= Summer 2 0 2 0 =

elcome to the summer edition of Rumbles. I had intended to get this one out in the spring but events have somehow conspired against me, and the world has changed somewhat meanwhile. I hope all of our musical friends and readers are well, thank you to everyone who has sent in something over the last six months. Since we only review physical items this pandemic has meant that we have understandably received a lot fewer over these last few months, which have proved to be a very turbulent time for touring musicians, who have seen a huge change in their lives and bank balances through not playing live. Let’s hope things return to some kind of normal soon.

Right, on with a few reviews...

Big Stir records have sent through a few CD’s which have caught my interest. Canterbury band Spygenius return with a new double album called ‘Man On The Sea’, it’s both sprawling and focused, it is their fifth album and hopefully will be successful for them, it deserves to be. From the reflective Man Overboard, the raucous Green Eyed Monster and the dark jazzy folk of Albion to the lush Tomorrowland, it is an album that grows on me with each successive play, a kind of Pop perfection with plenty going on, seek it out. Another from them is the latest by The Corner Laughers ‘Temescal Telegraph’, the band was put together by convened Karla Kane, a set of new original songs with one choice cover, being Martin Newell’s ‘Goodguy Sun’. The band, who hail from California, look towards these fair isles for inspiration and come on a bit like Belle And Sebastion. The lead single ‘The Accepted Time’ is a bittersweet gem as is ‘Wren In The Rain’. The band consists of Karla, singing and ukulele, with Khol Huyanh piano, bass and guitar along with KC Bowman, guitar, bass and keyboards and Charlie Crabtree drums. I like the way they notice the small things, the minutia, a universe in a single drop of rain, etc. Dolph Chaney also has a new album out on the label ‘Rebuilding Permit’ on which he plays everything himself bar a little drumming with Milk Arnold and Ryan O’Malley adding a few keyboards. It has been a couple of years in the making and comes seven years after his last one. Comparisons have been made with Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices and also our own Peter Gabriel. It’s great stuff, eclectic yet shot through with a pop nous, again the beauty is in the small details, from the psych pop of ‘It’s OK’  to the expansive folk rock of The Biscuit (Who Grabbed My Face), taking in some punkish moves with ‘The President Of The United States Is The Breitbart Bimb’ and roots rock with ‘The Handling’. Lastly from Big Stir is a collection of songs spanning 25 years from Shplang entitled ‘Los Grandes Excritos’ If you know the band then you will be excited by this release as it collects together some of their greatest missed hits. The band’s humour being apparent from the outset with 1994’s ‘Journey To The Center Of Mirth’, continuing through to ‘American Cream’ and ‘My Big Three Wheeler’. File under highly literate pop rock, with plenty of soul. Find them all here. www.bigstirrecords.com

Roger Linney from Reverb Worship has started a new imprint for some very limited, highly desirable lathe cut 7” singles called Future Grave. It is too late for the first three but considering the quality of them they should be on your radar, the first three are by Trappist Afterland with Kathleen Yearwood ‘High In The Foothills’ b/w ‘Arid travels’. Adam Cole, who is Trappist Afterland also put out the third release in the series on which he is joined by Grey Malkin. Trappist Afterland & Grey Malkin ‘Donnie Woods’ b/w ‘Crippled Cross’. The second release was by Alula Down a one sided single called ‘Wrap Your Hills Around Our Absence’ you can find them here www.reverbworship.com/future-grave.html.

Adam has been very busy of late also issuing another limited lathe cut 7” ‘Allegory Of Stars’ b/w ‘Sacred Geometry’ on the ever wonderful boutique label Sonido Polifonico, another label which really should be on every Terrascope readers radar, as they produce handmade records of excellence, www.sonidopolifonico.com. Funnily enough all of these lathe cuts are cut by Phil Macy of 3.45RPM. They sell out fast and even I missed the Alula Down one! He also has a new album finished due to be released on Sunstone records.

