= February 2021 =  
 Causa Sui
 Yawning Man
 Southeast of Saturn comp
 David Marquiss
 Big Eyes Family
 Beauty Hunters


(LP/CD/Digital on El Paraiso Records)


This is a new phase Causa Sui album.  It takes a lot for a band to be called legendary, but over 15 years, Jonas Munk (guitar), Jakob Skøtt (drums), Jess Kahr (bass), and Rasmus Rasmussen (keyboards) have earned the title.  Over that span, the Danish instrumental psych-jazz band have blessed us with far more adventurous, imaginative music than we, imperfect species that we are, deserve.  With Szabodelico, the band continues to evolve into new musical strata that commands our attention, and rewards it handsomely.


If you’re looking for the long, psychedelic jams of yore filled with Jonas Munk’s astonishing shredding, spoiler alert, it isn’t here.  But in its place are 13 pieces crafted with stunning invention and wonder, and melody, melody, always melody.  Like the great Hungarian-American jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó for whom the record’s named, the music itself seeks its own direction, far out ahead of the pack.


Brief opener “Echoes of Light” is a warm-up, both for Causa Sui and you, the listener.  It’s sort of the rock version of the tune-up you’d hear a symphony orchestra doing before snapping into focus and launching into their program.  “Echoes” segues naturally into “Gabor’s Path,” an uplifting, tuneful work that could be a swinging soundtrack to a late Sixties movie.  The cool Sixties soundtrack vibe continues and shoots into the Seventies with “Sole Elettrico,” which sees Munk and Rasmussen trade guitar and organ licks, with some particularly propulsive rhythms set by Kahr and Skøtt, before ending with some moody flute.  “Sole Elettrico” is the kind of track you might expect to hear by fellow Scandinavians Dungen, which means it’s fabulous.


“Vibratone” is almost a bossa nova-meets-surf track, and they fit together quite well, actually.    Many tracks convey a sense of almost library music-like cinematic mystery, such as “Rosso Di Sera Bel Tempo Si Sera.”  The title track is about the only one to traverse near the borders of Causa Sui’s classic psych guitar jam realm.  At seven minutes, it’s the second longest track on the album – another departure for them, as that’s just a cup of coffee on some of their previous LPs.  Rest assured, they’ve still got their chops.


What sets Szabodelico apart, nay, elevates it from previous Causa Sui works are its quiet, highly effective mood pieces.  “Laetitia” is all warm electric piano, flutes, and synth flourishes, a stop in a tropical garden along our journey.  “Honeydew” sees Munk trade the clean guitar tone for an effects pedal in a dreamy desert oasis.  The rippling quasar “Premonitions” is my second favorite song on the album, with Munk’s hypnotic guitar looping in undulating psychedelic pulses.  But my favorite by a mile is the sunshiny joy washing over you of “La Jolla.”  Since La Jolla is a suburb of San Diego, and earlier in the year Munk, as part of the Ellis/Munk Ensemble, released the LP ‘San Diego Sessions,’ I’m guessing “La Jolla” had something to do with happy times during a sojourn in bucolic southern California.  The track is pure laid back West Coast heaven, somewhere between what you might hear from yet another great Scandinavian band The Amazing, and a Dickey Betts instrumental from the Allman Brothers.  I could listen to “La Jolla” on repeat all day long.


Although the recording sessions predate the pandemic, Szabodelico has many of the hallmarks of a 2020 album, with many of its songs aiming squarely to bring comfort and encouragement for rough times.  That it’s so beautifully polished in their Odense studio instead of a low-fi bedroom somewhere is to our everlasting benefit.  Causa Sui remain faithful to their art, their explorations as ever full of excellence and creativity.


(Mark Feingold)


(LP/CD/Digital on Plastic Cactus Records and Heavy Psych Sounds Records)


Yawning Man, perhaps the kings of Desert Rock, offer this sensational release – both an extraordinary album and a DVD, recorded and filmed live in the middle of the pandemic with maximal social distancing, since besides the band not much is out there besides rocks, sand and a few distant rock climbers.  This is about a great band coming full circle.


The band got their start in the mid-1980s playing “generator parties” with friends in the Mojave Desert, when there were no real venues nearby to play or see live music in their distant outpost.  Decades later and a successful recording and touring band, their schedule was cleared like everyone else’s with the arrival of the pandemic.  Yawning Man has wanted to do this project for about 20 years and the time was right to finally put it all together.


