=  October 2010  =

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Wolf People
  Teeth of the Sea

Written by:


Nigel Cross


Simon Lewis (Editor)

Wooden Wand

Ian Fraser

Phil McMullen I Love UFO
  The Purrs
  Bill Horist
Miss Massive Snowflake
  Debbie Duveen & The Millbanks



(Jagjaguwar JAG159, CD/LP)

When Jack Sharp first started telling me about the initial sessions for this album back in the summer of last year, I visualised the result as a work following a trajectory that started some time during 1970 and the as-yet-to-be-recognised Summer of British Folk Rock, and plotted a course through such reference points as No Roses and Marquee Moon - and very little else between then and now.


This notion was enforced by a gig they did in October 2009 in Hoxton, the greatness of which was matched only by the offensive heat of the basement venue and an audience more intent on playing conkers and talking through every single number rather than paying attention to what in my view was a set of some of the most enthralling music I'd heard for longer than I care to remember. The scales fell from my eyes that night – all the promise I’d felt their shows earlier in the year had hinted at, had finally bloomed as the band debuted much of the material that you'll find on Steeple – and magnificent it was too! I knew my perception of this band’s greatness had not been misplaced and I floated home that night, mind a-buzzin' wondering whether they would be able to translate songs like Silbury Sands, Painted Cross and Banks of the Sweet Dundee into studio magic.


It’s been a long time coming - but this recording is resounding proof of what a special band they have developed into. Wolf People come of age on Steeple - the first album to truly reflect the combined talents of theWolf People photo: JagJaguwar current line up of the band: guitarist Joe Holick, drummer Tom Watt, bassist Dan Davies and founding member guitarist/singer Jack Sharp.


I’ve always dug album reviews that examine each track in the order they come on the record since I was ruined by John Peel’s era-defining examination of Fairport’s Unhalfbricking LP in Disc & Music Echo in June 1969, so I hope you’ll indulge me if I do the same here because every number more than deserves individual attention.


Steeple starts with one of the most sombre chords since the first Sabbath album – you can almost hear the church bell chime the witching hour. The band then ease in with the stately Silbury Sands pitched somewhere in tone between Tom Verlaine’s Words from the Front and the kind of ball-breaking riffs that might have been outtakes from Led Zepellin 1.

Yet it is the heart-of-oak life blood of traditional music, which has characterised some of their early efforts, that courses through the veins of this song, and nearly every other number on this album. The band may not have grown out of the British 00s wyrd acid folk scene, but references to traditional music abound throughout this album. Like another Terrascope favourite, Stone Breath, the band draws freely on the musical inspiration and imagery of the folk tradition - you can taste blood and earth, life and death in every groove of this record. This connection runs right through to one of reasons they called it Steeple - as Jack says, 'There is usually a steeple at the centre of a traditional English community, and a lot of the songs deal with local history'.


'Silbury Sands', says Sharp, 'is musically an amalgamation of lots of different ideas we were working on at the time. The words are about three separate things that affected a little town in North Devon. I think the title comes from something I misread on a map, I've never been able to find it since' [probably thinking of the hamlet of Sand near Sidbury in Devon, says the Editor with the West Country roots....]


Tiny Circle will be familiar to most fans as it was the A-side of their last single - something of a nod back to the brief era when they were rather dominated by the flute playing of Ross Harris. I think I would have preferred them to have included another new song here and made the entire record the work of the current line up - still a cracking number, nonetheless!


Painted Cross coud be a sister of Storm Cloud - arguably the best song of their earlier incarnation, when Wolf People were little more than Jack’s bedroom project. This is something Jack agrees with: 'Painted Cross', he says, 'is a version of a very old song I’d written at the same time as Cotton Strands and Storm Cloud (there is a recording from that time too)'. Here, instead of those nods towards the great late 60s West Coast bands, Wolf People come across with more than a flavour of Tomorrow and the London UFO era – and the bass and drums lock into a wonderfully addictive seesaw riff that’s pure old school Bevan/Kefford! Lyrically, the quartet's best material conjures up images of leylines, standing stones and the olde ways. and as Jack adds, this is no exception, 'it’s about a ruined church in the village me and Tom grew up in'.


