=  SEPTEMBER 2007 =

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Written by:  
Simon Lewis (Editor)
Jeff Penczak Paul Adolphus
 Phil McMullen Susanna

 Tony Dale

Taming Power

Steve Pescott

Martyn Bates
  Bean / Burwell
  Blossom Toes
  Blossom Toes
  Twelve Thousand Days



(Shadoks Bonner Talweg 276 53129 Bonn, Germany)


     This Japanese private press obscurity is the pure definition of cult classic, having only been released (in 1973 on the Himico label) “in the art communities of Kyoto and Tokyo in quantities of about 200, each with hand made covers pasted on by Adolphus and his friends, most of whom were also present, sitting cross-legged at his feet during the recording, giving the recording sessions “a bit of a living room concert feel,” according to Adolphus’ notes. As such, the album is a mellow head groove from start to finish, with Adolphus on acoustic guitars, flutes and shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and Mitsu Harada on piano and koto. The album was recorded at Harada’s father’s calligraphy school and comes with Adolphus’ request to the listener (in his liner notes) to “please try and wind down and listen peacefully.” Of course, some candles, medicinal supplements and recreation party favours wouldn’t hurt, either.


     The album opens, almost conceptually, with ‘A Day Is Born’ and ‘Good Morning’ and concludes, fittingly, with ‘At Day’s End.’ In between, there are opportunities to soar with a ‘Butterfly,’ discuss the weather on ‘It’s Raining’ and look at the world around you wind down from a busy day via ‘Evening Wind.’ Tinkling bells call the session to order on ‘A Day Is Born’ before the soft, yet slightly muted sounds of the shakuhachi float across the sunrise. A gong reverberates throughout the room, stirring us from our slumber, as tender tabla tapping rubs the sand from our eyes and untangles the cobwebs in our brain. Segueing seamlessly into ‘Good Morning,’ the day is off to an upbeat start, with Adolphus acoustic guitar and Harada’s piano accompaniment welcoming us to a new day with a lightweight pop song, sung in both English and Japanese (by Adolphus).


     Harada’s bouncy piano propels the bluesy ‘She Might Love Me,’ with Adolphus’ strumming guitar and laidback vocals delivering a perfect Tim Buckley impersonation. By the time he invites the girls to “come out to my place/smoke pot, drink wine/and make love all the time,” it’ll be nearly impossible to “just say no.” He also sings ‘Butterfly’ in both languages, turning it into a soft, flickering little ballad that might best be described as Nick Drake meets Tim Buckley. At under two minutes, it’s short and sweet, but perhaps a little underdeveloped. Next, there’s a very familiar, classical melody running through the instrumental ‘It’s Raining,’ but I don’t want to spoil a little game of ‘Name That Tune’ that you can play with your friends, so I’ll just suggest that his dexterous Faheyesque finger picking might tickle your brain tag into recalling Mason Williams’ ‘Classical Gas’ from way back in 1968.


     Shakuhachi is on prominent display again on the lengthy, ‘The New Year,’ another introspective observation/exercise in navel-gazing with a bit of a passing resemblance to Blues Project’s ‘Flute Thing,’ and Adolphus’ mastery of the instrument is also apparent on ‘Forest Lore,’ which is essentially a shakuhachi solo that might best be compared to Ian Anderson’s showcases during his vintage Tull concerts. Bert Jansch and Jim Croce immediately sprang to mind while listening to ‘Looking At The World,’ with its intricate arrangement disguising a simple, yet beautiful melody line. Adolphus then pauses to chat with his audience, passing a few indecipherable comments back and forth as he tunes his guitar, Garcia style, and jokes about “all the pot smoke around here” in a stoned giggle! This all reinforces his earlier comments about the “living room concert feel” to the album, as well as imparting a completely relaxed, almost Zen-like tranquility to the experience. This all occurs at the beginning of ‘Golden Shore,’ which has a laid back, West Coast, singer/songwriter vibe, a la Jackson Brown, Dan Fogelberg, and especially Buckley.


