= September 2021 =  
 Help Yourself
 Nathan Hall & The Sinister Locals
 Deniz Cuylan
 Mountain Movers
 La Era de Acuario
 Donovans Brain
 Nik Turner
 Misphonia Collect'n
 Henry Parker
(6CD set on Cherry Red)

Featuring 66 tracks in a 6CD box, this much anticipated set includes the albums ‘Help Yourself’ originally released on Liberty/UA in 1971, ‘Strange Affair’ (1972), ‘Beware the Shadow’ (also 1972), ‘the Return of Ken Whaley/Happy Days’ from 1973 and the final album ‘5’ from 1974, released posthumously by Hux Records in 2004; together with Malcolm Morley’s 1976 solo album ‘Lost and Found’, which is an odd addition on the face of it given that the only member of Help Yourself involved was Malcolm himself but does in fact sit really well with the collection - great singing and songwriting will always out. There are additionally some allegedly previously unreleased BBC sessions & demos, although the eagle-eyed amongst you will no doubt recognise 'Duneburgers', 'Honey Please' and 'Miss Grace' from the 'This Is Pot' CD compilation released in 2000 and 'Halfbreed', originally a 1972 BBC Radio One session, from the 'This Way Up' CD compilation from 2004. Admittedly, they are all rather beautifully cleaned up and remastered for this release. The only genuinely unreleased number that even most long-time fans will not have previously heard is Sean Tyla's 'Ricky the Reindeer'; and even an alternate version of that originally came out as the B-side of a 1972 single ('Johnny B Goode' which was the flipside of 'Mommy Won't Be Home for Christmas'). This version features sleigh-bell overdubs which sounds fun, but is actually rather sad in a way - a metaphor for how far the once mellow, West Coast-influenced psychedelic country rock band had travelled in their few short years together.

Although entitled 'The Complete Studio Recordings' there are, in addition to the three numbers recorded live for the aforementioned 1972 BBC Radio One Bob Harris session ('Johnny B Goode', 'Let it Roll' and 'Half Breed'), two genuinely live numbers included here: Bo Diddley's 'Mona' and Deke Leonard's 'Eddie Waring' from the Christmas at the Patti set - nothing unfortunately from their set at the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre. The only other missing live numbers are the songs recorded at the Helps' one-off reunion for the ZigZag benefit concert in April 1974 which was released on the Road Goes On Forever label in 2010. I'd recommend buying a second copy of that and filing Disc 4, the Help Yourself set, in with this box for the sake of completeness.

The entire contents have been remastered from the original tapes - although I have to say that the only slight differences to these ears are on the album '5', on which some previously unheard elements rise out of the mix here and there; and includes an illustrated booklet with an  essay on the band's history (primarily written by Michael Heatley, so you're in good hands), numerous photographs from the band members’ private collections, and a small poster of scrapbook cuttings.

I've concentrated primarily here on the oddments from the outer limits of Help Yourself's sepia-toned musical prairie, but if you're a newcomer to the band or have only heard snippets before now then the real treat lies within the studio albums themselves. The first LP contains so many great moments that it would be unfair to single out any one track, although it's perhaps telling that I've already got 'Paper Leaves' pencilled in for my own funeral. Sounding like the soundtrack to a John Ford movie, 'The All Electric Fur Trapper' is the centre-piece of 'Strange Affair', with Richard Treece's guitar "howling like a mescalin-spiked buffalo" (as I think I wrote in a review in what seems like a previous lifetime now); the wonderful 'American Mother' from 'Beware the Shadow' remains to my mind one of the best things the band ever did; and the sublime 'Candy Kane', 'The Golden Handshake' and their classic, Frank Herbert's Dune-inspired 'Blown Away' from the  aptly titled 'The Return of Ken Whaley' are all masterpieces in their own right. As Pete Frame wrote in Zig Zag magazine back when the band were still a going concern, "It's as if the spirit of the extinct Quicksilver Messenger Service has been reincarnated in their meagre, starving frames. Hoorah for Help Yourself: long may their lums reek."






(The Hip Replacement   CD’s are available from www.nathanhallandthesinisterlocals.bandcamp.com )

Former front man for the Soft Hearted Scientists has released another solo album with his Sinister Locals. I think that lockdown must have played a huge part in its creation; indeed the album starts with ‘Cabin Fever’, a pleasant ditty about the effects of isolation. ‘Sasquatch’, follows this, it’s a tale of a bored Sasquatch who wanders into town, and it’s full of squiggles and dense with keyboards and tootling mellotron and informs us that he has more likes on his social media site than Kim Kardashian. ‘The Summons Serene’ is a spoken word tale about Nathan’s local walking spots, featuring acoustic slide guitar. ‘Catholic College’, is full of Spaghetti Western moves and concerns a failed job interview. The title track ‘Pointing Paw’, is rich with organ and eastern drones, this is followed by ‘Hornet’s Nest’, a song highlighting a few of the stupid things Nathan has done and how to keep quiet about them. Kitchen sink do it yourself Brian Wilson melodies abound in Love Long Gone. The first side ends with ‘Monster Of Monday’, a song we can all get onboard with, especially after a long weekend.

