= February 2015 =  
Nick Nicely
The Electric Prunes
The Cyrillic Typewriter
Hiss Golden Messenger
Eternal Tapestry


(LP/CD/DL from http://www.lorecordings.com/)

Proving that Psychedelia is an ever changing musical form, this album breaks free from its late sixties roots to soar through clouds of ambience, noise, experimentation, melody and disorientation, the whole collection likely to remind you of a whole host of bands and genre without you ever being able to pin it down.

   With a swirling arrangement and a driving energy, “HeadwindAheadwind” sets the stall out early, a rich and full production allowing the listener to get lost in a lysergic groove of the music, Floyd and The Orb jamming with an energetic garage band, the same feel present on “Rosemary's Eyes”, sounds zooming in and out of focus to delirious effect.

    Opening with a droney noise “Wrottersley Road” continue the sonic journey, distorted guitars and effects writhing together reminding me of Ant Bee in their musical confusion, the Psychedelic element turned right up as the track's sounds begin to bleed together into something both timeless and beautiful. Changing tack slightly, “Whirlpool” almost invents Dub-Psych before the Psych wins out again, another serious slice of production that has a melodic song at its heart, the piece taking the form into the future with some style.

    Ending side one, the mellower sounds of “London South” take us into “Chill Out”  (KLF) territory, snatches of melody and vocals floating through an ambient landscape, definitely time to turn the lights down,if you haven't already.

    Almost straight forward in its approach, side two begins with “Longwaytothebeach” a catchy tune at the heart of the track, although, once again, it is cloaked in a cloud of sound that add an unreal beauty to the song, some backwards guitar a definite nod to the past. Trying to invent Dub-Psych again, “Change in Charmaine” has a nagging bass-line, dancing harpsichord like notes and a clean production, whilst the magnificent “Raw Euphoria” attempts enlightenment through the destruction of the senses, a hypnotic pulse dragging the listener into the song before it disintegrates around them, a whistled melody adding a human touch to the proceedings, things getting seriously weird, and a bit Kraut-Rock, towards the end.

   After the atmospheric haze of “Lobster Haze” the album ends with “Rrainbow” quite possibly the Straightest moment on the record, a delightful Psych-Pop tune that leads us out gently, in a relaxed fashion, the grin on our faces meaning that we will be re-visiting this superb album real soon.

    Best Known for “Hilly Fields” (a version of which is available on the CD/DL) Nick Nicely should be much more well-known than he is. I urge you to listen to and purchase this release, an album you will return to again and again safe in the knowledge that the future of Psychedelic music is in safe hands. (Simon Lewis)


(CD from www.electricprune67.com)

Can I believe my eyes and ears or is this really the, I mean THE Electric Prunes, iconic if slightly packaged and choreographed heroes of late 60s West Coast US of A flower punk who brought us such epic garage style, industry-penned belters as “I Had To Much To Dream (Last Night)” and “Get Me To The World On Time”? Well closer inspection of the strikingly garish and befitting cover confirms that it is indeed they. What’s more it doesn’t appear to be a credulity-stretching, cynical cash in whereby the only member of the band with any tenuous link to its glorious past is the guy who immediately replaced the original drummer.

No sir. Original mover and hippie-hippie shaker James Lowe is there on vocals and assorted instruments along with (the now late) Mark Tulin and Jay Dooley from the early line up, while founder member, guitarist Ken Williams, is credited on a couple of tracks. One of these is opener “Smokestack Lighting”, all done up Dr John style but with added power chords (and Quintessence(tial) flute) and which augurs well, you think, for a strong set. It doesn’t pan out exactly to plan but you can’t fault the endeavour and occasionally the execution. Here and there (“Beauty Queen”, “Circles”, for instance) you are transported albeit fleetingly in the general direction of 1967 Cali. “Blue Sky/Red Dress” on the other hand, with its hand claps and some typically solid guitar work from Steve Kara is catchy in a goofball frat party way while “Between The Cracks” is pure Neil Young circa Mirror Ball. Elsewhere “Love Fade Away” is pleasant enough if a mite weak in the chorus (something of a recurring niggle throughout the album) and “Bullet Thru The Backseat” is a hoary enough old stomper more akin to corporate radio friendly late 70s new wave (think Cars or some such). “Adoration Stuck” and “Hollywood Hype” have enough quirk and playfulness to keep them the right side of interesting and away from those central white lines, but “Tokyo” can’t resist the slide into AOR (and it rhymes with “snow” doncha know? A reference to a freak snowstorm the band experienced while playing there). Still there’s always the cod-biker rock of “Don’t Sneeze On Me” (what’s going on there?) to help pull you through.

