= December 2021 =  
 Zone 6
 Slithey Tove
 Good Shepherd
 Tangle Edge
 Kodax Stophes / Martyn Bates
 Neal Casal
 Dean McPhee
the Bevis Frond
 Giobia & the Cosmic Dead


(2LP set on Acid Test Recordings/Little Cloud Records)

This is an absolutely monstrous release to end the year on, a mind-blowing cosmic rocket ship aimed straight at your head that comes steaming in from outer space carrying a payload of psychedelic treacle: thick, swirling and it sticks there once inside.

Originally recorded in 2000 and released as a 3 song digipak CD back in 2004/5 on the Sunhair label, ‘Psychedelic Scripture’ opens with some suitably extra-terrestrial scene-setting before launching into the relatively short, as in fourteen minutes plus, ‘Extremandura’ courtesy of some way cool middle-eastern guitar work and innumerable swirly effects that together build and build in intensity until attaining some kind of stable orbit. It’s a musical blueprint which is adapted and shape-shifted throughout this extraordinary acid-drenched freakout of an album: ‘The Sacred Toad’ which closed the original CD features all manner of strange sounds phasing in and out of the sonic landscape before setting down into a drone, and sandwiched between those the twenty-minute plus ‘Pipe Dream’ lulls us into a false sense of the familiar, or familiar at least for anyone raised on a diet of Tangerine Dream, before guitarist Hans-Peter Ringholz presses down on the booster pedals and strikes off into prime Liberty Records-era Man-band and Hawkwind territory; two bands I was most frequently reminded of when listening to this extended set.

Hans-Peter has, I seem to recall, been highlighted in our pages before as a guitarist of note: he was originally a member of the much-revered (hereabouts at least) Liquid Visions, as indeed was our drummer for this trip, Claus Bühler, and the founder of Zone Six, bassist Dave Schmidt (aka Sula Bassana) (who I think left Liquid Visions just before their final album was released). The rest of Zone Six line-up has been something of a moveable feast down the years, as befits an improvisational band; although keyboard player Rusty Viltz and synth programmer Martin Schorn are regulars, and both feature here.

For this limited-edition 2LP 2021 version Acid Test Recordings/Little Cloud Records have expanded the release, and our minds, with two bonus tracks, or an extra 24 minutes worth, of space-rock jams from 1998: ‘Chill In’ which finds our space-cadets experimenting which what sounds suspiciously like a sitar, and the brilliant ‘Room Of No Escape’ which is a return to the band’s signature blueprint of innovative cosmic space-rock which slowly becomes more and more heavy. Worth noting too that John McBain has remastered this reissue, and Brett Savage has designed the cover (and I strongly suspect Dave Cambridge had a hand in this as well, as if you needed any further confirmation that this is one very special release…)

(Phil McMullen)





(LP from Sugarbush Records SB083)

Unrelated to the late, great psychedelic legend in his own backyard Todd Dillingham and the Slithy Tove from the early 90s, this Slithey Tove, with an extra e in the name, are notable for having been formed by two members of the Green Ray, guitarist Simon Whaley (originally drummer for the Green Ray alongside his brother, bassist and former Helpless Elf the late Ken Whaley) and guitarist Simon Burgin, sadly also now passed on. Essentially an infectious live band with a revolving door approach to both musicians and instruments, their heady heyday was the free-festival scene of the early 90s where Slithey Tove quickly became a draw for their “fun psychedelic gigs with odd timings and mid-song genre shifts.”

The past is littered with fine little bands whose names live on fondly in gig-goers memories but left no recorded legacy. One of my own personal favourites is/was the Half Human Band, who I saw but once but have never forgotten. Drummer Martin Griffin went on to perform with Hawkwind, and there are connections too with the Braniac 5 I believe; but anyway, I digress. The Half Human Band lit up the mid-70s musical scene with their colour-shifting torch of musical shades – one contemporary report records that they “showed at the recent sit-in that they could improvise to meet the conditions.” Slithey Tove remind me both musically and spiritually of the Half Human Band, and others like them such as the Global Village Trucking Company (who did at least manage to leave behind a fairly substantial recorded legacy). Sugarbush Records are therefore to be congratulated for having the foresight to release this posthumous LP, limited to 150 copies although I daresay more would be pressed if it proves to be a runaway success.

Former Toves, centred around saxophonist Aaron Liddard and vocalist Doug Southall plus original  guitarist Simon Whaley and drummer Toby Barron, came together to record the album after playing a support gig to The Green Ray following Simon Burgin’s death in 2000. It’s taken a while to put together, but I for one am very glad that it exists at all, particularly for the excellent ‘Amazing Place’ which is the kind of complex, infectious number which would have been the highlight of any live band’s show back in the day, and ‘Road’ which (like several of the pieces on here) has a similar funky vibe to the fondly remembered Welsh band Alcatraz. If you like your festival stage to be draped in funk, jazz and space-rock, or have fond memories of bands of this ilk, then this is the kind of album you’d queue up at the merch table to purchase afterwards.

