=  DECEMBER 2006 =

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Written by:  
Simon Lewis (Editor) Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

Jeff Penczak

A Broken Consort

Tony Dale

Marissa Nadler
  Mark Fry
  Bert Jansch
  Susanna & Her Magical Orchestra
  Residual Echoes



(CD-R from www.cabinetofnaturalcuriosities.com )


     I am sure that everyone reading this is familiar with the rare feeling that occurs when a piece of music embeds itself deep inside your head on the first listen, as if it has awoken hidden memories, and found lost secrets. For me, this feeling was revived when I heard this delicate and breathtaking album, a small glistening gem on a moss-encrusted rock sparkling with light and beauty.


    Created by Jasmine Dreame Wagner, the album inhabits the wyrd side of the folk spectrum, the artist having performed with Wooden Wand and The Vanishing Voice (amongst others), and is a blend of gentle voice, acoustic instruments and strange electronic sounds, a blend beautifully realised on “Sailing Seasick”, the song lurching and rolling on it’s strange journey. One of the many strong points of the album is the mesmerising voice, sounding not unlike Sharron Krause, or maybe her weird kid sister, the one that lives in the attic making unearthly noises far into the night.


    Whilst there is a surreal element to all the songs, things get decidedly strange on “Bees Over Seas”, the percussion and stringed instruments slowly swamped in a droney squall of noises and anguished voices until everything is still again, the gentle refrain of “Calico” warming our cold bones. This brings me nicely to “The Glass Essay”, a tune that opens with a wall of creaks and groans, the percussion punctuating the noise into strange sentences, before a small guitar and voice create a sense of order from the chaos. As the song progress everything begins to harmonise, the percussion picking up the rhythm and the pace filling the piece with energy and a twisted grace hard to ignore, until finally the whole song is thrown out of the attic window in a cacophony of finality. Following on, “Nullaby” is an unsettling chant that is softened by the drifting charm of “Towing and Melting”, the tinkle of bells blurring the edges between sleep and dreams.


      Packaged in a distinctive and very suitable sleeve, this album is highly recommended to anyone with a sense of wonder and a love of outsider art, the perfect gift to refresh the jaded musical palate. (Simon Lewis)




(CD-R www.sustain-release.co.uk )


   Using loops and sustained droning chords to create layered soundscapes, Richard Skelton has created a slowly evolving collection of pieces that could be soundtracks for time-lapse films of flowers slowly growing or the movements of clouds across the sky.


  “In The Hanged Air” opens the album beautifully, a gentle cascade of sound, with the droning bowed notes, softened by the half-forgotten melodies underneath, the music slowly undulating creating new phrases and patterns as it moves forward. For “A Momentary Sun” muffled percussion is added, the music remaining light and perfectly balanced creating a sense of weightlessness, Something that is less apparent on “And All Their Silver And Gold”, where the dense layers of sound create a more sinister and claustrophobic atmosphere.


    At only two minutes thirty six, “For Nothing” is a drifting piece of psychedelia, a repetitive tambourine offering stability in a vortex of whistle bells and drones that is over far too soon. The last listed track “The Longing Day” is also one of the finest, here the drones are given time to develop and play against each other, each listen revealing new combination of sound, The music never being allowed to fall into chaos, always retaining it’s sense of identity.

      Having come this far, a bonus/hidden track is revealed to our ears, the music given free reign over fifteen glorious minutes as the piece build into a crescendo of light, flickering and oscillating with an intensity of purpose, the music taking on a life of its own.

     Having recently met Richard, I know that he maintains a tight quality control on his own music and this fact is very evident on the album, each track having a sonic consistency whilst being allowed to develop its own character, something that makes for a very enjoyable listening experience indeed. As with other Sustain Release cd-r’s, the packaging is also constructed to the highest standards, echoing the music within. (Simon Lewis)




(CD from www.backporchrevolution.com)


There are three very good reasons to buy this compilation. Firstly it is released on an independent label that really cares for the music they put out. Secondly, 100% of the proceeds go to help organisations rebuilding New Orleans after the chaos caused by Katrina and the failure of the Bush administration. Thirdly, it’s bloody excellent, highlighting many of the experimental musicians that live and work in that ravaged city.


