Recently released on Car Crash Avoiders is a fuzz-laden 45 from some old friends of ours The Mountain Movers, the band moving from their folk/rock/melodic roots to create three suitably noisy and messed up lo-fi gems with opener ‘I Watch the Sea’ filled with heavy fuzz, twisted arrangements and snotty vocals, doing its best to become a lost ‘Nuggets’ classic and succeeding. Next up, the short blast of ‘World What World’ maintains the fuzz, whilst ‘I've Been to Space’ is a lo-fi psych epic, slowly building in intensity over six powerful and brooding minutes. Entitled ‘Sea/World/Space’ this is an excellent reason to start buying 45's again, best played as loud as possible. (http://carcrashavoiders.tumblr.com/)
Showing a high degree of dexterity and flair, the guitar playing of Daniel Bachman is very impressive on his latest vinyl offering, a two-track released of DFBM Records. With high-speed fingers at work ‘Perigee Moon’ is a beautiful affair, a rolling melody drifting through a cascade of notes in americana/primitive style, whilst ‘Bloodroot’ is a slower more reflective piece allowing the listener to drift of to a place of deep relaxation, an accomplished and emotional track well worth hearing, which you can, as his work is also available as a free download – the vinyl is much nicer though. (http://dyingforbadmusic.com/dfbm.phtml)
On beautiful port coloured vinyl Diagram8, have their tune ‘Antelope’ remixed by Discopolis and Ghosting Season, creating a breezy and happiness filled two track filled with electronic rhythms, pulses and effects with Ghosting Season adding a slightly darker, ambient feel to the track. Possibly not especially Terrascopic but highly enjoyable nevertheless. (http://www.staticcaravan.org/)
Definitely Terrascopic is the swirling sitar filled psych-pop of Paul Messis and Jessica Winter, whose ‘Sunflower’/’As Nightmares Turn to Dreams’ would be right at home on a ‘Rubbles’ collection, the A-side being an eastern styled, flower-power song that makes me grin, with the other side being a more West-Coast Airplane kind of thing, equally gorgeous in an incense and mandala way… time to roll one up methinks. On the same label comes some groovy R'n'B courtesy of Suzi Chunk, with both ‘Look Back and Laugh’ and ‘Tripwire’ being covers of songs by Kravin A, from their LP ‘Krave On’, both songs getting your toes tapping for a quick boogie around the kitchen, enjoyable and easy on the ears. (http://staterecs.com/)
Ok, time to move onto the LP section, starting with Salamader Wool, whose electro-acoustic sound is stronger than ever on ‘Solar Solipsis’ their latest release, the disc containing a myriad of sounds, moods and textures, a dizzying journey that sounds amazing through headphones. With a early Kraftwerk aesthetic, ‘Venus’ and ‘Water Dog’ are electronic surrealist dreams, whilst ‘Eggring’ sound like The Eels in a blender, before ‘Carousel’ goes off in ambient soundscape direction, soft piano and rolling bass combining to create a solid foundation, as sounds and voices tumble overhead, the foundation slowly dissolving and reforming as the piece unfolds.
Over on side two, sounds shimmer and flicker as ‘Timarian's Approach’ ushers you down some strange electronic roads, before the title track reveals itself, the soundtrack to a dream just before waking, a mirage of sounds arranged perfectly. From then on, sounds are bent manipulated and crushed (then brought to life again), until we reach ‘Cask’, a soft ambient haze that rounds off a brilliant collection of tracks. (http://ehserecords.com/)
Containing two long and expansive drones, the latest split LP from These are Not Records, features the sounds of Brainworlds and Plosive, both artists proving to be excellent sonic manipulators. Like watching the sea roll into the shore, ‘Heliopause’ is an aching slow-motion drone of blissful proportions, bathing the listener in softly pulsating sounds as Brainworlds (Mason Brown) improvises on guitar to amazing effect, just lie back and dream, whilst on the other side Plosive (Chris Bracco) takes thing into space on the velvet dust cloud of ‘Between Eight and Eight Thirty’, a rising drone that oscillates with emotion, gentle notes twinkling amongst the waves of sound, the piece making way, with a fading bass note, for ‘The Bubble Machine’, a darker rush of sonic energy that engulfs the room when played nice and loud. Taken together this LP is a perfect thing, both artists complementing each other, a definite for the drone lover in your life. (http://thesearenotrecords.com/)
Hailing from Sweden, Sicksharkinspace play heavy progressive space/psych on their self-titled debut LP, that is housed in a great gatefold sleeve and is released on Black Rills Records. Completely instrumental, the music has a warm dynamic the band moving from loud riffing to more reflective phases with skill. Opening side 1, ‘Rip’ is the perfect introduction to the band, whilst ‘Download’ is a more spacey affair, a relaxed piece that has its mood shattered by the arrival of ‘Fist In Face’, some brutal Sabbaf riffs entering the fray. Finally on the side, ‘Sonar’ is a floating piece of ambient space-rock, punctuated by some heavy chords that add tension to the track. Over on side two, this mixture of moods continues, with ‘Ko-laps’ being the pick of the bunch, ending another accomplished side of music with another floating space exploration, the track suddenly bursting with energy turning into a well controlled wall of noisy riffing. (http://www.blackrills.ch/)
On the same label, Black Sunny Day, play short garage/power pop songs on their album ‘Bass is Back’, the songs having a definite seventies vibe to them, mixing these sounds into a wholly satisfying whole that is their own. More complex than they first appear the songs have a bright sound and the band are very tight, but happily loose, all of which can be found on the excellent ‘Forever Mine’ which, at six minutes, is by far the longest song on the LP. Elsewhere,, ‘Evil Man’ and ‘Crows’, add a sixties vibe, whilst ‘Girls’ just rocks out and has fun, the same energy found on the heavy rock of ‘Indian Man’, or album closer ‘Wolf’. However way you slice, this is a great LP, full of lively songs that make you feel better. The album also comes with a limited edition (77) metal sticker; nice.
Slow and distortion laden, the music of Human Adult Band, sounds like a fucked up early grunge band covering Mudhoney cast offs, often being played at Melvin like speeds, the whole band dreaming of being in The Stooges, the Lo-Fi approach adding the feeling of a small garage littered with empty bottle, Rizla packets and bank bags. Needing to be listened to as a whole to really submerge yourself in its atmosphere, the volume should be set to eleven and alcohol/? Should be consumed, at least on first listen, before you finally come to love everything about its chaotic, scuzzy charms.
On the same label, Detective Instinct, are almost impossible to categorise, their ‘The History of headaches / American Novels’ LP, showing signs of experimentation, kraut, noise and skewed pop, to mention a few, as it scrambles your brain in a vaguely unsettling but highly enjoyable way. Opening track ‘Breakfast rainbow’ features Trumans Water and is a droney pop song with spoken samples and rattles/creaks, the perfect start for a romp through 14 weird Americana tales. Also featuring Jad Fair, Emily Ryan and Jim Putnam (Radar brothers), amongst others, the whole album is inventive, playful, beautifully balanced and filled with surprises, with ‘I will Try’ and ‘Make a Plan’ being personal faves. (http://thirduncle.com/)
Next up, the rather wonderful Out Like Lambs, whose recent self-titled 10’, is a regular feature on my turntable, their brand of melodic, dreamy folk music soothing and relaxing to the soul. On ‘White Flags’, the melodies and harmonies remind me of an American version of Gomez, the voices blending beautifully and the arrangements perfectly done, whilst ‘River for Renee’, is a delicate treat, rich and sweet, but light to the ear, never a note out of place. Over on the other side ‘older whispers’ continues the delicate touch, with some lovely understated drumming and an understated vocal performance giving the song a lazy feel that is also found on the beginning of ‘Stockton Lake BLVD’, although this song becomes more nagging and insistent during the chorus, a gentle violin adding the wistfulness during the quieter passages. To End, ‘Something Big’ reminds me of the mellower side of Gorkys, with the whole band seamlessly blending their individual parts to create a tune of great beauty. (http://www.windowshaveeyes.com/home/)
Released on a one-sided 12’ (the kind of thing we love around here), ‘Songs from the Empty Places Where People Kill Themselves’, is a collection of four instrumentals, six on the free download, concerning suicide, each focusing on an imagined individual, beginning with ‘Suburban Bedroom’, the tale of a young girl and a bottle of pills, the woozy waltz time and droney organ riff suiting the idea and setting a high standard for the rest to follow. On ‘Downtown High-Rise Apartment’ a drunken executive blows his brains out, accompanied by a slow rolling bass line, sinister percussion and vibes, sounding like macabre lounge music, perfectly evoking the scene in your mind, whilst on ‘High School Library, Gymnasium and Cafeteria’, the fat nerd finally brings a gun to school, wreaking havoc, presumably, before turning the gun on himself, the music a cloud of noise filled with paranoia and gaining intensity as it moves through the school with a score to settle, all hope gone, the track morphing into a heavy riff that shrieks with fear. Finally a lonely widow slits her wrists on ‘Studio Apartment Bathroom’, the soft piano piece both sad and melancholic speaking of faded memories and long dead companions, death a long awaited relief from a life without love.
