= December 2018 =  
the Sand Pebbles
Eyeless in Gaza
Psychic Bloom
The Corn Mother
 The Joy Formidable
 Ian A Anderson
 The Fellowship of Hallucinatory Voyagers
 Astral Son



(LP from Cardinal Fuzz https://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com)

There are many things for us all to be grateful to Cardinal Fuzz for, not least the boundless enthusiasm of Head Cardinal Dave Cambridge and his palpable love of the music he releases at a bewildering and pocket draining speed to a seemingly insatiable public.

One such debt is that this small but perfectly formed label has unveiled or else reclaimed for the masses a growing number of fine antipodean artists, not least Mt. Mountain and the Jim Mitchells, each of whom have been recipients of a few words on here of late. And so it’s time to meet the Sand Pebbles, formed on the set of Neighbours (look, we don’t have the imagination to make this up) and who first released Ghost Transmissions in 2004 garnering rich acclaim from, among others, the Ptolemaic Terrascope (sadly the review is long-since archived thereby spiking the guns of the latter day plagiarist).

Helpful Ed. adds: As well as reviews, we featured the band on two compilation CDs, with issues 30 in 2001 and 33 in 2003. Our original feature on the Sand Pebbles from 2003 can also be seen here:


Now there is one reason above all else why you should check this out and that is ‘Black Sun Ensemble’. Ushered in by the catchiest minimal bass riff intro since ‘Love Is The Drug’ it’s supplemented by a staccato strut guitar before the whole band falls into line. It’s then a case of “lazy arsed vocals coming in at 4 minutes, Captain”, and the whole thing takes on the quality of Gerry Rafferty fronting a peak Rolling Stones that have spent rather too much time stoking their brains on the West Coast. It all subsides to a blissful, shimmering summer haze, vaguely redolent in parts of a Careful With That Axe body/head double but one smeared in California jam, before slowly stretching and yawning back to the fridge for something more to eat. After 11 minutes you feel like what is must be like to be a hypnotised rabbit in the kaleidoscopic headlights.

Well in case you think that fifteen quid for one track is a bit much then there’s plenty else that’s likely to talk you round to parting with your Christmas spendies. ‘Big Left’ is where it all takes off as far as these old ears are concerned, a loping coupling of ‘Here Comes The Night’ with ‘Do It Again’ over a bed of crawling king snakes. The ebullient mix of jagged guitar and high register 60s reggae electric organ and wordless woo-woo vocals on ‘Hanging Out’ will get you hand jiving, no matter how self-consciously – that’s right, you there at the back. ‘Ripple’ (relax, not the old Dead track) is where it turns sharply left and down Strange Street, a hypnotic rhythm anchoring a stumbled meander over spongy sidewalks with more delicious wordless choruses. Let’s face it, you too can do the “who-who-haaaa”, while the flange fuelled ‘Ghost Girl’ pays another slightly deconstructed homage to soulful psych rock, sets us up perfectly for ‘Black Sun Ensemble’. Any worries that they might cut the engines and drift listlessly into port following “that track” are dispelled by the twitchy, Afro-flecked rhythmic futurism of ‘Sioux City Falls’ before cleaving unto classic 70s pop rock tropes for the closing ‘All My Life (I Love You)’ penned by Skip Spence. Was that ever a single? It probably should have been.

The LP (assuming you can still find a copy as old Tardy Nuts here has, once again, been a little sluggish to respond to the starting pistol) also comes with an extensive download of extra tracks, which is nice for the completists but really it all comes back to that ripped mid-section. Buy two copies, because you’re sure to wear out at least one.

(Ian Fraser)




(A- Scale records www.eyelessingaza.com/index.html )

Twenty albums and more under their collective belt the duo of Peter Becker and Martyn Bates are back Eyeless In Gaza are back with a new album, the title of Winter perhaps reflecting the icy cold indifference to the band over the last 38 years since their first recordings. Martyn Bates: vocals, keyboards, acoustic and electric guitar, clarinet, bass whistle, soprano sax mouth harp and percussion and Peter Becker: bass guitar, drums, acoustic and electric guitar, wasp synth, pixiephone, melodic, piano, tapes, percussion, drum machines and echo-boxes, are still churning out great albums.

