= October 2020 =  
Circulatory System
 Kris Needs
 Prana Crafter
 Head in the Clouds comp
 Bill Butler & the Unicorn Bookshop
 Soft Hearted Scientists
 White Hills
 Ray LaMontagne
 Dronestore Cowboys
 Anton Barbeau
 Electric Moon
 Sun Dial
 Icarus Peel's Acid Reign
 Burd Ellen
 Ezra Feinberg
 a Lilac Decline



(2LP Reissue with Digital Download from The Elephant 6 Recording Co.)

First-ever vinyl release of the debut album from this Olivia Tremor Control offshoot, featuring the remaining members after Bill Doss formed The Sunshine Fix in the wake of the OTC (temporary) breakup in 2000. Written by William [Cullen] Hart and featuring contributions from nearly two dozen members of the Elephant 6 Collective, the album is a heady cornucopia of experimental sound collages, Beatlesque pop, and rousing singalongs (opener ‘Yesterday’s World’ has no fewer than a dozen backing vocalists!). John Fernandez’ clarinet serpentines throughout the Pepper-inspired ‘Yesterday’s World’ to add an olde tyme Chaplinesque gaiety to the festivities, with Lennon’s hallucinatory ghostly whisper coming back to haunt us on the disjointed ‘Prehistoric’.

     ‘Diary of Wood’ is a surreal Queen-ish mini symphony and ‘Outside Blasts’ could have fallen off the back of a conceptual lorry manoeuvred around your grey matter by Roger Waters. In fact, the whole (vaguely conceptual) enchilada could be experienced as a 21st century reimagining of The Wall by the inmates at an insane asylum housed inside Cubist Castle. Or, to put it into the E6 universe, perhaps this was originally intended as Volume Two in the Black Foliage: Animation Music series? [The painting insert (also by Hart) on the back of the lyric sheet bears an uncanny resemblance to the cover of Volume One and there’s a similar Beatles/Beach Boys vibe throughout.]

     The hallucinatory pop of ‘Joy’ and hop, jump, and skip down the path to the jollity farm that is ‘The Lovely Universe’ highlight Hart’s deft hand (and ear) for a cheery melody while the spacey brain freeze of ‘Waves Of Bark and Light’ trades off the punny lyric “Did we never say hi” [wink wink!]. Cellos, plonky electronics and metallic percussives contraindicate the dreamy atmospherics of the druggy ‘Now’, as do the Eastern instrumentation of ‘A Peek’, with trumpets, organs, cello, and gas can (!) battling akembie for pride of place in that mental souk rattling around inside your head. It’s Harrison’s ‘Within You/Without You’ turned inside out!

     ‘Fingers’ is expectantly a tender acoustic plucker, with ghostly farts to remind you this is an Elephant 6 recording (!) and like several other 70-80-second musical sorbets serve as linking respites between “the real songs”. One of which, ‘Symbols and Maps’ again features a chorus of backing vocals and swirling atmospherics a la ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ that it almost feels like we’ve been transported back to those purple hazy daze of ’67: frilly shirts, fluorescent billowy blouses, and heads full of…wispy wonderfulness. ‘The Pillow’ set my mind back to marshmallowy rainy days and strawberry alarm clocks arousing my sleepy head from my mushroom pillow (although I still can’t shake that Oasis riff sneaking into the chorus!). It also kicks off the trippiest segment of the album (Side Four) and seals your fate. This Circulatory System has taken complete control of your senses, overloading your mind and body with auditory hallucinations of otherwierdly [sic] dimensions of extraordinary sensory perceptions.

(Jeff Penczak)




 (New Haven Publishing, paperback)

Those of you who read my review of Part 1 of Mr Needs’ highly idiosyncratic but totally absorbing account of the early months of 1969, in these very pages a year ago, will recall our scribe completed his  memoir by weaving comments about Barbet Schroeder filming More at Punta Galera on the island of Ibiza and its atmospheric Floydian soundtrack, together with a description of the magical sunset he and his late soul mate, Helen Donlon shared together in the same location some 45 years later.

So Blind Faith have played Hyde Park, Hendrix has played the Albert Hall and returned to the USA, Brian Jones and the Stones have parted company, the Who have released Tommy, Pete Frame has just launched his monumentally influential magazine, Zigzag and in his hometown of Aylesbury Kris bears witness to the launch of the legendary club, Friars.

Needs picks up the reins on the 3rd July, a hugely significant date for our young rock and roll wannabe, it is his 15th birthday and tragically in the early hours of that same fateful day, his beloved Brian Jones has just drowned in the swimming pool of his home at Cotchford Farm in East Sussex.  Now, read on.

What follows is a further gripping instalment, a hang-on-to-the-seat-of-your pants rollercoaster ride through the second half of that year, one that spans the landing of the first man on the moon and ends with Altamont and in between, Woodstock, the Manson murders, the Stones in the Park and Dylan at the Isle of Wight to mention but a few memorable moments of those incredible months that followed. If like me you are an ageing Terrascoper, reading the pages that come after, will be like nectar to the gods. Kris concentrates on all the good things that happened, enthusing about all manner of amazing music and culture that enveloped us back in those heady times. Too many names to itemise but for starters: Sun Ra, the Black Panthers, the Deviants, Syd Barrett, the Stooges, Pearls before Swine, Moondog, The Doors, Tim Buckley, Spirit, john Peel, Abbey Road, Guy Stevens, Mad River and a host of acts that will get the blood rushing through your veins and your juices flowing.

The real pivotal moment in the book, however, is Needsy’s discovery of and meeting with Mott the Hoople, whose debut LP appeared on Island Records (bearing the distinctive hallmark pink label) that November. Kris was an early convert, following their exploits in the pages of Zigzag, devouring their swirling version of ‘At the Crossroads’ on the sampler LP, Nice Enough to Eat and then being totally smitten by their debut single, the irresistible ‘Rock and Roll Queen’. The group’s self-titled first LP (complete with the mynd-boggling M. C. Escher cover) was the icing on the cake for him and on 7th December, Mott played Friars, the start of a long and beautiful friendship between the club, the band and Kris. Three years later Needsy was running the group’s fan club, Sea Divers, and indeed in 2018 wrote the evocative, informative liner to Mott’s retrospective set, Mental Train - the Island Years 1969-71, spinning for added ambience here as I write this review.

Jaded cynic that I am, I have started to tire of journalists writing about eras they were unable to experience personally and talking about them as if they witnessed them first hand. So, if for no other reason, I am grateful to Kris for being able to bring back in glorious technicolour a key period in my life as if it happened just yesterday and that is reason alone to buy a copy of this fascinating autobiography.

