Toronto-London based experimental group The Flowers Of Hell have announced that they will release their new album ‘Keshakhtaran’ via UK cult label Space Age Recordings (home to Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, Chapterhouse, Acid Mothers Temple and The Telescopes). Ahead of this, they present ‘Foray Through Keshakhtaran’, the first taste of the trans-Atlantic group’s first studio album in six years.
A tripped out instrumental journey in two 20-minute parts, this record involves 20 artists, including special guests Rishi Dhir (Elephant Stone, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels, Beck) on sitar, Montreal harpist Sarah Pagé, and avant-accordion legend Angel Corpus Christi (Suicide, Spiritualized, Dean Wareham). Produced by the band’s leader and composer Greg Jarvis, this album was mastered by Grammy recipient Peter J. Moore (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Joe Strummer).
‘Keshakhtaran’, which is an urban dictionary term for “seeking nirvana through meditation to sound, especially when you’re stoned,” is suitably named. The album presents a 42-minute instrumental psilocybin meditation piece in two parts, rooted in sax, flugel horn, chimes, harp, sitar and opera soprano vocals, augmented with tremolos, flutters, horns, woodwinds, strings and percussion.
For the past 18 years, The Flowers Of Hell have traversed the experimental edges of indie, classical and jazz, with music often rooted in the audio-visual synesthesia of the group’s mastermind, Greg Jarvis. Despite relative obscurity, they have been championed by music legends such as Lou Reed, Sonic Boom, Kevin Shields and members of The Legendary Pink Dots, Death In Vegas, The Wedding Present, The Fugs and The Plastic People Of The Universe, not to mention support from NASA’s mission control team and the Tate Gallery with an album installation and concert just a fortnight before London locked down.
“Keshakhtaran began as a 40 minute ‘space guitar’ piece I’d done out of bits and bobs I’d been playing in my home studio for a girlfriend to meditate to in the months before Covid. During the pandemic, I found I couldn’t write anything new (nothing in, nothing out), but I pulled out the guitar track and started sending it to caged up band members and friends to add layers to, and soon I was mixing and editing away, creating a sonic world to escape off into,” says Greg Jarvis.
“With massages being some of the only human contact allowed in Toronto at the time and with one of my bandmates being a masseuse, I’d go in and test the mixes while over-micro dosing on mushrooms for a truly immersive experience that transported me from the bleak times. I’d then play the work-in-progress for bandmates in my ‘semi outdoor contact’ garage that I’d converted into a psychedelic shack with a lightshow and a fog machine, tweaking things until it reached its final form that you’ll hear”.
For Record Store Day (UK), Space Age Recordings will also release a deluxe UK and first vinyl pressing of The Flowers Of Hell’s ‘Odes’ album, originally released in 2012. This is a collection of orchestral pop arrangements of some of Jarvis’ favourite songs, which Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed ended up hearing and loving, with Reed also supporting The Flowers by premiering it on his final radio show.
Fortunate enough to have learned directly from the likes of Malcolm McLaren, David Bowie, Jason Pierce (Spiritualized), The Moody Blues, Liz Mitchell (Boney M) and Ivan Kral (Patti Smith Group) while working in the music business, Greg Jarvis formed the Flowers Of Hell in 2005 – a time when London only had two bi-monthly club nights (Sonic Cathedral and AC30) where it was possible to play The Flowers’ kind of ‘Velvets meets Spacemen 3 meets classical’ music. Since relocating to his hometown Toronto, subsequent albums and tours have involved musicians from both continents.
‘Foray Through Keshakhtaran’ is available across digital platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. The full ‘Keshakhtaran’ LP will be released digitally on May 12th with the vinyl LP (including an inserted bonus CD featuring a reworking of the piece by Sonic Boom) to follow in late 2023. In the meantime, get the deluxe ‘Odes’ album on vinyl on Record Store Day (April 22) in the UK, to be made available two weeks later for the rest of the world.