= March 2017 =  
Wolf People
Toby Hay
The Greek Theatre
Trimdon Grange Explosion
Hermetic Brotherhood of Lux-Or
Bardo Pond
Chester Hawkins
Cheval Fou
Kitchen Cynics

 (LP/CD from Jagjaguwar JAG 279 )

Last Thursday I went to one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve been to in quite a time. The gig was at a club called the Cassiopeia in Kreuzberg, Berlin and the band in question was Wolf People. It was just a happy coincidence, that I was in the German capital for work and the band was on a short European tour. Despite some on stage problems, notably Joe’s amplifier mal-functioning, the quartet was on fire and the crowd was with them all the way as they tore through a goodly chunk of tunes from their latest album and few older favourites like ‘When the Fire Is Dead in the Grate’, ‘Hesperus; and ‘One by One from Dorney Reach’. I marvelled at Jack Sharp’s easy rapport with the audience and also at how even after some nine years of playing together, the band sounded as fresh and as invigorating as they had back in 2009 when they played my local pub, if a mite louder, more aggressive and confident.

More significant was how the material from their 2016 long player Ruins stood up so strongly to scrutiny and for the first time how these newer songs sounded as much like old friends as those from 2013’s Fain set, to me one of the greatest rock and roll albums of this millennium, a modern folk rock masterpiece that sits comfortably with Full House, Fotheringay and can raise its shaggy head proudly alongside Live at the Padget Rooms, Sea Shanties and Mighty Baby.

If I’m honest I’d been having trouble getting my head into the scary visceral landscapes of this latest release, hence the lateness in filing this review which I promised Phil back in November. Ruins somehow on first listens did not appear to have so much to latch on to which earlier releases had by the wagonload. Perhaps this was because I’d grown to love those early records simply by going to see the band play, a phenomenon I have had to forego over the past couple of years – always they or I being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which is why that Berlin gig was so timely!

This latest magnum opus begins with three of the wildest, heaviest numbers they have ever committed to tape – they surely must have been recorded at full moon! Drenched in some of the most coruscating fuzzed-out riffs since Dave Ginner Millen hung up his guitar, these opening cuts sound somewhere between Thundermother, Stackwaddy and early Motorpsycho, though I believe the band cites obscure Scots rockers Iron Claw as an influence here!

With its misleadingly delicately picked-out acoustic guitar notes, ‘Ninth Night’ sounds like a mega-amped revisit of East of Eden’s 1969 lost nugget, ‘Northern Hemisphere’, with Tom Watt’s drums threatening to bury the listener in a volcanic avalanche of molten percussion. The way he keeps this one on track reminds of the physically robust shape John Bonham must have been in on those early Zep records. ’Rhine Sagas’ lights up the dark skies of Second World War Germany as the guitars spit an unremitting barrage of tracer and flak at you, whilst former member Ross Harris’s flute lines swoop menacingly in like the Luftwaffe. ‘Night Witch’ offers no sign of respite either, the riffs screaming like banshees as the world goes to hell in a handcart.
It did cross my mind that this just might be heavy for heavy’s sake but it’s a actually bold step and I can only applaud them for taking chances. I asked Jack if the sequencing of these monsters at the start was done on purpose: ‘We wanted the record to feel different from the previous ones, so we put the heavier, more immediate and short tracks first’.

But just as your ears are getting accustomed to the death screams of a dying planet, the album settles into pastoral splendour of ‘Kingfisher’ and its two reprises. Jack likes his birds (as anyone who has encountered the enchanting ‘Treecreeper’ in his recent solo sets will know) and ‘Kingfisher’ is a worthy companion, an emotive paean to the small colourful bird that still haunts the quieter, less polluted rivers and streams of our countryside. More melodic and gentler in tone than the preceding tracks, and harkening back to the folksier moments of the band’s now extensive repertoire, with a theme of man’s disengagement from the natural world, this has to be one of Wolf People’s most finely crafted pieces. The play-out takes us deep into big sky country, reminding me of some of the best moments of Help Yourself, Byzantium or Greasy Bear. Joe Holick’s playing is plain beautiful as his fellow band mate Mr Sharp readily agrees: ‘I think Joe has done a blinding job with the guitar, some of the best he's ever played’.

