=  FEBRUARY 2007 =

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Written by:  

Phil McMullen

Volcano the Bear - Egg & Two Books

Mats Gustafsson

Volcano the Bear - Volfurten

Erica Rucker

The One Ensemble

Nigel Cross

Antique Brothers

Jeff Penczak

  Bardo Pond
  Starry Eyed & Laughing
  Tara Jane O'Neil



Vivo Records (http://www.vivo.pl)


Secret Eye (http://www.secreteye.org)


Volucan (www.brainwashed.com/vtb)


Coming from a man who is partly responsible for making a document in the live format available with these cats it’s probably obvious that I appreciate the same efforts from the fine folks behind the Polish Vivo imprint. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience Volcano the Bear in the live setting five or six times by now and time after time I am convinced that it’s their true environment. The sense of drama and energy present on stage is all over the place here, a high-quality recording from last year’s Pickled Egg fest. The sound might be a bit less polished and more primitive this time out but the overall emotions are just the same. Beautiful folk structures hover on top of odd percussive workouts and it’s all draped in an impressive patchwork of electronics, vocal chants, piano, horns, found sounds and drones. Sure, a live recording will never fully display the theatrical tendencies of this band but the sound presented is more than enough to have me asking for more.


Some tracks are familiar but there are also surprises like the march drone ‘Military’ and the fantastic ‘Arc Felt’ which from time to time offers a kind of electronic folk monsoon that comes off as a combination of Sunroof!, Vibracathedral Orchestra and Volcano the Bear. These ten tracks range from stuff that borders the song-based to the completely improvised but no matter approach they seem to know exactly how to map their own hidden track to my heart. As always, brilliant!


The same goes for The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden, which I’ve praised in these (and other) pages before. For this release Padden has decided to drop the last part of the name, as this is more of a group effort than a solo affair. Here we see Padden teaming up with members of Nalle and Scatter and the somewhat burlesque results fascinate. Intoxicating folk from Eastern Europe is an element that’s visible throughout, but this Glasgow-based quartet approaches the style in as many different ways as there are tracks. You’ll find psychedelia, free jazz, chamber music, drones and general sonic goofiness riding the melodic waves of this equally joyous and saddening aural journey. The one looking will likely find a whole range of different influences but the outcome still holds together amazingly well and strikes me as the perfect soundtrack for a script yet to be written by Emir Kusturica’s unknown cousin. Dreamy haunted carnival songs that are surprisingly danceable and catchy. Perhaps not as intensely beautiful as Padden’s solo music but nonetheless incredibly charged music that’ll circle over your head long after that imaginary film of yours is over.


Whilst shopping things related to Volcano the Bear you might also want to pick up the Middle Eastern-sounding ‘Volfurten,’ an LP on their own Volucan imprint. Each copy comes with a lovely hand painted cover undertaken by Irmgard Mann of the group. Fans will most definitely recognize the multi-faceted improv but this stands out a bit from the rest, as it’s mainly instrumental and pretty intense and very raw. In an interview done for this very publication Aaron Moore described it as their most extreme record ever. Whether that’s true or not is for you to decide.  (Mats Gustafsson)

  (CDR from http://www.thehouseofalchemy.com )  


