= April 2 0 1 1 =

pril already! The carrots are sprouting, the beetroot is shooting and  we begin this edition of Rumbles with the pleasingly large pile of vinyl that has built up over the last couple of months - always a pleasure.

Housed in a fine psychedelically-inclined sleeve, “Handmade House” is a wonderful collection of guitar driven psych from Travelling Circle, a trio of musicians from Brooklyn New York. Mixing mellow, drifting sounds with moodier and heavier passages, the band show maturity and understanding, the songs beautifully constructed, displaying light and shade to excellent effect. Take, for instance, opening cut “Cylindrical Time”, a track that begins with phased guitar, delicate bass and some drifting vocals, before it builds in tension, the guitar work rising in temperature as the song progresses. Then there is the lighter shades of “Bang, Twig and Stone”, which has definite Super Furry Animals feel, whilst “Cloak My Trove” is awash with rippling lysergic organ, a lone cello adding a drunken feel to a song which will find its way onto retrospective compilations in years to come. With a suitably Floydian feel, “Eve Falls” is an atmospheric slice of sound that spirals into the night with delicious intent, whilst the excellent “Note Drops” is another future classic, each member of the band adding to the whole, with some wonderful guitar grooving through the tune in stately West-Coast fashion.. Finally, “Formations” rounds off a splendid album in a gentle haze, gonna be a grower, methinks. (http://www.nasoni-records.com/)

Opening with the fragile sound of a misty dawn, the self-titled debut from Take Acre is a wonderful sprawl through ambience, texture and melody, the seven tracks displaying jazz tendencies and a post-rock haze, the four musicians sparking off each other to great effect. Cinematic in feel, the opening track “Burned grove” is a beautiful beginning, with some excellent drumming from Davu Seru really opening the music up for the other players. On “The Great Man is on a Happy Odyssey”, the mood is slow and smoky, a late-night bar feel pervading the shimmering grooves. Warmer in its intent, “Town Square” benefits from some precise Bass playing courtesy of Charles Gillet, the precision allowing the lap-steel of Jason Childs to resonate with delight. With more than a hint of Television in its sound, to my ears anyway, “The Bathers” is another glorious tune, whilst “A Wood Pity” offers an ocean of possibilities, the relatively simple rhythms allowing the guitar work of Rich Barlow to take centre stage. Finally, the hypnotic pulse of “There is Pretty Distance” builds and builds, the tension sustained until the final blend of notes and feedback herald the end of an excellent LP, that will be played on a regular basis around here. (www.takeacre.com)

Improvised and recorded onto a 3-track, the self-titled album from Ultrabunny is a lo-fi noise infested treat to the senses, each side a suite of songs meant to be heard all the way through. On the four part “Volume Merchants”, some electronic drone and flicker suddenly give way to drums and squalling guitar, the band breaking into Hawkwind meets Acid Mother Temple mode, something they continue until almost the end of side one, the suite finally dying away in a cloud of feedback and distortion. Side two contains “Unsafe at any Age” which maintains the noise quota, whilst moving into Kraut/Psych territory, attempting to subdue their enemies through the use of volume. As the track run together picking out highlights is difficult, however the introduction of fucked-up vocals on “Not Wars” (I think), adds a certain craziness to the music that may have been lacking before. Equally disturbing, the highly weird “Hot War” is the stuff of nightmares, before the album ends with a short drone. Invigorating stuff that is well worth checking out. (www.ultrabunny.com)

Moving on, more Lo-Fi shennanigans can be found on “Laos” a four-track EP from the charmingly-named Rhonda is a Dead Bitch. Opening with the punky guitar driven “Continent”, the band seem intent on that “Pound you into submission” vibe, so it is somewhat of a suprise when “Laos” turns out to be an electronic piece with some Eno-esque chord changes running through it. Of course, the change in style is mentioned in the one-sheet, but that is written in such way as to make me assume the nothing contained in it should be believed or doubted. Lastly on side one “Surveillance Video” is a drift of ambient sound, completely at odds with the opening salvo, which is a good thing in my book. Side two is taken up with “Jennifer” a long piece that takes all that has gone before, adds psychedelics and weirdness, before spitting out into your living room as a brand new artefact. The fact that it works so well is testament to the bands commitment and playful abandonment of the senses, the  floating ambience a welcome respite from the wall of guitar noise the preceded it. (jason@benalto.com)