Fact. “Was” isn’t a classic by any means and won’t set the music world alight, but then we have no right to expect that it would. The fact that these guys, most of them at least, are still upright and living it up while occasionally serving up a few decent hooks into the bargain should be good enough for any of us.

Ian Fraser



(LP/CD/DL https://sendelica.bandcamp.com/album/anima-mundi)
(LP http://cosmiceyerecords.blogspot.co.uk/)

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was reviewing their “Live at Crabstock” LP and here they are again, the mighty Sendelica, with an album that shows the band moving from strength to strength, the album a solid collection that flows beautifully and contains enough Space-Rock goodness to keep you satisfied until the very last drop.

   Beginning with the melodic strains of “the Craft Worker”, the band hook you in with a mellow groove, effected guitar and a subtle sequence giving the piece the ambience of seventies Vangelis, some delightful sax playing adding to the fun. Of course, this being Sendelica, you know something noisier is coming and it does, in the shape of “Master Benjamin Warned Young Albert Not To Step On The Uninsulated Air”, a twelve minute epic that has a Hawkwind style bass line, nagging guitar riffs, swirling synths and a wailing sax, the whole thing begging to be turned up real loud. In the Middle, as the band lock into their groove, the sax of Lee Relfe begins to excel, sounding like Pierre Malherbe as it spirals into the distance, the track changing riff as it does so allowing Pete Bingham to shine on guitar. Finally on side one, “The Pillar Of Dehli” is a spacier affair, lots of echo to be found as the band channel a late sixties vibe, swathed in curling smoke and gentle smiles, the guitar of Gregory Curvey (The Luck Of Eden Hall) adding an extra dimension to the music.

    Continuing the ambience, “Azoic” is another drifting slice of Psych the floats across the sky powered by sympathetic drums and writhing guitar. Adding some energetic wah guitar “Baalbek Stones” reminds me of early Bevis, whilst “The Breyr, The Taeogion and The Caethion” is the heaviest thing on the record, some nasty riffs adding crunch to proceedings as Mr Bingham takes his guitar for a walk in the stratosphere. Taking us in a suitably relaxed manner “Searohwit” has some lovely dancing flute and a stoned vibe, leaving you very happy after a magnificent journey into the world of Sendelica, a place of wonder.

   As well as writing novels and helping out with our Rumbles column Steve Palmer also finds time to record music under the name Mooch (amongst others). Since 1992 he has released a bewildering array of albums under this name, the music ranging from ambient electronics to Space-Rock and sixties Psych-Pop, as well as several points in between. Usually Steve chooses musicians to suit the type of music being made and on this collection, his first to appear on vinyl, there is a stellar array of musicians helping to create a very enticing alum filled with space-rock goodness.

     Complete with some fine Tim Blake sounding keyboards, “T Minus None” is a stunning opener that sets the standard for the rest of the album. A free-flowing psychedelic stew, the track is lifted into orbit by the guitar work of Garry “Moonboot” Masters, a founding member of the Magic Mushroom Band and a man who knows his way around a fretboard, the track containing a hint of Reggae giving the feel of a classic festival band. On “The Golden Rule”, Steve is joined by Cyndee Lee Rule whose violin soars across a cloud of gliss and heavenly ambience, a rich vein of Gong to be found in the track. There is also an excellent cover of “Hall of the Mountain Grill” featuring Cyndee and Mooch to be found on her website. (http://www.cyndeeleerule.com/music.html).

   Moving on, “Mellifluo” is a gentle piece that, for some reason, reminds me of a psychedelic “Stranger on the Shore” whilst “Clouded” is a blossoming wave of synth happiness featuring Jez Creek (Modular ESP), the track closing side one in a relaxed and reasonably blissed out manner.

