= September 2018 =  
 Moongazing Hare
 Trappist Afterland
 Papernut Cambridge
Michael Giacchino
 Pigs x7
 Alexander Tucker
Three Seasons comp
 Earthling Society
 Michael Rault
 Human Adult Band
 Nango
 Nighthammer
 Dustin Wong
 Lime Eyelid
 UFO over Lappland
 Sherpa
 a Year in the Country
 
 
 
 
 

 

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MOONGAZING HARE/TRAPPIST AFTERLAND – SING SONGS FOR NATHAN
(LP on Sugarbush Records )

This record sees a collaboration, between two acid- folk groups, Trappist Afterland, from Australia - essentially Adam Geoffrey Cole, and Moongazing Hare, from Denmark - essentially David Folkmann Drost. Joining forces together for a set of shared songs, that act as a benefit, for the Active Listener’s Nathan Ford. Nathan has been an advocate of both bands through his New Zealand music blog and website The Active Listener. Nathan has recently been unwell and this is their benefit album for him. It is available to download on the Active Listener Bandcamp site; this new vinyl version adds a few bonus tracks to this release. 

The record kicks off with a terrific version by Moongazing Hare of the Lal Waterson song “Fine Horseman”, a song that I first became aware of on the album ‘Bright Phoebus’ by Lal And Mike Waterson. This is followed by Trappist Afterland’s version of the Coil song “Restless Day”, full of the eastern tropes and percussion that we have become accustomed to from them. “Sleep On The Tide”, is a Moongazing Hare track that appeared on the album ‘The Sunderland Valves’ from 2013, covered here by Adam. Backwards guitar darting like fireflies and acoustic guitar figure on this sea shanty. The two then collaborate on the Trappist song “Stars Of The Wraith”. “The Penitents Rail”, the first of the bonus tracks, is recorded live by Nicholas Albanis, it’s a mysterious song performed with flute, finger picked acoustic guitar and light percussion.

Side two of the record sees Syd Barrett’s “Opel”, given the joint Trappist/Moongazing treatment. It’s a fairly straightforward version short and sweet. Next is “1 John 4 16”, this one sees David from Moongazing Hare sing this otherworldly Mountain Goat song to fine effect, a sad ballad, that is full of religious imagery. “Traps Of Gold”, is an elemental psych song, imbued with more waspish backwards guitar, light drones and percussion, being quite circular in style. “Your Drink”, sees banjo, birdsong and some trippy effects, it’s hymnal in style, again fairly acoustic in nature. “Father = Sun Itself”, a Trappist song, again recorded live, is one of the three bonus songs; it first appeared on the 2012 Album ‘Burrowing To Light’. The final track is Moongazing Hare’s “Sundayland Lights”, again one of the bonus tracks, sees both male and female vocals, and it’s a sparse, fragile, whisp of a song, a sad lament about relationships. It has a heartbeat of a rhythm, steadily keeping time, pulsing with blood through the veins.

Sugarbush have now completed their reissue of Trappist Afterland albums by putting out their third album Trappist Afterland - Like A Beehive, The Hill Was Alive. A cdr of this album was issued by the band themselves in 2013, the second release by them from that year, after the previous album ‘The Five Wounds Of Francis Minor’. The band had swelled to about seven or eight members around this time. It was also released on a miniscule vinyl pressing of 300 by the American record label Bless It’s Pointy Little Head in 2017.  For this album we have main trappist Adam - playing guitar, oud, lute, dulcitar, vocals, bohdran, monochord, tanpura, krajappi, venetian blinds, oh and percussion. He is joined by Phil Coyle - tabla and vocals. Brett Poliness - organ, vocals, drums and percussion. HakGwai Lau - Erhu. Adam Casey - mouth harp, hurdy gurdy and hammered dulcimer. Tony Dupe - cello. Anthony Cornish - acoustic bass with Jodie Cornish and Ron Telfer- spoken word.

This is a record that is fairly full sounding, yet has plenty of light and shade. It takes in religion and some gnostic verses; it also visits the highly influential book by James George Frazer with a song that uses its title “The Golden Bough”, it is a magnificent, psychotropic song, full of creepy organ, and could well be my favourite song by them. Before this gem, we take in the sinister folk droning of opener “The Penitents Rail”. The next song “He Opened Not His Mouth (Isiah 53.9-12) has mouth harp and is chock full of religious imagery, drones and bells. “Gardening In Lure”, has a speaking In tongues section, a curlew calling, a cyclical guitar figure, and is strangely hypnotic.  

Side two, kicks off with “Leprous Ships, Leprous Buildings”, one of the most straightforward songs on the record but still pretty weird really and listing badly. “Stripes (Isiah 53.3- 9)”, blimey, this one almost rocks out, a full drum set and electric guitar inform this devotional psych folk tune. More stories from Isiah, on the following song “Like A Bruised Reed”, bells and acoustic guitar conspire, on a tune that feels fairly queasy, various drones and eastern tropes blooming throughout. “The Hoarder Stows”, another devotional hymnal, with hanging organ draping itself around Adam’s lyrics, again it is dense with religious imagery. “Beehive”, has a bit of all that has gone before and is a fine way to end an album. For this vinyl release we also have a bonus with a live rendition of the earlier song “Like A Bruised Reed”.

This is the album by the band that I would recommend, especially for anyone that has yet to dip their toe in to their very particular holy water.

