=  AUGUST 2007 =

Quick Links
Written by:  
Simon Lewis (Editor) Smell of Incense
Jeff Penczak Mike Tamburo
Steve Pescott MONO

Phil McMullen

Val Stöecklein

Nigel Cross

Rex Holman
  The Farm
  V/A Fairy Tales
  The Future Kings of England
  Christus & The Cosmonaughts
  Gregory Raimo
  Tim Buckley
  V/A Midnight Circus
  Angelic Process



(LP/CD  from www.septembergurlsrecords.com )


   Opening with a flourish of acid guitar, the latest album from The Smell Of Incense, is a fine collection of mellow folk-tinged psychedelia, that takes the bands on their finest journey yet. With crisp production, a warm glow and a selection of quality songs the album will have fans of the band, salivating with anticipation. As before, the band has taken their lyrics from dead poets, something that adds a romantic feel to songs such as the lovely opener “Bumbles and Dragons”, which uses the words of Cicely Mary Barker (The Song Of The Snapdragon), as its inspiration. Beautifully sung by Bumble B, the song has all the trademark sounds and ends with a delicate folk Coda.


   Track two “Laughing Song” (words William Blake), is a gentle acid-folk gem, the bands restrained approach giving the song a graceful beauty, and a West Coast vibe. After the two opening songs have set the tone, the band get stuck into “Forlorn Sunsets” one of the finest pieces on the album, the band casting hypnotic spells as they invoke the spirit of I.S.B over ten sublime minutes. Featuring, soft organ washes overlaid with eastern motifs, chiming percussion, and a sense of dynamics that sees the song ebb and flow like the evening tide. Finally on side one, “Song” is a charming folk ballad, with some exquisite flute binding the whole song together perfectly.


     Written by bassist Hans Solo, “The Golden Knot”, has the hashish smoke of San Francisco curling around it, the sympathetic echoed guitar, swirling bass and fragile musical flourishes creating a laid-back psych classic, lie-back and let this one take you to the stars. After the sweet kiss of “The Haunted Chamber”, a song that reminds me of Mellow Candle, the band finish the album with two nine minute songs. The first of these “Well In It”, uses a poem by Lady June as its lyrics and concern a talking turd, and the loss of the senses. Strange lyrics aside, the track has some wonderful bubbling synth, a haunting undercurrent and enough changes to ensure everyone is happy. Finally, the band surprise the listener with the heaviest thing they have done as “Of Pygmies, Palms and Pirates” shakes the room with a Space-rock guitar riff, light and shade created by the relaxed groove of the lysergic middle eight, before the riff returns to detonate your mind. To bring you down, there is a gentle coda, filled with twilight loveliness, ending a magnificent album, which is housed in a gatefold sleeve complete with a 10-page booklet. I scored my copy from Rustic Rod and you should certainly track one down as soon as possible. (Simon Lewis)




(6XCD 1 DVD from New American Folk Hero)


    Housed in a beautiful box, with each disc separately placed in it’s own sleeve, the artwork pulling everything together with it’s midnight blue and silver design, this collection is a delight for the senses, featuring music, film and writing from the talented and industrious Mike Tamburo.

     I have been living with this collection for a month or two now, trying to absorb the huge depth of sound that it contains, the surrealist writing only offering veiled clues to the meanings hidden within. Each of the discs offers it’s own delights, the music ranging from solo guitar, to heavily treated drones, whilst the short films only add to the mystery and majesty of the collection.


     As the discs are not presented in any order, the listener is free to dive in at will, so I will start with the title disc “Language Of The Birds”, a collection of eight solo acoustic guitar pieces recorded in 2006. Superficially, the pieces are some of the easiest to listen to, but as you are drawn in you realise what a fine guitarist Tamburo is, each song delicately poised and constantly changing. On “The Last Museum” the music remains absorbing and dynamic through eighteen minutes of slowly evolving sound that is both contemplative and soothing.


     Moving on  “A Fine Line On The Throne Of Time” is a double disc set that features a resonator guitar on every track, sometimes solo, sometimes augmented by other instruments such as Clarinet, Organ, Tibetan Bowl, Electronics or Slide. Throughout, there is a lightness of touch to the music, the notes sparkling across the room with a fragile beauty, although the addition of Gamelan, Alarm Clock, and Ebow, does distort this sparkle on “When I Began (Search For Atlantis)”. On the Solo pieces the Resonator has a world-weary Americana feel, the taste of dust fresh in the mind. Ensuring thing are not too serious “Roll Another Number” lightens the mood, before the epic “A Single Word Or Anything At All” takes us to another place with it’s delicate drones and flashes of clarity. The only track not to feature the Resonator, the piece is constructed with only an Electric Guitar and effects, and is truly beautiful.


     After such delicate beauty “Don’t Leave Your Bones Rotting In My Backyard” is a much moodier set, filled with rumbling drones and more abstract compositions including the startling “Variations For Lee Jackson” a piece of slowly expanding sonic intensity featuring vocals (wordless), Hammered Dulcimer, and Tuning Fork, amongst its sound sources. Elsewhere, “Pining, Scraping and Waving” is forged from electric guitar and various metal objects, and has an alien quality to it that is a far cry from the delicate acoustic guitar pieces on the first disc.


    Recorded live at WRCT-Pittsburgh, “Of Faith And Joy And Happiness” is filled with midnight drones, small ripples of notes sparkling like stars within them. Mainly featuring electric guitar and effects, the music is both minimalist and dense, with the harmonic variations taking the sounds to another realm.