What you get is 47 minutes of some of the most laid back, yet electrifying stoner groove committed to plastic.  Beginning with the hum of the portable generator, followed by some outer space effects, the band launch into the 15 minute “Tumbleweeds in the Snow,” the longest track in the sequence.  Guitarist Gary Arce sets a truly mesmerizing tone that just won’t quit, and bass player Mario Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson provide the perfect rhythm, crunchy at times, placid others.  It’s slow and majestic, Arce’s guitar ringing and echoing through the empty desert’s sand and boulders.  Oh, and one more thing:  You must play it loud.


To be honest, the rest of the tracks in the improvised set don’t deviate much from the sonic blueprint of “Tumbleweeds in the Snow” and it’s rather pointless to discuss the finer aspects track by track.  Normally that’s a demerit for an album, but not in this case.  Live at Giant Rock plays as one long master class of desert space guitar hypnotism, with tiny breaks separating the tracks.  Only the bonus track “Space Finger” varies slightly to my ears, going one more galaxy to the left and deeper into space than the others, though your mileage may vary.


Yawning Man were inspired by ‘Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii’ for their template, and the comparison is apt.  Gary Arce’s guitar playing has some Gilmour elements, and Bill Stinson’s drumming is as rock solid but uncomplicated as Nick Mason’s.  The DVD, honchoed by Sam Grant, is well worth watching.  Three quarters of it was shot with iPhones, the rest with a drone and digital cameras.  When you see it, it’s quite impressive how far one can go in filmmaking these days with the ubiquitous handheld phone.  Hard to imagine, but due to the desert heat, recording and filming began at 5 AM, and was wrapped by noon, all in one day in May 2020.


When considering locations, the band reportedly considered among other sites a former nudist colony called the Nude Bowl, but eventually settled on Giant Rock.  The scene looks a little like Mars as seen by a NASA rover with a rock band conspicuously spotted.  When I asked my Southern California dwelling son where Giant Rock was in the Mojave, he said “Dad, there are a lot of giant rocks out there.”  But it’s a landmark in the middle of nowhere popular with UFO investigators, world travelers and scientists.  It’s one of the largest freestanding boulders in the world, and was even bigger until a huge chunk broke off in 2000.


Giant Rock might also be a good way to describe Yawning Man’s towering performance.  The album and DVD are a standout, sure to make you forget about winter frostbite and plagues for a little while.


(Mark Feingold)



(CD/DVD available on Beyond Before)

This career-spanner collects 17 tracks from cult psychedelic favourites Kaleidoscope and their proggier successors Fairfield Parlour, including three non-LP singles and a rare 1964 demo recorded when they were known as The Sidekicks. Tipping heavily towards their Kaleidoscope incarnation, the collection is ostensibly geared towards the US market, as all of these tracks have been previously available across numerous UK compilations. However, it will appeal to all fans due to the inclusion of a DVD featuring previously unreleased archival footage of a 1967 performance on French TV, an unaired 1970 performance recorded for the legendary German Beat Club programme, plus the final Kaleidoscope performance, filmed in 2017 as part of their Tangerine Dream 50th Anniversary Tour.

     Highlights among Kaleidoscope’s eight tracks (four each from their two brilliant Fontana albums, Tangerine Dream (1967) and Faintly Blowing (1969)) include their sensational 1967 psychedelic pop debut ‘Flight From Ashiya’, Faintly Blowing’s mesmerising title track and headswirling, phased monster ‘Music’, their eponymous “theme song” ‘Kaleidoscope’, the Donovanesque epic ‘Sky Children’ (cf., ‘Legend Of A Girl Child Linda’), and two jaunty singles, ‘A Dream For Julie’ and the swaying sea shanty pub singalong ‘Do It Again For Jeffrey’. Sadly, neither troubled the charts.

     The band recorded the sprawling conceptual prog opera White-Faced Lady in 1970-71 but it remained unreleased for two decades, which is a shame as its orchestral and brass arrangements, eminently memorable score, and refreshingly original literary story place it alongside such other acknowledged masterpieces as Nirvana’s Story Of Simon Simopath and the Bee Gees’ Odessa. Of three selections on offer (and by no means the best), the mournful ‘Long Way Down’ and melancholic story of ‘Nursey Nursey’ hint at the pleasures within.

