Kicking things off with the thoughts of Steve Pescott, being a compendium of sound and accumulation of trivia assembled during the months of December 2006 to March 2007 inclusive, commencing with a sliver of tonal experimentation from an outfit named, somewhat winningly, Moral Crayfish. Dan Cohoon is the bipedal vertebrate behind the snapping pincers, the name (Crayfish, not Cohoon presumably) having been dreamt up by his sister for the use of an imaginary rock band. I did much the same thing as a mid-teen - but who would ever contemplate using a name like "Adam and the Ants"? During college Dan became fascinated by the theories of John Cage, especially the idea of threading foreign objects into the strings of a piano which would then drastically alter its tonal qualities. Like Sonic Youth and indeed AMM’s Keith Rowe before him, he applied this technique to a Sears electric, and this has been the focal point of a number of CDRs and cassettes since 1997.
The title of his latest ‘Catastrophic Success’ (3” CDR) comes from one of the many “shoe-in-mouth” moments that President Dubya Gump has made over the Iraq debacle. Of the six titles which comprise this disc, I’d guess that he was also originally responsible for ‘I’m the Decider’, ‘Misunderestimate’ and ‘Make the Pie Higher’, gaffes which “almost” make us forget his dad’s number two; Dan (‘potatoe’) Quayle. For now, the Sears has taken a back seat to the sounds of struck / rattled utensils from the kitchen and garden shed. With considerable computer mulching, these timbres are now radically reconfigured into masses of corkscrewed metal shavings, which scrape and chafe against each other before seemingly coming to rest in a cavernous iron chamber. ‘Hypnotheoretical’ stands a little outside of this sphere of activity, the faux bell-tones and bird twitter being reminiscent of Auntie Beeb’s Radiophonic Department, and points towards another avenue ripe for further investigation and expansion. (PO Box 171, Glen Mills, PA 19342 USA, www.moralcrayfish.blogspot.com)
Aside from the excellent ‘Waxidermy’ website, it appears that the libraries in etherworld reveal very little in the way of info on the past and present activities of Barton Smith. His two LPs, using a range of analogue synths and hand-built devices, were recorded in the early to late seventies and saw eventual release on Folkways Records, who already had a few noted avant garde pioneers on their books with J.D. Robb and Henry Jacobs. ‘Reelizations’ (1980) and its sister disc ‘Reelizations II’ (1982) were primarily composed for experimental dance troupes and have now been repackaged, with the usual attention to detail, as a double CD set by EM -Records of Japan. Volume One is partitioned into two distinctive areas: field and stream guitar melodicism (‘Scene Four’, ‘Pleasure Guitar’, ‘Prelude in G Major’…) and a number of electronic / tape constructions, some with a distinctly spiky outer casing. Like the compressed / incessant ‘Roland No 19’ for instance, with its drum-box (of the same name, strangely enough) rattling away a la Suicide, it really could be a Marty Rev driven instro around the time of ‘Rocket U.S.A.’, but I’d be hard pressed imagining a leotarded troupe interpreting this through the ‘power of dance’! The trusty Roland is also deployed on the almost unpronounceable ‘Azirthmyth’, a rather unsettling, icy finger down the spine kinda piece with its spidery zithered lines successfully grafting Greek folk onto sixties sci-fi foundations. If it were possible, ‘Feast’ and ‘The Tube’ employ an even stranger compositional stance. The former contains a raftload of unfriendly sound sources including swarming bees and some nerve-jangling violin skreek. The latter’s low register drone captures Smith at his most creepy and at his most minimal. Here, less certainly is more as a slowly developing feeling of dread is squeezed from the sounds of tape-doctored, blown drainpipes. The second volume follows the same format. ‘Odestes’ and ‘Reign’ are particularly inviting, as is the koto-laced ethnoforgery that is ‘Lotus’. However, there are a couple of numbers here that could easily rip those new brass hinges off your front door. ‘Gate of Shiraz’ opens with what appears to be the drone of an agitated ‘long string instrument’ (art school lingo for the ‘Diddley Bow’), and closes with shards of Keiji Heino-like guitar intensity. With its squealing analogue synths, ‘Magnus Continuum’ is equally as formidable and like ‘Shiraz’ could be construed as having its origins in Japan, this time under the ultranoise banner of Solmania and Masonna. So, a bit of a curiosity really, coming from a guy who thought little of veering wildly from Paul Brett-styled six-string embroidery to harsh electronic squalls. Just one question remains… where is he now?!
It’s back to 1972 for a moment. ‘Ziggy Stardust’, Bowie’s alter-ego (mark one), was in the ascendant “…jamming good with weird ‘n’ gilly…” and “jiving us that we were voodoo…” etc. Just how he came up with this nom-de-glam bears repeating. Iggy (Pop) with a ‘Z’ spells Ziggy, while the surname is acquired from The Legendary Stardust Cowboy. I did wonder just how much of a fan Bowie was of the latter, but, amazingly he’s recently reinterpreted the Ledge’s ‘I Took a Ride on a Gemini Spaceship’ which can be found on his ‘Heathen’ album. So, in the spirit of mutual admiration, the Ledge’s latest CD sports a cover of ‘Space Oddity’. The truth really can be stranger than fiction! By now, surely everyone should be familiar with ‘Paralyzed, his debut single from 1968 on the ‘Psycho Suave’ label, with its rebel whoops, rubber-jawed gibber, bugle parpage and determinedly anti-metric drums. This blast of Texan dementia even achieved a modicum of notoriety in his homeland, as the Ledge (aka Norman Odam) played it live on ‘Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In’ later that year. My ten year-old self missed the boat on that one, but I do remember seeing Tiny Tim, so I didn’t have that much of a culturally deprived childhood. In response to a distinct lack of archival L.S.C. product, EM Records’ ‘Paralyzed – His Vintage Recordings’ CD comes as a splendid resume for all those poor unfortunates not yet hip to Norman’s trip. It collates all the early seven inchers (plus an obscure Italian EP) and bolts them onto the long-lost ‘Rock-it to Stardom’ album, which received a British release through Big Beat in 1985. This collection of sixteen numbers (which includes the great, but mad ‘Cast Iron Apron’) has the Ledge reigned in just a little by the cream of Texan musicianship, namely the LeRoi brothers, Tail Gators and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s backing band, masquerading under the name of the West Texas Sci-Clones. Even though the sleeve notes are in the native tongue, the accompanying lyric sheet is in English, so the ‘Paralyzed’ seven-incher, once a hidden world, is now revealed to be about his baby’s awesome hypnotic powers and her strange habit of liking to hide in Norman’s fridge. So now you know.