(Phil McMullen)



(CD/DL from  Rusted Rail )

This, the latest release from the ever reliable Rusted Rail, is a collection of drifting psych-folk tunes culled from two earlier releases plus three new songs from the same period. Originally released on 3” cd-r (“ah...the good sea” and “her dark aspects”) some tunes are now extended in length and all the songs blend together beautifully to create a fully formed and highly engaging album.

     Seeming like a mission statement, “flown The Other Side” is a song of migration or escape, gentle guitar and soft drones creating a melancholy texture that is haunting and wistful, a delightful beginning that is matched by “The Beast” an undulating bass/guitar forming the bass for the cracked and fragile vocals, drones filling the spaces in between before “Slow Down” adds some percussive elements to the music, the tune tiptoeing through the room, a beautifully paced folk tune that is like watching a deer caught in the early morning mist. Seemingly continuing in a similar way, “Sunday Morning Son” suddenly takes off into a swirl of West – Coast happiness, ending abruptly as the drones of “Lungs On Fire” take over, with flutes writhing together to create a soft cloud of noise that is gently engulfed ,over time, by a rising tide of electronics, itself abruptly ended as a sweet guitar takes over, those vocals again holding sway forcing you to listen intently.

    Basically the work of one man, Duncan Poyser, these tunes have a definite soundscape of their own, the playing is delicate and precise creating atmosphere with ease, the whole thing reminding of many of my favourite bands (Gorkys, John Martyn, Jefferson Airplane, Early Genesis) whilst remaining unique and highly listenable.

   Moving on the quality continues with “There Is A Mountain” sounding like a lost seventies pastoral prog intro that slowly morphs into a Neil Young sounding tune, the guitar tone nailing it, whilst “Sing Again”, the longest piece on the album, is a languid, drifting track that favours emotion and texture over dexterity, a soft flowing river that slowly picks up pace before being swallowed by the sea.

   With rippling synths and strummed guitars,” Nightjar Song” has underlying melodies sweet enough to make a grown man cry, a flute aching over the top to form a dreaming soundscape that engulfs the listener gently yet completely.

    To end it all, “End Of All” is a sad, slowly dissolving tune that disintegrates completely into a wall of white noise and distortion, the repeated vocal line remaining merely as a memory underneath the chaos.

    According to the website this will be the last release from Good Shepherd, which is a darn shame as it has been a complete pleasure to re-visit this music that I originally reviewed in its EP form ten years ago and I would love to hear some more. The perfect winter gift, dive in.

(Simon Lewis)




(DL  from Music | Tangle Edge (bandcamp.com) )

Many moons ago, when magazines like The Terrascope and Freakbeat began expanding my mind to the possibilities of music, I purchased an album entitled “ In Search of a New Dawn” by Tangle Edge, the music was otherworldly and mysterious, not Prog, not Psych but a strange mix of both and yet something else entirely. Sadly, as is often the case, there was so much music to discover at that time in my life that I never managed to hear anything else by the band although I still own that album purchased back in the mists of time.

    Moving on thirty years or so and the internet thingie has allowed us to explore any music we desire and through the Terrascope On-Line I discover that Tangle Edge are still thriving and releasing music both new and old through the medium of Bandcamp and occasionally on LP/CD, not only that but I am in contact with Bassist Hasse Horrigmoe who kindly sent me a link to this album five months ago, about time I wrote about it methinks, sorry Hasse.

    Recorded in 1983 and aired on a local radio show in 1984, this music has lain undisturbed until this point, they have been edited and cleaned up producing an album that ebbs and flows wonderfully and those familiar with their music will instantly recognise the sound.

  Maintaining their love of obscure titles side one begins with “Februus Conducting”, a spacey, Tangerine Dream(with a hint of Clanger) inspired intro slowly morphing into a moody, rolling tune, the drums setting the pace whilst the bass coils around the rhythm allowing the guitar to probe and caress the spaces in between, the sound of a group of musicians in tune with each other and the universe itself.

    Having launched into space, “Dandelion Merchants” sees the band explore the stars, a drifting and languid piece with some beautiful, fluid guitar work. Reminding me of the Edgar Broughton Band, “Dolphins at the Gate” is a heavier tune, drum and bass locked into a serious groove, with jagged guitar overhead, the piece becoming more frenzied at is moves along. Equally impressive is “Erupting Colossus”, the perfect track to play to someone who has never heard the band before, all sounds and structures in place and bringing us to the albums centrepiece, the magnificent, 21 minute “The Airy Darkness of Advancements” a cosmic jam of the highest order that goes through several distinct phases setting the controls for a sun many light years from our own. As the music flows it is hard to find any comparisons, hints of Man, maybe a pinch of the Dead, a flavour of Hendrix, but in reality it is Tangle Edge you are hearing the unique guitar tones and style of Ronald Nygard equally matched by the tight as fuck rhythm section, instantly recognisable and thoroughly enjoyable.

     Having bathed in the golden light for a while, “Cascading Acherusia” is the sound of the long flight home, heavy and relentless, the drive of huge engines , distorted bass leading the way before “Paradoxamba” takes over, a softer, lysergic awakening from one of your new favourite dreams, a cloud of shimmering sound that picks up energy to leave you dancing down the street coated in wonder.

