=  NOVEMBER 2008  =

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Written by:

Hotel Hotel
  Golden Road comp

Phil McMullen

Northern Valentine

Jeff Penczak

Teeth of the Sea

Nigel Cross

Alan Aldridge

Simon Lewis

United Bible Studies

Stephen Palmer

Agitated Radio Pilot
  Ben Reynolds
  Donovan Quinn
  Pronounced "Sex"
  Dream Machine



(LP from Manimal Vinyl Records http://www.manimalvinyl.com )


I’m not often lost for words, but this three song 12” EP from the south of France’s groovy progressive psychedelic jazz popsters Aquaserge has me verging on le stumped. Few bands today are genuinely original, but what Aquaserge (the name apparently is a French play on words meaning both “What am I for?” and “Aquatic surge” – and if you are none the wiser for knowing that, then you can come join me on my half of the drainpipe) – what Aquaserge strive for, and for the most part successfully achieve, is something quite unique.


Where to begin? Formed in 2005 by three former members of the French pop group Hyperclean, at least one of them - Julien Gasc – also plays in Stereolab, who Aquaserge have toured with in the past, while drummer extraordinaire Julien Barbagallo is from a band called Lecube. Together they also serve as a backing band for avant-garde crooner Bertrand Burgalat.


‘Un’ opens the account. It’s eight minutes long, and starts out sounding like distinctly French psychedelic sounding pop, with hushed vocals and skewed vintage keyboards. Part way through it launches into a blistering guitar solo from Benjamin Glibert, who along with bassist Audrey Ginestet are from Ueh – so there’s some Acid Mothers Temple connections there as well (Ueh often serve as AMT’s support in France, and their 2002 album was released in Japan on AMT’s label). It then builds up to a riff that owes more than a nod to the Magic Band, which in turn dissolves into a melee of psychedelic psounds generated by some energetic keyboard knob-twiddling. ‘Deux’ is a further five minutes long and is driven along by a riff which is an almost direct lift from King Crimson’s ‘Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two’ – which is no bad thing in itself.

In fact, if pressed I’d probably argue that King Crimson were the band who Aquaserge have most in common with, although their label would have it that Faust, Neu! And Soft Machine are their points of reference. The thirteen-minute long ‘Trois’ which takes up all of Side 2 certainly underlines that, and features some guitar / keyboard interplay of which even the great Mr. Fripp would be justifiably proud.


Apparently there’s a storyline running through the album, that of the underwater mythology of shipwreck survivor Serge, who wanders the abyss in his cigar shaped submarine looking for whistling parrots. I could be making that up, however. There is also alleged to be two more albums’ worth of material already recorded which is still to be released. I for one am really, really looking forward to hearing that. Great sleeve, too! (Phil McMullen)




(CD on Silber Records, PO Box 18062, Raleigh NC 27619 USA

 www.silbermeadia.com )


Texans Hotel Hotel have tapped into a fertile wellspring of melancholy bubbling up from deep in the ocean’s depths on this, their second album (the first being 2006’s ‘All heroes are forever bold’, which apparently featured a different drummer who subsequently disappeared under mysterious circumstances at LaGuardia Airport, leading to something of a hiatus in the band’s career... however, I digress.)


Salty old sea dogs long in the whisker, such as myself, will immediately identify with Hotel Hotel’s modus operandi on ‘The Sad Sea’: the lengthy instrumental passages, seamless track-to-track changes and the compositional unity is eerily redolent of a 1970s Progressive Rock Concept Album. The eight titles all serve to underscore this, ranging  as they do from ‘From Harbour’ via ‘The Shoreline Disappeared’ and ‘The Dirac Sea’ (wasn’t Dirac that fellow from Bristol who discovered antimatter?) to the inevitable closing pieces, ‘The Captain Goes Down With The Ship’ (two parts, Sinking and Drowning, but no Waving.)


