=  NOVEMBER 2007 =

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Written by:  
Simon Lewis (Editor)
Jeff Penczak
Phil McMullen Marek Styczynski
Steve Pescott V/A - With The Sun In My Eyes
  Here and Now
  Linus Pauling Quartet



(REQUIEM Requiem Studio, ul. Ogrodowa 28/30 p.403, 00–893 Warszawa, Poland)


     Over the past decade, Marek Styczynski (name Anglicized) has released dozens of recordings as one half (alongside partner Anna Nacher) of Projektu Karpaty Magiczne (aka, The Magic Carpathians). Their catalogue of field recordings, live concerts, demonstrations, workshops, etc. includes nearly two-dozen releases alone! Before that, Marek issued several essential releases as part of the Polish avant wyrdfolk collective known as Atman. Despite all his collaborations and side projects, Marek has never released a solo album…until now. Now this isn’t exactly one of those “Look mum, I did everything meself” ego trips: Anna provides harmonium, guitar and her inimitable vocals on a few tracks and friends Zdzisław Szczypka and Stanisław Welanyk add sitar and marimbas respectively, but Styczynski for the most part provides the reminder of the instrumentation, comprised mostly of homemade and native instruments from around Europe and Asia. So, you’ll hear didjeridu from Australia, fujara and gajdica from Slovakia, fadno and paska from Sweden, kaval from Bulgaria, tykva trumpets from Moldova, singing bowls and bone trumpet from Tybet all swimming around inside this musical melting pot.


     Our international journey begins on a bit of a downer with the dirgy, funereal march of ‘Dolphin’s Death,’ with field recordings of what certainly sounds like the painful squeals of the titular mammalian’s death throes. Rattles, belching didjeridu and field recordings of Australian birds make up the primary sounds of the title track. One of the pleasures of these ethnographic recordings is not only the exotic (to the Western, or perhaps more specifically, American ear) instruments that Styczynski assembles in the recording studio and the fact that he can master items that many of us have never seen or heard (and can hardly even pronounce), but that his ear is so attuned to the harmonics that these instruments create that he is able to, as on ‘Personal Totem’, combine the Australian didjeridu and windrubber from America (presumably a tire or some other rubber device that he whirls around overhead to capture the harmonics of the wind as the piece of rubber slices through the air), which in combination with the kaval and gajdica creates the effect of a musical “ommm”, conducive to the meditative state one might enter to explore their own “personal totem.”


     Anna’s droning harmonium forms the bedrock of the bouncy ‘Carpathians Sun Totem,’ with vibrant drumming and Marek’s punchy fujara (a wind instrument similar in sound to blowing into a bamboo shoot) adding a festive, dancey atmosphere to the proceedings. Anna also uses her voice as another instrument (refer to our lengthy discussion in the interview noted below), and one can easily lose themselves inside her shamanic chanting, supported by her 12-string guitar and Szczypka’s meandering sitar on ‘Amore (Old School Version),’ which is as ethereal and fleeting, yet as romantic as love itself.


     Uniting the world through music has always been an important thread that weaves through all of Styczynski’s recordings and this uniquely fascinating musical experience will be enjoyed by all lovers of the great outdoors and its myriad natural sounds (as captured through the field recordings from Marek’s workshop teams at the 2006 Sajeta Festival in Slovenia and the 2006 Rosynant camp in Kaszuby), as well as fans of indigenous music (usually mislabeled “world music” by imperialistic, super-nationalistic minds who, by definition,  quite strangely and comically don’t appear to consider themselves inhabitants of the “world”). When I interviewed Anna and Marek for the Terrascope two years ago, Anna suggested the moniker, “ethnocore”:


For us it’s been a quest to find – or at least to pose some important questions about – our cultural identity beyond the idioms of “world music,” which seems to be another neocolonial strategy to keep those who are [outside the mainstream population] (and, thus, usually subjected to the power of others) neatly categorized and classified, even if it looks like “appreciation.” If you come from Eastern Europe, you are confined to playing “ethnic” music because this is how it “sounds” to those located in the world cultural metropolis. We wanted to play with this paradigm, to hybridize and bastardize it and to expose its artificiality.


