= April 2019 =  
 Moon Goose
 the 16th Dream comp.
 Jack Ellister
 Maat Lander
 Sly and the Family Drone
 Claypool Lennon Delirium
 Keith & Julie Tippett





(LPs from http://feedingtuberecords.com/)

Blending acoustic and electric guitar to startling effect, the core duo of Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner send Elkhorn of into deep space with a West Coast Psych sound that wanders, meanders, soars and glistens with a beauty that is hard to describe but easy to get lost in.

   On “Altun Ha” the opening tune on “Sun Cycle” they are joined by Willie Lane (guitar) and Ryan Jewell (drums) giving the music a sense of dynamism that pulls the listener in wonderfully, each musician listening to the others and weaving the note and rhythms together in a magical way. As the piece moves on you can hear shades of both Jerry Garcia and the guitar interplay of Richard Lloyd and Tom Verlaine the track coming on like a trippy version of “Marquee Moon”, which is no bad thing.

   With a gentler vibe, “To See Darkness” has a more acoustic/folk feel, the notes rippling sweetly, the lack of percussion opening the piece out in a more abstract way creating warm cloak of sound that rests around your soul.

     Complete with some fine tabla work, the strangely named “Subway, Mirror , Heart” is a slowly moving Raga that builds with energy to lead away from the everyday, purely instrumental, as are the other tracks, the listener has plenty of time to paint their own pictures as the music swathes them, music to listen to intently, this particular piece reminding me of the echoed work of John Martyn.

   Finally the album ends with “Song Of The Sun” another shimmering epic that drifts across your mind like the sweetness sunset created by two talented and imaginative musicians that work together in harmony and light.

     Channelling that west coast vibe to even greater levels, “Elk Jam” finds the band functioning as a four piece throughout, four improvised (presumably) pieces that are soaked in incense, soft pillars of musical smoke with a delightfully trippy heart and a warm playful nature that allows them to shine. Opening part “I” is like listening to an instrumental version of “Dark Star”, an unfolding slice of magic that ebbs and flows through time, the playing top notch, brimming with emotion and making you smile, whilst “II” has a country jangle that keeps that smile going the beautiful guitar tones making the sun shine as you dance in circles around the park.

   Flipping the record over “III” seems to be a continuation of “II” although it starts as the piece steps through a door into another realm, some inventive drumming keeping music travelling forward until it fades out to reveal the chiming wonder of “IV” another controlled musical feast sparkles with joy.

   You can tell everyone enjoyed making this record and the result is modern music that is enchanted and timeless, a precious thing that needs cherishing in these times.

   Released in early April and limited to 300 copies of each record, I urge you to track them down before they sell out, a decision you will not regret. (Simon Lewis)




(LP/CD/DL on Rune Grammofon)



(FireTalk Records)


Smells Funny is the sixth album by Norway’s Hedvig Mollestad Trio, which is headed by electric guitarist esquire Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen, along with bassist Ellen Brekken and Ivar Loe Bjornstad on drums.  The all-instrumental affair deals some delectable jazz fusion, with sojourns along the way into rock and prog.  And, in a refreshing twist, the girls rule in this band, with Ivar Loe Bjornstad holding down the only Y chromosomes.


In the first moments of listening out of the gate to “Beastie, Beastie,” the initial signal to the brain from Thomassen’s screaming guitar is that this is straight ahead, high-order power trio rock.  But all isn’t necessarily what it seems.  Pretty soon thereafter, the jazzy chords and licks kick in and you’re off on a slightly different trip.  While you can hear similarities to Mahavishnu Orchestra and Frank Zappa’s “Hot Rats,” the closest comparison for me is to Blow By Blow/Wired/There And Back-era Jeff Beck.  Although Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen can certainly shred with the best of them, like Beck, she’s at her best wringing the most out of tones, effects, and conjuring the feeling out of every note.  Weaving deftly between tempos, keys and effects, she keeps you guessing what’s coming next.  I have never heard a lady wield a guitar quite like this, and I plan to explore more of their catalogue to see what other fireworks lay therein.


