= April 2020 =  
 Saint Gallus Convention Tapes
 Lucifer & Beyond
 Band for All Seasons
 Acid Mothers Temple
 David Colohan
 Cat Lady
 Sound of Yell
 The Slowest Lift
 the Prefab Messiahs
 Windy and Carl
 Jeffrey Andrew
 Waterless Hills
 Steve Palmer
 Isolated Psychedelicists


(LP on Wonderlamp Records )

If, like me, you’ve been delving into the depths of your record collection of late and unearthing albums from the last time everything felt really unsettling what with economic turmoil, people giving one another malevolent glares and the Army on the streets (for me it was the early 1970s but obviously you’ll have your own reality depending on where you live), then you’ll welcome this rather brilliantly re-imagined slice of British blues-boom rock melded with deft touches of stoner psych from Saint Gallus Convention Tapes. It’s not, granted, a name which grips one in quite the way names like Stone's Masonry or the Santa Barbara Machine Head immediately (as it were) spring to mind, but the band can’t half play and the production is just brilliant. Just kick back and enjoy the band’s extended guitar jam based around Willie Dixon’s ‘Bring It On Home’ that closes Side 2 and I promise, you won’t regret it.

The band consists of breathy chanteuse Tonia Goehlich, who is the Christine Perfect of the band in more ways than one, who, along with bass player Kevin Krenczer and drummer Florian Grass, has roots in the Dortmund stoner-rock and electro scene; and guitarist Joe Black. Joe Black played guitar and harmonica in The Hipsters, a garage band based in and around Oberhausen in the 80s and 90s – I can remember reviewing singles by them in the Ptolemaic Terrascope way back. He’s obviously been practising regularly ever since, and waiting for the moment when he can let rip on established blues-rock numbers such as ‘Wang Dang Doodle’, ‘Smokestack Lightning’ and ‘Done Somebody Wrong’ all of which are well worth hearing this tight little band making a fist of. They also introduce a couple of their own songs in a similar vein, including the excellent ‘Drought’ – which in turn reminds me of that summer of 1975 when the standpipes were out and there was no bread on the shelves. Like I say, you’ll have your own reality – but do try and find a place for this, as it’s really rather good. (Phil McMullen)



(LP/DL from  https://guerssen.com/)

Based in Oslo between 1970-'75, Lucifer Was played plenty of gigs but never actually got around to recording anything before they went their separate ways. That is until 1996 when they re-united for a gig and enjoyed so much they decided to record an album of tunes from the early seventies. Already I can hear alarm bells ringing in your head as these things often have a way of sounding self indulgent , over produced and just plain wrong. This time however it was inspired as this albums sounds as though it was recorded and released in 1972 ( or thereabouts) an album brimming with great riffs, energy, fabulous playing and a production that is clear and suitably analogue.

     Opening with the scuzzy rock riff of “Teddy's Sorrow” you are immediately transported back in time, a heavy seventies vibe cloaking the track, Reminding me of Leaf Hound or May Blitz, melodic and rocking at the same time. This magic continues with both “Scrubby Maid” and “Song For Rings”, with the latter having some great flute work, the band have two flute players making comparisons with Jethro Tull both lazy and inevitable.

     By far the longest song on the album “The Green Pearl clocks in at only 6:19, making this a collection of short, concise and focused tunes, the track kicking into life with the riff from Hall of the Mountain King (Grieg), a theme loved by rock groups through the ages, before the musicians have some fun mixing heavy passages with lighter pieces creating the most Prog moment on the album, the ghost of Aqualung no doubt walking close by.

   No doubt the heaviest moment is “Tarabas” which walks in Sabbath's footprints, a dark and doomy affair that got me air guitaring around the room with a big grin on my face.

    Elsewhere, “Fandago” has a lazy funky groove that has a mellower feel, whilst the final four tunes are all a mix of great riffs , fabulous instrumental breaks and fine individual performances, with “In The Park” being the pick of the bunch displaying everything that is good about the band.

    Without one duff track within its grooves this collection is highly recommended for lovers of that moment when Prog got heavier and Metal didn't exist yet; practically fucking perfect. (Simon Lewis)





(CDs from http://www.morctapes.com/)

Featuring core members Laurent Cartuyvels, Bram Borloo and Christophe Piette R.O.T are a free flowing collective that specialise in improvised music and shy away from any trappings associated with a traditional rock band.

   Recorded in an abandoned, now demolished, building, “Klein Eiland” features 10 untitled tracks ranging in length from 2-12 minutes, each track obviously part of one performance as they contain very similar sounds and textures. Never particularly harsh the atmosphere created is otherwordly and surreal, the music of dreams, percussion and electronic treatments creating waves of sound that wash over you then recede into distant memory.

   As if to break the performance in half, “Track 6” begins with a volley of percussion that wakes you from your dreaming, reminding me of a Buddhist ceremony, scattering Demons and filling the room with energy, a cleansing that paths the way for the next piece, 12 minutes of high end drone, the sounds making my cats slightly tense as they try to sleep next to me.

  To end, track 10 is a cavernous slice of sounds, a slow motion avalanche that rumbles through your brain beautifully, I imagine it sounded amazing at high volume.

    If I had one complaint it is the gaps between the tracks break the spell, it would have been nice to hear them mixed together somehow to allow the music to flow between them, a small point that should not detract from what is a  fine album. If you have never dipped your toe into improvised, free music this would be a great place to start.

    Utilising just Piano, Cello, Singing Bowls, Tam Tam and Room Tone, Chris Gowers creates beautiful and meditative drones under the name Lowered, the music drifting and slightly melancholy, stretching time and re-creating the space around you.

    Featuring just three tracks, opener “Sound in this Room” is a 116 minute devotion the different tones of the instrument working together to create some amazing sounds that become even more unbelievable when you realise that it is all acoustic with no electronic treatments at all, something that is hard to fathom on first hearing. Halfway through the track, the sounds have dissolved into a soft white noise and rumble that is very soothing, the music almost invisible to the ears, the track slowly coming back into focus as the Cello adds some deep drones over which the Piano slowly marches to the inevitable conclusion, the white noise shrouding them both as it fades away.

