Thanks for that, Steve. Now onto some fine words from Andrew Young, who is settling in nicely as a Rumbles writer (i.e. we’ve yet to break his spirit with yet another crateload of new releases to soft through!)
First up…. VAN276 The Great Electric EP1www.staticcaravan.org Consisting of 4 lengthy workouts and limited to 300 copies of 45rpm red vinyl
Track 1 “A Matter Of Time” sets with a gentle motorik pulse, with an eastern vibe, a brief chorus and what sounds like an electric harpsichord set to Sitar mode ( if such a thing exists) it then progresses as it all gets a bit louder, before a calming floydian interlude, long loping drums, some found sounds and ending with ghostly children. Next track is “Jump Over The House “ a lively number featuring vocodered or manipulated vocals, guitar that rings out a bit like early Cure, a chorus of Jump ! on top of a stompy beat, the drums have been mixed quite high. “Music & Colour” follows in a similar vein and is in feel a standard rock number, a bit of spacey keys, insistent drums, chiming chords with again a motorik groove driving things along. Last track “ M.O.P.E “ is the killer on this disc for me, it appears through a dense fog, lovely infinite peeled off singular guitar notes echoing about to a warm bass, gradually other instruments join in and the whole thing bubbles along and I am reminded of Hawkwind, then a huge riffing electric guitar kicks in and the whole thing takes off in to space rock heaven ending in a genteel touch of feedback. Lets hope they convene again for a long player as it seems they had fun. Oh and the Keyboards are played by Darren Hayman of Hefner. Highly recommended and most surprising.
Another limited (300) 12” vinyl 45 rpm now with Indie Folk musician Stephen Molyneux “ The Shape Of Clouds To Come” accompanied by Violin, Pump organ, drums, electric Guitar and piano, we have 5 tracks slightly reminiscent of Sophia in the unhurried gentle nature of the songs, the instruments are very sympathetically played and used quite sparingly to flesh out these brittle tunes. Stephen lived in southeast Asia in 2009-10, and has since been based in the U.S., namely Nashville, TN 2010-14, where the album was recorded, and currently Denver, CO. He was previously in the bands Horsehair Everywhere and Gigantic Blond Boy and is prone to releasing his recordings in cassette form. Find it here http://lastationradar.com/
An altogether different beast now with Jealousy Mountain Duo “No _03” Vinyl on the BluNoise record label www.jealousymountainduo.com . This is a German two-piece band and for two people they make a hell of a racket, a lot of free jazz drumming and Chadbournesque guitar should help as a guide to the sounds made by this duo, abstract songs all very angular and free of Chords or indeed any kind of rhythm, I am sure that it takes a lot of practice to sound this loose and unhinged, it would be interesting to hear them live. “The Rincon Pio Sound” is for me the best track on this record with scattershot drumming and discordant guitar on a very freeform song, like some minimalist deconstruction exercise, “Nordic walking “ introduces a few touches of Melodica but this is essentially a drum and guitar record and if you are a big fan of a drum kit expertly played without regular meter you’re in luck , file under deconstructed free Jazz.
Next up we have New Yorker Hartley C. White “This Is Not What You Expect” on the OSR recordings. www.osr-tapes.bandcamp.com . A distillation of the last 25 years of recordings by Hartley, he has invented a term for his music “Whopazootic”. music that mixes poetry, and odd time signatures. He states that his influences are R Stevie Moore, Wesley Willis and Ariel Pink so that should give you some indication of the place where this multi instrumentalist is at. You could not really dance to this though, it’s really quite bonkers we have spoken word poetry, songs about Bicycle Ladies replete with bicycle bells, handcuffs, politics and God, one song in particular is of interest to its creator who had this to say about it ; “ Run The gauntlet” is the title of my first record and one of my favourite songs it took form in 1983 around the time of my discussion with Miles Davis, It reflects on the various aspects of the human condition, from love, to making choices, to learning from past mistakes, to holding on, and not giving up, all in relationship to GOD” indeed , amongst the various instruments we also have some radio static, some searing lead guitar, clavinola, recorder, sax and plenty of spoken word poetry, it’s out there and really quite individual, a kind of Last Poets for the new millennium.
The Grand Undoing “ White Space Flavors And parties On TV” whose new record appears on Secret Candy Rock label www.thegrandundoing.com . This is Seth Goodmans ongoing project out of MA, USA and touchstones here would be Jonathan Richman and maybe a bit of a Graham Parker mixed with a touch of Bob Mould, sort of heartland rock with Americana Flourishes. Nice to see B. J. Cole on pedal steel play on a few tracks, Seth himself sings and plays guitars, bass, piano and hair (!) , other instruments include a violin or three. It has been described as a cross between the art pop of Bowie and the inspired psychedelic punk of the Damned I myself am reminded of the English band Subaqua who I though should really have been more successful. “Long Are The Hours “ is a gentle ballad of note and the jaunty “Cold Of The Iron Gate” are the highlights on this fine singer songwriter record. It’s a real grower and comes into its own after a few spins, we get drawn into its orbit, in a very crowded field it manages to be individual enough to stand out, great stuff and essentially Punk Americana.
Next up is a piece on the recent releases on the small English Sunstone record label www.sunstonerecords.co.uk whose roster of artists include Klaus Johann Grobe, Balduin and Lords Of Thyme amongst others and recent signings of Moth Effect, Haleiwa, Bronco Bullfrog and White Candles, most of these are on 500 only Vinyl and some like the recent Haleiwa single only in a run of blink and you’ll miss it 100.
