= May 2020 =  
the 18th Day of May
Alison Cotton
 Ricardo Richaid
 Bell Lungs
 Orchestra of Constant Distress
 The Fellowship of Hallucinatory Voyagers
 Dire Wolves Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band
 The Noise Birds
 Ben Lukas Boysen

LP from Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records

The “Wyrd Folk” revival of the early noughties flourished in the wake of three notable movements of the 90s having been vacuum packed and commodified (grunge and dance) or else sucked dry and stubbed out like some unedifying fag butt on the pavement outside some Camden boozer (the increasingly risible Britpop). What do you do for inspiration when all around you flounders? Why, you look to your past, real or imagined.

Rather than revert to straightjacket blueprint of Merrie England and Laura Ashley smocks, though, this particular folk revival was a curiously Anglo-American phenomenon (see Espers, Devandra Banhart among others). This was reflected in the membership of The Eighteenth Day of May and a style blending the often Elysian mournfulness of traditional English music with the jauntiness of American country and jangling psychedelic pop, here featured on this sumptuous reissue of their only album plus generous extra bits. There’s always a risk with this hands across the water approach that it lands with an almighty SPLASH somewhere west of Rockall. Rest assured that it makes it sweetly and safely to journey’s end.

It’s likely that most people reading this will at some time have come across ‘The Highest Tree’, a go-to track for any self-respecting compilation of the genre or even the era and featuring the hallmark skipping rhythm which permeates much of the rest of their brief but impressive canon. It’s light, it’s breezy and, familiarity notwithstanding is the most immediately infectious track here – the ideal single then. Perhaps the best example of the meld of first wave psychedelic folk and Americana, though, is ‘Sir Casey Jones’ which somehow manages to sound like the Monkees and Soundtrack To Our Lives in lively jamming mode. Don’t just take my word for it when I say that it works a treat. Go ahead and try some.

Bert Jansch composition ‘Oh Deed I Do’ is quieter, more introspective, and which allows breathing space for Brice’s seductive and at this juncture rather more tentative mewling. The playful ‘Hide and Seek’, featuring Olson’s lead vocal, is rooted in 60s sunshine pop but with a contemporary yet still organic grind of the aural spice mill. Like much here it is simple yet busy, with so much packed into three minutes or so without sounding overly cluttered. In fact there isn’t an ounce of fat or an inch of waste even on the longer narratives such as the rendition of ‘Lady Margaret’. Gun to head moment? ‘Cold Early Morning’ just gets the reviewer’s nod (which may or may not be the title of one of those VIZ best of compilations) as most enduring of what is a bonnie bunch of roses indeed, a sublime band effort. ‘The Waterman’s Song To His Daughter’ deserves mention too, a lilting waltz to pick bluebells by and a most palatable antidote to all the nastiness that’s being carried in the air at the moment, leastways far nicer than contemplating intravenous doses of Dettol.

While that deals with the original release, a number of extra tracks feature, some of which were destined for a never-to-be second album. On this evidence it would have been a corker, a recognisable but more commercial progression to their sound and benefitting from more expansive playing notably from Alison Cotton and a more confident sounding Allison Brice. ‘Quiet Joys’ is a case in point and nudges in the direction of where Brice would be headed with Lake Ruth’s debut whereas the Richard Thompson jangle in the guitar is palpable and quite thrilling, and all the while Cotton’s viola sweeping and swooning magnificently. ‘Would Be King’ would in fact have made a fine, Ben Phillipson-voiced would-be single and provides one of those “what if” moments as in what might have happened had Iain Matthews prevailed in the battle for the musical soul of Fairport Convention. The extras also include a lusty version of Buffy St Marie’s Cod’ine’, with Phillipson again taking the vocal lead, while sweeping the field and nudging us over the line is their take on the traditional ‘Flowers Of The Forest’, close to the Fairport rendition on their last great album Full House, the Thompson/Swarbrick slow reel intact and a credit to the craft

No mere re-treads, The Eighteenth Day of May were an exciting culmination of what happens when everyone throws their favourite records into a pile and from which the very best bits are distilled and more contemporary flavours introduced. Maybe it was a case of a burgeoning and luxuriant plant competing for space and ultimately outgrowing its pot but The Eighteenth Day of May were not destined for longevity. What is truly amazing but in retrospect perhaps not too surprising, is the quality of what each constituent part has been able to accomplish since. The Left Outsides, Trimdon Grange Explosion, The Hanging Stars and Lake Ruth is as strong a legacy as anyone can realistically hope to bequeath from just one album release in the now far away heady first years of the millennium. Remember you heard it here first, folks, or if you didn’t then do yourselves a big favour and rewind time. That goes for the rest of you.