On the same label, The Unpop Sound end this vinyl feast with ‘Candy Anne’ / ‘Three Eyed Gemini’, a lovely 7’ on Lime Green Vinyl (hurrah), with the A-side being a sweet electro pop song with a hint of 60's psych, with the flip side offering a more psychedelic sound, a hazy cloud of eastern styled drone, echoed vocals and the sudden introduction of distorted guitar, the whole thing ending in a infinite loop, meaning the needle never lifts up, great stuff indeed. (http://www.discriminateaudio.com/)
Having dealt with the vinyl, there is still a huge pile of CD's awaiting review, so let's dive straight in with Wrinkle Neck Mules, whose latest album ‘Apprentice to Ghosts’, is a fine mix of Americana and country twang, complete with sweet melodies, great playing and some rather excellent vocals that lift the songs above the average, the whole album sounding like it could have been released in 1972. Hooking you in from the beginning ‘When the Wheels Touch Down’ is an epic slow-burner with some fine Neil Young style guitar, whilst the title track is a simple song filled with emotion, as it should be. Over 12 tracks the band prove their quality meaning this has been the car CD of choice for a couple of months now. (http://www.wrinkleneckmules.com/)
Also sounding like it could have been released in the early seventies, ‘Colossus’, the latest album from Pearl Handled Revolver, is a mix of heavy-rock and blues complete with long solos, heavy organ and plenty of punchy riffing. Standout tracks include the moody swagger of ‘Woman Made a Man Out of Me’ which includes some sleazy guitar moves, the laid back groove of ‘Stop the Dead’ and the album closing title track, another slow burning slice of heavy rock happiness that needs volume to reveal its magnificence. Hardly ground-breaking but highly enjoyable all the same. (http://www.pearlhandledrevolver.com/)
Sticking with the heavier side of things for a moment, we turn to Small Stone Recordings, a label whose roster is filled with heaviness, including the magnificent Texan trio Dixie Witch, whose ‘Let it Roll’ album is filled with southern influenced heavy stoner rock, the tunes coming out the speakers like an amphetamine fuelled bison intent on finding the nearest china shop. Relentless throughout the album, the heaviness is sweetened by a melodic sensibility that does nothing to diminish the intensity of the riffing. Treading the same path, with less southern influence and more fuzz, Dwellers do the stoner thing so well, hypnotic riffs, some mighty fine guitar solos, suitably inaudible vocals and rock solid rhythm all in place as they blast themselves across six pieces of noise infested rock and roll. Not afraid to slow things down, the band display a sense of dynamics, allowing tension to ebb and flow through the songs something demonstrated on ‘Secret Revival’ the opening cut on the disc. More traditional in their stance Infernal Overdrive play seventies heavy rock with aplomb, melodic hooks competing with loud guitar, the sound also veering into NWOBHM territory, something I am happy about, although I imagine some of you are cringing at the very thought. Never the less fans of heavy rock, especially the US version will enjoy this collection. Finally on Small Stone, Freedom Hawk play more traditional metal/ hard rock, complete with a vocalist that sound like Ozzy, something that you have to get used to, the quality of the songs matched by some excellent guitar trickery and a sense of melody, meaning this collection is more than a meaningless retro experiment. Overall, four strong albums that showcase an up and coming label, whether they are Terrascopic is, of course, another matter, but the fact that I have just listened to all four without getting bored suggest that they are well worth investigating if heavy rock/metal interests you in any way. (http://www.smallstone.com/)
Next up a collection of albums from the recently formed label New Atlantis Records, whose roster includes a whole variety of quality sounds as you shall see. Featuring the drums of Sam Lohman and the guitar of Ed Ricart, ‘Tambora’ is a collection of eight improvised tracks with the musicians working under the name Matta Gawa, the whole disc a testament to their skill and sympathetic musical relationship, neither one dominating the other, whilst still retaining the freedom to walk there own paths within the tracks. After the relatively melodic intro track ‘Navagraha’, thing get more obtuse and possibly grating (in a good way) as ‘Position’ sparks into life, a crackling fuse igniting an entire melting pot of rapid fire ideas and tones, both musicians working up a sweat, with the guitar having a definite Holdsworth feel, whilst the drums are seemingly played by an octopus; excellent stuff all round. After this brace of tracks, the rest follow similar routes, each with it's own feel and pace, like walking the same coastal path at different times of the year, offering new views of old territory. If some free-rock, jazz is your thing, then this is highly recommended.
Also featuring Ed Ricart, Hyrrokin is a three piece band that also works in the free-rock jazz arena. On their ‘Astrionics’ EP the edition of a bass gives the songs a more rocky feel, whilst the musicianship remains of stellar consistency throughout, think of a fast and fluid Canterbury band and you would be close, melody and intricacy linked together like ivy around an old tree, the band not afraid to rock out and clever enough to pull of those tricky time signatures with pinpoint precision. Over six tracks the quality never drops, your interest held entirely especially on the truly wonderful ‘Golden Square’. Adding Sax and Trumpet to the mix ‘Riding the Light Into the Bird's Eye’, is a rather splendid collection of wonky pop/jazz songs and tunes from Jason Ajemian and the High Life, an obviously accomplished collective, whose work remind me of Robert Wyatt in the way it is constructed, its tones and textures. After a brief and effected spoken word opener, ‘Bliss is This’ reveals itself to be a beautiful brass driven song, that sways around the room, very possibly smoking a Gauloise and chatting up your partner. On ‘Spectacle’ a tight rhythmic structure and rolling bass, gets the song into a cool groove and leaves it there, head nodding and ice-filled glass in hand, reminding me of a long forgotten Kentish jazz rock band called Whale Oil. Mind you, as they never officially released anything that reference will mean nothing to you. Anyway, the whole album is another good reason to head over to New Atlantis, as is ‘Black Figure of a Bird’, a collection of compositions for 12-string electric guitar, written and played by Nick Millevoi. With a definite nod to Mr Fripp, the six pieces are alive with possibility, played with loose precision and an obvious joy, the changes in tempo, volume and sound ensuring that nobody gets bored. Again melody and free-form improvisation are blended together, each piece constructed with dynamic intensity to the fore, leaving the listener revitalised with the power of the tunes. (https://www.facebook.com/NewAtlantisRecords)
Working under the name Boduf Songs, Matthew Sweet produces beautiful, quiet and introspective songs, sounding like a new folk Simon and Garfunkel covering obscure Iron and Wine B-Sides. Using his lilting voice to maximum effect, emotions are wrung from songs, whilst ‘Internal Memo’, the title track of his latest EP features ominous drums and a hypnotic guitar line to nail home its point. Elsewhere, piano adds a melancholy sadness to the haunting ‘Infernal Memo’, whilst album closer ‘Eternal Memo’, is a sparse and lonesome song that aches like a black cloud drifting through blue sky, the song further enhanced by a crying guitar that creeps like a ghost across the song. (http://www.morctapes.com/homepage.html)
On the same label comes ‘Detachment’, the latest release from the Scottish based Karina ESP, which features five slow-moving ambient compositions / improvisations. Like a fine mist, opener ‘Distant Light (1)’ is barely noticeable until you stand directly in its path, a gossamer drone that is soft as dandelion seed and equally as delicate. With inbuilt crackle, ‘Disconnection’ has more of a presence, filled with a longing for something hardly understood. On ‘All the Years Have Fallen Away’, the edition of chiming notes and bass notes, fill the piece with a sense of movement, the delicate lazy drone of bees or water trickling in sunshine. Over five tracks the mood is deliberately sparse and gentle, although the occasional undercurrent of tension, especially during ‘dislocation’, adds to the depth of a very rewarding collection.
To conclude our visit to Morctapes, we stop off at ‘Nest’ another stark and minimalist release, this time created by Anneliese Monsere, whose delicate and lovely songs are a welcome sanctuary from the cares of the world. Opening with the almost plainsong chant of ‘All Things are Quite Silent 1’, it is immediately apparent that this is an artist of quality, the wonderful harmonies slowing time and filling our space with peace. Sounding like a slowed down ‘Set the Controls’, the deeply hypnotic ‘New Home’ is worth the price of admission alone, although the same could be said of the heavenly sweetness of ‘The Light’, the same fragile beauty also overflowing on ‘Underrated’. Finally, All Things are Quite Silent 2’ leads us out again a twinkling piano adding a final layer of magic to both the track and the collection. Simply stunning and essential.
