Hi and welcome to the latest Rumbles, another stroll through the collected minds of musicians from around the globe. As usual there is lots to get through, so why not start, the honour of leading in going to Ian Fraser, thanks Ian.
First up is "Sincerely Severely" , the 4th outing from Morningbell, Travis Atria’s family affair, from Florida, plus a sizeable supporting cast. The first couple of tracks showcase this band’s diverse influences almost to distraction, then settles down into two parts, the first is dominated by a turn of the 70s soul sound infused with African and Latin rhythms, whilst the latter part features mostly airy, toe tapping pop music. Clever, well-played and quite ambitious in parts, some of this thrills, but on the whole is slightly let down by its running order www.myspace.com/morningbell
The other offering from Team Clermont this month comes courtesy of Kansas City’s Copybara. Their debut album "Try Brother" is a bright and breezy collection of what might be termed "summer music". It all clips along at a fair old pace, propelled by a syncopated percussive style, delicate arrangements and some decent harmonies delivered in a light falsetto. This is difficult to pigeonhole, however there are discernable similarities – whether intentional or otherwise - to Flaming Lips and Surfjan Stevens, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Robert Wyatt (on "Happiness/Let Child Roam") and most strikingly, Dirty Projectors. Chuck in a bit of calypso, hints of Appalachian folk and good-time pop and the results are enjoyable enough www.CAPYBARAMUSIC.com
For any of you audio alchemists looking to recreate the acme garage-psych sound of the 1960s, forget it, because Copenhagen’s Lorenzo "Baby" Woodrose has beaten you to it. His band Baby Woodrose’s latest, self-titled offering serves up one part each of Byrds, Love and the Elevators, a healthy slug of Chocolate Watchband, a generous lacing of Kinks-style chops, all topped with any number of Nuggets, Pebbles and Rubbles, and that keyboard intro to LA Woman (on "Scorpio"). Oh, and the occasional potty-mouthed lyric. The tracks, which are all very good to excellent, are instantly hummable and whether that’s because they are so catchy or just plain derivative hardly matters. This, folks, is a retro revelation that deserves to be heard, repeatedly and at volume. Recommended, and then some. www.myspace.com/babywoodrose
Supercluster are an off-beat and occasionally off-key octet from Athens GA, home of those other occasional mandolin molesters REM. "Waves" is a quirky mixture of alt-Country and the arty side of New Wave, on which conventional rock instrumentation merges with clarinet, bass clarinet, violin and, yes, mandolin. The quirky result pitches Bongwater against the Handsome Family, with an occasional glimpse of what the B52s might have sounded like in a warped parallel universe (I’d better desist before I get bundled off into pseuds’ corner). A curiosity that ought to be experienced at least once and I could be heading back for seconds. www.superclusterband.com
You may be forgiven for thinking Lazarus Clamp is an American band but is, according to the publicity, "one of the undiscovered roughcut gems of British independent music". Listening to "Against Entitlement" (Little Red Rabbit LRR014) this may not be too extravagant a claim. The Americana, or at least American, influences are most in evidence, bringing to mind the likes of Jason Molina, Stephen Malkmus, occasionally Giant Sand and Thurston Moore, The first two cuts are arguably the strongest on what is little more than a mini-album however this is a short, sharp blast of finely crafted low-fi which consistently hits the spot. Well worth taking the plunge. www.lazarusclamp.co.uk; www.myspace.com/lazarusclamp
Also courtesy of Little Red Rabbit (LRR013) comes the eponymously titled album "Samson and Delilah" who are Sam Lench and Anna Zwenk – he with a background in indie-rock, Zweck in classical music. The album was recorded in a number of locations including the church in which the couple were married. The music, which might loosely be described as "new folk", is acoustic, organic, occasionally dreamy and invariably uplifting. It is also very even and balanced with Lench and Zwenk sharing the lead vocals and alternating writing pretty much 50/50. On the whole, Zweck’s compositions are the more ethereal and in some respects interesting (Robin Williamson to hubby’s Mike Heron?) but the ying/yang approach lends the album strength and feeling. This is a lovely and at times magical little album, which I would recommend. www.myspace.com/TheSamsonandDelilahShow
"Prophetic Guesses" is the fourth album from classically trained English multi-instrumentalist Daniel Staniforth, trading under the name Luna Trick. Loosely categorised as "gothic rock", and nicely dark and dense it is in places. It also displays a nice diversity of musical styles without becoming a dog’s breakfast. Staniforth’s resonant vocals, which are pitched somewhere between Scott Walker and Kevin Ayers, and sometimes pyrotechnic guitar are both prominently showcased. Over 15 tracks there is a great game of "spot-the- influence" to be played (you can then score yourself against the list on the web link and it is possible to imagine certain established artists successfully covering much of what’s on offer here. This is a fine effort that deserves its share of commercial success and critical recognition. Well done, chap! www.flowforth.com/lunatrick.html
A rather more low-key and introspective affair is "Psychic Borderland", reputed to be the 20th album in so many years by New Yorker Michael J Bowman. A concept album (no! please don’t switch off!) about an ageing psychedelic artist no longer able to distinguish his real life from his dreams may not sound everyone’s cup of mushroom tea but this is really quite good. Instrumentation is sparse (guitar, piano, electronics) and vocals are often back-in-the-mix, which lends a suitably vulnerable and nebulous edge to proceedings. Thankfully Bowman’s ambient, gentle side helps to balance out the more intense moments and the somewhat unsettling plotline. Now can I turn the lights back on please? www.gallerymjb.com