Some more 7” singles of note are a new one by Albion Mills ‘Nutopia’ b/w ‘The Eternal Band’. The band consists of members of psychedelic band The Future Kings Of England. It grooves along nicely in a faces, Zeppelin kind of way with a little Moody Blues vibe present, they have a full length planned for later on this year. www.backwaterrecords.com. The last 7” I would like to inform you about is the latest by Canadian psych band Devonian Gardens ‘Old Star’ b/w ‘Light Years. It’s a trippy delight, gentle percussion, liquid lead guitar and synth squiggles abound, find it here. www.devoniangardens.bandcamp.com.

A couple of new releases to tell you about from Bored Machines, the first is from My Dear Killer ‘Collectable Items’. My Dear Killer are back with their fourth long player, the band specialize in hushed vocals and found sounds, and it is a gauzy delight. After some six years, spent in three different countries, trying to discover the biophysical secrets of photosynthesis they return to Bored Machines with Collectable Items, the band released the wonderfully avant-garde album Clinical Shyness in 2006, it was uncompromising, a mess of feedback overlaid with buried vocals over soft melodic guitar arpeggios. This album builds upon these foundations, presenting us with something to get lost in, crank it up and drift away.

Also out on the label is an album by an Italian duo named Divus, who deliver the imaginatively titled ‘Divus 2’. The duo consists of Luciano Lamanna a techno producer who has teamed up with saxophonist Luca T.Mai. They deliver a smoky, jazzy music which would make the perfect soundtrack to some of the recent Scandinavian murder mystery series. Blowing cool notes, suffused with plenty of keyboards and modular synths, you can find them here at www.boredmachines.it

Bittersweet ‘Postcards From Nowhere’, The band was formed in 1995 by Roly Bailey and Mike Heath. This is only their second album following on from 2005’s ‘Lying, Drinking and Losing’. Mike left shortly before its release and has been replaced on this new album by vocalist Karl Ficarotta. Of note is that the vinyl release has been pressed at the vinyl factory in Hayes Middlesex, utilising the same machinery as used to press up classic albums by Pink Floyd and The Beatles. It’s all very commercial and radio friendly pop rock that veers from country tinged rock, through to folky vibes, highlighted by strings and Spanish guitar, available from www.bittersweet.bandcamp.com. 

The Sound In Silence Label have a few new releases, all come in sumptuous collectible CD editions, usually limited to 200 copies. Halftribe ‘Archipelago’ is the work of Ryan Bissett, an ambient producer from Northern Ireland, now living in Manchester. It comes in two versions, 50 handmade, hand stamped and hand numbered copies in a fabric cloth cover and 200 handmade, hand stamped copies. It’s a dreamy thing, billowy synth, delicate chimes and deep drones mix with crackles and found sounds from various filed recordings. Endless Melancholy ‘A Perception Of Everything’ this is the work of Ukrainian Oleksiy Sakevych. This is his seventh release; he also collaborates with numerous artists and is very prolific. For this latest album he also utilises field recordings, tape loops and synths which echo the work of such pioneers in this field like Brian Eno, Harold Budd and Steve Reich so if you are familiar with those artists then I feel you will find a new favourite ambient artist. Going back a bit to the start of the year the wonderfully named Worried About Satan ‘Crystalline’ which is the name du plume of Gavin Miller. This is his sixth full length album which takes in everything from post rock, electronica and ambient sounds. His spectral guitar melodies mix with hypnotic beats, deep bass throbs and the indistinct vocals of Sophie Green of Her Name Is calla. It’s a soothing, balmy trip which nourishes the soul. Lastly from the label comes Test Card ‘Music For Towers’ which also came out at the start of the year. This is the project of Lee Nicholson, born in England but now resident in Vancouver, Canada, he has released albums for Kooky and Fierce Panda amongst others. He also recently released an EP for the Slow Music Movement label which should give you an indication of his aesthetics and style. It is a dreamy blend of delicate guitars, hazy electronica, fathomless bass and warm synths, with glitchy electronica and field recordings, again recommended for fans of Eno and Fripp. You can find them all here on the sublime

