= March 2021 =  
 Andrew DR Abbott
 Barry Walker Jr
 New Bums
 James Johnston and Steve Gullick
 Reality Anonymous
 Marcos Resende & Index
 Antonio Neves
 Kitchen Cynics
 River Flows Reverse
 Sky Burrow Tales


(LP on ADRA Records/Bandcamp)

Regular readers of Terrascope Online will be familiar with Andy Abbott and the glowing recommendation that your scribe gave to his ‘Dead In Chellow Dean’ album back in 2019. Those of you lucky enough to bag a copy of the latest Terrascopaedia will also find out a little more about Andy, his inspirations and his various projects and plans. Along with other artists such as Dean McPhee, Andy is a leading light in the folk influenced experimental music scene which flourishes in and around the South Pennines and with Dean’s new release ‘Witch’s Ladder’ (see January reviews) this year is already blessed with two fine examples of the art with the imminent arrival of Andy’s ‘Erewyrehve’. It’s effectively the final part of a trilogy of releases that also includes ‘Live on Daisy Hill’ from 2018 and the aforementioned ‘Chellow Dean’. It would be remiss not to also mention last year’s lovely cassette release ‘Six Principles of Erewyrehve’ which gave us a sketchbook of home recorded experiments, explorations  and meditations that inspired and guided the new record.

‘Erewyrehve’ is in a sense a concept album, themed around the discovery of a post-capitalist utopia. The record is a dream journey through this state and as such it continues the focus established earlier in the trilogy on time depth, people and place as depicted through evocative and often seductive and immersive musical paintings. In Andy’s words it is a broadly optimistic record that takes the imagination on a journey out of the bleak conditions that engulfed Bradford, one of many towns and cities affected badly by COVID-19 and where this record was recorded in 2020.

Once again the 8 String Baritone Guitar takes centre stage and is augmented by a range of other instruments that provide colour, texture and at times an otherworldly exotica namely Melodica, Tongue Drum, Mbira and Sheng. There are 10 tracks starting with ‘First Sight’, a short and perhaps wistful melodica theme that is part low key anthem and part sea shanty in tone before ‘Theme from Erewyrehve’ takes us to sunnier climes in a jaunty acoustic piece that has colours of Mediterranean folk dance and country blues. ‘Homeward Unbound’ feels like a journey and continues the upbeat theme, moving up a gear with a sprightly momentum that showcases the 8 String Baritone beautifully in a style reminiscent of Michael Chapman at his most expressive. ‘Bell Pits on Plenty Moor’ is a short, pacey but spare percussive piece that gently touches on gamelan and elemental sounds before ‘Ava/Paige’ returns to the guitar albeit for a more spacious and delicate melodic country blues flecked portrait piece. ‘Pity Beck’ has a turbulence in its bending and warping melody lines, tempo changes and tumbling slide work that perhaps has more of a disturbed, melancholic or reflective feel than other tracks. ‘Butterley Tunnel’ is another short percussive interlude – a little bit mysterious but also playful in tone. ‘Egress’ follows and is a shorter guitar piece that eschews the rolling upbeat picking style of earlier tunes for something more reflective. The penultimate piece is also the longest piece, ‘Red Sky Over Erewyrehve’ and it is for want of a better phrase, a lovely sky painting for guitar where more percussive playing, spacious chords and melodic patterns suggest its ever changing moods and fascination. To finish our journey ‘Last Glance’ returns to the lonesome Melodica theme and brings to an end this lovely audio journey. On the download version an extra treat ‘Erewyrehve Return’ gives a well deserved encore to the 8 String Baritone.

This is another gorgeous release from Andy who has taken an imaginary place as a theme but has clearly used the inspiration on his doorstep in real life and added a little musical fairy dust to transport the listener and the landscape to another place. The everyday, everywhere becomes somewhere special and memorable in Andy’s hands.  Whilst I may have fretted over my spell checking of ‘Erewyrehve’ at regular intervals in writing this review, I have no hesitation in recommending that you pay a visit and what is more you won’t have to quarantine for 14 days on your return.