    After the brief but intense noise of “Nola Ek”- The Bastard Sons Of Morton Subotnick, the listener is treated to the dream-laden synth washes of Liteworks whose “Bermuda Conference” is a small slice of bliss that leads nicely into the electronic groove of “Aquavitae” a track that is beautifully constructed by Chef Menteur, with some glorious sax playing really pulling the piece together.


    After this fine opening trio of songs King Ghidorah slowly deconstruct the mood with a crumbling wall of dense noise that sucks you into its mysterious presence, before potpie brings you back into focus with the gentle ramble of “Blues for the Lower 9”, its quiet elegance soothing shredded nerves.


   After some more of Liteworks brief synth conjuring, Murmur really hit the spot with the deep drone (recorded in a commercial fermentation tank) soundscape, that is “Secondary Fermentation”, the sounds flowing and converging like the muddy waters of a storm heavy river. Following on the hypnotic and minimalist electronic clicks and flutters of “Downed Powerline Blues”-B.Killingsworth, add some dynamic tension to the proceedings as they worm their way through your speaker wires.


    Doing a great impression of a warped and lysergic Kraftwerk, The Buttons bring some new wave synth musings to the party on “Universal Breadboard”, a very catchy number that gets your toes tapping with happiness (be warned, you may get the phrase “Fade To Grey” popping into your head afterwards). After all this jauntiness Chef Menteur return with “Charlie Don’t Surf” a slab of heavy guitar mangling that is driven along by pounding drums and flashes of electronic sound, the band fighting their way through the chaos in search of shelter.


    By far the longest track on the album is “The Earth Moves Five Ways”- Archipelago, a startling, drone led, electronic feast of the senses that is both terrifying and uplifting, featuring elements of jazz, free-noise and electronica within its 11 minutes of heavenly noise. A different mood is created by Time Promises Power, whose “Fish and Chips” is a wonderful mix of chattering electronic percussion and a dub bassline, filled out with twinkling piano and feedback to create a refreshingly light moment on the album. Of course, this being an experimental compilation that feeling of lightness is soon overshadowed by the brooding clouds of synth created by Liteworks on the short but excellent “Looking Glass” the best of the 3 pieces on the album. This mood is further enhanced by Anton .v. Nature as they record a live outdoor version of “Phase Change”, the sinister synth rumblings mixing with the sounds of crickets and tree frogs creating a deep space drone that crackles with life. Finally, The Uptown Cajun all-stars drive away the demons with a squall of deafening noise guaranteed to scare off unwanted guests, and if that doesn’t do the job then the Hidden track will, as it consists of a short spoken phrase endlessly looped and echoed until it drives you completely insane over eight minutes later.


    So there you go a fine compilation that deserves to be bought, especially in the over commercialised hype-fest that is the Christmas holiday. Remember if you buy just a little less food, then you could help someone more deserving and have a quality collection of music as well, worth thinking about!! (Simon Lewis).




(CD from Peacefrog, Peacefrog Ltd PO BOX 38171 London W10 5WU UK)


     Nadler’s fourth album (and first one away from the Eclipse label) reassembles the band she used on ‘Conjuring Spirit Worlds’ on her ‘Ivy and the Clovers’ compilation from earlier this year (synth/guitarist/co-producer, Greg Weeks, cellist Helena Espval, drummer Otto Hauser) and adds Jesse Sparhawk (with whom she has toured extensively) on mandolin and harp and supplemental synth whizzes from Orion Rigel Dommisse. Her lilting soprano still sends shivers down my spine like a siren’s beckoning wail wafting across the misty countryside and her original lullabies and magical madrigals continue to sound like she’s breathing new life into ancient, Medieval ballads. Subtle percussive flourishes like bells add to the eerie aura of ‘Dying breed,’ the first of many songs dealing with death. In fact, I hear the release as a thinly veiled concept album about death, both physical and the end of relationships.


     Espval’s cello drips honeydew tears onto ‘Thinking of you,’ with dreamy double-tracked vocals and the heart-tugging death ballad, ‘Silvia’ is a swaying hymnal that again sounds as if it could have been lifted from a book of traditional nineteenth century tunes. The melody also bears vestiges of vintage Buffy Sainte-Marie (whose own ethereal voice is still very much present in Nadler’s wayfaring whispers) and Leonard Cohen, the latter being a longtime influence on Nadler’s songwriting and whose ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ is the lone cover amongst her ten originals. Weeks contributes a stirring “acid lead” to ‘Bird on your grave,’ another song about death and lost love, but Dommisse’s bleating synth seems uncomfortably out of place, like adding a synth blast to a 14th century madrigal.


