= July 2016 =  

Big Naturals
/ Anthrophrophh

Peter J Smyth
Sounds of New Soma
Alasdair Roberts / James Green
Psychic Lemon
Andy Wade
Terminal Heads
Holy Monitor


(LP/Download from Cardinal Fuzz/Captcha

A siren played over shortwave radio with eerie hammer house of horror organ butting in from another wavelength. Then it pounds, like a hundred Stormtroopers running on the cobbles. Then it riffs, by god does it riff – Sabbath with keys. In fact not unlike Ufomammut, who I quite like. To borrow from a very old song, these are a few of my favourite things.
These are the Big Naturals, who often aid and abet Paul “Prof” Allen as the mighty Anthroprophh but who on ‘God Shaped Hole’ are doing it to you on their lonesome. They can’t keep this up for 21 minutes, surely? Well no actually they can’t, there’s a tribal droney, water treading bit in the middle where I was tempted to nip off and polish my shoes before a howl of feedback brought me back into the room (literally and figuratively) from where it builds nicely and relatively (as in distant uncle you’ve never met) melodically albeit with some busy drumming and an ominous-sounding ascension before the gradual descent to base.

Anthroprophh, for my money, is one of the most exciting acts around. In fact – and if this doesn’t get me kicked off the Psych Lovers Facebook page then nothing will –currently way more thrilling and relevant than The Heads from whence “Prof” emanates. Paul in fact plays all the instruments on the three tracks here, akin then to those early Bevis Frond albums. ‘Farce Without End’ ain’t his best, but then “ain’t his best” is still pretty damn fine and certainly most welcome hereabouts. Dirty visceral rock with some jazzy piano runs through the midsection which prevents any risk of tediousness from setting in. Tediousness is never going to be an issue with the splendidly titled ‘Narwhallian Social Purge’. Fast, furious and – and this is where my far-distant university education finally pays dividends, ladies and gents – heavy as fuck. Definitely the sound of a grown man enjoying himself. The last offering – ‘Chubbuck’s Last Tapes (Another Nail)’ is the killer, though. A brooding, suspenseful (occasionally mental) and darkly psychedelic exercise that might, with a fair wind, tickle the fancy of a few free-jazzers out there. Post-Wyatt Soft Machine really ought to have gone in this direction. They never did of course. Shame really.

If Ronco were to market a Cobweb blower (“remember, Decibel Duster is not available in the shops”) then they could do a lot worse than tap the Cardinal for rights to this. Another winner from Cardinal Fuzz I’m afraid. When are these guys ever going to swing and miss you wonder? Answers on a post card…
(Ian Fraser)



(LP from God Unknown http://www.godunknownrecs.com)

This is something of a season for Mugstar side lines with both Jason Stoll (Sex Swing) and Peter Smyth flexing their musical muscle away from the parent band (whose Magnetic Seasons, by the way, must rank as one of the year’s strongest releases to date). Unlike the uproarious cacophony of Sex Swing, though, Smyth has taken a detour down Acoustica Lane with this collection of reflective campfire compositions and intermittent sound collages.

Over the course of seventeen stripped down tracks packed onto two sides of (red) vinyl Smyth revels in deft finger picking as opposed to fuzzed out jamming - a rustically hewn set of arrangements which might be mistaken for going soft were it not for the observational and at times dark lyrical content and inventive guitar and homespun tape trickery. The delivery, often disarmingly bereft of unnecessary complication, is set in stark relief by what folkies would term Smyth’s “pure voice”, one that is clearly both untutored and unaffected but hardly ineffective. This lends an acerbic twist to a couple of stand-out compositions such as the lead-off title track and the anti-sell-out challenge of ‘Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is’. It’s on the lovely instrumental ‘Joan’ though that Smyth’s intimate style of playing, so austerely recorded that you can follow the fingering by the squeaks down the fretboard, first pays special dividends.

Now I don’t know whether tracks were recorded sequentially in the order they appear but you do get the sense of a growing confidence as the album progresses. There are a couple more deft instrumentals on the flipside, the exquisite ‘Rosa’ which gives the sensation of punting on a lily pad and the lightly ragtime of ‘Angie’s Fracture’ and a series of invigorated ballads including ‘Ashtray’ which deals with urban decay and the lively ‘It’s Gone’, which somehow brings to mind the Gordon Giltrap song they used to use on one of the holiday shows some years back. The closest here to the space rock template is ‘Tape Interlude 4 (The Vortex Song)’ which sounds like a tentative bedsit demo with something a lot more rocking and loud in mind.

