= August 2 0 1 1 =

reetings and welcome, once again, to the latest edition of Rumbles, brought to you by the remarkably prolific Stephen Palmer, whose output really helps diminish the “awaiting review” pile around here, thanks Steve.

    Jason Ajemian and the HighLife, American purveyors of improvised musics, present their new album "Riding The Light Into The Bird's Eye," where the songs are created from scores written on the architectural drafting programme AutoCAD. Opening with a spoken word piece, the first piece of music proper, 'Bliss Is This,' gives the listener a brass and string ensemble-propelled burst of sound and music clusters, quite avante garde in mood, but with melodic inserts. 'Spectacle' is more focussed however, and, as with all the tracks, is recorded in one take without overdubs. A staccato rock guitar enlivens this track, whereas 'His Name On Records' is a free jazz splurge. 'Feels A Ton' is frenetically enjoyable and jazzy once again, while 'Decked With Diamonds' is very similar, if even more frenetic. 'Precious' rips up the jazz handbook into a parping melange of sound (with some great drumming), while album closer 'Slide Life' is mournful, slow, quiet, and almost soulful. A brave experiment linking song with jazz. (www.teamclermont.com )


"All Night The Calls Came In" by Minneapolis residents Halloween, Alaska is an album of subtle, often engrossing songs. The terrific opener 'You Are Not Well' reveals a talent for songwriting, great vocals and clean production; elements of Porcupine Tree, if that band gave up the histrionics and went pop. 'Dance By Accident' has a bit of an 'eighties MOR feel, but again the quality of the songwriting shines through. 'Analogue' (spelled the British way!) is an uptempo rocker with more balls than melody, while 'Empire Waist' is quirky and reminded me very much of XTC. (In fact, if I had no band info I might have thought this was a British band with an American singer.) 'More To Come' is a slowburn cracker with some lovely key changes and an unsettling time signature twist or two; again a hint of XTC. 'The Jealous Ones' features an emotive vocal performance and superb arrangement - an album highlight, this - while 'Dead Air' returns the listener to an 'eighties sound. '3.1' is the album's ballad and another highlight, while penultimate cut 'Tables' is wonderfully melancholy. To end, 'In Your Sleep' merges all the previous elements to create a suitably anthemic album closer. A very good album indeed, repaying extra listens, and highly recommended. This one has gone straight into the "quite a discovery" stack by my CD player. (www.halloweenalaska.com )

    Durham/Edinburgh/Manchester/West Bromwich residents Caedmon - gone from the music world for 30 years but now reformed, at least, in theory - have a new folk-infused album out, "A Chicken To Hug," in which improvised material is transformed into a set of songs. Opener 'Peace In The Fire' merges folk and rock instrumentation, and wonderful vocals, all to great effect, setting the tone for the whole work. 'Still Here' has more of a pop vibe, while 'Bonnie Boy' sounds more like a folk standard, and features really good vocals. 'Four Winds' is a slow waltztime groover, light as a feather, while 'Waltzing Home' is a strange, whimsical cut with curious vocals. 'Time Flies' mixes Ken Patterson's throaty vocals with a twisting, turning arrangement, while Patterson's 'Ouagadougou' is a superb evocation of that marvellous city, and album closer 'Old Kings' a bluesy evocation of life gone by and life to come. Variety and sensitive arrangements create a good album. (www.caedmonsreturn.com )

    Foxpockets - a folk quartet from Brighton - create on their EP "The Coracle & The Albatross" a kind of faux-historical folk menagerie, as, on seven brief songs, they evoke the curious and the odd. Opener 'Widow's Walk' mixes acoustic instrumentation and plaintive vocals to great effect, while 'The Nautical Song' has stronger vocals and mournful instrumentation. 'Grendel' is trippy and medieval - an EP highlight - while 'Wintersleep' matches bouncy sections with Katharine Simner's low-key vocals. 'Twelve Sisters' is a waltztime tale of forests, while 'Voytek' again matches banjo with accordion, to excellent effect - another EP highlight. 'Lament' is harp-infused and suitably melancholy, and features perhaps the best vocal performance. Very enjoyable music. (www.myspace.com/foxpockets )

    'Sturmey Archer' by long-time East Anglian residents Exit13 is a downbeat collection of songs, of which the highlights (the compelling 'Play The Game,' the delicate 'The Mountain And The Flood' and the emotive 'Radar') just about manage to outweigh less attractive fillers. Songwriter Steve Mann's voice is not ideally suited to he material he writes, while the arrangements, though fair, and often appropriate to the material, sometimes descend into mere competence. Album opener 'Sleep With Me' sounds a tad dull, while album closer 'Rusty Train,' though well sung and with good backing vocals, seems less than generous for a final cut. A bit of a curate's egg this one, though not without its charms. (www.backwaterrecords.com )

    Also from East Anglia but with a very different approach to their music, folk-rockers Takeda on their short album "Hufsa" create an engaging and very enjoyable work. A unique lead vocalist, subtle female backing vocals, mysterious drums and marvellous instrumentation all come together on the hypnotic opening track 'Sweetheart,' while the folky 'A Million Years' matches more subtle instrumentation with another amazing vocal. The seven minute 'Reverence' sits terrific vocals on a bed of acoustic guitar before the drums and piano and doomy keyboards come in. Great stuff! 'I Know' brings in accordion, while 'Flesh' features yet another superb vocal. Album closer 'Dusk Raga' is eleven minutes long and every second is great - a kind of English/oriental call to prayer, if music were prayer... This is a marvellous work, unique, original, beautifully sung and arranged, and comes highly recommended. I loved it.
(www.myspace.com/takedasound )

    Anti-Social Music are a new chamber music collective and come from New York; on their album "Anti-Social Music Is The Future Of Everything" they throw together brief avante garde snippets, weird trippy sound sketches and more, all through the agency of instruments you'd see in an orchestra. Alternately amusing, infuriating, intriguing and, to quote a previous review, "unlistenable," the album does have the virtue of variety, if not musicality. Anti-Social Music are the future of something, but what that thing is remains mysterious for now. (www.antisocialmusic.org )