EM Records have also given a second bite of the cherry to Roland P. Young’s ‘Isophonic Boogie Woogie’ album, which first came out on his own ‘Flowchart’ label back in 1980. Here’s a man with an interesting C.V., that’s for certain… studied clarinet at nine, fronted vocal group The Velvetones at age fourteen, deejayed at KSAN, KMPX and KFPA, was part of the electronic chamber jazz trio Infinite Sound (LP on 1750 Arch St. Records) and also saw time as a sideman with SF punks The Offs. A glance at the CD cover (from the school of Pedro Bell, twice removed) shows a three-headed Roland, one with a third eye, surrounded by mystical symbols and electronic gadgetry, images that might suggest a far flung satellite orbiting planet Funkadelic but with his sound philosophy of isophonics – it’ll probably be as impenetrable to me as Ornette’s Harmolodic Theory – this purely solo set, an “ultra-deep stereophonic recording”, shows itself to be an unusual pairing of analogue electronics and treatments with some decidedly hairy clarinet and soprano sax blowing. The brief ‘Flutter Fly Flounce’ features a closely miked clarinet which assumes the characteristics of a trucker’s horn blast, last heard in the ‘Duel’ flick, meanwhile its big brother, the oft-neglected bass clarinet, has its lugubrious tones plastered all over the set’s most striking numbers ‘Row Land’ and ‘Velvet Dream’. The latter’s heavily tweaked use of echo units almost qualifies for entry into kozmik jazz territory. This reissue also includes a couple of supplementals in the form of ‘Magenta Sky’ and ‘Stillness’, both of which could’ve easily fitted into the general mood of the album, save for the over emphatic use of the drumbox on the former. If I were to undergo a pre-review blindfold test with I.B.W. and was told that this was originally on BASF Records, out of Germany circa, 1971, and featured several Wolfgang Dauner sidesmen, I’d swallow that hook, line and sinker. Certainly a better tribute, surely, than being dubbed “an originator of ambient electronica” – that, quite simply, just doesn’t do Roland’s work justice.
Next up and clinging on for dear life to EM’s high speed conveyor belt is eclecticist William Eaton, a player and builder of exotic and sometimes outlandish-looking stringed instruments like the Lyraharp, the Spiral Clef and the double-neck quadraphonic electric guitar, the latter (pictured in the accompanying booklet) looking like it should belong in that old Star Trek episode in which Spock was found jamming with the space hippies in the Enterprise staff canteen. After stints with Nebraskan frat bands during the mid Sixties, a fascination with all aspects of acoustic-based music was ignited by the discovery of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Leo Kottke. He constructed his first guitar in 1971 and was jointly responsible for founding a guitar-making school in Phoenix four years later. His own playing was only ever witnessed by friends and acquaintances and, after their constant badgering for him to cut a record, he capitulated by self-releasing the ‘Music by William Eaton’ LP in 1978. Resplendent with his own splendid Rotringed line illustrations, this was strictly limited to a thousand copy run, with the express instructions that it should never be re-pressed. With only the bare minimum of preparation and using the (gulp!) 26 string acoustic and 6 and 12 string Dreadnoughts, these eighteen untitled sketches shimmer and peal in a pretty damned seductive manner. For me, the final piece is the most successful and points towards Fahey’s ‘Christmas Guitar’ volumes, or John Renbourn’s ‘Lady and the Unicorn’ scored by members of Harry Partch’s Gate 5 Ensemble. Should you have any doubts, I’m suggesting that Eaton did not, at any time, harbour thoughts of collaborating with any new-age navel-gazers, or the folks who live on the hill (Windham Hill, that is)
On the trail of eye-gobbling line illustrations, there’s some rather attractive ones to be found on the ‘Music for Living on Earth’ CD by Alicia Bay Laurel (on EM Records) – in fact, they remind me for some strange reason of the work of Tim Hunkin, whose drawings in colour supplements described, in easy to follow steps, the workings of everyday objects such as the photocopier, the fax machine, etc. The front cover of Alicia’s debut though favours more symbolic and mystical images as centre stage is occupied by a naiad / dryad figure with a sun rising behind her. Born into an artistic, freethinking household to a surgeon father and a sculptor mother, Alicia’s teen rites of musical passage included numerous coffee house gigs in the Bay Area (that’s San Francisco, not Cardiff – ed.) bolstered by guitar lessons from her cousin Janet’s husband – a certain Mr John Fahey. What better guitar tutor could a girl want? However, Alicia’s first real entry into the counter-culture world came in 1970 with her ‘Living in the Earth’, a guidebook for the ‘Back to the Land’ movement which sold a total of 350,000 copies. Nearly 30 years later the ‘Music…’ LP was released to roughly tie in with the book’s updated reprint. By then she’d moved to Maui (I wonder if she ever met any of the members of Mu?) and it’s really no big surprise that Hawaii’s unhurried and relaxed way of life permeates the album’s very essence. Given that the material was recorded in the winter of 2000, I’d guess that these numbers were written back in the day, as the lyrical concerns – achieving illumination through nature (‘Thanksgiving Hymn’. ‘Chard & Chives’) and investigations into eastern mysticism (‘Mandala’, the Magic Carpet-like ‘Vai Raga’ and ‘Rimpoche’) certainly seem to point in that direction. If only the budget could’ve been stretched to major label style expenditure on the latter cut – it’s tailor-made for a big old penguin-suited orchestra sawing away. I’ll just have to imagine that. Nevertheless, it’s still the strongest piece and has a melodic waft that is both beguiling and melancholic in ways travelled by Ruth Ann Friedman and Britain’s great lost Jaki Whitren. Equally ear-pleasing bouquets come in the form of the ‘Waterwheel’ instrumental, its casual elegance no doubt making her former guitar teacher’s chest fill with pride, and ‘Rain’ which captures a wistful solo voice caught in a torrential downpour of H20. One last point of interest concerns ‘In the Morning’, a madrigal replete with handy skincare tips, such as “it’s years of cold washing that prevents old age”, which has a second and more unusual version sung by The Occidental Community Choir, the original vocal score being devised by Ramon Sender of the San Francisco Tape Machine Center (home to Terry Riley, Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros et al), whose reactivated ‘Worldfood’ CD (on Locust) remains a must-have for all fans of (super)looped out experimentation. Back to Alicia Bay Laurel for a tick: there are two other CDs released under her name, ‘Living in Hawaii Style’ and ‘What Living’s all About’ – see her website at www.aliciabaylaurel.com for further information.
Barton and Priscilla McLean wind up this sprawl into the workings of the EM label with their ‘Electronic Landscapes’ CD, a comprehensive, seven-year retrospective of their purely electronic works. Barton, a lecturer at Indiana University, and his wife Priscilla’s first forays into performing and composition began with ‘The McLean Mix’ in 1974, where they played to enthusiastic audiences in search of the “new thing” throughout their home state. ‘The Dance of Dawn’ / ‘Spirals’ LP on CRI documents this period. ‘Song of the Nahuatl’ and ‘Invisible Chariots’, recorded five years later, are the earliest pieces included here, and originally came out as the ‘Electro-Symphonic Landscapes’ LP (on Folkways) in 1979. These now archetypal plastic sound waves, like wind gusting through a forest of ice crystals or a multitude of chiming grandfather clocks recorded underwater, are often redolent of ‘Zeit’ and ‘Cyborg’, and see the duo using the mammoth (packin’ 22 oscillators!), ARP 2000s and slice ‘n’ splice sleights of hand involving actions such as bouncing steak knives off of violin strings. Out there stuff with suspenseful pacing and strictly Forbidden Planet reverberations that seems to place their oeuvre out on the very furthest limb from their contemporaries. Certainly ‘Valley of Lost Dreams’ fits this bill, its digitized samplings of children’s voices putting a slight Basil Kirchin-like feel to the proceedings. ‘Journey on a Long String’ and ‘Angels of Delerium’ (both from 2001) position themselves into a more contemporary compositional framework, where the stringed victims – double bass and violin respectively – are either surrounded by hinge-creak and machine hum or are just accompanied by twanged microphone leads and bowed polystyrene. Now, just how was that done? Everyone in the studio must have had their teeth on edge – such dedication! Here’s a disc that throws much needed torchlight on the early career path of two unjustly neglected artists, and neatly complements the Creshevsky and Rosenbloom reissues of last year.