The Eighteenth Day of May self-titled retrospective is released on 18th May 2020 – can you see what they did there? As is usual these days, pre-orders have been taken for the past couple of weeks so be quick if you intend ordering from Cardinal Fuzz or Feeding Tube.

Ian Fraser

(Cassette from Sensory Leakage

Last year Terrascope was pleased to host one of Alison Cotton’s first solo performances on the occasion of Woolf II. That was back when we could all still get together with some social intimacy. Since then her solo career has blossomed thanks to a couple of stunning releases, All Is Quiet At The Ancient Theatre (2018 on tape and 2019 on vinyl) and The Girl I Left Behind Me (2019) and an increasingly prominent live profile.

One such appearance was captured here, and again we are pleased to reveal a Terrascope association, for the person placing the recording contraption in front of Alison and no doubt coaxing her to enunciate clearly into the microphone was none other than one of our highly trained 00 special agents (shaky when stirred), Francis Comyn.- Licensed to Quill.

Now Sensory Leakage have released this recording of Alison’s matinee gig at The Golden Lion, Todmorden (which of late has become something akin to psych central). Comprising in part selections from her recorded solo outings, it leads with the Muriel Spark inspired ‘The House Of The Famous Poet’ a stunning and spiritually elevating hymnal for those of us who find comfort in such things outside of organised religion (it should work equally well for the rest of you) and notable for its doleful yet majestic viola and resonating wordless vocal. Despite Alison’s tuneful and this time lyrical intonation, ‘The Bells Of St Agnes’ is darkly unrelenting in a style which resembles an inconsolably depressed first cousin of ‘Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime’. In a live environment it seems even more dank and musty and a must for us miserablists. Beats per minute there are none and in fact are surplus to any requirement. Thankfully there is no respite to be had in ‘The Last Sense To Leave Us’, Cotton’s tribute to Pauline Oliveros and which, like ‘St Agnes’, is taken from the All Is Quiet album. It’s another solemn and captivating performance.

And so it goes. Two further tracks, ‘The Hills Are Hollow’ and the lengthy ‘Shirt Of Lace’ (both new to your reviewer) offer no glimmer of hope to anyone or anything and by now you wouldn’t want it any other way. It all has a profoundly meditative quality and conjures a gloriously uplifting atmosphere in which to lose yourself for a half an hour or so and which seems both fleeting and eternal.

Alison Cotton was due to play a short tour in April of this year, including some Scottish dates with the singularly talented Bell Lungs, which would have been a mouth-watering treat for anyone able to get to those. Alas it was not to be thanks to the intervention of the uber-lurgy. Let us hope that normal service will be resumed before we all end up losing the will, at which point even those of us who live somewhat off the beaten track should make the point of beating a path, treat ourselves to a hotel and give it up to what will surely be a unique experience.

Ian Fraser.

The first run of 50 cassette copies of Zener 8 sold out in less time than it took to say “Glastonbury Festival”. Mercifully a second run is imminent. See the bandcamp page or follow Alison on social media for further installments.




(LP, CD, Digital on Far Out Recordings)


Rio De Janeiro-based newcomer, multi-instrumentalist Ricardo Richaid brings us a debut album bursting with musical ideas and unmistakably Brazilian.  Travesseiro Feliz - which means Happy Pillow – seamlessly combines psychedelic, rock, jazz, Tropicália and folk sounds into a compact, singular triumph.  Richaid expertly weaves Brazilian influences from past and present into his own dynamic vision.  You can hear the influences of greats Arthur Verocai, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, Os Mutantes, as well as new stars like Boogarins from Brazil’s rich sonic firmament.


Richaid cut his teeth as an engineer and producer in Rio recording studios, and that technical expertise serves him well on Travesseiro Feliz, as he handled most of the recording duties in a studio he built himself.  Working with a vast swath of talented musicians in the studio world came in handy as well, as he utilizes a galaxy of Rio’s top players to bring his fever dreams to life.


The album is loaded with interesting polyrhythms, complex time signatures, strumming bossa nova acoustic guitars and technicolor rock explosions.  The jazzy opening acoustic strums of leadoff track “Maracas Enterprise/Frio da Manhã” lean into a lively psychedelic world of dreamy vocals, fiery horns, bubbly synths and wah-wah playing guitars coming and going from all directions.  The track goes almost full-stop before re-tooling for the mellow, lysergic “Frio da Manhã” section.  It’s a stunning intro to Mr Richaid’s considerable talents and compositional skills.