The values many of my friends and contemporaries took from the end of the 60s still ring true with us to this day and Kris closes with a rather apt quote from Mott’s Ian Hunter, who peers out at you from the front cover, and one that I hope will resonate with Terrascope readers everywhere:

‘If you are lucky enough to have a passion – most people aren’t – grab it. And that’s what you do for the rest of your life. It might take a while and it might not be easy. But grab it and you’ll be happy. Fuck the money. That’ll come or it won’t. But you’ll be doing what you want to do and that’s what life is supposed to be’.

And that folks, is the underlying message you take away from this captivating book.

(Nigel Cross)



(LP on Cardinal Fuzz Records and Feeding Tube Records)

William Sol in the guise of Prana Crafter has been a firm favourite on my turntable for a number of years. He has produced some memorable records that blend the elemental and the elegant in an imaginative and evocative psychedelic brew. Prana Crafter inhabits the space between psychedelic rock, cosmic folk and classic blissful Kosmische, taking ingredients from each to create a unique sonic world for the ears and the mind. ‘Morphomystic’ continues this rich body of work with a thirty five minute musical journey comprised of six pieces that work seamlessly together to create a captivating and intoxicating sonic whole.

‘Rebirth In The Mosslands’ opens with a spacey plucked guitar melody gradually embellished with layers of drone and subtle guitar colourings. It has a laid back minimalist kosmische feel which ebbs and flows gently but at times takes on a darker, more mysterious tone and opens the door to the listening zone very well indeed. ‘Pyramid Peak’ follows and is more overtly kosmische influenced with delicate loops and layers of electric keyboards and synthesizers providing a gently meditative almost gamelan like core melody over which synthesised washes of sound and melodic diversions create a serene and hypnotic soundscape. A slightly more dissonant and brooding edginess emerges towards the end of the track which shakes the mood up nicely in anticipation of the raw and elemental guitar driven ‘Chalice Of The Fungal Sage’ where distorted loops, freeform improvised shredding and emotional space rock soloing combine in a hazy, intense, claustrophobic and totally gripping psychedelic storm that rages to a violent peak before slowly returning to a gentler storm battered place and sonic respite in ‘A Path Is Where You Make It’ which in a sense reprises the opening track on the album in its spare and spacey plucked guitar and minimal splashes of electronic and guitar colour. ‘Ears To Our Earth’ inspires many moods and images. It has a subtly experimental feel with distant wordless vocals, dark drones in the undercurrent and a palette of electronic sounds and rhythms with an almost radiophonic workshop quality that pulses, shakes and burbles like a lost Tardis scene or conversely and more fittingly, an electronic interpretation of close listening to habitat sounds and the natural world.   The final piece ‘Starlight, Sing Us A Lullaby’ is simply beautiful and does exactly what the title requests in a short melodic folk based meditation on acoustic guitar with occasional delicate flecks of electric guitar and touches of electronic warmth to end this exemplary record.

This is a relatively short record which I would love to hear more of but though concise it travels a long way into the sound world and mind of William Sol, finding many treasures on the way. It seems unfair to compare Prana Crafter’s sound to other specific artists as the way that the music is constructed and used to convey and describe the range of emotions and the natural environmental settings that provide the inspiration for this music is quite unique. Whilst it draws thirstily from the well of kosmische, folk, psychedelic rock and extended improvisation, Prana Crafter blend, balance and create a sound through a particular brand of alchemy, giving it a personality and character all its own. An absolute treat for the ears and highly recommended.

(Francis Comyn)



(Double Vinyl LP/ Double CD Set from Fruits de Mer)

One of label owner Keith Jones’s favourite releases on his Fruits De Mer record label imprint Strange Fish was the original Head Music double LP of music inspired by German electronic music from the early 70’s.  Music as played by Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Temple and Popol Vuh amongst others. It sold out quickly and now here comes another trip, a new Head Music very much in the same mould, only this time it will be issued in a double LP and a double CD set, again very limited, even more so during this strange year, as Keith has decided to err on the side of caution in regard to pressing quantities..

I will not go into a song by song review as that would be far too much information to absorb. However it is clear from the first notes that this is an epic undertaking. I presume most artists were told something like you have ten minutes each, here is the theme, go create, and create they did, to fine effect.

The first piece that we hear comes from Jah Buddha whose ‘Direction Berlin’ paves the way for some epic kraut rock. This is followed by the watery tones of ‘Aquatic’ by Craig Padilla and Marvin Allen, these two also perform another song a bit later in the proceedings, the magnificent ‘Weathering The Storm’.  An adhoc group of musicians that is Trace Imprint, deliver a storming Flow And Connect this is swiftly followed by Maat Lander’s cover of Ashra’s ‘Ocean Of Tenderness’. The first side ends with a glorious ‘Van Allen Belt’ by Saturn’s Ambush.

Jack Ellister has been busy of late and continues the path taken with his last solo album with ‘Der Schiffer’. It must be nice to be asked to contribute to such a great record and Berlin based Anton Barbeau enjoys himself with ‘Berlin School Of Doubt’. A few new artists to me appear next Exedra with ‘Exoplanet Transit’, Mac Of BIOnighT with ‘Scars’, Under Golden Canopy with ‘Under Golden Canopy and Son Of Ohm with Pixies, all good. Brendan Pollard’s ‘Sequenzerzeit’ is marvellous with some terrific space rock. Jay Tausig’s bubbling lead guitar is dreamy on his ‘Triangulum’ Another Mac Of BIOnighT song appears the scary ‘Manmade Horrors’ which is followed by Sendelica’s other band The Lost Stoned Panda’s with the imaginatively entitled ‘Track One (Metal Mickey Mix) . Jah Buddha appears again for an epic ‘Wall Of Blissando’ and the disc ends in fine style with a great Vibravoid track.

Trace Imprint get to deliver another song with the skittering ‘As We Walked Under Water’.  Electric Moon’s  Sula Bassana in solo guise delivers ‘Shushie’s Rise’, which is slow to build before it heads off into space, landing some twenty minutes later. Craig Padilla, this time solo, continues to impress with a dreamy ‘Galaxia’. ‘For Edgar’ by Helicon Wave is a blissed out spangled guitar reverie, with plenty of motorik grooves. Our own Stephen Palmer gets in on the action with his combo ‘Blue Lily Commission’s ‘Half Asleep At The Blue Gates Of Evening’, a twenty minute space cruise of note before Black Tempest close the proceedings which started some 200 minutes ago, with ‘The Sun Rises, The Sun Sets, The Moon Shines’, providing a truly stunning finale, to what is another must have release, and a fine accompaniment to the first volume.

(Andrew Young)



 (The Beat Scene Press, paperback)

Bill Butler was a six-foot five, charismatic poet and writer from the USA. A photo of him taken when he was in the marines suggests he had the physical presence of a young Lee Marvin!

