= May 2021 =  
 
 Loner Deluxe
 Samsara Blues Experiment
 D. Rothon
 Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave Berry
 Mark and the Clouds
 Beld
Phurpa & Queen Elephantine
 Don Rendell & Ian Carr
 Gnod
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   

LONER DELUXE – FIELD RECORDINGS

(Field Recordings | Loner Deluxe | Rusted Rail (bandcamp.com) )

Mainly the work of Rusted Rail boss Keith Wallace, with the help of Cecilia Danell and Brian Kelly, this album is a delightful musical ramble that is inspired by lo-fi rather than being lo-fi, the music changing mood at a whim, always something new to delight the ear as the journey continues.

  Opening with the excellently titled “Track 1 Side1”, you are instantly dragged in by a warm beat and electronics before an acoustic guitar and lovely pop vocals join the welcome, the throwaway yet perfect lyrics adding another layer before things get slightly heavier with a fine guitar solo that cuts through everything, the tune reminding me of The Pigeons blended with Pavement, a touch of Ant Bee thrown in for good measure. Next up, “Off the Grid” is a stoned Sunday afternoon instrumental, a lazy drum/bass groove overlaid with rippling guitar and buzzing electronics, the same atmosphere apparent in “Tin Foil Hat” although vocals and a Hohner Organetta, played by David Colohan, turn the tune into a strange mix of wobbly folk and the Pet Shop Boys.

    I guess this opening salvo is a great introduction to the rest of the album, the music, playful, intriguing and never dull, the use of some well imagined electronic beats  adding energy and purpose to the proceedings especially on the low groove of “Gone Fission”, a track that gets the head nodding with its repetitive ambience or indeed on “Mist Calls” which somehow reminds me of Phil Spector although I am not sure why.

    Elsewhere, “Ex Directory” starts off with the promise of a Black Sabbath inspired riff before morphing into a version of “Down Down” heard in a dream, fabulous stuff and a personal favourite. Sounding like an obscure 4AD band “Space Junk” also hits the spot, a sweet bath filled with electronics, soft vocals and a chiming banjo, just climb right in and relax.

Within the context of this album “Viral Hit” could be seen as an epic song, soaring chords and vocals embellished with banjo and distorted guitar creating a great finale that leads back out to the real world. Saving the best until last, at least in this review “Cancel the Fear” has the the feel of early Beck, lo-fi hip hop beats and droning instruments the perfect background for the lyrical delivery, possibly the strongest song on a collection filled with quality tunes, perfect for lazy afternoons in the garden or, indeed, any other moment.

(Simon Lewis)



SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT – END OF FOREVER

(Electric Magic)

 

German prog/psych/stoner masters Samsara Blues Experiment bring us this terrific fifth album, which unfortunately could be their last, as they’ve announced they’re going on indefinite hiatus.  Pity, that, because they’ve been putting out consistently outstanding music since 2010’s ‘Long Distance Trip.’  Christian Peters (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Hans Elselt (bass, backing vocals), and Thomas Vedder (drums) truly give it their all, and if this is it, they’re surely riding off into the sunset on top.

 

The album’s six lengthy and curvy tracks over 46 minutes offer up plenty of Christian Peters’ (aka Surya Kris Peters in his solo and other endeavors) heavy, distorted and multi-pedaled guitar over a Mellotron, synths, and more Mellotron, a formula in which, for me, alas all resistance is futile.  I surrender, I surrender.

 

Opening with the eleven-minute “Second Birth,” SBE lets loose virtually all the arrows in their considerable quiver.  There are long, pastoral, proggy passages, heavy stoner grooves, and, when he feels good and ready several minutes in, a conventional song by Peters.  Elselt on bass and Vedder on drums lean in heavily, and are a mighty force on rhythm.

 

Their style reminds me slightly of late model Opeth, and Peters’ voice has some similarities to Mikael Åkerfeldt; and also of early 70s Jethro Tull, if Ian Anderson had accidentally left his flute in the taxi cab.  The band is highly appreciated by metal fans, but when Samsara Blues Experiment rocks, it’s more what I’d call hard rock than metal.