(Francis Comyn)


(LP on Holy Mountain)

Barry Walker Jr. is an American pedal steel guitarist. That, however, only tells you half the story.  Bazzer is equally at home coaxing beautiful textural flourishes out of the instrument as he is using it as a noisy weapon of mass distraction, and the results of this dichotomy are utterly captivating. His latest solo project Shoulda Zenith finds him exploring the outer fringes of not only cosmic country but psychedelia, exotica, and even dissonant experimental rawk too. The transition from ‘Totally Tan’ into the blissful wistfulness of ‘Derr of the Schwann’ [Break of the Dawn] evokes the gradual fading of a harvest moon as its luminosity is dimmed by the sun. On ‘Insect Interlude (Circa The Airbase),’ the opening pedal steel’s loops and swirls gradually disintegrate into something ever more alien sounding; that however is a mere teaser for the masterful title track, which attains near critical levels of dissonance before erupting into a blazing frenzy of shrieking  psychedelia. And then at the close we find Walker on rhythm guitar and lead vocals: ‘Like A Prisoner’ is a telling title in itself, as if to say no matter what sonic exploration he undertakes, his choice of instrument means Barry Walker Jr is forever doomed to be considered a Nashville-style balladeer. Valerie Osterberg’s sweet harmonies on the chorus serve to underpin the sad irony of the fact. Several reasons to explore this record therefore, and my money’s on you enjoying the dissonant psych most of all.

(Phil McMullen)

(LP/DL from https://www.dragcity.com)

Featuring old Terrastock associate Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance), and Sky Green Leopard Donovan Quinn, Last Time I Saw Grace is the belated follow-up to New Bums’ 2014’s Voices In a Rented Room and finds them scratching a seven-year itch. In contrast to the intentionally lo-fi, bedsit-bumble of its predecessor, the material here sounds stronger and more fully formed, although with just the right amount of polish so as not to completely mask the quirky bouquet of DIY.

Still mostly reliant on two guitars and voices (but with some discreet keyboard and tasteful string driven accompaniment) ...Grace finds Chasney and Quinn coming across as a pair of millennial, West Coast troubadours, not so much Laurel Canyon as Lockdown Canyon cowboys. As you might expect, the overall sound features indelible hallmarks of both men’s “day jobs”, although ‘Billy God Damn’ contains trace elements of Kurts Weil and Ralske and also a lesser polka dotted Robyn Hitchcock while ‘Obliteration Time’ sounds like Six Organs channelling Beard of Stars era T Rex. Melodically, ‘Onward To Devastation’ belies its portentous title, the strained vocal melodies accentuating a lightness of touch that makes this one of the album’s stand-out cuts, punctuated by some dextrously busy guitar licks in the coda. ‘Wild Dogs’, meanwhile, takes the descending note-style intro of ‘Needle and the Damage’ and mixes it with some Led Zep III-style balladry and is another of the album’s touchstone track.

There are some genuine sparks of inspiration to be found here, such as the guitar on ‘Cover Band’ where you can almost hear the coyotes howling back by way of response. ‘Turned to Graffiti’ evokes their earlier outing, a delightfully simple, route one  knockabout, while  ‘Street Of Spies’ and ‘Follow Them Up That Slope’  make best use of stringed accompaniment as does the oh-so brief instrumental ‘So Long Kus’, on which Chasney’s nimble picking is underscored by a droning member of la famille du violon .

While still tastefully low key, then, Last Time I Saw Grace is possessed of a more studied and cultivated charm and one that you sense is more likely to appeal to a wider listenership than last time around. It’d be nice to see them over here, sometime. These crazy days can’t last forever. Can they?

(Ian Fraser)

(LP/DL from https://rocketrecordings.bandcamp.com)

Look up “Urdog” on the ol’ Google box and you’ll see that this mysterious three-piece Rhode Island outfit decided to take indefinite leave after their performance at  Terrastock 6 in 2006, which we’d like to think is something they’d planned and wasn’t due to anything we said or did at the time. Long Shadows 2003-2006 mines material from their two original albums and its welcome release marks something of a departure for those onwards and upwards forever questing Rocket twins, being their first foray into retro-land compilations. Either that’s an oddly artistic manifestation of cabin fever in these times of stricture or, as is more likely, a heartfelt expression of appreciation and a desire to bring to a wider audience a little known gem. And believe me when I tell you that this is an absolute pearl.  