Sunstone records @www.sunstonerecords.co.uk continue to astound with another great release, Haleiwa "Wall of blue sky " this is a very limited 100 copy 7" single which you should seek out, the band are from Stockholm and I hear shades of the fondly remembered The Clientele. This label are responsible for a number of gems that have slipped out over the last couple of years , the first release by Klaus Johann Grobe " Traumhaft" is a killer that was subsequently picked up and repressed by Trouble in Mind also selling out quickly, The Lords of Thyme debut single came shortly after, and is wonderful; any fan of The Pentangle would do well to check them out, it beguiled me with its simply stunning songs, Balduin "Glamour Forest" EP is also another beautiful thing and is a bonafide psych/baroque classic. Some of their releases are very limited and do sell out quickly, but if you need them, which you do, then head over to somewhere like discogs. With new artists coming on board like White Candles who currently have a great single out on the label and a recent full length by Moth Effect "Crocodilians" they are going from strength to strength.
Deep Distance (an offshoot of www.greatpopsupplement.com) have also put out some fine 10" releases recently, one of them is Rhodedendron whose debut release is full of great dusty old synth sounds and motorik pulses. Its the brainchild of Oliver Cherer whose recent releases like Sir Oliffe Leigh And Other Ghosts garnered rave reviews, he also goes under the moniker of Dollboy, is a member of the Silver Servants who also record for the wonderful Second Language record label. P60 is the latest release from Second Language and is also well worth getting hold of, here we find two guys who have been tinkering with some Synths found in a garage or loft and gradually set about to learning how to play them, they have no desire to play live and wish to remain anonymous. With this record they have delivered a class electronic album that bleeps and clicks in all the right places and demands repeat plays.
In the interests of variety we now turn to Stefan Ek, who will guide you through a few more fine slices of sound.
Tunnels Of Āh is Stephen Āh Burroughs’ solo project. He’s been around for a couple of years with this and it’s his 2nd release for Cold Spring. His roots go back into the 80’s with punk/industrial Head of David. You can also trace him back to a split 10” with Sunn O))) & Pan Sonic/Alan Vega in 2009.
Here you’ll find six tracks ranging between 7 – 11 minutes, all in all 50 minutes of what you might call alternative intensive dark ambient music; field recordings and poetic industrial sound mixed with drones, noise and white noise, sounds you can hear indoors and out-doors and often include in your everyday natural landscape of sounds, sounds you’re so used to that you don’t notice them, but brought together in an aural mix of this kind you realize how interesting sound sculptures you’re surrounded with in your life.
But, Stephen Āh Burroughs’ creation is not just interesting sounds put together on top of each other, nope, there’s a meaning and thought to them which together with whispering voices and sometimes back-ground singing brings you into ritual landscapes, “tantric buddhism, christian mysticism and personal magic make up the subject matter for ‘This Avici’”, to quote the artist himself and it goes into deeper territories than I can handle or bring justice to.
No matter what, from my subjective point of view it’s an interesting album, dark landscapes of a kind you never had to be worried about finding Eno involved in, not even in his heydays.
Sol– Where Suns Come To Die (CD, Cold Spring 2015) This is the sixth album by Sol, a Danish doom metal band/project led by Emil Brahe on piano, organ, sampler and electronics. Added to this there are a couple of different guest musicians of which the most important for the characteristic of the music is Thomas Bøjden (Die Weisse Rose) on vocals, mostly reading the lyrics with a low, soft, dramatic voice. Sol’s work use to be about themes of fear, esotericism and destruction, but here the main theme is an exploration of growing older; the disappointment that follows and the omnipresent dissociation from the world and life as such (yes, it’s a quote!). Of course there’s a lot disappointments, etc, during your life, especially when you’ve grown old, as I, and look back on them. But, there’s also a lot of beauty. And even though the intention with this album is not to focus on the beauty of life I find the record being very beautiful. A little bit like listening to Sunn O)))’s ‘Monoliths & Dimensions’ minus the heavy guitars. Don’t be afraid of the darkness the music is wrapped in, go deep into it, and listen. Banquet– Run To You / Mother Road After a couple of dark and doomy albums I dig deep into a 7”Single by heavy-boogie-pub-rock’n’roll quartet Banquet from San Francisco. Here one up-tempo and one heavy piece. A tight rhythm section of Eric Kang (bs) and Damon Lockaby (dr) over which the two guitars of Brandon Chester and Doug Stuckey battle a friendly and fruitful fight. On to of it all you hear Doug’s rock’n’roll’ish voice shouting and screaming. Any day at the pub this would be the uplifting music for me instead of all terrible cover bands that makes me shiver of anxious fear. Rating: 4 beers. (https://whocanyoutrustrec.wordpress.com/)
Trupa Trupa – Headache This is a pop combo from Gdansk, Poland. Their music ranges between DIY vibes and complexity which makes me think the DIY part is the heart of their music and the complexity is their true talents and capacity. This album presents 11 songs of varies kind; sometimes it’s a bit Syd-Barrett:ish, like one of my favvo-tracks, the long “Getting Older” which starts with SB whimsies and grows to an epic piece with heavy organ and fuzz bass. Or, “Give ‘em all” which could be something from Spiritualized’s first 3 albums, a good, melancholic tune. Etc. There are also a couple of power rock tunes which isn’t my strict cup of tea, but wtf, they are ok. The title track is the longest song, some 9 minutes, and it goes into post-rock territories, maybe not of Godspeed proportions, but the building up of the tune from softness to an intensive wall of repetitive sounds are we familiar to. Excellent stuff! All in all it’s an attractive album from these four Polish gentlemen. (http://bluetapes.co.uk/)
Pour Le Plaisir – Tin Machine It’s not always easy to describe what your hear by words, but when listening to French/Italian Pour Le Plaisir’s EP “Tin Machine” it bring my thoughts to Neue Deutsche Welle music which I’m not sure says too much about it as there were so many different groups included in that category. Anyway, what I mean is kind of analogue synth/electronic pop music with certain experimental approach. But, this is now and the sounds and the music is updated even though some of the 70’s/80’s shine through. Here’s 4 tracks in 26 minutes, all from danceable pop-tunes, to pink-floydish vibes, to john-carpenter-movie:ish touches, like my favvo-track “The Movie”, to dance-floor blasters, etc. It’s very varied kinds of music within a coherent style. (http://bluetapes.co.uk/ )
Somewhat a gathering of the clan we now turn to Steve Palmer to enlighten you about even more new releases.