(Andrew Young)



 

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PAPERNUT CAMBRIDGE - MELLOTRON PHASE: VOLUME 2 
(10” on Ravenwood Music Ltd/ Gard du Nord )

Following on from last year’s Mellotron Phases Volume 1 comes the second installment with volume 2.  The first volume was one of Shindig magazine’s albums of the year, a surprising thing for a new record of boutique library sounds. The first volume was built entirely from sounds made by a Mellotron and its associated family of instruments, with the addition of drums plus a little bass and percussion. This time around Ian Button has used for the basis of these songs, sounds sourced from Mattel’s disc based Optigan home-entertainment instrument. This volume is less psychedelic, less progressive in nature, instead taking its cues from the creaky grooves of the rhythms available on the Optigan.

This purely instrumental record starts with “Cha- Cha- Charlie”, a sort of surf/spy music theme tune; I swear that I can detect a little guitar somewhere in the mix. This is followed by a cracking little song, a space age bachelor pad groover, entitled “Cygnus Probe”, laser guided melodies, twisted fairground calliopes in space, it is a gem of a song, infested as it is with many bleeps and sonar, there’s even a little celestial harp thrown in. “Boss Club”, introduces a Parisian vibe with sampled accordions, it swings in a deliberately cheesy way with faux brass and is anchored with some fine live drums and bass. “Sergeant Major Mushrooms”, follows this, and has a lot to live up to with a title like that, fittingly it starts with a cuckoo, before we are introduced to a bizarre military marching band, queasy Optigan lines tracing out the melody - which indeed feels like something lysergic has been ingested, a woozy hallucinogenic Wurlitzer on parade. “Parker’s Last Case”, presents a suave sophisticated bossa nova spy theme, with vibes, again nice drum and bass. “A Cowboy in Montmatre”, is another delight, this one starts off with the neighing of a horse, before a loping Steptoe And Son melody appears. Somewhere along the way I detect a little bit of the melody from David Essex’s ‘Hold Me Close’ mixed with a soupcon of the sort of melodies created by Ivor Raymonde, how’s that for a bonkers little tune, (actually Ian has previously released an EP of tunes by John Sullivan entitled Sullivan’s Waltz, featuring his version of the Only Fools And Horses TV show theme). “Spirit Maze”, slows things down a little with a creepy, twinkling waltz. “Soul Brogues”, a breakbeat shuffle ala ‘Soul Finger’ but performed on an Optigan, sharp and sexy, with more faux brass. “Mrs Montgolfier”, is the penultimate track, again it’s a crepuscular woozy tune, thick with Mellotron, pastoral and gently brilliant. The record ends with “Getaway Suit”, a quick wheel spin from the Mint Roadster and were off with a lost sixties library classic, possibly sound tracking a missing Randall And Hopkirk (Deceased) episode. This is another terrific album; I can’t wait for volume 3! Both of these 10”s are going to be put out on one CD in the near future.  

(Andrew Young)
 
 

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MICHAEL GIACCHINO – INCREDIBLES 2 ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
(CD/DL on Walt Disney Records)
 
What is this, a Disney PIXAR film soundtrack on these electronic pages?  Stick with me, dear reader, and I’ll explain why this original score is well worth your listening (and viewing) pleasure.  One listen, and it becomes apparent this is no run-of-the-mill kids’ movie soundtrack, indeed no usual soundtrack, period.  Incredibles 2, if you’re unaware, is the sequel to the 2004 PIXAR hit about a family of super heroes.  Giacchino also penned that score, his first foray into movie soundtracks.  Now, 14 years later, with an Academy Award (and just about every other kind of award) in his war chest, Giacchino’s score is a loving throwback to the 1960s era John Barry James Bond scores.  It’s all fun, over-the-top big band jazzy brass secret agent stuff.  Which is slightly odd, since this is a super hero movie, not a spy movie, but no matter.  It also compares to the Henry Mancini Pink Panther scores, and Lalo Schifrin’s pulse-raising film and TV music.  If that isn’t enough, if you like the band Calibro 35, whose retro 70s action picture imaginary soundtrack sounds are a favorite of many Terrascope listeners, well you came to the right place.

While full of chase scene excitement, there’s also plenty of what I’ll concisely call “lurking about in the dark and up to no good” music.  And “Diggin’ the New Digs” is splendid classic 60s space-age bachelor pad lounge and martini fare, in glorious bongo-phonic sound.

But it’s the chases which amp up the adrenaline.  With horns a-blastin’, “Consider Yourselves Undermined!,” “Elastigirl is Back,” and “Train of Taut” are all full of verve and panache, rounding out the excitement in the first half.

The Incredibles 2 soundtrack features some of the best players in the business, none more so than the incomparable Wayne Bergeron on trumpet.  It’s those squealy high trumpet parts which Mr Bergeron so expertly excels at.  If Frank Zappa called Steve Vai his “stunt guitarist,” who he used for “all the impossible guitar parts,” Wayne Bergeron would be the equivalent on trumpet.  High pitch sections are the most difficult to play on trumpet, even for the best players.  But the possibly cyborg Bergeron can not only play them, he can keep on playing parts tirelessly, seemingly with ease, that would leave most top rank players passed out on the floor, their faces contorted and blue from hypoxia.

Back to the second half of the action, “Jack Splat,” “Forever and Deavor,” and the wonderfully titled “Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week to Give Up Oxygen” are rock ‘em sock ‘em adrenaline rushes, full of razzle-dazzle.  You can really hear Wayne Bergeron’s signature touch at the end of “Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Week…”

But the best is saved for the end, the ten-minute closing credits “Incredits 2” (see what they did there?).  The extended piece weaves together all the primary themes from the movie, and adds more spectacular brass passages.  Following that are three vocal theme songs for the primary characters, “Here Comes Elastigirl – Elastigirl’s Theme,” “Chill or Be Chilled – Frozone’s Theme,” and “Pow!  Pow!  Pow! – Mr. Incredible’s Theme.”  These adorable jingles are woven into the Incredits in the theatrical release, but here are included as slightly longer, standalone versions.