Martin Archer’s double CD "In Stereo Gravity" featuring his trade mark smorgasbord of sounds, is the product of three years recorded labour. Good things come to those who wait, then. As you’d expect from someone steeped in the work of Cage, Stockhausen and free jazz, this is explorative, left field music for those who think putting the words "avant-garde" in that order is just too conventional. Musicians include ex-members of fellow Sheffield band Clock DVA, the peerless Chris Cutler (Henry Cow, Gong) and the wonderful Julie Tippets, who scats and ululates like a woman bereft of senses or else trying to keep up with the backward tapes and discordant time signatures. This is all multi-layered, diverse, hypnotic, stunning. Of course, over two CDs it can be a difficult listen in places but it’s such a fine example of its genre however you define it… www.discus-music.co.uk
Archer’s next collaboration with Julie Tippets is a stripped down, subdued and ethereal affair. "Ghosts of Gold" (Discus 37) is Archer’s musical interpretation of Tippetts’ poems written between 1994 and 2004. With joint billing, and in control of her own lyrics, Tippetts’ contribution on "Ghosts of Gold" is very much more to the fore than on "In Stereo Gravity". As we are talking poetry, much of this is spoken word, which occasionally enters the realm of "Summer Time"-style light jazz, and (very) occasionally she lets rip with what sounds like quite dextrous vocal exercises. Over 56 minutes, though, it all begins to sound a tad self-indulgent and in need of some editing. A slow burner and I dare say a grower. www.discus-music.co.uk
From Boston, Massachussets, comes the latest offering from The Broken River Prophet, a collective that has been going since 2005. Exquisitely entitled "With Infinite Arms to Cradle the Flames" the nine tracks straddle superior indie, neo-psychedelia and some rather fine examples of out and out rocking (crunching guitars, driving rhythms and the odd bit of feedback). The his ‘n hers vocals of Adam Brilla and Deborah Warfield work best on the lighter indie numbers but are a bit too cutesy for the heavier end of things. However, that’s a minor quibble as, overall, this is an impressive outing with a number of tracks - including "Forged Prescriptions", the instrumental "Void of Course" and the wonderfully titled "The Gaping Wound In My Chest Is Like Reading Your Diary Out Loud" - particularly deserving of attention. Well worth checking out.
Finally, and continuing with the theme of interesting band names, but a very different proposition, The Big Eyes Family Players return with their 4th album, entitled "Warm Room" (Egg 72). Fusing folk and classical influences, they sounds like a cross between a lunchtime recital, and what you might have expected the Third Year Band to have come across with their more overt eastern influences held in check and making a play for Radio 3 listenership. The most upbeat offering here ("The Great Pin Dance") skips along to hand claps and a one-to-four count-in in Welsh, whilst the despairing "False True Love" is the only track that resembles a conventional folk song. The rest of the album is an exquisite wash of pastoral and light raga style pieces. For the most part calm and meditative but also refreshing and inspiring - the intricacies and flights of fancy thankfully stopping the right side of noodling. www.myspace.com/bigeyesmusic and www.pickled-egg.co.uk
Moving swiftly forward, Stephen Palmer will continue with more musical musings, thanks Steve…
To Copepod Records now, where we find the album "Access Denied!" by Dead Days Beyond Help. Opening with the startling title track, the music is a kind of jagged indie-metal, in many different time signatures and with many different sections, all of which whizz by in seconds. It's a breathless opener. Vocals are added for the more traditional "Nervous Disposition," while "Covert Surveillance Programme" is instrumental again. Complex drumming underpins crashing guitars. The sense is of restless movement - very well conveyed, given that the band is a duo. On the lengthy "180 Miles," violin and cello are added, giving this indie-Rush cut an exotic feel - the highlight of the album. "Slowly Strangled" opens with doomy guitar lines and tribal drums, before pained vocals take the listener through a down-trip. Album closer "Doomed Forestaller" brings back the strings for more complex indie-metal; great guitar thrashing here, and the cello/violin adds emotional depth to an excellent cut. Good though this album is, I can't help wondering if a bass player would have made it even better. Recommended though.
Dominic Deane's "Ten" is a work of calm meditation made with keyboards, synths and strings (possibly live, possibly sampled - it's difficult to tell these days). The opening trio of tracks match dense, doomy keyboards with slow strings and some extra sounds, such as tanpura on the second track (which reminded me of some of Don Slepian's early work). The fourth track adds simple rhythms and sequences to Deane's array of gloomy synths to obtain a B12/Warp sound. The fifth track sounds like an out-take from Tangerine Dream's 1972 classic "Zeit," while the sixth track brings in a lovely bass and some whirling synth sounds. Track seven has a low heartbeat pulse and rustling synths, while the last couple of cuts add metallic sounds and gloopy wah-synth to the melancholy strings. The choice of sounds and moods make this ambient confection good listening; I really enjoyed it.
"Building A Bomb" by Little Tybee takes us to America and a full-length album by the band who brought us the charming EP "I Wonder Which House The Fish Will Live In." The music is a folk-laden Americana with male/female vocals, great playing and strong songs. The opening title track moves along quickly to pattering drums, while "Orchard" matches evocative violins with honky-tonk piano and ethereal vocals. Lovely. "Fallen Bird" sounds a little like a David Gray track (the vocal styles are similar), while "Pass You By" has humour and particularly good fiddle playing. "Glass Brigade" features an incongruous drum machine, but it's a great song. "Cemetery Leaves" has a heart-tugging vocal from Brock Scott, while closer "Dear Emily" matches reggae bass with ska style Hammond. Fans of quirky Americana will love this one; the handmade packaging adds that special touch.