    Personally speaking it is the long tracks that work best, giving Tamburo the chance to stretch his improvisations with elegant precision. The finest example of this can be found on “In The Present The Past Keeps Haunting”, where the 32 minute “Dance Enis Dance” is the quintessential example of the musicians art, featuring a chiming guitar that slowly dissolves into haunted drones, and abstract textures. The fact that it was recorded live makes it all the more remarkable. Also on the disc are some wonderful acoustic guitar pieces and the sea fog drone of “No More Dripping From Windsor’s Beard” a track created with a harmonica and some effects. If I had to choose this could possibly my favourite disc of the set.


    Continuing the familiar mix of guitar pieces and drones “Jade Is The Color Of My True Love’s Fate” is another fine collection. Included on the set is “A Corti Yawn” featuring only Accordion and effects, whilst “Whirling Dance To Cleanse The Cosmic Eye” is a drifting cloud of space dust that settles in your brain beautifully.


     Collected on “Persistent Visions Volume One” are twelve videos that echo the crackling eerie music they accompany. Abstract in form they feature, flames, silent faces, twisted mirrored images, and strange shapes that remind me of cave paintings. Also on the DVD are two live performances, which are a fascinating glimpse into how the drones are constructed and demonstrate how passionate and creative the artist is.


    Finally we reach the 72 pages of writing, a surreal autobiography, that involves time travel and creation amongst its topics. Blending fact and fiction, it is a fascination and beautifully written tale that fits into the music and art to complete an artefact that will be cherished for years to come. Limited in number, this is something that needs to be experienced and is highly recommended. (Simon Lewis)






CD on Temporary Residence Ltd, 7 West 22nd Street, Floor 4, New York, NY 10010 USA)


You only have yourselves to blame if you haven’t been diligently following the course of Japanese noisemakers MONO’s releases through the Terrascope’s reviews pages and grabbing them the moment of impact with our solar system. Had we still been releasing compilation CDs I daresay they’d have been represented on there as well, in which case it would have inevitably have been included on ‘Gone’, which collects together all of MONO’s rare and out of print non-album tracks to date (I used to love the way PT compilation tracks would be subsequently counted amongst the “rarest” releases by bands who went on to become darlings of the scene, conveniently overlooking the fact that our sales figures often outstripped their self-released debuts three or four times over!)


Formed in 1999 and initially, although to my mind unfairly, accused of being My Bloody Valentine copyists with a Mogwai fixation and thus by association lumped in with the high-low drones of the post-rock scene, MONO have gone on to develop a sound all of their own, mixing at the two extremes neo-classical filigrees with gut-wrenching guitar noise to take the listener to emotional extremes which are almost operatic, let alone cinematic, in their breadth and coverage. ‘Gone’ follows this growth, presenting the material chronologically from ‘Finlandia’ and ‘Black Woods’ taken from the (understandably) Japanese-only debut 'Hey, You’ EP on Forty-4 Records from 2000, jumping forward to their contribution to the 2005 split LP with Pelican (sold out completely the moment it was released by Temporary Residence), the two songs from the utterly magical 'Memorie del Futuro' 10" commissioned by film-maker Cameron Crowe for his Vinyl Films imprint, ‘Since I’ve Been Waiting For You’ from Temporary Residence's 'Thankful' promotional CD compilation, and the entire 'The Phoenix Tree' EP which was released as a subscription only disc  by Temporary Residence in their ‘Travels in Constants’ series last year. And the amazing thing about all of this is, it’s all good stuff. No filler in the cracks let alone holding it all together. Given the five year gap early in their career during which MONO concentrated on touring and album work (i.e. no compilation contributions or other rarities released between 2000 and 2005) it’s unsurprising perhaps that there's a definite tilt towards their more recent, orchestrated sound - it’s good though to have the opportunity to hear those two, raucous early numbers set against the more cinematic later material being produced by Steve Albini, which taken together lends the album a cohesion which often collections such as this sometimes lack.


No worries either about the direction the band are taking today: the flawless, epic high water mark ‘Memorie del Futuro’ apart, the four most recent numbers ‘Gone’, ‘Black Rain’, ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Little Boy (1945 - Future)’ recorded last year are amongst the strongest on here, a mouthwatering taste of what’s hopefully in store on album #5 when it happens. I for one can’t wait. (Phil McMullen)





(CD from www.backwaterrecords.com)


    Taking the tales and places of Suffolk as their starting point, The Future Kings have created an atmospheric and epic album that takes the majesty of their debut and welds it to creepy folk and acid tinged melodies. Featuring vocals for the first time, the album retains the prog musical visions, whilst the vocals add a storytelling element to the proceedings allowing the band to flow around the lyrical themes with precision and eloquence.


    Right from the first track “Dunwich”, the band show they have lost none of their power, the song soaring and diving with sombre passion, perfectly capturing the wilderness of the countryside. Following on “Mustard Men” is the tale of a farmer haunted by the mustard men, a slow descent into madness that is perfectly captured by the musical that accompanies it, the lyrics having an almost nursery rhyme feel, the whole song reminding of Genesis circa 1972. Throughout the song and, indeed, the whole album, the bands command of light and shade is exquisite maintaining tension and then releasing it to soar into the heavens.


    On “Bartholomew’s Merman”, some acoustic guitar add a folk feel to the tale, the song a gentler piece although the guitar continues to launch into the cosmos at any opportunity. Continuing the folk feel and containing Mandolin and Dulcimer, “Children Of The Crown” tells the tale of the most haunted alehouse in England, where the ghosts of two children can be seen playing with a musical box. All this is illustrated with droned strings and dark keyboards that ebb and flow through the piece, the laughter of the children heard in the background. Finally the piece morphs into a fine slice of psychedelic rock that flies high above the clouds, leaving any ghosts far behind.


