= December 2016 =  
Noa Babayof
Nick Piunti
Dom Mariani
Gathered Leaves comp.
The Cyrillic Typewriter
The Hardy Tree
Taming Power
Lords of Thyme
Cologne Curiosities
Phantom Head
Mole Suit Choir
Honey Pot comp


(LP/Cass/DL from Bandcamp )

Returning with their tenth album, long time Terrascope favourites Landing prove they have still got what it takes with a collection that digs deep into psychedelic history whilst sounding very fresh and of the moment.

   Opening track “Light” is a gentle swathe of Shoegaze its long run in pulling you in as it pulses into life, twinkling guitar and a warm bass dancing around your ears beautifully, all topped of with gorgeous vocals courtesy of Adrienne Snow. Once you are settled in things get noisier as the title track re-invents that stoner riff, Hawkwind meets Spacemen three complete with slightly tricky time signature, synths and a groove that gets your head nodding.

   Mellower and wonderfully cosmic, “Weft” is far too short as it drifts like space dust around your mind, whilst “Shifts” takes us deeper into the cosmos, a gently moving cloud of psychedelic bliss that is delicate and mesmerising. To end side one “Thither” floats onwards with electronic pulses and bleeps, music for floatation tanks that reminds me of early music by The Orb, ambient yet unpredictable, before returning to the Shoegaze that began the side, guitars gently rippling once more.
  Over on side two, the ten minute “Grow” is, perhaps, the album's centre piece  beginning with a kosmiche synth wave that cloaks the room before a tension fuelled drone heralds the arrival of a rhythmic insistent bass and threads of treated guitars that weave beautiful tapestries before your very ears, some soft hand drums adding just the right amount percussion to a tune that has been on constant rotation just recently. Halfway through, the gorgeous vocals return and my happiness is complete.

   After such wonder, the final two tracks “Clouds II” and “World” serve to ease my comedown with the former being a more traditionally sounding song with hints of the Cocteau Twins or Sigur Ros to be found, whilst the latter introduces the voice of Aaron Snow which adds another dimension to the record, a soft guitar riff surrounded by washes of synth that leads you out with grace and a huge smile on your face.
Seemingly stuck to my turntable at the moment, this will be in my end of year list, a magnificent album that needs to be heard. (Simon Lewis)



(white vinyl/CD/ Download from Bandcamp)

This fine folk rock album features quite a few  special guest musicians including Alison Cotton viola, Chris Bell cello and string arrangements, Helen Espvall cello and a whole host of musicians from Israel,  Noa’s home country.

All originals bar the closing song a cover of the Alex Chilton song  “Take Care”.  Side one kicks off with “Alive And Well”, a gentle song that concerns past love in the present, there is some beautiful piano framing this opening song, a fine rhythm sections unwinds and eases in, joining the proceedings, accompanied by clear cello . “Blue Bound “ is a star crossed waltz for the damned and cursed, fine piano and strings grace this song, along with a few well placed atmospherics. “His Goodbyes” has supple arcing bass, more fine cello and Noa's lovely soprano, it also features some nice trumpet and sawing strings, lovely stuff and all the better for the reprise at the end which heads straight into “Friend” a bit more upbeat with nice keyboard textures and clear concise electric guitar fills, it is a delightful song of friendship. “Bright Lights” has fretless bass, trumpet, guitar, bass and drums along with added electric guitar from Morphlexis (casually dropping in some Duane Eddy licks). “From A Window To A Wall” ends side one in some style. A lovely song of travelling, small towns and blue rooms, open tunings and change. This is the closest on the album that Noa comes to sounding like Joni Mitchell.