    Starting side two with style “The Great Retsina Jam” is a swirling rush of psychedelia, synths dancing in your head highlighting Steve's love of Tangerine Dream and Vangelis, the music having a majestic quality as it rides towards its climax. After such an epic, “Pstrings” engages the listener with an electronic voice chanting the album title before some very Hillage like guitar, courtesy of Alex Pym (Dream Machine) bursts forth creating another Gong influenced track that gets right inside your head. To lead us out we are treated to some space whisper from Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind) whose vocals grace “Another Time, Another Place” a gorgeous song with just the right amount of festival ambience and an Eastern feel due to the percussion used.

    Excellent from to finish, this collection is undoubtedly helped by its guests but, at its heart, it is the songwriting, vision and production of Steve Palmer that drive the album. One of the best in its genre that I have heard for many years.

    So, proof that Space – Rock is alive and well in the UK, any heads with a bit of Christmas money left over would to well to purchase these before they disappear only to become sought after classics many years from now. (Simon Lewis)



ST 37 – I’M NOT GOOD (CD from Cleopatra Records http://cleorecs.com/home/)

Reassuringly alive and well and signed to Cleopatra Records (Nik Turner’s US home) and due to tour the States with Acid Mothers Temple later this year, ST 37 have such a rich history and an iconic status as to merit their inclusion in Austin Matthews/Shindig’s highly informed and informative “Interstellar Overdrive” guide to Space Rock. So what are they up to then on this their umpteenth and, it goes without saying, warmly anticipated release?

Well for starters, critter noises usher in “Down on Us” before kicking into life with searing twin guitars and an in-the-pocket rhythm courtesy of bassist/vocalist SL Telles and the propulsive drumming of Lisa Cameron. I’m wigging out at this stage boys n’ gurls, encouraged by the mantra like chant in the mid section while all around, axe-smiths Bobby Baker and Joel Crutcher (brother of Carlton, himself ex-ST 37 and now heading up the hallowed Book of Shadows) duet and duel with something close to abandon. Acoustic guitars and some atmospheric bleeps courtesy of Chris Cones ease us gently into “Doppleganger” before expanding spatially. The vocals lend a dramatic and lyrically comic air to what is one of the most appealing tracks on the album. You could imagine Tenacious D doing something like this if they were in collaboration with Super Furry Animals or one of those slightly off-kilter but catchy combos. “Dirty Little Homewrecker” meanwhile is the Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds” with proper instrumentation and real beats (Cameron’s busy, expressive stick work impresses throughout). Actually a better comparison might be Bongwater rather than Dr Alex and crew. Yeah, I’m much more comfortable with that.

It’s at this point reader that we hit a little turbulence. I’ve only just got over Bryan Ferry’s version of Billy Page’s “In Crowd” and that was about 40 years ago when I was barely out of short trousers. I’d like to think I was over it but no, try as they might – and in fairness they really do try – to give it an acidic edge it still sounds more Ham than Hawkwind. To paraphrase the album title, “It’s not good”. Thankfully the other cover, that of Edwyn Collins’ “Girl Like You”, works rather better, at least to these ears. It grooves around a simple and familiar bass line, guitars shimmering and a reverberating vocal in keeping with the original but which gradually builds in its intensity as the song progresses. What works is that rather than try and interpret the original in its entirety they repeat the same few bars of the original with subtle changes, the rhythm building ever more intensely and atmospherically to the point of menace before it all subsides into a lysergic pit of slumber, Telles repeating “never known a girl like you before”, like some Faustian Jim Morrison. Then, in best tradition, just when you think it’s safe to go and put the kettle on it rears up and grabs you by the ankle. This is not a love song. It can’t be for fuck sake.

The rest is all good (there are a couple of collage-type throwaways) but I’d pick out the faintly eastern “Baxty” (again I can’t put Jack Black too far from my mind); the wild abandon of the instrumental “Eroica Horns” and the Pixies-do-Morricone “Magnetic Amphibian Hydrated Gills” as ones to watch. Or listen to, preferably.

