= June 2010 =




elcome to a small but beautifully formed Terrascopic Rumbles for the month of June. This time round, the inimitable Mr. Ian Fraser is going to escort you through another collection of sonic distractions for your head and your ears.

Silber records of North Carolina, USA provide the nucleus of this particular batch of rumbles - and boy have they delivered the goods!

First up are the “In Sea Remixes” (Silber 079) of 12 tracks (14 if you count the fact that one of them features on three different remixes) culled from the 10-year career of John DeRosa’s Aarktika  This is ambient drone music out of the top drawer.



“I Am (The Ice)” is the suitably glacial and gorgeous opener courtesy of the ever excellent Ramses III and is immediately trumped by Slicnation’s almost flat-line take on “LYMZ”. At this point you’re glad you are not driving the car as none of this is particularly conducive to operating heavy machinery or any activity that requires alert concentration. By the time the twittering birds herald in “Hollow Earth Theory” you’ve been transported to somewhere beautiful and where you will remain until you are returned oh so gently to the here and now at the end of the third gorgeous helping of “I Am Demon” after some 70 minutes of out of body experience (aside from the disco sound of “When We’re Ghosts”). Moving on from the first three tracks, “A Plague of Frost” has a certain menace and urgency about it (as you might expect from someone or thing named Al Qaeda) whilst Mason Jones’ take on the title track heralds in muted percussion, which is replicated on many of the subsequent tracks. Other highlights include the deliciously sinister “Corpse Reviver No 2”, the quite majestic “Instill” and my own favourite interpretation of “I Am Demon” by Declining Winter (the other two are also recommended). This is definitely one to take with you into the flotation tank (but remember to skip the disco track). Sweet dreams!


The DeRosa theme is continued in this next offering from Silber “super group” Vlor, also featuring among others, main man Bryan John Mitchell. “Six-winged” (Silber 075) is a strange bird to be sure. Ploughing a similar furrow to the “In Sea Remixes” (Silber records pride themselves on ”drone, love,honesty, sound”), this has a more unsettling vibe to it. “Guided” is a particularly effective fusion of cloying bass and a loop that rises and falls like some ghostly parody of a police siren. The rumbling bass then ascends/descends to another level on one of the few vocal tracks here (and one of only two with a discernable narrative).“She Goes Out With Boys”, shows that the lyrical subject matter is just as left-field and dysfunctional as the music. Mitchell and the ever-reliable Mae Starr from Moodting sound as though they are about to descend into the arms of Morpheus, or something much worse, as they detail the dating and mating habits of an insecure, control-freak woman who can’t have children and targets emotionally weak and vulnerable younger men. The other “conventional” song is the completely bonkers and way-out-of-character “Watch Me Bleed”, a withering relationship putdown, retro post-punk rant featuring Jessica Bailiff on co-vocals. The rest of the album is very much “as you were” - all very singular, experimental, mind-boggling and curiously enjoyable.


The jewel in the Silber-y crown this month hasto be “An Index Of Birds” by Carta (Silber 077). Whilst typical of the label’s Low-inspired slowcore output there is an impressive depth of quality here reminiscent of genre-masters like God Speed! You Black Emperor and Mogwai without ever seeming to copy either. The sound is fuller than the previous two Silber releases reviewed here, with a greater emphasis on conventional instrumentation and arrangement to provide a deeply gratifying, lush and multi-textured effect. The rare vocal track “Building Bridges” is the nearest thing here to being radio-friendly and provides an early benchmark for what is an entrancing and quietly-stimulating mini-masterpiece of its kind. “The Likeness is Undeniable” is a calm-and-storm epic that is both relaxing and exhilarating by turn, featuring tripping drums, resonant bass and a deceptively simple guitar motif that is the trademark of lynchpin member, Kyle Monday. However the album highlight is the gorgeous “Santander”, another master class of textural loveliness - the clear repetitive guitar sound supplemented by cello as well understated drums and bass. In fact the next few tracks, particularly the dreamy “Descension” the toe-tapping but still wonderfully laconic “Prettier at Night” and gentle slumber of “Bank of England” help maintain a vibrant purple patch on what is a golden journey. The first time I heard this was after a helluva day at the old coal face and the relaxing yet uplifting effect of “An Index of Birds” was immediate and lasting. They really ought to offer this kind of stuff on prescription.