Featuring the talents of Terrascope forum member Chris Videll, working as TagCloud, ‘Named Entities’ is a fine collection of ambient/electronic/experimental pieces that hang together as a whole perfectly. Playing an array of instruments including Shruti Box, Gongs, Analogue Electronics, Tibetan Bowls and Monotron Chris manages to combine these elements in unexpected ways, offering sonic twists and turns for the adventurous listener. After the brief rumble of opener ‘A Controlled Burn’, the next track ‘Red Flag Warning’ delves deeper, a slowly rising soundscape that takes you away from the mundane, whilst on ‘Thaw’ you can almost taste the newly melted water as it trickles away. Harsher in its textures ‘Mountaintop Removal’, flickers and crackles like a dodgy fusebox, unsettling and possibly a cause for concern, that edginess still present on ‘Named Entities 2’, a slightly jarring drone that is wonderfully controlled. Finally, the whole package is completed by the nine minute ‘Whimbrel’ (a large wading bird), the piece a cloud of psychedelic bliss, hovering in the air like incense in a temple, the sounds getting very intense as the piece moves on. Contact Chris at (email@example.com)
Perfectly Lo-Fi and ragged around the edges, the music of My Dad is a Dinosaur mixes distorted guitar and three chord riffs with stomping drums and a primitive lyrical style to create a blend of music that is all their own. Managing not to sound like a garage band, they instead creep into Pere Ubu, Sonic Youth territory, without sounding like either of those bands , certainly shades of The Cramps can also be heard especially on ‘Haunted House Part One’, although this is more a feel that a homage. Anyway you slice it though, their album ‘Friendly Ghosts’ is well worth hearing especially at a reasonable volume. (www.mydadisadinosaur.bandcamp.com)
Rambling and psychedelic, the music of Siddartha, manages to get spacey and rock out, often at the same time, as their album ‘If It Die’, creeps around your synapses and massages them in strange and unrelenting ways. Setting the scene with a intense sound collage, the band then riffs out on ‘Diamond Dust’, a guitar led ditty, with distorted vocals and a Kraut-Rock meets the Super Furry Animals feel, before the spirit of Dr John is invoked on the repetitive drone/chant of ‘Her Useful Dream’, the track inducing a whole new set of emotions in your brain. After this anything goes, the songs inventive and highly enjoyable, with the amphetamine fuelled ‘Blood Laughter and Kisses’ and the eastern groove of ‘Don't Look Back or You'll Turn to salt’ being personal faves, the whole closing with the seven minute ‘Sometimes You Get So Alone (It Just Makes Sense), a beautiful and lysergic anthem that has a noisy centre. (http://neuroticyellrecords.com/)
On the same label and equally as good, although very different, comes ‘The Bear Eats Me’, the latest album from Amanda Joe Williams. Probably the first thing you will notice on hearing the album is the voice, which bears a striking resemblance to Joanna Newsom, especially on first listen. However, there is very little harp involved and if you dig deeper you will fine collection of songs, with a rockabilly / country drawl and excellent playing. So far so good, a pleasant collection for lazy sunny afternoons, nothing startling, but still very enjoyable never the less. However, the disc is very intriguing and by the third listen you start to notice a whole new and weird vibe that runs through the music, maybe there is something in the moonshine, but you realise just how good the playing is, the psych folk of Kaleidoscope definitely stomping along on ‘Keep the Animals’, a high pitched drone running across ‘Soul In Songs’ whilst the solo on ‘Nickel on my back’ takes us deep into the wyrd woods and then plays hide and seek with our minds. In fact it is after this track that things really find a new and slightly odd personality, less Joanna Newsom and more Larkin Grimm, with the hazy mushroom lilt of ‘Sunshine’ the dream pop loveliness of ‘Come or Go’, and the epic closing track ‘Sick and Dying’ being only three of the many highlights on show, the latter an almost perfect slice of Americana/country psych that is becoming a personal favourite around here. Definitely grower and well worth nurturing.
Lush and beautifully arranged, the music of The Inner banks, is easy on the ears and filled with melody, the sweet voice of Caroline Schutz perfectly suited to the delightful pop gems found on ‘Wild’ their latest album. Using a wide collection of instruments including, steel guitar and violins, the tunes are awash with string arrangements, giving them a rich full sound, that enhances the songs without overpowering them, leaving plenty of room for the tasteful guitar lines of David Gould. According to their press release I reviewed a previous album as being ‘crammed with shimmering pop nuggets’ and I see no reason to change this view whilst listening their current work. (www.dagrecords.com)
Working under the name Awaken, the music of Jesse Rakusin is defiantly his own, mixing echoed treated guitar and vocals to create a unique blend of spiritual psych, the sound remaining consistent through several album. Of course, there are influences to be heard in the music, Roky Erickson, T.Leary/Ash Ra Temple, traces of Syd Barrett but these are merely used as starting points, the music drifting into other realms, the songs not ‘written by’ rather ‘broadcast through’ the musician. Undoubtedly an album that will polarise opinion and remain underground, there is much to be enjoyed as songs such as ‘Lightning Mind’, the bluesy ‘Shaman Journey’ or the groove of ‘Connect !’ ably demonstrate. This is the best collection so far and may well be called ‘Trancendation Activation : The Love Amplification Channel’ but I can't be sure of that. (http://awakeninadream.com/)
Right, having refreshed the soul it is time to rock out a bit as Limozine fire up their brand of scuzzy garage rock, their ‘Full Service’ album containing 11 low down dirty wedges of the good stuff. Sadly, the tracklist is printed on the disc, making it difficult to review individual tracks, suffice to say, the energy never dips and fans of The Stooges, The Damned or early Sub-Pop should check them out. (http://www.myspace.com/limozine)
Playing a doomier and more low key rock sound, Caltrop still blow the cobwebs away on ‘Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes’, an eight song collection that contains plenty of Sabbath style riffing, mood changes and stoner attitude, the whole thing a glorious rollercoaster ride, with the opening ‘Birdsong’ displaying plenty of style and substance, with dynamics a-plenty. Further in the epic 12 minute ‘Perihelion’ deserves plenty of volume as it growls and rumbles from the speakers, whilst the closing ‘Zelma’ is a more psych inspired cloud of atmosphere, with the guitar delving into Hendrix territory, or so it seems to my ears. (http://holidaysforquince.com/holidaysforquince/webpages/caltrop.htm)
Hailing from Holland, The Machine play psych/stoner rock with great precision on their album ‘Calmer Than You Are’, their songs loaded with atmospherics, power and some complex moments, the result a splendid collection the has energy and soul. After two minutes of deep space noodling, opening track ‘Moonward’ suddenly explodes in slow motion, revealing a dark and brutal riff that stomps out of the speakers like a Dr Marten wearing metalhead, before it gets engulfed in a wave of feedback, only to come roaring back a minute later. Elsewhere ‘Grain’ sounds like an outtake from ‘Masters of Reality’, which is a good thing, whilst ‘Sphere’is a relentless rocket trip to the edge of the universe. As with most things of this nature, it sound better at volume, although headphones work just as well; depends if your neighbours are less grumpy than mine are. (http://www.themachineweb.com/)
Even amongst open-minded folk such as ourselves, the word Prog can polarise opinion and bring prejudices right to the surface, especially as the word now seems to be applied to any band that plays long songs with some different time signatures, or slightly complex pieces, with Muse, Radiohead, Dream Theatre and even iron Maiden being so labelled recently. Personally, I love prog from the seventies and find a lot of the modern bands choose complexity over warmth, although there are always exceptions, one of them being Knifeworld whose recent EP ‘Clairvoyant Fortnight’ contains three finely tuned prog nuggets, complex yet playful, warm and very charming, hints of VGG, Genesis, Camel and Gentle Giant to be heard. Highly enjoyable, prog lovers should wade right in and enjoy immediately. http://www.knifeworld.co.uk/)
On paper, Snorkel should never get anywhere near the Rumbles column, the words dub, funk, and electronica cropping all the time; however, the other word that appears is Kraut, and that is maybe why they are so appealing to my ears, their long workouts having a locked in groove that is reminiscent of Can ,Neu or so many other electronic pioneers from that time. Having already been written about when they released their album ‘Stop Machine’, the band now reappear with a remix EP ‘One Long Conundrum’, although the title track is a brand new recording that throbs through its 8 plus minutes, with attitude, bass and scatter shots of electronic mood. Re-mixed by Sculpture, ‘Wet Tongue’ becomes an electronic storm with a head nodding bass line running underneath, whilst ‘Dead Skin’ (Crewdson remix) rattles and stutters forward, the lyrics shoe horned in somehow. Turned into a moody slice of electronica by Robert Logan, the albums' title track sounds just fine, the EP closing with ‘Loophole’ (Rome Pays Off remix), another well constructed track that remind me of Portishead's later work. (http://www.slowfoot.co.uk/)
On the same label comes ‘Gravity Remixes’ EP from Crewdson,a collection that is definitely more electronica than electronic, although curious listeners will find music of great quality, including the excellent ‘Cascade’, re-mixed coincidentally by Snorkel.
Three or four years ago, 3’ CD's were a regular arrival through my door, but this trend has faded away recently – a shame as they seemed the perfect way to deliver twenty minutes of quality music in a perfectly sized package. I am happy to say that Palace of Swords, have revived the trend with ‘II’, a wonderful and chilled collection that opens with the beautiful sparkle of ‘Echoes from a Distant Star’, a sequence of chiming notes that float off into the ether sounding like Klaus Schulze channelled through a dream. After the lush and haunting dreamscape of ‘The Castle Spectre’, thing become more earthy and noisier, as ‘The Black Lodge Will Rise Again’, rolls ominously onwards, a distorted cloud on the horizon that passes overhead, threatening deluge and darkness. With ‘Deer Park’ lightening the mood with its rolling hillside beauty, it is left to ‘Tamburlaine’ to close the disc, a soft electronic sequence and pulse that is welcoming and all embracing. (http://reverbworship.com/)
Fans of acoustic guitar and melody would do well to listen to ‘Bombus’, an album filled with gorgeous music played expertly by Tom Sanderson, his dexterous style bringing the tunes to life with consummate ease. Over thirteen tracks, the listener is treated to lashings of warm melody, lightness of touch and a gentleness that is wonderful to hear, the songs tumbling out of the speakers like birdsong, as if written by the trees and flowers themselves. Although divided into tracks, the album should be treated as a delightful whole, the finger picking style massaging the senses creating a relaxing and magical mood that is impossible not to love. (http://www.bombusmusic.co.uk/)
‘Sun Of Monkey’ by Sun Of Monkey is a curious combination of odd songs by a San Francisco collective of free thinking hippy types, here, on their double CD, offering nuggets of music in half garage, half trippy mode. 'Azure' is typical of the fare - short and to the point, minimal band format. 'Livin' Large In The Underground' is more of a jam with a song attached, but it works well; some nice guitar playing and drawled dual vocals. 'Water Water' has more of a tune but is less successful. 'The Incantation' is a nice percussion-enlivened cut with more half sung, half drawled vocals, 'Ant Man Bee' is a Mothers-inspired chant, 'Everything You Say To Me' is slow and mouth organ drenched, and is probably the best song on the disk, while concluding cut 'Green Monkey' features more garagey guitar; and very nice too. The second disk contains more of the same, although the overall tone is trippier. 'Pootytown' is a kind of lazy lament to nothing in particular - nice groove - but 'Love Song' sounds like Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers on acid. 'Lucia's Lice' is ultra-trippy, with weird lyrics and kitchen-sink percussion, but the ten minute rock groove of 'Eeeee' is a great cut, trippy as anything and the album highlight; just the right combination of madness and music. 'Hiding In Your Mind' is garage-noir, 'Open Child: Disarm Yourself' shows that the band can do mad-as-you-like (although the sentiment is clearly sincere), while album closer 'Circles Of Good' is a great little singalong. A bit self-indulgent on occasion, but otherwise a good listen. At www.wildfruits.bandcamp.com the complete album can be listened to for free (there is a fee to download it)
To round off, a couple more vinyl albums that have arrived recently. First up the noisy rock of Myty Konkerer, whose lovely white vinyl album ‘I Miss the Future’ is home to a hatful of Sonic Youth inspired tunes, with plenty of headshaking riffs, pounding rhythms and distorted guitar breaks. One drawback is the fact that the song titles are on the label, meaning I have no idea which song I am currently enjoying, although I can tell you the third track on side one is a perfect slice of grunge guitar fury. Without being ground breaking or too experimental this is an excellent way to blast away the troubles of the day, rock and roll remains a live and still angry beast, for which we can be truly thankful. (www.twinlakerecords.com)
Finally, Dandelion recording artist and cult singer/songwriter Beau returns with ‘The Way It Was’ an album of new songs, his first since the demise of the label in 1972, although there was a collection of unreleased recording released in the eighties.