Of course, you could take all this in the way nature intended, in the theater, with thundering surround sound, your ears attuned to the stunning soundtrack.  The movie’s a hoot.  No accompanying toddlers required, and you don’t need to have seen the first.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about that Incredibles 1 score and movie?  Done with the same crew, and just as fun.

Looks like Mr Giacchino might need to clear some shelf space for another award.  Pow!  Pow!  Pow!

(Mark Feingold)


 

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 PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS, PIGS – KING OF COWARDS
(LP/CD/DL from Rocket Recordings )

Pigsx7 and I have a knack of missing each other (something they will hitherto be unaware of). I can definitely count on the fingers of Django Reinhardt’s left hand the times where we’ve been in the same place and I’ve been unable to catch their set, usually because of scheduling. In fact to make doubly sure of maintaining a 100% record in this regard, neither of us turned up for Rocket 20 in London back in March. As if by way of atonement, though, I do recall purchasing an album from singer Matt Baty’s Box Records stall at Supersonic in June. It was a hard-to-find Blown Out album as I recall, they being Matt and company’s superior “space rock” alter egos and a right blast they are (and yes I have seen them live and will do again, soon).

The Pigs sound has not evolved too much since 2017’s incendiary and hugely regarded debut, Feed The Rats. For all that we have six tracks here instead of the three on Rats the basic cocktail is still comprised of heavy metal boogie interspersed with throttled back bludgeon riffola, over which loud, bare-chested shouty vocals strive manfully. Much fun indeed, and no-one but the irredeemably hard of hearing is likely to complain about either a subdued or a muddy mix. Oh my ears!

To the sharp end, then, and ‘GNT’ flies out of the traps sounding for all the world like Lemmy fronting a metal tribute to ‘Spirit In The Sky’. Listen carefully and you’ll pick up some twiddly bits of synth and a vocal ensemble featuring estimable Richard Dawson, fellow Tynesider and beloved alt-folk type, in whose live band Baty and bass player John-Michael Hedley play, implausible though that may seem.  ‘The Shockmaster’ is a gentle, waif fronted ballad built around harp and hand crafted penny whistle. No don’t be silly, this lot prostrate themselves at the feet of Tony Iommi and co – we are all Sabbath now after all. ‘A66’ as you might expect is a pummelling driving song (serving Penrith to Scotch Corner it will be familiar to these natives of NE England). It perambulates through a number of stages, at its best evoking the skronking, Hawkwind turbo thrust of yester-yore and closer in spirit to the afore-mentioned Blown Out. And so it goes. By the time ‘Thumbsucker’ gets stuck in I’m pretty much warming to the task although there’s probably little to choose between that and the other tins on the shelf. The exception that proves the rule is ‘Gloamer’, which slows things down a tad and on which Baty’s alternately spoken and shouted vocal adding to the darkening menace. They might just have saved their best ‘til last.

Comparisons with Grateful Dead are hardly likely to abound although much like the noodling ones you can’t help thinking that Pigs’ studio work is probably best appreciated having seen them live. This is where I came in, I think.
Ian Fraser

 

 

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 ALEXANDER TUCKER – DON’T LOOK AWAY
(LP/CD/MP3 from Thrill Jockey)

Not so very long ago in one of the inkies, there was a short and somewhat sniffy review of two of our more cherished folk-plated releases of 2018, in which the reviewer opined that they were waiting for the new Alex Tucker album to get their avant folk fix.
Hopefully this should do the trick, then, as Tucker – one half of the impressively questing London outfit Grumbling Fur – releases his first solo album in six years. Viewed as the concluding (and most definitely belated) part of a trilogy, beginning with the sublime Dorwytch in 2011 and followed a year later by Third Mouth, first impressions of Don’t Look Away are of a much cleaner, fresher sound, resonant of a back porch Beach Boys or pastoral Midlake transplanted to the outer reaches of Epping Forest. From the opening drum (machine) taps and morose strings of ‘Visiting Again’ Tucker’s skilful yet deceptively straight forward way with tunesmithery holds you rapt. ‘Objects’ probably best epitomises that heady melding of West Coast, Mid-West and Middlewich a soaring guitar in the midpoint piercing what is otherwise an understated instrumental backdrop to multi tracked vocals. On the subject of Tucker’s voice, his is a pleasing light baritone that while lacking a wide octave range is warmly engaging and pretty much perfect for the material. It could just be me, though, but I’m getting snatches of Clifford T Ward through the tin foil helmet.

‘Sisters and Me’ is a beautiful, organic sounding tune set to lyrics about AI, a world where Nick Drake meets Alexa and Cortana and the result is anything but a Frankenstein’s Monster. This pretty much sums up Tucker, someone sufficiently rooted in traditional songcraft while receptive to exploring new avenues and ideas and there is wistfulness aplenty where you care to look for it – on ‘Ghost On The Ledge’ and the instrumental ‘Saddest Summer 2’ for example. The use of a rising melody results in one of the most hummable offerings – ‘Boys Names’, while at the other end of the Tucker compositional spectrum ‘Gloops Void (Give It Up)’, featuring Nik Void (Factory Floor, Carter Tutti Void) ushers in dark, queasy electronica and vocal samples closer in spirit to Grumbling Fur and the drone collaborations with Charlemagne Palestine than the wholesomeness of most of Don’t Look Away.  The delightful 'Behind The Shoulder', featuring as elsewhere some restrained cello, returns us to business as usual. So it remains through the instrumental ‘Citadel’ and the folky psychedelia of ‘Yesterday’s Honey’ before the closing ‘Ishuonawayishanawa’ throws us a giddy, swirling curve ball where the nascent strangeness of ‘Yesterday’s Honey’ is transformed into an hypnotic, almost shamanistic carousel ride, complete with not- quite nonsense vocal sampling.