Often fragile, vulnerable sounding yet quietly assured and affirming, this is a brave attempt to deviate from script and one that works sufficiently well enough to make you want to keep delving back in. Result, I reckon. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from Bandcamp  )

 Krautrock improv/psych band Sounds Of New Soma make spontaneous psychedelic music, not least on their new release "Moebius Tunnel," which takes a more structured approach than the band's previous outings. This is in fact a duo consisting of Dirk Raupach (synths/fx) and Alex Djelassi, whose use of guitar in ambient mode and (a recent undertaking) drums and percussion makes for psychedelic listening indeed. Both members take on vocal duties also. The opener 'Lysergdelfin' is drifty and niche, with rolled guitar chords, drones, and occasional noises poking out of the mix. 'Kosmonautenglück' is also pretty chilled, with phased drones and more floaty guitar washes; a hint of early/mid seventies Berlin School I think. 'Subraumverzerrung' brings in the drums and low, half-whispered vocals; the whole sounds a little like some of the Hawkwind experiments from the early '90s. 'Stech/Apfel' opens with proggy guitar chords and more of the bands trademark phased/oscillating synth drones, before more bass comes in; this track reminded me a lot of the work of 17 Pygmies. 'Morgengebet' is a twelve-minute synth monster with spacerock synths battling it out against drums and bass; the album highlight I think, with the energy levels raised, and some great semi-delayed guitar harmonics floating up and under. The album ends with 'Neuland,' which returns to chilled synth works. Fans of spacerock generally will enjoy this album, whose relaxed vibe and excellent production will enthuse many. I have to admit, it took me a couple of listens to get into, but that's often the case with good stuff. (Steve Palmer)



(LP from Clay Pipe Music www.claypipemusic.co.uk)

For this album of traditional sounding songs, folk icon Alasdair Roberts in collaboration with James Green, adopted a thoroughly modern approach to composition and recording through call and response file sharing over t’internet. One supposes this is in keeping with the lovely contradiction of a cottage industry folksy label called Clay Pipe Music being based in what was presumably once the grimy industrial heart of London. And this being Clay Pipe you are treated to the singular artwork of one Frances Castle, who has been known to produce the occasional Terrascope gig poster of late, as well as giving surrogate birth to such fine music as you will find here, good Terrascopeans.

Plaint Of Lapwing is an understated pastoral delight, lamenting as it does the plight of the lapwing bird, which, like so much else it seems, is in decline. Such thoughtfulness belies the quite innocent and apparently happy nature of the compositions herein - eleven songs of variable airiness conveyed in Roberts’ slightly strained and strangulated brogue, underpinned by Green’s unusual instrument of choice the harmoniflute and redolent of the more leavened end of the COB/ISB canon. The playful opening gambit ‘Ananke’, for instance, could well have been an outtake from Wee Tam And The Big Huge, whereas the delightful ‘Peacock Strut’ is more traditional in style and reminiscent in construct if not lyrical content to the old nonsense ditties my dear old “Sheltie” Grandad Magnus used to sing to me when I was knee high. See my wistful (ok, soppy) smile.

And so it goes. Nestling twixt the Roberts composed/Green arranged numbers are a handful of covers such as the waltzing ‘At The Mid Hour Of Night’ credited to Thomas Moore/Benjamin Britten, and a haunting interpretation of ‘Ballad Of The Speaking Heart’ by Hamish Henderson. Throughout, the alternately lightly skipping and plaintive refrains keep a coming before the simple piano-led ‘Hallowe’en’ brings us into dock. Such splendid and life-affirming entertainment and perfect with an early evening pint of ale. And then another. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from Mega Dodo )