Opening with a track that even Cara said sounded like the Grateful Dead, the excellent We Have Heaven are actually composed of a wider set of influences and originality than that. In fact, “feel the Power”, the track in question just seems to have the same vibe in its hypnotic summery riff, it could equally sound like Can in its repetition, either way it starts their album “Feel the Power” album in fine style. Following on, the band get into a longer groove with “Stairway to Hawk Mountain”, a beautifully realised slice of improvised psychedelic happiness that shimmer and evolves with fluidity. As the track flows forward the tension builds around some trance like drums and liberal use of reverb and echo, guitar and violin dancing with each other with familiar ease, the track becoming a crescendo of drone and white light. Side two opens with “Sweet and Mild”, another rippling slice of joy, with a wonderful spoken intro/outro. Here the band keep it quieter and more relaxed, whilst playing a variation of the previous piece, the music flowing and drifting ina calmer way that is equally effective. Finally, a shorter re-mix of “Feel the Power” ends the album and the grateful Dead come back to mind, well, to Cara and I, at least. A fine album, particularly side two, which I can see becoming a summer favourite. (www.easysubcult.bigcartel.com)
Shimmering Electronic pop ambience is not something usually associated with the Terrascope perhaps, but when you blend that with a classical Indian music influence and Avant-garde tendencies, the results can be charming, vibrant and highly enjoyable, as they are on “Hukam”, the latest album from Ami dang. Over seven tracks electronic beats are chopped up, sitars swirl and the infectious rhythms get you soul smiling, everything topped off with the glorious voice of the artist herself. Perhaps veering too far into “dance music” for some, the album has a spiritual and  warm centre, a splash of sunshine to be cherished. (www.ehserecords.com)
Also on Ehse Records, Dog Leather, mix fuzzed-up beats, electronic experimentation and noise to good effect on “Greezy Man and Stinky man Meets Smutty Ranks on Tarantula Hill”, an album of lo-fi bassiness that will either make you smile or run to the hills. Tracks that make me smile include, “Troll Spray”, which sounds like The Aphex Twin Meeting Hawkwind in a rusty oil can, the Mellower groove of “The Walker Volume one Part Two”, and all of side two especially the noise-fest of “Gunky Monks”, a track your grandmother is not gonna enjoy, probably.
Treading that familiar line between punk, grunge and noise, The Notekillers have got the balance absolutely right on their latest album “We're Here to Help”, with side one opening in a squeal of feedback before launching into the meaty riff of “Airport”,  a song which will have you reaching for the volume button. On “Flamenco”, the sound is de-constructed further, the song disintegrating into free-form chaos before the deep grunge riffery of “Rebuttal” returns the album to the land of rhythm. One of the interesting about the album is the fact the songs are instrumental, whilst the structure of the tunes seem to suggest a vocal line. This approach allows your imagination to start adding bits to the tunes, or maybe it is just me. Moving onto side two, we are greeted by the excellent “Goolab Rico”, a powerful tribal sound topped off with some reckless guitar, the whole piece on of the finest tracks on the album, teetering, as it does, on the edge of the abyss of destruction. After the brief flurry of “Modern Jazz”, which sounds nothing like its name, more like a Beefheart/grunge crossover, we reach “Waiting”, showcasing a slower more melodic sound that works well, although the feeling of a missing vocal line is very present on the track. Finally, “Goolab Brain”, scrambles the senses in shambolic splendour, a wall of psychedelic chaos that is good for the soul, ending an album that reveals different textures every time you hear it. Housed in a lovely gatefold sleeve, and pressed on red vinyl, this is a package worth having. (www.prophasemusic.com)
On the same label, and housed in an equally striking sleeve, this time on transparent vinyl, flecked with black and white, the self-titled album from Dark Sea Dream, is a glorious derangement of the senses, a collection of doom metal and shimmering drones that worms its way under your skin with dark precision. Filling side one is the fifteen minute behemoth “Not Till You Pull That Trigger, Boy”, a deep and suffocating cloak of heaviness that has the atmosphere of a H.P.Lovecraft novel as it crawls deep within, the song eventually collapsing into a pool of noise and decay, leaving the listener exhausted, the explosion of the final riff almost crushing the life out of you. Switching sides, “Behind the Eyes” opens side two with a slower, lysergic feel, a shimmer of  light still present, although the guitar threatens to engulf it at any moment. The addition of distant vocals also works well, giving the piece texture and substance, the excellent guitar work the final piece of the puzzle. Finally, “Shock Doctrine” continues the mellower feel, shades of Mono present in the glacial sounds, the track building intensity as it snakes through fourteen minutes of noisy bliss, ending a truly wonderful album with style and beauty, the final moments almost Floydian in their epic gracefulness.
To round off the vinyl, three singles that have found our way to us recently. Released on Private Leisure Industries, the self-titled four track EP from Trophy Wife, is a strange and beguiling beast with an experimental heart. Opening track “Widows” is the soundtrack to a dream, the instrumentation of bells, drums, bass,     and others,  drifting around the mix and leaving space for the strangeness of the vocals, whilst “Light Socket” the trick is repeated with a heavy bass sound and possibly a saw adding to the slow-motion wonder of the song. Flipping the disc over, “Aunt Palatka” opens with delicate Clarinet and stuttering guitar notes, the drunken almost whispered vocals perfectly in tune with the hallucinogenic feel of the track. Finally, “In The Water” keeps up the quality and atmosphere, a dark, slightly deranged ditty with a nursery rhyme twist in its tale. (www.privateleisure.org)
Released on Hand of Glory, and coming heavily recommended by our own Phil McMullen who is rather taken with the band at the moment, ”Black Doe” the latest single from Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band is a hypnotic banjo led groove that suddenly explodes into a heavier piece with horns, strings and drums for the chorus. With shades of Arborea and Danielle Dax to be heard in there, the song is a wonderful way to spend four minutes of your time. On the other side “Lean”, is a sad gospel infused track that is perfectly performed on organ and vocals, needing no other sounds to get its message across.
On the same label comes our final piece of vinyl, “Brite Lights, Big City” a never before released EP from sixties legends The Downliner Sect that was recorded in 1964 as the follow up to their first EP, but was never released due to the company going bust and the tapes going missing, only to re-surface again in 2009. Despite the rather primitive sound quality, the band are in top form, energetic and filled with ambition, as can be heard on “Mona” a track that bristles with life and intensity. Elsewhere the title track maintains a fine groove, whilst “Do The Dog” finds the band enjoying themselves with the call and response vocals. To end “Rock 'n' Roll Music” is a stomping slice of UK beat complete with wailing harmonica. Housed in the original sleeve, this is a wonderful project and would look good in your collection. (www.handofglory.co.uk)
Ok, we now return to our regular programming and dive into a large pile CD's that have come our way recently. Please note, if you have sent us stuff in the last couple of months, we are not ignoring you; for some reason this is our busiest time of year and sadly, real life has to be indulged as well.

