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=  JUNE 2005 =

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Kimberley Rew

  Hall of Mirrors

Written by:

Josephene Foster
  Simon Lewis (Editor) Eric Malmberg
  Nigel Cross Charlie Schmidt
  Phil McMullen Spacious Mind
  Jeff Penczak Remora
  Alan Davidson Alisdair Roberts
  Tony Dale Remote Viewer





(CD from Bongo Beat Records, Box 93627, Vancouver, British Columbia,

Canada V6E 4L7)


Not nearly as nicely packaged as Great Central Revisited and lacking a masterpiece like ‘Screaming Lord Sutch’, this is a darker, more critical and more focused follow-up. Nonetheless like that LP from 2002 this is an equally fine evocation of middle England – Ray Davies’s name was mentioned last time around – to that add Billy Bragg, XTC from around English Settlement time, Martin Newell and you’ll begin to get my drift. And this time around, Kim’s even copped a few good ideas from former boss Robyn Hitchcock as evinced on the title cut. But as anybody who has plotted his career knows, he’s very much his own man.

    Essex Hideaway starts and ends with a meditation on all things English – the delightfully tongue-in-cheek ‘Bless this Record’ (recorded live at St Bartholomew’s Church, Great Gransden), with the assembled congregation intoning a rather daft list of ‘milk and teabags and pork pies’ – it all sounds like one of those founder’s day services from your dark distant childhood or something from an old Albion Band record or even that old Max Wall Stiff 45 ‘England’s Glory’. It sets the record up beautifully.

    Last time around Kim was singing about post WWII poet Philip Larkin, this time he sets his sights on another writer equally as English as tuppence – the Victorian author best known for Three Men in A Boat, Jerome K Jerome – once again it’s done in a deftly light satirical way and he recites part of ‘Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow’ as the songs ends. Quite as loopy as anything from the old Soft Boys canon! Whilst a nod to those former days ‘That’s Soft Boy’ is performed as pure music hall – somewhere between Hurricane Smith and Noel Coward! But unlike Robyn, Rew is never afraid to directly tackle more personal issues. ‘Your Mother Was Born in that House’ is especially moving – an examination of strained father-son relations. He might have won the Eurovision Song Contest but listening to this you could never accuse Kim of being merely trite.

     And for the first time on one of his 21st century solo records, he’s not just got the song writing sorted out – Essex Hideaway contains some of his most accomplished electric guitar playing – witness the flow of his solo on ‘Ballad of the Lone Guitarist’ (as close as he’s ever come to penning  A Can of Bees style number) – meticulously crafted but full of fire and bite – whilst the play-out on ‘Phoenixstowe’ will knock you dead – Kim’s boogie – as he switches quick as a flash from measured slide  to full-on wah wah! This guy’s up there with the best of ‘em!

    He’s also running a tighter ship this time around – not so many guests. Aside from Wave refugees, Vince and Alex, there’s just the dependable bass-playing of long-time partner Lee Cave Berry. Keeping the connection with the previous two waxings, Dave Mattacks drums on six cuts and here’s a surprise, there also some fine organ playing from some time Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey! Rew shoulders the rest of it with his usual aplomb.

     But perhaps the greatest innovation in his recent work remains his sharp eye on the relationship between the countryside, his life and his music. Like that master of psycho-geography Iain Sinclair, Kim connects the physical world around him with his music –‘Arterial Road’ is magnificent, a meditation, that binds Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne with the destruction of English greenery in the 50s/60s in the wake of that era’s never-ending road building and pulls off a superb rhyming couplet that brings Christopher Robin together with the late Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones!    

    This is fine, fine stuff that as usual will undeservedly get lost on the trail - a tragedy because Rew is a national treasure. Folks, get your Ordnance Survey maps out. (Nigel Cross)





(2xCD on Emperor Jones


The much-maligned compilation album has been pronounced dead as a conceptual artform almost for as long as they’ve been around. I believe it’s true to say that the traditional “label sampler” has had it’s day, certainly as a marketing device – with a few honourable exceptions such as those put out by Earworm and Camera Obscura I can think of few released in the past decade that come anywhere close to great samplers of the ’70s such as ‘Picnic’, ‘The Rock Machine Turns You On’ and ‘All Good Clean Fun’ (the latter of which was recently reissued as a double CD that retains the original artwork but not all the original tracks or even bands, presumably for contractual reasons: not that I don’t think it’s an improvement overall… but anyway I digress!); and likewise the sampler CDs stuck to the front of magazines which serve as advertisments for the labels who have paid for tracks to be included also tend to be disposable and worthless both in terms of nature and content.

