= April 2023 =  
Dodson & Fogg
Buck Curran
The Declining Winter
An Eagle In Your Mind
Empty House
Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton-Baker
Band of Cloud
The National Honor Society





Bremen, Germany-based trio Fuzzerati makes some splendid guitar-based space rock on their latest release, album number two for them.  Comparisons with bands like Electric Moon, Earthless, Causa Sui, and countless others will come to mind, and these fellows measure up quite well.  It may be a well-plowed furrow, but when performed well as Fuzzerati does, it makes for a most satisfying and enjoyable interstellar ride.


You can jam your head off for days (which the band apparently did), but in the end you’ve still got to have the instrumental chops and create appealing melodies.  Check and double-check.  I’d love to credit these three fine musicians by name, but they’re quite humble and don’t say much about themselves, other than being raised by bears before vaulting to the stars.


What I like is how, in the span of a single track – we’ll take “Claus to Hedge” for example - they can start out with a slow, floating, mellow stoner vibe with a clean but heavily reverbed guitar tone like Explosions in the Sky or This Will Destroy You, then jump around to something a bit heavier with a more processed and funky sound, and then on to high-tempo face-melting stuff with explosive distortion and wah-wah excess.  Superb.


“Transmission” starts out with some nice work on the bass and drums, and eventually transitions to some euphoric soundscapes through a diaphanous opium haze.  This continues through the beginning of “Spacewalk,” before the fuzz kicks in and turns into one heavy rocking, riffing and mind-blowing Extra-Vehicular Activity.  The guitar work here is just stunning.


Fuzzerati certainly knows how to go out with a bang via the remarkable thirteen-and-a-half minute “Lago.”  Starting with a Causa Sui-like easy-going jazzy vibe, it segues into another heavy guitar freakout.  The band then says not so fast, and we’re off to some smooth psychedelic space soul (new genre!).  Next it’s guitar hero from the next galaxy round the bend for a satisfying end to the voyage.


Perhaps it’s no coincidence that ZWO is also the name of a maker of astronomy cameras.  Fuzzerati has produced an impeccable 47-minute sonic image of the cosmos with only guitar, bass and drums.  They’ve only been releasing music since 2020, but they play like a band with years and years of acumen and experience.  It’ll be exciting to see what they conjure up next.


(Mark Feingold)


Available from Wisdom Twins

Chris Wade is nothing if not prolific and he’s scaled another plateau with his recent releases which combine his poetry (Reflections, Pleasant Captivity), photography and art work (The Book Of Moods), and novel (the album under review) with an accompanying soundtrack, although the two can be appreciated separately. Hard-driving opener ‘Waiting For Something’ chugs along at a snappy pace and left me in mind of Sean Lennon and Les Claypool’s recent collaboration. Wade’s multi-tracked guitars match stinging solos with an aggressive acoustic strum, like a busy pedestrian racing to get out of the rain. The title track is a gruff bluesy swagger (“I’m not drinking/At least not today”) with another tasty solo and a calming flute coda.

     The brief instrumental ‘Without A Clue’ parallels the novel’s “mystery thriller” vibe with a nour-ish hum and Eastern-tinged harp that paint a cinematic picture of dark, rain-soaked streets as captured in the album’s cover artwork, presumably snapped by Wade in his photographer’s hat. The heavy funk and dirty fuzz/sharp metallic dual guitar solos on ‘Won’t Someone Help Me’ revisit Wade’s occasional Neil Young-meets-Jimi Hendrix flights of fancy to good effect, tempered with the following gentle instrumental ‘Another Night’, perfect for a private dick’s stroll through smoky, desolate streets, mentally evaluating his case notes and planning his next steps.

     The motoric drive of instrumental ‘On The Trail’ cinematically paints a chase scene, and I flashed back to Mikis Theodorakis’s musical cue for Costa Gavras’s chase scene in Z for reference points. The ominous crash and shattered glass that ends the track doesn’t bode well for our hero. The album (and presumably novel) ends with rainy sound effects introducing ‘Explain The Unexplained’, although there are no “spoilers” in the lyrics to indicate how the story ends. A mournful guitar solo over rolling piano accompaniment fades into a rainy coda that…. Well, you’ll just have to read the novel to find out!

