= July 2010 =





ummer time and the living is breezy. Time indeed to wrap up and deliver a passel, a posset and a portion of Terrascopic pondering: ladies and gentlemen, it’s Rumbles for the month of July.

For no better reason than the fact that it’s here in front of me, let’s kick things off this month with a contribution from a refugee from our regular reviews columns, Ian Fraser. Over to you, Ian!

We’ve received a small but perfectly formed package courtesy of Custom Made Music of Virginia USA. Sky Parade hail from Los Angeles and have recently released their new album “Intoxicated” from which this five track sampler is taken. Quite simply this is a prime slice of psychedelic pop music that you can dance to. Unsurprisingly given that this is produced by Courtney Taylor Taylor and features Zia McCabe there is a hint of the Dandy Warhols to proceedings. However where the Dandies have often seemed a bit two dimensional, Sky Parade appear on this showing at least to be as near to a complete package as you could hope for of a band of this ilk.

Their singer reminds me at times of Kurt Ralske, although the band has better, catchier hooks than even Ralske’s wonderful Ultra Vivid Scene. Check out “See the World from the Stars” to hear what I mean – killer chorus and psychedelic harmonies in the bridge, now what more can one ask for?



“Stars” is followed by another highlight, “Lonely Alibis”, the same laconic vocal, a druggy, slightly scuzzy feel and another fine chorus. “I Wanna Feel Alive” is the aptly-titled soundtrack for what sounds like early 90s summer pop – imagine the kids dancing to this one at Glasto whilst waving at the cameras (no it’s actually pretty good, trust me). Bookending all of this is the rousing hi-hat-to-the-fore single “I Should Be Coming Up (But I Keep Coming Down)” and “Distant Voices”, which showcases the band’s reflective, acoustic side, nothing particularly special perhaps but decently crafted and well delivered all the same. If the rest of the album is anywhere near this accomplished then I can’t wait to hear it.

The other offerings from CMM feature Screen Vinyl Image a shoegaze/synth outfit from Washington DC comprising Jake and Kim Reid on guitars, bass, synths, samples, beats and vocals. Their album “Interceptors” (Safranin Sound SAF023/Wooo-0008 actually released in early 2009) is the sort that makes you want to wear a leather coat and shades indoors. Heavily influenced by Depeche Mode, Joy Division/New Order and, one suspects the Jesus and Mary Chain and their like, SVI bombard the listener with an aural assault of phat beats, spiralling synths, riffage and an ambient wash of sound. The opening track, the instrumental range-finder “Synthetic Apparition”, doesn’t quite prepare you for the stunning “Cathode Ray” which not so much insinuates as imposes itself, complete with industrial strength drumming and the first taste of doom-laden, sub-Ian Curtis vocals. It’s reminiscent of “Whammy” by B52s but without the cheese or any prospect of light relief. “Slipping Away” employs Lemmy’s opening riff to “Motorhead” before settling down to that rather portentous Depeche Mode sound (by which I mean the exhilarating, menacing DM and not the insipid and insubstantial one that so often assails us) laced with The Cure on speed. “Lost In Repeat” is one of my favourites a huge slab of ambient dub for the darkened soul, whilst “Death Defiance” is both chilling and thrilling, a sonic attack of bass and beats intent on rearranging your molecular structure. This would be a killer played live as indeed you suspect would be the case with pretty much every one of the 11 tracks. “What You Need” comes closest to psychedelic trance and the closing “Chaser” slows everything back down to an ominously fitting finale – watch those robots go.

OK so we’ve heard it all before and yes there is a lot of this retro-fit 80s electronica and shoegaze music around at the moment (think Cold Cave and XX to name but two), so much so  that it might be tempting to dismiss SVI as just one of the pack. Don’t. This is electrifying and compelling and is worthy of your attention.

Oh, yes, the other SVI CD is a collection of six remixes - entitled “Remixes” (Wooo-021) mostly of tracks from “Interceptor”, one of which is covered twice. As with most remix albums it is far less essential than the parent album but if you like the original then this is worth a listen.

Full marks then to Custom Made Music for both Sky Parade and Screen Vinyl Image – definitely two bands and a label to keep a close eye on, methinks.   www.skyparade.net

Salamander Wool is a solo project by Baltimore artist and musician Carson Garhart. His new album “Lunarsophic Somnambulist” (Ehse Records Ehse 015) plucks and chimes over 10 tracks to which the term Lo-Fi hardly does justice. At first you get the distinct impression that this is going to be along 35 minutes – wind chimes and a vocal that, on first meeting, can most charitably be described as atonal. However, about four minutes in, things start to click more into place and you realise that what you might just be listening to is a rough demo of a lost Incredible String Band album or that hurriedly shelved third Syd Barrett album before they packed him off to who knows where. This is very similar in parts to some of those Superfolk releases occasionally featured by Terrascope – sparse accompaniment on stringed instruments (some of which sound very Heath Robinson indeed) and simple electronica. It’s not likely to attract a huge listenership, but give this a couple of spins and you will begin to appreciate its rather peculiar charm. File under “Very Wyrd Folk” and enjoy (you’ll want to, really!). www.ehserecords.com

Now this is a strange one, to be sure. “Wilder Shores of Love” (Alt Vinyl Records av019) by Nalle practically defies description, being somewhere on a bizarre and multi-layered-cusp between folk, avant garde minimalism and world music (albeit some particularly obscure part of the globe). It is mainly a vehicle for the somewhat left-field and acquired talents of Hanna Tuulikki, who is aided and abetted by various others, including Alex Neilson of the very fine Trembling Bells and who performs percussion duties on a few of the tracks. However the rhythm section is mostly muted if in fact evident at all, with most tracks mining in dirge and drone territory, often with an Asiatic/oriental feel, the impression of which is leant considerable weight by Tuulikki’s highly individual voice. Ah yes, that voice. This truly is the listener’s Marmite moment, as the chances are you will either love it or hate it. Imagine if you will a vocal gumbo of pastiche-Kate Bush, Tiny Tim, Rossini’s Cat’s Duet, The “Inn of the Sixth Happiness”, CocoRosie and 60s soap character Hilda Ogden and you are roughly within reach of no longer needing to consult the sat nav. Quite frankly these polarising vocals occasionally stray beyond the eccentric and into the downright irksome and could easily consign “Wilder Shores of Love” to the status of passing novelty if it were not for the beguiling charm and quality of at least some of the material, which succeeds in pulling this through to a safe landing after an occasionally turbulent flight.  www.altvinyl.com

There are some things that defy good reason, none so much as why it is the Notorious Hi-Fi Killers are still knocking out pub gigs and remain unsigned. Criminal, as by rights, they should be bought and saved for the nation. Their latest single is entitled “The Sweet Relief of Reunion” and is well up to the standard they set with their “New Spirituals” album back in 2008. At just over 2:30 the title track’s tuneful yet punchy brand of garage/psych (eked out with mad horn section) is a tantalisingly short and catchy slab of undiluted excellence. The only other cut here, “She is the Door”, clocks in at a comparatively expansive 6:40 and is a far more sedate and lysergic-sounding affair, showcasing a restrained side to the band for which they’re not always given credit, and featuring a gorgeous arrangement, melodic guitar, faintly echoing drums and tripped-out vocals. All in all this is one of the most pleasurable 7 minutes I’ve spent gazing at my shoes in a while. A word or two as well about Jonathan Richards’ voice and which I like. It contains hints of Nick Saloman and the Strawbs’ Dave Cousins, which lends a certain folksy, rough-hewn character to an already mature, accomplished and most enjoyable noise. In a world in which in which we must suffer the all-too dubious plastic “pleasures” of whatever spews forth from Irritable Cowell Syndrome it is still good to know that there is a market for this stuff. They deserve a lot better.   www.hifikillers.co.uk

Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon are an Irish duo of Aaron Hurley and Scott McLaughlin, whose “The Tree, The Sea in a Lunar Stream” (Rusted Rail RR22) is a haunting and at times quite beautiful collection of avant-folk compositions, which distil modern folk, shoegaze, drone and laid-back jazz backdrops into a heady and intriguing infusion. Reminiscent by turn of Nick Drake, introspective Neil Young, Satie, Sigur Ros, the more serene end of the Incredible String Band’s catalogue, and early Kate Bush, these eerie and ethereal soundscapes, often sung in a high pitched and tremulous voice, stand up well whatever the comparisons. “The Tree…” is consistently good throughout and worth checking out, particularly for the slow-burningly stupendous show-closer, “Halloween”.  www.rustedrail.com


