Rumbles, being a compendium of sound and accumulation of trivia assembled during the months of April to June 2007 inclusive. Kicking things off with the thoughts of Steve Pescott. Kinetic / sound-making sculptors are a very rare breed, so it’s hardly a surprise that ever since the Terrascope first had its lens polished and its vital workings calibrated, magazine coverage on this fascinating area of activity has been decidedly thin on the ground. So, let’s redress the balance somewhat with some grist on the career of Len Lye (1901-1980), kinetic sculptor, animator, lecturer etc. Born in Christchurch, New Zealand, he moved to London after studying in his homeland and joined ‘The Seven & Five Society’ of modernist British artists in 1926. In 1935 he joined the G.P.O. Sound Unit and during his tenure there, made eighteen films (including the now legendary ‘Birth of the Robot’ animation). Three years on, he was responsible for two segments in the Hollywood fantasy ‘Stardust’ (with Linda Darnell and Roland Young) – and you thought the Dali/Hitchcock liaison was an odd one! Subsequently he also made propaganda films for the Ministry of Information. A fascinating career and Linda Darnell? Some folk are just born lucky I suppose.
But, it’s the sound-making constructions of his later career that obviously concern us. His work with steel and its sonorities encompassed many strange configurations – ribbons, globes, fibre-optic lamp-shades etc – all with their signature tonalities. An LP, ‘The Sounds of Len Lye Sculpture’ was scheduled for release but sadly never saw the light of day. Atoll Records of New Zealand have thoughtfully attended to this cultural void by releasing ‘Composing Motion’ (The Sound of Tangible Motion Sculpture) in whose 14 tracks, mostly recorded within the last 6 years although ‘Blades 1 & 2’ are from 1985 and 1994 respectively, we witness the wonders inherent in motor-driven singing steel. In places, you can observe the recordings’ uncanny similarity to flesh & blood avant-gardists. The procession of tiny chrome droplets in ‘Roundhead’ (named after its resemblance to a Y chromosome apparently) evince magnetic tape-driven studiousness from the InaGrm soundlabs, while ‘Blade 1’ takes on the feel of Eddie Provost’s bowed cymbal work with AMM. On the more chaotic / violent side of the fence, ‘Storm’ seemingly mimics the damage done by a helicopter’s rotor blades ripping through a row of thundersheets, while the rattling, chittering ‘Witch Dance’ no matter how sinister, is clearly no match for the stinging thwack of metallic whips found in ‘Sea Serpent’. As you can see, the otherworldly vibrations that confront the ear are as disparate as their respective dimensions and shapes allow, and the eminently listenable qualities found here come as a welcome companion to fellow kinetic artist Harry Bertoia’s ‘Unfolding’ CD on the PSF imprint. In addition, there’s also some absorbing biographical notes by label owner Wayne Laird and an accordion-style pull-out showing these clanging beasts in all their glory (www.atollcd.com)
Next it’s time to salute the embrochure of trumpeter Owen Jones of the Flowers of Hell and revel in the fact that when it comes down to purveying the most telling aspects of melancholia they, and important others such as Simon Finn, Nick Drake and Duncan Browne, show that no-one does it better than the British. Earworm Records (www.earwormrecords.com) celebrate their tenth anniversary by releasing an extremely self-assured instrumental set by this London ten-piece (dixtet?) who are made up of various peripheral players from the Tindersticks, Early Years and British Sea Power. Theirs is a fulfilling concoction for sure, in which their downbeat orchestral chops are piled against strands of ‘Before & After Science’ era Eno and the zoned-out thrum of Spacemen 3. In fact, the latter’s Mr Boom became the group’s mentor, playing the Vox Continental and co-writing the classicist drone epic ‘Through the F’Hole’. As a keen fan of neglected instruments, it’s good to hear Tom Hodges’ tasteful employment of the saw (on ‘Compound Fractures’) and the bass harmonica (beloved of ‘Pet Sounds’). Along with the “Michael Nyman in an English country churchyard” beauty of the North Sea Radio Orchestra’s self-titled debut (on Oof Records), this CD is a real bolt from the blue and perhaps signifies a renaissance in British avant pop. Scour the racks for an art-nouveau-referenced Digipack which appears to incorporate a couple of sprigs of cow-parsley in its design. Further info: www.myspace.com/flowersofhell
To quote Sandy Denny, “Who knows where the time goes?”. It’s certainly a sobering thought in realizing that Tangle Edge, Norway’s primo proponents of third-eye guitar psychedelia, have been in existence since 1980, their first recorded work ‘Improvised Drop Outs’ following as a cassette album three years later. Since then, they’ve produced a solid and captivating body of superbly appointed instrumental work in which the ‘In Search of a New Dawn’ and ‘Eulogy’ LPs are now looked on as classics of the genre [the former being a ‘Record of the Issue’ offer in Ptolemaic Terrascope issue 3, January 1990 – Ed.] Coming after 2005’s ‘Cosmorama’ CDR, the ‘Serpentary Quarters’ CD finds the trio of Ronald Nygard (guitars and effects), Hasse Horrigmoe (bass) and drummer Tom Steinberg in robust, take no prisoners mode, supplemented by a distinct, and at times imposing, increase in musculature. All of this is made perfectly evident in the mystically-titled opener ‘Emerald Mound’ which begins with swirls of backwards guitar (courtesy of Hasse) which are held firmly in place by a prominent, loping bass line and exotic, ringing percussives. ‘Transcendental Virtue’ at thirty-three minutes is quite obviously the hub of this collection and is split into ‘Serene Procession’ and ‘Beyond Elevation’, the former segment’s flowing, runic curves coming in direct contrast to the latter’s knottier and certainly more fractious guitar shapes. ‘The Seventh Tide’ follows and is an effects laden intermission piece with just a hint of the Tangs or even Cluster at its blurred centre. But, it’s ‘Daidalos’ Hunt’ (which I imagine points to Daedalus, father of Icarus?) [Phil mentioned that he thought it might be the Greek architect Daidalos, the chap who built a hollow for Persiphaë to lie in, but as far as I know it's one and the same geezer. Daedalus was a bit of a dodgy specimen: after killing Perdix, he fled to Crete - pursued by Interpol no doubt - and then became the matchmaker between Persiphaë and the Cretan Bull. He (Daedalus) then built the labyrinth to hide the product of this union. Minos, being well pissed off by now, imprisoned Mr. D. and his son Icarus, but Persiphaë rescued them. Hurrah! ] - anyway, this is where the trio get a three-way psychic link underway and really cut loose, with Hasse’s bass sounding more like a metal strung cello, no doubt forged by Vulcan in a lighter moment. Amazing stuff. A lot of scribes in the past have ascribed a certain Amon Duul-ness to their sound, but that passed me by. Aspects of (late) Popul Vuh, the end-times of the British King Crimson, Janus and perhaps Sandoz (on Shagrat) perhaps; but really they’re their own men whose music, influenced by indigenous folk forms, is impossible to separate from its Scandinavian homeland and whose rhythm section is now as powerful as the Trepte / Neumaier tag team that made early Guru Guru such a wonder to behold. (Mellow Records, Via Flli Asquascianti, 68-18038 San Remo, Italy).
In case you were wondering, like me, what became of York’s finest export Reefus Moons since the rising of the ‘Marmalade Sun’ CD on Delerium where he was backed by the Suicidal Flowers, the answer is an easy one: this Incredible String Band / Soft Boys disciple simply “fell asleep for five years” (unquote). How I wish that more musicians would follow the example of Rip Van Winkle, especially if it eventually results in an album as strong as the winning pop psych found in his ‘Waiting for my Albatross’ CD, which is apparently a soundtrack for a film of the same name. If this is on the level and not an example of Mr Moon’s imagination in hyperdrive, it could be an eye feast for sure, particularly if the sleeve depiction of a giant flying banana is anything to go by. I could imagine fellow plantainophiles the Man band and Kevin Ayers sitting up and taking notes. As with numerous lunar-related occasions in the past, like ‘The Word Raven’, now fetching £17.50 on certain mail-order lists, ‘Waiting for my Albatross’ remains a strictly one-man operation. I especially like ‘Sea in a Jar’ with its xylophone / analogue synth decoration and ‘The Loon in the Moon’ a good-timey psychster which merges solo Syd styled whimsy with banjo-shaded country inflections. ‘A Song About Time’ is another high point and seems to resemble a Goffin/King experiment in flower pop once you dig beneath its swirling top coat, while ‘Moss on my Shoes’ is markedly less exuberant, with lines like “There’s two insects on my shoe, at least they’re going somewhere new” showing a potent blend of poignancy and quintessentially English surrealism, coming from a severely undervalued pen. If you’re ever in the YO19 region and see a trail of Zzzzzzs leaking out of a nearby bedroom window, that’ll probably be Mr. Moon catching 400 winks. Leave him be: those thought balloons might just be the backbone of his next album (Insect Eye Records, Forest Farm, Warthill, York YO19 5XS or email email@example.com)
Housing a CD in a square of rough sacking material reminiscent of British prisoner-sewn mailbags of the 1950s and 60s is probably one of the more unusual packaging concepts that has come my way in a good long while. Those responsible go by the vowel-unfriendly name of VxPxC and are a shadowy free sound unit who are based in Los Angeles comprising of Justin McInteer, Grant Capes and Tim Goodwillie. However, for ‘Drapery Dept’, their debut CDR on the House of Alchemy label, their number was bolstered by numerous other willing hands including, if I’m not mistaken, the vocal presence of a pre-schooler, well worth his or her weight in rusks when the question of payment arises. Choosing to record in a deserted movie lot office on a “one mic – one take” basis, their sound contains few “real” instruments - bass guitar and percussion rub edges with whirled hosepipes and audio generators - and from the very first instance, a feeling of nervousness and foreboding is evident in their scuttling and antsy approach. In fact, their titles, such as ‘Ballad of the Empty Room’, ‘In The Walls Tonight’ (with its monk-like chants) and ‘Caged Echoing Footfalls’ are pretty much self-explanatory, and could easily work as an instant audio storyboard for a prospective screenwriter raised on ‘The Innocents’ and ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. This should jolt the spending arm of anyone into the wild talents of Pengo, P.S.I. or that solitary A Band album on Siltbreeze (www.thehouseofalchemy.com)
Californians The Antique Brothers followed on as House of Alchemy’s next release and was duly accorded numerous Gold Stars by Phil in February’s main reviews section. Release No. 3 is the debut by Servant Sun, the result of a postal collaboration between Oklahoman Brad Rose (also of The North Sea) and New Zealander Peter Wright, guitarist and dronescaper with albums on L.V.D., Apoplexy, Pseudoarcana etc. The duo’s ‘Cold Harbour’ CDR is a release that certainly belies its rather forbidding title, as its field recordings, ambient washes and exotic string-bending excursions undoubtedly has the compass pointing towards highly stylized humid rain forests and coral atolls that could only really have existed in the mind of, say, Martin Denny or Les Baxter. These impressionistic vignettes, in which mother nature has the last word, find their most alluring voice in ‘The Junpier Tree’ and ‘The Final Hours Before Dawn’. The former’s skittish banjo lines and surrounded birdsong suggest grainy images of Alan Lomax on an ornithological field trip, while the latter’s lush guitar lines pit Durutti Column lyricism against fourth world sounding parameters last witnessed on certain Jon Hassell elpees. The only break in these idyllic surroundings are the ’66 Velvet Underground meets Eno shadings of ‘Cemetary for Decaying Ivy’. On certain occasions, packet post exchanges can end up becoming a little stilted with the original impetus becoming hopelessly lost in transit. ‘Cold Harbour’ however, I’m happy to report, is an utter peach.