As the uncommonly long, hot summer gives way to the mellow fruitfulness of September the timing of Tucker’s long-gestating release seems almost perfect. Even though time seems to fly by these days (age I hear you say) to the point where birthdays and Christmases surely now come around twice a year, six years is a little long to wait. There again when the end product is this good then who am I to grumble?
Ian Fraser



   

THE THREE SEASONS

( 3LP set on Fruits de Mer )

After releasing a triple album of previously released long deleted 7” singles earlier this year, the "world’s most collectable record label" is back with another triple album. This time it is of some choice covers of songs recorded in arguably the most creative period of modern music, namely 1966, 1967 and 1968. Some 27 artists visit this period, digging out some familiar old classics and also some seldom heard nuggets, including three of the original bands who were there at the time, The Yardbirds, The Electric Prunes and The Pretty Things. It also features artwork from the very talented John Hurford.

The album starts with ‘Magic In The Air’, by The Past Tense (originally by The Attack) from 1967, it is a fine opening song, coming on very much like The Who. ‘Bedazzled’, comes next by LoveyDove, this is a cover of a song by Grimble Wedge and the Vegetations (aka Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) a humorous suggestive sexy little number that wouldn’t be too out of place on one of Johnny Trunks albums. ‘Amelia Jane’, by The Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder, sticks fairly close to the original by (Made In Sheffield), it’s very catchy and very late sixties, a pop psych nugget. Jack Ellister tackles the (Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds) Elektra album tune ‘Aquarius’, to fine effect, it’s almost instrumental, apart from an echoed spacey female vocal section. Rob Gould covers ‘Granny Takes A Trip’, (originally by The Purple Gang) It is an early album highlight, which has a great extended instrumental fade out, it’s also a mega earworm of a tune. Mark McDowell covers ‘Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire’, by (The Small Faces). This song is taken from their second album, also appearing as the b side of a single.

Anton Barbeau covers the (Donovan) classic, ‘Sunshine Superman’, keeping things raw and direct, complete with what sounds like a stylophone solo, multi tracked vocals and spindly guitar. The Electric Prunes arrive with a fairly straight reading of the classic (Love) song ‘7 x7 Is’, complete with yelping vocals and waspish guitar. Moonweevil cover (The Deviants) ‘Child Of The Sky’, a sympathetic cover version, rendered solely on keyboards but with added live drums, a dreamy early slice of progressive rock. Sticking with progressive rock, we have Polish keyboard whizz Kris Gietowski, who here performs the obscure (Don Shinn) tune ‘A-Minor Explosion’. This was an early piece of progressive mod rock with Jazzy tendencies.

The Yardbirds perform a cool live version of their own song ‘Think About It’. This being the Yardbirds, it’s accompanied by a short sharp guitar solo. The Locker Room deliver a fairly straight version of the (Rolling Stones) song ‘We Love You’. Another album highlight for me follows this with an excellent reading of the (It’s A Beautiful Day) song ‘White Bird’. Sitar drones, drifting organ, guitar set to maximum sustain with a touch of wah wah, complete with tabla and synth; a great job by King Penguin.  Aunt Cynthia’s Cabin arrive with the (Neil Diamond) song ‘Solitary Man’, eschewing the cheesy horns of the original but adding a great dollop of lead guitar. The Luck Of Eden Hall supply some heavy rock moves with their cover (Alice Cooper’s) ‘Reflected’, all crashing drums and maximum wah wah.

The Honey Pot arrive next with their cover of ‘Kites’, originally recorded by (Simon Dupree and the Big Sound/ The Rooftop Singers). This has long been a favourite, which the band perform with aplomb, a true psych classic, invested with plenty of organ and guitar. Cary Grace throws everything at the (Hendrix) monster that is ‘1983 A Merman I Should Be’, replete with underwater sounds, running for some 15 minutes it’s another album highlight, a real tour de force, epic stuff indeed.

(The Action) song ‘A Saying For Today’, is covered by Fruits de Mer favourites Sidewalk Society. They do a sterling job with an admirable jangle pop/psych confection.

Jay Tausig covers ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, another inspired choice, recorded by (Pentangle) and (Anne Briggs), Jay adds Mellotron, cello and plenty of interesting percussion, playing fine, finger picked acoustic guitar throughout, another album highlight I’m afraid. Top marks to Magic Bus who arrive next with their excellent cover of the classic (Byrds) tune ‘Tribal Gathering’, just sublime. Proud Peasant cover the (Touch) song ‘Down At Circe’s Palace’, originally appearing on their sole album which came out in 1969! They do a great job with this pastoral folky delight, injecting plenty of fluid guitar towards its climax. Icarus Peel does a fine job covering the (Jeff Beck) classic ‘Beck’s Bolero’ keeping pretty true to the original, making it seem easy.