    After the short but beautiful “A Meeting At Red Barn”, the beauty hiding its murderous heart, we arrive at the undoubted centrepiece of the album, the 18 minute title track which is filled with grandiose and glorious music. Taking the Witch-hunts for their inspiration, the band move from quieter passages into cosmic space-rock, the varying moods arranged perfectly to create a classic piece of spacey psychedelia, a roller coaster for the head that commands attention and repeated listening to experience its full glory.


    Overall, The Future Kings have taken the blueprint of their last album and expanded on it, keeping the quality whilst increasing the variety and in doing so, have recorded one of the finest albums of the year. (Simon Lewis)






     Valerian Richard Stecklein was the leader of legendary Kansas cult folk psychsters, Blue Things, whose popularity never really took off outside the Midwest. In 1967, Stöecklein moved to L.A., having added the “ö” to his name to distance himself from his disappointing past, which included a stint in the Menninger Clinic diagnosed as a manic depressive following a mental breakdown, exacerbated by his breakup with his first wife  and a downward spiral into alcohol and LSD abuse. In L.A., he hooked up once again with producer Ray Ruff, who had released the first two Blue Things singles on his Ruff Records imprint in the mid-60’s. Ruff was now an A&R man at Dot records, for whom he signed Stöecklein and took him into L.A.’s Gold Star Studios in 1968 to record this, his lone solo album. The album was brutally and unfairly dismissed on its initial release, further damaging Stöecklein’s already delicate psyche. Despite two further releases, a 2xLP biblical rock opera (‘Truth of Truths’) featuring Jim Backus as God, and an album credited to Ecology (‘Environment/Evolution’), and assistance from Pat Boone and Hank Williams, Jr. recording his songs, Stöecklein still failed to catch on with the public, and tragically, he committed suicide at his home in Hutchinson, Kansas in May, 1993. This album, one of the bleakest you will ever encounter, is as close to a musical suicide note as you are likely to hear.


     Almost all of the tracks add up to a pseudo concept album about a broken relationship, with a lonesome Fred Neil, Tom Rush, Scott Walker aura about some of the tracks, such as opener, ‘Say It’s Not Over’ and ‘Now’s The Time.’ The former, in fact, eerily presages the melody of The Byrds ‘Ballad of Easy Rider,’ which was still another year form release! Other tracks, particularly with Dick Hieronymous’ at times syrupy string arrangements casting a mournful, Jimmy Webb pall over the proceedings. The brilliant album artwork by Christopher Whorf and Rod Dyer shows what one would assume was a photograph of Stöecklein’s lost love hanging on the wall, peering over his shoulder as he sits in a corner of the room strumming his 12-string guitar, literally signifying her presence overlooking, even overshadowing his compositions. Additional comparisons to other loner psycho depressives, Skip Spence, Nick Drake and Syd Barrett are also apt in creating an atmosphere of expectation, so the listener knows just what almost bottomless pit of despair he or she is in for. To make another, admittedly anachronistic comparison, if Joy Division’s Ian Curtis hung around long enough (pun intended to lighten the load a bit here) to make a solo album, I would suspect it would sound something like this.


     Elsewhere, I can hear the tearful prose of a Jacques Brel or Leonard Cohen on weepers like ‘French Girl Affair,’ while ‘Possibility I Was Wrong’ bears just the slightest hint of optimism, as Stöecklein acknowledges that maybe he had something to do with the failed relationship. Its lovely, rolling melody might have opened up a few more ears to the album if it had been released as a single. The label, instead, unfortunately chose the drearily oppressive ‘Sounds of Yesterday,’ which would have pleased few outside the cough syrup and sleeping pills crowd. Still, one could only wonder what Glen Campbell, then still at the peak of his popularity could have done with this track. (Coincidentally, negotiations with Campbell to record some of Stöecklein’s songs fell through, allegedly due to Stöecklein’s difficulty and withdrawal, which culminated in his refusal to tour to promote the album. Campbell apparently decided to avoid the brewing hornet’s nest, which unfortunately would have put the album, and Stöecklein on the pop music map.)


     Stöecklein attempted to make a comeback in the 80’s, allegedly in a country and western vein, the blueprint for which can be found in the countrified ‘Seven Days Away From You,’ ably aided and abetted by a rolling banjo in the background and a distinct Dylanesque melody (a la ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’). Fallout append this “first time ever on CD” reissue with both sides of Stöecklein’s subsequent 45. The A side, ‘All The Way Home’ is another Jimmy Webb-styled weeper, whose melody will immediately draw comparisons with Bobby Goldsboro’s own contemporaneous contribution to “Pity Party Pop,” ‘Honey.’


