Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Krozier & the Generator
Tranceformer


Released 1984 on Fission Chips
Reviewed by achuma, 11/01/2006ce


‘Krozier’ was Geoff Crozier, demented psychedelic magician/performance artist from Seymour in Victoria, Australia; ‘the Generator’ refers to his musical accompaniment at this stage in his life, the group Rainbow Generator, who had previously released obscure albums of their own. Crozier was a unique character, part Arthur Brown, part Robert Calvert, part Alice Cooper (though without really singing in a conventional sense, or wearing leather jackets), part shaman, part trickster god and court jester, who appeared both on stage and in rehearsal or recording in face make-up and full outlandish regalia, living his life purely to explore and express, and to blow his own mind as well as the audience’s, and put them back together again to make something new and unexpected. Although not really a singer of much talent, the content of his words – often more recited dramatically or comedically, rather than sung as such – was sometimes puzzling, sometimes enlightening, sometimes funny, and always engaging and strange. He was both a stage magician/illusionist and a ritual magician/shaman, using multi-media performance and improvisation as the method and propulsion for his own anarchic vision of unhinged exploration, with each gig or recording session being a spontaneous ceremonial ritual to see how far out he could take it all and still be there once it was over.
Crozier had been active doing his thing since the late 60’s in Melbourne, forming a group to play free-form rock music and help him present his unrestrained ideas for a full-on comedic, irreverent and psychedelic multi-media stageshow – first The Magik Word in 1969, shortly after settling for a while with The Indian Medicine Magik Show. Their spontaneous music was spun around Crozier’s magic performances, visual weirdness, and weird spoken banter and flights of fancy. Live gigs featured plenty of smoke and pyrotechnics, fire-eating, animals wandering around on stage, complicated props and all manner of furious antics that added up to an unpredictable and uncompromising sensory overload. The Magik Word even wrangled several TV performances on Channel 9’s ‘In Melbourne Tonight’, made possible by Crozier’s day-job as a set painter for 9, and winning a talent show after being in the right place at the right time to volunteer to fill a gap from an entrant who didn’t show. Though they had to tone down for TV they still managed to express some kind of compressed nutty freak-out/freak show. Two tracks recorded from this have recently been transferred from the acetates to mp3s for download, by an ex-Magik Word member. Imagine, if you will, a mashing together of crude, hamfisted psych-tinged rock that sounds like the musicians have only been playing for a few weeks after listening to old records by The Who, interacting with silly surreal comedic monologues from Crozier like rejected ideas for the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and you might get the idea. Apparently a lot more kookery and visual magic tricks were going on visually that would have made the TV experience even more enjoyable.
Both The Magik Word and The Indian Medicine Magik Show were popular with the tokers and trippers but they didn’t last long. Some gigs were cut short by police or promoters who were worried about the fire hazards and the general weirdness, and when one large gig had the power pulled and lights turned on, Crozier got really pissed off, demanding the power be turned back on and the lights off, before setting fire to the stage curtain, ripping open a signal flare, and running into the street with it held in his hand!
Not getting the degree of recognition he wanted, or many gigs either, Crozier suddenly left Australia in 1971 without warning to seek his fortunes in the US, living in Staten Island with a dog, a cat, a dove and a monkey [the last one he named ‘Sarcophagus Mayhem’, although he gave all of his animal companions odd names, but this was the best]. He formed a group called The Moon Rock Circus and toured the US doing a similar kind of thing to what he had done back home. But this time, his act [though hardly an ‘act’ for Crozier, it was just what he did] was well-received and he was hailed by critics as a genius, even getting a rave review in the NY Times. By 1977 he was working with a fucked-up group called The Kongress, which had formed in the mid-70’s as a duo including drummer Von Lmo (ex-Funeral of Art), who shortly after achieved a kind of obscure fame/notoriety of his own. Von Lmo left Kongress to pursue his own career after he and Crozier had “nearly killed each other on stage on several occasions” according to Von Lmo. The two didn’t get along, not surprising as both were men with a vision, but each with room for only one ship captain. [Incidentally, Von Lmo would release a compilation of his own rarities and out-takes also titled ‘Tranceformer’, in 2001.]
The next year Crozier returned to Australia and obscurity. After winning an award as Australia’s top magician, he started collaborating with Rainbow Generator in 1979. Rainbow Generator were a semi-nomadic experimental electronic rock/inner-space synth band who eventually became more or less based between Melbourne and Sydney, consisting of David Mow a.k.a. Mojo on guitars, synths and rhythm machines and Rob Greaves a.k.a. Ras on synths and rhythm machines. Percussionist Keith Casey also sometimes contributed when needed. They released a number of albums on their own Fission Chips label, most notably their debut ‘Dance of the Spheres’ [1977] and a few cassette-only releases. The collaboration with Crozier allowed for an even broader sonic approach.