 

The fellas also get their Santana on with another corker, “Southern Sunset,” with Vedder laying down a jungle-like beat on the toms, and Peters raving on organ and guitar.

 

As perhaps with the band’s situation, towards the album’s end the songs deal with loss and things coming to a hopeless and meaningless end.  Case in point, the eight-minute title track, with Peters singing “All the bits and pieces of a long gone past/lie shattered to my feet while I got nothing in my hands/For all I wished my life would ever be/I only learned the good things weren’t made to last.”  Peters punctuates his dolorous message with a stinging guitar solo.  This is followed by the melancholy “Orchid Annie.”  Peters concludes his lament of the loss of Annie with “Now that the dream is over and I wander all around/I cannot rest my head to see what life is all about/It’s not an endless story, my thoughts are full of doubt/The memories won’t relieve me.”  Between verses, Peters alternates between solos on scorching guitar, organ and synths.

 

Bonus instrumental track “Jumbo Mumbo Jumbo” is a highly enjoyable ride.  Catalan flavored, with giant Mellotron sound over some phenomenal guitar by Peters, this is the sort of thing that shows you Samsara Blues Experiment’s innate greatness.  This stunner that’s a “bonus track” could be the best on plenty of other records.

 

It will be heartbreaking if End of Forever is the last offering from Samsara Blues Experiment.  They’re one band who give 100% every time.  Not a single note is wasted, and theirs is a style you can slip into a moment after hitting play and think, ahh yes, this’ll do quite nicely, keep it coming please.

 

(Mark Feingold)



D ROTHON – MEMORIES OF EARTH

Claypipe Records www.claypipemusic.com 700 numbered vinyl copies.

Following on from his last release for Claypipe in 2018 Nightscapes, David is back and this time it is with an album which takes its theme as Space and in particular it was inspired by Moving To Mars an exhibition at London’s Design Museum in 2019 and also by David’s fascination with all things outer space, from a young age.

Again it is mainly instrumental, with a couple of vocal contributions from Johanna Warren and Claudia Barton. Consisting of ten tracks, which draw on many influences, including a little prog, electronica, lounge and European soundtracks. The album opens with ‘Apeman, Spaceman’ a string odyssey with drifting ambient steel and tinkling piano notes over a woozy bed of electronica. ‘Cybernetics Serendipity’, follows a fine track with drums and organ and whirring electronica, it sounds very much like Pink Floyd did in the mid seventies, it’s also embellished with what very much sounds like a Stylophone solo. So here’s a good one ‘Eight Million Miles High’ is very cool dropping in a few motifs from the song from which inspired it ‘Eight Miles High’ by The Byrds. This song has some lovely Mellotron wheezing throughout; it’s light, melodic and jazzy with some fine arpeggio electric guitar passages.

‘Aquarius Rising’ starts with organ notes overlaid with some excellent drifting pedal steel guitar notes, which hang like dust motes in the air. As the song progresses it is suffused with wordless vocals. ‘West Of The Moon’, sounds again like a Pink Floyd out-take circa Wish You Were Here. ‘The Stars Below Us’ has a light motorik groove, which acts as a bedrock for all manner of electronic instruments to twinkle over. ‘The Ghosts We Bring’,  is a haunting slice of electronica with a few mournful bursts of trumpet. ‘The Spaces Between’, orbits very slowly, electric guitar notes are dropped softly over a bed of ambient steel guitar, while a faint motorik groove is established. ‘Further From Home’, has a lovely wistful melody played on chromatic harmonica, which makes it sound like Morricone in space. The album ends with the title track ‘Memories From Earth’ a paean to Earth and its deep, wet blue mysteries.  With words written by Claudia Barton who adds suitably unearthly vocals over a bed of electronica, strings and trumpet, with a melody like a more subdued Aqua Marina, it ends with a few bursts of birdsong. This album shows what a versatile musician David is, and as much as I loved Nightscapes, this one for me is the stronger of the two. I can’t wait to hear what he does next. It will of course sell out with pre orders taken in a couple of week’s time.

(Andrew Young)



KIMBERLEY REW AND LEE CAVE BERRY – PURPLE KITTENS.