Morning Born is the expressway into the centre of the album. Watts’s drumming is laid down with real military precison and he and bassist Dan Davies combine with the rhythm guitars to propel the track forward with the all the animal vigour of the classic Magic Band. And Davies even plays the perfect bass line too! This is a highlight of the new record, the quiet interludes where Jack sings the verses in burning contrast to the passages where the souped up guitars attack your senses like swords on steel helmets.


A huge swirling psychedelic crescendo of crashing percussion and distorted guitars heralds Cromlach, an instrumental jam. On this they blast us off into the stratosphere – as Holick and Sharp glide into overdrive, the fun literally does begin! The late Michael Jones will surely be looking down from rock’n’roll heaven with approval when he hears this. For anyone who loves the crazed Jones/Leonard angular guitar assault of Padget Rooms, some of John Weinzierl from Amon Duul II’s more unbridled moments or Terje Ripdal’s glorious sonic meltdowns, you’re gonna be wearing a huge smile by the end of this. Cromlach is just a total gas! And at a mere three and half minutes long, nobody can accuse them of descending into long indulgent hippie-style acid jams – though more than one member of the band has admitted they wouldn’t mind doing a live set consisting of just one number – now that I would love to see! [gets my vote too - Phil]


There is no turning back from here on in – a real no-prisoners spirit takes hold – the unfettered guitar hedonism of Cromlach sets them up perfectly for One By One From Dorney Reach, this and the ensuing Castel Keep being backbone numbers of the current live set. Dorney Reach's frenzied drum-fuelled intro has more than whiff of Ladbroke Grove circa 71 about it whilst the the screaming recurrent guitar riff comes in wailing like a banshee and sounding like it was born on the first Floyd album – as with so much Wolf People music there is a real sense of menace and darkness here.


There have been more than a few moments during Wolf People shows this year where I have found myself comparing them to the Full House-era Fairport Convention especially the way they have revitalised another old tune Black Water – and I would add that whilst Richard Thomspson was still in the band, Fairport for me where untouchable. Castle Keep is just so redolent of that 1970 Fairport Convention line up – there’s that sombre/bleak feel here and the way Watts' drumming sets the tone – you can almost imagine him as the minstrel beating time behind the cart carrying the dead bodies to the boneyard during the plague years. But the honours here ultimately go to young Joe Holick - the solo that plays Castle Keep goes beyond the mere stunning, gob smaking - indeed every time I play this, I have to stop and gasp ‘oh fucking hell’ at just how good his playing is on this.

Steeple plays out with the two-part Banks of the Sweet Dundee, the interpretation of which here will go down in the annals of British folk rock as a masterpiece: indeed my feeling when I first heard it was to hope the band would send copies of it to Ashley Hutchings and Joe Boyd – Ashley especially would appreciate the next generation leaving their mark on his beloved folk tradition!


Sharp tells me that 'this version was collected in Potton in 1904 by the Bedfordshire Times. I found it in Bedford library in a little pamphlet called “Old songs sung in Bedfordshire”. I chose it to go with a thing Joe had written, and changed the melody to fit (actually, there was no melody in the book). We had too many words so we had to come up with a second part to keep it interesting, in fact I didn't even include the last two lines. Joe supplied the big riff at the end too. It’s kind of an homage to songs like Shirley Colins' Murder of Maria Marten and Sir Patrick Spens by Fairport, but messier! The organ in the middle is what I would very generously describe as a “homemade mellotron”. I sampled all the notes from a wooden recorder into an Akai MPC and then played them back in chords on the pads. It took a very long time to get the timing right when it comes back in'.