    The album may be over but the fun and exploration need not stop as the Bandcamp site is a treasure trove of music with albums from all periods of the bands existence. Do take a while to explore, buy some music and find time to immerse yourself in the magnificence that is Tangle Edge.

(Simon Lewis)



(CD/Digital available from A-Scale)

Kodax Strophes / Martyn Bates is the current moniker/alias/persona of the Eyeless In Gaza co-founder and Terrastock 3 performer. Following on from last year’s debut, It Doesn’t Matter Where It’s Solstice When You’re In the Room (Klanggalerie), Post-War Baby continues to explore ambient, cinematic textures with autobiographical touchpoints, indicating a move into a new musical journey that takes a few steps away from the voice/guitar records that he’s released over the past few years. [Bates tells us “the Eyeless thing is a bit sleepy right now, going through a resting spell that may return in the future.”

     Populated with spilt milk, paper swans, painted dolls, and the Christ child rapping at the night window, the album is a child’s journey into the unknown, as Bates re-envisions his own post-war upbringing, exploring “the giant world of [his] imagination, armed with a handful of books and the complete eye of prelapsarian innocence.” These groundings are established with opening track, ‘Arthur Mee’, a swirling whirlwind of gusting leaves wrapping their arms around us, as a fatherly figure sits us down to instil structure and order into this chaos, as Mee himself did via his Children’s Newspaper and Encyclopaedia. ‘Shell & Eagle Book’ is even more specific, as Bates revisits his 7-year old self listening in wonder to the sounds of the sea captured within a seashell:

I’m left listening as I ride upon the waves/ it’s a gift to be joyous, it’s a gift to realise, is a gift to be awakened, to be astonished - to be surprised.

     Bates’ trademark verbal pyrotechnics serpentine throughout his haunting electronics (his guitar/bass/drum accompaniment, while present in minimal doses takes a back seat to an echoed or heavily-treated effects machine), with the melancholic and wistful ‘Treasure Of Feathers’ perhaps the most accessible signpost to earlier, more “traditional” song structures. A child’s sense of fear and wonder permeates the horror house ghostly pronouncements of the nightmarish ‘Smashed Milk (room awoke from sleeping)’ - we love to be scared, but sometimes the world “out there” throws more at us than we can absorb with our self-imposed synthetic armour. Frighten me, but don’t petrify me - leave me room to escape if the terror becomes too much to handle.

     Cascading chimes stroke our senses for ‘Friends Came To Stay’, an evocative recreation of those special times when you looked forward to your mates stopping by to spend the day and accompany you on exploratory adventures around the neighbourhood. But behind the façade of fun and games, there lurks a mysterious sense of dread. After they leave, did they have enough fun to return or will they move on to other mates that you don’t share?

     ‘Paper Swans/Sunny Wedding Of The Painted Dolls/The Cyclopaedia/Pears’ is the most atmospheric track in the set, an amoebic exploration of a dollhouse full of dystopian rooms of dread and wonder, again tipping a nod in Mee’s direction and perhaps recalling a lonely child’s games of self-amusement birthed from a fertile imagination. Bates’s guitar pluckings and effects machine are ratcheted into hyperdrive, slinking through a mysterious-yet-ominous fog of loneliness.

     Finally, ‘Kindred (learn the song she sang)’ harkens back to the days we learned nursery rhymes and lullabies which simultaneously instructed (even if we didn’t know it at the time) and entertained us (I hear vestiges of ‘Colours’ / ‘Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair’ sneaking around in the background). The song is one of the few (only?) which ends in a dreamlike floating swirl of comforting hugs, again extolling the pleasures of childhood innocence before the outside world started to act out of the neat compartment we created for it. Now it’s up to us to adjust…to (re)discover our inner strength that taught us how to confront unexpected feedback from a fairy tale world where everything was supposed to turn out the way we planned. An age-old dilemma that’s as vital today as it’s always been for Post-War Babies and will be for Post-Covid survivors.

(Jeff Penczak)





(2LP set from Glassville and Crispin Glover Records)

Crispin Glover Records based in Trondheim, Norway claim to “release the music we love in the packaging it deserves” which is to my mind a pretty damn fine way of going about things, especially when no expense is spared in the production of said packaging.

The first thing that will strike you about Norwegian experimental progressive post-rockers with an ear for a good soundtrack Soup is the cover on their latest and seventh (I think) LP, ‘Visions.’ It’s elaborate, to say the least. The band’s long time collaborator Lasse Hoile is behind the stunning cover photos, which continues the visual story from Soup’s last few albums, notably ‘The Beauty of our Youth’ and 2017’s ’Remedies’. This time the front cover is over-printed with an eye-catching Holographic rainbow laminate, and comes with a lavish 16 page 12" photo booklet. There’s apparently also a deluxe version (with marbled blue vinyl as opposed to red) which sees the entire sleeve, including the inside, rendered holographic. Even the standard version includes a CD of the same album, in a sleeve of its own (thankfully without the holograph - which, I can’t help but feel, would have been a step too far…)

Linked to Motorpsycho by guitarist Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan, which is in itself a guarantee of a Terrascopic ear pricked up in attentive interest, Soup have described their latest release as “If Godspeed You! Black Emperor ventured into jazz, hired Richard Wright as producer, mixed it down to cassette by a stressed out Brian Eno, the new Soup album would pretty much be it“ - a statement which I couldn’t possibly improve on. It’s more melodic than you might expect at first, with the dynamics between the softer and louder sections really standing out - it’s certainly not bombastic, closer in fact to symphonic, and I found it quite melancholic at times, although I found myself returning again and again to what to my mind is the outstanding track, the nine-minute long ‘Kingdom of Color’

“Yes to paper and crayons, sticks and analog creativity” say the band, and so say all of us.