    You know that phrase "hostage to fortune"? I'm going to use it here, but only because the writer of the one-sheet for "Stone Soup" by Daystar tells the listener that the band set out to make an album of the quality of "Revolver." That's presumably the "Revolver" made by The Beatles. So, is it as good as "Revolver"? No. Is it anywhere near? No. How could it be? But this is not a bad album, rather it's one where the writers haven't quite got complete understanding of their own music. The key misunderstanding seems to be that a song is its lyrics. It's not. A song is its tune. And while there are a few half tunes on this album, there are no actual tunes - the defining feature of The Beatles. The sound is in fact much closer to Oasis than The Beatles - very well recorded, well arranged, occasionally retro, occasionally sparkling. 'Mrs Joe' pushes all the Gallagher buttons, jangly guitars and all, plus one of those half-tunes, while 'Because You Said' is the album highlight, a really tight, focussed psych-zoom of a cut that recalls some of the work of La Fleur Fatale. 'Paralysing' is good, 'Switchback' is better and tuneful, while album closer 'Up Here' echoes The Coral and Shack to great effect - a good ending. I do understand guys that your intention was not to make the next "Revolver," but what you have made ain't bad: sometimes strong, sometimes weak, sometimes retro, sometimes not. Check it out, lovers of Brit indie-rock. (cooperd@stonesouparts.co.uk )

"Hi-Fiction Science" by Hi-Fiction Science is the debut offering of a Bristolian quintet who merge shoegaze and art rock to make an album of engaging cuts. Matching female vocals with thrumming bass (especially on the excellent 'Old World') and New Order-esque drumming, the band recall something Mancunian, something krauty, some thing retro... I'm reminded of some of the New Wave bands that emerged in the very late 'seventies, though the music here isn't made in homage. 'Zabriskie' is a swift ride instrumental, but 'Spirit Broken' is a bit of a mess. Much better is the thrilling 'Kosmonaut,' with its changes of pace, rocking guitar and half-spoken vocal. 'Fleance' matches spidery guitar with jangly rhythms and a great vocal, then closing cut 'Undulating Blue' rocks out fast and exciting, with more great bass. A good album, plenty of variety and some great sounds. (http://listen.to/hifictionscience )

    The twenty minute EP "Another View" from Dream Weapon Ritual is an evocative excursion into mystical sound and very trippy drones/vocals. It's hypnotic and surprisingly listenable, given its weirdness. Both cuts are about ten minutes long, the first dense with floating female vocals and unexplained scraping sounds, the second dense with booming bass and scuttling, reverberated noise. A good EP, this. (www.ticonzero.org )

    "Giving" by the Milwaukee sextet Collections Of Colonies Of Bees is a four track EP of anthemic instrumental rock echoing Explosions In The Sky and Mogwai. Opening with the stop-start 'Lawn,' the music turns and mutates, sometimes rocking out, sometimes subtle. Pounding drums fight Rickenbacker bass, while guitars and electronics leer over the rhythms. 'Lawns,' 'Vorm' and 'Vorms' also follow this template, all successfully, with the nine minute closing cut the best. (www.teamclermont.com )

     Rita Ro is a British songwriter/composer whose album "Renaissance" meditates on love - sacred love, intense love, corrupt love. Opening with the soundscape 'Through The Stars,' the first song proper matches Ro's idiosyncratic, almost childlike vocals (recalling Elisabeth Fraser and perhaps, dare I say it, Claire Grogan) with tribal, mainly electronic textures and timbres. The hypnotic 'D4,' 'To Love You' and 'Ghost Of Love' all follow this template, before 'Broken Fixed' takes a more rock direction, with its slow tempo and shrieking ebow guitar; a hint of Joy Division in this sound world perhaps. 'Carousel' is a beautifully arranged instrumental, while 'Bathing Me With A Kiss' shows again Ro's skill at evoking the intensity of desire. 'Rainbows' returns the listener to tribal electro rock, while 'Corrupt Me' does the same, only more so, recalling The Creatures. The lengthy 'Another Day' is the album highlight; slowburn, ghostly and emotive. 'Scented Garden' brings the listener down with another whimsical instrumental. This is a great album, filled with insight, good music and more... recommended. (www.ritaromusic.com )


If purple velvet-clad psych folk is your thing, then you could do much worse than check out the new album "Ensoulment" by New York goth quintet The Wyld Olde Souls. Evoking classic Brit psych folk from the seventies, this new fourteen track album was ten years in the making, and covers all the ups and downs of life. Opener 'Ferris Wheel' has heavy phasing, acoustic guitars and multi-layered vocals, and it's really good. Smell that patchouli! 'Give It To You' brings in tabla maestro Naren Budhakar, while 'Take Me There' has a more traditional arrangement, if somewhat too light for the material. 'Wyld Maiden' brings in multi layered voices that work together so well, while 'My Lost Way' is another slightly too light confection; good chorus though. Better is 'I Talk To The Wind' (yes, a cover of the King Crimson classic), which in this arrangement works really well. 'Undertow' is another standout track, really lovely this one, while 'Worn Out' is trippily Indian, and shows how the band merge genres expertly; great vocal performance too. Album closer 'Leave Her' is anthemic and a great conclusion to an involving, enjoyable work. Ten years well spent, I'd say. (www.wyldoldesouls.com )

     San Francisco residents Ruby Howl make sinister music on their second album "Heaven Hides There Too." Opening cut 'Joey' is forbidding with noirish vocals, while 'Armadillo' is similar in tone, with pounding drums and orchestral arrangement. Guitars chime and slash, while doom-laden backing vocals sit beneath sisters Jennifer and Laurie Hall's lead vocal. 'Strange World' brings in a male voice and a lighter production, while 'Goliath' is a keening love lament, and very effective. 'Forest Of Eyes' is melancholy while 'Doubt' is quirky, with a half-Americana, half-psychedelic arrangement. Concluding cut 'Fare Thee Well' is the most obviously Americana track on the album, which overall is an intriguing listen. Original and unusual, with the brass and orchestral arrangements working particularly well with the mood.
(www.rubyhowl.com )