I’ve heard the occasional criticism of Jack’s voice but if ever you needed convincing then look no further than the way he handles this song - like many traditional tunes, Banks tells a story of tragedy and intrigue and Jack's vocal delivery manages to extract every dramatic and emotional nuance of this good old murder ballad!

Ah, the baggage of age! 40-odd years of total immersion in rock’n’roll has left its mark on me. Oh to be writing this as fresh-eared 18 year-old because truly it would feel even more head-turning than it does to this old buffer. All I can say is that whatever your age, whatever your take on our treasure trove corner of the rock culture, you are going to love this album – it’s a colossus! (Nigel Cross)



(CD / LP on Rocket Recordings )


The soaring, monolithic, majestic majesty of Teeth of the Sea continues to impress on this, their long awaited second album.  Sounding for all the world like a collision between Oneida and Spaceheads – the London-based duo who sounded like Lightning Bolt with mariachi horns that blew audiences away at the Terrastock festival in San Francisco a few years ago – Teeth of the Sea’s terrascopic credentials are absolute and unquestionable. A lengthy tour last year with Oneida followed by dates with our very own Thought Forms only served to put the seal on that.


‘Your Mercury’ starts off gently enough, with a post-rock-esque pause and effect build-up from gentle effects to explosive noise-rock. By the time we get to the title track – which may either be ‘Your Mercury’ or ‘You’re Mercury’ depending on which part of the press release you believe (being a humble reviewer from a publication extremely low in the food chain, I haven’t been granted an audience with an actual copy of the album and have to rely on what I’m given…) anyway, by the time we get to the title track, whatever that may be, Teeth of the Sea are firing on more cylinders than a rocket exiting the Earth’s gravitational pull. Elegant, incendiary psychedelia which is at one and the same time devastating and darkly beautiful.  ‘Midas Rex’ follows immediately after, with the band orbiting nicely through space by this stage, reminding me uncannily of moments found on Paul Kantner’s ‘Blows Against the Empire’ (this is meant as a compliment: I realise the album is generally frowned on by Jefferson Airplane purists but I happen to adore it).


Other favourites include the Kraut-rock-esque ‘A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.’ and the astonishing ‘Red Soil’, which riffs menacingly around just seven or eight softly spoken words and then suddenly exploding into a frenzy of superb drumming and toe-curling guitar licks. Sequencing is everything though, and even this wouldn’t be as effective without the haunting ‘Mothlike’ and menacing ‘Horses with Hands’ either side of it. I’m praying the band plays these in much the same order when they’re on stage – including the closing ‘Hovis Coil’, pulling together as it does all the elements of timing, trumpet, percussion, guitars and effects which in that very same order make this band so extraordinarily special.


Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe the cinematic tension they build up and release – and awesome likewise only touches on how impressively well Teeth of the Sea have corralled all their influences and shaped something new and utterly wonderful out of it. Did I mention I love this band? (Phil McMullen)





(CD from www.importantrecords.com)


Amongst my quirky filing system, in which albums are grouped along the lines of stylistic tendencies rather any rational chronological or alphabetical process, Mugstar albums hold pride of place alongside a string of Terrastock luminaries such as Bardo Pond, Kinski, Oneida and Grails as well as the odd Neu! and Hawkwind CD. This in itself probably tells you enough about the band to help you decide whether it’s for you or not. The British quartet rarely put a foot wrong in my eyes, and ‘Lime’, their third album (second this year I believe!) scheduled for an October release is if anything their strongest yet.


Whilst the thirteen-minute long ‘Serra’, with it’s extended Kraut-styled riffing, is obviously the stand-out cut of the album and a monster by any measure let alone Mugstar’s already high standards, ‘Radar King’ is marginally the most interesting of the four cuts on this collection: an instrumental which kicks off with a fairly typical for Mugstar Kinski-esque metronomic beat led by shimmering guitars and some gorgeous drumming (always a strong point if this band), before unexpectedly dissolving into an atmospheric space-rock cinemascape not a million miles removed from the Man band’s ‘C’mon’. The guitars then lead the listener out towards a blisteringly apocalyptic crescendo. A word of praise is in order too for the inspired addition of guest clarinettist Jonathan Hartley (of Clinic) who adds some hauntingly Hawkwind- and Beefheart-ian flourishes to the aforementioned ‘Serra’.