     ‘Rachel’ completes the death song trilogy that makes up the middle sequence of the album and supports the theme of a concept album about death and transition when considered along with the cover artwork (a black crow, representative of death in some cultures), song titles such as ‘Dying breed,’ and the transitive references to women who seem to have “passed on” throughout the album (Silvia, Rachel, Sarah, Julie, et.al.; even Cohen’s Jane is walking out on a relationship). The other, more apparent theme concerns birds, from the album title to songs like ‘Bird on your grave’ and ‘Feathers,’ but even these all suggest a soul temporarily at rest, but ready to take flight and rise heavenward at any moment. As such, perhaps Cohen’s ‘Bird on A Wire’ might have been more apropos? Still, she turns in a fine rendition of a song traditionally associated with Jennifer Warnes, and perhaps her interpretation will enter into the canon of memorable Cohen covers. Even ‘Feathers,’ without too much of a stretch, can be shoehorned into our analogy: for just as a human’s dead hair follicles results in a loss of hair, a bird’s falling feathers represent their own dying hair follicles. The lovely finale (‘Leather made shoes’) even resurrects two characters (Mayflower Mary and John Lee) from last year’s ‘Saga of Mayflower May’ and brings the two themes of birds and death full circle with the lyric about Mayflower carrying feathers around with her and who eventually “Died all alone/With her feathers and bows.” Now I don’t want to suggest that this is a depressing album, but I’m putting Marissa in my will to sing the eulogy at my funeral!


     If there’s any criticism, and it’s really more of a suggestion, it’s that Marissa’s melodies tend to have a sameness about them. In fact, if you try skipping through the album, you may find that the opening guitar notes of many of the tracks almost seem interchangeable. But that’s a minor note that perhaps a few more well-chosen covers or collaborative writing efforts in the future (Weeks and Sparhawk seem like natural songwriting partners) may bring greater variety to her releases. Nevertheless, this is another exceptionally fine collection of modern folk with a Medieval atmosphere, demonstrating once again that Nadler is one of the very best at what she does and is one of the finest folk singers on the scene today, Terrascopic or otherwise. (Jeff Penczak)




(3" CD-R on Barl Fire)


(Self-released CD-R, contact cloisters@gmail.com)


    It's taken a while for me to get around to reviewing the A. Lords CD-R, not because of any reticence in doing so, but principally because 3" CD-Rs by their very nature are both physically and artistically elusive. Physically, they scoot - vanishing into cracks in the world, stuck between other CDs, filed incorrectly, and falling through unsympathetic gaps in storage racking. A playful format, they cooperate with the ambivalence of cats. As musical entities, they can be unsatisfying trapped between the immediacy of a 7" single and the full course of an album-length release: an entrée leaving the listening reaching for an absent second part. Like an LP without a flipside. Alternatively, if well executed, the format can leave one with an appetite for further exploration.


    The A. Lords are the duo Nicholas Palmer (Directorsound) and Mike Tanner (Plinth) of the Dorset Paeans Collective, a grouping of like-minded souls who are dedicated to capturing the essence of the Dorset countryside through non-traditional music forms that nonetheless have their roots in traditional music (analogous to the collective revolving around the Irish Deserted Village imprint in some respects).  Employing church organ, balalaika, banjo, e-bow, dulcimer, guitar, bells, glockenspiel, clarinet and various keyboards on five tracks recorded "on the hoof" rather after the fashion of the Jeweled Antler folks, the A. Lords create a ramshackle river cottage of acoustic tone poems one discovers like a summer rambler stumbling into a cool glade with a crystal-clear stream running through it. Almost half the disc is taken up by 'Mikemedieval', which has the feel of sounds lost-and-found while exploring a series of 14th Century churches. Don't forget to make a donation to the restoration fund on your way out.