“False True Lover” kicks off side b with a paen to a false true lover. A cold bloodied dealer, a gambler and soul seller, well played and arranged, the band are given ample space to stretch out a bit. Things never become cluttered there is a lightness of touch throughout.  “In Your Own Time” is quite a quirky chamber pop/folk song, accompanied by gentle handclaps and what sounds like theremin and wheezing organ, which yields to a fine concise electric guitar solo. “Orianna”  is an ethereal ghostly song of burning houses, rivers, shady groves and black crows, some nice found sounds. Acoustic guitar and beautiful cello gently propel this eerie tune along the long and winding road.  “Things I remember/ The Match starts with a musical box played or wound by Yoav Brill who incidentally provides the fine piano on most of these tracks, fragile and delicate. “Take Care” the Alex Chilton song ends the album, arranged by Chris Bell, how’s that for authenticiy.  It’s an imaginative reading of the song, nice keyboard atmospherics and more of that cello, which underpins the whole album, an album Noa should be very proud of. (Andrew Young)





(LPs from http://www.sugarbushrecords.com/)

Continuing with their signature sound, Sugarbush return with another fine collection of albums displaying the label's love of Power-Pop, melodic Psych and some inventive song writing that never loses sight of the hook. There is also a slightly odder fish hidden amongst this quartet (can you guess which one it is yet ?), but more of that later.

    As I am still enjoying “13 In My Head” the last album by Nick Piunti, it was a joy to see his latest offering arrive here and I am delighted to say this one is just as good with plenty of Power-Pop riffing, understated solos and more hooks than that tackle shop down the road. Sure it breaks no new ground but who cares, this is done with style and panache right from the opening riff of “It's a Trap” through to the swirling guitar haze of “Red Tail Lights” a tune to get you swaying softly in melodic delight. In between there is an almost perfect trio of tunes on side one as “Heart Stops Beating”, “Time Machine” and “Six Bands” just make you smile, groove around the room and just admire some fabulous songs that glide past with style and energy to spare, with the latter winning the lyrical battle with some wry observations such as “She's in six bands none of them good” which makes me smile every time. Over on side two, the prize goes to opener “Fell For You” a song that reminds me of other tunes without actually being one, if you see what I mean, whilst “As Far As I Throw” is filled with excellent and aggressive guitar sounding like a late seventies classic that got lost somehow. To be fair though, there is not a duff tune on this collection, great production, coloured vinyl and instantly enjoyable, what more could you want.

     Adding some brass to the Power-Pop chords Dom Mariani gets a sweeter soul sound to his music, as demonstrated on the excellent opener “Homespun Blues”, a tune that hooks you in and gets you dancing, whilst “Yuri” has a manic energy hidden in its melody as well as interesting lyrics and some fine guitar creating a paisley hewn song that grows and grows. Slower than the title may imply “At Full Speed” is almost a ballad with a gorgeous sound and a thoroughly modern production, the pleasure maintained on the excellent “Make The Leap” another catchy tune of the highest order, side one ending with the chugging guitar of “Priest” which reminds me of The Church, strangely. Wonderfully arranged and played, “Prove” is one of my favourite tunes on the album, a song that reveals more on each listen yet never becomes too tangled, some excellent backing vocals adding warmth and sing-a-long moments. After a whole raft of musical joy the whole thing ends with the delightful “When It Ends”, a fairly downbeat affair with lysergic guitar touches and a wistful beauty. Pressed on a beautifully coloured vinyl this is another worthy addition to the roster.

     Pressed on classic white vinyl, “Almanac” begins with a brief flurry of sound before an electric piano introduces the title track taking us on a journey inspired by The Kink, Moody Blues and Super Furry Animals, a whole host of tunes that have a strangeness lurking under the surface, little flourishes that add so much interest and great arrangements/instrumentation that never lose sight of the melody.  After the fine ,but brief opener, “Keep Moving On” introduces a much fuller band sound, whilst “Apples” is simply a classic sixties inspired tune that grooves beautifully, as does the magnificent and softly psychedelic “The Season of Flowers and Leaves”, a tune with Mellotron, and wonder woven through it, West Coast sixties Psych from somewhere else entirely.  Over on side two Pugwash continue to delight with the beautiful, string infused “Element of Fear”, whilst “Following Down” takes those strings and runs with them, the arrangements creating a song with depth and bags of flavour as it swirls around the room. On “Weaker Man” the guitars shimmer with sixties style, the whole album finished with the very sixties inspired (including the title) “Emily Regardless”, the tune riding on a warm sea of mellotron as it drifts towards a mythical sunset in a strange foreign land, leaving you peaceful, refreshed and home in time for tea.