Electro acoustic album opener ‘Never Going Back’ provides a good entry into their sound, it’s quite dense with plenty going on, electric guitars ring out, arcing bass, sax, mouth harp, busy percussion and a concise chanted lyric. ‘And I Don’t Belong’ follows this, it’s a classic outsider song with a defeatist attitude, guitars churn and chime around Martyn’s lyrics. ‘Locked-In’ up next, is a great song, echoing perhaps Talk Talk and achieving a feel similar to classic period Kate Bush. The spirit of Ennio Morricone is brought to life in ‘Torn Bridge’; this is mainly due to the lonesome wailing harmonica, it’s also an instrumental, breaking up the album nicely. ‘I Also Dwell’ slows things down a little with a twilight ambient drifter of a song, full of verdant, poetic lyrics.

‘Wide Open’ the lyrics here speak of sun viewed through rain, of day into night, it drips with a gothic noir, blasted and shot through. ‘Older Day’ is perhaps my favourite on the album, guitars peel away in a gauzy haze, plenty of keyboards being sprinkled all over it, percussion is light, mainly shaker, it is another outsider song, an icy blast of isolation. ‘And I Dreamt’ is the longest song on the album, it stretches out their sound and moves along at a steady pace, again some lovely poetry from Martyn, with Peter’s percussion and bass framing his words to great effect, a touch of melodica and whistles add layers, it’s dreamy and slightly otherworldly in feel, all held together with some great textural keyboard sounds. ‘Amazed’ is more like a song from one of Martyn’s recent solo albums, a gentle meditative song of wonder. The record ends with ‘Gentle’ a song of mind and body, of conflicts and dilemmas, minimal music throughout providing just the right amount of tension and release. A healing balm for these troubled times, providing a fine end to an excellent album.

(Andrew Young)


(DL, Cassette on Detriti Records)

Psychic Bloom is a band from Tehran, Iran.  Originally a duo - friends from college - it’s now a solo outfit, who, against the odds, creates great music and has succeeded in getting it through to our ears.  This self-titled album, Psychic Bloom’s second, contains some excellent surf-garage-psych music.

The album has bopped around a few record labels between 2017 and 2018.  By necessity, it was a DIY project.  In a land where this sort of music is forbidden, it gives new meaning to the term underground rock.  Musicians, instruments, equipment, studios, recording producers and technicians are all rare to non-existent.  Psychic Bloom has dreams of moving to the West, making records, performing live, and being part of the scene; in other words, the things normal bands do.

The songs have a retro, hipster feel, loaded up with a little fuzz and a lot of twang.  Lyrically, Psychic Bloom draws influences from the great Persian poets of the past, and ancient Persian mysticism (though the songs are all sung in English).  Some tracks such as “Dead Valley Star” and “Drifter” sound like something out of a Tarantino movie set in a sizzling desertscape of the US Southwest – you can almost hear the rattlesnakes.  “Old Bud” has a surf-meets-rockabilly sound, while “Blazing Sands” brings a Link Wray influence.

The instrumental “Ghost Riders” rocks, with plenty of distortion and feedback-laden guitar.  “Yucky Vibes” has a nifty guitar solo with wah-wah and distortion, while “Downtown Party” is straight out of the garage.

Psychic Bloom’s surf-garage sound is certainly infectious.  If you enjoy rooting for the underdog, give them a spin.

(Mark Feingold)




(CD from www.ayearinthecountry.co.uk )

Purporting to be some lost folk horror-esque 70’s soundtrack to a film that was eventually made in the 80’s, but remains unreleased due to financial problems. Set in the 19th century, a small, closely knit farming community, worried about modernisation, and a repeat of a former blighted harvest search for a scapegoat, this results in the creation of The corn mother. The villagers become plagued by nightmares, in which this Corn mother appears to exact revenge for being made a scapegoat.

Gavino Morretti, does his best to scare the pants off us with ‘Ritual and Unearthly Fire’. Pulselovers deliver the theme of ‘Beat Her Down’ where the corn fields are beaten down by rods to chase away the corn mother. The Heartwood Institute arrive with the terrific wonky eerie electro of ‘Corn Dolly’. United Bible Studies are next with ‘From the Last Sheaf on the Braes’ a vaguely disturbing, barely there, ghost of a tune. ‘The Night Harvest’ by A Year in the Country adds a ton of synth stylings and electronics, creating a sense of forthcoming dread. ‘The Keeper’s Dilemma’ by Depatterning, does have the feel of isolation, with a clanging bell that feels like it’s just reacting to wind, and a jumble of synthesiser sounds one of which is close to the sound a sitar makes.