As the LP progresses like me, you’ll enjoy the extra instrumentation they have added:  more keyboards (including Rhodes and mellotron), flute on a number of tracks and even saxophone which gives one instrumental break a feel of Frank Z’s Hot Rats. Stick in the Wheel’s Nicola Kearey who did so much to enliven the vocals on Fain makes her presence felt once again in the vocals department of this record.

‘Crumbling Dais’ boasts some fabulous controlled guitar feedback in its fade whilst ‘Belong’ and ‘Not Me Sir’ (which Jack describes as ‘about how humans deny the traits that make them human: compassion, empathy, and revert to greed at the earliest opportunity.’) return us to the riffing fury of the early part of the record. I’m particularly drawn to the deeply melancholic ‘Salts Mill’, another bucolic outing that proceeds at a restrained rather stately pace. Jack sings this with great sensitivity – what a fine vocalist he’s developed into – and the whole thing is done in such an understated way, the ensemble grooving on an Eastern-tinged vibe you might find in the grooves of Mighty Baby’s Jug of Love record. This is quite exceptional!

The group’s concept for Ruins was for the songs to be a lot more direct and energetic and less considered.  It’s an idea that I think you’ll agree has certainly worked in its favor, and repeated listens suggest that this might just be their best work yet!

(Nigel Cross)

(Wolf People and Stick in the Wheel play Islington Assembly Hall on Thursday 6th April)




(LP/CD from Cambrian Records )

Well, this is nice. It’s always good to discover a new artist who strikes all the right chords, as it were, and guitarist and instrumental composer Toby Hay is one hell of a find. Toby’s music captures the glorious sunrises, the rain-washed days and the coal-black nights of his native Wales through eight glorious 6 and 12 string guitar compositions, accompanied on most by viola, cello, bass and violin.

 ‘The Gathering’ is his debut album, but you’d never guess from the deft craftsmanship on display throughout; it’s at once achingly melancholic and effortlessly melodic, simultaneously experimental and yet permeated too by the skills of the masters, of Jansch, of Rose, of Graham, of Fahey, and of Renbourn. And yet, the artist he reminds me of most is the sole (I think) solo guitar album by the sarod master and Hindustani music scholar Ben Kunin (‘Acoustic Adventures’, released on the Communion label back in 2002). There’s a flow and a direction to it, like the babbling murmur of a mountain stream, and it’s surely no coincidence that the three stand-out compositions on here are all related to water too: ‘The Fly Fisherman and the Trout’ (a tune written on the back of a recurring dream, and my favourite of all); ‘Claerwen’ (a paean to the lake, dam and nature reserve in Powys) - and the gorgeous, haunting ‘Black Brook’, played on an arch-top guitar from the 1930s which, as Toby observes in his sleeve-notes, “seems to have music already in it: you just have to let it out”.

Throughout this album, Toby Hay spins threads of gold from the strings of his guitar and weaves us a magic carpet on which he carries us away on a guided tour high above the inspirational landscape of his native homeland. I suggest you sign up for the ride – you won’t regret a moment of it.

(Phil McMullen)



(LP from Sugarbush Records, Download via Bandcamp)

Unless you've been living under a pretty sizable rock for the past several years (thankfully not the case with regular readers of the Terrascope), Sweden has arguably become the epicenter of some of the most innovative music of recent memory. One need look no further than Stockholm's The Greek Theatre, a brilliant psychedelic duo who has just delivered their second masterpiece, Broken Circle. Terrascope readers with a keen eye and a sharp memory may recall this review of their first masterpiece from 2014.

That magical feeling that was so perfectly crafted on their first LP is back, and 'twas well worth the wait! "Fat Apple (at About Noon)" launches the new album, and what a glorious launch it is. A rich tapestry of sounds fills your ears as the introduction slowly builds, laying the groundwork for a truly splendid record. From delicate beginnings with a lovely, sunny folk-ish feeling to some jazz-inspired drumming, accented with layers of gorgeous arrangements, the song slowly builds into a grandiose piece and once we hear those familiar vocals, it's as though a dear old friend has just walked through the door. Wonderful acoustic guitar combined with some beautiful pedal steel lend a wonderful country feel, followed by some terrific psychedelic lead guitar work.

