Most of the time I dig at Half Price Books I come away empty handed. But every now and again there’s something interesting hidden in there among all the beat up Chicago and Gordon Lightfoot records. Something that leaves you scratching your head and thinking, “how did that get here?” One of those albums was this 1982 UK Daevid Allen release Divided Alien Playbax 80. I bought it because it seemed weird. I didn’t realize at the time that Allen was also part of Gong and New York Gong, not that that would have necessarily impacted my decision. But these random connections both surprise and intrigue me.
Like New York Gong, Divided Alien Playbax 80 has a certain avant garde-ness to it, albeit in a different way, brining more synths, electronics, and tape looping to the recording. Much of side A is given over to brief vignettes, the longest of which clocks in at just over two minutes. The album is bookended with a pair of extended jams, opening with the eight minute “When” and closing with the nine minute “Smile”. Much of it is instrumental and when there are vocals they tend to be something strange. The whole thing is a bit hard to wrap your head around. If I’m picking favorites I’d probably go with “Disguise” and “Bodegas”, the later of which sort of reminds me of my Argentinian friends Farmacia.