= May 2016 =  
The Timelarks
Erik Moore & Annebelle Maneljuk
Sadaar Bazaar
White Hills /Radar Men From the Moon
White Hills
Bob Brown with the Conqueroo
Barrett's Dottled Beauty
Anton Barbeau
Dodson and Fogg
Wild Man Fischer
Josefin Ohrn
Gavin Prior
Another Splash of Colour comp
The Quietened Village comp
Fractures comp
Allysen Callery


VIBRAVOID – LOUDNESS FOR THE MASSES (6CD Box set from Krauted Mind/Stoned Karma)

A 6CD box set of every available recording from their 25th anniversary shows plus radio broadcasts practically elevates Christian Koch and co to Grateful Dead status. Add to that multiple renditions of many of the favourites here from performances at events such as Feast Of Friends, Labore Festival and the Psychedelic Colour Halloween Freak Out, where they played along to the cult silent move “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari” and this becomes something of a fanboy fest akin to a Dead-head droolathon.

Quite whether you have the resilience or even the inclination to sit through four versions of “Mother Sky/Sky Saxon Mantra” in a single sitting is another matter, although they do feature personal favourite “Ballspeaker” (a mere three times) as well as killer covers of “In A Gadda Da Vida”, “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun/Journey To The Centre Of The Sun” (just the once), but strangely not “Incense And Peppermints”, which they’ve also been known to tear a new hole for. As with the retrospective, Psychedelic Blueprints, it’s a whole tank of (laughing) gas and although probably highly dangerous if ingested in one go is thoroughly rewarding if taken according to the instructions that ought to be on the packet. Double dose beckons...

(Ian Fraser)



THE TIMELARKS - Wheel of Stone

Martin Welham should be no stranger to the Terrascopic universe, be it via the two albums he cut as a member of acid folk progenitors Forest in the late 60s, or the three (and a half) albums featuring son Tom he released in the Naughties as The Story (UK). Now the Welhams are back, and they’ve added the dulcet tones of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Cherry De Portela E Prado to a new project they’ve christened The Timelarks. Actually, the project’s been banging about for five years or so and their debut album collects most of the tracks featured on their 2012 debut EP “Cinnamon Swirl”. Now don’t all you Doctor Who fans start chomping at the bit thinking you’re gonna get some more Derbyshire-ish electronics scraped off the floor of the BBC Electronic Workshop, No siree. Despite the moniker, these Timelarks harken back to a simpler, softer, quieter time when strolling through the meadow on a summer afternoon enjoying the love song of a lilting lark in the distance would set the heart a-flutter. And that’s just the atmosphere this trio creates, painting an evocative musical picture of minstrels strolling medieval carnivals, strumming acoustic guitars, tinkling bells, and coaxing angelic whispers from recorders.

            Opener ‘All Hallows Eve’ is another older track, originally attributed to The Story (UK) and commissioned for the essential 4xCD John Barleycorn Reborn collection that we waxed poetically about back in 2007! Subtitled “A Discovery of Folk Music from Dark Britannica”, the collection features contributions from numerous Terrastock/Terrascope favourites, with the Welhams effectively capturing the Renaissance Fayre wistfulness of vintage Incredible String Band, Dr. Strangely Strange, Tir Na Nog, Dando Shaft, and their ilk.

            Welham’s old mate Robin Williamson created the album cover’s artwork, and one could be forgiven for wondering if he also supplied some vocal assistance on ‘Diamond Dewdrops’, another soft acoustic rumination with flickering percussion weaving around warm harmonies. Cherry (forgive the impertinence of using her Christian name, but the alternative is a tad cumbersome to repeat throughout the review) takes centre stage on ‘Carousel’ and a lovely vocal ‘tis, as is her harmonious accompaniment to ‘Circles’, a roundelay of exquisite beauty, flush with softly-strummed guitars, and the occasional bells (and vibes?) embellishment.

            ‘Working Girl’’s lilting little keyboard motif adds a little lipstick to the pig of a lyric about the oldest profession and I can only recall rather fondly a stroll through “Pig Alley” on my last visit to Gay Paree. Martin’s voice is as fresh and emotionally revealing as ever, having lost none of the lustre that has graced nearly 40 years of unforgettable songs. Elsewhere, the trio’s immaculate harmonies on ‘Slave To It All’, ‘First Love’, and the distinctly Mamas & Papas-ish ‘Cinnamon Swirl’ (cf. ‘Creeque Alley’, although this one’s actually about enjoying a cuppa) wreak havoc with heartstrings while beckoning to vintage British folk masterpieces from the Collins sisters, Mellow Candle, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, Trees, et. al.

