= October 2011 =  
The Bevis Frond
Jon DeRosa
Revolution in Sound comp.
Allysen Callery
Old Lost John
Anton Barbeau
Synth Roundup
Free Spirits


(CD/LP on Woronzow Records)

Bevis Frond albums are the musical equivalent of a luxury box of chocolates. An increasingly rare treat in these recession-hit times, the cover is invariably eye-catchingly appealing and there’s not only guaranteed treats inside for everyone, but for those of you fortunate enough to already consider it a trusted brand there’s both recognisable favourites and delicious surprises in store.

Indeed ‘The Leaving of London’ contains so many flavoursome centres, to flog the analogy utterly to death and then poke it with a spoon just in case, that you could be forgiven for wondering if you’d accidentally strayed into a gourmet chocolatier’s kitchen. To pick out a few immediate choice selections, all of them personal favourites although you will of course have your own - not everyone likes an orange fondant after all - ‘Why Have You Been Fighting me?’ features some utterly gorgeous guitar tones as well as the signature bass-lines of Mr Adrian Shaw to the fore; ‘Son of a Warm Gun’ has depths that only a John Lennon fan would understand, coupled with a guitar solo to die for (if you’ll excuse the unfortunate juxtaposition there) - while both the fabulous ‘Reanimation’ and almost punkoid ‘Heavy Hand’ remind me inevitably of the Wipers, another long standing if often ignored influence on the Frond since the earliest days.

Both ‘You’ll Come’ with its driving beat and catchy melody and ‘Preservation Hill’ with its uplifting vocal refrain and heart-lifting guitar solo hark back to what some still see as the Frond’s early 1990s heyday, stretching from ‘New River Head’ through to ‘London Stone’ (although personally I’d disagree with that, believing that the Frond’s real heyday lies somewhere between ‘Miasma’ and whatever the next album’s going to be called); while ‘Too Kind’ is the kind of lengthy, insightful and yet toe-curlingly exquisite song that you just know immediately it’s going to become an eternally requested live favourite, like ‘Red Hair’ and so very many others before it. Wonderful.

Another nice touch is the intensely personal nature of this album. You can tell that Nick Saloman has surrounded himself with those closest to him while producing what’s arguably his most important LP for a decade. Daughter Debbie appears on the cover; friends new and old are all thanked; the photography and indeed the title reflects Nick’s relocation from London to East Sussex. As much as I love him dearly, ‘reliable’ isn’t a word I’d normally associate with Paul Simmons - and yet here he performs as near a perfect guitar playing understudy to Nick himself throughout this album as it’s possible to imagine, while Dave Pearce’s drumming is so well suited to the Frond’s musical delivery that it’s difficult to imagine he hasn’t been there all along (in fact, he’s “only” been a member of the Woronzow family since 1989, when the Psycho’s Mum LP was released as Woronzow Records Catalogue No. 11).

Whether you are new to the world of the Bevis Frond or a long-time aficionado, you need to do yourself a massive favour and find a copy of this. Copies: £8.00 plus £1.00 postage for CD, £17.00 plus £3.00 postage for vinyl in the UK - PayPal payable to nicksaloman@btinternet.com (prices will vary depending on worldwide location; add an extra £1 for postage to Europe, £2 to the USA and Canada, and £3 elsewhere) (Phil)



(EP from Silber)

DeRosa is a bit of a musical chameleon, releasing his material under a variety of guises, be it the guitar soundscapes of Aarktica (Terrastock alumni, Mason Jones of SubArachnoid Space features on an Aarktica remix album), the rocking, alt.country of Pale Horse and Rider, or the dark folk of Dead Leaves Rising. Jon celebrates his dozenth release with this 4-track EP released under his own name, and there’s a distinct 80’s vibe throughout. The title track is a dirgy lament that echoes The Cure and Echo and The Bunnymen at their most introspective, with perhaps a touch of Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized project trickling through. DeRosa’s sparkling guitar notes serpentine around Julia Kent’s superlative cello embellishment creating a warm, thousand-yard stare atmosphere.

The first thing you’ll notice about ‘Snow Coffin’ is Sam Lazzara’s big drum sound (an ‘80’s trademark), and the poppy, singalong track could have set comfortably on a Julian Cope album, both solo and his Teardrop Explodes material. ‘Ladies In Love’ is another tearful ballad, bleeding a mournful cello and reminiscent of his dark folk releases, but his tender voice lifts us above the somber backing and dreary imagery, which borrows a line from the poetry of serial killer, Charles Schmidt, the notorious “Pied Piper of Tucson.”