     Calling a track “Emptiness” gives the listener a good idea of the atmosphere of the piece, especially if you have just heard track one but it does not prepare you for the stark beauty to be found as the drone rises up your spine, Singing Bowls and the Tam Tam levitating together over eight glorious minutes that are over far too soon, the nuances of the sounds creating something very special.

    Beginning with a slow Piano that chimes and calls, “Distance Flooded In” is another beautiful piece that works best if you lie on the floor and let it just wash over you, ending an astonishing album that will become an old friend, the music timeless and engaging, something to be treasured in these uncertain times. (Simon Lewis)


(LP/CD/Cassette/Digital on Heavy Psych Sounds Records)


Milan, Italy based Giobia bring us their fourth LP of acid-drenched psychedelia Plasmatic Idol.  First off, we hope and pray for the band’s well-being in light of how the Coronavirus has wracked Italy.  Giobia is on the medium level of Italian label Heavy Psych Sounds’ releases that frequently trod deep into the red on the decibel meter (they ain’t Heavy Psych Sounds for nothin’).


I love bands and albums that create a whole enclosed sonic world unto themselves, and Giobia does just that.  Once you set foot in Plasmatic Idol, it’s as if a door (of perception - sorry, not sorry, couldn’t resist) closes behind you and you’ve entered another dimension.  Theirs is a sound heavily layered with organ/synth, guitar, and gallons and gallons of oozing reverb.  It’s no accident they’re frequently compared to Hawkwind or Pink Floyd.


Plasmatic Idol is also the rare album which seems to improve with every track.  By mid-Side One, you’re cruising, and the songs just keep getting better.  The short instrumental title track reminded me of ‘70s and ‘80s Japanese electronic ambient artist Kitaro, with its swooping synthesizer leads.  Next track “Haridwar” actually takes a historically over-used guitar chord progression and at least dresses it up with all sorts of guitar and keyboard goodies, before departing for instrumental parts unknown.


One of Plasmatic Idol’s hallmarks is vocals throughout so laden with reverb and swirling effects you won’t make out a word of what they’re saying and I.  Just.  Love.  It.  Giobia also gets it just right in the album’s balance of instrumental and vocal songs and passages.  And it’s not purely psych – Giobia adds  prog and classic rock genres as well; the album’s lengthy centerpiece “Far Behind” is a journey that touches ‘em all.  The album’s also not stuck in any one timeframe; you can hear references from the ‘60s, ’70s, ‘80s, all the way up to neo-psych.


My favorite track is “Heart of Stone,” a gauzy, woozy psychedelic waltz, built from layer upon layer of sound, including violin, organ, guitar, and about a million synthesizers.  The ghostly, echoing vocals bounce around the walls of your mind, where ironically, about the only line you can make out is “no one can hear my words.”  Closer “The Mirrors House” starts with creepy dialogue that sounds like it could’ve come from a Hammer horror film.  The song continues the nightmare theme, with those unintelligible lyrics again, but the music is unmistakably a horror soundtrack, forceful, unrepentant and potent.


The album’s artwork by Metastazis is fabulous, and the LP is available in a variety of badass splatter and colored vinyl options, so scoop ‘em up while you can (though the band has apologized for understandable shipping delays due to the recent unpleasantness).  Score yourself a copy.


(Mark Feingold)



(4CD on Fruits De Mer)

The fine folks at Fruits De Mer (take a bow Keith Jones) have expanded their earlier 3LP set, The Three Seasons to produce this 4CD version, which more than doubles the number of tracks to 61. Since our very own Andrew Young thoroughly reviewed the original here, we’ll focus on the additional tracks which make this an essential purchase for those who missed the sold-out-on release LP set (and a welcome addition to the record collections of the lucky few who scored first time round). One-man band and fellow music journalist Andy Morton (aka Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder) delivers a spot-on ‘Amelia Jane’, a slice sunshine pop from 1967 courtesy Made In Sheffield, while Azalia Snail and Dan West (aka LoveyDove) hit ephemeral heights of frilly fantasy with Drimble Wedge and The Vegetations’ (readers of the Terrascope will now who’s hiding behind this pseudonym) ‘Bedazzled’, which frankly sounds like it was listed straight off the Barbarella soundtrack!

     The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds released a wonderful cash-in album in 1967 featuring electronic ruminations on the signs of the Zodiac. Jack Ellister has selected ‘Aquarius’ for an updated 21st century take on ‘60s space music (literally!), but the set’s most unusual re-imagining must be Rob Gould’s nine-minute electronic – think Pink Floyd-meets-Vangelis-meets-Tonto’s Expanding Headband! – rewrite of The Purple Gang’s ‘Granny Takes A Trip’ that’s about three times as long as the original and five times trippier! [We’ll hear from The Purple Gang later on Disk 3 with their unreleased version of Syd Barrett’s ‘Boon Toon’ that was slated to succeed ‘Granny…’.] The Small Faces are not especially known as a psychedelic band, but Mark McDowell succeeds in wringing out the cobwebs and red eyes from Ronnie Lane’s ‘Up The Wooden Hills To Bedfordshire’ and it’s 1966 all over again! We’ll hear more from the Small Faces on Disc 3.

     Nick Drake has become a sort of go-to candidate for cover versions as of late, and Jay Tausig adds a sleepy orchestrated ‘Time Has Told Me’ to the canon, with a nice twangy edge reminiscent of Neil Young’s country-inflected solo material. Very nice indeed. While Starlings Planet’s update of Please’s ‘The Story’ rings of too much of a Claypool Lennon Delirium influence for my taste, Bhopal’s Flowers’ sitar-drenched revisit to Cream’s ‘I Feel Free’ is a surprisingly effective Eastern-flavoured rendition that breathes new life into the old chestnut. Francis Rossi’s indelible guitar riff in ‘Pictures Of Matchstick Men’ is one of the iconic blasts from the psychedelic era, so wisely The Jeremy Morris’ Band leave it virtually untouched and concentrates on some seriously searing stringbending with a tremendous coda solo. Six strings are also set ablaze by Mark Forster’s Cat Frequency for an intensely vibrattoed fuzz ‘Flameout’ that the 101 Strings couldn’t even begin to imagine back in 1968.

