= August 2011 =  
Big Eyes Family Favourites
Azalia Snail
Golden Cake Company
West Coast Pop Art Experimental band tribute comp.
All in the Golden Afternoon
Erich Z Schlagzeug
Joxfield Projex
Earthling Society
Band of Rain
Cranium Pie
Beneath the Oak


(LP www.karatebodyrecords.com)

     There is something about a slab of vinyl that perfectly suits The wistful and gentle music of James Green, the main inspiration and songwriter behind this excellent band, their music evoking days by the river, cafe nights and lonely woodland walks. On this release, the band re-visit some old single tracks and whilst I have not heard many of the originals, the production on this LP allows the music to shine through, each instrument being heard as clearly as the next.

    Opening with the melancholic strains of “Amateur Dramatics”, a slow waltz with Balkan leanings, the players ooze emotion throughout the sombre piece, the mood lightened slightly as “Jack” takes over, a gentle picked guitar ushering in a brighter feel, as soft as a breeze, the chimes and strings adding fragrance and lightness.
   After the short but gorgeous strains of “The Boo Girl” have finally faded from your mind, The lengthier “Otto” steals in with soft guitar and seashore cymbals. Add some beautiful violin and sweetly spoken percussion and you realise you are listening to the highlight of side One, a majestic and sweeping piece of music that could go on forever as far as I am concerned. To round off the side there is more shimmering wistfulness in the shape of “Three Wheels”, another delightful tune that floats by capturing your heart as it passes.

    With a fine upbeat feel, “Bunny” is the perfect start to side Two, a jaunty piece with swelling organ and sweetly played flute giving a different character to the tune,  a grove of dappled sunlight in the woodland green. Moving on refreshed, “The Chattering Lady” follows the path less travelled, a hypnotic sequence of notes chilling the air, with violins taking centre stage, creating a haunted atmosphere that is skilfully evoked. 

     Stepping into the sunshine once again, “Fast, Loose and Lovely” is as described, another album highlight, whilst “For Gorecki”, aches with slow-motion beauty, sounding like an acoustic version of Mono, the tension being handled with subtle splendour. Finally “Lewis” leads us out with a spring in our step, albeit a slow one tinged with a slight regret that it is all over, the players waving goodbye over a folk melody coated with a sheen of sadness.

    Housed in an excellent sleeve, this could be the finest Big Eyes Family Players release, the songs flowing together perfectly, each one exactly as it should be, the whole so much more than the sum of its parts. (Simon Lewis)




Fifteen albums, eleven labels, one Terrastock festival and twenty-plus years into her career, Azalia joins the Silber family (co-released with New Zealand’s Powertool imprint, who released her last album, 2008’s retrospective,  PeTaL MeTaL) with this pseudo-concept album dedicated to the solar system in general and the stars and sun in particular. Quirky, pop is the order of the day, as Azalia recites her fractured fairy tales over a bed of synths, drones, and extraterrestrial electronics. The odd trumpet bursts through the haze, like light from a long-ago burnt out star finally reaching the Earth (‘Space Heater’, the dreamy, jazzy ballad, ‘User System’) and the album is punctuated by the occasional short ambient instrumental – sort of a celestial sorbet to cleanse the musical palate and prepare us for the highly original avant pop to follow.

Like a lo-fi Marianne Nowottny or a spaced-out PJ Harvey, Snail more than lives up to the ”Best Uncategorizable Artist” award she won a decade ago from LA Weekly. From the more accessible ‘Space Heater’ and ‘Savings Time’ to more challenging efforts like ‘Loveydove’, ‘Death Gets In The Way’ (which sounds like something left over from the Candy soundtrack or transmitted from the other end of the universe), and the pseudo rap duet with Kevin Litrow of ‘Burnt Cookies’, there’s surely something here to please the most discerning listener. (Jeff Penczak)




Brian John Mitchell (aka Remora) has been releasing deeply personal guitarrorist attacks upon an appreciative audience for fifteen years now and Scars Bring Hope finds him returning to the guitar-based post rock that were the cornerstones of Some Past’s Future (2000) and Enamored (2005).

Appropriately titled opener ‘Awake Arise’ is essentially a one-note drone, reminiscent of vintage Smog, while ‘Let Me Die With A Coin In My Pocket’ continues his post-apocalyptic pop sensibilities, and the hypnotically repetitive round ‘Does The Music?’ introduces swirling organ flourishes to the fray. The country soft-shoe shuffle ‘Let’s Fall In Love’ even tosses in a perfectly placed glockenspiel to vary the arrangements and lift us out of the depths of despair that permeate much of the remaining material – from improvised songs about peanut allergies recorded on the beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (‘Peanut Butter Cup’) to other ditties about murder, death, guns, knives, chaos and decay.