            These “time larks” have indeed lovingly resurrected the vintage British folk sound of those and many other artists who formed the soundtrack of our lives, ca. 1968-73, and four decades on, their “sound” is alive and well and you’re unlikely to hear anything better this year.
(Jeff Penczak)




(LP/DL self released )

Beginning with 'A Storm In The City', the warm tones of supple bass guitar introduce the album. This first song is accompanied by choppy rhythm guitar and Annabella's gently unaffected vocals, as the song progresses, it's joined by percussion and synth, a fine opening song. 'And The World Is Fine' is jointly sung by Erik and Annabella. Oodles of space in this song, with some tasty fluid guitar, and again that lovely warm bass, plus twinkling keyboards. It has quite a prog-like uncluttered structure to it, with very deliberate concise Instrumentation. The synths and korg played throughout the record, are by Metamano's Mark Hill, an integral part of this album.

     'One Day We'll Touch' a beautiful gossamer light tune, with Annabella again providing the lead vocals, Erik's filigree guitar notes tumbling out and eerie tones of  melodica outline this song of longing. 'Girl In Blue' starts with the patter of some unusual percussion, building in intensity, again with that superb elastic bass tone. Jazzy delicate lead guitar, and some fine swirly keyboards, along with a lightly fuzzed guitar solo. The title track 'Journey To The Upside Down Tree' continues in this vein with plenty of busy percussion, swirling synth, a massed female vocal chorus, and finger-picked acoustic guitar. It moves as one through a few changes, underpinned by the drums ( which are played by Sue Downim), and some more melodica on the fade.

     'Sunny By A Lake' opens side two in an acid folk vein, all watery images. With fine acoustic guitar to the fore, electric guitar, synth, percussion and more of that fine elastic bass, fleshing out this tune. The sense of space achieved on side one is maintained, lending a lightness to the proceedings. This could well be my favourite song on the album. 'Save Me From Myself' then Introduces itself with some very fluid electric guitar, bubbling bass, melodica and gentle percussion. It is quite prog-like in structure, Erik sings the first verse on this memory laden song about the passing of time and of adventures had. Annabella sings the second verse, with both combining on the choruses.

      'Petrified' begins with Annabella's lone melodica, and she sings this one too, accompanied by a bed of pulsing Synths and some ever so delicately played wah-wahed guitar. This song shows off Erik's dexterous playing, and on the fine bubbling fretboard runs, a slightly more economical Gary Boyle springs to mind.  'And The Clouds Just Keep On Rolling' ends this record in style, a beautiful jazz/folk rock number, concerning the mysteries of life. Planting yourself on top of the downs and watching drifting clouds roll by would be the perfect environment for listening to this record.

    Erik and Annabella have produced a delightful record, an unhurried classy set of songs, which will stand up well to repeated playing. In fact i'm putting it right back on. (Andrew Young)



(LP/CS from The Great Pop Supplement
and http://saddarbazaar.bigcartel.com/)

Bristolian three piece Saddar Bazaar peddle an intriguing blend of Eastern psychedelic drone featuring sitar as lead instrument with a more conventional guitar and drum backdrop. Lead off track “Courtesan”, a loping and characteristically mystic groove that gathers and grows in an exhilarating fashion, is the strongest cut. It also has the advantage of someone dancing in ankle bells (we’ll take their word for that), which always sounds all very exotic within the context of the mystic east but tends to get folk sniggering when set to Morris dance. Cultural perspectives, discuss. I digress.

The rest follows in pretty similar vein without quite reaching the same heights. “Indus Delta Blues” is pretty much that, Mumbai via the Mississippi, with sitar and guitar providing a novel double slide effect. “Switchback” marks time in a pleasant enough way but by this time you sense the novelty could be beginning to wear off a bit. Ah but wait, the lonesome cowpoke harmonica that drifts across the plains on “Mi’Rifa” rekindles that East/West fire somewhat and “Temple Balls” provides for a long, perfectly pleasant and mostly relaxing landing (although it does all get a bit mental in the coda). It’s all very agreeable indeed in a mid-afternoon on the second stage kind of way, although the very thought of sitting on warm grass on a sunny day as sleet and occasional snow falls here in Mid Wales on the last weekend of April takes some conjuring.

(Ian Fraser)




(10” Single from Fuzz Club http://fuzzclub.com)

Number 8 in the Fuzz Club split single series (on 10” white vinyl) pitches Terrascope favourites White Hills with Netherlands’ Radar Men From The Moon on two lengthy but contrasting cuts. Listening to “As You Pass By”, you may be forgiven that White Hills have reverted to their sound of yore and you’d be right, for one very good reason. Recorded at the time of the H-p1 album sessions and featuring Lee Hinshaw on drums, Dan McGuire on Central Scrutiniser-style voice and with a few more recent embellishments, this is White Hills in primordial, swirling, psychedelic mode, designed to mess with your head while without quite wanting to blow your socks off. RMFTM sketch a harsher more industrial soundscape on “Decadence” which begins promisingly enough then takes what seems like an age to build, until eventually it steps into a sliver of thin sunlight.

Don’t expect any singalongs but just lay back and let it all wash over you.

