= September 2009 =




ere in the Herefordshire countryside there is a gentle shifting of the seasons, summer fading gently into autumn as the landscape turns from green to golden and the allotment yields its reward for some hard work earlier in the year. Reflecting this wistful and beautiful time of year, The Inner Banks latest album “Songs From Disko Bay” is a mellow collection of songs mixing Mazzy Star and The Field Mice, some gentle string arrangements and touches of brass adding to the autumnal mood. Opening with some drunken keys, the first thing you notice is the gorgeous voice of Caroline Schultz, the crystal tones lifting the songs allowing them to soar over the excellent arrangements and production, all of which give the tunes a vibrant and warming glow. Highlights include the shimmering pop of “Darling” and the opening track “Lemon Tree” but it is all good. (www.dagrecords.com)



omewhere between a more upbeat Towne Van Zandt and a more countrified Neil Young, the songs of Simon Joyner are definitely of the “what is life gonna throw at me now” variety. This is no bad thing of course, especially as the songs are lyrical and engaging, simple arrangements and some steel guitar adding charm and emotion to the tunes. The fact that “Out in the Snow” is the 12th album that Simon has released suggests he has found his niche, the songs displaying a maturity and confidence that only comes from an artist comfortable with their surroundings. Neither ground-breaking nor experimental, this is a damn fine album that contains enough quality to ensure it still sounds good in twenty years time. (www.team-love.com)

    Just as resigned, and angry as well, the music of Pride Parade is a dense wash of guitar noise, shouted vocals and dark rhythms, an unrelenting wall  of slow destruction that recalls the best moments of early grunge, before it became a media whore. Fans of Mudhoney and The Melvins should check out “Always Wanted One” or “Pretty” for a taste of the good stuff.  Aptly named “Dose”, this is an album that needs to be played very fuckin’ loud. (www.myspace.com/prideparade69)

    Also devastatingly noisy is “Advance Paranoia, Advance” the latest release from The Chasms, a blistering seven song collection that is built around the fucked up heavy psych baritone guitar that threatens to tear the place apart. Combine this with crazy sung/shouted vocals and some primitive backing and you have a band that will be lapped up by lovers of Japanese psych and noise in general. With three of the tunes clocking in over 10 minutes in length, there is plenty of time for the three piece to twist your mind into jelly, repetitive riffery taking you to a different dimension, brutal and disorientating, go on dive in. Oh, and it has a picture of a kitten on the front, and it can be bought for a penny or downloaded for free, perfect. (www.myspace.com/thechasms)

    Creating a dark forest ambience, the kind of noise that has the elderly looking over their shoulders, the music of Hadewych is resolutely foreboding and cloaked in shadow. Of course, even on rain-soaked forest walks there is always an element of desolate beauty, a flash of colour or the occasional glimpse of light and so it is with this self-titled album, the mood lightened with melodies and gentler passages. Filled with whispering vocals, prepared piano, synths, drones and percussion, the tracks bleed into each other , the twelve tracks becoming one long creation, and earthbound ,twilight slice of pagan ritual that draws you in with ease, walking the line between electronic soundscapes and wyrd-folk strangeness with dexterity and imagination. A journey of fragile intensity that flickers like flame, the shadows dancing in your peripheral vision, creating your own mythology the album comes housed in a wooden/cloth package and looks as good as it sounds. (www.tuchtunie.nl)

    Possibly living in a small shack on the edge of the same forest, Harps of Fuschia Kalmia is an acoustic collection of forest drone that utilises an array of instruments including Guitar, Harp, Dulcimer, Bouzouki, Squeeze Box, Tablas and Cymbals/Bells. Basically the work of Salvatore Borrelli, “Burning with Your Old Joy in the Terminal Sun” contains five radiant tracks, the blend of melody and drone producing a slow-motion ambience, the sound of a falling leaf or the lazy buzzing of an insect. Maintaining a similar texture and ambience throughout, this is a haunting and restful album that will bring a summer meadow directly into your living room.  (www.ikuisuus.net). On the same label “Your Purple Breath” is a cave-dwellers symphony from Stefan Kushima, twisted guitar and restless noise walking just the right side of cacophony. Opening track “Long Moan Drag” tells it like it is, whilst “Stoner Sea2 ramps up the intensity to almost painful levels, the listener drowning in a cloud of blissful noise that is slowly dissipated by the levitation qualities of the title track. With no real respite, this is an album for those of you who wish to live in the vortex for a while, cleansing the soul in a whirl of sound. Also from the label, there is a definite change of pace as you press play and revel in “Neverending Blues” a collection of traditional/original blues from Finnish musician Keijo. Featuring guitar, voice and sparse percussive backing, the songs have a strange ambience, the scent of lysergic beginnings, something especially noticeable on “Guitars on the Highway” (McGhee) although as the album continues things get even stranger, the tunes lengthening and seemingly disintegrating before your ears, the psychedelic taking over, the blues becoming ritual, an earthy magic that is hard to resist, whilst the broadening sonic landscape now includes rumbling drone, harmonica and general strangeness. By the time you get to “Blue Hum” it is hard to remember where you have been, so lost are you in the hypnotic sounds that ooze and creep from the speakers, a delicious surprise that grows and grows.