   It’s a mistake though to write off the compilation CD altogether based solely on the fact that its previously most populated area has become barren. There’s always a rich seam of music to be explored both new and old (witness the now legendary compilations of 1960s psychedelia, released some thirty years after the event) – the key to it is putting the right person in charge of assembling the collection, and giving them carte blanche to look and think outside of all the usual parameters, or more to the point to pull in tracks from bands signed to record labels other than the one which is putting out the release.

Top marks then to Emperor Jones for giving the fortuitously named Mason Jones just such an opportunity. Jones certainly knows his stuff: former guitarist of Terranauts SubArachnoid Space and currently involved in a project called Numinous, he’s also extremely knowledable when it comes to the Japanese scene in particular and thus guaranteed to cast his net wide enough to catch some rare and interesting fish: Circle, Gravitar, Overhang Party, Vocokesh, Bardo Pond, Acid Mother Temple, ST-37, Primordial Undermind, Subarachnoid Space (and Numinous, who provide one of my favourite cuts on here, ‘Someplace Left Out’), Fuzzhead (another favourite with ‘Remember the Avalon’), Speaker/Cranker and more, much much more besides. Pick of the bunch though has to be Kinski’s stunning opening blast of blissed-out psych, ‘Teen Center’ – according to Chris Martin a favourite of theirs too, an improved tune recorded over three years ago now especially for this compilation.

   And therein lies the problem: these things can take ages to pull together, as I know only too well myself having assembled a good few for the Terrascope (one thing I really miss doing actually!). The results on offer here though make it totally worthwhile: ‘Hall of Mirrors’ is an absolute corker. (Phil McMullen)




(Locust music P.O. Box 220426 Chicago Illinois 60622


Josephine Foster has a mesmerising and beautiful voice that is unique in it’s delivery and can send shivers through your soul. On this fine collection of acoustic songs that voice is utilised to it’s full potential filling each song with emotional resonance and an almost spiritual intensity.

    Accompanying herself on guitar and a host of other instruments, including harp, ukulele, sitar, melody flute and assorted percussion; each song has just the right amount of instrumentation without cluttering the simple grace of the melody. On the title track everything comes together perfectly creating a modern folk masterpiece the guitar and harp working together in harmonic bliss. An extra layer of vocals is added to ‘Stones Throw From Heaven’ Josephine’s voice blending and dancing with itself in beautiful fashion creating a gospel feel. Adding another dimension to the songs are the lyrics, which have a gentle mystical charm and can be read as hymns to nature giving the songs the texture of dreams.

    In a time where folk music is on the ascendancy this album should be right there at the top, an understated, finely crafted gem, which is like an old friend in it’s intimacy. If you like Marissa Nadler or Sharron Kraus then you are going to love this album as I do. (Simon Lewis)




Rollerball - Catholic Paws/Catholic Pause

(Silber Records


On their 11th album (the third for Silber) Rollerball continue their sonic experimentation mixing jazz-noise with pop sensibilities, ambient drones with surreal lyrics and launching the whole thing deep into space. Opening track ‘Quench’ welcome the listener in with tinkling bells and whispered vocal, as the instruments rumble and drone underneath slowly building the tension before ‘Erzulie’ takes over sounding like big band jazz played by a bunch of talented stoners.

    Further in ‘Tipping The Tree’ is a dub torch song, the pulsing rhythm overlaid with electronic effects and lashings of echo, whilst ‘sores’ is a jazz poem awash with glorious percussion and driving bass the vocals dealing with a bad case of chicken-pox.’Tambien’ adds a touch of melody to the proceedings, the brass creating a warm ambience to the tune, which is quickly forgotten as the instrumental ‘Jack To Jac’ disintegrates into some free-jazz noise squalling its way through the listeners ears before ‘Quad Four’ brings back the warm brass blanket to massage the noise away. Eventually we reach the albums final track ‘Maime’. Beginning with eastern percussion our eyes are torn out so that we can see, the musicians creating a brooding ambience where the shadows hide our deepest fears, then silence, before a maelstrom of discordant noise finally drives any sense of reality from our minds.