Between the band's two stunningly beautiful longer-players, an EP titled The Sunniest Day was released last summer and contained the track "Paper Moon", which appears again on the new album, this time with an updated arrangement. Opening with a hauntingly beautiful stark guitar line, we are soon in full-on psychedelia mode with swirling sounds and delightful harmony vocals. Some excellent bass playing is just one of the many joys to be heard in this complex, yet carefully constructed mix. The band's first album, Lost Out at Sea is fondly remembered in the track "Still Lost Out At Sea". Gentle vocals are layered upon one another and the relaxed pace is both calming and contemplative. Woodwinds make the perfect partner to accompany the acoustic guitar and dreamy vocals. Despite the lyrical and musical ties to the first album, it must be said that this is surely not just "more of the same". Rather, Broken Circle surely has its very own identity, distinct from, yet complementary to Lost Out at Sea. The journey continues and we are all the better for it.

Also having first appeared on The Sunniest Day EP is "Stray Dog Blues", an achingly beautiful piece presented here with a new arrangement. Though possessing a somewhat somber undertone, the track is peaceful and optimistic with the lyric "feel alive, alive". The accompanying female vocals really help to underscore the emotion of the track. Mining even more new sounds, the first instrumental offering from The Greek Theatre is "1920", which showcases some exquisite guitar playing to build a mysterious atmosphere which gracefully connects the earlier parts of the record with the rest of the album.

The epic title track, "Broken Circle" is both bold and adventurous and surely one of the band's finest compositions. The psychedelic organ used in the introduction is nothing less than sublime. If '71-'72-era Floyd fills your teacup, by all means: do not miss out on this! This psychedelic tour-de-force with its driving intensity, gentle passages and stately vocals proudly displays the gravitas necessary to bear the title track of the album. The stunningly clever lyric "And though the road is rough and rocky, rest assured it'll lead to home" delivers a most poignant metaphor.

The curiously titled "Ruby-Khon" boasts some ethereal vocals coupled with gentle acoustic guitar and subtle arrangements. Though not a cornerstone of the record, it does exemplify that all-important mortar needed to hold the bricks together. Difficult to pin down, "Kings Of Old" opens with an affable introduction and soon launches into a psychedelic maelstrom with punchy bass lines, some very powerful drumming and a guitar workout. Sadly, our terrific sonic adventure must end as the album draws to a close with "Now is the Time" and gives the listener much to contemplate with the phrase "yes I saw you smile". Layered vocals build and are joined with a lovely brass arrangement and bring a very special record to its natural conclusion. This is timeless stuff, and sure to sound fresh and relevant for years to come. Though not a man of the wager, I'm willing to bet the farm that Broken Circle will find itself at the top spot of my 2017 list.

I would be remiss not to acknowledge the excellent production of this record. Physical copies on the terrific Sugarbush label are indeed limited. Tarry not, ye.  (Kent Whirlow)



(CD from http://www.floorian.com/)

Sounding like the bastard sons of Roky Erickson and Spacemen 3, “Ternion” opens the latest album from Floorian in lysergic splendour, your mind coated by a floating organ whilst a languid and very trippy guitar paints geometric patterns across your vision, the track dripping with a late night hallucinogenic vibe that immerses you completely. Beginning with ghostly echoes “From On High” suddenly produces a dirty guitar riff as it explodes into a space rock tune, bass and drums creating a solid, yet stoned, platform over which the guitar stomps and dances, vocals almost lost in the mix.

    Giving the guitars a chance to shine out, “Face” is a swirling instrumental with some great playing and a relaxed feel, the vocals used as an instrument, echoing out of the mix, the song a great introduction to “Icaro” a nine minute tune that slowly builds the atmosphere and tension, each play revealing more layers and textures.