On the nine minute “First Thing to Pop is the Eye,” the rhythm section of Brekken and Bjornstad lays down a terrifically propulsive foundation, while Thomassen powers away on guitar.  Again, the track reminds me of Jeff Beck in its style of alternately lying low, sustaining and drawing out what’s there, followed by periods of sheer explosiveness.  Thomassen is a graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Music – indeed they all met at the Academy and began their association there.  And they sure sound like highly trained virtuosos.  There are moments on Smells Funny where they sound more like Star Fleet Academy graduates, speeding away at Warp Factor Ten.


“Jurasek” slows things way down, but also delves further into jazz, albeit melodic jazz, than its predecessors.  Brekken and Bjornstad add just the right elements of quiet bass and drums that you could easily picture any number of trad jazz instruments taking the lead alongside them besides Thomassen’s mellifluous, emotional guitar.


Bjornstad’s solid drum flurry introduces “Sugar Rush Mountain.”  Thomassen and Brekken trade runs up and down the fretboards, almost practicing scales, before Thomassen finally unleashes that sugar rush.  The piece is equal parts jazz, prog and rock, and the trio muscle their way through in splendid form.


Thomassen leaps into “Bewitched, Dwarfed and Defeathered” with a riff of heaviosity as if to say, “enough of all this finesse, time for some good old-fashioned head-banging.”  She then gives way to Brekken and Bjornstad playing some outrageous bass runs and drumming.  Thomassen, fresh from a short break, then dives back in the pool like a cannon ball, spraying machine gun guitar instead of water everywhere.  It’s my favorite track on the album.


On the finale, “Lucidness,” the trio return to jazz explorations and improvisation, with Brekken’s bass so heavy it almost sounds like rhythm guitar or atmospheric synth work.  Thomassen takes us skyward with some exciting patterns and changes, before bringing the album to a close.


If you like loads of powerful guitar with a twist of jazz, check out Hedvig Mollestad Trio.  Theirs is a high-octane blend of refined, intelligent fusion and Katy Bar The Door playing which will blast those fading winter blues away.


Meanwhile, back in February, we reviewed Midnight Noon, the noirish Americana debut album by Monteagle, aka Justin Giles Wilcox.  Wilcox has gone back to Midnight Noon and re-cut the song “Master” as “Master (Hidden Valley),” issued as a new single.  In the process, he greatly slowed down the song about growing up as a naïve teenager in the rural south, and turned it into an ethereal, beautiful ballad.  Chock full of finger picked acoustic guitar and atmospherics, Monteagle has transformed “Master (Hidden Valley)” into a gorgeous melody that floats in the clouds.  This is the version that should’ve been on the album.  Highly recommended!


 (Mark Feingold)






SEN3 - Volume 11


This month sees the release of four albums from Fruits de Mer records, the first up on the CD player is a double LP from Instrumental Herefordshire band Moon Goose, an avian psych space rock band who specialise in lengthy instrumental tracks which are often broken down into distinct parts. I believe this is their debut studio album, they did provide a CD sampler to Fruits de Mer which they duly included in a summer festival goodie bag.

The album starts with ‘Second Life’ a song which introduces us to their modus operandi. Insistent guitar yields to a Hawkwind style riff with driving drums, wah wah guitar and keys. ‘Knifeless Skinning’ slows things down, an expansive twisting psych number. ‘Le Comte’ named after my favourite cheese is anything but cheesy, twitchy drums and more wah wah, it develops into a fine mysterious song aided by some spooky keyboard fills. ‘The Mysterious Coffins of Arthur’s Seat’ hoves into view, like headlights illuminating a darkened country lane, of things captured briefly and then enfolded back into the dark, it builds and decays nicely. ‘Goldfish in a Bag’ ups the tempo with a short sharp blast of noisy organ flavoured garage rock.

