= August 2019 =  
 Henry Parker
 the Quiet Temple
 Jowe Head
 Paul Roland
 Nathan Hall
 United Bible Studies
 Sa Bruxa
 Ron Geesin



(LP from www.henryparkermusic.co.uk )

This is an absolutely lovely self-released album of primarily acoustic guitar music of the kind which only comes along very, very occasionally – and when it does it’s to be treasured. The gorgeous sleeve illustrations by Holly Blackshaw are a delight in themselves; the lettering (Aretino Bold type I believe) reveals a depth of care and attention to presentation which is all too rare; and the music itself is just sublime, the songs underpinned throughout by Parker’s guitar work which ripples and flows like snowmelt on a mountainside.

Favourites include ‘Marbled Wren’, a solo guitar instrumental inspired by a walk along the Leeds-Liverpool canal (the wren in question being the name of a narrowboat); the opening cut ‘New Mantras’ which features a gloriously cascading torrent of notes from Parker underpinned by Augustin Bousfield’s double bass, rendering it a very Pentangle-esque feel; the chilling title song ‘Silent Spring’ which is if anything even more relevant today than Rachel Carson’s book which inspired it was in 1962; and ‘Willie O Winsbury,’ one of only two traditional numbers on the album, the other being an interpretation of ‘Sylvie’, which Bert Jansch sang  in 1971 on ‘Rosemary Lane.’ It’s Jansch indeed whose guitar-work and singing Henry Parker most reminds me of. ‘Willie O Winsbury’ here is an instrumental, on which Henry swaps to electric guitar. It left me longing for more of the same.

The nearest comparison I can come up with would be Mick Wills’ two albums for Woronzow Records at the tail end of the last century, ‘Fern Hill’ and ‘Magic Garden’ – if you enjoyed either of those I can guarantee you’ll get a kick out of this record.

(Phil McMullen)





(LP/CD/DL on Wichita Recordings (North America), Point of Departure Record Co (Europe/Rest of the World)


The Quiet Temple is the brainchild of the duo of Rich Machin (Soulsavers) and multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood.  They’re augmented on record by players Rick Dickaty, Tim Lewis (aka Thighpaulsandra), Pete Marsh, Paul May, Doggen, all experienced travelers from the realms of Soulsavers, Spiritualized, Stereolab, and Julian Cope.  The Quiet Temple went into the studio without prepared material, improvised and developed the six tracks, then recorded the final versions live in the studio, with scarcely an overdub.  The album is mostly a brooding and bubbling cauldron of tasty instrumental psychedelic jazz jambalaya.


Opener “The Last Opium Den (On Earth)” sounds like ’71 Traffic colliding head-on with Pink Floyd on “Careful With That Axe, Eugene,” complete with a dead-on Rick Wright organ sound early in the piece.  But unlike “Eugene,” there’s no screaming violent climax, only the hypnotic, lysergic build-up, ever simmering below the surface.  You can also find a 12-minute Moon Duo remix of the song, in which Ripley Johnson transforms the piece into a Moon Duo/Wooden Shjips-like astro-cruiser.


Next up, “The Bible Black” finds us in a smoky jazz club ‘round midnight, with Fender Rhodes and soft saxophone slinkily wafting through the haze.  The keyword here is sultry.  “Shades of Gemini” is another slow-burning murky epic, which gradually builds with some nice & nasty psychedelic guitar.  “X-Rated” hardly sounds X-rated to me, and employs an insistent, pounding Krautrock rhythm amid a swirl of demons.  “Noah’s Theme” is closer to trad jazz, a mellow piece, as tuneful as it is mournful.  We go out with “Utopia & Visions,” with more slow, noir late night neon glowing grooves.


Trippy and hip, sultry, creeping and dark, The Quiet Temple delivers with the heat turned up just shy of boiling over.


 (Mark Feingold)




Easy Action Vinyl/CD/DL  www.easyaction.co.uk

So this is a turn up for the books, former Television Personalities/ Swell Maps member Jowe, releases a sprawling, epic, double album of strange folk. He is hardly the most prolific of artists; this is his fifth solo album since ‘Pincer Movement’ from 1981, barring a couple of CD’s with The Demi-Monde.

Delving into folklore big time the album starts with his version of Lyke-Wake Dirge a fine opener swiftly followed by ‘Tankerton Bay’ a song written about the spit of land known as “The Street”, situated on a ley-line in Whitstable which appears at low tide. Things turn pretty weird with Minotaur Song the song written by The Incredible String Band’s Robin Williamson for The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, this has a children’s vocal chorus and much clattering and banging. The ancient ballad ‘Nottamun Town’, is rendered in Jowe’s inimitable style enlivened by flute and sustained guitar notes. ‘Ode to Krampus’, follows, a hymn to the hairy, horned pagan demon that punishes naughty children.