With a jangly heart and energy to spare, the power-pop/psych of The Perfect vessels could be a suitable soundtrack to the coming of spring, their songs filled with melody and enough groove to get your feet tapping. Add to that, some inventive guitar trickery, memorable hooks, the sound of a farfisa, and you have an collection that will be a welcome addition to the collection. Highlights include, the beautifully constructed “Anything is Everything”, the woozy pop of “Turned Around, the gentle sweetness of “Do You Know the Way?” and the energy-filled “Forever” with its twisted funk guitar sound. (www.makeshiftmusic.com)
Clocking in at just under 20 minutes, “The Psychedelic Sounds of” is a dark and twisted EP from The Slytones, the songs a fucked-up blend of The Doors, Tom Waits, Garage and Blues, making for some compelling listening, with opener “Goldilocks” immediately dragging the listener into a nightmare carnival of sound. Throughout, the songs twist and turn with vicious  precision, inventive and disturbing in equal measure, with the excellent “Shaking You Off, Like A Drug” being a particular favourite. Taken as a whole, this is a delicious roller-coaster best perienced at volume, with a glass of bourbon in hand, I look forward to hearing more. (www.theslytones.com)

Hailing from the scuzzy rock'n'roll stronghold that is Peterborough, The Destructors press all the right buttons on “Helloween”, a sprightly collection of Horror-themed songs that includes covers of “Pinhead” (the ramones), “Helloween” (Dead Kennedys) and “All Hell Breaks Loose” (The Misfits), the inclusion of which probably tells you all you need to know about the sound of the album. This is not to say that the band's originals are inferior, far from it, with the likes of “Dig Up Elvis”, “Happy Deathday” and “Zombie Takeaway” hitting the mark perfectly. So, if noisy punk with garage undertones and a healthy sense of humour is your thing, then this could be just what you need, alcohol and volume optional, but highly recommended. (www.destructors666.com)  Also available from the same band is a split disc with Gripper, each band supplying four tracks. Hailing from New Zealand, Gripper boast an early Destructors vocalist, so it is no suprise to find a similar sound to songs such as “Useless”  and the excellently named “Cunty Nose”, both of which rattle along in a perfectly offensive way, guaranteed to annoy the neighbours whilst they watch the latest dull and boring soap opera. Another fine collection, alcohol is recommended again.
Also bringing the noise to the people, The Breathing Light are a three piece band, whose songs strip everything back to basics, the lo-fi production values adding to the effect. After the slow and moody guitar haze of “Nothing at All”, the band sound like early Husker Du recorded on a cheap cassette machine as “She Loved Everything” displays its angular charms, the song bristling with energy, whilst “Cloud Prayer” has a more psychedelic edge, as befits its name, hints of The Cure to be found in its wayward grooves. After the excellent “You” another slice of distant psychedelia, the disc is rounded off by “Friends (Pansy)”, which maintains the delicate shoe-gaze tendencies of the previous track. Definitely a grower and worth the effort. (www.facebook.com/thebreathinglight)
Definitely psychedelic, weird and mystical, “Now in Technicolour Light” is the latest release from Awaken,  featuring 14 tracks to take you to the other side. After the opening two songs have set the scene and got you into the right mindset, the album gets serious with the awesome groove/chant of “Imagine Magic”, lysergig guitar and trembling drums blending together to create the perfect backdrop for the vocal strangeness, Morrison meeting Banhart deep in the desert of the imagination. Equally good, “Love day” continues the good work, an invocation to the power of light, much needed in these dark times, whilst the fragile beauty of “Transcendent Mind” completes a perfect trio of songs. Elsewhere, the excellent “Banjo Fuzz” does preety much what it says on the tin, with added fuzz guitar snaking through, and the sublime “Bright” ends the album on a distorted acid-fuelled high. Basically the work of Jesse Rakusin, this is an album that is original, creative and has a sense of purpose, go get one. (Jrakusin@gmail.com)
Next up, a collaboration between Bill Gould, a founder member of Faith No More, and sound artist  Jared Blum, best known for his work under the “Blanketship” banner. Entitled “The Talking Book”, the album mixes experimentation with drone and a sense of melody to create a highly satisfying whole, the balance of these various facets beautifully realised. After the brief intro, the lengthy “Sundown” pulls all the right strings,a distant organic drone overlaid with sparse and haunting piano notes and writhing strings, the piece sounding both intense and personal. Equally as good is “Maxim” another long track that crackles with energy and a great sense of sadness, the notes now lost in a cold sea of sound that ebbs and flows, an echoed voice only adding to the emotion. On the suitably named “The Morass”, bleak string take centre stage, the tension almost to much to bear, opening up epic landscapes to the imagination only for them to be slowly swallowed again by a rolling bank of fog. Adding different textures, “Notes From the Field” explores a wider range, effected guitar and electronic beats adding to the sound scape, whilst “The Fallen” is a glistening drone that ends with some sparkling guitar notes that burst like sunshine across the room,  adding warmth to the drones. Finally, “The Talking Book 2”, takes us home in a gentle fashion, the dripping piano notes, drifting into infinity, ending a magnificent album with style and grace.  (www.koolarrow.com)

     Right, that’s it for me - time to hand you over to Steve Palmer with some words of wisdom [Simon Lewis]
"Long Live," the debut offering of Toronto based duo Snowblink, is a curious mix of Daniela Gesundheit's breathy, occasionally high-flying vocals with sparse instrumental backing and vocals from musical partner Dan Goldman. Already a hit in America and their native home, the duo create delicate, brief folk-pop songs with much to recommend them. 'Ambergris' begins fey before a rattling beat emerges and the song takes off. Hints of recent Animal Collective output flow through subsequent tracks 'Bulb, For Later,' 'Membrillo' and 'Hackling The Afterglow,' but more common is the folky sprawl of 'Sea Change' and the too-brief 'Go Deep Fon Frank.' An intriguing album indeed, whose influences are clear yet which ploughs a furrow all its own. Terrific vocal performances, too.

Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts hail from somewhere deep in Britain, with Mathew Sawyer being the main man of the project and The Ghosts his eight-strong current band. The man has a terrific, idiosyncratic voice (why over half the PR sheet is devoted to "oddness" I don't know) and the songs on his new album "How Snakes Eat" are winsome, opening with the quirky 'Mynah Birds Call,' chugging stomper 'Diamonds' (an album highlight) and 'Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu.' Instrumentation and arrangements are traditional, with the addition of keening violin, rattling percussion and occasional keyboards. 'The Bully Died' is a brief acoustic lament, while 'To Pour Like English Taps' is Barrett-esque in its wilful weirdness - a great song, though. 'Caroline,' another highlight, opens with Wild West vocals and more singing that recalls Syd, as does the song's arrangement and chord changes, while 'Blue Birds Blood' is a waltztime drift and album closer 'About A Whale Song' an indie-singalong with multi-tracked vocals and jagged guitar. If originality, whimsicality and good songwriting are your thing you could do worse than investigate this intriguing album.

