Two-fer of late-'60s synth-rock oddities. Not that odd, really

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Lothar And The Hand People – Presenting…

Robert Margouleff, later of Tonto’s Expanding Headband, produced the first of these two albums in 1968, and the best of its Moog and Theremin embellishments sound like the blueprints for Tonto’s groundbreaking Zero Time album. Elsewhere, alas, despite occasional nods to early Captain Beefheart, things never get quite as weird as you’d really like them to. The lyrics lapse a little too often into fortune cookie koans of the “today is only yesterday’s tomorrow” variety, and at times the irritation factor couldn’t be any higher if They Might Be Giants were jamming with Devo. John Emelin’s off-the-wall vocal style lends proceedings a certain angularity, and the seven-minute title track of 1969’s Space Hymn is absolutely ripe for sampling, but too often the synth bubbles and squeaks just aren’t enough to disguise some stunningly average country-tinged pop.