= March 2015 =  
Cranium Pie
Glow People
Jason Molina comp
Bread and Circus
Rainstick Cowbell
Miss Massive Snowflake
The Prefab Messiahs
Flower Girl
Client / Server
Suzuki Junzo
Eyeless in Gaza


(Vinyl from Cardinal Fuzz http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/

Saddled with the most unwieldy acronym since NWOBHM (that’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal for those too young to have witnessed said “phenomenon” or else fortunate enough to have managed to escape it), happily YSNBWATID are pretty laid back about being referred to simply as Demons. On this their first release of new material for 5 years and a second outing on Cardinal Fuzz in the past 12 months the band pursues what might be broadly termed its “stoner rock” direction, although I am pretty sure that way back when I might have indulged what now passes for the stoner experience wouldn’t have been what my giggle gear-tickled synapses would have chosen to wrap themselves around. That was then though, and with consciousness no longer altered by anything heavier than a few glasses of wine or a couple of beers these days I’m living proof that it’s never too late to add new textures to one’s musical palette.

A heady slab from the Sabbath/Electric Wizard School of heft is what boots things off courtesy of the bludgeoning yet lively “The Sorcerers”. The catchy “Sad Alien and Winking Skeleton” nags at me no end. For one thing it’s as catchy as the common cold. It also bags of appeal and not just because of the daft title, featuring some sprightly duelling (and harmonising guitar) and a new yet annoyingly familiar melody. Now where in the name of all that’s holy have I heard something very much like this before? No matter. The eastern phrasings of “Seya” bring to mind Lebanon’s finest, Sir Richard Bishop, not to mention Rhyton, and serves up a veritable and timeless groove spanning 1965 to the present day. Ah but this all mere bagatelle, my dears - merely, the “hors d’ouevre” before the main feasts to come. “Chapel Perilous” is an outwardly clunky instrumental that seems to languish at the turn of the ‘70s and seems to be going innocuously nowhere until it fires the back-up rockets and screams out of its moorings growing into a grotesque behemoth.

Then it all gets a bit Earth-bound, but in a good way. Dylan Carlson’s combo haven’t always hit the bulls-eye as far as I am concerned but they occasionally nail it and what Demons come up with next (“Throne Control”) is a fine example of how they (Earth that is) should sound more often. A twanging guitar set to an anguished reverb and an ominous sounding nodding beat sounds like the harbinger of a particularly nasty sandstorm or the mother of all pestilence. This is cinematic soundtrack material which even the likes of Dead Sea Apes would be proud of. There a twist too, with an apocalyptic last couple of minutes which gets the head nodding. “The Bee’s Eyes” provides some respite and an energetic return to the near-eastern dexterity of “Seya” before we’re back in the dusty saddle with more of those lonesome and faintly fearsome Earth sounds on the closing “Hothouse” and which to these ears top the lot. Like “Throne Control” it lulls you into an uneasy torpor before unleashing itself in the final stanzas to something like a thrilling climax.

Five years is a long time I grant you, although on the evidence of “Throne Control” and “Hothouse” such a gestation seems rather appropriate. Unhurried, well crafted, and with more ozone than the rest of the solar system can muster between it they alone make the wait for new material seem worthwhile. Here’s to 2020, then.

Ian Fraser



(2LP from Fruits de Mer )

Three years ago the debut Cranium Pie album “Mechanisms Part 1” was released by Fruits De Mer, presenting the listener with an amazing trip of progressive psych, infused with some vocals, some guitar, and lots of Hammond organ. It was an outstanding release. Now the Wiltshire-based band have recorded “Mechanisms Part 2,” and, as before, I am tempted to remark, “… a little like Porcupine Tree's first album, with a hint of Brainticket and a lot of proggy experimentation…”

Each side of the album (a double vinyl release) comprises one long track, split into sections. Side 1 opens with a deranged, almost demonic groove of a track, with deep vocals and a lovely tinkling Rhodes (or similar). The next section utilises the Rhodes again, this time deliciously distorted, but the cut has more of a ‘60s feel to it, and it’s more upbeat. Dig those groovy mellotrons… Cue a stop/start interlude with much thudding of drums and more mellotron – hints of TFTO-era Yes here (always a good thing, natch). There follows a trip into rinky-dink lounge, then a fabulous screaming guitar solo that splurges all over the spectrum… very nice! And thus endeth side 1.

