifts......


In all of rock history, there can be few stranger stories than that of Yahowa 13, the mystical quasi-cult psychedelic rock band that recorded prolifically in the mid-'70s. Psychedelic collectors are aware of Yahowa via their connection to Sky Saxon of the Seeds, who occasionally sang with members of the group. In fact, however, Yahowa 13's discography mined far deeper and more mysterious lodes than the relatively few tracks that a spin-off band did with Saxon.

Based around the group of disciples of the enigmatic Father Yod, Yahowa 13 (and the related outfits Father Yod & the Spirit of '76, Yodship, and Fire, Water, Air) made almost a dozen limited-circulation LPs, most within the course of just a couple of years (1973-1975). These LPs toed the musical lines between professionalism and amateurism, cosmic profundity and tomfoolery, and inspired and half-assed psychedelicisms. Their legacy is all the more difficult to succinctly summarize given that the albums often differed vastly from each other, to the point where it was impossible to tell that they had been recorded by the same loose ensemble of Father Yod followers. It is easy, and sometimes justified, to snipe at these cult rarities as the work of psychedelic charlatans. If only from a purely historical viewpoint, though, they're worthy of attention as peculiar artifacts, and as relics of a group of idiosyncratic musicians who were dedicated to expressing themselves in a manner absolutely uncompromised by notions of commercial viability and societal approval.
The Yahowa story begins in the late '60s. Jim Baker, a follower of yoga master Yogi Bhajan, became a guru of sorts himself for a group called the Source Family. He ran a health food restaurant on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and assumed the name Father Yod. The exact nature of the Source Family's activities and philosophies remains mysterious, but they advocated vegetarianism and a white cotton wardrobe. One of the guys hanging around the Source crowd was Seeds singer Sky Saxon.

Among Father Yod's disciples were a number of musicians, who comprised the loose, floating group that began to make LPs in 1973. It was eventually revealed that more than 65 albums were actually recorded, though only nine of those were released; most of the unreleased albums have been destroyed. Most of the LPs were small-press runs of 500 or 1,000 copies, with few of these getting out to the general public, though some were sold in the record store attached to the restaurant that served as the Source Family's means of income. All were recorded in a soundproofed garage in the approximately 250-strong family's communal residence that served as the musicians' studio. All of the records with Father Yod's participation took as long to record as they take to listen to.

The first four of the albums were billed to Father Yod & the Spirit of '76, and are must-hears for aficionados of the genre known as "incredibly strange music." On the first three of these LPs, Father Yod chants/speaks inscrutable, and screwball-ish, pseudo-mystical thought against scrappy, just-about-professional psychedelic noodling. It's very much as if a middle-aged guy (which Baker/Yod was) has suddenly succumbed to cosmic revelations after a hit of acid and feels compelled to tell the world, without a hint of embarrassment about either the sophomoric nature of his thoughts or his obvious vocal limitations. Like a combination Captain Beefheart-Tim Buckley without any of the vocal ability or nuance, Yod plows, and often screams, his way to some unknowable destination. Largely in isolation from 1973's musical trends, the band complements him with later-period-psychedelicisms, particularly in the distorted and screeching guitars and organs, with jams that offer little in the way of conventional melodies or songwriting. The albums were divided into side-long tracks, merely labeled "Side A" and "Side B," befitting their apparent off-the-cuff origins.

For all their weirdness, Father Yod & the Spirit of '76 weren't totally devoted to spontaneous madness. Their fourth album, All or Nothing at All, was almost entirely comprised of tepid singer/songwriter soft rock that sounded like Amateur Hour at the local coffeehouse, albeit with some off-kilter lyrics; Father Yod did not even appear on the LP. Around this time, Father Yod changed his name to Yahowa, with the next batch of Yod-Yahowa-related recordings appearing under the name Yahowa 13. (To add to the confusion, Yahowa was sometimes spelled as Yahowha, Ya Ho Wa, or Yahoweh.)