    Running from 1960-1979, Ember records were an important label that never quite broke into the big time. Now the Future Noise label has commenced a re-issue programme, that will once again, make available some fine music from this underrated label. First up is “Tell Me”, a collection of Beat songs from ’62-’64. Opening strongly with lively instrumental “Savoy Club Stomp” The Sunsets, you know you are in the right place, the shadows meeting the Rolling Stones in the place where UK music began to change and become more youth orientated. Elsewhere you can hear echoes of the Everly Brothers, early Cliff, the Beatles as you are treated to 25 examples of British Pop. Maybe too early to be considered truly Terrascopic, there is still much to enjoy, with some of the highlights being “Zulu Stomp”-The John Barry Seven, “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”-The Washington DC’s, “Me”-A Band of Angels, “Hey,Who” –Ray Singer, and “Tell Me”-Marcus Tro, all of which could have been major hits in their own rights. Of more interest to Terrascope readers is “Rainy Day Mind”, Ember Pop ’69-’74, a collection of  21 tracks mainly in the soft psych/pop category. As on the previous volume quality is high as the collection opens with the hideously rare “A Walk in the Sunshine”-Davey Payne and the Medium Wave, a beautiful and melancholy song that is followed by an intriguing version of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” by The Good Ship Lollipop. Elsewhere, The Good Vibrations raise the energy on the modish stomp of “Call Me Lightning”, Milt Matthews Inc manage to combine distorted guitar and strings on “Hard Day’s Night” and Polly Niles is 60’s girl pop personified on the wonderful “Sunshine in my Rainy Day Mind”. As the compilation moves into the 70’s things get heavier with Rusty Harness, Mother Trucker and Black Swan all turning up the volume to great effect. Finally, for now, “Liverpool Today, Live at the Cavern” features three local acts recorded in the Cavern studio, the recording then having audience and announcements added for greater atmosphere. Released in 1965, the album is chock-a-block with some stomping beat as Earl Preston’s Realm, Michael Allen,  and The Richmond Group strut their stuff, moving from full on rockers and R’n’B classics to more jazz/soul tinged efforts. Again Filled with quality, all three of these albums should appeal to anyone with an interest in how pop music was born and how it developed in to the multi headed beast we know today. (www.futurenoisemusic.com)

     Having tinges of Kevin Ayers or an acoustic Talking Heads, the songs of Balky Mule are well worth investigating on his album “The Length of the Rail”. The result of five years work by Sam Jones (Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation), the fifteen tracks have that peculiar English feel, Ray Davis and Robert Wyatt gazing out over the landscape, the songs both gentle and slightly hazy, a combination that works well for me. Throughout, the arrangements and instrumentation are inventive and thoughtful, with songs such as “Moths Like Woodchip” having a beautiful aural veneer that makes them shine, whilst the array of sounds makes it difficult to decide what instrument/device is being used within the tune. With nothing lasting more than four minutes, this is a collection of small but perfectly formed jewels, perfect for lazy Sundays, just like you grandmothers button box from so long ago. Also on Fat Cat is “Posthumous Success”, the latest album from Tom Brosseau, another collection of lovingly crafted songs, thoughtful lyrics and arrangements only adding to the charm.  Seemingly livelier than previous outings, the tracks have vitality and exuberance, bursting from the speakers to reveal a warmth, repeated plays allowing the listener to find hidden layers and textures. Ranging from full band to gentler acoustic tunes, this contrast can be heard by listening to “Boot Hill”, a soft sunshine ripple that is followed by “You Don’t Know My Friends” a song that explodes into life with controlled aggression and attitude to spare. Bookended by two versions of “My Favourite Colour Blue”, one mellow one electronic in texture, this is a mature and well-rounded album that seems to fill the definition of “a grower”. (www.fat-cat.co.uk)

     Brooding and powerful, the music of Ahkmed seemingly strives for the sun, a heady mix of Stooges power and Mono’s epic sensibilities that can tear the roof off with lazy precision. Hailing from Australia, the tunes have that country’s sense of space, the sounds expansive, taking the listener on a journey across the landscape. Never one dimensional, the tracks have an ebb and flow to them, with the monumental final/title track “Distance” taking all that has gone before to create a psych – rock monster that swirls across the cosmos, a musical comet that leaves soft burning fires in its wake, crank it up and be transported. (www.elektrohasch.de)