The album is however symphonic without once lapsing into pretentiousness, and uses classical instruments whilst leaving its feet remaining firmly rooted in rock, juxtaposing delicate, alluring guitar work and atmospheric cymbal splashes with often quite sinister howls from a violin. On ‘The Shoreline Disappeared’ a piano is used to great effect, adding movement to the fluid sounds; and on ‘The Dirac Sea (High Tide)’ a pounding drum riff drives the number forward. Interestingly, an electric violin is used as a lead instrument here. I’d love to believe there was a nod of recognition to the similarly violin-driven High Tide and their signature album ‘Sea Shanties’ from 1969, but sadly I rather doubt that’s the case. Nevertheless, ‘The Sad Sea’ is a fine piece of work and I for one will be filing it amongst the “keep” pile.  (Phil McMullen)



Various Artists – The Golden Road

(CD from Psychic Circle)


Whether this “golden road” leads to “unlimited devotion” of obscure, 60’s US folk rock may depend somewhat on the listener’s acceptance of the expanded definition of the genre as interpreted by Psychic Circle label head, Nick Saloman, who compiles “20 Further Travels To Unexplored US Folk Rock Territory” for Volume 2 in his Electric Coffee House series, which includes on excursion into that northernmost US territory, Canada! The set opens with the candy-coated sugar pop of Texas’ Mourning Sun (‘Let’s Take A Walk In The Woods’), whose small West Coast label, National General thought so much of them that they spelled their name wrong on the record! Chuck Berry turned 82 this week I wrote this review, so I don’t think he gets out on the road much anymore, but if you’ve seen any of his recent shows, then you’ll be familiar with Michigan’s The Woolies, who performed at the opening night of Detroit’s famed Grande Ballroom and backed famous blues artists like Chuck and Muddy Waters when they came through town. Chuck still uses them as his backing band when he goes on tour and ‘Hey Girl’ is a powerful, P.J. Proby-styled pronouncement.


MC2 once included Gene Clark amongst their ranks and was formed by ex-members of the Backporch Majority, so you know what type of coed vocals and harmonies to expect, while the jangly guitars of Chicago’s The Roving Kind are put to great effect on ‘Right On Time,’ another lightweight pop number with Lovin’ Spoonful aromas. The band at one time included Paul Cotton who later played in Poco! Elsewhere you’ll find The Patriot’s Sonny & Cher soundalike, ‘I’ll Be There,’ the Everly Brothers-style harmonies of The Last Draft’s ‘It’s Been A Long Time,’ the snappy, Grateful Dead-styled finger pickin’ of Louisiana’s The Road Show (‘Make Me Over Again’), the soft Brothers Four harmonies of The Happy Medium’s ‘Fair One,’ Jimmy Satan’s spot on cop of Barry McGuire’s ‘Eve of Destruction,’ (‘What’s It All About?’), and the gently flowing jangle pop of former “Where The Action Is” star, Keith Alison’s ‘Look At Me,” one of the few major label releases included here. Alison released an album, In Action on Columbia and shortly thereafter joined Paul Revere & The Raiders.


Canada’s 3’s A Crowd, represented here by ‘Bird Without Wings’ have an interesting pedigree. Bassist Ken Koblun was previously in Neil Young’s Squires (and was in an early version of Buffalo Springfield), guitarist Bruce Cockburn has enjoyed a highly successful solo career, while second guitarist Trevor Veitch later played with Tom Rush. But it may have been the powerful vocals of Donna Warner that attracted Mama Cass to the group, and she recommended them to her label, Dunhill and subsequently produced their lone album. Her souldful vocals recall both Jinx Dawson (of Coven) and Gayle McCormick (from Smith), but Mamas & Papas and Spanky & Our Gang fans will also dig it. Circus Maximus gave us Jerry Jeff Walker and Walker gave us ‘Mr. Bojangles,’ but their ‘Last Sea Shanty’ included here is a jangle psych rocker with lyrics like “Trip, trip, tripping through the theatre of your mind.” And while you’ve probably head enough versions of ‘Let’s Get Together’ to last a lifetime, I recommend sticking around for The Tiffany System’s straightforward take to hear this early versoin of the band that would later change its name to 31st of February and release a fairly decent pop psych album on Vanguard in 1968. Drummer Butch Trucks later joined the Allman Brothers, where he’s remained for nearly 40 years!


