So we start this edition of Rumbles with a real treat, a band that is far from the beaten track, operating below any radar, an underground and obscure outfit that have recently been unearthed by the guys at Guerssen, a Spanish label on a roll at the moment. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Pig Rider 'The Robinson Scratch Theory' a double disc of frankly bizarre songs, composed and played by John Mayes and Colin Kitchener, on synths and guitars, old wasps, Korgs and double tracked fuzzed guitars.Outsider synth-pop, basement prog, lysergic folk with a homemade vibe with very funny lyrics.
Fans of Half Man Half Biscuit and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band will think they have died and gone to heaven, as they chuckle along to various tunes about Fish Fancying (The Fish Fetishist), Perverts (Pervert), Psychopaths (Country Psychopath), Martians on Brighton Pier (Life On Brighton Pier), Newsagents (Slough Tobacconist), Inept Superheroes (The Incredible Stan), and my personal favourite, from this superb set of recordings, a song concerning the body parts found on different continents of one Edwin Threlfall, (Edwin Threlfall, Man of Many parts).
The very epitome of lo-fi bedroom recordings, released in the 80's on a range of cassettes, featuring primitive electronics and distorted guitars with minimal percussion. With one even going so far as managing to get pressed in minute quantity on the highly collectible private pressing label Deroy. Sporting titles such as 'Never Mind The Rowlocks', 'Animals with Few Teeth And Small Brains', 'A Guide To Morrocan Flora' and 'Morris Dancing On The Hindenburg Line'. The band operated throughout the late 60's, 70's and into the 80's and played live no more than 20 times. School friends from Sevenoaks, Kent. Convening to record these warped songs over the years, with many unissued cuts with titles such as 'Waltz Of The Homicidal Cabbage' being an early favourite. The first name they came up with was 'Bob Scratch And His Country And South Eastern Spring Blues Band' before settling on 'The Pig Rider Robinson Heterophony' eventually jettisoning the second part to become simply Pig Rider.
There has never been another band like Pig Rider, although there have been quite a few which were better, and an awful lot which were more successful. The CD edition is the one to go for, as it contains four extra tracks. The songs are mainly about the 5 minute mark with only one going over the 10 minute mark 'Alight With Prowling Hamburgers' which is accompanied by a great distorted lead guitar figure and wailing synths.
There are some very weird lyrics and some stupendous puns.'Luton Beds' concerns the type of party that I never got to attend, where partners and fluids are swapped. The Fish Fetishist is very funny with memorable lines such as I'm a flatfish expert, you could say I know my plaice' and 'Scampi In a basket, I try to set It free, fish Incarcerated do strange things to me'. Vinyl 2 LP/ 2 CD www.guerssen.com
Next is the new record from a band going from strength to strength, Papernut Cambridge 'Love The Things Your Lover Loves' on Gare du Nord records.
A supergroup made up of friends from bands including Death In Vegas and Hefner amongst others, an interchangable roster that on this outing comprises of Ian Button, Darren Hayman, Robert Halcrow, Robert Rotifer, Helene Bradley, Emma Winston, Jack Hayter and Ralegh Long on a strong set of songs that are mainly sung by Ian Button, who has this to say about this recording "we want this record to feel like a whim. Like the pair of white patent leather loafers you bought in the high street that were slightly too small for you, but you wore them to death for a week. we want you to think about how you are going to get in and out of the bag. We want it to not quite fit where you keep your other records" hence it being released on a double 10" white Vinyl inside a plastic high street gift bag with a CD, badges and postcard insert.
I must admit to owning all of the previous releases by them, and feel that this is their strongest set yet. On this record i get a touch of glam rock a bit of country rock a hint of Big Star and a very whimsical Small Faces. Instruments are in the main guitar, percussion, drums, piano, bass, pedal steel, viola, mandolin, sax and organ with everyone in the band contributing vocals.
Standout tracks are The Lady Who Told A Lie, Chartreuse , Them (with its keening pedal steel), St Nicholas Vicarage ( classic toytown psych, with some fine skronking sax by Darren Hayman), I'm Stranded , Spell It Out, Kardashav Fail and the closer We Are The Nut, hell they're all good, not a duff song on this and it plays well, with one song picking up where the other left off, seamlessly creating a short but sweet suite of songs. One for all you Saturday Groovers, I also learnt a new word Miralogy ,the science of nothing and everything and the title of one of the songs from the album, a great stomping crunchy rock song about stepping into tomorrow. Papernut Cambridge then, your new favourite band, altogether now "we are the nut, the nut, the papernut". LP/CD/Tape/DL www.garedunordrecords.com.
Right now we have some German underground music some 'post Krautrock underground' from the 80's Circles with a couple of releases that are appearing for the first time on CD also available on LP. www.guerssen.com
From a suburb just outside the metropolis of Frankfurt and influenced by the classics such as Cluster, Harmonium, Neu and also bands like Nurse With Wound and the industrial Klang of Throbbing Gristle also creating challenging music in the eighties. They consisted of the multi Instrumental duo of Dierk Leitert (Synthesiser, sequencer, drums, bass, guitar, saxophone, Flutes and Vocals) and Mike Bohrmann ( guitars, bass and synthesiser).