What else could you possible follow a Volcano the Bear review with but some 'Bears in the Woods'? The Antique Brothers, from Los Angeles, have themed their gorgeously packaged album (carved, pasted and die-cut card with mottled and glassine paper inserts) loosely around the subject of bears, and even more elusively around their woodland habitat. There's an epic, open-air feel around their instrumental folk-guitar songs which lends their sound a backwoods feel, very much in the mould of early Six Organs of Admittance, which belies the fact that the album was recorded by Ged and Cy (this is as much as I know about the band, I'm ashamed to say) at home on recycled 1/4" 8 track tape. Opening song 'Grizzlies at Dawn' sets the mood, a gently thrummed number which gradually builds to introduce various guitars, pedals, chord organ and drums. 'Trails in the Woods' finds our intrepid pair following some decidedly strange, haunting sounds in the night, and 'Bear Wedding', appropriately perhaps, erupts after a gentle interlude in an explosion of shouts and percussion akin to a small riot on a cutlery factory. 'Opium Dreams' (subtitled 'Hibernating' to place it into a bear context) is a piece of outrageously gorgeous, ethereal stoned chanting with an acoustic (possibly Martin) guitar paste-over. The sixth and final track 'Grizzly Dwellings' is the stand-out for me though; a simple yet gorgeously effective, incessant guitar riff gently picked over the top of some increasingly strange sounds which wouldn't have sounded out of place in an early sci-fi programme scored by those alchemysts of sound BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

The album's apparently the first in a series of five, although whether that's five bear-influenced albums or five Antique Brothers albums is unclear at present. Either way I shall be looking out for the next one with eager anticipation. (Phil McMullen)



Mouthus - For the Great Slave Lakes

Mirror/Dash - I Can't Be Bought

Bardo Pond - Adrop

Kinski - I Didn't Mean To Interrupt Your Beautiful Moment

(TLR 020-027, 029: Modern Containment CD series from Three Lobed Recordings

http://www.threelobed.com/tlr/containment.html )

Website blurb: Along the lines of our prior subscription CD EP series, Purposeful Availment, we are proud to announce a new series based around the same model. Modern Containment consists of eight CDs by eight different artists which were released over the course of 2006. These discs are available through Three Lobed Recordings only as a complete set. There is also a bonus disc (TLR-029). Each CD is at least 25 minutes long (or longer in most cases) and features new, exclusive material from that particular artist. Each disc is only available through the purchase of a complete set or directly from the contributing band. Similar to Purposeful Availment, there will also be a hand silk-screened slipcase to house the series, featuring new artwork from John Gibbons of Bardo Pond.


I received four discs from the Modern Containment series.  I found that all the discs were poised along man's journey in the modern world.  Some questioning the validity of modern life, others recalling old worlds and the experiences of ecstasy brought on by the frenzy of zealous piety.  The experience leaves me wanting more from the set.  Not more in the sense that something is lacking, but more in the sense that I NEED to get the other discs.  This story is incomplete for me. [Others in the series are: Hush Arbors, Sun City Girls, Sunburned Hand of the Man, Matt Valentine & Erika Elder with the Bummer Road, Wooden Wand and the Omen Bones Band. Ed. ] With that said, here's what I got.


Mouthus - "For the Great Slave Lakes". You are given entrance into the throes of a Pentecostal revival; the monster of God personified and magnified.  The disc opens wild and unabashed. There are snakes and possibly strychnine in this happening.  Scared, you stay safely along the edge; close to the exit.  Underneath, ancient natives call to a modern world, through the frenzied postulating of a culture mad with false idolization.  Mouthus' contribution to the series is a deeply psychological journey of our modern life colliding fiercely with one barely remembered.  The disc isn't begging the issue of modernization but remembering that once there was a still world, once there was quiet and once we were ancients.   


Mirror/Dash - "I Can't Be Bought". Unlike Mouthus, Mirror/Dash greets us quietly with no sound until just barely the stillness is broken by a string, tentative and earnest.  The piece is like Mouthus, a spiritual exploration of ecstasy. Only this one is far away. It is Eastern and mystical. As a voice moans gently over the string, a dance has begun; an homage to the mysterious dervishes of Sufi Islam. Dervishes are known for their ritual dance that, while ordered and definite crescendos into a wild spin and returns back again to quiet and stillness.  Mirror/Dash is the creation of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. Kim's voice seems to creep up next to the listener, singing of a journey in the natural world while the music never allows her to truly become a part of that world.  She remains ethereal and translucent like a veil.  The voice like the Sufi does not impose itself on the forces of the world but uses its movements to meditate on and become a part of those forces.  This disc overall is the experience of becoming integrated.