Side 2 – the “difficult side,” as TFTO fans will know – opens with a flute-haunted groove, all splashy cymbals, FSOL-style orchestra strings and some nice synth effects. Trippy vocals and sound snippets then take over, as if via some retrogressive radio station circa 1969… one thinks of Aphrodite’s Child’s “666” here: ‘caught between this world and the next.’ It all hangs together though – superbly produced. Chunky drums and soulful percussion open the next section, with a beautifully fuzzed guitar riff loping up the fretboard… then more Hammond. It sounds like a mad mash-up of Cream out-takes had they been jamming with Moby Grape. Whoosh! Then off into weird Canterbury territory, with hints of Arthur Brown… None more prog!

To side 3, then: cue tape effects, trippy voice loops and then a funky guitar riff supported once more by the Hammond organ. There follows a very weird song, though beautifully sung, with more hints of the style and sound of Arthur Brown; great stuff. Space voices! Aliens talking about Earth people! And all set to the shimmering sounds of the band. ‘Tis indeed most trippy. More Hammond and synth excursions follow, with another of Rob Appleton’s trademark smokin’ guitar solos, this time a particularly fabulous one. But, as the insane voices explain, ‘You have got to find it…’ ‘But it’s too bright!’ Bonkers, yet not so bonkers that you ignore it – because after the trippiness come Terry Riley-esque keyboards to soothe your fevered brow, and more mellotron, and further floating delights.

So to the concluding twenty minutes of the trip. Opening with a gentle, Hammond-infused groove, a choir of ghostly voices then emerges, fading out into the psychedelic psunset. The next section is more dramatic – crashing chords and pounding drums, launching into another high intensity guitar solo. Cue Hammond once again, then a “666”-style voice, one that I suspect directly references the classic AC album; eventually this voice looms large over a tape collage of trippy sound snippets. The Rhodes piano also covers this track, notably at the end, in a series of muted chords that support the ever more mad vocals. At length it all subsides into a slow, spooky lope of drums and rhythm-Rhodes. The concluding section however has a more anthemic quality: a full chord progression, with distorted synths, Hammond and cosmic Rhodes.

So… we have experienced almost eighty minutes of music. Where have we been? Well, the music is progressive in the true sense of the word – reaching out to new territories, offering new experiences, suggesting new realms. More trippy than “Part 1”, the album does nonetheless all hang together – this is no random selection of cuts squeezed together into a podgy whole. It easily sustains multiple listens – always a sign of quality. The musicianship, the vision and the use of Hammond and Rhodes holds the whole thing together. Psych fans will love this, as will fans of what Classic Rock called “bonkers prog.” Oh, Yes! (Steve Palmer)



(CD/Download from http://cosmicdigital.cosmicprimitive.com )

Festival favourites from the West Midlands return with second album proper and one which treads a strikingly familiar astral path as the winning “Things...” (2013).

Like its predecessor, Happen is one long mellow, loping groove full of elastic, funk-lite bass, and almost lounge-friendly electronics, laced with elements of more contemplative, cerebral Gong and Canterbury style fusion while the guitar acts as more of a trebly, rhythmic counterweight to the bass and drums of Robot Cossey and Nick Reybould .“Gap the Mind” is all of these things (even down to the Canterbury-humoured title) while the title track is a more expansive and spacey affair, the interplay between the bass and muted trumpet – another trademark – adding a dubbed up jazz vibe to the canvas. This one chugs along nicely. “The Dye Sky” is an Ozrics/Red Snapper mash-up that’ll get them bobbin’ and a weaving at Kozfest down at Bobbie’s farm this summer and is the first real slice of urgency in what until now has been a reasonably languid excursion. The bass is funkier, the guitar more lyrical and Nick on drums gets to sweat a bit. “Gorilla Salad” continues in more frenetic, stop-start style with the bands jazzier and dextrous hallmarks keenly on display.