The Green Ray (who delivered a great album last year providing a suitable swansong for the late guitarist Richard Treece) appear next, with their version of the (John Martyn) song ‘Dusty’, which provides a suitable balm, after the pyrotechnics of Icarus! They take on this lovely folk rock song, from John’s 1968 album “The Tumbler”. Ex-Norwegian cover the (Family) song ‘Winter’. It’s strange to hear this song sung by a female, however they provide a suitably frosty reading of it. Consterdine cover ‘Fly’, from the sole album by (J.K And Co) - an album which was put out on the White Whale record label, a lovely version it is too, plenty of autumnal Mellotron, it’s quite trippy stuff. The (West Coast Pop Art Experimental Group) song ‘The Smell Of Incense’, is covered here by Hull’s The Gold Needles, it’s long been a favourite, which they do a great job with, imbuing it with just the right amount of languid effects, courtesy of guitarist Dave Burbage.  This indispensible triple album of course ends, with label owner Keith’s favourite group, The Pretty Things, who here perform a live rendition of their classic ‘Loneliest Person’.

This is hands down one of the finest records I’ve heard this year, go out and get a copy, it’s due to be released on October 8th, I suggest getting in early to avoid disappointment.

(Andrew Young)






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EARTHLING SOCIETY – MO-THE DEMON

(LP on Riot Season Records)

Just when I thought that my records of the year list was beginning to form in my head along comes the new Earthling Society platter to send my list into a tailspin.

The album was recorded at Leeds College of Music as an imaginary soundtrack to the Shaw Brothers Kung Fu horror movie ‘The Boxer’s Omen’ (or ‘MO’ as it is sometimes referred to) and features the regular trio of Fred Laird, Kim Allen and Jon Blacow. One look at the range of instruments played on the record and the film plot (read more on the link above) tells us it will be quite a different Earthling Society trip and certainly more than just a soundtrack.

‘Theme from MO – The Demon’ kicks off with what can only be described as a vibrant far eastern Kosmische and indeed Bowie-esque melody which builds up to a fine head of steam of Crazy Horse proportions with guitar fireworks running through it before fading out to a sequence of bleeps. What follows is ‘King Boxer’ a wonderful, full on seventies action movie psych funk fusion groove very much influenced by Miles Davis’s peerless heavy funk fusion and indeed the more exploratory grooves that prime period Santana could produce. If a crate digger came across this track on a lost classic soundtrack library album they would be very happy indeed and it’s a wonderful earworm with this listener right now. ‘Inauguration Of The Buddha Dome’ is perhaps on more familiar Earthling Society territory and whips up a heavy psych maelstrom of swirling noise before we emerge into ‘Mountains of Bliss’ a lovely short feature for Fred’s guitar soloing over a blissful groove. ‘Super Holy Monk Defeats the Black Magic Muthafucker’ is not just a tremendous title but a fantastic longer form guitar excursion with some wonderful soloing over repeating raga like rhythmic figures before a howling storm of noise envelopes the whole piece. ‘Spring Snow’ features guest vocals from Bomi Seo and at over 10 minutes is quite stunning. It starts with a brief echoing vocal over a beautiful shimmering Eno-esque soundscape that leads into a short interlude of wasp like drones before a full on space rock onslaught kicks in, driven by pounding rhythms and a crunching riff over which guitars and synths fly sky high. The track concludes with a reprise of the earlier mysterious vocal including an atonal, almost free form accompaniment of marimba and tape effects.  ‘Jetavina Grove’ concludes the record and is a song of two halves, starting with a rare vocal and a lovely warm acoustic ‘Beatles in India’ feel before launching into another cosmic blast off that gradually comes down to earth in a long raga influenced fade.

There is so much to enjoy on this record and it raises the already high bar set by Earthling Society even higher. It skilfully avoids being simply entertaining pastiche and elevates its influences to produce a very fine fusion of musical styles through great playing and writing. I don’t expect to see ‘The Boxer’s Omen’ anytime soon on TV or in an arthouse cinema but I now have my own very entertaining movie in my head based on this record and if I ever do see it I know this will be the perfect soundtrack. I urge you to invest in this record which comes out on 21 September but will doubtless have sold many pre-release copies so be quick.

(Francis Comyn)





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MICHAEL RAULT – IT’S A NEW DAY TONIGHT

(LP/CD/DL on Wick Records)

 

Montreal denizen Michael Rault has released his second long player, and to anyone who ever listened to the radio in the 70s, the sounds will bring nods of familiarity.  Rault wears his influences proudly on his sleeve, including early 70s Paul McCartney (and Wings), Badfinger, Big Star, Gilbert O’Sullivan and George Harrison’s slide guitar work.

 

It’s a New Day Tonight was recorded under the tutelage of Daptone Records’ producer and engineer Wayne Gordon of their legendary Brooklyn recording studio, and was released through Daptone’s rock-oriented imprint Wick Records.  Rault had met Gordon while touring with the late Charles Bradley and also King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  The album was recorded directly to good old magnetic tape to further its authentic feel.

 

The songs, in addition to their power pop antecedents, are frequently about sleep, dreams, night time, and the like, and the shelter the dark hours provide from the downer vicissitudes of the day.

 

Up-tempo opener “I’ll Be There” is also the album’s best song.  Containing some solid Macca-type guitar riffs, it’ll have you tapping your feet and wondering if you’re listening to the album on an 8-track tape player.

 

Following the dreams theme, “Sleep With Me” sounds like it’s going to be a rather, um, direct proposition, but it’s actually about the literal sleeping part, not that other night time activity.

 

The album’s middle section features its share of 70s radio-friendly soft ballads.  It can approach twee-sounding at times, but Rault doesn’t cross the line.  What’s needed is another infusion along the lines of “I’ll Be There” and Rault delivers with high quality track “Sitting Still.”  The acoustic rock song pedals along nicely, and reminds me of some Carly Simon touchstones.

