=  FEBRUARY 2006 =

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Written by: Kitchen Cynics
  Book of Shadows
Simon Lewis (Editor) Orange Humble Band
Steve Pescott Edward Ka-Spel
Jeff Penczak


Tony Dale

My cat Is An Alien


Clear Spots




Seven Mile Journey

  Kawabata Makoto
    My Beloved
    Delta 5



( kitchencynics@ecosse.net )


    Throughout his recording career Alan Davidson has written and sung about his local history and landscape, the songs filled with an obvious and genuine affection. On this release he has “attempted to scratch an itch” and has recorded a complete set of song about (and dedicated to) the people of Aberdeen, each song a carefully crafted gem telling tales of hardened drinkers, historical figures, local entertainers, and drunken nights with Damon Suzuki. Musically the songs retain the melancholy cloak that has almost become Alan’s trademark, the songs marked with a wicked sense of humour and occasionally laced with layers of fuzzed guitar, especially on “Demerara Cerebrum” a bitter tale of cynical pub dwellers.

    One of the most enchanting facets of the album is the way that Alan has woven the voices of his parents into the stories, their memories adding a poignancy and historical twist to the music, making them even more personal and intimate, and creating an important historical document that will preserve (in word at least) a world that is fast disappearing.

    As usual with Kitchen Cynics albums it is the interplay between guitar and voice that captures the imagination and creates the albums atmosphere.the aching beauty of “Songs Of Spring” (co written with Jesse Poe) is a perfect example of the blend, a gentle paean to unfulfilled love that weeps with passion.

   Elsewhere “Damo Supports The Dons” is a humorous account of Damo Suzuki’s visit to Aberdeen and his love of local football team “The Dons”, whilst “Spencer The Rover” is a beautiful rendition of the traditional song which has been “localised” to fit the countryside around.

    All in all, another excellent album from the prolific Mr Davidson whose body of work is fast becoming an essential item for anyone interested in the changing landscape of British folk music.  (Simon Lewis)




(Ethedrone Muzac st37@ev1.net )


    Having released a collection of spacey songs followed by one long improvised piece of music, ex ST 37 member Carlton Crutcher has returned with his most complete and enjoyable work to date. Ably assisted by his wife Sharon (vocals), Douglas Ferguson (guitar/electronics) and Lori Varga (theremin) the music on “Mantis” attacks and then recedes, ranging through the sonic spectrum from the harsh sounds of electronic insects, to quiet moments of stillness and introspection. First highlight is the majestic dronescape of “Angel Of The Presence” which leads us through alien mist towards a light we never quite see, yet feel inside, the instruments harmonising (and disharmonising) together allowing the vocals plenty of space to creep under your skin. Next track “Histories Of Abandoned Canyon” reveals the textures beneath the mist, a rambling landscape that distorts and pulsates with great beauty. That beauty is twisted and abused on “Devachan” the electronics taking on a far more sinister hue, crackling and arguing amongst themselves, the vocals adding a lost spectral presence that is unsettling and poignant in equal measures.

    The absolute masterpiece however is the 22 minute sonic manipulation that is “The Escapist” in which the band distils everything that has gone before to produce a full-on electronic trip which seems to move and flow with a life of it’s own, the instruments weaving their story from the very essence of sound itself. Full of samples, and some wonderful spoken word that tantalises with meaning before being lost forever, the piece works beautifully creating a disturbing, mesmerising and, at times, breathtaking world that needs to be listened to several times to allow the full picture to emerge. Finally “Silent Movie” leads us back, sounding like a swarm of angelic bees searching for the way home in an unfamiliar landscape.

With this release Book Of Shadows have created an instant classic, rarely has “difficult” music been so rewarding to the ears, an album I will be returning to again and again. (Simon Lewis)




(Laughing Outlaw Records www.laughingoutlaw.com.au )


   Featuring a whole host of names from critically acclaimed bands including Jim Dickinson (sometimes Stone producer) Jody Stephens (Golden Smog), and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star) this is a delightful and summery walk through some wonderful sixties inspired pop, full of jangly guitars, harmony vocals and hook-laden chorus’ which will banish winter from your mind and have you dancing ‘round the kitchen like a madman (or woman). Opening song “Vineyard Blues” has the spirit of Donovan running through it like a stick of psychedelic rock, right down to the shimmering guitar and the vocal inflections, before “What’s your Crime” muscles in, sounding like The Hollies jamming with Big Star on a sunny day. Next track “On Our Way Home” could be a lost classic from the Byrds, whilst “Any Way You Want It To Be” sounds like that classic power pop band you can never remember the name of.