Circles 'Circles' was the first release issued in the year 1983 as a private pressing on the tiny German Einhorn label and heard by very few. It is a dense listen, experimental, mainly instrumental with a few chanted vocals most apparent on the aptly named track Chant. Einblike announces the album with clanging guitar over a bed of German narrations, mostly male with a sharp female voice interjecting at intervals. Then onto Viele wege, which starts with what appears to be a recording from the thirties, a snatch of English, then guitar, again angular and clanging out staccato notes, all very disjointed. The previously mentioned Chant does just that before things settle down a bit with Rockola the first signs of a motorik beat propel things along nicely, accompanied by guitar and saxophone. 10 Unter Null arrives to a gentler beat, stretching out into some fine space rock. before Troflut with its vaguely eastern tropes, Reibend has some fine synthscapes before Intermezzo cools down preparing us for the longest trackWoistich my favourite on this quite brief album, a track of classic Germanic rock, worthy of the Brain label all bubbling drifting synths, bleeding into the final track Umgedreht.
Circles 'More Circles' was the second of their albums, and is if anything more like the classic German sound we are familier with. A short instrumental ushers in the ten minute Several Steps Leading Through Different Rooms, a fine piece which indeed feels like a walk through a large open space, entering different rooms each with music to match. I could hang around in the first one for quite a long time as the pulsing guitar and synths is most satisfying, but like all good things we must move on, I love this track a great deal; it's very well done and quite trippy. Escapades is a short interlude before Paris Cut more trippy synthscapes flutter and bleep in all the right places sounding a bit like 'the outer limits', it could well have an electric theremin involved. Mental dart follows, unsettling and a bit scary with slowed down vocals and blips. Trio Atonale continues with the otherworldly vibe, before Tranquilo Gonzales gives calm respite albeit of an altered state, trippy in the extreme.
All I've had so far is a beer and I'm feeling a bit queer now, think need my mummy, Sequences and Consequences compliment each other with a bit of ying and yang, both are fine electronic meditations, before the final song Spiral Dance a more traditional type space rock number. Both available on LP/CD from www.guerssen.com.
Another couple of releases from Front And Follow now Laura Cannell's recent album Beneath Swooping Talons gets the remix treatment . Based in East Anglia, Laura's work draws heavily on the landscape and also of early and medieval music using the recorder and violin as her primary instruments, the album won lots of praise, with its deconstructed bow and haunting extraordinary sound of the double recorder. Beneath Swooping Talons has grown out of unearthed fragments that became improvised pieces.
Tapping the potent rural landscape this album incorporated wild animal sounds and elemental noises to create a haunting album of traditional, early and experimental music. Laura was a founder member of the duo Horses Brawl and has put out a few solo albums and has played a variety of recent shows at places such as National trust Castles, Churches, Cathedrals, The Royal Festival hall and Supernormal.
Here it is remixed by a host of artists, some on the label and others new to it. Swooping Talons Remixes feature the following artists; Hoofus, Karen Dwyer, Oliver Coates, Peverelist, Replekz, Kemper Norton, Chris Hayward and Merlin Nova, Lutine and Shape Worship. It is available from www.frontandfollow.com on DL.
Lutine themselves also have a new album of remixes out Died Of Love which is drawn from their 2014 album White Flowers. Lutine combine vocal harmonies and delicate Instrumentation on a mixture of traditional and original folk songs.
Lutine are Heather Minor and Emma Morton and together they draw on influences as far afield as China, primarily basing their songs on a mix of baroque and medieval with some of the recent bewitching work of Pye Corner Audio and of haunting sounds as heard on the Ghost Box label.
Remixed here again by a few of the labels regulars and a few outsiders to a pleasing affect on a series of deconstructed pieces from White Flowers. Here we have the following artists Laura Cannell, Sarah Angliss and Stephen Hiscock, Michael Tanner, Kemper Norton, Bela Emerson, Shape worship, Oliver Coates and Pete wiggs. it is also available through www.frontandfollow.com on DL
Rosu Lup are a band hailing from Pennsylvania and have just released their debut album entitled Is Anything Real. Having toured already with the likes of Bon Iver and Ryan Adams has given them an exposure to the 'Americana' crowd whom this album would appeal to. We have a pretty standard lineup of guitars, bass drums and keys with touches of brass and strings, on an album of original songs performed in a roots rock style.
In Dreams opens the proceedings to fine widescreen effect with a reverb heavy guitar and brass flourishes. Halloween Ghost fleshes out the sound with its fine lead guitar and keening vocals, Guard Your Name is taken at a slower pace and has some nice piano throughout it and also adds some more mournful brass to nice effect. Roanoke named after a town in Virginia is a fine mid paced song with pinging guitar.
I am put in mind as this record progresses, of the wonderful band that arose from the ashes of the Scud Mountain Boys,The Pernice Brothers. Particularly in the soft tones of vocalist and songwriter Jonathen Stewart.This is a very assured debut , very radio friendly I like it a lot. The title track opens with a nice organ before crunchy guitar drums and bass fill it out and drive things along. Bouvet Isl is a brief interlude before HEM arrives with a more acoustic structure and lyrics of wild dogs and owls, it speaks of the quite solitude of rural areas, all piccicato notes, brass and strings bringing this wonderful song to life , a real highlight of this increasingly assured record.
The Astronaut adds some nice texture with its percussion and sustained keyboards. In The Dark surprises with its 'Avalon' era Roxy Music tones, just as polished and again very radio friendly. The record ends on a high note with Threads on which the It guitars sound like seventeen seconds era Cure ,It has a big drum sound but with space for some nice piano, a fine falsetto flecked vocal and some nice progressive lead guitar. Available from www.rosalup.com.
