= NOVEMBER 2 0 1 9 =

Welcome to this Autumn / Winter edition of Rumbles. This year seems to have flown by - I can’t believe it’s now November! We are seeing a reduction in physical promo copies being sent in of late, and a higher percentage of digital downloads. We’d prefer something you can actually see and feel as well as listen to (or read), so if you have anything that you would like us to review please bear that in mind.

For me the less travelled roads often produce the most surprises in life and it appears that this is mirrored with the music that I naturally gravitate towards. Plenty of fine music with surprises is still being sent in, some of it very good indeed.

On with the latest reviews: here’s Steve Palmer to guide you through a few releases that have come his way. 

“Winning Combination” by The Safes is an amalgamation of quirky, well played and not unmelodious songs, opening with the quirky and tuneful ‘It’s True,’ which as with all ten songs on this album is little more than two minutes long. ‘On Top’ is heavier but equally as tuneful (and as well played and recorded), while ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Baggage Claim’ have a charming folk feel to them. ‘Dreams That Ignite’ has a nursery rhyme feel to it, in no part due to the instrumentation and ¾ time. The closing two numbers come over like an ambient MGMT, with the tune quotient kept satisfyingly high. A very good album in all respects, particularly with regard to some inventive songwriting. Nice, and a winning combination indeed!  (www.thesafes.com)

Just Jay & His Sonic Sphere Of Acquaintance (a.k.a. Baltimore guitarist Jay Grabowski) on his collection “1971 – 2019” presents an anthology of the man’s work in the field of plank spanking. Various genres cover this varied collection of tracks: metal, prog, weird, um… well, pretty much everything actually, from faux-jazz in unusual time signatures to rawk… although I suppose progressive would be the overall theme. Vocalists are varied, as are many other musicians, with Grabowski’s guitar talent underpinning the whole thing. Some of it (‘Primal Scream’) is proggier-than-thou, but there are some great cuts, for instance the poppy ‘Diane’ and ‘Maiden Voyage,’ which has the oddest retro/Fleetwood Mac vibe. A bit of a curate’s egg, then.  (www.OHOmusic.com)

If gracious, melodious tunesmithery is your bag then “Under Blue Skies” by Armstrong might be your thing. Presented as akin to Aztec Camera, Teenage Fanclub and Prefab Sprout, those flattering comparisons aren’t at all inaccurate. Opener ‘Love Hate Passion and War’ is a bit Aztecky, ‘Crazy World’ hits that button even more, while third up, ‘Baby You Just Don’t Care’ adds an earworm to the mix. There are twelve main tracks here from 2007, and eight extras from various times in the band’s history. The main album keeps the quality up: ‘Ralph And Gustav’ is infectious and adorable, while album almost-closer ‘Still Miss You’ has another great riff and tune. Definitely one for pop fans of a certain age – very enjoyable.  (www.countrymile.org)

“Icereport” by Francesco Paolo Paladino with many friends, is a chilly slab of dark electronica with the emphasis on glaciation, coldness and other forms of wintry temperature. The musical palette is large: synths, found sounds, and a host of acoustic string instruments, alongside some piano, some brass and a little by way of the human voice. It’s remarkably creepy music, very well layered and produced, and just right for an icebound winter afternoon with the sun about to set. The tracks are all pretty short, but merge into a very effective whole. The longest track at twelve minutes – ‘Nel Vento’ – includes a mysterious electric guitar, as if soloing atop some Alpine mountain, and brilliantly judged synths and strange vocals. Minimal, yes – but not too minimal. Also highly atmospheric.  (Silentes Records, Italy – no contact details given)

Deniz Tek & The Godoys on their album “Fast Freight” make US indie noise as a trio (Tek and two chaps named Godoy), recalling very early REM and perhaps a few UK acts like The Skids. They describe themselves as skateboarders, tatooists and punk rockers. The music is stripped back, well played and entirely recorded on vintage equipment – these songs have tons of energy and were recorded in two days live, and not overdubbed. There’s not much by way of tunes, admittedly, but plenty of attitude. ‘Bo Diddley Is A Surfer’ is enjoyably New Wave, while ‘Shanghai Cab’ (opening side B of the LP) should perhaps have been the opener – best cut on the album with its drawled lyrics and snarly attitude.  An album for fans of that unadorned live sound. (www.deniztek.com)

