In the 1970’s science fiction had become a popular source of inspiration, and with books such as Von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods doing the rounds not to mention the Apollo missions, it’s little wonder that certain rock musicians were captivated by the idea of space travel and little green men visiting earth, like intergalactic tourists who love nothing more than to watch us in the same way that we get a kick out of the chimpanzee enclosure at the local zoo. And with Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind filling cinemas the world over, suddenly aliens were big business. But what has all this to do with guitar legend Lobby Loyde? Well the story goes that in 1975, inspired by the likes of classic sci-fi writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, Loyde himself wrote a novel, calling it Beyond Morgia: The Labyrinths of Klimster. He also planned to make a film, as well as record an instrumental soundtrack, the music to which he had already mostly written and composed. In other words, the whole thing was ready to go. Yet one day, in a fit of wounded agony, he flung the manuscript into an open fire, thus dashing any hopes of it ever being published. However the concept never left him. Because the following year Loyde entered Armstrong Studios in Melbourne, with his band Southern Electric in tow, to record what would turn out to be one of the great, and I mean great lost albums of Australian Rock. Though the original master tape went missing, only to be discovered many years later in some garbage bin, before winding up in the hands of Aztec Music, who (as always) have done a superb job of mastering and packaging this rather ancient and obscure document.
The term ‘space-rock’ gets bandied about quite a bit, but opener “Adrift In Ether” certainly fits that bill. All spacey guitar and cosmic keyboards. It’s very Pink Floyd, I must say, to the extent that had the album been pressed and released in England Loyde might well have found an audience. The special effects continue on “Relgon Hall (Home of Lord Nezim)” and “Entry Into Relgon”, as if I’m listening to the soundtrack of Dune, although things improve on “Hymenoptera’s Revenge”, a 15 minute epic which might not have seemed out of place on Wish You Were Here. But what Loyde is playing is more Punk Floyd than anything else, keeping his guitar anchored to the earth while screaming at the stars. To be sure there is a lot of controlled violence and anger in his technique, something which is in complete contrast to David Gilmour, who takes a far more measured, almost mathematical approach to what he does and executes.
Speaking of Gilmour, on the closing track “Return To Ether”, Loyde’s style betrays a strong nod to David himself, something that Lobby is not all that well known for, nor associated with, considering that many of his fans at the time were Sharpies, along with an assortment of other dysfunctional dickheads who resided in the suburban wastelands of Australia. But all that aside, this is without a doubt stoner-rock at its best, and while I am not into ratings, I would give it at least four marijuana leaves out of five. And a slab of beer thrown in, just for good measure.
Incredibly the entire album was recorded in only one day! Expect any band to do that now and they’d all probably wind up in therapy.
Though for reasons not entirely explained the LP was rejected by the record company, and therefore relegated to the scrap heap. Undeterred, Lobby moved to London soon after, where he lived for a few years, working and producing local punk groups and where his 1975 LP Obsecration had excited a one Richard Branson.
Beyond Morgia: The Labyrinths of Klimster is in the end what it was meant to be – a soundtrack. And therefore ought to be appreciated as such. The craftsmanship is excellent, as is the level of imagination that obviously went into it. Morgia remains a clear example of where the term ‘lost classic’ is evidently justified. A strange and obscure classic to be sure, but one well worth investigating all the same.