The set concludes with his interpretation of The Chills’ ‘Submarine Bells’, featuring tinkling vibes, Jon Natchez’ tearful horns, and delicate backing vocals from Lorraine Lelis. Overall, this is a perfect way to while away a dreamy, rainy afternoon. Jeff Penczak



(Download available from http://dunlavy.bandcamp.com )

The long-time project of Houston Texas’ Scott Grimm, an old friend of the Terrascope who contributed to the Succour Terrascope benefit album way back, Dunlavy makes a welcome return to the sonic fray with this self-deprecatingly titled offering.
Featuring a style of music Grimm describes as “Texas Psych”, A Lifetime of Crushing Failure is a collection of 20 short songs, some of which are brief to the point of terseness and none more than 4 minutes in length. The material has an endearingly home-reared feel to it, veering between almost pastoral stonedness and short, heavy slabs of stoner rock, scuzzed and damaged enough to give the likes of Electric Wizard an all too brief crawl for their money.

Opener “Real” owes a big debt to Pink Floyd and sets what is pretty much a template for a lot of what is to follow – trippy minimalist keyboards, distorted and  languid vocals and some far out guitar as Scott commits serious abuse of the stomp box. “This Is Not” is a simple yet sublime pop nugget much like how you wish Syd Barrett had sounded post-Floyd, melodic and almost innocent but in a together and structured way. Again though we are treated to the seemingly obligatory axe melt down which our man Grimm evidently seems to find hard to resist – like I’m complaining? “Blue”, “Hate the Truth” and “When I’m Right” are all stoner anthems par excellence in miniature, the latter in particular is destined to induce some pretty heavy dandruff dust clouds from the front rows.

Elsewhere it’s a mixture of crude strumming and route-one riffing, sub-Floydisms and some oddly un-syncopated rhythms and missed beats (“When I’m Wrong”, “Nobody Remembers”) that I’m not sure if they are intended or not, .but which somehow seem to work, although on “Unfinished” the drums genuinely seem to struggle a bit. “The Cold Steps” amalgamates two different styles in what seems to be a bit of a Dunlavy tradition, as acid campfire yields part way through to marginally in-tune guitar howl and so it goes until “Lackadaisical Jam” heralds a finale which is in essence a distillation of pretty much the rest of the album, loud and abrasive guitar, suspended on air keyboards, wind in the rafters effects and a definite high note on which to end proceedings.

Dunlavy is the sort of project which epitomises the life blood of the Terrascope. It is not polished, occasionally it splutters, fizzes or fails to ignite while at other times it soars and crackles, but really this is the sort of organic psychedelic cottage industry that we like around here and is our regular antidote to the over-produced and over-hyped so prevalent in the mainstream. We ought to cherish this and you, my friends, ought to check it out.  (Ian Fraser)



(CD from www.greylyng.com )

Formed in 2002 by Jeff Cedrone and John C Miller, Connecticut three-piece Greylyng play what can loosely be termed Progressive music but please don’t let that put you off reading further. Don’t get me wrong, yes this can sound unremittingly clever at times, occasionally hinting at “musicians’ bands” of yesteryear, beloved of the more technically or studiously inclined, but making fewer impressions on the wider listenership. However this tendency towards hyperbole is more than compensated for by not only excellent musicianship but a finely tuned melodic and sensitive sensibility and enough variation (and at times restraint) to keep the casual listener engaged and frequently on his or her toes over eight mostly lengthy instrumental workouts. Karaoke fans look away now.

There is plenty to note, here. However best in breed includes the nocturnal themed “Goodnight Eyes” – a gorgeous lullaby and as luxurious and gratifying as a headlong dive into a vat of your favourite molten chocolate. “Viburnum” showcases Greylyng’s jazz-leaning, occasionally turbo-charged approach, juxtaposed with a languid dreamscape. The triptych “Static/Murmur/Battle” has its moments and when they occur, they bear reasonable comparison with the more reflective work of Dungen, while. “Showdown of the Concord Sphere” is darkly electronic and a tad unsettling in places – not to mention interesting and varied. “You And Your Bleeding Heart” typifies the best of the rest, impressive, often intricate fusion music that can delight and confound often in the same few bars, as if emphasising the late Don Van Vliet’s old maxim that if you stick with an idea for too long it becomes corny.
To call this is all very professional and competent would be damning it with faint praise, so I will say that there is enough stratospheric quirkiness here to appeal to fans of the more pyrotechnic bit of the Ozric Tentacles oeuvre, the more adventurous Canterbury scenesters and those who thought Gong were a lot better after they ditched the woolly hats and all that malarkey about pixies. Hopefully, this will mean something to the boys in the band or anyone else for that matter should they be reading this. If not then suffice to say it’s a good listen, folks. (Ian Fraser)