     An exquisite piece of entertainment for a heady, intimate party with close friends or those tender moments when you just want to be alone with your thoughts, as the early morning sunrise peeks over the mountain and into your mueslix. A genuine, stone cold classic that might just be one of the year’s finest reissues. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything at all about Adolphus’ current whereabouts, or whether he recorded anything else (heck, this release is not even listed in his label’s website catalogue!), but it’s a scavenger hunt that I’ll gladly undertake if additional hidden gems like this await. (Jeff Penczak)




(Rune Grammofon) Rune Grammofon, Akersgaten 7, 0158 Oslo, Norway


     When last we encountered Susanna Karolina Wallumrød, she was fronting the Magical Orchestra, aka, partner, Morten Qvenild on last year’s moody collection of cover tunes, ‘Moody Mountain.’ Here, the Norwegian songstress steps out even further for her debut solo effort, a dozen extraordinary, self-penned tracks with the cream of the Norwegian indie scene (including her brother, Christian, Qvenild himself, White Birch leader, Ola Fløttum, and Big Bang frontman, Øystein Greni) providing extremely sparse backing. The other-worldly aspects of the album’s enigmatic, cut-up style title are evident on opener, ‘Intruder,’ wherein Susanna’s haunting voice welcomes aliens to our planet with the assurance that we will take care of you and protect you! The minimalist backing (consisting mainly of a few ethereal grand piano tinkles from her brother, with barely recogniseable theremin from Barbara Buchholz and Helge Sten’s quiet bowed guitar peering around her lyrics) perhaps signifying a lone voice reaching out into the emptiness of the cosmos for signs of intelligent life.


     There’s a bluesy, chanteusey ambience hovering over some of the tracks, while others impart a smoky, late-night, jazz cabaret atmosphere, a la Marlene Dietrich or Edith Piaf, with perhaps Nico’s ‘Marble Index’ being the most recogniseable, modern influence. Throughout, Susanna tickles the ivories like someone who’s afraid to awaken a child sleeping in the next room, leaving many of the tracks with an almost a capella sound. Giovanna Pessi’s historical harp trickles over ‘Hangout,’ embellishing Susanna’s already angelic delivery. Fans of Janis Ian’s middle period (ca. ‘Between The Lines’ and ‘Aftertones’) will also appreciate the warmth and cuddly vibes of Susanna’s intimate pleadings on ‘Stay,’ which is perked up somewhat by Fløttum’s guitar replacing the piano as the main backing instrument.


     Elsewhere, Susanna’s vocals on ‘For You’ are whispered so tenderly that her voice cracks in several places, as if she’s almost too shy to confess her love, and listeners may hear a distinct Joni Mitchell influence. The equivalent of Side 2 opens with the poppy, ‘Better Days,’ which combines Sten’s slide guitar and mellotron with Greni’s lead electric guitar for a veritable maelstrom of sound, that quickly returns to brother, Christian’s lone grand piano accompaniment on ‘Traveling,’ another hushed examination of humanity’s constant rush to nowhere, all delivered in a hesitant, syncopated arrangement with frequent two- and three-second pauses between verses that almost forces the listener to stop, pause, give wonder, and think about where you’re going. Susanna seems to question why everyone is always in a rush, asking, ‘Where are you going? Slow down…take time to smell the roses, as it were, and enjoy life….”


     So this is highly recommended to followers of vintage and modern chanteuses from Dietrich and Piaf to Mitchell and Ian, with the occasional whispered warmth of a Melissa Nadler never far from the room. We suggest you outen the lights, fire up the aromatic candles and cuddle up on a rug in front of a warm fireplace with a loved one and enjoy the year’s most romantic album. (Jeff Penczak)




(EPs on Early Morning Records, Norway email: earlymrecords@yahoo.no)