     Italian proggers London Underground wrap Cannonball Adderley’s ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’ in a sweet swirling Hammond overcoat, while the Mysterious Clouds featuring Your Friend turn H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Mobius Trip’ into an hallucinogenic dream, although it feels like someone pulled the plug before they finished. Too bad. Van Der Graaf Generator’s ‘Refugees’ is one of my favourite tracks on the eponymous Charisma label sampler, so my preconceived prejudice may unfairly dock a few points off Finnish prog/psych outfit Permanent Clear Light’s credible update, but Echo Train (Greek, judging by their surnames) ratchet up the blood pressure with Ren’s incantatory spoken words conjuring forth a soaring, synth-drenched progtastic ‘Portland ‘69’, quite different from Hunger’s garage psych original. Disc 2 ends with July stalwart Tom Newman leading some “friends” through a 21st century swathe of swirly noise that breathes new life into the old dusty chestnut ‘My Clown’ during a live 2016 performance.

     Half the tracks on Disc 3 are new to the set, highlighted by I Am Voyager 1’s floating Floydian instrumental rendition of Tim Buckley’s ‘I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain’, Elfin Bow & Gary Lloyd’s tender and intimate revisit to the Small Faces’ ‘Autumn Stone’, The Telephones’ kinder, gentler ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’ (Move), the Electric Crayon Set’s Timo Pääkko’s new project Mr. Armageddon and the Suicide Society shredding the Bonzos’ ‘We Are Normal’ in full-on punky sonic attack a la the Deviants’ self-destructive mayhem, and The Purple Gang finally recording Syd Barrett’s ‘Boon Tune’, their slated follow-up to their tripping Granny in their inimitable vaudevillian style updated with a hazy, dreamy electronic coda.

     Excepting the Pretty Things ‘Loneliest Person’ track from their 2010 Half Moon gig, Disc 4 consists of previously unreleased tracks. Things are off to an encouraging start with Chad & Jeremy’s unplugged revisit to ‘Rest In Peace’ off their brilliant 1967 concept album Of Cabbages And Kings. After 50+ years, their intricate harmonies are just as glisteningly heartwarming and the baroque acoustic arrangement ranks with their finest efforts. Schizo Fun Addict will make you forget all about the Mamas & Papas’ rendition of ‘Dedicated To The One I Love’ as it successfully recreates a 60’s sunshine pop afterglow, and Hanford Flyover bathe Neon Pearl’s ‘Just Another Day’ in a dreamy golden synth shower of sounds that will have you giving the original a fresh listen. Swedish duo Us and Them breathe new life into the obscure Neil Young ballad ‘What Did You Do To My Life’ with their gentle folk/prog hybrid and Nathan Hall shows us just how wonderful the early Bee Gees’ catalogue is with a faithful recreation of the acoustic pop ditty ‘Please Read Me’ from their essential debut.

     Cranium Pie give us a lot to consider with their phased-to-the-max, underwater-gargled  ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’, the Crystal Jacqueline Acoustic Band add just the right feathered touch to Roger Waters’ classic navel gazer ‘Grantchester Meadows’, and Andy Morton (who we enjoyed in his Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder guise back on Disk 1 is even better in the company of his Back Street Carnival with their “pretty” sunshine pop psych version of Strawberry Alarm Clock’s ‘Pretty Song from “Psych-Out”’. I don’t need to remind readers why they’re the perfect band to cover this gem! But I must confess that nothing will prepare you for the astonishing side-long (that’s 17½ minutes!) jam fest of psychedelic headfucking that the prolific international (US/Sweden/Spain) psychedelic brain circuit rewirers the Lemon Clocks deliver in their mind-melting, numbness-inducing, cotton-mouthed spectacular, ‘Crimson and Clover’.

     But wait…there’s more… Like Mark Brierley’s 50th anniversary revisit to his ‘Welcome To The Citadel’, still as poignant and heartwrenching as the day we enjoyed it 50 years ago sat crosslegged on the floor with our heads in the clouds and our hearts in our throats.

     A Band For All Seasons is an historical and instructive overview of the psychedelic ‘60s heyday some 50 years removed, featuring 21st century approaches to an excellent and eclectic mix of the usual suspects (Cream, Stones, Donovan, Small Faces, Traffic, Yardbirds, et.al.) and beloved underground unknowns (H.P. Lovecraft, July, Simon Dupree, Marc Brierley, Neon Pearl, Kaleidoscope and many others). In fact, a companion 4xCD set of the originals would rival or surpass any Rubbles, Nuggets, Perfumed Garden, or Chocolate Soup For Diabetics box as a definitive overview of what the UK/US psychedelic, acid folk, progressive, garage ‘60s music scene was all about.

(Jeff Penczak)



(LP/CD from

The gazillionth album release from the enduring Japanese titans who, in acronym form, should never be confused with a cash machine is their second since rekindling their on-off association with Andy Smith’s Riot Season and with their latest line-up, still coalesced around Grand Master Templars Hiroshi Higashi and Makoto Kawabata.  Chosen Star also continues the rich legacy of eye catching album and song titles, some of which have been known to be excruciatingly punning even by your scribe’s lamentable standards but which, together with the never understated cover art is always guaranteed to get them noticed. As if they need props when the sublimity of so much of the rich and yes, varied, catalogue bears testament to the lasting and thoroughly deserved appeal of this most aurally stimulating of galactically inclined ensembles.

