=  NOVEMBER 2005 =

Quick Links
  Invisible Pyramid
Written by: Green Pajamas
  Psychatrone Rhonedakk
Simon Lewis (Editor) King Creosote
Phil McMullen Tetuze Akiyama

Tony Dale

The Clear Spots

Mats Gustafsson


Jeff Penczak

Vashti Bunyan





Spacious Mind




(6CD set on Last Visible Dog http://www.lastvisibledog.com/)


I might as well admit what’s apparent to anyone that already has picked up Last Visible Dog’s monumental 6CD compilation ‘The Invisible Pyramid’. It’s simply impossible to find words strong enough to accurately describe exactly how great this compilation is and what an overwhelming task it must have been to put it all together. If anyone would even dream of doing anything along these lines it’s definitely Last Visible Dog head honcho Chris Moon who never seem to have been very interested in doing anything less than the far-reaching visions inside his head. 


Moon describes the whole thing as a spiritual successor to Drunken Fish's amazing ’Harmony of the Spheres’ box and despite the fact that I rank that comp as the most pivotal of all times I think he’s right on the mark. There's 7 hours and 36 minutes of incredible music presented here, which of course makes it very difficult to grasp but if you have a day on your own I can’t think of anything more exciting than sitting down and listen through it all in one sitting. That might or might not be doable but no matter how you choose to listen to the impressive roster of artists present here (from the US, New Zealand, Finland, Japan, England, Italy and Poland to mention a few) I can pretty much guarantee that the pay-off will be immense. The one thing that binds it all together (apart for the ‘drone’ and the stunning sonic qualities that is) is that each artist/band has dedicated their track to a recently extinct species and also contributed with a short bio to the extensive booklet that also is included in this majestic piece of art.


Choosing favourite pieces here just doesn’t feel right but if forced to a corner at gunpoint I’d throw out a few faves that currently has my head spinning. Black Forest/Black Sea’s slowly evolving ‘Inepta’ combines shimmering blankets of atmospheric guitars with heavily treated cello and the results are nothing short of mind cleansing and pure sonic bliss. Disc one ends with Bardo Pond’s ‘Bufo Periglenes’ that sees the band blending their swirling down-tempo sludge and more ethereal evocations with squealing tenor sax from John Gibbons. It’s a towering piece, and like the rest of this platter, ranks among the band’s most entrancing work. The fact that all contributions are so long is pretty much a guarantee to avoid any filler material, which unfortunately is all too common on all sorts of compilations.


The second disc only includes European contributions and has a certain emphasis on Finnish fringe music and the one artist that really stands out here is Jan Anderzen’s (of Kemialliset Ystävät fame) Tomutonttu project. Anderzen’s suite of five shorter pieces might strike some as surprisingly electronic but I am sure no one reading this will be surprised by the tribal chants, fractured soundscapes and the dementedly beautiful music he’s able to create.


Up-Tight is a new name to me and their start of the third disc doesn’t disappoint. Alien frequencies, epochal atmospherics and plenty of space left for guitar workouts and rumbling bass lines is their key to sonic success. Flies Inside the Sun is just as stunningly weird as we’ve gotten used to while Steven R. Smith once again delivers a meandering instrumental that spirals its way through a withering topography of sound, mainly driven forward by timeless guitar chords but always with scrapings, hums and drones from unidentifiable instruments drifting in the periphery.


Poland’s One Inch Shadow has already proven what a great, but sadly neglected, band they are but ‘You’ll Miss Me at the End” brings things to a completely new level. Trumpet-laced drone fog and all sorts of sustained tone clusters have rarely sounded this organic. Fursaxa (AKA Tara Burke) closes disc four with two tracks that puts her trademark falsetto at the very forefront of the highly imaginative proceedings. The ones who are ready to give Fursaxa a go will be rewarded with transcendent and captivating qualities of drone and raga type music that dives deep into the pool of folk, psychedelia and subtle experimentalism.