    Fuzzed-up and noisy as hell, the stoner rock of Ponamero Sundown could be the ideal soundtrack for that after pub shindig. With shades of Sabbath, Orange Goblin and Monster Magnet running throughout its grooves, “Stonerized” is an album that basically does what it says on the tin. This is no bad thing as the band tear through 12 high-octane workouts with titles such as “Alcoholic Deathride”, “Hell Sent”, “Doctor of Evil” and the aforementioned title track which turns out to be a short spacey instrumental that closes the album with a shimmer of smoke. Elsewhere, “Reborn” scrambles your brain, and intermission is a short ballad that gives a moments rest before “Hell Sent” goes for the throttle again. Equally noisy but more heavy than stoner, “Smakar Sondag”, the latest album from Swedish rockers Abramis Brama, should appeal to those into detuned Sabbath-esque riffery, howling guitars and a tendency to slow things down to introduce some melodic harmony.. Featuring 11 songs, the album boasts an upfront production that blasts the songs out of the speakers with power and clarity. On “Sista Morgonljuset”, the band introduce a bluesy vibe, something that works well, giving the album variation, as does the relaxed country tinge of “N.E.S” a tune with a Skynyrd feel.  Fans of 70’s rock should check out Mangrove, whose latest album “Endless Skies” is a feast of guitar riffs, soaring vocals, solid bass and tight but loose drum happiness. Fans of Budgie, Purple, the Sabbs, etc etc, will find much to enjoy as “River of my Soul”, “Electric Eye” and the title track itself rock their world, whilst the skull crushing heaviness of “Quivering Ground” deserves to be played really fuckin’ loud. Mixing Crimson with Anglagaard, the music of Gosta Berlings Saga, is dense and complex, requiring concentration, although the band never loses sight of the melody, resisting the temptation to dive into the wilfully obscure. On “Detta Har Hant” their latest album, they display dexterity and taste, some fluid guitar work matched by the richly textured keyboards and spot-on rhythm section, being especially impressive on “Sorterargatan” and album closer, the jazz flecked “Vasterbron 05:30”. Bringing classic 70’s prog back to life without resorting to hiding it in metal trappings, ”Descending” the latest album from Gargamel is a magnificent album that ticks all the right boxes, dense keyboards, sudden changes of mood and tempo, Mellotrons, and long epics lasting up to 18 minutes, all of which sounds glorious to my ears. With the basic tracks recorded live, the band then had fun overdubbing extra layers of sound, strings, woodwind and effects, the resulting album coming out of a time machine that has its dial stuck on 1971, very likely resting in Canterbury. Lasting 45 minutes and containing only four tracks every prog lover should own this album, another fine release from Transubstan Records who are responsible for releasing all the albums in this overlong paragraph. (www.transubstans.com)

    Featuring the talents of Eddie Keenan, Neil Fitzgibbon and David Colohan (UBS, Agitated Radio Pilot), The Driftwood Manor have come up trumps with their latest release “Every Light Goes Out Eventually”, a three track EP with enough atmosphere to cloak the whole of the UK. With repetitive chanted vocals, sparse melody and a sense of regret, “The May Floods Came” opens proceedings with melancholy style, a thirteen minute drift of aural mist, soft vocals and hypnotic magic, being lost in the hills never felt so good. Opening with a beautifully distant piano sound interlaced with birdsong, the title track compels you to lie back and listen, your ears rewarded with a gossamer drone that yearns for release, the gentle tension becoming almost unbearable, the sound finally drifting away across the valley. To finish, “Before it is Time” is a sad lament, the slowly strummed guitar, rippling under the vocals until the song changes into a humming drone that rises slowly, levitating sound with solitary purpose. As winters shadow begins to cross our thoughts, this EP could well be the best way to usher in those dark nights, beautiful and stately in its presence. (www.slowloris.org)

    Picking up the melancholic tag and holding it tight to his chest, Arran Arctic, has created and wonderful and haunting collection of songs on his album “The Boy in Brown”, a rich mixture of folk, drone, electronic flourishes and good old-fashioned songwriting. After the brief and haunting “Lonely Accordian”, the album reveals its depths with the excellent “Origin”, a beautiful song that revolves around the wavering and delicate voice of Arran, the spacious production offering more reasons to love the tune. Moving on “Tight Lipped Lover” begins as a sweet slice of ambience before morphing into a gentle song with aching strings, “A Cold Wind” is enhanced by some excellent vocals courtesy of Hannah Bradley, whilst “widow’s Weed” is a blend of all that has gone before, a fine finale to a wonderful album. (www.myspace.com/arranartic)

     Ok, time for me to hand over to Steve palmer and then Stefan Ek, thanks again for you help guys.


