"Harmony Rockets" is a pseudonym used by Jonathan Donahue and Grasshopper of Mercury Rev for experimental side-projects. So far, they have released two CDs under this name. Plus they are featured on two compilation CDs.
"Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void" (UK - Big Cat 90 CD, US V2/Big Cat 80090 CD)
A classic experimental album of epic proportions, "Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void" consists of ONE track, which runs to 41:40 minutes, recorded live at the Rhinecliff Hotel in upstate New York in 1995. It was initially released in 1995 as a limited edition of 500 copies, available in Germany, France, Benelux, Scandinavia. It was then given a limited re-release on CD in October 1997 in the UK and Eire. It also turned up on Big Cat in the States in '95, was kinda lost and unavailable for a while, and then resurfaced in '98 when it was re-released by V2.
On the album, the band freed themselves from the constraints of the standard rock form and produced a work that reflects their interest in avant-garde and improvised music. It contains echoes of German experimentalists like Faust and Guru Guru, as well as of Sun Ra and the early electronic explorations of Morton Subotnik. Starts out sweetly enough, then builds and builds, until finally arriving at a sublime conclusion. It's been noted that the lyrics were basically lifted from an old blues (?) number.
Said Jonathan: "It’s mostly instrumental, but there’s some vocals on the
beginning of it, it’s me singing. Basically, what it is, is most of Mercury Rev,
that you see up there [stage], were trying to kill a Friday night in the
mountains, got really wasted and wandered down to a local Civil War bar. They
needed an opening band, so we brought some old analog effects with us and some
guitars and just whooped up whatever we were doing for, like, forty minutes and
stopped. Somebody had a tape, figuring it was y’know, Mercury Rev, so they sorta
recorded it shittily."
So, the entire album is live?
"Yeah, just made up on the spot. There’s not a damn thing that was practiced ever, it just sort of happened, but it came out really nice. We like it, we were pretty surprised."
It got good press, too:
"...PARALYZED MIND is nocturnal trance music that never gets monotonous, a stunning feat for a piece this long....In 2015 we'll be talking about this mercurial, revolutionary CD in the awed tones reserved for THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO, REVOLVER, A LOVE SUPREME, or BITCHES BREW."--Alternative Press 1/96
The line-up for this recording:
Suzanne Thorpe (although she performed unplugged)
paralysed was first released in 95 by big cat on cd and lp. this edition has silver embossed writing on the cover and the tv screen and aerial are embossed too. (it's gorgeous). the cd tray is also clear on this release and has a picture of the tape machine used to record the album behind it. the later releases don't have these. i also have a cd promo of it with just a white cd with writing printed on it and no sleeve. (very unimaginative)
also, i was reading a book of psychedelic discographys recently (don't worry, i was just flicking through - it's not an interest of mine) when i spotted the harmony rockets. it only listed the album and single, but in the group description it said they released a single called 'skeleton man' in 93/94, but didn't give any more details. i don't know what to make of that.
rocket scientist then notes...
"Skeleton Man" definitely isn't anything to do with the Rev. There is a Boston based Rockabilly band called Harmony Rockets and it's by them.
"I've Got a Golden Ticket" EP (UK - Big Cat 151 SCD, US - Number 6 Kar 045-2)
1. I've Got a Golden Ticket (3:52)
2. Tale Scendeva L'Etternale Adore (5:41)
3. L'Apocalypse des Animaux (15:06)
4. I've Got a Golden Ticket (6:15)
5. I've Got a Golden Ticket (Remix by Research) (4:30)
CAT# BigCat ABB151SCD
Recorded at Six Hours Studios, Kingston, New York. Originally released in October 1997 by Big Cat in the UK, and is also available on Number 6 Records in the States. UK editions don't include the remix version of the title track.
The "I've Got a Golden Ticket" EP contains an esoteric and eclectic selection of material from films including the title song, taken from the classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, "L'Apocalypse des Animaux", a lengthy piece based around Vangelis' music for the 1971 film of the same name (featuring Laura Ward), and "The Life and Times of Jerzy Kozinski", an original piece commissioned by influential filmmaker Victor Fogg.
Not quite as revered as 'Paralyzed Mind', but still an interesting release for Mercury Rev fans to check out. All versions of the title track (featuring Jonathan Donahue and Carmen Quiñones sharing vocal duties) can be described as jubilant disco tracks. In contrast, the pair of middle songs are somber instrumentals, so it makes for a bit of an erratic listen. Fans of Deserter's Songs and See You On The Other Side may enjoy hearing this transitional recording, though it's hard to say anything here much resembles anything Mercury Rev has done.
Miaow! ... Cats What I Call Music -- 1995 promotional Big Cat UK sampler CD
Includes an "extract from Paralyzed Mind of the Archangel Void"
Tarquin Records All Star Holiday Extravaganza -- 1997 Tarquin Records CD and vinyl
Includes "Ihr Kinderlein Kommet" (written by Johann Shulz)
A Christmas compilation. Harmony Rockets' contribution features a holiday message from Grasshopper done over the phone.