Jeff Penczak


Note: The download version comes with a PDF of the novel so you can read along with the music. I reviewed the album before reading the novel to avoid influencing my reaction, although a quick peek at the opening pages created a loose set of expectations that may have been misinterpreted in my review.]


(Obsolete Recordings)


Our friend, guitarist Buck Curran, returns with a collection of recordings he’s made over the past few years of improvisational, minimalist works for guitar and piano.  Although he recorded the improvised tracks in different times and places, the album hangs together surprisingly well as a cohesive set, not an odds and sods grab bag, and it’s full of the art and musical drama we’ve come to expect and enjoy from Curran.


Opening with the title track, this is one of two pieces with just Buck on piano.  It’s experimental and minimalistic, full of modal expressions, and knocks on the doors of free jazz.  On second cut “Gemini Sun, Gemini Rising,” Curran returns to electric guitar and enlists his trusty Ebow (which creates massive sustain and other effects).  He’s joined on the track by cellist Helena Espvall (Espers).  Her cello has even more effects treatments, and together the two create a piece dripping with atmospherics, a descent down a dark rabbit hole void of rabbits and crawling with red-eyed blinking, scurrying creatures of the night.


On “Mugen No Umi No Iro,” Hiroya Miura joins Curran by playing gentle piano musings which Buck surrounds with enveloping electric guitar.  At first, Curran’s guitar almost swallows the fragile piano up in a massive gulp, before eventually he and his guitar fall away to the shadows to allow Miura’s playing to breathe on its own.  Interestingly, somewhere in the middle of the track the fourth wall is broken by some ambient noises in the room, with someone rustling some objects around.  This only adds to the raw authenticity, with the listener feeling they’re in the room with the two musicians in the throes of creation.  The rustling persists, which can make the listener wonder whether the intended locus is the unseen people going about their business or the piano.


I find “Prelude in D Minor” the most album’s most fascinating track.  It combines Buck on both electric guitar and piano.  The D in the song’s title could stand for Dread, since that’s precisely what emotion it evokes.  Curran’s Ebow is relentless in its dominant sustaining power.  The piece is a march to the gallows, one precarious footfall at a time, as the world closes in around the listener and lightness and hues fade.


The album contains two interesting short pieces.  On “Slow Air,” Curran finger-picks a languid, melancholy melody on acoustic guitar, while Italian keyboardist Jodi Pedrali adds organ and Leslie Drone ever so gently in the background.  On brief closer “1894 (Coda),” he returns to solo piano with a pensive melody.  The miking on this track, as with many on the record, makes the listener feel they’re in the back of the room where Curran is busily tinkering away, not in an acoustically perfect studio.


Buck gives you your money’s worth by including alternate takes of several tracks.  The alternate version of “Slow Air” is interesting, as Jodi Pedrali’s atmospherics are more centered and up front in the mix, complementing Curran’s pretty acoustic guitar theme.


The album can be completely mesmerizing, as Curran drills deep into one’s psyche with each chord, continually seeking a bottom that never comes.  The record does nicely while we eagerly await more of his projects coming out later this year.


(Mark Feingold)



(Available on Home Assembly Music)

Hood brothers Chris and Richard Adams graced the University of London (ULU) stage at Terrastock 3 in the Summer of 1999. Since then they released numerous albums and singles before going on hiatus in 2007 to pursue other projects: Chris fronts Bracken and Richard has released nearly a dozen albums as The Declining Winter with an assortment of friends providing an occasional violin, cello, trumpet, guitar, and drums accompaniment. Really Early, Really Late envelops the listener in a North Yorkshire (Leeds) mist of dreamy landscapes, pastoral meanderings, and introspective ruminations. ‘The Darkening Way’ floats across the moors on sinewy violin (Sarah Kemp) with Adams’s gingerly plucked acoustic guitar and weathered voice (somewhat akin to another Terrastock veteran Alan (Kitchen Cynics) Davidson) tempered with Cecelia Denell’s soothing coos leading the way,.

    ‘Song Of The Moor Fire’ is equally descriptive and melancholic, a soft guitar line tiptoeing around Adams’s whispered vocals navigating James Yates’s syncopated drum fills and drifting off into a dreamy coda on the butterfly wings of Robin Smith’s wispy sax flourishes. The title track hesitatingly slips into the room with Matthew Jones-Green’s jazzy piano and Yates’s drums dipping in and out of consciousness. Ghostly whispered vocals imbue the track with a haunting aura that Adams bobs and weaves around, simultaneously dripping crystalline shards of experimental guitar a la Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column. It’s more of a mood piece than a traditional song structure, but it continues the album’s organic ambience.

