Release Date: Mar 4, 2014
Record label: Asthmatic Kitty
Genre(s): Folk, New Age, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk, Alternative Folk, Progressive Alternative
Linda Perhacs's wonderful debut album Parallelograms sank without a trace when it was released in 1970 and only resurfaced as a collector's item in the early 00s. The wave of support that has carried the Californian psych-folk songstress back into the recording studio was slow to build, but better 44 years late than never. With its invocations of peace and love and supremely hippyish title, this follow-up could be another relic from the past were it not for the occasional electronic touches and guest vocals from Julia Holter and Nite Jewel.
Forty-four years is a long time between albums, but for singer/songwriter Linda Perhacs it has been exactly that. The Soul of All Natural Things is her sophomore recording. Her first, the 1970 psych-folk masterpiece Parallelograms, has a storied history (see her bio if you need it recounted). In its own way, this set picks up where her hallucinatory classic left off.
Out Rodriguez-ing Rodriguez, septuagenarian Linda Perhacs is the crate-digger’s favourite cult folk singer who, after releasing her rudely overlooked, ethereal, Topanga Canyon-birthed masterpiece ‘Parallelograms’ in 1970, put down the patchouli oil and returned to her job as a dental hygienist. Tempted out of retirement over the past decade by a gang of muso fans including Devendra Banhart, her second album is a gorgeous, glimmering offering of cynicism-free psychedelia, in which Perhacs’ delicate, girlish vocals seem unchanged despite the passing of 44 years. From the title track’s inviting flamenco guitar, through to the near-mystical harmonies of the elaborately textured ‘Intensity’ and the choral experimentation of ‘Prisms Of Glass’, this is an album in possession of a rare innocence and charm.
Time. It’s a funny old thing. The normal trajectory for musicians usually adheres to the ‘album-tour’ loop and any years off in-between are frowned upon, even fretted over by fetid fans awaiting the next musical missive form their icons. Some artists don’t adhere to this schedule, with prime cases in point being Kate Bush, The Blue Nile who took a slovenly 22 years to produce four albums, and Guns ‘n’ Roses taking 15 years to release the woeful Chinese Democracy.
Linda Perhacs is easily the most celebrated dental hygienist to ever have recorded a classic psychedelic folk album. That album, 1970’s Parallelograms, has persisted over decades, even as Perhacs herself moved on with her life after the record failed and copies of it slowly disappeared from print. The people who heard it, though, did not move on. They made their own editions and passed the album to those they deemed worthy.
If you’ve heard of this album, you’ve doubtless heard all about the (quite possibly record-breaking) 44-year gap since Linda Perhacs’ 1970 debut Parallelograms. You may not have been previously aware of Parallelograms’ existence: it was virtually overlooked upon its initial release, but has achieved a snowballing cult popularity as a kind of spiritual predecessor to “freak-folk” and New Weird America. It sounds like the plot of a Nick Hornby novel.
In 1970, Linda Perhacs recorded Parallelograms, a cult classic filled with earnest psychedelic folk songs and a magical, mind-bending title track. After spreading through word of mouth and peer-to-peer file sharing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Parallelograms was reissued in 2003 to deserved acclaim. Perhacs herself returned to music with a guest vocal on Devendra Barnhart’s 2007 album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, and in the subsequent years has assembled The Soul of All Natural Things, her first full album since her debut some 44 years ago.
In 2003, the folk label Wild Places reissued Linda Perhacs's 1970 album, Parallelograms, to wide acclaim, but the Perhacs renaissance didn't truly begin until 2007, when Devendra Banhart used the once-obscure Topanga Canyon singer-songwriter's vocals on his album Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon. Perhacs's second album, The Soul of All Natural Things, arrives 44 years after her debut, and is a mixed bag. Even with the help of such of-the-moment luminaries as Julia Holter and Nite Jewel's Ramona Gonzalez, the album has a dated quality that recalls not so much the early 1970s as '90s-era adult contemporary.
Parallelograms, Linda Perhacs' much lauded and revived 1970 album, was shaped by a miraculous, synesthetic experience – a sudden light and colour in the sky above LA's Topanga Canyon. Knowing from the get-go how deeply rooted Perhacs' music is with her experience of her surroundings, one wonders what colours and forms she may have encountered while corralling the atmosphere around her - some 44 years later – in preparation for her second album The Soul Of All Natural Things. You only really need listen to the softly picked notes of the opening track from each record to hear immediately what four decades have done to the planet.
Nobody wake up Martin Courtney. For five or so years, he’s been ambling through life as the frontman of Real Estate, a man at peace with his bliss and uninterested in finding a way out. The calm, earthy and delicate “Atlas,” the third Real Estate album, is less ambitious than its second album ….
Linda Perhacs’ Parallelograms is a true cult record. Released in 1970 to barely any acclaim and dismal sales, it is now widely considered one of the most exceptional psych-folk albums in existence. Its initial failure can be attributed partly to a poor pressing, but a proper 2003 reissue that coincided with the rise of avant-garde folk artists she had influenced, such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, allowed Perhacs’ mystical creation to be heard as intended for the first time.
It’s unlikely that any music awards ceremony dishes out a trophy in acknowledgement of the longest gap between albums. Should such an accolade exist, Linda Perhacs would have little serious competition in claiming it. The 44-year gap between 1970 debut Parallelograms and The Soul of All Natural Things is indicative of Perhacs’ somewhat less than steely-eyed determination to pursue a career in music.
When 1970’s “Parallelograms,” Linda Perhacs’s one and only album at the time, was unearthed a decade ago, it became a spiritual cornerstone of the so-called freak-folk movement back then. Its mix of fingerpicked guitar and psychedelic melodies spoke to people like Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, artists mining a similar vein of otherworldly folk music. The surprise resurgence of interest in Perhacs prompted her to make music again, and “The Soul of All Natural Things” is her first album in 44 years.