Hailing from Leeds, art-pop collective Moody Gowns have a new four-track EP out. Opening with the start-stop tumble of 'Topman (Strike Him Down),' the song is competent enough with nice whirling organ and enough changes in mood and tempo to stand out. 'A Great British Holiday' comes over like Madness meeting The Buzzcocks, while 'I Wish That We Weren't Mammals' balances a melodic, smooth chorus with bouncing verse, and is the highlight of the EP. Closing cut 'Now I See What's Wrong With School' is punky, silly and good fun. (www.myspace.com/moodygowns)

Another four-track EP now, "Songs For The Living And Songs For The Dead" by newcomer Casey Edward Denman, which covers altogether more serious subjects. Opening with the stunning 'Hearts And Bones,' Denman's keening voice hovers over a mystical backing of acoustic guitar, banjo and bass. 'Ode To The Weathered' keeps the clawhammer guitar as the solo backing to Denman's voice - another memorable song - while 'Our Ancestors Babies (and branches and buds)' is in the same vein, though perhaps the vocal performance is not as strong. 'Along The Crooked Pathway' closes the EP with banjo plucking and windswept vocals. The songs are long enough to immerse yourself in, but not too long, and all are good. A notable debut work, and kudos once again to Autumn Ferment for releasing it. (www.myspace.com/caseyedwarddenman)

The six-track EP "Lights" by Manchester's Last Harbour is crepuscular and doomy, as were the previous two releases that I reviewed for Terrascope. Two tracks are versions of cuts on last year's full-length "Volo," here augmented by four new tracks, which were recorded at the same time but which never made the album. This is not for want of quality, however. The title track builds to an intense climax, before 'Alone For The Winter' comes along as a slow waltztime lament with evocative backing vocals. Kevin Craig's voice, recalling Nick Cave and Ian Curtis, is on fine form on the half-sung, half-spoken 'If They're Right,' which boasts pattering percussion and mysterious violins later in the cut - the EP highlight without doubt. 'Boy In The Photograph' evokes half-remembered memories, while EP closer 'Be Happy Tonight' matches eerie synthesizer atmosphere to a comparitively upbeat vocal and lyric. A five minute video by noted photographer Andrew Brooks augments the release - shot in part in Portmeirion and Brighton, it adds dizzyingly-stitched photographs to the EP title track, successfully and atmospherically.
(www.littleredrabbit.co.uk) (www.andrewbrooksphotography.com)

Hamilton Yarns are four women and two men who create the music of everyday winter life in Brighton. The music is episodic, light, transient and whimsical, as befits the atmosphere of such a seaside town (so vibrant in summer). Some tracks are long, some short, as through a patchwork of ordinariness - notably the stretch containing 'The Pells,' 'Volcano' and 'So Young, So Old' - the musicians make their case. Not always easy to listen to, it does nonetheless transcend a difficult structure to make an interesting listen.

In 2002 Ole Lukkoye released the wonderful "Horse-Tiger" on their then record label Klangbad. Now they are here again with "Petroglyphs," which comprises more ethnic music taking influences both from modern western sounds and the music of their Russian homeland. Band leader Boris Bardash sings in his native tongue, while the rest of the band, and the many guest musicians, contribute to the groove with impeccable skill and musicality. The effect, as on such tracks as album opener 'Zapara,' is of a band somewhere between Ozric Tentacles, Gong and the Russian steppes - a terrific combination. Other standout tracks include the dubby 'Became A Sky,' the psychedelically mesmeric 'Melting,' the twelve minute ethno-rock space-steppe excursion that is 'Zagoralos' (reminiscent in places of Nigel Shaw's classic "Ancestors") and closing cut 'Free Warriors,' which evokes ancient Russian folk songs above rippling techno beats. A new version of 2002's 'Horse-Tiger' completes a fantastic album. Great to have them back! Fans of Banco de Gaia, TranceSiberia, Loop Guru et al should investigate with confidence.

The 5 track EP "Longest Year" by Hammock is an ambient drift through textures made from guitars and synths, inspired by the quietude of winter. Opening with the title track, the music shifts seamlessly from sound to music, as softly struck notes shimmer over Enoesque droning soundscapes. It's all rather lovely. 'Dark Beyond The Blue' is a little more structured, while 'Cruel Sparks' reminded me of some of the tracks on Eno's groundbreaking "Apollo Soundtrack." The final two tracks are in the same vein, with 'One Another' being more euphoric in tone than the other four cuts, not least because of a high pitched guitar that soars over the drones. Beautiful ambience beautifully done, and it rewards multiple listens with extra, mysterious details. Highly recommended.

"Psychedelic Mynde Of Moses" by Anton Barbeau is the follow-up to his 2009 album "Plastic Guitar," which I liked, and continues the vein of quirky psychedelic pop songs, though this time the album title and artwork (recalling Amorphous Androgynous) make Barbeau's influences more overt. The opening cut is the title track and sets the mood, being a catchy retro-sounding four minute jaunt, while 'Bend Your Mind' is recorded to sound as if it was done in the 'sixties - good sounds, good song. 'Fuzzchild,' 'Reasonable Freq.' and 'Skunk Hungarian' are all strong songs, while 'M'bira' (thumb piano) is a brief bridge between the first and second half of the album. 'Cosmic Rockery' opens this second half with an over-the-top metal strut that doesn't quite work, before it's back to the cosmic pop and psychedelic sounds. 'The Old Doctor's Bag' matches weirdness with melody, while 'Drunk Again' lurches along most amiably. The closing two cuts are both strong, showing how tuneful the man can be right to the end. This album is easier on the ear than the sometimes too-stark "Plastic Guitar," and serves to remind the listener of what Barbeau does best. A really good album: recommended.

