(LP on Worried Songs)

This is a gorgeous collection of songs from an American country-folk artist I hadn’t come across before, although it seems his only previous LP ‘Midwest Farm Disaster’ (RCA, 1972) is spoken of in hushed tones amongst knowledgable collectors of Nashvilleiana. It was indeed with a view to reissuing that album that fellow Worried Songs recording artist Jerry David DeCicca originally visited Bob Martin in Charlottesville, Virginia - a reissue that never did come about as it happened, as Martin was already in the process of rescuing his forgotten masterpiece for his own self-release; but the meeting did lead to DeCicca working with Bob Martin on these new recordings in a beach front condominium in a place called Seabrook, New Hampshire USA in May 2008. The recordings sat dormant for the next 13 years, a tale which Mr. DeCicca tells so eloquently in his sleeve notes for this release that I won’t spoil it by relating it here.

Reminding me in turns of Bob Dylan (most notably on Side 2’s ‘Two Half Sisters’ and the opening opus ‘Give Me Light’, an older song which actually pre-dates the ‘Midwest Farm Disaster’ album) and especially Guy Clark, Martin sounds both wistful and wise as he spins tales of his life and woes, accompanied throughout by gorgeous guitar tones - much credit is due to DeCicca’s former bandmates, the Black Swans, who played both on the 2008 recordings and the completed album. Newly minted songs about the West Virginia coal mines (‘Three Miles Beneath This Mountain’) and living in an extended stay motel (‘Midway Motel’) sit beside new interpretations of his own later period classics such ‘My Father Painted Houses’ taken from a self-released CD dating back to the mid-90s.

Bob Martin passed away 21st September, 2022 aged 80 years. Sadly, he never heard his final album. Now it’s your chance. Don’t miss it!

(Phil McMullen)

 = May  2023 =  

Steve Gunn & David Moore
Bob Martin
The Rishis
Steve Dawson
Donovan's Brain
Annelies Monsere
Nashville Ambient Ensemble
Andrew Hawkey



(LP, Digital on RVNG Intl.)


I can’t make all your troubles go away, but listening to this album will help a lot.  In RVNG Intl’s inaugural volume of its new Reflections series intended to feature collaborations, Steve Gunn on acoustic guitar and David Moore of Bing & Ruth on piano turn in a quiet, contemplative performance that is both beautiful and will influence you to take in the beauty around you.


Recordings began remotely for the two via file sharing.  They completed the album together in upstate New York’s verdant Hudson Valley where the cover photo was taken.  The music sounds as if it could’ve been performed at that very spot among the greenery, wildlife and peacefulness.  Interestingly, they weren’t even trying to make an album when they started and throughout much of the recording.  They were merely going where the spirit moved them.  Gunn bought a nylon string classical guitar he experiments herewith, finger style.  Moore has a minimalist piano style, usually playing a few chords, slowly and with repetition.


Though they sometimes hand off the lead as the tracks mosey along, clearly Gunn is the one usually doing more of the playing here with his guitar.  Moore is more content to lay a foundation with simple phrases and chords, which Gunn tends to decorate with the nylon strings.  The easy-flowing opener “Over the Dune” finds them in an ethereal, blissful place and is the album’s highlight.  In the well-named “Painterly,” Moore establishes the setting while Gunn’s fluttering guitar arpeggios could be the brushstrokes of the painter lovingly filling in the spaces in a natural landscape.


On “Scattering,” they’re both playing chords in unison throughout, but they’re intentionally just a hair off arriving there together, as if one were playing the chord first and the other is watching and following along and catching up.  On “Morning Mare,” Gunn’s guitar provides the gentle clip clop of that sunrise ride over Moore’s gentle chords along the pathway.  If anything, this record is more about the spaces between, the parts not played, where you can almost feel the musicians’ and your chests rising and falling with each breath.  Closer “Rhododendron” includes some of Gunn’s most imaginative playing on the record, like growing tendrils wrapping around Moore’s deeply anchored chords.


