=  MAY 2009  =

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Written by:


Simon Lewis

Quicksilver Messenger Service
Jeff Penczak The Shortwave Set
Nigel Cross The Chemistry Set

Phil McMullen

Cheval Sombre

Steve Palmer

Andwellas Dream
  Smokin' Cool Deranged Cats
  Deleted Waveform Gatherings
  Ellen Mary McGee



‘Live at the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, 9th September 1966’

‘Live at the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco,  29th October 1966’

‘Live at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, 4th February 1967’

‘Live at the Fillmore Auditorium,  San Francisco, 5th February 1967’

‘Live at the Carousel  Ballroom, San Francisco, 4th April 1968’

(Bear/Voiceprint CDs)                                                                                     


Presumably I am preaching to the converted as the Quicksilver Messenger Service are regarded hereabouts as one of the greatest bands of the late 60s – period. If you have yet to experience their delights then your first stop should be a copy of their 1969 album Happy Trails (preferably the CD version on Repertoire) which will tell you just about everything you need to know about  this incredible band.


Part of the musical/cultural explosion that occurred in the Bay Area some 40 odd years ago, Quicksilver were at its forefront, alongside  the Airplane, the Dead and Big Brother – their breathtaking, adrenalin-inducing powers of improvisation some of the most accomplished ever witnessed in the history of rock. Though they were more than capable of writing fine original material, the group was most at home using old blues and folk material as a vehicle to extemporise on.


There’s never been a lot of officially released material by early line ups of the group – and once guitarist Gary Duncan quit at the end of 1968 as the band was completing its second LP, the above mentioned meisterwerk, Happy Trails, theirs was a slow and at times excruciating demise. Fortunately this sophomore album, their exquisite eponymous debut and the posthumously released double album Maiden of the Cancer Moon (Psycho) did more than enough to establish their reputation.


However, despite dozens of bootleg tapes, there has never until now been any official recordings released by the original five piece * – John Cipollina (lead guitar), David Freiberg (bass/viola/vocals), Jim Murray (guitar/harmonica/vocals) Gary Duncan (guitar/vocals) and Greg Elmore (drums). So the arrival of these CDs put out with the co-operation of surviving members of the band is more than welcome. These live recordings are a vital missing piece of the Quicksilver jigsaw. They chart the development of its musical journey from 1966 to 1968, from covering rough and ready  rhythm and blues tunes and obscure folk songs to full blown psychedelic  work-outs.


The first two CDs are from Chet Helms’s Avalon Ballroom – a venue where QMS held the record for the most number of appearances – so they’re in their natural environment in front of a home crowd, relaxed and in the first bloom of greatness. The bond between audience and band was a very special one for Quicksilver – witness the way the group and crowd are one on the foot-stomping version of ‘Smokestack Lightning’.  Much of the first record will be already be known to collectors as it formed the basis of disc 1 on the quintessential QMS boot of some years ago, Marin County Cowboys. What’s also interesting here is the embryonic version of ‘(Acapulco) Gold & Silver’, Quicksilver’s interpretation of Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’, which had still to reach the magnificent heights of guitar interplay between Duncan and Cipollina it would 18 months later.


The second disc recorded seven weeks later at the end of October ’66 is unfortunately marred by some poor sound quality notably on ‘Dandelion’ and ‘Codeine’ and also reveals that the band’s tuning left a lot to be desired was no idle criticism – check out Cipo’s solo on ‘If You Live’. Never one of their best numbers their performance of this song at Monterey eight months later, was the epitome of tightness, flash and polish. However once this set gets going there are a couple of fabulous moments. Less than two months on from the first version, listen to how they take ‘Smokestack Lightning’ in a completely different direction here, whilst the early version of Bo Diddley’s ‘Mona’, a little crude by Happy Trails standards maybe, ripples with the band’s burning appetite to explore – have to say I had never heard this before and it’s quite a revelation.   


Until the 70s QMS never ventured much out of the Golden State – they didn’t need to as they were always in big demand in their home town and favourites of promoter Bill Graham – disc 3 & 4 are from the Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium and recorded in the halcyon year of 1967, when San Francisco became the cultural epicentre of the western world!