    Plinth has largely documented the efforts of Mike Tanner, though there maybe other members involved now – it's all a bit sketchy and mysterious biographically. I was greatly impressed by their 3" CD-R 'Victorian Machine Music' for the Rusted Rail nano-imprint (who perversely but quite wonderfully only release 3" CD-Rs), and now have a full-length release from the project to enjoy, though its status in ambiguous (is it a demo? self-released? who knows?). 'A Compilation Of Film Music Released/Unreleased 1988-2006' is like an expanded version of 'Victorian Machine Music' as the fascination with antiquity continues. Over the course of 16 undocumented tracks the listener is transported to a world of rescued music making devices: old music boxes, parlour bell machines, calliopes, gramophones and tape decks and creating a deeply affecting, almost spiritual world out of the synergy between sampled sounds. The process could have been cold and stochastic, but in Tanner's hands the results have a dreamlike quality and organic cohesion.  It's like the echo of a carnival that has passed through a town and gone leaving only fragments of memory.


    The beauty of the Dorset Paeans movement is that it has chosen a completely contrary path to the prevailing look-at-me extroversion of the freak folk movement, and in the process arrived at a place that is unique, compelling, and likely to stand the test of time. May they be forever influenced by the age of steam.  (Tony Dale)




(CD from Sunbeam )


This legendary folk/psych masterpiece finally gets an official airing on CD, complete with a couple of contemporary bonus tracks and lovingly detailed liner notes from Fry himself. Recorded in a house in Rome with a bunch of Scottish musicians whose names Fry admits he was “too stoned to remember,” ‘Dreaming With Alice’ has been whispered about in reverential tones in collector circles almost since its original release (in Italy only!) on the RCA subsidiary, IT Dischi in 1972. The title track is actually a nine-verse poem recounting Fry’s surreal and increasingly bizarre encounter with Lewis Carroll’s favorite heroine interspersed amongst gorgeous, whimsical folkedelia. Whispered, heavily echoed, druggy vocals and psychedelic flourishes such as wah wah fuzz guitars, backwards tapes, lutes, sitars, tablas, mandolins, yea, a veritable smorgasbord of headswirling doohickies snuggle up cozily somewhere between Bobby Callender, Donovan and Syd Barrett. Tracks like ‘The Witch’ evolve into swirling, Eastern-styled ragas. By the time you dig your head out of the mushroom cloud you’ve been living in for the past 5½ minutes, you’ll recognize the riff from The Stones’ ‘Paint It Black’ swirling in between your ears.


The double tracked vocals of ‘Song For Wilde’ form warm, gooey headphones while the tabla click-clacks its way across the back of your mind. Elsewhere, the soothing, chanting, rather haunting backing vocals on the heavy, earthy, deep grooving ‘A Norman Soldier’ contrasts quite nicely with the swaying, lightweight pop of ‘Lute & Flute,’ where Fry wears his Donovan influences so heavily on his sleeve that his knuckles are practically scraping the ground. And by the time we reach the delirious final track, ‘Mandolin Man,’ whatever brain cells you have left will be refried to oblivion by the searing solos, incredibly powerful, chunky jamming reminiscent of the contemporary work of famed Krautrockers Amon Düül.


Personally, I would have preferred if he brought all the verses together to end the album with a complete, contiguous version of the title track/poem instead of the gimmicky and rather silly backwards version of ‘Song For Wilde.’ But otherwise, we must cherish this neglected, too-long forgotten masterpiece, which Sunbeam have lovingly restored with two bonus tracks recorded in 1975. The nasal, Dylanesque ‘You Make It Easy’ seems influenced by Pink Floyd’s acoustic pop soundtrack work on ‘La Valee Obscured By Clouds’ and the breezy, soft pop of ‘Doesn’t Matter To Me If It Rains’ wouldn’t have been out of place on a Seals & Crofts, England Dan & John Ford Coley or America album. It also might have made some decent noise in the pop chart if released as a single and given any label support at all. So, ultimately, we have the year’s finest reissue and an essential purchase for fans of acid/folk and pop/psych from the likes of Donovan, Kaleidoscope, Dave Mason-era Traffic and West Coast “head”hunters, Country Joe & The Fish. (Jeff Penczak)




(CD from Drag City Drag City Incorporated, P.O. Box 476867 Chicago, IL 60647 USA)