Gunn and Moore play relaxedly as if they have all the time in the world.  The sometimes low-fi nature of the recording reflects the bucolic setting, as demonstrated by the faint ambient noises picked up by a mic on “Paper Limb.”  After listening to this record, you may find yourself on a different, slower speed setting than the rest of the world.  If so, then Steve Gunn and David Moore will have done their job.


(Mark Feingold)



Available on Cloud Recordings

The Rishis are Ranjan Avasthi and Sofie Lute and while they’ve been making beautiful music together for nearly a decade, this is their debut offering. And much like 4AD’s umbrella project This Mortal Coil, The Rishis are ably assisted by a coterie of Elephant 6 collective participants (and Terrastock performers) including members of Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, Elf Power, and The Sunshine Fix. Apples (in Stereo)’s Robert Schneider’s son Max also joins in the fun. But while the E6 crew is mostly remembered and loved for their quirky pop extravaganzas, the Rishis take the high road and offer gently rolling psychedelic folk full of jangling guitars, dreamy harmonies with a weeping slide guitar and other E6-ish accoutrements along for the ride.

     Opener ‘Holiday’ could be filed next to the Byrds cow-poking Sweethearts of The Rodeo, Gram Parsons’s cosmic cowboy music, and Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders. The mellow mind meld ‘Migrations’ tiptoes around some rather incessant drumming and tosses in a few E6 left turns, but never veers too far off the beaten path. A trumpet makes a pleasantly unexpected visit to the sashaying ‘Oh So Young’, I was “oscillating wildly” to ‘Seeds’, and the Lute-sung ‘Make Me Love You’ marries Mazzy Star’s twangy country to Everything But The Girl’s sentimental heartbreakers…and what a wonderful marriage it is indeed.

     The slow march of ‘Wake Up’ is more than an alarm clock beckoning, ‘Just Between You And Me’ is an enveloping marshmallow overcoat on a dreary, rainy afternoon, and Avasthi proudly salutes his ancestral roots on the introspective navel-gazing closer ‘Uttar Pradesh.’

     A decade in the waiting, August Moon was worth the time to perfect it’s ingredients into a wonderfully tasty stew of influences, styles, and recollections. More please!

(Jeff Penczak)


Black Hen Music  

This is Canadian Steve Dawson’s third album in a year, following on from last year’s ambient pedal steel informed Phantom Threshold, which along with Gone, Long Gone, make up Steve’s pandemic trilogy.

The band for this recording is Jay Bellrose and Gary Craig on drums, Jeremy Holmes plays bass, Fats Kaplin and Tim O’Brien add various stringed instruments, Chris Gestrin and Kevin McKendree add keyboards and Ben Plotnik viola/violin, Kaitlyn Raitz plays cello, plus there are also horns on a couple of tracks and exquisite backing vocals by Keri Latimer and Steve’s daughter Casey Dawson. Allison Russell also adds her considerable vocal talent support on three tracks.

He is an exceptional guitar player and the closest that I’ve heard to David Lindley, in his style of slide guitar playing, yes that good! He also plays electric and acoustic guitar and is a master pedal steel player and like David he lovers to play a Weissenborn guitar. We sadly lost David recently and also Steve’s fellow Canadian countryman Ian Tyson, this new album kicks off with one of Ian’s songs, ‘Long Time To Get Old’. This is followed by ‘A Gift’, a nylon stringed acoustic tale concerning the gift of a knife given to a granddaughter, reminiscent of Guy Clarks Randall Knife, it also has some of the finest, swooping pedal steel notes I’ve heard in many a moon, which fall like blossom throughout the song, very, very nice indeed, oh and Steve also adds a touch of marxophone too.

Third track is a dramatic original ‘Hemingway’, a song about a hotel and its stories, decorated by a string quartet. Then it’s on to a traditional song with ‘House Carpenter’, a folky number replete with a mandolin solo by Tim, picking up where Pentangle and Bert Jansch left off. A long time favourite song by Bobby Charles appears next, Steve delivers a fine rendition of Bobby’s ‘Small Town Talk’, this features horns with tenor and baritone sax plus trumpet and plenty of slippery, slide guitars. Steve plays a mix of originals, covers and traditional songs and the following ‘Owl’ is one of Steve’s original compositions, which he informs with 12 string and lap steel. It’s a terrific ghostly tale, atmospheric and haunting.