By the time we get to “Distilled” things are still engagingly toe-tapping but in danger of becoming repetitive and formulaic. “Skworked” (oh my poor spell check) turns things around though, a great simple bass line over which the trumpet and keys snake and then “Medusa” takes it to another level – the best dance tune on the album and one which should appeal to even the biggest grumpy guts in the room (that’s usually me by the way). By contrast “Touch It” is, some faint drumming aside, spaced out to the point of ambient and is a delight. Not sure who the uncredited female vocalist (spoken word of course) is but she brings an additional certain something to the partuy. The mellower vibe then plays us out with “Abstract”, a gorgeous slice of gentle, blessed out raga jazz.

It’s all more than decent and for the most part thoroughly uplifting fare. Mind you it’ll be interesting to see where Glowpeople go next, though, after two albums which could, in all fairness, have been recorded and released at the same time. They might of course be content to continue to occupy their small and relatively cosy part of time and space of their own or, as I hope they will, venture outside of the fluid sac and delve yet further into the universe. Be bold guys. Time will tell, I guess.

(Ian Fraser)



EARTHEATER – METALEPSIS (CD/Cassette from Hausu Mountain http://hausumountain.com/)

The solo project of NYC multi-instrumentalist Alexandra Drewchin, better known perhaps as a member of left-field-psyche ensemble Guardian Alien, Eartheater serves up a bewildering smorgasbord of avant-garde sounds which encompasses freak folk and a queasy, dysfunctional psychedelia.

This ambitiously experimental debut melds traditional and synthesized sounds with mostly indistinct and alternately hushed and wailing disembodied vocals. This approach is ably demonstrated on tracks such as “Homonyms”, the first single taken from the album and which is notable for a curious mixture of bubbling percussion and electronica but which oddly enough fit hand in glove with vocals and simple, conventional instrumentation. It really is evocative and quite trippy. Yup, we are out on an esoteric wing and a prayer here and it feels good already ladies and gentlemen. Similarly on “The internet is Handmade”, munchkin vocals recede into conspiratorial whispering perceptible, just, above crackling synths and pulsating stuttering tape effects while “Put a Head in a Head” finds some fractured melodies in among the static.

“Youniverse” almost comes close to a radio friendly commercial entity – well the more adventurous Radio 6 jocks might be prepared to give the first couple of minutes a go before it all deconstructs somewhere in the middle, melting into a cut and paste of samples (rap included) before changing direction again courtesy of a jaunty coda. This one’s destined for the Wire playlist, I bet. It is left to “Infinity” to provide the most conventional moment on the album although it really doesn’t have much competition in that department. Vocally she is as clear and distinct as they have been at any point, but when Drewchin intones “space is the place where we come from”, you can well believe it. The impression given is of an even more sonically adventurous and whacked-out Jane Weaver.

Welcome to the world of Eartheater/Alexandra Drewchin. It’s a strange one to be sure but oddly alluring. I may stay awhile.

(Ian Fraser)




Organised, curated and funded by Jesse Poe, an old friend of the Terrascope (and of Phil) who is surely now in line for sainthood, this emotional and sometimes heart-breaking collection of songs is a tribute to their creator Jason Molina, an artist who inspired Jesse Poe to tread his own path and continue with his own songwriting, Molina's work seemingly saying “Listen Poe, you can do this. Just do it. Don't look, just listen, trust me.”

    Featuring a host of sympathetic and eloquent interpretations of the songs, each artist seems to have found the centre of the tune and it is a tribute to the quality of those songs that this collection flows so beautifully, each song connected to the rest, the whole becoming one single album rather than a mishmash of covers.

   Of course, the death of Jason in March 2013 adds an emotional weight to the album, the lyrics gaining a deeper poignancy through that fact, it must be almost impossible for close friends and family to hear some of these words so deep do they run and my sympathy goes out to them all.