Another gratifyingly low-key offering this month comes courtesy of Sean Smith, whose “Eternal” (Strange Attractors Audio House saah-059) is about as pleasurable a workout on the old steel strung guitar as you’re likely to hear all year. Smith incorporates and makes light work of a variety of styles and influences from the Eastern-tinged opener “Topinambour”, through the Appalachian yeee-ha clap-along of “Palak Paneer” and on through a World tour culminating in the mesmerising 10 minute “Greetings, Death, Love (excerpts) on which our man pulls out all the stops and then some. The occasional use of fiddle and banjo provides extra depth and texture to give a Dirty Three feel to proceedings, whilst there is a totally mental moment a minute and a half in to “Holly” when it sounds like Thurston Moore has gate crashed the party with feedback guitar and crash-bang drums to hand. For the most part though file with Fahey and Basho, in whose esteemed company this stands up well.  www.strange-attractors.com

“Now for the Deer” (digitalis ltd # 58) is for the most part a pleasant enough excursion into minimalism, courtesy of Jefferson Pitcher. Mixing simple melodic ideas with a sizeable dose of experimentalism it is the former that most does it for these ears. Song titles such as “A Godless Place” and “There is Dying” underpin the melancholic feel to this album which, when it works is both impressive and  enjoyable but one which does just occasionally get lost up avant-garde alley. Introspective minimalists and those with a good book or crossword on the go may well find this rewarding.  www.digitalisrecordings.com

Yet more cerebral musical musings (and also from Strange Attractors), this time “Sunrise” (SAAH060) taken from their score for F W Murmau’s 1927 film “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans” by Texan instrumentalists My Education. Featuring strings, horns and vibraphone as well as conventional rock instrumentation, this is a luxuriant and quite spacey affair reminiscent of Pink Floyd circa Meddle/Dark Side and Popol Vuh’s Herzog collaborations as well as a chilled out Explosions In The Sky (but with greater musical depth and breadth). All seven tracks are, in their own way, atmospherically ambient and eminently listenable, except that “Oars” possesses somewhat more poke whilst “Peasant Dance” skips along nicely in a jazz/folk styling featuring prominently the aforementioned violin, viola and vibes with bass and drums forming a solid backdrop. Having inverted/subverted the traditional mid-set lull with their two most upbeat selections, My Education then revert to type for the long, slow and thoroughly gratifying descent to the finish with “A Man Alone” and the title track which, together with its not quite identical twin “Sunset” bookends this sumptuous affair in a string quartet style. On this showing My Education are a class act and definitely worthy of further investigation.  www.strange-attractors.com

Last up in this batch are two tracks from Michael Hilde’s Mountainhood cottage industry, the first of which (“Have You Ever Wished”) is a pleasant, innocent sounding acoustic number featuring just simple guitar and vocal harmonies and the second, “The River”, a slightly more intricate but still delightfully guileless campfire sing-along. Hey, it induced a smile, and that can never be bad.  www.mountainhood.com 

Thanks, Ian. Next up, we welcome back Stefan Ek, who will lead you a  merry Nordic dance through some more strange and beautiful music.
                                                                                                                                                                         Out of Brisbane, Australia, comes The Scrapes, a duo consisting of violin player Adam Cadell and guitarist Ryan Potter. Having released a highly acclaimed home-made CDR, ‘Electric Mourning Blues’ they’ve now converted it into a proper release on Joy. The instrumental music presented is dronish and psychedelic, sometimes with repetitive patterns, either slightly amplified, or with the amplifier turned to eleven, distorting the instruments into fields of Sunn O))). The inspiration is said to be artists like Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and La Monte Young, as well as Tony Conrad and Spacemen 3. Listening to this music I would go for the electric ones. Even though presented by only two players their music is really rich of impressions and moods. About and hour of music split into nine magnificent pieces. Most of the time I just lean back, full of trust for this powerful chamber music extravaganza, and enjoy every moments of it. Where to find it? A lot of places, but to make it easy you can use one of my own favourites: www.normanrecords.com

Whispering and shy, but also beautiful and fragile as crystal glass. That’s what’s meeting us when putting on ‘Origami’, the debut album by low-voice and very quiet The Puddle Parade, a one-girl band from Utrecht, The Netherland. This kind of anonymous artist, LN, describes herself as a minimalistic crackling toy orchestra in slow motion with tools like guitar, voice, loop station, melodica alto, melodica soprano, music boxes, children’s accordion, tooth brush, analog 4-track recorder, distortion pedals, xylophone, zither, dictaphone, and many more stuff.  And as with origami this is music folded, here of fragile musical elements. The voice, surrounded by one or maybe two very discreetly played instruments and sometimes electronic hiss. 12 short tracks in 35 minutes. Anyone looking for the big city pulse, please, enter another space. Here is silence golden and like with gold it’s shimmering. www.morctapes.com

On the next one our senses are tickled by late 60’s Detroit sounds. This means basic heavy-weight classic foot-stomping roots punk a’ la MC5 or early Stooges. Could have been worse, couldn’t it? Not too often I hear rock music from South American bands who aren’t Brazilian, but La Ira De Dios are from Peru and that’s a nice experience. “Apus Revolution Rock” is their second release, 12 heavy up-tempo rockers in about 40 minutes, presented by Chino (vocals & guitar), Litros (basas & vocals) and Pepe (vocals & drums). I use to bless myself for being open-minded, changing in a row ambient, noise, pop, free jazz, techno, drone, rock albums on my player, and when it has been a lot of the dronish, ambient kind it really feels refreshing with this on-the-ground music.  www.worldinsound.de

When music approaches hilarious, chaotic lust I’m immediately captivated. When you can hear through the music how the artists really want the listeners to have a real good time then I’m trapped even more. It’s about ‘Curious Memories’, a new release by Sone Institute, a.k.a. enfant terrible electronic artist and creator Roman Bezdyk. 14 short pieces gathering together the worlds of Albert Marcoeur, René Lussier and dreams of fantasies that probably only could occur in the head of Sun Ra. Samples, sounds, voices and instruments, all mixed together bright and brave as if the meaning of life did depend on it. This is a truly inspirational piece of art and I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed anyone’s inventiveness as much as this since I first heard Brian Eno’s ‘Another Green World’. While listen a question occurs: How much input can I cope with? Don’t worry, when it’s as good as this there’s probably no limit and neither is it while Sone Institute guide us through his wonderfully world of healthy and creative madness. And, also, there are a few moments of intelligent reflective moments for your ears and mind to rest as with the beautiful Steps to the Sun (Part 2) and its follower French Woods. All in all I’m excited. Do I have to say I recommend it?


I’m a bit ambivalent about writing reviews of pre-view singles, but when it’s two nice tracks like those of Hexicon’s ‘Something Strange Beneath The Stars’ single it’s ok. What I like most is their influences by the melancholy of Wilco kind and with a singer with a voice not too distant form the one of Jeff Tweedy. I can’t find out what the name of the second track, the ‘B’ side is, but it’s a slow and very beautiful song, my favourite. If the following album will be as good as this it’s something to be well worth checking up. www.haircutrecords.co.uk

Coming home from work after having a shitty day, feeling down, putting on the one-tracked CDr “Driebergen-Zeist” by Tex la Homa and the rest of the day was saved. Exactly what my inner tensions needed. 30 minutes of reflective, melancholy light, kind of accordion-drone. Those days, do I know it’s an accordion? No, it could be an electronic trick, but I don’t care, it’s mighty beautiful and rich in sound; wide chords flavoured with sampled voices, sounds, treatments and other stuff, just like spices here and there. Tex la Homa could also be recognised as Matthew Shaw, a guy involved in a lot of various collaborations in 230 Divisadero with Nick Grey, The Blue Tree with Andrew Paine, Fougou with Brian Lavelle, Cat Lady with Michael Tanner and Grand Feast of the Dead with Mark Fry. And if that wasn’t enough he’s also the head of Apollolaan Records. Anyone familiar with that label immediately realise we’re talking about a guy who care for quality. And he’s avoiding the narcissistic trap of releasing it on his own label. Find it here:  www.sonicoysterrecords.blogspot.com

Next on the player is “A Great Southern City” by Andrew Weathers, a young, talented guy from North Carolina. His gentle approach to stringed instruments reminds me of Harold Budd’s guitar treatments on his early ‘The Serpent (In Quicksilver)’ album where he created ambient textures with his guitar in a Brianenoesque way – most appealing. Nine instrumental tracks (well, two of them do actually have some small, choral harmonies involved) spread over the album’s almost 50 minutes. Most of the music is him self, solo with effects or layers, but on some tracks he’s helped by friends on cello, violin, clarinet, piano and saxophone. This is a debut album and I’m already looking forward to what will happen with this guy in the future.  www.fullspectrumrecords.com

As they emerge from the Alaskan psychedelic noise scene Nommo Ogo is a rare aural experience. They have been around for about 15 years. They are combining psychedelic repetitive patterns with electronics and electro-acoustic treatments, partly like a less rhythmic Tortoise or, why not, a none-vocal Massive Attack meets The Orb. Sometimes the ambient moods of the trip hop electronic rules the sound picture and the music enter into mysterious enchanted spheres. You’re captured like being spirited away, but instead of trying to run away from it you do all that you can to stay close, filled with attention. This is fascinating. This is why stereophonic hi-fi was invented. The name of the album is “Across Time and Space” and even though a lot of space rock related albums are dubbed with the most annoying clichés this album’s title really put the spot on what it’s all about. Nine tracks. With the exception of one three minutes piece all the others clock in between 8 – 15 minutes. Did I mention the word enchanting? Did I mention the word fascinating? If not I just did. It comes in a wonderfully painted fold out cross-shaped digipack.