    Managing to contain fifteen songs within an hour of music gives this album a schizophrenic cut and paste feel, something that is enhanced by the use of thirteen players (including a horn section), allowing each song a chance to utilise a different combination of sounds, creating a wide-ranging and beautifully realised body of work. With the emphasis on rhythm and texture Rollerball have produced their finest work so far, more complex, darker, less structured and a fantastic ride from start to finish. (Simon Lewis)





(Häpna, Hagagatan 46, S-113 47 Stockholm, Sweden)


Sagor & Swing’s final album “Orgelplaneten” was a masterpiece of (ch)easy listening lounge-pop. Malmberg was the keyboardist (organ, Moog) responsible for the duo’s signature soundscapes. For or his debut solo album (roughly, ‘The Mysterious Mankind’), he’s toned down the light and airy elements and performs exclusively on organ to deliver a more cinematic vibe, such as on opener ‘Det Högre Medvetandet’ (‘The Higher Consciousness’), a swirling, cascading concoction with sound-posts as varied as Bo Hansson and Tonto’s Expanding Headband, which silently morphing into the similarly titled ‘Undermedvetandet’ (‘The Subconsciousness.’) A playful, two-note loop, ‘Jaget’ (‘Ego) cheerfully sashays around the room on a bed of Procol Harum-ish organ grinding as melodic and sinfully fun as anything on Matthew Fisher’s wonderful solo debut, “Journey’s End.”


    Each track meticulously filibusters its way into your unconscious, taking up residence for days on end during which you’ll be unable to shake off its infectious groove. Continuing the thematic interplay between tracks, “Överjaget” (‘Superego’) seizes Rod Zombies’ descending three-note organ riff form ‘Time of The Season’ and holds on for dear life until you’ve finally recognized the source.


    Whether it’s the swirling psychedelic miz-maze of ‘Delpersonligheteerna’ (‘Part of the Personalities’) recalling the early organ-ic workouts of Nick (The Bevis Frond) Saloman, the experimental soundtrack work of Pink Floyd (‘Språk Och Tankestrukturer,’ (‘Language and the Structure of Thought’) which keeps trying to step over the line into the proggy domain of The Nice) or the two-part closing title track [‘Människan Och Tiden’ (‘Mankind and Time’) and ‘Människan Och Evigheten’ (‘Mankind and Eternity’)] whose spacey delights I haven’t encountered since early Tangerine Dream or Triumvirat’s “Spartacus,” there’s sure to be something here to strike your funnybone and put an eternal smile on your face. So if your tastes run towards the organ-based pop of The Zombies and Procol Harum hobnobbing with a smattering of Bachian fugues running amok, you need this in your collection. (Jeff Penczak)

[NOTE: Apologies to our Swedish friends for my feeble attempts at English translations.]





(Strange Attractors Audio House, PO Box 13007, Portland, OR 97213-0007 USA)


For the man who successfully impersonated his mentor John Fahey (on last year’s ‘Best of John Fahey, Vol.II’), it’s hard to believe that this is Schmidt’s debut album. From the melancholic stroll through the fields at sunset, ruminating on a day gone by with the spectres of Nick Drake and label mate Steffen Basho-Junghans as omnipresent as Fahey himself (‘Salem Journeys’) to the sharp Vini Reilly and Roy Montgomery attack on ‘Samba de Xanthe Terre,’ it’s clear that Schmidt’s playing is timeless and will appeal to every fan of acoustic folk music, no matter what decade is your preferred reference point.


    The peaceful mood throughout the album is occasionally punctuated by bursts of inspired mayhem, such as the heart-pounding slide solo on his cover of Fahey’s ‘Dance of the Inhabitants of the Palace of King Philip XIV of Spain,’ the multi-ethnic ‘Slavic Mountain’ (that hints at marrying the Tarentela to a Greek leaping dance or gypsy jig before revealing its true colors as a jolly rendition of… well, you’ll just have to pick it up and judge for yourself!), the no-holds-barred down and dirty funk of ‘Doggie Blues,’ or the walking blues of ‘Athabasca Valles Blues’ that would do Jorma proud and definitely have you acoustic Tuna fans screaming for more.