Another EP now, "Moving World" by Syd Arthur, which comprises five tracks of taut, supple pop-rock. Syd Arthur is a band, not a man, and on their opening cut, 'Morning's Calling,' superbly played guitars, Rhodes, glorious backing vocals and birdsong mark out a terrific track. 'Pulse' is funky and soulful, 'Exit Domino' is funky and barbed, while 'Planet Of Love' is a 3/4 faux-folk jaunt that recalls Jethro Tull. EP closer 'Hermethio' rocks in strange time signatures, with cosmic flute and terrific drumming. Overall, a notable introduction to a band of some promise - very enjoyable. Superbly recorded and played, too. (www.dawnchorusrecordco.com)

The Soulbreaker Company are a Spanish sextet who make heavy psychedelic rock, and their new album "Itaca" has power and riffs to spare. Opening with 'It's Dirt,' drawled vocals rise over power guitars, atmospheric synths and solid drums. Tempo and mood changes bring a progressive feel, especially on the following tracks 'Oh! Warsaw' and 'Sow The Roses,' which have a distinctly 'seventies feel. 'Rude Perfume' is tough and brash, while 'Colours Of The Fire' is more restrained. 'No Way Back Home' features some great harmonised guitars and pounding drums, while on the Hammond-infused 'Hail While She Leaves' singer Jony Moreno's voice echoes Ozzy in places. 'Saviours' struts, while closing cut 'Sandstorm' is fast and loose. Like the heavy side of psych? You'll enjoy this.

To close, the brand new album "Secret Astronomies" from synth explorer Stephen Bradbury, aka Black Tempest. Earlier releases have shown Bradbury to be a master of tone, timbre and sequencing, and this is more than evident on the new album, which has to be his best so far. The album is split into five tracks, the first and last lengthy and related, with the middle three being considerably shorter. Opening with spacey electronics, 'Cosmic Wand' mutates into analogue swoops and radio sounds, before heading off into a rippling sequence reminiscent of the 'seventies classics. The sounds are perfectly judged, the sequences mesmeric. Further strange electronics emerge from the mix, and then another sequence, this one slower, almost whimsical, which battles noisy synths and effects as the track progresses. 'Whirling Wheel' changes the mood entirely, being a looped guitar piece that over its seven minutes evokes a strange landscape. It's both a contrast to the opening cut and a successful piece in its own right. 'Merunatia' is an lovely ambient interlude of organs and synths - again, highly effective - while 'Starway' is more of a dark dream painted in synths and deeply reverberated effects. The album concludes with the second half of the Cosmic Wand piece, which opens with stark electronica before heading off into a miasma of string synths, and then a quieter, spacier place filled with drones and shifting textures. All in all, this is superb listening. Recommended, and definitely one for those enamoured of the 'seventies Berlin sound, but also reminiscent of more recent artists such as Brendan Pollard. (www.noiseweb.co.uk)


[Steve Palmer] Next up: Steve Pescott discourses on the wonders and delights of Japan’s premier reissue label, EM Records:

For some strange reason, the ‘Moooohieee’ CD by Sam Moore (not the Southern soul man) clean escaped my clutches when it was initially released way back in 2002. How late I am, but it’s definitely worth putting under some kinda spotlight – though knowing a little of his history now, I guess “limelight” might be a more suitable illumination for his handiwork. Y’see Sam came from a now bygone age and actually played the eight string steel (a.k.a. the ‘Octochord’), Harp Guitar and Saw(!) with New York’s legendary Florenz Ziegfield Follies in the early nineteen twenties. You can get a heady waft of this fast livin’ jazz baby age by checking out  F..Z.’s ‘Glorifying the American Girl’ on You Tube – which may bring on feelings of nostalgia for a time never experienced; it’s not that uncommon… Mr. Moore also did the rounds on the ‘Keith & Orpheum’ vaudeville circuit and, possibly being mindful of his dad’s quote that “Sam could get music out of a pitch-fork”, teamed up with Carl Freed in 1924 as a “Spooning and Ballooning” duo with Sam on balloons and Carl on spoons (I can imagine the Bonzos pulling off a stunt like this, as an instrumental break on ITV’s ‘Do Not Adjust Your Set’)

In between all this somewhat nutsoid activity, he also managed to shoehorn in a recording career with Vocalian, Victor and Gennett – 78s of which are all now collected on the one silver platter, with the reassuring crackle ‘n’ drizzle of ages past. There’s a number of olde sentimental standards such as ‘Annie Laurie’, ‘I Dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls’ and ‘Mother Machree’ (dig that saw!) but his “greatest hit” was the oft-covered ‘Laughing Rag ‘ – found here in two quite different versions. I’d plump for the earlier take, which doesn’t use piano accompaniment and instead employs the tried and tested fingers of guitarist Horace Davis.

Quite how Sam failed to attract the attentions of those pre-war compilers holed up at ‘Dust to Digital’ or ‘Old Hat’ is a bit of a mystery; hopefully it’s not because of the lack of supporting back porch / rockin’ chair imagery, but regardless: I’m mighty glad I picked up on this.