(Ian Fraser)




(LP from 300 mic https://300micsrecordings.bandcamp.com)

Here’s a first time vinyl edition, then, for White Hills’ debut release, only previously available on limited edition CD-r and remastered from the original mixes. The title track showcases the Hills’ cruise control approach to psychedelia in which they manage to convey a lot within limited parameters, its insistent and infectious motorik chugging clearly drawing influence from you-know-who’s “Masters Of The Universe”. Indeed, White Hills have tended to trade profitably on their use of mesmeric, often powerful repetition. However, there’s always been a much more adventurous, experimental edge to their music than they are sometimes given credit, even back in the early days when they wore their Hawkwind and White Detroit influences rather less likely that they do currently. This is clearly evident on “Above All” and “They’ve Got Blood Like You’ve Got Blood” which comprise the remainder of Side 1 and which rely more on electronica and sound collage than conventional power trio four to the floor.
Flip it over and the rock solid bass anchors some frenetic drumming and fuzz guitar on “Coming For You” over which some doomy mantra is intoned before more atmospheric synths and a slow wah-wah (evoking what sounds like whale guitar) flow over “Ulan”, the final track on the original CD-r release. Of the two bonus tracks, “Exacting Touch” features a gentle but heady mix of ambient washes, scrambled vocal and acoustic guitar and “Flood With Inconsistencies” is a rather funny and dated techno-quest that might have been at home on some early Kosmiche exploration (or a wilder outtake of Floyd’s “On The Run”). It’s all a welcome and quite varied treat and although not as essential as many of their subsequent more widespread releases it should neither disappoint their fans nor deter potential converts.

(Ian Fraser)




(LP/CD from www.shagratrecords.com)

Well this is a welcome addition to the fine Shagrat record label's catalogue. Conqueroo started out in the mid sixties, but only really issued one 7" single in their lifetime. They were the resident band of the Vulcan Gas Co, in Austin Texas, (whose art director was the cartoonist Gilbert Shelton, of The Furry Freak Brothers fame, who himself issued a lone 7" in conjunction with The Hub City Movers, Set Those Chickens Free). Their name is often seen on posters of gigs from the sixties and seventies, often playing alongside The 13th Floor Elevators.

Consisting of Ed Guinn (bass and keyboards), Charlie Pritchard (lead guitar), Bob Brown (guitar and vocals), and Alvin Sykes and Gerry Storm (drums), the band ostensibly played a style of Psychedelic blues, often with long free form extended jams and included a number of covers which were adapted to suit their style. One of the early members of the group was the harmonica player and artist Powell St John, a mercurial force whose place in the band was taken by Bob Brown when he departed. The band started out as Tom Swift And His Electric Grandmother who included Michael Martin Murphy (the original Cosmic cowboy), then the Angel Band, before settling on the name Conqueroo. Bob played in a band called Moon Pie (playing alongside the wonderful guitar player John X Reed) before joining them.

Crossing paths and sharing stages along the way with Doug Sahm and his band Sir Douglas Quintet, Janis Joplin, Boz Scaggs, Mother Earth and the ever present Elevators, will give you some indication of the high regard in which they were held.

Lovers of some of the classic country rock bands like Greezy Wheels, Freda And The Firedogs, New Riders and The Flying Burrito Bro's will find plenty to like here. Shagrat are to be commended for unearthing these recordings which mainly date from the mid seventies. The cover art is by Gilbert Shelton and fits the sounds on offer here like a glove.

Sycamore Street, is probably the band's signature tune and the one that kicks off the proceedings, it's a fine country blues tune. Swiftly followed by Take Me To The Country, a sprightly number in a western swing style, with some nice pedal steel. I See Red, a slide guitar treat leads nicely into Fifteen Girls, a fairly straightforward country rock tune with some tasty lead guitar. Was That A Kiss, slows things down and is a fine blues swagger. Pioneer's Wedding, is lovely and has an interesting arrangement, bringing to mind classic Moby GrapeOn A Summer's Evening, follows and wouldn't be out of place on Workingman's Dead.

    Don't Ask Me, a solo acoustic blues shuffle, showcases Bob's classic white soul blues vocals. Our Great King, could be off the self-titled Band album, reminding me a little of Levon Helm. Martha, a great classic roots rock song with fine female backing vocals and more excellent lead guitar and rolling piano. The CD version includes a couple of bonus tracks both solo by Bob, Time And Again is taken from a 1965 radio broadcast and the final track I wanna Do Nothing, segues into another version of Sycamore Street this time joined by the band. Highly recommended (Andrew Young) (seconded!! One of the albums of the year for me! - Phil)




CDR/DL from Bandcamp

Featuring the combined talents of Alan davidson (Kitchen Cynics, Matricarians, all round good egg) and Gayle Brogan (Pefkin, Electroscope) this album contains two long, sprawling tracks of drone-laden, ambient goodness, the music flecked with field recordings, found sounds and the occasional vocal appearance.