‘Nevada Smith’ is a frightening, wall-of-sound guitar onslaught that does Michael Gira proud and will please Swans fans, and I danced myself into a frenzy with the Joy Division-cum-New Order-ish ‘My Brother’s Guns and Knives.’ If you’re a fan of the apocalyptic doomsday rock of Swans, Lycia, and Nick Cave, or the dark Americana of Smog, Dead Leaves Rising, and Pale Horse & Rider, this is an album you’ll want in your collection. There’s even an epic, 13-minute, Azusa Plane-ish guitar drone (‘Angel Falling Through Water’) that’ll rattle your fillings and threaten to knock the pictures off the walls in your listening room.

Last but not least, Mitchell lists his guitar tunings so you budding guitarists can play along at home. The rest of us will just crank our headphones up to 11 and feed our heads with one of his strongest (and most accessible) releases to date. (Jeff Penczak)



(CD from AMBIENTLIVE www.ambientlive.com

Nervousness is not an emotion you would usually associate with the sedate pastime of music reviewing. However I freely admit to having felt a slight knot in the stomach on receiving the latest batch of review CDs from our Reviews Editor, Simon. For nestling amidst the weird and the wonderful is this, the aforementioned Lord Leominster’s very own latest release, a collaboration with one-man Mooch cottage industry and fellow Terrascope scribe Steve Palmer, and Geoff Puplett, a gentleman with whose name I am also familiar through “social networking”, in his case the Planet Gong Forum on which he occasionally posts interesting observations on astronomy and gardening as well as music. Hey, no-one can accuse these guys of being one-trick ponies you know!

The slight feeling of trepidation stems from the thought of how I would word the “Dear Simon” email in the unlikely event that “Would You Like Some Cake?” turned out to be somewhat less than what one would have hoped for. OK it’s not that I’ve ever actually met any of these guys, and could easily get away with passing them unrecognised in the street (in fact it is distinctly possible that this has happened as we all live within a few miles either side of the Welsh/English border). However there are working relationships to be maintained and...

Look, in the end there was nothing else for it but to play the damned CD and put myself out of my misery one way or another!

To business, then, Recorded at Geoff’s place and ably produced, mixed and mastered by Steve “the polymath” Palmer, “Would You Like Some Cake?” comprises of four ambient pieces each of which is at least ten minutes duration. It’s all played on analogue (and mostly old) synthesizers and given extra texture courtesy of Geoff’s “out of the void and through the FX” electric guitar. When performed well this kind of music can be blissfully enthralling, but get it wrong and it can all sound so clumsy or else overwrought. It’s a relief and a blessing, then, that this is neither ham-fisted nor too clever by half, and relief turns to delight when you realise, oh, about 30 seconds in, that what you have in your aural midst is a transcendental and accomplished feast of ambient chill out music. Pre-review nerves suitably banished, we travel on...

Opener “A Warm Bath of Electronics” is just that (and not half as dangerous as it sounds kids), a veritable cleansing of the senses such as you might expect to experience in a psychedelic flotation tank. A meditative marvel, at just over 10 minutes this is pitched perfectly and reveals a typically tasteful restraint and a respect for the sonic hardware at the band’s disposal. “Floating With...” is, loosely speaking, a more rhythmic affair which trades a little heavier on the space drips and features cavernous yet still understated guitar. The result is dreamlike and sublime. The epic centrepiece here is “Owlerie” which shapeshifts across a myriad of moods and textures. It’s epic stuff and, at 17 minutes it’s the longest cut here. In fact it may just be a little too long, but while the template is at risk of becoming a little tested at times this is but a minor quibble, and our heroes are able to steer the craft in to land without a scratch. So then to the end piece, “Hallow E’en” which swoops and howls in suitably eerie fashion, demonstrating that The Golden Cake Company can cook up somewhat saturnine shade as well as blissful light. Why all that’s missing is Sharon Crutcher’s cooing and wailing and I’d be in my monthly Book of Shadows seventh heaven.