Will Z. has a recent background in cosmic and psychedelic music, and his new album "New Start" (a reference to his discovery of philosophical keys, arcane literature, and more) includes a guest appearance from none other than sadly departed Gong main-man Daevid Allen. The music is rippling, Indo-psychedelic and infused with the wurbles and burbles of a nice old analogue synth. Opening with the first three parts of 'Jain Devotion,' a softly cosmic rhythm hoves into view, carried by percussion, bass and more. It's got a lovely sunny feel to it; gorgeous flues too, from Juan Arkotxa. The music becomes trippy in places ('Namo'), while 'Evil Namo' includes the magical gliss guitar of Mr Allen, floating into the sonic spectrum beneath a host of delayed pianos and synth drones. 'Greek Loop' is an album highlight, with Alice Artaud's voice adding much to the mix. The album concludes with the final two parts of 'Jain Devotion.' This is a rather lovely album. Those into the more psychedelic of psych folk, who like a bit of a cosmic float albeit rooted in real instruments, will certainly appreciate this music. Out on limited edition vinyl in June, you will however have to be quick.
"Home For Lost Souls" is a new album by Yorkshire solo artist Richard Adams, here recording under the name The Declining Winter. I reviewed his "Haunt The Upper Hallways" six years ago; a recommended release of spooky, pastoral songwriting. On the new album, fourteen tracks of haunting, multi instrument song-based music begins with 'This Sadness Lacks,' whose softly mournful vocals breeze over a full band backing. The title track is similarly sung - or, part breathed part sung - while 'Golden Terrace' is a nostalgic instrumental. 'The Sweet Sound Of North' celebrates that northern part of Britain where Adams takes some of his inspiration (the Pennines in particular). Although very well recorded, there is a charming naivete to some of this music, that comes from artistic freedom rather than laxity. 'When Things Mattered' is a second instrumental, but 'Hurled To The Curb' is a brilliantly done 2m27s lope of delay and effects. 'The Wild Girl Laughed' opens with Genesis-like acoustic guitars, while the longest track on the album, 'The Right True End,' is slow and doomy, underpinned by drum machine and effects. In its entirety, haunting and intriguing; and a marvellous companion to the earlier release. Recommended.
Neil Campbell is a Liverpudlian guitarist of some reknown, who has worked with a few leading lights in the field of progressive, rock, jazz and classical music. A varied and sonically searching guitarist, he works on his sixteenth album "eMErgence" with some of his regular collaborators, including vocalist Perri Alleyne-Hughes, whose soft voice echoes some of the work of Pat Metheney. 'MC2' is a synth-based groove, while the two part 'Private Collection' again has light hints of early Pat Metheney. 'Teilhard de Chardin' is slow and atmospheric, with a classical guitar taking the main melody. 'Private Collection' concludes, again in soft and rippling style, before the waltztime dance of 'Fields Within Fields.' 'E=' closes the album with little more than classical guitar and Victor Wooten's bass. The mix of styles makes for an engaging listen.
"Strange Fruit And Veg" is an eighteen track promo disk from Fruits De Mer Records, with bands taking up various classic songs and doing with them what they fancy. Opening with the dynamic multi-vocals of Crystal Jacqueline and the wah-flummoxing of Icarus Peel on 'All Over The World,' we then continue with: '(What's Happening At) The Psychiatrist': trippy and oh so retro - 'Here She Comes Now': minimally triffic - 'Ohio': lovely version of the CSNY classic - 'She's A Rainbow': three minutes of Stone Roses-ish fuzz and slapback delay - 'Hummingbird': groovily slow - 'Archangel Thunderbird': exceedingly trippy, with soaring vocals - 'Who Do You Love?': Cozy Powell meets massed surf guitars - 'Ace Of Spades': sticks to the original, with added synth weebles - 'Circles': excellent version by Vert:x - 'King Of The Rumbling Spires': glam delights from none other than the Magic Mushroom Band - 'Hey Joe' - weirdly cut-up guitar phasing and drum machine - 'Tomorrow Never Knows': Rob Gould's courageous and mesmeric cover - 'Drome': guitars and delay units to the max - 'I'm A Living Sickness': wide-screen vocals over shimmering band backing - 'Take A Heart': "you shouldn't do that..." - 'Martians Don't Surf!': "the chances of anything coming from the Blue Giant Zeta Puppies are high..." - 'Vegetable Man': delightfully wacked-out interpretation from Leominster's finest psychers. You'd be mad not to smile.
"The Last Fret" is another album by a solo artist, this time bassist Wendy Atkinson, whose sonic arsenal includes electric, acoustic and double basses, but also field recordings, toy piano, and the ebow which, on 'What Came Before,' opens the work. The music is atmospheric, though the tracks themselves are quite short, which, at times, is a bit of a shame. 'Never Alone' merges reverberated recordings with weirdly processed bass, while 'In The Off Season' is more of a traditional piece, with the electric bass little effected. 'Hebron Birds' opens with recordings and a jumping note sequence, before David Lester's guitar makes a brief appearance. 'Play Along' stands out for its motif and minimalist vibe. 'What's A Dollar' includes vocal snatches around money - hints of Laurie Anderson - while 'Vancouver Winter' is a little vignette using water samples, that heads straight off into 'Ukulele Shock,' which is a David Lester piece. The album closes with 'The End Of Print,' where many of the elements of the album - bass, processed bass, effects and glitches - come together. Clever use of sound make this release attention-grabbing.