Coming from Sydney, Australia is The Dolly Rocker Movement with their third release “Our Days Mind the Tyme”. The slow intensity of the opening track ‘The Only One’ immediately show us what it’s all about; clever, competent pop n rock n roll with influences from the 60’s psychedelic Nuggets Garage scene. The farfisa organ brings us back a bit in time, but I’ve always loved that sound and the music is nothing but new. I don’t think it has anything to do with me having hard to grow up, I think the appealing sound is more about bringing the energy from the sunny areas where it’s created into me, no matter if it’s Australia or the American west coast. And the beautiful waltzing ‘A Sound For Two’, mmmm, my heart aches. Ten pieces of pure love to music, exactly what’s expected from an album of this kind, greatly written, played and sung.
 www.myspace.com/badafrorecords  www.myspace.com/thedollyrockermovement


Respect without obedience, that’s what Vibravoid shows on their new “What Colour Is Pink?” 7” vinyl EP, a part of Fruits de Mer ongoing series of “new versions of classic psychedelic, progressive rock, acid-folk and krautrock”. Coming from Dusseldorf Vibravoid maybe should feel their krautrock heritage, and if – as I see it – early Pink Floyd maybe was the first krautrock band ever, so maybe there’s a connection. Choosing three pieces from Pink Floyds epic 2nd LP “A Saucerful of Secrets” from 1968 on this “Pink” EP, Vibravoid are doing us nothing but a great favour by showing how up to date that old, inventive music still is. And by giving the distorted organ a bigger place in the sound picture amongst rhythm instruments, vibra-synths and spacey sounds they even point out the krautish connection I’m after. The three tracks presented are ‘Set the Control for the Heart of the Sun’, ‘Let There be More Light’ and ‘Saucerful of Secrets’. They are maybe not versions too far from the originals except they are a bit shorter, but yet extremely inspiring. I saw Pink Floyd live in November 1970 with two of these three tracks on the set list, amongst a lot of others, of course. I would love to see this band live as well.

For being not an Englishman maybe the most English is the eccentricity of storytellers like Lewis Carroll or Oscar Wilde, artists like Ivor Cutler and Robert Wyatt, Monthy Python, or folkies like The Incredible String Band and on and on, people I can’t imagine could happen anywhere else. Kind of, you have to be more than personal. Now we can add Hamilton Yarns to these people, a band from Brighton, England, who finds inspiration for their short stories from areas around. On their own label Hark! they have released a bunch of various stuff as CDs, 8” vinyl EP and so. Now we do have their latest edition, the full-length “Ringing”, a collection of 16 mostly very short songs, with one or two exceptions. With sparse instrumentation of instruments like Wurlitzer electric piano, Korg synth, cornet, guitar, harmonium, percussions and one or two effects (probably from their own voices) they present very charming music. In between sung moments you’ll find instrumental passages, sometimes strictly arranged, sometimes with a feeling of being mainly improvised, a combination and ability I appreciate a lot, a little bit like moments of Henry Cow’s first album. There’s always an open-minded childish playfulness in their music. Right now the band consists of five persons, Iain Paxon, Alistair Strachon, Marion Deprez, Jacindy Cartland and Jocelin Colvert. All of them sing and as far as I get it all or most of them contributes with songs. They consider them selves being a pre-rock band, “as if rock had never happened” which I think is a most charming consideration. Try this pre-rock, none-rock rock band.

Maybe the most weird and original cover, if not ever at least for a very long time: The easy part is the vellum sleeve with screen-printed text on. But then, the CDr is wrapped in “mysterious sebaceous animal fleece”. Phew! What about the band, the music and sounds? Well, it’s D & N with their debut full-length release “2” (or D & N 2’s self titled album, how could I know?). D & N is not our old friends Damon and Naomi but a collaboration between Nevada Hill and David Lee Price, both from North Texas improve/drone collective Zanzibar Snails. When I’ve emotionally recovered from opening the cover, I could concentrate on the music and it’s sounds. The vellum sleeve’s explanation of the technical procedures of the CD (improvisations during two days etc, then all cut into two pieces placed over each other on varying volumes) has been read and understood. But, still, the music and sounds? Well, it’s improvisations of the kind we use to hear from Vibracatheral Orchestra, Pelt, The A Band and such, that means it’s good and interesting with a lot of stuff happening all the time. And the two members of D & N of course sounds like a bigger band with the treatment of the recordings. List of instruments used: 2 acoustic guitars, melodica, modified Yamaha keyboard, modified drum machine, contact microphone, looping pedal, modified musical elephant keyboard, field recordings, 2 x 4 beards (and here I’m a bit disappointed the coverage of the CD wasn’t human hair instead of animals furs), ice chest, something tubes, rock house…… One 39 minutes piece sliced into nine parts of various characters. www.mayyrh.com

I’m really happy there are a lot of “weird” artists who dares to do stuff others don’t (and I’m happy there are some “normal” ones, too, to balance the situation – now please don’t ask me to analyze what’s “weird” and what’s “normal”, just use your own imagination). Artists have always inspired each other. Sometimes this leads to one artist want to explore and investigate the other one some extra. In my hands I do have the evidence of how fruitful this can be. A guy called Castle Oldchair made some recordings of his own of raw voice experiments captured whatever inspiration stuff coming out. He collected what would become “Newborn Slime” and handed out a dozen of copies of it to friends. When listening to it my mind throws in the direction of Zappa & Mother’s vocal expressions on early tracks like ‘Help, I’m a Rock’ and such even though it’s only about a one man band here and sometimes the recording of the voice gets so distorted that it more sounds like electronics instead of human behaviour. Most interesting! Stuck into these ten pieces are two instrumental tracks, acoustic guitar playing a bit raga-like. They are also rather good. Anyway, one of the handed over copies landed in the hands of Justin K Prim, a.k.a. Kid Primitive Family, and he went nuts of inspiration of the Castle Oldchair tracks and created a kind of tribute album of its own, “White Light”. The tribute version is an all vocal and choral creation and sounds sometimes like a punk version of Ligeti’s contribution to ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ soundtrack and sometimes like the free form acapella parts of Keith & Julie Tippett’s ‘Centipede – Septober Energy’. But, as always when trying to find some kinds of aural references for the readers, I must admit the music of course really stands on its own legs as two connected pieces of open-minded contemporary art. These two sisters/brothers efforts can be found on the split release Castle Oldchair/Kid Primitive Family “Newborn Slime/White Light” and is released on the latter ones own Perpetual Motion Records and I’m not sure if you can lay your hands on it through his MySpace site, otherwise try sending him an ordinary email.
www.myspace.com/kidprimitive  www.myspace.com/castleoldchair  kidprim@gmail.com

Rock fresh as fruit! Maybe so. Here’s “Oakland Minor”, an album by Ovipositor, a trio from Oakland, CA. It’s great guitar riffages by Colin Frangos, who also performs most of the vocals, and a truly competent rhythm section of Mark Pino (drums) and Max Sidman (bass).

