= February 2014 =  
Peter Hammill & Gary Lucas
Sharron Kraus
Twilight Tipi
Psychic Frost
Comets ov Cupid
Paradise 9
20 Guilders
We Have Heaven
Raising Holy Sparks
Interstellar Overdrive
Last Shop Standing
Bricks Mortar and Love
Evening Fires
The Len Price 3
Baby Woodrose


PETER HAMMILL/GARY LUCAS – OTHER WORLD (CD from Esoteric Records www.cherryred.co.uk)

You desperately hope that a creative collaboration twixt Van Der Graaf Generator legend and cult solo artist Peter Hammill and one-time Captain Beefheart sidekick and self-confessed anglophile Gary Lucas will turn out to be something special. Thankfully “Other World”, which at times lives up to its name, proves to be a reassuringly rewarding treat...

...and then some...

Described by Hammill as “something quite strange, but strangely powerful”, all the music on “Other World” has been crafted using nothing more than guitars and Hammill’s distinctive vocals to create something extremely profoundly atmospheric whilst giving the impression of effortlessness as befitting masters of their art..

Hammill’s voice remains a highly idiosynchratic trademark and yet at times he sounds as if he has mutated into Roy Harper – that same emotive, slightly wavering delivery and just a hint of being off-key on occasion. Quite what a Hammill/Harper hook-up would sound like is a tantalising prospect (particularly if they were to cover each other’s compositions).

After the measured acoustic opener, “Spinning Coins”, Lucas begins to blow the dust off his amps and the album hits its strides with “Some Kind of Fracas”, a reverb-heavy collage of sound effects playing supplementing Hammill’s thespian narrative. “I found myself there, wrong time, wrong place”, he opines. Been there, Pete, been there.

“Cash” further underlines Hammill’s lyrical astuteness while Lucas throws out a lovely simple run with a hint of backward tape overlapping an acerbic vocal delivery. “Built from Scratch”, with its juxtaposition of sweet harmonics and a hint of discord and “Attar of Roses” – a chilled-out, contemplative composition – are back to back instrumental passages. Possibly this is where Pete nips off for a costume change, pee or a cigarette or whatever else during live performances.

If intense mood and atmosphere is your poison then look no further than “Reboot”. Some delightful, cosmic noodling presages a woozy vocal hinting at some kind of acid psychosis while some top-drawer experimentation in the mid-section makes for an unsettling yet highly effective and oddly enjoyable listening experience. Some basic riffing pulls us briefly Earthwards before subsiding back into deep space. Yes, most enjoyable and very Terrascopic.

Across the rest of a generous yet hardly overblown 14 tracks we are treated to a tantalising and almost flawless assortment of power chords, shimmering and ethereal languidness, energetic acoustic workouts, cosmic noodlings and ambient ambling and spiky, eastern tinged fretwork while on all but three of the cuts, Hammill’s imperious story-telling and vocal phrasings show why despite the decades and the ebb and flow of fickle fashion he remains one of the most innovative and respected figures in popular music.

In conclusion then, there is plenty to like and how great it is to know that Hammill is still capable of turning out work that not only impresses but pushes the boundaries, huge credit for which must go to Lucas for some expressive and inventive instrumentation. It’s fair to say that one could not have achieved such creativity without the other. The press blurb from the record label trumpets that “Other World” is certain to be one of the most unique and atmospheric albums of 2014”. It’s still early-doors as far as this year is concerned but on the evidence of this, who am I to argue?

(Ian Fraser)



(CD from http://bit.ly/1gQ6UzY) 

Before I begin this review I feel I should mention that I visited Sharron several times whilst she lived in Wales, the inspiration for this album and that a few years ago I recorded some sounds on a Korg MS-20, some of which also appear on this album. So, yes, there may be a bit of bias in my review, certainly I feel personally connected to it, but even if I did not, the album is a powerful and beautiful collection that is a pleasure to hear.

    Having moved to Wales to explore the music in the landscape, Sharron immersed herself in the area, discovering myths and legends, meeting local musicians and organising gigs in the local art centre. She also walked the land a round here allowing its magic to fire her imagination, sowing the seeds that would take form with this release.

   Moving away from traditional song structure, the music on this album is more experimental and drone-based, featuring field recordings, harp, recorder, guitar, dulcimer, synth and Sharron's exquisite voice. The voice used as an instrument as well as a carrier of the lyrics.

    Beginning with “Hiraeth”, the gentle fragile music deals with the longing to be in a certain place, to be part of the landscape, the recorder singing a soft refrain over twinkling harp and velvet vocals, drawing the listener in, using sound as enchantment.

     Reminding me of Rusalnaia (Sharron Kraus and Gillian Chadwick), “Rowan” has a hypnotic quality that is hard to shake off whilst “Cadair Idris” perfectly evokes the feeling of mystery that surround the mountain it is named after, The sparse instrumentation and arrangement allowing Sharron's voice to shine through with power and clarity.

     Whilst there are eight individual tracks on this release it is hard not to see it as one complete work, the pieces creating a whole that is more than the some of its parts. Throughout you get an overwhelming sense of the love and commitment that went into making the album, the wild beauty and contrasts to be found in the landscape shining out through the music no more so than on the pairing of “Candlemas Moon” , a delightful folk tune that is almost a hymn and “Winding Road” a song that speaks of the joy of returning, two of the most gorgeous tracks on the album. 