‘Trains’ is an excellent song on which the band excel, some terrific sounds being generated by the synths, like a solar wind blowing through the cosmos. Other songs I will highlight are ‘Carnage’ which indeed is busy and loud. ‘Dark Shit’ is another terrific song, after a brief incantation the song opens up into a drifting, echo laden space rock song, which in typical Moon Goose style then shifts gear halfway through into some cool riffage. ‘Garway Witch Trial’ sees the super tight band complimenting each other in fine style, as it twists and turns through its many changes. The album closes with ‘Fist Fight at the Bingo’ synths set to stun open up the proceedings, before a knotty little tune emerges, it’s clearly bonkers and the band seem to be enjoying themselves. This is a neat album that holds my attention throughout its labyrinthine songs, excellent stuff.


Astralasia’s double album sees Marc Swordfish give the Amorphous Androgynous treatment to a number of songs which have appeared in the FdM discography, either as bonus songs or freebies from festival compilations. Here he remixes a number of mainly instrumental songs to form lengthy pieces of music which take in all points from eastern rock through to swirling synth dominated tunes.  Along the way we see The Chemistry Set’s ‘Love or Confusion’ remixed to within an inch of its life. ‘A Love Supreme’ on side two by Deep Magick from the Coltrane 7” works very well in its new guise, a perfect blend of east meets west. A fine remix of The Chemistry Set’s ‘Fountains of Ambience’ ups the psych quotient and closes out side two.

A distant tolling bell introducing to us Johnny’s Little Brainticket in Dub,  where ghostly neighing horses, ambience, searing lead guitar solos and a steady beat, confuse and delight in equal measure. The songs on this album all bleed into each other and this side ends with a full on remix of ‘Shamanic Waterfall’. Side four opens with an expansive ambient mix of The Sorcerer’s Apprentices. Astralasia’s epic ‘The Desert’ is rendered as an instrumental, and sees white hot sirocco winds swirling around harmonica and bubbling lead guitar. The album ends with The Chemistry Set’s ‘Timothy Leary Forever’ (Legends Of A Mind’ put through the blender, where the vocals of Dave Maclean are joined by a heavenly mix of tablas, synths, guitars, bass, drums and ‘tron.

This double album works best when split up into side long pieces, showing Marc to be quite a talent at splicing all these songs together and investing them with some excellent musical interludes.  

Another double vinyl album, THE 16th DREAM OF DR SARDONICUS starts with the wonderful crystalline vocals of Elizabeth Anne Jones who as Elfin Bow delivers a note perfect rendition of Sandy Denny’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. She follows this with ‘Grimshaw and the Finger Claw’ a mandolin infused folk jig. I Am Voyager 1 deliver an atmospheric ‘Songbird’. Stay, from Barcelona contribute two fine songs, Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ and Buffalo Springfield’s ‘Rock and Roll Woman’ moving away from the psych of earlier years to harmony filled country rock. Consterdine arrives with his various synthesisers, delivering an eerie ‘A Spell For Leonard’ before Fellowship Of Hallucinatory Voyagers appear with ‘Moonlight Moorings’ a drifting ambient space rock tune, the second side of the album ends with The Alan Pire Experience’s ‘Drifting South’.

Side three is given over to Sendelica with ‘BS’ and ‘Maggot Brain’. Then first song is a slow sax dominated workout with jazz rock styling, Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain has long been a favourite and they do a fine job. Side four of the album starts with The Fertility Cult’s ‘Cosmic Kaishakunin’ which is a fuzz guitar and sax dominated song before Nik Turner’s New Space Ritual arrive to close out the album with two songs ‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘Walking Backwards’. The former is full of Nick’s trademark sax, on a song which references Herman Hesse’s cult book of the same name. The latter is a classic space rock song. The album highlights a few of the songs which made it onto tape after various ghosts in the machine destroyed others.

Also out on the label is an album by SEN3 who have a blink and you will miss it vinyl release imminent. It will coincide with their debut gig at legendary London Jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s, where they will also be releasing this album (they will be supporting Sly And Robbie). Keith from FdM will have a few copies to sell, as will the band who will be selling a few copies on the night; I believe it will be limited to just 100 vinyl copies.