Chosen Star…is in fact the first album of new material featuring the current line up and it hardly disappoints. ‘Nightmarish Heavenly Labyrinth’ sounds like it ought to be all phasers, flangers and everything else set to stun yet for the most part is anything but the terrifying entity suggestive of the title. It is in fact rather enchanting with skipping, jazz-like drum caresses and nifty, nimble bass runs, over which guest Templar Geoff Leigh’s flute mellifluously pipes and trills while Hiroshi keeps lobbing space drips into mid-space. It’s only in the final stanzas that Makoto unleashes coruscating squalls from his guitar and the band kicks into a brisk canter while still anchoring the sound in something which might be considered melodic structure. From acoustic beginning and thanks in no small part to Jyonson’ Tsu’s vocal, ‘Diamond Eyes Are Hurt’ has a strangely Gallic appeal not dissimilar to a jazz lounge Stereolab. Leigh’s saxophone this time gleefully spray paints a vast cosmic canvas and Wolf’s bass again burrows this way and that. What is noticeable here, too, are the dub as well as jazz and space rock influences, as if Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry had got his mitts on AMT’s old mates Gong and used them as Black Ark lab rats.

A repeat guitar motif and circular sung patterns renders ‘Cometary Orbital Drive’, a close cousin to ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’, Satoshima Nani urging it into a fast clip at the mid-point before the hitherto reticent Makoto fires off a lyrical guitar solo which succeeds in pulling it back from a precarious precipice over which it was in danger of falling (although by now Leigh appears to have all but disappeared into the chasm, more the pity).  By contrast the shortest cut (at 6 minutes) ‘Infected J also Live Beast Catastrophe’ is a feverish collage of sound. Here is AMT at their most experimental, the noise of a souk or middle-eastern bazaar clatters and jostles until a jolting change of pace and tone as the whole basket of snakes is kicked over creating a hellish outpouring of combustion. This just leaves ‘Santa Maria Enfance’, the CD only extra track (minus Leigh), which finds raga drone interludes taxiing to and from what the Temple do best - brakes off, everything plus the kitchen sink scorched psych overdrive (have that one on us for the next album title). It’s strangely folk-rock- like in a way that if you combined Gaudette, Fairport’s jigs and reels and Hawkwind circa In Search Of Space and yes, I may be suffering just a little from early onset cabin fever just two weeks into lockdown. Suffice to say it pretty much disappears off the scale by the end of the allotted time at which point it subsides back to the drone.

It’s hard for me to assess how this release and indeed this line-up ranks in terms of the band’s vast discography and byzantine family privet. Whichever shape and form it takes and whoever is on board the craft AMT is a band of brothers and sisters, a testimony to the sum of the parts. What is just a little bit special about this is that the guesting Geoff Leigh provides not just the fondant icing but a delicious depth of flavour, particularly on those first two tracks on which his flute and sax step respectively to the fore. I’m betting it’s those cuts rather than the more obviously incendiary ones that I’ll keep coming back to. There again you pay you money and you take…

(Ian Fraser )







If there is a light to be found in isolation it is the chance to listen to music that may well have passed you by in busier times and here are two electronic inspired albums that I may well have missed without the lockdown.

    First up “Walking Ghost Phase” is dedicated to Walter Wegmuller (Tarot) and contains four tracks, entitled I,II,III and IV, each lasting exactly twelve minutes. Opening with “I”, the music is a soft electronic breeze, a gently rolling drone that floats lightly as if blown from a far off land. As the piece progresses twinkling sequences dance above the breeze beautifully, the music soothing and contemplative.

    Adding more textures, “II” opens with drifting chords from a Mellotron (possibly) and some sweet guitar lines that sing like a siren calling you home, the piece taking you on a dream like journey as it slowly drifts forward building in intensity as it does so becoming a rich sea of sounds that ebb and flow wonderfully.

   Moving on ,”III” is a rich drone that levitates and relaxes, hints of Rhythm adding warmth  before “IV” begins with a lonesome, sombre melody line that is aching and beautiful, the whole piece wrapped in autumnal melancholy that is majestic yet lonely you only have to close your eyes to be transported to a mountain top or empty , rocky beach your imagination adding bird sounds, waves or the wind through the trees. Having just reviewed this as I heard it for the first time I suspect that there is a lot more to be discovered every time I listen, something  am eager to explore as should you be.

    Influenced by early synths, Vangelis and the art of Chesley Bonnestell, Cat Lady was a collaboration between Michael Tanner and Matthew Shaw, that managed only two recording sessions and one gig, bit of a shame as the album is a wonderful mix of electronic textures and sounds.

  Opening with “Cephee”, which features a guest appearance from David Colohan, you are drawn in by the other-wordly charm and atmosphere, the track a slow release launch pad into a different universe. Revealing the Vangelis influence, “Persee” contains rippling piano that is very reminiscent of Mr Vangelis, in a good way, leading us nicely into the short drone of “Cygne” a track that fades before it really begins, leading into “Andromede” a delicate, shimmering drone that settles lightly in the room like a butterfly on a summer's rose, the music calming and timeless.

    After the one minute sound mirage of  “Cassiopee” we reach the final, and longest, track on the album as “Le Dragon”  settles in for eleven minutes of loveliness, another sweetly floating drone with flecks of piano adding texture and light, all you have to do is breath and let it all wash over you.

  With many a thread to bind them, these two albums work beautifully as a pair soothing and caressing your ears, just delightful. (Simon Lewis)


(LP/DL from https://chemikal.co.uk)

It’s hard, I know, to draw too much comfort from the current pan-global pestilence except that on a personal note both your Esteemed Editor and Yours Truly are most likely relieved that it was last year and not this that we decided to stage Woolf Music. Indeed among those events cancelled as a result of the most virulent of uber-lurgies was to be a tour by Stevie Jones’ shapeshifting curiosity Sound Of Yell (performances range from solo to full eight piece ensembles) to promote this their long gestating follow up to 2014’s Brocken Spectre.

Stevie played Woolf, eschewing the usual variables of human accompaniment in favour of just guitars, percussion and a car boot load of effects and that it should have been impossible for anyone with just twenty digits to master. One of two dozen or so highlights, then. Here the players return, with Jones aided and abetted by a supporting cast which includes among others Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells and Alex Rex) and Alasdair Roberts, themselves Woolf alumni and who also appeared together under the metaphorical Terrascope banner at Café Oto a few years back.