Available on CD from www.kimberleyrew.com

Purple Kittens is the new album from husband and wife team Kimberley Rew and Lee Cave Berry. The couple have previously released three albums starting in 2018 with ‘Lend Me Your Comb’. This one follows on from ‘Enjoy The Rest Of Your Day’ released in 2019. Kimberley will be familiar to readers of Terrascope through his incendiary fretwork for The Soft Boys and probably never needs to work again after penning the hugely successful song Walking On Sunshine, a song which has enabled Kimberley the freedom to do as he pleases. They are joined by Liam Gray – drums and by Myke Clifford adding some flute to Wrong Song and by Ranjan Vasudevan playing Carnatic guitar on I Can Be Any Woman.

It opens with ‘Penny The Ragman’ the title refers to Kim’s cousin Penny who looked after the uniforms for a side of Morris dancers and was a mainstay of the local Women’s Institute, it also features one of those lovely unhinged electric guitar solos from Kim where he seems to grab a handful of strings and create magi . ‘You Can Rely On Me’ where Kimberley’s very distinctive Cambridge sounding narrative vocals are displayed, it also features some mad tom tom playing, inspired by Santana’s performance at Woodstock. Lee gets to sing her own song ‘I Can Be Any Women’ which name checks some of the great women from history, like Eve and Helen Of Troy, it also features some fine exotic carnatic guitar from Ranjan. Next up is a great cover of the Soft Boys classic ‘Kingdom Of Love’, it works a treat, one of Robyn Hitchcock’s finest from when he seemed to populate all of his songs with sea creatures, it has the memorable lines ‘I would ramble all through time and space, just for a butcher’s at your face, you’re the one I love or so it seems, because you’ve confiscated all my dreams, yeah!’ It also features a great Kim solo where he seemingly mashes together a bunch of random strings and comes up with an ace solo. ‘Too Much Love’ is a song written on the road on the Isle Of Wight, it’s a folky song well placed on the record after the onslaught of Kingdom Of Love.

‘Wrong Song’ is a humorous song with some excellent flute playing from guest Myke Clifford and another majestic solo coaxed from his guitar by Kim ‘Unsatisfactory Cats’ is another song sung and written by Lee, it concerns cats which are well unsatisfactory, refusing to perform when gusts come round or deciding to sleep all day. ‘Black Ribbon’ is inspired by Roger Smith who was a member of Cambridge band Jack, along with Kim and Lee. Roger sadly died of Covid in 2020 and this song was written by his grandsons. ‘Raspberry ripple Ice Cream’ is another of those quirky songs Kimberley writes like ‘Purple And Orange Stripes’, this is Kim’s attempt to write a song in the mould of ‘Tequila’ with an electifrying single chord solo on the electric and a nice bass solo from Lee. ‘Growing Up’ a nice simple folky song with Liam playing a Cajon, it’s about being an old fart in these virtual modern times.  ‘Voyager’ is a song written about Voyager which set out from Earth in 1977. The album ends with ‘Daytime Night Time’ Kim’s attempt to write a song so universal that no one could possibly object to, it starts off with his birth, school days then off to work then finally reflecting on it all and wondering what it’s all about. Kim also gets to play a lovely long guitar solo, straight out of the fifties with shades of Chuck Berry. 

(Andrew Young)   



MARK AND THE CLOUDS – WAVES

Gare Du Nord Records CD/DL markandtheclouds.bandcamp.com

Mark & the Clouds are a London based band consisting of Marco Magnani vocals, guitar, harmonica and keyboards plus drummer Shin Okajiima and John O’Sullivan on bass, keyboards, pedal steel and backing vocals. This is their third album after releasing a couple on the Mega Dodo label.

Marco may be familiar to Terrascope readers as being a member of The Crazy world Of Arthur Brown. This record has barely been out of the car stereo since receiving it, I just don’t see the point of playing anything else at the moment as it is very good indeed. For pointers think The Beatles, The Who and other sixties bands like Andwella’s Dream and The Zombies. Catchy 60’s inspired psych inflected pop songs with a few modern touches.