They are a three piece instrumental jazz rock band who veer more towards rock than jazz and have been occupying my stereo for the last few weeks with a mesmerising set of modern sounding songs, taking in everything from ethereal Floyd to soulful Hendrix. If you have heard the music of Texan excellent album, chock full of great tunes, expertly played, I like it a lot. Max O’Donnell: guitars,

synths, kalimba, metallophone. Dan Gulino: bass and synth and Saleem Ramen: drums and percussion. 

Track 1 ‘Night Pay’ provides us with a languid, loping, opening song, with attacking drums and fluid guitar bursts plus towards the end some nice harmonics from Max. ‘The Keeper’ is altogether funkier, with subtle touches of wah wah. Sumac is a lot rockier, with some flanged Floydian passages; again it is quite funky with some excellent guitar playing. Pigeon is a whole lot jazzier, bubbling progressive bass and busy probing drums, it has a great rhythmic quality and I’m reminded of players like Jeff Beck, Mitch Watkins and Larry Coryell. The standout track on the album for me is ‘L37’ and at almost ten minutes duration also the lengthiest track. It’s dubby and bouncy with plenty of echo and space, as the song progresses we are treated to a ton more of Max’s subtle wah wah. The album ends with ‘End’, it’s like dropping the needle towards the end of a song, and at only just over a minute long, before we know it, we have. 

(Andrew Young)



(LP on You Are The Cosmos Records)

For some time now Jack Ellister has been building a solid reputation as an engaging live performer excelling in fine song craft, intelligent cover versions and inventive guitar explorations, often based in acoustic psychedelia and folk with occasional forays into electronic sounds and textures. His recorded output, usually on limited run releases reflects this diversity well and ‘Telegraph Hill’ continues an impressive run. It’s a short record at around a half an hour in length with nine tracks mixing predominantly acoustic songs with electronic soundscapes providing ambient interludes.

The opening track ‘Roots’ is a short and gentle acoustic ballad with a Cohen-esque mildly melancholic quality to it. ‘High Above Our Heads’ strays rather pleasantly into the melodic psych-prog crossover territory inhabited by bands like Magic Bus and raises the tempo with drums and a more sprightly acoustic riff. Flurries of flute and electric guitar provide a more overtly psychedelic edge that also captures the feel of early Bowie and Caravan with a little Beatle-esque repeating melody at the end where a few ‘na na na nanana na’s’ are allowed if you want to sing along. ‘Maureen Feeding The Horses’ is the first instrumental interlude where a spectral electronic ambience envelopes a delightful acoustic guitar melody in just over a lovely minute and this is followed by ‘Fill Another Glass’, another short acoustic song with a gentle wash of echo and strings adding warmth to what would otherwise be a more sparse and chilly creation. ‘Mind Maneuvers’, one of the longer tracks at just under five minutes, starts with a subtle but slightly leftfield latin undertone not unlike Arto Lindsay’s forays into this field but soon evolves into an elegant and instrumental tune built on prominent drums and sweeping synths with a hint of cinematic and dare I say ‘prog’ grandeur.

Opening the second side we have the title track, another elegant acoustic track with a gently anthemic feel. ‘Reminder’ is another fine acoustic tune after which the tone of the record shifts into ambient folk/kosmische territory on the rather lovely short instrumental ‘Icon Chambers’. The record finishes with ‘Condor’, by far its longest piece at over seven minutes and it’s a bit of a gem. Starting with a simple acoustic strum, musical colours and slowly growing intensity are added on the journey with ritualistic percussion, digeridoo, slide and synths working up a gentle storm that’s part raga and part prog inspired stately dance.

This is a short record but it packs an awful lot of invention and musical treasure into its grooves. Explore the world of Jack Ellister as part of your day or night time listening experience and you will be richly rewarded.