The performances from 4th February are arguably the pick of the whole bunch of these releases – the veritable dog’s bollocks.  Presumably the full show, this kicks off with ‘I Hear You Knockin’, a song that wouldn’t make the final cut of the debut Capitol LP sadly but which is quite superb here with a blistering solo from JC on demon form, and some strong vocal harmonies. There’s also a furious ‘Mona’ with Greg Elmore pounding the fuck out of his skins, and a bizarre snippet ‘Look Around’, that may or may not be a Dino Valenti number.

If the first part of this tantalisingly whets your appetite, disc 2 really steams along – the combo firing on all cylinders – a showcase of all that made early QMS such a distinctive and exciting live outfit.  Introduced as having been written by Nick Gravenites, ‘Drivin’ Wheel’, (‘It’s Been Too Long’) is a cracker with ferocious harp from Murray and a truly aggressive guitar break from Cipollina, whilst the old stalwart ‘Who Do You Love’ with Murray on lead vocal has yet to morph into the Miles Davis-inspired jam it would less than a year later, is sweat-drenched fun nonetheless. The real pick of the crop here has to be ‘Stand By Me’, a song written by Dino Valenti and recorded as the B-side of the band’s first 45 ‘Bears’. Rarely done live this is a masterful version of the ballad – similar in feel to ‘Light Your Windows’ this has a real old West feel to it. And Freiberg is incredible – presumably playing viola, his singing is extraordinary.  No wonder Paul Kantner was moved to tell us last year that after Grace Slick and Marty Balin, he thinks David is the greatest singer ever to come out of the Bay Area! Even  though this lacks the shower of sparks from Cipollina’s Gibson SG at its close (which it has on the 45), this is worth the price of admission alone – magical stuff!    


Interesting to note from the material from the second February performance that despite the psychedelic drugs, the band was still very much into doing blues covers and British Invasion stuff like ‘Hey Mama, Keep Your Big Mouth Shut’ and ‘Walkin’ Blues’.  Once again the sound at times is poor (‘You Don’t Love Me’ for example) and maybe there should have been some judicious editing, but there is still much to enjoy here – including a couple of real finds. ‘Year of the Outrage’ is a stirring ballad written by Nick Gravenites sitting in with the band here – a lost gem – whilst ‘I Can’t believe It’ sung by Freiberg and featuring some lovely lyrical lead guitar sounds suspiciously like another  Dino Valenti cover – no surprise as the band had originally formed to be his backing band. Dino of course would later join the group and the rot would set in.

Finally we have a performance from the Carousel Ballroom, managed by Bill Graham and later renamed the Fillmore West. By April 68, Jim Murray had left the band and as a quartet Quicksilver was reaching the absolute zenith of its abilities. These performances have been lurking around in various pirated forms for a while but hey, you can never get enough of the four-piece Quicksilver and this is heady stuff. They may have done tougher versions of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Back Door Man’ but this was always one of their most inspired covers and Duncan’s vocals are suitably macho and menacing.  ‘Light Your Windows’ is here embellished by some pretty flute playing, presumably courtesy of mate Steve Schuster whose playing lends it a jazzier feel and there’s some nice interplay between him and Cipollina. With Murray gone, Cipollina and Duncan could concentrate on their interplay – listen to these guys work off each other on ‘The Fool’ and you’ll be slack-jawed in wonderment.  Whilst ‘Who Do You Love’, a different live version of which would form the backbone of Happy Trails reaches its full glory fuelled in no small way by Elmore who had by now invested in a double drum kit and really makes its impact felt here!


The Carousel set continues on a second disc with ‘The Jam’, a lengthy work out that again features flute and horns and possibly other players – I checked the Chicken on A Unicycle site to see who else played this show – and QMS were not scheduled to play this date – possibly coming in as a last-minute replacement for John Lee Hooker, Loading Zone and Mother Earth. Although Cipollina sounds uncharacteristically restrained on this and the whole thing is little more than a rather unfocused 12-bar, it’s a very welcome addition to the Quicksilver canon capturing the band doing something that they and the other SF bands did regularly but which has never been immortalised on record until now.