Brief introductory incantation aside, it’s ‘Ice On Water’ that hurls us full tilt into a mid-noughties maelstrom of tribal tub-thumping and chanting and kid-in-a-toy-shop gleefulness in the abuse of drums, guitars, Farfisa organ and goodness knows what else. This is the one that Chris Rocket gets asked about when he DJs it at gigs (older readers may remember those). Ah but strip it, and much else here, of all flimflam back to its essence and it could nestle or perhaps that should be lurk, somewhere under a broad folk canopy while simultaneously giving the disparate likes of Comus and Amon Duul I and II a fright.  As things stand, though, it marks an experimental Devil may care approach, where wig outs and ambient blissfulness somehow co-exist and whereby, figuratively speaking, Father Yod’s crew go In Search Of Space to wild abandon. It would have all sounded anachronistic - but no less fun - at the time of release (or for that matter any time after about 1971), but which now sounds oddly prescient, fitting in with a lot of what labels like Rocket and indeed other labels like Riot Season and Cardinal Fuzz have been bringing us over the past decade. Incredibly this seems like the perfect fit, the missing piece of the jigsaw that links contemporary psychedelia with its primal sixties roots.

You can well imagine how Urdog went down at Terrastock 6, maybe you were even there. If so and if you still have your freak flag, then wave it now, for this is truly an underground artefact rescued from the undeserved obscurity of the archives of oblivion. Whether this bit of well-deserved exposure will tempt them out of self-imposed suspended animation remains to be seen. One thing’s for sure, though, and that is it was well worth the punt taken by the label when they contacted a 15 year old email address, evidently more out of hope than conviction. Sometimes you have to follow your nose. Then you feed your head.

(Ian Fraser)

(LP/CD/DL from https://godunknownrecords.bandcamp)

This intriguing hook-up between one-time Gallon Drunk and Bad Seed, Johnston, and Steve Gullick is a stark and at times quite beautiful work, delivered in a laconic style and which makes plenty of good use of the empty space between the notes. Our protagonists divide their time between music and painting (Johnston) and music photography (Gullick) which may help to account for the paint-spattered apron cover and which might otherwise be mistaken for that of a butcher (vegans, breathe).

We Travel Time exudes a considerable tenderness and melancholy grace that belies much of Johnston’s more intense, upbeat previous work. ‘First Light’ with its gorgeous, classically blended piano and violin should, if there is any justice, be much in demand for soundtracks. ‘Seven Seas’ evokes Johnston’s former boss Cave in reflective mood, but instead of the latter’s solo piano plinking we have squeaky, slightly queasy scrapings of bow strings to underline the nautical theme. There is an unerringly funereal stab at early solo Mark Lanegan (whom Gullick has worked with). courtesy of ‘Poised To Fall’ and which they duly nail to the cross. There are traces here too of ‘Soon I Will Be Gone’ – Free, to my mind, being usually more convincing as miserablist balladeers than blues rockers. Returning us to the briny, the all to brief ‘Stormy Sea’ is broodingly efficient, more Gira than Cave this time, while ‘Big Star Falls’ rivals the opener ‘First Light’ in its desolate charm. Into the final few furlongs and ‘Swing Me’ shimmers, Morricone style, although by this stage the mariachi band has succumbed to the bennies and beer, and the languid seesaw of ‘We Sail’ finds our heroes cast adrift on a windless and no doubt dying sea without land in site, before summoning strength for their longest voyage here. Fittingly it is the title track, another one of a clutch of exquisite numbers that would have rendered We Travel Time an absolutely essential mini-album but which even in its long form is a treat well worthy of exploration. It’s as gratifying a way in which to play out as I have experienced in many a moon. No bad thing, I’m sure you’ll agree.