For me, one of last year’s most entrancing and playagainable debuts was James William Hindle’s ‘Joshong’ on the Early Winter imprint (www.earlywinterrecordings.co.uk). The next entrant on this Sheffield-based label is most certainly of equal worth. ‘The Improvised Killing of Uncle Faustus and Other Mythologies’ CDR by David A. Jaycock (a member of Big Eyes on Pickled Egg Records and of avant-psychsters Bingo Jesus) is a 14-strong, self-penned collection where in the main, folk-based and acoustic driven melodies are offset in ways mysterious by creepy background tendrils and ghostly Moog spectres, all under the watchful gaze of a newly painted and ever smiling Mr. Punch. The funereal ‘Ruben’ and the strangely light-headed feel of ‘George’s Square Kite’ can’t fail to evoke images of dust motes in Edwardian drawing rooms, faded brown copperplate and solitary angels guarding overgrown and neglected mausoleums. (8 Argyle Road, Meersbrook, Sheffield S8 9HH)
Irrespective of its brief time in the market place, the Bo’ Weavil label (www.boweavilrecordings.com) is fast becoming a highly regarded one in folk and experimental folk circles, as well as a much needed source for reactivating lost and obscure recordings such as the ‘Kurdish Melodies on Zorna’ by Zadik Zecharia, a CD which originally saw release in 2005 on the Israeli ‘Something On The Road’ imprint. Zadik has dedicated his life to the study of the Zorna, a wind instrument associated with Iraq, Turkey and his Kurdistanian homeland. The disc’s sleevenotes describe it as “trumpet-like”, which is fine and dandy if the poor thing had the misfortune of being crushed under a steamroller, comic book style. To these eyes and ears it’s more like the Shenai (which may be heard on Can’s ‘Ege Bamyasi’) or the Musette which Uncle Don’s fingers danced over during the ‘Mirror Man’ LP’s instrumental breaks. The set is divided into two slightly differing forms: ‘Chopie’ (for dancers only) and ‘Shechni’. Lung-stretchers like ‘Groom and Bride Entrance’ and ‘Shenani’ (closely tailed by the constant blattering of the ‘Dola’ drum), embrace the former style, while the slower approach of the latter (in ‘Hasaniki’ and ‘Saidaki’ especially) would allow a welcome respite for the now glowing feet of the dancing throng. A quite heady and rich listening experience in one sitting, it has to be said, and I guess that its tentative 600 only limited edition status might reflect this – but for me, this is horn-wailing middle eastern folk at its most unfettered and most effervescent.
Still with Bo’ Weavil, their ‘Free London’ double vinyl compilation of last year was a thoroughly successful attempt at subverting folk-based musics into new and exciting directions without seemingly tugging its collective forelock in the direction of ‘New Weird America’. One of the leading lights of that album, as a solo artist and as a multi-instrumentalist with the Eidetic Band, was Rob Mullender. His debut CD ‘Human Resources’ comes in a neatly designed book-like sleeve with its contents originating in Soho and Prussian Cove, Cornwall, helpfully signposted and numbered, such as the bluesy lope of ‘Steel No. 10’, the fractured personality traits of the epic ‘Nylon No. 5’, and ‘Nylon No. 3’ with Rob’s bootstomp on bare floorboard operating as timekeeper. At the risk of triggering off a violent thunderstorm in which birds drop out of a leaden sky, I’d venture that any traces of folkoid shapes are so faintly faint that to namedrop the Fahey/Basho corporation in passing would be totally pointless. Even though I just have, dammit. Instead, I get the impression that his muse is pretty much a multi-directional one and that anything could happen between brain and fingers when thoughts of that second album arise. Now that’s something to look forward to, no?
Returning to thoughts of a renaissance in Brit avant pop, (see The Flowers of Hell, North Sea Radio Ork), the ‘Iron Henry’ CD by Leeds-based Gareth S. Brown would certainly qualify for inclusion. His solo career began six years ago (alongside his work with former Terrascope front-pagers and EP inclusionists Hood) with the vaudevillian surreality of the Unpleasants who supported the likes of Deerhoof, Kid 606 and Circle, replete with a supporting cast of talking monkeys and children’s bicycles. Sounds a bit like the Bonzos, doesn’t it? After a while the Unpleasants were put to bed and G.S.B. took centre stage. Divided into three sections, ‘Iron Henry’, ‘Frozen Charlottes’ and ‘Igneous Rocks’, much like a Victorian gentleperson’s “cabinet of curiosities” (oft seen on the BBC’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’), ‘Iron Henry’ is an enchanting dip into leafy gladed serialism and euro-gamelan with lugubrious woodwind rounds (see also Jehovah Stark on Soutrane Records) and wheezy harmoniums in support. A tour de force of overdubbing and compositional nous, where Magic Roundabout themes are recontextualised by Philip Glass on a series of ancient calliopes lovingly tended by Moondog.
By my reckoning that makes this the second Hood-related triumph in a couple of months, the other being ‘We Knew About The Need’ by Bracken, which is really a one-man operation by Chris Adams. This can be found on the American Anticon imprint (www.misplacedmusic.co.uk, www.myspace.com/garethsbrown)
Kitty Play Records (under the maitre d’ship of Mark Blumenthal) are a New Jersey based label that has been releasing limited run CDRs in the feral noisecore, bug-eyed experimentation and roughneck circuitry genres since 2003. The first exhibit under glass is a cause for much head scratching, as I just can’t understand why the name “Two Dead Sluts, One Good Fuck” hasn’t been taken up before. Can you?! After all, it trips so lightly off the tongue and has become a much-used phrase in western café society. Still, this Portland / Boston alliance of Shane Broderick and Ted Sweeney got there first, so good luck to them, I say. They’ve supported Cock ESP and Costes, that debonair ‘tap dancing fool’ with the happy feet, and also issued CDs with Petri-dish packaging. Their ‘P.T. Barnum’s Gallery of Masturbatory Disenchantment’ recordings come as a shared CDR (in a hijacked, scribbled-over sleeve) with Aids Wolf and An Albatross and snags some brief but potent doses of misanthropic blurt and scream that’s aided by a phantom organ swell or two, bringing to mind some of the hateful energy bursts found on Oren Ambarchi’s Phlegm project (on Joker Productions). Aids Wolf’s ‘Live Death’ is a demo set recorded prior to ‘The Lovvers’, last year’s vinyl debut on Skin Graft. Their Kleenex / Melt Banana-styled psychodramas, with Special Deluxe’s ‘Howling at the Moon’ ululations to the fore, show that there is clearly more to their home city of Montreal than the likes of Arcade Fire would suggest. An Albatross close with the ‘Freedom Summer Live’ demo / thing, which I’m guessing predates their ‘Blasphemy’ LP on GSL. A post noisecore five-piece whose ugloid spillage of well-drilled ninety-degree manoeuvres is underpinned by some choice vintage organ tones with origins either located in the ‘Pebbles’ compilations or the early Fall seven inchers.
Oregonian Josh Hydeman has a predilection for speak’n’spell machines and the works of Reed Ghazala and is the occasional third man on the Two Dead Sluts payroll. His ‘Can Read Your Mind’ CDEP, while brief in duration, crams a profusion of squealing and crackling machine noise into its nine minute span. There’s only one short interlude in this “Maurizio Bianchi versus giant arcade machines” war and that’s in the middle of the title track, which seems to reveal (via concealed microphones) a surgeon’s eye glimpse into the world of operational procedure, although whether it’s a heart valve replacement or the removal of a parasitic twin that’s underway, I fear we shall never know.
Unchained, at the moment, are an equilateral triangle of Nathanial Davis, Martin Edelweiss and Nick Gribbets, whose bio expresses a passion for continental avant prog like Gilbert Artman’s Lard Free and Heldon. However, the ‘Cardinal Cage’ CDEP of last year was purely a solo effort by the first named. The three part title cut, coming in at fifteen minutes plus, finds psychy guitar filigree (similar to that found on N.W.W.’s ‘Chance Meeting’…) soundly bludgeoned by a solid bank of distortion, not unlike the black-box sourced yowl that Faust employed in the opening moments of their debut waxing on Polydor. Next up is a shared disc (on letterpressed card stock a la Independent Projects produce) between the “pretend hate noise” of 2673 and Unicorn, a Man is the Bastard splinter project. The former’s confrontational and cochlea-baiting stance is a clash between the low (almost zero) incidence no-fi (the moog test tones of ‘Future Pills’, the dead air of ‘Psychological Space’) and a total noise onslaught in the form of ‘Provoked by the Nocturnal Aspect’ which really should be subtitled ‘Several Variations on USAF Black Project Exhaust Systems’. Unicorn, by comparison, have the “futureworld prowler soundtrack” genre well and truly sewn up with oppressively dark and clammy keyboard settings that are supported by the slow thunk and hiss of possibly vintage rhythm generators. ‘Clowns’ and ‘Flying Machines’ recall the work of early SPK (as SoliPsiK) and the far more evil vibrations radiating from Ultra’s ‘Zoll’ and ‘Spray Death Ultra’ albums from the late eighties.
Back to the bastardized sleeve series… Under the influence of “fish eating pigs” (bios surely can’t lie!) Talibam (“The Cosmic Sound of Brazil”) are Ed Bear (feedback sax), Matt Mottel (keys), both ex-Clouds Crossing, and drummer Kevin Shea (ex Storm & Stress from the Touch & Go stable). Their ‘Power and Terror’ CDR was recorded live at the “40 Watt Club” in Athens, Georgia, to a small audience whose combined energy levels sadly fail to match the events developing on stage. A Sun Ra-schooled atonal organ sprawl, amazing multi-limbed drumming and some Borbetomagian reed-chewing are dispatched on a blindfolded obstacle race of unspecified distance in the middle of which occasional science nerd tips and hints are dispensed to the unvocal non-throng. They also have a track on the Ecstatic Peace double compilation CD ‘Less Self is More Self’ – a benefit set for the Tarantula Hill venue which was destroyed in a fire a while back.
With the sheer volume of projects under his belt (LHD, Sissy Spacek, collaborations with Gerritt, Sunn O))), Merzbow, Wolf Eyes etc), John Weise is never one to let the grass grow under his size nines. Neither is he one to let a good idea go to waste, as his ‘Magical Crystal Blah’ CDEP series will attest. His latest, Volume 3, with its 37 untitled cuts, uses volume 2 as its primary source of material, albeit heavily mashed and shattered. Listeners’ ears are either singed by two second soundblastings or spend longer moments snagged in the gears of oxidized, clanking supermachinery.