The five albums released by Yahowa 13 circa 1974-1975 found them taking themselves somewhat more seriously as a rock band, with more attention paid to crafting expressive and accomplished riffs and rhythms. Yahowa/Father Yod was still often present on his idiot-savant vocals. It must be said that the group only truly came into their own -- as something that might be taken seriously by adventurous music fans, rather than treated as a cosmic novelty -- on those occasions when Yod was mostly or totally absent from the proceedings. For instance, the second Yahowa 13 LP, Savage Sons of Ya Ho Wa, not only lacked any contributions from Yod/Yahowa, but sounded almost totally unlike anything Yahowa 13/Father Yod & the Spirit of '76 had previously done. More than any other Yahowa 13 record, these were real songs, for the most part, often exhibiting a Neil Young fascination that made them sound like a rawer, zanier version of early-'70s Crazy Horse.

Yahowa 13's most successful artistic statement, however, was their next album, 1974's Penetration: An Aquarian Symphony. By this time the group had more or less settled down to a few core musicians, all of whom had the last name Aquarian. The most creative of these was guitarist Djin Aquarian (sometimes spelled Djinn), probably the only player (aside from Sky Saxon) associated with the Yahowa/Father Yod crowd whose talents were such that they could have made their mark on the world of secular popular music, beyond the Father Yod clan. Djin crafted a commendable variety of heavily amped and warped hard rock-psychedelic riffs from his axe, featured prominently throughout the Yahowa 13 catalog, and especially on Penetration. Father Yod's presence on this primarily instrumental album is minimal. It is ominous, throbbing space rock, the tension building and decelerating with the interaction between Djin and tribal rhythms and gongs. This album is recommended to those looking for psychedelic rock (or art rock, as it could be termed) that is comparable to little else from that or other eras.

Yahowa 13 drifted back into formless psychedelic jams, fronted by Yod/Yahowa's frankly annoying vocals, on their final two albums. Their musicianship had definitely improved over the course of their rapid-fire series of mid-'70s albums, yet there is no substitute, ultimately, for quality songs or compositions, which were not key elements in their frontman's vision. The Yahowa 13 saga ended in 1975, before the disparity between the musicians' abilities and the vocalist's shortcomings could be resolved.

At the end of 1974, the Source Family had sold their restaurant and moved to Hawaii. Yod/Yahowa, by this time married to 13 wives, never established himself and the family there. On August 25, 1975, Yahowa went hang-gliding for the first time and was mortally injured upon landing, dying after about nine hours. His disciples scattered within two years after his passing.

However, musicians that had been in Yahowa 13, including Djin Aquarian, continued to play together. In 1977, as Fire, Water, Air, they released an eight-track tape, Golden Sunrise, which sounded similar to Yahowa 13, but somewhat more focused and less weird. This is the album that includes some vocals by Sky Saxon, although it wasn't a high point in either party's careers. Still later in the 1970s, an album of which little is known, Yodship, was privately pressed. There was no information about the musicians on the cover (in fact there had never been much information on Father Yod-affiliated releases), which simply bore the title Yodship. It is apparent from the lyrics, however, that this may well have been the work of Yahowa followers, although it followed a more low-volume, folky vibe than most of the clan's previous albums had.
The first album by the musicians affiliated with the quasi-cult leader known as Father Yod (later known as Yahowa) is, like several of their productions, somewhat of an amateur effort. Divided into two side-long tracks (simply titled "Side A" and "Side B") totaling 26 minutes together, these sound like extemporaneous sermons with improvised late-period psychedelic rock backing. On "Side A", searing distorted guitar, funk-rock piano and organ, female backing vocals, and odd dabs of miscellany set the instrumental mood against which Yod pontificates. The chief drawback, is not Yod's followers, but Yod himself. The lyrics are embarrassingly over-the-top cosmic hippie homilies. His vocals are tuneless, which doesn't stop him from trying to exploit several octaves' worth of range. The result is something like Tim Buckley at his most avant-garde vocally and musically -- the Buckley Starsailor and Lorca albums, in particular -- without the considerable talent Buckley and his accompanists brought to those challenging but rewarding endeavors. "Side B" is the more bearable and subdued of the two cuts, with low hum-sing vocals (another possible Buckley reference point) flitting near the border of inaudibility, ending with what sounds like a test of the Emergency Broadcast System............

Credits
Bass – Sunflower Aquarian
Drums – Octavius Aquarian
Guitar – Djin Aquarian
Vocals – Father Yod

Tracklist
A Part 1 14:59
B Part 2 10:48 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..