(Phil McMullen)



5 LP/3 CD/Digital on The Royal Potato Family


In the wake of tragedy comes this magnificent gift o’ plenty.  Neal Casal’s work needs little introduction here; his work with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Beachwood Sparks, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, The Skiffle Players, Circles Around the Sun, among other bands speaks for itself.  But the gentle guitarist, who sadly took his life in 2019, also recorded 14 solo albums of incredible, criminally undervalued material dating back to the mid-90s.  And from that embarrassment of semi-hidden riches comes this overflowing, loving tribute.


Highway Butterfly boasts 41 tracks on 5 LPs or 3 CDs from one of the most amazing rosters of talent ever assembled, and that’s no hyperbole.  There are so many superstars I’m not going to list them all, with 41 artists and over 130 great musicians in tow, but here’s a sampling:  Aaron Lee Tasjan, members of Beachwood Sparks & GospelbeacH, Marcus King, Billy Strings, Hiss Golden Messenger, Mapache, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Jonathan Wilson, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, Circles Around the Sun, Vetiver, J Mascis, Warren Haynes, Steve Earle, Norah Jones (with her band Puss N Boots), the Allman Betts Band, Cass McCombs, Farmer Dave Scher, and the list goes on.


The proceeds will go to a great cause.  The Neal Casal Music Foundation will distribute portions to MusiCares and Backline, as well as other organizations dedicated to mental health care for musicians, and provide musical instruments and lessons for children.


A lot of tribute albums sound like an uneven Medusa sprouting many heads, but not this one.  That’s down to a brilliant system devised by co-producers and old Casal pals Dave Schools (Widespread Panic) and Jim Scott.  The plan was for the artists to come to Scott’s Southern California studio (where many Casal albums were originally recorded).  Artists who didn’t have their own groups were offered the whopping choice of backing from several of Casal’s stellar former bands.  The intent was to record one full song per day.  They were well on their way to doing it, but COVID would interrupt the proceedings.  Many of the artists continued the effort by recording in their own studios, or Schools and Scott would construct other tracks remotely.  But still, the result is a work that, despite its length and number of contributors, flows beautifully like a clear mountain stream.


The highlights – my heavens, where do I even begin?  The great Billy Strings, along with Circles Around the Sun, made the set’s first recording back in early 2020, “All the Luck in the World.”  The song is about people who’ll be kind to your face, but privately hope you’ll fail.  While the subject has been done before, from Dylan’s sneering “Positively Fourth Street” to the O’Jays’ upbeat sounding “Back Stabbers,” in Casal’s and Strings’ hands, it’s a solemn, thoughtful treatment.  Strings plays a pretty acoustic guitar figure, foreshadowing some of the monster guitar work that will follow from some of the other greats.


Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, without their band, offer the moving “Day in the Sun.”  Susan’s soulful voice and Derek’s tasteful guitar accompaniment make this a towering moment in the set.  This is where I need to mention that I found that many of the tracks, originally penned as either messages of encouragement to others (or perhaps himself), or of soul-searching desperation, sound on this set as if the artist is singing them poignantly back to Neal.  It may be just me, but when Susan sings “You will have your day in the sun.  Your day will come,” it’s one of those emotional “right back at ya” moments.


Many of the songs contain stark lyrics of personal darkness and not knowing where to turn, that would seem to point to where all this was tragically headed, and are all the more heartbreaking because of it.  But some of Neal’s fellow players and supporters say it wasn’t so apparent at the time, due to Neal’s sunny personality and other songs he wrote of a positive nature.


“Bird With No Name,” was originally one of those with sad lyrics.  However, guitarist Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic) and Circles Around the Sun turn it into a joyous instrumental, and what a celebration it is.  Herring’s and the band’s triumphant playing make this one of the great musical themes of the collection.


Todd Sheaffer’s rendition of “December” is a melancholy gem.  The lyrics cut straight to the heart: “It gets so hard to remember/with every word that goes by/Cause this doesn’t feel like December/and that didn’t sound like goodbye.”  The combination of the message, the beautiful string arrangement and Sheaffer’s extremely emotional singing hits hard.  You try to listen to Todd Scheaffer’s “December” and hold yourself together.


Warren Haynes’ “Free to Go” has a cathartic, Crazy Horse-like guitar wigout that seemed to me the angst-ridden flip side to the rollicking “Bird With No Name.”  If you never thought it possible to convey such vivid emotions with just guitars, you need to listen here.  Both tracks are essential.