Long-time supporter of all things Terrascopic Askild Haugland has been whiling away his time constructively since the last issue appeared. I remember his sending me a compilation of music from his native Oslo six or seven years ago; this time however he’s surpassed even that, with two self-produced 10” EPs by Taming Power on his own Early Morning Records imprint. One is called ‘Three Pieces’ and the other, as you may well have surmised from the heading, is entitled ‘Six Pieces’, and each comes in a plain black sleeve with hand-printed slicks pasted on. Both are, needless to say, strictly limited editions (around a hundred copies of each); both were recorded during the period 2004-5, and both feature the talents of the aforementioned Askild on driblu, singing bowls, dingsha, harmonica, metallophone, tape recorders and guitars, guitars, guitars. Plus the occasional voice, although I don’t want you to run away with the idea that this is either melodic or folk-based. For Taming Power specialise in DRONE, and he/they instil in it such creativity and flights of creative fancy that it’s not even necessary to close your eyes and say “om” to be transported. Think Aethenor, perhaps of Ashtray Navigations played at 16rpm, or Stars of the Lid heard through a filmy gauze of starlight. Either way it’s wonderful stuff: of the two I keep finding myself going back to ‘Three Pieces’, the entire side two in particular which sounds for all the world like a church organ note being played inside the cowling of a working jet engine. The full title is ‘24-3-02 IV over 6-7-03III – July 04 (24-3-02IV/10-7-04V over 6-7-03III/12-7-04/15-7-04/17-7-04I)’, which all looks worryingly like a mathematical equation based on dates and quite possibly phases of the moon to me. Both records are really quite wonderful though, and I for once can’t wait for the third record in the series, which Early Morning Records promise to bring us “later this year”. Recommended! (Phil McMullen)




 (2CD on Beta-Lactam Ring Records)


    Bates' very first recordings, predating Eyeless in Gaza and solo and collaborative works, were issued under the banner 'Migraine Inducers' and circulated on a handful of cassettes as 'Dissonance/Antagonistic Music' in 1979, and subsequently in slightly wider release for the US in a tightened-up edit known as 'Dissonance Americas'. It's hardly a "long-awaited" release for the many (in the sense that for example the first "Letters Written" record on Cherry Red is long OOP and haunts the many with its absence) but represents the missing well-spring of Bates' work for the true fanatic. The folks at Beta-Lactam Ring are obviously true fanatics, since they have released three editions of the "Dissonance" recordings of which one is reviewed here, The complete version of this legendary album is one disc the reviewed double CD version, as is a second disc recorded in 1994 with Gaza partner Peter Becker to complete the work. ("Dissonance Americas" is available separately as an LP only release.)

    In the absence of any sleeve notes giving differentiation (maybe the giant PROMO! Sticker on the rear cover obscures the information), this review treats the disc catalogue-numbered MT196 as disc one, the original "Migraine Inducers" recordings. This puts me at odds with some other reviews out there, but listening to the material and checking the Beta-Lactam Ring web site leads to this conclusion. Very clever – a migraine has been induced here before listening has even commenced.  Disc one, remastered from cassette very nicely thank you, is an infant birth howl fabricated from guitar, various found objects and tape loops, with the occasional vocal abruptions like night noises from Bedlam. Sound sources are eviscerated and looped and lopped and processed for distortion, but the results have their own internalised rhythms, melodies and tonality. Noise is used as a working method to achieve an end, and not as an end in itself. Occasional moments of daftness, punkitude and even mutant jazz just add to the antagonism. It's difficult to reference tracks, because the nine original tracks on 'Dissonance' do not correspond to the first CD, which has 19 sections. Tracks with evocative titles like 'Ship in Distance with Cerise Backdrop', 'Mona Lisa's Sister and Subsequent Burning' and 'Church with New Shoes Squeaking' could be anywhere within this structure. In the end though, the vibrations between transducer and listener speak for themselves; carve out their own narratives in individual skull-space. Revealed is a lost piece of the UK experimental underground, deserving of consideration alongside the work of Nurse with Wound, Coil, and Throbbing Gristle. Working methods mapped out here would carry over in subtle form to Eyeless in Gaza, and especially Bates' uncompromising 'Murder Ballads', on which Bates and co-conspirator M. J. Harris of Lull took the legacy of the Childe Ballads and slowed their discourse down to glacial pace over icy blasts of isolationist electronics.