EM, a label with a jackdaw’s eye for accumulating sparkling things into its roster, one which stretches from Christopher Rainbow to manipulated birdsong, and from sixties pop to bicycle gamelan, can be contacted at: 5-11-37-503 Yamasaka Higashisumiyoshi-ku, Osaka 546-0033 Japan, or at www.emrecords.net.
Still in Japan, another recent discovery is “that lovely experimental music label” Amorfon (www.amorfon.com) where the first combo, or should I say crowd, off the blocks is Horkeskart. They sprang into being back in 2000 when ‘Skart’, a Serbian art and design collective, instigated a search through the channels of Radio B92 for members to make up a 45 piece choir on a strictly first come, first served and enthusiasm-over-technique basis. Their songs on the ‘Live at Solitude’ CD, with occasional folk-sourced instrumental accompaniment, are collated into three groups: ‘Songs for Hard Work’, ‘Songs for Poetry’ and ‘I’m Eating Your House’ (?!) and although I’m only conversant, choir-wise, with the two otherwordly ‘Voix Bulgares’ sets on 4AD, I can easily detect the sheer joy at the heart of their massed voicings, where “their natural exuberance”, to quote the Bonzos, “spills out all over the place”. Also included as a bonus track, the choir point their tonsils towards ‘Antenna’ from Kraftwerk’s ‘Radio Activity’ album, which is probably the oddest ever cover of their work that Ralf and Florian will ever encounter. Unfortunately, after numerous and keenly received concerts, including one at a place called Hurn in Croatia where the choir outnumbered the town’s total population by 28, this debut sadly appears to be their swansong – for as soon as ‘Solitude’ appeared, numerous disputes caused the assembled multitude to implode.
The irrepressible and ever smiling sound of steel drums (or pans) are clearly impossible to divorce from Trinidad & Tobago, their point of origin, but it’s an instrument that hasn’t exactly been successful in imprinting itself into the sands of western culture, unless you want to include that ‘Alphabet Song’ hit or the unexpected solo on the Hollies’ 45 ‘Carrie Anne’. Nevertheless, in the eastern sector, the steel pans have been overhauled by sound and visual artist (and Amorfon label boss) Yoshio Machida. Actually his investigations into the world of “caressed metal” (using a term like “struck metallics” would put us into SPK / Neubaten territory) began with his self-released ‘Hypernatural’ CD in 1999 where the focus of attention was the gong. As he wanted a more flexible instrument with a scale, the next logical step was hand-building a set of steel pans, which were used (with some electronic augmentation) on the ‘Infinite Flowers’ CD of 2004. With ‘Naada’, his latest, the effects have been sidelined, so the pans (this time shop-bought) stand before us in the buff, so to speak. For me these improvisations don’t require any extra embroidery, like on the excellent ‘Texas Vino’ which is heavily influenced by that nice Mr. Satie’s ‘Vexations’ – an eight hour long epic where a packed lunch and a sleeping bag seem a good idea. (‘Texas Vino’ being an anagram of ‘Vexations’, incidentally). The fragility and zoned-out twinkliness found in the finest minimal electronica is morphed into Naada’s Aladdin’s cave of burnished rare metals. Chances are, if you let it, its inviting golden glow will be instantly transferred to you. (Amorfon Records, 1-27-4-201, Kokuryocho, Chofu, Tokyo, Japan)
In hot pursuit of their ‘Tokens, Then Light’ debut CDR comes the ‘Voyage Out’ from ex-Mirza types Brian Lucas (guitar, bass and vocals) and Mark Williams (bowed balalaika and keyboards), otherwise known as Father Beard. In the intervening months, the picture of an old oriental sage (found on their stationery) which seemingly personified “Father Beard” has been phased out by a grizzled old salt who would look equally at home staring out from a tin of Norwegian sardines. But, enough about the visuals. ‘Voyage’ revisits some of the arcane methodologies employed in their previous release as we see the material’s integrity laid open to liberal sprinklings of insectoid ampbuzz and extraneous background “noises off”. This time round, the duo’s interests seem rooted in the weather, and weather-related subject matter, which surely makes them honorary Englishmen. ‘Dog & Cat Seasons’, after numerous plays, remains the most immediate piece, though its tapes of continuous drizzling can’t quite match the precipitation found in Alicia Bay Laurel’s ‘Rain’ (see four reviews back). ‘Cloud & Morass’, ‘Flow Chart’ and ‘Skyway’ (where “everything above is airless”) have a drowsy, heavy-lidded style of vocalese, in which the listener, willingly falling into the arms of Morphius by now, can only interpret the narrative like assembling jigsaw pieces where their designs are impenetrably abstract. Unfortunately with Brian relocating to the States last year, there are no plans for further Father Beard releases for the foreseeable future; however, there are some other projects in the pipeline, including collaborations with Io Audio and the emergence of Mark Williams’ alter-ego “Mark Hazard” – a name evincing 1940s film noir if ever there was one!