 (CD from www.northernstar.com)

     Over the last five years Northern Star have proven themselves a label of quality, fiercely independent and ploughing their own furrow, releasing several compilations that highlight the best in new psych, shoe-gaze, indie and all points in between. Interestingly, if you listen to the compilations in chronological order, there is a distinct distillation of the label's sound, the earlier discs having an eclectic and sprawling nature, whilst the later comps are slowly honing the sound. On this, the latest volume, that sound has become apparent, the nineteen tracks flowing together with a cohesiveness that makes this a stunning collection that can be played right through, without fear of sudden change of direction or style. Of course, this does mean that you have to enjoy a certain kind of sound to really get into this disc, but if you do, this is a mighty fine slab of music, that gets better with each spin.

   Opening with the soaring guitar of “Solitary Rush”, Simon Says No lead us in with a heady rush of noise, shades of Ride, evident in the sound, the tune an excellent introduction with strong production that punches the music into the room. Following on, the more electronic sound of Punk TV, still contains the same sonic blueprint, hypnotic and driving, the sound bright and expansive.

    Probably the best known band on the set, The Nova Saints, do not disappoint with the excellent “Indian Summer” riding high on sonic waves of joy, whilst Highspire, supply one of the albums highlights with the beautiful “Sunraindown”, a drifting wash of guitar that melts your cares away.

    Much noisier, Culkin sound like the a confusing version of The Stone Roses on the  strange “Libbets casey”, some sense of order returned as The Blanche Hudson Weekend, thrash out the distorted joy of “Noise and Fury”

    Offering a fuzzed-up garage take on the sound, The Lost Rivers offer one of the albums finest moments, as the twisted psych of “All Dark” creeps out of the speakers and enters your bloodstream, hooking you in right from the start. Also wearing paisley around their eyes, Insect Guide, are pleasantly twisted on the pulsating “Dark Days and Nights”, working themselves up to a grand crescendo as the song progresses.

    As this disc moves forward my hat goes off to whoever programmed the sequencing, each track seemingly perfectly suited to the one before, a skill that is more difficult than it first appears, as anyone who has made a compilation for a friend will know. This is never more so evident, than on the trio of tunes by Ceremony, Luger and Laboratory Noise, the tracks the epitome of the spirit of this compilation, with “Swastika Sweetheart” (Luger) proving to be my favuorite track, an epic blast of sound driven by a repeated sequence that eats into your brain, meaning it is difficult to concentrate on anything else. Mind you, the other two tracks are also wonderful,  but this one blows me away, especially when the guitars kick in, sonic perfection indeed.

   Finally, to prove what a long strange trip its been, Kontakte, get into some heavy drone and electronics, mixing this with walls of guitar creating a dark interlude, before Perfect Blue wring out what is left of your mind, with the lysergic drenched “Room 35” a track that seems a long way from how we started, yet fits the same mould in some bizarre fashion.

    Running at seventy minutes, this album really needs to be heard in its entirety and at loud volume, a  strangely beautiful experience. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from www.paatos.com )

Fans of melancholic Swedish prog rock will likely already know of Paatos, but the general music-enjoying public perhaps aren't as aware of this group as they could be. The extraordinary 2004 debut "Timeloss" showed a band of superb musicians creating exciting, complex music, featuring the amazing drumming of Huxflux Nettermalm and the cool vocals of Petronella Nettermalm; a definite King Crimson influence pervading the release. "Kallocain" followed, showing the band's ability to write concise and memorable songs, and then the equally outstanding "Silence Of Another Kind." After a live album, a change of record labels and the arrival of new bassist Ulf Rockis Ivarsson, Paatos now deliver their fourth studio album "Breathing."

The album follows the song-based format of the preceding two releases in that no track is longer than six minutes, but there is complex music here and a clear progressive influence. Openers 'Gone' and 'Fading Out' are strong songs, but, as with "Kallocain" and "Silence Of Another Kind," it is the third track where the album begins to branch out and show its quality. 'Shells' features a memorable tune and mellotron-based instrumentation, and will be appreciated by proggers; a really superb song. 'In That Room' opens with doomy guitars from long-time member Peter Nylander before another excellent, mellotron-enhanced cut hoves into view.