    Disc two (MT197a), by our working theory of what is going on here, is Eyeless in Gaza partner Peter Becker's 1994 "completion" of the work, mixing the original with moments of almost Fahey-esque acoustic guitar beauty, and adding coloration in the form of additional keyboards and percussion. Without changing the aesthetic radically, the overall structure and editing are tighter and closer to Musique Concrete and the whole impression is of a more focussed and considered work, which, while holding true to the anarchic blast of the original, has passages that are calmer and less unhinged.  Paradoxically, it's this later version that seems more industrial, in the sense that there is a constructed machine narrative evident throughout. The structure is intriguing, with 20 quite short tracks - some as short as 30 seconds - and a culminating collage of around 20 minutes. This is the disc most listeners will return to for pleasure I think.

    Even if I have the discs back-assward, what we have here is undoubtedly a major reissue, and full marks to Beta-Lactam Ring for doing such a great job with it, including a 16 page booklet with a fine essay on the work (though no detailed CD track listing). In the interest of further confusion, after this review was written, the following was noticed on the Eyeless in Gaza web site:


"Track-listing somehow got left out of the sleeve notes, but what you will find on the 2xCd release is:


Disc 1


Track 20: DISSONANCE REMAKE, part #1." [I think they mean Track 21 – td]


"Disc 2


Tracks 9 to 19: DISSONANCE REMAKE, part #2." [Tracks 10 to 19 perhaps – td]


Make of that what you will – personally, I don't think it makes a lot of sense or necessarily a lot of difference – and that's fitting, I suppose. (Tony Dale)




(7” single on Poutre Apparente Records

http://poutreapparente.free.fr/news.htm )


Now, it’s not too often that the humble seven inch single gets a ride on Terrascope’s upper deck, but here’s one artefact from the depths of the avant / post-punk underground that certainly deserves the extra ink spillage. ‘Low Flying Aircraft’, released on the Pulp (or Pulp Music) imprint in 1979 apparently reached number 5 in the independent charts, but to my dismay distribution must’ve puttered out before the south coast came into view. Since then it’s been a permanent fixture on an ever-growing wants list – until now, of course, because Parisienne label Poutre Apparente have rescued this once anonymous-looking disc from ill-deserved obscurity, dressed it in new label and packaging, and thrust it back into vinyl marketplace, sounding as feral and as unique as it did back in the day. More of that in a moment. As for information about the duo, the only piece I possessed was a solitary page from the dearly departed weekly music paper ‘Melody Maker’, dated August 14th 1982, by Ian Pye – and a fairly bizarre tale it is too, making them seem far too volatile and dangerous for general ‘indie’ consumption.


Anne was a previous member of The Moodies, a satirical cabaret group who were described by the Sunday Times of all people as “looking like half a dozen friendly whores after a bad night out” – charming! Paul, a founder of the London Musicians Collective and experimental percussionist extraordinaire, developed a weird array of hand-built percussive instruments which included a clockwork Sooty. He was also a former member of Rain in the Face where he, alongside David Toop, backed Simon Finn on his downer folk masterpiece ‘Pass the Distance’ (originally on Mushroom). The duo had been performing one-off events since 1979, one of which had Paul, with self-illuminated drum kit, in a rowing boat on the Thames at Tower Bridge with Anne circling the boat whilst vocalising like some futuristic siren with two fish attached to her shoulders and lights attached to her ankles!


The gigs at the Fridge in Brixton however were markedly more visceral. A cover of Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’ was presumably a mild torchy precursor to the fun that was yet to come. ‘The Bells’ (a James Brown cover) employed a burning sheep’s skull as a prop, while the self-penned ‘Adventures in the House of Memory’ saw Anne balancing a large sheet of glass over her head which, at the song’s climax, was smashed onto the dance-floor, the shards skidding to a halt at the feet of the by now twitchy audience. At this point, the management, probably having kittens by now, pulled the plug on proceedings.


