=  DECEMBER 2007 =

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Written by:  
Simon Lewis (Editor) Valley of Ashes
Phil McMullen JPT Scare band
Jeff Penczak Seventh Ring of Saturn
  Marble Sheep
  We Are All Circling The Stars
  The Donnas
  Blow Your Cool
  The Purrs
  Bardos State
  Hop Frog
  Refrigerator Mothers
  Post Asiatic comp




(LP from www.siltbreeze.com)


   Already booked to play the next Terrastock, as well as living and working in the area, Sapat have a wide sonic palette, sometimes delicate and soothing, as on album opener 'Vulvasonique', the sound of gently lapping waves as evening falls. Following on 'Maat Fount' adds a creeping tension to the proceedings, with droning violins and distant percussion the perfect foil for the repetitive guitar line. Halfway through the band turn up the volume with some excellent guitar work underpinned by a glorious swell of drone, that lifts the music to another level.


    Third track 'Dark Silver' is driven by some Can-like drumming allowing the guitars to roam free around the vocal lines, some lovely reed work adding to the textures. Finally for side one 'Baal’s Balls' is a more drifting psychedelic piece, the musicians floating around each other to create a truly beautiful and organic slice of sound.


    Over on side two, the band increase the Can comparisons on 'Lovely and Free', especially the vocal style, which brings to mind early Can classics such as “You Doo Right”, although the band make the style their own with some assured and imaginative playing. Let's hope they play with this intensity at Terrastock, cos if they do they are gonna tear the place apart.


     Following such a fine piece of music could have been a problem, but the band opt for a change of pace as Fripp-style guitar and free flowing drums create a different atmosphere on 'Who You Wit', the song slowly evolving into a hypnotic percussive freakout.


    Finally, the gentle sway of 'Fante' reminds us the sun is rising and it is time to leave, refreshed and energised, ready to face the world with new eyes, the band conjuring up one last blast of cosmic energy to help us on our way. (Simon Lewis)




(Triple LP on Black Velvet Fuckere)


    Featuring members of Sapat, Virgin Eye Blood Brothers and Magik Markers, this sprawling megalith of sound contains six epic improvisations spread across six sides of heavy black vinyl.


    On side one ‘Yellow Fog’ is a mainly acoustic piece that slowly creeps into your brain, hypnotising your senses with the same feeling you get when you stare at the sea for too long. Flip the disc over and ‘Cavehill Hunters Magickian and a clock of spoons’ is a more cerebral affair, with a fucked up electric guitar at its heart, the piece building into a cosmic howl at the moon. This is possibly the strongest side of the album, the players working together to find the centre of the storm.


    Contained on side three ‘Bogbody Mastodon’ continues the tribal stomp, including some sparks of synth, feedback and buried vocals, all of which differentiate the piece from the previous album and add more textures to the sound. Five minutes in the band slow things down to allow for some drifting guitar and chanted vocals, but this quietness is quickly overwhelmed as the tension is racked up again into a kraut-rock frenzy, before the band put the brakes on again for some west coast psych manoeuvres, brilliant stuff. 


   Having listened to this several times, the thing I like most about it is that the piece you are listening to becomes your favourite, each side engaging the listener with its presence.


    Side four opens with some beautiful violin playing, a gentle drone influenced backing adding to this moment of stillness as ‘Bogbody Tapas’ slowly draws the listener in. Almost without noticing the piece dissolves into a more free-form section before a pounding drum pulls the musicians together, the violin still snaking its way through the sonic forest whilst the drums send prayers to the old gods.


    For the first half of side five ‘Kentucky Chrome’ is a wyrd-folk delight, a chattering acoustic improv in the style of Jewelled Antler, but then the band pull together to allow a plaintive electric guitar to wail and moan across the music creating a different but equally intriguing atmosphere. This then breaks down as you hear the players talk to each other, the music set to random before becoming a wall of noise that is sure to scare away any evil spirits that may be lurking in dark corners.


     After such strangeness ‘Yellow Smoke’ has a more human feel, the stringed instruments engaging in a stoned hoe-down complete with more unfathomable vocals and demented violin. Of course, this being Valley Of Ashes, the music is slowed down and messed with until they finally come together again for an intense finale, a magical incantation to the rising sun, or so it seems. (Simon Lewis)





( www.jptscareband.com )


There are moments in any music fan’s life when the time is right to stop leaning forwards scratching one's chin thoughtfully and let down your hair (whether metaphorically or otherwise, it doesn’t matter), strap on an air guitar and RAWK OUT!!!


