= June 2012 =  
Weirdlore comp.
Dead Sea Apes
The Kitchen Cynics
The Tea Rockers Quintet
Black Static Line
Black Bombain
Blue Sausage Infant
Book of Shadows
Baby Woodrose
The Lost Rivers
For Lee Jackson in Space


WEIRDLORE – NOTES FROM THE FOLK UNDERGROUND (CD from Folk Police Recordings www.folkpolicerecordings.com )

Time, then, for me to dust off my list of lazy genre categorisations and announce the arrival of the latest weird/wyrd/alt/freak/acid/steam folk release from the small but as near-as-dammit perfectly formed Folk Police Recordings.

Weirdlore is a one day event due to take place in Bristol on Sunday 10th June 2012. To commemorate what label boss Nigel Spencer calls “an event that has not yet happened and a genre that may not even exist” FPR is releasing a compilation of 18 exclusive tracks featuring many of the acts who will appear on the bill. Some are part of the FPR roster and therefore may already be familiar to regular browsers of ye Terrascope. Others will be new to many of us while also featured are a couple of names whose reputations are already well and truly cemented in place (hello, Alasdair Roberts and Sproatly Smith).

Concentrating here on the festival acts, the energetic and entertaining Telling the Bees kick off with a tremendous Eastern European-style romp entitled “Worship of Trees”. Joyous, celebratory and unashamedly pagan, the cornerstone of this lively opener is soaring and sweeping violin with builds to a wild and abandoned climax. Those Fraser favourites, the improvisational and visceral Rapunzel and Sedayne chip in with “The Innocent Hare”, perhaps one of the cuts closest here to the folk tradition but delivered in the duo’s unique and gifted way. Massachusetts’ (via Wales) Pamela Wyn Shannon’s “Moss Mantra” is a revelation, a creation of such bewitching and sensuous charm as to merit quite a few hits of the replay button and which captures perfectly the essence of this compilation and, one suspects, the Weirdlore event. The strangest, most eccentric contribution to this exquisite and revelatory compilation, though, comes courtesy of Katie Rose’s “Witches Reel”. Heck, no self-respecting weird/wyrd/alt etc collection would be complete without referencing “the goddess” and as such Katie gets to carry the team flag. It’s spooky, it’s odd, it is highly singular and a resounding hit with this coven’s jukebox jury. Cornish-based duo Corncrow (Kim Guy and Steve Hunt) wades in with another precious gem called “Meriasek”. I haven’t a clue what they’re singing about but it matters not as this is magickal and wondrous indeed. Sproatly Smith don’t let us down (as if there was even the remotest prospect of that) with the lysergic sounding lullaby “Rosebuds in June”, while Boxcar Aldous Huxley chip in with their dishevelled carnival band on a bender (that’s excess drink, not makeshift shelter) sounding “Hora”.

Moving briefly to the non-festival acts that are sure to bolster even further the appeal of this excellent sampler, Emily Portman sings beguilingly on the cleansing “Spine of a Wave”, Nancy Wallace employs Nick Drake style signatures on the pleasing “Walking into Walls”, The False Beards sound like they’ve stepped out of one of those “Gather in the Mushrooms” type retrospectives, while Foxpockets delight with “Grendel” – hedgerow folk, featuring simple drum, whistle, squeeze box and voice and which it utterly captivating. Starless and Bible Black slice effortlessly through the early morning mist with “If You Fall I Fall With You”, which features just guitar and echoey, ethereal vocals and is really quite beautiful. The Straw Bear Band represent the rockier end of the spectrum, while strong performances from the likes of Ros Brady, the kooky The Witches with Kate Denny, the aforementioned Alasdair Roberts, the earthy Harp and a Monkey and Wyrdstone (“don’t go where the cock don’t crow” might not be bad advice, you know) makes this a must-have for all of us interested in the shadier, more left-field extremities of the broad church called folk music, and if that makes old Ewan MacColl spin ever faster in his grave then I make no apologies.

On the strength of this showing, and with the likes of Sharon Krauss, the divine Mary Hampton and Jeanette Leech (who writes some typically informative sleeve notes to accompany Ian A Anderson’s punchy and entertaining introduction) on the bill, Weirdlore gives every indication of being one of this year’s must-see events. If you can attend, then you may not regret not doing so. Whether or not you can be there then you are strongly recommended to check out Notes From The Folk Underground. Initiates will be hooked, while those of us already dangling on the line will find plenty of new things to inspire and new directions in which to explore. Without a doubt, this is the V/A folk sampler of the year so far. (Ian Fraser)

Weirdlore – Notes From The Folk Underground is released by Folk Police Recordings on 11th June 2012

More details about the Weirdlore all-day event taking place at Bristol on 10th June 2012 can be found on www.weirdlore.com



(CD from Soul Desert Records www.deadseaapes.com)

Following hot on the heels of Mr Simon Lewis’s erudite and on-the-money review of Grrrrreater Manchester trio Dead Sea Apes’ debut album Lupus in last month’s Reviews section is another Apes release in the densely thrilling form of this EP. The three tracks veer between the smouldering and the incendiary, kicking off with an angry, suspenseful “Bikini Atoll” which is about the heaviest sound DSA have so far committed to record. To be sure, this is riff heaven and, when it fires up, as “stoner” in its intensity as anything the likes of Sleep or Kyuss have managed. The curiously titled “Dead Fingers Talk” ambles from a walking baseline through a meandering, vaguely Eastern-sounding psychedelic guitar passage before embarking on a rollercoaster of quiet loud that is sure to appeal to fans of Mono, Grails and so forth – yes we know there are one or two of you hiding out there somewhere. The title track is underscored by a deceptively innocent yet infectious guitar line around which the bass prods and insinuates against an understated yet insistent backdrop before the band cut loose in rousing style only to then subside into the brooding but quite enthralling central motif and to a more than satisfying conclusion.