Thanks to Jones’ background and collaborative resume, Leapling is bound to be labelled as “folk” which I suppose it is, in much the same way as Massive Attack is implausibly lumped in with “dance” music. An acoustic smorgasbord of fingerstyle guitar, singular strings and eccentric-sounding woodwind and all-over-the-kit percussion where bucolic drones mingle with pastoral chamber arrangements this takes it cues from all manner of esoteric styles including some that have yet to be identified. Ponder the fade in at the end of Strawberry Fields and now imagine that stretched to an album’s worth of illogical conclusion while stuffed to bursting point on instinctive and skewed inventiveness. It’s busy, very busy. Friends, or anyone for that matter, lend me an extra pair of ears.

While at times suggestive of a more genteel Richard Dawson the neo-classical influences resonate much like you’d expect from a western sounding Third Ear Band (that’s them, camped out in a field someplace far off to your left). The initial ‘Another Green World’ stylings of ‘Boneless’ evolve into a jauntiness underpinned by some spectral scraping and cattle-prodded by Neilson’s restrained yet still free form drumming. The title track’s eerie drone and sparse vocal is given a semblance of bodily form by an elfin ensemble whereas the more upbeat ‘Hello Ramp’ does indeed ramp things up a notch with its warped woodwind and meatier percussive propulsion. By the time we encounter the spectral whine of Theremin on ‘Flame Soaked Seer’ (oddly reminiscent in places of ‘Mysteries’ by Beth Gibbons/Rustin’ Man from their Out Of Season album some years back now) and move onto ‘Slice The Spray’ I swear I can hear the Swingle Singers and glimpse the ghostly outline a bloke in a tatty coat standing on one leg and puffing into a flute. This truly is a befuddling Aladdin’s cave or should that be Steptoe’s yard of noise and texture, at once melodic and bizarrely discordant.

The beauty of ‘Winged Cadence’ and the plunking, dreamlike ‘Halo Jones’ are but fleeting staging posts before album closer ‘Angel Lights’ with its breathy woodwind, percussive guitar and a barely perceptible vocal all shot through with that marble effect of scratchy violin provides the bittersweet finale that manages to both soothe and stimulate. A few more listens will confirm whether or not Leapling is destined to have the same enduring appeal as Brocken Spectre. A betting man might just give you even odds.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP on Feeding Tube Records)

The Slowest Lift are now three releases old with this new vinyl release on Feeding Tube that follows an originally self- released version last year on limited edition cassette and download (cassettes still just about available at the time of writing for those who like such old school technology). It’s a collaboration between Sophie Cooper, a composer and multi instrumentalist at the heart of the vibrant and innovative Todmorden and West Yorkshire folk, psychedelia and experimental music scene including co-curating the excellent ‘Tor Fest’ and Julian Bradley of long standing psychedelic drone voyagers, Vibracathedral Orchestra and as with all successful collaborations there’s a lot of musical sparks flying and interesting ideas explored.

Opening track ‘My Body Forms a Path’ takes a hazy, pulsing, almost stately drone and wraps it around a Nico-esque dirge before exploding into relentless waves of noise under which the vocal and a repeating melody just about holds its ground before fading to its conclusion. ‘Unloop My Heart’ takes a distorted noise infused melody with a distant vocal into the realms of experimental psychedelic pop. It is harsh but delicate, spacey and yet claustrophobic and it fizzes with crackles of noise as though it might collapse into itself any minute. ‘The Birds Float the Slowest’ starts slowly but soon is chaotic in all the best ways throwing hazy vocals into a noisy stew with off kilter twanging guitars and a whole lot of distortion. ‘Take Off Your Badge’ uses multi tracked vocals and a distorted wave of slowly evolving melody to highlight the sonic beauty that can come from well- judged use of noise and distortion. In a way I pick up the same melodic and ambient sensibility that I get from bands like Bardo Pond who understand how to maintain melody within often noisy and experimental psychedelic forays and that’s a good thing. ‘Sage Reach’ positively broods in the dark opening drone space it creates where Kosmische and an almost medieval feel with perhaps shades of Pelt come together in a relatively short but evocative soundscape. ‘Brother’ is more of an experimental vocal led track where the music has a more manipulated and choppy ‘avant pop’ feel and takes the record briefly in a different direction but not so much as to ruin the overall flow. ‘I’m Born’ is the first track to employ a specific rhythm albeit a subtle almost ritualistic touch in the background and it’s got a fine folk informed structure where incantatory vocals and traditional melodies are energised and elevated by vocal and sound treatments that are both spooky and mysterious. ‘Guided By Photographs’ is gorgeous, toning down the noise and distortion to let a lovely almost hymnal vocal melody speak for itself with more subtle textural sounds creating a beautiful and serene, almost blissful setting which has faint melodic and vocal echoes of Sigur Ros. The closing track is the title track and it is also the longest track. A swirling cloud of vocals and noise imbued electronic and treated instrumental textures slowly unfolds throughout its seven minutes with touches of church like elegance, experimental freeform noise and spacey atmospheres ebbing and flowing and blending wonderfully to create a mysterious, at times disturbing but often beautiful sound.

This is a record full of invention, atmosphere and texture where amongst other things, sometimes harsh yet often strangely elegant noise, free folk beauty, avant pop sensibility and interesting songwriting ideas combine to create a compelling, curious and very satisfying listening experience.  An excellent collaboration and one you should investigate.

(Francis Comyn)



(LP/CD/Digital on Relapse Records)


Myrkur, the project of Danish artist and multi-instrumentalist Amalie Bruun, brings us her third full-length LP.  The album’s title translates to – oh, never mind.  The LP, made up entirely of folk music in the Nordic tradition, is a stunning turn for Bruun, who made her reputation in the dark world of Black Metal.  But truthfully, however, her previous works contained at least some tracks in this folk style; only on Folkesange does Bruun go all the way.