Does humour belong in music? Damn right it does. Weirdos! That’s a complement in these parts by the way. Great that you guys are still there and on such good form. Come over here soon.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP/DL http://www.jazrecords.com/)

Basically the work of Jason Zumpano (Zumpano, Destroyer, Sparrow), The Cyrillic Typewriter serves as the home for Jason's more introspective work, in this case mental isolation and disorder, the music played on synths and keyboards giving the music a machine like, motorik quality. Despite being called “Looking Forward”, a positive sounding start, the album opens with slow motion glacial notes that offer little comfort yet contain an elegant beauty. Following on “1st Suit”, Processed by  Scott Morgan (Loscil), heralds the first phase of the album, an abruptly ending drone that is followed by the atmospheric iciness of “Twisted Rope” another slow moving piece of minimalist electronics that takes you far away from human contact.

    As the side progresses, it is though a darkness begins flickering around the room until the weird electronic sounds of “Both Shoes” dispense with melody all together, a disturbing whirlpool of disorientation that removes any concept of time until the needle finally lifts.

    Opening with a series of softly rising chords, “Whirlpool” is a moment of clarity, the rising of a new dawn after a sleepless night, However the arrival of “Closing in on Both Sides” dashes the hope, a sinister drone that is followed by the creepy sounds of “Light Upon Feet” another short, unsettling track.

     To dispel the hope completely, “”Same Cloud Passing” is a dark crumbling drone that sucks the light from the room as it passes, the calbum finally closed by the aptly named “Looking Downward” a iece that attempts to break free, yet instead, disintegrates.

  Will this album could be seen as heavy going, it is perfectly conceived and produced, offering moments of great beauty and wonder. Maybe not something for daily play but a record you may well return to many times until it becomes a much loved part of your life. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/CD/DL http://bit.ly/1A0fW8v )

To my shame I have just realised that this album has been released for over a year and while I don't think I have had it quite that long, it has been in my possession long enough for me to have written this review long ago.

   The problem for me is that this is one of those albums that seems to speak to me on a personal level, the songs so beautiful and intimate that I seem to have been listening to them all my life as if they have a part of me within them.

  In 2010, living in a wooden house in winter, his young son sleeping in the next room, M.C. Taylor, wrote these songs and recorded them into a portal tape machine. Out of these humble beginnings sprang a classic introspective collection that deals with faith, debt and the human condition, all sung with an intimacy and emotional feel that puts the album up there with “Oar”, “If Only I Could Remember My Name” or “The Madcap Laughs”. Not that there is quite as much madness in these songs, but the raw confession and personal nuances create a bridge between singer and listener that pulls you in, the question of whether faith is enough always somewhere close by.

    Featuring warm guitar and a beautiful voice, “Balthazar's Song” sets the tone, each song a simple affair, the beauty of the guitar and voice enough to drive the songs, you find yourself stopping to listen so often it hurts. As gentle as an angel's feather, “No Lord Is Free” is nostalgic and wistful, the lyrics hinting at dark thoughts, a glimmer of light still present although it is flickering ominously.

   As the album progresses the sound remains the same, the strength of the songs holding your attention each one perfectly formed, variations small but noticeable, such as on “Far Bright Star” which has a gentle country twang, the lyrics seemingly marking a change in outlook, a reason to continue.

   Sounding like a classic cosmic Americana/Country tune “Jesus Shot Me In The Head” is a song worth hearing, proof that simple songs can contain a power that is hard to beat. Finally “Drum” seems like a call to the light, mixing older spiritual disciplines with simple Christian faith as warming as the sun in the morning and always welcome.

      This is an album that is going to live with me for a long long time and while you may not be as deeply moved as me I hope you will search out some of the tunes and give it a try. (Simon Lewis)



(CD/2 x VINYL from Thrill Jockey www.thrilljockey.com)

Those who witnessed Eternal Tapestry’s set at the Thrill Jockey-packaged Sunday afternoon session at 2011’s Supersonic Festival should be under no doubt as to their considerable prowess in a live setting. It’s a shame then that they have only sporadically (on parts of “Beyond The 4th Door”, for instance) managed to attain the same level of transcendental consciousness on record. That is, until now.

Wild Strawberries represents the most complete, most accomplished and varied release by Portland’s psychedelic wayfarers. Mostly instrumental pieces – the occasional snippet of that overly-scrambled (and in the wrong hands faintly irritating) vocal that has almost become mandatory in the wake of Frisco noodlers Wooden Shjips infuses the strange brew – Wild Strawberries clearly draws its inspiration from nature as reflected in each of the titles. Talk about getting it together in the country, and how!