     Exploring the bleakness that you sometimes encounter in the Welsh landscape, “Dark Pool” has a sombre mood, this mood broken by “Y Fari Lwyd” an almost traditional folk tune, the whole album rounded of by “Farewell”, the song opening with the sound of Jackdaws, something I remember from my time there, the tune a sad lament filled with fond memories taking the listener back to the longing of the opening track.

     Also available to subscribers of the 2L Library Series, of which this is number 5, is a second disc entitled “Nightmare”, here Sharron explores some darker moments during her time in the Welsh landscape, loneliness and a lack of true belonging creating music that carries uncertainty and doubt at its centre, although it remains beautiful and hauntingly fragile.

    Housed in a fabulous sleeve that compliments the music, I cannot recommend this disc highly enough, music with enough emotion and magic the melt even the hardest hearts. (Simon Lewis)



(CD and Digital Album from http://byrdthompson.bandcamp.com/)

The first of three very different guitar based and mostly instrumental offerings (in this case entirely so) that makes up this review comes courtesy of Rob Byrd on “ambient guitar” and Kris Thompson on Theremin, and who has played at every single Terrastock (take a well deserved bow, sir).

Twilight Tipi consists of five lengthy, relaxing soundscapes which I would defy anybody except the artists themselves and the most aurally astute among you to differentiate between but that matters not. Guitars and Theremin intertwine often to entrancing effect to provide an hour long improvisation of “gliss bliss”, forming one magnificent, and energising meditation. Really, something as therapeutic as this should be freely available on the NHS (for US friends, read Obamacare – sort of).

Music to watch planets by.

Chakras suitably tuned we turn to...


A neat play, then, on the title of that old Eno album from way back, “...Lizard Mountain...” is the most recent outing from21st century Renaissance man and psychedelic polymath Mike Tamburo (aka Brother Ong) and occasional collaborator Matt MacDowell. In contrast to “Twilight Tipi” reviewed earlier In this months’ “Reviews” section, there is more pace and urgency in evidence and additional variety courtesy of a more eclectic  instrumental palette featuring dulcimer, bells, percussion and even vocals. “Psychic Airlines” tickles the synapses nicely while “Return to Frosted Jungle” builds layer by subtle layer into a suspenseful mini-drama. Tumbling, frenetic drums and an urgent guitar mark out the title track and MacDowell’s drums are again to the fore in the quasi-free-jazz experimentation of “All Things Good Are Dark Continent”. It all leads nicely to the vocal excursion of “Under Your Skin”, a campfire dirge that builds from its acoustic beginnings into a low-fi astral crescendo and eventually burnout

Short but (bitter) sweet.

COMETS OV CUPID – VRIL KOSMISCHE URKFRAFT (CD from http://cometsovcupid.wordpress.com/)

This is the third full course release, then, from Jason Kesselring in his Comets ov Cupid guise and who serves up an often mesmerising not to mention exhausting mix of drone/metal and cosmic noodling. Opener “Mysterium Cosmographicum” supplies the drone while “Sleipner” which follows supplies the manic shredding that screams “speed metal” at full voice. We’re two numbers in (from nine) and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to take the pace. Respite comes in the spectral form of “Viking Spacecraft” but only for the first couple of minutes before rolling drums and more fret mangling hurls us Valhalla bound once more. Actually I’m not sure if the title is a reference to Norse explorers/pillagers of yore or NASA space-exploration or both. I suppose it matter not.

The more subtle, restrained moments come from the likes of “The Hollow Earth”, featuring muted vocals although still with an intensity which offers little let-up but does hint at Kesselring as being more than just a noise monster. Such notions take further shape with “Ultima Thule”, which supplements the artist’s metal leanings and shows him more than capable of some capable cosmic dark-folk while “Volknut” sees Kesselring swapping megavolts for an acoustic workout that might surprise the Blackshaw/Basho fraternity out there. “Ginnungagap” (oh my poor spell checker) drones over some native American chanting and is, blow for blow, one of the real album highlights and which segues into “Jormungand” another jolly romp showcasing Jason’s searing axe work. It might have all ended rather noisily at that point but sensibly the coda comes courtesy of “Eternal Ice”, a highly atmospheric slice of ethereal, Arctic Circle chill-out which melds the Comets drone and Nordic folk trademark signatures most effectively and, I might add, gratifyingly.

(Ian Fraser)



(CD from http://www.paradise9.net/)

Paradise 9 is a loose collective of musicians consisting of Gregg McKella (ex-Dreamfield) on main vocals, guitar, glissando guitar, psychedelic clarinet and space FX's, Carl Sampson on drums/backing vocals (Casual Affair), Neil Matthars on bass (Casual Affair), Tyrone Thomas (Olympic Clamp Down/ex-Alternative TV) on lead guitar and Jaki Windmill (Mick Farren’s Deviants /ex-Space Ritual/ex-Whimwise) on djembe, percussion and backing vocals. Guest slots on the album include Ex-Hawkwind’s Nik Turner on the title track as well as Jeanette Murphy and Steve Teers, also making an appearance is the late great Judge Trev Thoms on guitar.