A split album seems a strange concept (want one band? have two instead) and here’s one from Career Records featuring Donovan’s Brain and Fraudband. The Donovan’s Brain tracks are standard retro psych, but the Fraudband cuts have a bit more zing, although, it has to be said, they don’t sound as good. All these latter tracks are metal-surf instrumentals. The album ends with a Donovan’s Brain track ‘Tad’s New Cymbal Stand,’ which is a bonus at least as good as their best other cut. Ironic! I guess this is for fans of Donovan’s Brain, for whom this is an eleventh release. (www.careerrecords.com)

Who is Chris White? On his “The Chris White Experience Volume 2” we find out that he was in The Zombies, wrote much of “Odessey & Oracle,” and also wrote the classic Argent hit ‘Hold Your Head Up.’ The opener on this album ‘Good Good Morning’ does sound a bit like that classic track (chorus anyway), but it has a satisfyingly melodic base. Great song! There follows a stream of delightfully well written, nostalgic, vaguely Zombies-esque songs – lots of descending chord sequences of course – all of them well sung and produced. I really enjoyed this; it shows a man doing good work. Most of the cuts here are previously unreleased, which is amazing considering their quality, and some (‘Don’t Go Looking’ and ‘Normal Heart’ – both ace) feature the immediately recognisable tones of Colin Blunstone: even better. Highly recommended, and, of course, essential for Zombies fans.(www.thechriswhiteexperience.com)

“Safari” by Mooon (hmmm…) is an album of Dutch psychedelic frippery featuring much by way of harmony vocals, in which life away from the big city deep inside the wildnerness is considered, to the accompaniment of wide stereo separation, fuzz guitar and everything else by way of the ‘sixties. As with all albums like this, the thing depends on the quality of the songs. Well, they’re not bad. Tunes, for a start: ‘Leaving Town’ and ‘All By Myself’ for instance. The vocals are particularly well sung throughout – this is a band who understand the central role of multiple harmonies to ‘sixties retro music. Some nice organ and Rhodes add to the mix, and there’s plenty of tremelo guitar. Definitely one for retro heads – a superior example of this kind of thing. Groovy, in fact! (www.bickertonrecords.com)

“Global Warning/The Good Earth” by The Treat is music that wants to be prog so much it hurts, even to the extent of having their CD on-body design echo that of Harvest Records. This double concept album though is a bit more than some lazy, indulgent prog mess. Various world music interludes for instance (Australian, Mongolian) intersperse the prog rock fare, and there is much variety in mood and tone. Some of the music sounds a bit like Jethro Tull without the flute crossed with early Deep Purple, as evinced on the opening main cut ‘Global Warning.’ Tull and Arena may be influences, but Zeppier vibes (they pretty much copy ‘Kashmir,’ even down to the mellotron) somewhat spoil the originality. Highlights include the clever ‘Multinational’ and ‘Down In The Flood’ with its Neil Young-esque environmental concerns, cosmic backing vocals and gorgeous slide guitar. I have to say though, despite mis-steps, for musicality, originality and cheek this isn’t too shabby an album. On vinyl I expect it would be a three-sider.  (www.thetreat.co.uk)

Thanks for that Steve, and here are a few items sent my way over the last few months.

Woodford Halse is a record label which really should be on your radar. To date they have produced three cassettes in an ongoing series entitled Undulating Waters. The first three volumes have been released only on limited edition cassettes, each featuring a whole host of artists some of which will no doubt be familiar to our readers.

Volume One features songs by Polypores, Time Attendant, Pictogram and Michael Plater amongst others. It’s a great introduction to the label with particular note going to Panamint Manse with Harmony Borax and Floodlights Cold Floors.

Volume Two has songs by the Midwich Youth Club, Spaceship, Vert:x, The Heartwood Institute, Grey Frequency and Field Lines Cartographer plus a few new names to me Bill Foreman, Azyss and Slow Glass. Black tempest’s “Rama” and Smith/Jones “Whitechapel” are both excellent highlights.

Volume Three, features songs by Bell Lungs, Widow’s Weeds - ft Kitchen Cynics, Keith Seatman and Emily Jones, artists that I am familiar with and a whole host that i’m not like Misty Bywater, Folclore Imressionista, The Twelve Hour Foundation, Yumah and Simon McCory. Highly recommended and available from www.woodfordhalse.bandcamp.com

Another label quietly going about their business is Sound In Silence whose latest releases keep up the quality with The Green Kingdom’s “Seen And Unseen”, Western Edge “Prowess”, Sweeney with “Human, Insignicant” and Mis+ress with “Dispellers”. Western Edge is the new ambient/electronic project of Richard Adams he of Hood fame. It has drifting synthscapes, hypnotic drones, deep bass lines and minimal beats.  Mis+ress is the ambient solo project of Brian Wenckebach who is/was one half of Elika and currently in Measured, a band consisting of Brian alsong with Ulrich Scnauss of latter day Tangerine Dream and Evagelia Maravelias. Layered with loops and delayed guitars, it’s heavily processed with reverb and a slew of effects pedals, good stuff indeed, it falls somewhere in between The Durutti Column and Daniel Lanois more ambient side. Green Kingdom is the project of Michael Cottone from Michigan. The album is an ambient delight with lush textures and haunting drones, realised on various instruments such as kalimba, piano, synths and acoustic guitars.