     Peter Hollo’s cello is at the centre of ‘Yellow Fields’ whose title is reflected in the album cover artwork - desolation, loneliness, introspective melancholia perhaps commenting on COVID-imposed isolation. ‘This Heart Beats Black’ offers ambient electronics and hesitant, spoken vocals creating a soothing dreamlike state similar to the work of another Terrastock veteran Martyn Bates (Eyeless In Gaza). The atmospheric ‘How To Be Disillusioned’ is a ten-minute exploration of inner turmoil and recuperative strength (Adams’s mum passed away last year), its ruminative first half exploding into a more experimental, the-show-must-go-on cathartic sound collage.

     The album ends with the encouraging ‘….Let These Words Of Love Become The Lamps That Light Your Way.’ A sparse Kemp and Adams duet, the song is essentially a message to us all that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, the current climate is cold, dark, frightening, and at times surreal but let’s not forget what brought us together and put smiles on our faces. We can get through this:

“The world is sad, we know that/But don’t be scared there’s hope left/And in the dark watch the lamp light/To help you through the dark, cold, night….” Words to live by in these insane times.

(Jeff Penczak)

(LP/CD/DL from Music | An Eagle in your Mind (bandcamp.com))

Intersection is the third album (the first available on vinyl) on which the well-travelled French duo of Sophia Djebel Rose and Raoul Eden deploy their globally infused, seductively melodic and spiritual brand of cosmic folk.

Being an irregular reviewer these days I’m not sure if ‘Shamanic’ is still a permissible go-to description (and, if so, what level of test is applied to one’s understanding of the word) but the use of harmonium, unusual percussion and ‘the drone’ all lend Intersection a discreetly sacred quality, one accentuated by multi-tracking particularly in the vocals, which has the effect of making Sophia’s voice - which fluctuates from low moan to plaintive mountain-top call - sound eerily choral on occasions.

Leaving aside the subtly intricate global psychedelic leanings, though, the base sauce is often quite simple but effective repeat guitar patterns over which everything builds; spills and invariably thrills, of which the angular syncopation of ‘Desert Land’ and headily repetitive ‘Storm’ are early outriders. Despite its jaunty approximation of Afro-rhythm, the fabulous ‘Angola Moon’ cements the impression of a more worldly and less pastoral Gallic cousin of Rowan:Morrison  - the unintentional and welcome similarity to the latter’s ‘Light Cometh In’ sounds, to these old ears, both palpable and immensely pleasing.

The more conventionally rhythmic ‘Let Me Ride’ could do worse than pitch for inclusion on BBC Radio 6’s playlist - it not only has an easy and inviting commercial appeal but would definitely suit their current, vigorous promotion of fragrant-sounding ‘female-fronted/led’ acts. In some ways the strongest material here, though, is the closing triptych. Again, anchored by a solid and deceptively simple, skipping, guitar motif, the beguiling lyricism of ‘On Your Shoulders’ adds to the hint of exotic appeal, accentuated by echoing layers of vocal. Powered by guitar and harmonium, ‘Empty Sky’ receives your reviewers vote for the ‘best of the best’ here, a crystallisation of everything that is good vocally, musically and atmospherically about Intersection. However, it is the beautifully short and sparse ‘Silver Plate’ that demonstrates once again the enduringly potent force of a slow, smouldering closing number, like Nico setting sail for ‘The Great Dominions’.

For all the subtle global assimilation Intersection works best when it weaves its spell of big sky, imaginary high plains drifting, its hypnotic and narcotic inclinations  leavened by a deftness and sureness of touch. In fact those esoteric influences are worn lightly enough without ever over-seasoning the dish, while possessing sufficiently solid form and metronomic rhythm on which to hang the dream catchers. This one is destined to play and play.

(Ian Fraser)

EMPTY HOUSE – SECRET SUBURBIA (CD/DL on Wormhole World Records)

Fred Laird makes a welcome return in the guise of Empty House with another engrossing solo release where he plays all instruments and uses field recordings and found sounds to create a dreamy ambient expression of his thoughts and imagination. I suppose you could call it a mood painting or as succinctly put in Fred’s notes on Bandcamp ‘Music to Stare By’.  