‘The Corn Mother’ by Widow’s Weeds’ a group made up of former members of The Hare and the Moon is presumably the theme tune to the movie, and provides us with a fairly straight acid folk song, although it too is quite scary, featuring as it does a dense mass of electronics. Sproatly Smith are ‘Caught in the Coppice’ their contribution appears to feature an electronic pigeon, it’s a mad synth tone piece, it flutters and coo’s along to a ghostly tune. The album ends with ‘Procession at Dusk’ by Field Lines Cartographer they provide us with a suitably spooky song to round off the proceedings. Let us hope for a good harvest next year.

(Andrew Young)




(LP, CD, DL on Abraxas Records and Electric Magic Records)

This is the strong debut LP from Brazilian power trio Psilocibina from Rio de Janeiro.  Consisting of Alex Sheeny (guitar, synth), Lucas Loureiro (drums), and Rodrigo Toscano (bass), Psilocibina play an all-instrumental, all-powerful blues-infused rock attack.  The album clocks in at a concise 36 minutes, and not a moment is wasted on falderol.

Opener “2069” nearly blows out the speakers in the first 5 seconds with its blistering descending line boogie riff.  What follows is a pattern on all the tracks, to my ears at least.  It starts with a style the listener might be familiar with, and then evolves into furious jams, time signature changes, and demonstrations of amazing technical skill.  With “2069,” it would appear our heroes have been listening to live Cream.  Not only is Alex Sheeny one hell of a guitarist (and he even designed the cover art, too), but Rodrigo Toscano plays the bass like a lead instrument, much like Jack Bruce, even with Bruce’s fat tone.

With “Galho,” after some introductory weirdness, we’re in Sabbath territory, dominated by Toscano’s activist bass playing, before Sheeny steers the ship into an Allman Brothers-like jam.  “Supernova 3333” starts out with Toscano and Sheeny trading heavy blues licks.  Loureiro plays a drum solo, long enough for a swig of your brew of choice, before the three dive in for more frolic and fun abusing guitars and amps.

On “Na Selva Densa,” Sheeny launches an opening volley of heavy riffage.  Some of the playing here is sick, just sick.  You can hear hints of Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn, but at the end of the day Sheeny is a supremely talented original.  Loureiro finishes the track with another drum solo, this time with a little more time to stretch out the pummeling.  Title track “Psilocibina” starts out with a slower tempo – well, slower for them – until about the two-and-a-half-minute mark when the high wattage mayhem resumes.

“Tropicos,” at 2:17 is the shortest track, but Sheeny packs a lot of Hendrixian magic in his fingertips, before the song transitions to another riff-based jam for the send-off.  Indeed, every song on the album sports at least two themes and time signatures.  Psilocibina always jumps to something new without letting a musical theme stagnate.  The finale, “LSD,” also their debut single, is muscular, maximum guitar funk followed by a minor transition to a space-rock middle section, before the funk-laden marauders return for the final conquest of your brain.

In a fair and just world, Psilocibina would be packing in venues and festivals throughout the land, enthralling fans and leaving them vanquished and breathless in their wake.  But heavy power trios are a crowded field, and there are even other bands with similar sounding names, so what can they do that sets them apart?  Let’s see, have greater technical mastery?  Check.  Have a more down and dirty sound – filthy, in fact?  Yah, that they do.  Leave the listener gasping and whiplashed from head-nodding and air guitaring?  Covered.  I really don’t miss the vocals, so nothing really lost there.  Well, the least we can do here is get the word out about them.  Hit the road, Jacks, and bring on album #2.

(Mark Feingold)




(CD from www.rustedrail.com )

Consisiting of members of United Bible Studies, The Driftwood Manor, Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon, A Lilac Decline and Loner Deluxe. This is the sophomore album by this alt folk supergroup, the band is made up of Cecilia Danell - acoustic guitar, jaw harp, tin whistle, keyboards and vocals. Aaron Hurley - acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, ukulele, autoharp, fuzz xylophone, melodica and percussion. Eddie Keenan - bouzouki. Scott McLaughlin - string arrangement/cello and piano. James Rider- acoustic guitar, bouzouki, banjolin and electronics. And Keith Wallace - percussion, production and found sounds.