Relick Twin House EP 6 tracker from new band comprising of Amber Nicholson, Matt Hibbard, Andy Rogers and Anthony Corso. Formed by Hibbard and Nicholson in Denton, Texas. released in the spring of this year this ep is a nice psych tinged outing with some fine pop sensibilities, instruments include piano, mellotron, organ, guitars, bass and drums and a bit of lapsteel. A good solid slice of Beatles influenced indie pop rock.
Things kick off with Offering, imagine a female fronted Strokes and you wont be too far from the sound of this lot, I Wouldn't Lie To You follows, a crunchy guitar based pop song with a nice concise lead guitar break, plenty of rollicking piano. Sour Grapes slows things down and has some nice lapsteel, shades of Laura Veirs here. Sun starts with some rhodes and this time male vocals by Matt and features some fine mellotron, it's a nice acoustic number with some tasty harmonies.
Bobblehead takes things back up a notch before the final track Another Life rounds things off nicely. Currently recording their debut album, fans of Rilo Kiley and Liz Phair would do well to investigate this new alt-rock outfit. www.relickmusic.com available on CD.
So another fine ramble down a dusty old road. I do hope that some of this stuff is of interest, I for one would be straight down the local record emporium pestering them to order me in some Pig Rider.
Moving right along Steve Palmer steps right in with another selection of goodies, take it away Steve.
Juhani Silvola on his album "Strange Flowers" makes music using a variety of instruments, of which the acoustic/electric guitars are most prevalent. The opening track 'The Gods That Built This Place Were Mad' comes over as Velvet Underground in bluesy mode, with some nice additions from percussion, bass and big-sound drums. A dramatic opener, with a hint of Led Zep thrown into the mix. 'Vents Of The Underworld' begins with more by way of synths and samples, though it has the same somewhat 'doomy' feel to it. 'Strange Flowers Bloomed' returns to the rock band format, with the intriguing addition of viola and violin from guest Sarah-Jane Summers, 'The Last Modernist' is a light merging of surf guitars and rock tropes, while 'Black Breath, Black Blood' brings a hint of exotic lands via the viola/violin. 'Nyctophonia' again merges high tech sounds with acoustic instruments into a medium tempo piece, 'The First Beast' also seems to come from some sun-drenched Mediterranean land (albeit with more than a hint of America), while album closer 'All That Is Solid Melts Into The Air' manages to merge UK trance/ambience with violins and more. The album has enough variety to make it listenable without jading, while the overall sound is coherent, well played, arranged and produced. Very enjoyable listening, this one, with some fine guitar playing, notably on the latter half of the album. (www.periskopmusic.com)
"Scale" by Meson is a kind of melting pot of (to quote the CD cover) "ambidelic post-folk and prog-bebop," which over nine cuts just about manages to tread a tightrope of musical abstraction. On Martin Archer's Discus Music label, it is roughly in the same territory as previous releases I've heard from that stable, with, this time, more of a leaning to the spoken word. The second track 'Dark Matters' sounds a little like a jazz Hawkwind ("Dark matter in dark spaces..." computer voices to the fore...) while 'Kem-na Mazda' is more like a jazz space rock combo jamming with the owners of a Nepalese instruments emporium (lovely flute on this track). 'Advances In Destruction By Technology' evokes the much missed New Age Radio while at the same time creating a sumptuous backing of guitars, backwards reverberated voices, synths, violins and more. 'Groovy World' is my favourite cut on the album, merging samples and synths with a lovely rhythm track, while the work ends with the post-rock and spoken word of 'Thing A.' I have to admit, it doesn't all work for me. There is a shambolic air that, without the spoken words, might have come across as amiably improvised, but which here is somewhat more problematic. A noble aim, however, as always with this commendably adventurous label. (www.discus-music.co.uk)
When The Word Was (((Sound))) are a duo who on their album "All Lines Leading Inward" make a terrifically psychedelic stew from live drums and percussion (Amanda Sonnier) and what are euphemistically described as 'sounds' - ie synths, samples, keyboards and guitars provided by Brandon W. Pittman. 'The Somniloquy Litany' builds up various loops and drones as the drums pound away, alas for only a short track; then the guitars and of 'Collective Consonance' arrive, as if cleaned under psychedelic rain. 'Automatism's Whirl' has a bright, light-headed feel to it, as various guitar arpeggios lope around synth chords and arpeggios - an album highlight, definitely. Space rock fans who like a bit of synth ambience could definitely go for this track. 'Implicit Pathways' opens like classic era Genesis before lurching off into another stoned groove, this time with a super synth-bass in the background. 'Entropy's Fall' is another highlight, opening like a Boards Of Canada track but ending more like Mercury Rev - very atmospheric. 'Mjölnir' (the name of Thor's hammer) ends the album with massive synth chords building into another drums-led work-out. I liked this album a lot. Space freaks, electronic music, and post-rock fans would all get a kick out of it. (no contact details)