   Finally we come to “Gathered Leaves”, a compilation close to my heart collecting, as it does, tracks from the CD's included with the  Ptolemaic Terrascope between 1998-2004  (and how we miss those days), featuring sleevenotes by the unique presence of Phil McMullen, Editor throughout that period as well as many years around it. I am sure that most people reading this will be very familiar with the bands featured on this album as many of them appeared in the magazines several times, the collection including “Silver” a Bevis Frond track still unavailable elsewhere, as it the beautiful live rendition of “Emma Is Crying” a track that showcases everything good about The Green Pajamas. Elsewhere tracks by, Dipsomaniacs, Hood, Six Organs of Admittance, Broken Dog, Sharron Kraus and Pat Orchard will delight and amaze with their wonders variation and magic. Best of all though are “Eye Of The Storm” - Damon and Naomi with Kurihara, on which ex members of Galaxie 500 get together with a member of Ghost to create a shimmering masterpiece that sounds like a lost acid-folk classic riddled with magnificent guitar work and haunting vocals, whilst ‘December’ finds St Joan stretch out and settle in for a long moody slice of Psych, with drifting flute and a very trippy demeanour, the track reminding me of In The Summer Of The Mushroom Honey with its spoken word delivery and atmosphere. I may be biased but this album is a must have for lovers of the Terrascope all we need now is a few more volumes collecting tracks from those early vinyl EP's, how about it Phil and Markus?  (Simon Lewis)



LP from Jaz Records   

Filled with drones and a wide range of textures and moods this album is ambient without being calm, the music alive and vibrant. After a brief electronic flurry the album begins with “Evening Mirrors” a haunting piece of music that drifts like clouds, the listener able to conjure their own pictures as accompaniment as Rhodes Piano and Vibes soothe your troubles, that is until the harsher, grating sounds of “The Jeer” arrive although these are soon tempered and softened by a sweeter selection of sounds. On “Built Echoes” a guitar reminds me of Robert Fripp (Here Comes The Flood) as it drifts through more textural ambience creating music from your dreams, a delightful track that ends too soon, although the following “”A Sinister Glass” is equally delightful, Vibes dancing over deep drones, the sound of evening ritual and ancient spaces.

Over on side two the ambience remains the same as “Sad Mud” keeps the vibes this time adding shards of noise that cut through the track in eerie fashion creating an unsettling track that slows down time. Throughout the album are scattered “slicing the Black Wave” parts 1-4, with part 3 turning out to be a still water drone that briefly becalms the room before “The Heat and Hiss” creeps in, twinkling and groaning in intense style, the sounds threatening to engulf you but in a good way, immersing you in a bath of sound that is beautiful in its richness.

With a repetitive guitar pattern and writhing electronic background, “Magnet – Drawn” is alive with possibilities, again I am reminded of Fripp with the atmosphere the music takes on, the track slowly fading to allow “Rainy Vault” to take over, a more abstract track that has tension and ghostliness built into its grooves. After the wind swept drones of “Slicing the Black Wave 4” the album ends with the brief wave of noise that is “Plunge Into the Gulf” the sudden ending waking you from the dream state you have entered as you listened.

This is the fourth album I have reviewed by The Cyrillic Typewriter, each has been a logical progression from the last with this being the best so far, I look forward to the next installment. (Simon Lewis)


LP from Clay Pipe Music

500 x turquoise, blue hand numbered copies, released 2nd December.