Rebsie Fairholm is a name from the psych-folk scene whose debut "Mind The Gap" was well received last year. Elsewhere, she has guested with The Owl Service, whose track on Shindig Magazine's front-cover CD made great listening; here she sings alongside musicians Daniel Staniforth and Dick Langford, while playing many instruments herself. On "Seven Star Green," this tie-dye-clad minstrel of folk and songs of the land brings us twelve more tales of life, love and death. The opening pair of cuts are darkly fragile, while the third, "Molotov Spongecake," adds drums and electric guitar, though the folky vocal remains the same. "Perigee Organdie" is soft and delicate, while "Pavane" is a glorious dance through mediaevel themes, sounding not unlike an early Enya track (that's a compliment!). The folk intonation is strong on "Minstrel Boy," while album highlight "The Bitter Withy" perfectly sets modern synth basses with a gorgeous vocal and exotic percussion. The album concludes with "Lyke Wake Dirge" with its stereo effects, synths and phased voices. Folk fans, lovers of singer-songwriters and those who enjoy a good angelic vocal with sympathetic and well played accompaniment will enjoy this rather good album. If you've ever listened to and enjoyed Loreena McKennit or Enya, try Ms Fairholm.
Enjoy fingerstyle guitar playing with virtuosity and lots of slaps and knocks? Like the sound of a guitar that appears to be the bastard child of a harp and a six-string? Enjoy a bit of Adrian Legg? Then you need "Trajectories" by Eric Loy, in which this noted guitar teacher and denizen of guitar festivals shows off innumerable ear-popping techniques and tricks. It's bonkers, frankly, though enjoyable because of the zest of the playing. Drums and bass augment later tracks, adding variety. And that harp-guitar really is amazing.
"When The Monsters Arrive" by Stick In A Pot (the nom de plume of one Piers Blewett) is a five track EP of woozy strangeness, pitting melancholy guitar against soft, rustling drums and melodic bass. Restrained, though enchanting, vocals hover over the early tracks - "Acclimatising" follows the trumpet-infested opening instrumental, mesmerising the listener, while "Plinky The Alien" has more than a hint of the mighty Gorkys, and is a fine song. The poppy "Our Inert Inmate" almost works (it's a bit incongruous against the previous two tracks and doesn't have much of a tune, which you do need for a pop song), while the final track "Luterin" pits gloomy guitars with forceful drums and Fripp-esque guitar. A curate's egg of an EP, but still pretty good.
The Telluric Currents is the brainchild of Philly-based troubador Dan Kelly, who remarks, "This is intended to be camping music, meant to be enjoyed near trees and water with a cold beer..." His debut, self-financed album "A Dog And A Gun" opens with Kelly fingerpicking away on short tracks with a high-mountain blues feel. (Birds tweet in the background - he really is underneath those trees.) Other musicians join in later, for example Mike Albrecht on the enchanting "Night Fishin'," which manages to convey much bayou atmosphere in its short span. Other tracks ("Mountain Ambush," "Bubble Stuff") are slower and more melancholy. "Irrawaddy Rag" is a slide-rag delight, while "Withywindle Rag" is a solo guitar pick of calm beauty. "Cygne" is a gorgeous song with multi-tracked vocals and guitars weaving lines around each other, while the album closer "Chasin'" returns us to bluesy guitar and solo vocal territory. The variety of this album, its simplicity, honesty and pastoral charm make it a beguiling listen.
Donovan's Brain are Montana-based jangle-pop merchants, here bringing us their sixth album "Fires Which Burn Brightly" after a four year lay-off. The sound is psych-pop, the influence is the '60's, the format is song based. Early highlights include the jangly "Green 17" and "Last Acid Rider." The second half of the album is a song cycle taking the name of the album and covering the themes of loss of people and institutions. The music here is stronger, with more to recommend it; the slow chop-and-change of "After The Main Sequence," the rough and ready "Come For The Sun," the mellotron-enhanced "I Saw Your Light." The cycle ends with "High Street Hit Man" and "Vanished," both of which pit Ricky-style guitars with explosive drums; high energy, evocative cuts with hints of The Byrds. I do take issue with songwriter Bobby Sutliff's 12 string guitar sound being described as 'trademark' though - the only person for whom that is true is Roger McGuinn. Apart from that, solid '60's influenced stuff for fans of Grandaddy, The Rollo Treadway, La Fleur Fatale, et al.
(Phil adds: the aforementioned La Fleur Fatale, Swedish purveyors of pop power-psych, have just released their second album on Killer Cobra Records, 'Silent Revolution', and it's an absolute gem: exquisite harmonies, memorable melodies, backwards effects and breathtaking guitar licks. Definitely a grower, a seed to plant now that'll come to full sonic maturity amidst the summer sunshine. www.lafleurfatale.com )
It is incredible to think that the music for David Attenborough's landmark TV series "Life On Earth" has never been released, and yet this, until now, has been true. For over thirty years this lovely music has never seen the light of day except in synchrony with the televisual images. Now though, thanks to the efforts of one Jonny Trunk of Trunk Records, sixteen compositions of Edward Williams can be heard in their full glory. Trunk traced the composer to his house in Bristol after a bizarre set of coincidences, to discover that the man had had one hundred copies of the music commited to vinyl, mostly for his orchestra performers who wanted one. It was finding one of these disks that led Trunk to begin the hunt for the composer and the music. And that music? It is mostly enchanting chamber music, with occasional mysterious additions - effects? A VCS3 synthesizer? (Williams toured with other musicians and a VCS3 under the monicker Uncle Jambo's Pendular Vibrations. Yes, really.) Whatever the source and the inspiration, the music floats by, and all you can think of are those amazing images of the natural world and TV's most remarkable presenter - who, incidentally, gave personal permission for the famous 'green frog' photo to be used. A release for which the word "essential" actually means something.