For a teen in the mid-seventies with an enquiring mind, random dialling through the radio wavelengths could unearth a whole world of high strangeness. I can still remember, though God knows why, that continuous horn broadside that was Radio Tirana’s station ident and of course, that mighty blast of black noise that went under the name of ‘The Woodpecker’ – a Russian blocking signal that now seems like a pre-echo of Vomir or perhaps Lubyanka. ‘Devil’s Music’ (previously an LP on Trace Elements, 1986), with its moral-majority baiting title and sleeve art appropriated from electricity sub-station signage, is an (if not THE) example of rather boggling radio manipulation and was reactivated a while back by EM in double CD / double vinyl formats. Its creator Nicolas Collins was a student of Alvin (“I am sitting in a room”) Lucier and had put out two albums on Lovely Music prior to this, namely ‘Going Out with Slow Smoke’ and ‘Let the State Make the Selection’. Regarding the skin ‘n’ bones of Devil’s Music, smatterings of FM/AM radio broadcasts are sampled, looped, retriggered and possibly turned inside out via some tweaked Electro Harmonix hardware. It’d be easy to imagine a fully automated plant receiving all potential radio-derived sound oozing out of planet Earth, cueing them up and then with the settings on ‘chop ‘n’ slice’ watching ‘em whizz by on a triple speed conveyor belt. A frenetic yet mesmeric hubbub that abates slightly during part two, where the samples are sourced from easy-listening / classical realms instead of part one’s selection of dance music and speech patterns. Spawned of Cage and hip-hop, it’s a burning shame that the more left-field inclined fans of the latter didn’t connect with this – a monument to the old adage that sometimes the simplest concepts are the best. Other extras to this package are a commissioned work from 1988 called ‘The Spark Heard Round the World’ and ‘Real Landscape parts 1 & 2’ – the former an FM flicker book constructed around between stations haze and “we’ve got a 113!” style police messages, and the latter a nod to Cage’s ‘Imaginary Landscapes’ compiles recordings from seven concerts that Nicolas undertook in Europe and the USA in 1987.

The Son of PM (and their various incarnations; Payong Mukda & Pocket Music) have already been the target of some reissue activity on the ‘Thai Beat a Go Go’ (although mistaken for Johnny Guitar) and ‘Shadow Music of Thailand’ comps (Subliminal Sounds and Sublime Frequencies respectively). The term Shadow Music refers to Thai (pre-)beat combos united in their transparent reverence to Hank Marvin and his chums back in the UK.

However, the cleanly picked out, folk-inflected themes on the ‘Hey Klong Yao!’ CD are augmented by numerous indigenous percussives, which on some occasions, the title track being a good example, threaten to blot out the melody line entirely. This approach, funnily enough, is reinforced by the sleeve art where the ten piece (!) is pictured as four guys in Shadows-like suits ‘n’ ties standing above six others togged out in more traditional dress, including four female drummers and a drummer / gong player who’s clearly playing truant from junior school! It’d be wrong to suggest that it’s all gooey-eyed adoration of the bespectacled one as things evolve somewhat with ‘Graw Taloong’ and ‘Phoo Yai Lee’ – the former’s call and response groove is topped with organ tones redolent of the Floyd’s ‘Scarecrow’, and the latter sashays onto Steve Cropper styled guitar progressions (circa Booker T time of course), and is one of the few to reveal a vocal line. Also available on vinyl, by the way…

Pull the curtains, dim the lights, Richard W. Simms is out to all callers. Well, to anyone who would want to find out something / anything about his time served as alter ego Wicked Witch. Unfortunately he’s apparently declined a couple of interviews prior to the issue of the ‘Chaos 1978-86’ LP/CD which is comprised of LP tracks, singles and a couple of unreleased numbers. Glancing at the sleeve with Richard’s leather ‘n’ studs ensemble you could easily be forgiven for thinking that this could be a splinter project from 1970s N.Y. all black punk band Pure Hell (one single: a cover of ‘These Boots are made for Walking’) but what we really have is a piece of stone-faced machine-tooled funk where the urge to ‘partay’ has been nixed by social deprivation and ‘end times’ brooding. Washington D.C.-ite Richard calls the shots on keys/guitars/vocals/mixing etc etc on all but three cuts, and anyone with only a slight interest in Sly /late Funkadelic / Hendrix-derived product would certainly get a kick out of the armour-plated rhythm scores and weird, crawling, John Carpenteresque synth lines found on ‘X-Rated’ and ‘Fancy Dancer’.

We call time on proceedings by looking at a much-lauded über-musician who appears to have a past life as interesting and out of the ordinary as our first subject, Sam Moore. T.R. Mahalingham (for it is he) developed a total fascination with the bamboo flute at a very early age, and ignoring his father’s longstanding displeasure became a virtuoso before reaching his teens(!) I wonder if being a musician in India in the nineteen-thirties was a scorned profession like being a Victorian era actress? Anyway, EM, as part of its ‘Meditations’ series, has reactivated two of T.R.’s albums which were originally released on the cusp of the seventies and come under the umbrella title of ‘Mali – Essential recordings of Carnatic Bamboo Flute’, “Carnatic” being a form of Southern Indian classical music steeped in ancient Hindu tradition. I’d have to admit that I’ve always had a near loathing of the flute (and it’s immediate family). Others will attest to this. [I think Steve does himself a disservice here describing it only as a “near” loathing! – Ed.] I still maintain flutes in rock just do not cut it, notable exceptions being early Kraftwerk, all of the Bardo Pond catalogue and Kate Lukas’s lip work on Wire’s ‘Strange’ (off of ‘Pink Flag’). However… in this traditional and way more ancient world of the raga, I can get lost in the moment as easily as experiencing Pandit Pran Nath’s ‘Midnight’, a double set on the Just Dreams label. One last point – these are full band recordings; it’s just that the tabla drummers, sitar and violin players are all strangely uncredited. [Steve Pescott]

It’s now it is the turn of Ian Fraser to guide you home.

I’ve two stoner/psych albums, courtesy of Electrohasch, to kick off with this month.
The first is the eponymous debut by Dutch band Stargrazer. The usual heaviness associated with the genre is plainly evident for all you (ok, make that “us”) stoner freaks to enjoy, it is in places offset by a remarkable and quite commendable lightness of touch – the sax on “Intermezzo”, for example, could easily appeal to Gong fans, while the harmonies on “Somo” bring to mind Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Indeed while there is plenty to wig out to, this is as much a West Coast psychedelic jam as it is the righteous thud and blunder of staple Euro-stoner fare. Stargazer will play the Afterburn slot at this year’s Roadburn Festival at Tilberg, Netherlands in April – an event that sold out in a matter of minutes and which I would be tempted to sell vital body parts and the odd state secret if I thought there was a chance of being able to attend. If you are fortunate to have a ticket you might well want to check them out.