Ashtray Navigations are old-time favorites at the Gustafsson residence and Phil Todd doesn’t disappoint this time out either. His four tracks that kicks off disc five covers a lot of ground but all in all it’s really just another one of those epic journeys that are filled with modal guitar-drone bliss, and tape trickery. At most times this is pure contemplation with its subtle ambience but at others it gets surprisingly harsh. And don’t even get me started on Peter Wright…that guy is a genius. I could continue with detailed descriptions of each track present here but I feel that I should leave some of the exploring to you guys.


If you haven’t been convinced by the words above check out the ‘disc list’ below and you might as well start wiping that drool of your chin. It just doesn’t get any better, folks. (Mats Gustafsson)


Disc 1: Black Forest/Black Sea, Birchville Cat Motel, Wolfmangler, Loren Chasse, Bardo Pond

Disc 2: Es, Andrea Belfi & Stefano Pilia, Sunken, Kulkija, Tomutonttu

Disc 3: UP-TIGHT, Flies Inside the Sun, Uton, Mudboy, Steven R. Smith

Disc 4: Keijo, Doktor Kettu, My Cat Is an Alien, One Inch of Shadow, Fursaxa

Disc 5: Ashtray Navigations, Peter Wright, Geoff Mullen, Urdog, Miminokoto

Disc 6: Area C, Ben Reynolds, Seht, Avarus, Renato Rinaldi, Matt De Gennaro




(CD on Hidden Agenda)


No address or hyperlink included above since Hidden Agenda couldn’t be arsed to send the Terrascope a promotional copy of the new Green Pajamas album, so I don’t see why we should provide them with any unpaid publicity. One likes to think it’s a sign that the Green Pajamas are now considered too mainstream for the likes of us to be included in any promotional campaign: much better to concentrate necessarily limited resources on glossies such as ‘Mojo’ - although I’ve personally always seen this as a false argument. Then again I would, I suppose. The way I see it though, probably three-quarters of the Terrascope readership are record-buying fans of new music; whereas only a tiny percentage of readers of mainstream publications are interested in checking out bands that they’re never previously heard of. Just because a magazine aimed at vegetarians has an enormous global circulation, you wouldn’t advertise even the finest Parma Ham in there, would you? Rest assured accountants would. All they can see is the huge circulation figure.

I must confess at this juncture, even I wasn’t sure where I was going with that argument until I read up on Parma Ham. “Fragrant and sweet, Prosciutto di Parma - genuine Parma ham is one of the world's most sought after speciality foods. Cured with air, salt and nothing else, rosy-hued and fragrant, Parma ham is widely considered to be the world's best prosciutto.” It’s a very apt analogy in many ways. The Green Pajamas are a sought-after speciality too, and I have a feeling the fact that they’re from a very specific location – in their case, Seattle - plays a part in making their sound unique. Likewise, they aren’t to everyone’s taste, but to “foodies” who know what they like, they’re revered above almost anything else.

Playing a larger part still in their sound and presence is the guitar, voice and poetry of Jeff Kelly. The Pajamas are and always have been a band, and a fairly democratic one at that. It’s no good pretending other than that Jeff Kelly is a songwriting genius though; which isn’t meant to belittle anyone else’s efforts within the band: it’s true to say that it’s when working with the Pajamas that Jeff conjurs up his most magical moments. Much as I love his solo albums, each of which contains at least one truly great song that one instinctively knows is going to remain a favourite for decades to come, none of them feature as many as five, a phenomenal hit-rate which was achieved on that trio of Green Pajamas albums for Camera Obscura Records (‘Strung Behind The Sun’, ‘All Clues Lead to Megan’s Bed’ and ‘Narcotic Kisses’).

‘21st Century Séance’ for my money comes close, with three genuinely great numbers, and one (‘All The Lost Kisses’, track 12) which only misses out on greatness because it sounds tantalisingly similar to a number of other Green Pajamas songs. Which is no bad thing in itself, of course; it’s just that when an artist paints one breathtaking seascape, you want the ships to be rigged and placed differently in the next painting - and on ‘All The Lost Kisses’ only the position of each element has changed. ‘This Haunted Hill’ (track 7) is a case in point: recognisably a Green Pajamas song and a damn fine one at that, one which is sure to be a future crowd-pleaser in concert, it makes you sit up and take notice because of a really special guitar coda midway through, a sound I don’t think I’ve ever heard the band pull off until now. Another heart-stopper is the sublime 5th track, ‘Like a Memory [Blue Eyes]’ which is, dare I say it, really dirty: a lot of Jeff Kelly songs are romantic and several of them are sexy, but ‘Like a Memory’ is wild, crazed, totally abandoned filth – fabulous stuff, with again a guitar refrain that’ll stop you in your tracks.