   And so it goes on each track reminds you of someone, sometimes a specific band, sometimes just an era or a personal memory, and while this may sound like a criticism let me assure you it isn’t. The songs sound so familiar because they are classic pop songs and songs like this never go out of fashion, each generation creating their own variations, their own interpretations of those well worn, well loved riffs, with their themes of love hope and sadness.

    What we really have here is a heart-felt and beautifully played collection of timeless songs, that will be enjoyed by anyone who has moved on from the corporate pap that clogs the airwaves, a warming collection of melodies to ease your worries and make you feel good, a mini masterpiece. (Simon Lewis)




(Beta-lactam Ring Records, PO Box 6715, Portland, OR 97228-6715 USA www.blrrecords.com )


    ‘Laugh….’, originally released in 1984 on Pat Bermingham’s ‘In Phaze’ label was Edward Ka_Spel’s first solo LP outside of The Legendary Pink Dots (now with a staggering seventy releases to their name) and was recorded over two weekends on borrowed equipment. Since that time, the master tapes have lived in Pat’s damp garden shed, and, twenty one years on, have been reduced to an unrecognisable brownish gloop. The tapes for the ‘Dance China Doll’ EP (also included, along with an obscure compilation track), were apparently in an even worse state of repair! But, all was not lost thanks to the intervention of Mr. Raymond Steeg (‘International Sound Rescue’) who eventually tracked down some vinyl copies, which were then give a polish in his sound lab. Only a couple of isolated pops’n’clicks give the game away on this “almost digital recording” (unquote).

    So, has time been kind to ‘Laugh China Doll’? Well, for the most part – yes. The borrowed gear though is yr archetypal eighties hardware: string synth washes and tupperware-sounding drum boxes can be heard on occasion. ‘Eye Contact’ and ‘Paradise Then’ are the worst culprits, both being a hairsbreadth away from the likes of Ultravox and (ulp!) Visage. But, that’s only a couple of minor grouses, as Edward (vocals, keys and “hammer”), Patrick Q. Paganini (violin/vocals) and occasional guests can still offer up a series of spooky/warped audio transmissions with all the frisson that is generated by a planchette’s sudden movement during that important first séance. The poignant faux classical violin that gloomifies the minimalistic ‘Requiem’ is a surefire winner as is the ghostly deserted ballroom atmosphere that ‘Lady Sunshine’ silently glides through. ‘the Fool with Hammers’ (Vienna 1988) is the “best til’ last” closer. It’s found on the ‘Perhaps We’ll Only See A Think Blue Line’ compilation LP which I have never seen or even heard of. How did this evade my sweaty clutches? With its “blood down the walls” and “eating apples ‘cause we’re so damn bored” tag lines, this ‘Fool’ is a major find: seven minutes, 22 of eye-rolling strayngeness and I guess that this is where Edward’s hammer finally makes its entrance? Oh my God! He’s heading for Pat’s shed!!

    As a post-scripted guide for the curious, I’d advise you to also search out Edward’s ‘Pieces of 8’ which received a vinyl/CD release on Beta-Lactam during mid-2004, the ‘Malachi’ two-parter by the legendary Pink Dots and the ‘Tanith & The Lion Tree’ double solo set – unfortunately the latter threesome seem to have vanished off the record fair/mailorder radar and have undoubtedly now become overpriced items on eBay. Ka-Ching China Doll! (Steve Pescott)




(LP on Akarma records www.cometrecords.com )


    Much like Odin (Vertigo / Akarma Records), Nektar (United Artists) and I Drive (Metronome / Little Wing of Refugees), Diabolus were a three-quarters British outfit who hawked their prog-rock manifesto up and down the autobahns of West Germany after being unable to secure a contract in their homeland.