    Opening track “Feathered Fool” begins with some distant birdsong and a rising organ, a melody then picked out on stringed instrument and tuned percussion before Alan sings “The Crow”, a poem by John Clare that gives the piece it's name. At this stage the ambience of the music reminds me of “Earth” the magnificent debut album from Vangelis, the music seemingly sprung from the earth itself, the drone wrapped in melody as instruments drift in and out of the mix, each perfectly placed to compliment the other. As the music develops there is a richness to the sounds, the feeling that the music is organic in nature, growing at its own pace seemingly without human interference creating a sweet meadow of sound that sways softly under a warm summer sun, mirroring the clouds that float overhead, complete harmony achieved as echoed voices dance amongst the waves of sound. Towards the end, the music gains intensity, sending tendrils rising high into the air, until finally delicate blooms bursts forth and the music relaxes in a haze of autumnal sweetness.

    Similar in its construction, “Sunlit Bathed and Golden Glare” is another twenty minute slice of ambient bliss, a dense cloud of instrumentation, that contains, Synths, Cello, Organ and a host of other sounds all binding together to create a silver thread that is easily followed in a darkened room lit by a single candle. Perhaps this is music to dream to, the opening passage similar to the organ music of Messiaen, I am reminded of sitting in church as a young boy listening to the organ play whilst sparrows chirped in the roof spaces and the old wooden seats creaked as the congregation moved about. Further into the piece it becomes even softer With Gayle adding some beautiful vocals before Alan's voice returns, singing of living in the moment, although that moment has passed, seemingly summing up the qualities of the music to be found on this excellent release.

   I assume that a lot of this music was improvised, but a lack of information on the cover does nothing to reveal the method or instrumentation used, maybe a good thing, but I would like to know, the cover also home to an excellent couple of collages by Alan (I assume) that only add to the dream like quality of the music.

  A brief mention must be made of the name as well, the duo named after a moth but the use of the word Barrett in there can hardly be a coincidence now, can it ? (Simon Lewis).




CD/DL (http://mysterylawn.com/)

Resolutely treading his own path over the course of twenty albums and even more years, Anton Barbeau is a true maverick a man whose psychedelic vision has remained true and unchanged in all that time. This, his latest release, finds him in fine fettle, a strong collection of tunes that balances weirdness with melody, surrealism with a sunny disposition, creating a collection that will make you smile, dance and generally have a good time.

   Opening with a sparse mid paced drumbeat, “High Noon” has chugging guitar and the now familiar strange lyrical content that seem to spin a tale of the perils of fame, but maybe that is just my interpretation. Following on is “Flying Spider” an early highlight, with a creepy atmosphere, more great lyrics and drums courtesy of Morris Windsor, who plays on several tracks as does his musical partner Andy Metcalfe, both best known for their time in the Soft Boys.

   As the album continues it is clear that the quality is high with songs such as “Sit Your Leggy Down” or “Milk Churn In The Morning” displaying all the classic hallmarks of Anton's unique style, the quality reaching its peak as “Black lemon Sauce” and “Heavy Psychedelic Toilet” race by, the former a fabulous dose of psychedelic pop whimsy that could happily have sat on the “Psychedelic Psauna” compilation that Delerium put out so many moons ago, whilst the latter has a delightful groove that gets heavier as it progresses, the lyrics as odd as the title suggests.

   Turning the fuzz up, “The Wait Of You” has a slow burning heaviness that made me turn it up just to get lost in the fuzz, especially during the sleazy guitar solo, another great moment. With acoustic guitar and strings, “Swindon” is a beautifully mellow tune, can it really be about Swindon, maybe, the mood changed by “Blue Lamp Rider” the emphasis changing to synths and rolling percussion with a dirty bass running underneath.

    To be fair, if you are not a fan of Anton Barbeau then this album is not going to change your mind, however for fans this may be one of the gems in the collection, dive in. (Simon Lewis)



( CD available on Wisdom Twins )

Never one to rest (on his laurels or otherwise!), Chris Wade’s tenth album (already second this year) as the eponymous Dickensian solicitors is a return of sorts to quieter unadorned efforts like 2013’s Sounds of Day And Night, which also saw him playing all the instruments save well-placed trumpet from Colin Jones. ‘She Watches The Birds’ is as soft and reflective as the picture Wade paints with his lyrics (the avian sound effects and faraway children’s voices contribute an effective ambience, a la Roger Waters’ ‘Grantchester Meadows’). Acoustic guitars are to the fore, but that doesn’t mean Wade has abandoned the fingerpicking prowess demonstrated throughout his oeuvre (‘In The Land of Fools’ has a particularly tasty, Garcia-esque streak running through it, and his solos on ‘Grab Your Soul’ and the title track are amazing).

            There are also plenty of dreamy, laidback West Coast-styled ballads which recall the best of Mighty Baby and Help Yourself (‘Keep It In Mind’, ‘Feel It Now’, the title track), but Wade also charms and delights with dainty little musical accoutrements such as the tinkling vibes in ‘No One On The Phone’ and the haunting ‘Ruptured’ (which morphs into a fantasmagorically proggy explosion), or the elaborately elegant (one might even whisper the name Reg Dwight), classically-tinged, cascading piano instrumental that is ‘Becoming’. He also dances lightly throughout the funky, jazzy blues of ‘Their Eyes’. Jones’ trumpet is the perfect adornment to this delicious Miles-meets-Clapton toetapper. ‘It Feels Like A Dream’ even adds a country-flavoured shuffle to the proceedings, vaguely, yet pleasantly, reminiscent of vintage Brinsley Schwarz.