Whilst nobody can dispute the quality of most of the material in terms of its staggering musicianship and excitement, the release of these records seems to me a huge missed opportunity. Putting it mildly the sleeve notes are at best pedestrian, at worst frustratingly bereft of any input by the band. Duncan has more than once opined that histories of QMS are wrong, that the late John Cipollina was a great storyteller but frequently twisted the facts  –  though in Cippo’s defence his side of the story is more than corroborated in Shelley Duncan’s book about her life in the 60s with husband Gary and the band. Why wasn’t Duncan or Freiberg consulted when the notes were written? Furthermore there is no information about the gigs themselves – presumably for the group their memories all blurred into one and they simply can’t recall them? And there was a great marketing opportunity here to do something better – a boxed set, a nice insert with some photos and memorabilia from the day, some notes by somebody who truly knows the band and you might have had a Quicksilver fan’s ultimate wet dream!


But hey, maybe I’m  just carping – until Alec Paolo completes his quest tracking down all the demos and lost gems by the 1966/67 quintet and writes a definitive history of this era  –  these CDs  will do just fine.


* OK, the original quintet was Cipollina, Freiberg, Murray, Casey Sonoban and Skip Spence  (Nigel Cross )




( CD from www.walloffsound.net)


( CD  from www.myspace.com/skittlebraurecords)


( CD   from www.myspace.com/chevalsombre)


    Those of you who like to caress your ears in paisley covered, psych sweetness should pay attention and take careful note as these three bands whisk you away to candy-coated islands, a warm sunshine sparkling golden on the oceans of your dreams.


    Opening with glorious joy of “Harmonium”, the shortwave Set engage your attention fully, the melodies reeling you in completely, before the strange vibe of “Glitches and Bugs” reveals shadows in paradise, although these may be more imagined than real. Evidence of a modern perspective, “Replica” has a scratchy introduction that slowly fades, leaving some chiming guitar and breezy horns, the lazy vocals bringing back the sunshine, sounding like The Beatles played by the Dukes of Stratosphear, the string arrangements by Van Dyke Parks the icing on a delicious slice of cake.


    As well as the aforementioned string arranger, the album also includes viola and synth from John Cale, as well as being produced by Danger Mouse (crumbs DM), whose obvious skills give this album a bright and uplifting feel. This feel is very evident on “Now ‘Til 69”, a Beach Boys flavoured romp of pure happiness. Sounding like an unreleased James Bond soundtrack, in an ideal world, “No Social” includes the immortal line “Everyone knows that a dog dressed in clothes is still a dog”, exactly. To round thing off, the synth infested The Downer Song” is a modern psych song that sounds fresh and relevant whilst acknowledging its roots, boding well for the future of this excellent band.


    Eighteen years after their last release, original paisley band The Chemistry Set return with a new 6-track EP. Roaring out the speakers with a jangle of sound and reverb, “She’s Taking Me Down” is a wonderful ever rising tune that will get your feet tapping, the soaring guitar lines of  Paul Lake, taking you to heaven. Feauring some excellent organ work and vocal harmonies, “Seeing Upside Down” is another high-flying tune that sounds like a cross between The Who and The Byrds, whilst “Look to the Sky” is a farfisa fuelled toy town classic, slow, dreamy and full of whimsical goodness. Apparently the first in a series of EP’s, each will contain an obscure cover, in this case “Silver Birch”, originally recorded by Del Shannon on his “The Further Adventures of Charles Westover” LP. I have not heard the original, but on this version the reverbed vocals and lysergic undercurrent sound like Love crossed with Tommy James (Crimson and Clover) creating a mighty fine song with a wonderfully psychedelic heart. To end, “Regarde Le Ciel” is a French version of “Look at the Sky”, the lyrics sung by Suzette De La Grace Faberge, giving the song another twist, and ensuring you are happy to hear it again, rounding of a collection of jangly psych that you should really hear.