Any film or TV producer on the lookout for a 22 minute soundtrack to their latest left-field and darkly impenetrable psychological cop drama would do a lot worse than to look here. The rest of us can be content with the fact that it is one of the best Terrascopically-inclined soundscapes we are likely to hear this year. It was Sweden’s The Hives who, some years back, rather mischievously billed themselves as “Your New Favourite Band”, an epithet you suspect is now more fitting to Stockport than Stockholm. (Ian Fraser)



KITCHEN CYNICS – AMPOMETER (CD-r available from Melody Bar  www.apexonline.com/melodybar/)
MATRICARIANS – WHEN WE WERE... (CD-r available from Melody Bar www.apexonline.com/melodybar/

The word prolific does not really begin to describe artist/musician Alan Davidson, beloved of these pages, so much so that he makes others seem positively indolent by comparison. This latest Kitchen Cynics offering houses the usual ingredients of the comedic ( “A Pair O’ Nicky Tams”), the deceptively innocuous and melodic (“Bittersweet”) and the esoteric (“Distant Voices” and “The Strangest Feeling”) and that’s just in the first few tracks out of 20. Elsewhere Davidson delivers primitive psychedelic folk in his trademark Aberdonian brogue, drawing on traditional songs and the occasional cover as well as his own self penned idiosyncratic ditties with the odd serious message thrown in (the indignant, greedhead bashing “The Entrepreneurs” for example). Best of all is a new treatment of “The Eye of the Heron” from last year’s album of the same name, which, while it loses some of its Robert Wyatt type charm, gains extra depth in return. The Davidson cottage industry is such that it even features late father James Davidson (1919-2011) on closing number “I Wish I Were A Caterpillar”. Those of you familiar with the Cynics’ work are unlikely to be disappointed. Newcomers enter here, and would also be advised to check out last year’s fabulous “The Eye of the Heron”.

As sometimes occurs, the latest KC release arrived with a “companion” in the form of Davidson’s more experimental side-project the Matricarians, featuring Matthew Davidson and regular collaborators David Mackay and Susan Matthew. Fittingly given Davidson’s left-field humour and taste for experimentation, Domino the Kitten gets to play all instruments on “A Kitten Cynic” (ouch!) and Theremin on a “Kitten Cynically Exploited” and for which song writing credits are given, thereby presumably hoping to avoid a Wilson/Love style fall out in years to come. Funny animals and punning song titles aside, When We Were... teems with adventurous oddities that often make you feel as if lost in a forest of chimes or wading through a tropical jungle of primitive electronica. Unconventional and uncompromising this is the yang to the Kitchen Cynic ying (I think that’s the right way around).

Here, then, are two sides of the very wonderful Alan Davisdon. Give the coin a flip. Heads or tails, you win. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from Ent-t Records - www.ent-t.com )

China's underground certainly seems to be on the ascendant at the moment. The free guitar blare of D!O!D!O!D! for instance, (c.d.s on Psf), should be witnessed behind thick leaded glass and come damn close to Hijokaidan in terms of severe hurt They can also be found on the Sub Rosa "Anthology of Chinese Experimental Music" quad c.d. set too, alongside The Orphic Orchestra and the mighty Torturing Nurse, along with many other enticing circuit benders. And now, another fascinating item from those distant shores has surfaced. Dressed in a sleeve of finest matt black card stock comes the debut live recording from a rather left-of-centre Chinese improv unit where the unhurried, age old trad culture of their homeland is contained within a soundworld of electronic treatments and hi-tech strategies.

The Tea Rockers comprise Beijing-based noise artiste Yan Jun (also on the Sub Rosa set), folkie Xiao He (aka He Guofeng of dada performance group Glamorous Pharmacy), Wu Na on Gu Qin (a seven string zither), multi-instrumentalist Li Daiguo (aka Douglas Lee) and the non-audible presence of "Tea Master" Lao Gu. That's right. A "Tea Master"....For this release, in some way or another, is an interpretation (in eight stages) of a Chinese Tea Ceremony (!) in which staining your innards brown is of secondary importance to "spiritual refreshment". It's a ritual that employs four major principles; Harmony, Reverence, Purity and Tranquility. Sounds agreeable. As are the sounds generated. More than agreeable in fact, as stately/atmospheric string bending, shakuhachi (a sampling staple back in the nineties), and mournful violin lines are framed by infrequent laptopics and electronix, which mainly reference cellophane crackle and the distant crunch of feet on gravel a la Pan sonic - a far reaching influence perhaps?

The err, concept/group monniker seems to have painted this free/ambient 5-tet into a pretty tight corner. After all what could a follow-up consist of? Regardless of this puzzle, I'll still be keeping an eye out for these "brethren of the leaf" in the future. (Steve Pescott)



(CD from http://electricpanther.boredombrothers.com/blackstatic/ )

If slowcore or shoegaze of the Slowdive kind is your thing then this may just be a treat for you. The debut release from Nashville TN ensemble Black Star Line, Every Vibrating Body is spiritual sounding and spacious in a way that wouldn’t sound out of place in a cathedral, as if commissioned by a trendy, modernising archbishop seeking to reach out to a wider congregation (or at least those on nodding terms with the odd Verve album). The results are symphonic and dreamlike and could be labelled quiet/loud if only someone hadn’t forgotten to add the loud bits. Actually that isn’t strictly the case, as the second half of this quite agreeable offering rescues proceedings from easily slipping into blissful torpor. Notably, the impressive “Heart Drone 36” takes us beyond walking pace, while the extended “Every Single Time” canters quite energetically yet majestically to breast the tape. All in all, though, this is nicely restrained and thoroughly relaxing take on a theme known to appeal to a few of us, here at the old homestead. (Ian Fraser)



BLACK BOMBAIN – TITANS (2x LP from Lovers and Lollipops Records www.loversandlollypops.net )

Portuguese stoner rock featuring guest performances from Noel V Harmonson (Comets On Fire), Steve McKay (Stooges) and Isaiah Mitchell (Howlin’ Rain and Earthless). You don’t achieve this standard of collaboration unless you have something a bit special to offer, as would seem to be the case with the aptly named “Titans”.