Lord Gammonshire's "Guide To Everyday Sounds" - file under Unpopular, Whimsical Prog! - is a very English trip through a fanciful environment of acoustica, fuzz guitar, samples, organs and harmony singing. Imagine a land where Gorkys Zygotic Mynci meet Caravan and you can't help but fall for this Canterburyesque concoction of tea party tunes. Well played and very well produced, and bursting with weird little effects and illusions, this debut release on the new Bitter Buttons record label will appeal to all psych heads who feel a yearning for the early seventies. "The Uncivil Servant" recalls Mungo Jerry in its proto-glam feel (nice Wakeman style synth solo too), while "Summer Smash" enters classic Dodgy territory, with great ironic lyrics - "Radio 2! Pop smash!" "The Barlain Forest" recalls the work of mediaevel folk-proggers Circulus, while "Rise Of The Stromatolites" goes full-on folk, and "Catalan Catamaran" takes us to a synthi-Spain. Penultimate cut "Tundra" veers off, marvellously, into space-rock territory with a touch of late 'sixties Floyd - superb. Final track "Brie Before Bedtime" recalls The High Llamas, with Duncan Gammon's voice sounding remarkably like Sean O'Hagan's. Fans of any of the above mentioned bands would enjoy this release, which comes heartily recommended. Great artwork too.


 "Remember" by Israeli born Yair Yona fuses delta blues and English folk, with a smattering of other instruments - piano, synths, strings and drums. The first few tracks mix slide blues, clawhammer picking and folk styles to great effect - "Pharoah" merges fingerpicking and slide blues into one excellent track. Electric slide adds to the blues mood on "Struggled So Hard," while "Floodgate Opens To Allow A Ship To Come Through" references Yair Yona's musical hero John Fahey, adding atmospheric sound effects on the way. Album closer "Skinny Fists" begins with clawhammer fingerpicking before strings and manic drums come in to create a memorable finale. Played with zest and skill, blues and folk afficionados alike will love this unique blend.



If experimental yet commercial rock is your scene then you would do well to check out the excellent "Good Hands Bad Blood" by LA's The Color Turning. Album opener "Slow As Passing Cars" merges Frippesque electric guitar, drums, vocals and Rhodes piano into a haunting slowburn mix. "Where The Sky Ends" is a much more accessible tune hinting at Rilo Kiley et al, while "Marionettes In Modern Times" is a wonderfully melodic song, and an album highlight. "New Hooligan" is an uptempo skewed rocker with another terrific sense of melody - very radio friendly I would imagine. The band's California indie roots are strong on "Doppelganger," while "Ghost Song" hints at a smoother Nirvana - quiet/loud/quiet and very good too, with particularly fine vocals - another album highlight. "Porcelain" closes the album fusing melancholy acoustic guitars and keening vocals. This band is head and shoulders above their competition; another recommended album.


 Meanwhile, also in LA we find the Sugarplum Fairies plying their blend of sultry vocals and shimmering guitars. Vienniese singer Silvia Ryder sounds like a super-smooth cross between Natalia Imbruglia and Nico, while the band (a conglomerate of musicians from various big American groups and acts) do their best shoegaze rock. It's well done, though a tad anonymous in places. At least the vocals carry the songs - "Head Or Tail" is particularly soulful, while "First Rate Show" could have been a James track if Tim Booth had sung it. "I Hate Saturdays" has impenetrable-yet-funny lyrics and a nice indie vibe, while "Hold On To Me" was featured in the finale of "Grey's Anatomy," quite understandably, as it's an album highlight. "Polaroid" completes the album in introspective acoustic mode, showing the listener that this band can do many moods and styles: "Sometimes even cowgirls get the blues." Fans of The Cardigans and Mazzy Star should love this one.


 WiQwar is the nom de plume of one Russell Wickwar, a gentleman from Norwich, from which locale, and with his brother, is brought an eccentric brand of acoustic-only music. Already a hit with such luminaries as Stuart Maconie (Freak Zone) and Tom Robinson (Radio 6), this is instrumental music played on instruments converted by samplers and computer into beats and sounds. Added to this melange of oddity are various fingerpicked acoustic guitars. It's an unusual and occasionally enchanting mixture; certainly music for blissed-out summers, "Experience Mistake" for example, elsewhere perhaps music for last thing at night, as with the fantastic mbira-led "Sun & Wine". "Butterfly Man," probably my favourite track on the album, has a great descending-bass guitar riff added to some atmospheric soundscapes. The CDR's do-it-yourself artwork reflects the brothers' ethos. An intriguing, well recorded, and sometimes rather lovely concoction, with an especially good guitar sound. Recommended.


 Slaraffenland take us to Copenhagen with their album "We're On Your Side," which neatly merges West Coast style harmonies with good songs and an indie feel - an intricate and complex sound. The vocals sound like they are sung in unison, but there are very clever harmonies lurking underneath - imagine an ultra-cool Skids vocal sound merged with King Crimson-lite instrumentation. A unique mix! Opener "Long Gone" sets the scene, while "Meet And Greet," with its almost chanted vocals, sparse instrumentation yet complicated percussion, sounds like a musical manifesto. Elsewhere ambient elements, electronics and more brass instruments enliven the compositions; "Open Your Eyes" is particularly good, mixing jazz and sampled synth sounds. Album closer "Away" merges piano, vocals, handclaps and a very relaxed brass vibe to create a perfect endpiece. Good stuff.