Opening with the excellent title track, it is evident that the man has lost none of his lyrical/vocal power, the words being driven by a chiming 12 string that is played with passion throughout the album, the song a look at fame and possible fall from grace. Across the rest of side one, the quality never slips, the songs sounding like Roy Harper or sometimes The Kitchen Cynics, The vocal inflections also reminding my wife Cara of Jake Thackery – a fair comparison I feel.
Moving on to side two, the songs are not quite as strong to my ears, with both ‘The Albatross and the Whale’ and ‘The Titanic Tragedy’, lacking something I can't quite put my finger, the energy levels seemingly dropping slightly, although final track ‘Liberty’ showcases the best of the album. Despite my misgivings, this is a strong album and it is good to have new music from Beau, long may he continue. (http://ritualechorecords.com/)
Now it is time for Steve Palmer to lead you through another batch of CD releases, thanks to everyone who sent us stuff; we do appreciate it.
Miss Massive Snowflake are purveyors of quirky, vaguely psychedelic songs, who on the album ‘Like A Book’ serve up ten slices of angular, sometimes weird, sometimes luminously beautiful music. Based in Portland Oregon, songwriter and guitarist Shane De Leon is the main man, and a confident vocalist, but the other three members of the band pitch in too. 'Candlestick Nails' opens the album, coming across like Talking Heads meeting XTC, before the stop-start instrumental 'Goldsworthy'. 'Yupanqui' features some vintage analogue synths and more jangly-angular riffs before a dual vocal crashes into focus, then swoonsome saxophones. The waltztime 'Uneasy Town' is indeed sinister in feel but it makes an album highlight, the drums and brass mixing and matching perfectly, while 'Early Onset' comes across like a new wave blast from 1979. 'Andreini' kicks off the notional side 2 of the album in slower, calmer style, with conversationally sung vocals and more brass/woodwind inserts. 'The Doctor, The Thief, And The Poet Versus Confetti' and 'The Forest' are blink-and-you'll-miss-them new wave mash-ups, before album closer 'Oh, The Pageantry,' which is more of a West Coast-styled rocker. Varied sounds, great brass, and songs which go in unexpected directions make this an involving listen. (www.northpolerecords.org)
On ‘Children Of The Sun’ by Temple Music wall-of-sound atmospherics meet hi-reverb vocals, thunking drums and synthesizers, opening with the drone-esque 'Mirrors,' which sets up a pretty intense mood. The lyrics are Greek/Near East influenced, in synch with the magical mystical mode of the band. 'Children Of The Sun' brings in acoustic instruments for another Krauty track, while 'Ism' is much heavier, with intense drums and percussion. A mysterious breakdown in the middle of the track only adds to the ritual style of the music. At nineteen minutes 'Death Went Fishing' is the highlight of the album, a massive, synth-decorated trip passing through elements of ambient, acoustica and weird vocals, before the cut goes all electro-heavy and tribal. Closing the album, 'Momentum' is the shortest track but has the longest lyric, some slinky guitar playing and the most conventional structure. An intense listen - better at the end than at the beginning. (www.anticlock.net)
The Plimsouls were an American early 'eighties powerpop band whose 1983 live summit has been captured by Alive Naturalsound. 'Shaky City' and 'Making Time' set out the band's stall: high energy, riffs and choruses, a tight indie/punk sound, and all in front of an appreciative audience. 'Zero Hour' is catchy, 'Hobo' features spot-on guitar riffage, while 'Fall On You' is a cover of the Moby Grape standard - and a good one too. 'Oldest Story In The World' is a kind of indie 'House Of The Rising Sun,' 'Magic Touch' is straight out of the UK circa 1978, 'A Million Miles Away' is the band's most famous cut, while 'Jump Jive And Harmonize' is a cover of one of Thee Midnighters' songs. This leads straight into a cover of The Flamin' Groovies' 'Jumpin' In The Night,' which is full of snotty energy. 'Now' is a riff-tastic album highlight, while two more covers close the album, The Everly Brothers' 'Price Of Love' and evergreen 'Can't Judge A Book,' both with terrific vocals and great backing vocals. Sheer heaven for powerpop fanatics, and superbly recorded too. No wonder the audience loved 'em. (www.alivenergy.com)
The self-titled album by Drowner continues the epic voyage through heavily reverberated dream-pop currently being released by Saint Marie Records, who have already made big waves with The Sunshone Factory and others. 'Point Dume' opens with multi-tracked female vocals, screaming feedback-drenched guitar and a fantastic drum sound, making an epic opener; a great song and a great sound. 'Never Go Away' is softer and slower, with the distinctive shoegaze sound that the bands on this label specialise in. 'Chime' is also slow, but Anna Bouchard's vocals are a little clearer in the mix - same great drum sound though, and a really good chorus. 'Wildflowers' begins like an ambient Cocteau Twins before distorted guitars and subtle synths pick up the flow - a lovely track. 'Written' is heavier, faster and darker, with rock-styled drums nearer in the mix, and more terrific vocals - an album highlight. 'Tiny Ship' brings in the strings mellotron for that keening, elegiac sound, but again the cut is marked by Bouchard's outstanding vocals, here multi-tracked and effected into dreampop bliss; another highlight. 'Here' has a massive guitar dropped into the middle, and 'This' most obviously evokes the Cocteaus of all the tracks on this album. Two excellent remixes conclude the work. I really enjoyed this album - terrific songs, terrific voice, terrific production. Very good indeed, and thus recommended. (www.drownerband.com)
Quiet World's path to global ambient domination continues with ‘Simple Ghosts & Lazy Old Bones’ by Ian Holloway, Rhodri Thomas & Stephen Jones, who on their five track mini-album combine synth drones, percussion and ethnic instruments to good effect. 'Long Live The New Flesh' is only three and a bit minutes but it sets up a lovely atmosphere, while 'Halcyon' is an Ian Holloway solo piece on ukulele and field recordings - very quiet, rather lovely, with ‘shells’, presumably real shells, making a subtle ticking-clock background. 'Licking Pennies Off A Wall' is a quiet collision between guitar and samples, while the fourteen minute central cut of the album, 'I Am An Owl,' is another Holloway solo, created from recorded sounds, kalimba (thumb piano) and rain stick. The album closes with 'Stumble Slightly Lower,' in which all three musicians combine to create a brief window into a strange world evoking short wave radio. (www.quietworld.co.uk)
Heart Of Palm, though on the Quiet World label - normally purveyors of relaxing ambience - have stepped out of the label's comfort zone for their noisy, occasionally very noisy album ‘Psychopomp,’ which over thirteen brief cuts (some hovering around the one minute mark) explores a kind of weird gothic electronica, all disturbing voices, clashing percussion, harsh textures and jerky rhythms. This is Faust-inspired improv music from an Ohio-based trio (‘Improvise or die’) which unsettles and intrigues in equal measure. The use of distorted voices gives a human element to the music, though mostly it is avante-garde, and will be too strange for some tastes. (www.quietworld.co.uk)
‘Collision/Detection v 1’ by Psychological Strategy Board is a twelve minute experimental remix project, in which a central core of audio material provided by label Front & Follow is distributed amongst various collaborators for sonic reworking. Further EPs will follow during 2012, digitally distributed. 'The Synthetic Profile' forces electronics against samples, 'Enharmonic Bow' is more of a spooky trip, 'Internal Workings Of A Noise Intoner' is a mash-up of noise and electronics, while 'Channel Steamer' is a heavy synth workout. The brevity of these cuts does not help them, but it's interesting enough listening, though, inevitably, rather disposable. (www.frontandfollow.com)
Jack Jeffery cites Alan Parsons, ELP, Peter Gabriel and the Floyd for his second album of alt-prog songs ‘The Constant That Remains.’ 'We Need It Back,' the opening cut, is a medium paced, mournful dirge of a song, where the heavily delayed vocals are rather distracting through the entire song. 'Rearranged' is much better however, an acoustic piece with nice guitar and a cello accompaniment. 'A Plea To A Dreamer' has better vocals and an imaginative production, while 'Gavotte For African Steel Guitar' is a delightful little instrumental. 'Fade Away' returns the listener to progressive influences for another slow, melancholy cut where the APP influence is clear - an album highlight - while 'The Sinus Wall' is a Floydian, guitar-based instrumental, and pretty good too. 'Everything Changes' has a nice production but is a bit of a non-song, 'Valencian Cosmos,' another instrumental, is much better, with a lovely mixture of oscillating synths and Spanish guitar - nice. 'Ascendancy' is a synth-heavy instrumental with an 'eighties prog sound, while album closer 'Carry On' matches eerie guitar, synth effects and vocals to good effect. The instrumentals are better than the songs on this interesting but slightly patchy album, production values are good, but a few good tunes wouldn't go amiss. Definitely one for prog-heads though. (http://soundcloud.com)
‘Giants Hide Among Us’ by Reanimation is effectively a solo album by sonic explorer Michael Shanahan, exploring progressive, often instrumental, music over eight cuts, opening with the multi-stranded 'The Wheel Of Life,' which throws guitars, bass and drums into a big prog melting pot to create a stormer of a track - bet this would be great live. 'Mara The Tempter' has more of a psychedelic feel - echoes of 'seventies stompers - and is another strong track, while 'The Beautiful Unknown' brings in vocals - not entirely successfully, it has to be said. The production on the track is good however, with more excellent guitar. 'The Single Song Of All' opens with doomy synths and a tough drum sound, before bass and synths come in, making the best track on the album; better vocals here. A Spanish guitar strumming away introduces the listener to 'Repentance,' which also features the trademark distorted/extended guitar (played with slide and ebow) that ripples through this album; lovely synth solo too. 'That Is All' alas is spoiled by the vocals, but the nine minute 'A New Dawn' is better, and the thirteen minute album closer 'Diffusing The Bomb' collects all the elements of repeated structures, drones and distorted guitars into a final cut that rampages, dances, then trips through various moods. Well worth investigating, though, as with Jack Jeffery, the vocals are a bit of an acquired taste.