    You’ll already know and love albums like Scorched Earth’s ‘Fed To Your Head’ – now we have the JPT Scare band’s ‘Jamm Vapour’ to accompany the trip. Where Chuck ‘The Horse’ Kowalski, Randy ‘The Snake’ Kyser and Jay ‘The Prophet’ Pharaoh (collectively known as Scorched Earth) were overtly psychedelic in their stretched out, burning kaleidoscope of cosmic guitar sounds, (J)eff Littrell, (P)aul Grisgby and (T)erry Swope are very much a traditional-sounding blues-rock rock and roll power trio in the vintage 70s mould, with Swope’s guitar firmly to the fore in every sense.


    Having long ago scratched my much-thumbed copy of their ‘Acid Acetate Excursion’ LP from 1994, it’s been a while since I plugged myself into Terry Swope’s world of extended stoned jamming – and I have to confess I’ve really missed it. Comparisons with Terry ‘Strange’ Brooks and Bari ‘Outskirts’ Watts are inevitable, but nothing to be ashamed of: these guys are rightly revered, and Swope is up there amongst the best of them.


    The new album consists entirely of the band’s own songs, each one extended, stretched and extemporised upon in fine style. Five minutes (halfway) into the opening song ‘Amazons’ there’s a screaming, glass fingernail guitar solo which just demands faces to be pulled. Talking of which, the next couple of slowed down numbers, ‘Ramona’ and ‘Rainbow Bridge’, both owe a nod of acknowledgement at least to champion gurner Robin Trower. The eleven minute long ‘Gelo Jam’ is basically an excuse for an extended Swope guitar solo, while ‘Hungry For Your Love’ which closes the album is a riff-heavy crowd-winning rocker typical of pub bands everywhere. Be warned however: it features a bass solo....


    If this was an original early 70s stoner rock band, this album would be worth hundreds of your favourite currency by now. That's no reason at all not to enjoy it for what it is though: pure, unadulterated fun. (Phil McMullen)




(Purple Feather)


The Donnas are another victim of the major label machine: a promise of bright lights, big city, video and tour support and one major perk that they probably hadn’t counted on when they made their pact with the devil – a label-imposed “producer” (Butch Walker), whose claim to fame was a bunch of albums nobody bought and knob-twiddling chores on albums by Pink and Avril Lavigne, second-rate Donnas wannabes. Walker sucked all their energy dry and foisted upon us a career-threatening piece of garbage with all the excitement of a soiled sanitary napkin. (If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can read about ‘Gold Medal’ elsewhere on the 'net.) Naturally, the album didn’t sell, so the label, in their infinite wisdom, concluded the problem was in the girls’ songwriting, so they suggested they work with “outside agencies” (to quote All Pacino in ‘Serpico’) and get other songwriters to help them create a poppier album. Luckily, the girls stood their ground and decided not to exercise their option for a third album. So they went off, formed their own label, hired producer Jay Ruston, and bounced back with ‘Bitchin’,’ which, in a word apparently lifted from hair-metal speak, is “bitchin’”!


Taking to heart the advice of Eddie & The Hot Rods, who famously suggested, “Don’t take no shit from no one/Just keep on having fun” (cf., ‘Ignore Them (Still)’ from ‘Life On The Line’), the gals open with a wailing siren to announce their return from the wreckage of ‘Gold Medal’ on the title track, an anthemic call to arms with power chords a-blazin’ and fists a-pumpin’, and quite frankly, it’s not unlike the opening salvo from one of their heroines/mentors, Girlschool (check out the title track to their debut, ‘Demolition’). Another heavy influence on the Donnas’ sound is Joan Jett, and the rebel (ca)rousing, ‘Don’t Wait Up For Me’ has Jett’s name all over it. In fact, the melody line is essentially a rewrite of ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You,’ which Joan co-wrote with  Desmond Child, with whom Ruston just coincidentally(!) happens to have worked alongside on numerous albums, from the ‘American Idol Season 4’ comp to Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell III.’ One thing’s for certain – Ruston wasn’t shy about pumping up the volume on these tracks – this album is as loud as hell, particularly Torry Castellano‘s wall-rattling backbeat, which should also probably not come as much of a surprise, considering that Ruston has also played drums and coordinated drum programming on some of his projects.