Side two begins with ‘Tarantula’, Nathan’s attempt at a Tarantino score featuring killer female assistants; it’s sharp and punchy as is the next song ‘Insurrection (Malice In The Palace), full of twangy guitars and hand claps with nods to the Monkees. ‘Wooden Eyelids’ is another of the playful haiku like mantra’s that I associate with Nathan. One of the album’s highlights is next with the dark ruminations of ‘The Moon Has Surely Seen It All Before’, a keyboard infested song of goings on in the dark. ‘God’s Magistrate’, a tricksy, proggy number set in the 1800’s. Gambler’s, sinners, drinkers and adulterers get their comeuppance on ‘Birds, Bees, Flowers and Trees’.  More retribution and judgement follows with ‘Tequila (The Worm That Turned)’, it is not really factually correct, as the worm is to be found in its rougher cousin Mezcal, still it features hallucinations and ends with vomiting, nice. The record ends with a sparse, spooky ‘The Wedding’, a song which is inspired by Nathan’s walks around Cathays cemetery in Cardiff.

(Andrew Young)



( LP and CD available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com  )

This is the first in a series of live albums by the Finnish band who have released a couple of albums and a few things through Fruits De Mer, their first album was entitled ‘It Is Dark, But I Have This Jewel’, which was released by KHY Suomen Musiiki Oy in 2014. This album was recorded live in a state of the art studio in Helsinki, Finland and features just four tracks.

The band have always strived to create music with a high degree of improvisation, a move that could go horribly wrong but works for this lot who appear to be very intuitive , feeding off each other. The music immediately falls somewhere in between Pink Floyd and Sendelica. The band features two core members with a number of ancillary players. Jussi Ristikaarto - vocals and guitars and Llari  Kivela - drums and synths, although this record is purely Instrumental.

Things begin slowly and gradually coalesce with ‘Moment 1’, a ten minute tour de force, which features some blistering lead guitar and some cool sax over a bed of Kosmische keyboards, what a start to a record. For ‘Moment 2’, a lone organ melody is sketched out, before spacey synths head off into the firmament; more saxophone lends the song a slight Gong vibe and again is over the ten minute mark.

Rainbow and Moment 3 segue into each other, creating a 20 minute piece of music which is heady with a sense of improvisation. The band plays intuitively, rocking out when needing to and falling off to create space in the middle section, which drifts in an ambient way. I feel that the band would be great to see in a live setting, which is where they would appear to be at their best and this record kind of leads you in that direction, the two members are joined by at least four others when playing live. I can also see why they appeal to Fruits de Mer and are kind of like a Scandinavian Sendelica. 

(Andrew Young)   





(LP, CD on Hush Hush Records)


A cup of your favorite tea.  A walk through a verdant wood.  A stroll by the seashore.  A glance at the stars in a clear night sky.  What these things have in common with Turkish-American composer Deniz Cuylan’s gorgeous instrumental solo debut will become immediately apparent once you begin listening.  Cuylan’s nylon acoustic guitar-based compositions and playing induce the most pleasant kind of mindfulness and serenity.


Cuylan has recorded before, in many groups and different styles, and has done a good deal of film, TV and advertising composing, but this is his first true solo album.  Its 27 minutes might put it more in EP territory, but that’s quibbling, and the time goes by far too quickly.  For its intimate performance, Cuylan plays the aforementioned nylon acoustic, and overdubbed some quiet clarinet and piano.  His close friend Brian Bender added warm cello, as well as recommending some of the recording equipment, and mixing the record.


Cuylan had decided to buy a new guitar just for the album.  He fell in love with a custom 2011 Santos made from spruce and Indian rosewood by Parisian luthier Thomas Norwood.  The only trouble was it was way out of his price range, so he scored a Netflix series just to help pay for it.  When he first began playing it, he found it “arrogant and stubborn,” but when he changed his style of playing and writing, things clicked.  In the process, Cuylan indeed found there’s no such thing as free will.


Cuylan overdubbed arpeggiating guitar parts to provide counterpoint and a rippling feel.  As he said, “I wanted to incorporate that style of loop based writing to the performance of acoustic instruments. My aim was to achieve that by superimposing layers of repetitive patterns in different time signatures and lengths on top of each other. A 5 bar loop converges with the 7 bar loop on the 35th bar and an event like the chord change happens there…The dichotomy of exercising free will and accepting the deeper, unconscious urges and patterns at the same time was the core idea behind this album.”

As it happens, I had just been given a gift of new stereo speakers made in a new fashion from precious woods, and No Such Thing as Free Will was the first thing I heard on the speakers; it was the perfect choice, and I would and will revisit it many times.  Cuylan’s intimate guitars and other acoustic instruments gave such a warm, in-the-room feel, and with the shimmering Reichan/Glassian waves washing over me, the effect was of overwhelming pleasure.  You can’t not like this quiet album.

A few side notes:  The album reminded me at times of unheralded Minnesotan artist Steve Tibbetts, a high compliment.  I mentioned Cuylan also plays clarinet on the record.  The clarinet is a light touch in the background, and he manipulates it electronically to sound more synthy (actually I first thought it was a synth).  It’s a deft studio touch.  Also, Hush Hush Records label boss Alex Ruder felt it would be best to leave off two tracks for cohesion, which Cuylan was sad to see go, but he trusted Ruder’s judgement.  It would be interesting to hear those tracks someday.

No Such Thing as Free Will is one of the albums of the year, certainly my favorite acoustic guitar album of the year so far.  Although like a perfect refreshing nap in the sun it’s over almost before you know it, its introspective closeness weaves its way past all the wildness of the world to another place, one of complete contentment.

(Mark Feingold)


(LP from https://www.troubleinmindrecs.com/)

A while back, before all this pandemic malarkey, Terrascope was in discussion about bringing New Haven, Connecticut’s Mountain Movers over here for a series of gigs. With the exception of a few enthusiastic souls (ourselves included, naturally) there seemed little appetite among a promotional fraternity more familiar with the home comforts of noise and stoner rock, and unsure of the band’s thoroughly winning if slightly incongruous mix of dense, grungy acid rock and supremely crafted tunes. In the event they went and bagged a prestigious slot on Howlin’ Rain’s US tour instead, closer to home and, no doubt, much less of a ball-ache for all concerned. Our loss and, as evidenced by this latest offering we should now be so much hanging our heads as kicking ourselves squarely in the gluteous maximus (there has to be a Life of Brian joke in there somewhere).