    There’s a pleasant air of familiarity to ‘For Olivia’ that suggests that if a James Taylor, Jackson Brown or Paul Simon (I’m particularly thinking of ‘Bookends’) could weave some lyrics around the tune, he might have a hit on his hands. There’s even a hint that Mason Williams’ ‘Classical Gas’ wants to break out of the closing ‘Hymn.’ While Schmidt suggests that these recordings form a loose concept album about a hypothetical walk on the surface of Mars, I think that unfairly implies a science fiction element that I don’t hear. I’d like to bring it closer to home and suggest you head off to the nearest forest or neighbourhood park, pop on your headphones, and go for a little stroll, enjoying mother nature’s finest with this as the soundtrack to your communion with the elements. (Jeff Penczak)







(CDs on Goddamn I’m A Countryman)


After a far-too-long six year absence since their last studio full length, during which time the band seriously considered calling it a day, it’s a momentous occasion to announce that Sweden’s Spacious Mind have returned with not one, but two self-released albums on their fledgling, home-grown imprint. The first is an hour-long studio track and the second kicks off their new CDr series with a live hometown recording (on this reviewer’s unofficial birthday, no less). First, let’s listen to the six-part studio effort (roughly, ‘Uprooted,’ as in a tree that has fallen over, revealing its roots). The band march in on the back of drummer David Johansson’s timpani and keyboardist Jens Unosson’s ominous keyboard drone before lead guitarist Henrik Oja’s hyperdistorted guitar shoots volleys across the recording studio like the old Space Invaders arcade game. A lengthy, Floydian fade (somewhere between ‘Echoes’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’) blends into part two, with bassist Niklas Viklund wandering alone in the dark, searching for …what? Taunted by Unosson’s flickering synths and Oja’s off-in-the-distance soloing wafting into the room, the mind becomes suspended in a sensory deprivation tank, where all spacial (and spacious) boundaries evaporate.


    Soon, second guitarist Thomas Brännström joins the foray, trading strident, motorik shards of white lightning with Oja and propelling our aural navigators into another cosmic dimension, like an atomic blast spitting aliens out of John Hurt’s chest cavity. The band are firing on all cylinders now, as caution, hearts, minds, and a few extraneous organs are cast to the winds and band and listener simultaneously achieve Hawkwind-induced nirvana and become a heat-seeking missile on a thousand mile journey towards the white light which houses Kubrick’s monolith. At seventeen minutes, Johansson’s percussive tribal war beat slowly restores order, reattaching our skulls to our brainstems long enough for Unosson’s droning organ intro to part 3.


    Wrapped around intricate, crystalline guitar notes, a festive carol of the bells opens part 4, with flickering guitar soloing and shimmering, effects-laden notebending, this is The Spacious Mind of old, harkening back to such seminal efforts as ‘Cosmic Minds At Play’ and ‘Sleeping Eyes & Butterflies’ which prompted our esteemed editor-in-chief to describe as “potentially amongst the very highest echelon of psychedelic releases by mainland European bands in the past decade.” Old time fans who hesitantly accepted their more adventurous recent recordings (‘The Mind of A Brother’ and the ‘Reality T. Blipcrotch’ 10” EP) will welcome them back with open arms via one of their more accessible tracks in years.


    Unosson’s swirling keyboard opening to part 5 attaches your head to the end of a long string and lassos it around the room for Oja and Brännström to take aggressive potshots at with their trusty six-string shooters. This is Hendrix-meets-Young in a primordial, primeval guitar death match and prisoners will not be taken. The combatants whip themselves and the listener into a frothing frenzy until the blood-spattered walls of the inner sanctum of the recording studio and your cranium gradually trickle to lividity with Johansson’s return to the looping, festive bells.


    After you’ve reassembled your heart and mind in their approximate locations of origin, hold on for the final part, a nebulous, cumulus cloud of sound, aimlessly wandering across the skies, searching for survivors of the preceding sonic assault. It’s a psychedelic chill-out session, a time for deep cleansing breaths on the morning after, as you groggily awake from the previous night’s festivities – the bongparty of your life…a self-congratulatory celebration for that promotion, graduation, birth announcement, engagement…. It’s time to put your affairs in order, shower, shit, and shave and face the Monday morning blues of commitments and responsibilities. Or, you could kick off your shoes; scrape the mucus off your brain, and toss on the live album, the second in a continuing series of archival concerts.