     Philips released a single of the band’s official theme song to the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival under the pseudonym I Luv Wight (unfortunately not included here). Both tracks were written by band songwriters Eddy Pumer and Peter Daltrey, also using pseudonyms. This may have been for legal reasons, as the band had signed to Vertigo and officially changed their name to Fairfield Parlour, releasing their only album From Home To Home the same month (August). Similar to the unreleased White-Faced Lady in its elaborate arrangements and elegant brass and string embellishments, two tracks feature here, the best being the haunting ‘Emily’ with a dreamy mood that’s sort of a cross between “Eleanor Rigby’ and Donovan’s ‘Young Girl Blues’. Fairfield Parlour also released the wonderful flowery pop single ‘Bordeaux Rosé’, included here in all its sitar-drenched frilly finery.

     The band’s formative years are presented via a demo from their 1964 incarnation as The Sidekicks, ‘What Can I Do’. Daltrey previously released all known Sidekicks acetate recordings on his Alchemy imprint in 2003, so fans of this decidedly more raucous beat sound should seek that out. ‘What Can I Do’ is a catchy rollicking workout with a sweaty Stones-meets-Who/High Numbers groove.

     The half-hour DVD is the real prize here. The first segment features the band miming to both sides of their ‘Flight From Ashiya’ single (‘Holiday Maker’ is the flip) while a typically bored Serge Gainsbourg looks on and a fruging France Gall dances onstage. Disappointingly, their psychedelic finery is lost in the black-and-white footage. The two performances and interview from the French TV show Le Petit Dimanche Illustré were originally broadcast 22 October 1967.

     The German Beat Club performances are presented in glorious colour with suitably psychedelic effects and product placements galore and feature Fairfield Parlour miming to three selections from their lone From Home To Home album released two months prior to the October 1970 taping. The trippy ‘Free’, brilliantly dreary death rattle of ‘Emily’ and a silly Barrettesque ‘Sunny Side Circus’ wherein the band seem to be having more fun than the viewer are a treasure for newcomers and collectors alike. The latter two tracks were released as a single (mysteriously, only in Australia!)

     Finally, two selections from a fan-filmed performance of Daltrey fronting the latest incarnation of Kaleidoscope for the Tangerine Dream 50th Anniversary Tour at Hoxton Hall on 11 November 2017 give us a swooning ‘Dive Into Yesterday’ in all its myriad time signature changes and brain-frying glory and a rafters-rattling ‘Music’ featuring the return of original drummer Dan Bridgman! In a heart-warming final adieu, the release is dedicated to former members Steve Clark, the bassist who died in a car crash in 1999 and guitarist/songwriter Eddy Pumer who died in September 2020.

     A lack of liners, the standard inclusions/omissions dilemma (most egregious being the absence of perhaps their finest moment and one of the apogees of UK psychedelia, ‘Dive Into Yesterday” that only happens to feature as the background music of the DVD promo!), and the frustrating non-chronological sequencing that alternates tracks from the two very different projects (and releases) are the only detractions from a representative set that should encourage newcomers to seek out the complete catalogue.

(Jeff Penczak)



(LP/Digital on Third Man Records)


You could be forgiven for thinking of Detroit as not exactly the sweet soft center in the candy that is the shoegaze or space rock movement.  But during the 90s the Motor City was home to a small but thriving underground scene of Brit-loving youth, enraptured by the reverberating sounds emanating across the pond.  That fleeting self-contained world is lovingly encapsulated in Southeast of Saturn, robustly rounded up by Michigander Jack White’s Third Man Records.  At 19 tracks and nearly 80 minutes, the set gives you an excellent glimpse of the microcosm.


If fire requires three elements – fuel, oxygen and heat – the burgeoning Detroit shoegaze and space rock scene’s version of the three elements was the independent Play It Again record store, which stocked choice imports picked up by owner Alan Kovan on trips to the UK; local DJ Larry Hoffman’s radio show; and Hoffman’s small Burnt Hair record label.  Most of the tracks on this collection were originally released on 7-inch wax.  Of course, with a comp like this you’re going to like some offerings better than others; but the playlist is so strong, even if you encounter a track not to your liking, you’re sure to go not more than a song or two before scoring big elsewhere.