Totnes in Devon is a town I know well, and it is from that remarkable place that "Diving Down" by Woodpecker Wooliams comes, although Gemma Williams, who is WW, is now based in Brighton. Williams is a multi-instrumentalist, playing harp, reeds, flutes, chimes and percussions, and singing too on this angelic collection of folk-infused musical tales. Opener "Put A Bird" gives us the vocal style; unique, intense, mournful, with just the slightest hint of Kate Bush, albeit a more open-throated, less theatrical Bush. "The Lamentable Love Of The Barometer" is just weird (lyrically) though enchanting (musically). Harps and long, melancholy vocal lines introduce "Perm," which waltzes its way through a classic English pastoralism. The title track sets harmonium and strange, echoed percussion to a vocal reminiscent of Kelli Ali; beautifully harmonised for the chorus. I recognise those evocative Sarna bells too, having used them myself many times... Drones and whistles support the gloom-laden "Out Walking," which has perhaps the most folk-infused melody of the album, while "I Shot You" is spine-tingling, with perhaps the best vocal of any here. (The harps are reminiscent of Joanna Newsom, whose "Ys," while difficult, made quite an impression when it was released a few years ago.) "In Your Mouth" adds subtle synthesizer sounds to an intense and magical chant, while album closer "Threads" brings in bass and drums for a triumphant conclusion. This is a marvellous, captivating album, and possibly the beginning of something important. Enthusiastically recommended - and well done Autumn Ferment Records, who have already brought Terrascope readers Flake Brown and the Seasonal Sevens series.
"Burn A Little Brighter" by Jimi And The Satellites opens with a chord sequence straight out of the Neil Young school of song writing - and a not dissimilar guitar sound. The band and the man are based in Wales, though Jimi himself seems to have been something of a traveller in his earlier days, and the album sounds like it was made in America for a wholly American audience. "New York City Never Came" also echoes Young (circa "Old Ways"), while "Held In My Arms" opens with guitar picking and solo Jimi, before subtle bass and reverberant guitar come in. Further tracks emphasise where this music is pointing - across the Atlantic. It's not perhaps the most obvious album to release after the sheer wondrousness of The Ash & The Oak, but it's not without interest, that is if you like the sound of Stereophonics-Lite over pedal steel and violin.
Model Village, meanwhile, introduce three short tracks on their promo CDR "3 Tunes." They're hoping to find a record label. Will they be successful? Are they worth it? Opening cut "Country Claimed Me" suggests they might be, as a quiet, soulful song wends its way into the listeners ears, helped by complex male/female harmonised vocals. A muted trumpet adds to the rainy-summer sound. "Stockholm" isn't as strong, not helped by a less than impressive main vocal, although the backing vocals are fine. "Sweets" is pretty good, again with complex and well arranged vocals, and a superb bass. Good luck, guys!
One of my favourite bands of all time is Loop Guru, whose wondrous ethnic-dance diversions have thrilled the record buying public for many years - and still do. One half of Loop Guru, Muudman, has joined songwriter Duncan Pope to form Round Way Wrong, whose debut EP "Round Way Wrong" is out now. The Loop Guru sound is clearly evident, here overlaid with vocals, but alas those vocals are a tad weak, and serve on the opening track to divert attention from the fabulous groove skanking underneath. "Nettles" is a similar, perhaps weaker mix, while "Candle" matches a groovy beat with a better vocal. "Kaleidoscope" is a mess, evoking 'sixties sounds (as on Loop Guru's terrific "Elderberry Shiftglass") but not very well, while "Forest" closes the EP with more of the same. Disappointing.
Here's another single, this time "Black Doe" by London-based Mary Epworth & The Jubilee Band. Imagine a folk Black Sabbath with brass band accompaniment and you're there. It's an amazing sound that drags you in without mercy. Mary's vocals are part sung, part sighed, contrasting with the Sabbs/banjo accompaniment. B-side "Lean" allows a funereal organ to underpin an emotive, almost spiritual vocal. I've never heard anything like this. More, please!
Starless And Bible Black is the name of a classic King Crimson album, a 1965 Stan Tracey cut, a phrase of Dylan Thomas' and now a band, here presenting their second album "Shape Of The Shape." Folk rock musings sung by Helene Gautier are embroidered with analogue synths in an intriguing and melodic mixture. "Say Donny Say" opens the album in uptempo style with a great tune. "Your Majesty Man" is slower and the Moog synth is stronger, while album highlight "Hanging On The Vine" is a slow-burn song for late-night bars full of cigarette smoke. Great vocal, here, while clean/distorted guitar and subtle synth augment the mix. "Radio Blues" is another slow bluesy one. "Les Furies" feels like the centrepiece of the album - at over nine minutes it has the lot: resonant synths, epic feel, deep reverberation, massed French vocals, dramatic guitar... fabulous! "Country Heir" is gentle and sonorous, with more subtle, piping Moog. "Popty Ping" is an atmospheric and rather wonderful instrumental. The album closes with "Year Of Dalmations" and its haunting sounds. This is a superb album with much to recommend it. The band play alongside psych-folk hot property such as Espers and Vetiver, so check them out if they should arrive near you...