For me it sounds inspired by some late 70’s New York acts at their early post-punk state, as Richard Hell & Television or – why not – Cleveland’s Pere Ubu (minus David Thomas whimsically vocals). They are also well aware of often being compared with artists like Sonic Youth even though I maybe think they are closer to Liars. Kind of nowadays shoe-gaze with a bit up-tempo and distortion added. The music is intense and organic and I’m sure it’s a great and wild live act.  www.ovipositor.com

Listening to Mako Sica’s wonderful debut album “Dual Horizon” really makes me grumpy. Not because it’s bad, I’ve already said it’s wonderful, no, only because it’s an only-12”-vinyl-release and we poor reviewers only receive a CDr instead of a beautiful original version. OK, I know it’s damn expensive to send out LPs as promos and I will stop my grumpiness now because it has nothing to do with the music. I just love Vinyl versions of stuff. Mako Sica is from Chicago and two of its three members are ex-members from avant/experimental band Rope. Coming from Chicago they also feel the heredity of the city’s magnificent jazz and punk ideal. The album is recorded all live in the studio, with no over-dubs. It consists of two twenty minutes pieces, even though the Side A (for you who got that version) cycle is split into two. The tunes sound like structured improvisations with dronish beginnings where the music comes from nowhere and minute by minute constructs into something more specific and then, at the end, goes back to the unknown. It’s mainly two guitars, one with “dark” sound and one with “light” sound, completed with percussions that perfectly frame the music no matter if it’s freely floating or follows strict rhythmic patterns. Added to this is sometimes voice/s singing non-words oooos and aaahs with echoes, great complement to the basically instrumental music. It’s released on La Société Expéditionnaire.  www.la-soc.com/home.html www.myspace.com/makosica

Following a British good tradition of folk music pickers Jason Steel presents “Baby, Wolves Abound”, an EP of  7 short tunes and one longer, the six minutes version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’. He’s playing on acoustic guitar, banjo or ukulele (and the albums shortest track, the one-minutes instrumental ‘House Have Memories’ is played on piano), prefers to record live with no overdubs and mostly with only a single microphone. It might sound like it is some odd DIY album, but be sure it’s not; the quality is high and remember, a lot of classic albums are made this way. The tunes are gentle and he’s is singing with a voice not too far away from Mike Heron’s in the Incredible days. Even though there are some covers most of the songs are original compositions.
  www.myspace.com/jasonsteelmusic  www.rifmountain.com

A short five-track EP of demo character comes from The Sister Ruby Band, a one man project of young multi-instrumentalist Johnny Ruby, a guy performing rock ‘n’ pop music inspired by Americana as well as British shoe gazer pop. With a voice somewhere between Billy Idol and Iggy Pop and music in darker areas, sometimes reminding me a bit a Nick Cave’s latter songs, it seems like this is a guy we will hear more from in the future. Keep eyes and ears open. www.sisterrubyband.com

“Farewell Sun” is a Mini CD by Dutch Faelwa. The music presented is mainly acoustic and influenced by folk music of the melancholic kind. Basically a duo of Mark Kwint (guitar, bass, bouzouki, vocals) and Jasper Strik (piano, mellotron, whispers), sometimes guested by Arjan Hoekstra (drums). The arrangements do have some symphonic, orchestral approach which brings the music into emotional territories which makes it most suitable for a sunny day like this when I’m playing it. The centrepiece is the almost 8 minutes long title tune which brings us the beauty of Wetton era Crimson music with its soft groove and mellotronized melodies. Not bad at all. www.faelwa.com

Next one on the player is “Terminal Use : Red”, an EP by Lid Emba, an alter ego for, well, some-one. It’s raw dark ‘n’ dirty synthi roughness. I really like this unpolished surface, especially as in the second track, ‘1x2 = oblivion core decoy’ with its programmed dirt-drums, like ‘Jazz from Hell’ from hell. Following track ‘0+3 = ocd (an uninvented coda)’ turns it all into darker and mysterious broken spheres before next one which brings us into some ambient fields of almost free form character where a shaker and a rumbling bass marks the nervy rhythm. The tension gets stable before the EP ends up with the last piece which brings all elements together. Rather nice listening.   www.stickfigurerecords.com

Mamuthones is a one man band of Italian multi-instrumentalist Alessio Gastalodello. Alessio’s know for being founding member of Jennifer Gentle, as well for co-recorded works with drone meister Fabio Orsi. Here he’s presenting “Sator”, a title taken from the mysterious engravings found in ancient Roman ruins as well as Middle Age European churches. How ancient or Middle Age is this? Well, not at all. With the exception of the tribal rhythmic and mysteriously whispered ‘Ota Benga’ most tracks brings us to dronish, ambient fields where dark instrumental chords mixes with field recordings and nature sounds and sometimes voices. On a few tracks Alessio is helped by other musicians, as the remarkably beautiful vocal, choral ‘10000 voices’, an atonal, ambient piece of extraordinary kind. The last track, ‘Ave Maria’, brings pictures to my head. It’s like entering the inner funeral chamber deep within a pyramid and all the unanswered questions comes to en end with the science fictional flying saucerage squeaky sounds surrounding us and suddenly just disappear, it’s like if we were passing through a door from hell to heaven, and what’s left is only the sound of an organ and a voice from distance playing and singing the song with the familiar name. Or is it? It’s dark music that brings light to us  www.boringmachines.it

Loyal followers of the Terrascope’s Rumbles sections are familiar with experimental tour de force drone artist Olekranon (aka Ryan Huber). They also know how fond I am of his sounds of music. Here’s “Identi”, the full-length follow up to his EP ‘{recycle human lung}’, also on Inam Records. The music comes wave after wave and the structure is more intense and expressive, kind of up-in-your-face-ambient-noise where the heavy layers of chords and electronics hunts each other through the loudspeakers. Even noise artists like Merzbow are coming back to rhythmic patterns in parts of their music. It’s the same with our gentleman here; finding programmed drums here and there balances the sounds and makes us more ready and alert for new constructions. It’s not demanding it’s just beautiful. And the title track is almost a pop tune, well, at least compared to the other ones. Great cover art from artist Magan Abajlian once again. Limited to 100 copies.  www.stickfiguredistro.com

Also on Inam Records we find “Morte e Deacida”, a 3” cdr EP by Sujo. The only track is a 19 minutes pulsing beast of industrial drones and layers of electronics where the second half slow downs a bit in intensity, almost letting the drone fade away to some faraway place. The artist/s I know nothing about, the press release sheet isn’t too informative. It’s big music and sublime in a small and sublime package.  www.stickfiguredistro.com

Age of Disinformation is a sort of super group gathered together by surrealist impresario Aaron Gonzalez consisting of members from Zanzibar Snails, Tidbits, Yells of Eels and a lot other. At midnight May 23, 2008, they entered the stage at an event. The only instructions given were “an improvisation on the current state of psychological and spiritual breakdown as it relates to viral ecosystem of economies of information”. Yeah, that’s rock ‘n’ roll! The ensemble set away on an improvisation trying to sound wise visualise the instruction and I must say they succeed a lot. Not to say I would have understood the instruction if it was I who should play, but the ensemble present a 47 minutes set of psychedelic sound sculptures, ambient, drones, musique concrete, etc – music free in spirit and in mind where the players interact in the best way and succeed with the most difficult art of being an improviser: The Art Of Listening To Each Other and out of that contribute with some good playing. The piece is split into seven on the disc even though it actually is just one single piece. The character of the tracks varies from harsh moments to silent patterns of electronics and buzzes where small talking voices breaks through like from radio waves. The competence and the experience of the players make this piece of cake really tasty. The album is self titled and limited to 200 copies. As always with Mayyrh Records the cover is beautiful and great. Here it’s designed by Nevada Hill. www.mayyrh.com

And now a quick jump into something completely different. 17 Pygmies has been around for almost 30 years, made a lot of music in area of experimental folk, Americana and others. Their new album is an ambitious concept album dubbed “The Outlaw J.D.Ray”, circulating around a Wild Western theme about the outlaw. There are eleven tracks, most of them in mid-tempo waltz and sung soft with Jackson Del Rey’s voice not too far from a nasal version of Jeff Tweedy. I also start thinking of what it would have been like if it were a collaboration  between 17 Pygmeis gentleness and Wilco’s sometimes expressive, experimental country. The cover is extensive and like an old note-book with thin brown papers with yellowed photos of the band members, a Wanted sign, some diary notes from days close to Christmas 1868, I really like the consequent stillness of the songs, most of them played acoustic. The band really relies on the strength of the music, its ability to capture the listener, don’t need the high volumes to make us turn our heads in the direction of the band and their music.  www.trakwerx.com

Next moments to enjoy are the ambient noise sounds of TL0741, aka one man band American noisenik Pat Gillis, and his second album “Magnetic Injuries”, originally released on Panic Research Audio, but here a re-mastered version on HC3 with added tracks. Ten tracks of various lengths between 2 – 15 minutes performed on synths, effects and tape manipulations. The sounds are dark and industrial with a lot of inputs of great ideas that split the sound layers into electro acoustic kind. Pat presses his buttons, switches knobs and plays his instruments with great skills and under full control. The music is probably improvised a lot, but has bright and well-thought structure that makes it interesting all the time. My favourite is the laid back, evocative dronish ‘Cloaco’ with its slight movements, slowly from minute to minute, analogue drone music at its best. www.hc3music.com  www.myspace.com/TL0741