Black Fortress Of Opium on their second album ‘Stratospherical’ combine heavy riffage with monster drums (courtesy Brian Viglione of The Dresden Dolls), massed electric guitars and spooky vocals. The core of the band remains the same as the debut, Tony Savarino on guitars and Adja on vocals and various instruments. Opener 'Blood Diamond' is a great cut, all swagger and metal, but 'Afyonkarahisar Battle Cry' evokes the Near Eastern regions that this band are grounded in. The track is atmospheric, with terrific vocals; excellent bass too. Adja's voice soars over the material like an astrally high Siouxsie, while a hint of mandolin adds that exotic element. Superb. 'Blind' showcases Adja's voice on another excellent cut, this one slower, while 'Fata Morgana' is even slower and lighter, focussing on the mandolin again. 'Regret & Rue' matches rolling bass and tight drumming with keening vocals, while the more traditional 'Right Around Here' sounds like an attempt at a single. 'Unraveling' is another slow, atmospheric cut with soaring guitar and a mournful vocal, 'Southern Hymnal' features a particularly good vocal and some lovely Americana-styled guitar, 'Cherry Blossom' is a stomping rocker with Zep influences, 'Get The Timing' slows things down again and is the calm before the storm that is album closer 'This Dark Cloud,' which encapsulates everything that has gone before: big riffs, pounding drums, big vocals and lots of them. Great stuff. Fans of psych rockers like The Higher Craft and Earthling Society would like this band. The album is excellent, and comes recommended; evocative artwork completes a very attractive package. (http://blackfortressofopium.blogspot.com )
A melange of sound effects opens ‘Life Somewhere Else’ by Isidore, which essentially is Steve Kilbey of The Church (sounding a little like Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen on this one) and Jeffrey Cain of Remy Zero. Opener 'The Privateer' is evocative and beautifully sung in that baritone voice so enjoyed by fans of The Church, while the title track is similarly evocative, with a lovely tune and gorgeous production - an album highlight. 'Old Black Spirit' has a Hook-y bass and a conversational vocal, the minimal production contributing to the focus on the lyric. Already the tone of the work is set: beauty and melancholy combined, with high production values. 'Recoil' is more electronic than other cuts elsewhere, but 'Some Reverse Magic' has another nice bass, thrumming beneath the vocal and arpeggiated guitars, arranged in traditional song format. 'Oh My Sky' lurches curiously, 'Just Dust' is perhaps out of place (noisy and dirty), but 'Belle In Mid Air' returns the listener to the full-forward propulsion of guitars, bass and drums, with vocals floated over the top. On 'Readymade' the mix of electronic and acoustic is perfect, 'Song For The Moon' is really lovely, with Kilbey again sounding a little like E&TB's Mac. The album closes with two really catchy songs, of which 'The Headlight Child' is the poppier and 'You Will Remain' the more evocative. A work of poise, depth and beauty. (www.soundisidore.com)
Noisy Welsh artniks The Method shout and stomp on their double A-side ‘Art Gallery/The Gatekeeper And I,’ which evokes harmonised Madchester vocals, a Hugh Cornwell era Stranglers guitar sound, and a stop-start production. Track 1 - trashy and bright. Track 2 - bright and loose and slightly bonkers. Great stuff. (www.no-other-publicity.co.uk)
Regular readers of Rumbles will know I'm a huge fan of the two most recent 17 Pygmies releases, which managed to combine shimmering beauty, melody and SF weirdness into a compelling whole. Now we venture into the third and alas final part of the Celestina story (the tracks here numbered 23 to 331/3, or more accurately XXIII to XXXIII.III), ‘Even Celestina Gets The Blues (A Tale Of Love And Quantum Physics)’. As before, the music is often in 3/4 time, with strong musical themes repeating beneath the synths, effects and vocals soaring above. Track 23 opens proceedings, then the first song proper emerges, with another pair of themes that propel the listener space-wards. Lovely stuff. '25' again captures the magic of this music, with repeating themes and evocative vocals, while '26' is a kind of audio hymn. The lengthy '27' begins like a space synth-funeral, but then heads off into the kind of instrumental Hawkwind were doing in the early 'nineties, except here more weird and jump-cut. '28' mixes main man Jackson Del Rey and Meg Maryatt's vocals into a cut that epitomises the Celestina sound, while '29' brings in extra percussion, and '30' some lovely classical elements, making the album highlight; sublime vocals too, and a lovely tune. '31' features classical guitar, '32' returns us to repeating melodies sung in that oh so mournful voice, while the final pair of tracks conclude the album with grace. As a whole, CI, CII and now CIII comprise a marvellous showcase for a most intriguing band. Highly recommended, as an album and for the work as a whole, with the standard of the artwork particularly fabulous. But where will 17 Pygmies go next...? (www.trakwerx.com)
England In 1819 are brothers Andrew and Dan Callaway and their father Liam, who on ‘Alma’ present songs of introspection and post-rock grandeur, and while comparisons with Elbow are a little wide of the mark, there is an epic quality to many of the songs here. 'Air That We Once Breathed' sets the template for the songwriting style: quiet openings building to dramatic climaxes. Main songwriter Andrew Callaway spends a lot of time preparing the music, which is then worked on by the rest of the band, as evidenced by the second track 'Blue Ribbon,' an album highlight, which builds to an emotive climax with some great vocals. 'Chaplin Speaks' features a fine choppy guitar, above which more emotive vocals rise and fall, aided variously by piano and then the whole band. 'Littil Batur' is a brief instrumental that serves to separate parts of the album, with 'Skyscraper' coming up next, a track of Coldplay-styled intensity. 'Waterfall' is mostly quiet, which works well, but then it adds a slightly incongruous intense section at the end, as if ‘required.’ 'Emily Jane' though works like 'Littil Batur,' breaking the middle and final parts of the work. 'The Elephant' features a classic Coldplay descending bassline, 'To Sea In A Sieve' is quietly beautiful, while the title track closes the album as it began: opening calm, ending anthemic. There is a lot to recommend here, with the similarity of the songs' compositions being balanced by the album's tripartite structure, and so, just about, saving it. And subsequent listens do prove the album's quality.