    The best is kept till last in both the figurative and the literal sense. I’ve always been a big fan of Jeff’s “Neil Young moments” when he rips and curls into a massive guitar solo, and this he does – with knobs on – on the gorgeous 14th and final track, ‘Mostly Alice [from the séance transcript]’. Positively a great song; only time will tell whether ‘21st Century Séance’ itself becomes one of the great Green Pajamas albums. I have a feeling that on the strength of the above 4 songs alone it’s going to be a memorable one. (Phil McMullen)




(CD from www.summerstepsrecords.com )


   Opening with some sinister percussion and brooding distorted guitar, this is an atmospheric and haunting album that has an unsettling atmosphere broken only by the occasional light of a flickering candle.

    Once the mood setting “Violet Ray Theme” has ended we are treated to a remarkable cover of “Can You Travel In The Dark Alone” originally recorded by Gandalf, and here turned into an electronic mass, underpinned with deep drones and a fragile vocal performance making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. From this point on the album pulls the listener into the underworld, the music moving through your head like shadows, sounding like Klaus Schulze being hypnotised by Aleister Crowley.

    Readers of the Terrascope's online forums will be delighted to know that this is the work of one Barry S, a regular poster and someone whose work we should all be supporting. How many other talented people are hiding out there in forum land? I wonder....

    Anyway, back to the music, following another excellent and original cover version, this time of “They Moved The Moon”-Warren Zevon, the album moves further into space with the hypnotic, percussion led “Procession East” which has some beautiful melodies flying over the trance-inducing rhythms, before the album plunges into the void with the eleven-minute electronic workout that is “Disturbed Air Molecules”, the spirit of early Tangerine Dream presiding over the landscape, whilst Delia Derbyshire spins in her grave with the sheer joy of it all. finally “Attic Toy Space “ and “Earth Anthem” complete the journey, the first a  rattling of the toy-box, whilst the latter has vocals so distorted that the words are more like memories, as they compete with the high pitched electronics behind them, before they slowly soften into clarity and reveal the light within. (Simon Lewis)




(CD from www.fencerecords.com )


    Full of lyrical playfulness and gentle, wistful melodies, this is an album that beguiles and enchants in equal measure. Opening with the brilliant “Not One Bit Ashamed,” a song which features some excellent brass arrangements and fine playing, the songs flow gently along, each one a small gem, their directness and simplicity adding to their charm, becoming a gateway into a private world.

    Primarily the work of Kenny Miller (whose brother Gordon had a stint in the Beta Band, before recording under the name of Lone Pigeon) who, as well as recording, is a driving force behind the Fence Collective, a loose community of musicians who operate from Anstruther, a small Scottish village 50 miles north of Edinburgh. This remoteness pervades the album, which has a homespun feel, making it as fresh as a spring breeze and always welcoming to the ears. Lyrically the songs deal with the small things, working similar territory to The Kitchen Cynics but without the historical perspective, a trait displayed perfectly by the haunting “Locked Together”.

    A wide range of instrumentation is used throughout, keeping the album fresh and adding variation, whilst retaining a cohesive sound within the collection. The arrangements also add to the atmosphere, holding the listeners attention and adding counterpoint to the melodies without detracting from the songs simplicity. Indeed it is the simplicity of these songs that is their strength, making it instantly accessible and allowing the meaning and emotion of the tunes to shine through. (Simon Lewis)




(CD/LP on Locust Records, http://www.locustmusic.com/)