    Perennial concert favourite ‘The One That Really Won The War’ opens this set like a moose call across the frozen tundra or a distressed whale bellowing from the North Sea. Various tom-toms, percussives, rattle-snake maracas, and Oja’s wah-wah guitar all combine to create a haunting tribal atmosphere, like some stem cell research project to graft Damo-era Can onto Amon Duul II. By the time Unosson’s keyboards join the fray after 12 minutes, your brain has entered hyperspace and there’s no turning back. Viklund’s throbbing, Hawkwindesque bass soon sticks a hot poker up the motherfucker’s ass and sends it rocketing skyward to the moon on the white-hot vapour trail of Oja and Brännström’s fire-breathing guitars. The final result is nineteen white-knuckled minutes spent in the presence of genius.


    Viklund’s opening solo on ‘The Drifter’ liberally appropriates the riff from The Animal’s ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’ until Oja’s meandering solo wanders into the room like ‘Disintegration’-era Robert Smith going note-for-note with John Fogarty choogling down on the bayou. Johansson’s drumming is possessed and either his head or the cymbal’s is going to roll across the floor at any moment. Much more intense than the studio version on the ‘Blipcrotch’ 10” and the appreciative, but obviously stunned audience can hardly contain their enthusiastic applause.


   To say that the two new tracks that make up the second half of the concert were anti-climactic would be a gross understatement that would wrongly imply they were any less awe-inspiring. As ‘The Cinnamon Tree’ begins, Oja coaxes vestiges of the legendary lost chord out of his six string serpent, blowing smoke rings around Unosson’s keyboard ruminations, and one-by-one the remaining members join the proceedings, much like the Grateful Dead in their heyday feeling each other out…seeking the unified astral plane that will send them, as one, hurtling forward into the unknown for an undetermined destination. Only a band living, shitting, breathing, eating, drinking and smoking with each other in close communal quarters for the last decade could successfully execute this nebulous, musical haiku. The barnstorming finale, ‘Spirit Roots’ is also not for the faint of heart as there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth while Oja and Brännström trade white noise solos that will scare the shit out of animals, women and children for miles around.


Now unclench your fists, draw oxygen back into your lungs, scrape your scattered braincells off the walls, place your sets in their upright positions and gently, ever-so-slowly, extricate yourself from your comfy chair, walk over and remove the CD from the player. Dude! The concert ended 15 minutes ago and you’ve been chilling to the musical afterbirth, the aural equivalent of a photographic afterimage.

Finally, on their second release, this enigmatic Swedish trio – just take a look at that title – take a more industrial, Eastern approach as opener ‘Solat Aolarium’ delivers shape-shifting shards of metallic percussives that eventually coalesce into an oriental vibe, complete with koto-like guitar plucking that ultimately sounds like something suited to an old Kurasawa samurai adventure. It’s all mysterious and otherworldly, and at 23-plus minutes, perhaps a tad too long, although the final ten minutes are more productive than the last. The oriental groove continues on ‘Toutais’ via the woodwind intro over operatic, chanting voices (Chinese? Japanese?) A droning harmonium soon becomes the song’s backbone, which also features the stray cymbal crash woven around the odd, koto-like guitar. It’s all very meditative and calming, conducive to om-chanting and navel-gazing.

‘Winter Solstice’ returns to a more Western idiom, as a single, repetitive guitar line hovers over a nebulous, yet ominous chaotic backing, perhaps a symbolic portent of the long, cold, dark and foreboding winter days ahead? To get thy musical bearings, recall David Gilmour’s minimalist solo notes on ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond.’ The xylophone mirroring the guitar notes is also a marvellous touch. The backwards keyboard that opens the fourth and final track, ‘Ceres’ adds yet another disorienting dimension to the collection. The far-off strains of a deliberately strummed sitar once again merge East and West for a cultural clash of sounds, emotions and ponderous ruminations. Fans of the band’s debut will find this follow-up to be as hesitant, loose and non-linear as that album’s closing tracks, while retaining the slowly-emerging improvisational vibe that was present throughout. So my suggestion is to just put the album on and let the music envelop you rather than making any conscious efforts to go to the music and figure out what it’s about. A fine addition to your collection of contemporary Swedish psychedelia from a band that may be and/or include various members of the aforementioned Spacious Mind and about whom we hope to find more as their discography increases. (Jeff Penczak)