By January 1981 this grouping had recorded more than 2 LP’s worth of experimental musical performances, both in their own temporary studio set-ups and live with some overdubs added later by Mow, but in May of that year Crozier died at home in an accident whilst practicing illusory self-hanging. A very sad loss, though fortunately Mow persevered to release a selection of the recordings as a double LP by Krozier & the Generator – ‘Tranceformer’ – a few years later. [The label web site lists it incorrectly as a 1980 release. Maybe they meant when it was recorded, as the album was not put together and released until after Crozier’s death in 1981].

‘House of the Sun’ [2:41] opens the album, and is a weird dialogue between a bewildered human, his silent friend, and an otherworldly entity, alternately portentous (not pretentious) and amusing, with Crozier doing both voices. “I am the immaculate deception, I am the sun and I work by a series of mirrors... Welcome to the house of the sun!” is recited over a quiet drone as rhythm machine joins in to set a steady beat to a minor jungle of electronic sweeping, swooping and chattering. The humans have stumbled unwittingly into someone else’s secret domain, but they’re welcome anyway. Why are they here? “We’ve come for your children! (That was a pretty good answer, wasn’t it?)” “You are my children!” comes the reply. “What can you tell us?” “Nothing you don’t already know!” “Where have you been?” “I’ll tell you when I get there!... Oh, by the way, would you like to come?”, suddenly dropping all seriousness on the last line.
‘Khan-Khallili Razaar’ [3:34] intones from the perspective of a mummified pharaoh whose tomb and belongings have been entered and plundered without authority, leaving him awash in anger and indignity, awoken from his content afterlife, and demanding what is his be returned whilst wiping the crust from his eyes. All this over a quirky Der Plan-like synth riff with plenty of electronic weirdness swimming in the background.
‘The Devil May Care’ [8:26] opens with quiet distant booms of electric muffled thunder and ominous droning synth notes building, all gothic, cosmic and menacing. Alien ray guns periodically bloop into your ears as the tension holds and occasionally builds further to minor chord climaxes that disappear almost as quickly as they came. The monologue is a grimly dark one about some semi-defined evil putrescence of a sinister and religious nature. The preacher at hell’s gates then recites “gouge their eyes out and tear off their limbs, as we shall chant our sacred hymns...” and “consuming carcass, after carcass, after carcass, after carcass...” More tin thunder hits and the storm breaks, a mournful synth melody enters, but still hinting at psychic terror just around the corner, as the weird monologue continues, a bit softer on the ear this time but no less dark and sadistic in content. After pronouncing “the devil may come, the devil may care”, Crozier decides that “I am a crocodile, I am a tiger...” as he shapeshifts between the two several times. The pace quickens near the end before the whole piece collapses.
‘Slave Traders’ [2:41] shows hints of Eno circa ‘Another Green World’ with it’s mellow but exotic encapsulation of sound in a neat package, a cheesy but unassuming bass synth framework holding up all manner of stereo-panned treated percussion with guitar exploring the territory like a happily tipsy guy wandering around a tropical resort with a glass of bubbly and a quarter of an acid trip in his gullet.
Now to side 2 and ‘Land of Unclean Spirits’ [4:02] is back to the dark realms, with negative space low synth notes warping up and down in a weird composite drone. One voice runs off a creepy monologue from the point of view of a sinister overlord of a Christian God, listing off all the things people and animals do for him in fear to pay their respects, whilst a twisted groveling mutant jester carries on his own routine beneath, both undermining and confirming everything its master says. The main voice finally growls “drink my blood and eat my flesh for me... try to hide in the dark as you confess to me... confess to me... Liars! Tell the truth about me...” etc. and the song concludes with just the groaning and moaning seasick synth drones mining out a place in the darkest corners of your mind.
This segues straight into a just-woken-up voice asking “what time is it?” as the smart-alecky old creep waiting right next to him replies “Time? What time is it??? Surely don’t you mean whose time?”, then gliding down into the throbbing synth innerworld that is ‘Perhaps Reincarnation’ [2:11] as a glassy drone hovers in the middle of it all. Crozier ponders that “perhaps reincarnation is only for some of us”, the throbbing fades out for the aforementioned creep answering his own question – “Whose time is it? Why, it’s your time, of course” – and we’re left with the drone as weird synth notes glide around producing a mildly unsettling but also relaxing effect.