Allison Robertson’s big phat, 80’s-styled guitar riffs on ‘Don’t Get Me Wasted’ might remind you a little of toe tappers from The Fixx and A Flock of Seagulls (don’t laugh; humor me and dig out their LPs and listen to those guitars!), and her guitar playing is as crisp as ever on her solos on ‘Save Me’ and ‘When The Show Is Over.’ ‘Here For The Party’ tears another page out of Joan Jett’s Gary Glitter Songbook right down to the “Oh, yeah!”s lifted straight out of ‘Do You Want To Touch Me.’ ‘Better Off Dancing’ is another high energy, pogoing riff-o-rama, with another shout-it-from-the-rooftops, anthemic chorus, with particularly potent basslines from Maya Ford.


The girls’ heavy backbeats have often been compared to the balls-to-the-wall, gutter-dwellin’ cock rock of heavy metal macho poseurs like AC/DC and Kiss, and the hot throbbin’ ‘Love You Til It Hurts’ is another nod in that direction. The Donnas have also had a lot of fun dropping thinly veiled drug references into their lyrics (“smoking cheeba” anyone?) and the foot-stomping ‘Smoke You Out,’ with references to “shotgunning” and getting higher will have coeds snickering between bonghits all over the world. They also deliver what may be the world’s first text message rock song with ‘G-I-R-L T-A-L-K,’ a ripsnorting freight train of a song that barrels through everything in its path.


So the gals return with a vengeance, kicking ass and taking names, and deliver the best hard rock album of the year and anybody who still thinks chicks can’t rock, stick this up your ass and crank it up to 12. (Jeff Penczak)




(LP/CD http://cdbaby.com/cd/tsros )


       As they often say during football commentaries "It’s a game of two halves’", and it certainly is with this glorious slab of vinyl, with side one containing some sweet psych-pop nuggets, whilst the flip side has some very psychedelic spaciness running though its grooves. I guess this analogy may be slightly stretched with the CD now, but hey, I’ve started now.


    Opening with the delightful ‘In Time’, the band have a fine sense of melody, the song up there with the likes of Tyrnaround or The Petals, complete with a lysergic coating of perfect hue. Continuing the theme, ‘Colonel Green’, repeats the trick, you can almost see the oil blobs on the wall. After this excellent brace, the band step into covers mode, getting to grips with songs by Vangelis Papazoglu (a composer from the 30’s) and George Harrison. Starting with ‘Yedikule’, the band have turned the song into an eastern flecked guitar workout, the song reaching the inner corners of your mind, an interesting change of pace that lifts the album up a couple of notches. Following on, the cover of ‘Sour Milk Sea’, takes us back to the psych-pop and will have you grooving ‘round the living room.


     Finally, ‘Alice Sunshine’ slows everything down, a dreamy slice of neo-psych that presses all the right buttons, with flickering synth and hazy flute adding to the magic. Right, I’m off to get some half-time oranges, see you on the other side.


    As though they have undergone some strange mutation, side two sees our heroes leave the planet and head for distant galaxies, with two long deep space improvisations. Opening with a dustfall of electronics, treated guitar, and all manner of scrapes rattles and noises, ‘The Cassini Division’, is a haze of noise that fills the room, the band obviously enjoying themselves immensely. With a brief nod to side one, ‘Pillsbury Palace’ begins in 60’ psych mode, another perfectly formed pop gem. This time however the band have filled the middle of the song with a long intense drone, (sounding more like My Cat Is An Alien than The Beatles), a sound so dense, yet distant, it threatens to engulf the room entirely, turn it up and see what I mean. Then right at the end the song returns as if it had never left, a shimmering guitar solo spreading light as the band finish of in grand style. An away win and no need for penalties. (Simon Lewis)




(CD / LP from zygmatronpromotions@gmx.de)


      Fourteen albums into their musical journey (which means I still have plenty to discover), Japanese psych gods Marble Sheep seem to have ingested the very souls of MC5, The Stooges and Spacemen Three and have created a monster rock record that needs to be heard by every grunge loving noisehead in the universe.