Four tracks prosaically titled A,B,C and D Sides take up each side of this double lbum vinyl release. “A Side” features Harmonson and kicks off with a foreboding rumble which ushers in the excruciating wail of a guitar resonant of an indignant banshee on whose corns someone has just trodden whilst carrying a hod-full of bricks. This is primal screaming of the psychedelic kind and damned fine it is too. In the midst of what sounds like a sandstorm, a drum solo pitter-patters before unleashing some possessed cookie monster vocals of the kind that seems ten a penny these days except you don’t often hear it in Portuguese. One for the language lab, then. An innocuous acoustic interlude scarcely prepares you for the deluge of sludge that pours down like molten lava on an unsuspecting finale like the harbinger of inexorable doom. This’ll go down a treat at Supersonic or Roadburn, and no mistake.

The cymbals and wind machine that commence B Side briefly nod at “X In Search of Space” before breaking into a “One Of These Days” style canter, featuring a great organ sound that’s part 60s Floyd and part fairground. Some sky scraping guitar and skin damage that will sure to appeal to fans of Earthless’ insane “Live At Roadburn” release presages the calm before the storm during which our heroes settle into a righteous, mid-paced stoner groove before cutting loose again in the final third.

C Side is again notable for some intimidating bass and squally guitar introductions but Steve McKay’s sax blowing takes this to a whole new dimension, sounding like a more soulful Nik Turner, while Isaiah Mitchell’s guitar blazes through space like a shooting star. As jams go, this one’s up there with my sweet tip raspberry any day of the week. D Side is a slow roaster, a single organ note played over some nagging electronic noises, although it’s not too long before less restrained impulses are given free reign as proceedings are brought to a gloriously loud and raucous climax somewhere on Planet Headbang.

It isn’t pretty, it ain’t particularly subtle, and it breaks no new ground, but to hell with all that because this is a hugely enjoyable and invigorating piece of old school cosmic excess and should appeal to any of you out there who are so inclined. More please. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from http://bluesausageinfant.com/)

One of the musical highlights of 2011, for me at least, was the rather excellent “Negative Space” LP, the long and droney kosmiche sounds perfectly realised by Chester Hawkins, or Blue Sausage Infant, as he is better known. On this album a different approach is evident, the tracks shorter and more chaotic in construction, the rhythms more in-yer-face, the synths turned way up, the whole thing exhibiting a cosmic playfulness that is a joy to dive in to.

Opening with the surprising sound of a Ukulele riff, “Afflicted by the Wind Disease” soon gains an electronic rhythm and underlying drone, the piece hypnotic and intense, highlighting the composers skill and mastery over his chosen instruments.

With a more aggressive, almost electronic garage stance, “Hosebag” is a fine blast of energy threaded with distorted vocal samples and arranged so as to be disorientating and confusing. After the creepy and disturbing “How to Achieve Somnabulism”, thing pick up again with the amphetamine fuelled electro-punk of “The Moss Takes Over”, the piece led by some down and dirty guitar courtesy of Daniel Euphrat, the whole thing a re-make of a track originally found on a 1990 cassette release.

Demonstrating the almost schizophrenic nature of the album the next track “Yggdrasil”, is a kraut inspired electronic synth fest, a nine minute haze of sequences, sweeps and noises reminiscent of Tangerine Dream in its hypnotic beauty. Much less structured in its approach “Aphids Lament” is the sound of alien machinery, distorted and oppressing, whilst “Sodom is Risen” takes those sounds and mangles them into a primitive stomp, an alien ritual around a roaring fire after having ingested some strange and unknown psychedelic.

Featuring some fine guitar from Jeff Barsky (Insect Factory), “Catoctin” is a beautiful guitar based jam, glissando sounds taking the piece ever higher with the drums of Jason Mullinax ensuring no-one gets lost on the way. This trio of musicians can be found playing at the Sonics Circle Festival (http://dc-soniccircuits.org/festival/2012/) under the name Catoctin, an event definitely worth checking out judging by the line up.

Featuring Chris Videll (Tag Cloud) on electronics, bells and beer glass, “Abdominal Frost” the final twelve minute epic is a huge soundscape that opens with birdsong and a drifting drone that pulls the listener in, the piece growing in intensity as it progresses gaining an understated pulse that makes sense of the kosmiche dust cloud that swirls above, the track a return to the feel of last years album, rounding of another classic album with considerable style. (Simon Lewis).



Book of Shadows – The Hanged Man
CD-r from Reverb Worship www.reverbworship.com)
Book of Shadows – Festival Of Shadows

2xCD from Lonktaar Records www.reverbworship.com)>

I’ve pretty much run out of superlatives with which to describe Austin, Texas ambient drone royalty Book of Shadows, whose torrential outpour rivals pretty much anyone else you can think of. Based around husband and wife Carlton (keys) and Sharon (voice) Crutcher, BoS have been mining weird and golden scenes for some years now and it is with great pleasure that we have to hand, ear and synapse a reissue of their first ever release, entitled The Hanged Man.

Now conventional wisdom suggests that the further you delve into someone’s back catalogue the more likely it is that earlier material will be teeth-cuttingly rough and from the heart, becoming more refined somewhere around what we who are longer of tooth and greyer of muzzle tend to recall as “the difficult third” album. Well it’s perhaps typical that BoS turn this on its head as in many respects The Hanged Man is among the mellowest and more restrained – accessible perhaps - of the burgeoning oeuvre, a stripped back and spaced out affair and something of a pastoral pleasure.

Entirely improvised, except for one Sharon-penned number “Bring Ginger Candy”, The Hanged Man is also fairly atypical in that it features actual lyrics as opposed to expressive vocalisation (“Heaven’s Mirror”, “Krisna”, “Woman Is The Altar”, “Ring Pass Not” and Free” for example) although in true Cocteau Twins style the words are often barely perceptible other than on the spoken word tracks. Musically, from the melodic, crystal clear yet quite sparse guitar of “The Beach” and the drone bells and seductive narrative of “Bring Ginger Candy” through to the spectral, narcotic ambience of the Carlton-voiced “Samhain” this is an indulgence in which to unashamedly wallow.

The Hanged Man might have been the start of an enduring love affair had I been aware of it at the time. As it is it is a most welcome retrospective discovery proving the old adage that it’s better to arrive late than never!