    John Hadfield (lead guitar / vocals), his brother Anthony (bass /  vocals), Philip Howard (keyboards, wind instruments and vocals) and drummer Ellwood Von Seibold released their lone self-titler on Bellaphon Records, which was recorded at London’s ‘Sound Technique Studios’ in 1971 and boasted production by the legendary Shel Talmy (another candidate for a long-overdue biography). Diabolus, a name perhaps culled from an obscure horror flick, is a word which should cast up all manner of diabolic/infernal practices, but the band photos and cover designs (60s boutique-style typeface above a red planetscape) suggests a penchant for the mysterioso (see ‘Raven’s Call’ and ‘Lady of the Moon’) that is far removed from crucifix-toting outfits such as Sabbaff, Black Widow and America’s Coven.

    Almost all (more on the odd song out later) of the eight self-penned numbers come close stylistically to a late period Steamhammer, yet one who voraciously devour Edgar Allan Poe and M.R. James between gigs. In fact, the Steamhammer comparisons are very evident in ‘Laura Sleeping’ where the spiky extended guitar solo is very Martin Pugh-like in construction. And, as with th’ mighty Hammer, there is…. Flute! [never mind, Steve – have a nice cup of tea and a lie-down and it’ll all be over soon. Ed.] This is more of a threat on Side One, but has led to certain mail order lists and sourcebooks labelling the quartet as “Tull-like”. The only track that fits that description is ‘Night Clouded Moon’, which is the nearest thing to ‘living In The Past’ you will ever (want to) hear.

    As its previous reissue (on the slightly dodgy ‘Witch & Warlock’ label from 1994) is probably long deleted by now, this comes as a worthy purchase for scholars of first generation ex-pat prog. (Steve Pescott)




(3CD LAST VISIBLE DOG www.lastvisibledog.com )


    Combining Two previously released tracks with five new recording, this sprawling triple disc set re-defines kosmiche musick with its deep space exploration made sound approach. Each of the disc uses a far away galaxy as its inspiration, the music easily re-creating the distances involved, invoking a physical isolation in the listener, a sense of being utterly alone and completely over awed by the sheer size of the universe.

    Disc one is dedicated to the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy, which lies 19 million miles away and was discovered by Edward Pigott on march 23, 1779.Opening track, the 14 minute “The Cosmological Eye Introduction” is a magickal ritual of drone, voice and cymbals, drawing protection for the traveller as he prepares for the epic voyage ahead. For most space/drone bands it would be the centrepiece of the album, but for these seasoned travellers it is merely the beginning, a mere preparation, before “Into The Sleeping Beauty Galaxy” takes us deep into the heart of the cosmos, a slow moving, fifty five minute drone, that settles like dust around the room, creating a timeless ambience that defies gravity as it creaks and stutters towards its final destination.

    Disc two concentrates on the Sombrero Galaxy, which lies 28 million light years away, was discovered by Pierre Mechain on May 11,1781, and is thought have a black hole in its centre. Opening with “The Helix Nebula” the shortest piece on the set (7:59), this disc takes on a different hue, sounding like a distant explosion, the reverberations of which head towards the listener threatening to engulf him in a brutal wall of primeval drumming, before the storm slowly passes revealing the vastness of space in all its cold impartiality as we enter “Into The Sombrero Galaxy” 40 minutes of reverb and echo, guitars and percussion scratching random pattern across the universe, the aural equivalent of a painting by Miro. Lastly on disc two “The Triffid Nebula” is another variation on the theme, a pulsing shapeshifter of a drone, sounding like a meteor shower as it moves through space, each separate sound creating the illusion of a single body moving in unison, and possibly my favourite piece on this astonishing album.