    The Tea First Records compilation "Tea First Records" collects twelve cuts of varying moods and quality: FS Blumm (gentle acoustica), Ben Vida & Greg Davis (great drone psych), Kira Kira (minimal ambience), Felsenmeer (soft guitars and oboes), Melodium (glitchy electronica), Graham (more minimal ambience), Selbyville (quirky banjo and violin), Atone (spooky electronica), Mind Wheel (Indo-ambience), South China (cello-led acoustica), Old Furnace (sample-o-delia) and Wechsel Garland (ethereal piano and guitar). As an introduction to some interesting artists, this is a good listen. (www.teafirstrecords.com )

    Frozen Geese, whose "The Starseed" I reviewed recently, have been at the magic mushrooms to create their two track album "Disclaimer," which continues their penchant for electronic space rock excursions. Both cuts weigh in at twenty minutes each. The first opens minimally, with wobbling sequenced synth, trippy organ and reverberated drumkit, before it loops off into drum machine and noise territory: a kind of messed up Berlin School, though too experimental for sustained enjoyment. The second cut takes the same themes but is much better in terms of production and music, with a great early Floyd bass coming in, and some rather tasty fuzzed up guitar. The album isn't quite as good as "The Starseed," but has much to recommend it, notably the second cut, which fans of modern space rock would definitely enjoy. (www.vanitycaserecords.com )

 Liskeard in Cornwall is the home of troubadours Corncrow, a duo whose marvellous "Sweet Nightingale" is a folk journey through Breton and English themes and songs. Opening and closing with the softly sad title track, the EP wends its way through six traditional songs and a self-penned cut. Entirely acoustic, with guest musicians on viola, drum and banjo, 'Cruel Sister,' 'Blue-Eyed Stranger' and 'Spencer The Rover' are all great cuts, beautifully (if minimally) arranged and recorded. 'Pysk Pi' however reveals a talent for writing, as this instrumental track is penned by Steve Hunt; and very nice it is too. Folk purists and the folk-enamoured alike will want to check out this great album.  (www.myspace.com/corncrow )

    The Andrew Weathers Ensemble is an American octet on whose "We're Not Cautious" album ten strange tracks of instrumental Americana are contained. The brief opener leads into 'Seachange,' a calm, meditational track where light percussion, soft drones and voices all merge to create a kind of minimal acoustica, as if Steve Reich was trying out a few new ideas. 'Go Lightning' matches a droning organ with more light instrumentation, while 'To Ozona' is very light; almost silent in places; music for late at night. 'Left Arm Sunburnt' lets the stringed instruments take over, while 'Short, Infinite' - blink and you miss it - leads on into 'Ecstatic, Unchanging,' which returns the listener to banjo and droning chords. 'Several Seems' brings back the organ wash and a light acoustic guitar, while the lengthy 'To Burn Yourself Completely' is again softly meditational and features a beautiful guitar, which sounds as though it might have been played with an ebow. The album closes with 'Seaworthy,' which concludes a rather lovely album that is ideal for that last-thing-at-night moment. Recommended to ambience heads.
(no contact details given)

    The Great Book Of John also hail from America, but on their second album "The Great Book Of John" create widescreen epic rock-pop; and do it very well. Opening cut 'Robin Hood' recalls The Verve with its emotive vocals courtesy bandleader Taylor Shaw and its psychedelic, heavily effected guitars; a fantastic opener. 'Brown Frown' is a staccato affair and features Bekah Fox on additional vocals, while 'Let Me Slide' is slower and more acoustic in style. 'Wise Blood' and 'Ashes Over Manhattan' are slower, more reflective songs, before the rock returns with the soulful 'Black Heart' - another great epic cut, with some particularly fine guitar playing. On 'Cover My Eyes' and '10,000 Miles' there's a hint of Bobby Gilespie in the vocals, while 'On And On' is a terrific piano-led ballad, and an album highlight. The album concludes with the brief 'Foreign Currency' before the final cut 'Simple Things,' whose anthemic mood is a great conclusion. A band to watch, for sure. (www.thegreatbookofjohn.com )

    "Qsamim LeSevel" by Israel's Quetev Meriri is a stew of psychedelic noise, music and weird chants by this respected group of musicians. Essentially a quartet, the bandleader, Haim Rachmani, conspires to create an atmospheric journey through acoustic/electric/electronic psychedelia, hinting in places at traditional Jewish concerns, while elsewhere, as on the third cut 'Mishbarim,' travelling to purely sonic locations. The singing is all in Hebrew which means the lyrical concerns are impenetrable, at least to me, but the music is intense, involving and changes from minute to minute. Cymbals crash, voices shriek and wail, pianos arpeggiate, bells tinkle and vibrate, guitars drone and scrape, and all this creates an audio melange unlike any other. Strange, weird and fascinating. (www.quetevmeriri.bandcamp.com )

   Fan Modine on their album "Gratitude For The Shipper" make uptempo happy pop in great style. Opening cut 'Julu Road' has a catchy tune and poppy arrangement, while the title track brings in snappy synths, though a less memorable tune. 'Through The Valley' has a lovely orchestral arrangement and chiming piano riff, while its strong tune pulls the listener through the song's twists and turns. 'Meet Me At The End Of The Line' is a real goody (hints of Squeeze, I thought), while 'Wormwood Scrubbs' is another delight, with a sophisticated arrangement and some great backing vocals. This one reminded me of that excellent band Pugwash. The Motown-ish arrangement of 'M.O.I. (Can We Dance?)' delights, while 'Another Eventall' matches chiming guitars with a classic pop chord sequence; terrific stuff. 'I'm Seeing Star' is quirky, 'Cups In Canarsie' is slow and meandering, while penultimate cut 'The Dream And The Dreamer' is a waltztime ballad with a hint of Americana. Closing track 'Waiting For Distant Light' matches rock guitar with tempo and mood changes. This is an outstanding album written by someone with a talent for pop hooks - highly recommended. I'm sure Andy Partridge of Ape Records would be interested in it! (www.daniel13press.com )

    On "So Slowly Slowly Got She Up," Northern folk chanteuse Elle Osborne presents an album of largely traditional songs, opening with the affecting 'Bonnie George Campbell.' Osborne's voice has a hint of Beth Orton, while the arrangements bring in electric instruments which, alongside some great drumming, make for engaging listening. (The album is superbly recorded - kudos to the engineer and producer.) Some of the songs acquire anthemic, almost epic quality, notably 'I Drew My Ship,' 'Dalesman's Litany' and 'Fair Annie,' while others are more intimate; 'Handsome Meadow Boy' and especially 'I'm Bound Away,' which uses choral singing and narration to great effect. A marvellous album, whose sonic variety, choice of songs, bold production and strong central voice and vision make for really good listening. Definitely recommended to those of a folk persuasion. (www.elleo.com )

     Franz Kirmann is an electronic musician whose new album "Random Access Memories" - a collection of cuts recorded over five years - makes for very good listening, reminiscent throughout of Band Ane (reviewed last year), and, in places, of Boards Of Canada. Varying moods, glitchy sampled drums (though not those annoyingly glitchy drums that some artists in this genre use) and a kaleidoscopic carpet of electronic textures make for involving, enjoyable listening. Highlights include the mesmerising 'Tunis,' the beautiful 'The Savage Eye' and the near perfect collision of rock and EM that is 'Lexi.' Closing cuts 'Jimmy Jimereeno' and 'Nocturne Indien' take everything in the album so far and mutate it into a hypnotic sonic tapestry. An exemplary illustration of how electronic music doesn't have to be looped to hell and back, or cold and remote. Highly recommended. (www.franzkirmann.net )

     From the icy wastes of Finland come two disks by Joonatan Elokuu & Mossycoat, the first of which, presumably self-titled, consists of thirteen delicate songs sung in a low, almost whispered voice by Joonatan Elokuu, accompanied by plaintive acoustic guitar and subtle electronic textures, some of which are provided by musical partner Helena Halla (who also sings). The mood - as evinced by cuts like 'Autumn' - are downbeat, melancholy, but always engaging, though the mood is often cool. Halla first appears on 'Owlsong,' which for icy mysticism takes some beating. Other highlights include 'Roots' and Halla's ghostly 'Boat Of Flowers.' A complete absence of information or a tracklisting makes the remastered "A Vagrant's Whim" difficult to convey in this review space, but the mood is similar, as is the singing style and instrumentation. An interesting Scandinavian discovery. (www.kiiltomatolyhty.blogspot.com )

     To conclude we have the new album from KK, aka Kevin Kerrigan, whose enchanting album "Telescopes" remains one of my favourite recordings of recent years. For his new album "Empty World," producer and composer KK is joined once again by the Steampunk Orchestra of "The Magic Lantern," his last release, and also by a full choir. The new album has a concept: it's orchestral music designed to accompany a film that you, the listener, create in the privacy of your own head. As such, it's an interesting idea, and beautifully realised, though lacking the indefinable magic of "Telescopes." Opener 'Dawn' is suitably evocative, then the full orchestra and drums of 'Maelstrom' evoke something awful, possibly awesome. 'Goodbye' is lyrical, 'Luma's Dream' powered by ethnic drums, 'Incantation' delicate and atmospheric, with the choir working particularly well alongside the synth textures and deep drones. 'Odyssey' is quite sweet, 'The Ancients' stately and reverential (an album highlight), while 'Apotheosis' is another beautiful choral cut. 'The Battle' doesn't really evoke anything martial, while 'Home' is another lyrical cut. 'In Shadows' is an album highlight - very spooky - while album closer '10,000 Years Later' concludes the work in cosmic choir style. I have to say, good though this album is, I can't help wondering if the concept is a little flawed. If we, the listeners, are to make our own films in our heads as we listen to the music, what is the point of giving the tracks such unambiguous titles? And while KK fans, of whom I am sure there are many, will enjoy this sophisticated work, I can't help feeling that the magic of "Telescopes" is in need of rediscovery. (www.kkthemusic.com)
Thanks, Steve. Just time now for me to review some of the vinyl that has arrived here in the last few weeks, (or possibly months), always a particular pleasure.

    Kicking us off in relaxed fashion is Blue Sausage Infant, whose “Negative Space” LP contains three tracks of Ambient/kraut/experimental electronic haze. Taking up side one is “Motion Parallex” a drifting piece of hypnotic electronic sound, built around a simple, yet effective, sequence that creeps into your brain blissfully. As the piece progresses over 21 minutes, the sounds writhe around each other with delicate precision, the addition of some electronic rhythms halfway through changing the angle of sonic attack whilst maintaining the groove. Flipping over to the title track reveals another facet of disc, as the introduction of drums guitar and percussion bring a space-rock vibe to the sound, albeit a low-key one, the track walking a line between Kraut-Rock drone and Velvets cool. What is consistent is the hypnotic repetition, bringing to mind such bands as Can or the longer pieces by Mushroom. Finally, the shorter “Subferal” returns us to the electronics, an ambient drone with swarm like undercurrents, the sound of aliens hiding behind the sun. Housed in a beautiful sleeve and pressed on smoky opaque vinyl, the whole LP is a thing of beauty both visually and sonically, hats of to everyone involved, but especially Chester Hawkins, the man in the driving seat.  (www.zeromoon.com)

    Equally beautiful is “Eyes All Around” the debut album from Midday Veil, although it took me a few plays to realise how good it was. Opening very quietly with a whispered drone “We Are You” soon livens up with pulsing drums and a the repeated refrain “We Are You When You Are Dead”, the vocals subtly mixed around to excellent effect before the band kick it up another notch with some great interplay between all concerned, especially the swirling synths of David Golightly. After the sweetly psychedelic electronic bath that is “Bardo” (far too short at 2:51), the band launch into the gorgeous ache of “Anthem”, the gentle splendour of the opening verse soon exploding into a powerful shoe-gaze style anthem (as the name implies), stately and perfectly arranged for maximum effect. Meanwhile, over on side two, we find the musicians in a mellower mood as “Divide By Zero” introduce an, almost, lounge feel to the proceeding, the track sung perfectly by Emily Pothast, the rest of the band sympathetic to the needs of the melody. Moving on, the two-part “Asymptote” is a schizophrenic beast, with part one being another short psychedelic haze, whilst part two rocks much harder, the musicians notching up the tension and the volume as the piece soars into the heavens. Finally, the title track leads you home another slice of gorgeousness wrapped up in a song, highlighting all that is good about Midday Veil. An album for repeated listens that rewards your efforts and pressed on white vinyl as well. (www.translinguisticother.com)

     Next up “Beasts for While”, a red vinyl 10” offering, housed in a 12” sleeve, from Collection of the Late Howell Bend. Featuring two track per side, opener “Ruby in the Dust”, is a moody slice of drone/electronics with almost chanted vocals and a dark heart at its centre. With the sound of a school piano weaved through it “Dominated by Splendour” is another slice of woozy strangeness, best heard in the light of a single candle, the vocals spoken as a spell, casting a weird magic over the room. Over on the other side, “Ha Ha” ensures the magic remains, being a drunken psychedelic stumble that is both understated and excellent, filled with hypnotic power. Almost a long slow fadeout, “Neenawww” is ambient and delicate, relying on the piano the hold it together with Eno-esque minimalism. Housed in a reasonably grotesque sleeve, the music inside bears little resemblance to the image of a half-human, half spider, mouth covered in blood, plus a skull and talons, that you see first. I guess this is part of the charm. (www.ownness.org) Out on the same label and featuring the same band, is a split LP with side one being taken up with “Shape is Nature” Rory Hinchey, a man who plays organ, wine glasses, electronics and tones, blending these sounds together to create six distant and delicate drones, each perfectly formed and sufficiently different from one another to hold the listeners interest throughout. Pick of the bunch, are “By Means of the Thirds”, which features some lovely violin courtesy of Alison Corbett, and “The Listener”which highlights the electronic elements to great effect. Mind you, it is all good and these are just my personal faves, other people would, no doubt, pick different pieces. On Side two, we Find “Long Fields” a five track collection from the previously reviewed band, The wooziness and school piano still intact as they kick of with the wonderfully named “Flight of the Unsuspecting Lark”. Lighter in texture than their 10” release, the songs also feature the violin of Alison Corbett, the tunes having a jauntier feel, that is until the title track, which ends a splendid selection with a dark rumble and drone.
    A bit of rock and roll, a bit of Beefheart, and some glorious fuzz can all be found on “Dull Thicket”, a rather fine slab of vinyl from Lougow. Starting as they mean to go on, “Are Your Eyes Already Ready” kicks in with a Beefheartian riff, before crunching into a swamp infested rock and roll groove topped of with synth and general weirdness. This excellent start is easily matched by “Things To Do” which follows a similar path of primitive psych, tinged with menace, reminding me of Rocky Erickson's solo work. To round off side one, “Circle of Protection” continues the band's sound, as well as the quality, with maybe a little Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure. Getting down to business, “You'll Live and Die by Those Little Dogs” blasts in with some seriously sleazy guitar, before dropping the tempo, only to build it up again and again, creating my favourite track on the disc.  After the delicious swamp psych of “Time Is Too Old”, the LP closes with the rather excellent “Hey Sweetie Who”, a song filled with noise and chaos, just as it should be, lo-fi and coming from the soul. In these days of corporate music, it is a pleasure to hear music that is about passion and excitement, rather than bland commercial shite.  (write to : prayeerie@gmail.com)

   An intriguing mix of Dream-Pop, Arborea and Stereolab can be found on “Misericord”, the latest album from Softcheque. Opening salvo “Comme les Huitres” is definitely in the pop spectrum, delightful vocals and sweet keyboards combining to create a splash of aural sunshine laced with happiness. Quieter and slightly surreal “Whippoorwill” walks into folk ballad territory, the excellent voice of  Dane Waters drifting over sympathetic electronic backing to stunning effect. On “Hummingbird Q”, the band up the surrealism, the song's opening baroque keyboard sounds suddenly morphing into a cloud of atmospherics that lifts you up into the sky, the song displaying a rare beauty and an eye for detail, the percussion slowly building until the end. Over on side two this mix of styles continues as “Remind” sounds like White Noise writing a pop song, strange and accessible at the same time, whilst “Tanz Mit Mir” sweeps majestically from the speakers, a delightful electronic haze topped off with more beautiful vocals. On first listen, this album could be almost to saccharine, but further listens reveal a mature and thoughtful selection of songs that display hidden depths if you give them time. (http://softcheque.bandcamp.com/)

    Inspired by folk music and gospel singing, the music of Laughing Eye Weeping Eye  sounds like little else around at the moment, blissful melodies sung and chanted, screamed and wailed, over a droning harmonium, handclaps, loops and toy instruments. Contrast the sweetness of album opener “Venus” with the shamanic vibe of “Chant”, the former almost a hymn, sung beautifully, whilst the latter sees the vocals wailed like banshees, bringing to mind Larkin Grimm or Tara Burke. The rest of the album moves between these points, always interesting, filled with imagination, and well worth you time with “On The Path”, “River of Golden Treasures” and “Aye Yai Yai Yai” being particular favourites, the first of these sounding exactly like The Cherry Blossoms, so much so in fact that I had to check the personnel on each album to see if there was a connection, there isn't. Containing that same strange mystical vibe as early Incredible String Band offerings, “Where Snakes and Seers Go” is a collection of songs that will curl up in your heart until it becomes an old friend. (http://rebeccaschoenecker.com/music.html)

    Fans of Aphrodites Child's apocalyptic masterpiece “666” are gonna love “Trespass 1”, the opening cut on “Narrow Road to the Interior” the latest album from Angels in America, containing as it does a cloud of disturbed electronics and a haunting human voice reciting Erza Pound, sounding like it could be an outtake from those legendary sessions.   The best about the whole LP though is that the rest of the album contains the same feel, an atmospheric shimmer the coats the whole thing like a shroud, a shadow that hangs over the room. On “Follow Me Out”, the electronics are joined by distorted percussion and general noise, whilst “In Spades” Has percussion rattle and is infested by a dark drone, with vocals that are only just on the edge of sanity. Over on side two, any hope of relief is quickly dissipated, first by the lonely cry of “An Ointment”, then by the intensity of “My Lucky Day”, a piece that is perfectly composed, a reverbed piano fighting with distorted noise and atmosphere, the whole track writhing out of the speakers with dark intent. After the dark crackle and ambience of “Highway E-12”, the LP ends as it began with “Trespass 2”, the track even more distorted this time, which is a good thing and a fine way to end a sublime album that you probably have to be in the mood for, best not play it to your granny. (www.ehserecords.com)