Veering between the lyrical and instrumental and spanning a range of moods from reflective to crisp fried, World What World is a vindication of all that the band has worked for during their long career and particularly since guitarist Kryssi Battlelene (Headroom) came on board as the perfect foil for singer/guitarist/de facto leader Dan Greene’s melodic sensibilities. With a title one can definitely relate to during what has been a dismally low wattage August in these parts, ‘I Wanna See The Sun’  re-imagines Neil Young and his Crazy Hoss stumbling ‘Down By The River’, by now an empty bed scorched dry by a red-hot quartet clearly on top of their game. It’s an immediate scuzzed and fuzzed statement of intent on Battalene’s part and it sets the bar for what is to follow. The opening thematic triptych (hell, just trip will do) moves on with ‘Final Sunset’, an Allegretto, words-free remodelling of the opening track that falls into an abrasive embrace with early Wooden Shjips. Easing up on the abrasion, ‘Then The Moon’ presents a waltzing, Barrett-like dreamy sliver of wooziness, but which in the end can’t contain Battalene’s coruscating, ears a poppin’ fretwork. ‘Haunted Eyes’ is mature Sonic Youth, deep fried in a light coating of summer haze, whereas ‘Staggering With A Lantern’ could work as a four-word summation of all that’s here. Certainly it would have saved a few hundred words and a lot of calloused finger tapping into the bargain. No matter, the interplay between Battalene and Greene on this is alone is worth the admission fee on what is one of, what, eight highlights?

Having traversed two more personal favourites, the world-weary ragged glory that is ‘Way Back To The World’ and the frazzled yet elegant instrumental ‘The Lost City’, we fall headlong into the closing ‘Flock Of Swans’. It’s like emerging into light then being carried on beating wings. Here is a song that exudes timelessness and signals another triumph of Greene’s lyrical imagery which, like the band’s sweet and sour sonic sauce, is a vital part of their irresistible offer. World What World is a huge, and I mean huge and thoroughly ‘Terrascopic’ album from a band deserving not only of attention but stratospheric recognition. Who knows, when all this craziness is over and assuming such things are still tenable in a post-everything Blighty then we will get see them tour over here. ‘Tis always best to travel hopefully, after all.

Ian Fraser




(LP, Digital on Necio Records)


Mexican psychedelic band La Era de Acuario (The Age of Aquarius, in case that wasn’t obvious) chose its name and self-titled debut full-length very well.  The band formed in 2018 and issued an EP, ‘Lunar,’ in 2019, whose tracks are included in this fine eight song album.  They keep up the fantastic tradition of Mexican psych, and then some.  The style, from start to finish, is all from the golden age in the late Sixties.  All the trippy elements are there – swaying female vocals (in Spanish), stinging guitar, groovy organ, phasing, wah wah, backwards guitar, and eerie sound effects.


The band is mixed gender, with lots of girl power, always promoted around here.  It’s a well-rounded record; tracks can veer from Eastern-tinged mystery to slow-burners, to guitar freakouts.  One of my favorites is “Agujero Negro,” which takes up where mellow previous track “Lunar” leaves off, with chirping birds.  It then takes a firm hold by dispensing with both the previous chill and the fowl for a simple, pounding, repeating Eastern motif, enhanced terrifically with castanets.  There’s a driving guitar and organ break, and it all winds to a halt with an organ which is ground down to zero with some effective studio knob twiddling.


There are two covers, both turned to perfection.  “Fotografía” is a Spanish language reworking of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men.”  It’s pretty faithful to the original, and even dials up the psychedelic quotient further.  The other is Jacques Dutronc’s 1967 “Hippie Hippie Hourra,” which for some reason drops the final “h.”  It’s full of false endings and heavily treated lysergic whispers, and of course, fine guitar and organ playing.


“Bailando en el Mar (Dancing in the Sea)” begins with some suitably watery electric guitar and whistly-birdy effects.  The song transitions to a solid rocker; the band loves to dabble between guitar and organ solos, soft female vocals and weird effects, to the whole band coming crashing in together to drive home its point with added emphasis.  “Orgon” is a heavy stomper with some excellent guitar playing; I’m guessing it’s a hallmark of their live set.  Most of the songs have interesting endings, and in “Orgon,” the band’s heaviness falls away to a basic electric guitar strum, followed by a prolonged crunchy bass solo.  Que magnifica!


La Era de Acuario is a splendid debut from a young band that’s capable of great things.  Kudos to them, the wonderful album art by Robin Gnista, as well as Peru’s Necio Records, where Arturo works tirelessly to bring us the most exciting psychedelic music from this part of the world.  Unfortunately, the physical LP sold out - the purple splatter looked stupendous, and this writer’s kicking himself for not acting quickly enough.  Maybe we can get Arturo to print a few more.


(Mark Feingold)



(2 CD set available on Career Records)


As with many of the Brain’s albums, these “two hemispheres of Donovan’s Brain” [their 12th and 13th albums since their debut cassette over 30 years ago] benefit from the input of many different contributors. The main septet on these two separate albums (recorded in over eight different studios during the past five years and released simultaneously under the punny Sandbox Shadows umbrella) are supplemented by members of Rain Parade, the dBs, Brand X, et. al. A dozen musical “voices” swapping instruments (a half dozen bassists and seven guitarists are credited) allows producer and Brain mainstay Ron Sanchez the luxury of matching the talent to the song at hand with typically enjoyable results.