Myrkur has a beautiful voice, which she often layers in multiple harmony overdubs, bathed in cathedral-style echo.  The songs on the album are sung in Danish, with the exception on two English language tracks.  She plays every instrument, but as for a folk record you’ll find nary a guitar; she plays traditional instruments such as lyre, mandola, nyckelharpa and tagelharpa.  The songs are a combination of traditional Scandinavian folk works or originals by Myrkur written in that style, seamlessly interwoven.


Myrkur’s blended harmony sound recalls Enya and Clannad, though she wisely picks and chooses her spots to use it.  And if you’re wondering, Danish folk song isn’t a million miles from Celtic.  The production, by Christopher Juul, is very slick.  Indeed, the album’s overall sound comes perilously close at times to pleasant coffee shop soundtrack music, but it doesn’t cross that line.  Myrkur’s the real deal.


Full of lovely, melancholic melodies and arrangements, Folkesange is a soothing balm for our troubled times.  The deeper and further you get into it, the more Myrkur envelops you in comfort.  On some of the tracks, Bruun uses the vocal technique known as kulning, a startling call used for both herding and scaring off predators.  The song “Tor i Helheim” starts with Bruun doing a Capella kulning, and I recommend you secure your dogs before it starts.  But ironically, the rest of the track, taken from the myth of the goddess Hel, is quite sublime.


Both of the English language songs are delightful.  The first, “Leaves of Yggdrasil,” is a beautiful Myrkur original about “the fairest maiden of the kingdom” with “hair of silver, snow and ice” who loses the love of her life “in the land of a thousand forests.”  The second is the traditional English ballad “House Carpenter” about a woman who forsakes her husband (the house carpenter) and child for a former lover who lures her on a ship destined, it turns out, for hell.  The lively arrangements of both songs canter along perfectly, and Bruun sings in English as if she does it all the time.  The selfish English speaker in me says “more English songs Amalie, pretty please?”


Closer “Vinter” (Winter) is perhaps a lullaby for Bruun’s new child.  Using a wordless choir and piano, she conjures up images of a Christmas carol amid snow-covered hills and trees.  It’s astonishing how much you can say with the word “aah.”  The piano outro will utterly take your breath away, as gorgeous and impressionistic as anything by Debussy or Ravel.


Myrkur has given us a much-needed gift of ethereal Nordic folk songs to help with these troubled times.  Folkesange grows dearer as it goes along – indeed the second side is perfect – and then continues to grow with each listening.


(Mark Feingold)



(Available on Bandcamp)

Boston’s self-proclaimed “micro legendary garage pop pych band” offer a timely little ditty for all you stay-at-home folks honouring safe distancing and self-isolation techniques as we wait out these dangerous times. Featuring Kris Thompson from our Terrastock friends Abunai! and Lothars, this tongue-in-cheekily cheeky chuckle is an irreverent “gotta laugh to keep from crying” salvo aimed straight at the funny bone. From its Sex Pistols-styled opening guitar riff (cf., ‘Pretty Vacant’) to its catchy ‘60s keyboard fills and irreverent chorus (Devo-meets-Tubes with a healthy dose of kitschy Rezillos and B-52’s bop), it’s a pop pogostick that you can dance to in the comfort and safety of your own home.

(Jeff Penczak)




Few things are as calming as the rhythmic clank of a platen press or as comforting as the homely whistle of a kettle, but Windy and Carl’s music comes bloody close. The duo are of course old friends of ours and still after all this time the sheer mastery of their craft and the expressiveness of their music sounds completely effortless, although as with all these things what appears to be simple and uncomplicated is invariably anything but. What’s perhaps unusual about this record amongst the W&C canon is that the nine-minute ‘Moth to Flame,’ which flickers atmospherically like the echolocation clicks of fluttering bats, is the exception rather than the rule; the other songs are almost half that length, although ‘Alone’ comes close and varies the timbre as a hint of desperation creeps into Windy Weber’s voice like the cries of a lost soul at sea amidst the wails of lonely fog horns. (Phil)



(Digital, Self-Released)


There’s just something about a jazz piano trio.  Piano, bass and drums playing upbeat tunes or ‘round midnight smoky noir sounds to brushed drums – it just oozes cool.  New artist, pianist Jeffrey Andrew adds his name to a long heritage of keyboard excellence.  Whether your taste is Bill Evans, Nat King Cole, McCoy Tyner, Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson or Vince Guaraldi, the simple piano jazz combo puts you in the right mood to suit your fancy.


Jeffrey Andrew is from Indianapolis, Indiana and attended Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, but he makes Brooklyn his base now.  He’s produced music for advertising, and played keyboards in many live venues such as the Apollo Theater and the Blue Note. He self-released this five song EP, and about the only way I reckon you can hear it is through the major streaming services, where it sits waiting patiently for you.  He appears to have one previous (even shorter) EP, of Christmas music.


Andrew has a great reverence for melody.  The EP’s title refers not to an abyss to where the melodies escaped.  His compositions are tuneful, his piano technique studied but not flashy.  The tracks are upbeat, with occasional tempo variations to keep you on your toes.  This is music to feel good by.  The uncredited drummer provides the perfect, lively accompaniment to Jeffrey Andrew’s rhythms (one of the few websites about the album says Andrew plays all the instruments, but I don’t have any confirmation of that).


My only complaint is it all goes by too quickly.  At 17 minutes, the EP flies by, leaving the listener grasping for more, always a good sign.  Whether you’re listening intently – which it deserves – or have it in the background for working from home in these crazy times, or exercising, Melodic Abyss is right for it.  I look forward to a label discovering Jeffrey Andrew and getting a Long Player.


(Mark Feingold)



(LP/CD on Cardinal Fuzz Records)

Banshee hail from Boston, Massachusetts and as their name would suggest we are not about to talk about quiet and subtle minimalism. As I write this review in the garden I can hear the sound of my neighbour’s ever so slightly annoying DIY and its associated bish, bash, bosh and therefore in the spirit of neighbourliness I shall crank up the volume to noise cancelling levels. Under any circumstances I suggest you do the same with this fine record.