'Andrum,' a brief track featuring mournful cello and piano, recapitulates what has so far passed before the uptempo 'No More Rollercoaster' barges its way into the listener's consciousness, featuring showy drumming and some great bass from the new man; this cut encapsulates Paatos' ability to deliver exciting music with strong melodies, and is a highlight of the album, recalling some of the untamed musicality of "Timeloss." The title track is slower and more measured, with a conversational style vocal that in places seems as if it could be spoken as well as sung, while 'Smärtan' opens with ghostly piano and haunting vocals before becoming a little more anthemic; another magical highlight.

'Surrounded' cuts back the rock instruments for an exposed vocal, backing vocals and another lovely cello accompaniment; a particularly well arranged track from the point of view of the vocals, with just enough subtle strings mellotron to give that classic Paatos sound. 'Ploing, My Friend' is another brief soundscape (this time via a musical box) before the last two cuts, 'Precious,' an acoustic-rocker, and the uptempo, frenetic 'Over & Out,' which concludes the album in fantastic style.

I've enjoyed the music of Paatos for a number of years now, and I have to say this new album is easily up to the standard of the preceding three, which is to say it is very good indeed. Fans of complex, progressive-influenced rock who prefer song-based structures to longer pieces will enjoy it, and it comes highly recommended from me. (Steve Palmer)



(CD from Label Etrange)

Sophomore effort from Parisian Camille Warmé, who’s often been compared to PJ Harvey, but reminds me more of Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano channelling Siouxsie Sioux. Her songs (sung in English) are intimate confessionals, ranging from minimalist, guitar-and-voice ruminations of loneliness and heartbreak (sample lyric from ‘Broken Glass’: “I eat broken glass/I spit ashes and tears”) to troubled tales of existential angst and aimless wanderings of self-discovery (“The city is a cemetery where I am buried/Lost in the sea for years” from ‘Come On’; “Teenage hopes that all got lost” from ‘Santa Fe’).

There’s a lo-fi punk aesthetic at work here, too, with slashing guitar lines reminiscent of Joy Division or Gang of Four couched in gothic darkness (‘Don’t Put Me In A Box’ could be a long lost Banshees b-side and ‘Monster Lunch’ shuffles along like some derailed hellbound train). My favourite track, ‘Kids on Crash” is industrial goth for lonely teenagers looking for someone to soundtrack their empty lives, and eerie, whispered, double-tracked vocals propel the tale of resurrection ‘Hey Now’ like a stake through a vampire’s cold, cold heart. It’s the perfect Halloween soundtrack, and while it may not be the happiest album you’ll hear this year, it may be the most honest – if not the darkest. (Jeff Penczak)



(CD/download from www.allysencallerymusic.com)
(CD from www.oldlostjohn.com)

Two more disc from the occasional series “albums I should have reviewed ages ago” , these two discs share a similar sonic palette, one ethereal and haunting, the other earthy and flecked with autumn.

   First up, Allesyn Callery creates gentle, beautiful music, her sweet voice and delicate guitar lines, working together, the sound of a petal lifted by a warm breeze. Opening with the title track, it is soon clear that Allesyn has honed her sound, finding her own voice, the poetic lyrics delivered with sensual passion over the gossamer fine guitar notes. Harking back to Tove Jansson's Moomin books, “Snow Pony” is based on one of those tales, as was a track from Allysen's previous album, the song a haunting and delicate tune the is almost lost in, so quiet is its centre. Next up the traditional “Young Edwin” is given the Callery treatment, her vocal performance shining out over the backing, the song the covered by Steeleye Span, amongst others.

   Clocking in at 27 minutes, the seven song on the disc blend into one another, until “Muse Me” finally leads you out of an enchanted realm and back into the real world, feeling refreshed and relaxed, melodies still drifting in your ears making you smile.

   Originally available in a lovely cloth bag, with inserts, I think this has sold out, although the music is still to be found via download here http://allysencallery.bandcamp.com/

   Given a deep and world-weary vocal delivery, Tomas Thunberg's songs are earthy and hypnotic, the lyrics hinting of sad tales and nostalgia. Working under the Old Lost John name, with a handful of guests, this is his second album after the excellent “Faceless” and treads the same rocky paths, the way soothed by the occasional hope of love or a calm place to sit.

