This milestone psych/space-rock transmission was originally beamed to Earth in CD form back in 1997 by the greatly-missed Camera Obscura Records (Australia). Now, in 2013, it's been mind-tweakingly remastered by original engineer/producer Joel Simches and reissued as a 2LP (red or blue vinyl !) set with bonus early demos by Krauted Mind Records (Germany).
2013 Liner Notes from Ned Raggett:
"Call a band a psychedelic rock group and it immediately begs the question of what psychedelia is. (Hell, it already begs the question of what rock is, and sometimes you have to wonder what goes into a group.) So when the fine fellows who made up Abunai! took everything they’d been doing in their individual pursuits and decided to see what happened together, it was almost as if their answer to said initial question was pretty simple: “Um...everything? All at once?”
It wasn’t just music, of course, not with a classic band name like that thanks to a steady stream of Japanese comic art in the bandmembers’ lives. Further, what a title! If you want the basic story, the phrase originally was a working title for the Byrds’ song “Change Is Now.” But Universal Mind Decoder also suggests and riffs on everything from spy gadgetry to Star Trek to the kind of cults based somewhere simultaneously in Sedona, Big Sur, Easter Island and Mars, all revolving around some crystal man-lion-bug colored purple and probably named Grot or something similar. (Quick note to all Grotteans out there -- clearly I speak from appreciation so please, no mystic assassins.)
Add to that some great cover art and little wonder it was one of the first things that was released on Tony Dale’s Camera Obscura label, similarly dedicated to the idea that psychedelia wasn’t just one thing but potentially everything. Both Tony and Camera Obscura are gone now, too soon, but if he hadn’t seen Abunai! do their thing at the original Terrastock Festival in 1997, this album and all the rest that followed might never have been, so on behalf of us all, thanks again to Tony, for taking that chance with gusto.
So what’s Universal Mind Decoder like? Well, if you’re reading this rather than listening to the album, please, correct that, THEN come back and read this. (Or you can read along while listening to the album but I’d say just keep an eye on that cover art I mentioned.)
Point being, by now you’ve heard snippets of random space opera dialogue, thick waves of feedback, sweetly zoned hooks, easygoing headnodding sprawls, folk song chants that could have been from 1766 or 1966, stately organ parts and more besides. Usually all within the space of one song, if not one minute, and all making exact sense. Like I said, everything, all at once.
But the larger point is a simple one -- Joe Turner, Dan Parmenter, Kris Thompson and Brendan Quinn all decided that there wasn’t any reason why they couldn’t make some sounds together, do something that may have inevitably suggested some pasts but ended up sounding perfectly present. All that and it ended up working well in the future too -- at least, sixteen years on so far, but probably for a lot longer than that to come. So enjoy! And if you want to use it to soundtrack your rituals done in honor of Spacelord Grot, hey, I’m sure he’d be down."
from Stanton Swihart's original 1997 Allmusic review:
"...a spacious, sweeping, and sound-intensive strain of psychedelia, full of phased vocals, spacy sound effects, guitar distortion, and tribal drumming. The music, amazingly enough, meshes melodic, drone-based space rock, P-Funk (particularly in the low end), pensive folk-rock, and shoegazer pop so that Universal Mind Decoder could be seen as a sort of Cliff's Notes to psychedelia from the past 30 years. But Abunai! doesn't rest on the laurels of a psychedelic past; it brings to its music something too often missing in psychedelia: a gentleness -- even subtlety -- that loses nothing in grandiose power. It is music capable of whisking you away and, in the same instant, disorienting you with its sense of foreboding. Everything that Abunai! plays, from Celtic folk to trippy hymns, takes on a slow-cooking, heated ambience complete with modal scales, expressive riffs, well-manicured gales of distortion, and heavy drumming that amounts to music that both takes you away in its gradually building momentum and weighs on your consciousness like something that you can't quite grasp but know is important." www.allmusic.com/album/universal-mind-decoder-mw0000034559