Bardo Pond -"Adrop". It is a work in three movements, each labelled separately although the disc has no breaks.  The titles alone were so intriguing to me that I spent hours researching them, finally learning what the Rebis is.  The music comes from somewhere else. It is ethereal and mythical.  It has a mantra-like quality and the voice that breaks in reading something I thought was Carl Sagan or Robert Heinlein is both haunting and appropriate.  You feel as though you're about to be expanded while listening.  If one could reach nirvana while in this life, it would seem that being on the path could sound something like Adrop.  It is a quest for knowledge and ability (The quest of the Rebis); yet also peace and detachment.  Something of this nature is not unfamiliar territory to Bardo Pond.  In this effort it is expertly achieved and seamless without hesitations or second guesses. It is instinctive but doesn't give itself away.


Kinski - "I Didn't Mean To Interrupt Your Beautiful Moment". In the awakening of new things there is a sense of fear, of trepidation at stepping into an unknown land. The Kinski disc feels like unknown territory and we feel like we might be intruders.  Remember the old star trek episodes when Captain Kirk and crew would land on an unknown planet walking sheepishly along, looking for signs of life and the feeling of anticipation and nervousness.  It is that feeling captured here. Like the other discs in the series, there seems to be a spiritual element to the piece.  This is the awakening of existence that comes with the newly discovered or the anticipation of the unknown.   It is not something else; no ancient voices calling, no mysterious beings.  It is familiar, in that we've all felt the precipice upon which this disc ventures.  We've teetered on the edge of awakening and sometimes gone fully forward with it.  Others we simply tease around the edges.


The beginning of the recording is sparse and gentle but the sound is anything but that.  It is the natural hum of the world; full of sound, even in its silence.  As the disc builds one is aware of an intrusion of sorts. The natural order of things is interrupted.  There is the audible buzz that sounds like a small plane circling overhead or the drone of machinery on a worksite.  The presence of the unnatural seems to be spilling into this world. Soon after the invaders are gone, the disc, like the world returns to its natural state.   To Its silence.  Eerily more silent than it was before.  (Erica Rucker)




Various Artists - Songs the Bonzo Dog Band Taught Us: A Pre-History of the Bonzos

(CD from Lightning Tree Records)


We’ve all got to make a living but the recent reformation of the beloved Bonzo Dog Band (with an almost a full quorum of original members) has left me a little cold. Despite a bevy of heavy friends (Phil Jupitus, Ade Edmundson, Stephen Fry et al) trying to the fill the gap left by the late Viv Stanshall, the line up of 2006 could never reclaim the heights of their late 60s heyday – if for no other reason that the self-styled Ginger Geezer Stanshall was totally irreplaceable!


On the other hand this compilation of hot jazz favourites, music hall hits and novelty tunes from the 20s and 30s is an absolute gas – and very much in the spirit of the original 60s band. A labour of love by Richard Allen and co. at Lightning Tree Records, this compiles many of the original shellac recordings of songs the Bonzos later took into their repertoire and popularised on LPs like Gorilla and Tadpoles – and of course added their own unique twist to them. So if numbers like ‘Ali Baba’s Camel’, ‘Hunting Tigers Out in India (Yah)’ and ‘Mickey’s Son and Daughter’ brought a chuckle to your throat the first time around, now’s your chance to hear them in their original form – and many are as fresh and titillating as the later Bonzo renditions.


The compilation goes further by also including tunes that the band didn’t record but performed live or ones, which are equally evocative of the general atmosphere of the band’s madcap take on the dance band era. And the liner note is both entertaining and highly illuminating putting this style of music into a historical context and revealing little known background facts about many of the songs. For example did you know that there really was a ‘misery farm’ as mentioned in the wonderful ‘Jollity Farm’? Well it’s include here alongside its more illustrious counterpart whilst the informative sleeve note tells us that its writer and original performer Leslie Sarony also wrote ‘Umpa Umpa’, which John Lennon stole from for the chorus of ‘I Am the Walrus’! It’s always been my contention that the Sgt Pepper was a psychedelic extension of the British music hall anyway.