     A quiet, late night/early morning album, this is the perfect soundtrack to your own self-pity party following an emotional breakup. It may have wallowed too much under its own depressive weight to attract listeners first time around, but you shouldn’t let that keep you from discovering this lost masterpiece. It sounds best listened to alone and in the dark. Just remember to lock up the bullets and razor blades! (Jeff Penczak)






     At first glance, this would appear to be another one of those kitschy classics which finds an old-enough-to-know-better (actually forty-one-year old) actor taking a stab at a second career in the music biz. Rexford George Holman was born in Denver in 1928, but spent much of his life in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was a prolific TV actor with over five dozen roles in his resume, including appearances in just about every Western you could think of, from regular roles on ‘Gunsmoke’ (as “Aikens) and ‘The Big Valley’ (playing “Cajun”) to guest spots on ‘Bonanza,’ ‘Rawhide,’ ‘The Guns of Will Sonnett,’ ‘The High Chaparral,’ and ‘The Virginian,’ with numerous stops along the way on ‘The Monkees,’ ‘The Mod Squad,’ ‘The Outer Limits,’ ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ‘Combat’ and ‘Star Trek.’ He even popped up in ‘Star Trek V’ on the big screen. But back in 1970, he entered a studio with a tabla player, flautist and sitar player and, adding his own commendable acoustic guitar backing, emerged with this mellow, stoney, acid folk cult classic, originally on the tiny Pentagram label. With self-penned, hippy-dippy lyrics aplenty (‘Pink Lemonade’ opens with the endearing couplet, “She’s a pink lemonade/I can taste her when she talks to me”), Holman puts his dramatic training to good effect, delivering his poetic lyrics with a straight face and all the seriousness of an actor reciting Shakespearean sonnets in dulcet tones that recall Gordon Lightfoot on Prozac.


     Rest assured, however, that this is not a William Shatner-styled ‘Transformer Man’ howler. It’s a serious folk album that’s been rightfully compared with some of the more accessible works of Tim Buckley. To Holman’s credit, he never sounds like he’s wandering around backstage, rehearsing lines for an upcoming scene. He’s obviously taking this new “role” very seriously, and the material is all the more better for it. He never out-emotes his musicians, leaving them space to couch his lyrics in a tender, soothing background. Now, having said all that, I must admit there is a overly dramatic, ominous atmosphere surrounding ‘Listen To The Footsteps,’ which is essentially just Holman and his guitar.


     Sexy sax and snazzy piano tinkling shuffle along behind Holman’s quivering vocals, as he takes a dramatic stab at the blues on ‘Red Is The Apple,’ which starts out hesitantly, as if he’s not sure he can pull it off, but gradually builds confidence, as he becomes more self-assured, such that by song’s end, he’s nearly depositing a lung on the studio floor! Unfortunately,  Holman’s accompanists are unidentified, but I think I can detect a whiff of a Quicksilver Messenger Service influence in the intricate electric guitar fills.


     The flute, table and sitar backing of ‘Sit and Flatter Me’ re-emphasize the Eastern flavor of many of the folkier tracks, with Holman’s occasionally stentorian delivery at times sounding like Lee Hazlewood covering Donovan. ‘Copper Kettles’ finds tinkling wind chimes and tambourines flickering around in the background, while a subtle banjo flourish adds a nice down-home country touch to the plaintive love song, ‘Debbie’ and the religious imagery of ‘The Chosen One’ fondly recalls Dylan and Leonard Cohen at their most liturgical. A true cult classic for fans of Incredible String Band, Donovan, Tim Buckley and that rare breed of collector of actor-turned-musician albums. Fortunately, you’ll be digging this out much more than those listen-once-and-discard copies of your Richard Harris, David Carradine, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, et. al. albums! (Jeff Penczak)




(CD on EM Records, 5-11-37-503 Yamasaka, Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka 546-0035, Japan www.emrecords.net )


One thing that needs to be ironed out before going any further is, given that there were three Farms operating out of the U.S. during the seventies, we need to know just which band did precisely what, where and to who. Number One was a 'get it together down in the country' psych band from Illinois whose self-title LP is eminently collectible. Number Two's Tennessee-based communal jams have seen reissue action from Arkarma, so it's down to the last band: a sunbleached combo from California, questing for the perfect wave, who EM Records have chosen to reactivate as part of their series of Aussie-related surf soundtracks. But any vestiges of heavily reverbed stringbending a la Dick Dale or stray cries of "Wipeout!" are long gone, instead this five-piece (and indeed other groups in this collection) dip into a plethora of styles, prog, blues-rock, impressionistic sound painting and even jazz.


    The Farm came together under the auspices of band leader / lead guitarist / vocalist Denny Aalberg with the sole purpose of providing a soundtrack for 'The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun', film maker George Greenough's glimpse into the world of the antipodean surfer which was released on the Series 2 label in 1976. It's available as a DVD on Laid back / King Records (KIBF 325).


    Alongside Denny were Ernie Khapp (guitar), Phil Pritchard (bass / vocals) and the Dragon brothers, Doug and future Surf Punk Dennis on keyboards and drums respectively. They were also augmented by hired hands that included drummer extraordinaire Hal Blaine, probably fulfilling his billionth session, and Dennis 'n' Doug's brother Daryl, also known as one half of Captain & Tennille(!)


    Now that's not a name that you'd really expect to see in the virtual pages of the Terrascope, but credit where credit is due. Daryl plays a pivotal role in 'Wind 'n' Sea' where his sublimely cool vibraphone and melodica lines busy things along into a streamlined Booker T verses Ramsey Lews like groover. There's also 'Crystal Shingles', a sophisto-Floydian drift [dammit, I thought she was a backing singer - Ed.] where the extended farfisa swirls fade out far too quickly at two minutes eighteen. 'Crumple Car' and 'The Eater' are the only vocal cuts, the former with its attractive acoustic figures recounts the tale of an abandoned roadster left to the elements while the latter's 'King Bee'-derived chug expands on the 'Little Deuce Coupe' traditional love affair with 'V12 Caddies' and suchlike. With Phil's signature bass grind, 'San Ho Zey', 'Ground Shuffle' and the bluesy stomp of 'Tobie's Oats' are the band's most aggressive and rockingest brace. Denny's biting axework, executed with just the right amount of abandon, brings to mind a helluva lot of Roy Buchanan and, to a lesser extent, Link Wray and the "Big Guitars from Texas" LPs on Demon.