Fast forwarding to the present, Festival Of Shadows epitomises what we have come to regard as the BoS template, a broad canvas of light and dark shades that have the ability to soothe, scintillate and scare in pretty much equal measure, throughout which Sharon Crutcher whispers and wails, and pretty much covers every sound and emotion in between, including near-conventional singing on the Bardo Pond-like “Never Again 2”. It also marks the continuation of a trend away from the purely improvisational and towards more structured composition. Guitarists Aaeron Bennack (who was there as far back as The Hanged Man) and Bobby Baker contribute nine tracks between them out of 21 cuts spanning two discs and around an hour and three quarters of what remains a uniquely beguiling and occasionally unsettling listening experience. Even those of you who are configured without an earth wire will be hard pushed to do full justice to this in one sitting, but sensibly paced and selective listens will reap the usual big rewards leaving you exhilarated and cleansed as a result. Probably the best 3 a.m. festival band you’re never likely to see play live (leastways this side of the pond). We await further transmission. (Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD from www.badafro.dk)

On their 6th studio album garage rockers Baby Woodrose have changed their sound, creating a more psychedelic fell to the tracks although, as ever, there is plenty of fuzz and assorted effects to ensure thing stay heavy and a good time is had by all. Mind you opening track “Down to the Bottom” is more Garage than anything else, a suitably fuzzed-up riff propelling the song along, with the voice of Lorenzo Woodrose remaining perfectly suited to the sound, the addition of echo and effects expanding the basic palette, sounding like an early Bevis song in all its ragged glory.

After the pounding noise of “Waiting for the War”, the song sweetened by a catchy chorus, the gentler jangle of “Dandelion” marks the point when the album settles into a more swirling psych mood, the song a soft drift down a lazy river.

Possibly named after the famous Bill Hicks quote, “Just a Ride” is filled with some lysergic organ work, the sound reminiscent of the Fuzztones at their finest, with the guitar again reaching for the stars whilst the heavy riff keeps your head nodding. Moving on, the heads keep nodding as the mighty “Bullshit Detector” rolls out of the speakers like a relentless spaceship heading for the edge of the galaxy, the sound deep, heavy and very satisfying.

After this assault on the ears comes the finest track on the album as “Nothing is Real” manages to sound like The Elevators, Bevis, and Spirit combined, the whole thing wrapped in a Beatle-esque sheen, wonderful stuff and quickly followed by the equally brilliant “Love Like a Flower”, the addition of a Sitar adding a sweet eastern twist to the proceeding, the catchy melody lodging itself into the synapses, meaning you will be humming the song for ages.

Revealing itself through a cloud of perfumed sound, the title track itself catches the surf created by early Spacemen Three, another simple but perfectly formed riff guaranteed to blow you mind, the band reaching out into inner space, grinning insanely at the strangeness of it all.

Finally, “Honalee” brings us home, another spaced out tune, but this time with a more reflective quality, a slow descent for our weary minds, ending a splendid album that may not be as immediate as the band's earlier album, but reveals many depths the more you listen. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from www.northernstarrecords.com)

Hailing from Germany, the Lost Rivers are a classic three-piece with a noisy heart, their songs filled with brutal guitar and an ethereal beauty, shoegazing sounds for garage-heads, the mix of distortion and soaring giving the band a unique sound that is beat served very fucking loud.

Opening as they mean to go on, “Your Looks” takes a quick breath before bursting from the shadows in a haze of distortion that is softened by some sweeping keyboard chords and the distant reverbed voice, although the guitar is the dominant force,as it is on the following track “Death Drive” an even more intense version of the formula, the song breaking down into a wall of noise that takes your breath away with its raw urgency. Indeed, it is the very rawness of the production that brings these songs to life, uncompromising and full of energy.

After this opening salvo, “All Dead (for the last 24 Miles)” takes on a more industrial persona, the pounding rhythm and staccato guitar lines reminding me of early Killing Joke, certainly in its intensity, whilst “Fall” is a heavier version of The Leather Nun, and none the worse for it.

Seemingly unable to slow down, this whole album is an experience that needs to be heard loud and preferably with some kind of body stimulant, the songs rushing past like a demented train, each carriage as noisy and fearsome as the next, with “Cinnamon”, “City Lights” and “Deny You” all achieving the assumed aim of removing the top of my head with their wall of noise approach, the heavily phased guitar and percussion of the latter song merely adding sonic variation to the battering.
Finally, after nine tracks, “Mirrors” ends the ride, a stabbing kick drum leading us in before the guitar decapitates us once again, a squall of fury, that pauses only to allow the vocals to be heard before detonating again and again and again and again....

Almost impossible to pigeon-hole apart from in the obvious noisy rock and roll category, this is an album that should be heard by fans of Ride, Mudhoney, Motorhead, Comets On Fire or Acid Mother Temple, the tracks managing to remind me of all these bands whilst not really sounding like any of them. Result. (Simon Lewis)



(CD http://www.kablekaybonya.com/)

Although I knew that this disc has been hanging around in the review box for longer than it should, it still came as a surprise to discover it was released in September 2011; surely it hasn't been hanging around quite that long, or has it. Anyway, however long it has been here it is long overdue a review and I can only apologise to Kay Bonya for the long delay. [Phil adds: probably my fault for sitting on this excellent disc by my old friend Kay for way too long - sorry!]

Opening with the Banjo led “Woopsy”, a short but sweet ditty that takes you gently into the slightly off kilter world of Kable, this album has a slowly disintegrating nature, the almost folk-funk of “Revelation Sense” quickly eclipsed by the psych pop electro goodness of “Think Before You Speak”, a beautifully controlled song that seems on the edge of collapse but manages to hold on. Next up, the soft beauty of “Unlikely” contains some wonderful guitar playing that add gallons of character to a fine instrumental piece, the mood changed by the arrival of “Nobody Likes a Wise Guy” which sounds like Danielle Dax to these ears and is one of my favourites on the album.

With seriously distorted vocals, “Little Birdy” pushes further into strangeness, the rattling percussion and crying guitar adding to the atmosphere before “The Setup” brings thing back with more gorgeous flowing guitar and a great understated bass line.

After the country stomp of “Watermelon Hound” sticks in your brain with its easy refrain thing go odd again, in a good way, as “Here Comes Trouble” worms its way into your head (move over watermelon hound), sounding like Laurie Anderson on a lo-fi acid trip, excellent stuff and another contender for favourite song on the album.