     Opening with the psychedelic pop of ‘Failure To Achieve’ and the Rain Parade-y ‘River Of Tears’ (featuring distinctive blistering solos from Parade guitarist Matt Piucci and additional percussion from drummer Stephen Junca), Sandbox Shadows [“the black album”] offers ten chapters of a musical novel centred around broken faith, trust, and relationships. The inspiration for ‘Attic Experience’ could probably take up a chapter of its own, but the dreamy iceberg flow we have can inspire your own faded memories of uncomfortable circumstances that didn’t pan out as planned.

     There’s a familiar vibe to Sanchez’s ‘Changing Textures’ that reminded me of some of Sean Ono and Les Claypool’s foggy, proggy takes on Beatlesque psychedelia and the folk rock acoustic guitar touches and organ flourishes on ‘Lime Twist’ complement each other perfectly for an interesting change of pace. The fuzzy fandango and throbbing wobbling bass that propel ‘Silent Voices’ bring the album to an upbeat, toe tapping end.


Two Suns Two Shadows [“the red album”] isn’t a discarded title from a long lost Mick Farren sci-fi novel (although it certainly might’ve been), rather it’s the second album in the set, although whether the title is a dead giveaway is open to interpretation! ‘Eden Pariah’ slinks into the room on the back of a sinewy organ and Ric Parnell’s fancy dancing drum dribbles. Crazy girlfriend or serial killer? An ominous beginning. New Christs bassist Jim Dickson dropped in to take ‘A Trip With Auntie” to new heights, the results being one of the album’s psychedelic high-lights!

     Ron’s collaboration with fellow guitarist Bobby Sutliff yielded the sparkling jangle pop of ‘Telegraph Ave.’ and ‘Rice Paper Kite’ detours into introspective melancholia, it’s multiple piano sections forlornly whispering from a far-off empty room, while Sanchez’s vocals and arrangement put me in mind of some of Kramer and Penn Jillette’s Captain Howdy collaborations. There’s a rather funky country rock vibe to Scott Sutherland’s ‘Alternative To Me’ and a snappy rat-a-tat gunshot drum roll from Parnell announces Sanchez’s semi-titular ‘Born With Two Shadows’, a vibrant pop tune that feels like a marriage between Pretenders and Jam. The multi-faceted ‘Ministry of False Alarms’ feels like a patchwork quilt of multiple songs. Multiple voices blend into a mellotron respite before a raunchy, ranchy hoedown finale lifted from an older song wraps up the album and set. Kick up yer heels and swing yer partner for a little do-si-do for a fittingly full finale.

     Never ones to rest on their laurels, the Brain already have about 20 songs penciled in for the next album tentatively titled Looking Forward. We are indeed!

(Jeff Penczak)



Available from Light In The Attic

Wherein one of our favourite experimental/psych/kraut/funk/prog/rock/jazz/jam bands returns after a decade-long absence and introduces its “big band” lineup with the addition of Camper Van Beethoven/Monks Of Doom guitarists David Immerglück and Victor Krummenacher. Songs of Dissent finds the ‘shroom returning to San Francisco’s Make Out Room 22 years after their debut gig with three original members including former Ptolemaic Terrascope editor Pat Thomas on lead drum kit, flautist/sax blower Erik Pearson, and keyboardist Graham Connah (“who just flew in from Brooklyn”.)

     The nine-piece boasts Moog, Mellotron, gongs, multiple percussionists and drummers, analog AND digital synths, the Monks of Beethoven guitarists,  a couple of keyboardists, and no voices (other than the appreciative audience). (To keep matters from going completely overboard, Marc Weinstein is mercifully credited as “Admiral Restraint”; or was that “Admirable”?) All are put to good use to create a cacophony of fluid soundwaves bouncing off the walls and ricocheting inside your skull across 75 blissful minutes of improvisational noise somewhat akin to herding musical cats on a hot tin platform stage.

     As usual with this bunch of misfit musicologists, musical puns and wink-wink cultural references abound in song titles like ‘Everything’s Gone Green’, ‘The March Of The Wooden Soldiers’, and the ever-popular, ‘Kraut Mask Replica’ rubbing elbow grease with other philosophical conundrums such as ‘You’ve Got To Get In To Get Out’ and ‘Two Men Say They’re Jesus, One Of Them Must Be Wrong.’ Of course an instrumental band can tack any title they want onto a song, so you might as well have fun with it, right?! I mean, these are the guys who name songs and albums after Carly Simon, the Who, and Jethro Tull lyrics and lines from Robert Redford movies!

     So enough of a welcome back intro, what about those “songs”. Again, they’re more like soundtracks to moods, emotions, and groovy vibes. Imagine yourself trapped in the middle of a shitty day; what would that sound like? Well, let’s run a few riffs up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. Sounds like a good idea. And then let’s open the show with a welcome / introduction / backstory from Thomas, appropriately titled ‘Founding Father’. See! Even their onstage introductions have in-jokes masquerading as song titles!

     The “Mushroom Thing” begins with two men claiming to be Jesus, announced with a bull frog guitar blast and random noise bursts as the assembled multi-dudes warm to each other’s sense of musical direction and fall into an exploratory groove that eventually picks up speed and adopts a rather funky blues jog, a la Canned Heat without the slide guitars. ‘You’ve Got To Get In To Get Out’ is one of their patented noodlings that first attracted me to the band all those years ago when I ecstatically reviewed Glazed Popems. Erik Pearson’s pied piper flute work leads the conga line through the desert with percussive assistance from Dave Brandt and the dual drum attack of Thomas and Dave Mihaly. The Dead and the Allmans never had it so good.