Southeast of Saturn divvies up the preponderance of tracks to roughly, but not exclusively more shoegaze in the first half and space rock in the second half.  Mind you, when we say space rock, we’re not talking of lengthy Hawkwind or Pink Floyd missives, but rather short hit-and-run statements with enough brevity for a 7” record, often not fully formed into coherent song structures, and wonderful for it.


Kicking off with Majesty Crush’s ode to a creepy stalker “No. 1 Fan,” the indebtedness to Slowdive, Spacemen 3, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine is evident.  Füxa, who’d go on to a relatively long, if unfairly undistinguished career, contributes the dreamy instrumental “Photon,” which nearly floats away on a cloud.  The Delta Waves continue with nearly the yang to Photon’s ying, the repetitive, hypnotic, downward-looking “Andromeda Drone.”


We have from Windy & Carl - perhaps the best-known artists of the lot - the bright, chiming guitar “Instrumental No. 2.”  One of the collection’s most interesting tracks is Ten Second Dynasty’s “Continuum.”  Starting out with a 90s indie downer groove (why was everyone in the 90s so damned depressed?), it morphs into an extended space rock section highlighted by a tip-toeing guitar line and liberal helpings of fuzz.


Naming Mary’s “Stardriver” spreads spindly guitar tentacles around you like a space alien boa constrictor.  In a perfect follow-up, Glider’s “Shift” is outstanding, pummeling lo-fi heavy rock.  Jazzless’s oozing instrumental “Something Warm About the Rain” effortlessly captures that intrinsically shoegaze ultra-processed guitar sound, interestingly without the rest of a band. 


Calliope’s jangly, 6/8 time “Laughing at Roadsigns” could’ve been on a mid-period Al Stewart album.  While perhaps low on the shoegaze or space quotient, the song is an earworm nonetheless, and most welcome on this collection.  The curators do a magnificent job of transitions, and “Laughing at Roadsigns” segues beautifully into another highlight, Auburn Lull’s all-too-brief, shimmering piece of cloud fluff “June-Tide.”


Southeast of Saturn captures a scene few of us were likely to have experienced, but are more familiar with its bigger cousins.  Kudos to Third Man for putting together this compelling time capsule, and to the bands who made it possible, most of whom should’ve made it bigger.


(Mark Feingold)



( self released CD)

This is the debut album by Bristol based guitarist and singer David Marquiss. It’s been quite a while in the making; recorded about ten years ago, before being mixed late last year. It’s very much a home recording but not because of any issues with sound etc. - just captured as and when he had the time. The albums eleven tracks feature just his superb guitar playing and his voice.

He taught himself finger picking by listening to records by the likes of Skip James and Blind Boy Fuller but more importantly by artists such as Bert Jansch, Nick Drake and especially John Renbourn and the players that were prevalent in the sixties for the folk revival; who let us not forget were themselves very much influenced by the country blues before in time absorbing British folk music.

He is a very expressive player, mixing a few instrumentals into the album throughout. It starts with a great version of a traditional song ‘The Blacksmith’, a done me wrong song. Another traditional song ‘Sovay’, is also tackled with great aplomb. ‘Firefly’, shows off his skill as a guitarist, with just the right amount of attack and restrain, creating a nice tension. Another of his original compositions ‘Before The Rain and Past The Fire’ also shows off his dexterity, a guitar piece which he makes sound easy “of mandrake root and black cat bone”. ‘Reasons For Being’, is a very complicated acoustic guitar piece, which again he nails, with plenty of bends and runs.

 ‘Lute’, is a stunning instrumental guitar piece. ‘Flying a Flag’, is about taking a short break in the mountains, in which his very lyrical guitar arrangement really shines through. ‘The Soil’ has an impossibly beautiful and tricky intro, a questioning song of archaeology which delves deep and of the results of acid rain on ancient monuments. The album ends with ‘The Raven’, a cathartic early morning forest walk upon which the narrator finds his true love lying out on the ground and a lone Raven nearby who appears to be mocking, but in retrospect it tries to help by tearing out three of its tail feathers, declaring “it wasn’t I who caused her pain, but take these feathers and braid them with her tresses which will have restorative powers”, but as we all know there is always a price to pay “I shall no longer be a Raven but will become your lover”, by the act of mixing up my feathers with her hair. It’s a bit like when Robert Johnson sold his sole to the devil and a cracking end to a fine album. The album is available from www.davidmarquiss.bandcamp.com