“Pray Me Home” is another track converted from one with lyrics to an instrumental, this time played gorgeously on solo piano by Jason Crosby.  About three quarters into the collection, to me this served as a moment to pause, catch one’s breath and meditate on all the beauty and emotion that has come before it, to take stock of the situation and what majesty Neal Casal brought us.  This is followed immediately by “Lost Satellite” by Lauren Barth.  With lyrics painfully on the nose, Barth gives a heartrending vocal performance.  She stretches out every phrasing, wringing every last tear and bit of pathos from Neal’s words.  It’s yet another instance where it seems to me as if she’s singing his own words back to him.  When she sings “I let you go/I let you go/like a lost satellite/when will they find me,” well, in a set full of tearjerker moments, this one was the climax for me.


There are many, many more highlights, far too many to mention.  But another thing Highway Butterfly does so excellently is to proudly put on display with a gifted songwriter Casal was, in both words and melody.  What a shame and a mystery that these songs didn’t get the recognition they deserved in his lifetime.  They should now.


Your scribe was kindly invited by the very wonderful petalmotel, who has a Terrascope heart, to participate in a podcast about Highway Butterfly, along with guitarist Jon Graboff, who not only played with Neal on many of the originals, but also on 17 of these tracks; Michele Augis of the Neal Casal Music Foundation; and Kevin Calabro of the Royal Potato Family record label.  You can find it here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5yWrz4DGaAD9bLD3rJ7r5n?si=E3oYqSkkRx-S60Og5iEoBg.


I think of Highway Butterfly as an echo; an echo Neal sent up long ago into the ether, full of questions like “Who am I?  Am I successful?  Am I loved?  I’m desperate, I’m not sure where to go.”  And lo, years later, the echo came back, and it was sung by multitudes – 41 voices, and really many more than that.  And it said “Yes, you are very much loved.”  Neal’s outgoing echo may have contained sorrow, but the return echo is a message of rich love, and release.  Nowhere is it so perfectly encapsulated than Susan Tedeschi singing Neal’s words, “You will have your day in the sun.”


(Mark Feingold


(2cd set available from www.planetgong.co.uk )

Over a weekend in late 2006 the Gong family convened at the Melkweg in Amsterdam for a reunion concert, in which the original band members got together as the main event to play a couple of lengthy sets, all of which is released here as super cheap 2 cd set. The band consisted of Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Steve Hillage, Tim Blake, Mike Howlett, Didier Malherbe, Miquette Giraudy, Chris Taylor (Drums) and Theo Travis ( Sax and Flute).

I sometimes feel that these reunions are a little bit flat, with not much of the original spirit remaining, but this is truly brilliant and shows just how good this band were, of course they are still active but this is pretty much the original line up, responsible for a classic trilogy of albums released in the 70’s. Original drummers Pip Pyle and Pierre Moerlin are no longer with us, however Chris Taylor does a phenomenal job in filling those very large shoes.

The band play a mixture of whimsical progressive jazzy flavoured rock music, often with strange time signatures, interspersed with spacey glissando guitars, synths and space whispering from Gilli.

Things kick off with a classic from Camebert Electrique ‘You Can’t Kill Me’ before launching into a central song on follow up album Flying Teapot ‘Radio Gnome Invisible’ ha ha ho ho both of which go down very well, Gilli then delivers her ‘Tomorrow Afternoon’ space poem before the band launch into Dynamite/I Am Your Animal. Didier’s flute then introduces the classic flute of ‘Flute Salad’ which is swiftly followed by ‘Oily Way’ a fan favourite judging by the impromptu sing-along it generates. ‘Outer Temple’ and ‘Inner Temple’ are blissful and playful. ‘Zero The Hero And The Witches Spell’ is magnificent. Things are taken down a notch by another of Gilli’s poems, the very naughty ‘I Am Your Pussy’, a song about a cat apparently. A pairing of ‘Tropical Fish’ and ‘Selene’ round of the first disc, a disc in which Steve Hillage’s guitar is strangely muted.

The second disc is a bit more muscular and a little less whimsical, which is ably demonstrated by opening song I Never Glid Before, Chris’s martial drumming and Didier’s sax set out the tune and Steve Hillage plays some fine fluid guitar. A sultry come hither piece in the form of the French flavoured ‘Prostitute Poem’ precedes ‘Magdalene’, a song I’m not familiar with. A lengthy synth spectacular arrives with ‘A Sprinkling Of Clouds’, Tim Blake’s keyboards shine throughout and Steve Hillage delivers one of his finest electric guitar solos. The final three songs really demonstrate that this is a killer band. One of the key songs on the final part of the trilogy is ‘Master Builder’ which does exactly what it says on the tin, what a riff this song has. ‘The Isle Of Everywhere’ is simply stunning with the final song ‘You Never Blow Your Trip Forever’ runs to over seventeen minutes.

This is the first time this concert has been released in a purely audio form; it was originally only put out as a DVD. It’s a steal at this price (about a tenner) and comes highly recommended. Proof if needed, that this band is truly unique.

(Andrew Young)


(Limited edition LP www.soundeffect.records.gr )

This is the debut album by Greek band Lokruz. This three piece group are made up of Alessandro Castagneri: guitar and vocals. Thanos Tampakopoulos: drums plus Christos Chorianopoulos: bass.