    For Disc Three the inspiration is the Whirlpool Nebula discovered on October 13, 1773 by Charles Messier, whilst its even fainter companion was discovered on March 21,1781 by Pierre Mechain.It is believed to be 31 million light years away, and is one of the finest examples of a spiral galaxy. “Into The Whirlpool Galaxy”, the first of two tracks on this disc, is almost a whisper, a sound that conveys the faintness of the galaxy it represents, a gentle swirl of ever expanding space debris, the violence of its centre dissipated by the great distances involved. Finally we reach “The Orion Nebula” more whispered drone, giving us time to contemplate the vast journey we have undertaken, as we slowly drift into uncharted space, lost in the infinite, alone but unafraid. (Simon Lewis)




(CD-R on Deep Water Records, http://www.dwacres.com)


    Hard on the heels of their debut 'Mountain Rock' (reviewed by the Terrascope in November), brothers Adam Bugaj (drums), Matt Bugaj (guitar), and Kevin Moist (guitar) evolve their sound somewhat on 'Mansions in the Sky', albeit in stripped down trio format (brother Tom Bugaj, drummer 'Mountain Rock' does not appear here). The first thing to note is the wonderful cover photograph. It's quite easy to imagine that the featured barn was where this series of metallographic sound worlds was created, and the alarming lean of the barn the result of some extreme sound pressure level transgressions performed during these sessions/rites/cook-outs. Even so, this time out, the Clear Spots are perhaps more restrained, more spacious and more structured than on their debut (but not too much). 'Clouds and Thunder' makes an early impression with shimmering waves of guitar feeding off local atmospherics to the extent that their amplifier draw down on the power of storms, lightning strikes ramping up the available wattage. 'Sun Stone' settles into a groove as the players become attuned to one another, and like the following 'Aureolis Bombastus' it's pretty gloriously melodic, so much so that one wonders how much of what is going on is composed versus improvised. One can feel the 90s drone/noise rock roots of 'Mountain Rock' are already being transcended, though not completely left behind. Beer, bong and barbeque are probably the main influences on the stomping 'Mud Boots', which sounds like some dazed 70s mid-Western garage psychonauts worshipping at the font of Sabbath while cutting their soon-to-be-lost private pressing. It has a spectacularly saturated sound that rewards high volume listening (the sessions were recorded on a good old cassette portastudio). 'Three Dignitaries' is typical of the whole, ploughing a furrow of drone while occasionally switching of the engine to admire pastoral surrounds. It's damn near bucolic. Elsewhere, they experiment with an absence of structure ('The Back of Beyond'), play expansive gigs on airships ('Friend of the Pines'), and stumble through the woods and fall down abandoned mineshafts ('The Lower World' and 'Badlands').

    It will be interesting to see where The Clear Spots go from here. Personally, I'd like to see them mess around with acoustic instruments and move into ritualistic folk territory, though perhaps there are already too many folks there.   (Tony Dale)




(CD on Secret Eye Records, http://www.secreteye.org)


  On initial contact with this record you might be tempted to enquire "who are these nutters and what have they done with Phosphene", for the liquid, progressive space rock and electronica of earlier releases such as Secret Eye's earlier release of projection has been supplanted by a howling maw of free jazz skronkadelia. It's a transition that is as brave as it is bracing. Primary reason for the change would be mainstay John Cavanagh's choice of new playmates, specifically legendary soprano sax terrorist Lol Coxhill and multi-squawkamentalist Raymond MacDonald on saxophones various. Percussion is a key element in this new Phosphene line-up as well, with Tibetan Singing Bowls and plenty more besides added to the Cavanagh's atonal analogue electronics and the inescapable brass.

    The beautiful opening track 'Doctor Silence', which offsets bubbling electronic oscillations a high drone with call and response saxes in left and right channels set the tone nicely, and gives the listener a pretty good idea of what is to come. It's Sun Ra-ish and nice, and if that is a good reference point for you, proceeding on will not be without rewards. 'Opaline' is well titled, like a cavernous space with strange iridescent patterns everywhere you look. Bells swirl around duelling alto and soprano sax for an effect more psychedelic than it sounds. 'Elsewhere and Otherwise' travels further down the free/space-jazz path and is close to the strongest of the tracks here with it effortless creation of a three-dimensional sound world, wonderful percussive effects and general tripped-out otherness. 'Spheries' damaged my ears since I had the previous track up so loud to hear its nuances…and that's the kind of thing one has to admire I suppose. Cheers, lads. 'His Master's Vice' is more fine analog synth squonk and horns wailing like the hounds of hell at ones heels, and is not to be recommended if one has the slightest pressure in the bonce, let alone a hangover or migraine. Having stated that, it's actually a pretty invigorating track if one is in the mood for extremity. 'Golf: an Antechamber to Death' (hey, I thought that was lawn bowls) is a mordant soprano sax lament over skeletal electronics, percussion and bird sounds, and evokes its theme pretty well. Subsequent tracks follow on in the exploratory mode set by the combo on the first half of the record, alternating spacious meditatative moments with onslaughts of free saxophone. 'Cepheid Variable' adds some ecclesiastical vocal treatments along the course of its seven minutes and takes things out on a really zen note.