Opener ‘You and me in Space’ sets out their stall early with a great harmony infused, swirling psychedelically inclined rock song. ‘Back In Time’ is an extremely Beatles sounding song or maybe more like Wings, either way Marco is way more McCartney than Lennon. ‘You Wanna Put Me Down’, is a great little pop rocker, some great harmonies and searing electric guitar hooks. ‘Winter Song’ is a folky, progressive song which features some suitably wintery violin played by Maya Kasparova. I love this tune; it’s very English and pastoral in nature, with its refrain of ‘breathing the silver mist in my lungs’. ‘All These Plans’, is another terrific song. At points on the album a few modern groups like The Coral are invoked and this one has brass parps ala ‘Reward’ by The Teardrop Explodes. ‘Free Me Now’, a stormy sea song features some lovely slide guitar and wouldn’t be out of place on an album by say Barclay James Harvest or some such harmony infused progressive band, it also has a couple of nice barely controlled electric guitar solos. I do like this album a lot. ‘No One Makes A Sound’ is more 70’s in feel, like some of those glammy bands like early Sweet; it also has a cool twin guitar section. The vocal harmonies are very strong indeed.

‘The Same Old Dream’ has more classic harmony vocals on which the trio are joined by DJ Marrs Bonfire and Rachel Kashi. ‘Waves’ is an impossibly light confection, the whole world in a grain of sand with hints of Beach Boys particularly the harmonies. ‘Promised Land’ is pretty apt for these current times, a dreaming of an escape to the country, a search for utopia with some fine pedal steel played by John O’Sullivan and more brass interjections. ‘Peace Not Religion’ is so catchy and quite simply brilliant. A truly great pop rock song, which I dare you not to sing along to after hearing a couple of times. ‘Miles And Miles Away’, channels classic Who, ‘Heavy Drops Of Rain’ sees more parping brass and has a truly great sixties sound. ‘In The Big Crowd’ is a little more acoustic in nature and features some twelve string guitar. This excellent record closes out with ‘Somebody Else’ a Surferdelic, psych rocker, which again is stacked chock full of terrific harmony vocals, over which Marco gets to play some Mosrite licks ala Peter Gunn. File under joyful and life affirming.

(Andrew Young)  





BELD – BEHEADING THE HECKLER (Cassette on Misophonia Records)

PHURPA & QUEEN ELEPHANTINE – ITA ZOR (Cassette on Misophonia Records)

The ever eclectic Misophonia label has been busy once again with its varied array of old school cassette releases. As the label says itself there are no genres or boundaries to restrict its output so stick around and something you like will come along soon. Well here’s two things I like very much.

The pre-history of Ottawa’s The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol (TBWNIAS) includes many musical adventures which cave paintings and folklore don’t really tell us enough about so this cassette release is an important addition to the story of a cornerstone of the Ottowa psychedelic rock scene. Beld are an important part of the family tree, deserving recognition in their own right for their sound adventures as well as being a key moment in the journey towards TBWNIAS. John Westhaver, Dave Reford, Carol Lane and Doug Watson comprise a four piece that played improvised, experimental cosmic jams for a two year period in the late 1990s. Although there are moments when the rhythm becomes more driving and the guitars crank up, it’s a sound less heavy than TBWNIAS focusing more on electronic colours, drones, percussive textures and light and shade but you can clearly hear elements of the musical DNA of TBWNIAS coming together in a vivid and engaging way. The music on ‘Beheading The Heckler’ dates from a 1997 session at John Westhaver’s record emporium and all round musical shrine Birdman Sound in Ottawa.  There are apparently hundreds of hours of improvised music by Beld recorded during their two year existence and what we have here is a very tasty appetiser for what might hopefully be a deeper archaeological dig in due course. It’s a rough and often raw voyage of discovery where frazzled and distorted kosmische soundworlds, experimental post punk infused electronics and driving motorik inspired space rock come together in improvised wanderings that capture many moods and atmospheres from off kilter waltzes in space to hazy noir meditations and journeys to forbidden planets. There are some really inventive and indeed occasionally gorgeous moments to be heard and Beld clearly had their own way with a jam and how to make you sit up, or quite often sit back and listen.