“Largado Nu” is an uber-catchy gem with a start-stop rock tempo and jazzy underpinnings, a samba get-your-feet-moving feel, with cool flute drifting in and out and analogue synth flourishes.  It’s instantly likeable – and then you want to hear it again.  “Só na Darkzera,” featuring Marco Suzano on an array of instruments and vocals by Cheyenne, is dark, sophisticated Latin folk-jazz with an eerie sense of atmosphere.


“O Velho Cai” is the album’s high point.  Featuring complex interweaving vocals, distinctive fretless bass by Claudio Ribeiro, acoustic and electric guitars, flutes, saxes, and string synths flying all around you, and tempos and time signatures that never seem to stand still, the song is a veritable ultimate psychedelic sampler for all things possible in music when you have a mind and skills as fertile as Ricardo Richaid.


Travesseiro Feliz is indeed a Happy Pillow, and an enticing debut from Ricardo Richaid.  It’s only around 30 minutes long, but he accomplishes more in those 30 minutes than plenty of artists do in albums twice its length.  Packing in so much in the way of style, musicianship, frenetic rhythm, pacing and imaginative songcraft, Richaid makes a stunning entrance with a little help from his friends.


(Mark Feingold)




(CD from Duir1.bandcamp.com )

The debut album released in 2007 from DUIR sees a reimagining, remastered and cleaned up by COMPUTER coalwood.

Their 2019 album ‘Sodden Dogs And Blind, Winged Horses’, released early last year was one of my favourite albums of the year, I certainly had never heard them before it was sent in, and after a little research I saw that it was their second album which sent me on a search for the long sold out debut.

Consisting of TEMPLAR Brighton, COMPUTER coalwood and Welbourn TECH with KEVLAR bales, DOGGEN foster and ANTROHNY hodgkinson, adding drums, guitar and synths respectively.

The album centres on the topography and monuments of their native Lincolnshire. It certainly doesn’t disappoint and I can see a clear trajectory from this to Sodden Dogs. The lyrics are narrated by welbourn TECH and form a journey from the high Hill O’Harrow to the Humber’s Edge.

The journey begins with the narrated ‘Stout Guardians Of The Door’, highlighted by a synth, reverse piano and Doggen’s lead guitar, before the short synth interlude of ‘An Singularity’, ‘Airman Ross at the Crone’s Well’, is based on T E Lawrence who was registered as Airman Ross. This song is a tale of him racing above Ermine Street in his metal aircraft. ‘In The Shadow Of Dunstable Pillar’, is a short guitar piece, which is followed by the lengthier ‘Punk Rock at Brauncewell’, written in 1977 on the day Elvis Presley died, some nice lead guitar and synths inform the song. Another short acoustic guitar interlude ‘Short Meg’ leads into ‘Linden - The People of the Pool’, a slide guitar spoken word tale with walking bass.

‘Washing Molly Grime’, is a whole lot more progressive in its nature and length, with plenty of crepuscular mellotron and backward guitar. It tells of the tradition of Molly Grime, every Good Friday, at Glentham, Lincolnshire, a strange custom took place known as ‘Washing Molly Grime’. Seven poor spinsters from the parish would fetch water from a spring called Newell Well and carry it in procession for two miles back to the village. They would then wash a figure on a tombstone inside Glentham Church, known locally as Molly Grime. This strange custom is now a popular nursery rhyme ~ ‘Seven old maids, one upon a time, came of Good Friday, to wash Molly Grime, the water for washing, was fetched from Newell, and who Molly was I never heard tell. Seven old maids, got when they came, seven new shillings, in charity’s name, God bless the water, God bless the rhyme, And God bless the old maids, who washed Molly Grime’.

‘Tuffa’, is about a dragon stone and a petrified stream, to a tune of acoustic guitar, cello and narration. This leads into ‘The Field’, a dense song dedicated to T C Lethbridge rendered on synth, guitar, bass, drums and loops. ‘Where Two Rivers Meet’, another synth rich, psycho geographic piece which sets things up nicely for the lengthy ‘Humber’, taken at a slow piece, it gently unfurls into another progressive song which balances nature and electronics to fine effect. The album ends with a reprise of the title track ‘The Stout Guardian at the Door’.

(Andrew Young)





(LP from Alive Records www.aliverecords.com )

Following on from last year’s excellent Blessed Is The Boogie comes West Coast Highway Cosmic adding new member Bob Patient on keyboards with Howie Smallman playing some blistering harmonica on four tracks.