    I'm not thoroughly convinced that I want Phosphene to proceed down this path again, but I don't guess it's up to me. It certainly has enough startling moments to make it worth your time.

(Tony Dale).




(Fono’Gram, Sdr. Boulevard 91, 2.tv. DK-1720 CPH V.)


A couple of years ago, I was trawling the web in an effort to build my post rock music library by downloading interesting-sounding material from around the world, using Dainis Bushmanis’ essential Post-Rock Bands site as my Table of Contents. One of the most impressive tracks I downloaded was ‘In An Eight Track Universe’ from this previously unknown quartet from Aalborg, Denmark, who released their self-titled demo in 2002 to ecstatic praise from the Danish press. Encapsulated within this quarter-hour monster was everything I had come to know and love about post-rock guitar sound sculptists like Godspeed You Black Emperor and Mogwai, but with all the boring, pretentious bits left on the cutting room floor. So when Terrascope Online editor Simon Lewis informed me that the band had just released their “major label” debut, I jumped at the chance to see if they were the real deal. And, boy howdy, was I glad I did!

    Opening with a throbbing heartbeat, not unlike my own excited ticker, ‘Through the Alter Ego Justifications’ immediately rekindled my initial enthusiasm with its slowly emerging, emotional onslaught, as one by one the individual band members stroll into the studio, pick up their instruments, plug in, and join the fray. Imagine a musical tag-team match between Spacious Mind and Explosions in the Sky and, as Lou Reed so pointedly said, “you’ll be beginning to see the light.” The opening bassline to the 15-minute epic ‘Passenger’s Log, the Unity Fractions’ seems to have been lifted from The Jam’s Motown tribute, ‘Town Called Malice.’ This riff is immediately mirrored by the two guitarists (sorry, only unattributed first names are listed in the credits – hey, guys, come out, come out whoever you are), who float in on the back of dark, ominous storm clouds. Pounding drums and cymbal crashes soon replace that lump in your throat with your racing heartbeat. Comparisons to Swans similarly-structured ‘Helpless Child’ may be redundant (compare our review of My Beloved’s ‘On Happiness Hill’ elsewhere on this page), but are not unwarranted. After seven minutes of heart-racing terror, a tearful, cascading, trilling guitar interjects the loveliest little bazouki-like melody into the proceedings and I wondered, could this be Godspeed tackling one of Mikis Theodorakis’ classic film scores (‘Z,’ ‘State of Siege,’ et. al.) The beating heart linking device opens the relatively short (i.e., four minute) ‘Theme for the Oddmory Philosophies,’ which showcases the keyboardist’s classical training, as the strains of his heartmeltingly-sad piano riff wafts down the hall, taking up residence in the nostalgic canyons of your mind. Next, imagine that cake melting somewhere out in the rain in MacArthur’s Park or the Wicked Witch of the West melting under Dorothy’s bucket of water, and you will begin to get a sense of the emotional blackmail stemming from the album’s 15-minute closer, ‘The Murderer/Victim Monologues’ as it shakes your being to its inner core and tears, like raindrops or Charles Foster Kane’s dying “Rosebud” utterance trickle out of your body. I’d have to go all the way back to The Cure’s ‘Disintegration’ or The Chameleon’s ‘Script of the Bridge’ for the last time I had such an emotionally draining experience that had me literally breaking down into a crumbling mass of gelatin.