Already a published poet, Bill landed in London sometime in early summer 1962, where he met his life-long partner-to-be,Mike Hughes, and after various jobs, eventually ended up working at Better Books, the fabled alternative Soho book shop, which became central to the emergence of the UK underground and avant-garde.

Bill and Mike were galvanised into action when they attended the now legendary International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall on 11th June 65 (coinciding with their move to Brighton that same month). Now don’t let anyone tell you that rock and roll kick-started the underground scene over here. It was poetry that first brought out the tribes at this amazing gathering, with turns from the Beats like Ferlinghetti, Ginsburg, Burroughs and Corso and many upcoming young UK poets like Harry Fainlight, Pete Brown and Adrian Mitchell. A pivotal point in the history of our country’s pop culture!

The Unicorn book emporium opened in June 67 as a result of Bill’s expanding literary activities on the London scene and the onset of the long-haired revolution. The shop at 50 Gloucester Road, Brighton boasted one of the most eye-catching psychedelic murals of the era painted by local artist, John Upton and the store soon became a magnet for the town’s growing counter culture, though it was the sale of underground mags, psychedelic posters and hippy trinkets that often kept it afloat rather than the more serious literature!

Unicorn Press and its associated imprints published work by some of the most significant figures of the time, including Bob Dylan, J G Ballard, Michael Moorcock, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and the Fugs version of W H Auden’s The Platonic Blow disowned by its original author and rechristened ‘The Gobble Poem’ by the group’s Ed Saunders.It was material like this and Ballard’s ‘Why I Want to fuck Ronald Reagan’, that would attract unwanted attention from the local constabulary and in January 1968, the book store endured its first obscenity bust.

For those of you not around then, the authorities were mercilessly cracking down on the long hair culture in all its many incarnations and not just drug-taking pop stars like the Stones, either. The underground press was a prime target and publications like IT, OZ and Nasty Tales were just some of the papers in the firing line.  Indeed, they continue harassment of alternative publishers to this day as Tony Bennett, once a member of the Unicorn collective and now an independent publisher, famed for issuing Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Bros comics, would agree.

Further raids and financial worries were contributing factors to Bill shutting down the shop in 1974 and the people behind Unicorn moved to Carmarthenshire to concentrate on publishing. Amongst Unicorn’s best sellers were Leaves of Grass and Nature’s Foods! Long gone maybe, but people still recall Bill and the Unicorn both shop and publishing house with warmth and affection.

As Michael Moorcock recalls: ‘Bill was a very good friend and I supported him with material, contacts and so on.  I spoke to him regularly in person and by phone pretty much every day while he was writing the book (The Myth of the Hero), he delivered just before he died.  I was not happy with how his friends behaved at that time nor how his long-time lover, who had given up much to go to Brighton and run Unicorn, was treated.  Ballard was also fond of Bill, calling him a big schoolboy.  Bill got me and himself into trouble over one publication (Druillet’s Elric) and involved a bizarre trip to Paris at vast expense (to me!)’ 

Sadly, Bill died, accidentally it seems, in 1977. Feeling wired and exhausted from completing the aforementioned novel, he took half a largactyl tablet, washed it down with some lager and fell into a heavy sleep. By the time the paramedics arrived, he could not be revived and died in the ambulance on his way to hospital. What a sad way to go for a figure with such a lust for life.

Forty odd years after his death and the end of Unicorn Press, Bill has been little more than a footnote in the history of alternative/underground publishing in the UK, but with the appearance of Terry Adams’s scholarly chap book, hopefully Bill and Unicorn will finally get the level of recognition they deserve. For those of you who want to look further than just the birth of the Floyd, IT and life in Ladbroke Grove, this is another key piece in that era’s cultural jigsaw and a great place to learn more about how special a time, it all was back then.

(Nigel Cross)



(4 x Vinyl LP Set from Fruits de Mer)

Seven years ago Fruits De Mer released a long sold out double album Whatever Happened To The Soft Hearted Scientists alerting their members to the delights of the Welsh wizards. It was an excellent album full of quirky psych inflected songs which lingered long in the brain.

The Soft Hearted Scientists now release another all encompassing set for the label which features selections from their seven albums released to date, with emphasis on Wandermoon, False Lights, The Slow Cyclone and Golden Omens, plus some brand new songs. Expanding on their recent single ‘Please Read Me’, which is a cover of a song by The Bee Gees the band reconvened to record after a few years being away from the studio. It also encompasses a bunch of remixes by Astralasia’s Marc Swordfish.

From those albums we hear epics such as ‘Westward Leading’ and ‘Panorama’ nestling up against the pared back sounds of ‘For You’ and ‘Hawthorn’. All performed on a variety of instruments, such as surf guitars on the groovy moves of ‘Surferella’, foggy mellotrons, guitars, analogue synths, busily whirring merrily away, hand percussion, moog, echo chamber, drums, organs and piano. And perhaps the kitchen sink.

 Along the way we are introduced to characters like ‘Seaside Sid And The Giant Squid’ and ‘I’ll Be Happy I’ll Be Waiting’, in which I detect more than a little Barrettesque whimsy. The playfulness in the construction of gems like ‘Drifting Away’ and ‘Song From A River’ is a delight. ‘The Black Dahlia’s’ electro throb, accompanies a terrific little siren song. ‘Golden Omens’ the title track off their last album is indeed a golden moment, as is the splendid ‘The Creeps’. Another couple of favourites are the languid ‘Crystal Coves’ and the simple man, found in the sitar and psych soaked infested song   ‘Please Read Me’.

The Astral Adventures were put together by Marc, offering us a different take and perspective on the band’s music. Weaving together a lot of their songs using the instruments played on the songs into new areas that the band might not have necessarily chosen, he creates four lengthy song suites, each lasting about the twenty minute mark and they make a hell of a trip.

And so the good ship SHS sails on. Nathan Hall has this to say about a new SFS album that he is currently working on “stormy seas, whirlpools, pirate attacks, weevil infested biscuits, hostile shores, the whims of Neptune, bad grog. Maritime madness can throw it off course now and then, but the voyage continues, in search of new and exciting treasure” and who can argue with that.

(Andrew Young)


(LP/CD/DL from

Suffice to say that we’ve experienced a lot of changes in the past four years and not just the more obvious and scary stuff that need not speak their names. No sir, dear old White Hills, whom we were pleased to showcase at the Lexington back in February of 2016, are, sonically speaking, pretty much unrecognisable from those now far off days of seemingly carefree wonder.

