Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chil - Rhubarby Feeling 1970

Rhubarby Feeling was a movie by Regisseur Felix Strassler that was released in 1970. His search for a composer to create a score for the film ended when he finally opted for Walter Keller, organist in the Swiss band Omelette Surprise, which had released a sole single in 1969, to work on the project. Keller recorded the music in a church in 1970, and what resulted was the bit of weirdness that is generally considered the oldest private "psychedelic" release in Switzerland, though it's not exactly psychedelic, but rather pop skewed to about the furthest extremes possible. The Beatles figure into all of this, more as individuals than as a band: "Some Rhubarby Feeling" fades in with Keller singing like Ringo Starr in a campy, upbeat pub singalong with rather cryptic lyrics; "Out Blues" is a contrary, muted blues, like restrained Canned Heat boogie crossed with the dolor of George Harrison; the title song is a bit of McCartney light, and "Evening Song" anticipates Wings. Overall, there's a sort of fairy-tale atmosphere to Rhubarby Feeling ("My Illusions" is a child-like lullaby as organ-and-bell dirge barely held together by Keller's uncertain warble, while "Living It Unlimited" is a disturbing, carnivalesque organ grinder epic), which betrays the influence of psychedelia more in the partly nonsensical lyrics than in the music (though "Too Many Faces" is a Middle Eastern jam/drone of its time). The album comes on as stylistically spotty, which a soundtrack invariably does without its corresponding movie. Some of the material is well-developed -- legitimate songs, in fact -- while the rest ranges from extended mood music to downright strange chunks of experimentation (the repetitiously odd "You Gave Me Bread" and its coda, "You Gave Me Water Too"). More than anything, there is goosebump-inducing creepiness that you cannot help but be drawn to. Walter Keller remains in the music business as a singer/songwriter and routinely releases new material. This movie, on the other hand, disappeared without a trace, but with a soundtrack like this, it certainly couldn't have been too accessible. AMG.

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