Actually, we haven’t quite finished with all things Beard: there’s also the ‘Old Million Eye’ CDR, a Brian Lucas solo outing, using only what would seem a limited palette of spindly and at times cyclical guitar motion, deeply resonant bass and those spectral vocal outpourings that are peculiar to the Yen Agat stable. Recorded in Bangkok last year, these eleven tracks nevertheless do take in a relatively wide range of moods within its low resolution world. The folksy residue leaking from the edges of ‘Diamond Four’ has me thinking of a mid-period Incredible String Band while others appear to reference some dusty and neglected corners of the early 4AD catalogue and certain wild-eyed isolationist bards from the seventies like Bobby Brown or Perry Leopold. If you’re willing to tap into the joys of “through a glass darkly” mysticism filtered through the classic introspective stance, I’m certain that the multi-eyed one will see you through (Yen Agat Records, 1897-A Orange Avenue, Costa Mesa CA 92627 USA firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Astral Social Club, a name that conjures up a certain kind of spiritualism that’s fuelled by liberal amounts of Watney’s ‘Red Barrel’, are a vehicle for Neil Campbell of the Vibracathedral Orchestra’s extracurricular activities. Over the past eighteen months or so, the Astral Social Club’s releases have reached double figures, but unfortunately have also been an utter swine to procure. So, Neil, assisted by Tirath Singh Nirmala (Fisheye Records’ recording artiste John Clyde Evans, as was) have selected eleven untitled cuts from the back catalogue, and produced a “best of remix” which encompasses Germanic avant house, Klusterphonics, blipcore and, on track nine, a furious deluge of dislodged rubble that would give the New Blockaders a run for their money. So… even if you’re fortunate enough to own the originals, you’ll still crave this as well, as these now unrecognizable emissions constitute a brand new work that’s just bristling with invention. (www.vhfrecords.com) (www.myspace.com/astral_social_club )
Ptolemaic Terrascope issue 35 contained within its pages an interview with Ochre Records recording artists Longstone, conducted by the mysterious Dickie Straker. In the intervening two years, the duo's Mike Ward has developed an extra limb to the group's main body in the shape of Brickwerk, a vehicle for certain pieces that fell outside of the Longstonian remit. The 'Empty Bottle, Dusty Road' CD comes after an Ochre EP and several compilation appearances and is a real cornucopia of ear-bending left-field modernity. Countryfied poptronica occupies a good slice of the pie and takes on the trappngs of an angloid Calexico (on 'Widescreen Western') and Freakwater ('Everytime'), where the vocal purity of Silverman's Anna Dennis slips into the clothes of Janet Beveridge Bean. These out of town routes with simulated tumbleweed and dust devils are often linked by an intriguing choice of found sounds and field recordings, their origin, no doubt, coming from Mike and fellow band member Kevin Fox's intrepid car boot safaris: always on the look-out for bygone sound sources. Sorting through the haggled-for Winfield organs and toy kiddie-chimes, slightly darker shadows are found in 'Post Gate', which I initially guessed to be a fond tribute to that spell-caster of my childhood TV days, Oliver Postgate, the creator of 'Noggin the Nog', 'Ivor the Engine' and of course 'The Clangers'. But, with Anna's emotions set firmly in neutral, intoning blankly about "bandwidths" and "frequency spectrums", it makes more sense to see it as an overview of surveillance techniques and the rampant paranoia generated by the Nixon-era government in the USA. Perhaps 'Post (Water) Gate'?. My last solo 'Rumbles' caught me coming on like a poorly maintained faucet, dripping on about the lack of fireworks and vivid bunting occurring in the field of electronica, until I stumbled over Kinn's second CD 'Karlshorst' on the Sinnbus label, that is. Well, 'Empty Bottles' emerges as another major discovery in a genre that I thought was drinking at the Last Chance Saloon. Issue by El Bandito Records, from the spa town of Cheltenham, a home also to Salty Seadog and D.J. Jeff Tipps (wasn't he a character in 'The League of Gentlemen'?), they can be found at www.elbandito.co.uk.
Ex guitarist and percussionist of Brighton's B12, David Papapostolou's 'One and Two' CDR EP follows on from 'Magnetic Fields are Natural' (on Bivouac) and finds David in the midst of three quiet, nebulous improvisations - two of which, 'G.C.' and 'G.S.', capture his measured reactions to his first dubs of Keith Rose and Derek Baileyesque skritch with cello and soprano sax respectively. The latter offering is by far the most affecting and duly logs numerous trails of sax exhaltations (a la 'The Education of Lars Jerry' LP by Mats Gustafsson on Xeric), that quickly dissipate before the notes are even partly formed, resulting, I'm sure, in misted-up windows and clouds of nearly crotchets and almost semi-breves. An unhurried and tiny wonder in the world of not quite there musicology. (David Papapostolou, http://david-p.blogspot.com
Next up, we hand you over to the Terrascope's reviews editor, Simon Lewis:
Occasionally, a label or individual decides to release so much music that it becomes a little overwhelming trying to absorb it all. Persistence is a virtue however, and having now worked my way through 13 releases on the “New American Folk Hero” label, I can definitely say it was worth the journey. As the label is run by multi-instrumentalist Mike Tamburo I will start with his most recent release “Ghosts Of Marumbey”, on which he is joined by The Universal Orchestra Of Pituitary Knowledge to create a shimmering spectral record that is filled with wonderful guitar textures, serious drones and enough experimentation to keep the average Terrascope listener very happy indeed. Opening with the quiet majesty of “Two Doors From The Corner” the music quickly engages the listener with some delicately crafted guitar playing that leads us softly into the intense drone that dominates the mid-section of the song. There is a ritual feel to second track “Beneath The River” The musicians maintaining a ghostly presence that swirls across the room like early morning fog before some vicious guitar and insistent drumming open the track up into a sea of noise and uncertainty. With a haunted Syd Barrett feel, the 13 minute “Six Minutes After Breathing” is a psychedelic masterclass, a lost late-sixties jam session into the outer reaches of the inner mind, the piece slowly building in intensity until nothing outside the music exists. With its mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, plus chattering electronics, turntables, computer, teapots, field recordings, and a plethora of other sound sources, this album is never going to sound the same even with the tracks displaying a uniformity of intent, allowing the whole thing to work as an album rather than a collection of songs. With never a dull moment, this is highly recommended, as are the other releases on the label, all of which are beautifully packaged and bursting with passion.
Given the fact that Meisha is a trio featuring Ken Camden, Pete Spynda and Mike Tambura, it is no surprise that “For Sayas” was the first release on the aforementioned New American Folk Hero (or NAFH as it will be known for the rest of this Rumble). Featuring four tracks recorded between 1998-2000, the musicians play guitars, keyboard, effects and Tibetan bowls, to create huge, yet almost transparent, soundscapes, that are as expansive as the ocean, with a medative power that is utterly seductive.
The name Robert Horton should be well known to Terrascope readers, and the chance to get hold of one of his early works is not to be missed, especially when it is as wonderfully inventive as “Winter Suite”. Featuring the four original tracks plus a bonus song, this is experimental drone that crackles with icy beauty, with “Bare Branches And Evergreen” succeeding brilliantly in capturing the qualities of cold days and stark landscapes. On “Winter Wind “ the sound of the wind itself adds a living quality to the bowed guitar and effects that accompany it, whilst bonus track has hypnotic power within its fragile sounds.
The next release on NAFH is “Screwing Six Bolts Into Last Tuesday” another solo release from Mike Tambura. This one featuring live piano and electronics overdubbed with Vibraphone. Consisting of one long track, the music is disjointed and disturbing with the odd lyrical passage keeping the piece on the brink of madness rather than letting it tip over the edge. Still extremely inventive, the music needs complete involvement from the listener, so that the subtle threads can be unravelled to reveal the complete picture.
Again featuring Mike Tambura, “The Secret Of Paul Groper” the latest album from Meisha is a warm and fluid collection of compositions that crackle and rumble from the speakers, delicately poised and remarkably soothing for this type of music. Second track “She Lays Golden Eggs” opens with some gentle guitar motifs, as soft as lullabies, before being bathed in a sustained drone that floats the music into other spheres, the piece finally flickering out in a heat-haze of sound. The sustained drone is utilised again on the final track “Meisha Magic Static Funhouse” which could be part 2 of the second track, producing variations on a theme allowing the band to further explore their own personal sonic landscape.
Featuring tracks recorded between 1983-2005,”Expotition” the second album on NAFH from Robert Horton is a fascinating insight into a musical journey that continues to this day. Opening (and Title) track is a wonderful percussive led piece with added rubber band, some rolling Casio keyboard and exquisitely realised slide-guitar flourishes courtesy of Larry Chandler. Dedicated to A.A. Milne, the song shows just how inventive Mr Horton has been right from the start of his musical odyssey. Elsewhere, “Smoke” is a rumbling drone, “Where The Avalanche Sings” is a swirl of deranged noise that opens with some eastern tinged dirge, “Stones” is, I suspect, conjured from the stone itself, whilst “Banjo Phase” the oldest piece on the album is a joyous duet between banjo and toy guitar. With not a naff track within its 50 minutes, this is another essential purchase for Horton fans.