Rhode Islanders Athletic Automaton’s ‘5 Days in Africa’ CDR, a precursor to last year’s shared LP with Aids Wolf (Skingraft), finds the duo of drummer / vocalist Pat Crump (ex-Saturday Night Palsy) and ex Arab on Radar member Stephen Mattos (guitar / ‘adjusted’ lap steel / vocalist), unflinchingly single-minded in attitude. Their stifling, dense riffage and flailing drum-laden instrumentals (save for the very occasional crackling tannoy diatribe) are embellished by either a stuck-in-a-revolving-door repetitious stance or with potent blends of no-wave-derived atonality that set my teeth on edge just right. Ladderwoe pull the shutters down on proceedings with their ‘New Glow’ CDR, a live showcase with a sleeve dressed in what appears to be the very finest nylon blouse remnants. Surrounded by the hubbub of an out of control children’s activity centre, the wordless drool and gibber of Larry Hernandez (also Scientific Explanation of Despair) and Current Amnesia’s Dave Sutton can undergo severe and testing pitch alterations or alternatively, the audience is asked to drink the duo’s froth neat. Either way this four date tour diary frantically nibbles the very outermost quadrants of a sound galaxy that has faint echoes of a ‘Weasels Ripped my Flesh’ session that went way too far, or a dada-themed fancy dress party hosted by The Godz and Smegma. (Kitty Play Records, 22 Oakview Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040 USA www.kittyplayrecords.com)
Skullp’s entrée doesn’t appear to reveal a whole lot about their good selves – just a couple of fairground-distorted smudges of Messrs Lumberblood and Cumberblood bathed in the colours of a Victorian abattoir, images that have echoes of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s ‘Leatherface’ and Ed Gein, which is pretty much one and the same thing really. Their ‘Hard Red Pupae Dipped in Shimmery’ CDR suggests that somewhere off the beaten track, in their home state of Massachusetts, a neglected passageway to hell itself has been breached by shambling denizens of a sunless world. A latterday ‘House on the Borderland’ (William Hope Hodgson) springs to mind when approaching their debut full on. An accompanying note from the duo also helpfully mentions that you might need to be in the “right mood”. Beyond ugly looped seismic rumbling, tortured piglet squeal and the mother and father of all voice distortion units are their terrible stock in trade, the latter tool reducing the ‘Gibbytronix’ rig used on primo Buttholes produce to the yelp of a slightly agitated microbe. ‘Lysol Simply Disinfects’, ‘Japanese Giant (with a Bloody Chest)’ and the aptly monikered ‘Atmospheric Collapse’ effortlessly outgun the upper echelons of the “noise / pain” school (Incapacitants, Dustbreeders, Haters etc) with skiploads of soundsludge to spare. The 8.44 of ‘Blackberry Discharge’ is for me the very apex of their delicious hideousness and its solo vox subhumana overload leaves a silicon imprint large enough to park a minor planet in. To put it simply, ‘Hard Red Pupae…’ is a colossal accident waiting to happen – all it needs is your index finger on “Play” (Hornclad Records, 14 Grove Street, Gloucester MA 01930 USA www.myspace.com/skullp )
The last item I received from the Abaton Book Company was during the paper edition days of Ptolemaic Terrascope and unfortunately, the review of the Julia Vorontsova debut had to be shelved through pressures of space. Now we’re in the etherworld space is no longer a problem, so Corbi Wright shouldn’t go the same way as her label-mate. The fourteen tracks that form Utah-born Corbi’s ‘All The Little Ways’ CD are avowedly personal diary entry ballads that are fleshed out by the atmospheric strains of a pre-war grand or a shiny new Telecaster alongside sparse percussives and whistling. Whistling! Name me one other female songwriter who can whistle and win a food hamper! [Joanie Madden? – Ed] A certain “Laurel Canyon” feel has been attributed to this confident and worldly wise collection and on first hearing, I was going to say that certain songs lock into the ambience of the ‘Wayfaring Strangers (Ladies of the Canyon)’ compilation CD on the Numero Uno label, which collates various female artists from the private press genre, now of thirty five years vintage. However, after further spins the lyrical side reveals numerous screeds of oblique / obscure fare that feels far too wayward to be deferential to a seventies worldview. Slightly more Sharron Kraus or Eclipse Records’ Marissa Nadler than the likes of, say, Judee Sill. Catch this excerpt from the standout track ‘Is This The Season’ for finely honed puzzlement and intrigue. “The seasonal bells ring at nine every Wednesday, I guess that’s why everyone’s sleeping. And now the curtains are on fire and the candle is out. Carve you a hole in the floor for a nap, or a secret…” A great release. Secure it from 100 Gifford Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey 07304 USA www.abatonbookcompany.com
During March’s edition of Rumbles I dropped some inky stuff over Yoshio Machida and the Skart massive, both hailing from the eclectic Amorfon stable. Cinc, a “neo-alternative folk band” from Serbia, begin the second instalment from this “lovely experimental music label”. ‘Polyphonic Poetry’, their second CD on Amrofon, came out in the latter stages of last year and presented a drummerless quartet who, on the face of it, seemed to be pretty much ploughing their own furrow, set next to folk-related outfits nearer our own shores, due in certainly no small way to the bass propulsion of Luka Stanisavljevic, which often pushes them into Delta 5 / Mekons territory. Led by vocalist / multi-linguist Irena Vanic, whose silvery tones can make even chaos seem inviting (in ‘Ciao’), a good portion of the group’s lyrical sources go way back through the centuries with adaptions of the works of Rabelais (the torchy ‘Garantua’), Goethe (the more austere ‘An Luna’) and bad boy Charles Baudelaire (the Girls at our Best-like ‘Chuchotements’). The latter poet was also a favourite of Patti Smith and Dead Ravens Choir / Wolfmangler in chief Smolken. So there we are – buffed and breezy depictions of decadence, chaos and vegetables.
Which conveniently brings us to Walk with the Penguin, a project that links the steel pans and treatments of Amrofon label boss Yoshio Machida with the aforementioned Cinc. With the ‘Steal a Spoon for You’ CD the latter’s folksier traits are nearly almost dissolved (save for ‘Chess & Reversi’) in favour of between-genre hopscotch in which samba pop tunes, electronica, post-rock, lounge and test-card transmissions are all fair game for further experimentation. Personal favourites are the elegant digital streaming of ‘Blind Superstar’ and the eight ages of man relayed in ‘You Came Out Young’. With its bright colouring and a certain non-cloying sweetness, ‘Spoon…’ is truly the lemon sorbet of postrocktronica (Amorfon Records, 1-27-4-201 Kokuryocho, Chofu, Tokyo, Japan www.amorfon.com )
Next up, a limited, split vinyl LP on which the wits of Stuckometer are pitted against Agripon. Stuckometer, formed in 2005, are Manchester’s foremost improv quartet and consist of guitarists Barry Dean and David Birchall, drummer (and cover illustrator) Pascal Nichols, and bassist Joincey (also of Wagstaffe and A Warm Palindrome). Influenced by the sounds (ha!) of ‘Gingerbread Fridgemagnets’ and ‘Five O’Clock Bloodshadow’, their masturbatory-referenced ‘Jodrell Bank’ (in the palm of your hand) might be a savage dig at certain free rock naysayers of their acquaintance, who think that their genre of choice is a quick one off the wrist. Not so, as this power sprawl will bear witness – the group’s telepathy, now firmly entrenched, frequently sparking into zones touched on by Aufgehoben and Shit or Shine. Flip over for Agripon (make sure you alter the revs setting to 45 rpm!). The “electric liberation music” of J.F. Richard (guitar) and Manuel Hainaut (maniacal drums) has sneaked its way round the highways of their homeland Belgium supporting Deerhoof, Chinese Stars and Glen or Glenda. Their two cuts ‘MP3 (Live)’ and ‘MP3 (Not Live)’ boldly anticipate the starting postol and almost instantly blur their surroundings with their face-melt freneticism into which sonar blips, radio crackle and the sounds of tiny cymbals being set ablaze are dropped in at infrequent moments. As my French is fairly pauvre, I struggled with some of the biographical details on certain websites, but I did zero in on mentions of Derek Bailey and Han Bennink comparisons and also the priceless phrase “Lightning Bolt Francais” – which doesn’t stray too far from the truth. Allez Agripon! (Galerie Pache, 6 Bis Rue Pache, 75044 Paris France)
The moody grey-toned artworks and stencilled lettering that threads its way through the array of CDRs in Cream of the Crop’s catalogue strangely echo Crass’s righteously dissenting voice during the Thatcherist years of the Falklands War, Yuppies, the Poll tax, the Miner’s Strike etbloodycetera. Perhaps Colin Scott, the label chief of Cream of the Crop, is trying to draw a parallel between the grocer’s daughter and the spin-obsessed Blairites of today (Iraq war, Afghanistan, cash for honours, genetically modified crops (, suggesting that the trickster persona has merely adopted a new mask? Hmmm.. I started this in a fairly good frame of mind, so before the Desponds start knocking on my door I think we’d better proceed with Cream of the Crops’s, erm, cream of the crop.
And that simply has to start with Heilige Lance, named after the (holy) spear of Longinius that pierced the side of J. Christ (grab Trevor Ravenscroft’s ‘Spear of Destiny’ paperback for further info). Hailing from the “nihilistic wastelands” of Stoke, up to now the band have only played to invited audiences – so if you haven’t snapped up their previous releases on Hollow Valley Records, their untitled CDR EP on Cream of the Crop might just be your first glimpse of something rather special. A bizarre packaging concept with a vinyl record shard, a square of fencing and a ragged manifesto, contains four tracks that bolt a juggernaut forward surge onto a sound last heard on early Joy Division and PIL sides, not to mention Section 25, Sport of Kings (on Thermidor Records) and Denmark’s Sort Sol. With buzz-lines such as “I am a retrograde charlatan” and “Maybe if you had been aborted, I wouldn’t be so mercurial”, the vocalist’s hectoring snarl dovetails in a ruthlessly efficient manner with a thoroughly desperate and monstrously imposing guitar clangour (there are no credits - fact fans!) Added to which is the expert placement of tape excerpts (JFK, WW2 newsreels, ear-slicing screams etc) which recall the work of Sheffield’s finest, Cabaret Voltaire. This is a perfectly realised set from a collective that are in total control, and has to be heard to be believed.
The ‘4th Mutation’ CDR is a collection that spans the thirteen year career of electronic technician Fabio Degiorgi, a.k.a. H2S of Novara, Italy, and its conceptual umbrella concerns a pollution-mired post-apocalyptic world where numbers of the remaining populace have been cast out of their (presumed) hovels due to developing, though no fault of their own I might add, extra-human attributes. I can write my name using my feet, so I can sympathise with their plight to some extent. [Why oh why doesn’t this surprise me?! – Ed.] The earlier pieces here, like ‘UFO Over Detjani’ and ‘DNA Experiment’ employ singularly compact and austere fuzz ‘n’ robot rhythms which have their origins buried deep in Dr. Mix, (the much missed Adrian Borland’s) Second Layer, Andrei Tarovsky’s ‘Stalker’, The Loved One (on Some Bizarre) and The Psyclones, while the latter years’ ‘Volcano 3’ and the odd whirligig shapes thrown up by ‘Totem’ / ‘ Conjunction’ perfectly document Fabio’s experiments in extended murky atmospherics and toxic tone poetry (escaping methane gas and leaking slurry tanks an optional extra…)
As a postscript it’s certainly worth noting that there is another thing that links Cream of the Crop with Crass, and that is an ultra-generous pricing policy. How about this? Both of the above discs are available for just £2.00 each, including respective postage and packaging!
Other jewels from the catalogue include the self-titled Skull with Wings debut – experimental punk droogs from Massachusetts, USA with an agitated art-damaged edge a la Devo – and William Elmore’s “Folk-it up in Wiltshire-cana” in which a mystic bard bares his soul (Duncan Browne style) in the shadows of Stonehenge. The eponymous Messiah Complex CD comes from a Scottish duo submerged in experimental, user-unfriendly noise who also have a penchant for reintroducing the multiple skull image to sleeve art, and finally there’s the 19 track compilation to end all 19 track compilations, ‘Sarah, Dear Sarah, Spacemen Don’t Live On Mars’ – an excellent collection that moves from heavy psych power trips (Cosmic Dirt) to elegiac swoon folk (Sandsnowman) to left field prog (Cranium Pie) to The Cult with no Name, where Harold Budd is spotted dining with Scott Walker. Contact for all this: Colin Scott, 89 Pinecrest Drive, Thornhill, Cardiff South Glamorgan Wales CF14 9DU www.myspace.com/creamcropzinelabel. And with that, I shall hand over now to Simon Lewis...
Breaking with tradition, I am going to start my portion of rumbles with the only piece of vinyl I have received recently, a split disc featuring Exquisite Russian Brides/Elektronavn and released on BSBTA Vinyl. First band up The Russian Brides (in fact one man, Marc Keelaway) produce a gliding sleepy drone that slowly builds in intensity, with cello guitars and xylophone adding different timbres to the piece, producing a slow and magnificent whole. Flip it over and Elektronavn get inside your head with another long drone, although this one is more pitted and distorted with voices, Zurna and Bansuri flute adding a shimmering glaze to the sound. Pressed on classic black vinyl and housed in a linocut-printed sleeve this is a lovely artefact and the fact that the press release suggests playing it at 33 and 45 is an added bonus, although to my ears they both sounded better at 33. (www.bsbta.com).
