This really obscure Phoenix band released a late-period psychedelic album in 1971 that, by the standards of self-released LPs of the time, was several layers above the usual such offering. Largely (although not wholly) instrumental, their Folkstone Prism was an authentically oddball, occasionally goofy, and sometimes inspired blend of surf music, spaced-out psychedelia, and silly pop. The exotic dabs of melodica, zither, and special effects by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ken Walker added a cloud of eeriness: "I Don't Know" has keyboards straight off the Chantays' surf classic "Pipeline"; "Goodbye Pamela Ann" has scorching psychedelic guitar that sounds like a mating of the Electric Prunes and Haight-Ashbury, and "Mother of My Children" has vocals that sound like a Lee Hazlewood parody. Kennelmus, indeed, can be seen as spiritual forefathers of sorts to several post-punk Arizona bands -- Black Sun Ensemble, Friends of Dean Martinez, and Scenic -- that have made instrumental rock that can function as a quasi-psychedelic desert movie soundtrack. Of course, it's doubtful that those bands, or many others, were aware of Kennelmus, since their album was released in a pressing of 1000 in 1971, and is not even well known among collectors.
Kennelmus evolved from the more standard garage band the Shi-Reeves, who played British Invasion covers and surf music. Ken Walker changed the name to Kennelmus in 1969 (Kennelmus being his full first name), and with singer/guitarist Bob Narloch began recording Folkstone Prism in late 1970, with the help of bassist Tom Gilmore and drummer Mike Shipp. The record was very much the brainchild of Walker, who wrote all but one of the songs. Three of the four bandmembers worked at a pressing plant, making them one of the few, if not the only, group of their sort to literally help press their own recordings. An anomaly of its time (or any other), Folkstone Prism made little impact, and the band broke up around the mid-'70s, although the album was reissued on CD by Sundazed in 1999. ~ Richie Unterberger