            ‘Grab Your Soul’ ups the ante with some chugging guitar duels and solos that insert a distinctly rock ‘n roll vibe to the set that, while certainly a welcome change from the sleepy material that preceded it, seems slightly out of sorts with its current surroundings.

            But what surroundings they are, as, once again, Wade delivers his usual well-crafted and well-executed tunes, arrangements, and performances, thereby adding another diamond to his crown as the current king of the one man bands.

(Jeff Penczak)



WILD MAN FISCHER – AN EVENING WITH WILD MAN FISCHER (CD from Gonzo Multimedia http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/)

Where to start?

Larry “Wild Man” Fischer was a homeless “street singer” with a history of severe mental health and behavioural problems who in his early teens had threatened to kill his mother with a knife, a scene none-too tastefully recreated for this album cover. In 1966 he came to the attention of Frank Zappa who proceeded to give Larry his five minutes of fame by producing and releasing this album on one of Frank’s new labels, the suitably named Bizarre, backed by LA alt-scenesters such as the Mothers, Art Tripp, Rodney Bingenheimer, Kim Fowley and Zappa himself.

There’s no doubt that Larry had a certain eccentric appeal. Like Captain Beefheart he had a unique voice which he could project well enough and some of his compositions are endearingly daft so long as you don’t scratch beneath the surface of Fischer’s persona. Furthermore it was good to hear “Monkeys vs Donkeys” an old campfire classic from way back which we were inclined to break out once enough strong liquor had been consumed. Some of the rest might pass as ok on a novelty level had it been an innocent enough soundtrack to some goofy, low budget frat com, such as some of Fischer’s formative acapella doo-wop material. However the autobiographical “Wild Man Fischer Story” (in which he recounts the dysfunctional relationship with his parents and the notorious incident with his Mom) is frankly disturbing and much of the rest is pretty excruciating once you strip away the fact that Larry ain’t joking, that he was a seriously ill man and a danger to be around. Whether you subscribe to the view that Zappa was doing Fischer a favour by giving him his break or (as Beefheart believed) Frank exploited a vulnerable man in order to enhance his own freak-credentials is probably irrelevant. This is an uncomfortable listen and one that will not warrant many repeat plays, leastways not around here.

(Ian Fraser)



H.U.M – Trinity Way (LP/CD/Download from Rocket Recordings www.rocketrecordings.com)

Featuring members of Zam Zam and Moon Ra, H.U.M’s label debut Trinity Way (well there are three of them after all) is an exercise in experimental electronica overlaid with mostly spoken-word vocals evoking the likes of Coil/PTV, label-mates Gnod and even Faust in the darker recesses.

It would be stretching many a point to say I was suckled to the strains of Hawkwind’s “Space Ritual”, but L.O.V.E is definitely redolent of that brand of cosmic poetry which Bob Calvert was wont to spout between songs and is none the worse for it.  It manages to sound powerful and atmospheric without needing to resort to the volume dial or to stretch much beyond sparse rhythm and accompaniment. “L’Ame Agit” (as French as it sounds) continues in similar if somewhat darker vein, an homage of sorts to a Francoise Hardy song, although you’d be hard pressed to recognise it as that. Its hypnotic clanking beat brings to mind Einsturzende Neubauten as well as the prime purveyors of England’s reverse. “Cat Man Do” (can you see what they’ve done there?) uses recordings of shamanic initiation to heighten the trance-like momentum while “Welcome To The Sea” sounds like Depeche Mode’s Kool-Aid has been slipped a few hundred mics. Insistent and shamanic too in its own sweet (hah!) way. “A Maze In Grace” continues the tendency towards pun-tastic songtitles and is a tingling crystalline sliver of chilled ambience, the calm at the eye of a brooding tempest. “Eternally Yours” is a fitting finale (leastways to the listed tracks) featuring what sounds like bag pipes and that insistent and ominous delivery. It all ends with a couple of percussive hits before reprising “L’Ame Agit”. Then it’s gone and it won’t be long before you want to get toxic with it all over again. One of the top 5 albums of the year so far.

(Ian Fraser)



JOSEFIN OHRN and THE LIBERATION/GNOOMES (Ltd edition EP/Download from Rocket Recordings www.rocketrecordings.com)

Rocket Recordings’ other release from their ever-eclectic international roster this month comes courtesy of a split featuring Sweden’s Josefin Ohrn and The Liberation and Russia’s Gnoomes.

Ohrn was responsible for one of late 2015’s best albums, once which slipped under the radar of many compilers’ “best of” lists due to its 11th hour appearance. The three tracks here comprise a psy-trance radio edit of live staple “Green Blue”, the motorik pop of “Lucid Sapphire” – which surely demands some mainstream radio playlist attention and, in the true spirit of collaboration, a Gnoomes remix of an earlier single release “Take Me Beyond”. Really if Follakzoid were to employ a frontwoman they could do a lot, lot worse than sound like this. As refreshing as an ice bucket challenge on a hot summer’s day (on second thoughts make mine a pint).