Over the 50 glorious minutes that make up “Seeport, Seaport, Seeport”, the strange folk songs of Liz Isenberg enchant the senses with their heady mix of fragile vocals, aching melodies, and wonderful guitar playing, the instruments blended with loose precision to produce a collection of songs that are gently psychedelic. Highlights include the playful “123 Destroy”, the more experimental drone (ish) “I Want To Sleep In My Party Dress”, the melancholy “Winter Hearts Settle”, or the final track “Oh You” where the voice is used an instrument, the vowel sounds cut up, looped and manipulated to create a stuttering soundscape of great beauty.
Working under two names, Josh Carrigan has managed to release a split CD with himself, the music showing two different sides two his musical ventures although there is a cohesive thread running through the work. So, the first nine songs are credited to Cassette Concrete and are an imaginative mix of songs, cut-ups, electronic manipulation, and wonderful arrangements, the songs full of life and filled with suprising twists and turns. From Track ten onwards Joshi takes centre stage, the songs becoming more structured and simple, although they continue to be inventive and suprising, with the vocals really standing out, the songs being driven by some fantastic lo-fi percussion that give them energy and life. The more you listen to this album the more there is to enjoy whichever persona is being played.
Like watching the endless sky, filled with drifting clouds, “March 2007”, the latest album from Vio/Mire will take you to a place where time no longer exists, the ambient soundscapes filled with longing and sadness. Featuring aching strings, some lovely guitar-picking, downbeat lyrics and expansive electronic washes, the whole album is a haze of delicate beauty that is both soothing and thoughtful in its approach. Along with the two albums above, this is released on Leisure Class Records, a label that are obviously doing something right, all three albums oozing class and housed in fine hand-crafted sleeves that make them items worthy of your time. (www.leisureclassrecords.com)
Next up, fans of Jazz Fusion (and the Mahavishnu orchestra in particular) may be interested in a double CD package “Return To The Emerald Beyond”, on which The Mahavishnu Project perform the entire of “Visions Of The Emerald Beyond” originally released in 1975 by the second Mahavishnu Orchestra. Confused? , So was I, but fear not, The Project is a 12-piece band led by percussionist Gregg Bendian, who breath new life into the music, following the structures of the originals, but also improvising around the themes. Not to everyones taste, there is some phenomenal playing on the album, the whole band tight as fuck and obviously enjoying the experience. (www.cuneiformrecords.com)
Also on Cuneiform come “Hopper Tunity Box” the 1977 album from ex Soft Machine/isotope bassist Hugh Hopper. Featuring some tight compositions, a large helping of fuzzed bass and some musical backing from the likes of Elton Dean, Richard Brunton, and Dave Stewart, this could be one of the Canterbury scenes long lost gems, filled with glorious energy and an English playfulness that is manifest in such song titles as “Gnat Prong”, “Crumble” and “Oyster Perpetual”. Much more interesting than the Soft Machine albums from the same period, this is accessible and can be played all the way through, without it all becoming too clever or pretentious, lovely.
“Memory Man” the opening song on “Field Reports” by Scottish artist Uncle Fritz (aka Fraser Stewart) is a gentle guitar melody with some melancholy whistling, a snatch of birdsong and washes of sadness. As such it is an excellent introduction to the quiet and pale world that this album inhabits. Filled with songs of isolation, drugs, violence and futility, the songs are lightened by a wistful voice and some gorgeous guitar, the songs treading similar territory to act such as Red House Painters, Leonard Cohen, or a softer Nick Cave. This may all sound far too depressing, but for some reason, it isn’t, the whole album creating a feeling of calm, as it drifts through you. (www.petpiranha.com)
“Aloneaphobe”, the last album from Steven Mark was a wonderful collection of beatle-esque melodies that still gets aired from time to time. So, I am pleased to say that the follow-up “Racing Grey” maintains the quality, with assured songwriting, and melodies to die for. Opening track “Abingdon Square” is a psych-pop gem that floods the room with wistful sunshine, whilst “So Look Away” has a gentle folk feel that gets under the skin. Add to this an acoustic based version of “Always Something There To Remind Me” (Bacharach/David), the sweet psych haze of “The Mountain” and you have another finely crafted collection that oozes quality. (www.stevenmarkmusic.com)
Another band that favour melody over experimental noise (don’t worry we will get to that later) are The Antiques, although they do enjoy a more aggressive approach to some of their songs on their latest album “Sewn With Stitches”. Featuring a rich array of textures and moods within the songs, there is plenty to enjoy including the lively opener “Tied To Nowhere”, the hymn-like organ drone of “Don’t Stand In My Room”, or the atmospheric “Brown Balloons”, the band stretching their musical muscles with abandon. A similar approach is used on the excellent closing track “Every Night” which finishes the album with a hazy psychedelic smile. (www.theantiques.org)
Finishing off the trio of slightly twisted pop loveliness is Glyn Bailey, whose latest offering “Songs From The Old Illawalla” is a sparkling collection of songs with subject matter ranging from Torturers, a famous footballers last match, perverted clowns, and Apollo astronauts. To complement such an array of subjects the music roams across a variety of musical pastures, a bit of country, pop, art-rock and psych all carefully blended together. Within the songs the rich deep vocals ride the musical surf with confidence and dexterity, adding a feel of early Bowie to several of the songs, especially the 8 minute “The Ballad of Deano”. (www.glynbailey.com)
Clocking in at only 16 minutes “Tangerine” the latest album from Joe Frawley is a haunting soundscape created with samples, field recordings and piano. Sounding like a slightly more classical version of The Orb, the music come from that place between waking and sleep, snatches of speech only adding to the barely glimpsed mystery, the sounds beautifully mixed for maximum impact. Throughout, the piano is delicately poised a soft rain of notes that are filled with emotion and blessed with gentle grace. (www.joefrawley.info)
Next up some new releases from Summersteps records, a label that are always worth investigating. First up Fantasierock vs. Zuzubooty is a lo-fi collection of surreal pop ditties, including “Kraut Party” featuring Germans having dinner!!, the Electro-punk of “Beigeland”, the Neil Young strum weirdness of “Hoin’ Around”, and the lovely echoed spaciness of “Cozmic Emissions”. All of this is topped of by the cry to arms that is “Make It Fucking Happen”, too true. Next up on Summersteps is the pulsing madness of Amasa, full of throbbing bass and sequenced rhythms, mixed with indie guitars, all done with an appealing lo-finess that makes everything gloriously messed up. Including a fine cover of “Under The Milky Way” (The Church), this is an album for playing loud in a drunken haze. Included is an extra CD full of unreleased tracks that are all worth hearing especially the Bauhaus/Cure filled “Bald Bastards” and an Electro-pop version of “Like A Hurricane” that will fill Neil Young purists with terror. Also on Summersteps (www.summerstepsrecords.com) Doses are a noisy four-piece who whip up a storm of noise with nods to the Stooges, Sonic Youth, and The Wipers, all energy and attitude. Finest track is the two minute blast of “Ride All Night” although everything here is a glorious snarl of angry guitar frenzy. Final track “New Nothing” clocks in a just under six minutes giving the band time to fit in that slow burning ending the riff taking control to lead us out. Working a much stranger musical territory Louch play acoustic based song filled with startling imagery and psychedelic flourishes, drawing comparison with Norwegian band Ring, especially on the rather excellent “As Long As There Are Bullies”. Elsewhere “Little Baby Jesus” tackles the evils of corporate America, whilst opening track “Itchin” moves from ambient sound to acoustic ditty with ease, the ghost of Bob Dylan hovering overhead.
With riffs a-plenty and all the right ingredients in their mix Abramis Brama play 70’s heavy rock so well that you would think that that they own a time machine. On “Live” the band let themselves stretch out with a tight and funky sound, everyone working in unison to create a righteous rock noise. As with most bands of this genre, the longer songs work best with lots of room for riff changes and duelling guitars. Hailing from Sweden this is a band on top of their game, whether you like them depends on your reaction to hard rock from the seventies, even when it was recorded in 2006. Originally formed in 1970, Lucifer Was, split in 1974, then reformed again in 1997 and went on to record another three albums before their fourth “The Divine Tree” this year. Filled with more heavy rock, this time laced with flute and mellotron, the album has a rich production and some great songs topped off with some fine rock vocals from John Ruders. Standout track is the 11 minutes epic “Crosseyed” which starts with the traditional acoustic guitar/slow vocals beginning, before slowly building up the tension, the solid drums and bass anchoring everything down as the band rise upwards. Once again not to everyones taste, but recommended to those with a soft spot for Uriah Heep, early Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult. Both of those heavy rock albums can be found on Transubstans Records (www.recordheaven.com) , as can the space rock sounds of the Oresund Space Collective, a group of like minded individuals, who get together whenever possible to play improvised psychedelia, more space than rock, and often very good. Featuring analogue synths, free-floating guitar, and echo boxes to excess, the band obviously have an affinity for each others playing that allows the music to sound balanced, rather than dominated by one particular sound. On their latest Double CD “It’s All About Delay” , the band work into an Ozrics inspired frenzy on songs such as “Nebula 4747”, “Shaved Cortex” and the long but worth the trip ride of “Jupiter Flyby” which runs in at 25 minutes, space cadets indeed.
More space rock visions can be found on “Everything Leads To Here” by multi-instrumentalist Nog Cavanagh. With heaps of soaring guitar, sequencers, synths and driving bass, the music certainly moves in all the right directions with fast-paced rockers giving way to electronic swirls and moments of ambient bliss. Sounding like a mix of eighties Hawkwind and The Porcupine Tree the music is sometimes let down by the lack of vocals, meaning the songs fade into one another, although individually they are excellent examples of the genre. (www.nogcavanagh.co.uk)
Released a while ago on the Resonant label (www.resonantlabel.com) Stafraen Hakon reveals a fine sense of dynamics and a wide sonic palette on “Gummi”. Opening track “Jarn“ builds the tension with dynamic maturity, before the wistful sway of “Svefn“ brings us down gently with soft vocals and crackly percussion. Sounding at times like a wyrd-folk Radiohead, the undoubted highlight is the stretched workout of “Kvef“, a beautifully constructed piece that is as expansive as a winter’s sky. Overall an album that grows with every listen. Also on Resonant, Yellow Six are moody and magnificent on “Painted Six”, an album that is full of warm and languid dreamscapes, the lazy flight of a bird, the wind rustling a meadow. With everything Written and Played by Jon Attwood, there is a real sense of a singular vision that binds the album together, each piece merging into the next to create a delicious whole that is relaxing and fulfilling, offering a wilderness to lose yourself in.