Prolific polymath Martin Archer (here with Engine Room Favourites) releases an album "Bad Tidings From Slackwater Drag" culled from 2014 live preparations, and this time it's in jazz and improv mode. Opening with the joyous (nearly anthemic) 'Song For Alice Coltrane,' it's full of sax solos from Archer and collaborator Mick Beck, with Laura Cole on piano and psych-scene violin regular Graham Clark also in attendance. Drums and percussion are provided by many, including RMI luminary Steve Dinsdale. 'New Intruder' opens light and thrilling, but follows Archer's declared path of, "pure abstraction with the directness and energy of the sound that I continue to find so compelling in this music." 'Downtown and Uptown' is a brief freeform interlude before the ten minute 'Song For Mary Lou Williams,' which has its roots in the blues, and in which Clark's violin (lovely opening solo) and Cole's piano set a nice foundation. As with all Discus releases, this is a double CD. The second disk mostly contains 'You Will Never Know Me,' which in places is pretty avante-garde, but which later on swings off into noisy twin sax solos, and an occasional full band crescendo. 'The Hard Blues' is the only non-band track, being written by Julius Hemphill. Essential for modern jazz afficionados, I would venture to suggest.
"Eko Eko Aradia" by Comets Ov Cupid is a terrific set of four Kosmische drone/synth/effects-laden-guitars pieces, all of which build up a suitably spacey atmosphere. Jason Kesselring is the man behind the project, playing all the instruments, with the album set to reflect the wide-open space and Cold War mystery of his native North Dakota. Opener 'Sein Und Zeit' matches phased drones and pads with a deeply reverberated guitar (though it sounds like a santoor or dulcimer). The title track adds more mysterious voices to the sound world, while 'Fly By The Comet' is a patchwork of harmonics, sound effects and gliss guitar. Album closer 'The Infernal Star' pits an oscillating guitar arpeggio with more spacey effects. Fans of the the music of Quiet World who like a bit of added cosmic mystery would enjoy this. It doesn't vary too much, but it builds up an effective set of atmospheres if you stick with it.
Ra Rising is the progressive project of bassist and vocalist Richard Benjamin, former Land Of Yrx mainstay Rob Andrews, and well-respected synthesist Steve Hillman, with guitars and drums in the mix also, and a long list of guests. On their latest album "Seize The Day" the music is rock progressive, setting out the band's stall on 'Between These Walls,' which matches a great bass riff with a soaring guitar lead. 'Indigo Mountain' opens with massive synth thwumps and big prog keyboards, before it slopes away into a softer sound, with excellent twin vocals - an album highlight for sure, and really nicely produced. 'A Time That Was' opens with a mournful harpsichord, then continues to showcase the quieter side of the band. 'Holy Man' and 'Again' both feature strong vocals; the latter track has a distinct hint of Genesis in the sound - another album highlight, with a strong chorus and a nice brassy synth arrangement. 'Flying High' goes full retro with a sampled mellotron and anthemic lead guitar from Brian Jones, before the Genesis organ sound of 'The Real World' introduces another strong song. 'Matter Of The Heart' has a quirky feel to it, while 'Carpe Diem' is a fast-paced cut founded on acoustic guitar and jumpy lyrics - a hint of folk in the sound here. Album closer 'Kids On The Sand' is a quiet track with a really nice vocal. Progressive fans will enjoy this album, and the band has a back catalogue (Ra) which is also worth checking out.
"It's as if the last 40 years never happened," announces retro maestro Keith Jones, as a very limited edition double 7" single hoves into view from the perennially popular Fruits De Mer label, this time created for the Games For May event. 'Momentary One' and 'Momentary Two' focus on the legacy of Syd Barrett and the early Pink Floyd, opening with a chilling verison of Syd's 'Golden Hair,' sung with lazy precision by Ilona V. 'Grantchester Meadows' is sung by Crystal Jacqueline in mournful tones, while 'Cirrus Minor' (one of my all-time fave Floyd songs) is given a superb rendition by Cary Grace - outstanding, with the keyboards sounding just right, and gorgeous harmonies. The second disk focusses on Syd Barret, opening with Max Kinghorn-Mills' folky version of 'Dark Globe.' 'She Took A Long Cold Look' by Claudio Cataldi manages to retain the scary grandeur of the original while at the same time adding a little "traditional" warmth. The Chemistry Set's version of 'See Emily Play' (the '67 song which encapsulates the Games For May vibe) is given a jaunty update, while Todd Dillingham & Golly McCry attempt 'The Gnome,' heading off almost into DIY territory, with simple guitar and reverberated percussion. The first disk just pips it for me.
"Once More From The Top" by The Granite Shore is a collection of ten songs penned by Nick Halliwell, supported by a strong line-up of guests, many of whom have links to 'sixties and 'seventies groups or scenes. The mournfully melodic 'Artist & Repertoire' opens the album, its elegiac tone accentuated by the subtle brass backing - lovely album introduction. 'Nine Days' Wonder' hints lyrically at some of Julian Cope's self-revelatory work, though the sound is different; but I found myself hearing links as the song played. 'Fan Club Newsletter no.44' concerns itself with the delivery methods of modern music, and here perhaps the distance between subject matter and sound is a little jarring. 'Recorded Sound' discusses "the conceptual side of things," while album closer 'Be That As It May' focusses on Halliwell's lugubrious voice, albeit through the best melody on the album; terrific backing vocals too. One thinks of East Anglian prog/classical man The Curator (Alistair Murphy) when listening to this work.