Reminiscent of Rainbow Dome Music (although obviously without the major label production values) and the motorik-free end of the Kosmiche experience, here’s proof that all of those nights and days listening to the likes of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze and Manuel Gottsching whilst sitting in the more zonked out branches of the Planet Gong family tree have done these boys no harm at all. In fact it just goes to show what we already knew that, musically speaking, there’s no such thing as a misspent youth or, for that matter, middle age.

Cake? I don’t mind if I do. (Ian Fraser)





Sunbeam has assembled nearly 30 WCPAEB-related sides recorded across a dozen different labels throughout the 60s, most with the participation of one of more members of the band. It’s all curated by WCPAEB expert Tim Forster, whose definitive piece on the band appeared in the early pages of Ptolemaic Terrascope. His intricately detailed liners fill in some of the gaps. We begin with the 1960 debut singles that Bob Markley cut for Warner Brothers, a deal allegedly consummated over a tennis game with none other than Jack Warner himself! While Markley’s vocals are not much different than the typical pop idols of the day (James Darren, ), the silly novelty B-side, ‘Tia Juana Ball’ does show off his proficiency on the bongos and gift for mimicry (everyone from Yogi Bear to Elvis slips into his vocal inflections). The finger-snapping ‘Summer’s Coming On’ and doo-wop-y flip ‘It Should’ve Been Me’ could’ve been Kim Fowley B-sides, with un-hip spoken word segments drowning out fairly catchy melodies.

Markley next set up two vanity labels, RHM (his initials) and the infamous Fifo. Both RHM releases are included by Lucifer & The Peppermints and Bobby Rebel. Markley’s spoken word interjections attempt to add a little humour to the Peppermints’ unremarkable doo-wop/R&B sides, while Rebel’s crooning (rumoured to be a Markley pseudonym – Forster has his doubts) on ‘Valley Of Tears’ is rescued somewhat by a swooning female chorus and a gnarly sax break. The similarly themed flip, ‘Teardrops From My Eyes’ suggests a fascination with Ray Charles’ vocal stylings, although the singer (Markley or other) tries a bit too hard to burst a blood vessel during his strangulated weepings.

The title track from Sonny Knight’s 1964 Aura album ‘If You Want This Love’ would be covered twice by WCPAEB. The original is much different from either of their interpretations – a soft little beatnik-styled ballad with a memorable piano backing.

Kim Fowley’s importance to the WCPAEB story (besides providing some arranging/vocal inspirations for Markley’s early singles as noted above) officially begins as the owner of the Living Legends label, for whom The Rogues recorded their lone single. The band was started by Michael Lloyd and featured Shaun Harris (ex-Snowmen with brother, Danny) on bass and soaring vocals. While ‘Wanted” Dead Or Alive’ (Living Legend, 1964) is credited to Michael and Shaun, two bars in and it’s easy to detect that it is little more than a ‘Hey Joe’ rewrite over a remarkably familiar Byrdsian guitar line (courtesy Lloyd). A wonderful song (surprisingly picked up by Ariola in Germany, where it was unfairly relegated to the B-side), it features a terrific Lloyd solo and foreshadows the Byrds official cover by several years, although it’s doubtful that David Crosby was familiar with this obscure track.

Before Lloyd and the Harris brothers met Markley, they recorded several singles for Tower as The Laughing Wind. ‘Good To Be Around’ features the remarkable harmonies which would feature prominently on WCPAEB recordings. The flip, ‘Don’t Take Very Much To See Tomorrow’ is even better, a catchy folk-rock tune that oozes California sunshine that could easily have been a hit. The same holds for the second single, 1967’s ‘John Works Hard’. Heavily influenced by the contemporary Monkees sound, it could easily pass for a long lost Nesmith or Boyce& Hart B-side. The flip (‘The Bells’) is borrowed from Phil Ochs 1964 debut album (although strangely credited to Lloyd) and successfully marries an upbeat melody to terrific harmonies. Both of these should’ve been hits, but their failure didn’t damper the trio’s continued efforts to break into the big time.

That finally occurred in Markley’s living room during the infamous private Yardbirds gig where Fowley introduced the host to Lloyd and the Harrises. About halfway through the compilation we finally come to the debut release by WCPAEB, the breezy clap along ‘Sassafras’ c/w the original (of three versions!) of ‘I Won’t Hurt You’, a tender Hollyesque ballad sung by Lloyd (the album versions were sung by Shaun, making this another rarity). The set also includes an intriguing cover of ‘I Won’t Hurt You’ by the mysterious Neo Maya (revealed to be Episode Six member Graham Carter). Only released in the UK, it’s a fairly straightforward interpretation buoyed by a prominent double bass and a startling brass blast and female backing chorus.