So here we are, halfway through the disc and still enchanted, the songs being vibrant, playful, skilfully constructed and memorable, all of which are evident on “Blahbitty Blah”, a sort of cosmic jam, all echoes and strangeness, anchored down with a simple tribal rhythm taking the album in yet another direction without the listener being aware of the change until it is happening, with “Will You Be With Me” exploring deep space, a drone guitar and voice led track that compels you to listen, the introduction of bass and drums suddenly elevating the song to yet another level, giving it a Velvets feel.

After the brief interlude of “This and That”, which could be a coda for the last track, “Gathering Wool” does a U-turn with its punk guitar and electronic drums bringing you back to reality, or at least the Kable version, with its energy and passion. Similar in feel although more psychedelic and dark, “There's No Problem Here” is slow and soaked in paranoia, whilst “Give It A Push” is percussion led weirdness of the highest order with Danielle Dax brought to mind again. To end it all, “Walk It Off” is the soundtrack to a cult desert road movie that ends in small town tension and violence, some great guitar drifting over shimmering backing creating atmosphere by the bucket load, before finally melting completely.

For some reason Kable seem to have slipped under my radar for many years, on this showing I need to go out and explore further and see what other gems I can uncover. (Simon Lewis)



VARIOUS ARTISTS - FOR LEE JACKSON IN SPACE (fundraising download from forleejacksoninspace)

When, on 26th March 2012, Lee Jackson passed away after a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease), a ripple of sadness and shock ran through the communities he touched with his life. Tributes poured in across social networks sites and plans were soon hatched for a tribute to a man whose passion for music knew no bounds. Curated by Mats Gustaffson, with whom Lee worked on The Broken Face magazine, Ned Raggett and Travis Johnson, this compilation not only showcases a massive range of music but will also ensure that the fight against ALS continues, as all proceeds go to the Texas branch of the charity fighting the disease. http://webtx.alsa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=TX_homepage

    Above all, though the music on show is for Lee Jackson - a man who touched many through his writing, his knowledge and his kindness; not least of course Terrascope readers. All we can do is dive in and enjoy the sounds whilst raising a glass to the stars. Turn it up and don't forget to boogie.

    So onto the music itself, how exactly do you review 94 tracks that stretch over 12 hours, looks like the perfect festival line-up and covers folk, space-rock, drone, psych, experimental, pop, acoustic, freakout, cosmic funk and all points in between?

 To be honest I am not sure yet, guess I am gonna have to fire the compilation up and see what happens.

    Opening with the wonderful Abunai!, “Time of the Funk Lords” kicks right in with a funky riff, synths and stratospheric guitar, the whole band heading for out of the galaxy with energy to spare and grins on their faces, passing the baton on to Primordial Undermind, whose live version of “I Am Afraid Of You” keeps us in deep space, an atmospheric intro soon giving way to more chaotic passages sounding like a dust storm swirling across the universe.

   Next up, Tadpoles offer some fine psych-pop in the shape of “Jaded Jean (LJ mix)”, a fine song that gets your feet tapping before Stone Breath do the wyrd-folk thing so well on “Dark Veils Part”, a good place to start if you are not familiar with the band and their unique visions. With a completely different sound The Photon Band go for the free form approach on the echoed drones of “Unfinished Sky: Electricity, Heat and Rain”, just let the sounds wash over you and then get your feet moving with the electronic Kraut-Funk of “Untitled” brought to you by the excellent Melodien, a bright an invigoration sonic shower indeed.

    Getting heavier but equally as spacey, the mighty SubArachnoid Space, destroy all notions of time on the perfectly titled “Sound and Memories Remain”, thirteen minutes of perfection that are quickly followed by “When She's Sleeping”, a wondrous slice of psych-pop from Oyvind Holm that is full of emotion and quite beautiful. With a heavier take on the psych theme, Nick Bensen combines with Too Many Guitars for the energy driven “Stone Circle” complete with some excellent guitar that runs all over it with anguished precision. Keeping with the melodic psych sound for a while longer “Elven Queen” is another ripple of beauty and sweetness from The Linus Pauling Quartet, some lush chiming guitar only adding to the charm, before Anvil Salute get into an improvised groove on the ramshackle but engaging “Technosis Externality Clusterfuck”, a title they must have been saving for something special, surely.

    Equally long and rambling, but in a much more laid back and gentle style is “Galleria Malaise” a wonderful ambient work from Locrian that features birdsong within its soft grooves, well I hope it does, if not the birds in my garden are enjoying this track. After these two long pieces the excellent acoustic tune “Take Your Hand of the Tree” offers a drop of lightness thanks to the pen of Theo Angell, this lightness is extended by Arborea, whose wistful and ethereal “Stardust” is a thing of great beauty. With a delicate touch and a sugar coated voice, Marianne Nowottny soothes the nerves on “Where You Are” completing a fine trio of tunes that work so well together.

  A past master of memories and nostalgia, Alan Davidson sings with emotion and passion on “Me Jack and Lee and the Ghost of Skip James”. Of course you know him as The Kitchen Cynics but on this track it is simply Alan paying tribute to an old friend.  Equally personal is the achingly wonderful and cleverly titled “Which Way to Townes” brought to you by Six Organs of Admittance, an acoustic guitar tour-de-force that is understated and far too short.

    With a lovely sunny groove, the slightly Eastern sounding “Some Mornings” is pure joy in the hands of Tandem Bridges. This Eastern psych feel is also captured on “These Alien Angel (Extended In Space)”, a swirling groove created by Three Minute Tease.

   Doing what they do so well, Volcano the Bear, manage to make four minutes stretch to the infinite as they distort time in an experimental and delicious manner on the excellent “Tremondo”, all creaks, rattles and crackles, with an ageing piano holding it all together. Floating in like a soft white cloud “The Breaking” is an exquisite song, the softly beautiful voice of Marissa Nadler soothing the very air around the listener, a sweet guitar the perfect accompaniment.

    Waving their freak flag high, Ade Shaw and Rustic Rod Goodway takes us back to the early seventies for some cosmic fun on “Chakra Blue”, a very enjoyable trip indeed.