(The epitome of this arrogance is apparent in America’s recent “World Series,” which strangely only included baseball teams from the US!) But I digress! Let me conclude by saying that, as usual, this is an intriguingly unique and fascinating musical journey though the mind of one of our favourite “ethnocore” musicologists and a welcome addition to Styczynski’s ever-increasing catalogue. (Jeff Penczak)



Various Artists – With The Sun In My Eyes: 20 Psychedelic Spins from the UK and Europe

(Psychic Circle)


     The Psychic Circle hits a groovy dozen with the latest Nick Saloman-compiled collection, this time focusing on previously uncomped (on CD) psychedelic rarities from the UK, with a few choice corkers from the continent thrown in for good measure. The set opens with the pleasant pop psych of Plastic Penny’s ‘Give Me Money,’ which Saloman accurately describes in his typically informative liners as “The Who colliding with The Move,” so I guess we could call it a touch of mod/psych. The band were never able to replicate the success of their debut single, “Everything I Am,” leaving Plastic Penny as a rock footnote who were more famous for their personnel than their output: keyboardist Paul Raymond joined Chicken Shack, guitarist Mick Graham went on to Procol Harum, and everyone should recognise the rhythm section of Dee Murray and Nigel Olsen from their days parading across the boards behind Elton John during his 70’s heyday.


     For some reason, the obvious drug references in Peter Sarstedt’s ‘Mary Jane,’ the flip of his debut single escaped the prying eyes of the BBC. It didn’t matter however, as the song sank without a trace, although Sarstedt’s obvious Donovanesque vocals suggest this strange orchestrated rocker should have been more successful. Ola and The Janglers were one of Sweden’s most popular pop bands throughout the 60s and their ’66 album ‘Limelight’ saw them turning in a more psychedelic direction, as represented here by the bouncy, Eastern-tinged “No One Knows What Happens Round The Corner.” Omega Group is Hungary’s top rock band, having formed in Budapest over 45 years ago! They may be familiar (as Omega Red Star) to fans of the Electric Psychedelic Sitar Headswirlers compilations, as the debut release in that series features their ‘Rettenettes.’ Here, Nick has chosen the title track form their second album, 1969’s ’Ten Thousand Paces,’ a lengthy keyboard-based proggy effort with some amazing, finger-bleeding guitar solos. The band is still going strong with the same line-up for over 30 years, having just released their 16th album last year.


     Unfortunately, the best thing about the Gnomes of Zurich may be their Harold Wilson-inspired name, as their ‘Hang On Baby,’ despite an incredibly catchy keyboard riff that’ll stick in your head for days, is pretty standard pop. Elsewhere, Germany is represented by the wonderful, popular beat group The Rattles, who’ve toured with everyone from The Rolling Stones and Bo Diddley to The Beatles. ‘Lady Love’ has all the elements of European psych, particularly the hard edged guitar sound and progressive overtones, and this one also sports another memorable chorus. The Yorkshire duo of Danny Clarke and the late Lennie Wesley (who passed from lung disease in 2004) began their career as the groaningly punny Foggy Dew-O, before dropping the pretensions and releasing some fine folk/psych singles. Their cover of Tom Paxton’s ‘She’s Far Away’ could be considered rather late for inclusion in a psychedelic compilation (1972), but its primitive burping synthesizer and soothing sitar add a welcome calming effect to the present compilation.


     Majority One are a true international affair: they began as the British band Majority, relocated to Paris and appended “One” and released the punchy, fuzz rocker ‘Get Back Home’ on the Dutch Pink Elephant label, home to all those fine releases from one of Holland’s finest pop/psych exports, The Shocking Blue. The enigmatic Schadel deliver an emotional, highly orchestrated take of the Bee Gees’ track which gives the compilation its name. Unfairly dumped on the dung heap of rock due to their disco phase and subsequent bland romantic pap, many people may be unaware that the Gibb Brothers created some of Britain’s finest psychedelic pop of the day and their early 60’s albums are worthy of (re)investigation.


     Martin Raphael had been an army PT instructor and a central heating engineer before chucking it all and reinventing himself as the Egyptian pharaoh Ramases, who would go on to record several albums. His debut, ‘Space Hymns’ featured 10cc as his backing band and Saloman includes his dreamy, 1971 psych opus ‘Balloon’ for your edification. To my ears, there’s a hint of Beatlesque psychedelia in the piano backing, but the strange sound effects and ELO-styled high pitched choir in the background make this one of the set’s more unusual entries. Grand Union seem to have come and gone without much fanfare, leaving behind one 1968 single, a Hammond-driven cover of The Beatles ‘She Said She Said’ (without the repetition). Aside from rather weak vocals, collectors of Beatles cover songs may welcome it into their collection.


     Other enjoyable tracks include Winston G[awk]’s ‘Bye Bye Baby,’ a garagey rocker from the Summer of Love, the charming Bolanesque ‘Woman On My Mind’ from Peter & The Wolves, the ferocious adrenalin-rush of Sweden’s Don Curtis (‘In The Corners’), and the fluffy, cotton candy-coated pop of Giorgio [Moroder]’s ‘Stop’ (yes, THAT Giorgio, who apparently made some credible pop psych recordings in the mid-60’s before inventing/perfecting Eurodisco with Donna Summer a decade later) (Jeff Penczak)




( www.4zerorecords.co.uk  )


    Fans of Here and Now may well have heard portions of this live album as it has been available as a bootleg and is a favourite on the trading circuit. I can promise you however, that you will never have heard it so crisp and vibrant, the rather excellent re-mastering revealing a sparkling set of tunes that crackle with energy.