Opening cut ‘Sunburnt Impedance Machine’ is pure, undiluted Mugstar riff-trickery with chanted vocals which once again oddly enough brings to mind the Man band with perhaps members of Hawkwind joining them on stage at some celestial gig at the Roundhouse, whilst the closing ‘Beyond the Sun’ finds the band in a more reflective mood throughout the seven minutes of an elegiac, atmospheric synth / guitar ballet, with once again Steve Ashton’s brilliant drumming quietly insinuating itself into your subconscious.


That I adore this band probably goes without saying. That this is a contender already for one of my favourite albums of the year definitely is worth bearing in mind though. (Phil McMullen)





(LP/CD from www.thrilljockey.com)


I always think a good drummer makes an enormous difference to any rock band – and my immediate impression of the Virginia-based band of brothers Pontiak is that they have a seriously bloody good drummer.


His impact is immediate on the opening cut on their latest album, ‘Living’, a solid, riff-laden, Deep Purple-esque number entitled ‘Young’, with some gorgeous high-impact fills behind the chugging guitar lines that are one solo short of perfection. A series of short explosions introduces ‘Original Vestal’, we take a quick drive through ‘Algiers by Day’, and then we’re into what for me is one of THE outstanding numbers of this or any other album I’ve heard in the past 12 months: the unstoppable juggernaut riffage that is ‘And By Night’, the tireless pounding of the drums topped off by shards of hacked guitar chords before a crescendo of screaming feedback that puts me in mind of the mighty Pink Fairies in their pomp! I really, really have to see this played live before too long….


None of the songs on here last much longer than four minutes (with the exception of one, which we’ll come to in a moment) but the album works as an album, if you see what I mean, with the songs leading effortlessly into one another – once can’t imagine the mighty ‘And by Night’ being followed by anything other than ‘Second Sun’, for instance, which layers guitar tones reminiscent of early Pink Floyd over the still unstoppable thump of the drums.

Flip the record over, admire the chromium yellow of the pressing (or if you’re listening to the free MP3 download that comes with the record, just watch the digital counter tick over – I know which I’d prefer…) and you’re welcomed by ‘This is Living’, the nearest Pontiak come to being radio friendly, the chorus almost verging on the hummable.


We’re then into the broad expanses of ‘Pacific’, the centrepiece of the album and at six minutes plus, easily the longest number. It’s a masterpiece of sonic construction, with some utterly gorgeous high-note guitar work eerily reminiscent of Mad River, an intro which begs to be described as “haunting” and “Atmospheric”, before exploding in a Crazy Horse kind of way into some massive riffs which just beg to be amplified and extended – though sadly they aren’t.


Or not just yet: a short vocal West Coast soft-rock composition entitled ‘Forms of The’ cuts in, and only then are the closing riffs on ‘Pacific’ are picked up again as the opening riffs of ‘Thousands Citrus’, an awe-inspiring instrumental worthy of Grails (and that’s saying something).


It’s clever. It’s different. And I really, really like both this album and everything I’ve heard so far. Apparently the band are fairly prolific – this is their 5th album, though the first and only one I’ve heard. I have a feeling it definitely will not be the last I hear of them though…. (Phil McMullen)




(LP/CD from www.younggodsrecords.com)


I confess I approached this with some trepidation. Don’t get me wrong: I love Swans, and their new album ‘My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky’ (also on Young God Records) is a tour de force of truly progressive rock in the original meaning of the term; but I could somehow imagine that having Michael Gira produce James Jackson Toth (a.k.a. Wooden Wand) would bury the songs in a dark, theatrical cloak – somewhat akin to David Ackles at best, perhaps, but not the sublime, folky troubador I’ve come to know and love (and anyone who met him at Terrastock 7 would have likewise fallen under his spell, I am sure).