 

“Sleeping and Smiling” continues the album’s lyrical themes, with a McCartney and Gilbert O’Sullivan style melody and arrangement.  Closer “When the Sun Shines” is dominated by harmonizing guitars and an “Isn’t It a Pity” type long ending, minus the wall-of-sound.  It runs a tad long, but maintains its good time vibe.

 

As “It’s a New Day Tonight” takes a different tack from Rault’s first album “Living Daylight,” one gets the sense Rault’s songwriting isn’t done evolving yet, and we can expect more surprises in the future from this young man. 

 

(Mark Feingold)




HUMAN ADULT BAND - SONIC ENLIGHTENMENT

(LP from Third Uncle)

Before you drop the needle on side one of this album I highly recommend that you turn your volume dial way up to 11 and wait for the sludgy guitar noise to envelope you, the slow motion Kraut Rock and Roll of “Easton Ave, Laundromat” sounding perfect as loud as possible, you wont even hear your neighbours complaining as it pulls you into its primitive vortex, a slow descent into sonic meltdown and deliverance, kinda like The Melvins meeting T.Leary and Ashra Tempel on some distant imploding star. As the track moves forward it hardly changes pace, sometimes a little sweeter but always threatening noise, solidifying and relentless, 14 minutes that begin and end side one, recorded live warts and all, and acid jam well worth spreading on your synapses.

Over on the other side six track make for a greater variety although the distorted guitar and lo fi intensity is ever present with “This Will Happen Again In a Year and a Half” grinding and writhing from the speakers, whilst “Tampa” is the sound of two feedback laden trucks colliding in the rush hour traffic, keep that volume high and dissolve in the noise before “Monopus” comes on like a lost garage classic, as distorted as “Green Fuz” but lacking the vocals.

Moving on the excellently named “Old Timey Teratological” Study is Grunge to the power of ten, a fucked up noise and strangled vocals, you can't help but nudge the volume dial again, you wont even hear the neighbours move out as you happily destroy your crockery. Mixing it all up, “Cosmic Snake Bite Kit” rattles, rumbles, creates and crumples up, sounding like early Nirvana Jamming Early Floyd tunes,the result perfect for scaring away unwanted guests whilst making you smile with sonic enlightenment, the whole album rounded off by “Departed Earthen Angel” a more psychedelic, space-echo piece that is far too short clocking in at under two minutes.

I have been meaning to review this for too long meaning there are only a handful of vinyl copies left, go get one. (Simon Lewis)





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NANGO – SETSUWASETSU

(LP from Transduction )

Originally released as two EP's “Setsuwa” and “Wasetsu”, that now make up side one and two respectively, Nango sound to my ears like a slightly less disciplined “Discipline”- era King Crimson, jagged riffs, repetition and half spoken vocal delivery all re-enforcing that feeling, the band occasionally veering from the path but not too much. Full of vitality, the tunes fly by with “Gorilla Panic”, really standing out as it races across the room, noise, precision and technical ability all present with the drums of Ryutaro Iwasaki clamouring for attention under the guitar/ bass riffery of Toshiaki Takeda and Akane Terui respectively.

Throughout the records the vocals are delivered with passion and rhythym, as much an instrument as a lyric, sadly I cannot speak Japanese so their meaning remains a mystery with even the lyric sheet (rightly) printed in The bands native tongue.

Pleasingly cohesive, the tunes flow along beautifully with plenty of dynamics that keep your head interested and your head nodding especially on “Self Recognition” which finds the band moving away from the Crimson repetition into something more psychedelic in a Post Rock kinda way.

Keeping the psychedelic, this time with a mellower feel, “Zui Zui” has sweet melodic intro and some soaring guitar work that reminds me of Heron Oblivion, at least in its tones and pace.

The more I listen the more I discover, each track revealing layers of texture and melody, the album expanding and evolving with every spin, a sign of quality to my mind suggesting that I will be enjoying its charms for many years to come and I bet they are fabulous when heard live and very loud.

On a side note, the press photo reveals that the band have more hair than it seems right to have, the image adding to my intrigue before I had heard a note, another quality package from Transduction Records. (Simon Lewis)

 
 

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 NIGHTHAMMER – VERMILLION SANDS
(CD from Folk Archive Records )

They say it never pays to judge a book by its cover. The same might also be said for album covers. Faced with artwork uncomfortably reminiscent of 80s sci-fi erotica it was difficult to escape the impression that this was either going to reveal similarly airbrushed AOR or else some workaday synth pop.
Well, let this be a lesson to you, scribe, and a pox on your preconceptions. Far from being some implausible role play game or Spinal Tap style spoof fodder, Nighthammer is Tony Mountford, former Notorious Hi-Fi Killer, sometime Hey Colossus collaborator and one half behind Noisestar label. Oh and he was in Cove, which would account for his rich association with Folk Archive’s David Briggs. That’s pedigree in our book (and that there is also the beauty of the google-sphere, folks, it allows you to research instead of jibbing at names and covers. Twenty self-administered lashes called for).