In fact Splintered Metal Sky finds them more sympathetically aligned with their fellow poster-mates that night (and what a poster it was), Teeth Of The Sea. Gone are the extended, soaring guitar breaks and bubbling synths that once marked them as a major tributary of the great cosmic swell of the sea of Hawkwind. They’ve instead journeyed light years through time and space only to arrive back in a dystopian urban landscape here on Planet Earth, a process which was hinted at on their high-watermark H-P1 album since when it has increasingly defined their trajectory.

Structurally too, the band has changed. They’ve always been based around the core membership of Dave and Edie White (aka Dave W and Ego Sensation) but are now a bona-fide duo, having for now dispensed with the services of a drummer, of which there has been a revolving cast over the years, much like Spinal Tap, although thankfully they seem to have parted company in under less distressing circumstances. Ego has assumed battery duties in what may be another clue as to the direction of travel, where there appears less need of a high octane “specialist” rhythm devil, leastways in the studio. Guest musicians do feature, the most notable of whom perhaps is long-term collaborator Jim Jarmusch.

Thematically Splintered Metal Sky concerns human existence in relation to technology and the hyper-driven architectural reshaping of the cityscape. Rarely has a body of work informed its collective title, being a Metal Machine Music for an architectural Age of Aquarius (which I’m informed is meant to finally kick in following a great conjunction due to take place on 21st December 2020. This information is brought to you by “what I learnt on my lockdown #472”. You’re very welcome).

Musically it’s cold, clinical and percussive, and sharply punctuated by mostly spoken word vocals, which especially lend themselves to the prominently staccato rhythms. And where regular length numbers alternate with short snippets of noise and narration. The aural bequest is one of conspiratorial rhythmic paranoia which is alternately thrilling and unsettling. It is “futuristic” in a way that sometimes evokes superior turn of the 80s synth rock and an bears an astringency bordering on the neo-apocalyptic. The inescapable metallic taste in the mouth is evident from the outset as ‘Now Manhattan’ spits scornful sparks propelled by tribal momentum and the admonishing couplet “note to self, be more careful - “Note to self, don’t set a bad example”. As each main track pauses for breath with atonal and/or disquieting short interludes, the main themes return with seemingly renewed and malignant vigour. The thumping ‘Honesty’ could be the theme track to whatever the collective noun for panel beaters might be. Like much here it is built on what is a deceptively simple motif but where there’s plenty going on around central riff and which reveals more of itself the more you let yourself become drawn in. ‘Rats’ is an ominously nasty favourite here, where the paranoia is ramped up into the red zone with lines such as “no one is part of the trust” and “she’s in on it too”, and Dave complaining of spiders in his bed and being unable to sleep. It’s a stalking, brooding nuisance of a track, a troubling yet compelling entity. The sickly, cloying feel continues with another highlight, ‘Numbers’, and if by now the repetitions appears a little strained the dramatic intensity and unemotional vocal lend themselves well to the thematic concept. Ironically it’s Jarmusch on guitar who provides us with a fleeting reminder of the Hills of yore with his riffs and squally breaks on ‘Illusion’, which otherwise signs off proceedings in typically rhythmic sheet metal style.

This is serious stuff and isn’t recommended for either the faint hearted or the especially melodically inclined. As with much of White Hills’ more recent oeuvre fans either be disappointed or delighted, largely depending on whether or not they think the world began and ended with Silver Machine. Suffice to say I like it, and even more so after repeat listens and where it is best played in its entirety to obtain full benefit of a panoramic, architectural overview. There, I’ve just come close to calling it a concept album – let’s hear it for the days of future past.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD/Digital on RCA Records)


Veteran folk-rock artist Ray LaMontagne releases his eighth album Monovision.  After originally establishing himself as a dyed-in-the-wool singer-songwriter, LaMontagne took a pleasantly surprising detour down psychedelic street for two excellent, underrated LPs, 2014’s Dan Auerbach-produced ‘Supernova’ and the even better ‘Ouroboros’ from 2016, produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.  After misfiring with 2018’s ‘Part of the Light,’ LaMontagne’s new release is a full-on back-to-your-roots singer-songwriter affair, and it’s a great listen.


LaMontagne opted for an all DIY approach, composing the songs, playing all the instruments, engineering and producing by himself.  As such, it’s a stripped-back sound, with acoustic guitar, bass and drums, and various accenting instruments.  Like so much of LaMontagne’s singer-songwriter fare, this is musical comfort food.  The songs are cozy, accessible, autumnal numbers, built for warmth, like a cup of your favorite tea, an old sweatshirt and jeans full of holes, or a Sunday morning walk along the forest trail.


There’s been a good deal of publicity lately about Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ 50th anniversary re-recording, ‘Tea for the Tillerman 2,’ which was on my mind while listening to Monovision.  While Monovision isn’t necessarily one for the ages like Tillerman, it marks similar turf and it does capture a warm vibe like it.


I’m not a fan of the first three tracks, but Monovision settles in beginning with “Summer Clouds,” for seven straight cozily satisfying songs, courtesy of LaMontagne’s ear for a catchy melody, homey production and his unmistakable, wonderfully raspy tenor.  His themes are universal and common to singer-songwriters everywhere, like reaching out in friendship to the lonely and hurting ones, Mother Nature’s medicinal quality to the soul, and just getting through the struggle of whatever’s ailing you.


Ray’s influences are easy to spot, from the harmonica infused Neil Young ‘Harvest’ style of “We’ll Make It Through” and “Rocky Mountain Healin” to the ‘Astral Weeks’ form of “Misty Mountain Rain.”  “Weeping Willow” is like the Everly Brothers tramping through a backpacking hike chewing on granola.  (LaMontagne says “Weeping Willow” came to him before breakfast, and he had it recorded and polished up by 10:30 AM.)


I haven’t been so struck by – or even noticed – background harmony vocals that make such a memorable contribution all over an album as LaMontagne’s here.  (OK, maybe the George O’Hara Smith singers on ‘All Things Must Pass.’).  But from the aforementioned “Weeping Willow” to the drop-dead gorgeous “Morning Comes Wearing Diamonds” to beautiful album closer “Highway to the Sun,” LaMontagne’s harmonies resound like a ghost chanting mistily from the back of the room.


On Monovision, Ray LaMontagne returns to original form, and he hasn’t lost any of his magic.  You know what you’re getting from an old pro, and LaMontagne doesn’t disappoint.  The mellower he gets, the better in this collection of laid-back tunes.