    So, to the music itself, and that is where the problems start because whenever I play this album I am so overwhelmed by its stark beauty that it it is difficult to detach myself enough to write about it, the songs so powerful that I just want to immerse myself in the moment.

   Anyway, over four sides of vinyl and 20 songs, this sombre, nostalgic, sometimes hopeful and sometimes despairing roller coaster ride is enhanced and enriched by a plethora of current artists with Guy Capecelatro III providing an early highlight with “Soul”, a waltz filled with emotion, whilst Paul Watson makes breathing difficult with his version of “North Star Blues”. Elsewhere Marissa Nadler melts your heart with “It's Easier Now” before a devastating rendition of “Long Desert Train” by Stephen Bartolomei closes side two with such emotion it take a while before you can put the next disc on the player.

   Over on side three, Nad Navillus inject some electric guitar venom into “Constant Change”, whilst “Calling Bird” is rendered fragile and constantly dissolving in the hands of Mara Flynn, before Jesse Rifkin adds a lysergic sheen to the pulse of “The Body Burned Away”.

    To conclude, the final word must be from Jesse Poe who, with the help of Thalia Zedek and The Static and Distance Band ends the album with “I Can Not Have Seen The Light”, the tune a lament, a tribute and strangely, a celebration of the work of Jason Molina and one that digs deep into your soul. If you only buy one album ever again, make it this one, a thing of rare and fragile beauty. (Simon Lewis)



(CD on Slowburn Records)

Bread and Circus return from a prolonged absence with the first recording since we praised their debut way back in 2007. Personnel and personal issues have plagued the project since John Axtell began recording this follow-up in late 2008, leading to a ragtag collection of nearly a dozen likeminded desert-dwellers from the Tucson rock scene contributing to his rollicking, saloon rock. It sure sounds like a good time was had by whoever dropped into Axtell’s Signalhouse Studios during the prolonged recording sessions. Equal dollops of snarly, drunken shitkickin’ sing-alongs bend elbows alongside sloppy, good time rock not that far removed from the racket generating from Bozeman, Montana’s Career Records stable up in God’s Little Ear Ache studios presided over by Ron Sanchez and his fellow noisemakers, from Deniz Tek and Roy Looney to The Plaintiffs and Donovan’s Brain or the Houston-based juggernaut that is Linus Pauling Quartet.

            ‘Carol of Bells’ hoots ‘n’ hollers like Denny and Dusty on a weeklong bender, ‘Lady Bus Driver’ rips up the carpet with blazing guitar solos from Axtell and Jeff Kluesner in the finest Rockpile tradition, and the bluesy tears-in-your-beer ballad ‘You Were In Love’ allows you an opportunity to waltz your sweetheart across the floor just before closing time. ‘Loretta’ sounds like that sweetheart who broke everyone’s heart last time she strolled through town, and I used to live in that duplex in Bayonne (or one just like it) that’s immortalised in ‘Cumberland Farms’, the convenience store-cum-gas station that litters the landscape all up and down America’s East Coast.

            If you liked the debut, this sophomore effort is worth the lengthy hiatus, mining as it does the same dirty ass rock and roll territory championed by the likes of Golden Smog, Wallflowers, Neil and Crazy Horse, et.al. Strong melodies, real life lyrical stories everyone can recognize (and probably lived through), and amazingly tight musicianship considering its recording history, highlighted again by Eric Johnson’s barnstorming solos, Axtell’s pleading vocals, and the well-oiled rhythm section of J Ratcliff, Duane Hollis, Sam Donaldson, and Matt Beers. So crack open a few 40’s and wail the night away until the sun rises again over the Arizona desert. (Jeff Penczak)



(CD/DL from http://rainstickcowbell.com/)
(CD/DL from http://northpolerecords.org)

These albums were released last year and having sitting in the review pile for far too long thus becoming the latest in the long running “music I should have reviewed ages ago” series.