I first encountered Moscow based Phurpa at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in a freezing cold church in November - they played for over two hours with their set slated to be much shorter than that. It was a night of hypnotic, intense and otherworldly sounds centred on their astonishing throat singing techniques which generate cavernous guttural chants and drones based on ancient Tibetan shamanic Bon music rituals. Anyone who was there will remember it as an incredible transfixing performance in addition to the discomfort of church seats for two hours and possibly the late bus or train home that they missed due to hanging on to see the end. On ‘Ita Zor’ Phurpa collaborate with Queen Elephantine, a group originally from Hong Kong and now based in Philadelphia.  Phurpa as expected create cavernous waves of devotional vocal drones over 50 minutes like an acapella Sunn O))) which somehow manages to be an almost crushingly intense and yet deeply meditative ritualistic experience at once. Queen Elephantine use their experimental and improvisational skills wisely by not seeking to challenge the scale and depth of the Phurpa sound but instead to gently wrap it in a blanket of often minimal clanking, chiming and skittering percussion, subtle and moody electronic textures and various flute, conch shell and horn colourings that accentuate devotional moods and intensify the otherworldly ancient atmosphere. Occasionally faint rhythms appear and fade away but it’s generally a loose array of improvised sounds interacting with the unstoppable weight of the vocal drone. It’s an incredibly dramatic, hypnotic and absolutely addictive sound that marries intense ritual with freely improvised sound elements wonderfully well and could just be the strangest thing you’ll listen to this year but you’ll be so glad you did.

(Francis Comyn)



DON RENDELL IAN CARR QUINTET – BLUE BEGINNINGS

(LP/CD/Digital on Jazz in Britain Records)

 

Jazz in Britain continues to unearth one treasure after another, this latest from the Don Rendell Ian Carr Quintet.  The majority of the record comes from a November 1964 appearance on the BBC Light Programme’s It’s Jazz show, and sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded.  The band was promoting its fine LP ‘Shades of Blue,’ then soon to be released on Columbia Records.

 

Tenor and soprano sax man Rendell had been in the business since the 1940s, and started his first group in the mid-1950s.  He’d played with Stan Kenton, Billie Holiday and Woody Herman among others, and was influenced by Lester Young and John Coltrane.  Like many jazz bands, the lineup was a revolving door over the years, and this snapshot was a gem.  In a strong combination of experience and youth, besides Rendell, it featured phenomenal trumpet player Ian Carr, who’d deservedly earned his way into co-billing in the group’s name and affairs; Colin Purbrook on piano, Trevor Tomkins on drums, and young Dave Green on bass.

 

It isn’t absolute audiophile recording quality, because like all Jazz in Britain releases, it comes from somebody’s personal tape collection, in this case Neil Ardley, who penned the studio record ‘Shades of Blue’s title piece, included here.  (For another impressive Jazz in Britain release, check out Ardley’s sparkling live ‘Kaleidoscope of Rainbows.’). In any event, the tapes are dusted off and cleaned up quite admirably.

 

It's easy to see the outsized influence Miles Davis had over the outfit, and indeed all of jazz, at the time, especially his 1959 masterpiece ‘Kind of Blue.’  Besides this album’s title Blue Beginnings and the album they were plugging ‘Shades of Blue,’ songs include the Shades of Blue title track, plus “Blue Doom” and “Latin Blue.”  And that’s just the titles.  But they were far from copyists of their favorite influences from across the pond.  This band swings to its own beat and the results speak enthusiastically for themselves.

 

The performances are picture perfect.  You are immediately transported back into jazz’s golden age with a team of expert guides on your journey.  Bursting from the gate, “Blue Doom” doesn’t sound anything like the growly tongue-pierced metal head music its name might suggest.  Instead, it’s a compact, head nodding, toe-tapping perfect intro to Rendell, Carr and crew’s many talents, where everyone gets to shine.

 

Rendell’s catchy “Garrison ‘64” sounds like a perfect soundtrack to 60s swinging London, with Rendell’s and Carr’s horn blend leading the way to rewarding solos by all, highlighted by Colin Purbrook on piano.  At seven minutes, it’s by far the longest track on the album – indeed, conciseness rules the day here.  Covers of mellow standards such as “Autumn Leaves” and “You’ll Never Know” are executed with a gentle touch and natural grace.