The Hardy Tree is the musical project of Frances Castle, and this is the second release following on from The Fields Lie Sleeping, which was released over five years ago. Through passages of Time is a gem of an album, a real beauty, full of lovely timeless vignettes. Thirteen tracks that take us to the areas of London that no longer exist, from the breakers yard at Baltic Wharf, the Thames Watermen at Horselydown, Rotherhithe, the Windmill Bridge through to lost pubs,taverns,sluice's and culvert's.

Things kick off with “Looking Down On London”, a sublime tune full of mellotron and moog, off kilter electronica and vibes creating an intoxicating mood, it is heavy with the sort nostalgic vibe of a lost childhood. “The Culvert” provides a short watery interlude before “The Peerless Pool” shimmers into sight, a long languid slightly Twin Peaksesque tune performed on sequenced Moog. “St John Horsleydown” a slow waltz for a forgotten London is particularly nice, twinkling Moog's underscore this tune to great effect. The bustle of  “Newport Market”  busy with street barkers gives way to a gorgeous tune on vibes , violin and electronics.

“Baltic Wharf” is a joy, starting with the peel of bells and the ancient, creaking rigging of the wharf fading out to guest musician Alison Cotton's Viola lending   some beautiful warm strings to the proceedings, over the top of some fine piano and a quiet massed choir. “Pepy's Walk”takes us into the foggy smog infused city and leads us into side B.

“Sandbridge Court” is another piece of off kilter, wonky electronica, replete with eerie mellotron and vibes. I love this track, it has a very gentle motorik feel and ends by slowly stopping like an old musical box. Sluice House Tavern is an understated joy full of unusual electronica and is another one of my favourites, it moves along at a gentle unhurried pace.

After refreshments at the tavern we take a look at “Penny's Folly” a pretty tune decorated again by vibes and  mellotron carrying on that nostalgic feel, ah nostalgia It's not what it was. Near Windmill Bridge full of sequenced moog, mellotron and percussion percolates nicely and continues to delight with its wonky electronica and found sounds. “Harringay House” starts very slowly and introduces us to a gentle ghostly massed vocal (by Frances I should think) over the top of a tune that creaks along with mellotron and piano, a beautiful piece of music. The record ends with “Cut Throat Lane” just some footsteps and a ghostly spectral choir.

This is a wonderful record, a record that would appeal to anyone who likes good music, but especially rewarding for anyone of a certain age who likes the Vic Mars album The Land And The Garden out on the same label or indeed anyone who is familiar with the music of Vernon Elliott. It is both nostalgic yet modern. (Andrew Young)



(2 x C50 from The Winebox Press )

Long-time supporter of all things Terrascopic Askild Haugland has been whiling away his time constructively for almost as long as we’ve been around, creating freeform psychedelic drones on instruments as varied as the driblu, singing bowls, dingsha, harmonica, zither, metallophone, tape recorders, radio noise, Casiotone bleeps and numerous guitars. Early recordings were keyboard based, some featuring acoustic guitar, harmonica and percussion. Latterly electric guitars and piano was introduced. Some recordings featured tape manipulation almost exclusively: the 10” record ‘Selected Works 2000’ for instance contains nothing but two connected reel-to-reel tape recorders feeding back as they recorded one another, while some records were hybrids: a personal favourite of mine is EMR 10” 011, entitled ‘For Electric Guitar, Cassette Recorders and Tape Recorders’. All of them (that I’ve seen at least) feature stark black covers with often disturbingly bleak scenic photographs by Haugland himself mounted on the front, and very, very detailed numerical charts of the recordings on the rear.

This beautifully packaged collection (wooden box, typewritten inserts, screen printed photographic pictures) on Winebox Press gathers together Taming Power material from out-of-print cassette releases and unreleased recordings. The tapes are grouped according to instrumental sound source – one side of electric guitar pieces; one side of electric guitar and tape recorders; one side of analogue feedback; and one side of varied instrumentation. Track titles are simply recording dates, and quite frankly that’s all that’s needed. For what it’s worth, 25-11-97 and 24-6-98 from side C are personal favourites, along with 21-7-13 part III from side A. As Jon Collin of Winebox Press notes though, there is a common sound-mood here, a certain yearning melancholy dissonance, or exploratory lonesome moan, that belies the diverse instrumentation and 16-year recording span.

