Founded by musicians and songwriters Tim Jones and Terri~B in 1994 as an independent artists collective, the Stone Premonitions label has been a beacon of creativity and unique music for over two decades. I first made contact with the label in 1999 after communicating with members of Mr. Quimby’s Beard, whose The Definitive Unsolved Mysteries Of album was being completed and due for release on Stone Premonitions.
Along with music by Mr. Quimby’s Beard, Tim and Terri sent me albums by their own bands The Rabbit’s Hat and Body Full Of Stars, both of which struck me with their combination of accessibility, adventurous spirit, and extraordinarily individualistic styles. And it was this singular sound that would be a trademark theme of all the music released in subsequent years by the duo in various band projects and solo works.
In addition to being among the most talented artists I had encountered in my Aural Innovations journey, I was also impressed with Tim and Terri’s dedication and tireless efforts as networkers in the independent music underground, and our friendship eventually resulted in my becoming host and webmaster of the official Stone Premonitions web site. Over the years the site has blossomed into an information rich, virtual museum of the label’s and its founder’s histories, in Tim’s case dating back over 40 years.
Music distribution and the medium by which it is made available has been in a whirlwind of flux: digital vs. physical product, the resurgence of vinyl (frequently including download codes), young artists releasing new music on cassette tapes… WHAT do people want and HOW are they listening to music?
Stone Premonitions’ response to this question is to strike a balance in the digital/physical divide with a new reissue series consisting of mp3 packed CDs. So far three volumes have been released featuring music by two of the label’s truly stellar bands.
Census of Hallucinations was formed by Tim and Terri in 2000 as a follow up to their long running band The Rabbit’s Hat. Census of Hallucinations began life with many of the same musicians, and in true Stone Premonitions collective spirit has experienced a fluid lineup and evolving sound that continues to this day, while remarkably retaining an instantly recognizable Census of Hallucinations sound. With this project the artists created a truly unique brand of Psychedelia, incorporating a variety of Progressive Rock, Space Rock, and experimental influences, and what I have long described as the ultimate marriage of Psychedelia and song-oriented Progressive Rock.
Pentagram and Pentagram II are the Census of Hallucinations volumes available at the time of this writing, and together include 145 tracks from the first ten Census of Hallucinations albums. As the label describes, “in the interests of creativity and a different listening experience, the songs on the CDs are sequenced in alphabetical order”, which means listeners play them in order on their device of choice or pick and choose as desired. A visit to the Stone Premonitions web site and clicking the Artists Index link will provide access to band discographies that reveal the albums each song is associated with.
The latest band to enjoy a full history release is Krom Lek, whose five albums, two albums plus EP by their When’s The Future side project, and Essential Stone Premonitions Vol. 1 collaboration with Census of Hallucinations is featured on the just released 99 track Into The Future: The Complete Collection compilation.
I have long bemoaned the fact that Krom Lek never received the recognition they deserved and I hope this comprehensive collection helps to rectify that. Krom Lek played a trippy and often cool grooving brand of Psychedelia with Space Rock influences and hints of jazz, very much in the tradition of Gong and other UK bands of the 80s-90s like Nukli, Omnia Opera, and Ozric Tentacles. They were a truly amazing band and I can’t recommend them highly enough. When’s The Future was a post-Krom Lek band formed by Dave Musgrove and Bazz, creating music that was very close to Krom Lek, though incorporating a bit more electronica.
Wanting to know more about the reissue series and what the plans are for future compilations, I tossed some questions at Stone Premonitions and Census of Hallucinations co-founder Tim Jones:
Aural Innovations (AI): Releasing the Census of Hallucinations and Krom Lek catalogs as mp3 collections on CD seems to embrace the digital world while satisfying those who still desire a physical product. And of course there’s the “nice price” benefit of getting so much music. What gave you the idea to release the music this way?
Tim Jones (TJ): It was after ordering Decadion 2 from Mick Magic’s Music & Elsewhere project in the UK. Mick had the idea of compiling loads of bands on one CD in mp3 format and I thought that it really worked. Mick has always been an innovator in the field of independent music production and promotion and I’ve known him for many years now (CLICK HERE to visit Mick’s web site).
Stone Premonitions has a large catalogue of music and I realized that this was a chance to get the complete current catalogue out to people on relatively few discs. Eventually, when it is all compiled we will have a box set of the complete Stone Premonitions collection. I can fit up to around ten albums in good quality mp3 format per disc.
AI: This is an interesting development for Stone Premonitions because looking at your web shop it looks like you only sell CDs, rather than including mp3 download options or selling on Bandcamp and the like.
TJ: Our music does seem to be available all over the place as downloads that you can buy but we have never given permission for this. All anyone has to do is get hold of one copy of a CD and upload it to the Internet in their ‘shop’. I have contacted people to ask them to stop selling downloads of our music but they don’t reply and just keep selling it. This is one of the problems with the Internet in my opinion. If I contact the sites that sell downloads of our music they just say words to the effect of “nothing to do with us mate, you’ll just have to contact the provider” and around it goes…
I was recently speaking to a guy who said there was nothing he wanted that he couldn’t download for free if he searched hard enough. Of course, along with things like YouTube and Facebook, this sounds the death knell for record companies and small labels unless they can come up with ways to counteract it. I think that Mick Magic suggests a way and I am indebted to him for the idea.