Simply put if you loved the Bonzos, you’ll love this. As Legs Larry Smith says in his introduction: ‘I recall Roger Ruskin-Spear rushing into rehearsals, clutching yet another ‘rare find’ – a well-worn 78rpm record that still contained its magic. We gathered round and we listened. We nicked the chords – someone wrote out the lyrics – Vivian grabbed the microphone. I grabbed my tap-shoes and off we went…The Bonzos were baking themselves yet another ‘Happiness Pie’".


So put on your best smoking jacket, adjust your monocle and shuffle those well-polished spats to the hot syncopated rhythms included here – they’re guaranteed to raise more than just a smile! (Nigel Cross)




Starry-Eyed & Laughing - That Was Now and This Is Then

(Aurora double CD)


1974 - the dog days of rock – where you really had to dig for the good things; but there was hope on the horizon – the buzz was out for a bright new British quartet who had taken their name from a line in the Dylan song ‘Chimes of Freedom’ and were blazing new smoke trails based on the classic electric 12-string Rickenbacker guitar sound of the Byrds. They were called Starry Eyed and Laughing and for a while in 1974 and 1975 you’d have been hard put to find a better British band. Their two albums for CBS were joyous affairs full of youthful bounce, irresistible pop hooks, heavenly harmony vocals and the kind of smouldering psychedelic undercurrents that made LPs like 5D and Younger Than Yesterday so good.


Led by guitarists Tony Poole and Ross McGeeney, Starry Eyed were a one-off and it’s difficult now to see how they fitted into any of the scenes that were happening in mid-70s Britain – SEAL came too late for the pyschedelic country scene of Bronco, Greasy Bear and Formerly Fat Harry of a few years earlier. Pop back then was at best 10CC, at worst the Bay City Rollers (or vice versa according to your taste!) – and they were only peripherally part of the pub rock scene, often sharing the same biklls and venues with the likes of Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers. Of course had they come from the greater Los Angeles basin and been signed to Asylum, they would probably have become as big as the Eagles.


Progressing from covers by the likes of Gene Clark, Jackie De Shannon, The Beatles and of course McGuinn & co, the group began to work up a formidable repertoire of original material – and with the arrival of bassist Iain Whitmore at the end of 73, the group boasted three fine writers. The classic SEAL line up gelled with master drummer Mike Wackford in early summer 1974 and they were soon recording their self-titled debut waxing. When it hit the stores that October it was a time for celebration. Produced by Dan Loggins, it was a delight from start to finish, though it had turned out rather differently to how Loggins had planned it (cover versions of songs by Dylan, Jackson Browne and Mike Nesmith had been scheduled but ditched in favour of group material as the sessions rolled). Very much a first step, the sound was occasionally thin but energy and enthusiasm more than made up for any shortcomings. The band sang and played their hearts out and many of the numbers were instantly memorable – like the debut 45 ‘Money is No Friend of Mine’ with its stomping chorus line, dexterous mandolin work (from Lindisfarne’s Ray Jackson) and Poole’s jangling Rickenbacker riff – or the gentler country rock of McGeeney’s ‘Closer to you Now’ with BJ Cole’s sweet pedal steel. ‘Going Down’, the opener meanwhile ripped along with intent and featured some powerful guitar breaks – the first of which by Poole especially was a cracker. Songs like the Moby Grape-style rocker ‘50/50’ and  ‘Nobody Home’ (the second 45 taken from the LP) should have lit up the radio and torn up the charts – some 33 years later it’s hard to see why they failed to.