A Steve Dawson album wouldn’t be complete without a Hawaiian number and Steve gets to grips with his Weissenborn for the tasty, instrumental ‘Waikiki Stonewall Rag’. ‘Polaroid’, is another original, sepia tinged delight and sees Steve play electric, acoustic, pedal steel, Mellotron and vibraphone. A great, lively instrumental version of the old traditional song Singin’, The Blues follows and swings like a devil. Steve takes the Jack (stack a track) Clements song ‘Guess Things Happen That Way’, out into the countryside, replete with pump organ and slide guitar breaks.

 He finishes the album off with a solo performance of John Hartford’s classic ‘Let Him Go On Mama’, on which he accompanies himself with his trusty Weissenborn guitar. This is a great album and highly recommended indeed.

(Andrew Young)


Available on Career Records

Donovan’s Brain’s fifteenth album is a gateway of sorts, a transitional project that opens a new door into the next phase of the Brain’s career (no pun intended!). During the original sessions, the band were offered an opportunity to hone their soundtrack skills (frequently on display on many albums) and compose the music for the Vietnamese film Chiêm Bao Thấy Bậu. The soundtrack features extensive forays into krautrock and progressive music that the band enjoyed and were willing to explore further. You can read our review here. Sadly, by the time the Brain were ready to resume recording last year on what would become Faith In Failure drummer Ric Parnell and guitarist Bobby Sutliff passed away less than four months apart. These are their last recordings, although unused tracks and Bobby’s solo album may surface in the future.

     So this is a time of tragedy tempered with resolve to forge ahead and keep the flame alive with the memories of past collaborations and friendships. (Previous band members Ken Whaley and Richard Treece have also left us, so soldiering on in the wake of adversity is one of the Brain’s enduring strengths as a musical family, not just a bunch of friendly musicians dropping in to lay down a few tracks.) The band is always recording new material and fine-tuning unreleased tracks and a new album is already in the planning stages for later this year.

     So on to Faith In Failure. Introduced with a mini drum solo from Parnell, ‘Bancroft Way’ swirls with Scott Sutherland and main Brain Ron Sanchez’s jangly guitars and bubbly harmonies from co-lyricist Kris Hughes. A quirky pop tune with hints of the Elephant 6 collective close to hand (and ear!) ‘You Will’ is essentially a Sanchez solo track (guitar, bass, an unexpected but well-placed harpsichord, Mellotron, organ, piano) with Parnell’s snappy timekeeping to move things along. It reminded me of some of David Lynch’s solo excursions into the musical world.

     ‘Designer Fabrics’ is a dreamy progressive piece with Kris’s softly subtle vocals interspersed with Sanchez’s while Mellotron and organ weave more progressive touches into the fabric. Some gnarly fuzz guitar solos pop in to rein us back to Earth. Sutherland’s ‘Hated’ finds the trio (including Sanchez and Parnell) exploring psychological terror (I’d swear there were ghostly uncredited voices whispering in the background?) for an uneasy spoken word piece in a distorted Twilight Zone where Captain Howdy meets the Claypool Lennon Delirium. Chills and thrills galore to explore. Parnell and Sanchez return for the lengthy cinematic instrumental ‘It’s All Opening Up’ with Sanchez’s treated guitar solos, serpentining Mellotron and Parnell’s funereal drum beats pulling us towards Gothic prog with krautrock embellishments - sort of like Joy Division embedded in Pink Floyd’s soundtrack work for La Vallée (Obscured By Clouds).