The set ends with the coed harmony vocals of The Ragamuffins, featuring Greenwich Village guitarist Tom Pacheco and future Orleans member, John Hall. ‘Parade of Uncertainty’ touches on popular political themes of the day and even tosses in a psychotic fractured guitar solo! So, if soft pop with tender harmonies and jangly guitars is your cup of tea, then you certainly won’t mind hitchhiking down this golden road. (Jeff Penczak)




(CD on Silber Records, PO Box 18062, Raleigh NC 27619 USA

 www.silbermeadia.com )


This is lovely. The cover features photos taken by the couple behind the band, Robert and Amy Brown (guitar, and violin and keyboards respectively), on tour in Iceland in June 2008 – that would be just before the Icelandic economy evaporated like steam from a geyser, then -  and the wide open spaces, airiness and atmosphere of the pictures they’ve used sums up the mood of the album exquisitely.


A Philadelphia, USA, based duo, they are joined here by two additional guitarists and a bassist, all of whom improvised together in the studio around various themes to create the album. The title, which I fretted at first might be suggesting that the band had mailed various recordings to one another which were subsequently sewn together digitally, rather references the trip to Iceland, and the songs throughout are clearly inspired by this. The lengthy (15 minute) opener ‘Born Yesterday’ is glacial in its movement; fans of Windy and Carl and Aarktika will smile knowingly and close their eyelids in satisfaction are the soothing, intense ambience of the sound.  ‘Dies Solis’ ticks and burbles along like a slow train crossing a snowfield, while ‘Dimanche’ builds to a crescendo like a fish-gutting factory waiting for the fleet to arrive. The stand-out for me though is ‘Already Gone’, with it’s solitary keyboard “plink” lending inevitable references to Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’.


This is minimalist ambience at its best. Heartfelt, soulful and affecting, like gazing at a scrapbook of memories. The ever-reliable Silber Records are to be commended for bringing us this – repay the favour by investing in a copy, since downloads won’t help guarantee there'll be more to follow. (Phil McMullen)




(CD from Rocket Recordings, www.rocketrecordings.com )


What is it with oceanic themes at the moment? Aquasurge, Hotel Hotel's The Sad Sea and now this. It must be something in the water...


London-based Teeth of the Sea introduce their debut album ‘Orphaned By The Ocean’, with an electronic approximation of the mournful blast of a fog-horn – much in the way the Steve Miller Band did with ‘Song For Our Ancestors’ on their second album, ‘Sailor’, back in 1968. Knowing their already admirable reputation as sonic experimentalists I wasn’t particularly surprised therefore when the first number, ‘Only Fools on Horse’, rather than emulating Miller’s brand of bluesy psychedelia, set out instead at a loping pace led by the mariachi march of a melodramatic trumpet. I was immediately reminded of another London-based outfit, Spaceheads, a duo who frequently blast into outer space with the help of various electronic effects (including once, memorably, at an early Terrastock festival in San Francisco), and in terms of guitar sound of Hovercraft, who likewise once played Terrastock (but a different one, I think.)


Teeth of the Sea’s palette is far, far wider than first suspected, however. I’d hazard a guess that improvisation plays a major part in how songs are formed, for theirs is a heady fermentation of sound which incorporates not just drumloops and trumpet, but space-rock, drone, Kosmische musik (particularly on ‘Knees like Knives’) and progressive rock signatures.


‘Swear Blind the Alsatian’s Melting’ is arguably the defining moment on the album; I urge you to hear this if you hear no other. It’s quite simply awesome. Kicking off with a lone trumpet, it gradually dissolves into a wonderful chugging guitar riff, driven along by furious drumming and a palpable sense of destroying all that stands before them. It’s a close tie for track of the album between this and the brilliant ‘Latin Inches’, the latter of which comes the closest to featuring vocals – a ghostly chant set against a gloriously psychedelic guitar line, producing a sound that’s eerily reminiscent of legendary Welsh rockers Man on their first couple of albums. In fact, in some curious way I can hear elements of Man’s approach to music right up until their ‘Be Good To Yourself...’ album throughout Teeth of the Sea’s work.