Undeterred by lack of sales and chart action, the band decamped to Rockfield Studios in March 1975 to make Thought Talk. This was a tighter, more together SEAL and Loggins’ production was far more assured – Thought Talk was heavier, more arranged and had the bite that the first waxing lacked – a super record that took on some serious themes. The sometimes winsome nature of that first LP was replaced by a far more confident band – it positively oozed with studio craft. ‘Good Love’ was the slow-burning, organ-dominated opener whilst Poole’s ‘One Foot in the Boat’ was the kind of song that Roger McGuinn back then seemed in capable of writing after his Byrds heyday – and Whitmore’s ‘Fool’s Gold’ showed he was as adept as his other band mates at delivering the goods – an intricate acoustic number with a haunting cello arrangement and measured vocals, this was yet another highlight.


‘Flames in the Rain’ was the album’s epic – the kind of song that showed that the band could match its West Coast counterparts – a rousing, windswept classic with raging guitars and righteously angry lyrics. This still manages to leave me slack jawed three decades on. The original Thought Talk ended with its eponymous title track a lyric-less jazz-based groove with soaring harmony vocals and buzzing guitars that recalled the peaks of David Crosby’s 1971 If Only I Could Remember My Name LP. Fabulous!


With Pete Frame assuming the role of manager, it now seemed only a matter of time before they made the big breakthrough. Sadly they were to fall apart in rancour and bitterness during a US tour in winter 75 soon after the second LP’s release, and though Poole kept the show on the road as just ‘Starry Eyed’ via two singles produced by Flo & Eddie (check out ‘Song on the Radio’ included in this collection), the writing was on the wall. And as the music scene was assailed by the onslaught of punk, SEAL were quickly relegated to a footnote in the history books. A tragedy.


From this vantage point it might be easy for the uninitiated to put them down as mere Byrds copyists but Starry Eyed looked both back and forward – there was a certain innocence to their early songs that harkened back to the 60s golden age of pop, similarly they were developing that 60s sound and had they stuck it out I’m sure they’d have been at the forefront of 1978’s short-lived power pop phenomenon – was it mere coincidence that The Records ace 45 with its spiralling ‘Eight Miles High’ riff was entitled ‘Starry Eyes’? Listening now to these albums puts me as much in mind of the Soft Boys or the dbs and all those great 80s paisley bands as it does of SEAL heroes the Byrds or CSN.


This collection compiled by Tony Poole is your chance to revaluate them – bringing together both CBS albums, various Flo & Eddie sides and other sundry bits and bobs including at long last a version of their signature tune that does them full justice. I was a convert to them first time around but one listen to this now should have you equally hooked – what a fine band they were. (Nigel Cross)






(7” single on Trensmat Records www.trensmat.com )


(LP on Critical Mass Records, PO Box 1052, Liverpool L69 3ZS www.mugstar.com and http://www.myspace.com/mugstar  )


   Steve Pescott frothed over an earlier Mugstar single in our reviews columns around a year ago now, praising their resurrection of the saxophone amongst other things.  Wrote Steve, “I’ve always been a sucker for saxophones in rock ‘n’ roll. The advantages are fairly obvious – a booting sax offers up a different range of tonal possibilities that can really power a band along and, God I’m shallow, they’re cool looking things – especially the brass glinting under the stage lights. I wonder though how its inventor, Adolphe Sax (1814-94), would feel discovering that the object in question is far more of a fixture in rock, jazz and soul than with the formally attired orchestral crowd?” - and, in an aside that is typical of the man (goodness only knows how he does it – I always envisage a room-sized card index system), he also remembered that Mugstar first came to our attention around the time of Ptolemaic Terrascope issue 30 (June 2001), when we reviewed a Fabiola / Flamingo 50 split single whose blurb sheet namedropped Mugstar along with other Liverpudlian newcomers of the moment such as Kling Klang, Ladytron and Inch High.