    Tetuzi Akiyama is frequently associated with a particular subterranean improvisational community in Tokyo wheeling around guitarist Taku Sugimoto and existing in part as a direct response to the primacy of noise musicians in the Japanese underground. Their style of "onkyo", or "reverberation" privileges Cage-like silence over the relentless assault of artists such as Merzbow and Haino, and is liminal in the way that is exists at the border of what can be conventionally considered music. In the case of Tetuze Akiyama, the result is a kind of Zen country-blues, formed by the subtraction of textual elements until all that is left is a spare scattering of notes against a background of ambient melancholy. Elements of everyone from John Fahey to Derek Bailey can be found in the eight pieces that form 'Pre-Existence', but the outcome is distinctly his own, rigorously avoiding clichés of both the folk and avant-garde scenes. The tracks flow into each other ('Atheist' into 'Reinforcement' into 'Mystification' and so on) so I won't differentiate them here. Spidery arabesques approximate structure in some tracks, and in others silence reigns, and one waits for notes the way an insomniac waits for the plinking of random drops of water as ice melts off eaves. Because of this heavy use of silence, 'Pre-Existence' morphs with ones mood, allowing volumes of thought to pour into the interstices and fill out the work. The warp and weft of time are taken over, and the mind can walk the spaces between the stars, or listen to the beating of one's heart and the impact of air molecules on one's eardrums, especially late at night, silent.

    More than most records, 'Pre-Existence' challenges the listener to ask questions about the nature and definition of "music". Viewed in this way Akiyama asks more questions than he answers. In conventional terms of rhythm, melody and arrangement, it only occasionally intersects with the fabric of the known. But its reverberations and empty spaces cast the same shadow on the soul as the most authentic and well-wrought folk-blues. (Tony Dale)




(CD-R on Deep Water Records, http://www.dwacres.com)


    Is it too early to get nostalgic about the mid-90s heyday of skull-splitting noise rock of the ilk of prime Dead C or early Bardo Pond? The Clear Spots clearly don't think so, if the ten imploding barnstorms on 'Mountain Rock' are anything to go by. The band is a pocket apocalypse comprising brothers Adam Bugaj (bass, keyboards, percussion), Matt Bugaj (guitar) and Tom Bugaj (drums), and the estimable Kevin Moist on more guitar. (Kevin will be familiar as editor of the late, great and soon to be resurrected on the web fanzine Deep Water, and who co-conspires with various Bardos to make the racket known at Third Troll.) 'Mountain Rock' was -  appropriately - recorded in a farm house in a place called Bush Holler, Pennsylvania (they may have made that up), and one can only imagine at the distress of neighbours, livestock, low flying aircraft and anything else that stayed into the path of these Jovian storm cells during the process of their creation.

    It all kicks off with a track called 'f.o'; four and a half minutes of what sounds like the climatic moment of some PCP fuel psych-punk jam session. It's like being woken up by having a bucket of iced water thrown over you. Having got you attention, the mayhem is dialled down a notch for 'The Great Outdoors', which settles into a harmonious, droning, multi-guitar modal workout that actually grooves - if you have the same idea of groove as, say, a fan of Ash Ra Tempel might. 'Five Legs' buzzes and shorts out like an electrical sub-station that got somehow forgotten and left off the power company's usual maintenance route. It splutters, abandoned and incoherent, eventually succumbing to entropy. Various tracks follow, some virtually free-form and space borne and some hitting a molten Walking Seeds kind of neo-kraut vibe, but where it's all going, where 'Mountain Rock' reaches its summit (sorry), is the twelve-and-a half minutes of 'Hawk Wallace Pine', a deeply-stoned raga which has the cathartic effect of being chased through the woods by a chainsaw-wielding maniac and actually escaping.

   'Mountain Rock' is psychedelia at is most primal, and it isn't for everyone, but if you want to blow the cobwebs out of your head, or even clear your newly acquired farmhouse-in-need-of-restoration of vermin and unwanted relatives, this is the record for you. (Tony Dale)




( CD on Last Visible Dog http://www.lastvisibledog.com/ )


If there ever is such a thing as essential reissues, this one definitely belongs to that category. ’Free Country’ was originally released in an all too limited edition in the amazing Foxglove series, so it's cool to see that all involved has decided to make this stunning outing more widely available. What makes the whole thing so important is that it marks one of the finest pieces in an impressive chaplet of releases from this Madison, Wisconsin-based collective.