Originally recorded for a production of Steinbecks’ “Of Mice And Men”, but then expanded and revised after a studio flood, “Starvation Under Orange Trees”-Ray’s Vast Basement, is an epic journey through Americana that takes in folk experimentation, dust-bowl laments and acoustic ballads. Throughout the album the spirit and feelings of Steinbecks Novels is evoked, whilst the tight and inventive playing lifts the song above the ordinary, making for an enjoyable and emotive journey through The American Landscape. (www.howellstransmitter.com)
Something far more twisted and harsh can be found within the digital grooves of “Too Many Days”, a grotesque and fucked collection of strangeness from George Korein. Opening with the harsh swarm of insect noise of the title track, the album slowly descends into madness, with “Writhe, Sally, Writhe” sounding like Devo on ketamine. As we move further in “Love Is For Pansies” is surf music for the demented, whilst ”Constant Confrontation” is a vast ball of rusted metal heading in your direction. Terrascope favourite Helena Espvall plays cello on “The World Is Your Ashtray” her creepy scrapings adding to the infernal nightmare of sound, before, finally, “Visiting the Real World” ends the album with a twisted knife, the sound of a madman at the window. Music for people who like the scratch of nail on blackboard or suffer from night tremors. (www.myspace.com/georgekorein)
Written and performed by Erik Carlson and Jeff Knoch, “Haunt” is a wonderful free-spirited ride across an ocean of possibilities. Recording under the name of Area C, the duo have created a Farfisa dominated sound that is unstructured enough to allow the imagination to fill in the blanks, yet filled with enough melody and continuity to allow the pieces to be fully enjoyed, without fear of total sonic collapse. First track “Outside The Flaming Body” has the feel of a stoned sea-shanty, slow and sometimes distant, whilst the title track has a more underground feel, as if exploring caverns you remember from your childhood. Lasting less that three minutes “Names Of Places” is a charming piece of psychedelic electronica, as sweet as a glimpse of a kingfisher on the riverbank, and a welcome treat before the 20 minute “Circle Attractor parts 1+2”. A track that takes the listener on a journey through time, with part one being a space soaked drone that leads into the crackling eerieness of part two, the band slowing thing down so that we can listen to our heart beats. Also on Last Visible Dog (www.lastvisibledog.com), The Idle Suite are a six piece improv-rock band with the ability to shift between melody and dissonance, quiet and loud, and all points in between. On their album “Up Two Sticks Road”, the band have produced some excellent music that rattles around the room with a vibrant and cohesive presence. Songs such as “We Are The Urns From Undr” display a structured approach that is offset by the improvisation within that structure, the guitars being particularly fluid. Elsewhere the band go for a quieter more drone influenced approach, the psychedelic “ There Is No Such Place” being a fine example of this facet of the bands sound. On “Sphyma Zygaena” they offer free-form chaos and rhythmic enchantment, before “Forcefield” allows all this elements to blend into a perfect sphere of sound as the band lead us through 23 minutes of sonic ecstasy.
Having been releasing music since 1990, it was a great pleasure to have a copy of “Waiting for My Albatross” the latest album from Reefus Moon drop through my door recently. Right from the off it was apparent that the psych-pop brilliance was still in place with added birdsong giving the wistful “Lost For Words” a lovely sheen. Whilst comparisons with Robyn Hitchcock are inevitable (and probably tedious) it has to be said that there is ample room in this world for everyone who writes such beautiful, melodic and gently psychedelic songs. Chock-a-block with quality it is hard to pick a favourite, but “White Crystal Bird” is simply gorgeous, whilst “Gargoyles” is a soon to be classic. As is so often the case, the best is left to last, with the title track sparkling with melody and the lyrics adding surreal bite to the tune. Hell, even the slight novelty goodtime feel of "“he Loon In The Moon” will having you grinning with happiness. A small Psych-pop gem, let it sparkle in your life. (www.reefusmoon.com)
One of the joys of writing for the Terrascope is putting on a CD by an unknown band and realising it is fantastic. Even better is that I get to share the news with like-minded people. Well, let me introduce to you the magnificent pop-psych songs of Love Camp 7, whose latest album “Sometimes, Always Never” is filled with imaginative and playful songs that are drenched in the spirit of Brian Wilson and The Beatles. Featuring glorious harmony vocals, bright and lively production, and a 60’s pop heart, this album can do no wrong, brimming with quality and enough variety to satisfy even the most jaded palate. Without a filler in sight, this is becoming one of my favourite summertime albums, go get one. (www.lovecamp7.com)
Opening with a rolling wave of guitar noise, “Weird Rippers”, the latest release from No Age, quickly establishes its credentials with the punk ferocity of “Boy Void”, the band setting up intensity levels that are maintained throughout the album. Using this intensity as a stepping stone the step onto a variety of different paths as they search for that perfect song, sometimes slowing things down as on “I Wanna Sleep”, or releasing there drone tendencies as on “Loosen This Job”. Whatever path they take the music works just fine, making for an enjoyable guitar based collection that is interesting, left of centre and highly enjoyable. Plus, with 11 songs in 30 minutes, there is hardly time to get bored with songs you are not keen on (not that I found any). www.fat-cat.co.uk
Doing the singer/songwriter thing so well, Pepi Ginsberg, is time less and assured on her second album “Sometime/Momma Sometime/Babe”, her voice containing the same sweetness as Vashti Bunyan, although this is tempered with a an earthy sensuality. All this is evident on the opening track “First Light” the insistent guitar motif, augmented by poetic lyricism and that sweet voice. On “Crooked Line” the vocal phrasing reminds me of Joni Mitchell, whilst “Wrecking Ball” has a beat poet heart, full of glowing imagery. Final song, “Hearts and Darts” emphasis’ the lyrical charm of an album that grows on each listen, the vocals twisting and tumbling over the guitar in lovely fashion. (www.pepiginsberg.com).
Housed in a simple yet effective homemade sleeve The Dipper Stove, display some wonderful organic textures on their “Same Fabric” EP. The slowly shifting drone of “Model Houses” opens proceedings, its quiet elegance calming the surroundings with ease, before “Illuminating Windows and Lamp Shades” adds field recordings and echoed percussion to the gentleness, taking the listener outside to a shady grove, full of wonder. Final track “Walier” is as beautiful as the setting sun, a slow-motion drift into oblivion that is soothing and delightful, the sounds blended with almost poetic joy. (www.myspace.com/thedipperstove)
Another album housed in a home-made sleeve (this one made of painted cloth and housing two 3 inch CD’s) is “Paper mines” a split release featuring Bird Microphone and Cursillistas. One the first disc Bird Microphone go for the free-form wyrd folk approach, a heady mix of vocal drone, rattled, cracked percussion, cut up noise and general unsettling sonic behaviour, which all works wonderfully, the tracks running into each other like a delicate forest fire. On disc two Cursillistas have a similar approach only this time with a darker twist, the drones heading deep into the mountains, with slow ritual percussion adding to the tension. On “Tree Curse” distant vocal sing a lament, the music slowly enveloping the song, reminding me Of United Bible Studies in the way the song is overtaken by the drone. Well worth investing in (if you can find a copy). More details at www.myspace.com/cursillistas.
Whilst we are in the Interesting home-made album art section of Rumbles, I must mention the Gorgeous “Turquoise” by Headdress. Full of hauntingly psychedelic songs the whole album is a magical listening experience rich with wonder and mystery. Opening song “Skydye” has some snaking west coast guitar lines and dream-laden ambience, that pulls you straight in, only to be left breathless with joy 40 minutes later, as the last strains of the eight minute “Arizona” lower you gently back to earth. The last two minutes consisting of birdsong, giving you time to re-adjust to your re-entry. In-between, you will have been treated to some of the mellowest guitar you have heard for a long time, as ethereal as a twist of incense smoke, as heady as the first blooms of spring. (www.totemsongs.org)
Hand-Painted to order, arriving in a gatefold sleeve and a cloth CD case, “Ephemera Blues”-Golden Death Music, is a collaboration between artist Lido Pimiena and musician Michael Ramey. Containing some guitar driven songs with a psych heart, such as opener “Endless Dream” as well as some more experimental passages, and electronic twists, the whole album is a thing of beauty a shimmering desert of possibility. Whilst the quality remains high throughout, it is the final piece “Into The Ocean” that takes the prize, a shifting lysergic mirage that sounds like a personal mantra, a plea for a more gentle way of life. Praise must also be offered for the outsider art feel of the cover, which picks up the mood of the album and turns the whole package into something very desirable and worthwhile. (www.myspace.com/goldendeathmusic)
Those of you wishing to sink into a warm bath of ambient bliss, need look no further than “After the Night Falls” and “Before the Day Breaks”, two companion CDs from Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd. Featuring huge washes of synths, twinkling piano and delicate guitar both albums are soothing and haunting, allowing the listener to shed the day’s troubles and unwind. Managing to be ambient without being twee new age nonsense, these are recommended for anyone with an interest in this genre of music. (www.darla.com)
Electronic sounds of a completely different hue, can be heard on “Icons For A New Religion”, the startling latest release from Formication. Whilst this could be labelled as electronica, it is psychedelic to the max, a swirling, spiralling world filled with strange sound and twisted messed-up beats, sounding like an ancient ritual under neon stars. Reminiscent, of Tangerine Dream, Coil, Shpongle and the Orb (in full space cadet mode), the album is a joyous exploration of tone and texture with a dark undertow that pulls you ever deeper into its grasp. (www.lumbertontrading.com)
Dedicated to merging electronic and acoustic instruments together The Fields Of Hay have succeeded admirably on their richly evocative album “Songs For Nine Ladies”. Opening with the sound of birdsong “Morning in the Early” soon adds synths and chiming guitar to become a warming piece of instrumental bliss, the sun rising in your heart. With the natural sound featuring throughout the album, track one blends into “Welcome To The Mantra”, a more up-tempo piece with pulsing rhythms and washes of synth from Pete Kember (E.A.R, Spacemen 3). On this track the acoustic instruments have gone, leaving a sprawl of electronic sounds, before a lone bass guitar cuts through the synth drone of “Miracles and Saints”. On “Solaar Afternoons” a gentle acoustic guitar shines through the electronic flashes with pastoral elegance, as light as a summer breeze, giving pause for thought before the space-ambience of “Gabriels Golden Wings” leads us into the twilight. (www.adverse-effect.com)
Filled with a warm pop jangle, “Down The Way” the latest album from The Three 4 Tens is a mixture of The House Of Love and early REM, that has bright melodic sound and maintains a lovely flow across its 40 minutes. On “R.U.B.A” some fine organ work adds a sprinkling of psych to the mix, whilst “I Am The King” has quality stamped all over it. (www.rainbowquartz.com)
More summery jangle can be discovered on “Welcome Back Dear Children”-Arizona, the songs having a campfire quality and some charming vocals that lift them above the ordinary. Throughout the guitar has a West Coast country feel to it, and there is plenty to admire with some concise songwriting and lyrical beauty. (www.arizonatheband.com)
Sounding like an outtakes from “Smile”, there is a weird twisted ambience to “Trippy Happy”-When. Opening track “Bye Puppy Bye” comes across like a deranged childrens rhyme, whilst other tracks display influences from the Beatles and toytown pop, through to eastern psych and the soundtracks to looney tunes cartoons. In fact, it is a kaleidoscope journey through all that is good in the sphere of whimsical pop-psych, and is filled with imaginative song writing and enough strangeness to satisfy anyone in search of something slightly unusual. (www.jester-records.com)
Clocking in at 20 minutes “We Are Not At The Opera” the latest EP from Cantwell, Gomez and Jordan is a snarling and jagged beast, that stomps out of the speakers, all aggression and skewed riffery. Mainly instrumental in constructions, the music consists of bass, drums, guitar and sax, the tunes swirling and scrambling across each other like rats on a banqueting table. Finest tracks include the avant-punk speed fest of “Stronger Than Dirt” and the Pere Ubuesque “Rescue Dog”, but it is all worth hearing. (www.cantwellgomezandjordan.com)
Between songs Brian John Mitchell AKA Remora has been known to sing acepella songs and tell small stories. These have now been recorded and released as “Songs I Sing”. Full of atmosphere the pieces include a rendition of Job 39, Covers of the Stooges, Coil and Rollerball (the disc is released on North Pole Records which is run by Rollerball member Shane De Leon) and some slow and moving songs that creep under the skin. Musical highlights include the five minute version of “We Will Fall” (Stooges), and the cover of “Heartworms” (Coil), but it is the short original pieces that shine, a new collection of folk recordings for the Terrascope generation. Mention to for the beautiful letter pressed cover that adds to the package. (www.myspace.com/northpolerecords.com)
Released on Palace of Lights, “Amalgam: Aluminium / Hydrogen” is a dense ambient collection of compositions based on the music of Java, the Gamelan in particular. Created by Gregory Taylor using samples and loops the music is an slowly evolving landscape of textures that requires concentration to fully appreciate. Although split into seven tracks, it is hard to determine when one end and another begins, and listening to the whole album as one piece is a very rewarding experience. Also on Palace of Lights, “The Useless Lesson” is a stark yet beautiful collection from K.Leimer, featuring some exquisite strings/piano compositions, as well as some more experimental electronic pieces. It is the juxtaposition between these two sounds that gives the album its flavour, a wonderful gliding quality, the music floating through the atmosphere to become the air itself. (www.palaceoflights.com)
Finally for this edition of Rumbles, I shall start where I began by mentioning two pieces of vinyl that arrived recently. First up, a lovely clear vinyl 7” featuring two mellow and relaxing songs “The Go From Tactical” / “The Beverly Boys” that are a pleasure to hear, The A side featuring some gorgeous liquid vocals, whilst the flipside is a homage to lost friends full of memories (real or imagined). (www.home-tapes.com) . also on clear vinyl (but adding that extra something) is the 8” vinyl four-track EP “purgatory, Sweet Purgatory” from Brother JT. Highlight is the strummed bliss of the title track, although the soft swell of “Estranged” is a lonesome delight. On the B-side, the feel is maintained with “That’s What They All Say” the stronger of the two tracks.
