In the beginning was the word brothers and sisters ...... and this word was spoken in such a deep, rich, resonant, baritone voice and backed by what only can be described as the holiest of musical trinities; the Vox guitar fuzz pedal, the electric sitar and the rock drum that the kids had no choice but to open their ears and listen to the words being spoken. The devotional psychsploitation sermons of Brother John Rydgren are weird gear indeed, a strange interzone of righteous scripture and head shop nonconformity. This anthology collects three of his rarest lps “Worlds Of Youth”  “Cantata For New Life”  and “Silhouette Segments”  and each one is a masterpiece of spoken word ecclesiastical weirdness. Brother Rydgren’s recording career started in 1962, working as a radio announcer and narrator for the American Lutheran Church who distributed and broadcast his sermons in syndicated shows across America. These pre recorded monologues were a collision of beatnik hip talk and lysergic spiritualism and often featured flipped out musical collages of sampled psychedelics which appealed to both hipster and Jesus freak alike. This anthology finely documents a turbulent period of history, where the Christian faith collided head on with an emerging sixties counterculture to create surprisingly wild and playful cultural hybrids. Like the Beats, Rydgren wrote for the ear as well as the printed page and his delivery is always spot on. His monologues, which are delivered in a voice not too dissimilar to the seductive vocal tones and shades of Chicago versifier Ken Nordine combine a warm reverence, droll observation and humorous word play which all but masks the ever present religious or moral subtext. Making leaps of association between musical, literary and theological ideas, Rydgren harnessed many of the cultural signifiers of the period, playfully subverting them through the miracle of ecclesiastical détournement, literally putting the message back into the medium. Dig.
“Silhouette Segments” is released this month by the Omni Recording Company.
For more information about Brother John Rydgren have a peek here.