‘House of the Joker’ [8:39] plods along on funky breakbeat drums and rhythm machine to dark gliding glacial synths as Crozier carries on about all sorts of things. Soon the synths are getting wild and flying all around as the whole show settles into a slightly deeper level of your consciousness, reminding me of Besombes-Rizet briefly. The middle section settles a bit on a plateau without the low gothic end but still with synths whipping around and inside the ears, and Crozier carrying on about blood... “I cut my throat nightly so that I may live...” then chanting “Vladimir Blood, Blood, Blood, Vladimir Blood, Blood, Blood” with the “Blood” bits almost regurgitated rather than spoken. He seems to like this Vladimir guy because he blathers on with the name repeated over and over for a little while like he’s stuck in a fly agaric loop and trying to puke but not remembering how, but the subject of blood doesn’t go away, in fact he’s conjuring “oceans of it...” and eventually it all fades out in a wash of red.
‘Take a Look’ [5:00] is live, and you can clearly hear a little cash register clinking and people talking and laughing in the background, both before the music kicks in and throughout the track, but it’s used as a part of the music as a whole and ceases to just be incidental background noise. “There is only one way to enjoy yourself... Enjoy yourself!” Crozier tells us, and a tribal drums jungle holds it all afloat for a while, with weird sounds in the background such as what sounds like someone mistreating an echoed violin. Crozier chants “Can’t find a woman, find yourself a man... if you can’t find a man, do the best you can, you’ve got two hands...” and other sociable sonnets. A fat stop-start fuzz bass line fades in, with spindly distorted guitar freewheeling and occasionally roaring over the top, through and around, pumping the whole thing along for the remainder like a waddling hippo that just doesn’t want to stop, except that it does.
‘Temple of Exotic Delights’ [15:49] fills side 3, and starts out with Crozier doing the closest to actual singing he gets on this album, in a way. This, and the mellow guitar lacings and early 80’s-sounding synth backing, at first sounds like this might be some woeful new romantics ballad. But no, not really, at least not for the whole track. It’s still dark, but sad and with a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Actually it’d sound right at home at that bit at the end of ‘Dogs In Space’ where the main character’s girlfriend dies from a heroin o.d. The chorus refrain, and indeed much of this first section is kind of cheesy in that early 80’s synth new wave way but it’s really growing on me now, and sounds less dairy-oriented each time I hear it. This settles into a moody mind-tempo slow beat groove as the cheesy qualities melt away and things darken and weirdify progressively by shades before lightening a bit in mood and sliding into a restrained but detailed psychotropic mindslot, with paced drums, spaced synths and acid-laced guitar. After a brief refrain of the chorus this settles in for a bit of a stay, entering a very cool space that reminds me simultaneously of Moebius & Plank’s ‘Infilitration’ from their ‘Material’ album, the more spaced parts of Holger Czukay’s ‘Movies’, and the more spaced parts of Eno’s ‘Another Green World’ – even a bit of Escapade perhaps, a much later band. A couple more minutes later it’s interrupted by another refrain before settling back again and exploring deeper in the same territory, for a longer stretch this time. After splattering our brains around in a pleasantly drugged-up fashion for a decent length of time it rides out to the end on a different theme, shuttling back into earth orbit. Just when you’re waiting for the needle on your record player to hit return, the track finishes properly with some quiet synth noises and what sounds like a little music box tinkling away its tune of innocence, and a few seconds later it is indeed the end of the side. As you’d hope from the longest track, this contains some of the best psychedelic music on the album in parts. Crozier continues with his raving more or less throughout, though it doesn’t get in the way of the music, and it’s hard to pick if there’s any kind of cohesion to what he’s trying to say, as he seems to be coming out with whatever floats into his head, regardless of whether there’s any connection between what he said a moment before and what he’ll say next.
‘Feed You To The Sharks’ [1:49] is a brief monologue opening side 4 with no music but some delay and reverb treatment, spoken in a funny old lady voice like one of the Monty Python pepperpot women. It opens with some gurgling and “Wish I could blow bubbles... that’s the only thing I can’t do in this universe, blow bubbles... I blew a bubble once, it burst... that’s why I’m ‘ere...” ‘She’ then tells the listener how no one can fix broken bubbles, it’s impossible, but that if you find out about someone who can, let her know pronto and don’t tell anyone else, she’ll make it worth your while, before morphing into clucking and “here, chook chook chook”, and then manically cackling over and over variations of “if you’re not a very good boy, I’m gonna feed you to the sharks! Hahahahaha!!!!”.