Filled with great ambition and great influences Smoldering Ashes release their new album"Songs in the Key of Mountain Birds Blue". The mostly short 12 tunes take us for a trip in territories of psychedelic post Peter Green Fleetwood Mac with strong melodies and arrangements. Instead of staying close to one singular style the band shows us a spectrum of their broad musical accent, all under the umbrella of Veronica Ashe’s soft-as-silk voice. She’s cool. She’s especially cool in songs like the soulful and sensitive ‘Give Yourself a Push’ where she still sings soft, but instead of “as silk” she turns the voice into something stronger like if the song was a Dusty Springfield song and she was her. And anyone with the least humour can’t ignore their interpretation of Groucho Marx’ showstopper ‘Lydia the Tattooed Lady’, a version like if it was captured in a Bavarian beer festival tent. How drunk were they? The centrepiece of the album is the 6 minutes ‘Le Locataire Diabolique’, build like a folk pop suite of a kind Sandy Denny era Fairport Convention could have made, but never did. This band is from California and even though some of its influences are the American version of F Mac it sounds very English to me. This short but very rich album closes with the sweet and dreamy ‘Move the Clouds’. And then it’s over, but thanks God for repetitive media, it’s just to put it on again. www.trakwerx.com

Like a cluster from Cluster there are two releases from the German Klangbad label. The first one is the solo album “Kram” by Dieter Moebius - no further presentation needed. As usual the music might seem to be simple at a first listening but, as usual, the ear betrays the mind;  it’s complex and genius and lean on tradition of what became known as Krautrock;  minimalistic, but not in an ambient way, and mixed with rhythms we got used to hear from Kraftwerk. It’s like in ‘Transport’, a few repetitive chords, some notes or sounds creating the tune’s hooks and the laid back beats. Not too much happens, the tunes goes on for over 7 minutes and you don’t want it to ever stop. But, don’t think Moebius tries to make us to comfortable in the reorganization of his sounds. Here and there, like with ‘Etwas’ or ‘Sinister’ he split the feel-good character we’ve just reached into something more evil and demanding. Contrast is what makes music good. The conclusion of the album is ‘Immerhin’, a track The Residents probably would have cut off one of their arms to have made and been able to use.

The second Klangbad album on the player is “Qua”, a magnificent new album by Hans Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius brain- and heart-child Cluster. There are 17 tracks of various lengths between one to six minutes, most of them short. The instruments keep a low profile, no matter if it’s just the keyboards or if there are some rhythmic patterns added, no matter if it’s melodious or sculptured sounds. About a year ago I saw these two distinguished gentlemen perform live, and even though they performed mostly improvised long suites, two or three filling the concerts 1 ½ hour, I was impressed in the same way as I am now, that after all these years of performing and recording music it’s still so very rich and filled with so tremendously many good ideas and inputs. Actually the only thing that irritated me a bit when watching them live was that there was so many good ideas and I thought they stopped them or changed them into new ones too quick, like they were in a hurry and didn’t have time to continue developing each and every one because they urgently had to go on to something new. This is not a problem here. Listening to a two dimensional CD it’s much easier to accept each of the short tracks as a unit of their own and they don’t have to be woven into long suites. These guys are legends and the music has dignity and reaches high peaks time after time. They continue to spoil us with great and highly interesting music.  www.klangbad.de

“The Shy Volcanic Society at the Bear and Bird Parade” is a new split release from English Volcano the Bear (5 tracks) and French La Société des Timides á la Parade des Olseaux (La STPO)(4 tracks). The release comes in a beautiful gatefold book bound cd case.  VTB opens with their patented high quality improvisations with use of various kinds of instruments, voices, effects and so. The music wander around in the room in a most pleasant way and never gets pushy or annoying as it sometimes gets when improvising musicians are not as experienced as these guys and wants to do too much with their music all the time. For me listening to VTB in a mood like this is like visiting a master class in the art of improvisation. ‘The First Circle is the Edge’ closes their set and is also the first one to get steady rhythms, here of a Middle East oriental kind, which strengthen the beautiful melodies and playing of core trumpet instruments. With La STPO the music gets a little bit wilder and also weirder. There has been a huge amount of members coming and leaving over the more than 25 years the band has been up and running, but now it seems like they are about five persons sharing the burden. Their rich and intense use of voice as an instrument combined with their use of instruments like clarinet and cello gives the music Zeulish moods. The music move around in eras of improvised ROI influences as well as chamber rock of Univers Zero kind, especially in tracks like ‘Invalid Islands’. A split release with those two bands is a perfect combination.

Coming from Bremen Stefan Knappe and Martin Gitschel as Troum found a great concept for their dark ambient drones to burden the legacy of the German electronic music. On their new album “Eald-Ge-Streon” we hear symphonic ambient tunes, more musical than environmental, broader soundscapes than single notes beeps. It makes me thinking of Tangerine Dream “Rubycon” era. The music is very emotional and as always it’s a bit hard to express by words what you hear and emotionally react on and still bring justice to that experience. The masterpiece of the album is also the longest track and the track that finish it, ‘Crescere’, which during its 16 minutes builds from very dark, almost not hearable powerful chords, which expands more and more, and somewhere in the middle a kind of joyful psychedelic folk-dance melody comes on top of all the still existing powerful dark drones. I can’t avoid thinking of the 1st Movement of Henric Goreci’s third symphony. As always with Beta-lactam Ring Records releases the covers and its art is very important. Here we once again get a beautifully gatefold book bound cd case, this time with design, layout and artwork by Stephen O'Malley of Sunn O))). Those of you who quickly order it receive a bonus disc, “Abhijna”, one single track of 33 minutes, very beautiful, quiet, non-melodic environmental ambience.   www.blrrecords.com

Thanks, Stefan. To see us out we have Steve Palmer and his musings on all things Terrascopic this past month or two:

Melodic progressive music seems to be in the blood of the Swedes. "According To Life..." by The Carpet Knights is a tuneful, Jethro-Tull flavoured trip through ten flute-augmented cuts that on occasion recall Porcupine Tree and The Flower Kings. The band have been going for over a decade, have one other album, but have recently gone through a number of line-up changes, the newest members being the bassist and drummer. The opening tracks 'Headcase,' 'Gaze Through The Days I'll Hide' and 'Without A Past' feature odd time signatures, harmonised vocals and great playing from all concerned. 'Eternal Sleep' reminded me a little of Cream - a complex album highlight that packs half an epic into seven minutes - while 'Cosmical Mind' returns the listener to the Tull-scape that is the band's signature sound, featuring a great guitar solo (instrumental solos are kept to a minimum with this band). 'Lost' has a heavy, intense sound and lots of flute, while 'If Soon I Will Be You' cuts across a number of time signatures; uptempo, and passing through a bewildering range of keys yet remaining whole and coherent. The combination of guitar, bass and drums is particularly good in this track, as is the superb production. Album highlight 'Magical Space-style' is slower, simpler and has a 'sixties feel to it, while 'Why Am I' is dense and heavy. The Creamy concluding ten minute cut 'Forever Is A Long Time' ratchets up the emotional intensity with dual vocals and terrific guitars. A very good album that fans of the neo-progressive bands mentioned above should check out; rewarding, and, as the band point out, "built to last."
(www.transubstans.com )

"Handle This Wino Like He Was An Angel" by Quiet World's Ian Holloway is a collection of pieces drawn from 2002-8, when Ian was working on various albums but, like all us electronic musicians, experimenting to other ends also. From a sonic explorer of some style, these pieces traverse a number of terrains and project a number of moods: highlights are the glitchy weird opening track 'Why M', musique-concrete weird 'Over Time Tra-la-lee', half industrial half cosmic 'Monday's Time', the eerie and edgy album highlight 'Faded Rock Star Eats Secret Love Child', quirky Orb-lite 'Sweet Mary Mild', sample loop-o-matic 'I Love To See A Dog Smile', and the Nancarrow-esque album closer 'Halfway Up A Ladder Looking For God'. Fans of the Quiet World releases, and indeed of Ian's band Psychic Space Invasion, will doubtless want to investigate this varied collection.

The EP "Functions Of Hedgerow" by Andrew Paine of Scottish label Sonic Oyster Records is an all-too-brief excursion into minimal, spectral sonic tapestries. Opening with the title track, the mood is very eerie; ghostly piano chords haunted by whispering voices. 'Scent Of Green' matches resonant bass notes with whistling synths (or sounds - difficult to tell, which is a good sign), while 'Year Of Rabbit, Year Of Cat' sounds like an out-take from Tangerine Dream's "Atem" - an outstanding track. 'Walk The Field' features heavily effected voices over a spooky soundscape, while EP closer 'Corners Of Canterbury' sounds like an audio description of a macabre nocturnal world. This is an evocative and peaceful work, notable not least for the track titles. Highly recommended for those into the ambient side of things.

Radio I-Ching are a New York trio of modern jazz explorers: Andy Hass on sax and electronics, Don Fiorino on various guitars and Dee Pop on the drums, all three of whom have lengthy pedigrees with notable underground and indeed overground acts. On their album "No Wave Au Go Go" the sound is groove based and spacey, partly because of the Malherbe-esque sound of Hass' sax and the gliss/slide effects produced by Fiorino - I'm sure Gong fans would adore this album. It's also jazzy - the band do a selection of their own numbers and those by giants such as Thelonius Monk and Johnny Mercer. All the cuts have a lightness of touch that emerges from the trio format and the originality of the vision, while the playing is never less than terrific. Highlights are the two Monk covers and the self-penned tracks 'Molly Simpson' and 'On The Road To Algeria', while the band's version of Durham & Battle's 'Topsy' is exhilarating. A great album, one for jazzers, members of the Gong family, world music types, or indeed anyone who likes the zones where jazz and modern sound intersect. Recommended.