    Taking no prisoners, the band launch proceedings with the garage rock stretched out forever masterpiece that is “Tears”, a twelve-minute sonic assault of the highest order. Just turn up the stereo and let it wash your troubles away, brimming with fuzzed guitar, flashes of melody and a velvet heart.


    After this barrage style opener, the band decides just to pummel you into submission with a collection of shorter tracks, each one as noisy as the last. Take “Mana”, the second track on the album, a short stab of brutal guitar fury that would be perfectly at home on a Mudhoney album, the distorted vocals almost lost under the heavy riffing. Next up, “raise the dead”, sees all the musicians racing each other to see who gets to the end of the song first, the effect is akin to Motorhead falling down the stairs whilst playing their signature tune, the guitar solo ripping the skin from your skull in the process. Without any pause to catch their breath, the band then leap into the sonic abyss that is “Skull Cool”, a Rocket From The Tombs style riff that staggers like a drunk yet maintains a fucked up dignity.


    I guess using 2 guitars, 2 drummers and a bassist practically guarantees that you are going to sound like an express train about to derail. This album however, has an immense sonic beauty that I have not come across for a long time, and credit must go to mainman Ken Matsutani whose magnificent guitar and vocals hold the whole thing together.


     As vicious as anything on the album is the garage anthem “Egyptian Queen”, a song to scare the dead with, whilst “It’s Time” consists of a hammering snare drum and muttered vocals that get right inside your head before the band finally slow thing down. Yes folks, they do give you a chance to breathe, although this is all relative as “Saviour of the Street” has plenty of noise woven amongst its mid-paced groove.


    To end it all, the band go for a good old fashioned freakout as the nine and a half minute “From The Centre” pours from the speakers, the bass line so mean it is probably mugging your granny as you read this. Probably the most psychedelic thing on the album, the musicians detonate your mind as they blast themselves into hyperspace, leaving a trail of bleeding ears in their wake, a good time had by all. (Simon Lewis)




(2xcD from www.cosmosrecording.com)


   Whilst not as underground or groundbreaking as the now legendary “Hand/Eye” compilation from a few years back, this compilation is an important document containing the cream of artists that walk the narrow forest path between singer/songwriter and wyrd-folk strangeness.


    A fine way to start, the countrified splendour of The Skygreen Leopards is the perfect welcome, as “Sally Orchid” opens up the room with its perfect harmonies and laid back vibe. Following on Worn Out Corduroy keep the laid back feel going on the lovely “Survivor”, complete with a guitar that reminds me of the first T-Rex album. With her feet in the singer/songwriter camp, Dianne Cluck has a haunting voice that is perfectly served on “Dilapidalliance”, a truly beautiful song. With a twinkle of bells and some accomplished guitar playing, Francis Conway introduces us to “Since I laid My Burden Down” a traditional song given the smoky blues treatment, guitar and vocal acting with one voice.


   Once a member of The Beta band and definitely ploughing his own furrow, Lone Pigeon is an acquired taste worth discovering with “magic Pool” being a reasonable example of his work. Gentle as a falling leaf, Beth Jeans Houghton has a voice you could fall in love with, the glorious “Milk Bottles” sending shiver up the listeners’ spine every time it is heard. On a different path, the Dylanesque “Monkey Mind” is a lo-fi stomp that sounds great courtesy of Diamond Caverns, whilst the raindrop beauty of “I Know You”-Booger Red will stop you in your tracks.


     Sounding not unlike early Al Stewart, The Singleman Club, does the sad bedsitter thing on “Wings”, the lyrics as important as the playing. The quality of Elaine Palmer is probably well known to Terrascope readers and she does not disappoint on the wistful “First Light”, her voice as crystalline as ever. Picking the pace up, Rich Amino has a warm rich tone on the countryish groove of “Do It Alone”, before the achingly gorgeous sounds of David Thomas Broughton take us into far stranger pastures, as they dissolve into a drone of noise.


    The rather excellently named Bibles of Twang display a melodic heart as they recount a tale of injustice on “Good Dogs”, a trait also belonging to Jo Foster, whose “Dead Songs Of The Sea” is one of my favourite songs on the album. To close disc one, Magic arm display a twisted pop ambience on “People Need Order” a more studio produced piece than most on the album, sounding like a strange beach boys outtake.