Just arrived as we are going to print is a new 300 copy limited edition CD on Sound In Silence from the excellent Memory Drawings “Phantom Lights”. Memory Drawings have a few releases under their collective belt and this one was brieflt available on their tour of last year. The band were formed by Richard Adams of Leeds based band Hood and this album sees dulcimer by Joel Hanson, Violin by Sarah Kemp, piano by Gareth S. Brown and multi-instrumentalist Chris Cole. 25 minutes long with six mainly instrumental tracks, with vocals on the last track by Yvonne Bruner. It’s very lovely indeed. All available from www.soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com

Farina – “The Undercliff Suite” EP on limited cassette. Mark Brend, of Palace Of Light and Mabel Joy, Ghostwriter, Strange Sounds Orchestra and lately of Farina releases a new limited edition cassette.

Consisting of five short songs full of glockenspiel, keyboards, mandolin, piano, flugelhorn, acoustic and electric guitar, dulcimer and autoharp, it’s lovely stuff, from the downbeat “Ceremony” to the jaunty “Jenny’s Waltz” via the cinematic “Hollow Sea” and “Resurgam”. Available from www.hankypankyrecords.com

Mercvrial – “The Stars Like Dust” CD EP.  Here is a release by a new band, made up of one Mexican and three members from different States in the USA San Diego, Virginia, and Wisconsin and without any previous releases, this represents their first foray. Five tracks of a band heavily influenced by British labels like Creation but also citing The Flying Nuns, Imaginary and 4 AD. Their influences shine through with maybe a touch of Stone Roses to these ears and the guitar sound of Shoegaze bands such as Slowdive, along with the echoing infinity guitar of Michael Brooks. “Otherworld” is very New Order circa 1985 crossed with Stone Roses “Waterfall”. “Carnival” is a sweet catchy honeyed pop rock song. “Pink Frost” is a bit more New Wave in style. Well worth checking them out if that’s yer bag, its well produced and has a nice pop rock sheen to it. Available from 

IVY – “Home Recordings” A various artists CD on Infinity Vine Records. 50 copies.

Label boss Karen Zane tasked the artists to be free with no constraints when considering which piece to send in, she herself has included a song to the project, entitled “Infinity Vine” which if it was to act as a template for the kind of thing required here, does so in spades. Many of the acts deliver quiet tracks of hushed beauty. Veering from Allysen Callery’s summery vibe of “Sweet Golden Bee” to a discordant and completely out of place “Procession Of Chimera’s” by Moonbloom.

Favourites are droning pipes of “Along The Way” by Joshua Burkett, “Everything In The Dim Night” by Joseph Allred, “Crow Song Moonlight” by Rachel Riverwood, “Intersolsticial” by Reticence which right now is my favourite track and “The Drifter” by Dark Sunny Land. Highly recommended and available from www.infinityvinerecords.bandcamp.com

The Lancashire Hustlers have a new 7” single out Mindcrawl b/w The Song Of P.F Fernandez on Steep Hill Records. I have enjoyed their previous releases and this acts as a taster for their imminent fifth album. It features instruments such as Mellotron, finger cymbals, Tablas and Taishgoto, played by members Brent Thorley and Ian Pakes.  ‘Mindcrawl is a drowsy slightly exotic affair and the b side is an ode to Brent’s cat, a folksy number with some nice tin whistle thrown in, good stuff I’m looking forward to the album.

Psychic Lemon - Freak Mammal.