    Davenport is a combo swimming in a pool of sonic magic, or more precisely in the muddy waters of scratchy folk experimentalism, ritualism, wheezing drones, field recordings, pounding percussion and campfire songs. What we get on this disc are transcendent joyous human sounds that is equally inspired by Jackie-O Motherfucker, and No Neck Blues Band without sounding like either of them. That is probably explained by the occasional side trip into more menacing territories but the somewhat primitive and murky vibe also sets them apart from their older brothers. My personal highlight is the relatively structured, violin-laced ‘Thou Shall Be Walking’ that aims for the heart, makes it and breaks it in two. ‘Free Country’ is a sublime piece of dream music that is rich in contrasts, hypnotic and full of beauty, and that makes me want to hear as much of this as possible. If you’re anything like me you know what to do. (Mats Gustafsson)




(CD-R on FatCat Records, http://fat-cat.co.uk/)


    35 years down the track from her beyond-rare 'Just Another Diamond Day' LP, the world is graced with a second Vashti Bunyan record, and it follows on so seamlessly and organically from that lost-and-found masterpiece it's like the intervening years evaporate and she never really left. It hardly seems possible to match the world created by that 1969 record, with its Joe Boyd sorcery behind the desk and willing assistance from various Fairporters and Incredible String Band members, but 'Lookaftering' does it. While there is no 'Rose Hip November' here to change one's life, there is a confidence, maturity and overall consistency in these new recordings that suggests they will stake out their own territory in folk rock legend, and indeed ultimately be considered a superior achievement.

    'Lookaftering' was produced with élan by fellow Edinburgh resident Max Richter who also co-arranged with Vashti, and the results evoke the exquisite chamber folk of Nick Drake's 'Five Leaves Left', which is not a comparison to be made lightly, but it done so fairly since Robert Kirby was involved in the sessions. At the core of ‘Lookaftering’ are Bunyan's voice and acoustic guitar, and Richter's piano. On top of these elements, layers of instrumentation create arrangements of fragile beauty: string quartet, oboe, harp, French horn, recorder, flute, hammer dulcimer, and harmonium are deployed according the needs of Bunyan's storytelling.

    The songs are time capsules from a rich life, and are wryly reflective without being excessively sentimental or cloyingly nostalgic. Whereas the songs on JADD concentrated on a journey taken over a relatively shot period, 'Lookaftering' is the journey of a life, dealing with issues of family, motherhood, loss, and the tension between domesticity and the (re)call of the road. 'Here Before' immediately stands out by virtue of its classic folk melody and deftly economical character sketches of (presumably) Bunyan's children. 'Wayward' is the crux of the matter, with its aching regret at the musical career that never really was: "I wanted to be the one/with road dust on my boots/and a single silver ear-ring/and a suitcase full of notes". 'Against the Sky' swirls around on eddies of resonating wine glasses, mellotron and harp – its lyrics impressionistic and exquisite. 'Turning Back' is a chalice full of heartbreak with its Robert Kirby arrangement and air or weathered pain: "Indifference is the hardest ground/it is the stony silent sound/of plainsong echoing unfound/until the voices have left town". And so it goes, one marvellous piece of work after another until one is pretty much speechless in the face of what has been achieved. Fittingly, the album ends with a recording of Vashti in an unguarded moment, rehearsing a track with words replaced by humming, unaware of the fact that she was being recorded. It's a moment of peace in the eye of an quiet storm, and also a neat connector back to the more here-and-now pastoral bliss of her first album. All in all, this is one of the year's essential releases. (Tony Dale)





( www.sustain-release.co.uk )


   Two short but beautifully sweet CD-R releases from a newly formed label that explores the musical vision of Richard Skelton, a vision which seems to be interwoven with the landscape around him.

   Heidika opens softly, conjuring up the drone of insects under clear skies, the music pulsating and flowing together the sounds treated and manipulated without becoming harsh or meaningless. Track 2 “Transmitter” becomes more organic in texture the instruments sounding like water dripping from an old stone wall, timeless and hypnotic, whilst “gravity falls” has a gentle drone that slows down the world around.