   After the mellow garage of “Spinning Time” a delightful slice of sixties style Psych, the album reaches it's climax with “Agra Man” , 14 minutes of techni-coloured dreaming, a classic right from its droning Eastern beginnings, through the pulsing space rock bliss, the incense laden middle section and finally the full on guitar freakout that closes the tune, worth the price of admission by itself although there is so much more to enjoy throughout. Fans of Lamp of the Universe, Vibrasonic, F/I, etc should definitely check this one out. (Simon Lewis)



(CD/CASS/DL https://rivener.bandcamp.com/)

Released back in October last year this four track EP features the talents of Paul Belbusti (Guitar) and Michael Kiefer (Drums), the duo producing some free flowing Kosmiche jams that have a stoned, West Coast, sixties vibe that vibrant, interesting and scattered with stars.

    With beautiful guitar and free-jazz drumming, “Hill Figures” opens things in splendid style, the players working together to create a laid back, psychedelic piece that drifts and floats around the room like a cloud of incense smoke in a dayglo hippy pad. Throughout the track the guitar soars, wails and drips with emotion, the percussion adding sweet counterpoint to proceedings.

   Retaining the mellow vibe and whilst heading for inner space, “Svengali Gaze” is a much spacier piece, echoed guitar and rumbling drums creating a psychedelic swirl of sound that reminds me of the Dead in full flow, a timeless jam that is sunshine for the ears, the track ending with a more structured section that is reminiscent of Man, the whole thing finally collapsing in a woozy haze.

     After the jazzier jam of “The Dog Who Joined Us”, a shorter track that is a perfect match for the previous two, there is a bonus live track on the Cassette/CD recorded at the Elm City Noise Fest, the sound faster and more frenetic as the duo create a fabulous racket that ends far too soon, at least on this release. (Simon Lewis)



(CDR/DL from Borley Rectory )

Named after a 19th century mining disaster, Trimdon Grange Explosion comprises former members of Eighteenth Day of May who briefly rode the wyrd folk wave some years back.

It’s a strikingly versatile work which kicks off with “Twenty Four Hours”, featuring Ben Phillipson on vocals and an early statement of his effective, ringing guitar sound. It’s a fine example of how droning repetition can at once be so varied and interesting, with fresh little nooks and crannies revealing themselves on each subsequent listen  Breathing fresh life into hoary old standard “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” Alison Cotton’s mournful viola sits in stark contrast to her exquisite vocal and some glistening guitar work, while “Go Down With The Ship” has more than a hint of Richard Thompson’s “Poor Ditching Boy” about it albeit a rendition that could easily pass as an outtake from More-era Floyd.

“The Bonnie Banks Of The Fordie” provides an impressive centre piece and recalls Cathy Le Surf era Albion Band while the guitar again nods to the synthesis of eastern tinged folk phrasings that the afore-mentioned Thompson perfected during his time with the Fairports and in the immediate aftermath, while Cotton’s viola whisks us away to the windswept Scottish borders.

And there’s plenty to commend the rest – not least a flair for mixing it up stylistically. The noisy pop-psych (think Beatles meets Brit pop) of “Christian’s Silver Hell”, at less than 2 and half minutes, is in such stark contrast to the epic folk balladry of Fordie while “Weeping And Wailing” is closer to The Left Outsides’ deliciously dark template Countrified-rocker “Heading For A Fall” hints of Scarlett Rivera-era Dylan but it’s the splendid, multi-layered scorcher, “Glass And Sand”, which at around 7 minutes offerscan  a fair summation of the album’s styles and influences and an unerring distillation of what is good about this album. A fabulous piece, it would fight off strong competition for a place on the quarterly Soundcloud playlist (but we’ll take what we get) and the perfect culmination of a worthy release that not so much trades on past, if somewhat brief, glories of the old band as sets a challenging bar for subsequent projects to clear.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP/DL from Mount Watatic Records)

Another name on the Terrascope privy door, Brendan Quinn (late of those heroic sonic pranksters Abunai! And these days living Over Here) pops up this month, courtesy of a debut LP offering from his current band, London-based Divisionists,
“Say You Can” is a shining endorsement of power pop like only Americans seem able to performing this well, unless their name happens to be Saloman, resulting in a combustible fusion of The Replacements and Sugar. In fact, “All Fall Down” could be the best song Bevis Frond hasn’t/haven’t yet committed to wax. Well he can fight it out with Matthew Sweet all he likes because Quinn and co have beaten both of them to it. In fact the Sweet comparisons resurface from time to time throughout and as touchstones go that’s not a bad one at all.  If “The First Casualty” is an attempt at some arcane invocation to channel the spirit of Neil Young circa “Rockin’ In The Free World” then it works an absolute treat as Divisionists rock like a Crazy Horse notwithstanding a more disciplined one that doesn’t evoke a load of cats being herded.