Lloyd and former band mate and childhood friend Jimmy Greenspoon (later the keyboardist in Three Dog Night) released their lone single as Boystown in 1967 on the Sotto label. ‘Hello Mr. Sun’ c/w ‘End of The Line’ are delicious harmony-filled California sunshine pop, the latter notable for Greenspoon’s organ, harpsichord and celeste fills flowing throughout. Again, another shoulda beena hit.

Additional proof that he band probably would’ve concentrated more on their sunshine pop sound if they hadn’t met Markley is evidenced by the single Shaun released as California Spectrum and included here – a hopping, lightweight cover of the Left Banke’s ‘She May Call You Up Tonight’.  This light, breezy pop sound continued with the Lloyd-Harris-Harris trio’s lone release under the Rockit moniker. ‘Blame It On The Pony Express’ is a wonderful slice of bubblegum pop, while flip ‘Amblin’’ is quite intriguing – it was written for Stephen Spielberg’s film debut (he later adopted it for his production company) and is essentially a Lloyd solo project. The trio then simultaneously issued a single as Brigadune (with successive Verve catalogue numbers!) that again captures them at their sunshiny best: ‘I’ll Cry Out From My Grave” c/w ‘Misty Mornin’’ are gorgeous, harmony-filled ballads that foretell the burgeoning West Coast singer-songwriter movement, but also capture the laidback vibe of artists like Poco, CSNY, and America. Released early in 1971, these essentially marked the end of the WCPAEB, although members would still go on to release solo material and appear on albums by October Country, The Smoke, and J.J. Light, et. al.

While the Markley-related tracks may be of interest to diehard WCPAEB historians, they are clearly the runt of the litter collected here – the set only takes off when we reach the flotsam and jetsam that dot the Lloyd and Harrises discographical landscape and demonstrate that, perhaps without Markley’s dominant personality overshadowing (and, some could argue, without his incessant, nonsensical hippie ramblings ruining) most of the WCPAEB’s six albums, they could’ve been one of the 60s finest bands, rather than mostly being relegated to cult status. It is hoped that this release will spotlight their incredible collective talents and is highly recommended to fans of 60’s sunshine harmony pop. (Jeff Penczak)



(2 x CD FROM BETA-LACTAM RING RECORDS www.blrrecords.com)

The brainchild of one Peat Bog (apparently not a pseudonym but you can make your own mind up on that one), a veteran of the “Peace Convoy” and sometime collaborator with Nurse With Wound’s Stephen Stapleton, Earthmonkey impressed mightily with its contribution to the erratic but occasionally brilliant BlRR label sampler “Music for Personality Disorder” (reviewed in Rumbles, January 2011). Here with Alms of Morpheus, by my calculation his fifth release (the third full length offering and first since 2008’s Audiosapien”) Bog has delivered an ambitious, sprawling, smorgasbord of techno psychedelic grooves and textures that I suspect will intrigue and delight anyone with more than just a passing interest in modern day lysergically-inspired soundscapes.  

What elevates Alms of Morpheus from yer slew of worthy yet ultimately dispensable dance/trance standard releases is the intelligent, judicious use of vocal and instrumental samples, and some thoughtful ordering that prevents the 19 tracks from seeming disjointed – no mean feat on a double CD this ambitious.. Oh yes, and a flawlessly shit-hot application of some very tasty ideas doesn’t go amiss either.

Building nicely through the first three tracks (“I’m Just  A Naked Man Screaming Here” particularly impresses) things really start cooking on “Break It Down” on which trip-hop fuses with Zappa and Funkadelic to concoct a righteous and kick-ass cosmic slop. The exotic yet cloying ganja grooves of “It’s Down” and “Glespie’s Rheum” pave the way for the Middle Eastern infused space-funk of ”Mudskip Moonstomp” featuring a flute that dips in and out mischievously and which evokes comparison with the likes of Nik Turner or the Ozrics at their festival best. I ought to know the vocal track on which the disarmingly trippy-sounding “New Cheese” is based but for the life of me cannot bring it to mind (early Zappa? If so then don’t tell Gail). The last track on Disc 1, “Raging Cyclepath”, though, is atypical but delightful none the less and sounds like an acoustic and very public jam taking place on the steps of 2400 Fulton or somewhere circa 1968. It’s certainly a lazy, hazy and acceptably chilled way to bring us to half way.