The other Electrohasch offering is the third album from another Dutch group The Machine, entitled “Drie”, which sets out its stall from the opening bars of the wah-wah heavy Hendrix fixated “Pyro”. “Sunbow” and “Medulla” are passable takes on Queens of the Stone Age with their heavy, discordant riffs and odd phrasings, but following a slight mid-set wobble with the semi-acoustic “Aurora” and the slightly over-blown three parter “Tsiolkovsky’s Budget”,  the real highlights rain thick and long courtesy of the spacey, 18 minute ”First Unique Prime” and the closing “Jam no.”, which complete with an uncredited and super-heavy addendum, clocks in at a gargantuan 20 minutes, Not as subtle as “Stargrazer”, perhaps, this is nonetheless well played (singer/guitarist David Eering is bound to attract the limelight, but rhythm section Hans van Heemst and Davy Boogard also deserve the plaudits – the latter is particularly impressive without being showy) and there is plenty to like here. If you enjoyed the Samsara Blues Experiment’s “Long Distance Trip” (Rumbles, October 2010) then you’re likely to get off on this as well.  www.themachineweb.com  www.electrohasch.de
M S (Mark) Dagley was classically trained as a guitarist from an early age and also received tutelage from a number of local blues luminaries in and around his home city of Washington DC. On the evidence of “Mystery of the Guitar” his benefactors’ investment in his education is amply rewarded. The ten instrumental tracks make for a pretty decent workout, ranging from neo-classical pieces such as Sanz’s 17th century “Folist” and John Dowland’s even earlier “Flow My Tears”, blues in the shape of Big Bill Broonzy’s “New Pig Meat Strut” and a bevy of self-penned Fahey/Basho style improvisational compositions, that draw on a range of styles including Spanish and raga as well as referencing Dagley’s formative influences. The best or at least most interesting here are the moody and mysterious “I Remember Backwards Sam Firk” and “By The Banks of the C and O Canal”. This is one for the purists and the more discerning musical ear, possibly.  www.abatonbookcompany.com

This month’s nod towards the “drone zone” comes courtesy of Louisville, Kentucky’s Connor Bell who records under the name Shedding. “Tear In The Sun” (available as limited edition vinyl-only release) is essentially a harmonium drone in six movements, whose titles {“Disconnect”, “Cauterise”, “Suffocate” to name but three) are as stark as the basic template, but which Bell’s plain yet engaging vocals and some understated guitar and synthesizer manage to eke out to surprisingly melodic effect. At times the result is not dissimilar to what you might imagine Rock Bottom-era Robert Wyatt sounding like in collaboration with Eno and Cluster under the ghostly tutelage of Syd Barrett. The overall feel is both elevating and relaxing, although you’d be advised against driving or using heavy machinery whilst under the influence of this.  www.home-tapes.com

“White Magic” is the second collaboration between former Church front man Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy from All India Radio. The result is a mainly impressive and sometimes gorgeous slice of ambient pop on which Kilbey’s slightly breathy, nasal delivery complements Kennedy’s thoughtful instrumentation. Tracks like “The Demo”, “Close”, “Unfocussed”, “Dreamstate”, “Sumer” and “The Broken Sea” convey a harmoniously dreamy and languid opus, the overall effect of which is a quite sumptuous and radio-savvy take on what any number of acts from the Moody Blues and Pink Floyd to the present have at one point or other nailed. It’s all very polished and finely crafted and the abiding impression is of a sort of uneasy, easy listening. Just occasionally you wish that Messrs Kilbey and Kennedy would take proceedings out of second or third gear but if this a bit of a plodder it sure is an elegant one and might do for your dinner party or those romantic nights in what “Year of the Cat” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” probably did back in the 70s. www.kilbeykennedy.com

Portland, Oregon’s Scott Arbogast, aka Rainstick Cowbell, is a real curiosity if not something of a one-off. On “Self, Assemble” (his second full-length release) Arbogast is armed with just an acoustic guitar and an adolescent/androgynous voice that almost merits “freak” status when you consider how much it belies his hairy countenance. Quirky, percussive guitar, unusual phrasings and some intense and rather personal lyrics make for a special kind of campfire weirdness that definitely hits the spot hereabouts. Standout tracks include the urgent “Step, Elephant” and the beautiful and inventive “Lessons of Misur and Muzur”, but delve into any of these eleven sometimes delicate, frequently passionate and more often than not off-kilter acoustics cuts and you’re bound to come across a curveball that will challenge, stimulate and hopefully delight. Rainstick Cowbell certainly is different, and in his case different is a good thing indeed.   http://rainstickcowbell.com

Nog Cavanagh produces psychedelic instrumental soundscapes from an unheralded corner of the UK (Bishop Auckland in County Durham), fusing sequencers, samples and loops with real-time guitars and analogue synthesizers. The result is “Sombre Castles of Desire” a pleasing mixture of pounding yet melodic Hawkwind-style instrumentals (“Astroglyde”, “King Arachna”), euphoric trance (“Pulsar”), early Cure (“House of Nevermore”), and those ambient little pieces that the late and much missed Jake Stephenson used to serve up under his various Alien Mutation/Optic Eye guises (“A Chemical Taste On The Tongue”, the title track, “Looks Like Rain” to name but three) a good dollop of chill-out and what should have been the theme music to a turn of the 80s sci-fi series (“el34”). With the first whiff of spring in the air and an old man’s thoughts beginning to turn to the festival season, this made for a most agreeable listen. www.nogcavanagh.co.uk