     Want a little New Order (not the ex-Stooges, the other one)? Want to hear them playing Ha-wah-wah-iian music? Well, you’ve come to the right place and ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ will light your fire as you light one of your own for some echo-laden stretching out. The Monks of Beethoven slide, wiggle, and serpentine over, under, sideways, and around each other and as we start peaking about halfway through its ten minutes your “Eureka” moment will arrive and you’ll truly understand the punny title. Green, indeed!

     ‘The March Of The Wooden Soldiers’ adroitly ‘ten-hut”s itself into strident goose-stepping mode with raindrop guitar lines attending to the shambolic high school marching band schoolyard brawl (Brandt’s bowed gongs are a nice touch) which just about detours into a drum solo that doesn’t quite overrun the groove. The most avant moment in the set so far, perhaps a touch of free jazz for the nod-offs at the back of the room…making out, no doubt!

     You want free form freakouts? Then ‘Free Range’ is appropriately out there, like Cros letting his freak flag fly. Pearson’s flute pyro-techniques flutter skyward chasing falling leaves and dandelion seeds around a field of fun-guy fungi and the band fall in line for 12 minutes of “Sounds good to me, let’s go with it”. And speaking of going with the flow, the half hour medley/finale/we-don’t-do-encores ‘Kraut Mask Replica / Steal This Riff / Redux’ will have you reaching for binoculars to track down those fluttering birdcalls bouncing around the room, but I think it’s Matt Cunitz checking his package (see, I can make clever puns, too ). Melodica, some Moog Units (Zappa or otherwise), and something called a Vako Orchestron gurgle and yawn and slice a wedgie eight miles high into your brain socket just wide enough for Pearson to exhale some smoky Tenor Sax into your central nervous system, which should be on, er, high alert by now. I think that ‘Steal That Riff’ bit might be from Soft Machine’s “We did it again’ vocal chant, and since Mushroom once famously backed Kevin Ayers in San Francisco on Dylan’s 57th birthday (cf., I Should Have Brought Mananas) I’m gonna, you know, go with it.

     The final 14 minutes could be filed alongside one of the Dead’s myriad “space” jams, which could spell “bathroom break” or “hold on to your ego, we’ve achieved liftoff” depending on your mileage and what type of gas you used before you arrived about an hour ago, but it does ooze and snooze from Crimsonesque silences to “Are we done yet?” riff searching until neither band nor audience know whether to cheer or have another hit of fresh air. I think I’ll opt for the latter, turn off my mind and float downstream and enjoy some of those “many flavours of Mushroom” lurking about at the end of the Conga line wending its way to the merch table. Wink, wink!

Jeff Penczak


Nik Turner has a long and strong history of collaboration through his illustrious back pages. From his most recognised years with Hawkwind, through Inner City Unit and more recent work with the Hawklords, Nik has also set out on many a solo adventure often accompanied by the cream of fellow travellers from the worlds of psychedelic rock, space rock and even space jazz to create his own astounding sounds and amazing music that both embraces and escapes from the Hawkwind legacy.

For his latest voyage, Nik has enlisted the not inconsiderable talents of Cardigan based space lords, Sendelica and their regular collaborator Colin Consterdine (who co-wrote the album) to join him and it’s a happy band of fellow travellers. It’s a very personal record with memory, reflection and a little introspection at its core but you can only conclude from this record that he has few if any regrets and relishes what lies ahead.

Things kick off with ‘Been Misbehaving’ which mixes spoken word with trademark sax breaks over a solid and sprightly space rock workout. Washes of cosmic ambience find their way through a boisterous barrage of space boogie before the energy levels briefly dial down a few degrees in the introduction to ‘Cosmic Enchantment’ with blissful floating sax in a serene electronic landscape but that soon gives way to a propulsive electro-cosmic rocker where an urgent beat, dance flavoured electronics and sax melody are the central attraction over nearly twelve entertaining minutes.  ‘Pyramid Magick’ is again within touching distance of twelve minutes and has more of an eerie trippy quality with lovely flute musings (from archive recordings made by Nik at The Great Pyramid at Giza in 1978), gentle drones and eastern flavoured electronic beats. It teeters close to what in lesser hands would turn into new age blandness at times but these guys know how to avoid that trap and there’s more than enough personality, colour and texture to keep it firmly in the land of mystery and contemplation. The title track comes next with Nik’s autobiographical reflections captured without fuss in a few brief poetic lines perfectly accompanied by a sparse atmosphere of minimal guitar melodies and washes of electronic elegance. It’s a beautiful reflection from someone happy with their lot that ends by looking forward to future days which is of course what we all should do. Perhaps in a parallel universe William Shatner’s ‘speak songs’ could be this good. After this extended period of calm quiet we return in ‘Deep Space Jam’ to a….well, a deep space jam where an energetic driving beat provides the foundation for sax, guitar and synths to do battle, which they do in a nicely boogified shape throwing way. Finishing the record we have ‘Children Of The Evolution’ which is not as might be assumed a Darwinian Bolan-esque glam stomper but instead a moody synth and flute driven space rocker that ends the record on a very fine high.

Whilst we can hear the obvious delights of the ghost of Hawkwind in this record it doesn’t dominate and we have a fresh and fitting tribute to Nik Turner and his many incarnations in an entertaining space rock audio memoir but also perhaps a manifesto for the future. This is not a record of park bench musings at sunset from a man about to put his sax and flute away but a clear statement of intent with a glint in the eye that says Nik intends to do a little bit more and that’s more than fine by me. If anyone was going to muse whether a touch of flute-ulence gives you Hawkwind, I would suggest this highly recommended record puts that pun to bed.  Fittingly this is available in a series of formats including some impressive looking collector’s editions but don’t sleep because as ever if you don’t get CD and vinyl, you just get download.