Edition of 93 copies, grab it while you can! (Phil McMullen)



(LP/CD from www.sunstonerecords.co.uk)

After a couple of excellent EPs, this is the debut album from The Lords Of Time who comprise of Joe and Michelle Wooley, Tali Trow and Pat Kenneally. with Stephen Barlow guesting on Pedal Steel. Together they create some fine folk rock music .

“Coming Down” swelling organ and steel introduce this opening song, written and sung by Joe. Joined by some fine guitar and sympathetic percussion a good start, the sound being warm and open, Imagine a great laurel canyon jam located to the home counties, similar in feel to some of the Jonathan Wilson albums and also of Fairport Convention. All of which leads us nicely in to second song “Bruton Town” a traditional that I first became aware of through Pentagle's terrific version, here, Michelle's beautiful untrammeled voice is introduced to stunning effect, with Joe and Tali investing the song some nice Renborn/ Jancsh guitar touches, again some terrific organ and a bar or two of steel, with both nylon and electric guitars meshing nicely throughout, total winner, sheer class.

“George Collins” is another of the two traditional tunes that grace the album and this time it is quite a dark song, it's mainly acoustic with Joe taking lead vocals. 2The Bird It Sang” is written and sung by Tali. It starts with a good solid folk rock rhythm section, unhurried and rootsy, underpinning this song of metamorphosis. I do love a good bird song and it shall be duly added to the list. “Morning Came” is a refreshing acoustic bluesy folk song similar in feel to a lot of the stuff that used to go down a treat at places like les cousins by songwriters like Jackson C Frank.

“Freight Train To Rainham” written by Joe, an infectious shuffle blues, a travelling beat, clickaty clack down the line , Imbued with groovy organ and tasty female vocals, some nice jazzy flourishes propel this cracking little song along, a song which ends far too quickly, short but excellent. “Keep On Travelling” maintains the theme of movement and is full of moody minor key understatement, it cooks but in a gentle controlled way, some beautiful nylon string guitar and B3 fills help keep things moving , not a wasted note. “Fine Falling Rain” is the last song on this quite brief album,(clocking in at only 28 minutes). but what a nice song to end on, plenty more of that California/ Pentangle vibe. It's sung, mainly by Michelle who invests thesong with a pillow light organic feel, with plenty of pedal steel bringing it all back home. This is a cracking album and really another winner from the small but perfectly formed Sunstone Records. (Andrew Young)



(LP + digital download/CD from Mental Experience www.guerssen.com)

Curious indeed. Little is known about these seven tracks, which were all produced by the renowned Toby (Hrychek-) Robinson, aka The Mad Twiddler and Genius P Orridge who worked as an engineer over in Cologne back in the mid-1970s (and, trivia, fans is the brother of Michael Robinson of Gentle Fire). Full marks to the ever assiduous Alan Freeman - he of Leicester place of pilgrimage, Ultima Thule, and author of The Crack In The Cosmic Egg, not the late great Fluff - for trying to make sense of it all and almost succeeding in his detailed liner tome.
Tis said that many of these recordings feature Robinson together with some Named Players in Krautrock circles enjoying a bit of downtime under assumed names. In the case of The Astral Army this is entirely understandable as it’s unlikely that anyone would wish to put their own names to it unless possessed of a very good sense of humour or else desperately seeking to be released from their contract. ‘Interstellar Shortwave’ spot welds an Eliminator style sub-disco boogie to third division New Romanticism from the early 80s. The best that can be said, then, is that it was before its time. Conversely, Julian Cope probably had it on repeat play when he wrote that god awful novel of his a couple of years back.