    Surprisingly for an album that lists four tracks and a running time of 14 minutes, there is a bonus track, which seems to encompass everything that has gone before, the perfect blend of melody, subtle drone, and an emotional centre that will bring you back to the album time and time again.

   For his second release, Richard has added a piano to his musical armoury, and the new blend of instruments only serves to strengthen his vision, the piano and guitars quietly intertwining to great effect especially on the excellent opening track “A Stone Ploy”. This time out there are three tracks with a total time of 24 minutes and the music certainly benefits from this extra room, being given the chance to spread and grow creating a rich and detailed musical landscape that offers a new surprise every time you enter it.

    Both these albums are packaged in simple black and white sleeves that only enhance the music within. Fans of wyrd folk, textural drone and The Jewelled Antler Collective should investigate immediately without fear of disappointment. (Simon Lewis).




(CD-R on Aztec Records, http://www.aztecmusic.net)


    I guess I never thought I'd see an official re-release of this Aussie touchstone, the market seemingly flooded by a variety of half-arsed bootlegs over the years, but at last Melbourne label Aztec has done the righteous thing and made this behemoth of a heavy psych platter available in a definitive edition. By the end of 1972, Buffalo had a status in Australia nearly equivalent to Black Sabbath, a band who they were heavily influenced by and who they supported on tour in Australia in early 1973. Their debut 'Dead Forever' was the first local release on the deeply prestigious Vertigo imprint, back when the label still had that iconic trip-toy swirl thing going for it. But it was their second LP 'Volcanic Rock' that buried itself most deeply in the psyche of Australian teenagers of the time. Its cover alone was guaranteed to offend parents and women's groups – intentionally so. Rendering of the female form as giant menstruating volcano, with a demonic male figure at its apex holding aloft a giant penis might not have the same shock value today, but it is does have a certain undeniable period chutzpah.

    Musically, 'Volcanic Rock' was equally confrontational. It was this LP that established the classic line-up of vocalist Dave Tice (who later joined UK R&B band The Count Bishops), guitarist John Baxter, bass player Pete Wells (who later strapped on the slide guitar in another legendary Aussie band: Rose Tattoo), and drummer Jimmy Economou. Together, they laid down a set of blood-shot metal hymns that became Australia's first stoner-psych milestone. One of the reasons this best-selling record commands such a high price in pristine condition now is that, at the time, it was more weapon than record. A weapon to derail parties into drunken, stoned oblivion, a weapon carried from house-to-house to terrorist parents, and a weapon to perform impromptu brain surgery on oneself while staggering, wild-eyed and generally barely able to even properly locate record hole on spindle/phallus. Most copies show the battle scars.

    Opening track 'Sunrise (Come My Way)' was/is the Australian 'Paranoid', a hypnotic metal-single with a chorus of nagging insistency. The lyrics smash various mythological and fantasy themes together in a confused train-wreck that has enough destructive inertia to navigate the length of the song before collapsing under the weight of it own hilarious pretensions. It's wonderful. The lengthy 'Freedom' is a lumpen-prog anthem that is equally unstoppable – it scorches the earth around it like a starship preparing the way for invasion. I swear Dave Tice's vocals on this can be used as paint-stripper if one runs out of the stuff. The mastering job on this reissue really brings out the full weight of the guitar rig in use, most likely a Gibson SG through an Australian Straus Hurricane amplifier – 200 watts RMS of pure tube bliss with two quad boxes. 'Till My Death' and 'Prophet' consolidate on captured territory. The most contentious aspect of 'Volcanic Rock' (both at the time and now) comes in the two-part concluding suite 'Pound of Flesh/Shylock', which is nakedly anti-Semitic, though more in a way one associates with Shakespeare than neo-Nazi groups. While musically one of their strongest pieces, it will also probably be one of the hardest for a current listener to swallow. I choose to view the lyrical content as ignorance rather than malevolence, but others may have a lower tolerance to it.