(Francis Comyn)


(LP, CD, Digital on Leaving Records)


This is a most welcome LP from non-binary artist Olive Ardizoni, otherwise known as Green-House.  Ardizoni combines soft, retro synths with a love of plants and nature in a way that elicits a pleasurable sense of calm.


Both the sound of the album and the themes compare with Mort Garson’s classic ‘Mother Earth’s Plantasia,’ or could have come from the realm of Clay Pipe Music.  Ardizoni occasionally introduces instruments like the flutes in “Sunflower Dance” (most likely Mellotron or related), the little bells in “Soft Coral,” or the piano in “Rain,” pirouetting them with all the digital bips and bops, and enhancing the holistics of the overall piece.


The song titles reflect the plants-and-other-nature theme, including “Top Soil,” “Royal Fern,” and “Nocturnal Bloom.”  Ardizoni sometimes throws in sound effects like bird sounds introducing “Bird of Paradise” or the electronic waves in “Soft Coral.”


Are you a plant person, or do you have one in your life?  I do.  I think you know the sort – a quiet one with the passion and patience to devote endless loving hours to see that their colorful friends thrive.  Observing one in action shows that to them this is anything but drudgery; it is the love of the artisan and a pervading sense of wonder for nature’s miraculous creations they tend to.  It is this sense of wonder that comes blossoming through on ‘Music for Living Spaces.’


When Ardizoni finally breaks their silence and sings on the penultimate track “Find Home,” it’s most welcome.  They have a beautiful voice, and even overdubbed lovely harmonies.  The song could be taken from the viewpoint of a bird on the wing, and is filled with the wonder mentioned above.  Reminding me of Linda Perhacs, it’s simply gorgeous.


Music for Living Spaces chalks one up for the simple pleasures and the beauty of green, living things.  We look forward to hearing more from Green-House.  Highly recommended.


(Mark Feingold)

WOLFEN – THE MISSION (LP available from www.wolfenmusic.bandcamp.com )

Multi instrumentalist and vocalist Shane Horgan is the man behind Wolfen which also features the duo of Jonathan Parkes and Alec Wood from the kosmiche and post rock inspired Korb (who released a fine record on Weird Beard last year) and Arboria. ‘The Mission’ is the result of their collaboration and is described on their Bandcamp page as being based on a journey through space but with underlying universal themes of love, loss, family and war. Well that’s enough to draw me in I guess so how does it sound?

‘Take Off’ begins with a heavy drum and organ based drone but not without a certain monolithic psychedelic cosmic garage groove. It’s also the introduction to Shane’s vocal style which is for want of a better phrase a strangulated rasp that is part John Lydon ‘Metal Box’ period and part Alice Cooper. It should sound jarring in the context of some of this album but it is strangely ‘right’. ‘The Assault’ ups the pace a little with shades of Link Wray and Duane Eddy twang enveloped in an arid rocker that at times reminds me of Giant Sand/Calexico and the feel of desert dry Americana and  ‘Soldier’ follows with a rousing Spiritualised/Hawkwind vibe and dare I say ‘catchy’ groove. ‘The Interview’ opens with a disembodied spoken word introduction before the organ and drums provide a meaty undertone to another cosmic tinged garage rocker with a pleasing 90’s psychedelic rock feel that wouldn’t have been out of place on the Creation Records roster or similar back in the day.  ‘Scars’ goes further back and has a touch of early 80’s post punk gloom and murkiness. ‘Conquer and Control’ again is full of doom laden character where the atmosphere builds through dramatic chords and synthesised swirls into a kind of post punk infused space rocker. ‘Get Outta Here’ is more upbeat with prominent bass and metallic guitar riffs before the concluding track ‘Racing Home’ which infuses Kosmiche tones with big chords and swelling folk-like melodies.

As a record in part concerned with space, Wolfen use their time machine wisely to dwell productively in previous eras of post punk, psychedelic and garage rock especially the 80s and 90s. Shane’s vocal takes a little getting used to in this context but get used to it you will and it’s an enjoyable ride. Investigate and enjoy.

(Francis Comyn)





(All available on Misophonia Records)

I’ve enjoyed the adventures of the eclectic and adventurous cassette label, Misophonia over the past few years and as such it was with sadness that I read the news that Andy, the label’s chief cook and bottle washer, has decided to call it a day due to the pressures of the day job. Typically, Misophonia has signed out with an interesting and enjoyable mix of releases both long and short including a rare trip into the world beyond cassettes otherwise known as Lathe Cuts.