Tir na nOg need no introduction to the Terrascope audience, so I'll just launch straight into the album! In 2015 a special event took place at the Half Moon in Putney, and this live album is the document of the band's performance. A duo of Sonny Condell and Leo O'Kelly, the pair's marriage of folk, rock, alt-folk and a bit of alt-rock has in recent years hit a chord with those keen to hark back to good times of yesteryear. Tir na nOg are no slouches however; their reputation is secured both on old work and new. Opening with 'Time Is Like A Promise,' the pair's harmonising voices sound great, while the recording as a whole is excellent - all clear, all sharp. Both singers take lead duties, and there is violin also, as on second track 'You In Yellow,' which is a lovely song. 'Looking Up' brings in a drummer and a bit of percussion, while 'Ricochet' also has percussion elements (beautifully played) in addition to chiming guitar chords and the song itself, a slightly Martynesque groover which would certainly count as folk-rock. 'I Pick Up Birds At Funerals' pits a strong tune with ironic, possibly macabrely so, lyrics… fathers and step-mothers, you see. Side B of the LP opens with 'I Have Known Love' has a vaguely Americana feel to it, both musically and in vocal delivery, while 'Eyelids Into Snow' is a moderately sentimental girl-meets-boy song, 'The Lady I Love' features some great acoustic guitar soloing, while last track 'Free Ride' opens like a festival campfire jam before the serious work of folk-rock returns, complete with heavily delayed vocals and EAB chords. Rock on! The bonus track on the CD version of the album is Condell's 'Two White Horses,' a return to the pairs voices lying over arpeggiated guitars. Excellent in all regards, and, it hardly need be said, required listening for all anywhere near the folk scene. (Steve Palmer)



(CD from Trail Records )

Fresh from Trail Records, who specialise in world-music flavoured or originating bands, comes the album "Intoxicatingly Lost" from Chinese trad/rock outfit Zhaoze. The main hook of this band on their debut album is the sound of the traditional guqin, which is a zither-like instrument. The band is a four piece and have a Western rock sound, flavoured also with xiao (a vertical bamboo flute that I know from personal experience is a beggar to play…). Opener 'The Worthless' takes all the main elements of the sound and melts them together to great effect, as does the superb second track 'See You In The Dusk,' which adds a strong melody (Chinese?) to the proceedings, plus a glockenspiel at the end. The electric guitar of Littledream (presumably not his real name) is a combination of riffing and sound-creation, while Seasean's drums and Roy's five string bass underpin the whole edifice. 'Luo Mu (Falling Leaves)' is quieter, with little or no distortion on the guqin, bursting out into rock histrionics later. 'The Youngster Fishing For The Stars' again opens quiet with guqin harmonics, before more Stuart Adamson-style guitar sounds float in, and some lovely pattering drums (the drums are particularly good on this album). 'Sleepy Child Sweet Smile' marries an off-kilter tempo to some groovy chords and swirling sound effects, while the album closer is the title track, a twelve minute epic from the band's earlier days, which builds up from the drums coming in, more very distorted Fripp/Adamson guitars, then a pounding middle section where the guqin is played with a bow - kind of like a cello - before the guitar wails into a solo… then peace returns. Very good indeed. I could see this band going down very well at WOMAD or somewhere similar, they clearly have a good live presence. Recommended to ethno-rockers the world over. (Steve Palmer)



CD/DL from Bandcamp

Opening with a rising drone of discordant synths, “Ticktok”, the opening track on this fine collection soon morphs into a bass and drum driven piece of psych with slightly funky guitars creating a hypnotic twist to the tune, the almost spoken vocals adding to the unique identity of the track. As it progresses the modern production is mixed with the desire to rock out in a sixties freak out style, the whole a lively and entertaining way to introduce the listener to the world of Psychic Lemon. Good as that first salvo is, it is eclipsed by the magnificent “Death Cult Blues”, a nine minute mix of Psychedelia and more Progressive elements, a rolling bass underpinning the music whilst guitar and flute dance merrily in the cosmos overhead, West-Coast meets Kraut on a blissful afternoon in a field in Cambridgeshire the vibes nothing short of miraculous.

    Hypnotic and catchy, with those funky psych guitars very much in evidence, “Good Cop Bad Cop” is a groove of a tune that reminds me of The Soft Boys with it's  angular guitars and new wave sheen, whilst “Analogue Summer” is a more pastoral affair, announced with birdsong and flowing sweetly along on a river of phasing and slide guitar, a delicate and summery tune that is relaxing and beautiful.

    Undoubtedly a live favourite “Dilator” is a burst of Hawkwind energy and twisted riffery that is loud and grabs you by the throat to ensure you are listening, the whole album rounded off by “Horizon” a ten minute epic that has more twists than a downhill slalom, Space rock with style and substance (abuse), the band having a good time, excellent playing throughout and a definite feel that you might be living in Ladbroke Grove in the early seventies.