     ‘Biscuit Tin’ has a more direct cinematic background: it started life as ‘Mellotron Experiment’, was retitled ‘Première Rencontre’ to kick off the soundtrack and then reworked into its current form as performed by Ric and Ron. Donovan’s Brain fans will know this is the occasional SOP around God’s Little Ear Acre with songs starting in one direction only to take on a new form in the recording and mixing process and emerge in a totally new cloak on the final album (cf., ‘Big Skies’ from Convolutions Of The Brain (2018) was reborn as ‘Rice Paper Kite’ on Two Suns, Two Shadows in 2021).

     Sutliff’s ‘Disappearing Firelight’ and the title track are reworked from demos intended for his solo album. The original placeholder titles explain everything: ‘Jangle #1’ and ‘Jangle #2’. Sanchez developed Sutliff’s “90-second sketch” into the delicious jingle jangle title track and wrote lyrics to the otherwise fully formed ‘Disappearing Firelight.’ With Ric’s drums rounding out the sound, it’s another wonderful power poppy jangler. Sanchez’s tasty solo caps another winner.

     Ron’s 12-string rings true on the perfect psychedelic pop of ‘Not For Me, Anyway’ and the woozy ‘Charging Confusion’ (another Ric and Ron duet) meanders around your head searching for a seat to get its bearings, sounding like a true Donovan’s Brain patchwork quilt creation from previous unfinished ideas. A little schizophrenic, but that’s half the fun when you explore the diverse detours through Donovan’s brainwaves. A fitting tribute to absent friends who we hope to hear from again in the not too distant future and a welcome addition to your Brain addiction.

(Jeff Penczak)


(LP from Horn of Plenty ( )

Rich with texture and swaying melody this release finds Annelies Monsere stretching her compositional skills to create 8 lush pieces of music that are both minimalist and complex, easy to listen to and filled with layers that are deeper each time.

     Opening track “Your Finest Hour” is a gently revolving motif that is echoed , repeated and droned by a variety of instruments creating a hypnotic piece that slowly envelopes you and leads perfectly into “Shells” a mix of drone, funeral percussion and voice, the soundtrack to a seventies horror movie awash with atmosphere and tension.

   With a lighter touch, “August” is another droning melody, this time with the feel of a lysergic folk dance, children captivated by the fairy rings, music that seems ancient and faraway. It is also very beautiful.

   Maybe the centrepiece of the album is a six minute cover of “Sally, Free and Easy” written by Cyril Tawney in 1958 and covered many times, most notably perhaps by Pentangle in the 1970's. On this Version four voices merge together under washes of drone created by Indian Harmonium, Accordian and keyboards, the fairly dark lyrics of the song brought to life by the atmosphere created, the tension rising throughout the track until its inevitable conclusion.

    Echoing its namesake, “August II” is another lighter piece with swirling, ethereal energy, whilst  “Floods” takes a different path, a pounding, reverb-drenched drum offering a solid platform for softly rendered vocals and melody, the dynamics between the two sounds creating a vibrant and wonderful whole. Sounding like a bewitched musical box, “Mirror” is another elegant and delightful piece of music that creeps inside your head before the album is brought to a close by “My Finest Hour”, slow drum and beautiful vocals hovering over that familiar drone, sounds and textures slowly added until the final fade to silence.

  Sombre and reflective, this is an album that needs to be heard a few times to really understand its power, when it clicks however it is a majestic and immersive joy from start to finish.

(Simon Lewis)


( LP/DL from Trome Records )

Hydromedusae is the name used by Jessica Bailliff and Annelies Monsere, two musicians who have previously toured together as well as releasing a previous EP back in 2008 on which they covered each others songs, they have also each released many recording of their own on a host of labels.

    On this release the songs have been stripped back, each having delicate melodies whilst also being dusted with drones, sometimes distant, sometimes harsh and distorted, the tension created being at the very heart of the collection.

      Opening tune “You're Not Here” has a definite folk influence, a maudlin chanting vocal style lifted by the purity of the voices and enhanced by droning organ and scraping strings. This style continues on “Hardly 1” although the sonic landscape is subtly changed , the drones richer and warmer, the music remaining dense and emotional.