    This is a fine looking CD. The disc itself is designed to look like one of those crackly hissy things that we oldies cherish so fondly. This level of attention to detail is continued into the booklet complete with excellent graphics as well as lyrics being provided for the songs. The effect is completed by the track listing being split into sides one and two.    Paradise 9 are described as being a “fusion of psychedelic space rock – proto punk through to space prog – with dub and ambient moments”. This description left me feeling that this cd had the potential to be either an interesting blend of styles or a bit of a mess.

     Starting with side one  "Digital Signs" certainly ticks the box of proto punk with a superb new wave feel to it, whilst, arriving next ,"Crystalized moments" has a lovely flowing guitar intro that builds into a space prog sound reminiscent of some of the atmospheric semi ambient tracks from Hawkwind. Some lovely guitar work makes this an outstanding track. taking us back to the new wave feel "Nothing for tomorrow" is  very Inner city unit  in style, aconsidered message in the lyrics presented in a superb light musical style before "Kosmonaut" takes us through another subtle shift in tempo to more of a dub style but with some distinctly space rock elements cleverly woven into the sound. Featuring some outstanding clarinet playing by Gregg, "Ocean Rise" builds on the atmosphere created by the rest of the band to give a lovely mellow bluesy jazzy feel to this excellent instrumental track,  before another change of tempo, as "State of the nation" livens things up again with a proto punk energy, the spirit of Judge Trev coming across very strongly bringing, to this listener, fond memories of his unique style.

Side two (remember that vinyl theme) kicks off with "Points of view" a track that has a decidedly more space rock edge to it with some excellent pace and rhythm tied together with tight percussion and guitar work, again with superb clarinet playing and a healthy portion of synths to top it off. As the side progresses we are treated to dub, bluesy rock and more punk energy until we get to "Distant dreams", a gentler track that is also powerful,  the music  beautifully carrying the message conveyed by the lyrics. To  end "Take me to the future" starts out with Glissando, flute and saxophone, the latter two instruments courtesy of Nik Turner, the whole piece working superbly as the final track,  ending an excellent collection with style.

Throughout the album, the recording and mixing is top notch ,the lyrics are serious and powerful in their message, the musicianship is of a very high quality and is executed with style and flair and any initial uncertainties that I may have had about how the various styles would work out were completely unfounded. This album is truly an incredible blend of sounds that gradually change throughout the listening experience. The tracks work together, flowing from one to the other to take the listener on a meandering journey, travelling through time and space.

According to Gregg this release was five years in the making. Whilst this time span is undoubtedly reflected in the quality and attention to detail, five years is a bit too long to have to wait for the next one. (Steve Judd)


(CD and VINYL LP available from Fire Records http://www.firerecords.com)

Hailing from Christchurch NZ and featuring Alister Parker (guitar/voice), John Halvorson (bass) and Brett MacLaughlan (drums), Bailterspace are now twenty seven years into a career which I have to admit has hitherto passed me by. My loss, evidently, as this loud, often atmospheric and at times grungy rocking (but now hardly teenage) combo quite impressed me on this their ninth long player and their second following an extended hiatus during the “noughties”.

The sub-Stooges title track is an object lesson in how less is very often more. Simple yet effective, with short sentences delivered in Parker’s vulnerable-sounding voice and which takes me back to the snottier and more interesting bands of the 80s pre-Britpop 90s. It also reminds me in a strange way of a stripped down Lumerians. There is more than a hint of Dinosaur Jr to “Painted Window”, which loses its way slightly in the chorus despite some typically deft guitar work from Parker and a solid wall of noise courtesy of the rhythm section. “Today” throws some welcome dirt into the mix – a growling bottom end dragging a slab of fuzzed out hypnotic weirdness in its wake, with Parker throwing in some lovely Jefferson Airplace style guitar to boot. The high water mark reached with “Today” continues with “Tri5”, an acerbic, shoegaze classic with again some notable guitar from Parker, while the sharp, tattoo drumming and throbbing bass lines are typically incessant.

The remainder of the album, whilst not so compelling, is certainly not without its notable moments. A “dusty bits” bass line ushers in “In the World”, which is suitable loud and intense while “Plan Machine” struts, the distorted vocal adding to the rather menacing swagger. “Open” is how Sonic Youth might sound if Kim were to sing in Thurston’s voice (or conversely, Thurston in Kim’s style) and lopes along acceptably although the shimmering “Films of You”, while it soars in the last eight, is slightly undone by a weak vocal mix. Indeed if there is one criticism of Trinine it is that Parker’s voice is almost incidental at times and the fragile delivery sometimes struggles to compete with the full on instrumentation and a production unafraid of giving prominence to a powerful lower register.

I’m not sure how typical this is of the Bailterspace back catalogue and so I’ll make it my job to find out. On the strength of Trinine it’s unlikely to be an unpleasant chore. For now, I think you’ll find there is plenty to interest you here if, like me, you are not averse to the occasional bit of sonic battering.

(Ian Fraser)




      I was thinking the other day that a slab of split vinyl is the perfect way to hear underground music, Fans of one band will at least enjoy half the record and may well discover some excellent music, the bands get to split costs and don't need to commit a whole album's worth of recording to the project and they just look cool. Bearing this in mind I can see no reason why anyone should not want to own this fine slab of vinyl.