Gnoomes also released a landmark album in 2015 and I must say it took me a while to get what they were about. Perseverance tends to win out, though, as was the case here. As with the Ohrn side Gnoomes feature reworkings of familiar tracks, in this case “Myriads of Bees” reinterprets “Myriads” from the album while the version of “Roadhouse” is a Radio Edit so there’s a clear intent here towards air play and one would hope commercial recognition. It’s all very floaty and transcendental, “Roadhouse” in particular being a catchy and jolly little thing. There are strong traces of turn of the 90s, psychedelic re-enactment society Stone Roses but please don’t let that put you off as this not only skips along nicely but has an important ethereal quality for the most part lacking from King Monkey and his men. They round off with a techno-esque remix of “Roadhouse” which bears little resemblance to the parent track as if that really matters (hell that’s what remixes do). The effect must be a bit like walking on air.

Both bands play Liverpool Psych Fest this year and when they do, guess who’ll be down the front refusing to act his age?

(Ian Fraser)



GAVIN PRIOR - All WHO WANDER (CD/Download from Cambrian Records/Deserted Village http://gavinprior.bandcamp.com/)

It’s no secret that we at Terrascope hold Gavin Prior in high esteem, our most recent association having been his attendance with his old United Bible Studies cronies at Woolf Music three summers ago (can it possibly have been that long?).

All Who Wander features Gavin in ruminative mood, featuring mostly acoustic instrumentation and field recordings as you might expect, but with judicious use of electronics. Sparse yet expansive compositions are typified by the likes of gossamer light opener “Between Breaths” on which Prior is aided by Scott McLaughlin on cello and “Pangolin Blues”. “Old Claddagh Swings” literally refers to the creaking of chunky iron play swing chains (recorded for posterity via the ear plugs on prior’s MP3 player) and not some country dance band in an Irish backwater. The meditative mood is the same mind, if anything there is even more space to play with here. Elsewhere “August Clouds” is a little jauntier, something of a joy and a half-way house until we reach “Moroccolin” with its approximation to North African folk music. Typically, a personal favourite of mine has to be one that sends the spellchecker into a screeching hand break turn. “Gairdin Fobhailteach I C miongleas” clocks in at under 2 minutes but is an uplifting soupcon of pastoral picking that slips into light jazz in the final bars.

Now who let that cat in on the next track? I swear I was looking around for the miscreant moggy before twigging that it was coming out of the speakers. The name of the track could very well be Korean script or a complex mathematical formula, but apparently translates as “Cat, Alleyway”. Doh! It sometimes does pay to read the sleeve notes first. Mind you I think Gavin should have gone with the original working title “Sign On You Crazy Diamond”. Now there’s class for you. “Schoolhouse Coda” provides the album’s other guest appearance – Gavin’s old comrade in arms Tuula Voutilanen who contributes wordless vocals to an unhurried curtain closer that represents one of the longer cuts on the album.

No banging tunes then but some of it can claim to be bang on. A languid collection for the perfectly warm and agreeable early summer’s day on which this review is being written. Reckon it might work just as well on a dark winter’s night, mind.

(Ian Fraser)



VARIOUS ARTISTS – ANOTHER SPLASH OF COLOUR – NEW PSYCHEDELIA IN BRITAIN 1980-1985 (3CD box set from Cherry Red Records http://www.cherryred.co.uk/)

On first hearing the original vinyl compilation A Splash Of Colour when it was first released in 1982 I remember being dismissive of it as a five minute fad which, in the event, the psychedelic revival (much the same as mod revival which preceded it) proved to be. Fast forward almost three and a half decades and the release of this extended 3 CD box set and, whereas some of the material from the original release still sound a bit insipid, I am more than chuffed to concede that time and history has been rather kinder to the rest. Like a bottle of fine wine, or at least a good curry, leaving this to settle has done the contents no harm whatsoever.

Fleshed out with several enduring names, among them Robyn Hitchcock (giving vent to his Barrett fetish), Julian Cope (“Sunspots”), The Legendary Pink Dots, The Icicle Works and Damned alter-egos Naz Nomad and the Nightmares it’s reassuring that these aren’t necessarily the best on offer. Brainiac 5 can be heard in their more visceral earlier incarnation while Nick Nicely’s nice pair of “49 Cigars” and “Hilly Fields (1892)” are also welcome inclusions. Something of a revelation for those of us with mixed memories of their sole album release some years previously is Michael Moorcock’s Deep Fix’s bass-heavy and cloying “Brothel In Rosentrasse” (Moorcock sounding like a curiously compelling cross between David Tibet and Mick Farren trying out for the Incredible String Band) Name spotters might also pinpoint UK Subs mainman Charlie Harper (who surely belied the so called punk diktat of never trusting anyone over the age of 30) and The Von Trap Family, featuring a certain N Saloman.