Understated acid-folk is the measure of "A Quiet Evil" by Lee Harvey Osmond, which, although a collective, is at least in part the vehicle for long-time Canadian musician Tom Wilson, whose work with various high profile bands is well documented. Sounding not unlike Mark Knopfler in vocal tone and style, Wilson leads the album stroll in a quiet, yet determined (and often dark) manner through a number of soft and discreet cuts. The sound of Americana is restrained, giving the album a cross-Atlantic feel. Sax solos, pedal steel and Dobro pitch in, along with occasional harmonica. Album highlights include the irresistible 'Queen Bee', the Daniel Lanois-esque 'I'm Going To Stay That Way' (a radio friendly cut if ever I heard one), and devilish tale 'Lucifer's Blues', while 'Angels In The Wilderness' benefits from female vocals and subtle strings; the album highlight undoubtedly. Album closer 'I Can't Stand It' concludes the album in almost uptempo mood. Quiet enjoyment from a sincere musician, whom success has not dulled.

The small folk label Sawmill Steelmill Records bring us the debut "Songs For Emily" by Philip Butler & Natasha Tranter, an album of ten songs whose limited edition (book, handmade cover, lyrics and art) looks like an amazing package. The feel is folk - traditional folk in many places, elsewhere more like an alternate, singer-songwriter version. Opening track 'Farewell' introduces us to a plaintive, simple sound world, before the lusher 'Leaves & Twigs' - a really lovely track, beautifully arranged - evokes a pastoral world. 'Emily, Where Have You Gone?' benefits from a well judged quiet/loud dynamic as it tells a strange, melancholy tale, while 'A Gift From Dr Forrest' is a mandolin-enhanced 3/4 instrumental jig. 'Jack The Mommet' (alas my Mac dictionary doesn't tell me what a "mommet" might be) is perhaps the most mournful track on the album, with a vocal performance to match, Butler sounding uncannily like Kangaroo Moon's Mark Robson; great track, this. 'Goodwin Sands' tells a fiddle-augmented traditional tale, while 'The Coaching House' is a more overtly "produced" track, with massed, reverberated vocals and scratchy vinyl effects. 'No White Rabbit' benefits from subtle mandolin, fiddle and percussion, while 'A Sorry Tragic Tale' pushes all the right folk buttons: accordion, terrible tale in freezing Wales, ne'er a happy ending. Album closer 'To Dream Of Death' again evokes the vocals of Mark Robson, here augmented with female vocals and a lovely instrumental backing. This is a particularly good release, solid in the folk tradition yet with variety enough to stand repeated listening. Recommended.

Still in folk mode, "Songs Of Love, Loss & Betrayal" by Shropshire lass Jill Carr is a collection of twelve folk classics, opening with 'Come All Ye Maidens', which showcases Jill's resonant voice over a simple guitar backing, while 'Geordie' is another folk standard given a great, if inevitably melancholy treatment. 'Water Is Wide' features a soft string orchestra, while 'Widow With Shawl' is mournful tale of maritime life. 'Mary Hamilton', also augmented by the string orchestra, tells the tale of Mary Hamilton and the royal Stuarts, while the stark telling and violin-enhanced playing of 'Black Is The Colour' accentuates its denouement. 'Leaves They Do Grow Green' is a lovely performance, again underscored with subtle strings, while 'Must I Be Bound' is a tale of unrequited love. 'Richie Story' is another tale of royal shenanigans, here augmented by a Hammond organ, while 'Polly Vaughn' tells a classic terrible tale of accidental death and subsequent tragedy. 'Cruel War Is Raging' is an anti-war standard, while 'Banks Of The Sweet Primrose' closes the album with a tale of deceiving men and wronged ladies, featuring some great mandolin picking. Fans of traditional folk done so well will doubtless want to investigate this debut release from a respected vocal practitioner.

Mention ripped trousers and of course only one name comes to mind. Yes, P.J. Proby is back, here courtesy Fantastic Voyage, who continue to do such great work in bringing us neglected works from the 'sixties and 'seventies. For "I'm Yours", Proby's comeback album remastered from the original tapes, the man's star had not been bright for four years or more. Opening with the big-band-tastic 'They Call The Wind Maria', the album wends its way through a number of standards, with backings beautiful arranged and the man himself in very fine voice, notably on the soulful 'Mama Married A Preacher Man', the solid gold classic 'Mary In The Morning' (probably this album's best vocal performance), and the rocking 'Sunday Goodbye', which shows what a versatile voice Proby had back in the day (and still has - he continues to perform). Concluding the album with two belters, 'Stay Awhile' is simply awash with nostalgia - wonderful - while the closing cut and title track is a reminder of a unique vocal style even if it does rhyme "arms" with "charms". Altogether great stuff, and a must for fans of classic pop music.

Also from Fantastic Voyage comes Big Sound, a collection of classic soundtracks and themes from various composers and orchestras, all tied in with Ember Records. Featuring the Joe Parnello Orchestra, John Barry (whose 4-disk extravaganza has already been released by Fantastic Voyage and reviewed by Terrascope Online), and Johnny Spence, the tracks cover a variety of material, notably Bond themes and tracks. Ember Studios featured a number of composers whose work enhanced film and TV (Man From Interpol, The World Tomorrow), including Tony Crombie and Edwin Astley. Nostalgia buffs will relish this chance to wallow in such delights (to name but three here) of music from "Zulu", "Richard The Lionheart" and "International Detective". The beat goes on...

"Burn The Bed" by scaresthedaylights is brief, sharp, melodic, and to the point. Covering material garnered from Neil Lipuma's youthful relationship split and midlife crisis, these biting tracks echo REM amongst others, partly because of tunefulness, and partly because of a slight relationship between Lipuma's voice and Michael Stipe's. 'Shirley Maclaine' spits and postures its way into the listener's ears, before the softer 'Outoftune' arrives, melancholy and with subtle female vocals. 'Lionchair' is a bouncy album highlight, while the simply delightful 'Confetti' is heart-wrenching. 'Oregonagain' is quirky, while 'Masquerade' is all about the pain of hiding feelings, accompanied by a lovely cello. EP closer 'Divorces' manages to find a balance between optimism and pessimism. Don't worry Neil, at least those who have loved once can love again.

The Family Elan are a trio of musicians based in Glasgow who create modern versions of traditional music from Turkey, Uzbekistan, Greece and Azerbaijan. On "Bow Low Bright Glow" the voices of Chris Hladowski and Hanna Tuulikki (who bears a passing sonic resemblance to Joanna Newsom) are here supported by saz - the long-necked, seven-stringed Turkish lute - and bouzouki, and by assorted percussion. Each track has its own feel: 'Kavalla Oyun Havasi' is frenetic and flute-enhanced, 'Our Bed Is Green' pits spine-tingling vocals with a drone/strummed backing. Some of these pieces have been garnered from old tapes, almost like Eno's "found sources", for example 'Glendi Ke Horos', which hails from a late 'thirties Athens. Other highlights include 'All The Rooks Have Been Spent' with its evocative vocals and flute, and 'My Soul Is Drowned In You' which matches more gorgeous vocals with an almost psychedelic backing. A sumptuous Tuulikki-designed cover completes this extraordinary listening experience, highly recommended to all - with a quick mention for Patrick Farmer, the third member of this unique group.

Now on to soundtrack music for the 2009 film "Bunny & The Bull", performed by Ralfe Band, which essentially is the nom de plume of composer Oliver Ralfe and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Mitchell. The disk covers twenty two short tracks, each an impression of part of the film. The music is crepuscular, varied and atmospheric, mostly using acoustic instruments, but veering sometimes into keyboards. One of the aims of the composers was to match the old fashioned feel of the film with similarly backward looking music (I mean that in the best possible sense), and this the band has successfully done. Spectral pianos joust with brief full band excerpts (with great drumming and very nice Hammond). Saxophones swoon and parp, glockenspiels shimmer, 'fifties-sounding guitars twang, violins emote. Altogether good stuff, and remarkably consistent given the format.

Spiritual Machine present a disk of three parts; Enfer Boreal, the.bricoleur and Tuscarora Borealis. 'Box Of Black Flowers' by Enfer Boreal is an intense sonic tapestry of dense tones, thrumming string sounds and deeply reverberated noises. Split into three parts, it takes the listener into a unique and absorbing head space: particularly good, this work, which essentially consists of a huge, lingering chord - the splitting into three sections helps the listener. 'Moss Garden Guest' and 'See It Oh' by Tuscarora Borealis consist of echoed, chiming chords backed with subtle shifts in tone, percussion, sometimes with an ethnic feel - relaxing, elusive and gorgeous. 'Spiritual Machine' by the.bricoleur is occasionally glitchy, more often dense and reverberant; twenty minutes of pure atmosphere. This is one of the best ambient albums I've heard for some time.

