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Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun: Red Temple Spirits’ Post-Punk Albums Return To CD

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Red Temple Spirits

Words like “unique” and “singular” are thrown around far too often, but they truly apply to the Red Temple Spirits.  The Los Angeles quartet, described in 1989 by one pundit as “enigmatic,” recorded two albums in the waning days of the 1980s, Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon and If Tomorrow I Were Leaving for Lhasa, I Wouldn’t Stay a Minute More…  The post-punk group toured in 1990, and even gained airplay on MTV, but before 1992 was out, Red Temple Spirits had gone quietly into the night.  Now, thanks to Bruce Licher’s reactivated Independent Project Records label, the band is back, with a new 3-CD deluxe set including both of RTS’ long out-of-print (and now costly) original albums plus bonus tracks and original demos.

The name of Red Temple Spirits – William Faircloth on vocals, Dino Paredes on bass, Thomas Pierik on drums and Dallas Taylor on guitar – was inspired by Texas psych-rock legend Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators and his song “Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer).”  The band members were also influenced by early Pink Floyd, even covering a Roger Waters song on each album, and took the psychedelia of both earlier groups a step further.  David Fricke, in Rolling Stone, described their gothic 1988 debut as “tribal art metal and hypno-jangle,” and its 1989 follow-up as “a trippy earful of stark, foreboding psychedelia and heavy, jagged mantra rock laced with echoes of sixties shamans all drowning in reverb.”  Due to this approach that eschewed the prevailing musical styles of the day, both of these dark and mystical albums still sound fresh, relevant and distinctive today.

Hit the jump for more details, plus the full track listing and order link!

Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon’s eleven haunting tracks – ten originals and one cover of Pink Floyd’s “Nile Song” – has been expanded by the original demo of “New Land,” released as a single in 1989 to benefit the Tibet House charity.  If Tomorrow  I Were Leaving for Lhasa – with nine originals and tips of the hat to Pink Floyd (“Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”) and the 13th Floor Elevators (“Rollercoaster”) has been bolstered by the inclusion of “Exodus from Lhasa,” the B-side of that 1989 single, and a second recording of “New Land.”  Though there’s plenty of pain and darkness on Lhasa, it has a directness and accessibility in addition to the ritualistic intensity of Dancing.  But by time of its release, Pierik had departed the group.  He was replaced by Scott McPherson, who made his recorded debut with the band on the “Exodus” single.

Red Temple Spirits greeted the 1990s by raising their profile, shooting a promotional video for Lhasa’s “Spirit of Millions” and headlining a 17-city tour of the East Coast.  On the tour, the foursome introduced new material and even covered Black Sabbath in their setlists.  Alas, fate got in the way of greater success when the band’s van crashed outside San Francisco.  The quartet recovered, but late in 1992, Red Temple Spirits disbanded.  Faircloth and Taylor continued to work together, even reviving the RTS name in 1998 and again in 2007, when they were joined by Pierik.  This trio configuration plans on releasing more music under the band’s name.

For Independent Project’s deluxe reissue, both albums have been fully remastered.  A third CD includes RTS’ original four-track demo tape, consisting of “Moonlight,” “The Alchemist’s Stone,” “Dreamings Ending” and “The Light of Christ/This Hallowed Ground.”  All but “The Alchemist’s Stone” made it onto Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon.  This one-of-a-kind package is limited to 1,000 copies, and it’s housed in a deluxe 6” x 7” four-color hand-letterpress Discfolio package designed by Bruce Licher.  It contains full-color lyric inserts and gilded letterpress-printed glassine inner sleeves.

Red Temple Spirit’s self-titled, limited edition 3-CD set is available for order now at the link below.  Independent Project Records promises more deluxe offerings in the future, including music from Savage Republic, Scenic, For Against, and Licher himself.  Watch this space!

Red Temple Spirits (Independent Project Records IP 063/064/065, 2013)

CD 1: Dancing to Restore an Eclipsed Moon (originally released as Nate Starkman and Son SAVE 74 CD, 1988)

  1. Exorcism/Waiting for the Sun
  2. Liquid Temple
  3. Dark Spirits
  4. Bear Cave
  5. Dreamings Ending
  6. Electric Flowers
  7. Moonlight
  8. Where Merlin Played
  9. Nile Song
  10. Lost in Dreaming
  11. Light of Christ/This Hollow Ground
  12. New Land – Demo (Bonus Track) (from Independent Project single IP 026, 1989)

CD 2: If Tomorrow I Were Leaving for Lhasa, I Wouldn’t Stay a Minute More… (originally released as  Nate Starkman and Son/Fundamental SAVE 75 CD, 1989)

  1. City of Millions
  2. Soft Machine
  3. Dive in Deep
  4. Alice
  5. Wild Hills
  6. A Black Rain
  7. Meltdown
  8. Confusion
  9. Rainbows End
  10. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
  11. Rollercoaster
  12. Exodus from Lhasa (Bonus Track) (from Independent Project single IP 026, 1989)
  13. New Land – Second Version (Bonus Track)

CD 3: Original Demo Recordings

  1. Moonlight
  2. The Alchemist’s Stone
  3. Dreamings Ending
  4. The Light of Christ/This Hallowed Ground

Written by Joe Marchese

June 20, 2013 at 14:09

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