Disc 2 kicks off with the uplifting “Night Blossom” which if there’s any justice ought to receive the same sampling profile as anything off Moby’s “Play” or Zero 7’s airbrush classic “Give It Away”. “Mothership” is a real gem, imagine if you will Santana or “Maggot Brain”-era P-Funk with a reggae rhythm section while all the time a Pink Floyd organ and a dawn chorus of synths and oscillators chirrups away in accompaniment. The centrepiece here though is the mighty title track, an epic 20 minute soundtrack to instructions on how to make a Navaho butterfly out of string. It all sounds very intricate and I really need to try and follow it through one day, but for now I’m content to know that this takes the Little Fluffy Clouds talkie template and well and truly leave it for dead.

The last part of Alms of Morpheus is attributed to Earthmonkey’s Boom Band, and whoever they are they’re welcome hereabouts any time. The medley of “Phat People/Hed Phood/Hed Phood 4 Phat People” seems to take as its reference points Camembert era Gong and the free festival mother lode that spawned Here and Now, all fast forwarded a generation or two. Last and indelibly not least is the Beefheart –drenched “Wade Your Magic Pond”, a menacing, bass-heavy lysergic lurch in which our growling anti-hero keeps falling down a hole in the sidewalk. Dumb ass? Perhaps. Damn fine? Most definitely!

Over two discs you keep thinking that this has to fall down somewhere, but the truth is I’m still trying to find the fault line. Spanning two and a half brain melting hours there’s bucketfuls of whoosh and riffs to satisfy the space rockers, enough glissando for the pixies and more than sufficient beats to mollify the fidgets. With all this then, and some cracking song titles too, our man Bog has succeeded in blending some classic influences with the best of what post rave techno-psychedelia has to offer into one hugely gratifying distillation and a pretty near essential astral journey.
A left-field, erm...Leftfield for the 21st century, anyone? (Ian Fraser)



(Vinyl And Download Available From http://allinthegoldenafternoon.bandcamp.com/album/magic-lighthouse-on-the-infinite-sea )

Named after a poem from the trippiest of children’s books, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland”, husband and wife duo Carlos Jackson and Rachel Staggs specialise in lo-fi, deceptively innocent sounding dream pop but which on this outing at least displays both an edge and a creative maturity which ensures it never sounds twee.

 Ranging from instrumental like “Advice From A Caterpillar” and  “The Pool of Tears”, the woozy acid pop of “In A Box” - which sounds like a slowed down and deconstructed outtake from Hawkwind’s “Hall of Mountain Grill”  - delightful, semi-sweet shoegaze vignettes and the hypno-tronic, download –only closer “Up All Night – Western Arms Remix” *, Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea is bound to draw at least superficial comparison with the likes of Mazzy Star, Damon and Naomi, even latter day Broadcast.  However, make no mistake, this has both an instant and enduring charm of its own and stands favourable comparison with any of the “peer group”.

Other than the quality of the music, the reason why this works well is pacing. Aside from the deliciously ethereal eight minute, “30th and Sanchez” (featuring some serious Theramin action courtesy of Octopus Project’s Yvonne Lambert) only the aforementioned “Up All Night...” clocks in at more than 5 minutes. In fact, most of the rest barely touches half of that. Whilst those who consider the world to have started and ended with side-long slow burners may be tempted to feel short changed at this point, bear in mind that this sort of format doesn’t allow for much latitude as a result of which it would be easy for this to quickly become a boring retread of itself. In this case, less really is more and it is to Jackson and Staggs’ credit that that they are able to keep proceedings so fresh and interesting throughout.  

The verdict? Well, Magic Lighthouse on the Infinite Sea is pleasingly poptastic in a way that goes straight to your psychedelic psunspot (and in a way that shouts “silly grin alert”). Great cover from the inimitable Iker Spozio, too.

(*For all you vinyl junkies (and where do you store it all?) then I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with the download code supplied with your album). (Ian Fraser)



ERICH Z SHLAGZEUG - KREIG (www.ambientlive.com)
JOXFIELD PROJEX - NUMBERS AND LETTERS (oax.joxfield@gmail.com)

Okay, two CDs from artist you may never have heard before, both deserving of your attention, not only because they contain some fine music, but also because they are both related to people who write review for the mighty Terrascope and for that alone they deserve particular attention.