It isn’t just about the now familiar unusual suspects though ladies and gents. For each “nice try but no cigar” or inept misinterpretation of a re-imagined 60s sound there are a couple of genuine post-punk psych nuggets that many of us will have missed the first time around (while the newer models among you can marvel at them afresh). The Marble Staircase’s “The Long Weekend”, while seemingly indebted to Teardrop Explodes (the singer does a passable Cope impersonation and can ba-ba with the best of them) stands on its own merits as do the vampish garage strains of “Work” by the Blue Orchids. Knox’s stripped back and pop-punked “Gigolo Aunt”, recalling memories of taping Peel shows back in the mid-80s, and the suspenseful yet melodic “Connect” by Future Days also connect nicely. Throw in the likes of The Hide Tide’s “Electric Blue” which builds from the swooning strains of lazy summer to a frenzy that the Crazy World of Arthur Brown would not have been quick to disown, a strutting “Reaching My Head” (The Prisoners), the muscular “Where Are You?” by The Primevals and any number of descending riffs and Martian organs and, all in all, the admission price seems worthwhile indeed.

(Ian Fraser)



VIBRAVOID – PSYCHEDELIC BLUEPRINTS (CD/Digital from Stoned Karma Records www.stonedkarma.com)   

Incredibly it’s been more than a quarter of a century since Christian Koch’s Vibravoid first started tearing lumps out of the cosmos and hurling them at force from your speakers. More Anglophile than Kosmische they are probably the nearest you’ll get to reliving those legendary all-nighters at the UFO, Avalon Ballroom or whatever 60s psychedelic dungeon takes your fancy. With an organist that plays the bass pedal you’d be forgiven for shouting (no ,not Atomic Rooster you fools) “Doors” but this is altogether freakier, more intense and, well, how you’d imagine Pink Floyd would have turned out had they taken an extended sabbatical in Californ-i-a in 1966.

 A single disc will never do justice to a back catalogue which although not that large is choc-full of quality and such is the nature of retrospectives – let’s not use the term “best of” – that someone’s always going to be unhappy that their favourite tune has been left out. In my case it’s a shame “Ballspeaker” didn’t make the cut. Or for that matter their take on “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun”. Ah but there’s the thing, while Vibravoid are justly revered for their covers – check out their 30 minute “Mother Sky” from Politics of Ecstasy for a real treat – they’ve eschewed all of these in favour of self-penned cuts. The near-faultless Minddrugs LP is represented by the unerring psych-pop of “Seefeel” and a heavily abbreviated “What You Want” with its “Rollercoaster”-style opening and those Syd “ball bearing down the strings” guitar runs. The aforementioned Politics of Ecstasy for good measure coughs-up the title track, the catchy “Playing with Beuys” (an homage to German polymath Joseph Beuys) and “Doris Delay” which is how you’d guess the Move would have sounded if they’d genuinely embraced psychedelics and not best bitter. Another counter-cultural reference - Delay was one of Kesey’s Pranksters - this is a catchy, deceptively innocent slice of melodic pop with a steely core. The rest is all good, to the extent that finding fault would seem not so much churlish as to merit banishment from Wonderland. In fact “Random Generated Future” from Distortions can lay claim to being the best things here (although I’ll have changed my mind by the next track) Oh and if you want to listen to Spiritualised, don’t. Check out “Save My Soul” instead and reject all imitations.

Now don’t tell Phil but I have reviewed this in far, far more truncated form elsewhere and for which I have had to nail my day-glo colours to the mast and see stars. This one received the full five, a rare accolade from me indeed and one usually reserved for instant or all-time classics. File under both.

(Ian Fraser)

Ian. My office. Now. -Phil



(CDs from A Year in the Country)

A year in the country quietly go about their business releasing beautifully packaged music that is influenced by folk, electronica, drone as well as by landscape, time and place. These two compilations each have themes running through them, tying the music together and seemingly telling a story as they unfold.

    Taking as its inspiration places that used to be inhabited yet are now abandoned due to flood, evacuation or the changing needs of society, the music on “The Quietened Village” is generally sombre and ghostly, beautifully conveying a sense of loneliness and the passing of time. Opening proceedings, David Colohan leads us in with “At The Confluence Of Mitta Mitta & Murray” washes of sounds conjuring up visions of wind over water , the glimpse of a steeple at low tide, the memory of conversation. More unsettling in their approach, Howlround take a stroll around an abandoned graveyard with “Flying Over A Glassed Wedge”, low end rumbles and scrapes reminding me of Dr Who in the seventies, my return from behind the sofa helped by The Straw bear Band whose “The Drowning of Mardale Green” is softly acoustic, a gentle piece that is tinged with nostalgia and sadness. Equally beautiful is the string and piano led lament of “Playground Ritual” a tune that aches with sadness and is delivered with great tenderness by Damnatorum.

  As we move through these departed place we find plenty of variety in the way they are described, with the pulsing, chattering electronics of Polypores a sonic mile away from the acoustic piano beauty of Richard Moult, although both pieces work in the context of the album creating a rich diversity in sound that flows through the album beautifully.