Elsewhere “Colours (Song For A Spaceman)” is a shimmering slither of strung-out summer psych while the sprightly “Little Margaret” has that jaunty edge that will whisper come hither to fans of The Lemonheads via The Byrds and Tom Petty and the archetypal folk ballad “Moonlight Devil” is timeless both in its concoction and myriad reference points. “We Must Be Carefully” provides the cautionary coda and bears further association with the Frond, expansive guitar over a measured, ruminative rhythm

All in all it’s a most commendable effort which falls only marginally short of the top drawer. Eight tracks would have absolutely nailed it but I’m being picky now. Sometimes less is more but this more or less does it for me.
(Ian Fraser)



(LPs from Boring Machines)

Clocking in at just under 25 minutes, “collision of Absolutes” is more of an EP than a full album, however the quality of music contained within those minutes certainly makes up for its brevity. Composed of Giuseppe Mascia (electronics) and Sergio Albano (aluminium guitar), the duo list Irregular pieces of iron amongst their gear and there is definitely a metallic sheen to their sounds, albeit cloaked in reverb, echo and huge washes of drone.

    Opening with “Transfer” the band get right into it, shards of noise and echoed vocals creating a ritualistic track that is supplemented by a low-end throb, the whole thing sounding like the opening credits to a mid seventies horror film the music filled with tension and anticipation. On the slower and slightly more reflective “Escape” the sound is held together by a slow steady pulse giving the music a Kraut, early Floyd ambience, shades of Tangerine Dreams early work to be found, a floating drone distressed by clouds of crackling distortion giving the music texture. To end side one, “GNZ-11” is a rumbling soundtrack to a trip through dark caverns, your flickering torch catching sight of strange rock formations and pale creatures, each footstep a leap of faith in the darkness.

     Continuing side two in the same vein, “Rings” has spoken word and a subtle, stuttering rhythm, each sound perfectly realised, the music containing an icy elegance that is chilling and compelling. Featuring more spoken word, “Moon Omega” is a warmer slice of deep space electronics, the pulse continuing as we drift through meteor showers to the very edge of space with the realisation that 25 minutes is the perfect length for this intense and beautiful album.
     Recorded in a cave in Sardinia and featuring Sacred Horse Skull and Ghosts amongst its instruments,” Anacalypsis” is a three track album created by MS Miroslaw and Laura Dem both part of the Trasponsonic Collective. Sounding not unlike sacred Buddhist temple music, or at least the recording I have heard, “Double Nature of Deity” is a ritual transformed into sound, percussion and drones swirling around each other, a host of different sounds creating a dense, textured track that creeps inside your head. Moving on “Metempsychosis and the Renewal of the Worlds” picks up the pace, sampled horns and a Clarinet (possibly) heralding in the piece as the drumming slowly becomes more complex and faster, building to a frenzied climax, drones diving and swooping throughout.

    Filling the entire of side two, “Phantasms of the Living” begins with chanting and drifting waves of sound, these are soon joined by an insistent drum, the sounds becoming harsher creating a soundscape that is unsettling in a delicious way. As the piece moves ever forward there are screams to be heard, the music now a distorted squall of noise, the drum beating time as if counting down to your demise, probably in a fairly unpleasant way. Without any pause, the music is relentless, the tension a thick fog in the air until finally you are released by sudden silence as it ends, a real sense of relief even as you move the needle back to listen again.
    Always interesting, always beautifully packaged, Boring Machines is a label well worth exploring, long may that continue. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/CD/DL from Fire Records www.firerecords.com)

The close ties between Philly’s Bardo Pond and Terrascope are of course well-documented, having played at every one of the seven Terrastock festivals to date, including the London one which marked their first visit to the UK in 1999. Described by the late great Tony Dale as the world’s most essential psychedelic rock experience they’ve been going for almost as long as the ‘Scope – 26 years to be precise. After however many album, side-project and Record Store Day releases (look I ain’t bothering to count them), they may have just given of their best yet.