Now it’s time for Carlton Crutcher to take over the helm with his own individual take on Rumbles....
OK, Zero Friends Recordings is a very very odd label from the UK and they sent a bunch of CDs for review. I'll start with the band Peante-dhuton Dblaumesh Raum and their CD "Deeper Coiling Fruth". Disc 1, NAIL YOUR HEART TO A TREE this first song was so otherworldly I couldn't come up with any words to describe it. RITUAL INGESTION OF PSYCHEDELIC SUBSTANCES ok, this is more like it, nice title, I still don't know what to say about the music though? It's not terrible, actually pretty damn good! Kinda like the Shaggs as a techno band! Pretty freakin great! They're onto something here!? WINKOD SPEAKS man, I can't find anything on the internet about the band or label, truly obscure! Sounds like Jandek's hip cousins?! WORMS pretty fascinatingly mysterious double CD set, now this is the sorta thing I dig, music with no ideas about "pleasing" anyone! Cool weird music for arts sake!! That's how it should be, goddammit! Oh, by the way, I let Lester Bangs ghost help me with these reviews, he had a band here in Austin Texas you know!! JUG'O'NAUGHT (DRAGON CON) driving bass, guitar and drums but somehow completely originally fucked up and wonderful! DOWNWARDS ok, I found the website! Oh, some nice editing on this song! Just keeps getting better and better, what a relief, I don't see anything about this CD on the Zero Friends website!? THE BACKGROUND NOISE the letter is from Richard Chamberlain of Zero Friends Recordings in Lancaster UK?! These guys have to be influenced by Jandek and Corwood Industries. Inept, pointless, sloppy "rock" music but it's somehow very soothing and artistically rewarding!! At 4:15 startin' to cut loose, nice tones! Nice and long, how I like 'em. Wow, kickin' some mighty ass now! Hey, these guys are on to something! DEMONS OF UNSYMPATHETIC RESONANCE real music, what a concept! These guys are freakin' geniuses, re-affirming my faith in mankind that was slowly being snuffed out by frighteningly bad CDs. Dare I say it? Any kind of art that is done for money is not art! And I'm pretty sure these guys haven't made any money at it! Disc 2 THE DEATH OF A THOUSAND DREAMS, A HUNDRED THOUSAND LIVES AND AEONS OF ICE AND FIRE BRING FORTH THE VISIONS OF A HUNGRY EAGLE 42:58 live percussion, tablas?, drones and moaning from far away, again very Jandekesque in packaging and performance but that's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. The music really gets a nice contemplative mood! Mysterious, bizzarro, all the things a good CD should have. Not just another product by people trying to have a "career" in the music industry!!...Pretty rockin', would definitely scare Auntie Verleen!....really love these long tracks, being 42 minutes and 58 seconds it gives a person a chance/excuse to disengage from the treadmill of the real world!...at 17:20 just keeps getting better and better, never lets up! Stops at 22:53, at 23:30 starts very quietly...droney, no drums, now some percussion...still, slow, quiet, with odd off beat percussion, droneage....33:34 picks up the pace with some effected out guitar...set the controls for the centre of Uranus...35:50 now some pained hollerin'...poorly recorded Jandekian vocals, it's all quite lovely.... firstname.lastname@example.org
The second Zero Friends Recordings CD for review is THE PLASTIC NOON'S "As I Was Passing the Tea..." LP YOU'RE SUCH A FANTASTIC WOMAN strummy guitar, lead guitar, annoying male vocal, blues pop rock?! I hope it get's better! Sounds American? Not terrible, but not really interesting either?! NEW SUNRISE kind of like a demo tape your drunken uncle Billy would make in an attempt to play the Bubbaland Blues and Rock Festival! MOUNTAIN WAVES nice phased guitar with some folky country pickin', quite nice! Here comes the less than desirable vocal!? MOON ON MY RUG/ CHOCOLATE JAM DOUGHNUT now a drum machine with dreamy guitars, funky bass! Pretty cool! Pretty interesting, at least there's no vocals, nothin' groundbreakin' but pleasant! I KEPT MY HALF IN MY HANDS different sorta less annoyin' male vocal! Too loud in mix?! Loud, normal kinda living room rock music...kinda cool, get's the Jandek thing going almost....WOOD HAIR vocal on this one and previous sounds almost exactly like Mayo Thompson! But this is my fave track so far, lilting quirky pop rock! GRATEFUL (STRIKE THROUGH) nice Syd Barrett like mad strumming, all over the place crazy sloppy guitars, instrumental! VINTAGE NOB CHEESE pretty great title, I guess, primitive recording of guitar playing with drum machine? OK, nuthin' to get excited about?! 2:30 now come the somewhat terrible vocal, lyrics seem ok, I'm sure there's people out there who consider this "pure genius!" THIS THING they call themselves "indigenous non-trad" OK?! Great! They have one review posted on the Zero Friends recordings site and it's a bad review!? That says a lot of the same things I'm saying?! So I guess they'll consider this a much better review?! FEATURE instrumental living room jams...I take it they're playing some elaborate game with us! We're like mere bugs to them!....Velvets like jammage. NOW I'M HOME I CAN CASUALLY TOSS THIS OFF dorky, pseudo funny vocal, sounds very 1983! This is a very interesting label and pretty interesting CD but I can't see myself listening to this for another 10 years or so?!...Actually some pretty nice guitar playing! MOUNTING VOLUMES oh God, it's one of those Casio drum machines that always make me feel like I must be in Hell! Actually it's so goofy and quirky it's a pretty cool track!! WINTER KICKS IN country music with drum machine! The Mayo Thompson like vocal! My wife says "the out of tune thing is over rated, don't you think?" Yes honey, I agree!! GOING REAL EASY LOVE out of tune, gloomy, poignant things, it's too easy to pick off their influences! email@example.com
The Plastic Noon's "94 Poor Souls and a Solitary Be" (this is a test) POOR SOULS quiet, strummed acoustic guitar, now a male vocal, poorly recorded, hiss, playing and singing kinda sloppy and shitty! You can hear a siren in the background that's kinda cool. I find the Zero Friends album and song titles pretty clever and interesting but the music isn't at all on most of these releases!? IN HERE more acoustic guitar with sound of ocean? in the background. Reminds me of music you could hear in the fake English Pub at the mall in Houston Texas in the 70's!....It starts to sound ok after awhile, lyrics seem mundane and pointless, kind of like the music. UP MY STREET oh, the sounds of cars on the highway! That's somewhat interesting! More of the same, playing and singing a little stronger on this one! This is startin' to sound ok, oh my God, they've finally gotten to me! WRITE FROM HERE the acoustic guitar on this one is a bit more spiffy! Vocals much louder, you can almost understand what he's saying! 10 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING more of the same, now sounds almost competent, merely boring and pointless! HALF PAST AND MY LINE COOKED like hearing your uncle Wayne in 1972 when he first became a hippy and started taking guitar lessons! UNDER SKIES if somebody wanted to play your party and they gave this as a demo, you'd probably say no! Back to the Mayo Thompson vocal thing which actually sounds pretty cool! SO SLOW a little different, louder more driving guitar, the Jandek/Mayo vocal....good lyrics could make this music make sense but this ain't that. NO NEED TO STAY he's really gettin' after it on this one! DARK 'N' LIGHT I'm trying to be a good sport about these Zero Friends CDs but if you had a predisposition towards depression or homicide you prolly shouldn't listen to these! OH YEAH almost a punk electric guitar on this one, the half assed jokey vocal sounds overdubbed! Now a guitar riff played over and over that sounds almost good or cool!? MORDOR FRIDGE MAGNET this one's almost ok! Not completely boring and stupid! He's doing some fancy rockabilly singing on this one! Like Hasil Jandek Adkins in the Stray Cats! SKIP "some people skip along to the music"....some nice psychedelic guitar finally at the very end! firstname.lastname@example.org
The Plastic Noon's "Anautoma/Bun"...REMEMBER (HER)? what, is this the third CD of this!? More of the same, acoustic/electric guitar, male vocal, kinda half assed, poorly recorded! After listening to this stuff for hours It's actually starting to sound OK, which is kinda scary?...Oh, he's gettin' down now!!....SCREEN A FIG "morning sun is in my eyes"...He's actually putting an effort into this, what a concept! "catchin' myself by surprise"...CUT THE SIGN a second vocalist, how snazzy and commercial minded! Hey, for Plastic Noon's this is Top 40! God, this is, dare I say, Good! Especially when they're not singing! OTHERS OUT back to Red Krayolaville, makes me want to listen to some! HOLD THE HEART IN some field recordings, a harmonica, acoustic guitar...OK, this is startin' to get on my damn nerves. PRONTAPRINT VISITED duelling guitars, then the goofy off key vocal to mess it up! SPHERE nice, not terrible yet, soft, quiet acoustic guitars, now the out of key vocals, well, there you go! This could be a really beautiful piece with some nice vocals! PLENTY OF ROOM INSIDE "it rained again today, hey that's ok", lyrics that kinda sum up this CD, a celebration of "so what!" EARTH LISTENING APPLIANCE this one starts a little different, some atmospheric experimental stuff! Sounds pretty cool, backwards stuff, no vocals, nice! email@example.com
Keijo is Keijo Virtanen who has been labelled the Godfather of the Finnish underground and on the "Flying Over" CD he is joined by long-time collaborators Sami Virtanen and Jussi Karsikas. FLYING OVER THE PLAINS guitar or mandolin, nice echoey sound, creepy cool! Some percussion, at 4:34 it's rockin' pretty good! Experimental Hillbilly?!?!? ESTA CLARO SI some chants with drone, yes very nice! Now some bells and tinkling...a little improv jam. KEEP CLOSE more Keijo coolness, keyboard drones, percussion, guitar, whistles...a little harmonica, trancey, nice! VAPAUDEN KAIHO/LONG FOR FREEDOM (w/ Jussi Karsikas) some very cool spoken chanted vocals in Finnish?! Bizzarro zooms and tinklin', cool unrecognized instruments, maybe viola?! Yes, keeps getting better and better, drone, bells, zither? Marching percussion, stops and starts. WITH REFRESHING TOUCH blues guitar, percussion, old funky bass, much more primitive playing on this one, but still interesting! Starts to really pick up the pace. SHE'S A ROLLING STONE SANG MR. WILKINS sloppy off kilter blues mess but compared to the Plastic Noon's this is high art! LATE NIGHT HERE AND FAR AWAY (w/ Sami Virtanen) slow creepy atmospheric, trippin' at Church organ! Buddhist chants, yes very nice! WHAT YOU ALWAYS THINK OF droning chord organ, the weird instrument I don't know the name of, some guitar!....yes, Digitalis Industries continue to deliver the quality goods....digitalisindustries.com
Here is the latest (and last) release from ECR. "Pendulum" by Psychic Space Invasion who for the last 5 years is Ian Holloway. REPETANE repeating samples that create a drone along with more drone samples...yes quite lovely! very meditative and pleasant, the effect you hope for with experimental music!? PITTLE more loveliness, Ian, you're kicking ass!! This track has an intentional pop that moves from one speaker to the other, pops in stereo! Yes, yes, I like it! TRANSLATENT more of the same, this one has a pop too!? Is this intentional? Why have it on 2 songs? Oh, here comes some new different sounds, active and droney space, yes, yes! TENALIST a different pace and repeated different sounds but same loops on top of each other!?...OK, the repeated pops are getting a little old! SCOPTIC more repeated pops and strange noises looped and piled on top of each other!? ELLIPSALIC 2 this one has hiss looped, actually sounds pretty good! From the press sheet, "the basic forms of the 6 tracks that make up Pendulum were recorded over 7 consecutive nights during winter 2006 whilst watching the snow fall across the Gower Peninsula in Wales. The recordings made each night were mixed with pre-recorded loops, and both 'traditional' (bass guitar) and 'non-traditional' (hosepipe, glass bottles) instrumentation." www.quietworld.co.uk