‘Coraniaid’ features a trumpet drone made to sound like an approaching train set against an atmospheric street landscape in the rain, while ‘Dreadnought’ returns to the sound explored on the opening number. But with added space-rock bleeps. The album, and the band’s sound, is summarised neatly with ‘Sentimental Journey’ - the drumming throughout is stunningly effective, but it’s the way the guitars build to a crescendo which set my toes curling every time I hear this. I’d imagine this will form the closing part of their live set for some time to come.


I can’t really comment on the cover art since apparently all we’re allowed to see in order to appraise this album on behalf of you, dear reader, is a CDR with a slip of paper folded around it – which to my mind is rather like asking a literary reviewer to write some publicity blurb for a book they’ve only been given access to in .PDF format. For the same reason, I have no idea who is who or who plays what in the band. I’m sure it’ll all get washed up on some distant future shoreline though, so no matter. (Phil McMullen)




( Exhibition, 10 October 2008 – 25 January 2009. The Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1 2YD )


Have to 'fess up here. Whilst I’ve always been aware of Aldridge’s work as an illustrator, graphic designer and art director, in my eyes he’s never quite enjoyed the same credibility as certain other British artists who also made their mark at the end of the 1960s.


Though his mynd-blowing pop art design  for the Who’s LP sleeve for A Quick One was an early  defining moment where art crossed over into rock music, for me Aldridge never had the same resonance as artists like of Storm Thorgeson, Martin Sharp, Nigel Weymouth, or Mike McInnerney.  Possibly because he wasn’t working in the milieu of the ‘underground’, I always regarded him as too ‘commercial’   – Aldridge did commissions for the Beatles, Stones, and Elton John for whom he did the artwork for the Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album. The book he published with William Plomer The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast was a huge bestseller and was later turned into a concept album by Rod Edwards and Roger Hand, featuring such notable British thespians as Judi Dench and Michael Hordern. It has recently been reissued on CD for the first time by Wizard Presents.


Floyd drummer Nick Mason’s observation that Aldridge is ‘the graphic equivalent of Frank Zappa, and maybe a mind as twisted and creative’, is wide of the mark. But this exhibition is worth a visit especially if you’re on the South Bank and have an hour to kill. The sleeves, the book jackets, the posters all put together as a retrospective body of work look extremely impressive. The Design Museum has created a wonderfully atmospheric space in which the exhibition is housed, dressed and lit in 60s colours complete with rolling soundtrack of the Beatles Revolver album and other suitably psychedelic sound bytes - it works so much more powerfully than the rather cold way in which the Victoria & Albert Museum chose to display its late 60s rock posters exhibition back in 2006.


One of Aldridge’s most memorable pieces of work is the poster he did for Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls Film, an image that has been repeatedly recycled and even used as the cover illustration for an album by Felt back in the 1980s!  Seeing the original here is worth the price of admission alone. Outside of his music stuff one of his most significant contributions is the work he did as creative director for Penguin Books. As an avid young reader at the end of the 60s, his book jacket illustrations held a strong fascination for me and made me want to buy them sometimes as much as the contents or writers names did.   Aldridge revamped and refreshed the sombre tone of Penguin paperback early years and replaced it with an iconic power and eye-catching quality that has never been equalled or revived since. No wonder he refers to himself as a ‘graphic entertainer’.   