     Having been stalwarts of the festival scene, as well as backing Daevid Allen on the magnificent “Floating Anarchy”, it seemed inevitable that a live album was required to really catch the band in its element. So, here it is, finally released 24 years after it was recorded and still sounding fresh, reminding us why Here and Now were the best of the bunch.


     Opening with a sci-fi sequencer, the band slowly crank up the atmosphere until they lock into the excellent riff of “23 Skidoo”, making you understand why Daevid Allen chose them as his backing band, tight and fluid in their delivery. Next up is the glorious space-rock drive of “Heart of the City”, guitarist Deano Ferrari taking the band into the stratosphere, before the wasted reggae groove of “The Mega Number” blisses everyone out, the warm and bouncy basslines getting your feet moving.


      Introduced with the swooping synth of Gavin Da Blitz, “Ways To Be Free” takes that reggae groove, slows it down, soaks it in hash oil and detonates your mind in a joyful explosion of love. Once again the bass of Keith Th’Bass hold it together, ably assisted by the precision percussion of Paul Rose. After this obvious set highlight everyone maintains the momentum turning in blistering versions of “Theatre”, “Heartbeat”, which is gorgeous, and the mighty “Fantasy Shift”.


    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the free festival scene in the UK (anti thatcher, pro freedom, collapsed under its own mythology and police brutality) then listening to the 10 minute musical voyage of “Secrets” will certainly introduce you to all that was good about the music, free-flowing, warm and with a stoned vibe guaranteed. 


     After this epic voyage the band pull out the ace with a magnificent version of “Opium For The People”, that familiar riff still sending a smile up my spine. To round things off, the band get everyone grinning with the love-fest of “So Glad You’re Here”, the perfect end of set song.


    Before you go however, this release has three bonus tracks, the totally chilled and ever hopeful “Last Chance”, one of my favourite songs of theirs, a short and punky version of “Stoned Innocent Frankenstein”, and a long spacey version of “Jimmy Mac” (no, not that one). (Simon Lewis)




( LP from 3 Lobed Records www.threelobed.com )


For Bardo Pond fans out there, Christmas has come as a series of monthly events over the past year given that, apart from a couple of live CDs, there have also been some interesting offshoots such as Alasehir (a west Turkish town apparently) and Baikal (a Siberian lake) whose albums can be found on Important records (www.importantrecords.com) and Siltbreeze (www.siltbreeze.com) [also highly recommended is a limited edition split Bardo Pond LP with fellow Philadelphian noise gurus Buck Paco on the Black September label, with silkscreened covers. I nailed a copy in Rough Trade recently, but you can always try the label c/o

 www.blackseptemberpress.com – Phil ]


And now, adding to this list, comes the ‘Apocatastisis’ album by Bardo Pond’s Michael Gibbons’ alter-ego, which continues the acid/psych/stranger-in-town stance initially laid down by him in spidery script back in 2004 with the ‘Vertical Approach’ album on Galactic Zoo Dossier Records. Dressed in a strikingly Rotringed sleeve in which Kali the Destroyer (I think it is) is somehow transformed into a seventies Biba model intent on winning a stare-you-out contest, it’s purely a solo affair (brother John helped out on the previous set) and like a lot of the best psychedelically saturated material, does the right thing in terms of pacing and structure as a number of shorter pieces and two epic experimental sprawls occupy separate sides of the vinyl.


‘Angela’ and ‘Odanata’ employ attractive, sun-gilded guitar figures that are both ideal for after-hours listening, while things adopt a darker hue with ‘Montauk Blues’ which I believe might name-check a semi-mythical psychological weapons project from 1970s America. On it, field recordings of fireworks and aircraft noise are all stirred into a thick soup of sucking, backwards tape mulch. ‘Chapel Perilous’, side one’s closer, is certainly becoming a firm favourite with its references to primitive, bygone Americana, its ace violin scrape having certain choice echoes in Locust Music’s ever expanding Henry Flynt catalogue. The flipside’s ‘Desert Codex’ and ‘Stray Thoughts on Death & Satan’ really stretch out in ways bewitching, the former’s repetitive guitar shapes are lost in the wide open tracts of deserted scrubland while ‘Stray Thoughts’ is probably the more difficult listen with more backwards tapes and cyclical guitar swoops that sandwich the portentous musings of an anonymous academic caught in deep thort mode. In both cases, these ‘ear movies’ convey a world where the music is purely of a secondary nature to the heavy atmospherics generated by the machinations of the lemur House set-up.