The band are fronted by Australian Dom Mariani a man with quite a long list of former and current bands like DM3 and The Stems. With this album, like its predecessor, the band claims the territory of 70’s boogie, citing Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Beatles as heroes. So, much choogling, interesting arrangements and melodic rock driven songs, lending itself well to an open road with the car stereo turned up loud.

Opening with the straightforward album title song ‘West Coast Highway Cosmic’, it’s straight in to the epic Wolfman Woogie a harp infested blues boogie with plenty of drifting organ and lead guitar, probably my favourite track. ‘Mother Medusa’, follows continuing the 70’s flavour, nice harmonies and a cool rocking rhythm section. ‘A Darker Shade Of Brown’ has a melody that I just can’t place but needless to say the song shows the band off to fine effect, highlighting their excellent musicianship, a dirty boogie.

‘You’re The Only One’, slows things down a bit, it’s a little more acoustic in nature, acoustic slide guitar with some terrific harp fills. ‘Rule My World’ is a whole lot blusier with touches of glam rock along with a blistering electric guitar solo, it rocks like a bastard. ‘Give’, has lashings of organ and twin guitar action, another melody I can’t place, it’s another winner, driven along by an eager rhythm section.

‘You Be The Fool’, ushers in more dirty boogie, full of attitude, a psyched up stomper with some killer blues harp. ‘Get Out’ follows and has an ironic song title, seeing the world’s currently on lockdown, this one channels Creedence with Jerry Lee style piano stabs, it’s also taken at a fair old pace too, plenty of vocal tics and slide guitar. The album ends with ‘Evil People’, it starts out slow, plenty of organ, dirty fuzzy treated lead guitar with a couple of excellent solos seemingly carelessly tossed off.

(Andrew Young)




(45 from www.dreihasenbild.com)

Stefan Keydel’s Dreihasenbild explores the resonance of bowed violin against a synthesised backdrop of electronics, in this case using found vocals to underpin each composition: the softly lilting sadness of a 1917 recording of a Scottish miner on ‘Visitation’ (one is reminded immediately of Pearl’s Before Swine’s ‘Trumpeter Landfrey’: the cover art by Albrecht Durer somehow echoes Tom Rapp’s use of Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s art on ‘Balaclava’ as well) and, most successfully of all, an excerpt from ‘The Swedish Rhapsody’ lifted (with permission) from the marvellous Conet Project, which regular readers will no doubt be aware is something of an addiction of mine. It’s an appropriate choice perhaps given that the primary tool employed by Dreihasenbild is the Swedish-made Teenage Engineering OP-1 synth, but whether coincidence or not, the resulting sounds conjured up seem to come from a mysterious half-space where the boundaries between electronic and acoustic sound become blurred. I love this and can’t wait to hear more of the same. (Phil McMullen)





(DL from

Less an official release than a matter of putting something out there during these unprecedented times, this latest offering from unsurpassed multi-instrumentalist (what you hear is rarely what you think it is) Bell Lungs is more conceptual and experimental than last year’s exemplary EP Wolves Behind Us. Less song based it may be but thankfully it’s no less thrilling and intriguing (or in parts lovely)

Consisting of soundtracks and commissioned pieces recorded over the past year or so, the exquisite ‘The Death of Mrs Baird of Cambersdoon’, with its harmonium drone and fluttering violin and ‘Find and Seek’ are a couple of spoken word numbers delivered in the artist’s most agreeable Ayrshire accent. The latter takes its lyrical cue from a mash-up of text from Ian Rankin novels in a nod to the proliferation of crime fiction in second-hand shops of the kind in which this was performed during last year’s Edinburg Festival, and which melts into an oh-so beautifully melodic and gently executed passage of guitar more redolent of Laurel Canyon than Auld Reekie. The eerie and skittering ‘Frost Pocket’ is another composition designed to accompany text at the same 2019 Edinburgh Festival.

The soundtracks are to a pair of short silent films by Oskar Fischingau, the frenetic and dissonant ‘Motion Painting’ and the becalming ‘Composition in Blue’ performed live in that-there London shortly before the lockdown. In turns frantic unsettling and beguiling, both work well enough without the visual stimulus. ‘Music For Jellyfish’ meanwhile channels that quivering and slightly queasy Boards of Canada sound and, together with the similarly disposed ‘Petiole Fragment’ are taken from a couple of limited edition cassette compilations

Marking time this may be but if we are treading water then rest assured that these are deep and mysterious currents in which to luxuriate.