   Moving on, “Waking” has rippling guitar and almost whispered vocals, percussion and distant drones creating a very atmospheric piece of music that drifts like fog around your ears. Changing tack again, “Little One” has a pulsing, swirling electronic drone that threatens to choke the vocals completely, something it never quite manages although the tension is always there, sawing strings and electric guitar adding to the onrushing storm of noise, best played loud.

     Halfway through and I have been reminded of the music of Arborea, Long Live Death, United Bible Studies and Stonebreath, such is the power of this music to my ears.

    Also laden with an overpowering drone, “Overseas” is a sea shanty for the dead, a funeral march that leads direct to the grave, a compelling and melancholic tune that is one of my favourite song on the album, the track ending with 30 seconds of distorted guitar noise. Creating a fabulous double act another favourite follows immediately after as the delicate, fragile piano melody of “Lands” stops you in your tracks, sweet vocals riding high overhead whilst a soft drone writhes underneath, sonic perfection and the perfect foil to the previous track.

    Built on top of a rumbling bass, “Hardly 2”, has a hypnotic feel with almost chanted vocals that pull you in closely, a chiming guitar adding light as droning electronic tones fly overhead. Ending the album beautifully “Barely Breathing” is a melancholy delight, rich drones, distant vocals, funeral melodies and hypnotic percussion all combining to drag you in one last time , the fact that it takes a few listens to hear all the lyrics adds to the mystery as each hearing paints a bigger story, a whispered conversation you were not meant to hear.

      Experimental, Drone, Wyrd-Folk, whatever you choose to call it, this is a magnificent album that is rich in textures and melodies and will be a long lasting companion in your music collection for many years.

(Simon Lewis)


Available on Skep Wax

Heavenly’s second album (originally released in 1992 by Sarah Records [UK] and K Records [US] adds their third Sarah single ‘So Little Deserve’ c/w ‘I’m Not Scared Of You’ (originally included on the K version) and a second K-only single ‘She Says’ c/w ‘Escort Crash On Marston Street’ (originally released on their International Pop Underground series) to deliver a convenient complete package. Building on songwriting guitarist Amelia Fletcher and newest member keyboardist Cathy Rogers’s exquisite harmonies intertwined with Fletcher’s and Peter Momtchiloff‘s jangly guitar lines which made the debut such a success, the album bursts forth with the dreamy ‘Starshy’ (pronounced like two words) featuring an a capella break to die for. ‘Tool’ has a punky edge with staccato guitars and Mathew [sic] Fletcher’s punchy drumming and ‘Orange Corduroy Dress’ and the heart-wrenching ‘Different Day’ continue the heartbreak and romantic frustration that coloured much of the debut’s lyrics. And the former’s blistering solo from left field is an exciting touch!

     K Records honcho Calvin Johnson helps out on the psychological multi-choice questionnaire ‘C Is The Heavenly Option’, a fun little quiz to test a loved one’s relationship IQ and finally available on a cleverly edited video featuring the band and many of their musical friends and heroes. And if marching sea shanty doo-wop is your thing head straight over to ‘And The Birds Aren’t Singing’ for some wonderful call-and-response echoes from Amelia and Cathy.

     The singles are a welcome addition, particularly the fragile So Little Deserve and the diary-entry ‘I’m Not Scared Of You’ which strikes a note for women who refuse to be bullied by what originally seemed like “the one.” ‘Escort Crash On Marston Street’ is actually a revved-up version of ‘Wish Me Gone’ from their debut. Amelia and her brother Mathew each wrote separate lyrics to Amelia’s tune and after running through each version they decided to keep both. The album “version” is a terrific girl-group toe tapper while the single is appropriately frenetic, describing a manic tour bus ride (with bassist Rob Pursey behind the wheel) that ends up killing Amelia, crippling Montchiloff, and leaving Mathew brain damaged. But at least the kids won’t have to listen to any more boring Heavenly songs! The shared “ba ba ba da ba ba” chorus suggests everything is very tongue-in-cheek, ending with the fingers-crossed “We don’t want to die/In our Heavenly tour bus.”