Opener ‘Crossover’ has been outrider of this particular storm for the past few weeks and may already be familiar to many of you. Consciously or otherwise they’ve taken a crisp gold leaf out of Heron Oblivion’s book, ramped up instrumentation providing the ballast for some surprisingly accessible and inviting descants. It’s not a one-off either, ‘Out Of Reach’ is the killer, Isobel Sollenberger’s swoon vocals belying the fact that there is a hive of industry going on beneath, like a barely controlled, almost demonic Crazy Horse spewing grit and tar. ‘Moment To Moment’ is a countrified lysergic offering that gives plenty of time and space for Isobel’s voice which, over the years, has sometimes seemed to struggle under the weight of seething gas giant before ‘Under The Pines’ (“I can sleep here ‘til the end of time”) provides another album highlight, soaring voice cresting a malicious mass of rumbling thunder with just enough throttle to keep the cosmic charabanc from spilling off the road.

It’s a big claim of course but this must rank as their most focussed, melodic and consistent album to date, a big sky album that suggests backwoods and wide open plains yet doesn’t compromise on the solar plexus-seeking sonic boom, so will doubtless provide succour enough to the die-hards. It all goes to show that, 26 years, in there is a lot more precious metal to be mined from this rich Pennsylvanian seam. We need to see them over here again soon. Really we do. [indeed we do - Ed.]

(Ian Fraser)


(LP/CD from Thrill Jockey)

After a hiatus during which he released his debut solo album Here In The Deep in 2015, Dave Heumann returns at the helm of Baltimore’s Arbouretum. Song Of The Rose is their eighth (if you include their collaboration with Pontiak) and most painstakingly recorded album having taken a period of several weeks to piece together as opposed to previous albums which had tended to be wrapped up with admirable pre-Sgt Pepper era speed and efficiency allowing the band to go off and enjoy their weekend.

So has all the extra faff been worth it, you’re probably wondering. Well yes and no is the none-too helpful answer. There are elements of Song Of The Rose that could easily grace The Gathering, Song Of The Pearl and similarly fine examples from the canon and which receive regular and enthusiastic airings hereabouts. The title track for instance possesses that stately lumbering gait and that Richard Thompson-sings- Gordon Lightfoot vocal delivery (although Heumann’s voice is technically far superior to both these illustrious names). And that, to paraphrase the late, great rugby commentator Bill McLaren, will have them all cheering down there in fan land.

Lyrically too, this is redolent of the mysticism and Jungian philosophy that pervades much of Heumann’s work and so it’s tempting to pigeonhole all this as enhanced business as usual. However there is a cleaner, more rarefied feel to so much of Song Of The Rose that hints of majestic sweeps and finely crafted songs on which the spirits soar – “Fall From An Eyrie” for example, while Heumann’s arresting tenor seems to hang mid-air on the exhilaratingly gritty mid-tempo folk rocker “Call Upon The Fire” (possessed of a wonderfully spectral instrumental coda by the way) and the arresting “Comanche Moon”. 

Occasionally the experimentation afforded by extra studio time proves ever so slightly counterproductive as on the overly fussy “Absolution” while the crisp AOR of “Dirt Trails” while by no means unpleasant, suggests an anti-septic spray of Kansas or Toto (look there has to be a Judy Garland joke in there somewhere). The cod-Caledonian anthemic closer, “Woke Up On The Move” also suggests a more grown-up direction of travel and a less visceral feel, which while stamped with some familiar Arbouretum hallmarks seems to be aimed at a more commercially minded audience. That’s progress I suppose and if that the price then who would begrudge them a decent pay day? Not I.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP from Chester Hawkins )

