Eden Ahbez‘s Dharmaland, arranged and performed by Ixtahuele, is the first-ever recording of this long-lost masterwork by the original hippie composer. Resurrected from Ahbez’s unrecorded sheet music, c. 1961-63, Ixtahuele has woven an enchanted tapestry of mystic exotica and experimental pop that re-establishes the songwriter as a forefather of psychedelic music and brings his work into the present. As author Domenic Priore writes: “Dharmaland is to Eden Ahbez what Smile was to Brian Wilson.”
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Dharmaland; the suite of songs composed by Eden Ahbez between 1961 and ’63, but never recorded or released during his lifetime. Swedish quintet Ixtahuele has now arranged and performed the lost project for the first time ever, and they were joined by a host of guests, including nine of Ahbez’s friends and former collaborators, as well as singers Kadhja Bonet, Xenia Kriisin, and King Kukulele (among others). The composer’s own handmade drums and bamboo flutes also appear throughout the recordings.
The story begins in 1960, just after the release of Ahbe’s one and only solo album, “Eden’s Island.” He was living in the outdoors—in an open valley above Los Angeles called Tujunga Canyon—with his wife Anna and son Zoma .
“Eden’s Island” was released in Fall 1960 and almost immediately afterwards Ahbe began a new set of songs that would make up his next album project. Two problems: (1) “Eden’s Island” only sold a hundred copies in its initial release and (2) his wife contracted terminal bone cancer some time in late 1960/early ‘61. Anna passed away in August 1963 and Zoma died mysteriously in 1969. Afterwards Ahbe would live mostly in a white van until his death in 1995.
So what ever happened to that music he wrote in the immediate aftermath of “Eden’s Island”? Answer: between 1961 and ‘63 he sent twelve new songs composed on lead-sheet (slide 1) to the Library of Congress in Washington DC for copyright purposes, and that is where they sat for the next fifty years, undiscovered, with Ahbe himself never recording a single note of them during his lifetime.
Then in 2011 they were re-discovered by Ahbe enthusiast Brian Chidester, and what Chidester soon recognized was that Ahbe had in fact created another imaginary landscape, like “Eden’s Island”—a cosmic utopia and interconnected musical suite he called “Dharmaland.”
In 2018 Chidester was then introduced to the Swedish exotica quintet Ixtahuele and incredibly plans were made to record the entire “Dharmaland” suite for the first time ever—for an album to be released by Subliminal Sounds.
Ixtahuele recorded “Dharmaland” in Los Angeles and in Gothenburg in, with the help of nine of Ahbe’s old friends, as well as his own bamboo flute and handmade drums, and with Ahbe’s last collaborator Joe Romersa serving as engineer.