However one should never jump to conclusions, reader. Tempting though it might be after this inauspicious rocky horror show-opener to dismiss the whole lot as a barrel-scraping cash-in that would be doing the rest a grave disservice. Spirulina’s ‘The Message’ restores Middle Earth to enchanted splendour, it’s floating ambience evoking Ashra’s New Age as interpreted by Caravan and with more than a hint of those instrumentals on Hawkwind’s underrated Astounding Sounds. It sure spreads the love.

Chronos bubble and ferment their way through ‘Schaudernacht’ and are again ahead of the curve stylistically, predating New-Wave art-rock by a good few years. It builds into angular pre-math rock of a kind that would have got them the gig at any number of ATP events (checks past listings), before Neal Andersen throttles back on the ‘Feuerwerk’ which shimmers prettily in the ether and deserves to have the Glissando Orchestra attentively taking notes down the front. If there is such a thing as a guilty kosmische pleasure, though, then mine would have to be Baal and ‘No God/Asteroth’ a cosmic slop of gospel blues smoked through a DMT pipe. With echoes of Uncle Frank’s ‘Cosmic Debris’ and a sickly Father Yod vibe to boot, it also evokes the age old and as yet unanswered question namely “what the fuck is going on?”. It’s a good question, you’ve got to admit.

Home stretch then and it’s the electronic workshop oscillatory wittering of Ten To Zen littering the cutting room floor no doubt with some 10 minutes of Dr Who outtake footage before Fuerrote (apparently featuring the aforementioned Andersen and Robinson) brings us to land with a 14 minute test of patience and endurance that builds from what sounds reminiscent of those old radio signal transmissions from the cold war era to immensely pleasant communal-style hippie noodling before descending back to the drone.

It always comes back to the drone. (Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD/DL from Bandcamp)
(LP from http://blakskul.bigcartel.com/)

Hailing from Spain, Balcanes mix sludge, industrial noise and a little post rock to create a glorious noise that will get deep and dirty with your head, taking no prisoners and never relenting.

    Opening with the primeval fuzzed chords of “Panico”, the bands add layers of feedback and a slow motion approach that slowly builds in intensity reminding me of a doom version of the Honolulu Mountain Daffodils, a band whose album I am still searching for (hint hint) before “Combustible” gets a chugging Sabbath riff going, all the energy of early metal with a punk attitude and plenty of distortion, what's not to like. To end side one, the repetitive noise of “Masada” has more of the same, in droves, a sludgfest that grinds out of the speakers like some vast industrial complex hellbent on self destruction sounding like The Melvins on a night out with The Butthole Surfers.

    Over on side two the song remains the same , two slabs of slow noise and fucked up happiness with “Desorden” having a bass so thick and distorted it could bring down a small planet, whilst “Rojo Maquina” has an almost choppy post rock guitar that reminds me of early Killing Joke, no bad thing as the tune stomps on your head and slams the door as it leaves, the scent of feedback lingering in the room.

    Equally distorted and noisy, although slightly faster, Phantom Head have an early grunge/garage vibe as they help you get fucked up over ten delightfully fuzzed up tunes. Featuring some excellent yet primitive guitar playing, the band sound like they should be heard in a tiny club, off your head and at high volume with “Posession”/”Ready To Die”/”Wrath of the Fetish” the trio of opening songs a unholy trinity of distorted excellence, those early Mudhoney vibes a welcome thing as you have re-discover how much you love this kinda thing, with the final tune in the trinity beginning to sound like a classic in the making. Over on the other side the fun continues in a non stop cavalcade of punk riffs, garage fuzz and a relentless search for that perfect chord, all you can do is get your groove on and join them in their quest, with “Do You Like This Life?” being the highlight of the side, a menacing chunk of primal music that I just love, turn that fucker up.

    So, Two slabs of distortion for your Christmas stocking, check em out and keep smiling. (Simon Lewis)



MOLE SUIT CHOIR – PHANTOM PADDLE BOAT (CD/Vinyl from www.lizdowningart.com)

Baltimore’s Liz Downing and Rupert Wondolowski make for an alt-folk/country pairing to rival the Sparkes’ Handsome Family and whose debut album back in 2013, Campfire Spacesuit, was as delightful as it was unexpected. It’s an honour and a privilege, then, to report that their sophomore effort (as we don’t usually say this side of the Pond) is similarly stuffed with off-kilter subject matter, varyingly skewwhiff yet invariably sublime melodies and well-executed harmonies.