"Wild Honey Arabesques" by Lee F Cullen opens with dramatic Morricone-style voices and a Motown beat. Immediately the listener is hooked. Leslied vocals utter a soft verse, then it's off into that mad chorus again. A late 'sixties Hammond completes the sound. More Leslied sounds shimmer on the next song "House Without Doors," but in less than a minute we're into the jungle sounds and mellotron of "Sisters Of The Sun." The instrumentation is unusual, the production excellent. Confident vocals and vocal effects take the listener back to retro times... great stuff! "One Way Mirror Girl" again has a surf/Morricone feel, while "Carnival Of Eyes" is more trippy. "Sun Church" is a glorious five minutes of 'tron, Rhodes and birdsong, over which Cullen half sings, half speaks a sun-drenched verse. "Peripheral Figures" brings in yet more 'tron, while "Song Of The Mirror Man" has piano and scary voices. "Nocturne In Black And Gold" is wonderfully pastoral with a great tune and lovely arrangement, while "Evil Days" trips on over piano and acoustic guitars. Album closer "Icarus" again uses Cullen's favourite instrument, the flute 'tron, over which an elegaic vocal sits. A slight over-reliance on Leslie-effected vocals and mellotrons takes a little away from this otherwise outstanding, original and very enjoyable album. Alot of thought and work has gone into it - recommended, especially for 'sixties heads who want something just a little different.
Computer based mixing and track reconstruction is the order of the day on "A Moose, Remixed" by Seamoo, which is a ten track re-envisioning of "A Moose Supreme" by Evan And The Modern Human Show. Each track covers a different style - psych jam, stoner, funk and rock. Some of the tracks work, some don't - highlights include the well funky "Bess Faac" and the luminous outro "The Planet Venus." Difficult to grasp for those who haven't heard the source album, but interesting anyway.
From the same record label come improv specialists 5-Track And Abalone Sandwich, whose "The Naturalization Of The Cetacean Nation" is intended to create a droney underwater effect with bass, guitar and drums. Two long tracks follow a rippling intro, both heavy on distant guitar lines and rumbling bass. The sound is quite minimal however, leading to some flat areas, as is sometimes the case with improvised music. The closing two tracks are the best of all, with the bass making a valuable contribution, and some nice guitar reminiscent of parts of "In A Silent Way." Again, interesting stuff.
The Fauns describe themselves as 'unashamedly influenced by the shoegaze sound of the '90's,' and cite My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Ride as influences. And indeed, "The Fauns" presents the listener with trippy, fuzzy music, featuring half-whispered vocals from front-woman Alison Garner. Opener "Lovestruck" presses all the right shoegaze buttons, while "Cool Stuff" opens with dramatic strings and more half-whispered vocals; great drum sound, too. Already an album highlight. "Understand" is the only track not written by the band, and has more of an 'eighties sound perhaps, with the droning guitars all gone. "The Sun Is Cruising" is uptempo, with crazily distorted guitars and a nice bouncing bass, while "Fragile" is the opposite, recalling The Cocteau Twins; more evocative synths here, and 'fragile' vocals, to make another album highlight. A delayed circling guitar opens "Road Meets The Sky," which has chorused vocals for a thicker sound, and again a great bass from Michael Savage, powering the cut along. "Black Sand" brings back the fuzz guitars (really heavy this time), while "Deranged" is lighter. "Come Around Again" and "1991" close the album in airy style. A secret 15 minute track by Loop augments the album - incongruous, but interesting. Overall, this is an excellent album, reminiscent of a great period in British music.
Lonely London Lad's self-titled double album is housed in intricate artwork; twenty five songs over two disks. The band is composed of Robert Savage, Billy Fuller and Johnny rK, who write all the tracks and perform the music alongside other musicians. The songs are created in an unusual way; the vocals are written and performed first, then the music is added. This does lead to a certain lack of synergy, but many of the cuts are good. Style jumps all over the place, from electro-poems to indie-songs, from musical hall jollity to Kraftwerk-wannabe frippery. The first disk's penultimate cut "Another Planet" is lengthy, and succeeds where some of the others don't, largely because its duration allows it to expand and breathe, while retaining the same feel. The second disk is better - more coherent, with better synth sounds, and, perhaps, more wit in the lyrics ("Drop Dead Lizzie"). "Seashell Candy" and "Seahorse" have particularly effective synths and arrangements. An ambitious work that mostly succeeds, the album does however require a large investment from the listener. Perhaps a single album would have been better, given that no theme encloses and supports this work.
"Plastic Guitar" by Anton Barbeau is the thirteenth album by the prolific north Californian expatriate. The genre - alt psych pop. The theme - Barbeau's anxieties. The sounds - some poppy, some retro, some bleepy, some lo-fi. The title track thrums by pleasantly, while "Doctor Take Care" is minimal and amusing. "I Used To Say Your Name" has a great tune and nice guitar sounds; an album highlight. "Boat Called Home" has a confessional feel, while "Quorn Fingers" is quirky and made me laugh. "Banana Song" is even madder, while album closer "Eye Kinda" has a home-made charm, and seems to resolve all the anxieties: "I kinda love you, I do." Fans of quirky singer-songwriters will be interested in this release.
To round off this edition of Rumbles, a quick trawl through the pile of vinyl that has slowly accumulated over the last few months.