     I guess this could be credited as Bert Jansch & Friends as only three of the dozen tracks are solo acoustic recordings. This turns out to be a double-edged sword, as those looking for a solo album may be disappointed. However, it continues Jansch’s recent efforts, which bridge the generation gap through his recordings with the cream of the crop of modern day musicians, including Suede’s Bernard Butler, Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr, Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Ciosoig all contributing to his previous album, 2002’s ‘Edge of A Dream.’ Armed with a new deal with Chicago indie, Drag City, Jansch once again surrounds himself with superstars du jour in the guise of Norwich folkie Beth Orton, wyrdfolk scenester Devandra Banhart (who brought his producer Noah Georgeson to the party to co-produce and contribute some percussion and bass), my personal favourite US guitarist from the last 20 years, Rain Parade and Mazzy Star’s David Roback has been coaxed out of his self-imposed, semi-retirement, and some of the finest folk sessioners in the business, cellist Helena Espvall and drummer Otto Hauser, who recently assisted on Marissa Nadler’s brilliant forthcoming ‘Songs 3’ album, which we also reviewed this month.


     Jansch opens his thirtysomethingth album with the title track, featuring Espvall’s swooning, graceful cello, like the titular bird floating effortlessly across a glassy pond. Jansch navigates his difficult tunings with his usual, masterful aplomb. The first solo number, ‘High Days’ is a wonderful, little walking blues number and then we reach an impasse as Orton steps behind the mic for ‘When The Sun Comes Up,’ which sashays around the room on the back of Roback’s sliding blues guitar lines. Maybe it’s just my untrained ear, but I could swear I hear a few Jerry Garcia guitar licks, ca. his self-titled debut mulling around in Jansch’s background fills – I’m thinking maybe ‘Deal’ or ‘Loser.’ Orton is joined by Banhart on Bert’s arrangement of the traditional tale, ‘Katie Cruel,’ and it’s here that I start to lose interest. Her masculine, somewhat raspy voice reminds me so much of Welsh wench Bonnie Tyler that I kept expecting Jim Steinman to turn the arrangement into an anthemic pop shouter and ended up too distracted to appreciate whatever subtleties may lie hidden within.


     ‘Watch The Stars’ is as tender as a newborn’s bum, but Rod Stewart, er Bonnie, um Beth’s sandpaper snarl is again alarmingly inappropriate – like listening to Melanie with laryngitis. I don’t mean to dwell on the point, but this oil and water mixture sends my mind off in misguided tangents. But vocal accoutrements aside, Jansch’s fingers have not lost their ability to astonish, and while his own voice crackles through a few notes of the sweet-but-somber solo recording of the traditional ‘The Old Triangle,’ there’s no denying there’s still magic in those nimble fingers! ‘Texas Cowboy Blues’ oozes a funky, swaggering Mark Knopfler vibe and I think I detected a few Dylanesque inflections emanating from those 63-year-old vocal chords!


     Paul Wassif drags his banjo into the studio to duet with banjoman Bert and Maggie Boyle’s soaring flutework on ‘Magdalina’s Dance,’ an instrumental that could only be described as an old Scottish reel married to a Confederate marching hymn: Robert Burns meets Stephen Foster or, ‘When Johnnie Comes Marching Home To The highlands.’ So while there may be a little frost around the vocal accompaniments, by and large ‘The Black Swan’ is another treasured addition to a magnificent canon of work now in its fifth decade. (Jeff Penczak)




(CD on Rune Grammofon) Rune Grammofon, Akersgaten 7, 0158 Oslo, Norway


     This sophomore effort from Norwegian duo, vocalist Susanna Karolina Wallumrød and her magical orchestra, aka Morten Qvenild on piano, cembalo, autoharp, vibraphone, church organ and keyboards is a collection of ten interpretations of some of their favorite influences ranging the gamut from Leonard Cohen, Prince and Dylan to Sandy Denny, Joy Division, AC/DC and Kiss! For those unfamiliar with Susanna’s voice as introduced on their 2004 debut, ‘List of Lights and Buoys,’ she soars effortlessly and angelically across the heavens in a sky-scraping soprano that settles snugly in your vocal reference banks somewhere midway between Joni Mitchell and Björk. Their sparse arrangement of Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah” gives new meaning to the term ‘minimalist:’ you can drive an 18-wheeler through the spaces in Susanna’s recitation of the lyrics. It’s so deliberate, it almost makes Low sound like speed metal and it’s easy to understand why live performances of this track have been known to drive grown listeners to tears. By the time she leaves the upper registers and outer edges of her vocal range, you too may be reduced to a bowl of slobbering gelatin.