(Ian Fraser)






Norwegian band Sleepyard’s latest album Head Values comes out this 26 May.  You will be hard-pressed to find a more peaceful, relaxing, beautiful record in these difficult times.  Sleepyard has been around since 1994 and is Oliver and Svein Kersbergen.  On Head Values, they get help from the incredibly talented multi-instrumentalist Katje Janisch and Gaute Storsve on guitar.  Length-wise, the album’s in that in-between zone between an EP and a short album.  Let me put it this way:  I’ve heard plenty of albums that are too long, but most in this 30-35 minute range seem all the better for their brevity and conciseness, and Head Values proves the point again.  It’s like a pleasant, vivid dream that’s over before you know it.


Gentle reader, you have been forewarned.  Once you drop the needle on Head Values, you won’t want to pause or stop till it’s over, such is the power of its ethereal beauty.  And by its end, you will be so blissed out, you’ll have been transported to another place.  You won’t need a hot tub, you won’t need a drink, you won’t need a walk in the woods or along the beach, though I suppose any of those things would help.  Nothing will be able to ruin your day, nothing my friend.


Starting with “Peace Voyage,” (see what I mean?), the lovely melody is boosted by gifted guest Katje Janisch’s flute, violin and dreamy vocals.  The song is a whiff of ambrosia to draw you in to Sleepyard’s world.  On Head Values, the Kersbergens seamlessly blend pianos, guitars, stringed instruments, real or sampled harmoniums and accordions, with synths and electro-atmospherics for a heady, intoxicating brew.  Some songs are brief impressionistic thought-pieces, not really beginning or ending.


Most of Head Values is instrumental, but another notable exception is the delightful “Falling in Love.”  Featuring The Free Design’s Sandy Dedrick, the song’s been in the works for a couple of years, and is achingly beautiful, just like falling in love itself.  Don’t expect The Free Design’s bouncy jazzy sound.  But you will get another hallmark, Sandy’s unmistakable voice, with layered overdubbed vocals floating on billowy clouds.


The rest of the album continues the calming journey.  Sometimes spacy, sometimes down to earth, sometimes eerie, it’s always gentle.  The pretty piano and Mellotron-based “Theme From Slow Earth” actually reminds me a lot of the beginning of Supertramp’s “Fool’s Overture” (but is better).


The brief end coda “Holy Day (Revisited)” is another synth-based impressionistic piece, and it and the album fade to sounds of the ocean’s surf, a sonic incarnation of the LP cover art presenting the sea from a great height.


Head Values is Sleepyard’s tonic to our modern stresses.  Its dreamy chapters allow the listener to step back, take a deep breath and soak it all in.  Well worth your time.


 (Mark Feingold)




Orchestra of Constant Distress bring together the cream of Swedish noise and psychedelic rock comprising members of the equally sleep disrupting Skull Defekts, Union Carbide Productions and Brainbombs.

From the word go this is an incendiary set from the Roadburn Festival in 2019 which I’m sure is seared into the memory and indeed eardrums of all who experienced it at the time. An introductory wall of growling feedback and fizzing, grinding electricity sets the scene and serves up a sonic sorbet that cleans the pallet before proceeding to grab the listener by the throat as it leads into ‘Very Much’ , a raw and distorted slab of metallic chaos held together, and only just, by a hammering rhythm. ‘Discomfort’ is precisely that but in a good way. It contains another crunching riff and rhythm underpinning a blast of avant noise and warped electronics that draws on early Swans and My Bloody Valentine’s more primal moments as well as pure noise artists such as Merzbow. ‘Fear Might Harm Others’ has an insistent and repetitive rhythm and riff feel akin to Swans that hammers down on your senses relentlessly establishing an almost hypnotic noisy minimalism over which bursts of squalling guitars and electronics wrestle with each other.  ‘Left’ starts off with a throbbing bass and electronic soup that has interesting shades of Public Image Ltd from the Metal Box period and indeed it develops further into a kind of post punk funk undertone for a track that, whilst noisy, is less claustrophobic and allows space for more textural sounds and indeed breathing space. ‘Unreleased’ again varies the rhythm where drums and electronics play in strict unison and add a different texture and tone over which short and scorching bursts of freeform electronics randomly appear. Finally ‘Just A Little’ has a deep and doom laden metallic riff rich with tension and atmosphere which is the star attraction of the track and draws this astonishing set to its pummelling conclusion for a happy but drained crowd and indeed listener.