"Your Sleekest Engine" by Genre Peak comes from the Gonzo Multimedia label, who specialise in music from the world of prog and classic rock. This time however the music is electronic, revolving around main man Martin Birke, who with a cast of A-list collaborators (Jon Hassell, Richard Barbieri, Mick Karn and Steve Jansen - ie most of Japan) creates an atmospheric work of drifting zones, rhythmic tropes and general synth washes. Opening cut 'Nightfalls' features the late Mick Karn on bass, coming across like Georgio Moroder with prog vocals floating over the top - a successful amalgam. The vocals, courtesy Birke and Lesley Braden - are strong and confident, and really well recorded. 'Metanoia' features the outstanding and ground-breaking musician Jon Hassell, here adding to a track of real beauty. 'God Fearing Men' introduces guest vocalist Charlie Woodward (another interesting vocal here, though I think allusions to Jon Anderson are way off the mark), while 'American Civil Rage' brings samples to the electronic brew; this track bounces and shifts like an acid house throwback. 'Fix Me Deeper' features the Palestinian vocalist Manal Deeb to create another gorgeous sonic tapestry. Two cuts later Richard Barbieri contributes an excellent remix; a hint of Peter Gabriel here maybe in the choice of textures. The album closes with 'The Waiting Station,' which brings Charlie Woodward back into the fold. Possibly there are a couple of tracks that to my ears don't quite "fit" the overall work, but overall this is a great listen, into which much care and attention has gone. (www.genrepeak.net)
I've not heard much from the EnT-T label recently, so was pleased to receive the "Synaesthesia/Angels" single by Dub Mentor featuring Tal Weiss. The A side cut is a dubby, trumpet-infused slow burner with a floating vocal. A version of a piece by cult musos Chris&Cosey, it slinks along admirably. The B side is an original composition, this time with a traditional song structure. Also lovely, its gentle drift while away spring moments very nicely indeed... (www.ent-t.com)
ReidGraves are a duo composed of performance poet Ron Graves and musician David Reid, who on their collaborative album "Lovely As Suspicion" present an album of fourteen songs, mostly set to stripped-down arrangements, as with the opener, which pits voice to acoustic guitar, albeit with Kat Moore on violins. As the theme of the album is "the joy and misery inevitably aris[ing] from living," the lyrical concerns are stark. Graves is a political writer who, amongst other things, is a trades union activist. Thorin Dixon joins the duo on drums for seven songs - there is a band element to the album. The vocal style varies: fine on the opener, but a tad more difficult to listen to on, say, 'Let Down,' where the tremelo wobble seems somehow to work against the music. There are some very good highlights, not least 'Ain't Blues,' which matches its rawk blues guitar with an additional vocal from Aimee Reed. At the end though, with the excellent and uncompromising 'Sign Up,' I did find myself uncertain about the work. (www.reidgraves.com)
"Love On Both Sides" from Santa Cruz singer-songwriter Austin Shaw is a collection of five songs on the man's debut EP. The tuneful 'Citrine' opens the EP, and it displays Shaw's skill at melody and delivering that melody via his Glen Frey-like smoooooooooth voice. Very nice. The title track is slower and more melancholy, with a lovely 12-string guitar backing. 'Come Back To Me' is another strong song, 'Dark Little Secrets' has an accordion beneath the sad tale, while the final cut 'Hey Daniel' delivers a strong tune with an excellent vocal, with the overall result reminiscent of The Parson Red Heads. Some folk might shun this "middle-of-the-road pop nonsense," but who cares? Good music is good music. (www.austinshawmusic.com)
If deeply dippy cosmic work privately released in 1981 is your bag, then maybe "Islands In Space" by Lightdreams might be something to consider. Backwards guitars, trippy dippiness and general floating acoustic floomery vie with whacked out lyrics that would generously embroider a Jon Anderson album: "out of the stardust... we were born to return... is it any wonder... this prime portal yearns..." and so forth. Great tune, too! Main man Paul Marcano sounds a little like he began life in an alternate Mercury Rev, though the music is from a completely different universe. 'Voiceless Voice' prefigures the Orb's use of "astronaut voices" by a decade, all set against cosmically whirling synths a la Bernard Xolotl. 'I Ride The Wind' takes a beautiful tune and leads it into space... really lovely. 'Atmospheric Dreams' is twelve minutes of blissed out music sounding like Ant Phillips meets Aeoliah, while 'Solar Winds' brings more backwards guitars to the spaced out Harvey Bainbridge-esque trippery. Album closer 'Farewell Goodbyes' reinforces the spacefaring/universal theme. You wouldn't think there are that many good privately released works left to discover, but "Islands In Space" shows that there are. Highly recommended, space cadets - an absolute delight. And if you want it on vinyl, you can have it on vinyl. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"Sad Songs About The End Of Love" by Avital Raz is a collection of mournful poems set to predominantly Indian music, with some other elements coming in also. Instigated by the abrupt cancellation of her wedding plans, Raz set about ignoring the literary advice to "... not sing sad songs about the end of love." The album takes Raz's facility for singing in the Indian Dhrupad style and merges it with sparse, Indo-infused instrumentation. Raz's singing is absolutely electric, albeit in such melancholy lyrical company. The poems are from Joyce - circa 1907 - and initially the Joyce estate refused to allow her permission to sing the poem cycle. In 2007 however the work went out of copyright, and Raz, a determined lady - and five albums down the line - made her move. Pattering drums and bass accompany 'I Would In That Sweet Bosom Be', alongside the Indian instrumentation. Like a few other songs ('Because Your Voice', 'Silently'), this one has more of a traditional arrangement. Overall, a beautiful, albeit inescapably mournful work; one perhaps for fans of Magic Carpet and Alisha Sufit. (www.sotones.co.uk)