    Erich z Shlagzeug has been the drummer for Mooch since 2006. He has now branched out for a solo effort, although Mooch ain-man (and Terrascope contributor) Stephen Palmer has come along for the ride, playing guitar and bass as well as co-producing the album, whilst Erich handles the drums, keyboards and trombone.

     As you may expect the album contains three long tracks in an ambient, space style,  with opener “Krieg”, displaying a seductive charm, the guitars and keys, mixing together into a trippy blend of cosmic sounds, whilst the understated (for a drummer's album) holds it all together. Like a vast sparkling heat haze, the track shimmers blissfully just in front of your vision, maybe a cup of tea would go well with its multicoloured ambitions. With more accent on rhythm, “Wo?” also contains a more frenetic guitar style, still spacey and ambient but denser perhaps, as if we are approaching a black whole, no longer completely in control of the vessel we ride in. Halfway in a flurry of snare heralds the arrival of a child's voice, mixed so low as to be barely audible, the bass guitar then taking centre stage, sounding not unlike Lemmy in his Hawkwind days. Finally, the trombone makes an appearance, adding to the psychedelic swirl and sounding better than perhaps you thought it would.

    To round off the disc, “Zeit”, not a Tangerine Dream cover, starts with a rousing speech before launching into a more sequenced piece, with Erich giving the drums a good bashing, although this is quite low in the mix, allowing the music the float above. Halfway through, the pace slows, the sounds free-wheeling across the cosmos, slowly building in intensity before finally exploding into a blissful floatation tank of chilled oblivion.

    Featuring the talents of Yan and Oax, Oxfield Projex latest offering is a sprawling triple CD-R collection the includes elements of Kosmiche Music, electronics, drone, experimental sounds and psychedelia, all blended skilfully to create a sound of their own. Those wondering about the Terrascope link may be interested to know that Oax is better known as Stefan Ek, whose delightful prose have graced the Rumbles column on several occasions and, hopefully, will do so again. 

   Moving swiftly on, disc one, entitled “Abstract Numbers” contains 10 pieces of music that feature guitars, synths, efx, samples and various manipulations, each has a similar feel, although there is enough variety to hold the listeners interest, with the stop/start strangeness of “have I Been Here Before” and the bubbly cut-up nature of “A Secret Door” catching my ear, whilst “balinese Jig” contains some excellent guitar noises within its grooves.

    Moving on to disc two, entitled “Concrete Letters A-M”, we are greeted by the electronic groove of “In The Garden of Eden”, a Heavy bass line getting your head nodding as a Soprano sax, dances spasmodically around the room. On “Kenji Self-Unit” there is a definite Fripp influence present, whilst the excellent “Electric Apple” is a fine slice of modern psych, with more wonderful guitar playing. To be honest, the whole disc crackles with vitality, the arrangement and melodies ensuring the music shines out, alive and ready to free your mind.

    Last but not least, Disc three, “Concrete Letters N-Z”, not only maintains the quality of what has gone before but actually raises it, to my mind the strongest of the three discs. First highlight is “Ruff and Tough”, a glorious wave of noise, guitars and “Wild Organ” competing to out manoeuvre each other over a solid rock beat and burbling electronics, the mood softened by the following track “Mind the Gap”, which shimmers gorgeously, with some great vocal samples adding a devotional edge. This is the perfect bridge between the noise of the previous track and the delightfully relaxing mood of “Shimmering Aohm”, the guitar just drifting in a haze, whilst subdued beats add a heartbeat to the proceeding. After the Kraut-rock roar of “Silent Night-Night Silence”, there is a strong Gong feel to the space-psych of “The Entropy is Strong” which features some wonderful flute playing, the disc finally brought to a close by “No Kro Poh”, a fragile piece with sitar, soft vocals and samples of rain, thunder and fire, sweet ambience indeed.

     There you have it, Not only do these guys write for the Terrascope, they also find time to write and record some damn fine music, give them a listen, at least, they surely would appreciate it. (Simon Lewis)

PS as is often the case when we catch someone out by actually reviewing something, they subsequently realise they need to provide contact information! Here's the the download link to Numbers & Letters: www.archive.org/details/ca408_jp