 Brainchild of Hood co-founder Richard Adams, The Declining Winter peddle a compelling brand of melancholic, occasionally pastoral songwriting. On their second EP-length recording "Haunt The Upper Hallways" (actually a 7" single, but with extra tracks and an added CD album), many elements fuse into a compelling whole: delicate guitars, cellos and dulcimers, and reverberated harmonised vocals. The drumming is hypnotic, adding much to this mix. The title track sets the mood, with wordless chanting and thrumming cellos, while "My Name In Ruins" creates a mood of slightly unnerving folk-pop, with its forwards/backwards whispered vocals. Very good indeed, this track. Album highlight "Where The Severn Rivers Tread" is wonderfully spooky, while "Come On Feel The Willingness" sounds like a Gorkys Zygotic Mynci from the grave, and "Carta Remix" packs quite an emotional punch with its backwards synths and haunting trumpet. Overall, this is absorbing listening for fans of bands such as Gorky's, Simian, The Instruments et al - a perfect mix of electronic atmosphere and acoustic instruments. Another highly recommended release.


 The self-titled, six-track EP by Masters Of The Epic Day (three related acts - Tom Hall, Ambrose Chapel aka Ian Rogers, and Axxonn, which is the first two working together) begins bold and doomy, with Axxonn's funereal organ chords and distorted sounds, before leaping into gothic film soundtrack territory; atmospheric and otherwordly, as is Axxonn's second track, "Nikki Grace." Tom Hall's two tracks are minimal and gloomy, with just a hint of Joy Division in the sound. The two Ambrose Chapel tracks are, if anything, even bleaker, with their reverberated rumbles, extended chords and science-fictional electronics. The extensive UK and European tour will doubtless have been a trippy, yet black experience...


 Another six-track EP now, "Ride The Wind Carnival" by Jeffrey James and the Haul, who deliver good-time American flavoured pop-rock. The tunes are just catchy enough to overcome the ever so slightly pedestrian sound, but it's certainly well written and produced. EP highlight "Fill Your Cup" is mellower than the rest, with great Hammond and a nice touch of brass, while "Sunset Bingo" has a feelgood sound, brisk pace and the best vocals of any here - and a nice boogie guitar solo.


 Off to Leeds now for a four-track EP, "Fit For Purpose" by The Little Darlings. The mood of this one is half shoegaze, half indie, with Jo Nettleton's vocals taking centre stage. The band cite Mazzy Star and The Cardigans as influences, and this is apparent on the chilled songs here - "The Heat Is In The Flowers" showcases Jo's versatile vocals, while "Time And Chance" boasts a proper tune and more ravishing vocals, though the minimal playing here perhaps needs a little sophistication for so good a song. "Darling Baby" is another fine song, while "If You Love Me" adds tambourine and attitude for an almost Byrds sound. Very good stuff, and definitely promising - whoever is writing these songs has talent.


 Seasonal Sevens "Summer" is a coloured vinyl 7" double A-side release by two artists, Emily Scott and Helene Renaut. Emily's song "Pond Dipping" is classic English whimsical folkiness, with no less than The Incredible String Band's Malcolm Le Maistre on banjo, while Helene's track "Bumblebee" evokes early Floydians punting down the River Cam, albeit infused with La Francais... Superb summery sounds from Autumn Ferment Records - check 'em out!


Enclosed by some amazing hand-made papercut artwork, "Hungry Ghosts!" by Canadian duo Mudboy comes across as the bastard child of Autocreation and Rapoon: minimal, scary, hypnotic. Vocals and vocal effects are spattered against weird electronic soundscapes, percussion rattles deep in echo, while drones come and go. It's all rather spooky. "Swamp Things" is a ten-minute chiller and particularly good, while the guitar on "Shockwave" has to fight against mutated ocean sounds. Album highlight "Wwhirlpool, Wwindow Liight Nightt" (sic) all-too-briefly pits bizarre vocals against Eastern-sounding keyboards. Mental as anything. Electronica fans will definitely want to check this one out.


 All the way from Italy composer Stefano Ianne brings us his third album of classical/opera compositions. "Mondovisioni" is a collection of pieces performed live for this release by I Pomeriggi Musicali, a 60-piece orchestra, to which are added piano, electric violin and percussion. The pieces are easy on the ear, thanks in part to various subtle jazz influences. Each piece is short, taking a theme (often filmic in nature - Ianne has worked with film directors) and expanding on it. The penultimate track features operatic singer Antonella Ruggiero, whose vibrato-laden, yet silken voice enlivens the piece. All in all, a surprisingly pleasant listen.