    When I started writing this review I had not planned to mention every song individually, but I genuinely do like everything on this compilation, so lets move on to disc two. The French pop splendour of Helene Renaut kicks of disc two in style, the sweet as honey “Bumblebee” oozing class. Probably one of the most well known artist on the compilation King Creosote has been a favourite around here for a while now, something confirmed by “Russian Sailor Shirts”, a song containing lashings of melody, charm and the lyrical dexterity that I love so much. Adrian Crowley is another name that should be familiar to you all, even more so after you hear the majestic folk of “Brother at Sea”, the tale of a long sea voyage.


     I was not familiar with Mary Hampton before I heard this compilation, something I need to rectify since listening to her rendition of the traditional “Silver Dagger”, her beautiful voice wringing every drop of sadness from the song. Working under the name Hush Arbors, Keith wood has already created a fine body of work (as well as playing a Terrastock Tea Party) and “Bless You” is definitely included in that collection, a timeless guitar motif overlaid with delicate vocals creating a tune of gossamer delicacy.


   With a sunny West Coast vibe, the chiming guitars and soulful harmonies of Papercuts could be the perfect antidote to the winter blues, although the lyrics of “Sandy” hint at a darker tale. Wearing their psychedelic badges on their lapels, Yellow Moon band inject a sudden change of pace to the disc with wonderful “Lunadelica”, an Airplane styled instrumental with some ringing lead guitar and a folk-rock heart. Psychedelic in a different way “Ask The Sun” has a shimmering ambience and floydian percussion, whilst the vocal style of Mark Meon reminds me of Kevin Ayers in its lazy delivery.


    Featuring some low-down dirty guitar playing “Viva Polska” is a magnificent blues workout courtesy of Major Dawson, the music matched by the vibrant vocal delivery. Filled with acoustic loveliness, sweet recorders and what sound like a duck but probably isn’t (more likely a percussion instrument), “Wade” is a gently swaying psych folk gem from Chinatown Bakeries, a song awash with innocent charm.


      Always worth listening to Donovan Quinn remains at the top of his game on “Rabbit Tracks”, his vocals full of emotion, the playing exemplary. Recorded live “Five Faces Blowing In The Wind” showcases the ragged charms of W-S Burns, a mesmerising exercise in minimalist folk. Possibly the strangest track on the set, “What Are We” is a wyrd folk spiritual, that sound as if it was recorded in a sacred cavern. With a droning backing casting a flicker of light onto the walls, Sal Paradise sings over the top, some backward guitar adding tension to a very atmospheric piece. Equally atmospheric is the version of the traditional “The Cruel Ship’s Captain” performed by Benjamin Wetherill, the vocal performance almost lost under the twisted sounds that weave around it.


     To round thing off, Laughing Windows, indulge in some spookiness on the long “Ruin”, the dark ambience beautifully constructed, with a throbbing bass pushing the piece forward, some delicate backing vocals offering brief flickers of lightness.


      So, there you go, one of the best compilations I have heard in a while and a fine place to start if you are overwhelmed by the number of artists working in this wide ranging genre. (Simon Lewis)




(Psychic Circle)


            Once again, Psychic Circle returns to the well for 20 more “prog/psych assaults from the UK & Europe,” with Nick Saloman taking over the selection process from Jamie Romer, who curated the initial salvo in the prog/psych series, ‘A Visit To The Space Ship Factory.’ And while Romer’s selections tended towards the bluesier end of the prog spectrum, here Saloman highlights a heavier rock sound that further clouds the “progressive” boundaries. The set opens with Paradise Hammer’s ‘To Live,’ which, despite weak, overly theatrical vocals, should appeal to Styx fans. ‘Turn Me Loose’ offers a taste of Dutch prog from Barry Freeman & Strange Power. It’s a hard-driving organ grinder, which is to be expected since it was written by the band’s organist, Rik Ellings. Most readers will no doubt recognise The Foundations from their monster hits, ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’ and ‘Build Me Up Buttercup,’ but nothing could have prepared you for the treat that lies within ‘I’m Gonna Be A Rich Man,’ one of their final singles, released right before their split in 1970. It’s a scorching soul stomper with a swirling organ background that even Saloman admits could have sat on one of his Soul compilations for the label.