 

Ardley’s moody ‘Shades of Blue’ wears its Miles proudly on its sleeve, and you won’t find any complaints here, with Carr brilliantly displaying his light and shade.  On “Sailin,’” recorded at an earlier 1964 session, if you listen closely you can hear one of them snapping his fingers to the groove, and it’s hard not to empathize.  Closing with Carr’s up-tempo “Big City Strut,” Purbrook, Carr and Rendell all take turns on the breaks, and it’s a joy to take in.

 

Jazz in Britain has put out some exceptional releases, but they’ve really outdone themselves here.  Blue Beginnings is an ideal collection of short (for jazz), sharp shiny pearls, both compositionally and technically, encased in 1964 amber, from superb performers.  And if I’ve learned one thing from following this label, there’s even more greatness coming.

 

(Mark Feingold)



GNOD - EASY TO BUILD HARD TO DESTROY
(ALL FORMATS from Rocket Recordings)

What, already? It seems like only yesterday that we all frothed excitedly about the new outcrop of experimental acts, crudely lumped together as “new psych”. Yet here we are, pouring over a staging- post retrospective befitting one such outfit that has truly weathered the test of time - can it really be fourteen years? Now that’s a double itch we think worth scratching, for Terrascope likes Gnod. Well enough, in fact, to have hosted them on the postage stamp stage at The Moon, Cardiff in 2017, an occasion hijacked by a General Election; almost sunk by a thunderstorm of biblical proportions and memorable for delicious home-made curries, prepped and served in conditions that would have been considered grim even by the standards of WW1 trenches. Still, nobody died and, with a favourable wind, I can still pick up that incendiary performance in my good ear, that’s how indelibly loud it was.

Typically, the now dispersed Islington Mill collective’s idea of a compilation eschews the more obvious cuts with which, let’s face it, fans will already be familiar, and instead homes in on a collection of  obscurities and never-before released material. Trading on repetition and metronomic, perpetual motion, Easy To Build... is neither overtly experimental nor is it possessed, for the most part, of the bludgeoning intensity with which Gnod have often been associated. If not exactly striking a happy medium between the two, it at least glowers warningly both right and left. As befits the band’s early DIY ethic, some of this sounds like it was recorded in someone’s sock drawer in the next street, with the vocals relayed via a cardboard tube attached to a piece of string. No matter, therein lies its period charm and intoxicating atmospheric appeal. Astute and occasionally liberal use of brass and wind instruments (largely missing from more recent recordings) permeates here, most notably on the invocative ‘Deadbeatdisco Pt 1’, which in its ecstatic throes sounds like horns blaring at dawn over the Ganges. ‘Inner Z’ has the chopping insistence and rippling synths reminiscent of Death In Vegas’ pleasing body twitcher, ‘Flying’. Conversely, ‘They Live’ offers the first real glimpse of grit in the eye, a densely dirty, pungent psych-rocker that might even tickle the synapses of anyone partial to early Wooden Shjips, while the dub inflected near-eastern doom of, ‘5th Sun’ and stoned immaculate ‘A Very Special Request’ has your reviewer nodding rapt and contented, like some slack-jawed, dopey car dog ornament. Oh yes. All of which builds up nicely to the aforementioned ‘Deadbeatdisco Pt 1’ and the savage, foot-stomp battering of ‘Pt 2’, which reveals Gnod at their most primal. Head duly blown, it’s left to the droning incantation of ‘Frostbite’ to bring me whimpering back to earth and the safety of the scribe’s Veal Crate.

Unlikely to win too many converts from among the Snifferati, who will most probably still wonder what the fuss is about, for the initiated - and hopefully a good few passing strangers - this is one heavy and affirmative spreading of astral jam for to savour. It’s certainly a most welcome addition, nay addiction, to the canon, which is pretty much what I felt like I’d been fired from, without realising when it was someone lit the match. Fourteen more years is too much to reasonably expect of anyone. Still, I’ve studied the declaration of feudal indenture that passes for a job description here in the dank dungeons of Terrascope Towers and there’s no mention of reasonable, anywhere.

Furthur.

(Ian Fraser)