Recorded live in three days, this album has the sound of some of the classic three piece bands, not a lot of noodling, but infused with plenty of huge, churning riffs. The album opens and closes with an instrumental song split into two parts ‘Ennio Parts 1 and 11’ lending it a feel of being a concept album. It’s pretty heavy stuff, the drums crash, the bass is supple and the guitars crunch. It sounds like it was recorded in some parched desert studio in the middle of nowhere, but was actually recorded in Athens. Did I say it was heavy, well it certainly is, as is ably demonstrated on this opening song.

‘Bullets Hail’ follows; a tight, heavy rock song, with plenty of wah wah lead guitar, it also has a nice short melodic guitar progression reminiscent of say Thin White Rope.  The final song on side one ‘My Naked Pride’, is split into three parts, the first part The Blue laying out the melody, adding more wah wah and some biting, searing guitar solos before the virtually instrumental section Progression-Arpeggio builds and adds some Frippertronics. The final part After Echoes brings us down with a slightly more melodic bluesy section, in which the lead guitar glints like a firefly in the fading light, however,it’s not long before a monster riff wakes us back up again.

 ‘Runaway’ is taken at a fair pace, a heavy rock song which takes no prisoners; it’s built around a fairly brutalistic riff, enlivened by some blistering lead guitar. ‘Man In Hope’, possesses a monster riff, things starts off fairly slowly, lulling you into a false sense of security, but it isn’t long before a maelstrom of heavily amped lead electric guitar runs push us firmly into stoner, heavy rock territory. ‘Ennio Part 11’, has plenty of searing lead electric guitar runs smeared all over it, the drums and bass do their level best to ground things, before a grumbling, heavy middle section muddies the water. The central riff is then revisited in the final part, bringing us back to where we started. A pretty decent debut album all in all, one in which they proudly state was laid down live in the studio, with just the vocals being overdubbed.

(Andrew Young) 


(LP released on Hood Faire records www.deanmcphee.bandcamp.com )

This is Dean’s fourth album. He was one of the highlights for me of the second Woolf festival, playing a solo set in the middle of the afternoon. The album was recorded live with no overdubs on a telecaster, an old valve amp plus a few, minimal effects. It proves to be a balm for the soul, in these troubled times. 

‘The Alchemist’, introduces his new album in fine style.  A lone, melodic electric guitar figure is joined by the merest of drum beats, some bass guitar and some e-bowed guitar, layed over the top. This simple, yet effective palette is continued throughout this beautiful, elegiac instrumental guitar album. ‘The Alder Tree’, repeats this sparse, opening song. Featuring Dean’s equally melodic slide guitar playing, he has a very slow haunting style of playing; it’s definitely one of those albums for the quiet times.  It is soothing and progressive in nature, unhurried and gentle. ‘Red Lebanese’, highlights his e-bowed guitar sound to fine effect, at points throughout the song it almost sounds like a synth, as it swoops and glides its way up and down a pretty melody.

‘Eskdale Path’, possesses an almost eastern sounding motif, which is repeated throughout this very atmospheric song. It’s so free and uncluttered; exhibiting a laser like discipline, in which the instruments are surrounded by acres of space, this song again features some stunning e-bowed guitarscapes.  The title track and the longest track on the album ‘Witch’s Ladder’, is the final track on this very short album, It is vaguely middle eastern sounding and as light as a soufflé, gossamer threads of sparse, filigree guitar notes spiralling heavenwards, it again features his highly distinctive e-bowed sound, lending the album a cohesive nature. I have played this album plenty of times since it arrived and it will definitely be played many more times over the coming years. It is a very special record, one in which I applaud his singular less is more disciplined approach, highly recommended.

(Andrew Young)


(Available on 2LP [turquoise] and 2CD from Fire Records)

Nick Saloman started The Bevis Frond 35 years ago and has since released nearly 30 albums under that moniker, including collaborations, split LPs, and live albums. Starting as a one-man cottage industry, Saloman played nearly everything on early releases, eventually accompanied by the late Martin Crowley on the drum kit. The live band (ex-Hawkwind bassist Adrian Shaw and ex-Camel drummer Andy Ward) began featuring on studio recordings around the time of Superseeder (1995), with the current lineup (Shaw, guitarist Paul Simmons, and drummer Dave Pearce - not the Flying Saucer Attack guitarist!) being the longest serving, together for the past decade. Due to Covid restrictions, Little Eden is a (forced) return to basics with Saloman again playing most of the instruments. Famous for giving his fans their money’s worth with a generous selection of music (thirteen double albums and two triples), Little Eden is another double LP set (20 new songs) that runs the gamut of the patented Bevis Frond oeuvre mixing earworm pop melodies with extended psychedelic jams.

     Saloman was never shy about introducing political conversations into his material and with hot topics ranging from Brexit to Covid on many minds these days, Little Eden dips into social commentary for some thought provoking conversation-starting lyrics. It may also be Saloman’s first thinly-veiled - dare I say it(?) - concept album! ‘Everyone Rise’ is a jangly call to action and attention - not necessarily a revolutionary tubthumping, but a suggestion to see what’s going on about you and act according to conscience. It’s also as catchy as hell!