   With chiming banjo, violin and some lovely backing vocals, “Satan's Got you Down” opens proceedings with a touch of old-time religious zeal, you almost feel compelled to clap your hands, although this feeling is soon gone as “Elude Me” hovers like a dark and beautiful cloud, the line “What I do Best, I do alone” summing the song up perfectly. On the wonderful “Scarecrow”, a pulsing percussion takes the song down dark roads, the riff full of tension, matched by the lyrical threads that weave a strange tale.

   With a hint of John Martyn about it, “Sparkle and Rain” has a lighter tone, whilst “Gallows Hill” is another melancholic tale of lost love and regret, beautifully sung, a lonely reed organ (possibly), adding layers of emotion to the tune. The same instrument comes to the fore on “Into the Bone”, the droning chords the perfect foil for the voice and words.

   Finally, the wistful sigh of “From an Airborne” completes a truly haunting and beautiful collection; sadness never sounded so good. (Simon Lewis)



(CD on Idiot)

Barbeau’s complicated (and voluminous) back catalogue runs about 18 releases deep with numerous reissues, “Antologies”, and limited editions tossed in to confuse even the staunchest supporter. In order to appease the fans looking to pick up the early releases at his gigs (and lighten the load he has to haul around the world), he assembled this 18-track, career-spanning compilation which offers selections from each of his previous albums along with a few remakes and one exclusive track to keep the completists satisfied. I would have preferred that he sequenced the tracks chronologically so one could trace his musical trajectory and development from Sacramento (CA) popster to mad psychedelic scientist, but there’s no denying the charm, breadth, and variety that Ant delivers across these 70 minutes.

            Opening with a remake of ‘Losing You Makes Crucifixion Easy” featuring The Pretenders’ guitarist Robbie McIntosh (a dream come true, as Ant confesses the original was a deliberate attempt to rip off ‘Back On The Chain Gang’), all of the selections showcase his gift for marrying a catchy melody to literate and often quite hilarious, tongue-in-cheek lyrics. ‘Third Eye’ effectively welds XTC to Robyn Hitchcock (not surprising, since Barbeau’s current project, Three Minute Tease is a trio of Ant alongside former Soft Boys/Egyptians Andy Metcalf and Morris Windsor); ‘The Automatic Door’ reveals his political, anti-fundamentalist side, while his romantic, sensitive side shines through the sentimental ‘Heather Song’ from his 1993 debut.

            Barbeau’s little black book is chock full of some of the indie scene’s brightest lights, and besides McIntosh, Windsor, and Metcalf, he has included tracks featuring Scott Miller (Game Theory/The Loud Family), Nick Saloman (The Bevis Frond), members of Cake, and Oxford folkies Stornoway. His record collection has inspired successful tips of the dome to some of his biggest influences, from Big Star (the melancholic acoustic ballad ‘Waterbugs & Beetles’) to Julian Cope (the psychedelic lunacy of ‘Mahjong Dijon’) and Marc Bolan (the headscratching pop ditty ‘This Is Why They Call Me Guru 7’). The “high” quality is consistent throughout – enough to warrant a serious reevaluation of Ant’s entire back catalogue. In the meantime, this is an excellent introduction to one of our finest, albeit criminally obscure artists. (Jeff Penczak)




British synthesizer music continues its vibrant, varied and valuable life through a number of albums released by, for want of a better term, "underground" artists. 2011 has been a vintage year, not least for Modulator ESP/Awakenings based musicians, who have put on regular gigs in Burton-upon-Trent, contributed much to the British synth scene, and released a number of excellent albums, some of which I'll round up now...

"The Martian Chronicles" by Seren Ffordd and Oöphoi is an album of sparse, atmospheric electronic music inspired by the classic SF novel written by Ray Bradbury. The album takes its inspiration from the Martian aspects of the novel in particular, opening with a fifteen minute cut 'The Long Years,' which through a combination of perfectly judged drones, synths and deeply reverberated sounds evokes the coldness and distance of the environment. 'Dead Cities' brings in a different set of textures to the mix, based on a drone that sounds like a long, alien breath, breathing in, out, in... haunting and effective. Half way through, the textures change to bring a more technological feel to the sound. 'Blue Fire,' the third fifteen-minute cut, continues the theme of slow drift drones overlaid with mysterious effects, this time sounding like reverberated voices, though they're probably synths. 'End Of A Changeling' plays with the structure of the book and the album, which is presented in reverse order; the cut is brief, composed of sections from all the other tracks mixed by Seren Ffordd into a pivot, around which the album turns. 'Canals' brings field recordings of water into the mix, while 'Flamebirds Waiting For The Sun' features weirdly mutated bird sounds to create a particularly effective and atmospheric track. Album closer 'Unremembered' features a synth drone like a heavenly choir, completing the experience in suitable style. For those who've read the book, this ambient delight will be an intriguing discovery.