(Francis Comyn)





(LP/CD/DL on Clostridium Records)


Maat Lander is both the name of the band and the name of the main character in the science-fiction saga described in this album of captivating space rock.  The band is the project of guitarist Ilya Lipkin of The Re-Stoned, and brothers Arkady Fedotov (bass, synths, effects) and Ivan Fedotov (drums) of Vespero.  Coming from this pedigree of fantastic Russian bands, Maat Lander really delivers the goods.  It has everything you’d want to hear from a superior space rock album – swirling cosmic synths and atmospheric effects, piercing guitar playing, and a sonic journey out of this world.


Both musically and in concept, the album picks up where Seasons of Space – Book #1 left off.  The album is all instrumental, but the LP and CD come with an illustrated booklet about the tale of Maat Lander, with story and stunning artwork by Ilya Lipkin.  In Book #1, Maat travels through outer space, while in Book #2, his travels are through inner-space.  Here is an excerpt I think plenty of us can get behind:  "And there was a melody that stuck in his head. Where may he have heard it? Oh, it must be Crystal Lake by Klaus Schulze, a composer from the blue planet nearby the star G2V. Maat remembered his voyage to this planet, which its people called Earth. He didn’t like all the music he heard there — only a few of earthlings composed something worth listening.”

Opener “Realm of the Firelimbies” is certainly worth listening (to).  It starts with some mellow ambience, but in short order it spins up and gets the pulse racing and the blood flowing for the remainder of the track, with Ilya playing some amazing guitar.  Next track is “There, Where the Crystal Image of the Whole Space Dwells,” a title which I can pretty much guarantee won’t entirely fit on the display of your car stereo or personal listening device of choice.  This one starts with a slight “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” type feel, except that Ilya Lipkin plays at approximately the speed of light.

The cinematic “Klaus, I’m Lost Among the Molecules” pays more tribute to Klaus Schulze, and showcases the band’s strengths – key and tempo changes, masterful guitar work by Lipkin as accomplished as it is effects-laden and trippy, and sumptuous, literally out-of-this-world rhythm and electronics by the Fedotov brothers.  With “Quantum Ballad” we hear some acoustic guitar and nice melodic work.  A bit more jazzy, the song gives way to metallic synths and more electric guitar soloing by Lipkin, before finishing with an almost flamenco-from-space sound.  Of course!

On the nearly ten minute “Space Scum,” our heroes rock out and all I can say is, Damn!  After a spirited opening section, Maat Lander tones it down for a more restrained middle.  But you know all the while they’re lulling you into a false sense of security for a final onslaught.  When the inevitable comes, grab onto something solid and hold on.

Bonus tracks include the interlude “Galaxy Passage #5” and the bouncy “The Asteroid of Living Machinery.”

Seasons of Space – Book #2 is epic space rock, brought to you by some of the very best practitioners.  With flecks of jazz, huge forays of prog, and virtuoso musicianship that never lets up from start to finish, Maat Lander has dealt us some of the best sounds this side of Pluto.

 (Mark Feingold)


(LP on Love Love Records)

There aren’t that many certainties with new records but one of them surely is that a new offering from Sly & The Family Drone will not be easy listening. This is a good thing and has yielded rich rewards over several years of listening that’s never less than challenging and quite often a lot of fun .

‘Gentle Persuaders’ consists of four tracks, each with a strange and wonderful title and hits the ground running with the near fifteen minutes of ‘Heaven’s Gate Dog Agility’. Horns bellowing one minute like a big ship adrift in fog or a brooding black and white thriller and the next like banshee howls and cries are married with cavernous drum and cymbal figures and often dissonant electronics. We get spacious and sparse sections which have a raw minimalism and also great waves of ritualistic, intense, pummelling drumming topped with howling free jazz blow outs as the dynamics of this track shift through a number of gears on its journey and give us swampy noir and ecstatic noise in equal measure. Following this opening track was never going to be easy but ‘New Free Spirits Falconry & Horsemanship Display’ manages to jump hurdles well enough. Its opening barrage of free blowing is soon joined by an insistent drum pattern around which a swirling mayhem of skronk and blasts of electronic noise whip up a very satisfying storm. ‘Votive Offerings’ brings a raw subtlety to proceedings with a more restrained, atmospheric opening that soon gathers a rare toe tapping swing underneath the layers of drone and noise textures. From the middle of the track the free jazz blow out returns in the form of a snowballing sax and heavily distorted electronics which is ferocious and yet still keeps the earlier swing intact by the skin of its teeth before a spluttering, gasping finale. Finally ‘Jehovah’s Wetness’ has a very psychedelic and almost sci-fi feel with its echo drenched sax and drums and spacey opening. Once again the noise escalates and a dense swirl of righteous racket erupts before fading out to a repetitive bleeping series of sax notes.