   Over 13 glorious minutes The Magic Carpathians Project seemingly invoke a feeling of universal sadness on the brilliant “In The Air We'll Be Reborn”, a devastating piece of music, that is perfect for this collection, the sense of loss tempered by the hope of something beyond our everyday existence, a light that never goes out. This sense of sadness can also be found on “Night Clouds”, an instrumental track, using the voice as an instrument in this case, from Sharron Kraus, the blend of voice and guitar evoking images of ancient hills and wooded glades, with a ghostly recorder adding an extra layer of mystery to the mix.

    Proving that the running order of this collection has been thoughtfully compiled, more sweet sadness can be found on “Lee's Dream”, a droning instrumental from Matthew De Gennaro that aches with loss creating a perfect heartfelt tribute that, fittingly, ends abruptly.

    Slow-moving and haunting “The Aye-Aye” is the drifting descent of a leaf from canopy to forest floor, an exquisitely composed and performed piece of music from Electroscope that is crystal clear in its elegant beauty and timeless in its enchantment. Following on, the beautiful voice of Julia Vorontsova is at its finest on “Love”, a simple picked guitar refrain the only accompaniment needed.

     With woozy slide guitar a-plenty, there is a lovely desert feel to “Rays in the Dust (For Lee)” an instrumental guitar piece from Matt McDowell that has a lightness of touch and great depth to it.

    Beginning with an almost jazz swing, the tension is slowly cranked up as The Alchemysts do their thing on “Glass Cars”, the mellowness of the first three minutes completely obliterated by the walls of guitar noise in the middle section, anger and sadness intermingling to  devastating effect until a brief return to quiet ends the track.

   With echoed flute and strings “Night's Black Bird (after John Downland)” is an eerie and gentle piece from Xenis Emputae Travelling Band, proving to be the perfect introduction to “Lunar Suite (for Lee Jackson)”, a 22 minutes tour-de-force from Mike Tamburo that is split into three sections. Filled with his trademark drones and free falling notes the music is delicate and airy, whilst still containing enough substance to hold the attention, all three parts flowing together to creat a harmonious and shimmering whole.

    With an improvised feel and a droning heart “The Seal Woman's Lament” speaks of loss and regret, low strings, whistles, percussion and voices building the tension as Tara Burke, Helena Espvall, Alec Redfearn and Sharron Kraus weave a sombre magic that wrings every drop of emotion from the very universe itself.

    After such intensity The weird Weeds manage to earth us again without losing the sombre feel as “Untitled” proves to be a slow and stately track with a simple repeated refrain at its centre. Beginning with a high pitched whistle that made all the cats sit up, “Noble One(s)” is like no other track so far, the whistle underpinned by rumblings, drones and subterranean noises that get you looking over you shoulder just in case. Performed and composed by Nmperign and Jason Lescalleet the piece is almost torn apart by the very tensions it creates, a writhing mass of noise that reveals a dark beauty at its core. Equally experimental, but warmer in its textures and tones, the plucked notes and voices of “Go Up, Pup” sound wonderful in the hands of  Ray Off, a short, but definitely lovely track.

    Changing tack completely, the lo-fi garage three-chord awesomeness of AXEMAN is enlivened by a familiar chorus and the addition of sound bytes from Stephen Hawkins, definitely playing the merry prankster “No, Not Him (Jackson Mix)” lightens the moods and gets you grooving again.

    Beginning with the sound of a alien craft landing in a wood “One For Lee” is a gently undulating piece from Valerio Cosi, that features saxophone and guitar as well as electronic textures, the whole thing peaceful and evocative. This mood is broken as Doleful Lions enter the fray, their “Combat Shock (it's Only a Matter of Time)” being  a melancholy dream-pop tune that reminds me of Talk Talk in its construction.

    Brief and perfectly distorted, “Be Next” is a primitive blast of noisy pop from Kable (a band I have only just discovered), that is a fine way to blow some dust from your ears and prepare you for the two long pieces that follow, I hope.

    The first of these long pieces is brought to you by The Dire Wolves Absolutely Perfect Brothers Band, with “Creator Dub” being a live piece recorded in front of only a handful of people including Lee Jackson himself. Possessed of a brooding hypnotic power, the track is an ancient ritual, a ghost dance of the highest order, inducing levitation and mystical visions in the listener.

  Recorded live at Terrastock 2008 and stretching out over 24 minutes “Slugger” from  Kohoutek is a slow-burning slice of psychedelia that begins as an experimental creep through the undergrowth before emerging as a fully formed Kraut-Rock behemoth, guitars creating waves of noise that break over your head with happy abandon, the length of the track meaning you have no choice but to drown in the sound, only to emerge cleansed on the other side.

   Of course, having been immersed and then cleansed, you find a second wave of righteous noise heading in your direction as Insect Factory flattens the landscape with the industrial strength drone of “Reversed in Your Head”, half-formed melodies and rhythms rising and then sinking again into the textured sea of sound that surrounds you.

    Moving from the long form to the short, Raising Holy Sparks with The Sacred Harp Singers of Cork, take less than two minutes to completely enchant me with the wondrous folk of “Sacred Harp 282 (I'm Going Home)”, the soft spiritual mood of the song then quickly removed by the jet engine drone of “An Unwelcome Room” performed with passion and great volume by Remora.

    Starting as the sweetest dreamscape ambience, “All the Sky in Flames” then slowly evolves as a rising plume of sound, an ever upward journey skilfully guided by Peter Wright, the track achieving a taut and carefully defined character by the end, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, a creeping paranoia, that is far removed from the carefree beginning, this tension then suddenly released as the track fades, the fires burnt out.

     Fading in with some soaring guitar lines, “Christchurch in the Time of Tony Peake” remains as it begins, an exercise in guitar freedom, playful and vital, like a sudden and welcome breeze on a stifling day, hats of to Roy Montgomery for refreshing my brain. Treading a similar path, Evening Fires, shimmer and sparkle across “Nailing Smoke to the Wall”, a delightful instrumental with wah guitar, lysergic organ and an eye for the heavens, a small splash of sunlight on water.