First up, the final instalment of the "Tryst Haunt Series", featuring the final trio of 7" singles from Elephant Micah, Volmar and GHQ, each disc housed in hand-made sleeves, all of which maintain the quality set by the first 9 singles in the series. Sounding like The Red House Painter, "In Midnight", is a beautiful song from Elephant Micah, a gentle melancholy overlaid with subtle electronics and a wonderful vocal delivery. On the other side, "Ocean Floor" is awash with backwards guitar before a softly strummed acoustic heralds another slow and gorgeous song, with fine lyrics and more gentle melancholy, which is tempered by a great guitar solo. Equally drifting and slightly sad, "My New Best Friend" from Vollman is a haunting song that belies the positive lyrics with its downbeat musical feel, suggesting there is more going on beneath the surface. On the other side "Flood Punch" and "Holy Blessing", are full of atmosphere, delicate electronics and sound effects opening up spaces in the songs allowing them room to flow. Final disc of the series is "Song for Bhopal" from GHQ, a depature from the melodic song base of the previous two singles, the piece is a long drone, flecked with twisted strings and a heavily perfumed atmosphere that engulfs the listener in a blanket of sound. On the other side the drone continues and I can only assume it is part2 of the same track, the sound slowly dissolving into a gossamer cloud of notes and feelings. (www.L’animauxtryst.com)
Continuing with the 7" theme, five discs from The Great Pop Supplement label, Each displaying a hand-crafted cover and an eye for detail. First up Beach Fuzz entertain us with some free-spirited improvised electric rock happiness, walls of feedback, drones and drumming forming a whirlpool of sound that is ruff and ready in the best possible way. With both sides entitled "Untitled", and the disc running at 33, this is a quirky release that shows the simple pleasures of a 7" vinyl record to perfection. Also running at 33, and entitled "Untitled Blues" parts 1 & 2, the disc from Cam Deas is a free acoustic guitar display, which is full of mystery and sonic landscape, sounding not unlike John Fahey, Jack Rose or Glenn Jones. Building in intensity over the two sides, the second side has a darker air to it, the playing crisp and measured. On the intriguingly named "What’s Around the Corner? More Corners", Spoono display a delicate touch, the guitar weaving enchanting folk-inspired melodies around which the rest of the instruments circle beautifully. Flipping over to the other side "Frozen Music" repeats the trick with ease, another wonderful piece of acoustic guitar led music that needs to be heard for its floating ambience and joyous flight. Continuing the gentle guitar theme, this time in the form of a ballad "A New Love Song" is a warm and delightful song written and performed by David.A.Jaycock, the addition of a Banjo a wonderful touch, whilst his soft vocal style suits the songs ambience. On the other side "That Warm Feeling in my Belly", is equally fine, the addition of understated drums and violin the perfect arrangement for this gently psychedelic tune. Finally for this particular batch Melodie Du Kronk go for a Lounge, electronica, Ska approach on the wonderfully happy "Moxie Carmichael’s Secret", a keyboard led romp that gets yer feet moving, whilst remaining experimental in its undercurrent. Once flipped over "Immer Hoher und Hoher" is a heavier brand of electronica, with a nastier bass line, although there is a happy feel to this song as well, making you want to go out and party somewhere. (www.thegreatpopsupplement.com)
Moving from one fine label to another, the excellent Autumn Ferment continue their seasonal sevens series with a split 7" on lovely summery yellow vinyl. Side a contains "Pond Dipping", a gorgeous slice of folk happiness from Emily Scott, whose drifting vocals are the icing on a beautifully arranged cake, the instrumentation including guitars, whistles, banjo and a recorder solo adding to the charm. Side aa houses "Bumble Bee", a song with a similar feel from the haunting voice of Helene Renaut. Slow and sultry, the song gets under the skin with ease, both sides of this warm single to be played whilst floating down the river on a sunny day. On the same label, Noiserv display a lilting charm on "Bullets on Parade" a soft tune with twinkling bells and a lazy strum, the voice reminding me of Jake Thackary for some reason, although the actual song is more Iron and Wine, no bad thing. On the B side we find "Tokyo Girl" (Dollboy Remix), a more electronic affair with a pulsing bass drum driving the song along, although it maintains the laid back groove. (www.autumnfermentrecords.com)
Also continuing a series, Fruits De Mer vol 4, finds The Flaming Gnomes covering "Care of Cell 44" (The Zombies) and Love Song With Flute" (Caravan). Both sides are significantly different from the originals to make them worth hearing without radically altering them, something that works well especially on the Caravan tune, and I love Caravan. It is also pressed on purple vinyl, which only adds to the pleasure, for me at least. (www.brackenrecords.com)
Available from the ever reliable Static Caravan is "Was You Ever", a jaunty psych pop/indie romp from Erland and the Carnival, a trio featuring a member of The Verve, although this sounds nothing like them, the swirling organ giving a sweet edge to the song. On the b-side, "The Tempest" is another groovy tune, whilst "You Have Loved Enough" is a Cohen poem set to a gentle musical backing. (www.staticcaravan.org)
With Bob Corn playing the songs of Larry Yes and vice versa, their split 7" on North Pole Records features 4 folk influenced songs that are pastoral and coated in autumn sunshine. With no actual writing on the label and a confusing cover it is hard to be absolutely sure which song is which, suffice to say, they are all worthwhile, with the nostalgic bras on the last track on the side without the splodge being particularly effective. On the same label Rainstick Cowbell, go out of their way to depress you with their "Yeah, It Hurts" single. On "Meth Dealers on the Light Rail Corridor" a sparse acoustic backing and mournful vocals bleed into your veins with icy precision, whilst "I Really Fucking Hate You Right Now" a similar stark feel is invoked as the lyrics spit out hatred and bile. Great stuff. (www.northpolerecords.org)