Originating in Chicago, Number None are an experimental drone outfit who explore the very edge of noise on their 3” CD “Nervous Climates”. Clocking in at 18 minutes the album is the sound of glacial movements, the single beat of an insects wing, or maybe the sun imploding. Eerie, dark and foreboding this is a strange trip of the highest order.
Recorded entirely on a 1930’s Resonator guitar, some pieces live, some with electroacoustic manipulations, “Ghost Of A Plane Of Air”- R.Keenan Lawler is a ghostly presence, the flicker of a light-bulb, a cold breeze on the back of your neck. Minimalist in its construction the album dispenses with melodies in favour of scrapes, rattles, knockings and other sound manipulation, the album occasionally exploding into a red-welter of noise before subsiding again. Never dull or predictable, although often tense and nerve-shredding, this is another fine release deserving of your attention. Also available from the same artist is a 3”CD “The Strange Tale Of Eddie Westport”, on which the Resonator sounds more like a guitar, with the sweet picking of “Old Fort” giving the music a delicate country ambience, something that continues for the rest of the album. Even the screech of final track“Goodbye Lisa Rose” has an almost melancholy feel, softening its experimental heart.
Having dismembered a piano, then reconstructed bits of it into a wholly unique instrument named the Cleophone (After his Daughter Cleo), David Krejci has produced this captivating album consisting of one 33 minute piece of music that rumbles and spills from the speakers, a deep drone of epic proportions. With percussive undertones and a rich warm sound, I would love to hear this performed live inside a sacred cavern, the sound bouncing of the walls to add even more reverb to the ritual. I just hope that Cleo appreciates her dads’ musical vision.
Working under the name Egghatcher Robert Horton concerns himself with recording Non-musical events such as a door creaking, Janet doing the dishes, or field recordings. These “non-intentional gestures” were the orchestrated and added to, creating a series of pieces that are here released as the album “Accidents”. If you enjoy experimental, creative music then this album will spin you into heaven, each piece beautifully realised, a miniature study in sound, delicate, charming and inventive.
Finally for NAFH, Matt McDowell rips the place apart on his noise-fest album “The Signal”. Working under the name Nux and recorded with guitar, electronics and metal objects, the album is filled with angry distortion, squealing electronics and strange repetitions that only heighten the brutal paranoia lurking beneath the surface. With great clouds of feedback scudding across the landscape, this album is a dense and difficult listen, that find extra meaning when played at ear bleeding volume. Recommended for relieving tension and getting rid of unwanted guests. (www.newamericanfolkhero.com)
Walking a similar path to NAFH, Italian based label “A Silent Place” have also sent me a collection of their releases, including some wonderful vinyl offerings housed in beautiful gatefold sleeves, all of which are worthy of your attention.
Originally released on Sub Pop in 2005 (and limited to 100 copies) “A New Astronomy” is Jennifer Gentle at their most experimental, featuring drones, repetition, acoustic pieces, as well as the occasional song. Opening track “Lost Aurora” is a foggy 8 minute drone that undulates with hidden textures, leading the listener into the album, before “Hidden Flower” changes the tone with some soft vocals and dream-laden guitar. Further in “”Sex Rituals For The Dead” has waves of psychedelic surf guitar crashing through it, whilst “The Cannibal Club” is a glorious garage stomp, all fuzz and noise. After the black-hole drone of “Church Of The Black Emptiness”, a can-like groove is conjured up on the throbbing psych of “What Did You Say?” which has some perfect backwards guitar at its centre. Finally “Me And Joe On The Moon” leads us back to reality in a happy frame of mind, being a cosmic waltz full of joy and the only way to end a fine album that is brimming with inventive and playful music.
Using just voice and guitar, Robert Opalio has crafted a swirling, drifting soundscape on “The Last Night Of The Angel Of Glass Vol. 1&2”. Recorded in one take, the music has an energy of its own, creating a magical invocation as it changes the very room in which it is playing, demanding to be heard. Vol. 1 was originally released as the soundtrack to one of Roberts own films, whilst part 2 is previously unreleased.
As well as working as a solo artist, Robert Opalio is one half (along with brother Maurizio) of My Cat Is An Alien whose split CD “For Alan Lomax” with Fabio Orsi contains two long pieces of drone inspired psychedelia. As ever changing as the clouds “Spring No More And Love Come In The Wind” –Fabio Orsi, is a delicate and uplifting piece, full of subtle textures and pulsing percussion, that calms and soothes as it gently tumbles from the speakers. By contrast “Heart Of The EartH”-My Cat Is An Alien, has a harsher metallic feel, full of scraping and rattling, sounding like a colony of short-tempered robotic seabirds, before the piece slowly dissolves into a distorted cavernous drone.
My Cat Is An Alien also share a split CD with Turntable-manipulator Christian Marclay and cellist Okkyung Lee, and it is their live collaboration “Rubbing” that opens the album. Full of disjointed sounds, scratches and stabs of cello, the piece is a rollercoaster of sonic experimentation, the two players complementing each other to create a wonderfully playful piece of music. After A tentative sounding opening “Beyond The Limit Of The Stars/Beyond The Limit Of The Grooves” Slowly begins to become denser and more claustrophobic as heavily distorted sound begin to engulf the music, until you are looking over your shoulder waiting for the aliens to arrive.
Listening to the gently undulating music that Aidan Baker has created, it is easy to see why he called the album “The Sea Swells A Bit”, as the whole album has an undeniably ocean-like quality. Opening with the title track, the album has a delicious deep-sea drone at its core, the piece rising slowly and as inevitably as the tide. The second track “When Sailors Die” introduces some perfectly poised rhythms, the cymbals imitating waves crashing on the rocks, with the swelling drone ever-present in the background. Final track “Davey Jones Locker”, is a quieter, brooding piece of music, the sounds becalmed in the middle of a creeping mist, creating an unsettling ambience that is enhanced by some moody percussion that drags you down to the ocean floor.
Along with Richard Baker (Drumkit, percussion) and Christopher Kukiel (percussion), Aidan Baker can also be found as part of Arc, whose debut album “The Circle Is Not Round”, mixes post-rock droning with ethnic percussion, creating a very rewarding listening experience. After the more drone than percussion opener “The Endless Sequence Of Life And Death”, the album dons a mellow coat for the title track, the gossamer chords marinated in gently spiced percussion and slowly cooked for maximum enjoyment. Final track “Prajna” continues the understated percussion, with the instrumental washes floating like clouds in a blue sky, the band seemingly effortless in their playing as they produce an ever-expanding sound.
Featuring keyboards, guitars, laptop and samples of folk singers collected by Alan Lomax, “Muddy Speaking Ghosts From My Machines” is a strange ethereal album that seems to be filled with long-forgotten songs and memories. Recorded by Gianluca Becuzzi and Fabio Orsi, the album is full of pastoral drones, soft washes of guitar, and the sampled folk songs which give the album its shape and create an emotional warmth that runs through the music.