‘Extraterrestrials’ examines the other worldly origins of planet earth. ‘Extras’ is a song about the frustration and humiliation of hanging around on a film set as an extra. ‘Joseph Cornell’ a song about the visionary 20th sculptor, who fashions his art from thrift stores and dime stores. ‘Tom O’Bedlam’, a song adapted from a 17th century poem about the Bethlehem Royal Hospital. ‘Gower Song’, explores the ancient custom of Wassailing. ‘Revenge of the Trees’, is a classic song, taking its inspiration from nature having its revenge upon mankind, influenced as it is by the comics of his youth like Swamp Thing. ‘Baba Yoga’, sung by Christina Brodie, is about an evil witch from Russian folklore. ‘Half- Bike’, influenced by Flann O’Brien’s epic story The Third Policeman.

‘Ein Stuhl in der Holle’, translated from the German lyric by Einsturzende Neubaten, adapted from one of the Child ballads Lord Randall. ‘King Corn’ is loosely based on John Barleycorn and wouldn’t be out of place on the Wicker Man album.  ‘Long Live the Sun’, is a song written in the depths of winter about the winter solstice. ‘Two Ravens’ is an adaptation of another Child ballad, also known as “Twa Corbies”. ‘Bolweevil Holler’, is a classic American song as sung by some of the blues greats, it concerns a parasitic insect which destroys cotton crops. The album ends with ‘Shepherds Lament’, inspired by Psalm 23 in the good book. The instruments on the album are varied and include flutes, trombones, farfisa’s, bowed psaltery, zithers, electric guitars, bowed bass and bulbel-tarang amongst others. Jowe has a deep sing-speak voice, which he utilises to great effect, throughout this eclectic album. It’s a real grower of an album, packed full of interesting songs.

(Andrew Young)



www.darkcompanionrecords.bandcamp.com  Vinyl/CD/DL

This is Paul’s 20th album and could well be his strongest set of songs yet, beginning with the drowsy narcotic lope of ‘Salonof the Senses’, with its mentions of hashish and Seraphim’s. ‘Next Life’, is a pretty straightforward pop song, albeit one with Paul’s skewed lyrical sense,it has nice organ touches, swirling leslie and backwards guitars and a calliope style, the song references Cocteau and Goddard.

‘When Chet Baker Sings’ is a knowing song with glockenspiel, a light cyclical drum pattern and of course a muted trumpet. The guitars aresublime, a very strong song all round and as catchy as a case of syphilis. ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’, ups the tempo somewhat and is a prettystraightforward rocker, complete with electric guitar solo.  Other tracks of note are ‘Voodoo Man’ a stinging psychedelic rocker with some blistering guitar lines, typical wordplayfrom Paul covering all the usual New Orleans tropes, gris gris and gumbo. ‘Joe Strummer Said’ is a cool mid paced pop rock song, with more, great lead guitar.‘Another Ingmar Bergman Interlude’ a clever song which takes the tempo back down, a slow sultry song. The sixties inflected quirky pop of ‘Little WhiteLies’.

‘She’s My Guru’, is a groovy song with female BV’s, fluid violin and spy theme guitars. “All your chakras are out of whack, and your aurais charcoal black”. ‘Summer of Love’, is the single and it really perfectly summarises this legendary summer, a love supreme. The album ends with ‘1313Mocking Bird Lane’, which is the address for the fictional Munsters.  It’s a typical gothic delight, the kind of song Paul does so well, invested as it is, with plenty of organ action.


(Andrew Young)



www.nathanhallandthesinisterlocals.bandcamp.com  CD/DL

This is the third solo album by the Soft Hearted Scientists songwriter Nathan Hall, helped out by Michael Bailey – bass, and Frank Naughton– drums on Leprechaun Lattes. It follows on from 2018’s Tunguska Tydfil. 24 tracks long there’s something for everyone in these mainly acoustic tales. Averitable, arsenal of instruments are utilized, from analogue keyboards to live drums. A lot of the songs are quite short but packed with great inventiveness,and terrific lyrics, there’s no fat on these bones.

We get songs about Leprechauns, Roman soldiers, Samson, Pumpkin scarecrows, Laika the space dog, Ghosts, Unicorn horses, X- boxes andCardiff Bay. A psychedelic reverie, that’s full of tootling mellotrons, backwards guitars, harpsichords etc, etc. None of the songs outstays itswelcome, breezy and succinct; this album deserves to be heard for its unalloyed enjoyment, for its wealth of ear worms, ideas, playfulness, and of course someterrific playing.

(Andrew Young)




(LP on Pariah Child Records)

A new record from United Bible Studies is always an occasion to celebrate. ‘Cave Hill Ascension’ features a stripped down version of the collective comprising David Colohan, Alison O’Donnell and Dominic Cooper. There are two lengthy pieces interspersed with two shorter songs which between them create an air of elemental spirituality and a musical environment drenched in mood and emotion.