The trio of Jorge Queijo, Hiroki Chiba & Yoshio Machida on their album "Luminant" create an improvised tapestry of music based around the steelpan. I have to admit, I approached this CD with some disquiet, as I'm no fan of the steelpan, but on this work the instrument somehow leaps from its culturally specific setting. (In some sections it sounds more like a hangdrum anyway.) The opening cut 'Leave' is quiet, almost ambient, with sparse notes floating around here and there; you can sense that distinctive ECM vibe almost at once. 'Scab' features Queijo to great effect, while 'Particle' has distinct jazz overtones located somewhere around the AMM soundworld. I also liked 'Place,' which although it shouts "Jamaica," somehow, via its sensitive, dynamically varied playing, gets over my self-imposed dislike of the steelpan. Album closer 'Dither' is more rhythmically stable than some other cuts, with rising notes of Indonesian timbre combining with bass and drums/percussion to great effect, in a track that reminded me a lot of the great Ralph Towner (also an ECM artist). In conclusion, there is nothing to fear from the steelpan on this album. (www.amorfon.com)
"MapleKey" by Le SuperHomard (The Great Lobster - I guess this could have been on Fruits de Mer, ho ho ho) is a sprightly album of electro-pop songs, opening with the anthemic instrumental 'Intro,' before the gorgeously retro harpsichord/mellotron stylings of the title track. One thinks immediately of that fine band The Soundcarriers; not least their debut album. A fine tune, though, no copy; and beautifully done. 'On A Sofa' is slower and quieter, with the same luxurious chord and key changes as the previous track. 'Bituminized' is a charming instrumental, 'Dry Salt In Our Hair' is more of a belter, while 'Mister Corn' merges more elegant, retro keyboards with a delightful vocal from Pandora Burgess, whose services on this album must not be underestimated. The album closes with 'From My Window,' in which all the elements - mellotron, chord and key changes, and sumptuous analogue synths - all swirl together into a big sonic delight. There's no denying the considerable beauty of this album, and although it does recall - and, who knows, homage? - The Soundcarriers and Stereolab, those are terrific influences to have; and the music here does without doubt stand up on its own. (email@example.com)
Thanks again to Andrew and Steve for their hard work and enthusiasm. Finally it is my turn to tempt you with something nice for your ears.
Featuring the talents of ex-Prisoner Allan Crockford, “Live-o Graph” is a collection of previously recorded tunes from The Galileo 7 that have been given a new lease of live by recording them as live as possible, bringing the energy right to the fore meaning this ten song collection fairly sparkles from your speakers. Treading the line between Garage/RnB and Freakbeat/Psych this is a fine selection of songs with “Never Go Back” exploding out of the speakers sounding like The Who in 1966, whilst “Orangery Lane” has that same authenticity as The Dukes Of Stratosphear, a groovy slab guitar led Psych that has a timeless quality. Throughout the collection the songs are strong and memorable, with a catchy chorus, plenty of attitude and enough energy to suggest the band have found a stash of Purple hearts somewhere. Standouts for me include the pop sensibilities of “Anna Hedonia” which reminds me of The Aardvarks, the guitar driven “Don't Follow Me” and the manic “Modern Love Affair” a tune that needs to be cranked up high, but hey, it's all good and will blow away those blues and bring some joy back into your life, result. (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thegalileo76) One word of warning, my virus detector would not let me on their website due to threats being detected, the link is for CD Baby instead.
Swathed in guitar noise/drones and riffs, Telstar Sound Drone will undoubtedly remind you of Spacemen 3, Loop, etc as they grind their way through “Magical Solutions to Everyday Problems” a nine track album that is relentless in its pursuit of that perfect hypnotic riff, the reverb always on and plenty of room to play amongst the stars. Quite possibly stating the bleeding obvious the opening tune is called “Drugs Help” the music doing just what it says on the tin but with plenty of style as well. Harking back to those early seventies space rituals, “Something I Can't Place” is drenched in patchouli, soaring overhead and making a damn fine racket, whilst the excellently named “Your Finger Stirs The Liquid Moon” takes a spacier, Kraut road due to a pulsing electronic rhythms and and its slowly rising drones and synths.
Whilst sticking resolutely to their chosen genre, there is plenty of variation to be found within the grooves, the short lengths of several of the songs meaning changes happen relatively fast for this style of music. To be fair if you like the first two tunes you are gonna love the rest of the album, go on dive in, relax and float downstream. (http://badafro.dk/)
Next up a whole slew of releases from the Heavy Psych Sounds label, the accent very much on the heavy part of that name as Black Rainbows get us into stoner mode with some dirty fuzzed up riffs that crawl all over “Stellar Prophecy” their latest album. Getting straight into it “Electrify” gets your head shaking with some Sabbath styled guitar backed by swirling synths and a powerhouse rhythm section. With a retro seventies feel songs like “Golden Widow” and “Keep the Secret” have plenty of dynamic variation with the former opening with a rolling bass line and echoed guitar/synths before building into a slow storm of riff happiness, whilst the latter has a catchy riff and plenty of energy within its grooves. Finally, “The Travel” leads us out with some heavy psychedelic sounds, ten minutes of noisy bliss that ebbs and flows beautifully. Heavier and going for the jugular, the self-titled album Deadsmoke is doom laden and sludgy, the riffs slow and crushing everything in their path with the opening track “Branches of Evil” setting the standard. Giving classic Sabbath a run for their money “Eyes of the Blindman” just stomps out of the speakers and destroys the room, fucking awesome, as they say, whilst “Tornado” slows things down even further with echoed bass opening the song in atmospheric fashion before the guitar forces its way in and coats everything in thick layers of distortion, the song picking up pace as it forges ever onwards. To end, “Night of the Viper” continues the down tuned atmospheric trip as slow and heavy as anything that has gone before.