   With a unique voice and a singular vision, the music of Rainstick Cowbell is primitive and passionate, Guitar and voice taking centre stage to deliver 11 songs that  have lyrical bite and enough energy to tear the roof off especially when played at the appropriate volume.

    Opening with a brief field recording, “Uncle Merv” takes us straight in the guitar providing both rhythm and melody to the tune, the tale of a fading farm brought vividly to life both by the lyrics and the emotional pull of the song. On “The Perils of Patriotism” the cult of majority rule and mass demonstrations are picked apart to a slow burning guitar, whilst on “About : Knowledge” a sweetly rolling guitar draws you in the lyrics seemingly coded to obscure their true meaning. Even more obscure are the lyrics to “History of the Ostrogoths” although maybe they are simply a history lesson complete with mascara.

    Throughout the album it is the vitality and unexpected twist and turns that keep you listening, the emotion shining through and the wordplay making you think about the song's meaning. Add all this together and you have a collection that will stay fresh for a long time to be revisited at your leisure.

    Equally singular in his vision, Shane De Leon has been making music for a long time, he was a member of Rollerball for ten years before forming Miss Massive Snowflake in 2004, first as a solo project although the band soon became a trio. On this, their fourth album all that experience comes to bear with eight songs that are carefully crafted for maximum impact, the lyrics dealing with loss, love and pain. Opening song “Leeway” has an ache behind it, the words mirroring the soft nostalgia of the tune, the lyrics softened by flashes of humour. With an early rock and roll feel, you could imagine Elvis singing it, “Tangled Up” is driven but a solid rhythm and sweet piano the tune ending much too soon, almost before it has started.

   Mixing Spanish guitar, heaviness and a lounge section “Oh Say You Can Hear” is a beautifully constructed song filled with musical surprises, whilst “Lovely Heart” has some wonderful guitar throughout, reminding me of “Last Days of May” (B.O.C) in both its sound and emotional feel.

    To end the record, the suitably titled “End of the Record” is another engaging tune, that is constructed with care and passion, never predictable or dull, something that is true of the whole collection meaning that it bears repeated listens, the songs easily strong enough to stand the test of time. (Simon Lewis)



(CD/DL/VINYL/CASSETTE. http://bit.ly/1wUb1H1 )
(DL http://bit.ly/1BZhQHL )

Sounding like an explosion in a sleazy nightclub featuring The Elevators, The Beatles, The Dukes of Stratosphear and The Sonics, “Keep Your Stupid Dreams Alive” is a magnificent 22 minute EP that is a joyous celebration of all thing Paisley, filled with manic energy, a whole bong load of effects and enough hooks to keep the Tate Modern happy for years.

   Originally around in the early eighties, The band got back together for some 30th anniversary shows prompted by the release of a retrospective compilation and had so much fun they came up with this collection. Featuring Kris Thompson (Abunai) the band pursue the lo-fi trash ethic as they enter the underground with opening salvo “SsydarthurR” alive with creeping effects, a pounding riff and suitably odd lyrics, the song setting the scene perfectly before “Weirdoz Everywhere” detonates the room sounding like The Ramones on their “Acid Eater” LP, a power pop sixties classic in the making complete with “Hey Hey Hey Hey” sing-a-long bits, I am grinning already.

    Quite possibly my favourite track “Orange Room” is a trippy slice of lysergic sound that is both cynical and affectionate the band sounding like they took a time machine back to 1966 and then moved to Texas. Sticking with the same era, “College Radio” has a Cynics ferocity about it before “Booshwa Sally” gets us dancing again to its groovy beat and hip sounds.

  Written partly as nod to Bobb Trimble, “Bobb's Psychedelic Car” has a more modern sound, although by modern I mean the paisley renaissance of the eighties/nineties, which is when the band originally got together, it's all very confusing this time travel lark.

   Taking all that has gone before the title track blends it all into 3 minutes of psych perfection, including a very Fab Four inspired end section, the whole album rounded of by the weird sound collage of “Prefab Flashing”. As I said this is a quite magnificent collection, sounds great in the car, sound even better after a few beers, turn it up and put a smile on your face.