More atypical of the Silber roster, perhaps, is Sarah June, who sings in a little-girl voice and is accompanied by just her acoustic guitar. The immediate effect of “In Black Robes” (Silber 076) is a bit unsettling. However once the initial surprise of SJ’s helium-with-reverb vocals subsides you soon begin to appreciate what is an impressive and well-played collection of tunes on which she manages to wring the most out of her sparse accompaniment whilst using her distinctive vocals to very good effect. The subject matter is often eerie and gothic (in that sense she doesn’t deviate too much from the Silber template) with song titles such as “Crossbones In Your Eyes” (one of the album highlights), “Judgement Day” and “The Reaper” (another favourite hereabouts). This is a gratifying listen and a strong debut from Sarah June and hopefully we will hear more of her in the future. Anyone who liked the Orbweavers’ “Diamond and Graphite” album last year (see Terrascope Online reviews September 2009) shouldn’t be disappointed with this offering.


Another musical newbie for Terrascope Online but who most definitely doesn’t sing in a little-girl voice is Lizz King, Her genre-defying “All Songs Go To Heaven” (EHSE 014) bombards the listener with a bewildering range of styles, including banjo-driven folk, electronica and beat-box madness, all lightly laced with psychedelics. The eclectic effect hints at a lively and complex personality, an impression not dispelled by much of the lyrical content here. Tunes most worthy of note are the woozy banjo and vocal “Teeth and Lips”, the scuzzy folk/rock of “KO”, the beats, bleeps and lupine howls of “Booty Queen”, the psychedelically tinged “Speak Human” and, perhaps best of all, the druggy electronica of “Zardog”, after which the album reverts to four acoustic tracks of varying quality. The overall effect is somewhat disjointed, so much so in fact that in the event that either the artist or label decide to throw a party then they might be advised to invite all 13 tracks and introduce them to one another. Yet there is enough here to suggest that with a bit more direction and quality control, Lizz King has a lot to offer.


Last up in this mini-salvo of strange and interesting offerings from female artists is Jude Cowan with “Doodelbug Alley” (available via Jude’s Myspace page). Listening to this you might be forgiven for thinking that the music is little more than a canvas on which to paint Cowan’s imaginative and entertaining stories (they are more than mere lyrics) that reveal a dark humour a penchant for plays on words and delivered in an often singular and eccentric vocal style. The title track chronicles an adulterous affair during wartime London, “Remember Sinners” is the gory-story of a hanging, “Jolly Roger” of a pregnant girl’s torment about whether to have or not have the child and then how to do away with it or them it if she does. “Naughty Daddy” is the tale of an unscrupulous corporate type at the mercy of a deranged and vengeful Doctor Cowan intent on putting aside her Hippocratic Oath whilst putting paid to him, while “Navajo Joe” is the story of a strange and lonely boy with a not entirely healthy interest in things equine. I could go on but I’m sure you have the picture by now. Musically this is a curious hybrid of torch singing and folk-of-sorts (the aforementioned “Sinners” and “Alien Folk Valediction” both give a nod to the Incredible String Band whilst the ghost of Jake Thackray also looms large).However the abiding impression of Cowan is of a post-feminist Victoria Wood imbibed with the spirit of Lizzie Borden. An evening in her company would I’m sure be fun, let’s just hope that the axe she’s wielding is a six-stringed metaphorical one!