(Andrew Young)


(LP from www.sonicopolifonico.co.uk )

Previously Known as The Big Eyes Family Players this Sheffield based group have released seven albums they have trimmed down the name and changed their sound a bit with a more psychedelically inclined pop sound. This is an album of originals with one cover which is a Dusty Springfield song entitled ‘Summer Is Over’ which was tucked away on the b side of one of her singles released in 1964. The band consists of James Green-electric guitar, synths, piano and backing vocals, Heather Ditch – vocals, flute and zither, James Street – organs and synths, Neal Heppleston – bass and double bass, Guy Whittaker – drums, with Dean Honer the producer adding additional synths and tambourine.

The album eases in with ‘Sing Me Your Saddest Song’ immediately the sound is great with plenty of space around the instruments; it’s firmly in the folk rock genre, but of the kind practised by Stereolab. The bouncing bass and drums introduce a far more spacey sound to the proceedings with ‘Blue Light’, a simply wonderful song sung beautifully by Heather and infused with some nice swirling synth. Then comes the Dusty cover ‘Summer Is Over’ introduced by calliope style organ, it’s a bit like a Nancy Sinatra track but oh so modern, you just know that its rooted in the sixties but played by a very now sound, it’s also a superb song and before you know it its gone, man this could be far longer it’s brief and very sweet. ’From The Corner Of My Eye’ is half spoken half sung and altogether a lot more forlorn and winsome, a song for the wee small hours, this song sets things up nicely for ‘Modern Witchery’ a deathly slow narcoleptic song which really shows off the strength of the playing of these intuitive musicians to fine effect, again it’s the space around the notes played, it builds and has a sinister sweetness, the kind achieved by Nico or maybe Broadcast.

Side two begins with ‘Cassini’s Regret’ a song about a satellite orbiting Saturn, big fat bass, a great drum pattern, arpeggio electric guitar and layers of synth dancing around each other, another band I am reminded of when listening to this album is The Soundcarriers. ‘The Conjurer’ is a little more straightforward with some nice piano throughout and beautifully sung by Heather, she hits some very pure notes. The title track ‘The Disappointed Chair’ follows this, a song about Edie Bouvier Beale, who was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s cousin, apparently; it’s a song with a yearning quality, of regret and loss which develops to become quite a dense swirling song with a touch of discordance. ‘Hawked Bones’ clatters and throbs throughout its duration, again it’s a touch rockier than most of the other songs on the album, being quite busy and full. We now arrive at the end of the record with ‘For Grace’, providing us with a suitable ending to an excellent record. 

(Andrew Young)


(LP/ from www.sulatron.com )

Sulatron records have just released the 8th album by Portuguese space rock band Saturnia, all of their previous albums were released by Electrohasch. This album was recorded outside in the green, well actually in a vineyard to be precise. The band consist of Luis Simoes –vocals, guitar, sitar, tampura, bass, organs, synths, piano and mellotron along with Ana Vitorino spoken word and Winga adding a bit of Djembe, limited to 500 vinyl and 500 CD’s

After a brief interlude of psychedelic cow bells on ‘Pan Arrives’, the lengthy ‘Keep It Long’ is heralded in, swirling, spacey synths, sitar, Djembe, Mellotron and backwards guitars dance around each other creating a dense African accented, Eastern flavoured space rock song which is most appealing. ‘Fibonacci Numbers’, follows this, It’s an entirely different beast, informed by patterns found in nature; it’s a slow languid song which drifts along quite pleasantly. ‘Smoking In The Sun’, slowly unfurls into a cosmic dream. Then we arrive at a three part nature infused song entitled ‘Super Natural’ in the first part the gods of Bacchus, Ra and Varitus are celebrated, with much birdsong and backwards guitar before we drift off into an endless meadow suffused with plenty of ’tron concluding with the spacey bubbling lilt of intelligent light, a terrific suite of songs.