    Mugstar have kept busy touring ever since then, tagging along with the likes of Oneida, Mogwai and Acid Mothers Temple; they recorded one of the last ever sessions for John Peel in 2004, and a couple of months ago now they finally released their debut self-titled album, an LP format version of which Jason Stöll (the aforementioned tenor sax player, no less) pressed into our eager little hands just recently. Needless to say it’s bloody brilliant. Imagine the Heads locked into a studio with Hawkwind somewhere in a ‘Doremi Fasol Latido’ time-warp and riffing groovily off one another and you’ll be some way towards picturing the gnarly hybrid of tantric noise that is Mugstar. Opening with ‘My Babyskull has not yet Flowered’ which Steve P. described when it appeared as a single ‘A’ side as “an ever growing blot of transplanted Dusseldorfian motorik with the weight of Jason Stoll’s tenor sax storming its way past the relentless chordage and onto the centre spot” (erm, yeah…. thanks for that, Steve!) the distinguishing moment of side 1 for me remains track 2 ‘Cxempog Smultron’ (or so it says here) which is an utterly relentless, pounding jackhammer of a number that’d make an ideal backing track for televised stock-car racing and banger smashes, the yin to Fleetwood Mac’s Formula One yang, as it were.


    Side 2 runs to four songs, although the closing ‘Children of the Gravy’ is effectively a mere outro (as if the word “mere” would ever be applicable to Mugstar). ‘Floatation Tank’ carries on from where ‘Cxempog Smultron’ left off, while ‘Subtle Freak’, a personal favourite of mine, feature a melody which keeps trying to become the Floyd’s ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ and narrowly avoids it every time with aplomb. Finally, while I’ve yet to see Mugstar play live – an oversight I intend to rectify with undue haste - I’d imagine ‘Man with Supersight’ would be the kind of closing number which wipes the floor with any band that dares to follow them. A simply awesome racket, and the icing on the already beautiful cake is that underneath and in and around all those pounding instrumental speedfreak riffs are some truly original melodies.


   This is nowhere more evident than on ‘Bethany Heart Star’, the non-LP 33rpm Mugstar single on the Irish label Trensmat records (motto: “Every noise has a note”, although for some reason I keep reading that as “every nose”). There’s nothing not to like about this record, from the two songs – the other being the choogling ‘Bilkas Crib’ which put me in mind, with it’s driving beat and haunting chants, of the Man band circa. ’72 at the Roundhouse (had they actually performed ‘Brother Arnold’s Red & White Striped Tent’ in between Hawkwind and the power cut) to the cover, a blurrily psychedelic live shot, a symphony in black and red which has a fabulously velveteen texture achieved, it transpires from talking to Stephen over at Trensmat HQ, by manually feeding the card through his laser printer at home whilst simultaneously standing by with gallons of red and black replacement cartridges. Ace. Be sure to buy the 7” version instead of the CD and make all his hard work and expense worthwhile.


    Forthcoming releases on Trensmat include singles by those veterans (survivors?) of Terrastock 6 AreaC and Circle, as well as a Telescopes 7” which should definitely be worth checking out. Meanwhile, Mugstar are, I proclaim, the best band out of Liverpool since the Walkingseeds. No contest.  (Phil McMullen)




(CD from Quarterstick Records)


Former mainstay of Retsin and Rodan, accomplice of Jackie O Motherfucker and Papa M, singer-songwriter Tara Jane O’Neil had a particularly busy 2006. In addition to recording and releasing two EPs and a full-length, she’s scored music for short films and the theatre, had a book of her drawings and artwork published, and has seen her art exhibited in galleries in both the USA and Japan as well as in Europe.