Moving swiftly on Holy Grove have a more classic stoner sound on their self titled album the riffs creeping under the skin helped by excellent vocals and a tight rhythm section. Highlights include the opening “Death of Magic” a tune with plenty of dynamics, the atmospheric then crushingly heavy title track and the rocking “Caravan” which must be a blast live as it thunders along like the four horsemen of the stoner apocalypse. To be fair though over seven tracks the band rarely put a foot wrong. Opening with a cloud of synths Farflung then add the distorted guitar riff and end up sounding like early seventies Hawkwind using repetition as a hypnotic weapon on the excellent “Hive” a tune that just goes on and on giving you time to get lost in its magnificence, the lyrics chanted and almost lost in the sonic storm. With Phased guitar “Proterozoic” moves the sound forward sounding like Zodiac Mindwarp or Ministry, whilst “The 27th Sun” is cloaked in a psychedelic sheen that glistens in the pure white light. Over nine songs the band mix it up beautifully, the riffs remain heavy whilst each tune displays a different character of the musicians making for a fascinating listen that is different every time.
Having no title save for the names of the four bands on the disc the next release from the label kicks off with The Golden Grass a classic heavy rock band with seventies tendencies and riffing a-plenty as can be heard on “Livin' Ain't easy”, whilst a cover of “Hot Smoke and Sasafrass” (Bubble Puppy) shows the band have taste as well as plenty of energy,the playing excellent throughout, retro and lots of fun. Throwing similar shapes, Killer Boogie are equally adept at the retro heavy rock sound, the band making the most of their three tracks with some fine playing, great tunes and plenty of attitude with “Make Another Ride” being the stand-out track for me, although I enjoyed them all. Maintaining the quality and style Wild Eyes sound like a heavier version of Frumpy especially on “Long Time No See” whilst “Gator Shaker” contains some excellent guitar playing throughout, a nice heavy boogie that will make you smile. Finally on the disc Banquet remind me of Golden Earring as they romp through three great tunes that will make you feel good and realise that maybe rock is alive and well with “Starmaker” the pick of the trio if only for its wonderful guitar intro. Fabulous stuff all round and something I have played quite a lot recently. Of course the best way to explore these bands is to seek out the rather excellent compilation the label has released where you can hear most of the above named bands as well as several others, all of them connected by their willingness to get heavy and loud in some way or another. Simply called “Heavy Psych Sounds” the whole thing is a great introduction to a label with quality and a singular vision at its heart. (http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/)
In my mind Riot Season Records are connected with harsh noise and experimentalism, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear the opening track from Menimals self-titled album with “In This Unforgiving heat” proving to be a hazy Eastern inspired piece of Psychedelia, that has an almost Dub feel, a Saxaphone (or similar) waltzing over a warm and melodic bass line as vocals guide us on our path reminding me of Gong circa 1973. Moving on, “Dodecahedron, The window Sphere” follows a similar path” before “Tetrahedron” becomes even more fragile, a delicate landscape of chiming guitar that floats majestically the piece rising in volume until you suddenly realise that the band are at full throttle driving for the heart of things, focused and riddled with tension. Again beginning quietly, but this time dissolving into a cloudy of drone and whispered voices, “Transition From a Cube To The Octahedron” is the collection's highlight, the slow disintegration of the sound beautifully realised, with some harsher bass pulses only serving to highlight the slow transition of the piece. Finally, “Bird on the Wing as a Hinge” distils everything that has gone before, hypnotic, lysergic and mighty fine. (http://www.riotseason.com/NEWS.htm)
Next up a disc that seems to have been around in the cupboard for ever. Not sure how I have overlooked it as it is an engaging and enjoyable collection that sees the re-issue of an early tape from Mud Pie Sun, with “New Swing Mood Things” being a set of four-track recordings whilst “Two at Noon” is a live recording, both sides originally recorded in 1992. Featuring fairly lo-fi tunes, the studio side has a charm all of its own sounding, to me, like a cross between The Feelies and Always August, acoustic riffs splattered with stranger moments, percussion, electric guitars and a vocal style that perfectly matches the mood of the tunes. Highlights include the groove of “Someone I Know” and the guitar playing on “Any Minute” which lifts the song into space”, whilst the short and strange “Aztec Head” is a hidden psychedelic Jewel that drifts through a jungle of sound, some kind of flute adding a touch of weirdness to it, the whole thing brought to an end by “Where You belong”, backward guitar and feedback heralding an intense five minutes as the band step into Velvets territory. Over on the live side a similar path is taken, the songs having a more stripped down sound whilst adding plenty of energy, that Velvets comparison even more striking with “Sending Everything” and “Revisited” summing it all up beautifully. (http://mudpiesun.com/home.htm)
Experimental, noisy and riddled with drones, “Class Mammal” is many things that I love and my wife hates, so I had to wait for the next sewing club before I could experience Cadaver Eyes in full flight. Opening with a groaning drone and primitive vocals and percussion, “securITY” is downright nasty and it crawls into the sunlight, malevolant and angry, whilst “PROsumer conDUCER” does nothing to ease the conflict, the drone pitched higher as if aliens have landed on the lawn and invaded your house with zero chance of them giving your ball back. Also included are two covers, with “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” (CCR) here titled “HYESTR” turned into a crackling noise fest with only the lyrics giving a clue to the original tune as it rattles along at thrash metal pace, whilst “Acetone” (Mudhoney) has a pulsing bass drone that creaks and groans before drums and vocals enter the fray sounding like those same aliens have a go at some doom metal/grunge crossover. Not for the faint hearted, the album never lets up in its slow motion assault on the brain, relentless yet cohesive, brutal yet possessed of a quiet beauty in a warped and twisted world. (https://hcbrecords.bandcamp.com/album/class-mammal )