I needn’t have worried though. James Jackson Toth’s narrative, his passion, his songs shine through like polished gems, and the gloss is a mere surface polish rather than a thick layer of varnish. The instrumentation throughout is sublime, with a hand-picked cross section of hipster musicians in support (kudos especially to Brian Lowery for the excellent pedal steel and dobro), and as ever the lyrics and delivery leaves you gasping in admiration and delight.


If I had to pick out a favourite cut it would have to be ‘Hotel Bar’, with its haunting Dylan-esque vocal delivery floating over some gorgeous minor-key instrumentation. Others are no less memorable: ‘Until Wrong Looks Right’ is so effortlessly complete a song that it’s hard to believe it’s not a cover, and ‘Ms. Mowse’ is simply brilliant in terms of sheer unpretentious pathos and breathtaking delivery.


Far from being a step too far, I have a suspicion this is the album Wooden Wand has been leading up to all along. Hopefully there will be more to come – I’d hate to think of this as a one-off, though as ever I’ll be following wherever he cares to lead. (Phil McMullen)




(CD from Drag City)


I have to admit, I’ve got myself into a bit of a froth over this in recent days, and in particular the side-long (or what would be side long, if this were an LP, as it so assuredly ought to be) magnum opus ‘Plain of Jars’. Here, all of Rangda’s immense promise comes to a spectacular head, like a trickle of water building up into a mountainous wall behind a dam, poised to flatten entire villages at the whim of the gods in whose hands their mercy lies.


And what gods these people are! Their names alone are enough to strike awe into the hearts of the faithful, like the mythological Balinese deity of terror and devotion from which the band takes its name. Richard Bishop, late of the much revered (hereabouts at least) Sun City Girls; percussionist extraordinaire Chris Corsano, and - the cherry on top of an already wonderfully rich cake - Ben Chasny on guitars, feedback, more guitars, and some feedback.


The monumental ‘Plain of Jars’ may well be the album’s apogee, building as it does from a gentle middle-eastern flavoured guitar arabesque into a crescendo of volcanic percussive mayhem via a series of inventive instrumental peaks and troughs, but it’s far from the only track of note. Both the opening ‘Waldorf Hysteria’ and the aptly titled ‘Serrated Edges’ bring to mind Comets on Fire, whilst the album’s chronological centrepiece ‘Sarcophagi’ is redolent of the pioneering free-folk forms of Chasny’s Six Organs of Admittance. Another comparatively introverted number is the brooding ‘Bull Lore’, a kind of percussive version of Hendrix’s ‘Machine Gun’ led by the impeccable Corsano.


The impressive quality of the music on offer is barely surprising given the pedigree of those involved, but it gives the lie to the allegedly hasty gestation of the band and the largely improvised nature of the recordings. ‘Plain of Jar’s may well be the pinnacle of this album, but I have a nagging suspicion it’s only the first in a range of peaks that this band have the capacity to scale. (Phil McMullen)




(CD on Asphalt Duchess www.asphaltduchess.com)


Following on from Aqua Nebula Oscillator’s dark and dirty classic “Under The Moon Of…” (see Reviews September 2009), here’s further proof, if such were needed, that French rock music is alive and kicking and that it’s time to kick some old Anglo-American prejudices to one side.


I Love UFO are a Paris-based four-piece who on the evidence of “Dirty Animals”, their sophomore full outing, rock like a cradle placed precariously on a cliff edge in a force 9 gale. Influences abound, not least late 60s Detroit mania (that’s Stooges and MC5 boys and girls and not Tamla), Doors, Joy Division, “Heaven Up Here” era Bunnymen, Cure and JAMC, not to mention what sounds like a nod towards Hawkwind at their most raucous. Chuck in some Birthday Party-style shouty nihilism and the result is one mighty psychedelic snarl.