  Clocking at around, the almost perfect, forty minute mark, this is an album that is rich in quality with plenty to explore each time you play it. Due for a vinyl release this summer (drone rock records) heads everywhere should get themselves a taste. (Simon Lewis)




Andy and his brother Chris Wade have been releasing some of my favourite music over the last few years. While Chris generally offers the more pastoral, folky material, Andy has no qualms about breaking out the synths and dance beats to complement his own excellent solos and hard-rocking roof-raisers. Having set the stage, it’s a pleasure to listen to his Dave Masonesque opener ‘Forever Without You’ that adds steaming soulful vocals and a blistering solo to a bluesy riff a la ‘Shouldn’t Have Taken More Than You Gave’. ‘Picture (Living In Dream)’ mines similar territory, with an even more forlorn vocal and incessant guitar riff to the fore. I’m also digging the Crazy Horse vibe on the grungy ‘Careless Company’ that tosses some groovy organ fills and another vibrant solo into the brew.

     Wade is not afraid to go all sentimental on us, and I was reminded of vintage Kristofferson and Waits on the beautiful, reflective acoustic ballads, ‘By The Ocean’ and ‘Joy’, which are perfect companions to ‘Hope I Don’t Fall In Love With You’ and ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’.

     Elsewhere, ‘Ticket To Mexico’ is a rousing country-inflected hoedown, ‘Hope It’s Not Too Late’ is a mournful confessional-cum-apology to a jilted lover that has the lovely air of Mike Hart’s lovely Bleeds album about it (cf. ‘Almost Liverpool 8’), and the title track is a short, albeit haunting and memorable album closer. Musicologists and fans will also enjoy the three demo versions of ‘Forever Without You’, ‘’Let’s Be Lonely Together’, and ‘Happy’ that enable keen listeners the pleasure of tracing their journey from acoustic inception to full-on electrified execution. Another fine effort, I recommend newbies start here – it’s my favourite of his four equally fine releases.
(Jeff Penczak)



( LP/CD own label )

Many years ago (well, 1990) I played drums in Gravesend based punk band Terminal Heads. A change of jobs meant I left the band after one cassette release “Small Talk”, but the band have continued on and have recently been given a new lease of life with a change of bassist, a support slot with Nomeansno and this, the release of their first vinyl album. As at least two of the band are vinyl junkies this is a major development, highlighted by the song “Must Be” which states, “Everyone knows music should be heard on vinyl”, I couldn't agree more.

    Playing a brand of old school punk that relies on energy, three chord riffery, energy and vitriol, the album kicks off in style with the aforementioned “Must Be” a song that takes to tak the current state of the media, social, entertainment or whatever, the lyrics spat out with venom as the guitar bludgeons its way out of the speaker. Next Up, “Drone” maintains the anger as the guitar continues its relentless path before “Countdown” muses on death and the question “which one of us goes first?”.

   Over the rest of side one, the band continue their relentless request for the perfect riff coupled with a desire to vent their spleen at society and its ills, with “Sheep” and “Clique” seeming to achieve this aim brilliantly.

     Over on side two the fun continues with “Headfuck” dealing with Paranoia, “Reality” shooting down those terrible reality shows, whilst “Locked Away” is a discourse on the way society drives the good from you forcing you to hide or discard your feelings, the whole thing rounded off by “Noise”, the vocals pleading for some stillness inside, the tune still bristling with angry energy something that runs through the whole collection, no ballads to be found, than fuck. Terminal Heads have come a long way since 1990 but their vision remains the same, good on ya. (Simon Lewis)



(EP on cassette and download from Ongakubaka Records )

Perhaps, if Brian Jones still exists within a space between heaven and earth, he might well be playing on this new EP by "Holy Monitor.” After all, re-incarnation is a recurring theme on this recording, and the band seems to have been influenced by the guitar stylings of the late, founding member of The Rolling Stones, on many of the tracks.

    “Holy Monitor” (a moniker that invokes the colourfully wild “Holi” festival and the Hindi belief in a “Holy” lizard), is an anonymous music collective not from India, but from Athens, Greece. Their new EP, “Golden Light/Aeolus” (a six song collection of their 2014 and 2015 recordings) has been released by Ongakubaka Records, on line and on…cassette! This ancient medium is not the only connection that Holy Monitor has with the past, as becomes evident upon hearing the retro psychedelic sounds pulsating from the speakers.