Firstly we have De Fabriek and M. Nomized with ‘Language of Lines’, a three part electronic soundscape piece extending to twenty minutes. De Fabriek (The Factory) originate from the Dutch city of Zwolle and have been performing minimal experimental music since 1977 and they are joined here by M. Nomized, a French composer, author, singer , poet and graphic designer working with music and sound since 1972. As might be imagined the music is grounded in industrial electronic sound which is part a marching army of ants, part incessant machine rhythms and part grinding distorted noise but with occasional fragments of repetitive melody loops escaping above the formidable cacophony. There is a certain hypnotic quality to the sound and it has a stark, brutal charm which at twenty minutes is just about the right length to appreciate it. Pallbearer Industry, a trio from Ottawa recorded ‘Astral Pollution’ through shared files during the pandemic. Grounded in a dark electronic post punk gloom and the doomier end of psychedelic and stoner rock we are presented with a cosmic industrial nightmare where only occasional glimmers and stolen moments of Kosmiche elegance provide welcome relief from the heavier darker atmospheres, noise and dissonance. It’s not gloom for gloom’s sake however and there’s interesting sounds, textures and imagination at play so that the gnashing of teeth and wailing of souls is pretty entertaining. Kehrschliefe Vol 1. is the name given by Allan Murphy of Midwich Youth Club notoriety to an album of work credited to the fictional East German composer Wolfgang Tilner-Barlow, a DDR radio engineer and composer of jingles, themes and incidental music from 1960s and 1970s TV and radio, or was he actually a covert state operative until his death as it is mused in the description of this enigmatic figure on Bandcamp? The album is a hugely entertaining collection of, well, on the face of it jingles, incidental music and themes that sound exactly like they could have accompanied low budget sci-fi, wooden soap operas with shaky sets, cheesy commercials, arcade games and dreadful game shows. But listen more closely and you’ll hear some smart snippets of electro pop (I hear the ghost of Sparks ‘Amateur Hour’ in one tune), off kilter psychedelic rock and post punk, Kosmiche instrumental themes and melodies, and some tunes with clever use of instrumentation and hooks that wouldn’t sound unbelievable if discovered as long lost Library Music or early electronic soundtracks. This is cleverly done stuff and I wonder if we’ll see volume 2? Finally we have Adam Stone with Dead Sea Apes and Black Tempest with the short and sweet ‘Skull Pilot’ single, released as a very limited 10” Lathe Cut. There are two unreleased recordings both topping six minutes in length. ’Skull Pilot’ is an ode to an acid trip in a ‘dismal’ Midlands terraced house in the early 1990’s, a hellish nightmare that those of us lucky enough to avoid such a fate can be truly thankful for. It pitches Adam Stone’s suitably deadpan vocal over a brisk soundtrack of pulsing electronics, skittery drum patterns and dread infused guitar. The track is an unused track from the ‘Dataland’ sessions and its good to see such a high quality outtake get a well deserved release.  The flip side is ‘Unconscious’ which uses a synth melody laid down by Black Tempest as the basis for an extended near seven minute ‘wordscape’ where a swirling mix of synth, guitar and drums envelope the subdued vocal narrative.

For those of you who’ve been fans of Misophonia Records this is a fitting farewell collection and for those of you new to the label as it takes a final bow, don’t delay and delve into its treasures whilst they are still on Bandcamp.

(Francis Comyn)

(LP/DL from Music | Rocket Recordings (bandcamp.com))

Not to be confused with the Slovakian musician of the same name or for that matter The Smoke, Smokey, Smog, or indeed Smudge, whose punsomely titled career-spanning slacker-classic  This Smudge Is True is likely to excite one or two ‘Scopic scribes, if only for the title. No, Smote is Daniel Foggin from England’s North East, described in the press blurb as an “enigmatic Newcastle-based entity”. So, not Jimmy Nail either, then. Drommon is his debut for perennial good guys, Rocket Recordings, and a second outing of 2021 following Bodkin, which was covered with no little enthusiasm on the ‘ol virtual velum back in March.

Now I remember enough from my youthful studies to know that a Dromon (one “m”) was a galley ship. Well maybe that isn’t what Foggin had in mind here but, nevertheless, there is an interesting correlation between the hypothesis as presented and what emanates from the two-part title track that bookend the proceedings. ‘Part 1’ leads with an arresting drone, one that we might once have associated with icy Nordic blasts prior to The Great Melt (deniers look away now). It soon succumbs to trademark Rocket tribal thumping, and to think that Smote isn’t even Swedish. Still, why change a tried, tested and for the most part winning formula? Vigorous, mesmeric and trancelike, it pummels remorselessly before subsiding to the sound of sloshing water. Besides not being especially kind to an ageing bladder, it nonetheless provides a perfectly pleasant coda and one that fits well with the imagined nautical theme.

Want to learn more about ancient warfare? No? Well hang in there anyway. A ‘Hauberk’, if I recall correctly, refers to a tunic of chain mail worn as armour. The composition it describes charts a similar course to the titular ‘Part 1’, although this time the drone seems more sophisticated, the rhythmic propulsion a little more inventive and layered. Or maybe my ears are becoming more immersed in the martial soundtrack of a medieval world of Warhammer. ‘Poleyn’ (also armour-theme related you’ll be itching to learn) is more subtle, an eerily delightful if somewhat chilling symbiosis of late 60s Pink Floyd and Dead Can Dance with power chords, as performed by a troupe of minstrels not so much wandering as downright lost in a Neverland of perpetual mists and those mushrooms the guidebooks don’t tell you much about. A shame we no longer do the playlists as this would have a pride of place.

And so to ‘Drommon Part 2’, a quarter of an hour or so of portentous downbeat, Byzantine exotica and doom-filled, rhythmic pounding that urges forward those galley slaves to the rhythm. This one hits its groove early on, and from then on seems to budge not an inch. Well, not quite, actually. With a few minutes still on the clock, Smote introduces a sequence of abrupt key changes as if signalling the mother of all sea battles, a change of direction that belies notions of predictability. Now admittedly, galleys aren’t everyone’s craft of choice and this may or may not float your boat, depending on whether you prefer take a punt on calmer, more sedate waters or like your seas choppier and more unpredictable still. Nevertheless Drommon steers an intriguing and satisfying passage, one that avoids many of the pitfalls apt to snag careless or otherwise less skilled navigators of drone and repetition. There have been longer, stranger, trips for sure, but there’s more than enough here to savour for seasoned devotees and initiates alike.