Inhabiting its own peculiar word, where art meets melody the fifth album by Miss Massive Snowflake, is a quiet, intimate treat that creeps under the skin, the lyrics poetical whilst the music is sweet and melodic creating a delicious tension throughout. Opening with “Scene: Some Drama” the listener is quickly drawn, the songs painting pictures that seem half finished conjuring up the spirit of Raymond Carver or Edward Hopper. Equally engaging, “Coke Dispenser” has a strange surreal quality as if heard through a heat haze, whilst “Cherry Blossom” is just plain beautiful, a mellow groove that floats in languid splendour across the city. Also included is a cover (One of three) of “Beauty and a Beat” originally a hit for Justin Bieber and here turned into a fine tune that will have you singing along. Over ten tunes this album will hold you attention, glorious melodies, sassy lyrics and a human heart producing a whole that has quality at its very centre. (http://missmassivesnowflake.com/)
Also haunting his own sonic landscape the music of Graham Repulski is very probably an acquired taste, distorted guitars, resolutely lo-fi and often harsh on the ear. That said there is plenty to enjoy on “High on Mt Misery” a four-track EP with Opener “White Leper” displaying everything that is good, noise, melody, experimental touches and a fierce resolution to make exactly the music that you hear. On “Shitsoaked Nights” a wall of guitar noise gives way to drone and confusion with backward noises creating a sense of disorientation that I s hard to shake of, whilst “Clown Phoenix” is a mere 16 seconds long as if a brief sequence in a dream. Finally, “Young” has a more traditional song structure buried under the lo-fi production ending an EP that needs volume and an open set of ears to fully appreciate. Also available from Graham is a cassette single entitled “Octopus Bribes” a noisy slice of punk rock that is like a shot of amphetamine as it leaps out of the speaker, distorted and looking for a good time. On the other side, “Zip Flag Erections” repeats the trick with a sense of melody thrown in for good measure. (https://grahamrepulski.bandcamp.com/)
Sticking with the cassettes for a while longer, we tackle a few releases from the ver excellent Dying For Bad Music label, with “Two Man Cult” being a collection of Americana/folk tunes from Crystalline Roses with the Yankee Entertainer. Country inspired and conjuring up images of back porches, moonshine and fields of corn, at least to a middle class white boy, this is a fabulous album, that is smoky, rustic and very listenable. An early highlight is “Worried, I'm Worried” (Michael Hurley), a banjo and guitar weaving slow motion magic over which the voices sing their song, whilst the violin on “Echoes of the Ozarks” sounds as if it is a memory of a better time, haunting and melancholic enough to bring a tear to the eye. After a selection of shorter tunes, the second side of the cassette is taken up with the 17 minute “Pretty Polly's Suite” a more experimental affair that has elements of the minimalist style, shades of Steve Reich coming to mind amongst the more traditional segments, the minimalism moving into a haunting version of the traditional tune that contains zither and sitar as well as guitar and banjo. Wholly engaging, the piece is like a dream, soft and alluring, a track to be heard alone as the sun sets and darkness creeps in.
Also on cassette is “The Lovely Ohio” a blues/country collection of solo guitar/vocal pieces from Moses Nesh, a man who sound like he could be 20 years old so weary is his voice. Throughout the collection the music is timeless and the guitar playing never less than outstanding with “The Duel” being an early highlight with some amazing picking throughout. Quite possibly summing up the whole collection “”Strychnine Habit Blues” is a sad lament that aches with longing for better times, the jewel in the crown of a magnificent album.
Sadly sold out on CD, but still available to download is “Forge The Valley” a mainly instrumental and acoustic album from Andy McLeod a man who knows his way around a fretboard, the playing vivacious, beautiful and, at times, breathtaking. Inspired by the rural landscape of Chester County the music is filled with emotion wether it be the happy groove of “The Hop” or the old time sound of “Wildwood Flower”, originally by The carter Family and sung beautifully by Lindsay Steim. Complete with the sounds of the river, “Delaware County” is a great guitar/banjo duet that will make you smile, whilst “Luminous” has a more experimental edge, mixing effected guitar with vocal samples to create a ghostly track that changes the mood completely. Throughout the album, quality is maintained each track perfectly formed with “Morning Raga” summing up the Primitive American spirit that is at the heart of the collection, an improvised piece that changes each time the musician performs it. Quite mesmerising, I feel this is an album that is going to stay with me for a long long time.
I hope these three releases give you a flavour of the delights on offer from the dfbm label, I urge you to check it out as there is plenty to be enjoyed. (https://dyingforbadmusic.bandcamp.com/)
Finally on cassette we have “Dead Birds” an istrumental guitar album influenced by the landscape of Lincolnshire, recorded in an old potato shed and mastered in the Outer Hebrides by its creator Charlie Ulyatt . Perhaps differing from other experimental solo guitar albums in that it uses electric rather than acoustic instruments, the album's focus is on atmosphere and texture rather than technical dexterity. Invoking the vast flatness of the landscapes that influenced it, “Stealing Shelter” is a minimalist piece that rolls like early morning mist, slow and almost drone, whilst “Breathing Space” manages to slow thing down even more, as if you have stopped your ramble to merely gaze at the landscape all around. Whilst mainly instrumental, the title track does include some spoken word regarding Icarus, all set to some harsh distorted guitar noise, something of a departure to what has gone before, although this brief moment is soon replaced by more dream like textures in the shape of “In The End”. As the listener moves through the album it is easy to get completely lost in the sound with the long free flowing “Like Dust When It Rains” being an obvious highlight, the whole album brought to a close by the slow burning “Losing Myself” proving once again that atmosphere and texture are more important than technique, that an ear for emotion, to be able to paint a picture is far better than be able to play 100 notes a minute. (https://charlieulyatt.bandcamp.com/album/dead-birds ).