The opening short collage of sounds that is ‘Genesis’ evokes no comparisons with the band of that name you may or may not be pleased to hear. It has a primal, ominous and perhaps unsurprisingly jungle feel as a prelude to exploding into ‘The Law’ which has a trashy, snotty metallic punk feel but with touches of The Stooges and MC5 that comes through in the guitar solos along with a touch of Thin Lizzy and Kiss at times. It’s a real head nodding treat followed by ‘Dawn of Man’ and its opening flurry of electronics before the influence of Alice Cooper is writ large for all to hear and enjoy in a la-la-la-along belter with a touch of raga like melody that surely will be an epic piece of live action. Guitars and what sounds like a violin take soaring solo spots and a Stones-ey like conclusion bring the track to a thrilling and slightly chaotic end. ‘Livin’ in the Jungle’ as might be imagined starts with a touch of jungle noise before another solid and driving riff takes over but again with touches of often dramatic instrumental colour managing to work their way through the metallic heft of the Stooge-y Stones mayhem. Another ambient interlude with guitar takes us to ‘Savage Man’ which has a crunching riff and another Alice-like vocal and hearty chorus.

‘Credo’ is another short interlude which uses eerie clock- like chiming percussion and a more than slightly unhinged vocal to create a sinister folk melody that leads into ‘Snake Charmer’, a high octane psychedelic rock blast that melds 60’s garage punk with perhaps a little touch of the psychedelic rock that found its feet in the 90’s such as via the good offices of Spiritualized.  ‘The Inner Circle’ takes a more acoustic rocking stance with an eastern vibe flowing through the piece and some wonderfully dramatic guitar soloing dancing in the background as it slowly picks up a more frantic pace and power to its fade. ‘Summoning’ is another short and spooky interlude with faint ghostly jazzy touches before ‘The Atomic Flu’ takes us into a more full on and pretty dramatic psychedelic rock mode with a strong eastern influence and another big guitar showcase all topped off with a growling Cooper-esque vocal. The finale is ‘Caged Birds’ and at seven and a half minutes the longest track on this record. It starts as a steady psych rocker with an almost laid back groove and little flurries of guitar taking occasional detours into spacier places. The second part of the track raises the temperature and showcases some fine wailing guitar work that slowly gets out of control until it fades into the jungle once more.

Banshee know how to build up momentum and singalong catchiness through a good solid riff, rhythm and chorus in the classic style of 60’s garage punk and the metal bands that clearly influence them. At the same time they understand atmosphere and unleash some pretty wonderful guitar excursions into wilder places and add some sound textures and melodic touches that separate them out from the pack. There are a lot of influences at play and they use them well and any vocal that reminds me of the best bits of Alice Cooper is a tick in this writer’s box. Well worth your attention and a record that is good for your ears, voice and feet can’t be bad – I even think my neighbour stopped banging things to listen.

(Francis Comyn)

(LP on Cardinal Fuzz Records and Feeding Tube Records)

Waterless Hills brings together a quartet of musicians from overlapping musical circles that straddle folk, left field rock and improvisation. Dan Bridgwood-Hill aka dbh is a composer and multi-instrumentalist (here playing violin) who writes and performs solo and in various group settings across the Manchester and West Yorkshire musical community (attendees at Woolf II last year will have seen the very tall figure of Dan playing as part of the Jim Ghedi Band in their wonderful set). Andrew Cheetham is a drummer who works across a range of bands in left field rock such as Irma Vep and currently the Richard Dawson Band as well as being a key figure in the Manchester improvisation scene. Gavin Clarke plays bass and like Andrew has long and strong connections with the Manchester music scene and the quartet is completed by Cambridge based guitarist and C.Joynes who has released some outstanding music in recent years.

The album is the result of a one day recording session in Manchester back in 2017 where the album was improvised (further music from the session and not on this record has been released by the Sonido Polifonico label as a lathe cut single which is well worth hunting down if you can ).  It is loosely conceived as an imaginary soundtrack to Freya Stark’s 1934 travel writings contained in ‘The Valleys of the Assassins’ and the art of the occult surrealist Ithell Colquhoun. It certainly comes with fuel for the imagination and has an evocative, visual and cinematic feel.

It is quite a raw recording and in that respect is also quite intense and dramatic which suits the theme well. The recording places the percussion bright and up front with the guitars but not in an overly dominant way as there is a good balance of instruments allowing the violin to also shine. ‘An Untidy Country of Glaring Limestone’ swells slowly from a minimal and quite lonesome guitar and violin melody with sparse percussion flourishes into a more intense and driven desert shuffle that conveys travel through a remote and mysterious landscape perhaps at dawn or dusk.  ‘The Law of Hospitality’ explores territory where Sandy Bull or Davy Graham melds with an alt country,slowed down Dick Dale /Calexico style borderlands tinge in the guitar melody fusing with the eastern colours of the violin and flurries of rolling drums and percussion which sound lovely together. ‘Horns Lit By the Rising Sun’ has a shimmering evocative beauty and quiet energy that comes in slowly building waves of cymbals flourishes, rolling drums and delicate strummed guitar with an overlying violin melody. At over eight minutes it glides by effortlessly with its intoxicating atmosphere and could easily go on for twice that length and not become tiresome. ‘The Garden Of The Tribe’ is a short and jaunty countrified shuffle to end Side 1 on an upbeat and energetic note.

Side 2 opens with ‘An Insect Which Eats The Moon’, touching base with the psychedelic guitar excursions of Richard Thompson in early Fairport Convention along with more contemporary performers of electric guitar soli and electric and eastern folk informed improvisation such as Sir Richard Bishop. ‘They Squatted by the Tank in the Light Of A Lantern’ takes this theme forward but raises the temperature with more intense drums and darker guitar and violin interplay which by this point in the recording is incredibly intuitive with a strong sense of direction and understanding between the players. It’s an absolute joy to listen to the unfolding ideas as they are explored and developed. ‘The Ghost of One in the Darkness’ is short, mournful and elegant with aching violin and subtle percussion that I would have loved to hear more of. ‘The Eastern Side of Walantar’ concludes the record with another upbeat shuffle that would work as a lovely solo guitar piece but very nicely brings this wonderful record to an end in a happy hoedown of improvisational joy.