     Mark Kozelek was the first to slow down AC/DC’s tunes to a snail’s pace on his tribute, ‘What’s Next To The Moon.’ Fans thought he took leave of his senses, but SATMO suggests he may have been ahead of the curve when he focused on the songs’ melodies instead of their bravado, so that may be the yardstick against which you’ll want to measure their interpretation of ‘It’s A Long Way To The Top,’ and with Qvenild’s harpsichord-like keyboard backing, the duo give a slightly Medieval aura to the original stomper. Qvenild’s brittle keyboard backing adds a classical air to Prince’s ‘Condition of the Heart,’ which Susanna squeaks through so soft and tentative that several lyrics are reduced to a barely audible whimper, so tissue thin and gentle you can almost hear the snow falling between the verses. And speaking of Low, if you thought Mimi Parker’s rendition of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was the definitive makeover of that heart-piercing classic, wait until you hear Susanna sidestep her way through it like a blind soldier navigating a mine field. I swear if Ian Curtis heard this, he’d crawl out of his grave, dust himself off, hunt Susanna down and plant a big, wet juicy kiss on her cheek, whilst falling to her feet, weeping, “Thank you…now I can rest in peace!”


     Elsewhere, Susanna raises Kiss’ ‘Crazy, Crazy Nights’ to a soul-lifting, Gospel declaration of purpose, but Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice’ has been dissected and reassembled so many times, their interpretation seems superfluous. But for what it’s worth, Qvenild’s marching keyboard propels the song to its conclusion and it ultimately reminded me of Melanie tackling the master on tracks like ‘Lay Lady Lay,’ ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ and ‘Hard Rain.’ There’s a liturgical aroma wafting through Susanna’s version of Scott Walker’s ‘It’s Raining Today,’ and while this may be the track on which she’ll most-often be compared with Björk, to me it still sounds like angels weeping. Let’s just say that if you’ve ever wrestled with the idea of shuffling off this mortal coil, steer clear of Björk’s ‘Gloomy Sunday’ and this! Finally, Susanna channels Sandy Denny’s voice across Qvenild’s church organ backing for the funereal ‘Fotheringay,’ which is as breathless as it is heartstopping. (Jeff Penczak)




(LP on Holy Mountain www.holymountain.com )


The regular amongst you – by which I’m not referring to those who eat their bran every morning – might recall me getting into a bit of a froth back in 2003 on receipt of the debut Residual Echoes album, at the time still a humble CDR. My description ran something along the lines of, “Take the hallucinatory ballistics of the drum track from Pink Floyd’s ‘Astronomy Dominé’. Then take a leaf out of the Comets on Fire guitar book and tear it to shreds, set it on fire and listen while it screams. Behind that layer some truly demented guitar lifted straight off the Hampton Grease Band’s sole album. Toss in some Beefheartian saxophone-throttling weirdness and perhaps some blood-curdling feedback in the “Live/Dead” mould” – and that was just the opening track. I was pleased to hear therefore than Adam Payne and friends had signed for Holy Mountain, home to Six Organs of Admittance, Om, and the Davis Redford Triad, since I could think of few more fitting homes for their particular brand of guitar-heavy freak-out rock, or at least not in the United States (certain Japanese labels obviously spring to mind immediately elsewhere).


    The gorgeously packaged ‘California’ is the latest result of this unHoly union, an album recorded on the return to their native state (of California, obviously) after a lengthy tour with Mammatus. Loosely themed around the subject in question this is no way a concept album, so don’t expect massed banks of Mellotron or other progressive paraphernalia – if you’re not already familiar with the band then the three lead guitarists credited on the sleeve lend a clue to what’s in store. Opening song ‘White Cloud’ is arguably one of those most accessible tracks on the album – accessible if you’re a fan of the Edgar Broughton Band, that is – and the band cheekily lull you into a false sense of melodic security with the opening segment (and I use the term advisedly) of the second and final song on Side 1, ‘Continuing Saga of Julie Patchouli’. The only possible way to describe the remainder though is “cosmic”. Gotta love those ethereal vocals and that blistering freak-out guitar solo. Side 2 is devoted to musical descriptions of California, with touches of native American song and the sound of wind, bell and water weaving in and out of the mix; I’m sure there’d be the sound of mountains and deserts as well if it was possible to record their movement. Inevitably it all concludes with a storm of freak-out guitar, which is just fine by me. (Phil McMullen)