I thoroughly enjoyed this record which manages to be raw and relentless but at the same time transfers well to home listening with some interesting rhythmic touches and instrumental ideas that might not have been obvious to the shell shocked, partially deafened and sonically flattened festival goers. If you like your psychedelic rock loud and with an avant noise and post punk twist this could be the record for you.

(Francis Comyn)


PERHAPS – 7.0 (LP on Riot Season Records)

Underground pyschedelic space rocking collective Perhaps hail from Boston and this is their third outing for Riot Season. They’ve assembled a fine cast for this record including guest appearances from members of Acid Mothers Temple, Hibushibire and Earthless in the guitar department so before hearing a note, the weather forecast is good for a torrential storm of guitar with some heavy bursts of mayhem.

It’s essentially a long jam in two parts (‘Don’t Call It Anything Parts 1 & 2’) and the whole kitchen sink is thrown in from the start to glorious effect. There’s a funky and consistent undercurrent to the drums that stops the ecstatic riot of noise from guitars and all manner of instruments and electronic noises from descending into a messy and formless chaos and helps to steer a bright and energetic improvisation forward that despite its length of over 40 minutes never gets boring. There is indeed melody in the general disorder of sound that swells, chimes and often roars throughout its length. Subtle changes here and there drop into the mix where different instrumental interplay and electronic textures and sounds emerge to break up the relentless guitar soloing that heads ever skywards in great ecstatic curls and frenzies of notes. It’s like a massively funked up and energised Grateful Dead jam session where psychedelic funk, space rock, ragas, free jazz, acid blues, Kosmische and even baggy Madchester come together in what could be a car crash but turns out to be a free form joy. You can’t help but get drawn into the excitement of the session which is at times almost trance like and always addictive. With each listen you get a different angle or hitherto hidden moment of instrumental joy jumping out at you for your listening pleasure.

There are only 300 copies of this record and they’ll likely go quickly so my simple advice is don’t delay, seek out and acquire. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face and spring in your step. Don’t call it anything but essential.

(Francis Comyn)



Coronavirus lockdown in West Wales continues to be a fruitful and productive time for Pete Bingham and his Sendelica collective. Recent Sendelica related releases by the Lost Stoned Pandas and The Isolated Psychedelicists have been very fine indeed and now it’s the turn of another of Pete’s collaborative projects, The Fellowship of Hallucinatory Voyagers, to present their isolation homework.

This is the fourth ‘Voyagers’ release if you include a live album and this time around it is a duo of Pete Bingham on various electronics, field recordings and samples with a narrated vocal from Nicola Mortimer. We also have some assistance from the mysterious Wonder with the ‘Hallelujah Vocal’.

This is quite a departure from previous recordings as it takes the form of a long form ambient soundscape without guitar. Meditative and kosmische infused electronic textures provides a beautiful, delicate and blissful background allowing for environmental sounds, primarily the sound of waves and an eerie whale song like effect to gently wash over it. It’s a lonely but never desolate, mysterious and very beautiful sound where the environmental ambience is given prominence over the electronic loops and textures (an occasional lone small chiming bell is rung and that is the loudest ‘instrument’ used) – a very skilful and welcome balance of sound that creates a real calm and otherworldly atmosphere but at the same time perfectly captures the sound of a lonely walk along the beach.

For the second part of the piece a sole and soulful echoing gospel voice enters the mix as though singing alone to the sea and waiting for the sea to respond. It’s quite a gorgeous idea and works beautifully. A treated narration, mysterious, disembodied and part poetic incantation and part storytelling follows with the sound of the sea and subtle electronics continuing to provide a serene backdrop before fading to the simple pleasures of listening to the lonesome loveliness of lapping waves accompanied by faint wisps of electronic effects, singing bowls and bells to conclude.

This is a very beautiful musical creation that is hypnotic, evocative and does indeed transport the listener to a calm, relaxed and if you want it, a lonely and contemplative space. It is mood music in the very best sense of the term. I believe the handsome and handmade laithe cut edition has disappeared quickly but it is still available as a download and I can highly recommend this for your inner calm and well-being. Isolation at its most positive.

(Francis Comyn)



Dire Wolves are trading here under their alternative moniker of Dire Wolves Just Exactly Perfect Sisters Band and it’s a record of their adventures in Europe during their 2019 tour. The record itself includes the set played at the wonderfully named ‘Festival of Endless Gratitude’ in Copenhagen (where I imagine it is hard to stop the band taking a bow and the audience clapping and cheering?) but there is a generous helping of additional music on the accompanying download which includes music from shows in Bremen and Vienna. Special guests for these dates include Nik Rayne of The Myrrors on guitar and clarinet and the wonderful Bell Lungs who plays violin and provides vocals and bird calls. It’s an impressive line-up and bodes well for the music, as does the wordplay in the title where fans of The Turtles and Frank Zappa are allowed to have a smirk or even a chuckle.

