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Harlequinesque (2008)

is the second latest albums by The Mescaline Smugglers from April 2008. This time the style is totally different from before - no jugband - no rock - no heavy blues - but "psychedelic"! Sitar sounds and tablas as well as harpsichords can be heard here and there. And no blues harp anywhere! What else is new? Well, we have sax and fiddle for the first time.

Water damage caused the delay in the release of this album. Nothing was ruined but all studio instruments had to be moved to make room for the dryers and the studio could not be used for many months.

So, the sound is fresh and new, but hark! The last track ends with the phrase: "and we'll return no more.." What's this? Should the fans of the band (all 10 of them) be worried ??

All tracks were recorded in Parola, Finland in September 2007 - April 2008
Mixed by Jore Heikkilä
Webdesign by Jore & Joonas Heikkilä


1. Spring In a Butterfly's Wing (Leitch / McGowan)
is based on a poem of that name written by Donovan in 1965. I jumbled bits of it about, added some words to it and then gave it a tune. The guitar is tuned DADGAD. I recorded my tracks for this album last September and just told the guys to add on whatever they wanted. It certainly worked out great here. --davy
2. Run And Hide (Mc Gowan)
Nice piano from Tuomas on this. I can’t remember how the guitar was tuned. I really don’t know what put the idea of a psychedelic style CD into my head - though I remember thinking I was starting to write the same song all the time and I wanted to try something a bit different. Jore showed no surprise at all when I told him we needed to buy a sitar! --davy
3. Island (McGowan)
is another one in DADGAD. John is the poet John Donne, Steve is Steve Harley from Cockney Rebel - his All Men Are Hungry is one of my favourite songs; Jean Jacques is French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. I like the kind of drone on the guitar in this - and the droning violin and accordian add to that. --davy
4. How Shall I Find My Way? (McGowan)
The guitar is tuned EAEGBE. Tuomas gets a bit pissed off with my two chord songs sometimes as it doesn’t give him much scope for his skills - and I can understand how he feels - but I think he does great here. A pretty bleak lyric - but the chords are warm. --davy
Not true! I have skills only for two chords... --tuomas
5. Caladrius (Mc Gowan)
A caladrius is a mythical bird found in many a Bestiary in the Middle Ages. I can’t remember what its significance was but I daresay the internet will provide a full explanation. I wrote this instrumental in 1982 but I thought it would fit quite nicely onto this CD. I just recorded the guitar track and wondered what Jore and Tuomas would come up with for it. My 1982 recording had tin whistles and mandolins in it and once again the boys surprised me with their choice of instrumentation - and they did a great job. --davy
6. And I Dream (Mc Gowan)
This was one of the few tracks we could finish before Davy had to leave. I can't recall I'd be on this one. --jore
AND I DREAM is one of my favourites. It‘s in open C tuning, CGCGCE. Tuomas’s harpsichord is fantastic and gives the song the dreamlike quality I was hoping for. I’ve just noticed Jore isn’t on this track! I thought he was playing bass. The end gave me a chance to have a rattle about on the sitar - which I enjoyed immensely. --davy
7. Brain Damage (Waters)
This Pink Floyd cover turned out to be a tough one. It took incredible many weeks to get finished. We have two guests on this one, Pera and Hessu, they are members of the other band to which Tuomas also belongs. Boys can be heard also on tj band's (hopefully near) future album. Hessu played many solos for this track but we used only a small part here and there. But maybe it's ok if every instrument should not be heard all the time. But listen Bohemian Evenings (track #14) - there you can find one of Hessu's unused solo. Lifted straight from this song! --jore
This was Tuomas’s idea after I’d left Finland last year. I’m not a Pink Floyd fan but it’s great to hear a saxaphone on a Smugglers track and Tuomas’s vocal sounds pretty ‘loony’ to me! Great loony laughs near the end too. I think this track took longer to record than the entire Sergeant Pepper album…… --davy
8. Dreamer (Mc Gowan)