(Silber Records. http:/www. silbermedia. com)


Remora is the musical project of Silber Records’ leader Brian John Mitchell, who spent four years writing more than 100 pieces, before allowing these to be sieved down to the fourteen presented on this CD. Many have been inspired by the 1970s ‘Killraven’ comics written by Don McGregor, but are voiced as slow, burning songs about passion and the lengths to which people will go to fulfil that emotion. . Understandably the mood created is far from light-hearted, but repeated listening reveals enough subtle variations in the music to keep this from being too monochromatic.


    Previously Remora went for a ‘wall of sound’ through guitar overdubs, and this album still has that in abundance, but the songs are barer, permitting the lyrics to cut through. Drums have only been used on one cut, so the dreamy feel isn’t much disturbed. Five of the tracks here are instrumentals, with simple picked guitar phrases being repeated until they become a drone, over which are layered washes of effects. Unfortunately the track listing differs from the real running order, so, whilst it’s easy to work out the songs from their lyrics, the instrumentals must remain unidentified. The first of these (track 3) is lovely….the guitar does its two-chord stuff, but it’s the slow build up of effects/keyboard(?) etc that performs the seduction. The next instrumental  (track 6) utilises swelling backwards guitar to underpin what sounds like controlled feedback.


     The songs sound much more lo-fi, presumably Remora never felt the need to over-embellish them, which is fine by me. The first one, ‘The one I’ve been waiting for’ uses only a repetition of four guitar notes, with a bit of quiet second echoed guitar behind a double-tracked vocal which explains how love can make you a better person  (“I’ll give up my drinking and my pills, I’ll stop scarring up my arms”).


    The ‘love against all the odds’ theme continues into the second song, ‘Volcana’ and gets darker still with ‘Kill my way out of here’.  The uptempo guitar strums at the start of ‘Out of air’ also suggest hope, but the song tells of a dying man’s urge to say ‘I love you’ one last time (I’m assuming this might be inspired by the film ‘The Abyss’).


   So... hope or despair?  Therein lies the question, I suppose both of life in general and this album in particular. Despite initial appearances Remora seem, eventually, to land on the side of hope. The last actual song is ‘Champion’ wherein the singer tells how love gives him the strength to protect his loved one, and we end very positively, after an occasionally harrowing trip. (Alan Davidson)



(CD/LP on Drag City Records,


    Like Richard Thompson, Alasdair Roberts' work has always had a touch of antiquity about it - a certain fluidity of interchange between the self-penned and the traditional. His 2001 album of traditional covers 'The Crook of My Arm' was a mere stone's throw in feel from his work with Appendix Out, and his follow-up masterpiece 'Farewell Sorrow' had many scanning for the designation "trad" in the songwriting credits only to find that it was exclusively comprised of original compositions. 'The Crook of My Arm' was clearly no exercise in dilettantism, for Roberts has now issued an emphatic second record of traditional ballads, in this case focussed on the ever-popular area of murder.

    ‘No Earthly Man’ eases into its grim work in a low-key fashion. ‘Lord Ronald’ is starkly arranged, despite the significant number of instrumental contributors. Cello, guitar, keyboards and drums form a distant miasma behind Roberts’ clear, keening and beautifully accented vocal delivery. ‘Molly Bawn’ is an Irish variant of the well-trammelled ‘Polly Vaughan’ and the reading is bleak, even for this genre. Spindly dulcimer, death-rattle drums and haunted-house piano drive the thing along like a plague cart. Robert’s version of a ‘Cruel Mother’ is a highlight, combining the tune from a 1976 Silly Wizard reading (called ‘Carlisle Wall’) with words culled from three sources; the Silly Wizard version, the singing of Aberdeen-born Lizzie Higgins, and from the version on Shirley Collins’ 1967 album ‘The Sweet Primeroses’. What this version of ‘The Cruel Mother’ illustrates is the profound intelligence and respect with which Roberts’ approaches the body of tradition. He is clearly aware of the work done before by folkies down the decades, and both acknowledges and builds on it.