While the rather fetching, organ-centred “Mountain Primrose” lays down quite a mouth-watering marker it is on the title track that things really hit the sonic G-Spot. A 15 minutes lush instrumental of meditative magnificence it is an uplifting and cleansing trip interwoven around Ned Bindeman’s shimmering guitar and that organ sound so redolent of woodlands at twilight. The effect is something like “Weissenssee” by Neu or the live Ummagumma album transposed to the West Coast and played by people with an abundant supply of “woodland produce” but who otherwise don’t get out much. Really, if you only listen to one piece of music today make it this one.

“Enchanter’s Nightmare” continues in the same if somewhat less compelling vein as “Wild Strawberries”. Now maybe I’d have a different take had the two not follow sequentially, or if the running order had been reversed. Whatever, it’s still a good listen, particularly the guitar parts which are quintessentially Eternal Tapestry. Following the funny little instrumental interlude “Woodland Anemone” (think turn of the ‘80s experimental electronic a la Church of Hawkwind and you’d not be too far off map) things hit their familiar but welcome stride again with the heady and luxuriant “Maidenhair Spleenwort” (probably not a minor character from Lord of the Rings). More agreeable ambient tinkering in the shapeshifting form of “Lace Fern” helps to ring the changes and further lift the mood and maybe raise the consciousness. If “Woodland Anemone” was the band’s all-too-brief “Church of Hawkwind” then this is ET’s “Rainbow Dome Music” and is to these ears ranks up there with the title track as one that you ought to check out for your latest playlist. “Pale-Green Sedge” prepares us for the gentle landing whereby some expansive guitar gives way to a pastoral drone based around a subtly shifting organ motif with the alternately dronesome and cacophonous “White Adder’s Tongue” providing the suitably mesmerising and lengthy coda. The LP and CD versions come with a bonus disc featuring five additional tracks and which unfortunately wasn’t available for review. Shucks and double shucks.

Go listen and go figure. It all adds up to some of the sweetest sounds you are likely to hear all year. (Ian Fraser)



(CD/DL from http://www.tl0741.com/

Working under the name tl0741, Pat Gillis creates weird alien soundscapes, deep space explorations and the sounds of scuttling creatures under the sink, the music demanding a new mindset to be appreciated as a whole array of sonic frequencie are hurled at the listener, the pieces destroying time as surely as early Tangerine Dream or the wall of noise experiments of Acid Mother Temple.

     Opening with feedback, what else, “Spray” introduces you to the magnificent “Before Waking” (A reference to Dali, perhaps?) the sounds jagged and non linear, sometimes violent, sometimes soothing, the schizophrenic nature and unpredictability of the tune creating a beautiful madness. With a glorious low end drone throughout, “Accelerant”  is awash with analogue synths that spin and burble across the room thoughts of alien invasion causing you to look furtively over your shoulder, whilst on “Calliope Exploding Head” you may well have been captured and are rapidly leaving your old life behind.

   Using Synths, Effects and Location Recordings, Gillis demostrate an amazing array of sounds, no more so than on the album's centrepiece, “”Mycelia Open Fire” the track starting with the sounds of a forest at twilight before night falls completely and you are compelled to walk in darkness your hearing the only resource left to you in the blackness. Deep within the track there is a stillness to be found, the sounds becoming mellower and warmer as you become attuned to your surroundings.

    To finish the album, the title track itself has different tones again, the same journey revealing different shades of the sonic spectrum, meaning it remains interesting and absorbing throughout.

      Following a similar path, “Circulation” is another trip inside an original musical universe with opener “Vapor Turns Mirrors” having a warm analogue sound that reminds you of all the classic Kosmiche bands of the seventies. One of my favourite pieces from either album, the track is a tour-de-force of controlled sound, never bombastic or strange for no reason, each sound carefully layered around the others. Ultimately the track is one huge life-affirming drone that made me smile. Elsewhere there is the usual mix of sounds, tones and timbre, including “Silk Road” fifty nine seconds of almost rhythm during which I was expecting Daevid Allen to offer me a Camembert.

    If you like one of these album then you will like the other, I would heartily recommend them both to the adventurous listener, modern, timeless and ancient, all at once. (Simon Lewis)