A single 42 minute composition, Vermillion Sands employs a sonorous, Quasimodo pitch bell effect to usher in the drone, an insinuating wisp of noise like cold air coiling around one’s feet. This is soon interspersed with single percussive taps sounding for all the world like a solitary raindrop falling from a leaking gutter into an empty plastic bucket. An allusive whispered voice brings forth what sounds like garbled minions or psychotic munchkins (really, what’s the difference). It all gathers into a dub step at around 20 minutes evoking Massive Attack at their darkest, the bit that was too downy even to make it onto Mezzanine with the low register rumble of the spoken word summoning Daddy G. Welcome to the shadowlands. There follows a long and measured descent during which the Diazepam does wear off a little bit and the mumbled voices and the munchkin-minions reprise their turn. Rock ‘m Roll it ain’t and patience and attention to much subtle detail is required throughout. Stick with it though and you won’t be at all disappointed
(Ian Fraser)




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DUSTIN WONG – FLUID WORLD BUILDING 101 WITH SHAMAN BAMBU
(Cassette/DL from Hausu Mountain )

It’s always good to hear from our friends Hausu Mountain over in Chicage, IL, US of A even though it may seem that we’ve neglected them a little of late due to the amount of review material we receive. Nice to know too that they have Dustin Wong – ex-Ponytail – on board after a long and fruitful stint over at Thrill Jockey

Fluid World… is busy. Boy is there a lot going on, dense, exuberant and often frenetic soundscapes where abstract noise rubs against strong oriental modal constructs (check out ‘World Builder Imagines A City’ and ‘Cup Of Seashells At Neural Tower’). It’s also pretty diverse fare ranging from beat-heavy hyperactivity to the musique concrete of ‘Dawn Through The Marble Pantheon’ which proves to be is something of a musical hall of mirrors. Vocals pierce the lighter, more playful ‘Don’t Be Ashamed’ while Wong seems to have a rare old futuristic romp on ‘Desert By Hovercamel’ which also exhibits the lighter if no less jaunty side to his compositional palette. Echoing guitars take centre stage on the disorientating ‘Village Made of Zephyr’ perhaps something of a personal favourite, along with the kooky ‘New Societies Interacting. Let’s Zoom In’, a collage of quirkiness mixing vocal samples (human and synthesized) with skittering scale shifts anchored at the midpoint by a popping beat.

You may have noticed there appears to be somewhat of an architectural theme here and this comes across clearly in the design and construction as well as the titles. Like much modern architecture it will very likely polarise opinion. What it cannot be accused of is lacking creativity and ideas, which can only be a force for good. This one certainly has the hallmarks of sick building syndrome – by which we mean American slang for cool or awesome of course.
(Ian Fraser)





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LIME EYELID - WEEK OF WONDERS
LP

Privately pressed, limited to only 110 copies and basically the work of Josh Shultz this album is a strange, slow motion collection of mainly instrumental psych/kraut that creeps and swirls around the room creating a dreamy ambience that seems to transcend time. Indeed, the first time I played the album I was not convinced I had it on the right speed, so slow did it sound and it took a while to adjust to its lumbering pace as “1” crawled across the lounge leaving a melodic repetitive trail of sound behind it. On “I SAW WAVES” the sound becomes more broken and distant, vocals mixed with guitar noise and flickering synths the piece shifting in and out of drone before “3” takes over, repetitive phrasaes returning, a cold swim in a dark ocean that is lightened by flashes of melody, the hint of sunrise and the promise of a new day.

     Over on side two the simple song titles continue as “4” drifts into earshot, a wonderful slice of droning ambience created with E-Bow, synth and plenty of imagination, the track augmented by voice, simple bass notes yet rarely raising itself above a whisper reminding me of early work by Tangerine Dream in its fragile beauty, a pulsing final section only enhancing that comparison.

    With some fine atmospheric drumming, “5” adds a human touch to the side, another slow ride across the cosmos, the album concluded by “6”, the ghost of early Floyd stepping softly through the piece which contains some truly delightful tones and melody.
 
  It has taken several plays to get under the skin of this interesting and rewarding album, but as I sit here bathed in autumn sunshine it is sounding almost perfect to my ears. (Simon Lewis)



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UFO ÖVER LAPPLAND - S/T
SHERPA – TIGRIS AND EUPHRATES
(Sulatron records)

Two new releases have arrived from Sulatron records the first of which UFO Över Lappland - S/T on 500 x white vinyl copies, plus it is also available on CD.

Due to be released on the 21st September is a vinyl release of the band’s debut album which was issued in cassette form a few years ago, gradually garnering a few favourable reviews along the way. The band members are Peter Basun-Synths, Krister Mörtsell- Guitar, Andreas Rejdvik- Drums and Christer Blomquist- Bass. The four piece band come from Lappland, in the mountainous region of Umea, Sweden. High up in this Swedish wilderness, under extreme weather conditions of freezing blizzards, blankets of snow and some weird atmospheric lighting created by the spectacular northern lights, the band hunkered down to record this epic space rock record.

We are presented with four fairly lengthy instrumental tracks, fashioned from long jams and distilled down to these awesome songs presented here, on this their first record. The album starts with the twelve plus minute epic that is ‘Keep On Keepin’ On Space Truckin’, a mission statement if ever there was one, with Hawkwind immediately springing to mind, combined with the motorik, pulsating rhythms of say Neu. The grinding, gnarled bass often doing the job of the lead guitar during some of the passages; it’s heavy but not loose, propelling itself ever spaceward in a questing fashion, plenty of bubbling synth. ‘JaeDeJae’, follows this tremendous album opening song and is a little shorter being only seven minutes long, but they do cram a lot into it, sonar bleeps and controlled feedback, give way to an altogether funkier beast, a tremendous locked groove rhythm section, providing a bedrock for some fine guitar and synth playing, unlike a lot of space rock, they achieve a very focused sound, oh and it rocks like a bastard!