If you have heard the recent (and I might add quite superb) Peter Bellamy tribute, “Oak, Ash and Thorn”, then you will have come across Elle Osborne, whose “The Way Through The Woods” showcased  the most unlikely vibrato you are likely to hear in any genre of music. Her four-track EP on Folk Police Records, entitled “Good Grief”, again betrays this curious vocal eccentricity together with a penchant for found sounds and samples as well as traditional backing such as fiddle and banjo. “The Icehouse” is the stand-out cut, a semi-drone punctuated with birdsong that has a wonderfully bucolic and cleansing feel to it. The other offerings whilst offering glimpses of what could be a quite singular talent are less consistently impressive – you get a sense that Osborne is trying too hard to be different.  “Wise Eyes Wide” is carried along by a sawing violin and sustained by a strong chorus, but by now the quirky and untutored vocal is in danger of becoming a vexatious parody of itself. . “The Time of the Small Sun” and “The Boatman” are both fair enough examples of sparsely accompanied songs that are close enough to “traditional” folk music to satisfy the purists but by the end of 15 minutes I was firmly converted to the view that Elle’s voice is very much an acquired taste. However Elle Osborne’s future career is certainly one to watch – the interesting ones always are. www.folkpolicerecordings.com

Carol Anne McGowan’s mini-album, “Stone From The Cellar” was recorded in a 500 year old wine cellar in a small village in the Rhine. It would be grossly unfair to suggest that this is the most interesting thing about what is in fact an OK album albeit a little bit on the anodyne side. McGowan sings sweetly enough and the simple guitar accompaniment has a soothing and homely feel. It’s just that it all comes across a little bit too much like Nora Jones serenading the singer from Coldplay in a Habitat furnished studio apartment (call it a bedsit if you like) for my tastes. The basic premise is fine but it soon begins to plod a very narrow and insular furrow. One, then, for fans of the aforementioned Ms Jones and that Songbird woman who still occasionally regales us from beyond the grave.      www.apollolaan.co.uk

Anitya” is the third part of Portuguese collective The Joy Of Nature’s “The Empty Circle” trilogy. Whereas Part II, “Rastos de Sangue e fragmentos da Tradiciao” (see Rumbles, March 2010) sounded almost hopeful and celebratory, “Anitya”, named after the first of the 12 Bhavans in Jainism, is somber and dark. The prevailing mood evokes cold, majestic gothic places of worship and dark robed warrior-monks of uncertain and somewhat sinister piety, all underscored by an air of menace, tension and doom. I liked it, and if a fusion of “dark drone”, Gregorian Chants, weird-folk and just a dash of eastern promise (or possibly foreboding) appeals to you then you should like it too.  www.myspace.com/thejoyofnature

Continuing in the fine Terrascopic globetrotting tradition, let’s give a big online welcome to New Zealand’s Surf City. “Kudos” is their first release on Fire Records (home to one-man collective Howe Gelb among others) and is a deep sea trawl of classic back-catalogueinfluences from the Velvets through to the Cult, JMC, Shoegaze and beyond and beyond to the present with killer hooks a-plenty. Opening statement of intent “Crazy Rulers Of The World” (ain’t they just?) is a pretty definitive reference point if you are after a distillation of what this lot are about, and the rest follows in close order. There’s no shortage of highlights from eleven melodic and danceable slices of quality, upbeat pop/rock, but the title track and the almost trance-like guitar shredding of “Icy Lakes” are worthy of particular mention. Elsewhere, there are signs of a band in search of their own voice – one or two numbers are overly derivative such as the JMC/Roses hybrid “Retro”, but when these boys hit a groove where the guitars and the vocal harmonies are appropriately lined, like on “In Times Of Approach” then you can feel the smile spreading and the head nodding in time to the almost robotic drum beat that is a bit of a band trademark. if some of the material has a slightly “borrowed” feel about it then that never hurt The Horrors or any number of bands you could mention who’ve made themselves in the image of older brothers’ (or even parents’) record collections. Moreover, “Kudos” has such a palpable feel-good factor that you can’t help rooting for these boys. Sunshine and surf, now how can anyone dislike a combination like that?  www.firerecords.com

Vinyl-only specialists Fruits de Mer are in danger of becoming a UK national treasure. Their latest release and their first of 2011 is homage to “spacerock” in its loosest sense, and follows what is becoming a tried and tested formula whereby new(ish) acts get to reinterpret what has gone before. Not that Fruits de Mer are so lazy or unimaginative as to sanction any old retreads of often covered and over-familiar so called classics. The cosmic stew offered up on “Roqueting Through Space” consists of eight tracks by the likes of Vibravoid, Vert;x (a fuzz and wind tunnel romp through Julian Cope’s “I Come From Another Planet Baby”) and the criminally unsung Luck Of Eden Hall with their take on one of your reviewer’s favourite Barrett/Floyd tracks, “Lucifer Sam”. Neu! receive two treatments, including Helicon’s righteous interpretation of  “Hallogallo” complete with scratchy, almost reggae guitar. It’s just a shame that I never ever wanted to hear “Telstar” again in any shape or form, even the version that is so wonderfully over-the-top and deconstructed as the one featured here.
The CD promo also features a double A-side 7” single that may either delight Hawkwind fans or else reignite the Hawk wars (or both). Alpha Omega have cut and shunted the little known “Transformer Man” with “Paradox” from Hall of Mountain Grill (which Mugstar also covered to exemplary effect on the recent “In Search of Hawkwind” tribute – see January Reviews). It’s heavy as hell and the female vocalist lends it a different dimension, but best of all they have the oscillators on full stun!  Quite what aficionados will think of Sendelica’s “Urban Guerilla” is a different matter. At first listen I thought it was more of a send-up, but I get it now -. It’s as if the ex-Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupers have teamed up with Spandau Ballet in the club style. It has a nice dance vibe and, moreover, features original Hawk, venerable Uncle Nik Turner on trademark honk. I loved it! www.fruitsdemerrecords.com  [Ian Fraser]

  Terrascopic Rumbles for January was brought to you by Simon Lewis, Steve Pescott, Steve Palmer and Ian Fraser. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2011