‘Lapis-Lazuli’ [6:55] is a slow burn plod groove set down by polyrhythmic lumbering caterpillar drums, a deep bass groove, distorted and flanged guitar, and glacial gothic synth, all sounding like early 80’s Chrome in rehearsal. A few changes break up the groove now and then but the drum plod is there in the same tempo throughout. Crozier is ranting again about who knows what, occasionally intoning “Lapis-Lazuli, come unto me...” in between the other stuff that doesn’t seem to mean anything that I can figure out yet. Maybe it means nothing – I’m sure even Crozier didn’t understand everything that came out of his mouth or pen.
‘I’ll Be A Sphinx For You’ [1:35] is all curious spaced synth notes sliding down tubes like greased silicon worms, as vocals echo-fade into existence on each line. “I’ll be a sphinx for you, if you’ll be the Queen of Sheba for me” he proposes, amongst other things.
‘Doubting Thomas’ [1:36] is a mad scientist magic show routine, Crozier rabbiting away on speed explaining to his audience how his special “electronical molecule decomposer” machine will break down the molecules of a rabbit to make it disappear from his hat, before getting distracted by a word-association stream of consciousness upchuck jumping from one thing to the next like a mad hatter, before finishing the trick in a hurried manner of speaking and suddenly losing it and shouting “smash all the fucking lights! Smash this, smash that” and then composing himself and it’s good evening ladies and gentlemen.
‘Paid Your Money’ [7:37] is another live recording, and opens with Crozier requesting “give me an axe!” then remembering he’s got a song to do, as a drum machine shuffle kicks in and so does his usual weird jumbled monologue, then synths and an economical sparse 2-note synth-bassline take it into another moody slowgroove. Crozier’s carrying on about all sorts of things, and the pace picks up a bit. A choice selection from the freeflowing lyrics – “Pope Pubic, 13th of March, April 1972 and the year of rats as big as cats, hmmm, what a well-hung door... Flamshot was his well-oiled name, and he was a supreme and utter no nonsense around here mate or I’ll rip your lungs out and flush your entrails into my hair he said. Face me when you talk to me, son of a tinker’s curse, all hail the redback, and let’s take drugs together, and let’s get pissed together and let’s fuck one another and let’s drown in one another’s bubbling bloodbath as we cut each other’s throats... mmm I’d like to see you squirm, I’d like to see you burn, and finally the coin stopped spinning and fell back to earth, and they both got what they wanted... a Shiva hand-job!” and so on. He repeats a few things he’s said on other recordings here, suggesting it’s not entirely ad-libbed, with a headful of one-liners and stanzas he wrote last week to pull out whenever he can’t think of anything else to say. Not that he just talks over the whole thing – as all over the album, he has a good sense of when to just shut up and let the music carry proceedings. Now everything’s driven by a robotic synth-bassline, still with the rhythm machine ticking and clicking away, fuzzed and flanged guitars squalling all around, as the Martian invaders lay waste to all in their path without a glimmer of human emotion... (not that it’s all that devastating or overly mindblowing sonically, but that’s the imagery that came to mind as I was typing this). “The high pitched scream on this album is probably yourself!” he tells us like a liner note, and soon it fades out and that’s it for tonight and forever, because Crozier is with us in the flesh no more.

At the end of a show – which would often be at a loft acid party or something similar – the audience sometimes showed no reaction whatsoever, gobsmacked by the whole strange experience and trying to figure out what just happened. Probably some of them just didn’t get it or couldn’t take it. Regardless, Krozier & the Generator were remembered warmly by a few but were ignored or dismissed by the majority, and all these years after Crozier’s death he’s still virtually unknown. Let this at least be an on-line testimony that Geoff Crozier is not forgotten!

It would be great if any film or video footage could be found of their shows, as a DVD release would go a long way to preserving the place in musical history deserved by Rainbow Generator and Crozier. There are plans to eventually reissue this album on CD but who knows when that will be available; at the time of writing, mint unsold copies of the original double-LP can still be purchased from Mow for something like AUS$400. Although the Fission Chips website seems to indicate that you can buy ‘Dance of the Spheres’ and ‘Tranceformer’ on CD, it’s said that for years and in fact no such CDs are available or ever have been. There were 2 other obscure, cassette-only Fission Chips releases by Krozier & the Generator – ‘The Quirkshop Tapes’ [1979] and ‘Krozier’s Crusaders’ [1980]. The latter was a compilation of recordings from live performances, and according to Mow, suffers from very poor sound quality as much of it was recorded with a single microphone stuck near the front of the stage. However, he played me some, and it sounded fine to me as an archive recording. Unfortunately, Mow doesn’t want to see copies of these circulate due to the quality concerns, even just for private listening, so it’s unlikely there’ll be a reissue.


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