(Mark Feingold)



(LP from Cardinal Fuzz and Centripetal Force)

(LP from Cardinal Fuzz and Flower Room Records)


(2 LP from Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records)

The sister album to the much-lauded The Storm Sessions Elkhorn’s Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner release their first fully realised acoustic album (there’s a giveaway in the title), supplemented by Guardian Alien’s Turner Williams. An acoustic storm of an album recorded during a snow storm equals the perfect storm, with two side long slabs (“Acoustic Storm 1” and “Acoustic Storm”, no less) of ruminative and roomy picking that thankfully leaves plenty of leeway for the all-important spaces between the notes. As I’ve discovered this past week or so it’s the ideal accompaniment to reading and indeed review writing, sufficiently unfussy and uncluttered while just about intricate enough to appeal to the Rose and Basho enthusiasts (although in terms of duo/ensemble playing a more apposite comparison may be our own Toby Hay and Jim Ghedi). In all it possesses that warmly analogue sound showcasing digital dexterity in a way that’s also charming for its amiable aimlessness. A bit like an unmapped walk from which you return relaxed and happy, and when asked where you’ve been you reply “oh, you know…”.

From the supine to the lysergically unhinged…Trash Heap is edgy, lo-fi primitivism, home recorded solo by Matt LaJoie of endearingly weird space rockers Herbcraft back in 2012 and rediscovered following several house moves, apparently. The seven tracks here veer from the deliciously murky world of Pebbles-era garage psych to Eternal Tapestry circa Wild Strawberries, with cavernous echoes of Cult of Dom Keller thrown in for bad effect. Essentially this a tale of two halves. Side 1 features mostly short and punchy punk aesthetic, grunge trips and bathtub psychedelia and the moonshine it produces is potent if a little proletarian in presentation (as befits a two track home recording). Supplementing the ubiquitous electric guitar and a nefarious sounding box of tricks are hollers and whoops, handclaps and even muted percussion in the form of a pair of sneakers* rotating in a tumble dryer (*that’s “trainers” for those of you reading this in the UK, or “daps” if you are from South Wales). The pick of this particular bunch is ‘Eon Road’ on which cassette backing tracks (featuring hand drums and a muddy, dubby bass) supplement trademark guitar and stompbox effects, some rare vocals (at least on this outing) and a wig out vibe that evokes White Manna and the heavier, stoner end of the spectrum. LaJoie eases up a little on the dense, dungeon psych approach on the brace of extended tracks which comprise the flip side. ‘Docet Up’ stretches to 10 minutes of quasi-Kosmische exploration, with layered, repeat loops used to particularly good effect, while the marginally shorter ‘Last Words’ plays us out in pleasingly chugging style, punctuated with more manual percussion (or handclaps, if you prefer). It’s unrefined and none the worse for that. After all, first principles, stripped of its bells, whistles and unnecessary pretentions often work best.

All of which brings us to Monoshock. Lordy, where to begin? Well for one thing it’s a great album title. They’re new to me, but Monoshock were, apparently, almost contenders back in the 1990s. One can well believe that as they sound here like a goofier and more unhinged Mudhoney and have been championed in typical Drood The Obscure fashion by Julian Cope and, perhaps more revealingly, by Comets On Fire. This compilation reissue (with extras) from 2004 constitutes two platters of ingrained dirt that, aside from obvious comparisons with demo-mode Stooges and MC5 may bring a faraway look to the rheumy eyes of anyone who remembers those late night John Peel radio programmes of the 90s when this type of hyper octane fare was particular prevalent.

The occasional melodic hook notwithstanding (“Halloween Party” for instance) much of what’s on offer gives lie to the title of the eyes-out “Change That Riff” – they really don’t, bless them. That said there is a lot of energy, plenty of humour and, within reason, quirky improvisation (such as vocal siren wails on ‘Terminal Roctus’ – my how love a pun here) to stoke the listener’s enjoyment. And if you get the nagging feeling that ‘Soledad’ has a whiff of ‘Brainbox Pollution’ cosmic boogie then hold that thought as, forsooth, here comes a track called ‘Hawkwind Show’ approximating the echo saturated sax sound and whooshing synths, all condensed into 2:26. Not content with that they even attempt ‘Psychedelic Warlords’ (of the type that disappear in smoke, if you recall), a decent stab complete with deep in the mix vocals and funky, stabbing guitar chops of the original. ‘19th Street Shuffle’ also has the familiar and much loved chugga-chugga, disorientation express motion of Brock and co. All good fun and a case of what might have been.

Three very different releases, then, that at first glance might seem like a bit of an odds and sods offering but which pack plenty of curiosity and enjoyment. They also underline just what an eclectic label Cardinal Fuzz have matured into and demonstrate the benefits of an artistically astute collegiate approach with any number of chums from across the pond and which is opening all manner of new avenues for the rest of us to explore. They’ve grown up as we’ve grown old, and all power to them.

(Ian Fraser)






(LP/Digital on bandcamp)


Italian psychedelic rockers Sherpa turned a lot of heads with their 2016 debut ‘Tanzlinde’ and even more with their stunning 2018 follow-up ‘Tigris & Euphrates.’  Their brand is dark and gloomy, yet still chock full of light/heavy variations in timbre and atmosphere, topped off by the super chill vocals of Matteo Dossena.  So what have Sherpa been doing lately?  Well, like a lot of artists of late, they’ve put out music in piecemeal fashion, rather than a one-and-done album.  In 2019, they appeared at the Roadburn Festival, and they did release an album from it, ‘Live at Roadburn’ on New Year’s Eve 2019.  But since then it’s all been smaller bites.


Fern is a 27-minute instrumental release, divided into two tracks, “Fern #1” and “Fern #2.”  The tracks are very similar, but there are some subtle differences.  They feature Dossena’s clean-toned but heavily reverbed guitar, bass by Franz Cardone and a whole lot of eerie business.  Instead of drums, there’s a clickety-clackety insect-like rhythm that weaves in and out throughout.  A sense of macabre and evil foreboding hangs in the air, as hauntological effects and deep sonic groans come and go.  In the waning minutes of “Fern #2” the soundscape expands and swells, only to recede into something like an electronic growling dragon.  This would make for great background music for your coming Halloween party, were you allowed to have one this year.


Psychedelic Battles Vol. 6 is entirely different, and features Sherpa in full band form, including drums and vocals.  The title refers to an album released on the Vincebus Eruptum label, where Sherpa is Side 2 and Swedish band Dean Allen Foyd plays Side 1.  And yes, there are Psychedelic Battles Vols 1 -5 out there, if you can find one.  The concept is that each album must feature one band from Italy and one from another country.  Dean Allen Foyd is a fine band, who always make excellent psych, but we’ll continue the focus on Sherpa.  Our friends present two songs, the first of which is “Look to La Luna.”  This is much more in the vein of the best from the Tanzlinde and Tigris & Euphrates albums.  It’s quiet, it’s loud, it’s melodic, and Matteo Dossena’s laid back druid vocals are so low amid the big sound you won’t make out any words, but it’s about the moon.  The brooding song hangs dangerously on the edge of a crashing crescendo, and finally actually does it, full of power when the band all come tearing in.  The other track, the creeping “Moon’s Biology Portrait,” indicates Sherpa was in a lunar mood for the battle.