 ‘When I’m High’, features a lovely piano intro before a foggy Mellotron entirely cloaks it. ‘Perfectly Lonely’, again features lots of waspish backwards guitar and cymbal crashes. Birdsong and sitar herald the arrival of ‘Butterfly Collector’, which swishes a cosmic net around to fine effect. And so we arrive at the end of the album with the excellent ‘Just Let Yourself Go’, this song has the most beautiful, slightly jazzy guitar playing throughout. I think that is an excellent album indeed, and if it wasn’t so cold at the moment I would love to lie down outside and drift off into a transparent dream. 

(Andrew Young)


(LP on The Weird Beard Records)

Beauty Hunters is the side project of Mudhoney’s Guy Maddison aided and abetted by Sean Hollowell and Curt Buchberger. This is their second album outing and is about as far away from the classic Sub Pop grunge rock of Mudhoney as you can get.

‘Animal Magmatism’ gives us two lengthy pieces of music, recorded live and which take the listener on a journey for the imagination to vintage analogue synthesiser soundworlds that echo the classic longform excursions of Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze. You can certainly hear such influences in the sumptuous, hypnotic, almost symphonic waves of sound in ‘This Place In Time’ which was recorded live on the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 2020. It’s a warm, sometimes dark, sometimes reflective and sometimes playful piece where church organ drones, arcade game themes, horror and science fiction soundtracks for yet to be made films and occasional moments of static and broken melodies work in harmony and keep things more than interesting. ‘Olympic Ring of Fire’ is more overtly experimental and improvised in character with more diverse melodic ideas that stop, start and stutter. The sound is more spacious with beeps and fizzes of electronic sound, snatches of synthetic rhythm and a more intense and dramatic tone. The ghosts of early electronic and concrete composers, Kosmiche pioneers, progressive titans and post punk adventurers visit this piece and a respectful nod to Kraftwerk is subtly present when the faint rhythms of the Trans Europe Express occasionally come into earshot in this engrossing tapestry of sounds.

This is a captivating release which celebrates the classic, comforting Kosmiche sounds of yesteryear but also takes the music to a forbidden planet and plays with more experimental and indeed rewarding ideas around electronic sound. The music is widescreen and cinematic at times and yet has lots of subtle details in its inner sound which draw the listener’s attention and that’s what makes this record stand out for me as a synthesiser record to listen to rather than drift happily away to. As Beauty Hunting goes this record has certainly found the big game prize.

(Francis Comyn)





The continued fashion and indeed passion for vintage formats is to these ears a welcome thing having grown up with the joys of compiling tapes and choosing cassettes as the pocket money friendly option for many new releases. A brace of new releases on Misophonia, demonstrates the extreme breadth of their wares available on lovely limited run cassette editions or if you prefer download editions that will live longer than Keith Richards (who is of course indestructible).

Earthball present the 5 track ‘Fruiting Bodies’ which beyond the title has little to do with fungi and more in common with fun.  Earthball are a trio with other members joining for each new project. The opening tossing and tumbling torrent of ‘Me, You and I’ delivers hallucinogenic noise and distorted vocals combining the easy listening pleasures of free improvised abandon topped by wailing almost Haino/Fall-esque vocals and leaves the listener with a clear choice of a quick fast forward to avoid a neighbour dispute or hanging on in there to see what follows – I happily chose the latter. It’s clearly intense and on the edge of insane but also draws you into their black hole. ‘The Asteroid Huang’ slows things down but drips with dark menace and scuzzy, dense stoner riffs wrapped in a spacey rumbling drone. ‘Open Eyelids’ is a more spacious exploration of sound with a rambling, psychedelic Doors-esque, post punk feel and mysterious chanted vocals keeping that dark mystery to the fore. ‘Difference’ is a lengthy improvisation that blends free improvisation and free folk colours and dynamics – it starts with a gently clattering world of percussion, woodwinds, vocal textures and underlying jazzy guitar which gets noisier, more frantic and loose as it morphs into a psychedelic free jazz jam with added dissonant vocals wafting and wailing over the top. The strangely titled ‘Plumbers Waltz’ (no tap dancing jokes please) is driven by a mechanistic beat over which vocals, hazy, scuzzy guitar colours and off kilter melodies create an odd, experimental tune which ramps up the amplification to the finish. It’s unlikely to soundtrack your plumber’s two step but would certainly make boiler repairs more interesting if it did. This is an eclectic release with interesting ideas, spontaneous sounds and sometimes wonderful moments in particular on ‘Difference’ which rewards repeat listening.