Ok, I was mistaken, here come another cassette for your delight, this one mixing Folk with Kraut with lovely results as Die Geister Beschworen blend brass, strings and quite possibly the kitchen sink on “Music Feeds Stars” one of those albums that makes you feel good to be alive with the flute/guitar sweetness of “Ilya (and Oliver) and “On My Moneth's Mind” its stranger brass led follow up both strongly reminding me of Gorky's with latter sounding like dance music for drunken 1930's ghouls, all woozy trumpets and theremin. Having invited us in with two short tracks the band get serious on the 12 minute “Avenue of the Giants” a magnificent, sprawling epic that has beautiful acoustic guitar, female vocals and a sense of grandeur that is tempered by a languid first half, the piece suddenly bursting into life at the eight minute mark to become the full-on folk-rock freakout you hoped it would, guitar and sax trading licks over the a solid and slightly frantic rhythm before the track fades again into its languid state to undulate beautifully until it dissolves. Like some arcane primitive ritual, “Completed Arch of the Zodiacal Light” manages to incorporate the didgeridoo in a way that doesn't make you think of dreadlocks and dogs on string, whilst “manimekhala” is a wall of droning noise that slowly morphs into a more ambient piece with field recording and chiming bells before the piece rises again with chanted vocals and an inner tension. To end, “Countershine” is full of light, a sweet blend of guitar, strings and vocals with a spoken word part at the end complete with the sound of birdsong that leads us out perfectly. (https://tarkovskygreen.bandcamp.com/)
Another label that have always released interesting music is World In Sound and there latest batch is no exception with Swedish band Postures recreating some fine rock that has a modern production on their album “Halucinda” the crystal clear vocals of Paulina Nystrom adding a touch of class to the music as can be heard on the opening track “Every Room”, a fairly mellow yet stately slice of rock that is followed by the equally mellow “A Million Sequences” before “Wavemaker” adds some guitar bite to proceedings, a ten minute piece that is a mix of neo prog and post rock with plenty of changes to be enjoyed. Moving on, “In The dark” is a slower more atmospheric piece, whilst the title track itself has a great guitar riff and plenty of dynamics to keep you interested Finally, “Myriad Man” has plenty of energy as it bursts forth, complex yet accessible and my favourite track on the album. On the same label The Machine find their debut album “Shadow of the Machine” re-released on vinyl, the perfect medium for their brand of heavy stoner rock that kicks ass right from the opening riff of the title track before “Miracles” kicks even harder the band in full on boogie mode and heading for the stars with their furious assault of the senses. Despite some slower more atmospheric passages on the tree longer tunes, this is a heavy heavy album that is relentless in its pursuit of the perfect riff mixing Kyuss with Hawkwind as they bludgeon there way through 66 minutes of de-tuned guitar
bliss with no thought to the state of your ears. By the time we reach the just as heavy as everything else strains of “Black Snake” you are exhausted but with a shit eating grin plastered all over your face, best served with plenty of volume and the stimulant of your choice, i'll have a beer thanks.
Finally from World In Sound comes the psych rock of Imaad Wasif whose album “Strange Hexes” sounds like an Eastern version of Jack White especially on “Halcyon” where intense guitar is softened by his sweet vocal style and plenty of dynamic changes. Elsewhere “Spell” is a beautiful almost ballad that sparkles, whilst “The Oracle” is a swirling cloud of guitar bliss, that is lysergic and gorgeous, a winning combination in my book. Obviously a man who knows his way around a fretboard this album is awash with great playing, although this never overshadows the song writing, dynamics and emotion equally important throughout, creating a collection that sings out although I just can't throw of that Jack White comparison. (http://www.worldinsound.com/)
Finally for this Rumble a couple of vinyl singles with The Neighbourhood Strange making my life a much better place as they blast their way through the garage noise of “The Neighbourhood Strange” a magnificent tune where the primitive guitar riff is turned way up and the whole thing oozes attitude,bet it sounds fabulous live. On the flip, “Wytches Sky” adds a pinch of Psych to proceedings although the heaviness remains, a great vocal delivery and plenty of swagger adding to its charms. (https://theneighbourhoodstrange.bandcamp.com/)
Acid Folk with a modern production and a clarity that is amazing, “The Inconsolable Jean-Claude” is a wonderful tune from Lake Ruth that also has the ambience of a sixties theme tune for some sophisticated spy drama, hard to categorise in fact, a rolling bass and (what sounds like) a mellotron offering a delightful platform for the sweet vocals of Allison Brice, creating a tune that is so lovely I have just played it three times. Over on the B-side “The Prisoner's Dilemma” continues the magic with a very similar style and feel to the A-side, magical. (http://www.greatpopsupplement.com/styled-2/index.html)
Thanks as always to everyone who sent us stuff and your patience in waiting, to the writers and to you for actually reading all this.
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