Recorded over a six month period from July 2022 what we have is a collection of ambient moods with titles that are evocative rather than filled with deeper meaning but certainly are expressive of what goes on within. ‘Evening Light’ is blissful, reflective and elegant with rippling electronica and symphonic touches and swells that remind me of Eno and Popol Vuh at their most cinematic. Voices slowly emerge from the mix adding a strange, otherworldly exotica and mystery. It’s a sound that wraps itself around you and would be the perfect accompaniment to the sun going down. ‘Florian’ is I assume a reference however oblique to Florian Fricke but the track has the sound and elegant, melodic guitar soloing and synthesizer sound reminiscent of Bill Nelson’s latter day solo work. That’s a very good thing indeed.  ‘The Mysterious Cat’ could be a Residents title and indeed tune with its slightly dark music box style ‘meow’lody and insistent percussion. It has a traditional folk song lilt i.e. you can imagine a singalong on a ship or in a pub (lyrics Fred?) but again a touch of otherworldly ambience is added with ethereal flute sounds and spacey electronics. Twanging guitar in the background keeps a touch of brooding menace in the mix.   ‘It Rained On The Friday’ is in a darker vein than previous tracks – cinematic, brooding and claustrophobic with a stark percussive almost industrial undertone, dissonant guitar, disembodied voices and an acoustic that sounds like the inside of a sewer with its harsh swishing echoing quality. ‘October Song’ is indeed autumnal with melancholic and sparse but melodic guitar and repeating whistle like motifs in the background but the insistent, pulsing electronics take it to less reflective and more animated places, perhaps more in tune with changing seasons. ‘Twilight Symposium’ is serene and a lovely captivating short piece of music which fades into radio static before ‘The Ghost In The Temple’ emerges with a strong cosmic vibe and washes, indeed crashes of synthesized waves and blasts of noise with a constant, busy percussive stir drum like undertone. Much like Morricone’s alternative Space 1999 soundtrack, this would fit into a darker sci-fi soundtrack with ease. ‘Fata Morgana’ is perhaps the first piece to adopt more conventional rhythm on the album and leans towards more openly progressive rock albeit in a good way. ‘The Lotus and The Dragonfly’ is gorgeous, using minimal percussion, synthesized colourings and field recordings almost like an exotic lullaby. Finally the raga informed title track brings the record to a beautiful close.

This is another very fine solo recording by Fred Laird. He treats his influences well and mixed with the results of his own thoughts, wanderings and meditations we have an intoxicating brew of lush and imaginative ambient sounds. This is the right music to stare by said Fred. I agree, sit back, listen, enjoy and if you must…..stare.

(Francis Comyn)


(LP, Digital on Sound Effect Records and Strong Island Recordings)


Brighton’s Ella Russell created the project Anona and this delightful debut EP.  Russell has sung vocals for the wonderful band Wax Machine, also of Brighton, and has her own band the New Eves as well.  On this EP, in addition to the songwriting and vocals, she plays flute and guitar.


The music is a mélange of many styles, including psych folk, jazz, and Canterbury prog.  Recorded in a small garden-based studio just before the pandemic hit in 2020, Russell had many sterling musician friends help out, including most of Wax Machine.  The Machine’s Lau Ro and Adam Campbell co-produced.  Russell’s a natural born storyteller, and the songs have the charm as if she were singing them to a child, whilst she and her friends also go into extended instrumental flights of fancy, recalling everything from Pentangle to Magic Bus to Van Morrison’s Moondance.


“Introduction,” “The Boy and the Lion,” and “The Boy and the King” make up a mini-suite.  Russell’s storytelling draws you in, whereas the ensemble playing, including flute, piano, guitar and cello, is tremendous.  The sparkling “Anona” – that’s the song Anona by the artist Anona on the EP Anona – is a fluttering jazz wonder, from the expressive saxophone, trumpet and Russell’s flute, to the smooth tinkling piano and the changing time signatures and rhythms.


“Ruby Mountain” combines noirish trumpet playing by Hugo Ellis with Russell’s whimsical storytelling,  laden with stunning imagery.  Finally, “Moth Song” combines pleasant ambient sounds from the garden with an ode to the flighty insect.