First track proper, “Die with the Snake”, is a call to arms that has your hair standing on end and will have Robert Smith and co tearing at what remains of theirs and wishing this could have been them. A bit too full-on for your tastes? Well try “Ashtray”, on which the band reveals more of its repertoire, adding an eerie, trippy sounding guitar sound that appears to owe a huge debt to the tremolo and the twang bar to the undeniable power and attitude that is the trademark of “…Snake”. Make no mistake this is an 8 minute slice of twisted, atmospheric excellence. And it doesn’t end there, no siree. “Dirty Animals” is choc full of goodies like “Clear Darkness”, which lurches into being with a mean and moody bass run and a languid and lost vocal before kicking into life two minutes or so in as if the mad doctor has just flicked the switch, “Lost Deep Boy”, and the acid drenched paranoia of “Strange Attractor” all of which are headed for the holiday playlist. “War”, “Trouble” and “Dead Ghost” convey exactly what their titles suggest. Play them at volume 11 and you’re likely to come out of the experience bloody or shit soiled. Best of all is “Left” on which the motorik opening soon builds to a fury in which it seems all of the previous tracks are distilled into vicious but astonishingly good sonic maelstrom.


This is stunningly good stuff, then, and best played in a dimly lit basement with something evil looking and foul smelling doing the rounds. God, how I miss those days… (Ian Fraser)





(CD on Trail Records www.trailrecords.net)


Welcome to a strange and faraway place, readers…


Beyond-O-Matic is a San Francisco-based improvisational group of space rangers reporting for inter-galactic duty after a five year hiatus. The title of “Time To Get Up” might in fact suggest they have been cryogenically frozen in deep space, particularly as its been a further six years since the album was recorded and is only now benefiting from an official release courtesy of the very fine Trail Records (see review of Sky Cries Mary’s career retrospective in August Rumbles).


Opener “Plague of Bliss” provides us with a gentle and pleasant enough take-off that sounds like Radiohead arranged by Todd Rundgren with added space drips adding to an ethereal and quite unusual mix. This gives way to “Hawaiian Lady” which, mind-bogglingly, conjures up visions of Funkadelic fronted by the Brothers Isley and Gibb. It’s at this point you begin to wonder quite what you’re listening to and whether these guys are in fact having a bit of a cosmic joke at our expense. Around four minutes in, however, the mood shifts and our intrepid explorers of time and space finally thaw out and hit their trademark groove which they pretty much keep up for the remainder of the trip. This is essentially a floating, hallucinogenic 70s style jam during which you expect to come across Major Tom and all manner of casualties floating by in some celestial bubble. By the time “Hawaiian Lady” segues into “Starbong” (get the picture?) what seems a few light years later you feel you might just be experience something quite special. Now, I should point out that Beyond-o-Matic are not likely to inspire academics to devote their careers to discovering true or hidden meanings to their lyrics (“Starbong, Star, Starbong, that’s what we’re on” seems pretty straightforward to me folks) this is after all a site for musical appreciation so that’s what we’ll major (Tom) on. Anyway, Starbong is a veritable delight, the interplay between guitars, synths, vocals and even flute has a quite transcendental effect and, note for note receives your reviewer’s accolade for album highlight. Mind you, “Trying to Find You” with its insistent bass motif and slightly darker edge (and one of three tracks clocking in at more than 10 minutes) runs it close as does the title track which, from understated beginnings builds layer upon layer into a thing of haunting and faintly dramatic beauty (lyrics are still daft though). By comparison the album ends with two almost perfunctory tracks, the one and a bit minute minimally accompanied vocal track “The Liquid Midnight” and the catchy “Child of Fog”, which holds our hands through the comedown and returns us safely to base.