A collection of world music-influenced carnival songs would be the best description of ‘Muses & Bones’ by American chanteuse Crystal Bright & The Silver Hands - all accordion, circus whimsicality and darkly suggestive uncertainty. Openers 'Especially Your Mother' and 'Drowned Out' set the mood and tone, with Bright's vocals alternately hushed, eerie, manic and soaring. 'The Misplaced Zygote' displays her extraordinary vocal range, set against Mercury Rev-style musical saw accompaniment, 'Adungu' concludes with a terrific drum and percussion breakdown, while 'Corpus Callosum' (another anatomy based song) is the strongest track on the album, alternately lilting and lurching, with another virtuoso vocal performance. 'Today' is softer and more traditional, with Mariachi style accompaniment arriving near the end. 'Toy Hammer' is circus entertainment to the maximum - atmospheric stuff that fans of Beat Circus would love - while 'In December' completely changes the tone; eerie, slow, haunting, with comparatively minimal vocals set low in the mix. 'Killing Table' brings a kind of fragile operatic virtuosity to the vocal, while 'Spiral Sky' is similar in tone and feel. Concluding cut 'Little Match Girl' is very slow and spooky, with a restrained, though emotive vocal. Overall, a varied, involving listen, where circus whimsy is balanced by sincerity and feeling. Unusual instrumentation adds to the originality, while the manic first half and more restrained second half works well overall. (www.crystalbrightandhesilverhands.com)
Super Distortion is essentially Pete Bradley, who on ‘Utopia Internation’ brings a wide range of influences to a psychedelic melting pot, opening with the clear early Neil Young influence of album opener 'Beautiful Life,' which through guitar mangling and phased, multi-tracked vocals creates an excellent opening cut. The much shorter 'Think Only Good Things' attempts Barrettry, 'Mr Spock' is heavy and full of riffola, while album highlight 'The Golden Rule' begins with simple vocals that slowly are augmented by more, by backing vocals, and then by a retro organ. 'Can You See The Patterns?' reminded me a little of early Porcupine Tree, not least in the vocal styling, while 'Mind King' is very well produced and played. 'Walking Down The Street' returns the listener to riffage and a 5/4 time signature, again with effected and multiplied backing vocals. 'Living Thing' sounds like a mutant Stranglers out-take from 1978, but 'Open' is much more serious, with really nice guitar and ethnic effects - another album highlight, this one with a clear 'sixties vibe. Album closer 'Captain Impossible' is a bit mad. This album rocks, get sentimental on occasion, and always entertains. Really good stuff. -(www.pointybirdrecords.co.uk)
‘Statuettes’ by Jacques, A Robin is either a very short album or a long EP, focussing on the softly dark songs of Italian expatriate Davide Ariasso, whose soulful voice contains echoes of Antony And The Johnsons. Opening with 'The Marble Boy,' the luminous beauty of the arrangements is immediate - chamber orchestra instruments, acoustic guitar and pattering drums, over which Ariasso's voice oozes. 'Butterfly On The Wall' opens with a keening violin, before a waltztime tune emerges, this one with hints of folk, in tone and lyric; additional vocals beef up the chorus. There is another hint of folk in 'Her Belly Scar,' whose simple arrangement is very effective. 'Josephine And The Lantern' brings in more backing vocals to augment the otherwise simple arrangement, while 'The Witch's Son' is a very dark waltztime trip beneath which a piano ripples. 'Cathedrals In The Sun' reminded me of ‘More Love And Death,’ the 2009 album by Johnny Parry, while album closer 'My Spectral Summer' is a melancholy summer lament. Fans of Last Harbour would definitely like this one, as would those who enjoyed Parry's album. Definitely recommended.
Texan resident and former member of The Rentals Sarah Radle has a fifth solo album out entitled ‘Same Sun Shines,’ a collection of ten idiosyncratic songs encompassing the pleasures and difficulties of life. This is more of a solo album than many, as Radle plays most of the instruments herself. 'Last' is a kind of slow military groove, but 'Little One' is more of a traditional pop song, with a catchy tune and subtle arrangement; only two minutes though! 'The Pins' brings in thunking drums, bass and choppy electric guitar, while 'Can't Go On' is another brief encapsulation of life's down side: ‘I've got a bone to pick with you.’ 'Still Here' is a kind of sullen, stop-start song, leading to 'Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys,' a cover of the Ed & Patsy Bruce classic, here sung in partnership with singer and long-time friend of the Terrascope Mary Lou Lord, who Radle has admired for some time - a successful duet. An uptempo honky tonk piano opens 'The Game,' which offers more tart observations, but 'My Beloved' seems more sincere, and is sung in a style more befitting the sentiment. 'There's A Change' is an electro-stomper slightly out of kilter with the feel of the rest of the album (though not a bad song in itself - classic singalong chorus), while the album concludes with 'Bye For Now,' which is more positive about life, and which showcases Radle's fine melodic ear. High quality, well made and enjoyable. (www.sarahradle.com)
Canadian chanteuse Tessa Kautzman occupies similar territory to Radle - a solo singer songwriter presenting a cluster of songs on ‘Shredded Eagle, Sad Tambourine,’ with life as their subject. Kautzman plays most instruments here, but other musicians complete the full band, the format essentially drums, bass, guitar and keyboards. The arrangements are stripped back, but occasionally venture into something fuller, usually with drummer Jordan Perry underneath, occasionally with brass and violin additions; a terrific sax break enlivens 'Optimistic' for instance. 'Can't Remember The Last Time' is a quirky little observation of life's boredoms, but 'I Will' is a more confident lyric about taking life into your own hands. 'In My Mind' is the standout track of the album, musically and lyrically, with propulsive drumming and nice guitar licks. 'Spell' rocks out, while 'The Next Day's Fight,' the longest cut on the album, opens with haunting dual vocals and is another highlight, although it seems to be about depression. A contemplative album sung with sincerity.
The Vévé Seashore specialise in outsider lo-fi weirdness, one man and his acoustic guitar augmented by strange electronica; on ‘Seven Years Of Gulliver’ the music seems to come from places both nearby and very far away. 'Bitter Advice' sounds like it was recorded in a massive bathroom, 'Lamb With Claws' is less than a minute - vocals, guitar and tinkling percussion but no tune to speak of. 'Marbles On The Stairs' also has bathroom acoustics. 'Ein Umgestürtzer Hafen' changes the mood by taking the listener into drum-heavy, distorted gothic electronica; no vocals here. 'A Cup Of Coffe For Your Fears' is much more melodic than anything that has gone before, 'Seven Years Carpet' is suitably trippy and again has a nice chorus, 'Seven Inch Script' sounds like a psychedelic barn experiment, while the six minute 'Seven Inch Script III' is a great Floydian journey, and is one of the album highlights. 'Seven Inch Script IV' brings synthesizers into the equation and is especially trippy, with alien-style vocals, while 'I'm A Full Cloud' plays with cut-up repeated fragments of song that eventually merge into plangent acoustica. '(hidden)' appears to be backwards, while album conclusion 'Why Birds Ate My Finger' is further trippy nonsensical madness. A bit of a curate's egg this one - trippier-than-thou in places, sometimes willfully bonkers, but possessed of charm where the madness is stripped away.
‘The Golden Undertow’ by Rella The Woodcutter is also lo-fi and trippy. 'Dear Star' is not well recorded, but the recording levels seem to have been set correctly on the Velvety 'Bonobo,' which channels sinister retro vibes, like a gothic Doors. 'A Forest Journey' is stark, 'Black Universe' is stark but not so listenable, while 'My Ship' is needlessly minimal. 'Leave Your Home' has a lovely flute, but again has been poorly recorded. 'Inside Gratitude' floats along, 'Five' has a nice accompanying guitar, 'The Golden Undertow' is a bit of a dirge, but the eight minute 'Drugtime Family' is Velvets-inspired entertainment, and is by far the best track on the album. If your brain is fried you might like this album.
On ‘We Have Always Lived In The Castle’ by P.A.U.L. a kind of eerie, half acoustic, half processed music creeps out of the speakers, opening with piano but swiftly lurching into dark, bassy electronica reminiscent in places of the very early Klaus Schulze albums. Spoken word intrusions litter the music, elsewhere the piano returns, synths wheeze, and there's even a song. The mixture of electronica, poetry, sound effects and music is like a glimpse into somebody's thoughts, here delivered through audio trickery. Very strange. ‘There Was A Crack In His Head And A Little Bit Of The Dark World Came Through And Pressed Him To Death’ is possibly even weirder, though the general soundworld is the same. The mood is very dark, almost despairing: the electronic sounds support this, and develop the bleak mood, although in places, and very occasionally, the sun does come out. Very, very strange.
Clepsydra are Italian psychedelic explorers from the realm of retro-mania, a land where bands congregated in garages and sang harmony-laden tunes, many of them of the ‘three minute pop song’ variety. On the band's third studio album ‘Marmalade Sky’ the themes are indeed tuneful, the playing tough and spiky, the harmonies floaty. 'Love' is classic garage single material, but 'Coffee, Slip And Popcorn' is harder edged, while 'Jimi Plays My Guitar' evokes Hendrix in sound and tone - nice cut this, though, inevitably, the guitar mangling is a bit tame. 'Sunset In LA' is a two minute acoustic-based track, 'Asa Phelps' is punky pop, but 'Peyote' is softer, with intriguing lyrics and an almost Doorsy guitar sound - an album highlight, this. 'Nautilus' is very fluffy, with a great guitar sound, 'Caravan For The Third Sun' is trippy (narrations, sound effects and all), while album closer 'There's Still Time Anyway' is another acoustic track, that reminded me of Anton Barbeau's recent output, which is a good thing. This album is very well made, engaging, enjoyable and a great listen. One for psych explorers. (www.clepsydraband.it)
Some years ago I reviewed ‘Forever Waiting,’ the last album by Anduin, which explored spooky electronic avenues in an original way. Jonathan Lee's new release, ‘Stolen Years,’ is a collection of pieces reassembled into an album after a series of unfortunate events involving a burglary at his house. The music, I am glad to say, is as good as before. Opening with the very eerie 'Behind The Voyeur's Wall Of Glass,' a mood is immediately set: ghostly voices, melancholy reed instruments and electronica, all merging into a spooky whole. 'I Come From Mockingbird States' brings in natural sounds and doomy synths, 'Invisible Materials At Work' again uses half-heard sound samples and reeds (saxophones mostly) to create a strange and wonderful atmosphere, while 'The Transformation Of Substance,' my favourite track on the album, melds an oscillating synth sound to watery sound effects and distant keyboards. Terrific. The second half of the album opens with another 'eerie soundscape' cut, 'Dyadic Twenty Seven,' then 'All The Blue Jays You Want' brings in modern synth sounds over a gloomy chordscape - another highlight. 'A Great Canopy Of Smoke' floats improvised saxophone over groaning synth chords, before album closer 'Irene' goes all majestic and major key. Add luxurious artwork where each track has its own card and you have a superb object and forty minutes of outstanding electronica. Highly recommended. (www.soundcloud.com/anduin)
‘All Property Is Theft, All Flesh Is Grass’ by Geese is a collection of nine sample-o-delic songs of the experimental variety. The lyrics cover power and love, loss and madness, the feel is kinda psychedelic, kinda poppy, kinda somewhere between the two. Arrangements are bright, sometimes brassy, always unusual. A Northern voice evoking John Cooper Clarke (a little) opens 'Location, Location, Apocalypse' with its keening strings mellotron, before the bonkers 'Twisterella.' 'Pink Guitar' is quirky and very trippy, and the trippy substrate of the band hoves into view again on album ‘madder than thou’ cut 'Mr Breughel, Hieronymous Is Here' - a mediaeval painter confection. 'Can't Find The Way' calms everything down and goes all melodious, 'Acid Mondays' is distorted and then sing-a-long, while 'Trenchcoat' is a sort of acoustic ballad. Album closer 'Damned For All Time' is the longest cut on the album but the least successful. All in all, a trippy listen, an interesting one, and mostly successful.