As the Pond and its extended family are enjoying a purple patch of rapid despatch items, it’d certainly be prudent to snag this while you can (limited editions and all that involves). I do get the impression though that there’s more wonderment to come... (Steve Pescott)




( CD from www.kraak.net )


Imagine if you will a first generation American blues singer / guitarist (Mance Lipscomb springs to my mind immediately, but you are of course welcome to people the scenario however you think fit) and place him, as tradition dictates, on the front porch of a run-down homestead. The broken-backed rocking chair creaks to the rhythm of the singer’s gently tapping boot, crickets chirrup in the moonlight like the trill of a hundred supermarket checkouts and a glass of rotgut bourbon rolls to and fro across the rickety decking.


Now in your mind’s eye wire the old bugger up to a 21st century laptop and a bank of effects pedals, and magnificently fuzz, distort and warp everything you can hear from the voice, the guitar to even the chirruping crickets. You’re now some way towards understanding the enigma that is Ignatz. His is an extraordinarily original, alien and yet captivating sound which at one and the same time conjures up images of both freedom and melancholy, countryside and city: folk-roots industrial improv beamed in from another world - which as it happens it may as well be, given that the young guy behind the sound, Bram Devens, hails from Belgium, home of the surreal.


Named after the malevolent mouse in the early Krazy Kat comics, Ignatz’ weapons of choice are spontaneity and improvisation, but the real killer punch in his armoury are the songs themselves. Not only are the sounds he creates compellingly haunting and otherwordly, but underpinning everything he does are some extremely clever compositions.


Whilst the gently rhythmic ‘I Was Not There’ stands alone on this album as being completely effects free, others are comparatively primitive as well – The Beefheartian blues-stomp of ‘Silver Moon... Shine Sun! Sun! Sun!’ for example is the sound of one man and his guitar, perched on the porch and howling at the disparity of everything – and yet it’s still utterly in keeping with the lunar high-notes of the electronica that goes before it. The closing ‘All Your Love’ likewise features predominantly finger-picked guitar, but double tracked and strummed out of all recognition: and all the time with that gutsy, howling harmonica growl of a voice pushing the song along. But it’s on the stunning opening number ‘He Deals With Love & Her Eyes Glaze’, which comes at you like a beacon from mars (and I use the Kaleidoscope reference advisedly there) and the epic ‘The Dreams’ in which Ignatz really comes into his own, the latter featuring a rolling tsunami of sound which threatens to engulf you before leaving you beached and breathless on the shore.


Brilliant, starkly original and quite possibly my album of the year so far. Buy it now, whatever you do. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I ordered myself a vinyl copy (from the excellent Norman Records mailorder site) to file alongside this CD issue from K-RAA-K,  so it’s not like you can accuse me of not listening to my own advice. (Phil McMullen)




(LP on www.cameraobscura.com.au )


There simply aren’t enough songs written these days about alien abductions, punk tributes to unmentionable culinary delicacies, excess quantities of malt beer and epic cutlery battles. Trust Houston’s premier stoner psych rockers The Linus Pauling Quartet to set the record straight with this, their sixth album. Six albums! I was gobsmacked when they survived long enough to make two records without succumbing to overdoses, murder or bizarre gardening accidents. Rest assured however that the Linus Pauling Quartet remain equal parts demented, chaotic and entertaining. This is I suppose unsurprising for a product of the same home-town as the Red Krayola.


‘Alien Abduction’ kicks off the LPQ’s latest album, with a guitar riff so anthemic and bombastic that it could almost be the soundtrack to a Cheech and Chong movie. If this isn’t still a staple closing number of the Quartet’s live set when they’re being wheeled out on reunion tours in a couple of decades time I’ll eat my greens. ‘Old Crow’ reveals that (singer/guitarist) Clinton Heider is still listening pretty much exclusively to his collection of Blue Cheer albums. This is no bad thing. ‘Encherito’ is hard rock boogie sax-damaged neo-no wave punk. I have no idea what it’s about, but it’s fast and furious and hugely entertaining. And what’s more, it deifies the spork. Splendid! The stand-out number of the album however is undoubtedly the epic, progressive Nordic doom weirdness of ‘Waiting For The Axe To Fall’, the title of which pretty much says it all really. It’s arguably my favourite LP4 composition since ‘The Colour Out Of Space’ from the ‘Killing You With Rock’ album (1998), on which the band brewed equal elements Hawkwind, HP Lovecraft, Pink Floyd, the James Gang and Black Sabbath into a particularly fine psychedelic soup. More of this is needed, and soon.


I assume the LP4 will still be playing live versions of the majority of this material when they head out to play Terrastock next summer. Luckily, I’m given to understand that Kentucky is an entirely “dry” state, so there shouldn’t be too much of a problem keeping them sober enough to actually perform. Fingers crossed. (Phil McMullen)