“Projector Gunship Held” (Champion Version CV201006.01) is the second release in a trilogy from UK experimental trio Cut Iowa Network. With drums prominent, this fusion of avant-jazz, electronica, krautrock and ambient drone spans eight tracks and one hour of instrumentals with grand titles like “Square Wave Through The Spectrum Ascent”, “Propulsion System Left Us For Dead” and “Altitude Battle Scar (Arc Light Operations). Don’t expect to see them on MTV any time soon. The percussive nature of most of the tracks is balanced by drone bass and some spacey guitar and effects to produce a mostly pleasant if occasionally noodlesome workout, If this were a reggae style face-off it would be called something like “Canterbury Jazzers meet the Krautrockers Uptown” “Beneath Sound We Shiver” and “Altitude” are the most uptempo offerings, “Square Wave” nods heavily in a jazz direction, and “Horizon 78 Dimension Event” and “We Are Super Eight” are both very “electronic”. The rest are pretty much variations on these themes. Not quite the left-field unpredictability or atmosphere of the Silber releases but a good enough effort all the same. And at least you could drive to this without too much risk of crashing the car.


The curiously named Nifters are a Swedish quintet playing noisy, dark, industrial heavy metal. The shredding riffs, the jackhammer drums, the nu-metal singalong choruses juxtaposing with zombie-shouty vocals are all here, with not too much in the way of mellow moments to lighten proceedings. Oh, and you can check them out on You Tube covered in what one hopes is fake blood and smashing up cars with sledgehammers. It’s all a bit too cartoon-caper for my tastes, but if you’re someone who enjoys flicking between the Kerrang! And Scuzz channels as a means of avoiding Newsnight (ok, spot the guilty secret) then “Zalvatore Caine Incorporated” (Killer Cobra KCR 110) could well be for you.


It goes without saying that musical taste is subjective, even within the same broad genre. Here’s a case in point. In one respect there’s not a lot of difference between heavy metal as played by Nifters (above) and the brand of bludgeon riffola served up by Hag on their short, sharp blast of attrition called, well, “Hag” (Noisestar N#>010). So whereas I was indifferent towards the former, why do I find this United Nations (a Swede, and Hungarian and an Englishman) assault on my nervous system an infinitely more appealing state of affairs? Possibly it has something to do with the fact that it sounds like it comes from the soul, is uncluttered and is reminiscent of some of the better heavy blues rockers of yesteryear, whilst somehow sounding very much of the moment. Six tracks clocking in at under 20 minutes will give you some idea of its intensity from the word go. A cursory listen tells you how nasty, brutish and short an intensity it is, veering from classic Sabbath, through heavy stoner rock and into speed metal often in the same song, as the tastefully titled “Face Biter” testifies. This is a thoroughly nasty yet hugely exhilarating three minute rollercoaster ride. Any hope of a let-up is immediately dispelled by the onslaught of album highlight “Tick Tack Toe”, which is even shorter and more terrifying than “Biter”. Short it may be, bloody good it is definitely, but by the end of “Gummo Vs Mum” which closes proceedings you are left exhausted and glad of the opportunity to draw breath. When I was a small boy I recall the Edgar Broughton Band giving away stickers with one of their albums which read “we mean it”. Well these guys do as well, for which we should be thankful. Anyone with aspirations towards forming a stoner/metal band would do a hell of a lot worse than to check this lot out first.


Definitely time for a change of gear, methinks. Eric Chenaux is a native of Toronto and has released this a two track CD single available on 7” vinyl entitled “Warm Weather/La Vieux Favori 4” (Eat Sleep Repeat ESR201001.01). The “Warm Weather” track is a gentle acoustic number resonant of Chenoux’s fellow Canadian Neil Young in one of his mellower moments and also of the Beth Gibbons/Rustin Man collaboration of a few years back. By contrast “La Vieux Favori 4” is a violin-led drone, conjuring an image of a creepy, creaky old barrel organ playing somewhere down a dark alley - one that always seems to be just around the corner and out of reach. It all rather eerie then and very much in contrast to the feel good summer vibe of “Weather” - light and shade, just how we like it around here.


Here’s another two-tracker, this time two extended cuts spanning 36 minutes duration. On “The Line Across” (Alt Vinyl Records av014) Clarinettist Gareth Davis and guitarist Steven R Smith collaborate for the second time in 12 months. The outcome can be summed up as drone from the underworld, reminiscent of the Third Ear Band at their most ambient and rhythm free. ”Other Forms of Consecrated Life” and “The Natural History of Devastation” unfurl at a glacial pace and make for an ideal backdrop to a half-hour or so meditation during which period time itself seems to be on hold. The latter’s title hints at loss or yearning and this is underscored by the plaintive if distant call of the clarinet some 12 minutes in. Two cuts then for which the word atmospheric hardly seems to do justice – graceful yet powerful, this is (slowly) moving stuff, to be sure.