For this album, which was recorded primarily in Ireland and Sweden, bar some fireworks in Berlin and a little piano and cello in Huddersfield, they have created a fine wintery album full of intimate, warm and fireside songs. The album title alludes to Bryter Layter by Nick Drake. The album starts with the ever so gentle instrumental ‘Embers’ before the skies darken and ‘October Skies’ hoves into view, here we are introduced to their secret weapon, the voice of Cecilia which reminds me a little of a cross between Judee Sill and Laura Veirs. ’Freezing Fog’ up next is like the theme tune of some ghostly western, with its lonesome harp refrain, I’m also reminded in places as the song develops, of early Tunng.

I won’t go through all the tracks, which would make this far too in depth as there are sixteen of them. I will highlight a few more though. ‘Deepest Woods’ a delicate, dreamy ballad of note imbued with various found sounds, this bleeds into ‘Kindling/Starry Plains’ creating a nice passage of music to drift off to, it has a few peels of thunder and it progresses into a widescreen instrumental, with some beautiful playing underpinned by cello. ‘An Echo in the Stones’ is an eerie, minor key piece, which tells of an impending nuclear winter. ‘When the Dust Settles’ is a folk noir instrumental, gently disturbing which us leads nicely into. ‘Swallows will be Leaving’ this works well lightening up the proceedings a little, it’s a tangled summer moving into winter song, one of the album highlights for me. ‘Highwater’ immediately has me thinking of The Wickerman, starting as it does with a Jaw harp, it has plenty of atmospheric electronics, gradually bleeding into ‘Little Cave/ Howling on the Hill, placing us firmly into Alan Garner territory. ‘Beyond the Haunted Asylum’ is a little unsettling, before album closer ‘Burrow’ takes us far into the twisted woods, of dreaming in moss and stone. Seek this album out; it will be a welcome friend in the winter, when it gets darkr earlyr.

(Andrew Young)




(LP, CD on Seradom Records)


Aaarth is the fourth album by The Joy Formidable, the Welsh rock trio, now relocated to Utah in the US Southwest.  “Aaarth” is a play on arth, which is Welsh for bear (and also gets you to the top of alphabetical lists).  The Joy Formidable is Rhiannon “Ritzy” Brian (guitar, vocals), Rhydian Dayfdd (bass) and Matthew James Thomas (drums).  Aaarth showcases their sound well as an edgy stew of catchy guitar rock, indie, shoegaze and pop.  Having seen them live, I can vouch that they’re terrific on stage.


Much of the album’s inspiration, like so many other works of music today, is the divisions in our society in the world after the events of 2016.  Aaarth is an exclamation, looking much like “Aaargh!” which is certainly reflective of the times.  The LP is also available in a spiffy, limited box set.


While songs such as “The Wrong Side” are overt statements of the current political climate, Aaarth isn’t just a political album.  “Go Loving” is a tight, catchy rocker.  “Cicada (Land on Your Back)” employs a slinky, eastern style and is a highlight.  “All in All” is a slow-building track that moves from a backdrop of tiny bells and atmospherics to processed guitars to an all-out shoegaze guitar assault to a thumping beat.


“What For” is the type of hook-laden guitar-driven rock song Joy Formidable excels at so well, while “You Can’t Give Me” adds more sound and fury.  Closer “Caught on a Breeze” is a pulse-raising amalgam of much of Joy Formidable’s strengths – loud and quiet moments, driving tempo, rousing ensemble playing by the band, and moody soundscapes.  It’s a song seemingly made for an action movie soundtrack, and sure to be a highlight in concert.


My biggest knock on “Aaarth” is the fact that so much of Ritzy Brian’s vocals are indiscernible.  This is due to a combination of the fact that she frequently sings very low, both in pitch and volume, even whispery at times, and a muddy mix that does the vocal tracks no favors, even when they’re double-tracked.  This often results in songs where you hear a phrase here, a sentence there, but rarely the full picture.  That’s a pity, because I know she works very hard on the lyrics and clearly has something to say.


Being a bit on the poppier, radio-friendly end of the spectrum, Aaarth won’t be for everybody, but certainly has enough appealing songs and moments going for it to encourage an enjoyable listen.