is in Open F tuning, CFCFCF. I like the little guitar triplet motif - I’m always looking for little riffs in all sorts of different tunings. I wasn’t too keen on the piano on this when I first heard it but it grew on me and I’m used to it now. Not a lot to this little song - but I think it’s OK and deserves to be there. --davy
9. Harlequinesque (Grierson)
My old friend Tom Grierson wrote this in 1977 - he was going through a Marc Bolan phase at the time. Being a vegetarian he’s now horrified that he ever wrote a line that reads ‘Blessed by the blood of a fawn’. I keep telling him he killed Bambi…….Oh Harley is a track on one of the Tyran Rex albums - I think that’s where he got the idea for the title. The guys were struggling with this - as it sounded like La Bamba’ to them (or maybe La Bambi) but they eventually added some nice keyboards and banjo. --davy
10. Hazy Daze (Mc Gowan)
I forgot to tell Jore to add some summer bird noises during the opening instrumental part of this. I wasn’t too sure about the electric piano sound on this - but again it grew on me as I listened to it. I always try to throw in Donovan links onto CD’s - so it’s HAZY DAZE instead of LAZY DAZE this time around. I think it’s a peaceful little song and it fits in quite well. --davy
Bird noises on the start? Good idea but maybe a little too late to do it when I read it from here... no, maybe you told me, Davy, but you know my memory... --jore
11. Cloudy Africa (Laitila... or how Tuomas remembers Collin Walcott's 'Cloud Dance' he heard 30 years ago)
This is one I can’t comment on as I wasn’t involved in it - but I think it’s great! Perfect for belly dancing…. --davy
12. Madeleine (Grierson)
Tom wrote this round about 1984 and I’ve always thought it was one of his best songs - his Eleanor Rigby if you like. He was playing it in standard tuning originally but I worked out an arrangement in DADGAD when we recorded it in 1985. I think it’s a wonderful tune and lyric and should be much better known than it is at present - so I decided to put it on a Smugglers CD as it will now have millions of people worldwide listening to it! --davy
13. Mary (Mc Gowan)
has the guitar tuned DADDAE. Wonderful cello effect by Jore on the keyboards. I didn’t expect the backing vocals to be so high in the mix but I’m very happy with everything about this little song. --davy
14. Bohemian Evenings (Heikkilä, Taittonen)
Well, I played tablas first... not knowing what to do with them at all. Later Heikki had played some sax solos for Brain Damage... I just lift one take from there and put it here! It was too good to forget. Then I had to glue those two different elements with the third: bass! I search the basic note, tuned the bass with it and played something simple that fit with the rhythm. Not bad result if I may say so, considering I had no idea what to do at the beginning. Psychedelic improvisation! Heikki was very suprised to hear he is one of the composer of some song he never even knew! --jore
BOHEMIAN EVENINGS just blew me away the first time I heard it. I think what Jore has done with an unwanted saxophone track is fucking fabulous! The only thing I can claim is that I came up with the title for the track. It was the title of a poem I wrote in 1977 and at last it’s served a useful purpose! This is just so spaced out and psychedelic and bohemian it makes me humble to have it on our CD. I want the sax player in the studio when I visit in July! --davy
15. Over The Hill And Faraway (Mc Gowan)
takes us back to DADGAD guitar tuning. I don’t know where this song came from - it’s not my usual style at all - well, I don’t think it is - maybe others hear it differently. But I love this - it’s probably my personal favourite of my songs on the CD. It’s got an intangible ‘something’ I was trying to capture - and a lot of that is due to Tuomas and Jore. Tuomas’s harpsichord is sublime. A song of ‘longing’ for something - maybe for something that isn’t there. I wanted this to be the last track because I had ended the song with the same notes that start the first song on the CD - so it’s a kind of cycle. Pretentious? Very probably - but true nonetheless. --davy


1. Spring In a Butterfly's Wing

Powdered sun dust filters through old lace
Chimneys silhouetted in their place
Painter’s souls hung on white walls
As I pad on canvas floors in January

A girl child in white lace as pure as birth
Moving in the orange glow of earth
Sparkling a tangerine stone
Thoughts of velvet dance the dance of spring