Based in Copenhagen, Slaraffenland found its final formation in 2002. They joined Hometapes in 2006 and began work on "Private Cinema". SLEEP TIGHT guitars and industrial drums, dramatic proggy vocals. Wow, what to make of this? The drums stop, gets flutey, yes very lovely!...Back to the full rock out! SHOW ME THE WAY off kilter pop rock! Some sax? Whimsical pop, swell male vocals. POLAROIDS atmospheric intro, then the drums and bass, very nice, back to nice/swell vocals. Who do they remind me of? Starting to get psychedelic! THIS ONE WILL KILL US up-tempo pop rock, trippy vocals. Nothing super original here but pleasant and well done! Some skronking sax! THE RUN UP intro with low end horns, then pretty guitar and bass riff! Then some bells! Short nice instrumental. ROED noisy industrial intro! Get's more so! Whoops, that's the whole song! WATCH OUT pretty guitar, bass, then vocal! "better watch out". This CD reminds me of the mid 80's punk pop with the vocals and feel! But this is much more varied with psych elements etc! Picks up steam, full rock out! This is probably a band to see live for full appreciation! GROEN recording of people moving around in a room? Strange repeated sounds!? YOU WIN percussion, horn intro, then more intense industrial percussion and strange horns and whistling squealing sound! Pretty cool?! At 3:30 some wacky chanted vocals! Gets intense, very impressive! Slow drums, noodly horns! Nice guitar riff! "You win". GHOSTS quiet tinkly bells, then bass riff, quiet horn, backwards stuff! Some guitar, yes very nice! 3:06 gets loud with drums and horn! HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO backwards guitar/key intro! Intense, pretty, the appropriate outro song! The packaging is like something you would get your coffee in at Starbucks! www.home-tapes.com
Z is a Japanese band and their CD "Mikabe" is on Transduction Records. GOHYAKU MANYEN drone, sax, funky bass! Big rock drums, flute, at 2:13 some Japanese male vocals! Yes, very nice! The music has an Adrian Ballew era King Crimson sound! The vocals get frantic like the Boredoms, at 7:00 minutes some crazy sax! MUGEN slower, mellow, I can't recall another Japanese band working from such a "normal" rock perspective!? But Z does take things off the deep end from this somewhat normal perspective!? Nice, pleasant, chilled! Musically nothing too innovative!! ZUSHIKI MAN intense squawk sax by Jun Nemoto along with almost hardcore rock music! It all mixes together, then the frantic vocals! Reminds me of late 80's U.S. hardcore bands, of how the hardcore bands were getting very artsy until Nirvana (unwittingly) came along and killed that movement! IKUSA atmospheric bass and sax, pretty feelgood music! I usually don't dig sax squawk so much, (like the sax stuff on the Stooges Fun House) but ol' Jun does a very tasteful, aurally pleasing version of sax squall! Nice funk bass and sparse guitar! NETSUMONOGATORI cool jazz rock! Hey these guys play with Damo Suzuki sometimes!!!...Then some nice flute by Jun! It gradually gets more and more intense! Then the kamikaze vocal! DAIKAINENTEN more jazz than hardcore on this one, no crazed vocals and hardcore music! www.transductionrecords.com
LITE is another Japanese band on Transduction Records and their CD is called "filmlets". I WALK they call themselves math rock! So be it, math rock being something I've never been interested in, but this is very tasteful, artsy! CONTEMPORARY DISEASE funky, somehow sounds un-Japanese!? Very well done, musically tight, they're probably great live! Again, reminds me of a lot of the late 80's U.S. bands! Artcore! Prog without being obviously influenced by any one band!? HUMAN GIFT hardcore mathrock! Why is it always young males who want to play this kind of music? Mike Watt (from the Minutemen) is one of their Myspace friends, cool!! RE mathrock with soul! Driving guitar, then bass and drums! No vocals on any of these songs so far! DEAD LEAF funky, quirky, driving math prog rock! Well done! Some spacey synth, very pretty, very impressive! ON A GLOOMY EVENING intense, bombastic math core! Then hits a groove and has an almost 60's hippie feel!...Back to the funk rock! PARALLEL slow atmospheric with restrained mathprog guitar bass and drums, then comes intense guitar with up-tempo driving drums and bass and then suddenly goes into soundtrack music! SPIRAL GATE funk rock, almost like the Big Boys, but no vocal! Then gets jazz funk! Loud twin guitars, now the funk guitar solo! Then the funky bass solo, now everyone! Oh yeah, get it!! ...STILL, IT IS QUIET AROUND HERE slower but still funky math! Quirk funk! 2:05 gets pretty, changes tempo! Back to soundtrack music! RECOLLECTION arena math prog, very nice, very smooth feelgood music! Some synth drones! www.transductionrecords.com
Jason Honea is part of the Jewelled Antler Collective and The Shitty Listener "Fruitless Accomplishment" is his solo project. He also plays in the Child Readers, the Knit Separates, the Teenage Panzerkorps and runs the 3 Acre Floor label. GET A GRIP starts with a recording of someone talking and walking around a room, then a dog barking! Then a strummy acoustic guitar with male vocals! The song was written by Darby Crash and Pat Smear of the Germs, a very influential late 70's early 80's punk band from Los Angeles. This is one of their early obscure songs and it's pretty cool to have the Germs lyrics/music presented in this format! I always thought Darby Crash wrote great lyrics! PRETTY SOON NOW hissy lo-fi recording, far away strummy guitar and singing with mics being moved around, various noises! People talking on top of music, then ends abruptly! I CALL YOU UP more of the same but with better recorded and sung vocals! Strummy far away acoustic guitar with better quality lo-finess! SWEET TO MY MIND W/ SOMEONE FLAME-LIKE AND UP TOO MUCH piano on this one, low-key, meandering, sounds like it was recorded from a moving car window! Then changes into experimental cut up music! Sounds like somebody in a rocking chair then changes to strumming electric guitar and percussion recorded from 2 rooms away?! Those wacky boys, what does it all mean? BAD WONDER starts with vocal "in a dreamless sleep truth appeared in the guise of beauty". An interesting CD, all recorded on a shitty tape recorder in Berlin and Brandenburg Germany. You couldn't even call these songs as much as people messin' about, but very interesting! ACROSS MY DREAMS keyboard? recorded on a shitty tape recorder from another dimension! Recorded through a dream! THE DAYMOON back to the half-assed acoustic guitar with people moving the mics around, crickets chirping in the background, then the vocal, somehow it's all kinda cool and appealing! GO TO HEAVEN more of the same, lo-fi half in a dream. This CD is short, bizarre, mysterious, the sorta thing that keeps reviewers interested in music! Oh, the CD comes with goodies, a very nice booklet of Jason Honea poetry, six little cards of interesting weird art, and one long page about the history of England that looks like is was torn from a book in the Middle Ages firstname.lastname@example.org
"A Darkness" is the second full length album from the band Jasper TX, which is the Swedish born Dag Rosenqvist. Jasper Texas is where several years ago a black man was chained and dragged behind a truck by white racists until he was dead! Having grown up in East Texas myself and knowing people from Jasper it's pretty surreal to see a CD from Germany called Jasper TX!! BETTER DAYS TO COME experimental field recordings then soft quiet guitar melody! One of those recordings with the fake pops and hiss, I never really understood that. DESTROY DETROIT (THE SIGN OF BUILDINGS NEVER BUILT) strange droney noises like slowed down vacuum cleaner?! The line 'I got the should be breakdown' is repeated over and over. More pretty melodic guitar. NIGHTBIRDS more drones with field recordings, yes, very nice!! This isn't the most groundbreaking stuff but it is cutting edge and pleasant! Gets very full on loud, groovy droneage!! Yes, then stuff banging around, a telephone call, moving the mics around, it's all art, hell yes! Nice and long, gets very artsy fartsy and sparce, quite lovely. SLEEP; GHOSTS droney piano with burbling and more moving the mics about, yes, what does it all mean? SOME THINGS BROKEN, SOME THINGS LOST the long track, at 21 minutes and 22 seconds, my wife asked "who's beautiful stuff is this?" It's that Jasper TX band! "Beautiful!"...guitar melody with drones and keys!!! Long, goes into weird static loop......www.lidar-productions.net
Circle is a Finnish band formed in 1991 and "Tower" Featuring Verde is their new CD. GERDE prog rock, very 70's but nice, jamming improv? no vocals yet? Pretty damn cool, feel good vibe music! I'm not sure exactly what Verde's input is but his Mork suspenders with no shirt on the cd cover kinda creeps me out!? GATTO the songs just go from one to the next with no break! More of the same with percussion out front of mix. Like the liner notes say, conjures up Miles Davis In a Silent Way! GESTERLUND my old band ST 37 used to get compared to Circle and since this is the only Circle I've heard I guess I can hear it somewhat in the space/improv aspect!...Up-tempo space groove, very nice! Out of your body music! GEPPANEN deep space jazz prog rock, more of the same sound and feel from track to track, sounds like one long piece of music! GUARILA avant improv jazz prog rock that sounds modern/relevant, it's organic, real, it feels good!...some heavy duty bass! GEHTISALO this CD is the perfect backdrop for that evening by yourself when you need to re-program your brain! www.lastvisibledog.com
Somethings #1 was compiled in 2004 by Ilya Monosov simply because she 'loves and respects the work of all the artists'. The opening track is by Chie Mukai, it's 11:13 of experimental oboe?, some percussion, very nice and lively. The second track is by Andrew Deutsch and Joe McPhee and it's titled FOR FLUXUS JOE It's 7:20 of noisy clangy improv 'farting duck bells' experimental jazz! This is nice but the free jazz skronk thing has been done to death! The next four tracks are by Nick Castro. STUDY IN MINIATURES was recorded in San Diego with items found in Nick's pocket and the immediate seating area. Strange experimental noises in stereo, nice change of pace from previous track. NATURE MUSIC recorded in Los Angeles when Nick 'strung the branch of a young tree to the earth and hung a baton from a higher branch. The wind pulled the tree changing the string tension as the baton freely bounced against the string.' Random fiddling, I'm not that keen on this sorta thing but I know a lot of folks are! It's ok, better than indie rock! SHY JACK AND THE SUITCASE recorded in San Diego 'with a broken jack-in-the-box who would never pop out, a suitcase record player playing the run-off groove '. Yes, quite lovely! MOTOR MUSIC 'recorded in San Diego with various fan motors from the 1940's'. Sounds like it! Pretty cool, nice tones! Up next is a track by Masayoshi Urabe which is 25 seconds of silence then slowly comes in with tones and room noises! Nice, sorta boring! Normal academic experimental! MUSIC FOR INCANDESCENT EVENTS NO.1, AFTER SUNSET WITH CRESCENT MOON SETTING OVER FIELD by Sarah Peebles, 12 minutes and 11 seconds of very nice droneage, very tidy but good! Instructions on how to listen are included by Sarah, 'find a nice view of the sky's changing colours, turn off your air conditioner or fan (or heat), open the windows (put on a coat), adjust your loudspeakers (or headphones, if outside), sit quietly with the sunset and the music'. UNTITLED PERFORMANCE IN OPEN AIR (2004) by Ilya Monosov, it has birds, hissy drones, I'm down with the experimental but this is a bit ordinary! MAARIV #1 by Preston Swirnoff, yes, nice change of pace! Loud droney piano! Lovely weird noises, pure genius compared to some previous tracks. Nice, long, consistently interesting sounds and music! Badass! Who is this man Preston Swirnoff?!?!? www.lastvisibledog.com