    Great takes follow: ‘On the Banks of Red Roses’, ‘The Two Brothers’, ‘Admiral Cole’ and ‘Sweet William’ mix traditional instrumentation, superb vocals and some subtle feedback and electronics in places. Most striking though, is Roberts’ version of ‘A Lyke Wake Dirge’ - it owes much to the work of ‘The Young Tradition’ for its arcane power, but is given a thunderous arrangement that transports the listener right back into a 15th Century interment procession, fog bound and illuminated by burning torches. Its ritualistic power is enough to suggest that Roberts would be an ideal candidate to provide the music to any proposed remake of ‘The Wicker Man’.

    Collaboration is deeply important to the world this record presents. Isobel Campbell (of Belle & Sebastian) plays cello on all but one song in addition to singing on two and playing piano on another. Producer Will Oldham sings on four songs, and also plays bass and piano on another. Paul Oldham, in addition to mixing the record, also contributes bass to one song. In the final analysis, the most substantial collaboration is the wedding of Roberts’ British Isles grounding of the material to Oldham’s backwoods Kentucky vision of how the record should be arranged and mixed.
    It seems that Roberts intends to continue alternating releases between original and traditional material, and I for one look forward to his endeavours in either area. (Tony Dale)



(City Centre Offices, c/o Pelicanneck, Unit 101, Ducie House, 37 Ducie St., Manchester M1 2JW England)


    This is the fifth Remote Viewer album from Craig Tattersall and Andrew Johnson, following on from the two they recorded as The Famous Boyfriend after recording the first two Hood albums with the Adams’ brothers, Chris and Richard. While subsequent Hood releases have moved in a more song-oriented direction somewhat akin to fellow Terrastock performers Arco and Piano Magic, Tattersall and Johnson have pretty much stuck to their avant ambient electronica guns and this album is another in their unending evaluation and experimentation with the cloyingly annoying subgenre known as “glitch” music. You’ve heard examples of this bastard child of musique concrete in the work of its oft-cited originator, German musician Markus Popp via his Oval (‘Systemisch’) and Microstoria (‘Init Ding’) projects of the mid-90s. Remote Viewer have taken this fuzzy, dirty, scratchy blueprint and occasionally constructed beautifully romantic, melancholic tonepoems and bed-sitter images over electronic, skipping backbeats.


    Tracks like ‘To Completion’ demonstrably illustrate their fascination with glitch’s cold, glacial Eno-tronics, while ‘They’re Closing Down the Shop’ oozes morbid melancholia even as the delicate vocals are alluringly nostalgic. ‘Last Night You Said Goodbye Now It Seems Years’ is another brief, stuttering electronic instrumental (nobody could sing a title like that and get away with it) and is as scratchy and dusty as that needle you forgot to take off the record you were listening to when you fell asleep last night. As someone vehemently opposed to the concept of glitch music (CDs are not supposed to intentionally sound like scratchy, dusty records), it’s extremely frustrating to listen to some of these tracks, but I assure you newcomers that the audio difficulties you’re encountering are not with your player. It’s tracks like these that prove the old adage, you can take the boys out of the Hood, but you can’t take Hood out of the boys.


    The duo’s Beauty and the Beast musical modus operandi is never more apparent than on ‘Take Your Lights With You’ and ‘I’m Sad Feeling,’ which marry Empress’ vocalist Nicola Hodgkinson’s sexy, whispered, wall-of-sound vocals to the omnipresent scratchy-vinyl backing, with the latter’s forlorn piano and stray xylophone flourishes typically (and, with that title, quite expectedly) melancholic… a thousand-yard stare inducer if ever I heard one.


    The “beautifully ugly” paradox of Remote Viewer’s work is perhaps best illustrated by the saddling the album’s most gorgeously straightforward instrumental with the crude title ‘The Fucking Bleeding Hearts Brigade.’ I also enjoyed the swirling, romantic chill-out electronica of ‘It’s So Funny How We Don’t Talk Anymore,’ but you have to be a fan of defective disks and old scratchy records to fully appreciate these unsettling excursions into the underbelly of electronica. (Jeff Penczak)