    To complete this psych trio Cheval Sombre are a one man band, their debut album filled with softly shifting folk psych, sounding like a mellow Spacemen Three, something that is not surprising as Sonic Boom guests on this album as well as producing, his organ/effects, covering the songs with an acidic sheen of otherworldly ambience. All of which is nicely demonstrated on the hypnotic, sleepy opener “It’s A Shame”, the electronic drift and acoustic guitar interwoven by a swirling analogue synth to beautiful effect. A similar narcotic feel is present on “Little Bit of Heaven”, the pace slowing down even more on “Troubled Mind”, the influence of the Spacemen even more pronounced, although this may be what they would have sounded like if they had lived in the countryside. All this reaches its zenith on “I Sleep”, a slowly rising chord paving the way for narcoleptic lyrics to tread wearily over, as soft as a ghost in sunlight, the song never once threatening to burst into life, maintaining its slow motion perambulation until the end. Surprising, but wonderfully executed, a cover of “Hyacinth House” (The Doors) is given the same slowmo treatment, revealing the poetry within the lyrics, whilst “The Strangest Thought I Never Had” ends the album in the majestic style it started with, the whole album never straying from its vision, resolute in its quiet engaging agenda.


    From paisley revival, through the sleepy corridors of dreams, until you reach modern psych with roots, these album are all different, yet share a passion and an ambience that makes psychedelic music a vital and moving force, the power is in the music, as they say. (Simon Lewis)



Andwellas Dream – Love and Poetry



            Sunbeam commemorate the 40th anniversary of this teenaged Irish trio’s classic slice of British psychedelia with the definitive edition, featuring post-LP 45s, several alternate mixes, and a pair of recent recordings from frontman, David Lewis, who also provides detailed liner notes, setting the historical context into which CBS released these 13 tracks. Ranging from the pastoral acoustic beauty of bookend tracks, ‘The Days Grew Longer for Love’ and ‘Goodbye’ to the country rock of ‘Man Without A Name,’ to the jolly, Kinksy pop of ‘High On A Mountain,’ the album is all over the musical map. The proggy organ flourishes on ‘Cocaine’ and Lewis’ acid guitar breaks, particularly on the freakbeaty ‘Sunday,’ combine to deliver one eclectic album, that, along with CBS’ failure to promote, doomed it from the start. But the album’s true “sore thumb” track may be ‘Lost A Number, Found A King,’ which sounds like an oriental prog suite played by hippies, thanks to guest Bob Downes’ Chinese bells, bamboo flute, and assorted oriental percussives. The non-LP B-side, ‘Michael FitzHenry’ (named after the band’s engineer) is a nice jazzy, prog effort, while another B-side, ‘Mister Sunshine’ (originally named ‘Mean Junkie Blues’) shows off some of Lewis’ effective blues licks. Lewis’ tracks from last year, including the warmly-received, live track, ‘Paradise Isle’ show he’s still got the music in him and are welcome additions to his discography. [Note for vinyl junkies: The 2xLP version omits two bonus tracks, the alternate versions of two original LP tracks, ‘Take My Road’ and ‘Man Without A Dream’ from a rare, unreleased teaser album that Lewis’ recorded to gauge other artists’ interest in covering his songs.] (Jeff Penczak)




 (CD/LP on Sub Rosa; CD has extra tracks)


            Va-va-va-vrooom! Walter De Paduwa (aka Dr. Boogie) is a Belgian musicologist/DJ who has compiled over two dozen heartracers chronicling “the rocketing rise and fast decline of a music form called rockabilly (1954-59)” for this fourth entry in Sub Rosa’s Fundamental series of rare and lost recordings from the ‘20s to the ‘60s. Sadly, there’s no track annotations (Dr. Boogie confesses, “We were unable to identify most of the performers…. Strangely, rockabilly has been a relatively anonymous movement.”), so we’re on our own as far as who these people were, where they came from, and what labels and years they recorded. Dr. Boogie helpfully does profide a general definition of rockabilly as “a white, typically southern, and rural kind of rock and roll born in Memphis in 1954.” Aside from being a veritable goldmine for the likes of Brian Setzer and Dave Edmunds, these 26 anonymous tracks reveal the true origins of garage rock, be it in the actual garages, basements, or back rooms of local stores where many tracks of this nature were created, pressed in miniscule quantities, and sold at local sock hops. For every Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, et. al. there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jimmy Edwardses, Eddie Cashes, Al Urbans, Bill Mosses, and Gary Hodgeses hunkering down and sweating out these terrific 2-minute slabs of Saturday Night Sock Hop barnstormers across southern smalltown, USA.