Naturally it would be a bit of a struggle to fully transfer that kinda wanton behaviour onto a piece of vinyl, but ‘Low Flying Aircraft’ edges pretty close (especially at high volumes). Over a tightly syncopated drum groove comes a chant of “low flying aircraft… low flying aircraft… please evacuate immediately… it’s a warning!” in which Anne’s voice revs up from cold clinical detachment to possessed screams and demented gurgles on the inhale, almost like Diamanda Galas in a garage environment, with badly deteriorating microphones. As to the ‘b’ side, the fractured march of ‘Something just behind my back’ and the distorted / overloaded yammer of ‘Crash Landing’ suggest that like Side 1, we’re still a passenger in the same cockpit – although the remixed artwork appears to be crosshatching different historical periods. The label’s line drawings of the WWII German jet fighter bomber, the ME262, are pitched against the cover in which Big Ben appears in duplicate form. An alternate Twin Towers under attack by the Nazis scenario is one almost worthy of a P.K. Dick story.


A wildly unconventional disc, after all these years, with intriguing packaging combine to make this a fitting tribute to Paul Burwell who tragically died in the early months of this year. This is one fine record. (Steve Pescott)




45rpm 10" single on Shagrat Records, 140b Kennington Lane, London SE11 4UZ (contact: nwcprods@hotmail.com )


Isn't it always the way - you wait years for the Terrascope to review a single, and two come along almost simultaneously!


To be fair to Screw though, their debut release is more of an EP than a single, even if it does play at 45rpm, housed as it is in a gloriously illustrated (by Savage Pencil) 10" sleeve. And also to be equally fair, the term "debut" is perhaps slightly misleading given that the recordings date back to May 1969.


Nigel Cross's sleeve notes tell the story of Screw far more eloquently than I could ever begin to, but in a nutshell, theirs is the classic tale of a talented, original and charismatic band who never quite managed to secure a recording contract - in fact, apart from a couple of country blues numbers recorded by an earlier line-up which appeared on contemporary compilations, the nearest anyone in Screw got to appearing on record was when singer Pete Hossell got himself a gig as a corpse, photographed inside a coffin on the front cover of the Groundhogs' 'Blues Obituary' LP!


Sounding for all the world like bastard children of the Edgar Broughton Band and Jody Grind with Roger Chapman of Family named in the palimony suit, Screw (like so many other UK bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s) went through a number of stages in their "career", such as it was, from blues to prog rock, via drugged-out mayhem all the way through to free jazz, with even the obligatory period of getting it all together down home in a countryside idyll thrown in part way through for good measure. Bad luck and troubles dogged their trail though (as they say), and it simply wasn't to be. Their finest moment and only clam to fame, really, was their support slot for the Rolling Stones at their Hyde park concert in July 1969.


God bless Sir Nigel Cross then, as he must surely be dubbed someday soon, for bringing us at least a flavour of what this fine band were all about. The two songs represented here, both recorded under the supervision of the Floyd's Nick Mason, are by all accounts nowhere near as heavy as the band could be when experienced live, but they are a tantalising indication of just what we all missed. Well, what most of us missed, anyway. 'Banks of the River' is akin to the Groundhogs, with some fabulously screeching harmonica to the fore and just a touch of the Misunderstood thrown in for good measure - the stand-out number for me though is 'Devil's Hour' which starts out as a slow blues and speeds up midway through, led from the front by Hossell's magnificently eccentric tonsils.


There's a very limited number of CDs accompanying this release which features a third, unfinished studio number by Screw, or more to the point harmonica player (and band leader) Chris Turner and Pete Hossell performing a work in progress piece entitled 'Psychedelic Harps', for reasons which'll become obvious once you hear it. Do try - it really is worth picking up a copy of this EP, not least in order to support the much-deserving Shagrat Records in having the good sense to release it at long last on an unsuspecting world. (Phil McMullen)