     ‘And Away We Go’ is stealth-bombing bluesy self-reflective sludge, and ‘Brain Fatigue’ (subconsciously, I’m sure) bears an uncanny resemblance to the old Runaways’ corker ‘Is It Day Or Night’! ‘You Owe Me’ is a vitriolic score-settler with effects pedals set to stun and a paint-peeling solo to clear the brain fatigue alluded to earlier! ‘They Will Return’ wraps side one in an acoustic introspective mood reminiscent of Graham Parker.

     ‘Hold Your Horses’ harkens back to the sentimental ballads that Saloman occasionally shoehorned onto early albums (like a Ringo vocal on a Beatles album) with a hint of ‘Gasoline Alley’ nostalgia added for extra down home country comfort (Saloman actually likens it to a Lane-sung Faces song) and ‘The Man In The Garden’ feels like an autobiographical confession about a man who grows his secret stash in his allotment and just wants to be left alone and grow old gracefully with the one thing that gives him joy.

     And if that’s not melancholic enough, ‘As I Lay Down To Die’ employs words like “intravenous” and “subcutaneous” to strip away surface armour to look within for solutions to that big old goofy world that John Prine told us about while simultaneously facing our own oncoming mortality. [Interesting sidebar: Frond bassist Ade Shaw’s recent solo albums have also featured a number of songs reflecting on this difficult topic, but both artists bravely come to terms with the realities of time’s relentless march.] There’s also a taste of wah-wah heaven on the guitar solo for fans of wild workouts like ‘Stain On The Sun’ [c.f., New River Head] and ‘The Shrine’ [Through The Looking Glass LP; Inner Marshland CD].

     Unlike many multi-volume sets, Bevis Frond double- and triple-albums didn’t frontload all the “goodies” on the first volume and dump the filler at the end, and Little Eden is no exception to this high “quality control” standard. Side 3 opens with the charming, albeit remorseful ‘Cherry Gardens’ a “you can’t go home again” regretful lyric disguised in one of Saloman’s poppiest melodies. ‘There’s Always Love’ is a dreamy ballad with a tasteful solo that is a f[r]ond reminder of ‘The Shrine’.

     Fuzz petals and screaming solos launch ‘Start Burning’ into hyperdrive and if the record-buying public ever revived the concept of singles (aka 45 rpm, 7”, etc), the perfect pop confection ‘My Own Hollywood’ would finally introduce Saloman to the wonders of chartdom! Frond fans always seem to anticipate at least one long track that will anchor the album in their brain and many albums feature songs topping the 10-minute mark, which suggests a mouth-watering, brain-frying solo snaking around a clever lyric and a killer melody. Little Eden ends with the epic 10½-minute ‘Dreams Of Flying’ that will take its place alongside past lengthy glories (‘God Speed You To Earth’, ‘Stain On The Sun’, ‘Awake’, ‘The Puller’, ‘Right On’ and numerous ‘Miskatonic Variations’) and features all of the Salomon tricks of the trade without deteriorating into endlessly boring soloing and repetitive guitar loops. A perfect ending to another jewel in the Frond discography and one of 2021’s finest releases.

(Jeff Penczak)



(LP/CD/Digital on Tonzonen Records)


Our good friends Vespero return with their 12th studio album, SONGO, and the space/prog/jazz wizards from Astrakhan, Russia never disappoint.  SONGO (sorry, there’s actually supposed to be a little carat above the G my word processor can’t, um, process) is Esperanto for “a dream,” which in one word tidily sums up much about the record.  Within its grooves you’ll find themes of dreams and forms of communication such as international languages.  Although SONGO is, like most Vespero music, instrumental, the nine song titles are in different languages, including Esperanto, Bulgarian, Galician, French, Estonian, and English.  Your spidey sense might be correctly telling you a worldwide trek is in the offing; if nothing else, Vespero LOVES to take you on a journey.


When I pop the cork on a new Vespero album, I know what’s in store.  It’s like walking through a portal; no, a series of portals where you look all around, up, down, left, right, out and in, and your senses fill with wonder and mystery.  They lead you on a widescreen tour of the imagination, of distant cloud topped mountain vistas, of exotic market bazaars where you can practically smell the spices, of streams and forests, where East meets West and South meets North.  Each track on SONGO repeats the experience in a different way.


Another thing I’ve come to love about Vespero records is their guests.  They usually have interesting contributors who may not be household names in our neck of the woods, but make a solid impact on us.  In this case, Sonya Vlasova sings wordless vocals on several tracks.  It adds to the dreams and murky communication theme, as if to think ‘I know you’re trying to tell me something, but I can’t seem to make it out.’  Alexey Esin contributes midi-sax and gusli, an early Eastern Slavic stringed instrument from the zither family, on “Myth of Uqbar.”