(Mark Feingold)




(CD, DL from bandcamp )

This is the first ever compilation of Ian’s work to span his entire recording career. A career that has seen Ian tackle a whole range of styles, veering from folk/blues, traditional English country blues, noisy dance band through to African style workouts with his Orchestre Super Moth.

Ian was one of the very first performers at the inaugural Glastonbury festival, beginning his career playing folk clubs like the legendary Les Cousins and Bristol’s Troubadour. Recording numerous albums; for labels such as Village Thing, Liberty, Plant Life and Rogue. After a few E.P’s Ian released his first proper album Stereo Death Breakdown in 1969, which coincided with him supporting Mississippi Fred McDowell. He was one of the originators of the genre called ‘psych folk’ and the albums he recorded in the early seventies for Village Thing are highly sought after and prized by his fans. He took a break from recording and playing for most of the 90’s to concentrate on broadcasting and writing, editing Folk Roots magazine. At some point in the early days of the noughties Ian reformed his duo with Maggie Holland Hot Vultures and also Tiger Moth, returning to recording with a 2017 album Deathfolk Blues Revisited.

This album starts with “Hero”, the musings of a former sailor, taken from his ‘Royal York Crescent’ LP, good luck finding a copy; he is joined on this one by Ian Hunt guitar and John Turner bass. “The Spring of ‘65”, a terrific drunkard’s lament and a Hot Vultures song; on which Ian and Maggie are joined by Martin Simpson. “Get In That Swing”, taken from that debut album, he is joined here by Bob Hall piano, Chris Turner harmonica and Rob Rowe bass. Some selected highlights are in order as there are 21 tracks, which are far too many for a track by track breakdown. “Galactic Wings (And Other Tales)”, from 1969 is great; featuring Mox on Flute and Keith Christmas playing Bongoes, this is the first time it has been released on CD. A solo instrumental performance from a radio session in 1970 called “The Man In The High Castle”, follows this, before another unissued radio session arrives in the form of “Honey, Just Give Me One More Chance”, taken from a 1980 Santa Monica performance. “‘Smarlon”, brings the tempo up with a fine English Country Blues Band instrumental.

Another project of Ian’s was the Blue Blokes 3 which consisted of Ian with Lu Edmunds and Ben Mandelson who together perform a great “Lord Allenwater”, with Lu on electric saz and Ben on Electric fuzz guitar. “The Western Wind”, is a previously unreleased Village Thing song taken from sessions for ‘Singer Sleeps On As Blaze Rages’, which sees Ian on 12 string. One of my personal favourite songs of Ian’s is “Time Is Ripe”, which dates from 1970; a duet of Ian with Ian Hunt on guitars. Another duo appears next with “Everybody’s Killing Me”, this time from the album that he recorded jointly with Mike Cooper in 1985, which was put out by Italian label Appaloosa. “The Preacher’s Blues”, is a humorous tale also taken from that Santa Monica session and works well here.

“Anthem (You Can Go On Forever)”, taken from ‘Book Of Changes’, sees Ian on overdrive guitar and Mox on flute, it’s another album highlight, a pretty sounding song about mortality. “Ginger Man”, is another unreleased radio session from 1970, on which he is again joined by Ian Hunt on guitar. An excellent up tempo “Radio Polka International”, fuses African rhythms with English dance band airs to great effect, I dare you not to tap your feet along to it. The album ends with “Goblets And Elms”, taken from Royal York Crescent, this song sees Ian duetting with a nightingale that has joined him in the studio, for a fine instrumental, providing a suitable ending for this terrific career overview.

(Andrew Young)




(LP/CD on FRG Records)

The Fellowship of Hallucinatory Travellers are not as one might think a small band of deluded people who actually like travelling by Northern Rail services but is instead the solo project led by Pete Bingham of Sendelica with a roll call of fine guest players helping out.

‘Tenderness Avalanche’ is the second helping of travellers fayre after the 2017 debut release, ‘This Is No Wilderness’ and in many respects it is a logical progression and evolution of the template established by the debut record with a rather lovely blend of icy kosmische soundscapes and warm folk and occasional jazz infusions from cello and violin creating an immersive ambience and listening experience. The album consists of four long pieces with the opening track at just under ten minutes in length, the shortest.