    To suggest this is the listening experience of the year so far goes without saying. To imply it may be one of the new century’s finest releases is not too outlandish an accusation. The Journey, and fellow Danish labelmates My Beloved, hit the boards together last year and I advise all to keep an eye out for another upcoming pairing for what will surely be one of the year’s most exciting gigs. (Jeff Penczak)




(Vivo, ul.M.Konopnickiej 27, 18-300 Zambrów, Poland)


    The Acid Mothers Temple guru’s [approximately] 40th solo album and [approximately] 279th overall consists of three lengthy synthesizer tracks (hence the album’s subtitle) recorded in the winter of 2004. Opener ‘Planet Crazy Diamond’ is, as its title suggests Kawabata’s interpretation of Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond,’ with a droning hum supporting his swirling, spacey sci-fi electronics that reflect his oft-quoted modus operandi of channeling the cosmic energy of the universe into a 21st century musical idiom (Check our interview with Makoto in issue #31, February 2002.) Air-raid sirens, bubbling cauldrons of bubbling synths and an expansive, other-worldly, “out there” vibe are the orders of the day. Kawabata has often paid tribute to his favourite artists and music through punny titles and band names: Merrill Frankhauser (‘Pataphisical Freak Out MU!!’), Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention (‘Absolutely Freak Out Zap Your Mind,’ his The Mothers of Invasion side project’s ‘Hot Rattlesnakes’ and The Cosmic Inferno’s ‘Just Another Band from the Cosmic Inferno’), Zappa & Captain Beefheart (‘St. Captain Freak Out & The Magic Bamboo Request’), Hawkwind (‘Monster of the Universe’), The Grateful Dead (‘Grateful Head’), King Crimson (‘41st Century Splendid Man’ and the Black Sabbath co-tribute, ‘Starless and Bible Black Sabbath’), Steppenwolf (‘Born To Be Wild in the USA’), Jimi Hendrix (‘Electric Heavyland’), David Bowie (‘Ziggy Sitar Dust Raga’ and ‘Diamond Doggy Peggy’), Jethro Tull (‘Minstrel in the Galaxy’), and Pink Floyd (‘I Wished You Were Here Once Again’) are just some of his more colourful creations. Here he returns to Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here,’ with recognizeable snippets of the swooshing elevator/party noises from ‘Have A Cigar’ as well as the aforementioned ‘Crazy Diamond.’ Highly recommended to fans of the synth-heavy electronische krautrock work of Tangerine Dream and Conrad Schnitzler (particularly ‘Rot’) and “high”-wired 60’s hippies Joe Byrd (USA and The Field Hippies), 50 Foot Hose (‘Cauldron’) and David Vorhaus’ White Noise (‘An Electric Storm’) and today’s torch-bearer Sonic Boom’s Experimental Audio Research.

    The cosmic spirit continues with ‘Love On The Galactic Railroad,’ which opens with an ominous hum reminiscent of the ‘Star Trek’ theme and morphs into a vibrating, minimalist drone that suggests heavy ingestion of the collected works of Steven Reich. A faint, distant heartbeat pumps life into the electronic bloodstream, while ear-piercing electronic dog whistles remind me of the hearing test I took during my last physical and cover the same ground previously explored by Jon De Rosa (wearing his Aarktica hat) on ‘Pure Tone Audiometry’ (Silber, 2003). Kawabata’s whoopy-cushioned synth farts toss a few speedbumps onto this Galactic highway, which occasionally sounds like the soundtrack of one of those themed rides at Disneyland or Universal Studios or the sound effects coming from the neighbourhood video arcade. It’s, like, totally gee-whiz-cool sounding, man, but not something I will return to often.