   Featuring Tabata Mitsuru (Acid Mother, The Boredoms) and Suzuki Junzo (Minimokoto), The 20 Guilders offer 4 slices of downtempo, electric / acoustic, psych that creeps under the skin becoming better with each spin until you suddenly realise this is one of your favourite sides of vinyl right now. Opening with a slow blues riff. “Waving My Hands In The Dark Blues” (titles in English, lyrics in Japanese) has the claustrophobic feel of that Skip Spence record, an emotion drenched electric guitar singing its pain over the acoustic picking and mumbled vocals. On “The Mystery of the Pyramids” the duo bear a remarkable resemblance to Norwegian band Ring, the seemingly simple guitar riffs overlaid with subtle playing and soft melody, this feel continued on “Under the Red Roof” although this time the electric guitar plays a more prominent role especially in the second half of the tune, as some fine psychedelic fretwork takes you soaring to the skies, both musicians playing in unison for maximum effect. Finally, “Gravity Bong” has a relaxed hippy feel, laid back guitar blending with the vocal line, reminding me of a Gorkys B-side, but maybe that is just me. Either way this is a quality side of music well worth exploring.

  Over on the other side, We Have Heaven grab your attention quickly with the hypnotic drone of “Cardinals”, a violin adding an eastern feel to the Can like groove, subtle changes to the piece creating interest without losing its meditative haze. Creating a slower pace of life with its drifting melodies and relaxed feel, “I Was On My Way To Summerland” also features a surreal narration that shimmers like a heat haze, giving the track the appearance of a dream. After this slice of loveliness, “Stay Psychedelik” succeeds in slowing life down again, that lysergic shimmer present in its short and delightful life cycle.

   To be fair, by this time the listener may well find themselves completely immersed in the wonderful music on offer with “You Are The Way” continuing the ambience of the disc, guitar and violin writhing seductively together over a warm pulse of percussion the track building slowly into a passionate and entrancing track that is as beautiful as a sunrise. Finally, “Rennes Le Chateau” is a gently floating cloud of bliss, the music warming and healing, leaving you feeling completely content and ready for the day.

   With both sets of musicians at the top of their game this is a release well worth finding and spending some time with, the two sides working well together to create a most satisfying whole. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from Deep Water Records www.dwacres.com)

Raising Holy Sparks is the current musical venture of Terrascopic darling and a feature of last year’s Woolf Music festival, David Colohan (United Bible Studies/Agitated Radio Pilot/Deserted Village collective) and as such is sure to be welcomed with interests in our small but perfectly formed corner of the musical cosmos.

Joined by a strong supporting cast which includes regular collaborators Richard Moult and Plinth’s Michael Tanner (who also graced Woolf Music) Colohan’s “A Mendicant Hymnal” is a musical chronicle of our Irish Rover’s journey across 30 US states. It is a bewitching, subtle and deceptively gentle collage of sound which, not to put too fine a point on it, is in danger of giving ambient drone a good name.

Spread over two CDs, each more than an hour long, A Mendicant Hymnal is an aural travelogue which requires a little patience (and a couple of sittings) but which is quite majestic in its scope and masterful in execution. From the lifting “A Stretch of Haunted Road” through to “At the Confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah” CD 1 reaches out across the vast horizon of Big Sky America. Its centre-point is the 20 minute “Meteors over the Messa”, an awesomely constructed slow flowing glacier and one of two tracks featuring Tanner’s understated electric guitar. However other notable landmarks are the melodic piano of “Within Painted Desert” which overlays the long-notes of ambient sound and which is juxtaposed with some searing fuzz guitar, and the aforementioned “...Potomac and Shenandoah” which provides a temporary departure from the ambient drones and into more conventional musical fare of guitar and piano. At times a latter-day and even more spacious “Gymnopedies”, even amongst the great outdoors sound of A Mendicant Hymnal, this is rarefied air indeed.

On to CD two, then, and really it’s more of the same, which does beg the question as to whether this might have been an even more powerful work over just the one disc. No, let’s be greedy and rejoice in such works as “Plains of Kansas”, a portentous-sounding opening gambit and the achingly pastoral “We Will Rest Forever in the Fields of the Lord” featuring once more Tanner’s guitar (this time with star billing and to good effect) and some pumping 200 bpm techno (nah, only kidding). “The Credo of Desolving” is also highly effective soundtrack material, the plink and plonk of piano playfully skipping around orchestral swathes (a mellotron, perchance?) and some amped up, crunching guitar at around 7 minutes – and no I’m not making that up. Finally we sign off with “Perenne Lumen in Templo Aeterne”, as ghostly and uplifting a bookend as “Haunted Road” was at the beginning. Time to roll the credits as the sun sets over cinemascope - Big Country, indeed.

I suppose one of nearest touchstones I can think of would be a Popol Vuh/Herzog collaboration which should speak volumes in its own right. The effect of Colohoun’s latest endeavour is epic, profound and so disarmingly beautiful in places as to move this reviewer almost to tears.

(Ian Fraser)



(Paperback publication from Shindig! Magazine http://www.shindig-magazine.com/)

“Spacerock” exerts a great fascination over me and I suspect quite a few of our readers. Strange, then, that when it comes to describing it, a neat and self-contained definition proves remarkably elusive.