It may take two or three listens to fully appreciate “Time to Get Up” but stick with it and you’ll open an aural galaxy worthy of exploration. Let’s hope that in the meantime B-O-M haven’t crawled back into the tank for too long a period of gestation and that they’ll orbit us again soon. (Ian Fraser)




(CD from www.thepurrs.com)


Released in May, this is another in the occasional series “albums that should have been reviewed ages ago”, as the Purrs again demonstrate that they have everything it takes to break through whilst retaining a musical integrity and style. Now ten years and six releases into their career, you get the feeling that the moment of stardom has passed them by, which is a damn shame as their mix of Lou Reed cynicism, jangly guitars and quality melodies seems perfect for that crossover. On the plus side, they continue to make wonderful music, with this seven track album being one of their finest moments.


     Opening with the sugared  rush of “Only Dreaming”, the band are in fine form, echoes of The Church to be heard as the soaring guitar fills launch the album in perfect style, whilst the lyrics maintain the humour and downbeat point of view of previous releases. The fact that it is a cover of a Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry, seems like an aside, so perfectly does it fit the sound of the band, as does the cover of Lee Hazelwood's “Always Something in my Way”, which closes the album in a swirling paisley jangle, proving eclectic musical influences, if nothing else.


    Moving back a bit, “Just a Little More” has a wonderfully distorted wah guitar washes running through, adding a sense of decay to the autumn feel of the song, the theme of crumbling society replacing the old with an even worse version of the same thing, beautifully imagined in the music. More paisley pop loveliness can be found on “It Could Be So Wonderful”, an anthemic slice of sound that needs to be turned up for full effect, bet it is a live favourite. More introspective, the downward spiral of “I'm Slipping”  is a beautifully realised gem, perfect for those broken relationship moments that we have all experienced, regret and sadness expressed with clarity and a wry humour.


   After the slightly treading-water feel of their previous album “Amused Confused and More Bad News”, I am seriously delighted to report that this album gets better the more you listen, now all we need is another 11 minute psychedelic cloud of bliss such as “Creeping Coastline of Lights”, which can be found on their first EP and still remains my favourite moment from The Purrs. (Simon Lewis)



All (www.northpolerecords.org)


Sometimes, music that deserves your attention slips through the cracks, something that is certainly the case with these three releases which have been available since March this year.

     Featuring a CD containing eleven tracks, plus a DVD of small films, mainly of an experimental nature, “Two Feathers” is another excellent release from the ever wonderful Rollerball. Having released 14 albums, the band are honed to perfection, with the rythym section of Gilles and Monte Trent Allen, seemingly in fine form on this album, driving the songs along with furious precision, whilst electronics muddy the waters, saxophones dance and the vocals tell twisted tales, the whole album vibrant and alive.

   After a fine opening brace, things get dark and hypnotic on “Rick Wright”, a pulsing rhythm leading you on as the electronics mess with your head in a delicious way, the sudden ending adding to the surprise, the band moving seamlessly into the jazz infused coolness of “Camera's”, a song washed with gentle piano.

   As you move further into the album it becomes apparent how both self-assured and diverse the musicians are, each song beautifully placed on the album whilst retaining a character of its own, something that has always be prominent on their albums and possibly the reason I like them so much. Mixing funk with jazz, avante-garde with sweet melody, electronics with organics, sometimes all within the same piece, this is a splendid collection that offers a whole variety of quality entertainment to those with the ears tolisten.

    Now a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, Bill Horist has appeared on a host of albums playing with such luminaries as John Zorn, Bill Frisell and Kinski, to name but a few. On this, his latest solo album, he demostrates why he is so in demand, the disc filled with delicate haunting passages, deft touches, and a sense of the surreal, his exquisite guitar playing augmented by strings, choral moments and wonderful percussive moments.

     After the glorious opening salvo of “In the House of the Specious Phylum”, the mesmerising strains of “The Breadth Width Isthmus” herald in a world of wonder,harp and strings dancing over a gentle rhythm, The guitar adding splashes of dappled sunlight to the tune,as you float downstream, mind disengaged. On “Smeared Slate Gales”, delicate guitar notes weave with a soft voice to create a piece of soft beauty tinged with sadness, whilst on “Affable Hauntings” (only available on the CD)
the softly spoken guitar is joined by droned/distorted voices, summing up the title perfectly.