I went along as a bit of a doubter but came away as a convert. Time has done much to enhance and elevate Mr Aldridge’s artistic vision. Don’t just rely on my five penny worth, the Arch Drude himself, Mr Julian Cope was in attendance at the private view, and when it comes to all things psychedelic, you can’t get a finer endorsement than that. (Nigel Cross)





(CD and 2CD from Deep Water www.dwacres.com )


Originally released in 2005 on their own Deserted Village label, “Airs of Sun and Moon” is one long live improvised piece, recorded in St Johns Church Limerick as part of the Limerick Arts Festival. Featuring four members of the UBS collective, the music is a blissful mix of harp, Piano, Guitar and Percussion (with the occasional vocal). Maintaining a beautifully fluid and natural feel throughout, the dancing notes are wonderfully served by deft percussion work and glorious wah guitar, the sound ebbing and flowing with easy precision, timeless and golden. Even when the music becomes more abstract and experimental, there remains a feeling of light and purity, the musicians never treading down darker roads, remaining, instead, in the sunlight gaining inspiration from the truth within.


  As with all their releases this is highly recommended to anyone with a passion for music that comes directly from the heart, a glorious trip that will soothe and inspire you.


        As Most of you will know, Agitated Radio Pilot is the outlet for the solo work of David Colohan, also known as the vocalist for United Bible Studies. On this Double CD he mixes a keen ear for melody with drones, experimentation and a healthy imagination, creating a work of timeless magnificent beauty. Opening track, “The Lie of the Land” will burn a hole in your heart, so bright is its fire, the music bringing tears to the eye with its wistful charm, the melodies slowly engulfed in a warm rolling drone.


    On “Inis Meain, David uses his deep resonant voice to create an echoed backing track, a lonesome whistle/flute adding an aching melody to the song, whilst the lead vocal sings a melancholy tale. Following on, two long pieces “In These Thousand Rains” and The Autumn Accelerator”, are aptly named, as they continue this melancholy air, with the latter adding some overdriven guitar to the melting pot. Finally for disc one, “…And So We Sing” is a shorter “song” (rather than a longer piece with vocals), although the mood remains the same.


    This shorter piece approach is continued on disc two as “ The Crossing Over”  adds a touch of light to the album. Seemingly of a more joyous hue, the music sparkles and smiles from the speakers, although the title suggests that a deeper current may run through the music. More traditional in its construction, “Saints Island II”, has the dark feel of an ancient folk-song, the lyrics painting pictures in the mind. This feel is repeated on “Rounding Lizard Point” another haunting song that will linger in the memory, emanating a sadness that cannot be easily shaken off.


    After the brief guitar instrumental of “The Barley Days”, three more songs continue the forlorn ambience whilst maintaining the high quality of the album, with “Sydney Harbour Bridge” being particularly poignant.


  To end this remarkable album, the 23 minutes of “The River That Flows Between Worlds” will engage your senses, hypnotising you with its sombre charms, weaving a magical web from which there is no escape, although you will be so engaged that you will not even notice.  Filled with a spiritual grace, this final piece, lightens the sadness, offering hope and renewal, powerful in its softness, truthful in its promise. (Simon Lewis).





(CD from www.strange-attractors.com )

Scottish guitarist Ben Reynolds is perhaps best known as a member of the long-running band Ashtray Navigations, but he has also played with drone veterans Vibracathedral Orchestra, also Sunroof and Motor Ghost. Numerous solo projects have been made available, all in avant-garde or psych territory, often as DIY releases, though sometimes with small labels. With "Two Wings" Reynolds puts aside his electric guitars for an acoustic one.

"Two Wings" is an album of improvised solo acoustic playing, five tracks lasting forty minutes in total. The first track, "Holy Spirit," begins quietly and develops into fast finger-picking territory, all in the same key though in different tempos. "Gravity Never Wins" follows the same format but in a minor key, giving the music an Eastern quality, as of a western guitarist in Istanbul discovering the sonic delights of the bazaar. "Revolution" begins with weird sounds, produced I suspect by bowing the guitar strings with a violin bow; the sounds begin quietly and end quickly, but develop into sustained notes as the piece progresses. This piece also has an Eastern flavour to it, because of the notes chosen - perhaps an oriental tuning. Over this backing a finger-picked second guitar emerges, playing a melancholic minor chord, and then we are off into tuneful variations on the main theme, again finger-picked. It's all very effective. "Ewige Weisheit" is played against a delay or reverberation, and the sound is less direct, implying distance. The key is again minor, evoking the Near East or Middle East, as variations on the main theme flow past the listener. The playing is particularly good here, as complex chords and altered finger styles come and go. Much use is made of doubly-played notes on adjacent strings. The opening notes of the final track, "Here Toucheth Blues," could almost be the beginning of a ballad, sweet and delicate. There is a hint of a Celtic influence in the more traditional early sections, before we return to quiet, peaceful finger-picking. Short and sweet - and a perfect conclusion.