You can’t not like this record.  Anona’s amiable personality and playfulness come shining through, while she and the band come up all aces when they show what they can do.  It also sounds like they had loads of fun making the record.  Onto the full length please, Anona.  Magical.


(Mark Feingold)


Sam McLoughlin and David Chatton Barker released a lovely record last year, ‘Environmental Meditation’ on Hood Faire Records and return now on the Folklore Tapes label with ‘The Heavenly Realms’. Folklore Tapes have released some beautifully packaged records that are as much an education on folklore and associated facts and rituals as a listening experience due to the quality of research and presentation that goes into their releases. This is the first release in their new ‘Mystic Series’.

The record focuses on Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), the Swedish mystic who spent his later years in England. The recordings were born from a Folklore Tapes residency at Swedenborg House in London last year. I remember fondly seeing Jozef Van Wissem, a similarly Swedenborg influenced musician perform there several years ago.

Sam and David were invited to respond to Swedenborg’s legacy and chose to focus on ‘Heaven and Hell’, a 1764 work which took his dreams and visions of angelic conversations and illuminated a meticulous vision of the afterlife. The Duo interpreted this vision of eternity through music entirely created from a collection of antique clock chimes – taking the theme of time and timelessness quite literally on one hand. What they have created is an enchanting and at times exhilarating recording full of imaginative use of sounds from what is, on the face of it a limited source of materials. In a little over 50 minutes through subtle and inventive manipulations, treatments and processes we have here a virtual symphony of clocks which is at times serene, sometimes unsettling, occasionally ritualistic and at other times celestial (rather than cosmic) and blissful. From near silence to shimmering sheets of sound, glacial drones, dissonant tones and waves and delicate colourings of pastoral ambience, the soundscape shifts through the record to create many settings for the always present clocks. The different chime sounds are varied, sometimes recognisable and at other times manipulated to sound like a range of musical instruments including zither like runs, bell tones, subtle gamelan style flurries, winding clicks and wind chimes or cowbells. Wrapped in slowly shifting electronic settings they form a percussive orchestra that is just lovely and immersive to listen to (as a percussionist I would say that but it is). The afterlife world created by this soundtrack is a long way from Powell and Pressburger.

For any lover of Kosmische, modern electronic composition, musique concrete and more challenging ambient music I would heartily recommend this record. As an interpretation of timelessness I would say that it clearly hits the brief and is a great place to get lost in, even for just a short time. I’ve not seen the LP packaging yet but in time honoured Folklore Tapes fashion it is sure to be a thing of beauty and won’t be available for too long.  Highly recommended.

(Francis Comyn)


The increasingly industrious Pete Bingham of Sendelica is gathering an impressive array of side projects and collaborations to his name. Band of Cloud is a duo with David Owen, an occasional collaborator who have been friends stretching back to their time together in Leeds in the 1980’s. Although there has been a previous Band of Clouds release this is the first full blown musical collaboration between the duo – a coast to coast project stretching from the two musical bases of Whitby in North Yorkshire to Cardigan in the wild west of Wales.

The album opens with ‘Evening Star’ which despite its Fripp and Eno referencing title starts with a  collage of space themed sampled sounds and indeed as quoted in the opening samples ‘welcome space cadets’ is an apt introduction to what follows, a fine slice of psychedelic space rock with fiery guitar and insistent beats.  A For Andromeda was the title of a science fiction book and film where in short a radio telescope picks up signals from the constellation that prove to be computer signals bringing new knowledge that could threaten humankind. The theme of computer like voices running through the album certainly is in tune with this and adds to the sense of a story being told through musical images and fragmented voices. ‘Into The Mothership’ is 12 minutes long and a much more trippy and experimental journey through sampled voices and electronica. Broken and fuzzy shards of guitar, snippets of melody and a brooding electronic undertone with snatches of voice almost like a disrupted automated radio message weaving in and out of frequency range create a more textural and sonically mysterious sci-fi ambience that is strangely hypnotic and quirkily dark. ‘Flashing Strobelight’ hits the ground with an electronic shuffle over which textural electronics and minimal guitar melodies operate at a slower pace and the automated warning of flashing strobelights is repeated intermittently. This ain’t no disco for sure as the pace takes up with another heady bout of space rock where piercing guitar and hefty rhythms take a front of house position. The final track ‘Andromeda’ is a piece of two halves. Initially underpinned by ambient textures based once again on repetition with vocal samples, found and treated sounds and sparse melodies creating a more disjointed and dissonant soundscape until the second half explodes in a sudden crashing wave of sound into a blissful return to melody before fading to an echoing voice saying ‘weightlessness’ over and over.