            Twanging guitars, wailing saxes, and barrel house piano stomping is the order of the day, with the roots of everything from Duane Eddy and The Ventures to surfin’ instrumentals lurking within. Most of the tracks are free from surface noise, an amazing feat for 50-year old recordings and an amazing tribute to the audio restoration wizards at Le Laboratoire Centraal in Brussels. Personal favorites include Jimmy Edwards’ hiccuping, Buddy Holly-styled ‘Love Bug Crawl,’ Curly Coldiron’s fingerpopping, happy foot dance party, ‘Rockin’ Spot,’ which Sha Na Na or Danny & The Juniors would’ve killed for back in the day, and the snarling Elvis boogie of Eddie Cash’s ‘Doin’ Allright.’ Other highlights include The Cals’ piano-stompin’ ‘Country Woman,’ Al Urban’s swinging ‘Gonna Be Better Times’ (a bastard stepbrother of ‘Too Much Monkey Business’?), the swifty, nifty guitar pickin’ of Bill Logsdon & The Royal Notes’ perfectly titled instro, ‘Spitfire,’ and John Friis & The Valiants’ kissin’ cousin to ‘Be Bop A Lula,’ ‘Bop A Lena.’ Elsewhere, I’m sure you’ll come back to Jimmy Evans’ ‘The Joint’s Really Jumpin’,’ Harvey Hunt’s fancy-fingered fretwork on ‘Big Dog, Little Dog,’ Bill Moss’ self-explanatory ‘Rockabilly Hop,’ and Gary Hodge’s short and sweet kissoff, ‘Not For Love or Money.’


            An excellent companion to the Las Vegas Grind series, this is a key archival release in the early history of the roots of rock and roll, particularly the influence of country music, and an essential purchase for cool cats, swingin’ hipsters, and fans of early rock and roll. The criminally ignored history to the flip side of the Elvises and Jerry Lees, these anonymous cats were, in some cases, just as talented, they just couldn’t catch a break or get that all important national exposure. Thanks to the good Doctor, now they, and you, can Boogie On into the night! (Jeff Penczak)




(CD from Big Dipper records and Rainbow Quartz Records )


Singer, songwriter and multi-faceted musician Øyvind Holm can do little wrong in the eyes of the Terrascope, and it’s good to see Deleted Waveform Gatherings, now onto their second album, garnering some much deserved attention for his talents – Dipsomaniacs were almost criminally overlooked, something even a showcase gig at Terrastock Boston failed to rectify, and Øyvind’s solo albums seemed to sink without trace. We tried, guys; we really did try.


DWG are perhaps a little more power-pop compared to the Dipso’s psych leanings, more Game Theory than Rain Parade if you see what I mean, but that’s all to the good – and in bandmates Hogne Galaen (guitars), drummer Freddy Bolso, bassis Robert Winther and keyboard player Anbjorn Viem Øyvind has assembled around him a more than technically competent outfit to do his songs justice. A bit like Jeff Kelly of the Green Pajamas, Øyvind’s own songs are invariably the strongest, which coupled with a commendable level of studio craftsmanship means there’s more than a few stand-out numbers on this album: the closing ‘For Free’, and the gorgeously tight ‘In a Dream-Like Way’ which segues into it arguably being the pick of the bunch, neither of which would sound out of place on an unreleased Neutral Milk Hotel album (a strong case can be made too for ‘Garden Bird Tray’). ‘Backwards to Zero’ and the drifting psychedelia of ‘Good as Gone’,  ‘Mental Balance Movement’ and the opening ‘Tiger Rider’ are all gems as well, while a personal favourite is the driving, edgy beat of ‘The New Rain’. The strongest collection since Dipsomaniacs’ ‘Praying Winter’? Only time will tell, but it’s already taken up residence in my car to accompany the daily commute. (Phil McMullen)




( CD on Midwich Records via Southern)