"Two Wings" is presented in a beautifully produced case, with medieval style figures printed in black against the cardstock packaging. Very nice, and the Strange Attractors Audio House label must be congratulated. Guitarists of many different genres will be interested in this solo project, which manages to keep the listener fixed in a definite sound world, yet never hints too much as to where that world might be. (Stephen Palmer)




Donovan Quinn and the Thirteenth Month

(CD from www.softabuse.com)


Donovan Quinn and the Thirteenth Month is the new solo project of Donovan Quinn (named after our very own Donovan Leitch), who is best known for his work with The Skygreen Leopards. Quinn is the son of legendary Country Weather bassist Dave Carter, and his life has long been steeped in music. (See Ptolemaic Terrascope issue 34 for the full low-down on both Donovan Quinn's former band Verdure and his dad's outfit Country Weather)

"Donovan Quinn and the Thirteenth Month" begins with the airy, slide-guitar-annotated "October's Bride," a great little song to open with. Quinn's voice strikes the listener as a less throaty Dylan, though there are distinct echoes of Lou Reed and Marc Bolan. "Horror & Fear" is a slow-burn drawl, scored with timpani drums and cello; only three minutes, but it sounds great. "Sister Alchemy" is stripped-down a little more, but with the addition of simple keyboards it achieves muted power, almost grandeur. The shadow of Lou Reed seems strong here. Next up is "Patterns On A Summer Dress," which in arrangement and vocal style evokes Dylan without actually conjuring him up. The semi-improvised band sound, and casual, almost artless vocals work very well with the psych-folk sound. "The Wind At Her Craft" evokes a waltztime Neil Young circa the early 'nineties, and features great ooh-aah backing vocals; simple arrangements, but well pitched, and always effective. One of the highlights of the album for sure. The album returns to man-and-guitar for "Quarantine," before "They're Going To Pick Us Apart" takes the listener back into psych-folk territory, with Americana-infused keyboards and simple strumming. This track also has a Young-esque feel, which of course is no bad thing. Great drumming, too, like the pattering of jazz brushes on a tight snare. On "Take The Cross Off The Mantle" the listener hears a vocal that is perhaps closest to the uber-cool of Lou Reed, which, with subtle backing vocals and a great chorus, means another album highlight. There are echoes too of Ian Hunter in the melancholically drawled vocals. "Hollowed Candles" is softly thrumming folk with violin and finger-picked guitar, then "'Moose Indian'" comes over like a semi-drunken ballad, hazy and slow, with bathroom-reverberated vocals. You could imagine this track as the final encore of a live show, as the barmen collect glasses and throw people out. "Holy Agent" showcases Quinn's gift for a simple melody and strong underlying chords; another terrific chorus too. Forty years ago, Roger McGuinn could have written this. "Dark Angel" returns the listener into Neil Young territory, with fuzzed guitar and female backing vocals, while "Heathen Honeymoon" brings back the violin and piano for a mournful strum through broken relationships. The album's closer, "I Have Seen The Seasons Change," is a sombre wander through the drifting leaves of softly rattling guitar and resonant keyboards; only a minute and a half, but perfectly judged.