(Ian Fraser)


(2LP/DL from Night World)

Reality Anonymous is the new alter ego of Danish-born, Chicago-based actor/screenwriter Lyn Vaus (Next Stop Wonderland, Temptation) with Rob Myers from Thievery Corporation and Soft Candy’s “Magic Alexx” Rowney assisting his Philip Stevenson/Blase Settecase rhythm section. A decade after his Floating Celebration debut (which we enjoyed immensely) , Vaus & Co. finally return with a dreamy collection of Sunday afternoon hammock-swaying cloud-starers (talk about sophomore slumps!) ‘Penny’ is a dizzy nodder mixing equal doses of a-Syd and Brian Jonestown Massacre and the laidback mood continues throughout.

     Kenthony Redmond (Infrared Quintet)’s flute adds an acid folky touch to the wistful ‘Bathhouse Frieze’ and ‘Dot’ which put me in a Spirit-ual state of mind with Ethereal Counterbalance residuals, and ‘Page Boy & The Dead Letter’ has an hallucinatory glow that makes its seven minutes seem like an hour! The glistening waterfall of ‘I Love Her Everywhere’ bears more than a passing resemblance to the gentle pop of Lawrence and Felt, and you’ll lose more than your ‘Context Lens’ [sic] during the sitar-drenched headswirler ‘Neti Neti’. The monotonic drone of ‘Yemamja’ continues earlier vestiges of Lou Reed/John Cale on a downer, so hide the razor blades for this one. Elsewhere, ‘Corn Mummies’ evinces a funky David Byrne vibe with a mean sax solo for extra enjoyment.

     The decade sabbatical was worth it, as this is even better than the debut. And you’ll spend hours unravelling the mysteries behind Dale Simpson’s brilliant cover art! Hint: Lyn assures me that the paintings have a correlation with the songs - there are 16 of each; it’s up to you to match them!

(Jeff Penczak)


(LP/CD/Digital on Far Out Recordings)


This previously unreleased gem of Brazilian jazz fusion from 1976, the debut recording from Marcos Resende & Index, comes as a much-needed breath of fresh air.  Although the group’s 1978 follow-up ‘Festa Para Um Novo Rei’ was released, and to great acclaim, many didn’t even know this earlier album had been recorded.  Resende was a musical prodigy who initially went to Portugal to study medicine, despite already having the chops to easily become the highly successful musician he would eventually go on to become.  Returning to his native Brazil amid political upheaval in Portugal in 1974, he focused on music for good.  Newly decked out with keyboards and synths galore, he formed this sterling four-piece with Claudio Caribe on drums, Rubão Sabino on bass, and Oberdan Magalhães, now sadly passed, on tenor and soprano saxes, and flute.


Inspired by British prog rock and US fusion, they recorded this album with ace engineer Toninho Barbosa, who, with a long list of classic recordings to his name is sometimes called the “Brazilian Rudy Van Gelder.”  Though there were suitors for LP’s label, the closest being CTI, Resende never got the deal he wanted, and shelved the master tapes.  Later, despite the second album’s success, Resende would switch to keyboard session work in which he would have a long, successful career.  In 2018, Resende agreed to work with Far Out Recordings’ main man Joe Davis on an eventual release of Marcos Resende & Index.  After two years spent restoring the tapes, the album finally sees the light of day.  Tragically, Marcos Resende would succumb to cancer in November 2020, just a few short weeks before its release.


The album springs forth immediately and brightly with the indelible sounds of its time.  Overflowing with breezy, positive vibes, it sounds like many more than four guys, thanks to overdubbing and their multi-instrumental talents.  It has virtually every ingredient in the Brazilian jazz cookbook (except guitar).  The band keeps the funky energy flowing with a steady stream of synths, saxes and flutes, all anchored by Resende’s virtuoso work on the Fender Rhodes.  The rhythms are varied, often astonishingly complex, and Claudio Caribe’s percussion extends from drums to a dizzying welter of hand instruments.  The music compares to northern contemporaries like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and, when Oberdan Magalhães is wailing away on sax, Tom Scott.  But more to the point, they carry the flame of great Brazilian bands of the day such as Azymüth.


