Arzachel – Arzachel

This intoxicating psych rarity has an eye-watering price tag and was rumoured to have been recorded in a cave in Ukraine. Its rich history and mysterious origins will make it a talking point of any collection…

One of the best things about obscure, long-forgotten psychedelic records is the history that goes with them. Even if the recordings aren’t as clear or concise as you would like, the stories make them interesting. A fine case in point is the self-titled and only album by little-known cult band Arzachel.

The secretive nature of the band even spawned a rumour that this highly sought-after rarity was recorded in a cave in Eastern Ukraine, when in reality it was conceived during a single session in London. The album is in fact the first recorded work by Steve Hillage, with the backing of the members of prog legends Egg. Since Egg had just signed to Decca – and to add to the wildly over-the-top narrative of the band – they assumed the name Arzachel and the members adopted bizarre pseudonyms to conceal their identities. If the album’s backstory isn’t enough, the music itself is as mind-bending as it comes. Like a bad acid trip during a storm in the desert, the six tracks cruise through some of the most obscure, treacle-thick and hallucinogenic soundscapes ever committed to wax.

At times, it’s borderline unlistenable – yet it has a price tag of just under £1,000. The history alone makes for a great talking point, and it’s such a rarity that anyone who spots it in your collection will surely ask: “What’s the story with this record?”.

Glen Bushell