    The title track revisits titular themes Kawabata explored on previous solo efforts for Mar-Ino (‘You Are The Moonshine,’ 2000) and Timothy Renner’s “Folklore of the Moon” subscription series (last year’s ‘Do You Remember Our Moonshine Magic?’). This one, however, demonstrates his love for the minimalist drones of Reich, LaMonte Young and, particularly Terry Riley (whose ‘In C’ was already covered by Kawabata’s mothership, Acid Mothers Temple), as it essentially consists of a single chord played continuously for over half an hour. (Fans of Scorces, Glide, and ambient speaker hum projects like Stars of the Lid, Windy & Carl and Azusa Plane will definitely want to feed their head with this one!) Put on the headphones and turn up the volume and you will either develop a knack for self-hypnosis or go stark-raving mad listening to the perpetual buzz (musically speaking, that it!) Hypnotic, hallucinatory and revelatory – could this be the Moody’s much sought-after lost chord? In any event, it’s an unforgettable performance that will be (literally) ringing in your ears for days, although, like the previous track, it is certainly not something you will listen to more than once (hell, Kawabata is so damn prolific, I doubt even he has listened to it more than once!), unless you get your kicks staring at test pattern transmissions or ‘The Conet Project’ box is one of your Desert Island Disks. The only question I have on tracks like these is how the composer/performer knows when to say “when.” I’ve been listening to this thing for over half an hour and I could go on listening for another half hour, but is the CD’s time constraints (approximately 80 minutes) the deciding factor in pressing the ‘Stop’ button? Also, is this really a composition at all – holding down a couple of keys and recording the hum? But these are questions for another arena. Just kick back and enjoy what we have and leave the esoteric analysis for our Online Forum! (Jeff Penczak)




(Fono’Gram, Sdr. Boulevard 91, 2.tv. DK-1720 CPH V.)


    These Danish post rock instrumentalists’ fourth album is a series of disconcerting experiences, from its haunting, controversial cover of an out-of-focus photograph of a lovely young maiden who has apparently just committed suicide by hanging to its backwards packaging that finds the CD tray glued onto the left side of the glossy gatefold sleeve. The music housed inside these “anomalies” is just as disorienting. The title track (full title: ‘The Duel On Happiness Hill’) opens with Iver Ask Overgaard’s monstrous Valkyrian guitars swooping down and grabbing listeners by the ears, and then proceeds to flail them around the room a bit, challenging them to perk up and take notice. The swirling majesty of Michael Gira and his late-period Swans (ca. ‘Soundtracks for the Blind’ and ‘Die Tür Ist Zu’) bleeds all over ‘How We Smiled Again,’ as drummer Danny Søndergaard recalls the earth shattering skin pounding of Larry Mullins, delivering the best performance of his career (in or out of U2) on tracks like ‘Helpless Child’ and ‘The Sound.’

    My Beloved are masters of the recent subgenre we’ve labelled “progoth” (you heard it here first) (and last, I hope! - ed.) , which combines the dark, haunting, angular guitar striations of early Cure and Bauhaus with the more elaborate classical trappings of Emerson, Lake & Palmer with aspects of the more structured, piano-driven elements of Krautrock a la Wallenstein (check out ‘Lunatic’ from ‘Blitzkrieg’ – Pilz, 1971). Lars Kivig’s grand piano is a key element in shaping the band’s sound and forms a skeleton for Overgaard to serpentine his fluid guitar runs around, as he serves up a unique hybrid style that combines the best of Robert Smith, Roy Montgomery and Vini Reilly.

    The emotionally uplifting, cinematic atmospherics of tracks like ‘Underground Breakdown’ reveal yet another side of the band’s chameleon personality, while the hesitant, cautious ‘King of the Mountain’ finds Overgaard lifting a few more pages from Smith’s songbook for a dirgy march through quicksand that sounds like ‘The Funeral Party’ (‘Faith,’ Fiction, 1981) interspersed throughout The Cure’s soundtrack to ‘Carnage Visors.’ Thankfully, Søndergaard’s perfectly-timed chimes insert a fleeting ray of hope to the otherwise dour proceedings.

    If cinematic heroism is your musical bag of tea, its’ to the band’s eternal credit and praise that they imbue ‘Shipwrecked’ with such a swelling, storming, crescendoing air of excitement that one can almost literally feel the Essex or Titanic being hoisted from the ocean floor. The album fizzles out a bit towards the end as it deteriorates into directionless wandering and Overgaard’s over reliance on samples and tape loops, but for the most part, My Beloved continue to impress as one of the world’s finest practitioners and champions of the post rock, progoth idiom. (Jeff Penczak)





PMB 418 Olympia, WA 98501 USA)


     This proto p/funk quintet was fronted by dueling bassists, three vocalists (all females) and a couple of blokes on guitar and drums and were occasionally referred to as the Gang of Five in reference to the similarly angular musical approach of their Leeds neighbours, Gang of Four. This is the third installment (following on from Kleenex/Liliput and Essential Logic) in Kill Rock Stars’ reissue series of overlooked post-punk bands and this collection gathers both sides of the original line-up’s three singles and a couple of BBC sessions, and supplements the lot with several live tracks from a Berkley, CA 1980 gig, all of which are commercially available for the first time in the US! An attractive, informative booklet with essays from Greil Marcus and Leeds other claim to punk fame, The Mekons’ Jon Langford complete the lovingly assembled (by Perfect Sound Forever editor Jason Gross and Erin Donovan) package.