‘Bless Us & Break Us With Mystery Upon Mystery’ is nearly 15 minutes long and whilst essentially very minimal in its construction manages to create a rich ethereal soundscape where blissful waves of wordless vocals intertwine in ghostly, devotional dances in the air. Subtle pastoral, kosmische and sometimes Eno-esque colours elegantly accompany and further enrich the vocal core of the piece and the occasional lonely beat of a drum or plucking of strings only add to its spacious, filmic and lush beauty. It is achingly gorgeous with an unhurried, contemplative feel but loaded with mystery and fuel for the imagination. ‘Cave Hill Ascension’ is the accompanying lengthy piece and follows a similar trajectory where waves of wordless vocal sound fading in and out of focus and minimal drones, swells, beats, plucks and strums come together in various combinations through the musical journey. There is perhaps a stronger ritualistic sense to the music in part through more prominent moments of incantation and also a more pronounced minimal ‘post rock’ feel at times where I was reminded of bands such as ‘In The Country’ but United Bible Studies have taken these elements to their own special place where ancient and modern worlds collide very gently and beautifully indeed.

The shorter songs have a more pronounced song like structure and have a very strong and equally pleasing David Sylvian-esque sound in both the singing style and musical ambience. Repeating melodic figures are at the heart of the music in both ‘The Heart Lies, Over & Over’ and ‘Hope You Know’ which again feature complex and hypnotic swirls of vocal tracking and have an elegant tranquillity yet also a faintly brooding beauty within.

This record is a superb addition to the United Bible Studies canon and a wonderful journey into the cinema of the mind and I heartily recommend it to you.

 (Francis Comyn)




(CD on Yoshiwara Collective Records)

Sa Bruxa is the one man project of Guiseppe Novella of Sardinia and now resident in Berlin. It’s a single track recording of over 19 minutes which is primarily a journey through dark, analogue synth themes but not simply in a formulaic glacial, gothic or industrial fashion as can often be the case. Sa Bruxa’s themes are dark for sure but there’s imagination at play here which makes the 19 minute journey far more interesting. There are field recordings and samples which create interesting atmospheres, tensions and effects. There are also pleasing nods to gothic horror soundtracks and the Giallo soundtrack genre which comes through clearly to these ears in the brooding long synth notes and colours and ghostly breathy voices that generate tension and not a little menace. There are also hints of the classic years of German kosmische and in particular Phaedra period Tangerine Dream in the echoing percussive and vocal samples and analogue soundscape created.

In creating his particular dark ambience, Sa Bruxa mixes the cavernous and the creative well and uses a range of sound sources and influences with intelligence and some style. This is the first music I’ve heard from Sa Bruxa but I’m certainly keen to hear more of this type of thoughtful ambient soundscape work in the future.

(Francis Comyn)



(LP/CD on Dark Companion Records)

It’s hard to label Ron Geesin accurately and anyone attempting to do so would need to include the words composer, musician, free form experimenter, inventor, author, poet and comedian somewhere in the description. Ron is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Roger Waters on the ‘Music From The Body’ soundtrack, Pink Floyd on ‘Atom Heart Mother’ and his contribution to Bridget St John’s ‘Songs For The Gentle Man’ as producer and musician. My personal favourite achievement has to be authoring a book on the history of the adjustable spanner (‘tis true folks) which is surely an essential part of any home library. Ron’s own musical output doesn’t perhaps get the same recognition as his collaborative work but I’m a huge fan of his electronic and library music and his leftfield compositions that straddle a world of sound from Dixieland Jazz to avant folk and blues and absurdist experimentalism.

‘Expozoom 1969’ is a wonderful collection of 20 short electronic pieces that work in their own right as an album and which also helped lay some of the foundations for later compositions and projects. They form the music from a commission for music and incidental sounds to be run with looped films in the British Pavilion at Expo70 in Osaka, Japan. The music, unreleased until now, has a distinctly futuristic industrial feel as it was produced to accompany films of engineering prowess and invention covering everything from planes to hovercrafts, robotics and the always evocative subject of hydrostatic extrusion. Tape editing, analogue synthesisers and all manner of sound making devices are at play creating a mesmerising tapestry of tunes, tones and textures that comprise harsh avant garde noise, modern composition, experimental melodies, creative sound treatments, drones and washes in a fascinating and immersive soundscape that must have sounded incredible back in the day and still sounds totally fresh and contemporary today. For the psychedelic/progressive rock and Kosmische fan there is much to enjoy and recognise as a precursor to the more edgy and adventurous electronics drenched records of the seventies and beyond and fans of today’s electronic and ambient music will equally find lots of touchstone moments.

This record has been a complete treat to listen to over and over and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in adventurous electronic music and sound - whether you like Stockhausen, Pierre Henry or ELP there’s something here to treat your ears. I would even venture to say this is music for adjustable spanner enthusiasts (I’m sure Brian Eno won’t mind me beating him to that title).

(Francis Comyn)