Anglophile psych-poppers The Mountain Movers from Connecticut USA may well be familiar to Terrascope readers as both their previous album CDs have been reviewed here (see Rumbles from August 2008 and Reviews from January 2009). “The Day Calls Out For You” is available on vinyl only, is hand-numbered, and limited to 270 copies, the front and back covers featuring artwork by head mountain mover Daniel Greene. It features 10 tracks which on first listen seemed a bit so-so and uncomfortably reminiscent of what came out of the butt-end of Brit Pop in the wake of the very few A-grade acts that graced Cool Britannia. While further listens can’t quite dispel the notion of some rather frayed 1990s twine being flogged, they do reveal the album to be a bit of a grower. These are mostly mid paced, decently crafted three minute pop songs that are psychedelically inclined enough to keep them the right side of interesting. The most noteworthy tracks include the laconic opener “Goodbye Human” (for the fine psych-guitar) the acoustic, campfire-feel of “We Were Free”, the Pink Floyd meets Bowie meets freak out overdrive of “Love is the Way” (only slightly undermined by a lazy sing-along chorus). “Sent to the Dogs” is pure music hall Kinks and knockabout Beatles as interpreted by any number of bands whose names you’ve forgotten but who somehow evolved out of the after burn of the Roses and Oasis. “We’re Going to the Lake” is possibly the stand out track of the album, the closest TMM get to the kings of psychedelic reinvention, the Brian Jonestown Massacre – strong melody, decent hooks and one of their better and less obvious sounding choruses. “Dream the Entrance” is a pleasant enough semi-acoustic clap-along to end with. All in all then a promising if somewhat flawed “difficult third” album and worthy of selective exploration.


Whether or not you like the Bird Show Band’s self-titled debut (Amish Records 041) will depend on your opinion both of Eric Dolphy’s landmark but guaranteed-to-polarise “Out to Lunch” album and your tolerance levels in respect of someone wringing every wee, boing, skronk and weeble noise out of a Moog Voyager, elevated here to the status of lead instrument in an experimental jazz quintet. There are of course other instruments on show – an ARP 2600, two sets of drums and, audible no doubt as a result of good microphone and mixing technology, an acoustic bass. So you’ve been warned. This is the experimental jazz equivalent of a full set of bag pipes doing battle with a hurdy-gurdy in a small backroom of your local pub on folk club night i.e. an interesting and fleetingly exciting experience, but the novelty does wear off after a bit.


Catherine Howe has been making music on and off since the late 1960s. Her three-track EP with guitarist Vo Fletcher, entitled “Going Home” (VOCA2) is a prelude to a new album of Howe/Fletcher songs scheduled for release at the end of April. A track from each artist is featured here, together with their version of Fleet Foxes “White Winter Hymnal”. The Fletcher composition is in fact the title track, which features Ric Sanders on violin as well as the writer’s own simple guitar accompaniment to Howe’s pure and engaging vocals. It’s a straight ahead, no frills acoustic number that you can easily imagine being the theme tune to some gentle daytime or Sunday evening TV series set in some sleepy shire. Howe’s offering is “Nothing Love Does Surprises Me” and it is a belter – a sublimely stirring track that could conceivably have been rescued from the Fairport vaults or been a long lost classic from the acid-folk annals circa 1970. By contrast, “White Winter Hymnal” sounds like it could be by the James Last Singers. However on the evidence of the first two tracks here, the forthcoming album might well be worth checking out.


Rumbles for June has been written by Ian Fraser - a top bloke worthy of your thanks and praise. Drop him a line at ianfraser (at) terrascope.co.uk. Artwork, layout & editing by Phil McMullen. Copyright rests with Terrascope Online - please have the courtesy of mentioning our address www.terrascope.co.uk should you wish to quote any of the above.