So what is “spacerock”? Well judging by the breadth and depth of this book-a-zine (weighing in at 170 pages) our colleagues at Shindig! have a similar difficulty in pinning this down. What what this fine publication does is to reveal the rich tapestry of sounds, ideas and imagery that together makes up a genre, particularly useful for us lazy blighters who like to use one word pigeon-hole descriptions where otherwise we would have to muster descriptive powers and so end up not doing justice to a hugely varied subset of music taking in blues, rock, jazz, classical music, bombast and a whole lot of weirdness. An interest in sci-fi or well-placed references to Crab Nebula (goes well with salad, apparently) help, but not if communicated in a doo-wop style, seemingly.

Anyhoo. Hats and space helmets off, big time, to Austin Matthews, under whose stellar stewardship Interstellar Overdrive has been compiled and which tracse roots back to the music of Berlioz and Debussy (so it’s a French thing, how Ted Nugent must be turning on his own roasting spit at this point) through to space exotica, Joe Meek and the experimentalism of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop before alighting in the late 60s and the more familiar yet unconventional fare of acid rock, krautrock and pretty much anything wild, weird and/or wiggy.

Pink Floyd are rightly regarded as 60s daddies of space rock despite the band playing down their connection (“what? Spacey sounds and references to galactic satellites, setting controls for the heart of the sun and dark sides of moons? Us? Oh and what’s the title of this publication again”). Of course Hawkwind receive major coverage not just in their own right but, unsurprisingly given their acknowledged status as a spacerock superpower are referenced throughout. What is interesting though is that of the many acts interviewed here, mostly by the indefatigable Matthews, not all cite the Hawks as a major influence and one or two are less than unstinting in their admiration of Dave Brock and co.

The lengthy piece on personal favourites Gong edges into “Saga of Hawkwind” territory in its account of the making of the Radio Gnome trilogy thanks to Tim Blake giving vent to some considerable spleen. Blake himself merits his own slot later on courtesy of his brace of Crystal Machine albums in the late 1970s and in particular “Blake’s New Jerusalem” which was never far from our communal record player back in my student days. Now that really was long ago and in a far off galaxy.

What really puts the seal on it for me though is the killer krautrock section. Aside from in depth pieces and interviews with Michael Rother, Manuel Gottsching, John Weinzieri and Dave Anderson there is an absolutely bang-on-the-money “10 Kosmiche Klassiks” feature. Any list featuring Popol Vuh’s “Affenstunde”, the self-titled Ashra Tempel Album and AR and Machines’ “Die Grune Reise” (once you get past the Black Lace “Superman”-style opening few bars, probably some of the best noise ever recorded by anyone, anywhere) is guaranteed to command your writer’s total attention and admiration.

Understandably given the range and ambition of Interstellar Overdrive there are bound to be some charges of incongruity based on one or two strange inclusions or omissions (or at very least under-representation). At times spacerock seems to become confused with psychedelia or even “hippie”.  Interesting and informative though the piece on free festivals is its link to spacerock is a bit tenuous other than the fact that Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles used to play them. Although I’m a fan I don’t entirely understand Pink Fairies’ inclusion – presumably it’s the Pinkwind connection with Hawkwind – while for my money, Here and Now were more deserving of their own feature as although like the Fairies they were very much of the streets, their music had a much spacier feel. As for Loop then goodness knows what they are doing here given their lack of obvious spacerock credentials and clear ambivalence towards the concept.

Still this is (ursa) minor detail to be sure as the spacerock family life star fires sparks in a multiplicity of illuminating directions including the contribution of black music thanks to Sun Ra and George Clinton, and separate American strands featuring the experimental 60s sounds of 50 Foot Hose, Joe Byrd and Silver Apples and more recently the likes of Chrome, ST37 and Farflung. One of the most curious (daring even) features, concerns prog behemoths Yes and Rush, bands of whom I know little and care even less. However Marco Rossi, surely one of the most humorously entertaining music wordsmiths currently tapping a keyboard makes the case for their exclusion more so than Hawkwind, whom he vividly describes as earthbound due to their “agrarian riffing” and the diverting stage presence back in the day of one Stacia Blake (52-inch chest and 6ft plus frame, usually paraded bare naked), It’s a moot point of course but when presented this way is as valid as any. Discuss.

And there’s more, as some god awful Irish comedian used to keep braying. Solar systems more in fact, from Astra to Vibravoid, Acid Mothers Temple to White Hills and all points in between (Heads, Ozrics and Pinhas included) plus featured albums and “best of Spacerock” tracks. Moreover the various diversions are brought to you from the pens of, if not another 20 telepathic men, then certainly the likes of Patrick Lundborg, Ian Abrahams and Deviants/Pink Fairies biographer, Rich Deakin. Heavyweight tome, heavyweight cast.

All in all superbly researched and presented with lots of new information and photos even for those of us who have been round the clock a few times and thought we’d been there and met the aliens. It’s a must-read and therefore unreservedly recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in space oddity.

Over and out.

(Ian “Spaceman 1” Fraser)



Last Shop Standing – The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the Independent Record Shop
(DVD www.lastshopstanding.com)
Brick Mortar and Love
(DVD www.MVDvisual.com)

Record shops have played a great part in my arguably arrested development, From the point when, on the eve of my six birthday I was accompanied to Lorraine’s of Barry to purchase, for the sum of 4/6d, my first ever 7in single, I have been fascinated by them and the more ill-lit and mysterious, the greater the attraction. To this day I am unable to pass an independent music emporium without calling in, perusing the product and, more often than not, doing my little bit to help sustain the business at least until the next working day.