   Elsewhere, Rowan Amber Mill, Day Blink, Sproatly Smith and Cosmic Neighbourhood all play their part in the creation of this album whilst my favourite track “”47 Days and Fathoms Deep” is, aptly enough, delivered by A Year In The Country, a sweet and mellow cloud of electronic ambience that demands attention.

    Undoubtedly to be viewed as a companion piece to “The Quietened Village”, the theme for “Fractures” is 1973, the year that the idealist world of the sixties was finally fractured by the politics and general grimness of life in the UK, a year of three day weeks, strikes and blackouts.

   Following a similar pattern the album opens with the brooding electronic textures of Circle/temple whose “The Osmic Projectors/Vapors of Valtorr” creeps in through the tear ducts, a gentle sadness to be found as if at the beginning of depression, whilst “The Land Of Green Ginger” by Sproatly Smith is a folk tune mixed with vocal samples and a cloak of strangeness that gives if a haunting sense of wonder. After, the drone storm of Keith Seatman and the radiophonic playfulness of Listening Center,  a fine trio of electronic sounds is rounded off by The British Space Group whose “An Unearthly Decade” is a blissful mix of beeps and bass.

   Returning to a more earthly sound, The Hare and the Moon ft Alaska/Michael Begg, hits the spot perfectly with “a Fracture in the Forest” a glistening woven blanket of glissando and voice adding texture to a wondrous poem with pagan themes reminding me of the solo work of Daevid Allen (Stroking the Tail of the Bird) the addition of percussion halfway in only adding to the enchantment.

    Best played as one complete album, rather than a collection of different bands, this album also flows in a timeless way, tracks by Time Attendant, The Rowan Amber Mill, Polypores, and A Year In the Country all adding to the river of sound that meanders and occasionally roars,through the room until finally the album ends, as The Quietened Village began with the music of David Colohan, that same soft wash of sound stretched out over six minutes, graceful and uplifting.

    It takes a while to fully absorb these releases, their depth and wonders requiring listening to fully appreciate, a task that is totally worthwhile, hidden gems to be discovered on every journey. (Simon Lewis)



(CD/DL/LP https://allysencallery.bandcamp.com/)

Released as a CD and download last week and scheduled for a vinyl release in September, this delightful collection of ten tracks sounds just about perfect as it drifts through the sunshine in my lounge.
    Opening with sweetly cascading guitar, “”It's Not The Ocean” confirms immediately the wonder of Allysen's songs, a drifting organ adding a texture like waving grass under the guitar whilst her voice is the songbird of the title, a sound that nestles around you, beautiful and harmonious. Whilst it is the voice that first grabs you, Allysen's guitar playing has matured with each record as she gains knowledge of what is required for each tune with “Bluest Bird” having the perfect musical accompaniment for the the voice, just enough to fill the gaps without losing site of the melody, the excellent production from Bob Kendall ensuring the sound is crystal clear throughout.
    Sounding like one of her own, I was surprised to find “Sundown” was written by Gordon Lightfoot, the song as gorgeous as the setting sun, slotting right in with the original tunes.
    With a darker atmosphere, “Shoot Me” has an almost spoken vocal delivery that works perfectly with the bluesy riff, the whole song on of my favourites revealing how far Allesyn has come from the innocence of “Hopey” her first release and still a damn fine album.
   As we progress the album weaves a magic that is hard to ignore, even if you wanted to, better to step into the fairy ring and slowly lose yourself to the delights to be found within, especially on the magnificent title track, another highlight in the collection that contains everything that is good about the album, the guitar and voice in harmony created by a musician that is confident and filled with creativity, long may it continue.
   Perfect with a glass of red and a crackling fire, or maybe a glass of white on a sunny afternoon, or just with the cooling water from a mountain stream, hell, however you listen this album will soothe your troubles and make the world seem more friendly, an album that washes over you like a warm breeze in a summer meadow. (Simon Lewis)



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

    Stereocilia is the work of John Scott who uses Guitar, Synths and Sampler to create shimmering soundscapes that sparkle with half forgotten melodies and drifting guitar lines, the music often becoming meditative and layered with drones soft as feathers.

    Opening with “The River” the guitars take the lead, notes cascading over each other, weaving a gentle tapestry of sound that slowly evolves into a deep drone that meanders across the valley floor, an electric guitar adding some bite to the journey. On “Drift” the music becomes more minimal, the piece levitating as it moves forward, the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday as the sun breaks through the clouds. The first side completed by “Lost In The Ether”, twinkling guitar dancing over gossamer drones, a delicate and delightful track that aches with beauty.

     Over side two we are treated to the magnificent, and perfectly named, “Infinite”, the track opening with a deep cosmic drone that swells and pulses as it rolls ever onwards, an air of mystery and ritual to be found within the sound, especially when a lonesome electric guitar joins in, the sounds of ancient creatures calling to each other, the tension slowly rising.

    Finally, “Sustain/Release” echoes the beginning of the album, shimmering guitar lines fluttering through the room, moving together in complete harmony allowing the listener to relax and just be, nothing to do but get lost in the wondrous music of this fabulous release. (Simon Lewis)