Finally, the “Ice Age” single remakes a 1970-ish song by British band High Tide from their album Precious Cargo.  Like all great covers, Sherpa takes the good from the original and injects their own personality to make it all their own.  Featuring a low, slow, swirling synth, guitar in the upper register and Dossena’s understated vocals, Sherpa improves on the original, and if you didn’t know it was a cover, you’d think it was written by Sherpa.  “Ice Age” could’ve featured on the Psychedelic Battles collection, as the style is the same, but then again it’s not about the moon.


All three releases are first-rate spookadelic rock and well worth your time and hard-earned currency.  Together they add up to about an album’s length.  The closest relative to the previous Tanzlinde and Tigris & Euphrates albums is Psychedelic Battles Vol. 6.  Hopefully there’s a full-length LP coming in the future, as Sherpa is near the top of many psychedelic fans’ lists of great current bands.


(Mark Feingold)



[Humanhood Recordings - https://dronestorecowboyss.bandcamp.com/album/dentists-of-horses-dream-of-god-to-study-2]

Louisville, KY’s Dronestore Cowboys are a versatile bunch, to say the least. Dentists of Horses Dream of God to Study finds the duo (made up of Ben Traughber and Blake Edward Conley) concocting soundscapes that lean into territories as disparate as American primitive guitar, droning post-rock and ambient sound collage.

Across the release’s seven tracks, you’ll come across reverb-drenched acoustic meditations, piano-led melancholic dirges and even Matt Valentine-esque acid guitar meanderings. Whatever palette the Dronestore Cowboys happen to be dabbling with, their finished songs all bear a grand depth, and a scope that could certainly be described as “cinematic.”

When you listen to this album, it’s easy to get the feeling that these songs were created to be the soundtrack of an imaginary album, or a series of surreal dreams, especially the very Twin Peaks-like “My Body Just Before I Disappeared.” The liner notes hammer this notion home by dedicating this record to “the cinematic revelations of slumberful wonder.”

For a debut, this is one enigmatic and powerful listen, that will only get better with age. Here’s hoping that we’ll soon have more to listen to by this Louisville duo.   

(Keith Hadad)



(Beehive/Gard Du Nord Double CD available from  www.antonbarbeau.bandcamp)

The prolific Anton returns with a sort of concept album about flight and birds. Following on from his terrific album Natural Causes, which was released in 2018, comes Manbird his 17th album in an ever growing back catalogue. The album has been on repeat play in the car over the last few weeks and is a really strong contender for one of his best.

Things kick off with the title track with its refrain of “Manbird- back to the egg, shell unbroken, Manbird – free range with your free bus token” it is a clear indication of the fun he intends to have with this record.  In the next song ‘Across The Drama Pond’ we get glimpses of his touring life which involve plenty of airports and hotels. In ‘Memory Tone’ he sounds a lot like Jules Shear , he is still stranded at the airport for ‘Fear Of Flying’ with its Mellotron and fuzz bass. On a lot of the songs he is joined by Larry Tagg on bass and Michael Urbano from the band Bourgeois Tagg and Karla Kane background vocals from The Corner Laughers s. Then come three avian tunes, the jerky tune that is ‘Savage Beak’, ‘Chicken’, on which he is joined by Tom Monson drums and Neil Youngesque squalling lead guitar courtesy of Don Hawkins, plus a short frantic ‘Featherweight’. ‘Cowboy John Meets Greensleeves’ sees Anton melding his own tune to the classic song Greensleeves and adding in a few of his own lyrics. He’s “covered in clay as he’s been gluing all day” for a catchy ‘Nest Out Of Feathers’. The albums cover art is excellent, it sees Anton in a coracle nest, out in the middle of the river, wearing a pointy floppy hat, surrounded by foliage with curious swans in the distance. ‘Oh Dainty Beak’, sees him expounding on roots, thirds and harmonics, to reveal an organ drenched song informed by the trumpet playing of Vince Di Fiore. The first disc ends with the quirky ‘And So Flies The Crow’, where it’s back to the airport with ruminations on Space Flight.

The second disc begins with the brilliant ‘Coming Home’ reminding me of the classic Abba tune ‘The Day Before You Came’. A lot of the lyrics throughout the album start in one tune and again appear in the following song, thereby lending the whole record cohesion and concept. So the mockingbird mentioned in coming home inhabits the following ‘Don’t Mock The Mockinbird’. ‘My Other Life’, sees Anton with a finger in the pie and a toe in the ocean. We are introduced to Corvid Jim in ‘Underneath The Mushroom Tree’ a very silly, but fun song. A brief instrumental that is ‘Auslanderbeak’ sits nicely in the proceedings before ‘Dreamscape 4’, with reminisces of childhood and of his old featherbag, ahhh!.

Grubby neighbourhoods come under attack in ‘Even The Swans Are Dirty’. We then get another instrumental, the short percussive ‘Beak Part2’. In ‘Birds Of America’ things slow down a little and I have to take issue with Anton that American robins are superior to our own native robins! However I do like cinnamon swirls and then out of nowhere, an eight mile high Anton as Jim Mcguinn appears, with some soaring 12 string acoustic guitar. ‘Back To The Egg’ sees Anton playing everything and is ostensibly a song about flying. The title track gets a reprise with Manbird (Oxford Variation)’. ‘Space Force’ the album closer is fun, with its mentions of Captain Kirk and Mini Coopers. It sees a time when we will be taking holidays to the distant planets.

There may not be life on Mars but there may well be breakfast. A great fun concept album and we could all do with a little escapism right now, right.

(Andrew Young)



www.sulatron.com CD

The entire set from German instrumental band Electric Moon’s set at the 2019 Freak Valley festival. A set which was also filmed for the popular German live music show Rockpalast. Limited to 500 x compact disc copies, but also due to receive a double vinyl release, either later this year or early next year via the Rockfreaks record label.

Recorded by Falko Schneider who has managed to get as close the sound of the live performance as is possible, you definitely get the feeling of being it being a live show, but a very well recorded one, some live records sound a lot better than others and this one is in the very good category.

Things kick off with the near twenty minute ‘Increase’ which does build and build after a reasonably slow and gentle introduction, the band consists of Sula Bassana – guitars, casio and effects, Comet Lulu – bass guitar, and Pablo Carneval – drums. The song takes some time to fully fire on all cylinders, this duly happens after five or six minutes and then blam we are in outer space with some scorching lead guitar work. The next song is even longer at almost twenty one minutes, entitled ‘777’,  it’s a fairly close cousin to classic period instrumental Hawkwind, in its bludgeoning riffs, heading skyward until about three quarters of the way through when slow down for a brief interlude of spacey fretwork, before again taking off a wall of lewd guitar.