Record shops have had it rough in recent years. Since their hype(erbolic) chart fixing heyday of the 1980s and early 90s they have been in gradual decline due to the combination of factors including, variously, the supermarket sweep of the commercial end of the market, the knotweed-like proliferation of the high street megastores, the advent of digital downloading and perhaps most damaging of all, the off-shore tax avoiding online retail giants who I am sure we are all guilty at some point of having frequented on some half inebriated whim of instant gratification or because of the sort of availability that seems beyond the ingenuity of all but the most persevering and well-connected local merchant. OK, if we are honest how many of us have forsaken others on the basis that a five quid saving is not to be sniffed at? Yep, so many of us have, truly, sold our souls for rock n’ roll.

Well it’s all charted here, folks, in “Last Shop Standing”, the visual representation of former distribution company rep and HMV employee Graham Jones’ book of almost the same name from 2009. Split into three main sections “rise”, “fall” and “rebirth” (plus ultra generous extra features)  – the documentary is filled with anecdotes from shop owners and celebrity talking heads. As diverting as the observations and reminisces of the likes of Paul Weller and Richard Hawley are (especially the latter, who correctly observes that nobody is ever likely to discover Captain Beefheart or the Elevators in their local supermarket) though, it is the ordinary, unsung heroes of sonic retailing who are the real stars of the show. There’s the woman in Liverpool who was in business with her parents when some new kid called Elvis Presley came on the scene and no-one quite knew what to make of him and any number of incisive and humorous cameos and soundbites from a host of doggedly determined and innovative types exhibiting the flair and entrepreneurial nose that has thus-far kept them a step ahead of the grim reaper of corporately skewed market forces. These I’m pleased to say, include the helmsmen and women of some of my favourite shops from Brighton to Tenby and all points of the UK compass.

I mentioned that the title is subtly different from that of the book on which this documentary is based. Jones’ original tome, a labour of love of the music fan and semi-insider as opposed to a work of great literary merit was called “The Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened To Record Shops?” and pondered the future of an institution in seemingly terminal decline although still foreseeing some residual role for the most enterprising and diverse outlets. However since 2009 a curious and quite exciting thing has happened. The 12 inch album, that rather clunky old format twice or maybe thrice removed from the current technological zeitgeist has simply refused to go quietly to its’ vinyl grave. Hastily and it would appear prematurely cast to the four winds of obsolescence by the industry fuelled mass advent of the Compact Disc (remember the claims of superior music quality and un-breakability? So it seems do many of those featured here and who recount as much in quite rueful terms) the vinyl record is enjoying something of resurgence. This of course is largely thanks to old die-hards –take a bow all of you – but also to new recruits drawn by the warmth of sound, readable sleeves and a ritual sadly missing in point and click technology. In short it’s an incredibly uplifting example of people power and an industry of enterprising souls, mostly in it for the love rather than the money, refusing to be dictated to by the corporate suits keen to sell you new products annually. Not only that, but for the first time in years there are more new independent shops opening than closing. Alas this did not prevent fine old Chesterfield institution Hudson’s closing during the making of the film but increasingly, it seems, small storefronts are opening selling (mostly) vinyl to niche markets. The message is clear. Let Tesco and the other supermarkets have their One Dimension and a revolving cast of forgettable post-MTV pap stars. We know there is a wider and more discerning market out there that craves something more than can be offered in aisle 13 or via the internet and which occasionally provides an odd form of informative social intercourse that no other option can offer.

I recently saw a sticker with the legend “Vinyl is killing the MP3 industry” (which I’ve since borrowed for my forum strap line). That’s not going to happen nor should it necessarily, but as long as there are places like “Pie and Vinyl” (what? food and music under the same roof?) and dedicated enthusiasts offering an informed, personal and often diverse range of services (tickets, t-shirts, refreshments, in-house performances) then there is still the reassuring hope that the embers can be rekindled into the longer term.

For American readers, “Brick and Mortar and Love” will resonate in the same way as its UK equivalent. However while “Last Shop” features an array of subjects, this focuses on just one. Charting the last year in existence of "ear X-tacy Records" shop in Louisville, Kentucky, an institution in more than one sense of the word and which was in business for over 25 years, [including one year in which they did an awful lot of work promoting Terrastock, bless their hearts], director Scott Shuffit follows owner John Timmons as he strives to keep operating in competition with what are described as the "big box store" chains. It is these and, to a lesser extent music downloads that are cited as a threat to small record stores but, surprisingly, on line merchants are not.

Like the “Last Shop” this is a documentary film which relies very little on musical score, the main exception to the rule being book-end performances by Jim Jones of the renowned My Morning Jacket, a local band who often frequented and it seems performed at the store when they were on the “up”. What we do see, as Timmons appeals to his local community to rally round, is plenty of customers coming into the shop and talking about what it means for them (and which includes some negative comment in the midst of mostly supportive input). We also hear from other record store proprietors talking about the trials and tribulations of keeping an independent outlet ticking over. Increased public support means that Timmons was able to save his business for a time but was forced to firstly move location and ultimately shut up shop despite a benefit concert featuring local bands (from which a few clips are aired). So unlike its UK counterpart “Bricks” is unable to offer much succour to the devout music collector and retail junky in terms of the future of the local indie store. All credit to Timmons, though, for keeping the faith for 26 years, no mean achievement for any small retailer these days, whatever the product.
(Ian Fraser)



( DVD gonzomultimedia)

    For fifty years, Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, aka Vangelis, has created some of the most distinctive, ground-breaking and well-loved of contemporary music, from Greek pop, through Greek psychedelic and electronic, to symphonic and film music. Best known perhaps for his film scores, he is regarded by many as the foremost musician to turn to for accompanying music.