(Fenice Diffusione Musicale di Firenze)

 Last year's release by Harold Budd & Clive Wright "A Song For Lost Blossoms" was a marvel of ambient, guitar-strewn quietitude. This year they release "Candylion," a set of twelve short, structured pieces in the same mode, but with perhaps a little more by way of 'features' - there is plenty of ambience and peace, but more structure beneath. Soft drums support Wright's opening guitars on "Sunday After The War," before Budd's haunting piano enters on "Exit Plan." Patti Hood's harp is the foundation of the next piece, above which float Enoesque keyboards and a distinctly Lanois-like slide guitar, while the fourth track - the longest on the album at six minutes - features a particularly emotive guitar solo, muted yet distorted. Wonderful. The title track features harp and deeply reverberated mallet sounds, and a Hillage-esque synth whooshing in the background. "Ribbons Everywhere" reminded me of the early work of Don Slepian, while "The Bells" has a strange 'wobbly' guitar sound (maybe a guitar synth). "Mlle. Ice" merges acoustic guitar with echoing synths, while "Orange Portal" has a hint of Vangelis in its sound. The closer "In The Midst Of Life" has keening synths and ebow guitar set against choir sounds. It's all-too-easy to dismiss this kind of music as New Age sentimentality, and it's true that 90% of the genre is awful, but Budd & Wright are in that special 10% where real music is being made. Another inspirational release.


 "Pnomoneya" by Corey Larkin is something very different, and rather special. Recorded during an improvisational period of three days in an iced-up apartment, it consists of four pieces each made with the drones of singing bowls, bowed gongs and bells. The tones change incredibly slowly, as different timbres rise and fall in the mix. As with all pieces like this, you quickly lose sense of time and begin thinking about related things. I found myself imagining the subway sounds mentioned in the accompanying text, and then (inevitably) moved on to various SF films... The sounds aren't hypnotic in the Reich/Riley sense, rather they hang in the mind like monolithic blocks of colour, apparently solid yet actually composed of slightly varying layers, that you only notice slowly, as you examine. It's a rewarding experience. This is a limited edition of 100, so do not miss!


"Henry Rollins Don't Dance" by Allo, Darlin' is by one Elizabeth Darling, who sings entertainingly in a slightly Lily Allen style (without ripping her off). This three track single opens with the sprightly, brass-infused title track stomper, which tells a tale of Abba, dancing and boyfriends - he's one that she wants, ooh ooh ooh! "Dear Stephen Hawking" is the more experimental B side, infused with recorders and bouncy percussion, and suitably bonkers lyrics. Closer "Heartbeat Chilli" slows things down as it relates a tale of Johnny Cash, love and suppertime. Irresistible, frankly.



Little Tybee have released a new EP "I Wonder Which House The Fish Will Live In." This seven track recording from the Atlanta, Georgia newcomers mixes Marjorie Fayre melancholy with sparse organ and classical instrumentation. Opener "Dear Emily" briefly bounces, before the electric percussion and violins of "Fallen Bird" emerge, good melody and strong, distinctive singing setting a high bar. "Glass Brigade" pits more electronic percussion against violins in an upbeat, summery song (pretty radio friendly at that), while the title track is slow, with an Irish lilt to it. "Reason To Live" mixes stomping snare and handclaps with another folky melody and a great chorus, while "Spellcheck His Eulogy" is quite haunting. Very good indeed, and beautifully produced.


 To conclude, it's time for Jeff Merchant to present us with his second solo album, "City Makes No Sound." Merchant specialises in large scale orchestrated pop/rock, merging strings and massed voices with more modern sounds, not to mention the production skills of musical partner Michael Rozon. This hour long, fifteen track spectacular brings to mind works by Brian Wilson, The High Llamas and Midlake - and there are even hints of Steely Dan too. Opening with strings and sumptuous voices beneath Merchant's Donovanesque voice, the melodies are strong, the sound rich. Taking as its theme stories from a city (not defined, but I'm guessing LA), the first clutch of tracks hint at Wilson territory, whilst remaining original and captivating. The mood changes a little at "Joyride" with its melancholy sound and wistful piano, while "Love Yourself Away" has a particularly good tune and a great 'sixties vibe - a single for sure! "Where's Phillip" is a waltztime stunner with glorious female vocals, "Disturbance Call" is lyrically dark, while "Children Of Light" has a light Americana feel. There are hints of Scritti Politti's Green Gartside in the vocal style of the latter tracks, especially "Na-Na 99c Store". Album closer "The End Song" wraps it all up with frogs, softly strummed acoustic guitar and a half whispered vocal. An outstanding album, and one for repeated listening. Very highly recommended.

(www.jeffmerchantmusic.com)  (Stephen Palmer)


    Wild and fried, maybe an expression of the music made by the Australian Brisbane duo No Anchor on their 2nd self-release “Steam”. Alex Gillies on drums and Ian Rogers on bass and vocals present a stoner-inspired, partly drone-ish music, not afraid of mixing wild intensity with calmer moments, as in the longest piece of the release, the beautiful 13½ minutes title track. The last two tracks of the albums creates a great unit of opposite forces, when at first the very beautiful “Cut Adrift” brings us into the most relaxed, ambient areas filled with loads of small sound to listen to, then followed by the wild track “K”, like a Melvins fiesta of riffs and drones, shoutings and singing. And, there’s always something very special with a great feedback drone, isn’t it? With the exception of a very short intro track the album consists of four lengthy pieces covering the albums running time of 38 minutes.