British spacerock has come a long way since the heady, if rather thrashy days of 'seventies Hawkwind and the formative free festival circuit, and it is pleasing to see how vibrant, varied and prolific the genre is in the twenty first century. Lancashire psychedelic rockers Earthling Society present their sixth album "Stations Of The Ghost" as a celebration of the pagan festival of Samhain, which, for those of you not up with the Celtic cross festivals, is the neo-pagan new year when, it's said, the boundaries of the real world and any others you might believe in are at their weakest. (I'm a pagan, but without any spiritual beliefs, just so you know...) Indeed, Samhain - October 31 or on some reckonings November 1 - is the reason Halloween is when it is. The album opens with the title track, a lovely little instrumental, before powering into the full-on psych rock of 'Dark Horizons,' which mixes Hawk riffage, Ellie Millard's wailing vocals and various synths and sound effects; a fantastic track, and typical of the album as a whole. 'The Last Hurrah' is lighter, with mellotrons a la King Crimson and bandleader Fred Laird on vocals, and it is a progressive delight full of tempo changes, Moog-sounding synth solos, guitar work-outs and much more. Superb. The fourteen minute 'Child Of The Harvest' opens with thunder and eerie musical effects before more Crimsonesque mellotrons enter the sonic soup, then heavier riffing and heavily reverbed vocals. Many moods, time signatures and tempos whirl by, and also a spiralling sax solo from guest Ian Wright that sets a slightly Floydian tone. 'The Halloween Tree' is a brief, though atmospheric instrumental interlude, before the thirteen minute mini-epic that is 'Night Of The Scarecrow,' which for atmosphere, sonic genius and musicality is probably the highlight of the album; I was reminded of 'seventies Hawkwind in particular, but also of much missed psych rockers Soma. Some particularly fine guitar work on this track. To conclude, 'Lola Daydream' is a slower, gentler spacerock with Peter Hook style bass and a loose, almost tripped out feel, as if the mushrooms were working in full force. An excellent album that any spacerock lover should have in their collection, and highly recommended.

Chris Gill may best be known to readers of this forum as the vocalist on Mooch's "Dr Silbury's Liquid Brainstem Band," "1967½," "1968a" and "The Pagan Year" albums, but his main group, Band Of Rain, have released three albums since their debut in 2004, with "Sun In VIII" being their fourth. Band Of Rain tread a fascinating tightrope that links gothic rock, progressive and spacey synth rock, with "Garlands" being their most popular work. The new music harks back to that album as it wends its way through a varied and compelling series of cuts. Opening with the mesmeric, vocoder-infused 'Automaton,' Chris Gill's unique style of guitar playing, merging and melding solo lines together, is much in evidence, as it is on 'Dragonsacre,' which at nine minutes is the longest track on the album. This cut adds Ria Parfitt's vocals to the mix, to great effect, while the guitar work at the end is superb: classic Chris Gill. 'Ghost Planes Of The Peak District' begins with eerie radio effects and other sounds, before a slow, stomping, synth-infused rocker emerges, emphasising heavier guitar styles. 'I Appear To Be Floating' is a brief, floaty delight that echoes the early Band Of Rain style but which is a little beauty in its own right. 'Rhiannon' is a curious, part Celtic, part Oriental instrumental cut with loads of synths and keyboard instruments, before the gothic lope of the title track comes along, with multiply tracked guitars and spectral synths; another great cut. 'Girl From Space' emphasises the spacier, experimental side of the band, while 'The Flying Dutchman' is heavy - almost metal-heavy - with wailing guitars and epic synths; and some very nice bass. 'Twilight Fayre' is more uptempo and continues the gothic mood, with a great mix of lighter, synth based sections and heavier acid guitar work-outs; an album highlight. 'Windchimes 1944' closes the album with sound effects, weird guitars and keyboards in atmospheric style. For fans of this excellent band "Sun In VIII" will be welcomed, while those who like their spacerock varied and synth-heavy, though with the appropriate level of psychedelia and more than a touch of the gothic, should definitely check the album out.