The new Stone Premonitions mp3 reissues are as you say still a physical format, i.e. a CD, only with these you get a whole stack of music at a bargain price and can build a collection. AND I must say a big thank you to my old friend Kevin Heard for lovingly putting together the original artwork for the sleeves. Kevin is a fantastic artist and he is giving the collection a unique style that pulls everything together in a coherent way.
AI: Pentagram and Pentagram II compile the first ten Census of Hallucinations albums. Prior to the band’s return in 2012 with Dragonian Days, I believe I count 12 albums of new music. If I’ve got this right, chronologically the first ten include Seeing Things, then 10 came out followed by 13. Which is the “10th” on Pentragram II and are there plans for another volume for Census of Hallucinations?
TJ: You are right about Seeing Things being in the first 10 Census Of Hallucinations albums chronologically speaking. These 10 were followed by the other 2 you mention plus the double CD entitled Waylaid On The Pathway To Oblivion, making 13 albums before Dragonian Days. The album 13 was therefore the 13th album by the band.
In order to save confusion, I have put albums 1 to 10 on Pentagram I and II and excluded Seeing Things. Seeing Things is now included on Pentagram III which I am just putting together whilst Kev works on the cover. Alongside Seeing Things, Waylaid On The Pathway To Oblivion and 13, Pentagram III also includes Dragonian Days, the Census Of Hallucinations side projects Stone Premonitions 2010, Stella Polaris and all of the recorded output from The Global Broad Band. There will be a Pentagram IV in the future as part of the collection. Like I say, I want to cover all of the current Stone Premonitions catalogue.
AI: I’m so glad you reissued the Krom Lek albums (which includes the When’s The Future side project). I’ve long moaned about how Krom Lek were such an under-recognized band.
TJ: Definitely. Krom Lek was always one of my favourite bands since the first time I saw them. It has been an honour to have them on the Stone Premonitions label and over the years we have become good friends. It’s like family really. In my opinion they are a vastly underrated band and it has been a pleasure to work with them for many years now. They are all so versatile. They also make for extremely good and hilarious company. It’s like they have their own language. They were a gang of lads from County Durham in the North East of England that became a band.
AI: Are you still in touch with any of the band members and are they, to your knowledge, still active in music?
TJ: Yes, I’m in touch with all of them. John Musgrove, the drummer is currently playing with a fantastic funk band called The Juggernaut Love Band. They’ve just released their first album and it’s tremendous. We are all friends first and foremost and I look forward to seeing them again soon.
AI: There have been a lot of bands and Tim/Terri projects on Stone Premonitions over the years. The Rabbit’s Hat is one that had a sizable catalog and would be ripe for this kind of reissue. What are your upcoming plans for this series?
TJ: The Rabbit’s Hat release in this new mp3 series is to be called Onwards & Upwards, The Complete Collection on Stone Premonitions. This will include everything the band has released on the label. There are literally hundreds of tracks and this will be in two or three volumes. Coming soon…
We’re also going to have The Complete Neon Collection; that’s everything that the band recorded, plus The Complete Terri~B, The Complete Tim Jones & Somebody Famous, The Complete Body Full Of Stars, etc. The series will basically cover everything on the Stone Premonitions label. Pentagram III by Census Of Hallucinations is the next release in the series.
AI: Reissue series aside, what new music or other projects are upcoming from Stone Premonitions?
TJ: Earlier in 2015, we released the Census Of Hallucinations EP Imagine John Lennon. This consisted of four tracks, with a view to releasing a full album later in the year. We have now completed another three tracks for the album and have a few more to complete. We should have the album out by the Autumn of 2015.
I am also excited about the release of the brand new Kevin Heard album on Stone Premonitions, to be released around the same time. Kevin is currently working on this but already has four tracks completed and they are sounding great! It’s very Spacerock/Psychedelic in style.
There’s a new project with another old friend of mine and long time member of the Stone Premonitions collective, Rob Kirtley. I am going to be working on an EP with him. This is more in a New Wave sort of vein.
Root Deco from the USA that I have worked with for many years now have just finished their new album and I am going to be helping with that, promotion wise. I can’t wait to hear this as I love the band. They are highly original and powerful.
I’m also talking to Daniel J. Harris about his new album that he is currently working on. Daniel is from Texas but lives in Holland, where he produces The Soupygato Radio Show. This is shaping up to being a very interesting release.
As long as people involved with the ever expanding musical collective known as Stone Premonitions keep coming up with new ideas, we shall be creating and releasing material. I am very proud of what we have achieved so far and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with so many creative people.
Thank you for helping to spread the word Jerry! It is people like you that make it all seem worthwhile.
For more information (LOTS of it!!) ou can visit the Stone Premonitions web site at: http://aural-innovations.com/stonepremonitions
The mp3 CD reissues and other Stone Premontions releases can be purchased through their web shop at: http://www.stonepremonitionswebshop.com
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz