Now that Steve Palmer has established himself as a regular member of the team, it is time to introduce you to Stefan Ek, whose poetic prose can be found below as he wanders through the sonic maze that is this edition of Rumbles. Thanks Stefan and welcome to the family.After a handful of various full-length releases over the last five years (and an appearance at Terrastock 6) the multitalented Rhode Island resident Area C (a.k.a. Erik Carlson) presents a new album, “Charmed Birds vs. Sorcery”. Pieces brought together mostly by using the electric guitar, some electronic devices and environmental sounds, all in a most attractive way. The seven pieces mostly keeps you in dark landscapes and the music acts like it is connected with your deepest inner emotions, bending up and down as if it was a small boat on turbulent waves.
Sometimes the music melts together with crackling sounds, sometimes it’s touched by psychedelic inputs as if good old Richard Wright came back from the shadows and laid down some organ chords, trying to calm the worries, sometimes the thin line between music and sound sculptures is washed away and all that is left are sounds so interesting it keeps you alert, thinking: ‘What comes next?’. This is up-dated ambient music at its best. (www.studentsofdecay.com)
Erdem Helvacioglu is a highly acclaimed composer of electro-acoustic and electronic music. His origin is Turkish, but his working-fields are global. His new release “Wounded Breath” follows the patterns of many interesting electro-acoustic/electronic compositions of its kind, a journey through a building filled with uncountable rooms, where you enter though door after door, surprised by what will happen in the next room. The album consists of five long pieces of such equal quality and character that listening to them is like listening to a complex unit. Sometimes the sounds creeps on its toes around you as if you were a threat, sometimes it attacks you and you have to crouch down, to avoiding a hit, and then you realise it’s just the sounds from the loudspeakers, so strong, convincing and impressive and they have fooled you to believe they were of physical shape. A true sensurround feeling.
Simplicity doesn’t necessarily means simple, just as playfulness has nothing to do with being a child. Inventive and joyful avant-pop-music could best be heard on “Ooodipooomn” (album title of the year?), the new album by Now. Hailing from London. The ensemble, led by Jason Paton and his four fellow musicians plus loads of friends, takes us through pop music of a kind seldom heard, from cute melodies like those sung by Belle & Sebastian or Prefab Sprouts to the excessive ‘Hiway Code’ when the music explodes like we got used to when we heard Rip Rig & Panic climbing the climax hills in their heydays. Or why not the anarchistic approaches to music like the Estonian Ne Zhdali’s. There is a lot of strength in Now’s music. They have fun! They play and sing well. They have a healthy disrespect to what they do, trying not to be too serious about it. They don’t give a shit to what genre they belong, they’re a genre of their own. They keep you upright and alert all the time. And at the end when you think it can’t be better, sometimes ideas just have to fade, you land in the 13 minutes track ‘Yellow tent t-shirt’, a majestic two-parts masterpiece, a build-up tune sung by Angela Last in the whispering laidback Jason Spaceman style, surrounded by these intense strings from cellist Richard Thomas, while instruments and background melodies billows like waves on a beach. Magic! Now is a magic and bright band that makes the days easier to live thru.
There’s something fascinating with restless bands as long as they use their restlessness to put their music in a creative direction, using their restlessness as a tool for expression, having the ability to capture the essence of it’s various units. I put on “Macumba o Muerte”, the last release by ZA, the powerful multi-instrumental power trio from Barcelona. Three guys sharing nine instruments and vocals. Having never heard of them , after listening to the first track I started making notes regarding the second: “African thumb piano intro followed by heavy guitar-bass-drums. A feeling of standing in a street corner not knowing which way to chose realising it doesn’t matter, all of them are right. Field recordings of people chatting. Shepherds. Each track split into multiple segments floating in and out of each other. Death metal guitar followed by a bebop trumpet solo followed by a short drum intermission, orchestrated brass and a choir, chants, free form guitar solo…” That was only the second track, ‘Doble Cobra’. Mah God! They explore each cell of my aural system. Anyone interested in plain background music don’t bother, this is not for you. But, if you look at music as a brew of ingredients and influences mixed together to something really tasty, this is your menu. ZA’s relationship to traditional music and electrified heavy rock in odd time signatures do sometimes have some connections with Acid Mothers Temple’s relationship to the same subject. They are as close to heavy metal as they are to traditional music and free form expressions, all played with opened eyes and ears and a huge amount of curiosity: “Can we do like this? Of course we can, it’s just to do it!” Rock ‘n’ roll in 5. It’s not psychedelic music from the past, its heavy psychedelic music for 2009 psychedelic music addicts.
It starts with a scream from Alan Wilkinson’s baritone saxophone, quickly followed by John Edwards’ added contrabass bow string playing, creating a mysterious introduction mood and very few moments later Steve Nobel’s furious drums give us a clue of what it’s all about. Off we go! The music kicks off. ‘Spellbound’, the first track on Wilkinson/Edwards/Noble’s second release on Bo’Weavil Recordings, “Live at Café Oto”, brings us to an almost 32 minute long journey into basically improvised free form (jazz) music, the necessarily virtuoso interplay between the three gents is what’s needed to keep music like this together in this most brilliant way. It is always hard to compare incomparable things to each others, but the construction of this long piece reminds a bit about how Miles Davis constructed the four side-long “suites” on his 1970 “Live at Fillmore East” double album, where each one of four nights concerts were edited down to 25 minutes, one LP side each. Even though the live recordings were much treated and edited the music still sounded wonderful and kept well together. But, Wilkinson/Edwards/Noble’s music is unedited real time live where the music’s shifting in intensity, all from furious expressions to some calm, reflective moments, always focused. Three musicians listening to each other as they play their own instruments, where the group sound is more important than standing in front of each other. The album’s second and last piece, the 8 minute piece ‘Recoil’ follows the same pattern as ‘Spellbound’ and brings this album to a conclusion. Even though an album is some kind of two-dimensional and a live performance three-dimensional, “Live at Café Oto” justifies the trio delightfully. This is free and happy music; at least it makes me feel free and happy when listening to it. Extra plus for the Prestige/Blue Notes-ish album cover.
“Dues Ex Machina” is a split EP shared by British punk rockers Dun2Def and Deconstoctor666, both letting us preview future releases. Dun2Def has a back history to 1996, first as “77” and since 2001 with their present name. They describe their music as old school punk and nothing could be more right. The angry approach and the conscious lyrics of their three tracks on this EP show some music connections with early Clash and partly even The Jam. Deconstructor666 has links back to 1976 through their singer Allen Adams who’s first group was 6CK 6CK 6CK. Decontructor666 have turned the aggression up and the intensity of the EP raises when we come to their three tunes + one “hidden” track. Guitarist Dave Colton’s has been playing since early 80s and his heavy chords gives the music a stable platform for Allen’s singing. Their approach to what they do shows the hunger of the youngster, as in 60s Nuggets garage bands, not the one of old guys. It’s uncompromised and the taste of take no prisoners music isn’t far away.
(Rowdy Farrago Records – no web)
Being a person living in one part of a city and then moving to another part is no big deal but, being a New Yorker living in Brooklyn moving to Western Manhattan could probably be like moving to another part of the world. For Doug Keith it gives enough fuel for romantic lyrics-of-a-loner combined with melancholic melodies all of which are brought together on his debut album as a solo artist, “Here’s To Outliving Me”, and which peak on the beautiful Paul Simon-esque ‘How I’ve Got It Made’. The album follows an laid-back pattern, the tunes don’t demand anything from you at first, just to sit down, relax and listen, but when listening to them more carefully you’ll discover a new era traditionalist of a good kind. Doug Keith shares his time between the New York trio Up the Empire and being a solo artist. When he perform on his own he mostly trusts to being alone with his guitar. When given the opportunity to record an album of his own, engineer Jim Bentley encouraged him to experiment,, adding more instrument than just the acoustic guitar, drums and bass, giving it all a bigger sound. On the album he’s also accompanied by Jennifer O’Conner’s beautiful back-up voice. Even though the songs are rooted in country blues it all gets a colourful Americana touch by his gentle, low voice, good song-writing and a great production.
Dream Weapon Ritual, an Italian duo consisting of electronic/electro-acoustic composer and sound artist Simon Balestrazzi and actress and vocalist Monica Serra. Both are also members of cult band T.A.C. (Tomografia Assiale Computerizzata). Originally a multimedia performance including visual artist Elisabetta Saiu, “Like a Tree Growing Out Of a Sidewalk” now finds its way to a CD release on TiConZero. The eight tracks of the release are more sound constructions than songs. The album cover-photo shows a crown of a tree in which you can see diffuse human naked characters gives you the image of entering into an unknown and mysterious wood. re All the time you are surrounded by environmental sounds, birds, insects, hard-to-describe sounds, followed by electronic constructions that seem to be of a more distinct kind and Monica Serra’s voice singing or chanting in what seems to be a free role, adding spices and flavour. Even though the sound picture is very electric it all feels much more native than urban. Not having seen the original performance it’s hard to know exactly what happened and what the visions added to the sounds, but when listening and creating pictures inside your own head the album becomes a soundtrack of both beauty and horror. But, we all know it’s nothing frightening with the wood, it’s our own fright that scares us, so, enter the unknown.
From Philadelphia comes Eric Carbonara, a guitarist who’s exploring the possibility of various expressions of his instrument. Inspired by noise and electro-acoustic music as well as Andalusian Roma-Flamenco and Hindustani and North African folk music he transfer his inspiration sources to his own playing, now presented on his album release “Towards A Center Of Infinite Flux”. The album starts of with its most appealing track, ‘Splitting two into one’ a ten minute feedback and free noise guitar excess with a hidden highly distorted solo of Northern African scales. The tracks brings me some Sunn O))) vibes which are really nice. Before the album ends up with its sixth track, the beautiful and reflective ‘A brief rest from the long road to nowhere’ the trip takes us through landscapes of jazz guitars of the 50s, flamenco inspired amplified and reverb acoustic guitar, soft jazz guitar interrupted by free form approaches and fast chord changes and the very appealing ‘Transfixed between open space’ where Eric Carbonara shows his high skills in the ambient drone-guitar territory. An album that shows the multiple faces and talents of Eric’s playing.
When listening to the perfect balanced ambient drones of Anduin + Jasper TX on their collaboration release “The Bending Of Light” you enter into therapeutic fields. No matter how you feel at first you’ll feel better afterwards and the mind starts spinning questions about the old supposed-to-be-truth about the first music that was made after the humming and singing voice, if it was the beating of a rhythm on some kind of pre-historic percussions. Before singing and beating drums there must have been a low sound of a drone existing. It’s like the air you breathe, it’s just there and you don’t miss it until it’s gone. Playing “The Bending Of Light” again and again and instead of being the art of someone it becomes a part of the room you’re in and when the last, short, sixth track concludes the album you miss the confidence it creates and put it on again. Anduin from Richmond, Virginia and Jasper TX (aka Dag Rosenqvist) from Gothenburg, Sweden seems to be perfectly matched, with their low tone guitars and synthesizers weaving together. Even though it is music of its own, it partly seems to be inspired by the music of Gas (Wolfgang Voight). The tracks are titled with quotes from Carl Sagan about the formation of a black hole and maybe it’s the musicians own perspective of what they do, but opposite, because with the darkest moods at the beginning of the album the fifth tune ‘Like the foot prints of an invisible man…’ let the guitar construct a short, repetitive melody of few notes over the dark moods, as if the journey goes from the black hole into the light and bring some kind of hope, which might be a good description of the album; it’s dark but brings you light.
Let’s imagine we’re hiding behind a curtain in Led Zeppelin’s rehearsal room ca 1969/70. Jimmy is there, Bonzo is there, John Paul doesn’t show up and they have forgotten to tell Robert who’s at home doing whatever. ‘Ok, let’s do it just the two of us’ Jimmy says and re-tune the E and A strings to get them lower so he can get both the sound of his guitar as well as a bass at the same time.. Then he starts with some intense riffs with an almost punkish approach to heavy metal, as if either of them had been invented yet. Bonzo fills in as if he was the composer and connects with his famous power and force. It’s tight and it’s no problems in making a lot of noise with only guitar and drums as they’re bending their riffs and beats round and around. The music is varied and excellent. Ooops, sorry, forget about The Leds, this is Stephen Crease on guitar/bass and Robbie Iron on drums, together as Iron Crease. Their new album “Eye Increase” is a full-length release of 25’38” which is said to have taken 25’38” to record. It’s rough and real, it’s virtuosity, it’s rock ‘n’ roll. Play it loud!
(Metal Licker Records – no web)
Fridge is a trio of Kieran Hebden (guitars), Adem Ilhan (bass) and Sam Jeffers (drums). They started off in the mid-90s as a post-rock group, but soon expanded both their music and their playing by adding other instruments, electronic devices and samples. “Early Output 1996 – 1998” is a showcase of their very creative first years, a band-curated compilation, generous in both music and length coming in close to 80 minutes. The music then, as well as later, was recorded during intense sessions in Sam’s bedroom. What did the early world of Fridge look like? The 21 tracks of the album shows us and let us learn something about it and it’s a fascinating trip with a band only looking for what they want themselves, not caring for a specific audience. It’s take it or leave it and if you leave it we don’t care, we’ll keep on. Short (less than one minute) experimental tracks of intermission kind (‘EDM’,’Elf’,’Arr’ and more), up-tempo post-rock pop-tunes build on riffs with voices or other instruments added (‘Lojen’,’Helicopter’), disco-funk not heard since Screamadelica or Gang of Four (‘For force’), and – my personal favourites – the three longest tracks of the compilation, ranging between 8 – 15 minutes, where the music allows to take its time, constantly floating, develop over a steady beat by drums or drum-machine, almost dub-basses while other instruments and effects gently enter the tune (‘Anglepoised’,’Orko’,’Distance’). These three wonderful tracks particularly give me the vibes I get when I listen to Tortoise. By not overloading each the tunes with all the various influences they incorporate in their music they create a comfortable climate for listening, filled with air and context.
Hexlove aka Zac Nelson from Portland, Oregon, has been described as belonging to a tradition of lunatics like Wild Man Fischer, Residents, but there’s no madness in here and I would prefer the description of him being an eccentric of a Moondog kind, but electronic. Even though it’s a small genre of art of its own it’s more unusual to find soundtracks without movies than movies without soundtracks, but here we got one, a CD-R 3” EP release on Majmua Music (their first mini-disc ever), “Music From the Film Es Noonar Covencha (Music for Unmade Films)”. Eleven short tracks lasting 21 minutes. His music is like walking in a corn-field where each corn is a specific sound, effects, melody, chord, voice or instrument - all of it clear and acoustic or harshly distorted - and picking a bit of this and a bit of that and then mixing it together in a most fascinating way where all of these various ingredients creates the most delightful meal of deconstructed sounds and noises with sometimes hidden melodies.
When not being Hexlove he sings and plays drums with Who’s Your Favourite Son, God?
The Oaxacan trio of Amy Friebertshauser (vocals, electronics, percussions), Mike Guarino (drums, percussions, electronics, various stringed instruments) and Derek Monypeny (guitar) plays free improvised music, exploring every inch of the room they’re in, creating high tension explosives by the use of their instruments and Amy’s important voice-expressions. There’s something inversely with free improvised music as it’s mostly unpredictable in a predictable way, you knows things will happen that surprises you and thus you’re not surprised. On their new “Oaxland” release the music is varied in an extensive way, a good balance between calm and intense sections, mostly non-rhythmic improvisations, but sometimes with percussion beats that that reminds of early outdoor live recordings by psychedelic bands like Amon Düül 2 or Träd Gräs & Stenar (Tree Grass & Stones) or – why not? – nowadays Pelt, where the music sometimes gets close to native trance music. Listening to the explosive crescendo of ‘Track 4’ (that’s how they are titled, Track 1, Track 2 and so on) I get the feeling of visiting a mid-seventies Henry Cow concert. The opening of ‘Track 5’ is sacred and during its long journey the trance-rhythmic percussions enters after a while and the track grows in intensity and develops into something that could have been an organic alternative to King Crimson’s ‘The Talking Drum’. The improvisations are all kept together well and they always lead somewhere with a distinct opening and conclusion, the tracks clock in at exactly the right time.
Richard Pinhas from the prog-scene of electronic rockband Heldon and various solo releases and collaborations and Merzbow from the experimental noise-scene with more releases than you can count, solo or in collaborations, two gentlemen with a back history to the days of Jurassic, what can they have in common? O, a lot, I can guarantee. The origin of their joint collaboration 2 CD release Keio Line tells tales of how Pinhas was invited by the French Embassy in Tokyo to perform at a festival, ‘Deleuze Analogique’ on October 20th 2007. The day after he made his first performance ever with Merzbow at a club in Shibuya, a special ward of Tokyo. Both were more than satisfied with what they’d created together and with a desire to explore more of the possibilities of their respectively musical fields they immediately booked a studio for two days. Fully improvised music, extensive mix and re-mix work and the result is what’s presented on the album. What’s heard on it? The interaction between the layers of Richard Pinhas’ extended multi-layered soundscape guitars, chords and loops and Merzbow’s electronics and abstract noise-constructions melts together perfectly into one physical body of music. Sometimes one of the actors let his sounds flow over the music, like a cloud over the surface of the earth, sometimes it’s the other one doing it. Sometimes there’s pulses of rhythm as if from the heart of this physical body. Sometimes the pulses turn real mean with an in-your-face presence. Sometimes the constructions deconstructs, falls into pieces while a drone resist, letting us know there is still good life waiting. Sometimes a loop of a short melody is heard from distance before drowned in the noise of electronics entering like an invasion of mad elephants running amok. Sometimes the electronic devices turn into the sounds of factory machine on speed, bending and stretching the upper limits of what the machines can handle before breaking down. Sometimes it’s pure beauty. It’s like a soundtrack from a hallucination, not said that every hallucination must be a bad experience. It mustn’t. Extensively sweeping gestures of drone-scapes with a twist not heard since Steve Roach & Jeffrey Fayman’s ‘Trance Spirits’, a bit like Brian Eno’s ‘Discrete Music’ or Fripp/Eno’s ‘No Pussyfooting’ made by heavy metal minds, ambient music with the level of volume turned to eleven.
Uncle Woody Sullender might have an academic approach to music “primarily focuses on the socio-political aspects of organized sound” as it’s said on his profile on label Deadceo’s web, but as heard on his previous release “Live at Barkenhoff” it mostly covers lots of experiments, guts and open-mindness. He’s playing an electro-acoustic banjo, a developed invention which includes computer synthethis and processing algorithms. Yes, anyone reading this without knowing what it sounds like could be fooled to think it was something constructed by students at a technical university. Wrong, wrong, wrong! It is sensible playing including a lot of variation and, as it seems, a lot of love to the sounds the instrument can bring. My first reflection is connected to avant-banjo maestro Daniel Higgs, the virtuosity, the fast finger-picking licks, improvisation skills, variety of ideas and a lot of experiments. This is not music you hear on everyday basis which is a pity, because it should be.
Frank Zappa meets The Muffins meets Univers Zero meets U Totem meets National Health. Sounds like a compilation? It isn’t. It’s “Fear Draws Misfortune”, the new release by Cheer-Accident, the multitalented Chicago group led by drummer/singer/composer Thymme Jones. A collective of highly skilled musicians, with an extended back-catalogue together or in various projects and various mixtures of genres since the mid-eighties. The music is bright and the sound distinctly their own even though you can recognise loads of fragments which could be taken from their own references and influences. Or it’s just coincidental. I said it was bright. And I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful arrangements, especially the brass and, last but not least, the vocals parts. Uplifting.
Two mainly guitar-drone duos share the space on a self-titled/untitled split CD, Century Plants from Albany, NY, and The Qoast (sometimes aka Ghost Brames) from France. Ray Hare and Eric Hardiman of Century Plants basically improvises their music in a freely way with noise approaches, double-droning or drones and solos through both their tracks while Garet and Tositti of The Quest let their long track grow slowly, following a repetitive pattern which reminds a bit of Sunn O))) in a gentle mood. In the middle of the tune drums are added and stabilize it. There’s also a lot of beauty in their drones.
From Italy we hear this spring’s recommended power trio, Johnfish Sparkle. Al Serra on vocals and guitars and Dave Perilli on bass both shared their time in Jacky Jail before they were joined by Rob Gasolin on drums and kicked off as Johnfish Sparkle, here with their self-titled debut album on Swedish Transubstans Records. Their music is influenced by the hard rock scene of the 70s when power trios were at their peak with their bluesy, hard and melodic riffage-pop. It works fine, especially at this time of the year, when pub-rockers, hard-rockers and reggae-fans comes out of their winter caves. Exactly in the middle of the album comes the beautiful, acoustic ‘Tale Of a Lonely Man’ with guitar playing inspired of J Page circa Led Zeppelin III. Could have been one or two more of that kind maybe?
Yet another self-titled rock ‘n’ roll album, this time from The Crystal Caravan, a Swedish septet playing heavy garage-a-like pop with flavours from MC5 as well as some of the most rock ‘n’ soul moments of early Country Joe & The Fish. The songs are strong as compositions and Niklas RG Gustafsson has a powerful and suitable voice. Annika Brännberg’s intense conga playing is up high in the mix and gives the album further vibes of the late sixties when additional congas was rather common even though the sound-picture here is of a modern kind. The producer is Dennis Lyxzén of The (International) Noise Conspiracy and he’s done a really great job. This music swings.
Danish/Swedish Øresund Space Collective is always reliable when they present their all improvised instrumental space rock music. On their new, 5th studio release, “Planets Are Hard To Find” the music has calmed down a bit and when I hear guest KG’s wonderful sitar playing in the first piece, ‘Good Planets Are Hard To Find’ my lips constantly smiles, it’s so goddamn good. As always the band consists of a nucleus of members passing in and out of the band, plus additional guests. The music is floating and often I think of the sound of Here & Now, or the alternative, Ici Maintenants, when they’re jamming. Steady beats, almost dub-ish basses, spacesounds and synths sweeping over the sky, suddenly a good solo erupts. Even though I know Øresund Space Collective is very much a live band, developing their tracks into very extensive length (I’ve seen them myself and really enjoyed the moments), I wish they more often found their way into the crystal clear sound of the studio where also the small, sublime details and sounds are possible to hear. It really fits their music.
When listening to Irish The Driftwood Manor I start thinking about how modern country developed into what we call Americana. There’s nothing equal to that when it comes to modernized European folk music. There should be. The Driftwood Manor formed two years ago by multi-instrumentalists Eddie Keenani, David Colohan and Neil Fitzgibban who shortly afterward added more musicians and friends to a bigger unit. Their first release, “A Gathering”, is a nine track collection clocking in at exactly 30 minutes. The tempo is very slow and the moods are very melancholic, I would even call it sad. The whole album is beautiful but the most beautiful moment is the very first, the opening tune ‘From Here the Town Looks Like Nearby Stars’, with it’s soft guitar and the low-tone John Cale-ian violin intro before the none-words sung harmonies enters. The tracks vary between Irish folk and radio-friendly alternative pop of a kind we’ve been used to from some exposed Irish bands the last years. We might call it Iricana.
There has been made some tribute albums of the music of Captain Beefheart through the years. Some of them has been good, some not. It’s hard to justify an artist with such huge personality and trademark voice. Led by Beefheart-associated slide/guitarist Gary Lucas’ (The Magic Band 1980-82) colourful playing and sax-player Philip Johnston (The Microscopic Septet) The Captain Beefheart Project Fast ‘n’ Bulbous presents a new angle of celebrating the man himself by doing instrumental versions of his avant-blues-rooted music, here on the Cuneiform album “Waxed Oop”. And they do it in a splendid way with additions of five fellow musicians on drums-bass-trumpet-baritone sax and the Beefheartian trombone, they fill the compressed and strictly composed music with air. The music span over Beefheart’s whole career and it keeps its dignity all the time. Don himself would love it when he hears it. As the voice of the Captain is so dominating it’s sometime easy to forget how much of his music is instrumental. As an example, some of my favourite moments on masterpiece Lick My Decals Off, Baby is unsung. I guess that’s also why this album works so fine, of course combined with the highly skilled and devoted musicians. The album ends with the only vocals track, the Trout Mask Replica classic ‘China Pig’, on which, Robyn Hitchcock does a great performance.
Thanks again Stefan. Just to finish here are some latecomers that are worthy of a few words, whilst also giving me a chance to reduce the pile of the “To Be Reviewed” pile.
I may be wrong, but I would assume that amongst the Terrascopic nation there are many fans of Australian band The Church, whose wonderful songs have spent many hours flowing from the speakers in our house. Now main man, Steve Kilbey has teamed up with Martin Kennedy from instrumental group All India Radio. The result is a lush and haunting collection that adds electronic textures to Kilbeys’ evocative voice, creating a shimmering soundscape that is easy to get lost in. Opening with the delicate refrain of “Eyes Ahead” it is soon apparent that this is an album of rare beauty; a fact confirmed by “My Will Be Yours”, a song so powerful yet fragile, that its very presence will demand your full attention. More ambient than the church, this album is a flawless gem that reveals different colours and images every time it is played, 12 relaxed and wistful songs that will appeal to fans of Opal, Talk Talk, The Green Pyjamas, Eno and (obviously) The Church.
Also available is “A Low High” the latest album from All India Radio themselves, a collection of 13 ambient instrumentals that drift and shine, leaving the listener both refreshed and languid. Featuring rippling guitar, field recordings, softly spoken strings and understated percussion, the music glides like a river on a heat haze summers day, the dappled sunshine sparkling on the water’s surface, dancing to a timeless beat, all care forgotten. Seamlessly stitched together and filled with wonder, this could be the finest album yet that main songwriter Martin Kennedy has put together, all you need to do is lie back and enjoy. Both albums available from Inevitable Records (www.myspace.com/allindiaradio)
Housed in beautiful home-made packaging, the two latest releases from the Folk Waste label are both highly individual and both excellent. First up Partli Cloudi offer us “Rotten Wood”, 14 pieces of woodland music that rattle, scrape and pulse, containing strange samples, percussion, guitars, the music sounding like the high magic of woodland creatures, summoning the solstice spirits to join the party. Favourites include the forest trance of “Otherselves”, the fireside tumble of “Tantum” and the darker charms of “Huffy Bears Last Battle”, which takes the album into drone territory with liberal use of echo thrown in for good measure. Like finding the perfect leaf on a country walk, this is an unexpected but most welcome pleasure.
On the same label comes “The Secret Garden”, another excellent release from the ever reliable Book of Shadows. Once again, mystical, shimmering drones, echoed guitar and loads of atmosphere are the order of the day, with “You Have Gypsy Eyes” being the perfect starting point, a whispering sonic delight, as gossamer as lace and just as beautiful. Further in “Glistening” (one of four tracks written by guitarist Aaron Bennack), is like watching a feather fall in slow motion, a quiet hallucination that is made perfect by the sweet vocals of Sharon Crutcher. Seemingly filled with lighter touches than previous albums, this disc is filled with joy, no more so than on the blissed-out final track “Welcome To the New age”, the whole band writhing with energy as they take us to another dimension with a 14 minute drone that oozes presence, the spirit of early Tangerine Dream walking with them. (email@example.com)
Regular readers will remember us applauding the ‘Beyond the pale’ psych-folk compilation earlier this year, and in particular a contribution by the Rowan Amber Mill, which we described as “intense and magnificent, a hypnotic banjo adding menace while an incessant drone nags away at the back of your mind”. The song was ‘Blood and Bones’, and appears again in a considerably reworked form on the band’s CD-EP ‘Midsummers’ (www.millersounds.co.uk ) on which the trio of Stephen Stannard, Kim Guy and Terry Stacey gambol through a collection of English folk song, from the traditional (the 14th century ‘Sumer is a Cumen In’, a version of which appeared as the climax to the movie ‘Wicker Man’), to the contemporary (the superb ‘Spinning and Singing’, featuring gorgeous harmonies and pastoral slide guitar) via ‘The Paper Owl and Golden Hare’, a jaunty flute-driven folk song inspired partly by the novel The Owl Service and the 1970s TV adaptation. Although unrelated, if you are already a fan of folk-psych outfit The Owl Service you’ll love these guys too. Top marks for packaging as well – my copy came in a hand-crafted card cover (makes note to self: write and ask them where they found the parts to craft this, as it’s truly exquisite)
Rumbles written by: Simon Lewis and Stefan Ek
Artwork, Layout & Direction: Phil McMullen