This is structured as opposed to scattergun strangeness, though. The trademark quirkiness, while palpable, is kept neatly in check while the staple armoury of guitar/banjo (frequently bowed) augmented by pedal steel and, most deliciously to these ears, by flugelhorn on ‘Strawberry Xanax’ and ‘Amply Coated’, the beautiful if brief coda to this compact and perfectly confectioned album.

Shot through with pedal steel accompaniment, ‘Pills’ at one point has the pair crooning like chemically enhanced cartoon characters soundtracking a Tex Avery short while the noir-sounding ‘Increasingly Virtual Worlds’ finds the male/female vocal intertwine sounding like a cross between down-home Kantner/Slick (imagine had Sunfighter been conceived, written and recorded on a mountain cabin back porch) and a transplanted Richard and Linda Thompson.

The kooky crumbles momentarily on ‘Lonesome Cowboy On The Protein Deprivation Trail’. It’s as near to middle period REM as you’d imagine possible for any person of discernment to tread without getting their credibility burned to a crisp. However while in Stipe and Co.’s case this smacked of major label and stadium tour soul-selling, in these hands it sounds like aural ambrosia.
Without namechecking every single composition – and they are all worthy of mention it must be said - suffice to say they don’t drop a stitch. Not a one. All told it’s a late contender for a place in the personal top 10 albums of 2016. Strange bedfellow with the likes of Sex Swing and Thought Forms, I grant you, but then one of the abiding joys of music is you never know who or what you’re likely to wake up with.

(The CD version of this album is released this month, the vinyl is due out next February) (Ian Fraser)


(Self-released download)

Fifty years ago, Martin Welham formed Forest, a psychedelic folk trio who recorded two of our favourite British progressive folk albums of the 70s. Three decades later, Welham and his son Tom formed The Story, releasing three like-minded albums of acid folk and pastoral psychedelic whimsy. In 2011, the Welhams fleshed out their sound by adding vocalist Cherry De Portela E Prado and rechristening themselves The TimeLarks. Earlier this year, their debut album Wheel of Stone set our hearts here at Terrastock Towers all a-flutter, and we’re pleased that they didn’t waste any time recording a follow-up, a sister album of sorts called Grain of Light. Gleaned from the same head space as its predecessor, the album begins on a sunny Summer day with birds providing a lilting backdrop to ‘Rhapsody In June’, Cherry’s soaring vocals floating through the sky on an acoustic guitar/piano backing. Lyrics namecheck Alice and there’s an elegant childlike innocence to the lovely arrangement.

            Harmonies and intricate acoustic guitar interplay are at the heart of the shimmering ‘This As Thieves’, while ‘Holy Well’ weds a medieval ambiance to a heartbreaking tale with the air of “trad. arr.” about it. Something the Fairports practically made a career out of, and executed here as well as their finest efforts. The timely, and timeless joy of the gorgeous flute driven thing, ‘Yule Tidings’ would bring tears of joy to Scrooge, and epic closer ‘Long Barrow Hill’ combines penny whistle, acoustic guitars, and perfect harmonies in a lengthy tale of olden days that manages to evoke fond memories of C.O.B., ‘John Barleycorn’, Forest, Tir Na Nog, and Gryphon. Easily the Folk Album of The Year for this listener.
(Jeff Penczak )



(double LP on coloured vinyl from Fruits de Mer )

So the boutique psych label Fruits De Mer, reaches it’s 100th release and celebrates that milestone with this jam packed double album full of guests from their roster of artists.
Keith Jones and Andy Bracken started the label with a 7” coloured vinyl single by Schizo Fun Addict. After trying to licence some of their favourite sixties psych songs, but having a lot of difficulty doing so, they decided to record some of these songs by current artists and so the story began with the inaugural single a cover of Theme 1 (George Martin) and Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake ( The Small Faces)

Icarus Peel from the Honey Pot (a west country psych band) was pleased to be asked by Keith to produce this 100th release and set about picking some old classics and also some of the songs from the Honey Pots’s back catalogue.

