=  December 2023 =  
 
Hermetic Brotherhood of Lux-Or
Andy Bracken
The Silver Linings
Mondo Drag











 
 
 
 
 
 

Hermetic Brotherhood of Lux-Or – OHR
(CD/DL from OHR | Hermetic Brotherhood of Lux-Or (bandcamp.com))

Some years back I took it upon myself to compile regular Terrascope playlists, which ran from 2014 to 2018. So far as I can tell they were received mostly with indifference, although the Sunday Experience, bless it, was kind enough to pronounce them ‘clever’ and ‘essential’. Even reviewers need the occasional endorsement and that one’s still at risk of being framed. But seriously, folks, they were a means of helping showcase many of the acts we reviewed while hopefully encouraging others to submit material in the expectation of receiving enhanced profile. Most importantly it gave me an excuse to check out interesting stuff reviewed by fellow scribes.

Hermetic Brotherhood of Lux-Or were one such find, and even had they been the only one then the whole process would have been thoroughly worthwhile. And so to OHR, on which Sardinian duo Laura Derm and MS Miroslaw mix sacred horse skulls (her on male, he on female) with synths, beats and samples of gods know what, while sharing disconcerting vocal duties.  And they record in a cave. The result is an arcane blend of the post-industrial present and a celebration of a mysterious and obscure ancestral past. It is ritualistic, thrillingly intense, and not for the faint of heart. As for the musical tension you could pierce the atmosphere with an exquisitely carved ritual dagger.

‘M’hashasins’ is magnificently hypnotic, genuinely frightening and an obvious contender for one of those pesky playlists were they still a feature. But it isn’t even the best thing here, no sir. The longest cut, ‘Nur Ruhin’, is also one of the most compelling – imagine if you will Tomaga and Can teaming up to interpret Hawkwind pounder ‘Opa Loka’ for an Italian pagan folk horror film soundtrack. About two thirds in and it suddenly changes pace, transformed into a shamanic whirlwind that renders you breathless without leaving your armchair. Equally cathartic while at the same time darker and more restrained is the slightly unnerving ‘Ihr Or Texas’. By this point you’ve either strapped yourself in for the ride or furtively eyeing the room for exits. The choice is yours. 

And then breathe… Sure, it’s relentless, makes fiendishly good use of repetition and may at times feel a little claustrophobic but not uncomfortably so. Neither does it necessarily set out to bludgeon the listener into submission. It is more nuanced and far more skilfully crafted than that whilst at the same time signalling a full-on commitment of body and soul. How you’d wish Nurse With Wound would sound every time, OHR has to be up there in your humble scribe’s top 5 or so albums of 2023. Word is that Hermetic Brotherhood of Lux-Or are looking for gigging opportunities for next year. Hopefully someone will make it worth their while to cross the water to our damp and windswept isles. If that happens then I’ll be there at the front, drinking it all in – in fact drink in hand to steady the nerves and (to hell with the amulet at this point) an aspirin lodged under my tongue for protection. This is strong stuff. Want some?

(Ian Fraser)



ANDY BRACKEN - WORDLY GOODS, THE CUT,  and FOLKLORIST THE TOMMY HISTON STORY

(all available from Amazon)

Perhaps best known to Terrascope readers as a co-founder of Fruit De Mer Records, Andy Bracken soon turned his hand to other projects including these three excellent books that combine beautifully written stories with a love of music/vinyl in a way that will appeal to many of you.

   Let's start with ‘Worldly Goods’, a book I read in one sitting, the story concerning Danny Goods who inherited his Dad’s record collection, filed chronologically, seven years when life was good and then ignored until a change in circumstances gives him the chance/inclination to finally discover what it is he has actually inherited. As Danny listens to the collection, in order, he discovers letters from his father that explain key notes in his life beginning to connect dots in Danny’s memory and making sense of his past, discovering not only more about his father but also about himself in the process.

    As the book progresses we meet a host of characters from both the past and the present, the tales interwoven perfectly, the reader drawn into the lives of these people and you begin to care about the outcome of the tale, the characters written in a precise and warm way, you want to know more of their lives. One of the most interesting characters is a crazy musician from the sixties whose music later has a cult following and whose long-lost album turns up as a demo pressing in the collection this album being pivotal to how the story unfolds a clever device that works beautifully. Easy to read, very hard to put down, ‘Wordly Goods’ is a fantastic book filled with hope and a positive outlook that will make you both smile and cry. It also mentions ‘Tangerine Dream’ by Kaleidoscope, never a bad thing.

     If the previous book is filled with hope, then ‘The Cut’ takes us down darker paths, the tale Of Ant and Juliet and their doomed teenage love affair, destroyed by parents, distance and naivety, the story is told in flashback by Ant, now grown and married yet still desperately in love with Juliet and carrying a dark secret that haunts him. Within the story there are moments of beauty and passion, yet you can see dark clouds gathering, circumstances beginning to overwhelm our hero, his obsession with collecting vinyl records an escape from the past that ensnares him every day. Whilst ‘Wordly Goods’ used the records as a way to lead the tale onwards, here the records are not as important as the song, each one used to soundtrack a memory within the story bringing the flashback to life and you can trust when I say you will hear ‘I Go To Sleep’ in a completely new way if you read this book. Once again the tale is filled with realistic, believable characters that bring the story to life, each one playing a part, fulfilling a role allowing the tale to flow to its ending. So likeable are the main characters that you continue to hope for a happy ending whilst knowing that it seems very unlikely to be true, yes there is closure, a sense of relief, but I shed a few tears when I finally put the book down the emotional content slightly overwhelming as it builds to its finale. Highly recommended.