The production is low-fi of live character which I think is good, it makes their music close to your skin and heart.

The cover is a kind of fold out, personal and inventive with nice pictures in an enclosed insert..



In 1970 when I first heard Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother I was not only captured by the beautiful music of theirs. One particular track that fascinated me a bit extra was Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast, not so much because of the music as the kitchen sounds in between the parts of the tracks, environmental house-holding. The 2nd self-released album ‘Houseworks’ by Adrian Shenton takes all this one step further by constructing almost all of it from sounds from his own house. It’s a fascinating and organic world that’s surrounding us while at home. But, what most of us doesn’t do is really listening to the natural sounds of various kinds. Adrian not only listen to it, he record it and creates wonderful pieces of house music (sorry, couldn’t resist), finding rhythmic patterns, melodic elements and even what you could call chord structures and sounds close to electronics. This kind of gathering sounds maybe isn’t unique, but it very well done. And who can resist titles like When Swoosh Comes To Shove or The Epic Journey To The Garage Door (And How We All Get Safety Home)?  



The Original Cindy, which means eccentric song-maker and vocalist Justin Edward from Memphis, TN, in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist J.D. Reager, as well as Eric Wilson and Ryan Proctor from the band Ursa, and Joey Pegram, drummer in a lot of  bands. Together they present a collection of odd, weird and most charming pop-songs on the album ‘The Power Without The Price’. Earlier in local band exploring fields of glam and garage rock they’ve now landed in places of music and lyrics where we use to find Syd Barrett, early Captain Beefheart, even Residents-without-manipulated-voices or, why not, The Stranglers in their earlier days? We get seventeen varied pop songs lasting for just one or a few minutes, like pop songs do. Sometimes it’s hard to put fingers on why you like this or that, as in this case. Maybe it’s the good handicraft in the song-making, maybe it’s Justin Edward’s original and personal voice, maybe it’s the wide variation in the songs, but still well kept together as an album unit, maybe it’s… well, give it a chance, listen to it yourself and get your own opinion.

Album released in collaboration between labels Makeshift Music and Migrant Records.




Finally, on disc, we find the first solo release from the Memphis based, talented Mr J.D. Reager, ‘The Repechage’. ‘Solo’ is maybe a definition over the edge, as there are about 20 musicians helping out. In the territories of some kind of Americana we find a collection of twelve songs, some ballads, some rock-ish tunes, some orchestral, all with reflective lyrics from a personal point of view. Making good pop music is really difficult. There’s a thin line between the good-ness and uninteresting predictability. J.D. Reager avoids all these traps on this album. When hearing the tunes and the bright arrangements of vocals/harmonies and instruments. I can’t resist thinking of wonderful Shimmy Disc related Mark Kramer’s personal songs, and in a few moments even The Band, especially the voice of Rick Danko. There is some kind of darkness in the sound-picture that really attracts me, most heard on the albums only fully instrumental track We’ll Be Dying, a three minutes minor masterpiece I easily could have stand for at least ten minutes more.

The album is another collaboration release by labels Makeshift Music and Migrant Records.




On the everlasting DIY arena Olekranon (a.k.a. Ryan Huber) is king. This is his third release of 2009, ‘{recycle human lung}’, a cd-r with  28 minutes of dark ambient noise, with or without pulsing aggressive beats, with or without industrial moods, all recorded and mixed on a Korg D1200mkll. Seven pieces of various length. I find it most appealing, it’s like a short journey into somebody else’s interesting mind, as always a journey with a distinct start, but with an unknown end. I guess it’s a journey like this that makes the aural experiences of music so interesting.

Favourite track is the doom-ish, build-up to climax “Trinec”. Post modern doom?

Inam Records (no web, but you can find the album on Stick Figure distribution and mailorder)


Oldman is a solo project by Charles Oldman (a.k.a. Charles Eric Charrier) plus additional musicians. Here is his new release, ‘Stay Gold’ on Apollolaan Records, a very limited hand-made release with a beautiful vinyl cut print cover. Seven long tracks between 6 and 15 minutes giving us more than one hour of music. The slow, dark-moods, and this kind of minimalistic piecebrings you to the eternal and more and more un-interesting question of what kind of genre it is. As with so many interesting musicians and bands it’s a genre of its own. Mainly built by some simple, but attractive bass-lines and drums, sometimes guitars, sometimes electronics and samples. Sometimes the beat stops, as in ‘ep’, and we get a soft, tense drone spiced with small electronic sounds, ending with the chord of an organ. Ambient spheres. Sunn O))) meets Cluster? Or maybe a little bit of Tah Mahal Travellers. The album has a rough and alert sound-picture I really like, a live-feeling.  