    Delicate and complex at the same time, this disc is beautifully produced by Randall Dunn (Kinski, Sunn o))), Boris), the brightness and clarity allowing each piece to sparkle from the speaker, no more so than on “Sod Webworm”, sounding like the soundtrack to a dark experimental movie, the plot lost to the beauty of the photography. Finally, “The Imperatives of Subsequence”,leads us out, displaying all that is good about the album, inventive, wistful and haunting, with the guitar always there but allowing the songs and arrangements to take centre-stage.
      With a supporting cast that includes Bill Horist and Gilles, amongst others, The latest album from Miss Massive Snowflake (Shane De Leon), continues to showcase his idiosyncratic visions, mixing twisted pop with political and social statements, something he does right from the off, with “Good Morning” railing against the war whilst infecting your ears with sweet melody. From here on in, this is a fantastic ride, ten songs that are inventive and alive, the cynical observations of songs such as “An  American”, tempered by the softness of “I Do”, whilst Songs such as “Happy Birthday” and “Shock and Awe” display musical brilliance, with the former up there with the best of anything by Robert Wyatt. Displaying all of these characteristics is the magnificent “Good Night”, a brooding epic awash with tension, the repeated vocal lines becoming a chant as the energy levels rise, the feel changing from negative to positive, clever stuff indeed. (Simon Lewis)




(CD on Woronzow Records )


One of the questions we still most often get asked here at the Terrascope (after “Whatever happened to the magazine?”) is “When’s there going to be another Bevis Frond album?”


Well, ever one to stay two steps ahead and off to one side of his pursuers, Nick Saloman has finally delivered just what you didn’t expect, just when you least expected it. And it’s a corker!


A showcase for the heart-breakingly powerful voice and effortless delivery of the multi-talented actress and singer Debbie Duveen, the material on here was all written for her by her father – Nick Saloman – and is performed throughout by The Millbanks, a band comprising of Paul Simmons (Alchemysts) on guitar, Jules Fenton (Lightning Seeds, Bevis Frond etc) on drums, and Adrian Shaw and Nick Saloman on bass, guitar and keyboards respectively. One would sincerely hope that neither gentlemen would need much, if any, introduction to Terrascope readers, but for the casual reader: Nick and Ade have for many years been the core of the Bevis Frond live experience.


Given the songwriting and performing credits, anyone half expecting a Bevis Frond album with Debbie Duveen singing will be surprised and, I like to think, really impressed by the breadth, range and wealth of the material on offer. 'The Love of '99' is the only one on here that immediately comes across as just that (i.e. a Bevis Frond song with Debbie singing), although my own personal favourite cut, the bouyant psychedelic pop of  'Jennifer Jayne', also bears all the hall-marks of a Nick Saloman song, with his own guitar leading brilliantly from the front and the lyrics making you pause and smile at one and the same time.


As fabulous as ‘Jennifer Jayne’ undoubtedly is, it’s not necessarily the strongest the song on the album - 'Cryo-Love' is the obvious contender for that, a cracking number which genuinely deserves to be a hit. Watch a video for the song on You Tube courtesy of the following link http://bit.ly/9iqugW Having said that 'Eyes Stay Closed' is powerful both in construct and delivery, definitely one to return to again and again. 'Contact with Air' is so timeless, so brilliant that I must admit I had to sneak a look to double-check it wasn't a rearrangement of an overlooked classic. It’s a song that’s perfectly suited to Debbie's voice as well. Finally, I really, really like the Wipers-ish delivery of 'Don't Belong', a nice touch that.


So, there we have it. An album which delivers far, far more than simply great songs sung by a singer with a phenomenal future in front of her. Check it out! Copies are available via Debbie Duveen's Facebook site. (Phil McMullen)