Recorded as the soundtrack to Tim Ashby's film “Pale Trees”, this album deviates from Hawkins's more usual recording in that it was composed in the studio and not improvised as is usually the case with his work. Bringing together elements of drone, electronica and ambient,the music is stately and majestic, the sound of running water and birdsong slowly being enveloped with rising electronic chords as the piece begins, these chords overlaid with all manner of sounds creating a misty ancient atmosphere. Out of this sound scape a slow rumbling sequence appears, a hypnotic pulse that nods in time with the universe changing the texture of the music, extra electronic flourishes adding to the sweetness. As the music moves forward the rhythm becomes more insistent and mesmeric, pulling you into the space before finally fading leaving you with those gently rising chords that carry towards the end of part one, the pulse returning at the end as if a memory.

   Over on side two the droning ambience continues, the sounds icy and fragile before another sequence steps in adding warmth and offering a pathway through the sound, Halfway through the side,a harsher drone takes over, suffocating all that has gone before, the hum of machines swarming over the landscape, the sound slowly dissolving as an electronic beat moves in, augmented by some kosmiche chords, the music turning into a lost Berlin classic until it finally fades in a soft wash of light.

   Filled with perfectly realised sounds and textures, this is music for dreaming, a soundtrack to be listened to alone, now I need to see the film. (Simon Lewis)


CDs from PsychupMelodies

Formed in France by Michel Peteau, Jean Max Peteau and Stephane Rossini, Cheval Fou were active between 1970-75 but failed to release any material at this time, their work only later being compiled from demos and live performance. Given the quality of the music on show here it seems a shame they never gained wider recognition and a record deal, their music a heady blend of bands such as Gong, The Deviants, Soft Machine and Amon Duul, with some impressive playing and the right mixture of melody and freakout.

    Opening with the sound of horses galloping path, a rolling bass line soon joins in an echoed guitar wailing over the top as “Mercury Messenger” gets us going, the Pink Fairies brought to mind with this all too brief tune, before “Kheops” takes over, a classic heavy underground tune with plenty of energy. Stranger and more Psychedelic, “Etna” has echoed vocals and rippling guitar sounding like something from “Camembert Electrique”, In fact fans of that album will love this band, their sound very similar for most of this album especially on songs such as “Meteorites” or “Dans L'Oeil De L'Oeil”. Also to be found within the collection are two longer pieces including the fabulous 18 minutes of “Hannibal”, which begins in a cloud of percussion/cymbals and glissando guitar that makes you want to lie on the floor before a nagging bass line joins in, building the tension and allowing the guitar full rein to freak out for a while, the track getting heavier as it travels on until a phased drum solo takes over creating a bit more confusion in your mind before everything changes again into another slow and beautiful phase, the band mixing these up until the end. To round of the album, the twelve minute “”La Fin De La Vie...” is a mellow and trippy affair, spoken word floating over birdsong, gliss guitar and a hypnotic rhythm, a beautiful end to an epic collection.
After the demise of Cheval Fou, Michel Peteau and Stephane Rossini went on the form Nyl with a host of guest musicians, the band releasing an album in 1976, released on the Urus label, which has since been re-released with bonus material, all included on this version which is sanctioned by the band. Opening with the excellent “Abery” it is obvious the players have retained the same musical identity but the addition of sax/flutes etc has given the band a wider sound and the songwriting seems more focused and structured, with less freakout time, with the tune adding jazz elements and a cleaner production. Even more commercial “Nyarlathotep” could be from “Blue Jeans and Moonbeams” a delightful tune that is followed by the much crazier “Shatt” the guitar turned up to eleven over a driving rhythm that give the tune a heavy funk vibe sounding like an outtake from “Holy Magick”. With a sweet acoustic vibe, “Ailes D'Or” is a delightful tune with piano twinkling in the background, the original album ended by “Ibha” a groovy tune with phased guitar that abruptly changes in the middle into something much more spacey. In addition to the original album there are 7 bonus tracks with the early Floyd chaos of “Nyl II” being the pick of the bunch, although they are all worth hearing. (Simon Lewis)



LP from Gregory Raimo

Collecting together tape experiments, early demos and archived material recorded between 2008-2016, this album seems to get to the heart of the music of Gregory Raimo, these primitive recordings alive with possibility, mutated guitars and electronics the very essence of his sound.

