Ya Ho Wha 13
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

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Ya Ho Wha 13 were formed in 1969 in the Los Angeles area by one of the most eccentric freaks of the time, a middle-aged beatnik called Jim Baker who believed himself a god and went by the nickname of Father Yod. Their extreme psychedelic sound, that employed tribal drums and distorted guitars in a deliberately childish manner (all unrehearsed live and with no overdubs, editing or design), was the ultimate product of the hippie era.

The band (tighly related to Father Yod' religious cult, the "Source", and to a vegetarian restaurant located in Hollywood) frequently changed name to The Savage Sons of Yahowha, Yodship, Fire Water Air, Spirit of 76, but the key players were always the same (Djin Aquarian on guitar, Octavious Aquarian on drums, Sunflower Aquarian on bass, and occasionally Sky Saxon of the Seeds).

Kohoutek (Higher Key, 1973) was the debut album of the Spirit Of 76, which also released Contraction (1974 - Swordfish, 2006), Expansion (1974), All Or Nothing At All (1974) and some singles.

Yahowa 13 are credited for Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony (1974 - Higher Key, 2004 - Swordfish, 2005), which stands as Father Yod's masterpiece (or, better, Djin Aquarian's masterpiece) and one of the milestones in psychedelic-rock.

Djin Aquarian wrote:

"The Penetration sound came out as it is because of all the band members inputs at 4 in the morning, which is when we recorded at this family meditation. Father Yod was the greatest influence in developing this sound with me. Father Yod was the leader and teacher of our commune of 144 people in Hollywood and it was he who felt called to produce, sing and play tympany and 40" diameter gong, on much of the 65 albums we made, most of which have been destroyed (but 9 remain that are being re-released on Swordfish). None of the music or lyrics were pre-conceived. We built our own garage studio, recorded, did the art work, manufactured and distributed all on our own resources from working at our health food restaurant on Sunset Strip."

More typical of their message-driven music were Savage Sons of Yahowa (1974), I'm Gonna Take You Home (1974 - Swordfish, 2004), To The Principles For The Children (1975). At their best Yahowa 13 performed lengthy instrumental jams that could easily swing from silence to walls of white noise.

At the end of 1974 the whole commune moved to Hawaii. The band dissolved, but other Father Yod projects included Golden Sunrise by Fire Water Air and singles released as Yodship.

Father Yod died in an accident in 1975 and Sky Saxon became a full-time member of the band and of the cult.

Ya Ho Wha 13's The Operetta (Swordfish, 2005) documents a previously unreleased album of 1975, presumably one of their last recordings.

The entire Father Yod opus has been collected on a 13-cd boxset, God and Hair (Captain Trip, 2001). Only a handful of people had heard his music before this reissue.

Djin Aquarian has continued making music.

Djinn Aquarian (guitar), Octavius Aquarian (drums), and Sunflower Aquarian (bass) reformed Yahowa and released Sonic Portation (Prophase Music, 2008), their first studio album in over 30 years.

Magnificence in the Memory (Drag City, 2009) compiles unreleased material of Ya Ho Wha 13.

Djin Aquarian debuted solo on Destiny Of America (Not On Label, 2002). Djin Aquarian and Plastic Crimewave Sound recorded Live Yod Devotions (recorded in november 2008) and Save The World (Prophase, 2012).

(Translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

Gli Ya Ho Wha 13 furono formati a Los Angeles nel 1969, da Jim Baker, uno dei freaks piu' demenziali dell'epoca, un beatnik di mezza eta' che si credeva un dio e si faveva chiamare Father Yod. Il loro sound, estremamente psichedelico, con tanto di tamburi tribali e infantili distorsioni di chitarra, fu l'ultima trovata dell'era hippie.

Il complesso (strettamente collegato al culto religioso "Source" di Father Yod e ad un ristorante vegetariano di Hollywood) cambiava nome frequentemente - The Savage Sons of Yahowha, Yodship, Fire Water Air, Spirit of 76 - ma le figure chiave erano sempre le stesse: Djin Aquarian alla chitarra, Octavious Aquarian alla batteria, Sunflower Aquarian al basso, e qualche volta Sky Saxon dei Seeds.

Kohoutek (Higher Key, 1973) fu l'album del debutto degli Spirit Of 76, i quali pubblicarono anche Contraction (1974), Expansion (1974), All Or Nothing At All (1974) e qualche 45 giri.

Una delle pietre miliari del rock psichedelico, Penetration - An Aquarian Symphony (Higher Key, 1974), pubblicata dagli Ya Ho Wha 13 insieme a Savage Sons of Yahowa (1974), I'm Gonna Take You Home (1974) e To The Principles For The Children (1975), figura come il capolavoro di Father Yod. Nel migliore dei loro periodi gli Yahowa 13 hanno realizzato lunghe jam strumentali che vanno dal silenzio al muro del suono. In pratica hanno messo insieme una carriera da Dark Star dei Grateful Dead. Alla fine del 1974 l'intera comune si trasferi' alle Hawai.

Gli Yahowa 13 si sciolsero, ma i progetti di Father Yod continuarono con Golden Sunrise, pubblicata dai Fire Water Air e qualche single pubblicato da Yodship.

Father Yod perse la vita in un incidente nel 1975. Sky Saxon entro` a far parte del complesso e della setta religiosa.

L'intera opera di Father Yod e' raccolta in un'antologia di 13 CD: God and Hair (Captain Trip, 2001). Pochissime persone avevano ascoltato la sua musica prima di questa nuova edizione.

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