Ellen Mary McGee should be no stranger to Terrascope readers or indeed the whole of the Terrastock Nation, since she’s been an integral part of the scene for seven or eight years now, and made her solo debut last year at Terrastock 7. Her startlingly clear, passion-filled voice was at the forefront of Saint Joan who lasted from 2002 to 2007, Ellen only calling it a day when the rest of the band were unable to throw themselves into a punishing touring schedule to promote their final album ‘The Wreckers Lantern’ – Never sitting still for long, Ellen’s not one to allow the grass grown under her feet, and her Irish and Romany gypsy roots have left her brushed with wanderlust, which to her credit she uses to great effect in seeking out material for her songs. And what songs they are! Both brilliantly literary and deceptively poetic, they draw on mythology, metaphysics, fantasy and philosophy in equal measure. They are road songs, but her road is never a straight white line through wide-open spaces: it’s a road that meanders from town to country, leaving behind the bright lights, losing itself amidst suburban housing estates, emerging into lonely, windswept heathland and crossing into dense forests where even the clearings hold threats.


Backing herself on guitar, banjo and zither (possibly with support; Southern’s promotional blurb wasn’t too forthcoming on that) Ellen’ songs are steeped in folk traditions, although one or two have definite echoes of the earlier ensemble playing inspired by Movietone which Saint Joan fans will recognise immediately: ‘Theseus’  and ‘From The Stars’ spring to mind. ‘A Watch of Nightingales’ is a particularly strong opening for the album which showcases her voice majestically, and ‘The Fatal Flower Garden’ is one of those songs which are so timelessly brilliant they seem as if they must have been plucked from a dog-eared book of folk-song (actually it’s long been a favourite of her live set). ‘Lord Franklin’ is a traditional arrangement which will be (or should be if you’ve been paying attention!) recognised from the TEA-2 compilation CD released in October last year to coincide with the London Terrastock Tea Party. My personal favourite of the whole set though is ‘Teeth of the Hydra’, which features a haunting guitar into, a metronomic rhythmic backing from Ellen herself and an edge to her voice which is completely and utterly chilling. A wonderful centrepiece to a brilliant album on which all of Ellen’s many talents really do seem to finally come together – I can’t recommend this one enough. (Phil McMullen)



Circulus - Thought Becomes Reality

(CD via www.myspace.com/circulus )


In 2005, like lightning from a blue sky, an unlikely sounding album made its miraculous appearance. "The Lick On The Tip Of An Envelope Yet To Be Sent" by Circulus was a wondrous mixture of mediaeval music, psychedelia, folk and Moog synth, announcing a special new band, and the vision of its leader, Michael Tyack. A second album, "Clocks Are Like People," was of a similarly high standard, just as bonkers and just as marvellous as the debut. The world awaited a third album... and here it is. Between albums two and three the band have alas lost a few members, notably Moog man Oliver Parfitt and singer Lo Polidoro, and they now record on their own Mythical Cake label, but they continue - thank goodness!


The first thing to notice is the artwork. Sporting multicoloured psychedelic imagery - flying saucers, Daevid Allen-like gnomes and Mayan calendars - that would not be out of place on an Eat Static album, the front cover illustration announces a change in emphasis that becomes clear on the very first track, "Transmuting Power." A psychedelic description of humanity leaving the Earth to colonise a galaxy far, far away, the listener is at once reminded of Neil Young's classic "After The Goldrush." Circulus' track doesn't pack the same apocalyptic punch as Young's, and isn't intended to - it's full of wry wit and psychedelic imagery, augmented by a high-pitched voice making travel announcements: "There down below us... we're on our way now! Entering atmosphere! Evacuate and colonise!" It's everything you'd hope for in a barking mad Circulus song. Great tune too, great arrangement and great female backing vocals. And congratulations to Michael Tyack for getting the word mushroom in the first minute and a half, albeit in the lyric "...beneath the mushroom cloud."

After this leftfield opener we turn to "Fortunate Ones," which features choral vocals and the traditional Circulus combination of loping drums, guitars and mediaeval flutes. It bounces along marvellously. The third track, "Guide Our Way," is of particular interest to this reviewer since it evokes - by accident? deliberately? who knows - the sadly departed spirit of that most fabulous of underground bands The Space Goats. For those unfamiliar with the goaty ones, they began in the early 'nineties as road protesters, evolving into a band of outstanding musicians and songwriters who created a back catalogue of British underground folk-psych of exceptional quality. Again the lyrics here evoke silver robes, higher beings, architecture, strange occurences... superb. And the female backing vocals sound remarkably like Stella from the Space Goats...