The EP ‘Extended Stay’ by Bill DeMain is a six-cut collection of confessional singer-songwriter material, opening with the rolling and lyrical 'Looking For A Place To Live,' which sets out the stall very nicely: a great tune beautifully sung. 'St Joe's '75' does 'seventies glam backing vocals and chord sequences nicely, with a touch of Hammond thrown in, 'In Your Letter' has DeMain crooning over a piano and orchestral instruments, 'Honeylove' is a very short cut with female backing vocals and a subtle arrangement - a pity it's so short, as it's good - while 'Common Love Song' is also short but a bit of a rocker, with multiple backing vocals and analogue synth. The EP closes with the reflective 'Raggedy Man.' DeMain's so-smooth voice and conversational style makes these tracks easy to listen to, but not so easy they become sickly sweet. A good piece of work. (www.billdemain.com)
Cheers Elephant hail from Philadelphia and do Dr Dog influenced Americana style pop-rock. And they do it pretty well. Opener 'Peoples' presents an upbeat tune and sound, confident and engaging vocals, and lots of backing vocals. A striking opening. 'Doin' It, Right' is faster and chunkier with a great bass and solid drums, and more of those catchy vocals. 'Falling Out' keeps up the melodious standard, but 'Leaves' is a bit of an aberration in tone and sound. 'Party On Darwin' and 'Get YA!' are rather forgettable, but 'Thought And Commensense' returns the band to the stylish pop-rock which is their stock-in-trade. The album ends with the lengthy 'Balloon In The City,' which slows everything down, but has a strong tune and more swoon-some backing vocals. There is much promise in this album, though further work, I feel, does need to be done. (www.teamclermont.com)
If a collision of Morricone spaghetti western and lo-fi analogue weirdness is your thing, then ‘Death Surf’ by Heroin In Tahiti could very well be for you. A duo hailing from the run-down east end of Rome, where everything apparently is dirty and decayed, the band proffer tremelo-heavy, synth-suffused soundscapes on this rather brilliant album. There are no vocals and the sound varies only a little from cut to cut, keeping that melange of guitar, synths and sounds, but the overall effect is easy on the ear, engaging, and very well done. There's some great guitar playing, some unusual sonic landscapes, and through it all a shot of weirdness that keeps the whole edifice from falling down. Very good, though avante-garde lovers will find it too sweet, and electronica fans may consider it too mannered. I like it a lot. I still like it a lot after a few plays. Buongiorno! (www.boringmachines.it)
The album ‘Night And The City’ by Silo Halo is a collection of rather doomy, reverb-heavy cuts exploring themes of loss. Dual vocals - male and female, and alas not mixed very well into the music on the opening 'Out Of Your Fugue' - carry these themes in a style not quite shoegaze, not quite retro, not quite pop or rock. 'Wonderful Gift' is perhaps more uplifting, but 'You Don't Dream' again suffers from a middley DIY sound and vocals too low in the mix to comprehend. 'I'm Still Slamming My Head Against A Brick Wall' has lots of energy and is better, the title track is slow and melancholy, while album closer 'Stones Against Her Chest,' the longest cut on the album by far, is full of energy and features some great guitar playing. A bit of a curate's egg this one, and I do think that the sound, especially the positioning of the vocals, acts against the music and the band, even for a group going for a DIY shoegaze sound.
Hisato Higuchi is a Japanese musician who on ‘Bara Bara Na Bamen’ - ‘English To Scattered Scenes’ - presents an album of minimal (almost non-existent in some places) tracks, all of which marry quiet, reflective guitar playing with vocals that in many places sound more like a cello, or some other stringed instrument with bassy tones. Though split into thirteen cuts, the album varies not at all in timbre through its thirty two minute duration, but this shortness, allied to the brevity of the tracks, does make it listenable. It's a curious experience though, as that peculiar vocal style drifts over a peculiar guitar style. If nothing else, the album is unique. (www.apollolaan.co.uk)
‘Eight Moments Of Spring’ by Canadian band Dumb Angel was recorded wih Jace Kasek of the mighty Besnard Lakes (great band). This is a work of folky acoustica with occasional pop and rock elements - and a hint of spacey psychedelia, not least in the heavily reverberated, half-whispered vocals. 'Then And Now' is mournful in the extreme, but beautifully recorded, and, with gorgeous backing vocals, easy to listen to. Though Dumb Angel is essentially a vehicle for main man Shaun Mason, the album has a band feel, not least on the highlight track 'Victoria,' which is a lovely cut. 'Elevator' explores further the soundscape of slow and melancholy, as does 'Silence,' 'Work Of Art' and the glacially slow 'Without You Without Me.' 'Reflection' and the almost anthemic 'Rosary' end the album in similar style. Although this is a good listen, beautifully done and engaging, over the course of fifty three minutes perhaps a little more variety in tempo and timbre could have been considered. A really good album however, with much to explore and much to recommend.
Otowala are a trio of musicians, Michiro Negishi, John O'Reilly and Stephen Zieminski, who make progressive-sounding instrumental music on their debut album ‘Otowala.’ There is a bit of Chris Squire bass, complex drumming, bouncing keyboards and LOTS of unusual time signatures. Very many complex time signatures. Opener 'Sock' has all the aforementioned elements, creating a kind of modern-sounding chamber King Crimson. On 'Crocodile Smile' the band's raison d'etre - to search for the unfamiliar through the individual writing styles of the band members - is clearly illustrated, as the track presents mallet instruments, piano and bass to the unwary listener. 'Autumn '91' is perhaps the most successful track on the album, with its punchy drums, simple keyboards and thrumming bass. It sounds like an half forgotten nightmare from a random member of Yes circa 1971. Overall the album is clever, and certainly listenable... but perhaps it is a little too clever for its own good. Prog-heads will love it. (www.otowala.bandcamp.com)
‘Cat Frequency’ by Cat Frequency is in fact one-man-band Mark Forster, who hails from Norwich in Norfolk. The feel of this EP is psychedelic, the instrumentation mellotron-heavy, the guitars drenched in effects, and often backwards. A lo-fi aura suffuses the work, which in this case does act in the music's favour. Opener 'Golden Sun' is a great evocation of all things hippy dippy 'sixties, while 'Burning Wheels' rocks out majorly. 'Lemon Jelly' rolls along nicely, with some effective backing keyboards and a nice distorto-guitar break. 'Captain Al Hubbard' hails from an alternative 1968 I suspect, and is my favourite track, while closer 'And In The End' is a synth-heavy oddity which makes for a satisfying conclusion to the trip. Just one problem - the EP is mastered hot, which is very tiring on the human ear and makes for audible ‘pumping’ in a couple of places. Needs more dynamics. An interesting work for fans of psychedelia, though. (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Edgar Breau is the man behind Simply Saucer, long-time Canadian darlings of the punky rocky hinterland and twice veterans of Terrastock 7 (their first set was rained off, so they kindly played again later on), who on his new solo album ‘Patches Of Blue’ continues the singer-songwriter path that he has followed since the late 'eighties. Opener 'Patches Of Blue' is an upbeat dirge, but the outstanding 'Open Road' is a marvel of girly backing vocals, a tune and a great arrangement. A single for sure: ‘You're so Yesterday!’ 'Pennsylvania' opens with clawhammer acoustic guitar (echoes of John Fahey) and skreeky violin, before another impassioned vocal begins. 'One Kind Of Love' features a faux-Stevie Wonder wah-key, and more great girly backing vocals: another top cut. 'Maria, The Sea And The Sun' is a tale of accidental meeting and subsequent love, which again merges beautifully Breau's leading vocal and perfectly judged backing vocals. Niiiiiice. The too-short 'Girl On A Carousel' bounces along, 'Dreams Of Kerouac' is almost country-style, while 'She Love Me Like A Train' is incomprehensible but evocative. Album closer 'Dandelion Kingdom' has a curious, almost naive vocal and a confessional feel. A really good album with much to explore.