Lords and Ladies fair of Rooftopland
Crystal doors and gold bound books of sand
I bought an astronomer’s cloak
And thought of travelling through the mists of time

(c) Davy McGowan 2007

2. Run And Hide

3. Island

No man’s an island
No man’s an island John said
Everybody needs somebody
Just like the soul song said

All men are hungry
All men are hungry Steve said
Most are walking that road
Where the angels fear to tread

All men are born equal
All men are born equal Jean Jacques said
And if that ain’t the truth
Then it comes the truth when they’re dead

(c) Davy McGowan 2007

4. How Shall I Find My Way?

Here comes another day
Sun in the sky and a gentle breeze blowing
To carry my blues away
And what do I have to say
But thanks to the angels
For keeping those blues at bay

But how shall I find my way?
Where shall I find the strength
To keep living, living from day to day?
How shall I find my way?
When colours seem empty
And everything's fading to grey.

Here comes another night
Moon in the sky as I stand by the window
Bathing in the moonlight
But how to tell wrong from right?
And how to believe the enchantment of life
And its magical delight

But how shall I find my way?
Where shall I find the strength
To keep living, living from day to day?
How shall I find my way?
When colours seem empty
And everything's fading to grey.

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

6. And I Dream

The open hand of winter
Bedecks the holly and the ivy tree
And in the frosty forest
The snowflakes dance a dance for you and me
And sheltering in our cabin
The fire pictures bring their own surprise
A host of elementals
I lie upon the bed and close my eyes

And I dream, and I dream, and I dream

The sudden sound of silence
Awakes me in the middle of the night
I find you there beside me
Your hand within my hand holding me tight
A robin whistles gently
As snowflakes weave a blanket for the land
I close my eyes once more
And take your other hand within my hand

And I dream, and I dream, and I dream

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

8. Dreamer

Dreamer, always a dreamer
Dreamer, always a dreamer
You don’t know what’s going on
You don’t know what’s right from wrong
Dreamer, always a dreamer

Dreamer, always a dreamer
Dreamer, always a dreamer
Shafts of starlight in your hair
Life is strange but you don’t care
Dreamer, always a dreamer

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

9. Harlequinesque

Oak girl, queen of the zone of the night
Zanena of peregrine white
Coloured condor in full flight
Paints necromancy in your sight
Into the night we shall sing
Of the day tomorrow will bring

Young girl blessed by the blood of a fawn
Come pitch your cairn in the heart of the sun
From silken swords your heart is spun
Come fly with me my chosen one
Into the night we shall sing
Of the day tomorrow will bring

(c) Tom Grierson 1977

12. Madeleine

Madeleine rises early with the rain
Finds it hard to explain
Exactly where her life is going

Madeleine, all her days end up the same
Just a wicker puzzle
Hanging like a cross upon a chain

Madeleine, she finds solace in her pain
Whispered prayers still remain
Trapped like frost upon her window

In the churchyard, bread and roses
Day by day the chapter closes

Madeleine says her rosary again
Fingered beads like fallen men
Trampled on the way to heaven

(c) Tom Grierson 1984

13. Mary

Mary, will you ever count the cost?
Mary, nothing’s won yet something’s lost
And I can feel a change in almost everything
I can sense a strangeness in your smile

Mary, tell me how’d your garden grow?
Mary, I’ve been searching high and low
And I can feel a change in almost everything
I can sense a strangeness in your smile

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007

15. Over The Hill And Faraway

River running swiftly through the forest
On its way down to the sea
Sunlight shining softly through the branches
On it’s way down to the lea

White road running gaily up and over
On its way into the town
Starlit clouds of silver in an overcoat of moonlight
Gazing down

Over the hill at the break of day
Over the hill we go marching away
Over the hill with the sun rising high
Over the hill where the land meets the sky

And we go, and we go, and we go
And we’ll return no more.

(c) Davy Mc Gowan 2007


Here is one by Greg:

I think one of the things that has struck me the most in the past few years listening to the music of the Mescaline Smugglers (MS) and the Kvester Melkk Quintet (KMQ) is that while some of the forms remain the same-- blues, Celtic, folk and standards, the stylings of the music are constantly evolving and the musicianship jumps by leaps and bounds . What you came to expect from the last CD is not what you’re going to get on the next album. The quality of the music has grown exponentially, at least faster than Britney Spears has been in and out of rehab.