The band describe themselves as playing ‘cosmic free rock’ and that’s a pretty good starting point for this set. The record starts with ‘By The Fireside’ which stretches to more than 19 minutes and covers a lot of ground. Things start with a slow burning riff and loose but gently funky rhythm with guitar licks from Jeffrey Alexander and Nik Raynes that explore and explode, building up a swirl of sounds which bounce, clash and snake around each other with the intense violin shrieks, bird calls and almost operatic improvised vocals of Bell Lungs adding an extra dimension and wonderful colour, variety and texture.  Bell Lungs vocals are indeed at times extraordinary and on a par with the guitars in drawing your attention as a listener – they bring to mind the range and daring of Yoko Ono, Diamanda Galas and Patty Waters amongst others. It’s a great, often loose and definitely experimental psychedelic soup that changes pace and character but never loses direction or interest The guitars eventually fade and the music takes on an almost mystical, ceremonial feel with vocals, small percussion and a more shimmering musical quality that provide a lead into  ‘Let the Dog See The Rabbit’, starring a lovely folk style violin and throbbing bass line before the guitars take off into more familiar spacey guitar driven psych rock territory with crashing cymbals and wordless chanting and sometime shrieking vocals occasionally breaking through to good effect. It’s a raw recording where the guitars distort but that takes nothing away from the intense and often violent beauty of the guitar soloing. The final track ‘Dr Esperanto’ has a more insistent, Krautrock infused beat and feel where guitars burn, churn and duel energetically and the violin provides airy and melodic improvisations that float above with vocal wails and cries.

This is a great recording of an inspired grouping of musicians where, although often a guitar driven sound is as dominant as might be expected, it provides a great and imaginative showcase for violin and vocal improvisations as part of a rich and diverse sound that uses its musical palette very well indeed. It’s a very enjoyable recording and I recommend your attention most sincerely folks.

(Francis Comyn)



The Noise Birds are a collaborative project between Suishou No Fune from Japan and Numinous Eye from the USA. This is their first widely available release under the name – a previous collaboration back in 2007 received a limited release on the Brazilian Essence Music label as ‘Black Flowers of the Forest In The Cosmos’. This new 2018 session was also seemingly filmed as part of a documentary about Suishou No Fune.

What we have are three long tracks resulting from a wholly improvised session featuring the four musicians, collectively three guitarists and a drummer. There is strong and obvious chemistry between the musicians clearly on display in these pieces in the degree of anticipation and interplay that comes across – there are no rambling moments and each piece although lengthy is thoughtful, well balanced and always interesting.

The first piece is called ‘When The Light Showers Down It Gives Us A Sign’, an evocative title (as is each title on the record) and it starts with a shimmering, early morning calm where skittering jazzy drums and spacious, textural effects and rippling guitar melodies establish an awakening sound world that slowly begins to rouse itself through lofty guitar soloing and an increasingly frantic percussive undercurrent.  It’s a beautiful piece of music with space, lovely guitar and imaginative percussion that applies post rock style dynamic shifts very well indeed. ‘Beyond The Ocean, Flying In The Sky’ has a fuzzy grandeur in its slow and stately feedback drenched deep and powerful riffing and the often elegant yet sometimes violent and squally guitar work that whips up a storm on top. We get blissful spacey soloing imbued with a touch of progressive flourish and bouts of scrabbly experimentalism and noise that pin you to the wall with your ears wide open - it’s an immense and exhilerating sound. Towards the end the rhythm becomes more conventional but that only serves to encourage the guitar storm to whip up by another notch to the finish. Finally and at a shade over twenty minutes we get the frankly astonishing ‘A Dance Loved By A Lost Friend’ which as might be imagined has a generally reflective feel but is by no means is maudlin. Strummed guitars and slightly off kilter melodies start the piece in melancholic mode but that soon changes as it slowly gathers pace and power. The drums build a relentless momentum and the guitars shift into higher and higher space rock gears with soaring solos gliding over a dense undergrowth of squealing and growling guitars which becomes a claustrophobic and dense swamp filled with feedback, fuzz and frenzy as it moves inexorably towards its end.  It’s a show stopping finale.