Having released "Y", Maya returns with the follow up 10" entitled "A", a record which continues the good work of the previous disc, as well as improving up on it, each of the four track included displaying a mature feel, and a sonic cohesiveness that works extremely well. Opening track "Helium" is an aching mix of layered string and blissful vocals, the song wearing its emotions on its sleeve as it weaves a subtle magic. Even more ethereal, "Red and White" takes the template and slows it down into a gossamer blanket of sound, delicate and enticing, the song slowly unfolding like a cloud. With the atmosphere of a gothic horror story, "Diamond Belt" is awash with whispered vocals, ghostly sounds and ragged percussion, the piano adding the finishing gloss to the song. Finally, "Life Long Tenant", maintains both the quality and the atmosphere, rounding off a fine collection of songs not to be ignored. (www.discalcula.com)
Another 10" worthy of your attention is a split release featuring Gianni Gebbia and Miss Massive Snowflake, the latter of who has made several appearances in Rumbles over the years. Given a side each, Gianni has filled his side with six tracks created on Alto Sax, Objects and Mutes. Experimental in nature, it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins; they could all be separate parts of a larger composition. This is not a criticism as there is plenty to enjoy and the tracks rattle scrape and clatter out of the speakers, playful and sometimes wilfully obscure. If there is a criticism it is the fact that the tracklist is only to be found on the record label itself, making it virtually impossible to find out the name of the track you are listening to, this of course is equally true of the other side, on which Shane De Leon and friends intrigue and delight the listener with three tunes that sound fresh and alive. An added pleasure can be found in the excellent lyrics especially on the first and longest track. Track to twists melodies into noise in a burst of manic energy, whilst the final track is a mellow haze of notes with some lovely vocals spinning through the mix. (www.wallacerecords.com)
Moving onto the 12" discs now, the magnificent solo guitar playing of Dean McPhee is beautifully documented on "Brown Bear" A three track 45 with all tracks recorded in one take. Opening side one "Sky Burial" is a gently flowing piece that slows down time, the skilful playing matched by the emotions contained within, the mood continued as "Stony Ground" takes over, shades of Garcia evident as the guitar dances gracefully into the sky. As if those two tracks weren’t worthy of the entry price alone, the b-side contains the title track, a ten minute curl of perfumed guitar notes that should be an essential part of anyone’s collection, the sublime feel of the track ensuring plenty of airtime around these parts, the ideal way to relax into a chilled evening with those you love. (www.hoodfaire.co.uk)
Originally available as the first ever release on L’Animaux Tryst and now re-released in conjunction with Time Lag Records, "Les Biches" is a transitory moment for Cursillistas, the folk melodies beginning to be submerged in layers of free-folk improve and experimentation. Housed in a beautiful hand-made cover with an added CD, the LP is a magnificent creation, the music primitive yet timeless, bells, string and pipes blended into an ever changing whirl of sound, the rustling of autumn leaves or the wind blowing across the moorland. Opening track "The Snake and the Motor" will reel you in immediately, rich and organic, this is music alive with possibilities, your own imagination adding visuals to the musical landscape , the whole album offering escape from the mundane. Elsewhere "Bag of feathers" has ritual qualities buried deep within its grooves, the chanted (Looped) vocals riding joyfully over the percussion, whilst on "Fawns into Does", one of four tracks not available on the original, a rattling Banjo gives the track a ghostly Appalachian feel. All in all, an album filled with adventure and sonic satisfaction.
Also available on L’Animaux Tryst is "Travel Light" a split 12" LP featuring Cursillistas and White Light. Recorded in 2009, it is interesting to hear how much the former band has changed since their earlier work reviewed above. On "Crutches" they invoke the spirits of Hapshash or Quintessence, Bells and chants echoing over spacey backing, this feel amplified by the haunting but very short "Incantations of Bona Dea". Centrepiece of side A is "That Great Stone", a glorious example of modern Psychedelia, drifting, spacious and very special, the track containing an ambience that is hard to pin down but beautiful to experience, the guitar flourishes adding depth to the piece. Following on, the music descends into a deep-rooted drone as "Rewa Dokpa" re-wires your soul, the music as cleansing as a mountain spring, just lie back and soak it up. Having recovered sufficiently to turn the disc over, White Light immediately re-align the senses with their particular brand of Psychedelia, the Hapshash vibe in full effect again as "The Root Of All Evil" guides us into their world. On "Five Horses" a mellow bass groove ushers us into a smoky woodland grove, Guitar, Banjo and Percussion weaving together to create a silken tapestry of wonder, possibly my favourite track on the LP. After this, things get heavier with the arrival of "Without the Other One", a distorted guitar led drone, with rumbling drums and submerged vocals. Finally, "we Do True" has a stoned Neil Young feel in the familiar guitar riff, the lazy stumble of the song ending a fine album in style.
On the same label and pressed lovingly on clear vinyl, Tempera offer two side long explorations of inner space in the shape of glistening drones that are a must for anyone who has watched a seagull glide across clear blue sky, or the summer drift of dandelion seeds. On side two, chiming bells and the rumble of percussion add a more unsettled vibe to the tranquillity, the fall of night or an impending storm conjured up in the music, the piece building into a percussive led tribal ritual before all is still again.