Ian Fraser  


(Cup And Ring records     www.henryparkermusic.co.uk )

Phil McMullen was full of praise for Henry’s debut album Silent Spring, a gentle album of primarily acoustic guitar music, much like say Bert Jansch or Michael Chapman. For his new record Henry has utilized a few additional musicians to add colour to these dramatic songs. Henry Plays acoustic and electric guitars, plus vocals on nearly all the songs bar the lone instrumental ‘Blackthorn’. Louis Berthoud – drums, Robert McNicholas – Electric bass, Brendan Bache – congas and percussion, Hugh Bradley – double bass, Theo Travis – flute, piano and Fender Rhodes and Richard Curran – violin and cello.    

Henry loves walking in the hills close to his home and his love of being outside hiking on the West Yorkshire moors inform many of these songs. The album starts with the title track ‘Lammas Fair’ (in a DADGAD tuning with a capo on the 2nd fret don’t you know) it’s a celebration of Lammas day, a day upon which “We’ll bless the grain, and burn the wheel and breathe the harvest air”. The melodic, twisting electric guitar notes are anchored by sparse drums and electric bass. ‘Return To The Sky’ is decorated with congas and double bass, with Henry playing acoustic guitar.  It’s a yearning song tracing a rivers flow down the hills, with Henry’s guitar playing imitating the sparkling, flowing waters. ‘Travelling For A Living’ is a rumination on the plight of the traveller, delivered here on a resonator guitar, with violin accompaniment.

 A much fuller sound is apparent on the following ‘Fools Gold’, a song in which we are warned against wasting time on a fruitless search looking for Fool’s Gold. The sole instrumental ‘Blackthorn’ highlights Henry’s dexterous acoustic guitar playing to fine effect. The songs are nearly all originals with a couple of covers the first of which is ‘Death And The Lady’ Henry does a great job on this tale of woe. ‘Nine Herbs Charm’, is a terrific original in which Henry asks us to “Taste the magic, take the herbs and three times whisper Woden’s word”. ‘Given Time’ concerns information overload and a search for clarity in these frantic times. Another cover song appears next with ‘The Brisk Lad’, on which Henry plays some surprisingly rock like electric guitar ( I believe he used to play in a heavy metal band) including a nice wig out at the end; it also features a full electric backing with electric bass and drums. The album closes out with the gentle reflective ‘Coming Of The Spring’, on which Henry plays everything. It continues to see Henry growing in confidence and along with his partner Katie Spencer we appear to have a new folk rock royal couple.

(Andrew Young)


( www.duir1.bandcamp.com )

Duir! Are back with a new album and also a bit of a name change, adding in an exclamation mark to their moniker, so as to distance themselves from a metal outfit bearing the same name. I have really enjoyed their last two albums and this one could well be their best to date. All the previous elements remain, namely Simon Brighton, Stephen Coalwood and Terry Welbourn. They specialise in a psychogeographic type of music and for this latest outing they have included a few guests, one of which Katie Jacques adds some female vocals. Edgar Broughton returns and Steve Bothamley and Steve Orient also guest.

A sweet opening song ‘Freiston Shore’, featuring piano and guitar accompanied by honking geese, announces the album, this is followed by a song which must be influenced by Grandaddy’s ‘Miner At The Dial A View’, an 80’s style synth introduces the excellent ‘The Whistling Girl’, proper singing and all. I love the cold intonations by Katie of “You won’t find her here”. It’s a search for the missing Star Stone beneath the Three Shire Oak.

The first narration appears next on ‘Icehouse Blues’, about the Leadenham Icehouses, complete with ghostly train whistles. ‘The Bardney Riots’, is about an act of Parliament passed in 1814 to widen the river Witham, it’s a glam stomper; the riots happened because of overpriced food which was supplied for the labourers bought in to work on it.  ‘Heavy Thursday’, a folksy sung by Katie is well placed, “I can see the shape of things” she sings. A desire to see the heavy things, it is about a pervading malevolence in the woods around Lincolnshire, from the ghosts of robbers, wrong ‘uns and highwaymen.

Another narration arrives with The Star Stone reappearing about the Three Shire Oak in ‘The Star Stone’ a sweeping song with ringing mandolin and icy synths. The album is lent a concept by repeated motifs appearing throughout. The title track ‘Drome’, is a knotty tune, it has a late / early eighties feel, much like their friend Julian Cope’s Teardrop Explodes songs had around that time. It fades out to a pretty acoustic guitar coda. More narration appears next in the poetic ‘By Hook Or By Crook’, a rowdy drinking ballad. ‘Headless Things’ is about Ethel H. Rudkin’s almanac about Lincolnshire folklore and reminds me of the band Dragon Milk whose lone album ‘The Lion And The Unicorn’ is well worth tracking down. ‘Causeway’, up next, is a drowsy, drifting narration, which posits the notion that the timbers used for the causeway were felled (according to dendrochronologists) during lunar eclipses.

We now pay ‘A Visit To The Tomb Of Thomas De Redying’, where twinkling presets on an analogue synth map out the melody over the top of Katie’s spoken list of heraldic iconography.  ‘Peter’s Big Day Out’, is a song about a Lincolnshire artist Peter Brannan who specialised in beach scenes rendered in a sombre pallet of colours, more narration to a menacing churn of guitars, bass and drums. The album ends with ‘Many a Day’ a folk song with plenty of flute, in which the singer acts as watchman, looking out surveying the English countryside and observing the passing of time; which is really what this album is all about. This is a great album which I heartily recommend.

(Andrew Young)