    The ‘cassette’ (you’ve got to love it!) opens with a stone monster of a song entitled “The Way Out”, with a guitar line and style reminiscent of Blue Cheer. A throbbing, pulsating rhythm track that runs through the track melts nicely into the guitar and the reverb laden vocals. Wondrous.

    Holy Monitor’s guitarist channels Brian Jones’ “Paint it Black” style in the haunting “Golden Light”, one of the strongest tracks on the EP. For the full Hindi – reincarnation effect, check out the trance-like video (on YouTube). Consisting of a translucent female figure walking through multi-coloured sand dunes, the chant-like vocals describe the scene perfectly… “I’m running though a Golden Light, and she’s gone.” Beautiful.

     Beginning with a guitar hook reminiscent of Jeff Beck’s Yardbirds, the next cut, “Cacti” unleashes a torrent of slashing, driving drums, over a bed of vibrating keyboards and bass lines, while the octave divided vocals chant “You must have known it, been here before, you can touch me when I’m gone.” The dynamic drumming really makes the cut, signifying humans play better than machines. Once again, the combination of heavy space psychedelia and the recurring theme of reincarnation can be visualised on the Jackson Pollock- meets -Holi Festival inspired video. (Ed. Note: Do not watch this on bad acid!).

     The fourth track, “Bend The Trees” demonstrates that the unlikely amalgamation of The 13th Floor Elevators and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” can not only work, but can sound incredibly unique. The ‘electric jug’ sound of the aforementioned Elevators is replicated by a single 16th note wah wah affect, while the guitar carries the raunchy Rolling Stones type lick. Interesting, to say the least.

     The reincarnation of Brian Jones seems more than conceivable on the song, “White Sands.” One wonders if this isn’t a hidden track off “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” Not only is the guitar playing suggestive of that possibility, but the cool inflections of the ‘60’s organ sound invoke his dreamily subtle counterpoint. Nice.

    The EP ends with it’s heaviest of psyche rockers, “Winterlong.” The Gregorian chant -like vocals are supported by a driving guitar riff and a heavyweight 1/8th note bass and drum groove. The groovy ‘Farfisa Fast 5’ organ sound adds to the track’s indefinably cool dimension.

    Perhaps, as on most of the tracks, a stronger melodic vocal line and a definable chorus would enhance this EP for popularities’ sake, but that may be a mistake. Holy Monitor has a sound based on post modern ‘60’s psychedelia, with a firm base seemingly grounded in the belief of a spiritual, reincarnated world. A world, which also rocks! (Rick Skol)


(CD from Cambrian Records )

Dealing with break ups, communities, time passing and new beginnings the second album from folk duo Rusalnaia contains the same breathtaking harmonies and sweet melodies as their first offering, this time, however, the mood is heavier and perhaps darker with the addition of drums courtesy of Mark Wilden and more electric guitar throughout.

  Opening with the creepy “Cast a Spell” the listener is soon pulled in, a ringing guitar line and whispered vocals taking you away from reality, the track becoming more and more intense as it progresses, the wonderful voice of Sharron Kraus binding the song together perfectly. On “Take Me Back” the strange lysergic atmosphere is continued, the voices of Sharron and Gillian Chadwick working together in harmony, as they do on “Driving” a song that sounds like it could have come from one of Sharron's solo records which is no bad thing in my book.

  One of the album's highlights for me is “The Love I Want” a tune rich in melodic beauty, great atmospheric drumming and a folk heart, the addition of a recorder dancing alongside the vocals the icing on a rather lovely cake.

  Seemingly marking a change of ambience, “The Beast” is a slice of dark psych folk, that is much heavier than the previous songs, a relentless riff driving the song on, distorted guitar and fiddle adding bite. Sad and beautiful, “The Honeymoon Is Over” drips with nostalgia and regret as friendships and community dissolve into silence, the voices capturing these emotions completely. Like a Wiccan nursery rhyme “Bright Things” has a sing song quality that suits the lyrical content, the music creating a hypnotic state as it swirls round and round, Sweet and soothing, “Lullaby (For A Future Generation)” is a gentle song with delightful playing that washes over you like a blanket of flowers. To finish, the title track has a traditional folk feel, a song of hope that is bright with possibility, the musicians leading us out on a high, refreshed after a journey with a smile on our faces. (Simon Lewis)