   Peddling a much spacier brand of Psychedelia, Flower Girl go for the improvised approach stretching out their instrumental sounds into flowing Acid Rock epics that have plenty of variation, the mellow and delicate colliding with some wonderful interludes of noise. Opening with the 15 minute “Dreams” the band waste no time in heading out into the atmosphere, gentle ringing guitar slowly building, dancing and twirling before it all implodes into a tasty slice of Psychedelic riffery, The Stooges and The Dead battling for supremacy until peace again descends in a hazy twilight of mellow bliss.

   With a Quicksilver/Man feel, “Erf-2017” has a fine jangling guitar, a sweet sounding bass and sympathetic drumming at its heart, the track stretching out into a warm and delightful West-Coast jam that lifts the spirits. At under 5 minutes, “One of the Joes” is by far the shortest track filled with strange effects and vocal samples again sounding all West-Coast and acid drenched and all the better for it.

   To end the album, “Strobie” is 2 minutes longer than the entire Prefab Messiah's collection, a magnificent beast that allows the musicians plenty of time to explore their sonic world, each one aware of what is happening around, the band functioning as one unit throughout. As you would imagine throughout the track there is plenty of ebb and flow, soft passages and periods of more intense noise, the whole piece a sea of psychedelic beauty, all you have to do is listen to the waves and dream for a while.

    It makes me very glad to know that music of this calibre is still being made in these disposable times, please check the albums out and help Psychedelic music thrive. (Simon Lewis)



CD/DL from http://bit.ly/1AfxKsM )
(LP/CD  from http://nodandsmilerecs.com/)

Originally hailing from Boston, Client/Server moved to Tokyo in 2013 and turned up the volume considerably. Pretty much doing what it says on the tin, “Tokyo Grindcore” contains four slabs of relentless guitar noise that is dense and slow moving, the drums buried so low in the mix that all your focus remains on the guitar.

  Opening salvo “Older Ways” has hints of melody within sounding like Sabbath if they decided to write a shoegaze album. Further evidence of this style can be found on the band's website where you can listen to Client/Server cover four Sabbath tunes with “Fairies Wear Boots” being particularly entertaining.

   Giving the drums a bit more presence, at least in the intro, “Lungs” is a distorted stormcloud that swaps melody for good old fashioned noise, the listener finding their own tunes within the holy racket. Relentless in its fury the piece with one last distorted chord that fades to nothing only to be replaced by the ten minute grind and stomp of “I.B.4 BOT”, the drums louder in the mix and the guitars retaining a sense of rhythm and dynamics whilst keeping the energy and distortion levels high. With a hypnotic lead line snaking through it the track creeps under you skin its very length adding to its power. Finally “Five Is Go-Fun” adds a spacier psychedelic edge to proceedings, a more abstract cloud of sounds, still distorted and brutal but offering more space between the noise and ending a fine collection in style.

    Offering a more experimental view of the world, Suzuki Junzo still uses volume and distortion as a dynamic technique on his latest offering with “Guillotine For Meditational Feedback Loop” sounding like Acid Mother Temple in its chaos and sonic fury. As A stalwart of the Japanese underground Junzo knows how to creat beauty within the chaos, finding the spaces between the noise allowing the track to breathe and develop whilst retaining its dogged determination to unsettle. After this intense opener, “Mosche de Velluto Grigio” removes the volume, the piece a slow drift down a lazy summer river, the feedback and abstract sounds mixed to mimic the natural world of the forest with a ripple of sweet guitar notes and soft vocals creating the beauty. Blended perfectly, the track offers something new every time you hear it, retaining its freshness and vitality. To end side one, “Koroshi-Mitsu Kurui-Mitsu” is a ghostly folk song with an echoed reverb backing and some beautiful, minimal guitar creating the perfect accompaniment to the vocal delivery.