  Mixing Link Wray with a Tarantino soundtrack, “Perforation” is a guitar rumble of epic proportions, a sinister rhythm propelling the tune along as guitars distort and wail over the top, kinda Can meets The Cramps, a hypnotic wrecking crew that demands volume. Adding vocals, drums and bass to the mix, “”Vertical Take-Off (part 1)” is a fully fledged song with Gregory's manic, noise infected guitar style running throughout, the vocals equally distorted reminding me of early Butthole Surfers in its intense style. After the weird electronic swirl of “A Flickering View Negative” which was created with effects, microphone and voice, “Violet Piss In Snobbish Eardrums” is a weird Velvet Underground homage that skulks around in dark musical alleys trying to sell you pharmaceuticals, side one bought to a close with “Ritual to the Decadent” another distorted echoed guitar piece that creeps and rumbles under your skin.

   For a collection of archived material this album is a solid, fluid and highly enjoyable listen, the fun continuing on side two as “Vertical Take-Off (part 2)”/ ”Altrosaurus”  leads us in with some great playing and rumbling bass reminding me of the manic side of Neil Young, the mood broken with the arrival of “Forward Signal” an electronic soundtrack to one of those nature documentaries where insects kill other insects in slow motion.

   Well chosen as the title track, “Propel Tension on Polyester Base” is an epic jam, a low drone providing the support to crazy drumming whilst all manner of noises dance above, the whole a fabulous cloud of psychedelic weirdness that you want to dive into. For the rest of the album thing continue in the same vein, strange and addictive, the sonic world created a unique environment you will want to return to, the only slight problem as a reviewer is that there are eight tracks listed whilst only six seem visible on the vinyl, a small problem that does not interfere with the quality of the music. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from Les Enfants Du Paradiddle ENF 111)

I’m sat here on über-prolific Alan Davidson’s birthday, marvelling at how he long ago passed the century mark for releases on his own imprint, and his latest proves once again that a talented artist can still delight and amaze over 100 releases into their career! We open with the self-referential ‘Pretty Little Songs’, a gentle rumination with perfumed airs of Bert Jansch wafting through the room. ‘A Lark, A Stonechat & An Owl’ is a melancholic instrumental with weeping strings and keyboards surrounding forlorn thousand yard stares – perfect for self-reflection. In fact, there is quite an organic vibe throughout – imagine yourself lying in a field of soft warm grass, skygazing and forming pictures out of scurrying cumulous clouds overhead.

     ‘Otherworldly Greens’ are brought back down to Earth by human (and penny) whistles, the title track (an invented word with a typically avuncular explanation) is one of several that lends an avian theme to the proceedings and like the others (with references to larks, owls, kestrels, rooks, and crows), is a joyful tune, spreading its wings heavenward and soaring freely through the skies. Davidson “walks along the beach” following the flight of ‘The Kestrel’, which features poetic stream-of-conscious musings set to avant garde, almost industrial sounds and sound effects a la Faust or Einstürzende Neubauten. Hypnotic, alarming, and unsettling.

     The twin themes of aimless wandering and destinationless flight meet in ‘Blown Away’, as Davidson whistles while he wanders and the wind whisks away his thoughts like birds in flight. ‘Me & The Crow’ explores similar territory, while ‘The Witch’s Pool’ is another of several sombre instrumentals (albeit with a rather sprightly penny-whistle solo!) perfectly sequenced throughout the album that emphasize its reflective nature. On this point, my wife just paid Davidson the highest complement, as she walked past the room I’m writing in whilst ‘When You’re Not Here’ was filling the room and offered “the music is very soothing, very relaxing.” Indeed, the same can be said about the rest of Leaprooks, another feather in Davidson’s ever-widening cap. There’s even a stunning live track, ‘Hoodie Craw/Bogie’s Bonnie Belle’, complete with a capella verbal calisthenics and vibratoed electric guitar plumage to entice your fence sitters!

     Kitchen Cynics releases tend to run in small batches, so act quick and scoop this up before they’re all gone.
(Jeff Penczak)