The first song 1969, features James Lowe from the Electric Prunes on guest vocals, and is a reminder of what a great band they are. Great slabs of wah- wah guitar peeling out of the speakers, from the off.  James recounting of life in the late sixties.  I love the way the song develops, complete with cheesy organ solo.  Soloman Deep follows this with Dick Taylor from The Pretty Things guesting (Keith’s favourite band is The Pretty Things so he is overjoyed to have Dick doing his thing on the label) on this fine sixties flavoured rock song.  Love Is Green has guest Jack Ellister, joining the Honey Pot, for a fairly straight reading of the song which is taken from their debut album To The Edge Of The World.  Featuring the vocals of Crystal Jacqueline.  Curlicues of acoustic guitars, weaving together throughout, help create an acid folk feeling to the song; it also has a wonderful concise electric guitar solo.

 Sitar drones introduce Dr Crippen’s Waiting Room with guest Anton Barbeau, singing this toy town styled sixties nugget, authentic and catchy as hell.  Can’t You See The Witch, a great song by The Rattles follows this in style with Cary Grace rocking out on this epic song which arrives on a Bo Diddley beat along with a cooking rhythm section and lots of wah wah.  Cary takes the song into the stratosphere, ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space, lovely.  Tom Newman and Peter Cook from July arrive for Half A Memory a new song to me, what a great song from this pair of original sixties legends. A real cool creeping psych number complete with woozy organ and nice girly backing vocals. Research on this song has revealed little.

Judy Dyble, (Trader Horne, Fairport, Giles Giles And Fripp), etc, now joins the proceedings along with Britt and Anders from Us And Them with Sitting All Alone, a nice psychedelic  folk tune, that has some excellent guitar playing throughout, wistful and beautiful. And so the first side ends with I’ve Been So Tired which appears on the first Mordecai Smyth album, here performed  by The Honey Pot alone sans guests, it does have some great ensemble playing, and a nice bit of mellotron thrown in too.

Side two opens with Time Machine which features Nick Saloman and Ade Shaw from the mighty Bevis Frond, a big, fuggy, dubby tune with great slabs of electric guitar. Sung by Jacqueline, It’s only a matter of time before Nick creates some magic which arrives with a fluid guitar burst erupting from the speakers, deeply joyful in the ventricles.  Lucky Spaceman has Gregory Curvey from The Luck Of Eden Hall creating high quality space rock featuring some incendiary soloing, good stuff.

Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow by The Strawberry Alarm Clock is treated to a makeover by Terrascope scribe and Mooch main man Steve Palmer.  Starting with an eastern motif the song gradually emerges and billows out of the speakers building slowly, it is transformed from an American classic in to a very English sounding song, beautiful guitar solo in the middle, nice keyboard washes and some unusual instruments keep the interest, the song has bags of space for some fine ensemble playing.  America the West Side Story number is a group instrumental effort without guests and opens with terrific churchy organ with The Honey Pot on the money throughout, particular mention must go to the superb fretwork by Icarus Peel.

So far so good, now we have a tune by Bruce Woolley (The Buggles).  A new artist for Fruits De Mer.  Into The Deep, a fishy tune about the ocean, knits together nicely the title of the album Ascending Scales and also the label Fruits De Mer.  It chugs along on a gentle motorik beat, languid and unhurried, unfolding into a 10 minute epic.  And so we arrive at the final song on the the album, the excellent River Runs By, with Tony Durrant from Fuchsia, closing out this superb double album. On a piano based chamber folk pop song, with a lightness of touch that is hard not to love, a wistful, pastoral, flowing, watery song.  What an album! (Andrew Young)