    It seems to me that so many releases these days are the work of just one person (with occasional guest), and so it is with Sagas, whose “Between Worlds” is a rich and diverse collection composed and played by Matt McDowell. Opening with the slow drone and chant of “The Hidden Variable”, there is a warmth to the sound of the music, drawing the listener in, slowly changing your perception of time and space before “Bad Karma Boogie” gets your soul dancing in a strange manner, the track's kraut-rock ambience and twisted guitar a shock to the senses, the distant lyrics asking “Where am I” as the sounds build into a swirling crescendo with drums and bass adding weight, sounding not unlike early Bevis Frond. To round of the side, “Scrapyard” sounds like its name, a metallic cacophony of sound that never become too abrasive. Over on side two, “Hope Springs Vernal” is a stuttering banjo piece, that does indeed recall that scene, in that film, as it gathers pace and intensity. Haunting and beautifully controlled, “In The Hall Of Mandos” is a slowly spiralling ribbon of sound, featuring some wistful guitar played of a ever-morphing electronic backdrop, whilst “The Scissors are Part of It”, slams you back to consciousness, with its guitar wall of noise approach. To finish the lovely strains of “Better Times Soon A-Comin' (For Jax)” lead you out with a smile and a spring in your step. (www.greenupindustries.com)

     Also the work of one man, this time Jakob Rehlinger, “River Ghosts” is a wholly enchanting album recorded under the name of Moonwood. Featuring such instruments as Bamboo Flute, Gongs, Ekatantri and percussion, along side the more obvious Guitar and bass, there is an eastern feel to the ten tracks on show here, something that is highlighted by a rich warm production. After a brief opening track, that sets the scene, The album gets into its stride with the quite magnificent “Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society”, a gorgeous slow moving piece, filled with drone and percussion, over which a Gourd Flute blows ever so sweetly, all you have to do is close your eyes. With tinkling bells and jangling percussion, “Bamboo Whiskey” is another brief aural delight, whilst “Drawing Water From a Poisoned Well” utilises a bowed guitar in its quest for sonic perfection, the piece containing some hypnotic guitar work. On side two the wonder continues, with for more long tracks in the same style, with the excellent “cholera in the Time of Love” being the pick of the bunch for me, whilst side closer “Blood Red Riverbanks” gets the silver medal for its epic grandeur. Taken as a whole, this is a sprawling and sumptuous treat that will carry you away to distant lands. (http://arachnidiscs.wordpress.com/)

    One final LP to mention, the rather wonderful Old Californio whose “sundrunk Angels” is something of a favourite around these parts. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because you read Mr McMullen's review of the CD published in May

- and as I can add nothing to that, I will just quickly mention that the vinyl version has new artwork, a slightly different running order, a different mix on a couple of tracks and it still sound brilliant. Go get one.

   Finally, a handful of 7” vinyl, a format that seems out of favour almost everywhere, but I still love it.

   Hailing from Finland Can Can Heads have been together for 19 years, so it a damn shame that their “Kusisessions vol 2” is the first thing I have heard by them, as I have no idea if it is representative of their sound through all those years. I hope it is though, as the three tracks of spasmodic avant-punk energy, got me grinning like a cheshire cat, the crunchy guitar and wailing sax hitting the spot and making me leap up and down in the kitchen. Mind you the third track “Hot Albert Meat” does drift into avant-noise territory, less leaping more putting you ears to the speaker, either way I am gonna have to investigate further. (www.cancanheads.com) (http://www.kissankusi.com/)

   Weird and psychedelic with a late 60's vibe, “Love, The Word is Spoken” / “reborn Reborn”, is a perfect example of why I still like singles. Best of the two is the first, wonderful hippy lyrics, strummed acoustic and rambling electric guitar all melded together in a Barrett meets Banhart fashion, guaranteed to blow your mind. Pressed on smoky blue vinyl with a full colour sleeve, what's not to like.

   Finally for this vinyl extravaganza, a 7” single with a twist, as, while it may look like a single it is in fact a digital album, the vinyl single contains the first track and you get a code to download the rest of the album. So, who thought of this cunning plan ? Answer North Pole Records for their release “More Trial Less Error” from Paint and Copter. Containing Twelve track, the single showcases “Lord of the Plain” a slow burning slice of spacey psych, that features a lovely rolling synth line and languid vocals, the whole thing trippy and out-there. This languid trippy feel permeates the whole album and your head, the band happy to drift ,with purpose, through the album lazy psych played with precision. Highlights include the gorgeous “Collided Circles”, the slightly deranged “Dead End Wood” and album closer  “Liquid Sunshine”, a song which reminds me of 70's Gong without actually sounding like them, think it is the bass-line.

   There you have it, all the recent vinyl Rumbled, albums of amazing quality both in sound and look, made by people who love their music, there is bound to be something you like in there so help them out and buy one, you know it makes sense. (Simon Lewis).

 Now, as a bit of a bonus, a long lost Rumble from March, written by the lovely Stefan Ek.

  ”As a hovering insect mass breaks your fall” is not only a very beautiful titles album, it’s also James Brewster’s fourth solo album, but his first under his given name. He’s managing the music on his own, playing the instruments, adding samples and sounds. For sung and spoken words there are a lot of contributions from artists like Men Diamler and Nick Talbot (Gravenhurst) as well as Albanian opera singer Egzona Gervalla, Iranian puppet-artist Soodabeh Haaji and others. The album consists of six tracks, two short, two medium length and two long ones. The music presented is a mixture of soft, emotional build-up songs and environmental field-recording sounds as well as rough experimental beats and sounds as if they were constructed in Bristol. The vocal arrangement differs a lot, it could be solo voice singing and it could be choir-like of the kind heard by Animals Collective. My favourite tune is “Landfall”, an experimental piece with a first half of ambient sounds and then entering into a second half which sounds like something David Sylvian would have been proud of. www.makeminemusic.co.uk

