Art by Robin Gnista
On October 14th, Harbinger Records premiered Karen y Los Remedios’ cover of “Morning Sun” with guitar contribution from Z.A.M.P.A, the second single for the forthcoming Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra Compilation on Its Psychedelic Baby Magazine. Karen y Los Remdios’ ethereal interpretation of the legendary track from Dave Bixby’s first record, 1969’s Ode to Quetzalcoatl follows 4 months after the release of the compilation’s haunting lead single, The Sonic Dawn’s “666”. The compilation album is composed of covers of songs from Bixby’s first and second albums, Ode to Quetzalcoatl (1969) and Harbinger Second Coming (1970) as well as 4 new Dave Bixby originals, marking the first official Dave Bixby release in over 50 years. The covers on the album have been recorded by an international collective of musicians known as The Harbinger Orchestra.
About Karen Y Los Remedios
Ana Karen Barajas is a musician and multimedia artist who developed the first research of Outsider Art in Mexico. As someone who connected with Outsider Art, she soon realized that these artists could be hiding in plain sight, and they could be members of a largely neglected and marginalized community. Her fascination with Outsider Art expands from visual artists to encompass Outsider Musicians, which is what drew her to the music of Dave Bixby. She also makes cumbia music as part of Karen y Los Remedios.
In addition to her music career, she is part of the directive community for academic magazine Bric-à-Brac, and is an image advisor of the educational movement and civil association Clubes de Ciencia Mexico. She’s currently a PhD student of “Arts Therapy and Alternative approaches in human services where she studies creative process through qualitative and computer science tools focusing in people under the Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorder. Karen also conducts art-based and art therapy workshops for women and children in rural communities and people with behavioral, developmental, psychological, and cognitive disorders.
About Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra
In September of 2020, acid-soaked psychedelic folk legend and onetime cult hymnist Dave Bixby was struggling alongside thousands of musicians with the creatively stifling effects of the pandemic. Discouraged by these creative barriers and the emotional weight of a world on fire, he hung up his guitar and abandoned his notepad, retreating from his music. In the following months, Dave was approached by the Danish psych-rock trio The Sonic Dawn who he had met years earlier at one of his shows in their hometown of Copenhagen. They were considering recording their own interpretation of one of his early tracks. Shortly after their exchange an artist from Mexico City, Ana Karen G. Barajas of Karen y Los Remedios contacted Dave about covering another of his songs. “We wanted our version of “Morning Sun” to be absolutely sincere, which it is I think because we put a part of our soul into it. Our collaboration with Z.A.M.P.A, the project of my partner Guillermo Berbeyer, made our work together very special and intimate and I think how intensely personal it is comes through in the song. The melody is melancholic yet full of hope, that’s how I can describe my own life.” (Ana Karen G Barajas, 2021). The serendipity of these encounters suddenly made Dave very aware of the presence his music had around the globe and the fog muffling his creativity dispersed. He would assemble a group of musicians unrestricted by geography, each adoring of his music. He appointed the collective “The Harbinger Orchestra” and in December of 2020 announced it publicly, launching the companion project Harbinger Magazine the following month.
Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra is simultaneously the culmination of 50 years of Dave Bixby’s cult influence on psychedelic and folk music as well as the genesis of a new era in his legacy that expands beyond the mythos of the man and embraces the sonic and thematic lineage of his music. While his early work is undoubtedly folk, it is rooted in his mortality-altering experience with LSD which seeps into his music as beautiful, lonely, and occasionally optimistic psychedelia. The Harbinger Orchestra compilation is a distillation of his early work with artists such as The Sonic Dawn and Karen y Los Remedios approaching their interpretations with purist psychedelia and surreal melancholy respectively while Dave refines themes explored in his early work with earned wisdom on 4 new tracks. The album is a meditation on legacy, rebirth, and the cyclical nature of influence. Dave has said that he doesn’t feel ownership over the songs he wrote on those first two albums because he has led so many lives since then and the person he was is so far away from who he is now, effectively making Dave Bixby’s Harbinger Orchestra a passing of the torch.