     Once again, Amelia’s lyrics are still relationship-centric, albeit mostly of the broken sort, but the upbeat arrangements will have you smiling through the tears and a 20-page booklet featuring reminiscences from the band, lyrics, contemporary photos, adverts, and gig posters are a welcome addition to the original package and demonstrate that the band had as much fun making the album as you will listening to it.

Jeff Penczak


(LP, CD, Digital on Centripetal Force Records)


Nashville Ambient Ensemble’s second album is a sublime work of ethereal beauty.  Originally commissioned to accompany an exhibit at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, it was apparent that the work stood on its own and merited a proper release.  Main man and keyboardist Michael Hix summoned the full heft of both his compositional skills and the talent of his considerable ensemble.  The eight pieces bob and weave, instruments sail in and out, all on a floating, multi-colored cloud.


Fans of like-minded cosmic country bands such as North Americans will find much to love here.  The word ensemble is part of the band’s name for good reason.  Although each player is an established expert, this is truly ensemble playing where everyone contributes equally and also gets their chance to shine.  Alicia Enstrom’s high, dreamy violin playing dominates much of the early going.  But things all even out as the ensemble does its magic.  Sometimes it’s Hix’s spacey synths, or Deli Paloma-Sisk’s soothing and uplifting vocals, which are lovely while skittering just below the surface.  Jack Silverman’s guitar work is almost always complementary as opposed to out front in the lead, though every now and then your ears pick up on the fine playing he’s adding everywhere, such as on “Refraction.”


But in my impression the glue that holds together the interstices more often than not is Luke Schneider’s unselfish pedal steel playing.  We’re living in a moment where a fine crop of pedal steel players on both sides of the Atlantic is redefining the instrument and taking it soaring to places it’s never been, such as Schneider, Barry Walker Jr., Spencer Cullum, and Joe Harvey-Whyte.  Sometimes on tracks like “Crystalline” Schneider’s steel blends together so closely with Hix’s synths it’s hard to tell which is which, not that it really matters.  And I’ll get in a plug for Schneider’s maestro duties on Tompkins Square’s Luke Schneider Presents Imaginational Anthem, Vol. XI:  Chrome Universal – A Survey of Modern Pedal Steel.


Like the ensemble itself, it’s not the kind of album where individual tracks stand out, but one track that puts it all together pretty well is “Waveguide.”  Besides being a beautiful melody, everyone chips in here; you can hear them all as individual soloists and as a group.  The resulting sound on “Waveguide” - and on Light and Space as a whole - is pure euphoria, the music of the angels and seraphim; all the world is right while you’re listening and you may find you love everybody and everything for its 42 minutes.


(Mark Feingold)



(Mole Lodge Records )

Andrew Hawkey is a musician who began recording music way back to the late sixties, indeed this very limited CD looks to encapsulate his career, beginning with a 1969 recording of ‘Between Two Horizons’, which sees Andrew playing acoustic guitar, harmonica and vocals, accompanied by Alan Mornington-West on bass, he also rerecorded this song especially for this compilation, where it appears as the final track, produced, like his recent work by his regular producer Clovis Phillips, owner of Addaband Studios, Newtown, Powys.

Andrew moved out to deepest rural Wales some years ago and recorded two late career albums ‘What Did I Come Up Here For’ and ‘Long Story’, which garnered some high praise, especially from us here at Terrascope. He has of late been playing with Michael Weston King and Jeb Loy Nichols (who also provides the artwork) and appears to been enjoying somewhat of a late career bloom.

‘As Frightened As The Next Man’, also dates from 1969/70. The disc moves along through the years chronologically, with ‘Fences’ and ‘Columbine’ dating from 1974. ‘Columbine’, is a delicate, pastoral folk song, a paean to nature. ‘Ivinghoe’, also from the same year, is named after an area in the Chilterns., this song has light percussion and some fiddle from Jez Danks.