Luciano Maggiore & Francesco “fuzz” Brasini present the one-track album “Chàsm Achanés” for us. 35 minutes of dark ambient dronish sounds constructed by Luciano´s tape recorders and electronic devises and Francesco´s self-build guitars. These two guys are coming from the Italian in-land city of Bologna, but in my ears, myself coming from a coast city in Sweden, the ambience of the drone siren sounds brings maritime vibes to me, something I really like. For me looking out over the sea always gives me wishes to travel, a longing away to what’s behind the horizons. These guys say that the music invites the listeners to remember what the past is and to anticipate what could happen. That’s a beautiful thought, a little bit Zen-like. And maybe it’s here somewhere my maritime feelings links to the past and the future, because when you as a child look out over the sea you have no idea what’s on the other side, but as a grown up you may have been there or at least knows what to find on the other side of the horizons. A little bit whimsically? Yes, maybe, but it’s on me. Anyway, “Chàsm Achanés” is a very beautiful and carefully constructed piece, highly recommended. www.boringmachines.it

Also on Boring Machines is “The Red Giant Meets the White Dwarf” a joint release by Chapter 24 & Philippe Petit. The background story: In 2008 both C 24 and PP were celebrating their 25th anniversary of activism on the music scene. C 24 invited PP to join them, and after their first meeting they immediately found how linked they were to each others influences and so, and the following day they were improvising together on stage. The gig was recorded and serves as basic for this newly released album. The album is split into 9 tracks of various lengths, some kind of ambient space-kraut-psych floating through the room. It’s electric and electronic and as predicted with cinematic artist like these the music creates soundtracks to the pictures in your head. For me, even though I can hear traces of film music Pink Floyd made in the late 60’s this is music that’s pointing forward with a very personal language of its own.  www.boringmachines.it

“Slumbher and Stark Lots” is a mini-album by Fosdyk Well, an alliance between songwriter Scott Ferguson and guitarist Sean Whittaker. Seven tracks in 24 minutes, semi-acoustic with some electronic flavour, some kind of up-dated psychedelic folk. The sound picture is a bit raw and unpolished and it attracts me. If Tom Verlaine were about 30 years younger and not under the Television burden maybe he could have sounded something like this. And he would have enjoyed every moment. www.blackcityrecords.net

True power-psych, power-space, power-kraut is coming out of the loudspeakers when listening to “Future Retro Spasm”, the new release by Croatian power-masters Seven That Spells. With a back history of a bunch of releases and a huge amount of members passing through during the years since the band was formed by guitarist Niko Potočnjak as a power trio in 2003. Here as a four-piece, with NP + Stanislav Muskinja (drums), Narantxa (bass) and Lovro Ziopass (sax). I’m not at all surprised they have collaborated with Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple when I hear tunes like the wonderful 14+ minutes “The abandoned world of automata” with its repetitive Pink Lady mantra build-up textures. And the heavy metal influences comes along as well as heard in the two last tracks of the album, the two furious and up-tempo “Death Star Narcolepsy” and “Quetzalcoatl”, a breath-taking closure of an intense album. www.blrrecords.com

Now over to”Psychedelic Dream” by Swedish legendary prog-psych guitarist Kenny Håkansson: With a background beginning in the mid-sixties, with pre-prog-psych outfits like Mekki Mark Men and as co-founder of Baby Grandmothers which more or less turned into Kenekaise, a classic band who played electrified, instrumental Swedish folk music with a psychedelic jam-approach. In the late 70’s he surprised more than one person by joining Dag Vag, an up-temp post-punk reggae band. Over the years he has also been a much occupied session man playing with artists like Bo Hansson where his personal playing reaches peaks, like in the fantastic “The sun (parallel or 90°)” from “Magicians Hat”, one of the most beautiful guitar solos ever played. As a solo artist there has been years between the releases and this new album is only his fifth since the first one in 1978. With Kenny on guitar and vocals, Frank Sanderson on drums and background vocals, Colin Campbell on bass and Ditte Edin on background vocals this little combo presents a handful of mostly slow, heavy prog-rock tunes with a couple of emotional ballads added. The album is well balanced and if you’re looking for guitar-wanking you’re in the wrong place. Kenny’s playing has always been sparse and well balanced, rather few notes than many. Good songs, good playing plus a big heart. That’s what you get. If you want to grab your copy the best way is to mail Kenny himself at
www.kennyhakansson.se (mostly in Swedish, but with a bio part in English)

The melodic, melancholy beauty of the first intro track might fool you a bit what this all is about, when the second, “Pudelhjälten Stefan” explodes into something Motorpsycho could have made on a good day. This is Mainekk, a Swedish-Danish-Estonian combo and their debut album “Dance Dance and Rotate” (isn’t that a lovely title, say?). Then back to beauty. They do really have a good sense for strong, instrumental epic melodies. The four-piece use of instruments like melodica and balalaika add a lot flavour to the traditional drums-bass-guitar-guitar-set-up. I find this surprisingly sympathetic, charming and uplifting and being a reviewer with loudspeakers mostly filled with noise, drones and other minimalistic expressions Mainekk’s music function really great as ear-cleaning relief (as well as the opposite would have been). The closure of the album is the only lengthy piece, “Winehaze” almost ten minutes of pure wonder, as if Durutti Column would have met Godspeed You Black Emperor. Impressive.  www.myspace.com/mainekkhoot

The silence is almost never all silent. That’s what strikes you when listening top the first two tracks of Dead Wood/Matthew Shaw new release “Shottsford Forum”. The sounds, the field recordings, the voices are all carefully treated. Then the volume rises for the last two tracks. For me this odd album sounds like some environmental investigations, like standing somewhere with a microphone, not doing the traditional field recording, but more likely an aural documentary film. The first track, “The railway” could possibly have been recorded on a train couch with the microphone in the pocket, some transportation droning and some very indistinct and low voices heard talking. The third track, “Shredder” could have been the microphone put through a shredder, but that might have reduced the track into a really short one I guess, but it sounds more like some industrial metallic saw or grinding machine or something, with small variations in the sounds coming out. The fourth and last piece is like a soundtrack from the machinery room on a boat, also with conversations somewhere around. If it’s music or not I’ve no idea and actually I don’t care, it’s an interesting piece of plastic from these two constructive workers. www.apollolaan.co.uk