 The six tracks are penned by Resende, except the frenetic-paced “Nina Neném,” written by bassist Rubão Sabino.  “Nergal” is perhaps the biggest standout track.  Resende pulls out all the stops here by welcoming a giant 14-piece cast of Brazilian musical elites, including a six-piece horn section, the band Café, and percussionist Wilson Meirelles.  “Nergal” consists of an exuberant main theme which comes and goes repeatedly, with several interludes varying from quiet moods to breakneck blowouts threaded throughout its nine minutes.  And despite that huge supporting cast behind him, as with the other tracks, it’s still Resende’s keyboards that make “Nergal” great, with Marcos masterfully playing the Mini-Moog, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha CP-708, and the Prophet-5 synthesizers.


It may have been delayed 45 years, but we’re lucky to finally have Marcos Resende & Index coming out of our speakers.  It’s hard to believe such great quality could’ve languished so long.  Kudos to Far Out for making it possible, and of course to the late Resende and friends for playing their hearts out at the time.


(Mark Feingold)


(LP/CD/Digital on Far Out Recordings)


This is the second of two cracking new releases of Brazilian jazz on Far Out in recent weeks, the first being the above Marcos Resende & Index.  While the Marcos Resende album is peak fusion from 1976, this sparkler is brand new, from the force to be reckoned with from Rio De Janeiro that is Antonio Neves.  It’s big production, big band sound bursting with mischievous enthusiasm.


Instrumentally, Neves is that rarest of breeds, the trombonist-drummer (cue the David Attenborough narration).  And it’s perhaps because of that internal alliance between swooping melody leads and rhythm that Neves brings such remarkable balance to his compositions and arrangements.  With one previous album under his belt, 2017’s ‘Pa7,’ this time Neves expanded his palette and ambitions.


He began by writing down a list of all the greatest musicians from Rio that he would love to collaborate with, both long-time legends and young guns.  He must be a persuasive recruiter, because the cast of credits reads more like the Rio phone book.


Opener “Simba” is a brief bit of chaos that starts amusingly with one of the voices yelling “Aaaaah!” and features a mishmash of instruments including jew’s harp, not something you’d expect.  Things settle down quickly as “Simba” segues into the title track, which is also the album’s top highlight/delight.  “A Pegada Agora É Essa” is so infectious and playful, it sounds like all the musicians are absolutely having the time of their life.  From the shakin’ and jivin’ rhythm track that just won’t quit, to the rapid-fire bird call-like sound of the cuicá, to Marcos Alcides ‘Esguleba’’s gleeful voiceover, which reminds me of the entertainer Geoffrey Holder or Louis Prima’s deep, good-natured exhortations, on “A Pegada…” the Sway sure is Now.  It switches back and forth between the big horn section to some amazing layered keyboard solos, and good luck sitting still.


Neves gives an eerie treatment to Dorival Caymmi’s 1959 “Noite de Temporal,” with the vocal hauntingly performed by Caymmi’s granddaughter Alice Caymmi, no less.   After tiptoeing and wobbling cautiously through the song’s first four minutes, the band explodes in the final minute in a multi-dimensional reverie of rhythms, keyboards and vocals.


Next, Neves turns to Nelson Cavaquinho’s “Luz Negra,” in a kaleidoscopic arrangement highlighted by Ana Frango Elétrico’s dreamy vocals (she also did the Art Direction for the album).  It’s as if the psychedelic party scene from ‘Midnight Cowboy’ was relocated to a posh, swinging Rio beachfront hangout.


“Forte Apache” features the exquisite playing throughout of the great Hamilton De Holanda on the bandolin, a 15-stringed Ecuadorian distant cousin of the mandolin.  “Lamento De Um Perplexo” has some sweet sax by the esteemed Leo Gandelman, enfolded by the other horns.  Gershwin’s “Summertime” gets a steamy, simmering portrayal, including Neves’ own slippery vocals (in his defense, I’m not sure how good his English is).  On closer “Jongo no Feudo,” Eduardo Neves (not sure if they’re related) plays a spirited flute over an arrangement that spreads out the whole band.