"Blown Breeze, Grown Grass and We Are Part Of The Earth" is a debut album by Semicircle, and it has an interesting genesis. Six months of entirely improvised, open format songs in the hands of main man Andrew McFarland led at length to a more settled band, created by the encouragement of a small clique around him. This debut is the recorded consequence. 'Southern Spring' is a gentle number before the full-band cut 'Mechanism Of Erasure,' which through its rolling gait and echoed instrumentation (mostly guitars, but also other, less identifiable instruments) creates a strong, albeit quite spooky atmosphere. 'Movement Is Calm' founds itself on a lone piano note and subtle band backing, 'No Words' is very slow and gentle, while 'Remember Me' is much more in-your-face - excellent song on a lovely chord sequence. 'Easier' begins in DIY style, and echoes McFarland's early experiments with a four track recorder. The haunting 'Ruth & Meigs' is a bit of an oddity, but album closer 'Part Of The Earth' is nostalgically gorgeous, founded on piano and brass. An attractive album, this, with much to recommend it.
Martin Archer returns a second time, as Inclusion Principle with the album "Third Opening," which consists of himself on synths, computer and woodwind, Hervé Perez on similar, and Peter Fairclough on drums and percussion. On the first of two disks the music lies bubbling and scratching somewhere between avante-garde jazz, electro-acoustics and free improvisation, with the pseudo-ethnic sounds of 'One Door Opens' the highlight. Disk two is more rhythmic, and in my opinion stronger, as morphed beats and synth stabs mutate under the trio's forensically observant jazz-eyes - hints of Weather Report in the gobsmacking opening cut 'Borderline Spiral', while 'Not Looking For Another Now' is twenty three minutes of mysterious, semi-intelligible synth and woodwind exploration. The further edge of jazz.
A third release from Archer & Co on Discus is the song-based "Vestigium" from Julie Tippetts & Martin Archer, whose 2013 album "Serpentine" was, I felt, "like entering worlds of found musics, underpinned by inventive percussion, jazz, rock and synth elements, with Tippett's vocals weaving amidst the sonic undergrowth." This new work - also a double CD - opens slow and hypnotic with the core trio of Tippetts, Archer and drummer/percussionist Peter Houghton. Also on board again is guitarist Gary Houghton of Radio Massacre International. 'Shiver Across The Soul' takes Tippett's slinky dual vocals and skates them across a glitch/jazz backing, to great effect. 'Like Alice' takes some of the images from "Alice In Wonderland." Archer's path is to return modern music to the exciting creativity of earlier times (he mentions Soft Machine's "Third"), and there's certainly no cultural inhibition here: a good thing. 'Firely' takes a beautiful flute part and floats delayed harmonised vocals over it, to create the album highlight - gorgeous. The second disk does similarly, with 'Too Cool' an amusing intermission between heavier tracks. 'Whistling Song' is a spoken/sung narrative over a jump-cut backing, while 'Stalking The Vision' ("I really do believe this song is the finest piece of music I've been a part of in my career so far") twists and turns over a faux-Rhodes and strings background. Variously beautiful, too extended, expansive and brave.
Last, but very much not least, is the new album from Devon's psychedelic explorer Crystal Jacqueline, more than ably supported by Icarus Peel. On her second solo album "Rainflower" - again written in the main by Icarus - the songs are beautifully mellow in places, elsewhere bucolic, or, as with the excellent opener 'Siren,' heavy and trippily vocalised. 'Siren' is a very strong opener, with lots of backing vocals, organ, splashy drums, and much more. 'Winter Deep' enters the aforementioned mellow territory, with the vocals modulated in retro style. A beautiful song and an album highlight for sure. 'Dress Of White Lace' has a folk vibe (waltztime gait), with a lovely melody and much trippy guitar work. Jacqueline's voice is a flexible instrument, and this cut shows off her ability in spades. 'Water Hyacinth' is another mellow, folky cut, with a tuneful chorus, while 'Daisy Chains' features chiming guitar and the full backing band. 'In My Chair' is a blues thumper with much phasing and wah-ing of its rocking components - this is the CD bonus track - while 'Mary Waiting' returns to quiet, bee-inflected bucolica, though it electrifies later. 'Strange Bloom' is a slow-paced track with more excellent, atmospheric guitar arrangements from Icarus, and a smoky, gliding vocal from Jacqueline (perhaps the album's best). A cover of Pink Floyd's 'Grantchester Meadows' follows (quite dark in tone; almost doomy), then the album's title track, which features a charming oboe part from Richard Adams. Album closer 'Again... Dragonfly' is a slow-build anthemic cut with a full-on diva vocal from Jacqueline; powerful and intense, with great drums from Brian Rushbrooke. Well, I am on record as describing these two musicians as friends, but, even so, take it from me - this is proper good. The cream will rise to the top. More varied and with a wider palette of moods than Jacqueline's debut "Sun Arise", it's as beguiling as anything you'll hear in the psych field this year.
Ok, on we go with a round-up of some of the tapes that have come our way in the last couple of months or so.