“Leader of the Starry Skies” (V/A) is tribute album to Tim Smith, lead singer and front figure of Cardiacs who have been stuck into a hospital for two years no after suffering a heart attack. It’s an honourable, empathic and grand gesture producing this album. There are 17 tracks by 17 contributors of various fame and known-ness, where Ultrasound, Andy Partridge (him again!) and The Magic Number might be the most recognisable, as well as former Cardiacs members Bic Hayes and Kavus Torabi. How to review an album like this? I guess most of the readers are at least partly well aware of the importance of Cardiacs/Tim Smith as inspires and makers of good music. From a musical point of view the choice of tunes is great as well as the high standard of the performances. Most of it sounds like the source could have been one and the same band, a truly good band, maybe not as sublime as Cardiacs itself, but they complement this with raw energy and heavy-ness instead. I will not go deeper into this than what I’ve already done. Instead I’d like to command you, or at least recommend you, to join the support, get the album. All profits of this album will go directly to Tim Smith. I guess Mr Smith is honoured by this album as well as we should honour him. www.thegenepool.co.uk

No-one has to convince me, I’m an Olekranon addict. Here’s {bilal}”, the follow up to “Idénti” (2009). Anyone who have read my earlier reviews of Olekranon’s albums – forget it, you’ll be disappointed, thinking: “Do he always repeat himself like that?” The answer is Yes, I will repeat myself, because this is a magnificent album. Olekranon (still aka Ryan Huber) turns up the volume a bit, the rawer beats enters and most of it you could dance to, or at least I’d like to, even though I’m not that good dancer. Nevertheless, it’s and electric, inspiring, noisy tour de force which brings you into a really good mood. Ryan’s skills are admirable, he construct the music with such a light hand and give it a heavy musical texture that I guess artists like Depeche Mode or Nitzer Ebb would have given away an arm or sold their mothers for. If rock & roll do have a future the future is close now. 10 tracks lasting for 40+ minutes, not a single second you’d like to be without.

Andy Haas is a saxophone player living in New York City. Mostly he’s known for being the sax player with Martha and the Muffins 1978 – 1981. For the last 20 years or so he’s been active as an improviser in the post-no-wave scene I NYC. Here’s his new solo album, his 8th on the Resonantmusic label, “Paradise of Ashes”. 12 short (2 – 3 minutes) tracks with Haas playing his soprano sax to prepared electronics and rhythmic loops, basically inspired by Arfican texture. There are a couple of self-penned tunes, otherwise the material is from other composers, both “western” and “third world” (whatever THAT is). The music is laid-back and even though I’d expected some more experimental approaches to the material it’s a pleasure listening to it. It’s hard to find a good link for the label because I only come to a Norwegian jazz label with the same name and I’m rather sure that’s not the right one. Go hunt yourself!

The detective job continues: “loose connection” is a 3” mini CD from Marl M V Waugh’s solo project disillusion dot dot dot. Karl is one half of Zero Maps and also a part-time member of The A Band. Here we do have three tracks lasting for almost 20 minutes. DIY sounds, music and mumbles. The music is thoughtful, which here means that it brings you to thought about music, the meaning of it, how and why it’s made, a philosophical aspect of constructing (or first de-construct and then construct) sounds. There are Fluxus vibes all over it, and speaking of Fluxus hearing the 2nd track “anti elsewhere” brings my mind to some of the sounds/music Yoko Ono made ca 1970. The concluder of the mini-disc is the almost 10 minute long “carnival”, a lively, basically electronic piece which really appeals to me. www.myspace.com/disillusiondotdotdot

I do have a confession to make: I am really delighted with Richard Pinhas’ recent development. He has never been better than he is now in my personal opinion. And the confession I have to make is that from what I’ve heard through the years of Heldon and/or Pinhas solo efforts I sometimes found it a bit….well, sorry…. boring. But, honestly, of course there’s a lot of what they/he have done which I actually haven’t heard, so, let’s leave it there. “Keio Line”, his recent collaboration with Merzbow is more or less a masterpiece; a “prog-mind” meets a “noise-mind” in a wonderful mix. Here’s “Metal/Crystal”, a new 2 disc set from Pinhas and even though it’s presented as a solo album he’s surrounded by collaborators like – yes – Merzbow and the American noisemaker Wolfs Eye plus a bunch of Heldon ex-members and others. With the exception of a 7 minute bonus track in the end all the others are really long tunes, varies between 15 – 29 minutes. Phew! Track by track: The opener, “Bi-polarity (Gold)” is almost a rocker with steady beats, a pulsing repetitive moog bass line and layers of guitar. Next one takes of with a maximum ambient texture, soundscapes like Fripp’s frippertronics with additional layers of electronics, a piece constructed by Richard and his son Duncan. The closure of CD 1 is the long piece “Depression (Loukoum)” with continuous maximum ambient moods, also the first track which includes additional sounds by Merzbow and Wolfs Eye. After a while bass-lines a freely played drums enters and the piece grows into something recognisable magnificent.  First out on CD 2 is “Hysteria (Palladium)”, the most experimental piece of the set. If CD 1 is Metal and CD 2 is Crystal you may think that Metal is harder than Glass and in a way it is, but glass is much more sharp and can really hurt you. This piece is like standing in the rain of sharp crystal glass pieces, it’s distinct and it’s fascinating and a longing for an umbrella will not help. But, don’t worry, you’ll survive. 2nd track, “Schizophrenia (Silver)” is maybe the one that brings it all together, the maximum ambient sounds, the Merzbow/Wolfs Eye contributions, Richard’s multilayered guitar-sounds and after about ten minutes it turns out to a heavy swinging prog-rock buster with the entrance of bass and drums. The coda of the album is “Legend” a pure and calm Pinhas track which brings us back to the ground again. www.cuneiformrecords.com

Next on the player is “Royal Toast” by The Claudia Quintet. TCQ is led by drummer John Hollenbeck who also composes all the material and features performers of acoustic bass, vibraphone, accordion and clarinet/tenor sax. Also on this release is guest pianist Gary Versace. It’s the Quintet’s fifth release. The music is strictly composed in a way often heard on Cuneiform releases, competent played with nerve, but not letting the skills of the musicians take over the music for personal tour de forces (but here actually each and every one of them do have a one-minute track for presentation). It’s bright chamber jazz, kind of 21st Century Dave Brubeck, and the drumming is high in the mix (who would have guest something else?). Maybe I’d wish the players sometimes should have flipped out a bit, not being so much in control, but that’s just me.     
www.cuneiformrecords.com (Stefan Ek)



Terrascopic Rumbles for July was brought to you by Simon Lewis, Steve Palmer and Stefan Ek. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2011