Apollolaan Records has no web, but music can be ordered through their blog.



Free form boogie blues, the Portsmouth Symphonia of rock? Call it whatever you want, here we have Chicago based Folk & Violence’ new release ‘Wolf Blues’. , a seven-headed monster of weirdness and joy. The albums only piece lasts for 30 minutes and brings you into various fields of AMM-like improvisation and free form expression,s taking off with blues inspired by Howlin’ Wolf (and of course the band’s singer is Little Howlin’ Wolf, a man with legendary street musician status in Chicago). It’s lo-fi, it’s live, it’s mad and beautiful. 

This is another very limited handmade release from no-web label Apollolaan Records.



What’s more common to find on the European mainland is now also represented on the islands. British Freeze Puppy, a project by founder Tom Wilson, has a new record out, Animation. It’s filled with melodious and lyrical charming and quirky tunes, none of them longer than just over two minutes. Even though it’s a solo record the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Wilson involve almost ten other persons on vocals, violin, harp and wind instruments. The vital arrangements of the wonderful tunes are brilliant, fills them with a lot of details without overloading them, and I realise that this is a record not only for everyone in general, but also for friends of early Albert Marcoeur records in particular. The album clocks in on just 23 minutes, but it brings you more music than most hour-long eposes do.



Sometimes my mind starts playing with me and I can’t explain its direction. That was what I thought when I first heard the self-titled self-release from The Black Drumset. I did get a Spacemen 3 vibe which I can’t explain because they don’t sound like them. Maybe it’s the soft vocals approach? Maybe it’s because the music is heavy in a way, but still discreet. The Black Drumset from Austin, Texas, consists of core members Brian Willey and Carlos Orozco on basically organ and drums. When needed they add a rotating cast of other people, as additional drummers at live performances. The album consists of ten varied tunes between two and five minutes, most of them instrumental. The drumming is important, mostly steady beats, but if you go under the surface you’ll find some interesting polyrhythmic treatments. Then there’s the organ, mostly drone-ish, slow chords in the lower register, sometimes attractive spacey electronics, or, as in the tune “Two Places, Different Times”, a nice collection of environmental sounds not too far away from the music presented on the album.

All in all it‘s a very beautiful album.

The album is a digital release and more info could be found on the band’s myspace site.



A percussive dominated improvised free form fiesta is what we find on Textile Orchestra’s album ‘For The Boss’. Two long pieces of intense battle of whatever there is close to a drum kit you can hit, with added treatments of string instruments, electronics and voice. The orchestra consists of Aaron Moore of Volcano The Bear as well as Dan Warburton (violin), Arnaud Riviere (mixing board and electrophone) and Alexandre Bellenger (turntable). They’re doing a wonderful job with their constructions and de-constructions of free form spirited music. It’s vital and virtuoso and nothing for those who what some calm undemanding Sunday morning music (even though there are some what you could call calm moments on the disc). Open up your ears and enjoy – it’s well worth it!

The cover is a very beautiful custom made eight panel book bound CD case. Tricks like these raises the conceptual art level of the whole product, so to speak. I really like it.



Martin Gordon has a back history longer than my memory, but anyone who’s been taught to play bass by Jeff Clyne has my sympathy. The album? Like Roger Waters with a smile? Bonzo Dog Doh Dah Band up-dated and a bit rock-ish? Or, maybe most of all, a lyrical and musical inventory not heard since the early days of 10 cc. Anyway, on his new release, ‘Time Gentlemen Please’, Martin Gordon continuously in a lightly satirical mood explores subjects not too often heard on records nowadays, as pissed astronauts (Huston We’ve Got Drinking Problem), gender behaviourism reversed (If Boys Could Talk And Girls Could Think), et cetera. Martin Gordon sublimely avoids the most common traps with humour, to be just funny, he manages to go beneath the surface and gives us things to reflect upon. On the album Gordon has good help from Swedish Pelle Almgren on lead vocals, Ralf Leeman (ukulele and guitars), Stephen Budney (drums) and others. They all are doing a good job.

Album released on Radiant Future Records


Book Of Shadows limited CDr release ‘Eternal Now’ takes us through improvised sound sculptures of drones and spacey moods. The five tracks running for 73 minutes occupies our concentration when we through the gentle drones listen for details from Sharon Crutcher’s voice, Carlton Crutcher’s keys and electronic devices, various additional guitars, sometimes percussions and loops. Even though the album is split into five separately titled tracks it all runs like a single long track with small shifting of the character of the music. Like the music of Pelt or Vibracathedral Orchestra it’s music that demands something from you, but when you open up and just let it in you are generously rewarded by experiences of some very beautiful aural moments.

Album released on non-web-sited label 200mr Records. Info and ordering on their blog.



Rumbles written by: Simon Lewis, Steve Palmer and Stefan Ek

Artwork, Layout & Direction: Phil McMullen