First up The Ilk, whose latest album “The New Dark Ages” mixes folk, electronics and a smattering of seventies prog to great effect with the opening 14 minutes of “On Ilkley Moor,The New dark Ages” being a glorious and melodic piece that constantly evolves with guitars, strings and keyboards (plus assorted other instruments) weaving in and out of each other to create a tapestry of sound that sounds comfortingly familiar whilst retaining a pastoral freshness. Beginning with birdsong, “A Ghost Story for Summer” is a delicate instrumental, at least to begin with, before an insistent piano breaks in reminding me of Renaissance, the track again changing and ever moving forward, adding a bit of Kevin Ayers strangeness to its mix. Retaining this strangeness, “Powerplant” has some frenetic electronics at its heart although it retains its melodic sensibilities and reminds me of the soundtrack to a long lost seventies children's drama. Slowing things down again “Off Hogben's Hill” has a drifting psychedelic feel with some excellent playing and a melancholy feel, the whole album brought to a close with a cover of “Living By The Water” (Anne Briggs), birdsong again introducing the tune before it slowly goes all weird in a delightful way, ending one of the most entertaining instrumental albums I have heard for ages. Available as a download, cassette and soon a CD I would heartily recommend this to fans of Gorky's, Kevin Ayers or lovers of interesting music everywhere. (https://theilk1.bandcamp.com/album/the-new-dark-age) .
Deeply psychedelic and awash with echo, “The Archaic Mysteries of Ecstacy” is a rather excellent release from Alwanzatar, the mixture of electronic rhythms, flutes, chants synths and even a theremin giving the seven tracks a chaotic, swirling charm that is very likeable. Recorded at various locations in Oslo and mixed in the bedroom the tape has the feel of one of those festival releases that were around in the eighties especially on the 12 minute opener “Eis Dionyson” which sounds like an obscure Kraut band Jamming with The Ozrics whilst Timothy Leary sits at the mixing console. This is a good thing in my book and the album continues in the same vein with “Jubel” becoming even more drone-flecked, whilst “Batrakhoi” reminds me of a lo-fi Gong in very stoned mode. Best of all is the 13 minutes of “Echoes Into Echo”, time to turn the lights down and sit in a sea of incense whilst the music revolves around you. All good stuff, psychedelia in its rawest state, played with love and searching for the light. As well as the music, the package comes with a 36 page booklet that contains an essay on “Ecstasy, mystic initiation and journeys through the underworld” by K.Momrak (Phd) who, I guess, is the same Krizla who is responsible for the sounds. Academic, yet easy to read, the book is a fine companion to the music, go get one. (https://alwanzatar.bandcamp.com/album/archaic-mysteries-of-ecstasy)
Billed as the story of the journey of a young penguin who is to be emperor “Emperor and penguin” is a delightful and ambient album from multi instumentalist Mike Tamburo. Featuring loops, field recording and percussion, amongst other things, the music is relaxing and delicate, the album featuring just two long tracks of shimmering electronics and chilled soundscapes with plenty of percussive moments added. Fans of Vangelis, Tangerine Dream or Kitaro will find lot to enjoy throughout the 30 minute journey. Limited to 30 copies and released by White Reeves Productions. (https://whitereevesproductions.bandcamp.com/album/lifehater-wrp003)
On the same label, Supervolcano aren't as noisy as the name suggest on their “Lifehater” album. Recorded in 2009 and employing casio, acoustic guitar, karaoke machines and some software, the music is whimsical, playful and a joy to hear. Favourite moments include the sweet electronic pulse of “It Smells Like Balls In Here” a track that sounds like the soundtrack to an early video game, or the slightly more sinister drone and stomp of the title track itself. Saving the best until last though, the 12 minute “Kabloom” is the soundtrack to an evening walk, a gentle stroll as light fades into twilight, rattling percussion adding to the atmosphere as the piece moves forward, the repetitive qualities of the music easily hypnotising you into a dream like state.
Finally, White Reeves give us “Who Is Guitarman” a seven track collection of drones, melody and experimental noise created by label founders Micah Pacileo and Ryan Emmet. After the brief echo-fest of “Enter Guitarman”, There is a more electronic feel to “A False Sense Of Time” a pulsing sequence holding the track together with an icy kraut tinge, whilst on “Passing the Future” things become more abstract, melodies buried deep within the noise. Distorted and cut-up “Voicemail” uses samples (Of Voicemail?) to create a disturbing and experimental soundscape before the whole collection is rounded of by the throb of “Escape From Guitarman” a shimmering slice of electronics that slowly fades and disintegrates.
These are the first three releases from this label and it is an excellent start.
Continuing our stroll down the valley of noise, Rivener are a duo of guitar and drums who like to improvise, the results to be found on “Fires In Repose” a three track collection that is filled with energy and inventiveness, the duo moving between passages of pure noise and more reflective moments, the sounds never becoming too harsh or overwhelming. Throughout the music holds your attention never becoming predictable or dull with the 16 minute “An Uneventful First Quarter” being the pick of the bunch showcasing the musicians ethos perfectly. (https://rivener.bandcamp.com/releases)
Recorded by the Human Adult Band and sounding like Sabbath deconstructed through a noise ridden food processor “Small Mutant Fish Group” is a limited (13) cassette with a limited amount of information on it. Featuring a squall of noise, guitar skronk and feedback ther eis a certain vibrant sparkle that makes you want to turn the fucker up and really piss off the neighbours, on side two there is a chiming dissonance that seems quite mellow compared to side one. Quite possibly the essence of punk rock and worth hunting down.
Compiled by T.Penn, the man responsible for the above band and plenty of spin offs, “Lazy Determination” is a highly detailed book covering every release with personal notes about them by the author. Featuring line-ups, track list and images of the covers this book could create an obsessive collector determined to collect them all, good luck if that is you and there is much to be admired in a man with the drive to produce, as well as collect, such a huge body of work. (http://dihd.net/)
Finally for the cassettes a handful of new releases from the always excellent Deserted Village label with “VOL1 : field recordings of rhythms and drones” being a collection of sound recordings distilled from a year long project and then released under the name The Sunken Hum. Originally recorded by Natalia Beylis, the sounds were part of 365 two minute recordings she made daily over a calender year, 16 of which are included here, creating an hour long sound collage that takes us from beach to clock shop, from sweeping to popcorn and all points in between. There is a great joy in the sounds the listener becoming involved in each brief scenario as it unfolds, the time seeming to fly by although you become immersed in each segment. A beautiful and unusual album that takes on a different meaning each time it is played.