‘Giving Voice: Guitar Explorations’ by Rich Osborn is an extraordinary album of acoustic guitar instrumentals played in a ‘raga’ style, which essentially means taking the improvisatory modes of Indian music (for example of sarod master Ali Akbar Khan, who influenced Osborn's playing) and catapulting them into a Western style. Though having studied with noted guitarist Robbie Basho in the 'sixties, a traumatic hand injury left Osborn unable to play for twenty years, all of which makes the beauty, peace and wonder for the eight instrumentals here all the greater. Their serenity is marvellous, underpinned as they are by a kind of calm emotion that is ideal for nocturnal ‘winding down’ moments. The tracks range from the lengthy 'The View From San Damiano, With Rain,' referencing Leo Brouwer, to the brief concluding track 'Hard Time,' which is wonderfully calm. A revelatory album - marvellous. (www.richardosbornguitar.com)
Here now is another band in powerpop Plimsouls mode, reformed and rediscovered for a modern audience - The Primitives, who on their album ‘Echoes And Rhymes’ present a manic fourteen-track skip and run through a catalogue of cuts all of which come from little known female-fronted 'sixties bands. Openers 'Panic' and 'Turn Off The Moon' are very catchy two-minutes songs, sung in off-the-peg style by Tracy Tracy, while bandmates Paul, Tig and Paul provide solid support. 'Move It On Over' is irresistible, 'Sunshine In My Rainy Day Mind' groovy, 'Til You Say You'll Be Mine' a UK post-punk leftover, 'The Witch' scary, 'I Surrender' Motowny, 'Amoureux D'une Affiche' sung in French for that crossover market, while 'Where Will You Be' is almost a ballad. 'Who Are You Trying To Fool' merges fuzzed-up guitars with a classic 'sixties melody, 'Time Slips Away' grooves, while concluding cut 'Wild Flower' opens with male vocals before TT re-emerges. This album is simply irresistible - superbly done, never less than catchy, sunny and joyful. Highly recommended.
Great idea for an album: write a collection of songs all of which have the same titles as American release Beatles albums. The result? ‘Love Camp VII’ by Love Camp 7. Opener 'Meet The Beatles' is uptempo bouncy catchy pop-lite, 'The Beatles' Second Album' is bouncy pop-lite, which like the opener has a stripped-back band arrangement. 'A Hard Day's Night' rocks things up a little and sounds like a Rezillos cast-off, 'Beatles '65' is a bit of a damp squib (no pun intended), while 'Help!' brings in synths and a distorted vocal, unsuccessfully. 'Beatles VI' is calmer and more pleasant, 'Rubber Soul' has a nice Indo-style guitar though no perceptible tune, 'Revolver' blands out, 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' - the track I was dreading having to listen to - is actually pretty good, while 'Magical Mystery Tour' is painful. 'The Beatles' grooves and distorts nicely, 'Let It Be' is just plain silly, while 'Abbey Road' is the highlight of the whole experience - a great little song. There is no middle ground on this album; some tracks work, some fail. If you are a Love Camp 7 fan, recommended: if you are a Beatles fan, avoid. (www.lovecamp7)
‘Valentine Court’ by Rich Batsford is an intriguing album of piano based instrumentals by this Buddhist, comedy booking-agent who also sings in a Four Seasons tribute band. Referencing Satie, Philip Glass, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Harold Budd, each track is essentially a miniature, like a tiny painted exposition. Some roll and reflect ('So Steve') while others are calmer, quieter, more melancholy. As a whole the album is rather a delight: perfect for a solitary Sunday morning. (www.richbatsford.com)
Three Fields is, I suspect (the album notes and one-sheet are deliberately vague), a solo artist, here on the album ‘Cambridge Blue’ creating lush, warm and listenable electronica from a maze of samplers, keyboards, synths and effects units. 'Aurora' merges distant synth-washes and piano motifs, while 'Chorus Synth,' as its name suggests, is full of synths with the chorus effect on full - a lovely track, with all the valve/tape warmth that the composer wanted. 'Isolator' is similar in tone, though a little more ambient, while 'Low Grey Sky' matches sequences with softly drifting keyboard washes. 'Interland' could easily have come from the studios of Edgar Froese just as the 1980s were getting going, while 'Above' floats Banco-style synths over a lovely repeating motif. The title track is a brief synth-sketch, while 'With Piano' returns the listener to the sound world of the first track. This is a really good album of warm, well composed and attractive electronica. Recommended.
From Tucson Arizona come psych-rockers Sun Zoom Spark, who on their album ‘Saturn Return’ present something ‘between the garage, the studio and the stars,’ as Aural Innovations founder Jerry Kranitz noted in 2005, when the album was first released. I do believe we reviewed it at the time, as well. Now the subject of a documentary made by bandleader Eric Johnson (which I've not seen), these are thirteen tracks of garagey psych songs by a stripped-back fourpiece who just enjoy the experience of playing music in a band. Neither melodious nor innovatory, the cuts are certainly energetic and well played. Without seeing the film however, the relationship between this 2005 album and the documentary remains unknown. (www.slowburnrecords.net)
Singer-songwriter Tom Conway, native of Edinburgh but now resident of Cambridge, comes over like Richard Thompson meeting Loudon Wainwright on his new album ‘As Others See Us,’ as his one-sheet archly notes. On 'Grain Of Truth' the guitar playing ripples nicely, while Conway's baritone voice, with its air of telling the listener in person a particular story, floats above. Very nice indeed. And these are not the songs of a tormented soul, they are vignettes of ordinary life, Conway declares: meeting friends ('Lonely Old Guitar'), paintings ('We All Have Days Like That'), or people who are a bit of a nuisance ('That's How I Get By'). These are the sort of songs you would hope to hear from a well-liked performer in a well-liked pub. Album closer 'I Don't Do Much' deals with the Greek gods in the witty and quite dry way illustrated by the rest of the album, keeping up the quality without difficulty. Good songs on a good album; and some nice fingerpicking. (www.tomconwaymusic.com)
The self-titled EP offering by Benjamin Folke Thomas is a collection of six songs that for some reason reminded me of Van Morrison - perhaps the style of the singing, though Thomas' voice is not much like Van The Man's. 'Rhythm & Blues' is a great little song, with a tune, a great arrangement and much zest; presented in the 'seventies it would have been a big hit. 'Can't Live That Way' is slower and more confessional, while 'Nothing Next To You' is an impassioned call, with nice mandolin strumming in the background, giving it a hint of REM perhaps. 'Hole In My Heart Blues' brings in the lap steel guitar and is melancholy, while EP closer 'Paradise Lost (Heaven Found)' is essentially the man and his guitar. An enjoyable listen, this EP, with depth, great songs and top performances.
Label mates Trent Miller & The Skeleton Jive bring Thomas in on a couple of tracks for their album ‘Welcome To Inferno Valley,’ wherein Trent Miller sings in world-weary, gritty tones - one of those voices ruined by decades of smoking and bad luck, although judging by the CD front cover the man himself is young. Opener 'Inferno Valley' tells a tale of despair and no redemption, the backing band essentially acoustic guitars, violin and a few patters of percussion. 'Last Chance Motel' is uptempo and Americana, with a strong tune carried by that distinctive voice. 'Nowhere Road' is a ‘lonesome trail’ song, 'Whispers Of A Fool,' covers the fairer sex, 'Fear Of Flying' is in similar territory (‘one too many drinks’) but adds backing vocals for a fuller effect, while 'Come Down To Murder Love' is a terrific vocal performance of dark material. The brief 'Witch Trials' is deceptively jaunty, while 'Hunters In The Twilight' is a slow, mournful track where Miller's voice is as whiskey-ravaged and throaty as it is possible to be. Lovers of tale-telling Americana will enjoy this one.
On Static Caravan Records, the single ‘Gently Johnny’ is performed for us by two bands, favourites of Phil the Woodbine & Ivy Band and the mighty Sproatly Smith. The former version is very slow and eerie, telling this classic tale of love and lust, while the Sproatlies' comes from their debut album ‘The Yew And The Hare’. Both great versions, it has to be said. (www.staticcaravan.org)
Sea Dweller on their album ‘Signs Of A Perfect Disaster’ present a short album of cuts that are almost too shoegaze and reverb-drenched for comfortable listening. The sound is deep and heavy, the valve amps are turned up to 11 - possibly 12 - and the vocals are incomprehensible in a sea of effects. It's just, inevitably, so Cocteaus - which is not a bad thing, but... Well, opener 'Jump Line' is disguised by effects, but 'Flashes' is better, with a great shimmering guitar standing beside the vocals. 'I See The Sea From Here' replicates the Guthrie guitar sound, albeit with a twist, while 'Marion' is the best track on the album, despite the stodgy mix. 'Salt' and 'Orange Tram' follow the same path, while 'Free Fall' closes the listening experience by bringing in an 'eighties drum machine and adding a thrumming bass. An album both pleasant and unfulfilling. (www.upsidedown.altervista.org)
‘300mq’ by Nastro is an unsettling experience of electronic sounds mashed together into an industrial, sample-based melange. The overall effect over half an hour, is one of dislocation, almost shock, with eerie voices thrown at the listener from some haunted musical cyberspace. Two cuts of sixteen minutes each are indistinguishable in tone. One for those who enjoy the sound of techno-industry gone mad. (www.upsidedown.altervista.org)
And that just about rounds it up for this offering of Rumbles. Written and contributed by Simon Lewis and the irrepressible Mr. Steve Palmer, editing, artwork and layout was by Phil McMullen and the whole thing is © Terrascope Online, 2012