Greek record label Sound In Silence www.soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com

songs recorded late last year. This is the duo’s third full length following on from ‘Black Side Of Piano Stars’ and ‘A Tricycle In August’, for this album they have utilized the talent of drummer Corin Robinson. I’m reminded of artists like Robyn Hitchcock and the so far below the radar music that no one has ever heard of them The Robinson Scratch Theory and of course Syd Barrett. Irreverent but relevant, realized with guitars, bass, drums and keys with added dollops of sitar. English in the extreme, the kind of record that you put on and people say who is this, it sounds familiar, but they just can’t put their finger on who the hell it is. The song titles give you an indication, ‘Hoffman?’, ‘Hot In Holy Water’, ‘Electrically, it’s Victorian’ and ‘The Von Neumann Machine Theory’.

The Happy Robots record label has just released an album by Mood Taeg ‘Exphora’.  This is the debut album by a musical project split between a couple of Dusseldorf and Shanghai based musicians. They started out as part of the Mood Taeg Kollectiv in 2016 and specialize in a motorik based sound heavily influenced by Can, Neu, Cluster, Harmonia and Kraftwerk. They do it very well giving us five lengthy tracks, which show the sum of their influences very well, the drumming is the kind played expertly by Jaki Liebezeit and Klaus Dinger and drives the music along nicely, propulsive and tight. It’s almost instrumental apart from a few inserted spoken word samples. It is available on 12” colour vinyl from www.happyrobots.co.uk

Jack Ellister ‘Lichtpyramide’ Jack Ellister has put out a few albums now mainly on the Fruits de Mer and affiliated labels. This one is a bit of a departure for him it consists of 14 tracks which are very experimental in nature, focussing on a Kosmiche/krautrock style, a style he has hinted at before, certainly in a live setting and bits of his Telegraph Hill album. A spoken word introduction, in German, with a slow build of synths inform opener ‘Der Schiffer’. It’s a very immersive listen, best listened to alone in the dark without distraction, something I have not succeeded in achieving. Highlights for me are ‘Das Wesen Des Seins’, the title track Lichtpyramide’, ‘Festtagszug’, ‘Stand Auf’, ‘Bergwanderung’, and album closer ‘At The Beach’. The tracks very much segue into one another providing a good flow and as I say it’s a very immersive record designed to be listened to as a whole.  It’s out on the Tonzonen record label www.info@tonzonen.de

The next instalment in the excellent themed albums by A Year In The Country is a revisit to the legendary lost film The Corn Mother. This album is the sole work of Stephen Prince and is accompanied by a novella of the same name. The novella is a short story which jumps between the present and the past. In 1878 a villager is forced to flee the village after crops fail and the blame is directed towards him.  We jump to 1982 where a film is mooted and production begins, fictional but resembling the aforementioned incident.  Next we arrive in 1984 and a quest begins to find this mythical film ending in 2020 with the disappearance from the world of all mentions of it, calling into question as to if it had ever really existed in the first place. This sets things up nicely for the accompanying disc ‘Night Wraiths’, again available in two sumptuous editions, which the label specialize in. Seven tracks in length, it could well be the most cohesive thing that Stephen has ever delivered. A ghostly record, where fact and fiction merge with unsettling noises, found sounds and atmospherics, all adding up to another immersive listen. The record is designed to be an accompaniment to the book, but works well as a standalone record.  It is available from www.ayearinthecountry.co.uk.

Stripmall Ballads ‘Distant’. This is the project of Phillips Saylor Wisor, who is joined here by Evan Harris on bass, guitar and marimba, Brandon Wood on drums, Jeremy Ebert on slide guitar and Darren Whitteker on guitar with Phillips on guitar and vocals. It’s a terrific album of slow burn Americana, not a million miles from Bonnie Prince Billy.  Phillips was a founding member of an old timey duo called The Shiftless Rounders. He discovered the library of congress field recordings of American folk music as a young sixteen year old, which sent him on a journey traipsing around the country, writing and performing whenever possible. Regularly appearing at Nashville’s legendary venue the Bluebird, a place where newcomers are welcomed by open mike nights, etc ,and also at James White’s famed Austin dance hall The Broken Spoke. This record joins the dote from the old time country music of the Carter Sisters and the more modern style of country as performed by Will Oldham and David Rawlings. www.stripmallballads.com

