There seems to be an endless supply of unusual stories lurking in music's past, waiting to be uncovered and re-evaluated. Every year, obscure private-press releases are unearthed, circulated, and sometimes reissued, occasionally making cult heroes out of the artists. However, it's safe to say that there's no such artist with a back-story quite like that of Lightstorm.
In a nutshell, Lightstorm were a psychedelic new age rock group formed by a husband-and-wife duo named Johnima and Kalassu Wintergate during the 1960s. They regularly traveled to India to seek guidance from their guru, Sathya Sai Baba, and performed concerts around the world preaching peace, love, joy, and the divine light of creation. They recorded a few ambitious concept albums, each of which took several years to write and record. Creation, released by Drag City and Yoga Records in 2016, is the first widely available, publicized release of Lightstorm's music. The collection's first half consists of tracks from Creation Earth (Who Am I?), a 1977 double LP that the group began writing back in the '60s. The album itself is unassuming, folk-tinged lite psych-pop, with gentle guitar and synth along with ethereal vocals cooing about "the projection machine called the mind" and finding harmony with nature. "I'll Always Be There" steps away from the new age-ness for a yearning, laid-back, soul-influenced soft rock ballad with a too-brief keyboard solo.
"Let Your Astral Body Fly" lives up to its title, commanding the listener to "unfold the wings of your perception" and "be the sky" over their headiest synth explorations and funkiest groove (which, of course, is pretty tame).
All of this is peaceful and karmically balanced, but the story gets really strange with the band's next album. The group caught the glam rock bug, resulting in 33 1/3, of which six songs appear on Creation. "O' My Love" is a remake of the previous album's "Walking into the Sun," but from there, the songs rock harder and are way more focused on physical love and desire than on spiritual matters. "Oh How Do I Love U" begins with the line "I want to love you like ice cream and candy" and finds the duo pleading to get each other in bed. The more primal "Monkey Bridge" chants "follow me, be free" over thundering drums and background shrieks, and the excessively raunchy "Missionary Is Impossible" is completely devoid of subtlety, revealing the duo's explicit sexual inclinations as well as their biting sense of humor. Things take an even weirder turn from there, as the duo went on to make a straight-to-video erotic horror-comedy thriller called Boardinghouse, which eventually became a cult classic, lending the Lightstorm story a slight Manson family vibe. Following the movie, they eventually abandoned their pursuit of rock & roll stardom and settled back into family and spiritual life, but Creation is a bizarre, fascinating document of what must have been the wildest time of the Wintergate duo's lives.
|Walking into the Sun||Lightstorm||5:13|
|I'll Always Be There||Lightstorm||3:30|
|Let Your Astral Body Fly||Lightstorm||4:11|
|O' My Love||Lightstorm||4:01|
|Just Hold On||Lightstorm||2:48|
|Oh How Do I Love U||Lightstorm||3:20|
|Spend All Your Love||Lightstorm||3:02|
|Missionary Is Impossible||Lightstorm||4:03|