    Also included is a filmed interview with the band (through 'Quicktime') and the usual informative booklet which includes a photo of Doug Dragon at the Sunwest Recording Studio, Hollywood. This was taken, as a point of interest, by Mr Donn landee, otherwise known as 'The Mit' who you may remember was the recording engineer on Captain Beefheart's 'Clear Spot'  sessions... (Steve Pescott)




(Psychic Circle)


     The sixth entry in Psychic Circle’s thematic series of obscure, previously uncomped UK psychedelia, curated by The Bevis Frond’s Nick Salmon is subtitled ‘UK Pop Psych from the Late 60’s” and, thus, focuses on the lighter, more harmonic pop field. The set opens with ‘Summer of Last Year’ by The Pyramid, whose lone single on Deram in 1966 features a young Iain Matthews, just prior to his induction into Fairport Convention. Legend has it (well, Nick’s liner notes suggest) that it was fellow Pyramider, Steve Hiett (who also wrote the track) who suggested Iain for the role. And if you listen closely, you can also hear the soon-to-be-famous session bassist, John Paul Jones in the rhythm section. The song itself is a dreamy, harmony-drenched winner that recalls The Association and other Curt Boettcher projects. Everyone knows the Spanish rockers, Los Bravos as the one hit wonders whose debut single, ‘Black Is Black’ topped the charts in 1966. But that’s not for lack of trying that they failed to match their success, as evidenced by 1968’s ‘Bring A Little Lovin,’ a punchy little number with a Small Faces bent courtesy German-born vocalist, Mike Kogel’s Steve Marriott-styled shouting.


     Barry Benson is one of those guys who was in the right place at the right time, specifically in the beauty salon styling P.J. Proby’s hair! This resume highlight was apparently good enough to land a deal at Parlophone, whose rival label head, Larry Page (of Page One Records) penned ‘Cousin Jane’ for him in 1967. It’s a hesitant track with unusual time changes, which probably precipitated its detour into obscurity. Next, we hop over to Ireland for the 1968 United Artists B-side, ‘A Boy Needs A Girl’ from The Dreams, a Dublin-based showband featuring guitarist, Eric Bell, still a year away from forming Thin Lizzy with Phil Lynott (and about five years away from storming off the stage and out of the group in a drunken stupor in the midst of a 1973 New Year’s Eve concert!) The track at hand is full of multi-part harmonies from the 7-member band, a la The Letterman!


     Manchester’s dreadfully named Grisby Dyke released only one single (on Deram in 1969), whose B-side, ‘Mary Ann She’ is a barrelhouse piano stomper with some credible, Beach Boy-styled stratospheric harmonies. Guitarist Derek Foley later played with Graham Bond and, along with vocalist, Lou Stonebridge formed Paladin, a prog band with two albums on Bronze in the early 70’s. Sax/flute player, Ron Henshall joined Socrates (a band that apparently won ‘Opportunity Knocks’!) after Grisby split, and can still be heard today wailing away behind The Aiden Townsend Band every Thursday-Saturday night at Manchester’s Trafford Centre. Stop by and say hello – and tell him you remember his Grisby days and watch his reaction! And although 1969 was a little early for the glam/glitter movement, I can certainly hear influences that would suggest the Bay City Rollers, Sweet and Slade would have a good time with this one.


     New York’s Brill Building songwriter Kenny Young offers up the set's title track via his pseudonymous San Francisco Earthquake. Subtitled ‘Have You Heard About Lucy,’ it’s a jolly pop ditty that could have done wonders in the hands (and mouth) of Davy Jones/The Monkees, Bobby Sherman, or perhaps even Tommy Roe, who just loved those songs with girls names in them, didn’t he? And McGuiness Flint fans will drool over the possibility of hearing their heroes (Gallagher & Lyle)’s early (1967) ‘Pet Sounds’-inspired ‘Trees,’ with particularly sweet muted trumpets and swirling string arrangements.


     Dave Christie apparently only released one single, the self-penned, ‘Penelope Breedlove,’ a dreamy, melodic pop psych artefact that, on first listen, would suggest that Mr. Christie should have had a more successful career. The delightfully named bubblegum band, Peppermint Circus’ 'Keeping My Head Above Water’ is as memorable for its jaunty melody as its early (1968!) use of mellotron in a pop song. The Coventry area band apparently released about half a dozen singles for A&M and Polydor, and Nick suggests that some of these were hits in Scandinavia. Methinks its time to gather them into a tasty little compilation! [Note: The curious should not confuse them with another band currently making the rounds on the showgaze revival scene with the same name, and who have a couple of albums out on Seesaw.] The Snappers is the perfect name for the, well, snappy ‘Upside Down Inside Out,’ featuring several ear-shatteringly shrill keyboard breaks that’ll probably have the neighbourhood dogs howling at the moon, but will have you pogoing in place to its giddy beat.


      I can also guarantee that this is probably the only compilation in your collection to have not one, but two tracks produced and/or co-written by the enigmatic, Tokenam Aw! Besides the frenetic track from The Promise discussed below, Mr. Aw was also responsible for writing Katch 22’s upbeat 1968 concoction, ‘Pumpkin Mini,’ who on the strength of they lyrics, sounds like a girl I’d’ve liked to have met back in the day. Aw & Katch-22 collaborated again on the soundtrack to the following year’s ‘Baby Love’ sexploitation film, featuring the screen debut of the dreamy, 15-year old Linda Hayden, enroute to a semi-successful career in the Hammer horror film series, as well as those corny ‘Confessions of…’ films that were all the rage in the 70’s!