Nick Haeffner ‘A New Life Awaits You’. Following on from his retirement Nick now has got the time to return to making music, after years of not playing. He can now return to his first love with a renewed energy. The album has a light sci fi feel, beginning with Joe Meek’s ‘I Hear a New World’, on which he is accompanied by William Hayter on Cahon and Lilybud Dearsley adding vocals, which she also does on a number of these songs. Highlights for me are the following song ‘King Baby’, on which Nick plays everything himself, playing all guitars, organ, dulcister, cittern and bass, it is a fine song indeed, plenty going on, it is melodic and inventive. ‘Steel Grey 2020’ another on which he plays everything. The album is dedicated to Martin King a close friend and Mr Pushkin his cat. For the excellent atmospheric instrumental ‘Goodbye Mr Pushkin’ he is joined by Nat Yelverton playing electric guitar and Dan K.Brown on fretless bass. The self explanatory ‘Everything Begins Again’ is a quirky song with some fine lead electric guitar. And so it goes ‘My Ghost’, is inventive, ‘Wake Up Charlie’, is a psychedelic prog fest of delirious vocals, a nonsensical deep dream of a song, a troubled sleep. ‘Terminal Pylon’, is another highly inventive song, lightly proggy with synthesised vocals and fluid guitar lines enhanced by William’s Djembe. ‘His Emissary’, is a lightly funky song with plenty of percussion. ‘Outsider’, is a fine instrumental which takes us to album closer ‘The Sunlit Members Room’, another short instrumental on which Nick plays toy piano and synths. There are a few bonuses included on the CD being instrumental versions of a few of the songs and an unexpected dubby cover of the classic John Martyn song ‘May You Never’ and ‘This Last’ which features lead vocals by Pierre Lassegues. One of these bonus songs ‘Light Echoes In A Distant Galaxy’ includes the often misheard Hendrix line “excuse me while I kiss this guy”. It is self released and you can contact Nick at nickhaeffner@hotmail.com for further information or ordering details.  

The Special Pillow ‘World’s Finest’. Consistently making fine albums but still not on most people’s radar, Hoboken New Jersey’s finest The Special Pillow take their time crafting records that stand the test of time; they also just keep getting better. Opening track on this new EP ‘The Week In Review’, has some great playing with flutes, sitar and violin to the fore, creating a mildly psychedelic reverie. Songwriter Dan Cuddy bolsters his vocals with violinist and secret weapon Katie Cuddy; they are also helped out by Debby Schwartz, lending a full vocal sound on most of the tracks. ‘I Woke Up’, has more hooks than a fishing shop, a great riff, it’s also a little more electric in nature. ‘Serious Eyedrops’, is a string driven pop nugget. ‘No Such Too Much’, is a classic indie rocker, with queasy see saw instrumentation and a solid rhythm section. ‘Monday’s Puzzle’, starts gently enough but then a large dollop of discordant clarinet is added to the mix, like trying to tune in a radio, it’s a lovely lilting song about getting out of bed on a Monday morning, heavy with acoustic instrumentation and strings, all very English indie. Title track ‘World’s Finest’, adds cornet and saxophone to the template, a rich intoxicating mix of instrumentation on the ride, leaving me with a big smile on my face. The EP closes with a hallucinogenic remix of ‘I Woke Up’, by old friend Dave Ramirez’s High Tunnels, who takes the song somewhere else entirely, informed by psychedelic birdsong and trippy vocals. Great stuff, I can’t wait for the next one. www.specialpillow@specialpillow.com.

