There is a theory in some religions that the soul chooses the most opportune time to enter the physical realm.
Now, we can’t say for certain if that’s true, but it would certainly explain how Noel Gallagher came to emerge on this planet on May 29th 1967, the very start of the Summer Of Love. It would also explain how such a psychedelic warrior, an aural cosmonaut eager to journey through the realms of inner space, could be hidden in plain site.
After all, his solo career has been built on mid-tempo open mic night meanderings, memorably summed up by the man himself as “the strumming of the guitar and the melancholy of those songs of lost love or lost youth, but with a hopeful chorus”.
Beneath this, though, lay a desire to blow some minds. New album ‘Who Built The Moon?’ is the culmination of this instinct, something Clash reviewer Gareth James aptly described as “an artist rediscovering their sense of purpose”.
From backwards guitars to blokes playing scissors, Noel Gallagher has decided to cut loose, to open up his third eye to the extra-dimensional properties of music.
Or maybe he’s just having fun. Whatever, we should have known all along – here’s a few cuts from the vaults.
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Oasis - ‘I Am The Walrus’ (Live)
It’s never been any secret that Noel Gallagher is a huge fan of The Beatles – indeed, they’re his alpha and omega, the deities by which his life progresses. The decision to actually cover the band, though, took this one step further.
Opting to turn their acid gobbledegook classic ‘I Am The Walrus’ into a punk’d up anthem, the band pushed those two almighty summers - ‘67 and ‘77 – into one. Hidden away on the B-side of ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’, it was an indication of what was to follow.
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The Chemical Brothers ft. Noel Gallagher - ‘Setting Sun’
In the summer of 1996 Oasis were virtually unstoppable. ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’ laid absolute waste to the charts, while tabloid infamy trailed the band’s every move. Amid all this, though, Noel Gallagher found room to sing on what might just be the most sonically adventurous single to hit number one during the entire decade.
The Chemical Brothers barnstorming production on ‘Setting Sun’ fuses rave culture with The Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, combining Eastern drones with shattered breaks to prove that the road of excess really does lead to the palace of wisdom.
Noel’s vocal, though, is the fulcrum of all this: “You’re the devil in me I brought in from the cold...”
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Oasis - ‘All Around The World’
If ‘Setting Sun’ represented the daring, inventive side of modern psych, then this is perhaps it’s antithesis. Written before the band found fame but recorded at the height of their coke-addled pomp, it seems to spend an inordinate amount of time desperately plodding along in a kind of Bootleg Beatles at Butlins kind of psychedelic cul de sac.
Proof, if any were needed, that drugs alone can’t unlock the doors of perception if you’ve misplaced the keys after a four day bender.
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Oasis - ‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’
In many ways ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ was the most difficult album Oasis ever recorded – band members came and went, the press wrote them off, and Creation crumbled beneath them.
‘Fuckin’ In The Bushes’ though, was a righteous statement of defiance, with its rabid opening speech - “YOU GO TO HELL!” - half-inched from the Isle of Wight festival 1970, a scream from the collapse of the counter culture. The drums are sampled from Jimi Hendrix, while the riff echoes George Harrison’s solo cut ‘Wah Wah’ given a Led Zeppelin-esque overhaul.
Even at his darkest moment Noel Gallagher still sought solace in the transformative powers of psychedelia.
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Oasis - ‘Falling Down’ (Amorphous Androgynous Remix)
For a long, very long, time Oasis refused to do remixes. After all, what was the point? Those maxi-singles in the mid 90s were padded out with some of their finest songwriting, tracks collected on the actually-pretty-fantastic compilation ‘The Masterplan’.
Eventually, though, curiosity got the better of the group. 2008’s ‘The Shock Of The Lightning’ received an official remix, and – with that barrier out of the way – Noel Gallagher promptly handed the keys for ‘Falling Down’ over to crate-digging magic mushroom munchers Amorphous Androgynous.
What follows is 22 minutes (!) is sheer lysergic bedlam, a colossal piece of expansive, inclusive om shanti creativity that left Noel Gallagher speechless and gained a full 12 inch vinyl release in its own right. Sadly, initial attempts to craft a full album like this collapsed in on themselves, with the guitarist claiming he “destroyed” the master tapes of their sessions together.
The project’s legacy lives on, though. Recruiting dance producer and soundtrack expert David Holmes for ‘Who Built The Moon?’ was in itself a daring choice, one arguably made possible by Noel Gallagher’s previous sonic collusion with the mystical, monastic, beat-wielding phenomenon that is Amorphous Androgynous.
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'Who Built The Moon?' is out now.
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