Little is known of Vangelis’ personal life and he rarely gives interviews, but this documentary serves to fill that gap, although plenty of gaps are left. Vangelis takes centre stage, talking in the main about his film scores and recent albums, many of which were created for specific events – eg the Greek Games of 1997 – though other works are presented as experimental. As the man himself explains, he has little time or patience for the music business; he wants to go where he wants to go.

The film begins with an introduction to his film work, focussing on such films as Conquest Of Paradise, before rambling off into a series of vignettes of Greece, other albums, and a few collaborations. Noted contributors include Jon Anderson (suitably goofy and cosmic on the blink-and-you-missed-it composition of the global hit I Hear You Now, which Vangelis wryly observes he and Anderson wrote in order to satisfy the record companies). Also taking part are various singers utilised by Vangelis for his orchestral or symphonic-electronic scores, eg Montserrat Caballe and her daughter, and Jessye Norman.

Towards the middle of the documentary the talking heads fade, and there is an extraordinary section showing Vangelis’ compositional method – and this really is an eye-opener! Sitting within a C-shape of stacked keyboards, one of which appears to be an old-fashioned sampler, he creates the music in real time, using themes noted down previously (Vangelis has an inexhaustible supply of themes, it transpires), so that when he is creating film music he is literally composing in the moment, even to the extent of changing keyboard settings to acquire the different sounds.

Later sections of the documentary cover other works, notably The Journey To Ithaka, narrated by Sean Connery, who makes a brief appearance – as do a few others, including Vangelis’ transcriber (he can’t read or write music). Mythodea is covered, as is El Greco. A later section reveals that Vangelis is, and has been for some time, a painter. His pictures are striking, often featuring ill-defined human figures, and using strong colours – another surprise, and one Vangelis himself says little about. Painting, it appears, is a private occupation for him, and for decades his work was never seen, until a pair of Spanish art experts managed to persuade him to undertake a “world tour” of his pictures.

At the end of the film there is a little about Vangelis’ childhood, his parents especially, but once again there is little to go on. Ridley Scott observes that the man lives mostly “in his head.” The famous theme to Chariots Of Fire is revealed as a requiem for Vangelis’ athlete father, premiered to David Puttnam in Vangelis’ Rolls-Royce, as the composer wept. There is also a short section on the genesis of the music for Blade Runner.

Alas, though this is a compelling film, there is too little on the early periods in Vangelis’ musical life – his work with Aphrodite’s Child, and the 1970’s electronic albums. More on this would have been most welcome, but overall, as a moderately revealing documentary, this is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a gifted musician. Essential for Vangelis fans, and recommended to anyone interested in electronic music or the making of film scores. (Steve Palmer)



(LPs from quttinirpaaq)

With a sonic palette that ranges from industrial clouds of distorted drone infested noise that choke you to the ground through to  megalith riffs that kick you while you are down there, the music of this Texan Band is neither subtle or suitable for an evening church service. It is however, bloody good especially served at ear-bleeding volume and a full glass in hand.

  The opening salvo on “No Visitors” sums it all up with “Suburban Roulette” re-inventing the word distorted before “Malvert” pummels your brain with its incessant beat and dark vibe. After further noise and confusion, plus a brief moment of less chaotic drone, the Sabbath meets Mono of “Dmtbrigman” crfunches its way into your skull, swarming electronics and a monster riff stomping on your synapses with glee and malice. With a tribal demonic stomp, the much stranger/weirder “Bad Ronald”is almost danceable in a primitive kinda way, the side rounded off by “Becombs” more distortion as an art form, phew.

    With not much info on either album it is hard to fathom what is going on most of the time, electronics mixing with guitar/feedback, beats with real drummers and vocals so fucked up their meaning is lost in the storm. None of this makes the slightest difference to the listening experience though as side two continues in the same vein, featuring three longer tracks, with the slower pulse of “Golden Needles” adding a much needed change of pace, if not mood, in the middle before “Horsehead Bookends” ends it all in a squall of guitar distortion. On glorious Red Vinyl as well, result.

    Released in the same year (2013) on clear vinyl with blood-red splatters, “Let's Hang Out” is possibly even more intense and focused than the previous disc, slightly slower and doom laden with a tendency to creep up your spine and throttle your senses. Opening with the wonderfully titled “Diary of a Pig Keepers Wife” the music sound like it is being played at 16 rather than 33, that is until, the Stooges meets Paik guitar assault of “Chinese Hercules” crashes into your life,ramping the album up a notch with relentless fury. This energy is raised again on “Stork” a song that makes Killing Joke sound pleasant, whilst the distorted electronic Aphex inducing “Man Without a Body” is another sonic pathway in the band diabolical soundscape, the album side ended with the almost mellow  “A Golden Sheriff”, a sweet little tune that remains strange and lysergic as well.

