When we last heard from him, Copenhagen preacher of the lysergic Lorenzo Woodrose was telling us to turn on, tune in and fuck off with the collective Dragontears. Now back under the moniker Baby Woodrose – the band taking its name from the Hawaiian baby woodrose plant, whose seeds are known to have psychotropic effects on those who eat them – our man Lorenzo takes us back to the very roots of the band with Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers (released by Bad Afro). The 15-track, 39-minute full-length is a collection of the earliest Baby Woodrose demos, written and recorded by Woodrose during a rough patch in 1999 that had him crashing on the couch of his then-bandmate in On Trial and current-bandmate in Dragontears, The Hobbit and coming up with over 50 songs’ worth of material following a series of trips with the seeds from which he now takes his last name. He recounts the time in the liner tray of the digipak Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers comes in (the gorgeously psychedelic artwork of Kiryk Drewinski both inside the package and out is also worth noting), and the result is that the album, in addition to functioning as a complete full-length with a flow one song to the next, also gives followers of Baby Woodrose an idea never before available of how the band began and just how central Woodrose himself has always been to the process.
Apart from a cover of The Illusions’ 1966 single “City of People,” all of Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers is comprised of Woodrose original songs, and even though they are simple in terms of structure – it’s supposed to be; the garage rock elements of Baby Woodrose’s sound really comes out here – it’s still an impressive feat, and no doubt Woodrose had his work cut out for him in mixing, mastering and whittling down the glut of material for this release. Those familiar with Baby Woodrose will revel in the chance to revisit some of their earliest cuts – most would appear on the eventual 2001 debut, Blows Your Mind! – but even for someone who hasn’t followed the band over the course of their career, the immediacy with which these songs hit speaks for itself. In comparing these versions to the final album tracks, these have a directness to them even apart from the rawer feel of the recording. They’re definitely rough, but they show Woodrose’s talent for songwriting and love of mid to late ‘60s psych, as well as awareness of what was happening in the international stoner scene at the time. His voice, as ever, reminds in its inflection of Monster Magnet’s Dave Wyndorf, and he plays the rest of the instruments on Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers, so it’s about as much a solo venture as you can get.
That does produce an isolated feel at times – particularly the slower or more lonely tracks like “Caught in a Whirl,” “Living a Dream” or closer “Run Little Girl,” but it’s never to the detriment of the songs themselves. It’s not like you go into an album of psychedelic garage rock demos expecting a fully produced sound, and the strong rockers “Pandora” and “Baby Blows,” “Gonna Get You Down” with its classic buzzsaw tone and the infectious “Kara Lynn” have more than enough variety within them to offset any such reservations. Baby Woodrose has always been about worshiping the roots of psychedelic rock, and Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers reinforces that. At the same time, Woodrose injects no small measure of personality into his playing, giving these songs – even as basic and un-fleshed-out as they are – a sense of individuality within the genre that sets them apart. He’s a talented songwriter, and that shows in the choruses of any number of the later Blows Your Mind! pieces, or even the Rubber Soul-esque “Run Little Girl,” which closes the album. The Illusions cover fits so well with the rest of the material that if it didn’t say so in the liner notes, I’d never expect it wasn’t one of Woodrose’s own songs. That doesn’t happen by accident.
In his explanation of how the material came about, Woodrose calls preparing the release Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers a “thankless task,” but with upwards of 35 other songs supposedly in the ether, I hope this isn’t the last we hear of these 1999 demos. The proto-punk intensity with which they’re executed makes the record a listen for anyone who’s ever been curious about Baby Woodrose, new fans or old, and it’s important to note that you don’t have to have Blows Your Mind! or any of the subsequent full-lengths to appreciate the tracks on Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers. The songs are good enough to stand on their own, and that’s just what they’re doing here. If, as Woodrose asserts, compiling this album was a thankless task, then I’ll be the first to stand up and show my appreciation for the effort on his part. Mindblowing Seeds and Disconnected Flowers has given me a whole new outlook on Baby Woodrose’s material, and a positive one at that. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in aural trippery.
Tags: Baby Woodrose, Bad Afro, Copenhagen, Denmark