    Nice and nasty and with attitude a-plenty, Gate turn the volume up, with the sludgy and distorted “Whetu” packing an almighty punch as it slithers from the speakers with a malevolent gleam in the eye. At the other end of the scale, the delicious reveries of Windy and Carl make everything better, a rippling waterfall of notes that  is oh so pretty that it can only make you smile, although the ambiguous title “The Little Voice That Echoes Inside My  Head”, suggests a darker realm.

    Distorted and Lo-Fi to the max, “Dream” is primitive rock and roll that wears its heart on its grimy sleeve with outsider pride. Working under the name Superbugger, the drums of James Kirk, offer a substantial foundation for Antony Milton to sonically destroy his surroundings, the vocals almost completely inaudible under the distortion and fury, turn this fucker up and rejoice.

    Not surprisingly the cello takes centre stage during “Passage (For Lee), a spectral drone performed by Helena Espvall, the piece a slow ride across a misty lake, your vision limited to the immediate, unable to connect with the edges of the water, creating a timeless vision of the now.

     Over seventeen minutes, guitarist Tom Greenwood, in cahoots with percussionist Danny Sasaki, manages to also evoke the now on “Willow Spring”, a tumbling, rambling version of reality that was recorded live in 2011. The surprising addition of vocals (well, to me anyway) after seven minutes adds an extra layer of warmth and gives the piece more structure resulting in a highly pleasing track that is inventive and as beautiful as a hazy sunset. Having watched the sun set, night is carried in on the back of The Roswell Incident, their “Ventricular” creating a brooding cloudy sky, its dark growling guitar leaving little room for the twinkle of starlight or the clink of glasses, time to step indoors and look inside the madness of your own soul.

    Sounding like refugees from a seventies  free festival, Exterminating Angels create a heady and stoned jam that crackles with electricity as “Opening” suggests it is 3:00 AM somewhere in the world, this mood continued as ST 37 follow on, with “German Verman” being a deep space piece that is draped in golden light, the band mining a rich seam of experimentation in their quest for enlightenment.

    Like the soft rolling of waves on a sandy shoreline, Pete Fosco creates a calming and romantic soundscape on “Zilpo Forest Blues”, a simple and repeated guitar motif is underscored with more experimental sounds although these never overpower the central theme, merely augment and punctuate the movement of the music, allowing the listener to melt into the gentle rhythms. Utilising the same basic pattern, Norman Neubauer adds a few extra ingredients to the recipe, the guitar allowed to roam more freely as “I'm Done Sharing Thing I guess” glides effortlessly over eight lovingly crafted minutes, the track improvised after hearing the tragic news.

    Named after something Lee Jackson once said to him, Greg Dixon (working under the name Quixod) has created a mini soundtrack to a specific moment in time with “The Sounds of Trains at Night”, a lovingly composed piece with a throbbing bass line, guitars, samples, theremin and the sound of a passing train complete with the voice of Lee, something that will bring back memories for so many people and giving the track an extra poignancy.

     In the notes to this collection Lee Jackson describes the music of The Lost Domain as “Offering a wind swept journey through the deep dark blue void”, and that sums up “Restless Blues” perfectly, 16 minutes of solitude and sadness that threatens to overwhelm you.

    Like a walk through an electronic jungle “Gateway” is an airy and delicate swirl of noises, the piece sounding like the dripping of water around a sunlit waterfall, beautifully constructed by Charlatan, not suprising as the prolific Brad Rose is involved. More electronic shenanigans are created by Emperor Ringworm, whose short offering “Lee”, sounds like Kraut-Rock composed for a video game, Atari textures twisted into something highly engaging and creative.

   Featuring words from Alfred Jarry, from his book “Exploits and Opinions of Dr Faustroll, Pataphysician”, Brendan Quinn and Mark  Bennett have created a writhing and emotionally charged drone on “Concerning the Isle of Ptxy”, words and sounds fusing beautifully together demanding the listeners attention. Adding percussion to the drone, When the World Was ((Sound)), take us to heaven, a remarkably spacey drone driven by tribal drums and impeccable timing, creating hazy psychedelia that shimmers in the heat of knowing.

    With the same underworld atmosphere as “Zeit” (Tangerine Dream), Seht allows you to walk with ghosts in sacred caves lost for centuries, the sounds of “For the Dead Ones in Space (Lee Jackson's Half-Life of Chromium Dioxide Edit)” so drawn towards meditation and contemplation that they are almost unbearable until you find the stillness that lies at the centre of the piece.

    After such intensity, Zeleniople offer up the sweet lament of “Laundry”, which  is a welcome relief, a slow and trembling song that is utterly tranquil, the mood matched by Charalambides whose “Joy Shapes For Lee” drifts across fields of emotion driven by a beguiling vocal performance that whispers with sparse tears.

    Serving up a joyous dance of electronic sound that burbles and crackles with life, Raglani make me smile as the sequenced charms of “Outer Rim territories” grace my room, a life confirming merry-go-round of delight.

    Delightful and poignant, “Blue Tomorrows”, is a slice of dreamy shoegaze mellowness from Feature Films, that seems far too short to these ears.

    Always wonderful, the songs and voice Of Jeff Kelly are a joy to behold, as can be heard on “In The Sky”, an acoustic tune that weaves magic amongst it's tumbling notes, the acoustic mood fractured as Thunderbolt Pagoda rock it up with a killer riff giving “The Reclamation” an urgency and power.

  Featuring four good friends of Lee's, including Travis Johnson, “Secret Kraft” is a small part of a weekend spent jamming and reminiscing about Lee and their friendship. Calling themselves Lunar Discotheque, the music is a rattlingly good mix of analogue and digital, synths and sequencers dancing together in celebration, the sounds reaching for the stars and getting there.

    Seemingly played by spectres, “Muistain is filled with echoes voices and spectral sounds, the buzz of insects amongst the flowers, as Kemialliset Ystavat delve into the arcane with spooky precision and sonic finery.

    Merely drifting, but drifting with elegance, Jouurney press all the right buttons on “Commit Your Way”, a breathtaking cloud of sound that is sweet and calming. Not wishing to break the mood “Anemones in a Blue vase” is a haunting song that moves as slowly as a glacier, the delicate nature of the music matched by the half hidden voice and sensitive production.