     Over on side two the fun continues, waves of guitar destruction and riffage, the ever present electronic hordes and dark beats vying for attention, by this time in the review I am happy just to let it all roll over me taking me into oblivion, suffice to say the intensity did not let up one iota. (Simon Lewis)




(CD from Deep Water www.dwacres.com)

This short collection of live recordings, the first live EF set captured for posterity in thirteen outings, features three extravagantly titled compositions and dates from between 2010 and 2013. Rightly acclaimed, Deep Water’s flagship band have cultivated a brand of bucolic psychedelia (a heady, mix of folk, drone and frontal-assault freakout) which on this release takes a bit of time to bubble and boil by which point it is almost time to leave the feast.

“Their Soul Shall Be as a Watered Garden” plucks and saws pleasantly without ever threatening to catch fire, Jennifer Breimhurst’s violin acting as the centrepiece around which the rest of the band weave pastorally. Whilst it’s probably a bit unkind to describe this as an extended warm up it does give you a flavour of this ruminative improvisation. “The Sky Watcher’s Guide” replaces Breimhurst’s bowed strings with Kevin Moist’s guitar and introduces gentle keys and a modicum of light percussion which lends the piece a nicely languid, loping gait and an agreeably atmospheric feel. “There Ain’t Been a Man Since Moses” reintroduces the violin and a more pronounced rhythmic feel courtesy of more urgent playing and prominent drumming and provides a fitting climax to an album which builds from almost inauspicious beginnings to a somewhat more fulfilling climax in which the band reveals a glimpse of its full potential.

(Ian Fraser)



(CD/LP from http://www.thelenprice3.co.uk/)
(CD/LP from http://badafro.dk/)

Hailing from the Medway Towns, The Len Price 3 make a glorious garage racket with hooks-a-plenty and just the right attitude, sounding not unlike The Kinks colliding with The Standells in a sleazy nightclub. Opening track “Nobody Knows” fires off with a great three chord riff, lyrics that catch your ear and a singalong chorus all guaranteed to get you stomping around the kitchen and you will still be dancing as  the lysergic organ of “Swing Like a Monkey” makes you feel good, another singalong chorus making sure you join in.

     Doing a good impression of The Who, the band get all primitive on the excellent “Grandad Jim”, a tune that rocks in all the right ways before the album slows down a touch for the poppier “Lonely”, a melancholic tune with sharp lyrics, the organ coming to the fore again.

   Over 13 tracks, the band keep it tight and varied, the words making you smile, whilst the rhythms keep you feet tapping, indeed tunes such as “Wigmore Swingers” manage both with ease, whilst “Billy Mason” contains enough energy to get anyone up and grooving, the album also containing the traditional slow number, in this case the lovely acoustic based “Medway Sun” complete with some lilting brass in the chorus. All in all a rather wonderful collection.

    Playing a more psychedelic inspired garage, Baby Woodrose have been plying their trade for many years now releasing a stackful of 7” singles in the process. As these are now difficult to find this collection bring together some of the B-sides from those singles resulting in a fine collection of  tunes.

    With several of the tunes basically recorded live in the studio there is a crackle of energy running through the collection, the band obviously commited th o the songs and enjoying themselves.

      Starting as they mean to go on, “Information Overload” explodes out of the speakers, making you want to turn everything way up, blowing the cobwebs from your mind with ease, the energy levels continued as “Good Day To Die” takes over, complete with snarling attitude and a primitive rock 'n' roll riffery. Moving into psych territory, the suitably named “I Feel High” has swirling organ and fuzzed guitar running through it with some great guitar work to boot. Over 14 songs this collection sounds like an obscure sixties compilation the tunes shifting between garage and psychedelia and sounding damn good and all held together by the guitar/vocals on Lorenzo Woodrose, the only band member who appears on every track. Also worth mentioning is a moody cover of “6654321” originally by The Troggs, the song taken down a darker alley to good effect.

    So, get both the album a case of cold beer and indulge in a couple of hours of rock and roll happiness, simple pleasures are often the best. (Simon Lewis)




(CD from Deep Water www.dwacres.com

What is it with these Swedes? After Goat have blazed a psychedelic world music swathe through festival land over the past 18 months or so say a big hello to Daniel Westerlund (if of course you haven’t done so already given that his other alter-ego The Goner has graced these pages on occasion).

Really, eclectic is hardly the word whilst understatement doesn’t seem to feature much in the vocabulary either. Banjos, sitars, raga and surf guitars and farfisa organ assail the sonic antennae and that’s just track one, the outrageously wonderful “Hexx”. Weird electronica follows in the barely corporeal form of “The Drug Behind The Drug” while “The Poor of Heart” further confounds any attempt at pigeon-holing our artist with an emotive helping of folksy, acoustic balladry. Bewildering, indeed, and this is just the first three tracks from nine (just under two score minutes duration in all).

Of the remainder, well it’s definitely worth picking out the eastern-tinged funk/strut of “Blind Tribe” with its delightful and infectious groove. “Traveller You Will Sing”, with its Fahey-style picking, could lay claim to being a long-lost acid-folk classic while “Hazel Motes at the Plastic Vortex” broods beautifully. Again that juxtaposition of banjo and eastern styling over an ethereal mist of sound is as timeless as it is enjoyable. The rest of the album eases up on the more outrageous and diverse delivery thanks to a couple of pastoral soft-landings but, taken as a whole, this is an enjoyably eccentric and quite compelling little offering that is well worth taking a punt on.

(Ian Fraser)