HARLEQUINESQUE is the latest CD, a departure to the” psychedelic” side of the MS, experimenting with new instruments, new sounds and textures. Taken in the strictest sense, “psychedelic” means “mind expanding” which is exactly what this album represents. Throw out most of what you expect from the MS, and preconceived notions of boring Grateful Deadesque “psychedelic space”…this is a wonderfully new direction and shows the polish of craftsmanship in the studio and in the mixing room.

When I first heard SPRING IN A BUTTERFLY’S WING, I was mesmerized The music on this is stunningly beautiful, a wonderful blend of western folk and eastern rhythms and sounds, and almost overwhelms the lyrics. They hypnotic sound of the guitar is joined by one instrument after another in such a measured pace that you have to smile, listening to this is like watching a chrysalis opening to a beautiful butterfly. Great vocals by Davy, but I still haven’t gotten all of the lyrics because I have paid more attention to the wonderful music. Maybe on my15TH listen.

RUN AND HIDE - Excellent little bluesy song. The main vocal and harmonies on this are outstanding and take this psychedelic blues song up the mountain. Outstanding piano by Tuomas makes this a real toe tapper, but I also love the stereophonic percussion which doesn’t overwhelm the main vocals or the harmonies. Nice guitar , both rhythm and lead as well.

ISLAND - Lyrics seem to be the most important in this philosophy talking blues song. The acoustic guitar work is particularly delicious on this and the mix of the accordion (I thought it was harmonica) and fiddle adds a bit of a dance step to the tune, with the addition of a wonderful percussion ( bodrhan?) towards the end that is a great element.

The beginning of HOW SHALL I FIND MY WAY feels like snorkeling through warm blue tropical water belying the sadness of the lyric to come, perhaps enhancing it. The guitar is balanced nicely by the wonderfully beautiful jazzy piano work, feeling like misty shapes in the distance. Woven in are the great lyrics, a little desperate journey through dark days. This song is a treasure; lyrics and music are such an unanticipated departure from my expectations, a real standout on this CD.

CALADRIUS - Okay, I looked up the Caladrius, an all white bird in medieval times that is supposed to be able to tell whether a sick person will recover or not, and also possibly able to take the sickness onto itself, analogous to Jesus Christ. Wonderful little instrumental, the addition by Jore and Tuomas of the spacey instrumentation to accompany the guitar work, which is kind of round is really superb. I love instrumentals because they give the musicians a chance to open up and show off their skills, which is most ably done here. It has the feeling of a medieval dance played in the ballroom on Titan while Saturn’s rings loom gold and red in the sunrise.

AND I DREAM song that starts out deceptively simple, with the harpsichord just at the edge of your hearing and your consciousness, and the listener is drawn into a trance by the lyrics. That is, until minute 2:14 when things open up into a great Finnish/Scottish Raga. Really a fine song. The vocals are superb and the harpsichord, sitar, percussion and guitar meld brilliantly. The lyrics are on par with the best that I’ve heard.

BRAIN DAMAGE - I love Pink Floyd, so this was great fun to hear, as much to hear Jore sing front man vocals as it was to hear his wonderful interpretation of a favorite song. Saxophone on a MS CD? Wow! This is really a grand version, love the great vocal and the loony voices and the piano throughout including the flourish at the end.

DREAMER - Davy’s guitar skills shine on the this. Triplets for Christ’s sake! Really nice piano and bass work as well. The lyrics are fine, but I felt like the song was short by a minute. I would have like to see it opened up a little more both with lyrics and music, it seemed to end too soon.

HARLEQUINESQUE - Love this one. It has a wonderful “wall of sound” feel to it and such an engaging rhythm and lyrics. I keep playing this over and over again. Great vocals, but the instruments make it so much fun. Yay! the return of the mandolin banjo, one of my favorite instruments! Well done to Tom Grierson and the MS for their interpretation of a great song. More mandolin Banjo!!

