Paul McCartney reportedly wants to release a 14-minute experimental electronic music track, recorded by the Beatles in 1967, called Carnival Of Light.
It’s a track so strange that the Beatles never wanted you to hear it.
Carnival Of Light, described as “a jumble of shrieks and psychedelic effects”, is rumored to be the most avant garde track the Fab Four ever did. The track was put together on January 5, 1967, in between working on the vocals for the song Penny Lane.
“It does exist,” said McCartney on a BBC Radio 4 arts program to be broadcast this week. “I like it because it’s the Beatles free, going off piste,” he adds.
In the 40 years since Carnival of Light was recorded by McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon in the Abbey Road studios in London, its collection of disparate rhythms has become a kind of holy grail for Beatles obsessives.
“We were set up in the studio and would just go in every day and record,” adds McCartney. “I said to the guys, this is a bit indulgent but would you mind giving me 10 minutes? I’ve been asked to do this thing. All I want you to do is just wander round all of the stuff and bang it, shout, play it. It doesn’t need to make any sense. Hit a drum, wander to the piano, hit a few notes … and then we put a bit of echo on it. It’s very free.”
McCartney had been commissioned to create a piece for an electronic music festival at the Roundhouse Theatre in north London, the Million Volt Light and Sound Rave. Many in the audience had no idea they were listening to a new Beatles track. Other performers included Delia Derbyshire.
The piece was inspired, McCartney says, by the works of composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Is it a lost gem, or a pile of magical mystery crap?