‘The Picture’ is another very long song, again almost twenty minutes. After a brief percussive introduction, things gradually coalesce and progress through a maelstrom of guitars, effects, bass and drums. Things then slow right down for a look back at the scorched chem -trails before heading off again for some more classic space rock. ‘D – Tune’ is a lot shorter at eight minutes, it builds around a fairly classic guitar riff, a riff that some part of my brain knows but won’t show me, it’s bathed in a metallic sheen. The album closes with ‘Der Mondsenator Auf Dem Weg Zur Erde’ a three minute unplugged number, where Dave (Sula) plays acoustic and Pablo plays the bongos or a similar hand drum.   

(Andrew Young)

SUN DIAL – MIND CONTROL (The Ultimate Edition)

www.sulatron.com CD limited to 500 copies

Issued back in 2012 'Mind Control' now receives a deluxe re-release with a whole extra disc of unreleased tracks and two other tracks recorded at the same time but unused until now. Sun Dial was one of the great English psychedelic rock bands from the nineties, indeed they formed as 1990 dawned. Their debut album ‘Other Way Out’ is heralded as a classic of its time. Formed by Gary Ramon and consisting of Gary Ramon guitars, vocals, keyboards and drums; Scorpio – bass, guitar and moog; Conrad Farmer – drums; Joolie Wood – Violin, flute, melodica, plusCleo Ramon – moog source.

Opener ‘Mountain Of Fire’ is languid and loose, a laid-back stoner vibe going on,which kind of marked a return to form for the band on this their 16th album; some of the preceding albums had turned somewhat more grungey. It settles us nicely into their sound, with some lengthy instrumental passages. Other tracks of note on this original album are the space rock of both ‘Radiation’, and‘Last Rays Of The Sun’. The title track ‘Mind Control’ - with its motorik rhythm, is a vast labyrinthine psych rock track which really impresses. I’m not sure about the inclusion of a Roxy Music cover ‘In Every Dream Home A Heartache’, but that’s just me, I have an issue with Roxy Music, a band who wouldhave been great if they were an instrumental band, because really it is Brian Ferry’s vocals that I dislike. Sun Dial do a great job here and I actually like this song a lot.

‘Seven Pointed Star’, is a nice slice of mildly Eastern baroque and roll. The first disc ends with World Within You’, a fine song with treated vocals, woodwind and searing lead guitar which seems to bleed through the very walls. The record is now expanded to include a whole extra disc of songs from the time, subtitled “Flashbacks From The Aether”. It contains a number of highlights ‘Lost And Found’. Is classic Sun Dial, we get an expanded ‘Seven Pointed Star’.  A great ‘Liquid Grey’, which is a new song to me.  Mask Of Dawn (Part One) is also terrific and I’d like to hear part two. ‘Siren Song’ is a cool tune and we also get an early mix of ‘Radiation’ then we get part two of ‘Mask Of Dawn’, which is also pretty fab and worth waiting for. We also have an alternate version of‘Burned In’, and the album finishes with the excellent song ‘Spiral’.  All in all another great limited edition release from Sulatron records.

(Andrew Young)


www.megadodo.com  199 x vinyl copies

Following on from last year’s debut album ‘The Window On The Side Of Your Head’ by Honey Pot guitarist Icarus Peel, with his trusty rhythm section of Andy Budge – bass and Jay Robertson – drums comes new album Shallow Oceans and it’s a very good record, a record which seems to inhabit a space between power trios like Cream and Hendrix with a little Be Bop Deluxe on the vocals. Icarus does sound a bit like Bill Nelson on a couple of the tracks. For me the new album is an improvement on the first album which I also reviewed and liked.

Opener ‘Half Space’, has been expanded upon since first seeing the light of day as a very limited 5” Lathe Cut of barely two minutes, it’s now over eight minutes long, giving all the members plenty of time to stretch out with Andy’s rubbery bass and Jay’s busy but light drum patterns overlaid by Icarus’s guitar passages, a good opener. The title track ‘Shallow Oceans’, which is my personal favourite song on the album, is a trippy, proggy aqueous song, with drifting lead guitar lines which wouldn’t have been to out of place on Steve Hillage’s Fish Rising album. Martial drumming introduces the spoken word ‘We Come In Peace’ joined by wah wah guitar and loping bass. The song is a plea for humanity. This is followed by three minutes of bludgeoning heavy rock that is ‘Divided’.

‘Dance Upon The Moon’, is particularly tasty, a morphing, progressive rock tune, with probably the most overt Hendrixisms, with Icarus seemingly barely able to control his guitar, which appears to have developed a mind of its own,requiring harnessing! ‘Symphony Of Groove’, is a lot funkier, and does indeed groove like a bastard, not at all unlike the kind of sounds conjured up by Hot Tuna on their classic double album Double Dose, albeit if Jack Casady had been replaced by Bootsy Collins! The album ends with a short and slippery acoustic song called ‘Snakes’. If you get the chance to see this lot live then you should take it, I saw them a couple of years ago and they were ace. Ha, live music, remember that?

(Andrew Young)



(LP/CD available from burdellen.bandcamp.com)

As the year begins to enter its final months, nights draw in and the days grow colder, seasonal carols and evocative winter songs become very appealing in their own right and as an antidote to the commercial carnage of Christmas which as we all know is coming up fast even in this strange and hopefully unique year.

On ‘Says The Never Beyond’ the duo of Debbie Armour (Alasdair Roberts, Green Ribbons) and Gayle Brogan (Pefkin, Electroscope) bring their own particular brand of frost and fire to the living room aided and abetted by Jer Reid, Rachel Newton and Rev Magnetic contributing additional guitar, harp, piano, programming and bowed cymbals. It’s a rich and rewarding blend of traditional and arrangements and a well chosen and programmed collection of secular and sacred songs, stories and rituals from past times.