Graced with stately string motifs, stirring vocals and a psychedelic flourish, The Ascent of Everest fill their side of a split LP with two tracks that sound unique to the band, the slow beauty of the music mixing classical strings, rock rhythms, and an experimental edge to excellent effect. After the rising majesty of "the Sea Rose Up", the mesmerising beauty of "The Journey Forever Long" is dream sequence easy to get lost in, the haunted quality of the music almost hypnotic in its assured splendour, with some trippy guitar atmospherics adding to the delight. On the other side of the disc, We All Inherit The Moon entice and seduce, drones and rolling percussion creating a delicate soundscape as beautiful as the night sky. As "Our Heart Forever Like the Sun pt1" progresses, twinkling guitar notes sparkle in the ether, the rising drone taking control, the music levitating in dense layers of magic, filling the room with a soft cloud of sound the carries away time. On "Pt2", thing become even lighter, the sound of dawn breaking in the desert, notes rising and falling, the deft touches of the players ensuring every note is meant, every sound needed. Sounding similar to the first track "And Ever pt1" is an experimental piece, the rolling percussion seemingly gaining the upper hand for a while, that is until "pt2" announces its arrival, sustained guitar notes slowly overhauled by a distorted wall of noise, disturbing the sense of reverie until "pt3" restores the sense of peace, the aching and languid cello returning you to earth with gentle hands. (http://futurerecordings.bigcartel.com/)
Released on his own Lost Recordings label "transparent Dayze" , the latest release from Angel Kaplan has the feel of a Paisley sound release, the chiming guitar and mellow vocals style mixed with Trumpets, meaning that opening track "Broken Toys" is a sparkling opener that has shades of Love about it. Elsewhere, The Byrds, The Feelies and The Church can be heard, although these are merely reference points, the strong songs and bright production meaning this 6-track EP can be enjoyed without worrying about influences. Instead listeners can enjoy the steel guitar of "Time Will be Gone So Fast", the pop-psych bounce of "Not My Friend" and the slow-burn of "No Return", a song that grows better with each listen. (http://www.myspace.com/angelkaplanmusic)
Riding their truck through a cornucopia of styles, the oddly named July Fourth Toilet are a force to be reckoned with on theirs album "Balls Boogie", a disc that has stoned running through its centre, clear as a stick of cannabis flavoured rock. After a ramshackle, but oddly compelling version of "Me and Bobby McGee", the band suddenly shift into hard rock biker boogie mode, as "Hard Working Man" roars out of the speakers, a full on rock guitar solo adding to the wonder, as does a nice change of pace in the middle, bring it on and turn it up. The hard rock then continues with the heavy stomp of "Kentucky Whore", more guitar histrionics included, as the song winds up the energy. Next up, another change of style as the sad country ballad of "Stoned on You" sparks up a fat one, seemingly the story of a man who’s woman has left him, it is a bit of a surprise to find out she is in prison for murdering someone, a nice twist that is complemented by more fine guitar playing and a solid backbeat. Following the tale of "Armwrestle John", more heavy rock with over the top vocals and moody guitar riffs, the first side finished off with the boogie of "Name on the Door", everything turned up nice and loud. So far so good, then you turn the album over to be greeted with "Thanks Drugs" a song that pays homage to recreational drug use, opening with the lines "Been distorting time and space again", the ever versatile guitarist dropping into west coast mode, without missing a beat. After this things get re-wired, the band turning into early Floyd with the psychedelic jam, strange noises, twisted dementia and general sonic weirdness of the next four tracks sounding like nothing on side one, the band proving themselves adept as this side of thing as well. To end, the happiness and joy of "Cute Little Baby" is tempered by a gnawing fear of what the future may hold, ending an album that is schizophrenic, slightly paranoid, happy drunk, stoned and laughing. The makings of a good night perhaps.
Played on Metalophone, tape, voice and synth, "Proper Motion", the latest release from Towering Breaker,is an experimental slice of vinyl containing two long tracks. On side one, the title track is a dense composition of sounds, that interweave through each other with almost overwhelming intensity, creating a storm of noise that still has a sense of calm at its centre, the trick, of course, is finding this centre, although the quest for understanding is perhaps the reason for the journey itself. Indeed, as the piece progresses, the sounds change and slowly reveal a tantalising glimpse of the silence that lies at its heart before moving forward again, maybe the ideal music to listen to whilst reading "Journey to the East". On side two, "Forms Apart in our Throats", is the oasis, the shelter from the storm , only for a short while however as we discover the cavern to be home to ghosts, memories and spectres, their eerie presence discomforting without being truly frightening, as we recognise them to be from our own mind. Beautifully realised, this LP is a personal pleasure best listened to on your own so as to absorb its full power.
Sounding not unlike the Magic Band falling down a flight of stairs, Needle Gun make a righteous riot of noise on their LP "Afternoon Computer Umbrage". Mixing avant garde strangeness, free jazz skronks, a punk aesthetic and anything else they fancy, the album is a rollercoaster ride for your ears, the twist and turns making for an exhilarating listening experience that can be disorientating at first. All I can say is strap in and enjoy it all, the stop/start nature of the songs making it difficult to differentiate between them, something that does not distract from the enjoyment at all. (www.myspace.com/ehserecords) On the same label, Sejayno are equally as disorientating, in a completely different way. Definitely, or maybe defiantly psychedelic, the tracks have weird tunings, odd mixes and an alien air about them, sounding like space-rock played by drunk Venusians, a spiritual quest performed in a shopping mall, the end of the world reduced to a video game. As you can probably guess, the music on "Quantus" seemingly defies description, although there are familiar sounding passages, fleeting moments and sounds. Drop your CD collection into a well and see what comes up in the bucket, maybe this album, maybe not. (Simon Lewis)
Rumbles written by: Simon Lewis, Steve Palmer and Ian Fraser
Artwork, Layout & Direction: Phil McMullen