The Swiss scientist Dr. Albert Hofmann is best known for his discovery of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, shortened LSD, and its hallucinatory effects. On April 16, 1943 he accidentally absorbed a small quantity through his fingertips. He described the effects as follows: 'I was affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition, characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed − I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring − I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colours. After some two hours this condition faded away.' Three days later Hofmann intentionally ingested 250 micrograms of LSD. This day is now known as 'Bicycle Day', because after starting to feel the effects of the drug he rode home on a bike, and that became the first intentional acid trip.
During the fifties psychiatrists tried to use LSD as a cure for schizophrenia, and even MI6 - part of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) − tried it as a truth serum. However, in the sixties the hippies discovered it as a love drug. They thought that LSD would open the doors of perception and if enough people would use it, the world would become a better place. The American psychologist and writer Timothy Leary was one of the biggest supporters and promoters for the use of LSD.
One can argue about the influence of LSD on music. Would The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and so on have sounded differently if there hadn't been LSD? The late sixties were a vital period in music and a lot of things were going on. The technology improved, new studio techniques were used and new instruments were introduced. Music became part of a social movement and the voice of a protest generation. LSD provided the inspiration and the feeling of artistic freedom for some individuals. Eventually it turned out to be destructive for others, especially when taking too much. LSD surely doesn't make you a genius if the talents aren't already present.
In 1993 Kim Cascone, a musician from New York creating electronic music since the late seventies and founder and owner of several small record labels, released a compilation album called 50 Years Of Sunshine, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Bicycle Day. At the time there was a new rave scene where old hippy ideals were revived and also LSD was rediscovered by a new generation. A tribute to the first LSD trip and the man who discovered it seemed appropriate. Twenty years have passed since then and the world hasn't become a better place; on the contrary... Ideals have become delusions; the doors of perception are firmly closed today, so time for Kim Cascone to release another sunshine compilation to support those who are still knocking on the doors...
70 Years Of Sunshine is a tribute to Albert Hofmann and his first LSD trip, but it's above all a tribute to a spiritual trip to oneself. 'Taking spiritual instructions from this realm is what the 'Sunshine' is all about. Here are many more years of sunshine and my eternal thanks to Mr. Hofmann for finding an alchemical bridge to that realm.' Most artists on this album are unknown and the music is mostly ambient and electronic, very spaced out. The second disc is slightly more experimental, but overall this compilation sounds very consistent. Turn on, tune in, drop out...
**** Erik Gibbels (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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