   There is little in the way of bonus tracks (the mono single version of 'Sunrise' that sounds mastered from vinyl, and a live version of 'Shylock' from 1973), but this is more than made up for by the mastering of the prime tracks, and the arresting packaging: a 6-panel digi-pak with 24 page booklet and liner notes by Guru Ian McFarlane, rare photos and recent interviews with key band members. (Tony Dale)




(Goddamn I’m A Countryman)


     Recorded live at the curiously-named free festival (a literal Swedish translation of Woodstock that the band created 15 years ago and which is held annually in their hometown of Skellefteå – and not to be confused with our own Terrastock Festivals!), this is the third installment in the “Nice Price” CD-R series on the band’s Countryman imprint. The three lengthy jams (roughly 20, 20, and 15 minutes) present the band in their best light since, well, their last live album, also recorded at home in Skellefteå back in 2003 and reviewed by us in June. Following a polite smattering of introductory applause, the band immediately break into a cacophonous maelstrom of sonic explosion that sounds like NASA is launching another space shuttle and probably caused serious hearing damage to the punters in the front row! Imagine King Crimson in the midst of one of their most vicious improvisational jams and your almost there. After four minutes, the band settles into a bottom-heavy, slow, serpentining groove that gives the album half its title, as (former lead guitarist) Henrik Oja’s walking basslines move front and centre and carry the day. Hopefully I won’t have my reviewer’s license revoked for suggesting that the combination of Oja’s melodic bass and Jens Unosson’s tinkling keyboards reminded me of the late 60’s Doors at their peak.


     After about 10 minutes, somebody must have poked Niklas Viklund in the ass, because he wakes up, joins the fray and proceeds to squeeze the living shit out of his guitar, perhaps in response to the popular musical question WWDJ (that’s What Would Jimi Do?) Unosson wanders in around the 13-minute mark with one of those cheesy, yet oh-so-groovy keyboard solos that we know and love from our early Bevis Frond albums (‘The Shrine’ came immediately to mind). After a few minutes of these meandering ruminations, Viklund and fellow guitarist Thomas Brännström retake centre stage and pummel your brains with dueling battery-acid guitar solos that’ll turn your synapses into overheated refried bean dip.


     After 20+ minutes of this “introduction” (which, by the way, is entitled ‘Distant, Oh So Far…Better Go Right Away’), the band segue into their second new song of the evening, the punny ‘Me and A Tree and The Sigh of A Leaf,’ which, Oja told me, was “composed” (along with the opener) during rehearsals a month prior to this, only its second performance (the band introduced the songs at another local festival two weeks earlier). A welcome muscle relaxant, it enables the listeners to restore their collective blood pressures to safe levels. The bubbling cauldron of nebulous noises including various percussives, blooping synths, hesitant, exploratory, Dead-like guitar ramblings and a general wydfolk vibe takes ten minutes out of your life doing nothing but subliminally restoring you to a state of calm, reflective relaxation, sort of like those post-traumatic moments in your life (such as after a car accident, the end of a downhill ski run, or an intimate lovemaking session) where you slowly, but surely regain composure.


     The concert and album end with the perennial live favorite, ‘The One That Really Won The War,’ which is quickly establishing itself as the band’s personal ‘Dark Star’ and is typically rolled out, revisited, and reinterpreted at nearly every show (it’s appeared on their last three live releases). Former bassist Mårten Lundmark joins the band on third guitar and the band’s improvisational abilities peak as they find subtle nuances to bounce off each other, using the song’s original blueprint as a launching pad to explore various directions with Viklund and Brännström challenging each other to push themselves further…, to try new riffs…new chord progressions, and reassemble the song’s basic skeleton into a new creation to the point where even the band’s most devoted fans will no longer recognize the beast from which this latest reinterpretation sprang. As the soul-cleansing, life-changing performance draws to a close, you can feel confident and honoured that you are once again in the presence of royalty and that Terrascope editor Phil McMullen’s initial conclusion (back in issue #19) that the band’s ‘Sleepy Eyes & Butterflies’ album “is a faintly incredible album, one which for me is potentially amongst the very highest echelon of psychedelic releases by mainland European bands in the past decade“ is equally applicable to ‘Pickin’ Berries…’. (Jeff Penczak)