"Michael's Garden" is a sheer delight. A catchy tune, whimsical vocals, lyrics about snails, dragons and greenery; it doesn't get much better. The combination of Tyack's vocals, the female backing vocals and the flute is perfect here: "The cabbages are so green!" After this track we return to full-on 3/4-time mediaevel vs. guitar jousting on "Trotto," an instrumental which lopes off into mushroom land powered by tabor drums and prancing flute. A wah-wah guitar arrives to augment the ending. The quieter "Packingtons Pound" features recorder and spiky guitar, and has a distinctly English feel, perhaps because of that recorder. After a minute or so the band comes in and we're rocking out once more. "Summer Is Icumen In" sounds like an English folk classic, with its lyrics of cuckoos and summer, and what sounds like an authentic tune; jaunty and wonderful, and a superb musical arrangement. "Tristans Lament" is a slow instrumental played with flutes and fuzz guitar, with choral wordless vocals coming in to underpin the tune as the full band enters; very atmospheric.


Shimmering guitar and softly booming drums announce "Kalenda Maya," with its harmonised vocals and mediaevel instruments. This is another track that should become beloved of the British underground since it concerns 2012 and the Mayan calendar; and it's got backwards guitar too! Album closer "Within You Is The Sun" is the most folky track on the album, chanting the title lyric and more through various arrangements in sunny, almost West Coast style. A solo female vocal - again remarkably like Stella - counterpoints the flute and Tyack's trippy vocals, before a Moog comes in to remind the listener of past work. It's a surprisingly evocative closer, perfectly judged.


I have to say, there was never any chance of me thinking anything less of this album than I do, but even given my enjoyment of Circulus, "Thought Becomes Reality" is something special. Not only does it evoke a particular kind of Britishness, it's musically adventurous, witty, and beautifully played and recorded. Altogether a triumph. (Steve Palmer)




(CD from www.raig.ru )


    For their latest release, Sendelica moved over to America, hooked with drummer Geoff Chase, electronics wizard Vizzie , and recorded the basic tracks at Brown University, Providence, Rhodes Island. This change of scene has done the band the world of good, as there is a vitality and creative spark crackling throughout this album.


   After the heavy Hawkwind dynamics of “Standing on the Edge”, its energy levels allowing the band to blow cobwebs from hair, the musicians become more serious as the twelve minute “Manhole of the Universe” allows guitarist Pete Bingham to travel the lengths of his fretboard with abandon, proving once again what a fine player he is, his solos becoming more masterful with each release, the words tasteful and restraint becoming part of his repertoire as he searches for that perfect run. Of course, the understated yet precise bass playing of Glenda Pescado, are equally important to the sound, whilst the solid drumming and atmospherics provided by the new musicians should not be overlooked, the freewheeling music spiralling to the stars with twinkling ease. As the song melts into a mesmerising, bliss-filled middle section, I begin to realise that this is how I always wanted the Porcupine Tree to sound, although they chose a different path after their very early tapes and good luck to them.


    Seemingly bathed in sunshine, “Hazelnut”, begins in extremely lazy fashion the sounds washing over you with warmth and grace before finally taking off with an extended wah-soaked solo that glides above summer meadows finally descending by a sun-lit river. There is no time to rest however, as the funky opening riff of “Dark Disko” gets your feet a-tappin’, the rest of the band getting into the groove dancing through the sacred grove until a mean and dirty guitar explodes out of the speaker lifting the track into another dimension.


    Beautifully produced, the title track arrives in waves of sonic bliss, the sounds melting into your head with mellow sweetness. This is music to lie back and enjoy, late-night or on sunny days, the whole track a delicious star-flecked dream. Breaking the mood with a heavy space-rock riff “Glory Bee” allows the band to rock out a little and make some righteous noise, the song finally spiralling downwards to become “Several Species of Furry Humans Gathered Together in a Cave Grooving Like Groovy Picts”, a familiar title that hold several clues the nature of the piece, a Floydian workout that slowly builds into a screaming wall of psychedelic noise, ending this rather magnificent album in style.


     This is definitely the finest thing the band have released, imaginative, crisp, free flowing and with a warm production, I heartily recommend it to all lovers of  space/psychedelic rock music. (Simon Lewis)