‘Podzol’, is more laidback, it gradually coalesces, forming an interesting piece of music, again a tight rhythm section gels and provide a bedrock for some more sonic invention, glimmering guitar tones, burbling synths, tribal drums and grinding bass, all lock together at various place to fine effect. The final song on the vinyl edition ends with ‘Nothing That Lives...Has Such Eyes’, it announces itself with another heavy, knotty, rhythm section, a real steady motorik groove is established early on, which twists and mutates a few times throughout its ten minutes, again allowing the guitar and synth to provide some fine astrally inclined melodies. The CD edition adds a bonus track ‘Lemmy On The Beach’, the title giving you some clue as to one of the band’s inspirations.  As debut albums go, it’s one of the finest in the genre that I’ve heard, highly recommended.

Sulatron are also releasing, in a few weeks time, the eagerly awaited second album from Italian band Sherpa – Tigris And Euphrates. Available on 500 x clear vinyl copies, it is also available on CD.

A sort of concept album based on how language has evolved throughout time and of its relationship between people. The record starts with ‘Kim (((o)))’, quite a melodic, opening song, which ebbs and flows throughout, it’s a song about burial and ritual. ‘Creatures From Ur’, is next up, revealing a soporific languid song of the land, of rye grass and fields of saffron, slow and gentle, informed by chiming guitar, fretless bass, lead guitar, violin and synth. ‘Equiseto’, continues with the drowsy pace of the previous songs, it’s an elemental song concerning planet earth and nature, decorated by some quavering sparse lead guitar melodies. ‘Abscent To The Mother Of Language’, maintains the gentle pastoral pace, becoming much heavier towards the middle section, this one is about weapons and she- elf’s. ‘Overwhelmed’, starts with arcing fretless bass, lead guitar, synth and percussive swells, it’s a slow atmospheric song to begin with before springing into life via a chiming eastern motif played by sitar player Davide DiBernardo and martial drumming, accompanied by more lead guitar and fretless bass. The record ends with ’Descent Of Inanna To The Underworld’, a hymn to the sun, it takes its time gradually evolving with hints of west coast guitar, before the middle section explodes with some heavy riffs before then collapsing and rising again with a touch of space rock at its climax. This is a record which is quite slow to reveal its charms, but one that I’m sure will repay further spins.  (Andrew Young)





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A YEAR IN THE COUNTRY – THE QUIETENED MECHANISMS
(Available in two CD editions http://ayearinthecountry.co.uk)

One feature of the past few weeks, during which the Veal Crate has been transformed into a Plague Pit (just look for the big red cross painted on a door, you can’t miss it) has been an uncommon aversion to most types of “beat music”. For comfort I cleave unto gentler strains. Generally speaking that does the trick.

Regular readers (and a good few of our team by now) will recognise the A Year In The Country projects as sets of year-long explorations by various artists of an alternative pastoralism, the flipside of bucolic dreams. They have a word for it – not one you are likely to find in any dictionary but a word, nonetheless - hauntology, which takes its inspiration from hidden tales of the land, the outer reaches of what might just about still be termed folk music and spectral oddness. So there.

This volume explores abandoned, mostly derelict and long forgotten mills, factories and other infrastructure and paraphernalia of our industrial past, much of it slowly reclaimed by nature. The clanks and splutters of these ghosts of machines seem apposite given my prevailing mood, sounds for somewhat cloth yet sensitive ears. At is most basic I’m not sure if it’s music at all (the old “what is art?” debate is after all endless). There are plenty of field recordings, mind, and some of these are used to beautiful if quite despairing effect. Embertides’ ‘Ash Oak and Sulphur’ (in all likelihood a play perhaps on ‘Oak, Ash and Thorn’) for instance is a successful amalgamation of sound and something more melodic. It’s rhythmic, too, as if recalling the beating heart of the old gunpowder and saltpetre mines of Roslin Glen, and bookended by the sound of birds, possibly the ones that now inhabit the overgrowth threatening to engulf what is left of the old roofless structures. Some pieces are pretty dark and sombre, such as ‘The Mill in the Forest’ (Field Lines Cartographer) which appears to warn against the folly of going near this decaying structure and of the inevitably transient nature of so much that is “man-made”. Shadowy and forbidding, it ranks as one of the most complete compositions here.

Howlround’s Revox-heavy ‘A Closed Circuit’ uses increasingly frequent fluctuations in playback speed and the faltering tape creates an ever-shifting pattern of noise which without my glasses could be deemed oddly psychedelic. ‘Rural Flight’ (Keith Seatman) skilfully evokes pastoral glimmers of an old farm, its workers drawn in droves unto the city by the marching beat of new machinery and the lure of better wages. In what must rank among the more accessible offerings, Listening Centre’s ‘Clarion Of The Collapsed Complex’ is really quite beautiful, what might once have been tagged “New Age music”, a synthesized folk valediction to the rise and fall of industrialisation and all it human and structural collateral damage. Honourable mention too for ‘The Stones Speak of Short Lives’ (Spaceship) the seesaw lament to the former tenant of an old mill by the stream (no, not Nellie Dean) melds recordings of old mill machinery – more gentle than those of the factory - with mournful instrumentation. This is the drone.

And that’s not all folks, there are 16 compositions in total, including Sproatly Smith’s ‘Canary Babies’ a paean to the women who worked the musicians factory at Rother and the chemical effects of which would turn their skin yellow and toxic and the always good value. Vic Mars whose ‘Watchtower and Engine’ emits typically quirky and endearing old school electronica. Gentler strains? Well yes, mostly they are, and yes, generally speaking, it does the trick.
(Ian Fraser)