SONGO is a slight departure for Vespero, in that it doesn’t have much of the guitar rock-edged prog roller coaster rides of the past, but is none the worse for it.  The mix of down-to-earth organic instruments such as Alexander Kuzovlev’s guitars, saz and mandolin and Vitaly Borodin’s soaring violin (damn is he good) blend seamlessly with the futuristic electronic frontier of Alexey Klabukov’s synths and Arkady Fedotov’s mixed bag of sonic trickery.  SONGO is all about the mood; it sets a steady, gauzy course and keeps to it.


The main course is the beautiful, yet mysterious “Lebedivo.”  Sonya Vlasova’s vocals hang like mist in the air, while synths and acoustic guitars paint a picture of a magical place.  Like the dream it invokes, the piece moves from BBC Radiophonic Workshop to perhaps a camel ride on the Silk Road.  A winding passage through the Orient provides passage to Borodin’s captivating violin to carry us home.


On “Le Papillon ou moi” (The Butterfly or Me), Vespero temporarily reclaims their prog mojo, moving from one complex time signature to another, or, as a friend put it, “Geez, the math problems these guys are solving in their heads!”  “Papillon” segues almost without break into “Cloudarias.”  It’s another perfect song title, as Sonya Vlasova’s enchanting voice drifts through cottony cumulus high over Alexander Kuzovlev’s chiming strings.


“Soños No Meu Pelo” (“Sleeps in My Fur” in Portuguese) is typical Vespero, and I mean that in a very good way.  Scuttling from Ark Fedotov’s sensitive recorder intro to a violin break, to the full band coasting along, to a thunderous Middle Eastern freakout with powerful strings and percussion punctuated by bubbling space synths, to a violin finale sending you off to sweet dreams.  Now I ask you, who on Earth does all that in seven minutes?  Well, Vespero does, and they do something like it on most of the tracks here.


“Samaväya,” a Sanskrit word that has 22 meanings in Hindu, Buddhism, Jainism, and Hindi, among others - in other words, perfect for the theme of this album - opens with Kuzovlev on electric guitar (probably multiple guitars), and ventures into a cinematic section adding strings (Mellotron?) and Ark Fedotov’s wordless vocals.  This transitions to a wonderful 70s style synth from Alexey Klabukov.  Vague voices somnambulantly murmur and whisper, returning us to prog, Mellotron and Borodin’s violin.


No one makes more imaginative music than Vespero.  Each new release is a treat for the ears and the mind.  And it’s not only in the music.  The album’s artwork by Marat Dzhamaletdinov, both on the cover and in the enclosed booklet, is, like Vespero’s music, beautiful, combining the simple with the complex.  SONGO finds the boundless Vespero delivering again in top form.


(Mark Feingold)


(LP/CD/Digital on Heavy Psych Sounds records)


To all psychonauts out there, here be a fine split album by two of international Space Rock’s foremost proponents, Italian four-piece and Terrascope fave Giöbia, and Glasgow’s prolific quartet The Cosmic Dead.  It’s a headphone trip all the way, and we don’t guarantee you’ll be home for supper.


According to Merriam-Webster, “sideral” means “emanating from the stars and especially from stars held to be malefic.”  So, when it comes to exploring your own sideral remote hyperspace, hey, don’t say we didn’t warn you.


Giöbia apparently won the coin toss, and take Side A with three new tracks. “Canyon Moon” provides our launch; it’s a nifty krautrocker, with a driving beat courtesy of Paolo “Detrji” Basurto’s hypnotic bass, Pietro D’Ambrosio’s precision drumming, and Melissa Crema’s keyboards.  Stefano “Bazu” Basurto’s guitar playing provides the color as we blast into the heavens.


Next up, Giöbia perform a faithful, mind-expanding rendition of the Floyd’s “Julia Dream.”  As the record’s only track with vocals, sung ably by Melissa Crema, it would fit in well on a Fruits de Mer release, if Heavy Psych Sounds hadn’t gotten there first.  Crema’s playing even sounds a lot like Rick Wright’s organ style, then drapes lots of synth effects over the top, like syrup and butter dripping down your psychedelic breakfast.


In “Meshes of the Afternoon,” Giöbia leaves us with some of the universe’s plentiful dark energy, courtesy of a bit of gloomy organ, perforated by the astro-sewing machine-like goings-on escaping from the ship’s engine room.


The Cosmic Dead have all of Side B to stretch out with the nineteen-minute “Crater Creator.”  The slow-burner has a long, brooding seven-minute build-up before the four burst out with their own big bang, seemingly in every direction at once.  And even then, they continue pouring it on, adding layers of face-melting cosmic rays till around the fourteen-minute point, when gelatinous waves give way to hard rocking Sturm und Drang.  Besides their traditional instruments, all four musicians (Omar Aborida, guitars; Tommy Duffin, drums, Big Guitar; Luigi Pasquini (synths); and Calum Calderwood (fiddle) are listed as playing “Wah.”  And I’ll admit, there’s plenty of Wah to go around.  Digital versions come with a five-minute radio edit of “Crater Creator,” in case you’re in a hurry to make your splashdown.


That’s two sides of premium, sliced Space Rock for your collection.  And the different bands and tracks showcase different styles to keep things full of sonic variety.  It’s a fine figure of a cosmic trip.  Bon voyage.


(Mark Feingold)