This is a raw, intense and noisy pleasure of the highest order. It has an intensely live feel and surprisingly wide dynamic range with subtlety, atmosphere, restraint and often an all out assault on the senses in various combinations across the tracks. For those who like the jazzier/post rock end of improvisation occasionally inhabited by Keiji Haino and Fushitsusha or Dead Neanderthals or the improvising intensity of Peter Brotzmann or Mats Gustafsson for example there is much to enjoy. For anybody else looking to wake up their ears, dive in and experience the thrill of it all.
(Francis Comyn)



(LP/CD/DL on ATO Records)


Main Primus man (and loads of other outfits) and bass god Les Claypool and Sean Lennon have released their second LP as The Claypool Lennon Delirium, South of Reality.  The album is solid through and through, and as follow-ups go, a significant upgrade from impressive debut, 2016’s Monolith of Phobos.  The album is a veritable love affair with classic prog, and you could have a lot of fun playing spot the influences, among them Trespass/Nursery Cryme-era Genesis, Yes, Gong, Frank Zappa, and even Magic Bus.


While Monolith of Phobos was perhaps dominated just a bit more by Lennon than Claypool - just my perception - South of Reality is very much a 50/50 effort, and is so much the better for Claypool’s increased contribution in writing, singing and playing.  The two played all the instruments and produced the album.  Claypool and Lennon are made for each other.  Both are virtuosos with, shall we say, a penchant for the weirder side of life.  If Monolith of Phobos seemed at the time like a “project,” it’s now apparent that this is a real band.  As you would expect from these two, the playing is first-rate, the lyrics are often off-the-wall bonkers, and the result is great fun.  But in writing the lyrics, Claypool and Lennon aren’t being weird for the sake of being weird.  Many of the songs have a Lewis Carroll/Jonathan Swift/Kafka-esque quality of satirical fantasy full of interesting commentary on the present times.


Opener “Little Fishes” is a Syd-like tune that takes aim at everything from chemical herbicides to mercury laden fish and much much more.  “Blood and Rockets,” another jaunty tune, relates the fascinating tale of Jack Parsons (1914-1952).  He was a pioneer of liquid and solid fuel rockets, one of the founders of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Aerojet rocket company.  He was also a follower of Aleister Crowley and ran the California branch of Crowley’s Thelema order.  He would leave his wife for her sister, who would in turn leave him for L. Ron Hubbard, and the two of them would cheat Parsons out of his life savings.  His rituals and counterculture activities would eventually get him thrown out of rocketry work.  Parsons would die at the age of 37 in a home laboratory explosion shrouded in mystery.  It’s a story tailor-made for a Lennon-Claypool song, and they don’t disappoint, with lyrics like “after one of his alchemical magical ceremonies/they found his body in a pile of blood and debris.”


“Easily Charmed by Fools” fires away at people who “swipe right for pretty boys on Tinder,” others who send their money away to television evangelists, and those who cast their vote according to who will protect their guns (it’s a US thing).  “Amethyst Realm” is my favorite track on the album.  It’s a demented story of a man who’s furious about losing his girlfriend, whose home and body are invaded by a spirit who gives her her first “phantgasm,” leading her to swear “she’d never again want to touch a living man.”  The prog break is just wonderful, with Claypool slapping away at his bass and Lennon playing a great, churning guitar solo over a Mellotron; close your eyes and you can practically see The Famous Charisma Label spinning, and all’s right with the world, folks.