On the same label, and also featuring Natalia, “Fat Baby Blues” is a collection of folk/psych, drones and primitive rhythms released by Woven Skull and recorded in wood and fields as well as on the Gamelan of Queens University, Belfast. Split into two parts, the first is music for dancing around fires to, let the spirits fill your belly and release your inner pagan, the music alive with energy and possibility, its repetitive, hypnotic pulse taking you deeper into the mysteries. Over on side two, the drones take over, a meditative quality descends and the creatures of the woodland join you in the ritual, the music reminding me of the sounds of The Jewelled Antler Collective in their archaic beauty.
Released last year this cassette has now sold out but you can still download it and I urge you to do so, light a candle and just enjoy.
Leaving the most chaotic to last, “Growth” is 35 minutes of grindcore, free jazz noise and visceral excitement by three piece Tarracoir that need to be played very fucking loud for best effect. Opening with “Within Hate Without Fear” the band set up their stall quickly, sounding like Acid Mother Temple jamming with The Stooges after a massive argument, with the following “Brownbrawn” adding some ritual Tibetan music to the sound, droning pipes that dig deep beneath your skin. Throughout the intensity remains, although different instruments take the centre stage with “Anseo Anois” having an electronic scowl, whilst “Hisskittle” gives the drums and saxophone equal billing and has a relatively more relaxed intensity about it. To end, the appropriately named “If You Think Its All Over....” is a slow burning rage that sounds like King Crimson if they had been a Hardcore band the more technical elements lost in a maze of noise, magnificent stuff and perfect for removing that unwelcome guest. (http://desertedvillage.bandcamp.com/)
Moving on a brief collection of 7” singles with a Garage feel, kicking off with The Ar-Kaics whose “Always the Same” is a fine slab of primitive garage with a definite 1966 vibe,some lovely fuzzed up guitar and an authentic Garage snarl. Released as a limited edition it has now sadly sold out, which is what happens if you send us a download for review, it takes us ages to get around to them, even more of a shame when the B-side “Let Me In” is equally as groovy with a more pronounced psych vibe, well loads of reverb anyway. On the same label The Belltowers make us happy with the delightful jangle of “Here To Stay” a perfect three minute single that is so Byrdsian that you think it might fly back to sixties San Francisco at any minute, just check out the backward guitar for proof of its fabness. On the flip, “Lovin' You” will have you turning your head to see if Roger McGuinn has just entered the room, a tune with plenty of West-Coast energy and a groovy smile. (https://marketsquarerecordings.bandcamp.com/album/the-belltowers-here-to-stay-b-w-lovin-you-leading-me-on)
Hailing from the South East of England, The Jezebels sound like The Runaways or The Donnas playing sixties garage with “Black Book” having one of those infectious riffs that sounds like something you can't quite remember. Whatever, it is a quality sound that is tough and just right for a drunken evening annoying the neighbours. Indeed, the same can be said for “Cried Over You” the equally excellent B-side. Oh Yeah, and the band are all girls but that has no relevance at all. Also on State records The Gallileo 7 ,featuring Allan Crockford, make a great freakbeat racket on “One Lie At A Time” a tune that steps us into '68 when things were getting heavier and stretched, the song containing plenty of fretwork, driving organ and a rock solid beat, the whole thing getting you dancing with no problem. On the other side, “The God of Gaps” repeats the trick another cool and groovy tune that reminds me of The Dukes of Stratosphear. (http://staterecs.com/) . Staying with State Records, their latest offerings have just fallen through the letterbox so we can add The Baron Four to the Rumble as their latest single “Walking Out”/”Can't Find My Way” is indeed a “Double Dose of blistering Monophonic Garage-beat” as it says on the press release, a brace of sleazy R'n'B rockers with the A-side going balls out, whilst the flip has a moodier garage slant both sounding authentic and mighty fine. Originally around from 1987 to 1991, The Beatpack have now returned still belting out some classic sixties sounding R'n'B, complete with harmonica and plenty of attitude, so fine is “Where the Waters Run Deep” that it could give the Yardbirds a run for their money, whilst “(She's) All Dressed In Black” is magnificent, great lyrics, a brooding guitar line and a heavy groove as the guitar gets evil over the top. All the above available as 7” singles, as they should be.