     In honour of the 40th anniversary of it’s release, Sunbeam present the first official release of this off-bootlegged pop-sike classic, featuring no less than ten bonus tracks, including outtakes, demos, and the post-LP Dylan cover that they released as a single. Produced (and managed) by the legendary Giorgio Gomelsky, the band were somewhat disappointed with the album on initial release, as Gomelsky used a lot of session musicians and David Whittaker’s oft-times heavy-handed orchestration that the band couldn’t replicate on stage, making tour support nearly impossible. (They do, however, seem to have managed quite well with some of the tracks, based upon the evidence of a supposedly live version of two of the album’s more sedate offerings, ‘Mister Watchmaker’ and ‘Love Is’ that’re included in the bonus section). Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing amalgamation of typical Summer of Love effects, such as the backing tape loops, vocals and harmonies (on opener and B-side of their debut single, ‘Look At Me I’m You’) and unusual time changes (guitarist Jim Cregan’s weirdly out of place, sonic collage, ‘The Intrepid Baloonist’s Handbook, Volume One’). Surely the time they spent developing a cult status during live performances in Paris (during which their set lists were dominated by Beefheart compositions) played a part in some of the album’s more, shall we say, adventurous offerings, such as drummer Kevin Westlake’s ‘The Remarkable Saga Of The Frozen Dog,” which Frank Zappa apparently took a liking to during their time gigging together, although personally I found it a little closer to a cross between Idle Race/ The Move and Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, whose ‘Gorilla’ debut, released the same year, would most assuredly have been in regular rotation at the Toes’ Holmead Road house that Gomelsky rented for them and which quickly deteriorated into a sinful den of iniquity, drugs, sex, booze, etc., with the likes of Eric Clapton, Captain Beefheart, Traffic, and Family (whom both guitarist, Jim Cregan and future drummer, Poli Palmer would eventually join – albeit, in different lineups – upon the Toes’ demise) in regular attendance.


     Most of the tracks were written by guitarist, Brian Godding, but he confesses in the well-informed interview with the band that serves as liner notes in the 12-page booklet that Gomelsky’s bosses at Marmalade’s parent label, Polydor, “thought we were shit and a waste of space,” so they were forced into a studio before they were ready: “It had to be done live, with no overdubs, which was quite intimidating. We were not used to any of this and found it quite confusing and intimidating. We also had to play with complete strangers (session musicians) and accept other people’s arrangements…” Perhaps as a compromise, Gomelsky seems intent on making the album as light and airy as possible, perhaps trying to recreate the sound of the recently released ‘Sgt. Pepper’ for full economic opportunity. (Cregan states that Gomelsky played the band an acetate of ‘Pepper’ halfway through the sessions, but “our songwriting wasn’t influenced by ‘Sgt. Pepper’s,’ as is often assumed. Our material was all written by then.” He also feels that Gomelsky “saw us as a cross between the Bee Gees and The Beatles, with just a touch of The Monkees, and wanted us to have pop hits.”) The album has frequently been cited as “Beatlesque,” and one listen to the F-trumpet salivating over the dreamy, harmony-filled, ‘I’ll Be Late For Tea’ will not dissuade you of such comparisons. But that’s not to suggest the album is stodgy and without humour, as a few bars of the aforementioned ‘Frozen Dog’ and the numerous between-song drop-ins (themselves, perhaps, borrowed from The Who’s contemporary ‘Sell Out’) will attest. While I found these to be quite frustrating (many are barely audible, thus forcing the listener to focus too closely on nonsensical non-sequitors), Godding, who was not present during these additions, claims, “There was a lot of humour in the band, and they were just a reflection of that.” A better example, I think, is the jolly old, goodtime hootin’ and hollerin’ that floods across the decidedly Kinksy, ‘People of The Royal Parks.’ Also, the interludes (and the general aura about the album, sonically speaking), are actually quite closer to Rainbow Ffoly, whose contemporary release, ‘Sallies Fforth’ also used a similar pop aesthetic to great, albeit perhaps unintentional, Beatlesque effect.


     Gomelsky and the band do successfully synthesize numerous Beatles hits into ‘I Will Bring You This and That’ (I hear bits of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life,’ ‘I’m Looking Though You’ and other ‘Rubber Soul’/’Revolver’-era traits) and, tucked away at the back of side 2, is Cregan’s brilliant little pop/sike gem, ‘When The Alarm Clock Rings,’ a soaring masterpiece that makes excellent use of the band’s harmonic skills and is rightly listed amongst their finest moments. Perhaps, in the spirit of the day, this iconoclastic psych ditty is followed by the aforementioned surreal inanity of ‘The Intrepid Balloonist…,’ a confusing little trifle that sounds like Bertolt Brecht interpreted by the Bonzos under the musical direction of Zappa. Elsewhere, the complex, multifaceted ‘You’ runs the band through seemingly every studio device but the kitchen sink, with echoed vocals to the fore, and the party hearty band (whose drug exploits are unabashedly revealed in the interviews) wear their drug of choice on their sleeves with the closing ‘Track for Speedy Freaks (or Instant LP Digest),’ a stunt (essentially the LP played back at about 100 RPM) that Tom Rapp would replicate the following year at the end of ‘Balaklava.’