This is a wonderful record which takes metallic, psychedelic, free jazz and improvisation elements and creates superb original music to lose yourself in. It rewards repeat listening as there are a lot of wonderful subtle elements in the sound but the sheer power and widescreen drama of the music  would also be amazing to see and hear live where the interplay between these fine musicians who clearly enjoy playing with each other would only add I’m sure to the enjoyment for an audience. In the absence of that I will seek out the aforementioned documentary for my thrills. In listening to this record I was reminded of bands like Mountain Movers, Headroom and Bardo Pond who understand the art of the extended free form musical excursion and how to use melody, dynamics and noise for maximum listening joy.  That’s quite a compliment from me so go ahead and have a listen too.

(Francis Comyn)




LP/CD/DL on (Erased Tapes Records)


Berlin-based composer, producer and sound designer Ben Lukas Boysen bring us his third solo album under his own name, the all-instrumental Mirage.  He has also recorded nine albums dating back to 2003 under the name Hecq, plus additional works as an in-demand soundtrack composer.  Mirage is an eclectic collection that expertly interweaves electronica and acoustic instruments (chiefly piano) in a wealth of styles and changes which keep you, the listener, guessing what’ll happen next.


If that all sounds a bit stiff, that’s the fault of your scribe, not Boysen, because as Colin Clive famously said of his creation The Bride of Frankenstein, also blending the organic with the electronic, “She’s alive!  Alive!”  The bubbling arpeggiated synthesizer on opening track “Empyrean” fans out to add more electronic rhythms and beats layered over the top of a spacious synth and organ minor key melody.  One gets the feeling of something very much alive spreading and flowing, whether they be black storm clouds or a primordial ooze of goo teeming with life bubbling beneath the surface.


With “Kenotaph,” we start with something very distant from “Empyrean,” an acoustic piano, soon joined by an uncredited drummer.  We are clearly back on solid ground, on Earth.  Or are we?  Because there are really two pianos, one digital, one acoustic, recorded in different countries.  A synth soon joins the melody line.  Boysen says his mission statement was that all things on the record not be what they seem:  “A lot of the elements and instruments you hear on the album are either not what you think they are, or exactly what you think they are but behave differently or they’re elements you definitely know, but they are hidden, processed, or morphed into something else.  With (previous albums) Spells and Gravity I was trying to hide the machines.  On Mirage I’m trying to hide the human.”


“Medela” broadcasts a dark electronic malevolence amid clicks and static.  It’s not until well past four minutes of menace that the clouds part revealing the melodic signs of hope that are Berlin-based cellist and composer Anne Müller and Australian saxophone player and composer Daniel Thorne’s contributions.  Those lights have varying degrees of success before the darkness kicks again, although the track ends with a ray of hope wafting through airiness and electronic spaciousness.


The Tangerine Dream-like “Venia” blends classical influences with technology, sort of like imagining a Bach organ and choral piece completely overwhelmed and overtaken by undulating synths and electronic gears turning and multiplying, the two influences locked in a cosmic wrestling match in the sky.  Like the unsettling “Medela” before it, “Venia” eventually makes peace with itself, its long denouement a calming piece of space synth.


The pretty “Clarion” wisely grounds us again starting out with Boysen’s piano playing a lovely melody, soon wrapped around by Müller’s cello, before giving way to almost frantic House drums.  The interplay between the two was suggested by Erased Tapes founder Robert Raths by fusing two separate Boysen compositions, one built around the piano melody and the other around the drum bit, sort of like the birthing of “A Day in the Life.”  “Clarion,” like so much on Mirage, jumps back and forth between the organic and the digital, acoustic instruments and synths.  With finale, “Love,” Boysen calls on his soundtrack skills because this is all widescreen popcorn music.  Boysen’s staccato piano and synth act as advance scouts for grand, powerful cinematic sweeps for electronic orchestra and voices.  Like all of Mirage, the song sways back and forth between loud and quiet, easing its way for a calm landing.


Mirage is a stunning work by Ben Lukas Boysen, one which, through its layering rewards the listener more with each new listen.  The cover art is an excellent artistic conversation starter too, suggesting to me a weeping man made of melting milk chocolate; the video for “Clarion” expands on the cover.  I have one minor qualm (and this with much of electronica, not just this record):  Boysen relies just a wee bit too much on driving, pulsating electronic beats, which after a while can attack rather than feed the brain, instead of allowing the music to breathe on its own.  But your mileage may vary. Every piece on Mirage is compositionally unique and stands on its own. I highly recommend it.


 (Mark Feingold)