Thursday, May 6, 2010

Unicorn And Tiple




















´You never heard such sounds in your life´ was a fitting slogan used by the tiny and daring ESP label to promote its wares. Taking things even further, the company´s motto proclaimed that ´the artists alone decide what you will hear on their ESP-Disk´. With this decidedly non-commercial approach the New York sixties label released many wonderful and always rather weird albums by the Godz, Albert Ayler, The Fugs, Pharoah Sanders and Pearls Before Swine. Though it didn´t put out that many records since the sixties came to a close, ESP still exists and the complete back catalogue remains in print.

Which brings us to ESP recording artist Ed Askew, who was considered weird even by label standards. A graduate of Yale, Askew played psychedelic folk songs on a tiple, a Colombian ten-string instrument a bit like a lute and said to be very difficult to master. I just bought his first album, the obscure Ask The Unicorn from 1968, and it´s great. Rough and lofi too; the vocals especially would have benefitted from better recording equipment, but what can you do? A second offering, Little Eyes, was all ready to go in 1970 but not released as ESP ran into financial problems at the time. It finally saw the light a couple of years ago on another label. I´ve yet to hear that one, but Ask The Unicorn will keep me plenty busy in the meantime.

Ed Askew - Fancy That MP3
Ed Askew - Red Woman - Letter To England MP3

6 comments:

Greg said...

I've never heard such sounds, but I like 'em! The tiple sounds very pretty yet intense. Nice stuff; thanks.

Found this via a link from Keep the Coffee Coming, BTW.

tinca.veerman@versatel.nl said...

weird sound and it doesn't become annoying. I like the way he's singing!

Holly said...

I really enjoy ESP's psych-folk releases, and I'd never heard this before - thanks a bunch!

Do you like Mij's Yodelling Astrologer?

Ramone666 said...

Your yodelling astrologer does not ring a bell I´m afraid. Sounds interesting though.

Holly said...

Enter MIJ at the ESP website, and check out track 2- Grok (Martian Love Call). It's a variant on Sinner Man, and, well, you just need to listen ;-)

Ramone666 said...

Just did... cool stuff. Will explore further. Thanks!