     Of the bevy of bonus tracks, completists will drool at the inexplicable outtake, ‘Everybody’s Talking,’ an airy slice of pop that clearly supercedes some of the album’s drearier efforts. Several of the album’s tracks are included without orchestrations (‘Look At Me I’m You’ and ‘I’ll Be Late for Tea’), which Godding says, “give some idea of what we really sounded like,” so you can decide for yourself if you, like me, will agree with bassist, Brian Belshaw’s assessment, “I loved the songs as they were, without the overdubs. They were simple numbers that became unnecessarily complicated.” Frustrated by the album’s commercial failure, Gomelsky brought his charges back into the studio and “insisted that we had to come up with a commercial single” and forced Dylan’s ‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ down their throats. As heard here, you can really hear the band’s frustration, as Belshaw confesses, “We were totally taking the piss and you can hear it. You have to remember, this was acid time – and all our brains were pretty fucked up.” An obvious product of its heady times, it was, not surprisingly, not a hit. Still, in hindsight, the track doesn’t sound all that different from the goofy vaudeville act that McCartney’s traipsing around the country with these days!


     A BBC interview with Cregan offers some insight into the band’s state of mind at the time of the recordings, with a clear delineation between his and Godding’s songwriting styles – “he writes the pop songs and I write the rougher stuff!” The live tracks feature particularly impressive vibe work from Palmer and an equally impressive, heartfelt, soulful vocal form Godding. And I could have swore I heard a mellotron floating around in the background! Finally, demos of three previously unreleased tracks that were recorded when Palmer first joined the band wrap up the wonderful package. ‘Collects Little Girls’ shows a soulful side of the group that’s absent from the album, and also showcases Cregan’s intricate, and quite excellent guitar skills, which are also sadly suppressed on the LP. Palmer’s toys (vibes, flute, piano, Moogs, vibraphones) add a pleasant toytown quality to ‘Hometime’ and ‘I’m Looking Up I’m Looking Back’, which surely wouldn’t have been out of place on the LP. (Jeff Penczak)







Opening with the heavy proto-prog opus “Peace Loving Man”, it is immediately apparent that this record is a long way from the Psych-pop loveliness of “We Are Ever So Clean”. Gone are the short strange songs and whimsical interludes, to be replaced with something darker, heavier and sounding much more like a live band than a studio album. I guess, this is not surprising given the massive change in the UK musical climate between the years ’67-’69, the gentle flower power vibe, slowly morphing into the Progressive era, producing some fine music, as the two styles clashed over a bong and a dog-eared copy of “Lord Of The Rings”.


     Sung by Bassist Brian Belshaw (the first time his voice had been heard), “Peace Loving Man” is a powerful statement of intent, introducing the change in style with twisted glory, sounding like May Blitz, or Gracious, the glorious guitar playing of Brian Godding really excelling. Second song “Kiss of Confusion” sees both Godding and guitarist Jim Cregan working in tandem, the instruments intertwining brilliantly creating a host of melodic variations. As Cregan states in the sleeve-notes “As far as we were concerned, we devised harmony lead and rhythm guitar playing. Wishbone Ash became well known for it in the early seventies, but we were doing it earlier.” 


    After the positive opening, the tempo drops slightly for “Listen To The Silence”, a brooding number with a definite West-Coast feel and some lovely free-flowing playing that lifts the song above the norm. At almost Eight minutes “love Bomb” is the longest song on the album, the relaxed and mellow opening slowly building into a plea for love to return, the musicians bouncing off each other in a loose and wonderful fashion, the whole track grooving along with style.