HAZY DAZE - This is a gem, it could have stayed as a brilliant instrumental, but the lyrics are so sweet and poignant. Makes me think of a warm summer’s day on a hill underneath a shady tree having a picnic with your best gal. Wonderfully romantic. The guitar work here is superb, it took me a while to get used to the electric piano, but all of the instruments meld in nicely after a few listens.

CLOUDY AFRICA - This is one of those amazing tunes that Jore (you mean Tuomas?) cooks up, using any variety of instruments, or perhaps a lot of computer sounds. Mainly percussion- based, it all fits together nicely and evokes a celebratory mood of an African festival. Coming in at a short two minutes, this could be interesting, expanded out another minute or so.

MADELEINE - Nice, simple musical arrangement on this doesn’t get in the way of the great lyrics. Nice little instrumental at the end. I’d love to see the lyrics printed out on this one. Glad to see another fantastic piece by Tom included in this CD.

MARY - I can’t quite get this one out of my head, one of my absolute favorites on this CD. The double guitar at the beginning has a beautiful little echo effect that sounds almost like a harpsichord and the addition of Jore’s Keith Emerson like keyboards is really fantastic, a surrealistic dreamy effect, Geesh this good.. The lyric is almost a melancholic warning or advice to a young lady, related beautifully. The vocals and harmony vocals are spot on. Did I say this is one the best on the CD?

BOHEMIAN EVENINGS - Listening to this feels like a trip to a real beatnik café, Noir underground at 3:00am, surrealistic colored smoke filling the air. The saxophone is outrageous and the bass is bouncing you off the walls while the steady tick tock of the drums makes you want to order another whiskey and light up another Gauloise and see where this trip is going. Excellent!

OVER THE HILL AND FARAWAY - Excellent song and a great one to end the album with. Very appropriately, the longing that is so well expressed in the lyric fits nicely in with the longing for the distant and the unexplained that is part of the true psychedelic experience, the quest for all we don’t know and all of the wonder of the world. Wonderful lyrics and music and yes, I think it's a departure from the "norm."

And another one by Kristi:

Harlequinesque by The Mescaline Smugglers

Spring in a Butterfly's Wing - Davy based this on a poem of that name written by Donovan in 1965. Here is a gentle yet lively song, its guitar/sitar and percussion giving it an Eastern feel. A mood-elevator painting word pictures, it sets the tone of the album, and gives the listener a hint of what is to follow.

Run and Hide (From Your Love) - It may be true that we tend to run and hide from that which we really want most. Singing here of all the silent tears we cry, and the longing that nothing in this world can satisfy. This song, with its great rhythm, voice, guitar background, and Tuomas on the piano, has all the makings of a potential hit!

Island - Another good one! In this song, Davy draws cleverly from the poet John Donne - no man is an island - Steve Harley - all men are indeed hungry, for something beyond them - and the French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau. Everyone does indeed need someone. We are relational beings, meant for and needing purpose and connection with someone and something beyond ourselves. Life is hard, yet for a purpose; we all need each other, and all have our part to play. Nice guitar trills and rhythm, with a blues/jazz feel.

How Shall I Find My Way? - This song is my personal favorite on the album, and I was deeply moved by it. Using poetry, imagery, and music as only a true seeker could, Davy captures the universal longing for something more beyond this world. As he looks out his window into the night, he asks the same questions we all do: Life gets so dark sometimes. What can I say when all the colors seem empty? Where do I find the strength to keep living? How to tell wrong from right? Send me a sign, I pray. Shine me a light, and let me believe in the enchantment of love and life. The gentle breeze carries his blues away - and he thanks the angels for filling his heart, and keeping the blues at bay. I love the way the warm chords, wistful guitar, and faint, tender tinkling of the piano in the background capture the mood of mystery and unnamed longing in this deep, rich, reflective song. Anyone who could have written this will, no doubt, eventually find that which they seek. This song is a gift. Very beautifully done, Davy.