            The Scottish Dream Police are responsible for the heavy garage/prog of ‘Much Too Much,’ although they’re probably more famous for their pedigree, which included future members of Marmalade, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Average White Band, as well as Paul McCartney’s late 80’s backing band! Our musical journey around the continent settles in Italy next for Tritons’ ‘Drifter,’ a heavily phased maelstrom of swirling keyboards, guitars and wall-rattling drums, the latter courtesy the transplanted ex-skin pounder for Atomic Rooster, Ric Parnell! More family tree picking is in store with Mogul Thrash’s ‘Sleeping In The Kitchen.’ The track itself is rather lightweight, airy-fairy pop, which is all the more disappointing considering the incredible personnel involved, including Colosseum’s guitarist, James Litherland, Family/King Crimson/Asia bassist, John Wetton, Eclection’s Michael Rosen and a horn section that hooked up with Dream Police’s guitarist/singer, Hamish Stuart to form The Average White Band!


            Ferris Wheel is another band more famous for their personnel than their own records, although ‘Can’t Stop Now’ is a delightful, Motown-inspired stomper, a la Diana Ross & The Supremes. A young Linda Lewis provides the white hot vocals, with future Foreigner drummer, Dennis Elliott and former Blossom Toes guitarist, Jim Cregan (who would eventually marry Lewis and front Rod Stewart’s most successful line-up in the late 70’s/early 80’s) rounding out the crew. If your knowledge of French prog begins and ends with ultra prolific bands like Magma and/or Ange, then you may enjoy turning on to the Triangle track which gave this compilation its title. It’s an elaborate, Procol Harum-styled extravaganza.


            The Rattles were Germany’s top beat group of the 60s, releasing nearly 10 albums and more than 30 singles and even opening for The Beatles and The Stones. Their final UK single, 1971’s ‘Devil’s On The Loose’ is a head-rattling, punky fist pumper, a proto-metal firecracker with a sound that was closer to the sturm und drang of future German metal superstars, Scorpions than the beat music they began playing at the Star and Cavern clubs in Hamburg.


Fans of the Saloman Psychic Circle series (say that four times fast!) should note that, to my ear, most of these tracks fall into the hard rock vein, with only the occasional keyboard flurry tilting them in the prog direction. Even Paul Ryder & Time Machine’s ‘If You Ever Get To Heaven,’ one of my favourite tracks in the set, strays far beyond the progressive remit that one would expect from the collection’s subtitle. Saloman himself describes it accurately as “a perfect blend of glam rock and psychedelia” and the tune has also been likened to “T. Rex jamming with Syd Barrett.” I can definitely hear this tucked away on a Bolan B-side, but “progressive”…? That might be stretching things a wee bit. And Swegas’ ‘What’Ya Gonna Do’ is strictly for fans of horn bands, as Saloman again admits “their sound was a sort of English Blood, Sweat & Tears meets Chicago.” What they’re doing on a “prog” comp is a question you may find yourself asking too often while listening to this set.


So, ultimately, there’s a bit too much throat-shredding, ultra macho posturing for my taste, with few (stereo)typical prog trappings: elaborate arrangements, lengthy keyboard breaks, obscure, effulvent lyrics, etc. to recommend this to hard core progheads, although obscurists will delight in ‘You Are All Princes,’ the flip of the debut single from ultra cult prog trio, Egg. The band released an eponymous album in 1969 as Arzachel (actually recorded when they were known as Uriel and Steve Hillage was their guitarist) before releasing three albums under their current moniker. The track features the deliriously flamboyant keyboard work of (the other) Dave Stewart, who would go on to enjoy a prolific career with National Health, Matching Mole, and Hatfield & The North, among many others, and the economic drumming of Clive Brooks, who later played with The Groundhogs. Read the full story of Egg here, in the Terrascope's archive interview with Dave Stewart: http://terrascope.co.uk/MyBackPages/Dave_Stewart.htm


Overall, while not an entirely successful set this time out, ‘Blow Your Cool’ might still appeal to musical genealogists who enjoy tracking down the roots of members of their favourite bands. (Jeff Penczak)




(CD www.thepurrs.com)


    The Purrs debut album released in 2005 was one of my favourite albums of the year, and has stood the test of time, in the fact, that it still gets regular space on the CD player. It was a delight, therefore, to be sent their follow-up album, although there was always that nagging doubt that they would be unable to compete with their debut. Thankfully, there is nothing to worry about, all’s well in the Purrs world, the instantly recognisable sound still intact, although this time the songwriting seems sharper and more assured.