    Another significant change on this album is the departure of drummer Poli Palmer, to be replaced by Barry Reeves whose playing holds the record together, especially on the excellent “Billy Boo the Gunman”, a protest song against the heavy hand of authority crackling with energy as it twists its way through riff-changes and dynamics. More dynamic excellence can be heard on “Indian Summer”, my favourite track, the band exploring their mellow side, filled with shimmering twin guitars and relaxed vocal harmonies that let your mind float downstream.


   Following a fairly mundane rendition of “just Above My Hobby Horses head” (written by Ritchie Havens), although it does contain some nice sitar and backward guitar, the album proper ends with “Wait A Minute”, the twin guitars shining again, as the funky rhythm ensure the album leaves you smiling.


    Of course, this being a re-issue, there are six bonus tracks, including the single “Postcard” and “Everyone’s Leaving Me Now”, The former being a Psych-pop classic, that would have graced the first album, whilst the later is a jazzy song the sounds like early Soft Machine, who were also managed by Giorgio Gomelsky. Pick of the bunch though, is a demented version of “Peace Loving Man”, the song gaining an extra 90 seconds as the band turn everything up and let their freakflags fly.


     Following a car-crash that left the band shaken but not badly hurt, it was all over, although Brian Godding continued to play with Brian Belshaw in B.B. Blunder, leaving only two albums of quality music, neatly encapsulating the changes of style that happened in the highly creative late sixties UK psych scene.  (Simon Lewis)




 (CD on Shining Day Records)


    Fast forward from Martyn Bates' very first recordings, to some of his most recent, in the form of the third full length release from Twelve Thousand Days, the duo of Martyn Bates and Alan Trench (Orchis, Temple Music). Shining Day Records grabbed some attention in 2005 with a wonderful EP of theirs called 'At the Landgate', drawn from the same sessions as  'From the Walled Garden'. Also recommended (not least because you never know when these tiny pressings are going to dry up) are two earlier full length releases, 'In the Garden of Wild Stars' (issued by Italian label Musica Maxima Magnetica in 2000) and 'The Devil in the Grain' (on German imprint Trisol in 2001). As Twelve Thousand Days, Bates and Trench move away from the keyboard foundation of much of Bates' solo non-EiG collaborative work to richly textured Elysian acoustic pastures like a more fractal and delicate sub-species of the sound-world found on Bates' 'Imagination Feels Like Poison' CD. 'In the Garden of Wild Stars' explored further the ideas in Bates' 'Chamber Music' series, placing poems by Walter de la Mare, Tennyson, and Yeats in darkly luminous acid-folk settings. Like 'Devil in the Grain', 'From the Walled Garden' is mostly self-penned, augmented by atmospheric readings of several traditional songs.  

    'Who Lives Here' kicks off things in wondrous incredible string band fashion, launching the listener into a jewelled landscape with the traditional (whistle and subtle percussion) offset against the modernist (ring modulator). Elsewhere - dulcimer, guitar, Tibetan bells, recorder, glass harp, e-bows and bow psaltery all add to the timeless feel. The two traditional tracks 'Ballad of the Cutty Wren' and 'The Cruel Mother' are strikingly extended live workouts, done that way to move them away from more standard readings. What results are dream-like almost ambient readings, in fact, in the case of 'The Cruel Mother', which is northwards of eight minutes here the artists point out that "the performance was much longer; we ran out of tape…" As good as the traditional readings are, the self-composed and studio-recorded material,are better yet, hitting a level of star-bright transcendental bliss that normally only comes with high purity pharmaceuticals or perhaps personal ascension to somewhere else. It's difficult to single out any one track for especial praise for fear of shutting out someone else's favourite, but 'Monument and Effigy', 'Miracles Beginning' and 'Thistle' stand easily among the finest work of either artist. The latter especially contains one of Bates' most jaw-droppingly exquisite vocals, and encapsulates the whole Twelve Thousand Days experience for me. Surprises abound, too, like the unexpected pure pop of 'Cries Distant Calling'.

    Apparently the project title was devised by Trench, who estimated that, given his age, 12, 000 days was his remaining life expectancy barring illness and accident. A somewhat creepy wake-up call, really! This release is likewise time-limited – apparently only 300 were pressed. (Tony Dale)