Far Out Recordings is on a roll to start the year with two superb releases out of the starting gate.  Antonio Neves should be a star for many years to come if this record is any indication.  His playing, composing and arranging are first-rate.  He knows how to pull in the finest musicians and get the absolute best out of them.  Most of all, he makes things fun, as there’s not one minute of this record that doesn’t sound like the musicians were having a ball.  Finally, props go out to Angelo Wolf, for mixing, mastering and sound engineering.  The audio quality on this record is second to none.


(Mark Feingold)



Available as a Les Enfants Du Paradiddle download

So I’m sat here on Alan Davidson’s birthday and can think of no better way to celebrate than to kick  back and enjoy his 124th (!) album as the inimitable Kitchen Cynic. And those are only the ones he’s self-released over the past 30 years on his wonderfully-named Les Enfants Du Paradiddle imprint (named, of course, after Marcel Carné’s brilliant 1945 classic, Les Enfants Du Paradise!) Newbies and the faithful alike will warm to Davidson’s gently whispered story songs and tenderly plucked acoustic guitar accompaniment. ‘The Fall of Dr. Strang’ opens the album with a campfire tale of horror and trepidation (and the temptation to add that final “e” only adds to the tension as we await the final verdict). Davidson imbues Keith Christmas’s ‘The Fawn’ with shards of flickering guitar dancing on a golden pond like rays of sunshine piercing through a canopy of evergreens on a winter’s afternoon.

     The fairy tale of ‘John and Joan - The Clown’s Courtship’ doesn’t end well for our star-crossed lovers and the eerie ghost story of ‘Dunnideer’, an ancient hillfort, castle and megalithic stone circle near Davidson’s home in Aberdeenshire revisits his love for local history that is a key part of many of his songs. The accomplished ‘Emboldened’ features multiple guitars, keyboards, and echoing harmonics bouncing around the room that will have your head a-swooning in time to the vibrating rhythms coming at you from all directions. Let’s just say that the preponderance of mushrooms adorning the elaborate cover art collage that Davidson has assembled adds to the set and setting rules of engagement common amongst a certain group of enlightenment seekers that will have much to contemplate whilst sitting cross-legged on the floor absorbing the album in full headphone glory! A very happy birthday present from Davidson to his many fans.

(Jeff Penczak)


(psychedelic source records)


This is a truly lovely work of wyrd folk coming from Hungary.  There is almost zero information out there about the mysterious River Flows Reverse, as they appear to be a loose aggregation from the underrated psychedelic source collective.  Certainly, this appears to be their debut album.


Fans of Beautify Junkyards will find a lot to like here, as ‘When River Runs Reverse’ reminds me in some ways of the wonderful band from Portugal.  And at an hour long, you get more than your money’s worth of their haunting music.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I love artists who create their own little sound worlds within a record, as River Flows Reverse does here.  What you get, as with Beautify Junkyards, is their own form of folk, buttressed by massive loads of atmosphere and style, and reflective of their ethnic heart.  And they do it with great economy, often with spare arrangements of, say, an electric guitar, banjo, bass, drums, woodwinds, an occasional trumpet, and some gorgeous vocals.


Like the titular river, the album flows along in a meandering fashion, giving the listener a warm sense of tranquility.  You, the listener, never get the sense of where a song is heading, nor will you really care, so calming is their style.  The album is about 80% instrumental.  Songs may go on for long wordless stretches, giving you the impression that the track is an instrumental, then vocals will finally appear several minutes in, only to drift away again.  The enchanting vocals, with their off-kilter harmonies, are mostly by Kriszti Benus (Lemurian Folk Songs).  Most of the vocals are in English, but there are a few instances, as with “At the Gates of the Perennial” and “El Sendero II and III,” where a man utters a few sentences of spoken word in Hungarian buried deep within the middle of an otherwise lengthy instrumental track.  These lines hail from Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching, and translate to “the gates of heaven and earth open and close” and “Behold, it was born of ancient chastity, born before heaven and earth, how peaceful, how empty.”