     Darlings only released one single, and the A-side, ‘Saturday Town’ from 1967 is on offer here. It’s a pleasant little mod rocker with a heavy Who influence, something that Paul Weller might’ve covered as a Jam B-side if he’d been familiar with it. The set concludes with ‘Help Me To Help Myself’ from The Roulettes, an early stopover on the road to rock stardom by the incredibly gifted, classic rock hits scribe, Russ Ballard enroute to stints with Unit 4+2 and Argent.


     Not everything is successful. Surprisingly, by the late 60’s, The Searchers had lost favour with their fans and one can understand why after listening to their bland 1968 Liberty single, ‘Umbrella Man,’ which is all full of “la-la-la harmonies” and swooning strings, but doesn’t really have the hooks that made their early work so memorable. Even that old desperate attention-grabbing trick of tossing in a few handclaps fails miserably. And The Promise’s ‘Nine To Five’ is too schizophrenic for its own good, with three different melodies competing for top billing, suggesting this is a patchwork arrangement of several songs strung together. And there’s a little bit too much theatricality to The Virgil Brothers’ ‘Look Away,’ which seems intent upon emulating the work of a couple of other brothers, vis a vis, Walker and Righteous. Saloman’s liner notes that they later gained fame as the male half of The New Seekers! But aside from these few missteps, we have another high hit ratio from Mr. Saloman and the Psychic Circle label, this time delving into the lightweight, predominantly pop side of UK psych. (Jeff Penczak)




(2CD from Temporary Residence Ltd www.temporaryresidence.com )


Originally released as a 4 LP set on the Music Fellowship label, which I confess I often gazed longingly at on various mail-order lists and never quite managed to afford, Tarentel’s ‘Ghetto Beats On The Surface Of The Sun’ is in effect the follow-up to the San Franciscan Terrastock veterans much-lauded (hereabouts at least) 2004 album ‘We Move Through Weather’ – a collection of pieces begun around the same time, when their momentum was at full-pelt and creativity poured out of them like sheets of pressed steel from a rolling mill. Available in a quadruple-sleeved gatefold card jacket which emulates (on a much smaller scale, needless to say) the original LPs, the two CDs contain a full two and a half hours of fizzing synthesiser hum, atonal feedback, droning guitar bursts, shifting ambience, phenomenal drum breaks and totally out-there experimentation wherein distortion itself becomes the lead instrument.


CD1 is to my mind the stronger of the two, kicking off with the propulsive Kraut-rock of 'Everybody Fucks With Somebody', swiftly followed by what was in effect the centrepiece of the first LP in the series, the 16 minute cosmic dreamscape of 'All Things Vibrations' before eventually reaching the majestic ‘Sun Place’ (track 7). Lifted from Volume 2 of the original series, this is for me the highlight of the entire set; another 16+ minute epic, Jim Redd's propulsive drumming throughout is pitched against the remaining 3 members of the band's instinctive sense of improvisational melody and timing – anyone who ever saw the post-Germany Man band jamming numbers like ‘H. Samuel’ with Terry Williams on drums (captured for posterity on their very limited edition 1972 live LP) will smile knowingly on hearing this.


CD2 opens with what was originally the start of Volume 3, which makes sense I suppose when you think about it. 'Stellar Envelope' features shards of white noise, echoing keyboards, feedback guitars and propulsive, metronomic percussion which finally, and somehow beautifully, loses its way around the 4 minute mark. After this initial flurry of action the collection winds down a little with a series of comparatively beat-free pieces, drifting slowly down to 'Somebody Fucks With Anybody' which originally opened Volume 4 of the LP series, a reflection presumably of ‘Everybody Fucks With Somebody’ which opens the collection, although by way of contrast the drumming is now extraordinarily subdued. 'Where Time Forgot' is almost dream-like and the album's closing number ‘Lake Light’ can only be described as hauntingly beautiful, almost spiritual; not something one would normally associate with Tarentel, but in itself a measure of how far they’ve progressed and continue to evolve. (Phil McMullen)




(CD-R from www.myspace.com/almadenfolk


    The actual title of this album contains 50 words (approx), and ends with “Blessedhood”, so I have shortened it for this review. Over-long title aside however, I have no qualms about recommending this lovely slice of lo-fi psych folk that overflows with a mellow groove and haunting songs.


     Opening with “Buffalo And Daughter” a long billowing drone, to be listened to when meditating, the music undulates and slowly builds, rippling notes seemingly sparkling above the ocean of sound. Having relaxed your mind, the rest of the album is a collection of woozy and personal songs that have great charm and an individual feel.


     With a hypnotic guitar motif and soft vocals, “Black Swan” is a delicate song that hangs in the air on gossamer wings, casting its spell before the earthy stomp of “Buffalo Forever” brings us back to ground, the distorted percussion and wailing flute only adding to the atmosphere. There is the aura of The Incredible String Band, in the strange vocal delivery of “Prayers For Fingers”, the music creepy and lysergic, whilst the sparse musical backing of “Goodbye Boat, Hello Star” perfectly suits the sad lyrics, the sound of turning pages adding a human touch to the song. There are shades of The Neutral Milk Hotel on “Kill Me Again”, a lively acid-mantra, whilst Jefferson Airplane at their quietest, seem to influence “North Country Queen”, in the guitar sound at least.


