A Richmond, VA quartet (for this record, at least), one of the "curiocities" of SST label. I mean that this is a pure psychedelic record, released from a label known for its punk/hardcore/hard rock bands like the Minutemen, Black Flag, Meat Puppets, SWA etc.
'Black Pyramid' is an ode to the late 60s/early 70s psychedelia and American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. Those of you familiar with the oldies, may think of Mountain Bus or Bent Wind, while listening to this record. With titles like "Freedom Flight" and "Spacin' Out" you know what to expect. There's a strong folk feeling in this essentialy acid record: the use of unusual instruments like kalimba, shakuhachi, xylophone, panpipes, as well as the banjo on "Pan's Lament", beautifuly played by Bruce Blizzard emphasizes this. The above refers mainly to the a-side with relatively short tracks, with rather tight structures and rock song format. The b-side is dominated by the 15-minute Soweto/Half the Time, where the band becomes a quintet with the addition of Jonh Mela's trumpet, and wanders into what we might call free-folk nowadays (this term could be applied to anything uses flute ;-), but I see it an embryonic alternative jazz improvisation within the acid mood of the rest of the record.
Line-up John Kiefer - guitar, vocals, kalimba, percussion Jeff Douglas - drums, xylophone, vocals, percussion Lee West - guitar, vocals, panpipes, percussion Tim Harding - bass, vocals, shakuhachi, flute, percussion
Always August released two more records on SST (Largeness with (W)holes (LP) and Geography (mLP) and in 1988 disbanded. Those releases had not much to do with psychedelia though, as they moved to a more jazzy and funkyfied sound. Tim Harding played with Office Ladies (another SST band) and in 1992 formed Hotel X, a group described as 'alternative jazz' and 'avant-garde fusion', that released 6 albums on SST. Lee West (who was active in the Richmond underground scene), as this site informs us, is married, lives in the mountains southwest of Roanoke, is an agricultural scientist, and plays old-time Appalachian music.
tracklisting A1 Freedom Flight A2 Interrogation A3 Pan's Lament A4 Swim With Me A5 Spacin' Out B1 Oh My Mind B2 Soweto B3 Half The Time
(I couldn't split Soweto and Half the Time, so they were ripped as one track) As the band informs us on the back cover "All songs were recorded in our living room with Kirk Henderson's Zero Mobile Unit, except Soweto recorded in Kirk's living room", so we could consider this as half DYI psyche album ;-).