Psychic Lemon’s third album released on Drone Rock records is one of the heaviest things I’ve heard in a while. The instrumental album is five tracks long with the opener ‘Dark Matter’, running to a good ten minutes; it’s slow to coalesce and builds and builds into a maelstrom. The band consists of Andy Briston: guitars and synth. Andy Hibberd: bass and Martin Law: drums. Fans of Hawkwind and Krautrock would appreciate the sonic templates on offer; ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space. ‘Dark Matter’, is the most Hawkwind sounding of the tracks ‘Seeds Of Tranquility’ slows things down a little, it’s a biggie too, at over thirteen minutes, guitars trace out the elements, the steady patter of drums sets up a rhythm and it’s all anchored with some deep bass, there’s also a scouring synth attack and plenty of echoing metallic klang. ‘Afrotropic Bomb’ is nuts, a huge wall of sound not unlike Goat at their finest. ‘Free Electron Collective’, is also full on space rock with menacing synths billowing about. Final song ‘White Light’ is a motorik spacerocker, which builds in intensity as it progresses, threatening to destroy the speakers. I have tickets to see them next year; I must remember to pack some ear plugs.

Western Electric Soundsystem - The Incredible Shrinking Man  Mirrophonic Records. 

Another new band made up of Stephen Whitfield: vocals, keyboards. Robert Forrester: guitars, mandolin and bass. Duncan Forrester: drums , percussion and loops. Stephen W. Taylor: additional soundscapes and Martin Bell: Fiddle on one track. Gothic rock with a progressive bent, if that’s a thing. Deep sonorous vocals (think 16 Horsepower, Lloyd Cole or Tindersticks). The band is an interesting one, I love the soundscapes throughout the album, it is also very well produced and executed, the subject matter is pretty dark, a darkness at the edge of the world. ‘Night Train’ is a great well placed instrumental track, or so it seems until vocals appear halfway through. ‘Lullaby’ is especially dark, this one being about torture, arson, serial killers, priests and popes. The title track The Incredible Shrinking Man is split into three parts. ‘Departure’, ‘Rudderless’ and ‘Where the Wind Blows’, they create a nice suite of songs that flow as one. It has the most progressive structure of all the songs on this fine debut album, interesting to see how they progress. Available at wwwwesternelectricsoundsystem.com

Another label putting out really good releases at the moment is Black Editions. Since the 1980s no label has better embodied the worldly diverse and vital spirit of the Japanese underground in Tokyo than PSF. PSF records featured revered artists such as Acid Mother Temple, Ghost, High Rise and White Heaven. Hideo Ikeeuzumi founded PSF and through his uncompromising vision championed some of the world’s most truly original music. The seminal Psychedelic Speed Freaks set certainly alerted many in the west to the wonders of Japanese psychedelic rock. This seminal set has now been re-issued on a huge deluxe 4LP set, taking in such delights as the wonderful Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s tribute to him with “Ikeezumi- San”, plus we have Acid Mothers Temple’s terrific “Pink Lady Lemonade”, High Rise with “Outside Gentiles”, White Heaven’s stunning “Out”, and the wonderful Ghost with “Blue Link”.

The label has also reissued the excellent High Rise 11 album which was at the vanguard of the psychedelic rock from the Tokyo underground. It was first released in 1986 and is a stunning album full of lively tunes with hair raising coruscating guitars, impassioned vocals, bludgeoning drums and sinewy bass; this new edition has now been remixed and remastered.

Songs like Wipe Out rock big time and Last Rights; with its mental lead guitar, certainly clean out the cobwebs and the slow burn of Pop Sicle works a treat. A subtle album it’s not, but if you feel like everything is a little too sanitised of late then a good healthy dose of this is just what the doctor ordered. 

Black Editions have also been putting out some solo albums, label sales and marketing director Steve Lowenthal has released a few on his boutique Vins Du Select Qualitite and Thin Wrist labels.

Michael Morley played electric guitar in New Zealand’s legendary The Dead C and also Gate and has just released “Heavens Idleness Awaits” a deluxe 2 LP set that is Intimate and Intense, meditative and hypnotic, it slowly unfurls to reveal a minimalist masterwork and one of his most powerful statements to date, rendered on 12 string these four lengthy tracks are full of wonder. Steve has also been curating some solo guitarist’s albums. Wendy Eisenberg whose “Its Shape Is Your Touch” is an album of challenging deconstructed guitar music, it’s improvisational in nature, a naked 21st-century expression through which she inhabits an enthralling language all of her own.

Also released on the label is an album by Arian Shafiee “A Scarlet Fail” which sees 11 tracks recorded in New York City between 2015 and 2016, lovers of Jack Rose and albums of solo guitar caressing will rejoice, there’s some excellent playing throughout the record which gets the balance between attack and retreat just about right, check them out, there’s some very good stuff being released by them.

All available from www.theblackeditions.com and www.vdsqrecords.com and www.thinwrist.com

Right that’ll do for a while, see you further on down the line. Happy trails! Andrew

Terrascopic Rumbles for November 2019 was brought to you by Andrew Young. For contact details see F.A.Q. 

Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2019