Released on 10” picture disc “We Slowly Lift Ourselves From Dust” consists of solo guitar manipulations from Fear Falls Burning. Recorded straight to hard drive with no post editing of any kind, the music is minimalist and slow to change, although this is a positive quality the music evolving its character at a majestic pace, allowing the listener plenty of time to examine the intricacies of the piece. Side two is even slower, an almost glacial drone that hardly seems to change at all although it soon becomes apparent that it has altered when you compare the beginning to the end.
With Robert Opalio on voice and cosmic effects, and Ramona Ponzini on Japanese bells and wind percussion, the self-titled album from Praxinoscope is a fragile and extremely beautiful album that has an almost Zen-like atmosphere. Recorded with no overdubs the album transcends time and space to create a stillness that has magical power, transporting the listener into another realm, the music of dreams. Released on picture disc, this is an essential purchase for the curious listener.
Much as I enjoy all the side projects that Robert Opalio is involved with, I feel his best work is achieved when working with his brother as the aforementioned My Cat Is An Alien. Proof of this can be gained by listening to the re-mastered vinyl edition of “Different Shades Of Blue” (Originally released in 2004), on which the brothers work their magic to full effect, taking the listener to a remote planet where strange thing can happen at any moment. Sounding not unlike a 1950s sci-fi soundtrack, the music sweeps and glides through the cosmos, echoing and bouncing across space with playful abandon. Within all this strangeness there is a warm humanity, shades of melody, and a pure heart that gives the music a very listenable quality. With one of Roberts paintings as the cover this is another exceptional release from an exceptional band.
Housed in a beautiful gatefold sleeve “Hosanna Mantra” is an improvised soundscape using Electric Guitar Bouzouki and Sitar, all played by Japanese Psych God Kawabata Makoto. Featuring two side-long pieces, the music is calming and spiritual, a slow paced ritual into the heart of existence, with gently falling notes complementing the lighter than air drones that fill the room. On side two Makoto seems to tap right into the centre of the universe creating stillness that stretches into eternity, could be the perfect music for a floatation tank.
Finally for “A Silent Place”, more improvised music, this time from Jennifer Gentle, Whose “Sacramento Sessions/5 Of 3” is a work of two halves. Side one being a relaxed and spacey jam, with shades of Pink Floyd and early Hawkwind created by the hypnotic percussion and lysergic bass lines, the rest of the band adding electronic, effect laden craziness to the music. After flipping over the wonderful red-coloured vinyl, side two takes the bands improvisations and applies studio trickery to produce a completely different beast. Now more abstract the music still retains it Psychedelic sheen, but this time the ambience is creepier with sudden noises bursting from the speaker without warning, the sound of a walk in an unknown forest late at night. (www.asilentplace.it)
All the above records are well worth investigating and it is good to know that labels such as “New American Folk Hero” and “A Silent Place” exist, concentrating on releasing quality music that does not insult their customers or the artists involved. (Simon Lewis)
To round off this edition of Rumbles, Carlton Crutcher will guide you though a few more varied offerings in his own inimitable style. Thanks Carlton...
Flower Girl is a spacerock band from Philadelphia PA. Their note says "We have been playing for about 3 years but all the members have been in many, many bands and projects over the last 15-20 years. I won't bore you with a long list. Thanks John Malloy” [presumably the same John Malloy formerly of the mighty Strapping Fieldhands – Ed.] On to the review: Volume I, ‘Unexploded’ 32:21 deep space psychedelia, now comes the drums and pretty melody, 13:52 getting pretty wacky and far out, space madness! Now at 17:03, the Bad Acid Trip but it feels sooo good! I wonder if these Philly folks have been hanging out too much at the Bardo Pond compound! 20:30 some really beautiful music, reminds one of classic Krautrock, Ash Ra Tempel or Amon Duul II. Now the killer space synth solo, Keith Emerson gone mad in a Philly underground spacerock band! 31:01 now the stillness, contemplation of deep space and downtown Philly at the same time. ‘Pizmo’ 31:47 Oh, did I mention the groovy Elevators/Easter Everywhere style CD art? Guitar pickin' in outer space! This song starts out as a structured melody...oh, the note from John Malloy says " 1/2 structured 3/4 improvised". The music has an authentic 60's psychedelic feel. At 8:36 uptempo boogie psych rock, very nice, instrumental, nice keyboard/synth sound spaciness on top of structured melody! 17:44 tearing it up wackiness...some tambourine, 2 over the top squalling guitars...comes down with steady bass throb, definitely conjures up the 13th Floor Elevators in spots. 22:32 weird effected recording of a man talking/reciting something, oh yeah things are starting to heat up, fuzzed out bass, ass kicking guitars. Let the 1969 Revolution commence... 27:07 now for the drum solo, don't hear many of those anymore... asskickin' to the very End! Pretty impressive, nothing ground breakingly original but just the fact that a modern band can do this sort of thing so well is pretty cool! Volume II, ‘Carcus Of Tarkus’ 6:49 Loudness, balls out psychedelic rock! ‘Buttercup’ 30:10 pretty, quiet, with some loud guitar, contemplative...at 6:36 it's totally rockin' out. Dig these long songs...and these guys do it as good as anyone! They would've fit perfectly on a 1972 Festival show with Hawkwind etc... 16:34 the quiet, still, groovoid guitars section. Boy, if you ever have the place to yourself and you just wanna go out of yer head on quality psych rock, this is the stuff! ‘The Menace’ 9:59 more of the same, nice, quality improv psychedelia! Now at the very end of 2 CD's worth of this there is a skronking saxophone by Dennis Malloy! Sounds Great ! (email@example.com )
Next we visit a gentleman calling himself Heller Mason. Heller Mason is Todd Vandenberg from the obscure alcove of Little Chute Wisconsin. ‘After All Is Said And Done, More Was Said Than Done’. The press sheet has a quote that says "A modern heartbreaker in the style of a youthful Neil Young" and that's probably the worst thing about this CD because you keep thinking about how great Neil Young is and Todd Vandenberg ain't no Neil Young, but then again no one is. ‘Packing My Bags For Hell’ actually this CD reminds me more of America (the band) but not ‘A Horse With No Name’, the other songs. ‘I Hate Drama & You're Being Dramatic’. This CD is really very nice, nice vocals, playing, songs, lyrics but there's nothing very original or relevant or interesting! But just for pure listening it's pretty and pleasant. Some very nice violin on this one, nice Forever Changes sounding horn, really beautiful instrumentation. ‘Drown The Villages On The Maine Coast’ is more loveliness, Todd has a very nice voice, I just wish something original would happen to justify this CD's existence but I'm probably in the minority in thinking that music has to be artistically/musically original/relevant in some/any way. ‘Barreling Towards Nowhere Like There's No Tomorrow’ I heard there was a new trend/fad of having song titles with very long weird titles and I guess this is one!? This guy probably kills in a small intimate club. More interesting than anything Crosby Stills and Nash have done in 30 years. ‘Sick To Death Of Sobriety’ - this one's got a country twang! It's kinda weird that "alternative" labels put out CD's that sound like 1976 top forty. ‘You Called My Bluff’ "Tomorrow we'll meet in the park by the fountain", this CD does grow on you... ‘Minimalist And Anchored’ this is nice but too whitebread for my likin', give me some Wooden Wand or Red Hunter, something a little off kilter, threatening or avant-garde thrown into the nice folk songs. But don't get me wrong, this is a very quality, well-crafted "product". Aunt Verleen would probably even like it and you know she doesn't like anything. ‘So, This Is How It Ends?’ That’s probably the problem, this guy is probably about 23 and I'm an old fart who can't understand what those crazy kids are doing? Nah! The kids are just copying Steve Forbert. ‘Duluth’ "don't show your face around here no more". This sounds like it would be the theme song on some swell new American TV show about hospitals or lawyers? I'm sure this song got Todd laid, "You're so Beautiful"… ‘Fools & Angels’ "maybe we should just lay off the alcohol" Oh, he's 25! Those poor confused kids, but I'm sure Todd Vandenberg has a wicked ass CD in him. Just a few more years of artistic misery.... www.silbermedia.com
Vollmar is guitarist and vocalist Justin Vollmar, bassist David Brant, keyboards by Doug Fox, and drums by Nathan Vollmar, their label BlueSanct out of Bloomington Indiana. ‘Abby’ is whimsical off kilter college rock/pop.... ‘Troubles @ Bank’ vocally sounds a bit like Daniel Johnston. ‘Bus Stop Sue’ yeah, this guy has definitely listened to some Daniel Johnston but this is much more stable, slick, commercial. Interesting cover art of photo with superimposed art that gives it a ghostly feel. Some nice quirky guitar, instrumentation, arrangement etc. Weird keyboard buzzing noises that somehow fit? Hey, this is really growing on me. ‘The Girl From Here To There’ is uptempo living room rock, nice, pleasant! Horse gallup drums, tinkling zylophone? ‘Confusion's Out Of Line’ is slow, moody bass and drums, "It's so hard, it's such a lonesome time” cool fuzzed out guitar. Weird distorto feedback noise. Hey this Justin Vollmar might be on to something! Another living room masterpiece. ‘Jealous Of Sue’ - It's all about Sue it seems. Uptempo strumming guitar, demented pop! Daniel Johnston would be proud to know he's influenced a new generation of musicians, maybe he does? ‘Sorry Sue’ nice strumming guitar, ok this is becoming a bit too Daniel J., like his obsession with Laurie. But still nice, interesting. I hope Justin doesn't have near the problems Daniel has? ‘Waiting Up For Sue’ more guitar strumming, Daniel Johnstonish. "It's afternoon, it's nearly two", "Please wake up sorry Sue". ‘Pony Man’ jangly out of tune, "Is there some kind of master plan?". ‘Mtn Problem/Insert’ "I don't want to be a mountain suicide" nice, moody, lurching living room pop rock. Conjurs up some Jandek! Melody on top of chimes, breathing, lengthy field recording of nature, thunderstorm, now some electronic twittering.... www.bluesanct.com
Ginger Leigh is from Artesia California and has been releasing strange CDs to much acclaim for quite awhile. ‘Walk Tall’ is badass, thumpy, modern, heavy bass, drum machine... ‘Artificial Limbs ‘ is department store music in Hell, bizarre noises, effects, buzzing droning... ‘In The Month Of March’ tinkling piano, chains a clanging, cheesey keyboard melody, what does it all mean? ‘My Only Son (Morning Song)’ unclassifiable music, drum marching swoops, banjo strumming, water running, heavy, ominous... caterwauling female vocals, is that Ginger Leigh? Sounds pretty great... ‘Love Letters’ like an Arizona bus stop on acid in the 1950's ‘More Unquestionable Truths’ some crazy ass music, pretty cool.... ‘Sand’ more, intense craziness, how to describe this? drones, sampled vocals, but it all sounds fairly original, modern, sounds good/great! ‘Hole In My Heart’ effected out acoustic strumming along with twittering deep space drones, samples, they might be on to something here? ‘Red Balloon’ pre-recorded? male vocal, percussion, buzzed out guitar riff, more innovative than the usual fare, not trying to be weird just is! ‘Taxicab Ride Through The City’ a lot of these songs have an Indian, Middle Eastern vibe to them, this one definitely does, sounds like a porn theatre in New Dehli (do they exist?) ‘Waiting For The Apocalypse’ yes, it sounds like it... intense, air siren, and percussion with drone. ‘Push/Pull’ more of the same, intense weirdness that all sounds pretty great. It all sounds like great soundtrack music for movies that would be too good to actually be made! Monster music, more industrial than industrial music. ‘Photographs Of Agony’ more of the same, this CD gets louder, more intense, industrial as it nears the end. ‘The End’ a lot of this music seems to be sampled from old recordings etc.? But the way it's all put together is very impressive.
‘Sparrow Wings’ is next. ‘This Is Ginger Leigh’ starts with flute then cheeseoid 1966 pseudo psych rock. Is this really played by Ginger Leigh or just sampled? Sounds pretty cool either way. 1:50 intense overdubbed vocal, noises? Now crazy theremin overdub, 3:40 now the volume goes half down? A desired effect to make everything sound kinda crappy? ‘Here Come The Trumpets’ back to the Ginger Leigh intense industrial noise jangling percussion! Is this great or terrible, I'm not sure yet. Weird muted vocals, tea whistle, fog horns, trumpet samples, too much of this could send you on around the bend. ‘Immigrant Song’ nice Middle Eastern strumming on some kind of stringed instrument? Then a nice soaring drone, 50's Science Fiction sounds then an oscillator now some gun shots!? A little bit of everything, actually a very nice track! ‘Living In A Grey World’ back to the low end rumble of a noise generator? Then industrial percussion march with a repeated bass riff on top! Crazy effected out vocals, rain, somehow all makes sense and sounds pretty cool. Infinite stars for even trying to do something original! A ‘Song For Two Marionettes’ more of the Tiki Torch party in 1959 Hell, crazy vocal/moan on top. Big percussive back drop! Cheesey pre-recorded horns, what does it all mean?! Sounds like a lion growling into an effects box. ‘300 White Rabbits’ steam whistle, flute playing, drones, something very meditative about all this crazy chaotic noise. Ends with train going down the tracks, pretty cool, not that I'd listen to this more than once in a Blue Moon..... www.gingerleigh.com