‘In Circles’ is Tara Jane O’Neil’s fourth solo record for Touch & Go subsidiary Quarterstick Records, her seventh LP in all, and with its gorgeously idiosyncratic synthesis of acoustic folk, art, improvisation, tape loop aesthetics and electronic experimentation it’s an album in every sense of the word: the songs are like a collection of snapshots, fragments of her life captured and shared, each moment flickering past the eye and leaving behind it an often haunting image. There’s an honesty and an openness to her music which is underlined by the spacious song arrangements and imaginative production, and yet there’s detail behind the songs which bears close attention – her guitar work for example is deceptively intricate, and her often slow, melancholy vocal delivery is charismatically powerful. The way O'Neil blends sound is, unsurprisingly, not dissimilar to the way she paints.


Like watching the dawn break from the dilapidated porch of a forlorn Kentucky shack after talking with a loved one deep into the night, ‘In Circles’ begins somewhat beguilingly. Primer’ is a delicate instrumental comprising natural sounds, temple bells and wind-chimes with accompanying guitars and percussion that dances like a moth drawn to a lamp. A Partridge Song’ is arguably the stand-out song of the album: a fragile, traditional-styled folk number, O’Neil’s plaintive vocals and understated guitar flourishes, are underpinned by an outstanding arrangement and some softly sounding melodica chords that echo like diffident foghorns through the mist. The atmospheric ‘A Sparrow’ likewise features a delicate combination of surreal dissonances and harmonies, her hushed vocals sounding almost ghost-like at times. ‘The Louder’ and ‘Need No Pony’ are relatively straightforward Amer-indie folk numbers with layered guitars, shivery vocal melodies and brushed percussion.


For me though the most interesting passages of all are where O’Neil explores her interest in mixing folk instrumentation with electronic arrangements, such as on the mini-epic This Beats’ which closes the album, the wordless Fundamental Tom’, and the bleak The Looking Box’. It’s this apparently seamless mixing of tape loops, feedback and guitar effects into songs that, left to a less confident, imaginative and creative pair of hands, could easily have been more of the same which sets Tara Jane O'Neil apart as a true original – and ‘In Circles’ is a masterpiece of her art. (Phil McMullen)


(Tara Jane O’Neil can be seen and heard at the first Terrastock Tea Party in Oxford on 21st April 2007. More details available here )


Novemthree – Of My Mother’s Weary Wanderings

(EP from Little Somebody P.O. Box 11153, Tacoma, WA 98411, USA)

This Tacoma, Washington (USA)-based project is the nom de plume of multi-instrumentalist, Pythagumus Olaf Marshall, who brings a brilliant cacophony of flute, whistle, djembe, bodhran, harmonium, bells, chimes and the ever-popular bowed psaltery to bear on this heartwearming, occasionally heartbreaking collection of whispered delicacies dedicated to the “two most influential women in my life,” one of whom we can guess from the title would be his beloved late mum. With acknowledged influences from Terrascope / Terrastock favourites, In Gowan Ring, Nick Castro, Espers, et. al., you have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. And Marshall doesn’t disappoint. His soft and gentle flute solo on ‘Prey’ announces the arrival of his debut release, and his soft acoustic backing paints a lovely picture of nature (‘A Celebration of’), before a tribal drum rhythm carries the track to its conclusion and I am quickly reminded of the early work of another Terrastock fave, Six Organs of Admittance, ca. ‘Dust and Chimes.’

A laidback groove is introduced on 'Waxing Gibbous’ via an earthy conglomeration of bells, flute and rattles, with other percussive effects adding to the vibe of a Native American ceremonial dance. Marshall’s hesitant, whispered vocals on ‘Gedwolmann’ [Olde English for “heretic”] float on gossamer wings of flute and gently-picked acoustic guitar in the dreamy style of Stone Breath and In Gowan Ring. The lyrics appear to concern themselves with Marshall’s spiritual connection with nature. ‘A Mother’s Wish’ is a deliberate, late-night confessional of heartbreak and lost love, with a spoken word delivery reminiscent of the seminal work of Bill Callahan, aka Smog. Overall, this is a soft-spoken, dreamy exercise in relaxation that is conducive to a lengthy lie-down in an open field soaking up the bright, warm sunshine. (Jeff Penczak)