Fingerwolf is the project of Jon Dickinson based in Buckinghamshire where according to the accompanying notes not much happens and even lately even less happens. Well we’ve broken the monotony here I’m pleased to report with ‘Working for the Black Gas’. The album was recorded in 2020 and is described as being based on a half remembered jumble of places, people and events from the 1980’s. It certainly does have that nostalgic, clean electronic percussion and synthesized sound associated with the new technologies in music from that time which in lesser hands could be bland elevator or telephone hold music but here has enough compositional nous and imagination in play to take it to a more interesting level. Throughout its 7 tracks there are hints of soundtrack friendly atmospheres and images, early Japanese electronic pop fusion akin to Yellow Magic Orchestra, jazzy and progressive colours, touches of dance ambience, nods to later period Kosmiche and the laid back sophistication of Air. This is an elegant and engaging listen which could soundtrack many an occasion including, if you really want, a nostalgic trip back to the eighties but if you want music for today and tomorrow this is an engaging, easy on the ear and thoughtful slice of time well spent.

(Francis Comyn)

MAINLINER – DUAL MYTHS (LP/CD on Riot Season Records)

Mainliner is the trio of Kawabata Makoto, Koji Shimura and Kawabe Taigen and they whip up a wild and nothing short of incendiary freak out psychedelic guitar, drums and bass storm as you might imagine. This is no surprise considering their credentials which include Acid Mothers Temple, White Heaven and Bo Ningen to name a very few lines from the C.V. ‘Dual Myths’ is a long awaited follow up to ‘Revelation Space’ from back in 2013 after which there are stories of scrapped recordings that never saw the light of day.

It’s a double album consisting of four side long tracks and to the relief of many fans I can confirm there are no ballads – let’s be honest, they wouldn’t survive in this weather. The band describe the record in one word – ‘nasty’. Whilst that might make interviews somewhat brief and to the point it does succinctly describe the loud and lengthy mayhem brought about by the onslaught of stinging, acid fuelled and generally unforgiving ‘motorpsycho guitar’ and the accompanying frenetic, pummelling rhythm which desperately keeps up an outrageous level of energy throughout the best part of 80 minutes. It’s a masterclass in letting the music do the shouting. ‘Blasphemy Hunter’ opens with a false sense of security for the ears and heart with a gentle echo laden folk and Fleet Foxes flavoured melody before a supercharged change of tempo engulfs it with a fuzz filled blizzard of guitars and it crashes into a wall of sheet metal noise. The rhythm section brings its own wild energy where the bass can barely hold it all together under crazed cymbal smashes and frantic snare patterns. Guitar solos abound and might only be reigned in by use of a tranquilizer dart and distant harmony vocals lurk in the background fighting to get through, just about managing to soften and add texture to the incessant heavy riff.  It’s an exhilarating start and not for the faint hearted. ‘Hibernator’s Dream’ follows in a more experimental mode with spacey, echo drenched cries and wails underneath freeform bursts of feedback, violent squally soloing and drums before a crisp jazz tinged shuffle joins forces with a crazy minimalist and pulverising metallic  riff to take the increasingly intense and noisy brew forward with impressive and unstoppable momentum. This is sonic mayhem with a toe tapping beat if you’ve got fast feet.  ‘Silver Guck’ takes the speed down a notch but we get a deep heavy Sabbath-esque riff and more prominent spacey vocals, increasingly distorting at the edges as the noise ratchets up with the guitars going feral and once more it never lets up for a moment. ‘Dunamist Zero’ completes the ride with a distorted, more angular riff complementing spacey vocals, leading to a freeform section dominated by shards of screaming guitar and increasingly wild vocals and building up to an exhausting and no doubt exhausted climax.

This is a high octane and totally exhilarating record where the onslaught of crunching riffs and often crazed guitar and noise adventures could become overwhelming were it not for the touches of invention and texture that musicians of this class and understanding bring to the table. Perhaps a full 4 sided blast could be a bit much for one sitting but take any side on its own or in combination with another and you’ve got something that will excite and energise your day. Let’s hope we get another blast of creativity from this titanic trio before another 8 years passes or maybe even a live show which would no doubt pin the audience happily to the wall. We can but hope but in the meantime get a little bit of nasty motorpsycho guitar mayhem in your life.

(Francis Comyn)