‘I Can Hear The Dark’ starts with a repeating and stark jazz influenced bass melody with wistful strings after which it slowly gathers momentum with pulsating almost rhythmic kosmische and soaring washes of sound very reminiscent of the flights of Tangerine Dream in their pomp. There’s a very nice nod to the spacey economy of Gilmour and Gottsching in the guitar solo that enters the mix later in the piece and occasional snippets of skittering almost jagged keyboards which bring a touch of fractured funk (I would love to hear this with an actual beat) before returning to the earlier string melody.

‘Dark Star (Book Of The Dead Mix)’ follows and at over eighteen minutes is quite a journey. Lapping water and distant voices introduce the piece with another spare, almost oriental picked melody gradually emerging accompanied by drones and the continuing undercurrent of water. Atmospheric sax , mournful strings, effects laden guitar textures and colours and swooping, whistling synths enrich and expand the sound, as the intensity slowly grows, into a swirling and occasionally menacing  piece which has a certain cinematic quality of desolation and elemental weather. It’s a very beautiful and appropriate soundtrack to a cold, wet and windy winter afternoon as I am writing this review.

‘Through The Steepled Window (Standing On The Ledge Mix)’ is another very lengthy piece at nearly 17 minutes. Atmospheric violin and cello are prominent early in the piece and faintly remind me of the wonderful opening of King Crimson’s ‘Exiles’. The synths are much gentler and less prominent  on this track which feels very reflective and the floating, achingly lovely, ECM like sax which features from the middle of the piece is gorgeous. Chiming guitar quietly enters the piece late on and provides subtle colour and accompaniment to the sax. This is a beautiful track which delivers the kind of immersive hypnotic ambience that Harold Budd or Bill Nelson creates and that’s a very good thing.

Finally the title track which continues the more reflective feel and is very reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s guitar soundscapes and church concert recordings of a few years ago. It’s a showcase for layers of guitar melody and soloing with delicate sound washes present as an undertone but never intruding. Strings and sax provide subtle accompaniment and are more of a feature later in the piece. Once again this is a beautiful, thoughtful and restrained piece of music which is evocative and like the rest of this fine record reveals more of its pleasures on repeat listening.

This is a wonderful record and as well as establishing a very worthwhile solo avenue for Pete Bingham, complements the more pastoral side of Sendelica as demonstrated on ‘The Cromlech Chronicles II’. The album comes out in late January but is available for pre-order on Bandcamp now - the perfect antidote to Christmas shopping and a wonderful soundtrack to winter. It won’t guarantee you a seat on the train but you’ll enjoy the journey much more in the company of this travelling band of joyful, happily hallucinating minstrels.

(Francis Comyn)



(CD/DL from Miller Sounds)

A collaboration between Stephen Stannard (Rowan Amber Mill) and Angeline Morrison (The Mighty Sceptres), Rowan Morrison was also the name of the “missing girl” in the Wicker Man film used to entice Sgt. Howie to Summer Isle. Fitting, as this is beguilingly beautiful while at the same time slightly unsettling in its other- worldliness.

Eschewing what has already been written about so recently in these pages concerning the unequivocally excellent trailer EP Bury The Forests (November Reviews for those fancying a trip down short-term memory lane), ‘Maid Of Chalk Hill’ is a lilting, dreamlike paean to the ancient stones that not so much litter as map the Wessex landscape and a clever play on the area’s geology (at which point Stephen will no doubt email in, explaining that it’s about a pub in Devon), the rhythmic see-sawing portraying the at once innocent and arcane. ’The Cold Stones (Circle Around)’ continues in similar vein and by now we are a-rejoicing in the sounds of pastoral idyll that could as easily have been scripted in 1970 as 2018, the sparse orchestration and plinking ivories lending an indelibly delicious organic quality.