   Throughout this album its creator, Michael Hilde, has left in the sound of recording equipment being switched on, distorted parts, and the odd false start, all of which adds to the ragged grace of the album. Finally the wonderful wyrd folk of “White Shroud”, finishes of the album in delicate splendour, one of my favourite tracks, shimmering and finally fading into bliss. (Simon Lewis)





(CDs from www.blrrecords.com)


    Utilising a whole battery of synths, effects, a host of stringed instruments plus assorted percussion, musical duo Scot Solida and Har, have produced a soaring space-rock epic on “From Atop This Hill”. With long musical swell, opening track “Beyond Belief” slowly build, sequencers adding structure as the vocals tells strange tales, the piece sounding not unlike early Porcupine Tree. On the much gentler “Nothing To Say”, there is a world weary hallucinogenic haze, the sparse echoed guitar and bubbling synths meaning that comparisons with “Echoes”-era Floyd are inevitable. With sequencers and synths a-plenty, the title track is an electronic delight, a massive wave of sound that rises to the stars, strange vocals and some quite magnificent guitar, adding to the swell before the song slows down into a weightless psychedelic haze.


    After the brief splash of sound that is “The Fractured Faithful”, the opening verse of “Nod If You Were The Last Man Alive”, heralds the albums highlight, a long track that moves from a gentle piece of psych-pop to become an electronic storm of Kraut-rock proportions. If you are a fan of 70’s space-rock such as, Floyd, Tangerine Dream or Manual Gotsching then this is an album you should own, filled as it is with quality music.


    Also using synths, Sanguis have a more sombre aspect to their music, the dark clouds of electronic sound, welded to the earth with funeral percussion and metallic guitar riffs, all perfectly demonstrated on “Sanguis”. Using words from Indian Vedas, as well as writers from Fin De Siecle German Writers, (Sung In German), give the album a strange mystical atmosphere, lyrics being chanted or spoken rather than sung. This gives tracks such as “Traumpfad” and the elongated “Suryam Cakram” a cloying, drone infested ambience that is very effective. Else where the wyrd-folk vibe of “Kupferwut” is suddenly shattered by some vicious guitar riffage, whilst “der Flamme Trabant” is the sounds of a secret ritual, containing some wonderful percussive interplay. Dark and brooding, this is another album well worth exploring, rich in texture and passion. (Simon Lewis)




( LP from www.lesdisquesblasphematoiresdupalatin.tk)


     As the needle first hits the vinyl you would be forgiven for thinking you had been sold the soundtrack to an obscure sci-fi film as metallic sequencers, alien synths and driving percussion flood from the speakers. You can almost see the men wrapped in bacofoil, trying to take over the world as a barrel of psychedelic effects render the film almost impossible to watch. The one thing you will remember is the soundtrack, the electronic feel now overtaken, by crazy guitar playing, exploding across the universe, as a weird cacophony of sound melts your brain into soft goo. After this fantastical opening, the music takes another sharp turn with the warped Electro-Pop madness of “Berlin Corpse Is The Sister Damage”, the sinister electronic pulses causing you nerve-endings to dance across your skin. Finally for side one, the aliens attack again, a resolute march, the tension wound up tight, as creature climb through the air vents and the lights flicker…..


     After a brief alien lullaby, side two picks up where it left off with “Deviation No. 1), a powerful tsunami of noise, beautifully constructed, raw and untamed. This is an album that benefits from high-volume as it invades you home destroying all in its path. Featuring vast amounts of guitar, overdriven wah usage, and some dextrous fingers to put it all together, it is a relentless attack, maybe in this movie the aliens really do succeed in wiping the puny humans from the earth. Just as it all become too much, the haunting grace of “The Phantom Suite” offers quiet reflection amongst its grooves, Perhaps salvation is at hand after all, the aliens weakspot has been discovered. Finally the long guitar overload of “Bullets for People” unites the rebel forces for the final battle, the instrument singing a hymn for freedom, as the people take control of their destiny.


     Strange, ragged and glorious, this slab of vinyl should be snapped up by everyone, the spirit of the individual burns brightly throughout its sonic grooves. (Simon Lewis)



TIM BUCKLEY - My Fleeting House

(Manifesto DVD)


Even if his last records were somewhat lacklustre and patchy, Tim Buckley left behind a remarkable canon of work – and whilst his musical achievements have been recently somewhat overshadowed by those of his late son Jeff, for many Tim remains one of the key troubadours of the 60s with that remarkable voice, fabulously original song writing talent and his penchant for experimentation that took the folk-based tunes to new and very dizzying heights of the avant gard.


    My Fleeting House is the first fully authorised collection of full-length video performances by Buckley Snr taken from American, British and Dutch television, and an obscure feature film (The Christian Licorice Store) between 1967 and 1974 and has the full approval of the Tim Buckley estate. Arranged in chronological order this collection comprises both the familiar (‘Song for the Siren’ performed on the Monkees TV show, ‘The Dolphins’ done on the Old Grey Whistle Test) to material never committed to wax (‘Venice Beach (Music Boats by the Bay)’ from a programme called Boboquivari aired by Los Angeles station KCET) – there are also some priceless moments of chat such as the singer talking to Catch 22 author Joseph Heller and an interview with Steve Allen.


    Former Buckley guitarist Lee Underwood and song writing partner Larry Beckett provide additional commentary – less successful are chunks of footage featuring David Browne, whose biog of both Buckleys (Dream Brother) tended to show far too much interest in the son and was therefore lacking on the father.