The record opens with ‘Please to See The King’ where a touch of pastoral ambience, haunting drones and kite or even bird like violin flights are blended to create a swirling and elegant sound with a hint of mystery and darkness in its feel before the beautifully matched singing of Debbie and Gayle comes to the fore, weaving intricate and gorgeous harmonies. ‘Coventry Carol’ is based around a vocal duet with shades of folk and hymnal stylings enveloped by subtle yet dynamic strings, electronic rumbles and tones and occasional flickers of distant guitar to create little peaks of emotion and drama. ‘Wexford Carol’ is an unadorned vocal with a sparse and gripping beauty which demonstrates the power, magnetism and simple beauty of the unaccompanied voice. ‘Cutty Wren’ or Winter Wren juxtaposes harp and distorted guitar to create a more raw and urgent feel and indeed post rock edge but with strong traditional melodic sense never wavering at its core. ‘Hela r Dryw Bach’ is a traditional song concerning hunting of the wren and has a much more pronounced experimental and indeed brooding post rock soundscape with birdsong, dissonant electronics and guitar textures creating a denser, darker sound within which a repeating vocal line grows from simple beginnings through multiple harmonies to a gripping and powerful finale.

‘Corpus Christi Carol’ is an early English hymn or carol depicting often strange and much mused over symbolism and imagery that has seen many interpretations and embellishments such as those made famous by Benjamin Britten and Jeff Buckley. Burd Ellen take it into their own world where traditional vocal approaches and minimal post rock atmospherics featuring spacious piano and electric guitar very effectively provide a pleasing alternative to choral or simple vocal arrangements to convey something beautifully haunting, reflective and dripping with atmosphere. ‘Sans Day Carol’ is a more jaunty and upbeat carol and again a showcase for gorgeous and intimate vocal harmonies to bring a folk club or family seasonal singaround to mind. Closing the record is ‘’Taladh Chriosda’ or Christ Child’s Lullaby and it is quite surprising in its powerful synthesised opening roar before it settles into a gentler vocal albeit lifted on occasion by powerful chords, crashing cymbals and swelling synthesised strings. It should sound out of place but somehow doesn’t and brings proceedings to a grand finale.

This is a gorgeous and imaginative seasonal record full of exquisite singing and interesting, sympathetic, adventurous and indeed sometimes challenging musical accompaniment. It has a stark beauty and yet wonderful warmth and emotional quality which is clearly grounded in tradition but with twists, turns and tweaks that give us a fresh perspective on songs we know and love and often enriches them in the process. It is astonishing that the record was completed under lockdown conditions and for it to be so coherent, organic and flowing is a very special achievement. It’s a wonderful celebration of winter, landscape, traditions and also family and I recommend it to bring a little warmth and comfort as a treat for your long winter nights or indeed as festive gift for someone special. It comes out at the end of November so it’s perfect for that Christmas list in the making but don’t hang around as it will be in short supply from pre-orders.

(Francis Comyn)



(LP/CD/Digital on Related States)


Brooklyn-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Ezra Feinberg’s beautiful instrumental album Recumbent Speech touches on many genres – ambient, New Age, kosmiche, space rock among them – but it doesn’t really land and claim any one of them.  It can lead one to think it’s a guitar album or a synth album.  It’s all these things and none of them, but certainly it is serene, comforting, lovely music for hard times.  Likewise, it sounds somehow apart from time.  Its synths, including the wonderful Arp Odyssey played by Jonas Reinhardt (glad to hear the Arp’s warm sounds again), sound delightfully vintage, yet the album as a sum of its parts, is retro, contemporary, in other words timeless. 


Feinberg’s assembled an excellent backing band whose ten musicians deliver a full range of acoustic and electric guitars, organs and synths, drums, bass, flute, recorder, pedal steel, and background vocals, making for a lush, full sound, professional all the way round.


Opener “Acquainted with the Night” is my favorite.  Named after a Robert Frost poem, I guess it shows you how music, especially instrumental music, can send all of us off to different places and interpretations.  Frost’s poem is about depression and wandering the lonely nighttime city, but I hear nothing of a lonely lament; instead I hear a positivity and innate curiosity about the world and indeed the universe around us.  From Feinberg’s opening gentle guitar strumming, to the synthesizers and Robbie Lee’s flute, “Acquainted with the Night” reminds me of something you’d hear in Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” or a bygone NASA promotional film encased in amber.


The playful “Palms Up” begins with co-producer Tim Green on vibraphone and morphs into a chugging electronic rhythm buoyed by a plinking electric guitar.  “A Spider Painted Over” is highlighted by Feinberg’s calm, descending piano lines over a squishy Fender Rhodes-led rhythm.


The nine-minute prog “Ovation” is the album’s centerpiece.  Fed by Feinberg’s arpeggiated acoustic guitar, Mandy Green and April Haley’s wordless vocals, a pretty synth figure, Robbie Lee’s flute, and an unexpectedly heavy electric guitar solo that dissolves into molten effects jello, it’s a grand touring vision of paradise.  The title track/closer sends us back to retro synth stargazing mode, underlying a plush bed of Chuck Johnson’s heavenly pedal steel caressed by an enveloping wash of synths and organ.


It’s also worth noting Feinberg has a newer release, the collaboration “Ezra Feinberg and John Kolodij.”  Both albums came out within a couple of months of each other, and the album with Kolodij is also worth your time.


Recumbent Speech is a sonic pleasure from top to bottom, a smooth balm full of melody and great performances from the cast of musicians and a great production job by Feinberg, Tim Green and John Thayer.  Embrace its warmth and it’ll reward you fully.


(Mark Feingold)



(CD/DL from Rusted Rail )

Opening with a shimmering haze of distorted guitar and gorgeous ethereal vocals, the second album from Cecillia Danell is a wondrous collection of pastel hued tunes wrapped in swathes of guitar and twinkling with ornate touches and textures that only heighten the wonder. As we listen further, “Sunset Song” draws you in ever so gently and you are happy to respond, gladly getting lost in the tune.

    With  sweet guitar line to tempt you, “Vague Promise” is augmented by electronic textures and a melancholic ambience, the soft fall of autumn leaves on a sunny day. Even more beautiful, “foxglove” is one of my favourite pieces on the collection, tension added by some rumbling drums and waves of synth, the sound of a coastal work in winter, voice and guitar once again leading you onwards.

    Over 14 haunting songs, this album oozes quality and has a sonic palette that allows each song to bleed into the next creating a cohesive feel to the songs that really works, whilst allowing each song to stand on its own.

    Within an album of highlights, a few tracks shine out for me personally with, “Order in Chaos” benefiting from backing vocals, electronics and banjo, even briefly sounding like Vangelis towards the end, whilst “Blood Red Moon” is poetic and bathed in dreams, like a moon lit swim, reminding me of Enya or The Breretons.  Elsewhere, “Back to the Sea” is a lilting tune with delightful melodies, the album brought to a close by “Dragonfly” a floating intro interrupted by fuzzed/distorted guitar that deserves to be played loud, the interplay of noise and melody adding dynamic tension to the slow burning tune.

     It takes a while to really hit home but this album has many depths and fans of Galaxie 500, Mellow Candle or Azali Snail may well find much to enjoy.

(Simon Lewis)