So we move on now to 1977, Andrew was invited up to London after meeting Gerry Bron, Gerry was impressed by some of Andrew’s demos. ‘Poor Jane’, and the questing, fatalistic ‘Clipper Line Pirates’, appear here. Recorded at Chalk Farm Studios, both are still very much acoustic in nature, the latter partly inspired by Rick Griffin’s artwork for lyricist Robert Hunter’s current album ‘Tales Of The Rum Runners’, I remember seeing adverts for this 1977 album in Dark Star magazine.

Slide guitar and drums (rather than the light percussion featured in the earlier songs) are added for ‘Just One Night’, which dates from 1982 as does ‘Always Treat Me Right’ and ‘Make Do And Mend’. For ‘Always Treat Me Right’ Peter Hoskins plays double bass, it’s another highlight for me. ‘Waterloo’, from 1983 is fine mid paced song, Andrew’s voice is beginning to get a bit deeper, it lopes along nicely, enlivened by some fluid lead guitar by John Holburn.

‘Desert Moon’, from the following year is a beauty; Andrew obviously dug Barefoot Jerry whose influence is detectable here, synths and various guitars weave together on this sun kissed instrumental. For ‘Take Me’ which features twelve string guitar, synth bass and various guitars, he is joined by a breathy Jane Gilbert on vocals.

We now come to the mid nineties. Andrew has been playing regularly with the Pat Grover’s Blues Band for a number of years and ‘Help Me’, a mighty fine blues song with stinging lead guitar and plenty of organ and attitude. We move on to 2020 with ‘Spirit’, this is about the time I became aware of him period, he is now 50 years into a recording career, it’s sparse and more acoustic, the song is a gentle, slow ballad. Picking the songs to include here must have been difficult with songs of the calibre of Apple Green not Included here.

The album ends with the new version of ‘Between The Two Horizons’, and a short instrumental ‘Just The Sky’. It is due to be released in an edition of 500 numbered CD copies in mid June.

(Andrew Young)


(LP, Digital on Fuzz Club)


On Helicon’s third album, the Glasgow sextet deliver a complex, layered work of psychedelic rock that’s rich in songwriting, musicianship and production.  The songs are highly melodic, with lots of sonic variety from one to another.  Main man John-Paul Hughes says there are a few themes running through it.  First is his brother and band member Gary’s ordeal in successfully conquering the demons he’s wrestled with for 20 years.  Another theme is how much social media and politicians have crept into and affected our lives.  And finally, there’s the effect of psychedelics as transformative vessels.


I reckon the record has far more instrumental passages than songs with vocals, which was fine with me, as Helicon’s members are all excellent musicians, and they really went to town on the thick production.  Hughes thinks they used at least 30 instruments, and it shows.  They also got help from some extremely talented friends, such as the frenzied violin solo by Sotho Houle on “Château H,” a track I’d call “danceable prog” (a new category to these ears).


After starting with a brief, but very dark instrumental, logically enough called “Dark Matter,” Helicon chronicles Gary’s descent via the shoegazy “Flume,” turning a popular theme park ride into a metaphor for a downward spiral into the gloom:  “My body no longer belongs to me.  Follow down, way down in a hole.”


Showing both their virtuosity and versatility on back-to-back-to-back instrumentals, the band goes from strength to strength with the aforementioned danceable prog on “Château H” to the swirling psychedelia of “Heliconia,” replete with Graham Gordon’s electric sitar, Mike Hastings’ wah wah-drenched guitar, and guest Lavinia Blackwell’s wordless vocals culminating in a veritable tornado of stirred up sounds.  Then it’s “Disobey,” an eastern-themed track, with classy guitar and either strings or a synth (there is a string quartet on the album – they threw just about everything in they could find).  Another instrumental which effectively closes the album, “Tae the Moon,” stacks up so much psychedelic sound and effects to the churning, pile-driving rhythm it’ll make your head spin.


The cover art by Nina Theda Black not only represents the themes well, but also the dense nature of the music.  The production by Jason Shaw and Luigi Pasquini deserves major kudos by itself.  There’s so much going on with so many instruments, different styles and multi-layering, and they put it all together brilliantly.  Listening on headphones was wild, and I’d love to hear a 5.1 channel mix.


(Mark Feingold)