‘These Are Golden Days’ (proving that nostalgia is not all it’s cracked up to be) provides us with a scant couple of minutes of timeless beauty that Ralph Vaughan Williams or any of the pastoral movement would have traded their souls for. Meanwhile ’On Ridgeways Fields/Sumer Is A Cumen In’ – and no we haven’t gone all Slade in that last bit of the title – appears to be an interesting reworking of Rowan Amber Mill’s contribution to the winning Dark Britannia III compilation Hail Be You Sovereigns, Lief and Dear from back in the day, which your reviewer occasionally and quite happily stumbles upon from time to time. A personal favourite that seems to encapsulate the pure essence of Stannard’s sensitive yet subtly majestic’ score is ‘One Place Forever’ which builds layer on exquisite layer in the just two minutes – sometimes less is more, while the dreamy vocal interplay on ‘Hawks and Sparrows’ and Robin of Sherwood cod-medievalism of ‘Overton Hill’ also has old soppy chops here grinning like the village simpleton (please don’t feel obliged to agree with the sentiment, by the way).

Any doubts that Morrison and Stannard are unable to keep up the momentum for a full 17 tracks are dispelled on ‘The Valley Song’, one of Angeline’s most telling vocal performances as she seems to drop half a register and ‘At The Circles End (Unspoken)’ which sounds like they left the best bits out of ‘War Of The Worlds’, with Stephen’s spoken word vocal at once soothing and steeped in foreboding.

It’s a shame that as a self-released album coming so late in the year that this will miss so many of the best-of lists but then this is a beautifully packaged yet somehow understated album destined, it seems, for “lost classic” status, to be rediscovered and cherished by generations of pilgrims on the old straight track. Somehow we think they would approve
(Ian Fraser)


(LP/CD From Guerssen)

Recorded in Paraguay between 1969 -1975, Jodi plough a wide furrow as they explore, psych, pop, Latin rhythms and some funky grooves on this collection of demos that have remained hidden until now.

   Playing a wide range of instruments Joern and Dirk Wenger maintain an open mind across the collection with opener “Loveseller” dominated by pop sensibilities and a fuzzy guitar, the song uplifting and oh so groovy. Next up, “altered Termites in my Room” is filled with swirling Mellotron and a strident lead melodies that makes it sound like an outtake from Hair, whilst “Change Your Mind About Me” has bubbling synths and Santana like guitar grooves that make you dance with a happy grin on your face..

    Taking it up a notch, “Wanna Change This World” seems to mix The Moving Sidewalks with The Tijuana Brass, a fabulous groove threaded through the track, laced with funky rhythms and a great arrangement, reminding me of Traffic Sound.

    Elsewhere “Take Me Higher” is an energetic funk rock tune with a nicely fuzzed bass and sweet guitar solo, “A Sunburst Of Bees” sounds like the James Taylor Quarter” with its organ filled goodness, whilst “The Mom Kiss First” is a fuzzed-up psych pop gem as is “I loved You Once” both songs deserving of a wider audience.
    Over 19 tracks (three only available as bonus downloads) this album is a joy to listen to, infectious , happy and perfectly judged, the ideal partner for your next psychedelic dance party whenever that may be.

   After the demise of the sadly neglected Mellow Candle Alison O'Donnell and David Williams moved to South Africa and met fellow musicians Barrie Glen and Jo Dudding. They then formed Flibbertigibbet performing in local folk clubs and communal houses. Eventually “Whistling Jigs to the Moon” was released in 1978, the album launched with a series of concerts at the renowned Market theatre. Only available in South Africa the album failed to set the world alight, which is a damn shame as it is a rather excellent collection of folk melodies with beautiful vocals and great playing as shown on “The Blackleg Miner” the mandolin driving the song on over some fine percussion and rich vocals. With a rolling bassline “Little Roving Sailor” will appeal to fans of Steeleye Span (as will the whole album), a delightful tune that leads nicely into the slower, beautiful “Mariner Blues” the song having an aching longing within its sad melodies.

    Showing a distinctive Celtic influence, the wintery “An Suisin Ban” shimmers with lovliness every instrument and voice blended together to perfection, the gentle mood broken by a selection of jigs that follow on. Definitely a highlight, the title track is a folk-rock gem telling of drunken walks home, the tune energetic and easy to sing along with.

    Darker in atmosphere “Seafarer” is a tale of the uncertainty of sailing the seas in wooden ships, beautifully sung with brooding melodies that remind you of the swirling currents. To end the collection “Episodes” is a gorgeous tune that has a fragility within, a gentle flute taking of to pastures green, lost in your imagination and wholly satisfied.