Moving quickly on and returning to CD's again, Vidunder have the seventies rock sound sewn up on the excellent “Oracles and Prophets” a fine collection of heavy tunes that reminds me of Alice Cooper had he been British. Opening track “Gone With Dawn” has it all, plenty of changes, driving riffs, swirling keys and a bright production, the song hooking you into the sound of the band. Even better, “Son of Every Lie” seems to mix a bit of Jack White to the Alice comparison, by this point you want to roar down the freeway with a bottle of jack in your hand, although the A49 is much closer and it will probably be a bottle of Strongbow. Anyway, as the album moves on there is plenty to keep you rocking as “Kalhhygge” slows thing down to one of those moody, slow burning, tracks with the epic midpoint, whilst “In and Out of Mind” rocks hard, a short punchy tune that screams for some air guitar. Finally the title track brings things to a close, a six minute epic with some excellent guitar to begin before the band settle into a heavy groove that keeps you nodding throughout. Undoubtedly retro fans of seventies rock will love this album, I do. (http://www.crusherrecords.com/?p=1650)
Treading the same ancient pathways, Cherry Choke continue to re-invent heavy rock on “Raising the Waters”, their third album. Again filled with plenty of good riffin' the band walk between stoner, psych, and heavy rock the resulting sounds always interesting and worth investigating. Highlights include the grungy garage of “Mindbreaker” sounding like an early Seattle band before Nirvana went and actually made some money, this could be a lost Sub Pop single, plenty of fuzz and sudden changes revealing a love for Sabbath and Mudhoney in equal measure. More traditional hard rock, “Black Annis” has a heavy blues vibe the drums and guitar locked together with the vocal lines, epic stuff. Elsewhere, “Where the Sun Rises” is a dark and sludgy instrumental, a black ooze of psychedelic intent with some shimmering sitar that lightens the feel, the tune trickling through into “Six and Seven” a slice of spacey heaviness with plenty of meat on the bone. After the very Sabbath-esque “My Mind to Lose” the album ends with the more melodic “Discarded heart”, acoustic guitars adding a gentler touch to the music although the lyrics remain bleak and melancholy. Their finest work to date, (http://www.elektrohasch.de/)
Heavier in a much more modern fashion, kinda post rock meets the drones of Spacemen Three, Seluah make a mighty racket on “Phase Three” their latest album. Using atmosphere as a weapon, the band start slowly with “Experiment In Horror” a slow-burning trip that mixes heavy guitar and lonesome strings creating the soundtrack to a rainy night in a strange town. With a rockabilly undercurrent “Nanon” is another beautifully arranged tune that hooks you in, Whilst “X/F” is a slower paced affair that reminds me of Portishead in its atmospheric ebb and flow.
Throughout the eight tracks on offer the playing remains exemplary, the band creating an identity, a unity of sound that means the collection sounds like a complete album to be listened to in one sitting, preferably at a decent volume, allowing the dynamics of the music to shine through. (http://www.seluahmusic.com/)
Ok, so most people of a certain age like at least a little bit of Punk now and then. The Terrascope is no exception although we seem to have restricted our coverage to the releases of The Destructors, a Peterborough based band who have just released “Greatest Misses” a retrospective look at their career with some of the older songs re-recorded or re mixed. What you get is 21 tracks of top class punk rockery, lots of fun, attitude, some political statements and a healthy dose of humour, such as “Merry Christmas and Fuck off”, “Who Gives a Toss About Jonathon Ross” or “Jimmy So Vile”. Throw in covers of songs by Mott The Hoople and Backyard babes and you have a happy evening of three chord entertainment just add beer or whatever. My only gripe is why they don't mention the Terrascope in their thanks column seeing as we have reviewed everything they have sent us, but hey that is fine I still get to annoy the neighbours. (http://www.destructors.co.uk/)
Like a shimmering shoegaze band with folk roots and a penchant for melody, Air Cav manage to create plenty of atmosphere around their sweetness, with “Blazing Like a Sun” , the first track on the “Procession” album, leading us in beautifully before “Naked Flame” gets a little heavier in a sixties kinda way. Filled with tribal drumming, “Red Light White Light” rattles along wonderfully some gorgeous guitar drifting above. Classy and perfectly produced, by the time you get to the droney elegance of “Serpentine” you are totally hooked, the track reminding me of Kaleidoscope (U.S) with its Eastern undertones. Equally impressive is the Velvets like groove of “Seismic”, whilst closing track “Crystalline (Dawn Chorus)” is a delicate cloud of Psychedelia that creates one of those, lie back with your eyes closed, moments. I took a couple of listen to appreciate the majestic nature of this album, it was definitely worth the effort. (http://aircavmusic.co.uk/)
Mixing half whispered/spoken vocals over drones and atmosphere, Red Painted Red make a glorious noise on “Hey Dum Dum” their latest album. Over nine tracks the band keep the interest level high with “Late November” sounding like a Gothic version of Yello with its electronic pulse and floating chords. Further in, “I'm No Johnny Cash” mixes Dr Who sound effects with Kate Bush, whilst “Don't Forget The Sun” has the feel of early seventies Pink Floyd in its atmospheric grandeur. To end, “Another Day” glides gracefully from the speakers in a relaxing and mellow frame of mind, a glorious way to finish an intriguing collection. (http://www.redpaintedred.com/)
Influenced by classic seventies rock bands and featuring some great playing especially from keyboard player Jim Alfredson, “The Game of Ouroboros” is semi concept album set in the future, the music proudly Prog with the emphasis on melody rather than complexity. Using the name Theo, the musicians wear their influences on their sleeve with the title trackmoving through many sonic changes over nine fabulous minutes. Each track on the album is preceded by a brief nod to the concept of a citizen trapped in and beginning to question an authoritarian state. Throughout the album I am reminded of the music made by Camel/Caravan in the late seventies melodic passages joined together to create longer pieces, although there is a modern feel to the production and sounds meaning the album sounds familiar whilst sounding fresh and dynamic. With so much Prog seemingly sounding like complex heavy metal it is good to hear a band re-visiting the reasons we all liked Prog in the first place. (https://generationprog.bandcamp.com/album/the-game-of-ouroboros)
I'm sure most of us like a bit of sixties style sunshine pop occasionally and Papernut Cambridge certainly do, if their covers album “Nutlets 1967-80 is anything to go by, as it features 10 unashamedly pop melodies all given the sunshine treatment. Delightful on a sunny day in the garden it is hard to pick a favourite in the bunch, but both “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” and “White Horses” sound particularly fine to these ears, the latter a cover of the theme tune to the seventies children's show, whilst “Jesamine” is psychedelic in a Beatle kinda way. Keeping it light all the way through, this is a great collection that will make you happier. (https://papernutcambridge.bandcamp.com/)
Terrascopic Rumbles for Summer 2015 was brought to you by Simon Lewis, Steve Judd, Andrew Young, Stefan Ek and Steve Palmer.
Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2015