Taking up most of side two, “Revelation of the Confidential Report of the Electric Citizen” is a blissful mix of Electric Guitar and droning Harmonium with a Maracas adding understated percussion, the track soaring into the skies allowing Junzo complete freedom of expression, an opportunity he grabs with both hands mixing dexterity with passion to create a truly memorable slice of timeless Psychedelia.

Equally beautiful, “The Moon of Montezuma” is an enchanting and lysergic tune that would sit perfectly on “Electric Music for Mind and Body”, the late night feel augmented with delicate tendrils of guitar that cloak the track with a shimmering presence leaving you wanting more.

Having recently reviewed rather fine albums from both the UK and the US, it is great to see that Japan can also boast a thriving and inventive underground music scene, 2015 is turning out to be a vintage year.(Simon Lewis).



(3CD from www.eyelessingaza.com )

Even at the time of their debut l.p., the sound and stance of Martyn Bates and Peter Becker a.k.a. EYELESS IN GAZA always appeared to be more redolent of misty English country churchyards than the usual issues of their contemporaries in the post-punk marketplace (1978-1984) - Woo and The Marilyn Decade being notable exceptions. Hyms to alienation and clenched-fist posturings were never really in their vocab. They also seemed to draw from a far wider palette of influences. Have a listen to the "Country Bizarre" c.d. (on Tago Mago Records) with Sir Lol Coxhill for proof positive of their questing nature. So...going back to last year, it would have been easy to think that the 'Cherry Red' Eyeless boxed c.d. retrospective (from "Photographs..." to "Pale Hands..."), covered every last damn thing E.I.G.-related. Nope!! Not in your or my philosophy. I refer you now to the "Mythic Language/Egg Box Music" triple c.d. set; containing a startling fifty-one (!!) unissued tracks from the duo's early years and a smattering from the early nineties. Containing, by and large, studio material from 1980-83, Volume One or "Egg Box Music" is an enthralling mix of left field art pop and low key experimentation and certainly rises high above its somewhat strange title, which possibly refers to the material generally used for soundproofing a bedroom/attic space for recording purposes. Their roots perhaps? Though I could be way off beam here. What I can say with some certainty is that the off kilter psyched atmospherics at the heart of "The Sun-Like-Gold" are absolutely stunning. Pete's chiming autoharp lines finding a perfect foil in the (slighly) dubwise clockwork percussive backdrop. Difficult as it is to name favourites...I'd also make a plump for "See she sells, on the Seashore. shells" which resembles a track by Syd's Floyd that was deemed too wayward/outlandish for inclusion on "Piper...". "Fixation" (Vol. Two) blows that earlier "country churchyard" quote straight out of the water! The vocal lines remain soulful, yet are more insistent, while under numerous/disparate recording conditions, the background instrumentation appears to be a lot more urgent and Factory-records based. It's certainly a side to E.I.G. that has never emerged before and it's that extra facet within these ealy 80's live recordings that makes it all the more compelling to eager Eyeless novice and experienced fan alike. Look out for "The Skeletal Framework" where pulsing keyboards meet at the intersection of folk and electro and "Darker Portraits" where Martyn's gloriously clangy guitar is in a battle royale with his own spittle-flecked vocal splurge. There are clearly no winners. "Morningsinging" comes as the third and final instalment and collates a number of radio sessions made by Martyn Bates performing under the solo spotlight. I'm immediately struck by Martyn's intensely personal delivery. It's almost as if he's playing in a corner of your living room. There's the hallucinatory siren song of the all too brief "Bahnhofstrasse" which effortlessly dispenses goosebumps after every play and then there's the revitalisation of two traditional folk staples; "Sally Free and Easy" and the creepy epic horror of "Long Lankin", which was initially hatched on the superb "Murder Ballads" collection. Sparse arrangements seem to be the order of the day here, but these are full to the brim with emotional content. Glorious.

    For what it's worth, this exemplary package (with its copious/informative sleevenotery), is already one of my favourites of 2015 and can be ordered through A-Scale Records; (www.eyelessingaza.com). Very highly recommended! (Steve Pescott)