     After the scene setting opener, filled with that lovely guitar jangle, the album settles into its groove with “Frozen In Time”, a world weary song with a hint of Dinosaur JR running through its pristine melodies. Opening with a glorious riff that truly sparkles, “She’s Got Chemicals” brings back all those Church comparisons, although the band have an identity of their own these days, the song a perfect example of why you should like them.


     As with the first album, it takes a couple of plays to attune your ears to the bands sound. When you do, however, songs like “Yes I Do” reveal a layered sonic palette, creating strange harmonies, whilst “You Don’t Look So Good” has all the complex simplicity of a Lou Reed song, including the lyrical bite.

    Mixing sweet melody with lyrical bile seems to be a favourite trick of the band and there is no better example than the sweet pop ditty “Junk & Jil”, the lyrics taking the song in a darker direction whilst a saccharine guitar motif makes you smile. After eight tracks of warped pop jangle, the band make a detour for the 8 minute “Disconnected”, allowing the band to lose themselves in their music, something they do to great effect with some magical guitar playing elevating the song into the sky. Check out the track “creeping Coastline Of Lights” on their debut EP (2004), for another epic guitar burnout.

     Leaving the best to last, the final two tracks are Purrs classics with “If It’s So Right How Come It Feels So Wrong” sounding like it could be a live killer, all sleazy riffs and slowburning rhythm. Meanwhile, album closer “Rainbow Afternoon”, is a world-weary statement of intent that ends the album with flawless downbeat splendour.


     It is refreshing to see a band who have worked so hard, financing and distributing their debut album, finally get some reward. This album should continue their upward spiral and hopefully make some new fans along the way. (Simon Lewis)







(CDs from www.urckrecords.com)


    Mixing eastern soundscapes, percussion and chanting with some rambling Krautrock sensibilities and a psychedelic heart, these four albums showcase some of the finest sonic freakouts currently available.


     Featuring the talents of Scott Nydegger, Yann Goeffriaud and Gustavo Costa, Bardos State is a tribal percussion project that has a ritualistic feel, complete with chanting voices, the whole thing made considerably weirder by the liberal use of synths, giving things an acidic edge. One listen to opener “Bardos”, will convince of the magnitude of this disc, the music dragging you into a place where time dissolves and nothing is certain. Throughout the album, the drummers keep it tight, whilst the synths and voices destroy the senses in beautiful fashion, until the low drone/percussion piece “Pure Lands” offers a place to touch down.


    Citing world music and artists such as Bauhaus, Skinny Puppy, Suicide and King Tubby amongst his influences, Jeremy Morelock explores all these areas as Hop Frog’s Drum Jester Devotional. The album itself is brimming with repetitive beats, strange instruments, and an improvisational bent that allows the music to change slowly with hypnotic splendour. Standout tracks include the heavy beats of “Eastern Spleen”, the long trance of “Germ Of Sorrow 2” and the gentle ambience of “Cherries of War”, but there is not a duff track to be found anywhere.


    On The latest album by Refrigerator Mothers, the instrument list literally includes the kitchen sink, which fits perfectly when you hear their improvised soundscapes, particularly “Bedding Down The Revolution”, a 21 minute epic that slowly engulfs you, haunting the room with soft ambience. Elsewhere a quieter flavour is maintained the music subdued but no less intense, shades of Coil or Ash Ra running through the pieces.


    All three of these artists are members of the Hop-Frog Kollectiv, and this group has also released the Post Asiatic compilation, a double disc that features over a dozen bands playing in a similar style. Names you may know include Amps For Christ, Auto Da Fe, Aditi Tahiti and Muslimgauze, although over 160 minutes every participant manages to keep the quality high.


    All these albums are recommended, but casual readers may well be advised to start with the compilation which is awash with some excellent modern Kraut-influenced, eastern flavoured rock, and who could possibly resist that. (Simon Lewis)