Pass The DistanceAntarctica Starts Here
Few albums define a genre as succinctly as Simon Finn’s Pass The Distance does for psychedelic folk. Not even landmark recordings by Pearls Before Swine or Skip Spence can stand up to the sheer madness of Finn’s sole LP, originally released in 1970.
After moving to London in 1967, Finn busked around town for a couple years before entering Camden’s Chalk Farm Studios, best known for producing a string of reggae hits. Pass The Distance, however, would become more than a solo-acoustic project.
Backed by free-improvisation innovators David Toop and Paul Burwell, Finn’s dark, personal songs unravel lysergically over 40 minutes. Toop’s sinewy electric guitar and Burwell’s broad percussive palette lift up Finn’s ardent strumming and snarling vocals, making this one wild ride in catharsis, introspection and raw merriment.
As Finn tells journalist Dave Segal in an interview for this vinyl reissue, “The songs were about alienation and loneliness. ‘Jerusalem’ came to me in one shot. I wrote it on mescaline and was playing it over and over and one of my flatmates wrote it down.”
Pass The Distance remains a “cult record” in the best sense of the term, possessing a hypnotic beauty all its own.