Sandoz Lab Technicians "The Western Lands" from Providence Rhode Island, NEBULOUS guitar, bowls a clangin', noodlin' and doodlin', is it high art or mindless noise!? What's the difference? Some nice feedback, manic noodling! Some water dripping, pretty cool. THE WESTERN LANDS 31:44, here we go, love these long tracks!!! Piano, bells and cool sounds and things! Hey these guys are gettin' it, living up to their name!! A motor? nice sax? Wow, at 11:25 really goes into overdrive, loud, pretty damn awesome! Sounds like a lawnmower played through a bunch of effects! Twittering, percussion, voice, very cosmic! Like waking up in a dream! Sounds like huge didgeridoo but it's not! Pretty badass! Sounds like a toilet running with tripped out tribal drums! Hey, this is good! Hooray for Last Visible Dog!...some LSD guitar! These guys sound like my long lost relatives! Some Frippertronics with bells! CROCUS BLOSSOM xylophone? talkin'...plinky, plunky!! Okay, off kilter...the Sandoz Lab Technicians are James Kirk, Nathan Thompson and Tim Cornelius. www.lastvisibledog.com
Thee Moths "Glytchvolk Musique Concrete" are mainman Alex Botten and friends. UNIVERSE PRAYER strummy simple rock, nice vocals, second loud guitar then female vocals! A SMALL GLASS GHOST PT.4 crazy ass drum machine with plaintive simple man pop vocal, plunky bass, yes quite lovely! I can't figure out where Thee Moths are from, the UK somewhere, I guess it doesn't matter!? TWILIGHT HANDS college pop, nerdy white boy music, but pleasant and tastefully done! I think there's tons of people who go gaga for this sort of thing!? TO NOT BE ASHAMED birds and backwards things, yes, it's very intellectual, like coffee shops and such! Freshmen in college, I hope!? THAMI SGITH more birds, I like the female vocal more, weird blips and farts! THIS IS MY TIME water sounds with strange effects, now the sensitive male vocal! Simpleman music! Some pretty cool weird effects and sounds! TWENTY BEES A-SIDE two wildly strummed acoustic guitars, one left, one right, pretty freakin' cool! Sounds like two different songs being played together, then the crazy ass dual guitars! This is a pretty great track, I take back the college freshman stuff! Gets pretty funky intense and loud, totally opposite from earlier tracks! Wow, this is like experimental or something! Pretty impressive! THE WORST dork funk, more white boy music! Some backwards stuff and now it's bad ass! These guys always have a trick up their sleeves! STEREO BREATH more off kilter Moth pop! ALEX VS. THE UNIVERSE seagulls and synth loop! Male vocal, I think I'm starting to understand!! There's more to Thee Moths than I thought! Weird vocals, chants and harmonies! Seagulls with people talking on top of it, then silence! Pretty experimental! DUNDEE IS A SMOTHERING DARKNESS raw noisy rock, then changes to percussion and plunky guitar and female vocal, pretty cool transition.....FEEL WHEN avant math rock, pretty damn cool, I take back all my earlier smartass remarks! THE BRIGHT SUN insects, female vocal, very trippy percussion! Very nice! These guys are on to something! Thumbs up! Hip Hip Hooray! Music that is art!! THE SOUNDS ARE THERE very Syd intro, truly psychedelic and lo-fi! Acoustic guitar and vocal, the demo type! Very strange! Birds! This CD is really growing on me, something totally different than first half of CD! Very strange and interesting! CLOSE THE BUNDS driving slop punk, rockin', cool, with birds and noises! Stops, then just bird noises with traffic noises! ARE YOUR FEET TANGLED UP IN ROOTS weird cool percussion track, super cool vocals with laid back tempo, slows down!!! BONUS TRACK strange plinky noises with strums and skips, quite maddening! Yes! At around five minutes goes into Moth pop rock, "don't try to undo these chains that shackle you to me". The recording gets more and more distorted.. www.petpiranha.com
Pharaoh Overlord "Live in Suomi Finland" BLACK HORSE simple heavy guitar drums and bass! Like Bloodrock or Lord Baltimore with no vocals. A weird monster sound, I was expecting white guy jazz but this isn't that! Same riff whole song so far with noisy keys and effects on top! Okay, this is a Circle side project, sounds better the longer I listen! TUTANKHARMONY more of the same, almost same riff, but sounds great! Can't let a song get in the way of a great riff! These guys are probably badass live! ZERO GRAVITY goes straight from one song to the next! Reminds me of Agitation Free but more simple rock music! SKYLINE heavy metal funk beat! A little too Spinal Tap for me!?....starts to sound ok after 4 minutes of exact same riff!! Cool, dude! My wife says it sounds like a stuck record and she has a point! Maybe now that I don't drink so much this kinda music can't make sense to me?! On second listen this album is high and mighty, maybe a little awe inspiring? At 9:15 the riff changes up a little!! MANGROVE a 14:22 new drum beat, it's completely different now! Strange whirring noise, more heavy metal guitar! I probably would've really dug this 15-20 years ago! It would be somewhat fresh then!...7 minutes in starting to get into a deep space groove, sounds pretty freakin' great actually!!...finally it's over...see, I shouldn't have to say that!!?! www.vivo.pl
Poland meets Japan with Piotr Zabrodzki and Tatsuya Yoshida "Karakany". BEI-BAR free jazz noise crazyhead bombast that we've all heard many times...If this was 1963, wow!! These guys really get after it! INTERMELODIC ORDER tearing it up, my head is about to explode! The songs are short, God bless! PERMANENT BETA POWER yes, more of the same! Music for jumping out a window to! Suddenly some fruity fern jazz then back to the main course of bombastic free jazz! RAT-TIRISTOR NOISE very nice artsy packaging, I don't claim to know anything about these guys!! They are certainly competent/exceptional musicians, I bet they tear it up live! LISY NA HELU starts like traditional jazz then funk avant gettin' it!...music for silly paper driving from El Paso to Albuquerque at 3 am! NIEMAGO POETRY Hey, this is pretty quality stuff for this sorta thing!! This isn't yer uncle Bubba in the basement with the Bubbatones!! Hey, these guys probably studied this stuff in a college and have the papers to prove it! APRIL IN RADOM the kind of music you'd be listening to in your bedroom when Granny catches you burnin' a fatty!! QUICK-CORE some Boredoms moments here! Yes, I like it! WLS50 PRACUJE the kinda music you shoulda been listening to (if you were cool enough) when granny Mulva caught you spankin' yer monkey in 1972 instead of 'yummy yummy yummy, I've got love in my tummy'. TRI-COMMAND CONNECTOR man, these song titles are something else, more crazyhead music! Kamikaze music, is that appropriate?...Kinda like when yer llhasa apso got stuck on top of the basketball while trying to make love to it! Yes, the music sounds just like that!! MICROMODE EXAMINATION do women ever play or listen to this kind of music, or is it just 21 year old males?! ATOMOWA KASZ GRYCZANA Yes, yes, yes.....we'll all live forever!!! www.vivo.pl
Skeletons and the Kings of All Cities "LUCAS" is Brooklyn based Matt Mehlen, a co-founding member of Shinkoyo records. Matt states that "LUCAS is named after a small town in Kansas, where the Garden of Eden is. I started writing words for the record when we were driving through these huge states, thinking about these little places off the interstate. Sometimes just a house or two next to each other". WHAT THEY SAID wow, pretty damn cool, what to compare it to? Big production world pop music! Like David Byrne?! FAKE TITS yes, very odd and cool! Uncategorisable, as all art should be! HAY W'HAPPNS? trumpet madness, nice vocals, haven’t said that in awhile, in the groove smooth funky rock pop! Matt's definitely on to something here, my wife even stopped brushing her teeth to tell me how good she thought it was?! This guy probably even makes money from all this!? DON'T WORRY percussive fabulous world beat by Matt! Does he play all the instruments?....sounds like some Roland synth in there! THE SHIT FROM THE DOGS beautiful lilting lush poop music!!! LIKE IT OR NOT early 70's jazz funk feel with the Skeleton and the Kings, lush pop orchestration! A beacon of light in the sea of mediocrity, "I know because I've tried!"...Matt, you is one cool dude! LET IT OUT in the band photo there are 15 people so I guess it's not just Matt Mehlan making the fabulous music?!? SICKNESS has that 1981 King Crimson Adrian Ballew sound, cool lyrics...the Talking Heads Remain in Light vibe! PUSH'IM OUT 19:37 melancholy sensitive guy song with bells and cymbals, it's so beautiful it makes me want to cry! Now the crazyass horn section, the CD farewell song! "Put 'em in a coffin with an outboard motor, with a television and push them out into the water"....stops at 6:45, okay it's 13 minutes of recorded silence like one of them high falutin academic experimental bands! Am I supposed to scream at a grapefruit or something? But since Matt is so cool, then this is too!!...Oh, at 14:20 comes back in with drums and strange distorto noises! Bass and percussion, now the vocal! Yes, one more time! The reprise, I likee!! More badassness, the Grand Whazoo! Matt, I hope yer not doin' this for free!! www.ghostly.com
Corsican Paintbrush "Aquarian Hymns" is Brad and Eden Rose of Foxy Digitalis, I like those husband/wife bands!! NO TRADITIONAL EXALTATION shaking things, mysterioso drones and thumpin', dark middle ages folk music! But also moderne, yes, very tasty! Some hellacious strumming and shakin', like the Incredible String Band meets Dark Shadows! Reminds of Amon Duul or Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, at around 6 minutes kicks into higher gear! Artin' hard! GOLDENROD FIELDS folky guitar and more shakin' things! Big thumpy ploddy drums, quite sloppy but fascinating! The cats like it, some flute! Yes, fabulousness for all! BREAK THROUGH THESE BRANCHES now some standard alt rock male vocals with cacophony of dark age folk music! The cats don't like this one so much! But then, what does a cat know!? THE WATER BEARER'S DETRIMENT TO THE SUN middle eastern strum with thumpy percussion, catches a groove, swellness abounds! Quite impressive, mugs of glog for everyone!! Where's a good Sufi dancer when you need one!? CARBON REVIVAL at 15:10 the epic!? Starts slow and still with usual racket makers! Yes, quite nice. Oh, one of these instruments is a Bouzouki!! Great recorded sound production! However some of the random sounds seem a bit self consciously random!! Gets louder and more intense, some buried male vocals, I guess that's Brad!? Yes, at around 14:30 gets very noisy and manic, I guess that's good!? MUTABLE EARTH country folk melody with all the other usual sounds, jingle bells included! But why do bands from Oklahoma want to sound like they're from Afghanistan, hell all my grandparents were from Oklahoma and they sounded like it!! HALLELUJAH! MOTHER MARY a little loud and distorty, a mandolin, ploddy percussion with jingle bells, plaintive male vocals! This CD is interesting and original so that puts it in the top 3 percentile!?!?! Keeps ramblin' on and on! AQUARIUS more low key, quieter and moodier, quite nice! And then it's over! More quality product from Digitalis Industries!!! www.digitalisindustries.com
Rumbles for June 2007 was brought to you by Steve Pescott, Simon Lewis and Carlton Crutcher. Artwork: Sinead Williamson & Phil McMullen. layout and Editing by Phil. © Terrascope Online 2007