Welsh wizards of psychedelia Sendelica create a dubby, trippy, rock-based but never less than bonkers brew on their new album "The Pavilion Of Magic And The Trials Of The Seven Surviving Elohim." Opener 'Zhyly Byly' invokes those wondrous 'eighties days when Ozric Tentacles could do no wrong, before the sixteen minute magnum opus 'The Elohim' crashes into view, with rolling drums, chiming guitars, booming bass and a magician's hat of psychedelic synths. Set the effects pedals to 'heavy phase and flange' all at once! 'Guiding The Night' is heavy heavy - half Sabbath, half Ozrics - while 'Orion Delight' matches lovely arpeggiated guitars with a hypnotic tapestry of subtle synths; an album highlight this one, and far too short a cut for this reviewer. 'Arizona Spree' changes the mood radically as a gorgeous floating track hoves into view, led by the supple sax of guests muso Lee Relfe, to create something that evokes jazz rock and a hint of Gong, and which is the album highlight. Really beautiful. 'Banshees & Fetches' also features Lee Relfe on the sax, but this track is twelve minutes long and is more of a classic improv style cut. The musicianship is very high, the mood expansive, and it's another great track, again evoking the glory days of the Ozrics amongst others. 'The Pavilion Of Magic' closes the album proper with its trippy guitar solos, dubby effects and solid rhythm section. Two bonus tracks - Lou Reed's 'Venus In Furs' and Captain Beefheart's 'This Is The Day' can be found at the end of the disk, but if anything detract a little from the mood and power of the album proper. Overall, another superb offering from Cardigan's psychedelic heartland. A DVD bonus disk collects a trippy film 'The Ritual' (part Blair Witch Project, part acid-fried X-Files), a space jam, and a promo video for 'Banshees & Fetches.'

The Fruits de Mer record label have released some truly inspirational recordings in recent years, and now offer something new - not cover versions of old classics, but brand new material, in this case the astounding debut album "Mechanisms (Part 1)" from Wiltshire's finest trip merchants Cranium Pie. Sounding a little like Porcupine Tree's first album, with a hint of Brainticket and a lot of proggy experimentation, the album opens with the analogue-fuelled sonic brew that is 'This Was Now - The Awakening Of The Birds,' before heading off into the Floydian songscape 'Rememberrr,' evoking 'Saucerful Of Secrets' in particular, but following its very own audio path. A really great trippy track this, with some outstanding Hammond and guitar work from chief cranial explorer Rob Appleton. 'Zones - Mothership (Reprise)' features more storming guitar work and lots of trippy sound effects, vocal interpolations, oscillating synths and more to create a headfirst plunge into psychedelic madness. Great! The cut then explodes into an arpeggiated sequence and distorto-voice climax. 'Drying In The Sun' matches doomy choral vocals, Floydian drums, acoustic guitar and more marvellous Hammond in another killer cut. The album's title track is a nine minute marvel, collecting pattering drums, wah-guitar and Appleton's ubiquitous Hammond. The progressive, dare I say it Canterbury-ish, element is stronger on this cut than the overtly late 'sixties psych experimentalism of preceding tracks, and it's a real joy to listen to such original, beautifully played and recorded music. 'Run To Survive' closes the album and is heavy, trippy and completely barking mad. For those of us who remember those halcyon days when Porcupine Tree were on Delerium Records and Steven Wilson didn't know what heavy metal was, this album will be an unalloyed delight. For musicianship and all-round psychedelic joy it comes with the highest recommendation.

Leeds based folk explorers Beneath The Oak present on their debut release "Utopian Folk" ten original cuts written by chief oak-botherer Paul Wale, with Miranda Higgs contributing vocals and occasional percussion, Adam Lehan on various acoustic guitars, and Danny Laycock on bass and assorted instruments. The band's pastoral sound is heavily influenced by late 'sixties and mid 'seventies rock, prog and folk, but also by the acid folk scene, as well as nature, love, myths and folklore. Opener 'Grave Of Autumn' sets the bucolic mood and tone, while 'My Eyes Close' is more of a progressive drift of a track, which works really well and is an album highlight. 'Winter And The Moon' is a tuneful waltztime cracker with some nice mandolin from Paul Wale, while the call-and-answer vocals are particularly effective. 'Oh Earthly Man' slows the tempo and adds a little reverb to the vocals for that autumnal effect, while on 'The Foolish King' the "traditional" vibe is strong. 'Last Gift Of Summer' has a good chorus and a light feel that suits the lyrics, with the interplay between the tuned percussion and acoustic instruments adding to the mood. 'White Raven, Black Dove' matches intriguing lyrics to perhaps the most progressive sounding cut, while 'The Wizard's Garden' has an almost folk-heavy feel, with the mandolin and guitars merging very nicely; great vocals too, especially from Miranda Higgs. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it uptempo 'Baby Phoenix' rolls by like a rollicking festival jaunt (I'm guessing this is the band's encore), then the album closes with its lengthiest, most complex and most effective track 'Angel In Black Robes,' which for atmosphere is hard to beat - certainly the highlight of the work as a whole. Lovers of traditional folk who don't mind making excursions into original material will enjoy this album, while acoustica afficionados should check the band out on MySpace. (Stephen Palmer)