‘This isn’t a weightless album by any means and is an enjoyable ride through different musical moods with plenty of fuel for the imagination. As usual there are many musical formats available and I’m sure the quirkier items have long sold out but you could do much worse than invest in a copy.

(Francis Comyn)


(DL   bandcamp.com)

This rather wonderful album began back in 2002 when Sharron Kraus replied to an advert posted by David Muddyman (Loop Guru). Finding they had common ground and a shared adventurous, musical spirit, the project quickly developed into this collection of traditional tunes mixed with electronic beats, drones and loops.

   Despite its quality the album was never released at the time. Sadly David Passed last year, prompting Sharron to re-visit the album and release it on her Bandcamp site with 50% of monies raised being donated to St Luke's Hospice Plymouth.

    Pre-dating Folktronica pioneers Tuung by a couple of years, the album blends both genres perfectly, Sharron voice soaring over sympathetic soundscapes that enhance both the lyrics and the melodies of the tunes. Mind you opening track, ‘Nellie the Milkmaid’ sounds very much like a Loop Guru track as it begins, I imagine Sharron's voice joining in would have been an unexpected revelation at the time of recording.

   Opening with bell and drone, ‘The Bloody Gardener’ is moody and atmospheric, a tale of murder and deception, beautifully created to draw you in completely. Treading a similar path, the well known tale ‘The Cuckoo’ adds birdsong and flute to the mix creating a rich tapestry of sound that deserves to be listened to carefully to catch the subtle nuances within the song.

  As well as Sharron and David the album is enhanced by Jon Boden (Fiddle) and John Spiers (Melodeon) their instruments adding texture and atmosphere although they do not appear together at any point.

   Highlight of the album is the 7 minute ‘Bold Lamkin’ a familiar tune that begins with a looped voice offering a dark warning before the tale of murder unfolds in all its dark magnificence. As the track continues the arrangement has the power to send a chill down tour spine, the fiddle creating an icy drone as it echoes the melody.

   To round-off the album ‘Come Write Me Down’ has subtle electronic backing, the tune  the most traditional sounding on the album with acoustic instruments to the fore, a fine way to end a great collection.

   In her notes Sharron feels that some of the tunes feel dated now, and while it is true that electronic music production has certainly moved forward in the last 20 years these tunes remain fresh and vibrant, I can imagine them sounding fabulous blasted across the garden on a summers day.

As an aside, this album reminded me of a similar project released in 2002,that being ‘Rock Island’ a collection of traditional songs and electronic beats created by Bethany Yarrow , daughter of Peter, another excellent album that has also aged well when I played it recently.

(Simon Lewis)


Available on Shelflife / Discos De Kirlian

Seattle popsters follow-up to their 2020 debut was recorded remotely due to pandemic-induced isolation. But the quartet rose to the occasion, using the extra time to experiment with new ideas and venture into unchartered musical territories. ‘As She Slips Away’ and lead single ‘In Your Eyes’ still deliver dreamy pop harmonies and glistening guitars, but ‘Control’ kicks out the jams with a hard-driving rocker not unlike a frenetic Cars.

     ‘Jacqueline’ toe taps its way around your heart and head with fond reminiscences of a long lost Beach Boys B-side buffeted with some tasty guitar solos from Jerry Peerson and Will Hallauer’s machine gun drum fills. I also liked the harmony-filled ‘Remember The Good Times’, its shimmering guitars chasing away its melancholic message that’s more poignant today than a surface reading suggests. They even dabble in a little shoegazing with the no-holds-barred rocking crunch of ‘The Trigger.’

     If harmonic pop with chiming guitars, hook-laden melodies, adventurous arrangements, and above-average lyrical content is your bag, add the National Honor Society to your playlist today. They’re sure to be on constant replay throughout the summer.

(Jeff Penczak)