 I liked this album a lot. The combination of good songs, evocative vocals and clever arrangements makes it a compelling listen, one to stroll through over and over. A 45rpm vinyl single release promotes the slow-burn power of "Sister Alchemy" backed with a new cut, "The Rabbit Tracks," a hazy ballad featuring piano and pedal-steel guitar. Highly recommended. (Stephen Palmer)





(CD from www.interregnumrecords.com)


    Calling the opening track of your album, “The last Thing you Hear Before You Drown In Semen”, is guaranteed to get a reaction of some description, even if it is only repulsion and a quick exit. Thankfully, Terrascope reviewers are made of sterner stuff, which is a good thing, as this CD is a wonderful collection of electronic drones and soundscapes, seemingly dredged from the deep ocean floor. The aforementioned opening piece sets the tone of the album, the results of a long jam, edited, manipulated and re-invented, into a deeply swelling reverberation, as if the earth is breathing around you, the scrape of glaciers and the roll of mountain thunder.


    After the brief howl of “Necrodisiac”, sounds are twisted into a different shape with the arrival of “Blizzard Beach”, a stuttering and fetid blast of coldness that escapes from the ocean floor to blast through the depths in undulating splendour, sending a shiver down the listeners’ spine.  With a harsher tone, “Let’s Put the “&” In Sex” is a swarm of chanting insects heading straight for your cortex, whilst  “Earthquake From Behind” is a slice of abstract noise, demonstrating the fact that quiet can be just as noisy as loud.


    Finally, “No Such Symphony” is “Zeit” era Tangerine Dream colliding with My Cat is an Alien, both submarines suffering fatal damage, the music slow and funereal, the eleven minutes taking hours to pass as the oxygen finally gives out.


    Filled with music best heard alone, with a single candle burning, this is an album that will stand the test of time, electronic music without fashion or aging. (Simon Lewis)



SENDELICA – THE ALTERNATIVE REALITIES OF THE RE-AWAKENING SOMNAMBULIST   (CD from http://www.tidylikerecords.com/home.html )


(CD from www.dreammachineonline.co.uk )


    With the dial set firmly on ambient, the latest album from Sendelica is a slowly swirling magic carpet, the music lifting the listener into the sunshine, out into space where all roads lead to chill. With nods to both “Echoes” era Floyd and the ambient textures of KLF, the music has at its core the warm and fluid guitar of Pete Bingham, his restrained and dexterous playing filling the album with a human touch. On “”The End Starts with the Beginning”, a softly played sax, courtesy of Lee Relfe, dances with the guitar, creating emotion and lifting the song into heavenly realms. Elsewhere, the music reminds me of the opening sequence to “Withnail and I”, a wistful melancholy that is beautiful to hear, the music perfectly paced, with each player giving space to the other.


     On “Heaven and Hell”, some twisted electronics add moments of discord to the music, but for the main part this is a gentle stroll through the landscapes in your mind, no more so than on “Rippling Ocean Sunrise”, where a dub influence gets your feet tapping in lethargic bliss, closing the album with a sunshine filled finale.

    Fans of relaxed space rock will find much to admire on this album and, as a bonus, it comes housed in a tin box, complete with badge, joss stick and glow in the dark stars, what are you waiting for.


   Meanwhile, those of you looking for a more frenetic dose of space madness, would do well to bend an ear in the direction of Dream Machine, whose latest offering is a tour de force of festival influenced space rock, filled with ethnic percussion, wind instruments, synths and some full on guitar excursions. Featuring members of Ozrics, Ullulators, Zubzub and Here and Now, the term supergroup is probably  going to far, but this is possibly the perfect example of this genre, a wonderfully stoned soundclash, elements of dub, psych, prog and general weirdness meshing together in a tight cohesive soul explosion, you will be dancing to the revolution.


   Throughout, the blistering 45 minutes of the album, the playing is tight and adventurous, the musicians keeping the excitement level high whilst ensuring the moods change with blissed out passages followed by louder passages, the album never becoming boring or predictable.

   Whilst the whole album is a highlight, favourites include, the perfumed joy of “Mantra”, an eastern influenced swirl of happiness and the title track, the band kicking into demented rock and roll mode for one final blast into the cosmos.


   I used to be heavily into this style of music but became disillusioned by the repetitive nature of much of its output, these two albums have restored my faith in these cosmic sounds, maybe it is time you dived in as well. (Simon Lewis)