Caladrius - Named after a mythical bird found in many a Bestiary in the Middle Ages, Davy tells us. Another jewel, beautiful and deeply moving, reminiscent of the lovely 'Tarja's Theme'. Once again, captures the wistful quality of mystery and wonder - reflective, spiritual - of the previous song, the minor chords flowing like a river.

And I Dream - In the tradition of 'Twilight Town', this song paints a picture with words, accompanied by Tuomas on the harpsichord. You can just picture two hand in hand, in a little cabin in the woods - in the frosty forest where snowflakes dance, and weave a blanket for the land. Pure poetry, come to life!

Brain Damage - Nice remake of the Pink Floyd song by that name, featuring Tuomas' deep voice, and a saxophone too.

Dreamer - Now we are back to the previous easy mood with this pleasant little song. Always a dreamer, we are wondering once again what is going on and what is right from wrong. The theme here seems to be those universal questions, and the writer's search for truth.

Harlequinesque - 'Donovan-esque' in spirit, yet with a style uniquely his own, Tom wrote this in 1977. Reminds me of the Mexican 'La Bamba' - upbeat, with a strong beat that keeps repeating, nice keyboards and ukelele banjo. Into the night we shall sing of the day that tomarrow will bring - Let's dance!

Hazy Daze - Named after Donovan's 'Lazy Daze', this soft, gentle, peaceful, relaxing instrumental features electric piano, and fits its name - and the mood of the album - well. It's a song for gazing at the sky, with the gentle tinkling in the background. Nice!

Cloudy Africa - Bongo drums, base, and sitar - I noticed the bongo effect right off. A 'middle eastern dance' flavor here.

Madeleine - This most unusual song, written by Tom in 1984, is hard to categorize but full of poetic imagery and rhythm. With its melancholy mood and a strong backbeat, it tells us that her life is like a puzzle; her whispered prayers, trapped like frost on a windowpane. The song is an enigma: 'her rosary beads, like fallen men trampled on the way to heaven', its meaning known only to Tom. We are left to wonder if this is someone he knows - if he is feeling sorry for her, or mildly putting her down, if he is jealous or resentful or feeling left out, or merely does not understand her. She is unapproachable, unobtainable; men can't get to her; she breaks their hearts. In any case, she is waiting for something not of this world. Very unique and original.

Mary - Another song in the searching and wondering mode. Very nice chords and guitar, flowing like a river - and wonderful cello effects by Jore on the keyboards. Will you ever count the cost? Something is won, yet lost. As it is in the song, so is it in life.

Bohemian Evenings - Jore makes great music here with bongos, percussion, base, and a saxophone - and using the title of a poem Davy wrote in 1977. I love the saxophone! The mood is mysterious - almost middle eastern in feel. You can just picture a late night club way down south, with a sax and base player in the spotlight!

Over the Hill and Faraway - Another gem, and another one of my personal favorites, it captures the mood in a way that only Davy, Jore, and Tuomas all working together, can! It captures that intangible and universal longing and searching for something not of this world. What I would call, the longing for a completion found only in eternity, in God. This is not an easy accomplishment, and few there are who can do it as well as our boys. Using poetry and imagery, this song takes us back once again to the original theme and mood of the album, summarizing it nicely. Like a river running swiftly through the forest on its way down to the sea - sunlight shining softly through the branches on its way down through the leaves. Solid clouds of silver... The musical accompaniment is perfect - like a running river rushing fast, then slowing down for a sort of 'Gospel music' effect. It's as though he is saying, we will go to that land over the hill, to find the breaking of a new day. We will move on to the next life, and to spiritual re-birth. We're all climbing up that hill right now. Very beautifully done!

Harlequinesque is one of Jore and Davy's best albums - its overarching theme, one of contemplating the wonder, mystery, and meaning of life. Its message is that life is hard, and that life in this world is not really enough. But it's all right. Because there is a higher, underlying purpose for it all - and it will all be worth it in the end.

I treasure this album - as I have all in my collection - for the meaning and the inspiration that it gives me. It is truly a rare gift. Thank you, Davy and Jore! May the happiness you give come back to you, always.

Your friend, Kristi