This is a strange and wonderful record which evokes landscapes of the imagination and travels in the dream world in forgotten sepia toned times. It’s a landscape of desert and deep south with a touch of country blues on the porch, forgotten small town dances and exotic and mysterious bygone worlds. Not something you would generally expect to be conjured up in a single day in Manchester but it’s testament to Waterless Hills that they’ve done just that. A fabulous record you should all own.

(Francis Comyn)

(LP on Sunrise Ocean Bender Records with Deep Water Acres)

Guitar player Steve Palmer hails from Minneapolis and ‘Useful Histories’ is only his second full length recording following his 2014 debut ‘Unblinking Sun’. It’s a record of band and solo recordings that touches on many moods and styles through its tracks.

‘Statesboro Day’ opens the record on a real high. It starts as a full fat motorik boogie where the central rhythmic and melodic theme is clothed in an ambient Kosmische overcoat that provides order and layers of textural melody and colour but then it unexpectedly breaks out into a freeform cacophony of electronic noise and guitar improvisation for the last few minutes of its thrilling eleven minutes length. It’s as though Michael Rother and Neu! really decided to let their hair down and push their experimental boundaries and it is wonderful. The next track, ‘Squalor’ takes a central repeating guitar melody and slowly embellishes it with new overlaid and overlapping layers of textural colour and melody to create a dense, complex and often quite claustrophobic but fascinating shifting soundscape. ‘Thirty’ is a more reflective and relatively speaking short solo guitar piece that is spacious, melodic, emotional and with a hint of desert blues flavour and lonesome sepia toned American Primitive elegance. ‘I am John Titor’ is another long track of more than eleven minutes and is a shimmering Kosmische informed soundscape where the drone slowly shifts and pulses to create beautiful, hypnotic and tranquil textures. After a while occasional choppy guitar strokes and other subtle fretboard interruptions begin to appear as an undertone creating a slightly edgier sound but it is restrained and really never intrudes or dominates to take the music in another direction. The title track ends the record and is underpinned by a jaunty almost funky shuffle over which another gorgeous, multi layered and complex guitar soundscape is constructed. It’s a well balanced arrangement which keeps a central melody but at the same time takes the tune in many directions, some of which are melodic and some more abstract. It’s clever and quite addictive.

Steve Palmer has managed to make an album which could have been too diverse and eclectic hold together very well indeed. Impressive arrangement and intelligent layering of sound are strong characteristics of this record which also shows off a fine guitar player doing things a little differently. It can be challenging and is often very beautiful and I for one will keep an eye and ear out for Steve’s future projects which hopefully won’t take another 6 years to materialise.

(Francis Comyn)



(Self Released DL on via sendelica.bandcamp.com)

Isolation in the wilds of West Wales isn’t the most difficult thing to achieve in normal times but in the midst of the current Coronavirus pandemic this isn’t a situation of personal choice but rather grim reality. In keeping with the resourceful cottage industry ethos that has produced many a fine record at often impressively and sometimes dizzyingly frequent intervals over the years from Sendelica World Headquarters, Pete Bingham and collaborator Colin Consterdine have embarked on a series of isolation soundtracks. This is partly because it’s a good thing to keep in touch in such times with your musical colleagues and friends and now more than ever food for the imagination, and candy for the ears is an essential basket item that your local supermarket won’t be able to provide.

As you might expect, The Isolated Psychedelicists display shades of Sendelica and related projects such as The Fellowship of Hallucinatory Voyagers but there’s a sense of trying out some new ideas and letting the imagination roam a little which introduces some different and pleasing elements to the sonic palette. Titles are not a fixed term on this outing and are described as questions to make the listener think and create their own personal listening headspace or experience. There is certainly a rich array of mood and atmosphere to dive into and go your own way with.

The opening track is the near thirteen minutes ‘All We Have To Do Is Think’, a slow burning, deep and cavernous sound that has a glacial elegance where the harsh and lonesome tundra evoked by the sparse atmospheric solo guitar and accompanying swirling electronic chill is stark but strangely beautiful and indeed attractive. ‘The Plague Doctor Will See You Know’ introduces an electronic beat with a throbbing Kosmische informed and industrial tinged electronica that has shades of ambient techno in its soul along with Steve Hillage’s soaring guitar sound. It’s got momentum and turns a few interesting corners on its course showing the improvisation and real time ideas at work in this duo very effectively. ‘Is Anything Ever Really Invisible’ is much shorter in length but not short on ideas where a mellow guitar melody is enveloped in forest or jungle like sounds that are both mysterious and slightly claustrophobic, but relieved by the gorgeous and spacious guitar solo cutting through. The lengthy ‘When Do Birds Ong’ takes the repetition of minimalist composition and the electronic sounds of 1970’s Germany to create a shimmering and simmering cosmic soup. Bubbling but never quite erupting with shades of Ash Ra Tempel or solo Manuel Gottsching and indeed more recent melodic electronic explorers such as Steve Hauschildt in its economical and subtle guitar melody wrapped in intricate and delicate electronic colours and textures. This is premium music for driving at dawn or sunset or along a deserted coastal highway if indeed we could swing that as an essential journey right now. ‘Shared Isolation’ has an aching and almost stately filmic beauty and classical wistfulness. There’s a touch of Sigur Ros in the slowly repeating and spacious melody and the simple yet elegant atmosphere created. The final piece ‘Can We Ever Really Predict The Past’ has an atmospheric Gilmour-esque high flying guitar sound where notes are few but always matter underpinned by gentle techno influenced electronics with occasional radiophonic bursts and brings the album to a gentle conclusion.

This is a lovely release which highlights free flowing ideas and brings them to life wonderfully well. Only available as a download at this time which is a shame as it cries out for a physical release but who knows? I think there may already be a second volume available and as we go forward into uncertain times there may well be further volumes for your lockdown pleasure. I urge you to spend some time with this album and check out future volumes which will greatly enrich your time at home, in your garden or indeed in any socially distanced queue you may find yourself and your headphones in.

 (Francis Comyn)