“Toady Man’s Hour” is pure Claypool, a swampy, biting, twisted swipe at film producer Harvey Weinstein and his sexual assaults on many women.  “Cricket Chronicles Revisited” returns to the realm of “Cricket and the Genie” from the first album.  It’s about doctors over-prescribing medications as an easy panacea for any and all ills (“Is your throat just a little bit too dry?/Trouble looking anyone in the eye?...Ask your doctor.”)  After an eastern raga-inspired break, we are presented with a satirical disclaimer from a medicine ad of “Psyde Effects,” including everything from “angry frog face” to “radioactive genes.”  Closer “Like Fleas” has Mother Nature exacting her revenge on us for ravaging the earth.


South of Reality is well worth your time.  Even if not for all the warped lyrics, musically it’s progalicious from start to finish.  Finally, a shout-out to the cool cover art by Hisaki Yasuda is in order.  If you have a chance to see The Claypool Lennon Delirium this year, by all means do.  In addition to the originals, they always play some surprising, wonderful covers.


(Mark Feingold)




(LP/CD on Dark Companion Records)

Keith and Julie Tippett will be very familiar to readers of Terrascope Online for their various adventures in the spheres of beat pop, psych and the more avant garde and adventurous end of the progressive rock, jazz and improvisation rainbow. This recording dates from 2016 and is of a concert performance at the Conservatorio Nicolini in Piacenza with Italian musicians Lino Capra Vaccina and Paolo Tofani making up a sterling quartet that touches many of those bases in its breadth and imagination.

Starting off with sparse otherworldly piano, plucked strings, small percussion and a quite startling vocal, the performance is immediately compelling and richly atmospheric blending sounds taken from jazz, modern composition and electronic experimentation into a spacious airy ambience. A more turbulent passage follows where the instrumental soup thickens, percussion, piano and vocals intensify resulting in a freer, more overtly improvised section but with traces of African melodies woven into the sound that hold the attention and retain the character and feel of an exploratory extended song suite rather than simple improvisation. A rolling piano and cymbal driven theme follows which has a dark edge and a much stronger composed feel or undertone in part due to the rhythmic piano playing and colours provided by electronics and strings. An extended exotic, dark and at times more recognisably jazz improvisation inflected section emerges from this but that does not adequately describe the ideas at play. The interplay in the small sound details, the musical landscape painted and astonishing vocals from near whispers to emotional cries takes us to strange and wonderful places not always of this earth or shall we say a dreamscape that takes us in a swirling and often fleeting yet recurring trip through space, contemporary jazz and classical music with European and Asian folk tinged atmospheres, gentle pastoral melodies and harsh metallic and often industrial jolts. It’s a flowing, dramatic and dynamic journey, and out of this, a moment of pure magic and inspiration emerges bringing us into the beautiful African melody (not unfamiliar to fans of Keith Tippett from earlier recordings and performances) of Mongezi Feza’s ‘You Ain’t Gonna Know Me ‘Cos You Think You Know Me’ with a simple, almost spiritual piano, gorgeous vocal and the subtlest of percussion, bells and chimes playing almost as a music box to a gentle and quite lovely hushed conclusion. It’s a beautiful ending to the record and both complements and contrasts with what has gone before quite perfectly.

This is a beautiful record from an inspired quartet that creates in a little over fifty minutes something impossible to pigeonhole and which navigates and brings together influences and inspirations with intelligence and imagination. The vocal improvisations of Julie Tippetts that weave their way through this recording are simply stunning and ride the rich array of widescreen and microsounds from the quartet to great effect. Each listen opens up a new small treasure or nuance and a new perspective on the music. For the listener that wants to be challenged out of their comfort zone into the spaces between jazz, improvisation, art song and the furthest reaches of progressive music this is a wonderful place to stay a while and get a little bit lost.

(Francis Comyn)