   So, two excellent releases which apparently contain extensive sleeve notes, lyrics and photos; sadly I don't have any of those things so cannot comment on the quality, however if they are a good as the music you should have no complaints. (Simon Lewis)



(Sulatron CD www.sulatron.com  )

Currently celebrating their 25th year, Norwegian band Seid present their new album, sung entirely in their native tongue. This is the fifth album since their killer debut ‘Among The Monster Flowers Again’ released on Luftwaffel records in 2002 and six years later rereleased on Sulatron.

We kick off with ‘Haukøye’, a shuffling busy drum pattern is established, the first thing that hits me is what an inventive drummer Martin Langlie is, the rest of the band then kick in with a cool riff and pinging lead guitar fills and a few chanted vocals, this is pretty catchy stuff, what is it with these Scandinavian heavy rock bands that appeals so? This is a good opening song, mostly instrumental; it is followed by ‘Trollmannens Hytte’, a slow burner of a song, winter winds howl, swirling synth (all members of the band play synth at some point) a female announcer interjects a few instructions or information, before bubbling synths take over and a huge riff is summoned up for ‘Satan i Blodet’, which sees intoned verses in a slow heavy metal style. Before long woozy Mellotrons arrive and guitars blaze, I'm not really a fan of this type of vocal but it works well here as it is not at all shouty. Next up is the playful title track ‘Weltschmerz, baby’, it breaks up the album well, having an almost rockabilly flavour, a sort of Hawkwind/Stray Cats vibe, the ending is great, love the guitar sound.

‘Coyoteman’, sees more of that excellent drumming, massed choral vocals, tremolo guitar, a little arpeggio guitar, it’s an interesting tune that builds slowly, creating a nice bit of tension, it’s also the longest track here being over seven minutes long, enlivened by some nice guitar solos along the way. ‘Moloch vs Gud’, is an eastern sounding tune, sitar and tabla are joined by a ‘Preacher Man’ and God himself! It is a most inventive song, full of intriguing rhythm patterns. The mainly Instrumental album closer ‘Mir (Drogarna börjar värka)’, is a knotty prog rock tune which appeals greatly, having plenty of twists and turns, highlighted by some nice keyboard work, it ends with a keyboard solo at the climax that has hints of Ray Manzarak, circa Riders On The Storm.

(Andrew Young)


CD on www.sulatron.com 

Following on from a recent trilogy (Gurumaya, Silver Moon and Mind’s Eye) by Dutch one-man band Astral Son (aka Leonardo Soundweaver) whotook a year to write, play and record this album, an album which takes in space rock, acid-folk, seventies electronics and eastern flavoured tunes.

To give you an indication of Leonardo’s sound, I would say a mix of Steve Hillage and Hawkwind immediately spring to my mind. It is a bit ofa concept album, with one song bleeding into another. ‘She’, the album opener is all swirling, billowing synths, fluid guitar lines, and vocals with a touchof backwards guitar, as this first song progresses, we are definitely in space rock territory, ‘Matrix of Creation’, follows and wouldn’t be out of place onHillage’s Fish Rising, praise indeed. Birdsong and Eastern sounds announce the arrival of the gentle ‘Time and Space’, a foreboding song of astral change.‘Your Mind’, takes us back up into space, with a chugging mid paced rocker, before ‘Moving Slowly’, appears, this is a questing song of wonder, that sees flangedguitar, keyboards, and cymbal washes, then ‘The Universe’, hoves into view; it asks the question Who Am I? A vaguely Eastern space rock tune, imbued withbackward guitar. ‘Cheap Magic Spells’, the longest song on the album, it could well be the album centrepiece, ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space,it’s a classic space rock song, big riffs, spiralling galaxy synths and plenty of organ, before ending in a glorious fluid guitar solo. ‘Nothing New’, issuesan appeal to step off the treadmill, this song is rather Beatles-esque in its structure.

‘The Well’, takes us on a magic carpet ride, it tells of butterflies spreading their wings, of reflections of silver and gold, themessage being we are one... Let’s be honest, it is a bit clichéd and full of the familiar hippie tropes, but it is his guitar playing which impresses enoughto overlook this, and keeps me from being too cynical. ‘Journey’, follows and is an enjoyable space rock song, it builds nicely as it heads off into thefirmament. The album ends with ‘Morning Dew’, (no not that one!) it provides a gentle, meandering song to conclude this enjoyable album.    (Andrew Young)