The EP "Tears" by Tolka (aka S. Murphy) is a sixfold collection of acoustic songs influenced by the Finnish folk scene. Sung in Murphy's laid-back, almost conversational voice, and backed with pattering drums and occasional additional instruments - violin, banjo, trumpet - the songs echo Nick Drake amongst others. Arrangements are simple, almost mournful. 'Arrested' is a fine opening track, while a Gorkys-like violin decorates the sombre 'Acid Sky'. 'Lay Down' has a really nice late-'sixties Floyd vibe to it, while the lengthier 'Wasting' is slow, almost funereal, yet absorbing, a bit like a folk Velvet Underground. 'Hei Hei Heimari' (I'm guessing that's Finnish) is a little wayward in places, but has the best vocals of the EP and the best arrangement. The title track concludes the disk in trumpet-enhanced, albeit melancholy style. A solid additon to the modern singer-songwriter canon. An album is to follow.

"Tomorrow Becomes You" by New York sonic explorers Slow Six is a rather beautiful, indeed mesmerising album of taut, rippling, guitar and violin-based tracks, mostly in the seven to nine minutes bracket. Opener 'The Night You Left New York' pits shimmering Rhodes with circling violins and guitars evoking the early work of Steve Reich. Accomplished drumming underpins this audio tapestry as it builds and sophisticates, while hints of Robert Fripp's guitar runs and the use of descending chord sequences add drama to the music. The two-parter 'Cloud Cover' is similarly dramatic as its hypnotic violins bounce over thrumming ambience. Superb. 'Because Together We Resonate' is slow and melancholy, featuring glissando and repeating violins. The penultimate piece is another two-parter, 'Sympathetic Response System', which opens with thrumming bass and echoed sound effects before building into a spacey, modern-sounding cut that inhabits the place where Gong meet Terry Riley: two terrific tracks. Album closer 'These Rivers Between Us' pits more Rhodes against cycling violins, then detonates with heavy drums and emotive violin parts. An outstanding album, highly recommended to all audio astronauts.

Texas band Bridges & Blinking Lights bring their brand of uptempo, Hammond-and-violin decorated pop chicanery to the listener courtesy their new album "Heroes, Guns & Snakes". Opening with the scattergun riffola of 'Overground', the harmony-heavy 'Home Free' - a delightful, perfectly judged two minutes - and the 'seventies-leaning 'Solo American', the listener immediately detects a pop sensibility and fine songwriting. Sung in Jake Wilganowski's husky, reedy voice (think Stereophonics, but listenable), these cuts are often irresistable. 'Consuela' is "first single off the album" material, while 'Deathbed', if not as jangly and bright as some cuts here, provides a good bridge between the two halves of the album. 'Soft Erode' features great harmony vocals, tight guitar riffing and pounding drums, while the title track pits southern-style slide with subtle tempo shifts and progressive chord changes. Military drums underpin the instrumental 'The Last March', while 'Sister Of Snakes' bounces melodically all over the place on a foundation of pounding bass guitar. Album closer 'Great Unknown' is straight but uplifting. All in all, superb and original stuff, immediately attractive yet subtle too, with the attractive owl-themed artwork making this an eye-catching release - definitely one for fans of melodic indie-pop.

"Volo" by Last Harbour is the Manchester-based collective's follow up to last year's four track EP "Saint Luminous Bride", which I much enjoyed. This full length album, also on Little Red Rabbit Records, is awash with melancholy and despair channeled by the evocative voice of Kevin Craig, in form split into four parts each opened by a brief, eerie soundscape. 'Mount Analogue' builds to a spine-tingling climax, while the half-spoken vocals of 'Sunken Bells' are supported by female vocals and jazz-pattering drums. Evocative and superb. 'The Blood Is A Compass' comes over like a folk Joy Division, its funereal organ, vocal style and mood reminding me of Scott Pinkmountain's epic "The Full Sun", also of 2009, as does the slow-burn 'All Of My Triumphs Are Written In Your Hand'. Part two opens with the waltztime 'The Loom', which runs epic and anthemic in brass-augmented style, while brief cut 'The Weave' is piloted by violins through the crashing sound effects. 'Don't Fall' verges on the pastoral, but retains the doomy undercurrent of the work. Part three opens with 'Thread By Thread', a slow, piano-based track, while the uptempo 'The Fever' and 'Chosen Vessels' are full of drama. The last part opens with the tenebrous 'Lights' and closes with 'If They're Right', which crashes and burns over seven thrilling minutes. Interestingly, after recording, the album was handed over to producer/mixer Richard Formby, who has with some style gathered together all the threads of this notable achievement.

Little Red Rabbit labelmates Anna Kashfi next bring us their new album "Survival", which over twelve tracks offers various visions of quiet despair. Founded on the multiple instruments of James Youngjohns and the evocative voice of Sian Webley, and augmented by a roster of violins, synth and sax, the songs are depictions of bitter ache and grim devastation. (You have to be in the right mood for this, it goes without saying.) 'Glass House' is quietly melodic and features a particularly good arrangement, while the a capella 'The Loser's Prize' is an ironic bocquet of regret. I'm not convinced "life is a game no-one can win," but the sentiment is at least sincere. 'Red Rag Doll' rolls in American bluegrass style and has a trad feel, while 'Devil's Bridge' features a terrific duel vocal with Willard Grant Conspiracy's Robert Fisher, who plays the devil - an album highlight, this cut. 'Bumblebee' is more like trad English folk, while '1936', a gorgeous album highlight, features a chilling spoken word vocal and subtle synth backing. 'Chain Of Command' is a marvellous vocal performance of bittersweet and personal lyrics, while brief album closer 'The Church On The Village Green' seems quirky and upbeat at first, but lyrically weighs the listener down with regret and sadness. Fans of late-night melancholia will love this album.

"Oneiric Hardware" by Werneck-Wretchmond is a collection of 6+2 cyber-cuts rooted in recorded sounds of nature, machine and electronic manipulation. On the brand new 19F3 record label, based in Yeovil, Somerset, the album is crepuscular, mysterious and pleonastic, its distinctively "post-diluvian" anarchy spatchcocked by machine noise inserts and heavily delayed noise. Not exactly anonymous - there is personality here, however well hidden - the tracks merge like non-fulminant jpegs; they're sonically esculent, but boy do you need a large partition. You either love this sort of audio nystagmus or you hate it. Personally, I didn't mind it.

The Animal Objective is one Tim Naish, whose album "Light Black Dark White" finds our masked, multi-instrumentalist singer in, well, wayward form. These fifteen tales, augmented by drummer Kev Thornton, have a progressive feel and a dark, if bonkers, imaginative foundation; they are, as a consequence, rather entertaining. Opener 'The Animal Objective' sounds a little like Rush, a little like Vulgar Unicorn. The ever-so-brief 'Barry Cat Claw' is Syd Barret meeting Sparks, while 'Three Days Left' is a kind of faux-glam hyped up to ridiculous levels. Great fun. 'Doggerland' again evokes Sparks, except here it's as if they were produced by Roy Thomas Baker. In 'Midwife Crisis' Naish comes across as a kind of very English and very stoned Frank Zappa, while the last track of the "Light Black" half of this extravaganza, 'Santize', is the sound of Ozric Tentacles riffing at Christmas; a rather lovely interlude, as it happens. 'Body Sold' evokes the swift-cut, horny scatter-prog of Franz Zappa, while 'When The Green Men Appear' is a kind of dub-Sparks. 'No Biscuit' has a post-punk vibe, while 'Jennifer Jerry Wars' is musically sophisticated, melodic and beautifully produced, which inevitably begs the question: should we take Tim Naish seriously? I'd really like to know the answer to that question. 'Have You Been Promoted' sounds like a madder Ullulators, while album closer 'The Animal And The Inanimate Object' - all nine minutes of it - chops and changes across a multitude of time signatures and tempos. Punk-prog? Indie-glam? You will never hear anything like this album, which is a recommendation in itself.