Out on Wolfe Island records is a new album by musician Paul J Bolger self titled it is his first album for some 25 years. Following a meeting with Wolfe Records owner Hugh Christopher Brown (who also produced it) the two of them hit it off when Paul supported American singer David Corley when he played in Waterford, Island, sparking a relationship that yielded enough songs for a couple of albums. This album is firmly in the Americana genre, but utilising Canadian musicians, including Burke Carroll an excellent Pedal Steel player, who first came to my attention as part of Justin Routledge’s band, give it a twist, he particularly shines here on ‘Wedding Gown’. Other tracks of note are ‘Two Wrongs’ the gorgeous ‘All Of These Things’, the heartfelt knowingness of ‘Unkind’, and album closer ‘I Believe’ decorated with organ, arco bass and Wurlitzer. www.wolfeislandrecords.com.

Andrew Gold had a big hit single in the mid seventies ‘Lonely Boy’, which I thought was an excellent song, he had a few albums out, full of Californian soft rock, he was also a very capable studio musician whose name turns up in the credits of quite a few albums I own, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor etc. This unearthed set of demos ‘Something New’ on Omnivore records is mainly piano based but a few songs feature full band accompaniment. They date from a similar period in the early to mid seventies and show him to be a sensitive singer songwriter; it contains 16 previously unreleased demos. For me the full band arrangements are my picks, opener and title track ‘Something New’, ‘Prisoner’, and ‘Resting In Your Love’, personally I would have loved to hear an early version of ‘Lonely Boy’ as I do have a soft rock spot for it after all these years. www.omnivorerecordings.com.

Right time for some home grown freak folk rock by Gavin John Baker and David C W Briggs ‘Sunshine Recorder’ this is a huge sprawling affair which was recorded last year in England and Norway. They play and sing all the songs, with a little help from drummer Albert Baker. Put out on a small run of CD’s by Folk Archive, I really shouldn’t tell you how brilliant it is as I see that there are just 25 copies of it released and by the time you read this they will probably have sold out. However it should be available as a download. They are a very prolific pair of musicians who over the last 5 years have amassed some 50 records between them on Folk Archive as well as having a few releases out through Reverb Worship. Gavin was in Billy Mahonie and Glider amongst others and David was/is a member of Hey Colossus, Hills Have Riffs and Cove. There are plenty of infectious rhythms and tasty fuzz guitar injections scattered throughout. ‘You Can’t Go Anywhere These Days’, has some particularly awesome fuzz guitar poured all over it. Over the thirteen tracks it soon becomes apparent that what appear to be haphazard songs are actually songs full of laser guided melodies, falling somewhere between say Palace and Beatglider. I even detect hints of Robyn Hitchcock’s Soft Boys, particularly with ‘Ain’t No Fun’, another fuzz laden gem. The twelve minute ‘Clusters’ is an expansive epic, which builds and builds, nice. The album ends with ‘The Drawn Circle’, a folky acoustic song, with curlicues of spiralling electric guitar notes which hang like dust motes suspended in the air. You may still be able to find it here. wwwfolkarchiverecords.bigcartel.com.

Polytechnic Youth have managed to put out a series of 4 very limited 5” lathe cut vinyl singles by Vorderhaus, Free/Slope, Apta and Frederick And The Lung during the lockdown period, no small feat really, doing in house artwork and getting lathe cut wizard Phil Macy at 345 to cut them and then send them out to customers, they all sold out fairly quickly as is the case with all of their lathe cut singles, I’m mentioning them because the label really should be on Terrascope readers radar, especially ones with a preference for minimal synth music, label owner Dom Martin used to head up Earworm and The Great Pop Supplement. www.polytechnicyouth.com  