The album is hypnotic, mesmerizing, and full of quiet, pastoral beauty.  Besides the aforementioned Beautify Junkyards, the tracks can remind me of Pentangle, or Miles Davis, incredibly within the same song.  Kriszti Bensus’ vocals really shine on “Final Run,” “Rain It Rages,” and “Oriental Western,” sounding both icily indifferent and bewitching.  For an album its members claim was “recorded in a cold shed in the middle of the muddy forest of Hungary” it sounds weirdly magnetic and beguiling.  ‘When River Flows Reverse’ gets my highest recommendation.

(Mark Feingold)

SMOTE – BODKIN (LP on The Weird Beard Records)

Smote is the solo project of Newcastle Upon Tyne based Daniel Foggin and this is his debut full length release following a series of EP’s that came out on very limited cassette runs. The music takes its influences from psych rock and more traditional, at times medieval sources and brings them together with intelligence and not a little style across a varied 5 tracks.

‘Psolstice’ opens the record and immediately showcases a propulsive psych rocker. Distant gothic tinged and ritualistic chanted vocals permeate the brewing and indeed brooding storm of guitar and drums with high flying flute rising above it all and adding otherworldly and mysterious colours to the growing cacophony. It’s like an extended Gregorian Hawkwind trance jam, hypnotic and with a nailed down groove. ‘Fohrt’ opens with a squall of electronic noise before settling into a lively Eastern tinged, folk infused melody with touches of flute once more used to good effect. Traces of Pentangle, Incredible String Band and indeed Jethro Tull style fusions are at play and that’s a good thing. The electronic drone never goes away but is sensibly used to bookend the piece, dramatic  without being either jarring or overpowering. ‘Moninna’ is driven by a more leisurely, mellow groove and subtly explores more spacey colours and textures  in a lengthy instrumental which reminded me at times of Sendelica’s extended journeys into the void. ‘Motte’ opens with shimmering waves of cymbals and electronic sound and is more overtly experimental within the context of a spacious jam extending beyond 11 minutes that blends choral drones and incantations akin to medieval religious rituals with eastern mystery and mysticism and pastoral folk flourishes. It’s loose but never rambling with a constancy to the repeating core melody that adds to the intensity of the music and its feel. Gradually things become louder and more gripping as the guitars briefly become unhinged but things then fade to a calm conclusion. This is music for long forgotten and obscure ceremonies in elemental places and it’s a fine listen. The title track completes the record and its wailing eastern coloured drones and crashing chords and cymbals create a dark, dense and elemental mood emphasised by the powerful dynamics of loud and pummelling repetition reminiscent of Swans.

This is a record of moods, sometimes powerful and elemental, at times elegant, occasionally of distant times and never less than imaginative. It uses light and shade cleverly to create evocative sound worlds of mystery and imagination where influences both ancient and modern create a very rewarding listen. As always this is a limited run release so make sure to set your Smote alarms as the Fire Brigade might say.

 (Francis Comyn)



(LP from Feathered Coyote Records)

It was the whimsical acid-folk-meditations set against star-speckled forest soundscapes that first pulled me in, although if that hadn’t already won me over then the laid-back interstellar jams with echoes (ha!) of Steve Hillage in his pomp would’ve floored me. As it is, this evocative debut album, with each track book-ended by field recordings of miscellaneous bird-song and the sound of tumbling streams, reminds me of the sacred texts of Fit and Limo - and that’s an appropriate analogy too as it tuns out, since the driving force behind Sky Burrow Tales is another duo, in this case Ulrich Musa-Rois and Swantje, who recorded the album in their home studios in Vienna.

Although the record is (as is so often the case) most rewarding when listened to as an album, i.e. from start to finish with no interruptions, the real stand-out for me has to be the title track ‘The Road to Sky Burrow,’  an eleven-minute long acid-drenched dreamscape that set against a repetitive electronic drum pattern. Imagine if you will Neu! and MV & EE jamming together at some celestial Terrastock third stage and you’ll be part way there.

(Phil McMullen)