    If you’re already a fan chuck out those awful, poor-quality, bootleg videocassettes and rejoice in the fact that Manifesto has actually sourced the best possible, first generation tapes for this DVD production. And if you’ve heard how great the guy was but know very little there’s stuff here like ‘I Woke Up’ and ‘Come Here Woman’ from the Starsailor period, which should turn you into an aficionado on the spot! They’re magnificent! (Nigel Cross)




(CD from Sanctuary www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.co.uk )


'Cries from the Midnight Circus, subtitled 'Ladbroke Grove 1967-78' is a 2CD comp curated by our very own scribe, Mr. Nigel Cross featuring bands from the Notting Hill Gate area of London during the period indicated. Having a personal affiliation with both the scene, the [latter half of the] timeline and half the bands on there I'm bound to say it's an essential compilation, but seriously: it ROCKS. The line-up reads like a Terrascope compendium - there's not too many bands on there we haven't featured at some point down the years. Edgar Broughton Band, the Pink Fairies, Hawkwind, Steamhammer, Cochise, Pretty Things, Sam Gopal, Mick Farren and the Deviants, Tomorrow, Mighty Baby, High Tide, the Action and the Misunderstood, all represented here, have each been covered in depth, and if we'd had more time to track down former members I feel sure we should have eventually got round to Jody Grind, Pete Bardens (did we cover Camel? I honestly can't remember now. I love his solo LP with Peter Green on guitar though), Quintessence and Quiver as well.


   Having said all that, the best thing about collections like this is that they make you want to dig out and play albums which have lain overlooked for years: I'd completely forgotten for example how good the Deviants' 'Billy the Monster' actually is once you get past the (intentionally) silly lyrics, the guitar/drum interplay being especially tight - and Mick Farren's version of  'Mona' includes some absolutely superb atonal cello work  courtesy of Paul Buckmaster, another LP I probably haven't played for a decade (scared off by the "This album is Approved by Hells Angels East London" logo emblazoned across it no doubt - you don't mess with those guys!) Skin Alley's 'Bad Words, Evil People' made me regret flogging their albums years ago in a fit of anti-keyboard pique (the Nice albums went the same way, dammit). A progressive Anglo-American combo, they're probably best known for their track 'Living In Sin' by virtue of its inclusion on CBS's popular 1970 budget-priced double compilation, 'Fill Your Head With Rock', an album which absolutely everybody must've heard at some point. Jody Grind's 'Bath Sister' proved I should pay more attention to albums by them not titled 'One Step On', as it's a gem (it's lifted from the 'Far Canal' album, which I confess to never having owned).  And Stray. Overlooked by most heads and freaks at the time because they were considered too mainstream, although many a cassette compilation featured token representation by way of their 'All in your Mind' freakout, 'Time Machine' (nowadays the title of a "best of" Stray compilation) represents them on here admirably.


   If there's a downside, it has to be the presentation. Sorry guys, but inflicting a 2 point typeface on old geezers like me simply isn't on. It's a sad fact of life that this kind of compilation is going to appear primarily to the over 40s who lived the era and loved the music, and quite frankly the liner notes are impossible to read without a powerful magnifying glass. The answer is of course to reissue the compilation in a triple LP gatefold sleeve. Now wouldn't THAT be something?! (Phil McMullen)


Postscript: Sanctuary have kindly allowed us to reproduce Nigel's excellent sleevenotes in full. With additional artwork by the Terrascope's own in-house team, and a complete track-listing for the two album set, the feature can now be read online here: CRIES FROM THE MIDNIGHT CIRCUS SLEEVENOTES




(CD from Profound Lore Records www.profoundlorerecords.com)


Formed in Athens, Georgia USA in 1999 by the pseudonymous husband and wife team of K. Angylus (guitars, vocals and textures) and M. Dragynfly (bass, vocals and textures) this ambient drone metal project enters its second phase, after the 'Coma Waering' CD, now available through the Paradigms imprint) with 'Weighing Souls'. It's startlingly arresting sleeve art sets the tone immediately as a huge angels wing is outstretched over a burning sunset, whilst on a rocky outcrop projecting from a deserted shoreline stands an emaciated female figure, who is to become the very hub of this collection. These nine tracks (a hidden tenth comes as a reprise) detail her grief in extremis after the tragic death of her husband, whose story is recounted in the previous disc, which eventually results in her suicide. The grinding despair at the heart of this would, in lesser hands, be near impossible to impart through the usual channels of organised sound, but this 'total work' is unquestionably THE REAL THING (emphasis mine).


    Inspired by My Bloody Valentine, Coil, Neurosis and the Swans, "The Greatest Band of all time, pretty much" says the info sheet, it's the latter's bludgeoning power surges (circa. 'Raping a Slave') combined with battering ram drumbox pummel, that the Process have succeeded in magnifying to an even more overpowering level, into which a six-string blizzard / white out fuses the relentless spit 'n' crackle of the Jesus & Mary Chain's William Reid with Glenn Branca-styled orchestral explosiveness. Any vocal presence is, as you'd half expect, either hopelessly strewn to the four winds or found teetering on the brink of the duo's shock inducing dynamics, as witnessed on the mighty 'The Resonance of Goodbye'.


    It seems to me that AP's intensely personal mindset and their use of imagery (I'm being fanciful here) edging towards William Blake's visions and Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer John Dee, might, just might, be more durable than fellow avantists Sunn O)))'s descent into utter blackness with 'Old English' fonted namechecks to 'winterdemons' and 'the Bloody  Countess Bathony'. Now don't get me wrong: I love the grimm-robed ones as much as the next dronefan. I just think that there is just enough room in your heart for two (count 'em) behemoths. And as for a follow up album? I simply can't imagine how they could follow this [neither can I, given that the main character's now dead - Phil]. This is one of my albums of the year, for certain. (Steve Pescott)