Second Language records are back offering new subscriptions, the label went quiet for a while but have just released a new CD by label owner Glen Johnson’s Textile Ranch project ‘Ombilical’, inspired somewhat by the Fluxus art movement, Glen who was the founding member of Piano Magic had considered this record ready as early as 2018, but somehow kept on returning to it, changing it regularly, tinkering around until it barely resembled its starting point, however eventually he decided enough was enough and has released it. I’m sure that he could have kept changing it over the ensuing months and because of the way it is constructed it would keep evolving, it has a few guests adding parts, Oliver Cherer, Franck Alba and Amanda Butterworth all contribute. It’s a lovely haunting record, perfect for long winter evenings, a lot like early Piano Magic. The spoken word ‘Death & The Seahorse’, one of my favourite tracks also has backing vocals and flute by Ola Szmidt. ‘Unbosoming’s’, builds slowly, adding various instruments as it does. ‘Lorabora’, is immersive and rich with percussion. ‘The Dark Is Light Enough’, is probably the most Piano Magic moment on the album, having as it does some lovely atmospheric guitar from Franck. It ends with the Meccano like deconstructed loops and twinkles of ‘To The Safety Of The River’. It also comes with a free 10 track album ‘Prostheses’, you can find it here at www.secondlanguagemusic.com.   

Permanent Clear Light ‘Cosmic Comics’. This is the second album by Finland’s number one psychedelic band, following on from 2014’s Beyond These Things. The band have also had a couple of singles out on the Fruits de Mer record label. Consisting of Markku Helin: lead guitar, synth and percussion. Arto Kakko : drums, bass, keys and vocals plus Matti Laitinen: lead vocals, synth and percussion. This new album collects some of the tracks from the singles plus a whole lot of new tunes, some of the songs reflect their love of the classic sixties melodies with the Beatles being foremost as a key influence. Markku owns more guitars than is strictly necessary and knows his way around a fretboard injecting plenty of melodic lead guitar throughout, Matti has a melodic style of singing and Arto brings plenty of keyboard fills as well as playing solid rhythms across these tracks. ‘The Quiet Smiling Man’, is about Robert Oppenheimer. ‘Maurice n’est Pas’, is stretched out to almost ten minutes here. ‘Corneville Skyline’ is probably the most Beatle’esque track here. ‘Iris Murray’, is a folky delight, plenty of backwards guitars and quite spacey. ‘Salmaic’ adds a bit of jazz rock and album closer ‘The Rip’ is a nice ballad. All in all very good accessible pop psych album, with plenty of memorable melodies, it’s available on CD and vinyl both limited to 500 copies.  Also out on Sulatron is an expanded edition of ‘You Can See The Sound Of’, by label owner Dave Schmidt’s space rock band Electric Moon adding three more tracks to the original. The original, released in 2012 on 10” is very hard to find and is one of the best things they have done so it’s nice to have it made available again. The three added tracks are ‘Windhovers’, ‘The Great Exploration Of Nothing’, and an eleven minute tour de force ‘Mushroom Cloud Number 4’. Again it is available on vinyl and CD, with both being limited to 500 copies. Lastly from the label is the debut album by Estonian band Centre El Muusa ‘self titled’ It’s a vast sprawling instrumental album which takes in psychedelia, ambient and electronic krautrock, produced by their multi instrumentalist Misha Paniflov who his joined by founding member Volodja Brodsky: Wurlitzer, electric piano and Synths plus Monika Erdman : bass and Aleksei Semenihhin: drums. Album opener ‘Turkeyfish’, is somewhat typical of their style, 10 minutes of locked rhythms which are ignited by various keyboards and spacey synth excursions. ’Glitter Bo’ has a prog like structure building slowly before leaving the atmosphere for space. ‘Ain’t Got Enough Mojo’, is a shorter swirling space rocker with plenty of bubbling synths. ‘Burning Lawa’, is altogether heavier with some excellent guitar and synth and burns with an intensity. ‘Mia’, is slower and a bit more expansive, fine walking bass from Monika, the track builds from a slow start to develop into a great trippy centrepiece, which I can imagine goes done very well when played live. This tremendous debut album ends with the rockier ‘Szolnok’, a track which highlights the bands interplay. Again they are limited to 500 vinyl and CD copies. All are all available, if you are quick from www.sulatron.com.

Right, that’s about it for now, keep safe and wash your hands. Until next time, happy trails.  Andrew Young


Terrascopic Rumbles for Summer 2020 was brought to you by Andrew Young. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2020