Michael Shannon has been making magical soundscapes for decades as a solo performer and as a member of Animist Orchestra and Broken Mask. LEX-O weird cool droney instruments, sounds like bagpipes and kazoos but it's not. Sounds like kazoo traffic jam, actually quite pleasing. ‘Hurricane Ridge Breakdown’ weird thumpy percussion, like beating on upside down plastic buckets, but again somehow pleasing! There's all these instruments listed on back cover that I've never heard of (Thai Kaens, Kanjira, Darbuka, Chin-Chin, Erhu, Dilruba, Seattle Cornish School Ladies' Room Stringboard made by Dave Knott, Thai Soong). Now some nice thumpy bass, all from the nice folks at Digitalis Industries, now some banjo, swell! Bells, wow, this is really good! ‘Kano’ two marimba's? Sounds very cool! Thank God for Digitalis Industries, The marimbas get faster and cooler and funner....OK so now it's goin' on a bit long?? But still more funnerer. ‘Inguz’ violins, dualling violins?? Very nice, I still haven't looked up all the strange instrument names, maybe it's a Darbuka? This CD is pure manna from the! Beautiful, pleasant drone tones! More, more, more please....yes, yes, yes...... ‘Go’ must be the tin foil track, in stereo, sounds pretty great! Now some guy growling, moaning, and an occasional Tourettes syndrome word/sound out of nowhere! Is that Michael Shannon? ‘Kwan’ more cool twangin' and noodlin' in stereo on who knows what instruments but still sounds great! It's amazing the fine line between great and awful art/music, all just a matter of perspective, almost nothing to do with music abilities... anyway, that's how I see it. Fiddlin' and fartin' around in a cool sounding studio is infinitely more exciting than college pop jerkin' off in Philosophy 101 class. ‘Soong’ messin' with the mics and breathin', but in cool studio stereo, strange synth blips in the far background. At 1:44 still messin', moving around mics in stereo, like every other track, it sounds really cool and innovative at the same time, 3:50 really picks up the weirdin' out tempo, sounds like plucking a comb into a mic? Starts to somehow get melodic and pretty, more synth noises, 50's spaceship sounds ...it's so beautiful I want it to last forever, Oh no, it's over! Foxglove129 - www.digitalisindustries.com
Rob Crow is the frontman for the popular indie rock band Pinback. ‘Bam Bam’ pop alt rock, but pleasant, nice so far, nice vocals lyrics music, doesn't sound cliched? Amazing.... ‘I Hate You, Rob Crow (Album Version)’ almost a Steely Dan sound/vibe. I'm so anti alt/rock/pop punk these days but I don't hate this. ‘Taste’ yes, tastefully done, pleasant, a cool breeze blowin' thru the jasmine in my mind... almost a Zombies swellness..... ‘Over Your Heart’ more beautiful, non-annoying indie pop..... ‘Up’ wow, this guy really has a nice voice, he's like talented and stuff... drum machines that I don't hate, what's happening to me? Like Colin Blunstone meets Nine Inch Nails? or Kraftwerk! Oh, all the CD photos are really funny and cool..... ‘Chucked’ more loveliness, uncliched indie pop that I actually don't hate, how odd! ‘Burns’ pop, along with a respirator? Is he a burn victim on a respirator? This guy's in a "famous" band called Pinback that I've never heard of. This CD has that sound when one guy plays all the instruments, smooth but could use more chaotic interaction. ‘Liefield’ is sharp and well done, It could really grow on me. ‘Ring’ from the CD cover Rob Crow looks like some metal head living in the trailer park but this music is nothing like that. Very pop precise but never sterile or boring. ‘Focus’ even though this CD is swell and all I'd be hard pressed to actually pay money to see/hear this guy, just a personal preference. I guess I always want the "whole enchilada" with my music, not just a pleasant approximation but I'm being too hard on Rob Crow, he seems like a pretty cool guy.... ‘If Wade Would Call’ some banjo pluckin' on this one. I've always thought every rock band needs some electric banjo. Couldn't you see Dave Brock with an electrified banjo? ‘No Sun’ this guy is an amazingly talented vocalist. www.temporaryresidence.com
'The Peel Session EP' is Mum's only Peel Session recorded in 2002 for BBC Radio One's John Peel show. The band seem to be from Brighton UK. ‘Scratched Bicycle/Smell Memory’ nice backwards key tinklin', effects, experimental coolness. Impressive for a live studio recording, then some funky drum machine/percussion. Nice melody played on keyboard? Chaotic coolness, very experimental but with a beat! ‘Awake On A Train’ more drum machine, guitar strumming, now some female vocal! Very whimsical, female, nice, nothing too groundbreaking tho! Now a foghorn plus jingling, now a swell melody along with disjointed drum machine. A melody you could imagine Bryan Ferry singing to, like a hotel in Cabo sitting under a tree drinking a pina colada! ‘Now There Is That Fear Again’ sounds like Sigur Ros, now has sung words by the female vocalist, a sampled sound that's like a zippo lighter opening over and over. The most pop song so far, some live drumming and big keyboard melody. ‘The Ballad Of The Broken String’ doomy keyboard riffage, clanging around sounds, it's a chord organ! Sounds Mumish. www.fat-cat.co.uk
Emerging from Portsmouth New Hampshire USA in 2005, 'Goliath, I'm on Your Side' is the second The Hotel Alexis album on Broken Sparrow Records. ‘Soft Soft War’ nice, soft, country, reminds me of Gram Parson's Flying Burrito Brothers. Nice vocals, good lyrics, big full sound, singer songwriter Sidney Alexis Lindner was born in Paris and grew up in the U.S. ‘San Diego Backslide’ still, wide open space, vocals remind me of Red Hunter's Peter and the Wolf. Kickass lap steel/pedal steel. ‘I Will Arrange For You To Fall II’ almost a prog rock (Yes) feel to opening, female vocal, some dog barking. Very pretty song but dark and moody also, nice vibraphone solo. ‘Thicket’ is short... cool cover art, nice packaging. ‘Suddenly, It's You And Me’ not so much country as American Cosmic music, "western sky is amazing tonight", some chord organ, some more nice backup vocals, is that female? Maybe it's Gregg Porter? ‘The Silent One’ very nice, like intro to a Spaghetti western from 2037 with Clint Eastwood III, goes into big almost Pink Floyd swirl! Drops off into pretty, quiet space! Pretty Badass! Top forty if the USA wasn't backward in every way! Land of the brainwashed as George Harrison said. One nation under surveillance. ‘Sister Ray’ not the Velvet Underground song [Maybe the record shop in London’s Soho – ed] Melancholy piano, quiet whispered vocal telling the story of Sister Ray, "Sister Ray I know I'm too late and can't find the way to your door", hauntingly cool..... ‘Silver Waves Crash Through The Canyons’ uptempo guitar, vocal, maracas, climbs higher and higher! Very nice..... ‘Owl’ this definitely has a VU live vibe.. "don't you know it's going to wear you out", some vibraphone. This is a very quality release, very impressive in every way. ‘Hummingbird/Indian Dog’ 18:55 fades in with weird keyboard riff that sounds almost like a flute, sung chants, nice acoustic guitar, the long song! Droning keyboard twitter, now some electric guitar strangeness! Some far away vocal with field recordings and backwards music, very trippy! The collage piece, more dog barking, at 6:20 some tablas/percussion! Very psychedelic, definitely not country now, loud Stoogesque guitar flourishes. Mind altering, meditative, pleasant chanting of something about a hummingbird?! "Oh my sweet hummingbird" vocal gets louder and louder... ‘The Range’ back to "normal" Hotel Alexis cosmic American music, "We ride the range...we're underage", pretty damn cool! "How am I to know you now?", bass feedback, sounds great! Wow, these guys aren't messin' around, this is the real shit! ‘The Devil Knows My Handle’ back to country lap steel! "won't someone please turn out the light, bring out the night...the devil knows what he knows, he calls my name out loud...won't someone please do something to me?".... ‘Oh, The Loneliness’ vibraphone stillness intro, atmospheric track, non rock song etc! Very nice! Not many bands can go back and forth from country to avant garde and back again. ‘Our Good Captain’ starts with backwards keyboard. Then the Sidney Alexis vocal, quavery but full and soulful, "the good people that work all their lives and the sweet sorrow that drips from their eyes, I wish I could tell you it was free" strange keyboard outro... Beautiful music from New Hampshire. www.brokensparrow.com (Carlton Crutcher)