    Finally we come to ‘The Tommy Histon Story’, the musician we met briefly in ‘Worldly Goods’, and here given the full biographical treatment, a tale of a man ahead of his time, filled with Alien abduction, madness, drugs, sex and rock and roll. Beautifully written and awash with believable characters, I really don’t want to give anything away, another gem of a book that will appeal to anyone who is musically curious and loves a good story.

   Before I started reading these books I hadn't read a novel for a couple of years, these stories have given me hope that there are still tales I want to hear, thanks go to Kevin Bolton for lending them to me and Andy for suggesting I actually read them, cheers. (Simon Lewis)



THE SILVER LININGS – PINK FISH

(LP, CD, Digital on Spinda Records)

 

A few months ago, we reviewed the excellent self-released debut EP TSL by Málaga, Spain-based psychedelic rockers The Silver Linings.  We knew there was a full-length LP coming as they’d signed with Spinda Records; we waited patiently and eagerly - and here it is.  The four-track EP is now a seven-track LP, and is one of my highlights of the year.  The band plays melodic psych songs and they hit the musical trifecta – superb writing, musicianship and production.

 

Their tuneful songs combine both verse-chorus structure with terrific guitar and synth-based instrumental breaks that hit a Goldilocks zone; the tracks are all in the four to six-minute range and get you deep enough to take a pleasurable little space trip with The Silver Linings, but never overstay their welcome with overlong navel gazing.

 

There’s not a bad track in the lot, or even an average song, but I’ll hit some highlights.  Opener “Cosmic Excursions” is pretty much what the title says; it’s a nice opening mission statement summing up what The Silver Linings is all about:  a driving hook-filled rocker with a sudden change to a guitar-laden outro.  Title track “Pink Fish” begins with a wondrous instrumental section that gets my imagination thinking of a scene in a movie where a hand clears away a palm frond and the camera pans across a hidden paradise bursting in colors.  Halfway through, The Silver Linings do one of their patented mid-song U-turns.  The vocals begin and the band churn through a funky, potent psychedelic rocker.

 

The single “Patient M” is inspired by the fascinating true story of an unknown soldier who was shot in the head during the Spanish Civil War in 1938.  He survived, and from then on, his mind was a long-running series of psychedelic-like perceptions and experiences.  Up was down, objects multiplied, colors changed, and sounds and touches produced new sensations and pleasures.  Dr. Justo Gonzalo studied Patient M for decades, and accomplished ground-breaking research on the mechanism of the human brain.  The Silver Linings turn a fascinating subject into a brilliant song.

 

On “In the Fleeting Hand of Time,” another of the additional tracks that expanded from the EP, a narcotic haze clouds the verses in the first half, and in the second half guitarists Javier Toledano Castro and Caterina Serer Viana take the wheel and blow the roof off with some fine melodic shredding.  Rhythmic powerhouse “Lifeforce” answers that musical question of how would Goat sound if The Edge joined?  The answer is, apparently, quite extraordinary.

 

In The Silver Linings, Spinda now has a very potent and enviable one-two punch with fellow countrymen Moura, whose Axexan, Espreitan was one of my favorite albums from last year.  The Silver Linings is a band to savor.  Have some Pink Fish tonight, enjoy the psychedelic ride, and don’t forget the sauce.

 

(Mark Feingold)



MONDO DRAG – THROUGH THE HOURGLASS

(LP, CD, Digital on RidingEasy Records)

 

This is a solid outing from Mondo Drag, lately of the Bay Area, though they formed near the Illinois-Iowa border.  They play rock in the classic style, very Seventies, with songs long enough to stretch out with plenty of guitar and keyboard solos, which often veer toward the spacey side.  Their members are all excellent musicians.  The band’s been out of the studio for a while; although this is their fifth album, it’s their first since 2016, and the feeling of lost time permeates lyricist John Gamiño’s writing.

 

Beginning with the two-part “Burning Daylight Pts 1 and 2,” about the wildfires in California, the band colors in the song with organ, distorted and Leslie’d guitar.  John Gamiño’s vocal style reminds me very slightly of Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, with that calm presence in the middle of a lot of sound, although Mondo Drag sounds nothing like the aforementioned indie band.

 

The epic 11-minute instrumental “Passages” is almost an homage to Pink Floyd, with references to “Echoes” and portions of The Wall applied liberally and often, and guitar and synth solos aplenty.  The album’s finest tracks are reserved for Side Two in your humble scribe’s opinion.  The title track contains a sly reference to the opening visual from the television soap opera Days of Our Lives, which Gamiño fondly remembers watching with his now sadly departed mother.  Mondo Drag blends sorrowful laments on time’s immutable march with stunning keyboard and guitar work.

 

“Death in Spring,” about three people who were close to Gamiño and left way before their time, again contrasts Gamiño’s placid vocals against sonic heaviness, with some biting Wish You Were Here-era synths and Gilmour-like guitar playing.  It’s my favorite track on the album.  On finale “Run,” the synths are here for equal parts atmosphere and solos, as another melancholy-themed track finishes in a grandiose instrumental flourish.

 

The themes in Through the Hourglass are full of despair, and the music, though brimming with brilliant playing, reflects this despondence.  I’d not heard of Mondo Drag before, and will definitely check out their back catalogue.  They’re not quite as Floydian derivative as my descriptions might make them sound; they’re definitely their own thing, with some Floyd touches lovingly sprinkled here and there.  This is an album to dig into and it’s well worth your time.

 

(Mark Feingold)