      Throbbing basslines and Kelvin Knight’s minimalistically efficient backbeat under the lasses’ monotonic chanting and the angular, razor-sharp shards of Alan Riggs’ guitarlines that could cut diamonds were their trademark and all are in full flight on their 1979 debut single ‘Mind Your Own Business.’ John Peel received an advanced copy from the Rough Trade shop and promptly played it twice on his show and requested they pop on down for a session at Maida Vale.

      Heavily syncopated anti-rhythms that few outside ‘Seinfeld’’s Elaine Benes could actually dance to coupled with typical punk lyrics (“Go out, get drunk and have a good time”) are the drawing power of the single’s flip, ‘Now That You’ve Gone,” which mirrored the no-wave (some might suggest no-talent) utterances of fellow female-fronted punkettes, The Slits and The Raincoats, who were simultaneously recording and releasing their debut albums.

      The sophomore single ‘Anticipation’ was always overshadowed in my ear by the incredible B-side, ‘You,’ perhaps the band’s finest day in the sun. Riggs’ bleeding solo (rare in the punk oeuvre) and the trio of lovelies’ caterwauling war whoops combine with Knight’s heart-pounding backbeat to provide one of my personal Desert Island Punk singles, the original of which I still have safely tucked away in my private collection of rarities. Julz Sale’s operatic, occasionally off-key shrieking and the omnipresent, flowing, funky basslines highlight the band’s final single, the otherwise irresistibly infectious ‘Try.’

      The first of two Peel Sessions (4/2/80) opens with the band’s self-titled theme song, which in retrospect, could be heard as the backbone for the B-52’s entire output. For ‘Make Up,’ Riggs adopts a pointedly Mick Jones-styled Clashy guitar attack, with a nifty, windmilling Pete Townshend coda. The gals’ harmonies are stronger (and both in tune and time!) on the lone representative of their second Peel Session (2/9/80) ‘Triangle,’ a rapping slice of monstrous funk. Knight is downright hyperkinetic on ‘Innocenti,’ the opening track from the16/7/81 Richard Skinner Session and he inspires the girls and Riggs to frenetic flights of frantic frenzy. By now the band have become tighter than a monkey’s bum and matured to the point where they could actually give The Pretenders a run for their money (listen to ‘Train Song’ and tell me that couldn’t sit comfortably on Chrissie Hynde & Co’s debut).

      And dig Riggs’ surprisingly psychedelic (s)whirling dervish guitar intro straight out of ‘Too Much To Dream’ on ‘Final Scene’ that finds him positively possessed on what is possibly his finest performance ever. Knight’s machine-gun drumming lifts ‘Singing the Praises’ above its disjointed and by now over-familiar expressionistic rhythms that ultimately sank the band’s lone full length (1980’s ‘See The Whirl’), which appeared to a unconcerned public and promptly sank  without a trace.

      The three high-quality live tracks (in front of a small, but appreciative audience at the Berkeley Square in Berkeley, CA on 27/9/80) demonstrate the band could work up as much of a sweat onstage as they did in the studio and suggest fans of quirky American dissonant pop bands like Devo and Pere Ubu may have found a kindred spirit in these kids from Leeds. Now that we know that excellent tapes exist, I can hardly wait for this entire concert to hopefully someday see the light of day.

      Overall, this is a lovingly nostalgic peek back to a more innocent time that reminds us, despite a discography of merely three singles and that quickly forgotten album, how ahead of their time and influential the band were before disintegrating in 1982. But for a brief time, they had it all, and as Riggs recently stated, “for a couple of years we got to play live and make some records, and then that was enough.” (Jeff Penczak)