   Like being locked in the dark on a half sunken ghostship, the music of Zanzibar Snails creaks and rattles, causing you to glance over your shoulder from time to time. Using a well controlled set of sounds, “”A More Celestial Perception of the Absolute” crawls under the skin right from the off, unsettling and tense in its design.

   After the recent sonic assault, the clean and simple sounds of acoustic guitar and vocals is something of a relief, the sweet softness and nostalgia of “Levee” bringing back the scent of half forgotten perfumes and old conversations as Wooden Wand practices magic on your ears.

    If you will forgive, I am going to quote Lee again as his description of The Renderers  is so damn perfect that my words pale in  comparison, so, “the music of the Renderers exists in that wonderful

state between fully structured pop song and shambling audio seepage. These songs

don’t always bludgeon as much as they writhe and slither their way from the

speakers into your brain.”. Just one listen to “Out of the Forest” (live), will convince of the truth of those words, thanks Lee.

   Imagine yourself walking through sunlit glade, buterflies dance on the edge of your vision, bird calls echo from the treetops and the rustling of leaves and scurrying of small animals can be heard. All you need now is the perfect soundtrack, which can be found in the shape of “New languages (for Lee Jackson)”, an electronic floatation tank of great beauty created by Derek Rodgers. As you leave the woodland you suddenly find yourself on a cliff top, the sea stretching out in front of you melting into a pure blue sky, making your body smile with joy, the soundtrack now playing the noisy dream-pop of Winslow, whose “Purcell” contains some excellent guitar interplay that allows you to float away, shimmering between the notes.

     Like the Buddhist master whacking you with a stick when you doze of during meditation, the jarring yet rhythmic sound manipulation of “You Eat In Greed” is a swift reminder of reality, the loops and samples grinding together like cogs in a wheel as Mass Ornament manufacture a delicious and tasty five minutes of goodness.

    Recorded by Lee Jackson on a video recorder, The Watchers - “Live at the Phoenix Project” is a nine minute electronic swarm of noise texture samples and playful inventiveness. Almost totally abstract in construction, the piece is alive, a multi-headed beast that stalks the room with a commanding presence, those coal black eyes demanding that you listen. By the end of the track, the beast has disintegrated into a swarm of ebony flies that cover the window in a desperate bid for freedom.

     As if being played in another room, The music of Hush Arbours has reverb and an air of mystery, the sweet home spun guitar perfectly matching the lonesome quality of the voice, a world weary yet hopeful plea that turns “Berryman in the Field” into a half-remembered dream, a soliloquy that is deeply moving.

    As beautiful as the sunrise, “The Infinite tides” is a hazy ride through the sky that is wholly satisfying, the blend of acoustic/electric guitars, percussion and contrabass sounding sublime in the hands of Akiyama/Cocoran/Kiefer/Leftridge musicians on the top of their game.

    Heavy on percussion and rhythm, Sun Circle get you feet tapping and your mind smiling on the joyous “Awaken”, the addition of occasional electronics adding some humming tension to the piece in all the right places. Taking that hum and running with it, Spiral Joy band create an elongated timeless drone on “13 Moons of Doom Part 3 – Red Lunar Serpent”, the almost gossamer beginning slowly consumed by a slow pulsing bass, creating disintegration of the highest order, play loud and stay still to listen.

    Capturing the spirit of seventies acid-folk, that air of mystery and detachment from everyday drudgery, “Tracing the Corner” is a sparse and haunting song, a fragile voice and otherworldly guitar caressing each other in sonic bliss, oblivious to anything around them, a thing of profound wonder created by Dora Bleu.

    Long and rambling, “Hammer > Jam” is Americana for the lost and disillusioned, a  heady mix of guitars the writhe around each other twisting melodies and re-inventing notes, the perfect foil for the voice and lyrics that echo from the undergrowth around. As MV &EE with the Golden Road head into the Jam section, the musicians open out the space between them, leading to some gorgeous interplay that bring to mind the Dead at their mellow cosmic best.

  With words by Lee Jackson (the full story can be found in the notes), Tanakh, creates a tightly controlled musical soundscape, the nagging guitar riff holding the words together, the whole having the texture of a dream, half forgotten in the morning-light.

   Sounding, initially, as if a long train is passing, “On the Divide” retains a metallic quality throughout, bells clanking and ringing as Pelt use sound as meditation, the train slowly passing as the piece fades leaving a sense of loss and regret.

    Offering hope and light, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma paints tone poems of fragility and wide open spaces, washes of guitar layered over each other creating a shimmer of sound that favours texture over melody, the listener left to find his own pathway through “The Placeless Place” , a dancing garden of sound.

     Waving the flag for Lo-Fi psych Plastic Crimewave swap their usual garage fuzz snarl for the forest atmosphere of “Butterfly and Moth”, a track full of spectres, ghosts and memories that crawls inside your brain with its rambling charm.

   Starting with a single tone, Vanessa Rossetto creates a pure and highly charged drone on “Untitled – For Lee Jackson”, the slowly rising piece filling the room with sound as it cranks up the tension to almost overwhelming proportions, time seemingly non existent, only now remains.

    Both experimental and filled with lush melodies, “Peacefully” features the steel resonator guitar of R Keenan Lawler, the wide range of sounds and textures displaying a man and instrument working together as a single entity. Over 13 minutes, the piece dances, cries, fades and returns, a work of great presence and fragile longing.

    Originally released on Camera Obscura, and dedicated to both Lee and Tony Dale, “Armonia Aphanes Phaneros Kreisson” is a 27 minute workout from The Azusa Plane, that destroys all around it, a blistering dronescape that captures the universe within its glowing hands, holding your attention and leaving you breathless with wonder and exhausted from the eternal grin you are wearing. The perfect way to end a stunning collection of music.

     What can I say, an extraordinary collection of sounds that should be owned by everybody with an interest in underground/psych experimental/folk music. It seems so sad that it took the death of someone much loved to bring it together, for this is a celebration of life and creativity. Maybe next year another collection can be compiled to celebrate the fact we are all still here, maybe. (Simon Lewis)