"Little More Lived In" by Snowglobe opens with a glorious, if brief, melodic nugget that suggests Wayne Coyne might have produced the album. This band sound not unlike such indie melodicists as Dr Dog, The Sleepy Jackson, The Ruby Suns and Mercury Rev. 'Love' continues the tuneful, multi-vocal approach supported by synths and wonky percussion - a definite post-'67 Beatles tinge here, a magical mystery trip in fact. 'Worksong' has distorted vocals that rather spoil the cut, while 'Kanaka Rapids' is comparatively straightforward, albeit superbly produced. 'Screamin' L'il Queen' sounds like ELO met The Beach Boys (ie. Animal Collective) and is pretty good, while 'Teenage Queen' quirkily evokes again such bands as The Ruby Suns. 'Testosterone' is a lovely waltztime ballad showing the melodic strength of the songwriting, while the bluesy 'Dad' could have been written by Neil Young - great stuff. 'Tim's Piano' enthralls, 'Oxford' intrigues, while album closer 'Land Brains' is stately and anthemic, before going all Wild West. Fans of any of the above mentioned bands will enjoy exploring this delightful confection. It's a grower too, which means even more audio enjoyment. Recommended.


If wondrous, rippling, spacey, hypnotic, guitar and synth-laden psychedelic jams are your thing you will without doubt want to investigate the three-disk festival melting pot that is "Summer Sessions Volume 1 - 3" by Causa Sui, who effortlessly and thrillingly evoke such jam-meisters as Hidria Spacefolk, Oresund Sound Collective, Ozric Tentacles et al. This really is a space-head's heaven. Tripping from Rhodes-light to Sabs-heavy, converting a Hawkwind-drenched, riff-tastic rock into an ambient shimmer without jump or misplaced footfall, the band evoke your favourite festivals in all their glory. The vibe of disk one is half Hidria, half Doors, with an occasional hint of Santana peeping through. The opening twenty minute cut merges band and synths superbly, showing evidence of post-production; but this in no way spoils the feel of the track. Jaw-droppingly good playing all round. Disk two evokes Hendrix and Carlos Santana, with the saxophone of Johan Riedenlow adding a Crimson-esque touch to the proceedings, not least to the tripped out, 23 minute final cut - Hawkwind and Space Ritual fans, get ready to open your wallets. Disk three is a tad shorter than the other two, but features some of guitarist and band leader Jonas Munk's finest playing, and some terrific drumming too. These cuts evoke Astra, King Crimson, OSC and not least Gong. An outstanding contribution to the space rock genre.

The debut EP "Psych Introduxeon/Bringing Ingredients Together" by Dutch psych-rockers Yordan Orchestra is a six-track belter. Opening with the heavy and dense 'Kapt'n El HansIG', flanged and phased guitars duel with delicate/heavy vocals courtesy band leader Jack Allister. Various moods and styles flicker across the cut, as they do in 'Faced You In A Neon Light', where Allister's voice cracks with the intensity. 'RMDK' opens in faint, acoustic style before opening out into a kind of campfire psych ballad; an EP highlight. 'Washington Z' is trippy and loose, with more overwrought vocals, while 'Marjolyne' comes over as a stoned Cure out-take. The short concluding cut 'T-Borne Egg' sounds like a lost 'sixties Floyd jam; a great ending. This is a rewarding listen, though the vocals may be an acquired taste for some.

I have personal connections with Secret Saucer, whose "Element 115" was such a great debut, so I'll have to wear my "objective hat" for their third release, "Tri-Angle Waves". Fortunately the excellence of the music makes that hat redundant. From out of a melange of space interference and softly shifting synths comes the opening cut, 'Night Encounter', before 'A Sublime Metaphor' slinks its way into the listener's consciousness, founded on Greg Kozlowski's mutating ebow guitar, but also on something Secret Saucer do so well - subtle, fascinating synth backdrops (every track has at least three synth players on it). This is Floydesque space jamming at its finest. And it all comes together so well. 'Protoplasmic Accelerator' at sixteen minutes is one long head trip, opening with a subtle synth sequence before veering off into heavy jam territory. Simply superb stuff. 'Approaching Hunab Ku' is the second all-synth track, a nine minute Tim Blake-esque fantasy of shifting timbres, resonant drones and shimmering pads; gorgeous, with a little of the feel of the second Harvey Bainbridge solo album "Blue Shift" to it. 'Light Years Away' returns the listener to space-jam territory and some particularly fine bass playing, while the final cut 'Mind Mechanics' is loose, resonant, and filled with wah-wah guitar. OK, I love a good space-jam, but this really is top notch stuff - the band's best album for sure. If you love OSC, Harvey Bainbridge, Hidria Spacefolk et al, you'll love this. Highly recommended. Oh, and Greg - nice one!

Danish wonder-girl Band Ane (Ane Oestergaard) had considerable success with her 2006 debut release "Anish Music", which is now followed by a double album "Anish Music Too" and "And Free". Band Ane is an electronic artist whose idiosyncratic mixture of melody, found sounds, structural composition and free electronica has endeared her to many fans, not least during a succession of concerts in Europe. With more than a hint of Boards Of Canada and a twist of The Orb, Legion Of Green Men and Dogon, these ten constructions exude beauty, grace, crystalline simplicity and pastoral delight (the inspiration for much of the music came from bucolic, horse-riding solitude). Highlights include the melodic 'Ballongyngen', the quirky 'Braendsel', and 'En Dag I Skolen', which evokes the sample-and-glitch work of Japanese electronica-master Susumu Yokota. 'Cirkel', meanwhile, is a masterclass in elegant ambience: beautiful. The companion album "And Free" is denser and darker, reflecting a different period in the composer's life. Characterised by the solemn electronica of 'Dodsblues'n Hov' and 'Hvis Du Ville', these tracks are more like vignettes of a strange life, one we view from outside. There is more of the real world on these tracks, as evinced by 'DJ Lillemor' and the too-brief 'Aladin Oestergaard', both of which seem more like mutated real-world tunes than personal electronic assemblages. Final cut 'Brodrene Malmborg' mixes simple synths and samples with complex trip-hop electronic percussion. Two great albums that portray a subtle mind and bear repeated listening.

Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson have produced a book and an EP entitled "Youth Pictures Of Florence Henderson" which for shimmering beauty takes some beating. Norwegian in origin, something of the Swedish genius for melody is here represented, supported by gorgeous instrumentation (particularly the guitars). The 32 page book features pencil drawings, altered photographs, ink-work and lino-cuts, all evoking slipstream worlds where the ordinary is mutated into the slightly odd: subtle, yet intriguing. "The Detective" EP opens with quiet/loud pop-rock, 'Our Door Handles Stopped Moving Years Ago', which is augmented by orchestral instruments; a beautiful track. The lengthier 'The League Will Never Let The Albino Kid Win' is straighter and more immediate, with vocals that sound closer to the listener but which melt into reverberation and string instruments. Recalling early Mercury Rev, the cut evolves over nine minutes, as does 'I Think E.T. Is Involved In My Family', which reminded me more of a softer Band Of Horses. Here heavier sections intercut lighter, almost pastoral fragments; and again the guitar work is exemplary throughout. 'Scientists Now Think This City Is Overdue' at over ten minutes is a complex cut that juxtaposes voices and chants with chiming guitars, before Rev-style vocals emerge. The track builds to an anthemic climax. A beguiling half hour of music.

The Golden Hour 2 (Forest Publications) is a record of a Scottish music/poetry/live performance night: a book of poetry and stories, and a compilation disk. Edinburgh is a varied and vibrant place, it seems, and this is three years worth of art. So, here we go: Billy Liar 'It Starts Here' (Bragg-esque musing), Vadoinmessico 'Cave' (likeable quirky pop), Matt Riviere 'FYH' (chanted/shouted robotic weirdness), The Tuberians 'Tuberians Have Landed' (jazzy delight), Bob Hilary & The Massive Mellow 'Hear Mi' (attractive electro torch song), The Black Diamond Express 'Jack' (good-time folk), Asazi Space Funk Explosion 'Syababona' (fab marima-toting Afro-funk), Kevin Molloy 'Goddess Of The Rain' (singer plus guitar and a good song), Sarazin Blake 'India Or Spain' (evocative Americana), Skeleton Bob 'Love Song' (slow paced, smouldering faux-blues), Diddley Squat 'Camel Song' (bonkers ska), Robin Grey 'Women' (very strange song indeed), Mammoth 'Sunshine' (funky electro-pop), Groaner & Heid 'Massive Genius' (lovely impressionistic soundscape), Jonny Berliner 'Kneeling Down' (emotive singer-songwriter), Poor Edward 'Children Of Little Or No Importance' (minimal song styling), Francois & The Atlas Mountains 'I'm So Glad I Met You' (a French Nico acquires a Casio), Chandra 'Malaika' (world folk, and great with it), Jack Richold with Faith Nicholson 'Lady Of The Calico' (haunting folky song), and concluding this varied treat of a disk, Withered Hand 'Takeaway Food' (harmonica-laden multi-vocal treat). Enjoy!

Rumbles was brought to you by, in no particular order, Ian Fraser, Steve Palmer and Stefan Eck. Direction by Simon Lewis. Editing / butchery and artistic direction, such as it is, by Phil McMullen ©Terrascope Online July 2010