Cosmonauttransfer is Kent-based analogue merchant and krautrock enthusiast Dave Dilliway, who on "Watching Stars Burn" is accompanied by audio generator and fx man Nik Langley. The lengthy opening cut (all the tracks are 12-16 minutes) is the title track, matching a two-note sequence with phased synths, wah-guitar and sonic effects. Different synths break the track up into sections, with more complex sequences and a different mood of lead guitar emerging as the cut evolves; also some mellotron, emphasising the style. 'Sirius' is a mixture of space textures and drones which has a really nice early 'seventies feel to it. Stronger synths emerge half way through the piece, strengthening the material, though the cut as a whole remains ambient. 'Sleeping Galaxy' is similar in tone, but the textures are more complex, and the piece, though the shortest on the album, goes through a number of moods, including one guitar-enlivened part. This middle section of the album is the most successful. 'From Atoms To The Universe' returns us to the wah-guitar and sequenced sound of the title track. Fans of ambient spacerock will certainly enjoy this one.

Xan Alexander is another mainstay of the British synth field, who with his heavily sequenced, Berlin School inspired music has contributed much to the modern synth scene. His two offerings this year, "Syntherics" and "Sonic Reflection," are both enjoyable synth abums in classic mode. "Syntherics" opens with Tangerine Dream style bouncing synth sequences, percussion and synth textures on 'Hydrosphere,' while 'Aphrodite's Isle' is a slower, more ambient affair; a lovely cut. 'Luna Tide' goes for the jugular, with full-on Rubycon-era sequencing, over which a number of textures and mellifluous lead lines are floated; the juxtaposition of classic style sequencing and "Tangram" era lead sounds is interesting. 'Meglos' slows the pace down considerably, while 'Sub Aqua' is an ambient cut serving to break the two halves of the album. 'Midnight Train To Nowhere' features the alto and soprano saxophones of Jon James, and the combination of this and the flute mellotron is very effective; this track is the album highlight for me. 'Walking On Water' brings in the voice mellotron and Rob Clynes' electric guitar to augment the pattering sequences, while album closer 'In The Search For Distant Times' also features James' sax, to good effect. Fans of classic era Tangerine Dream who want a little variety in the instrumentation will enjoy this album.

"Sonic Reflection" begins with 'Xenophon,' oscillating sequences and a resonant synth opening the track before it enters stomping kick-drum and wailing synth solo territory. The well-orchestrated sequences make this an effective opener. 'Waking' calms everything down in "Tangram" style, while 'Strange Echoes' is a mix of weird synth textures, delayed and reverberated as if in some hellish realm. 'Dragon's Den' returns us to the Tangerine Dream soundworld again, while 'Lost Lands' matches shimmering synths to subtle textures to create another intriguing mix; definitely an album highlight. 'Passages' enlivens the sequences with a number of key changes and a rustling synth solo, while 'Dark Dimensions' is another gothic trip of a soundscape; atmospheric and evocative. 'Voices Of Nature' builds itself up through a number of syncopated sequences, and is the best of the rhythmic cuts on the album, while 'Wind Of Change' closes the work as it began. Of the two albums "Syntherics" is perhaps the better offering, its variety of moods and instrumentation coming out on top.

"Safernoc" by Second Thought (aka Ross Baker, another Kentish gentleman) looks for its inspiration not to Berlin but to Britain, not least ancient Britain and its myths and legends, with the moorland artwork reflecting the mood presented in the music. Baker has released a number of albums since 2004, returning on this new one to less rhythmic, more flowing styles. Opening cut 'Send More Bees' pits a loping rhythm with subtle chords, but then we are thrown into the glitchy sounds of 'Night Train,' which for a few moments goes mad, before emerging into calmer territories. 'Barghest' is a lovely melange of light rhythm, shimmering texture and haunting synth, which, having arrived, branches off into more glitchy samples. 'Marown Dhoo' opens light and ambient, before deep, sonorous notes and a strange steam-train rhythm emerge; then they're away, and the track returns to ambience. Another atmospheric track, this one. 'Savernake' is a more traditional cut, relying on 4/4 electro-rhythm and bouncing synths, before we hit the mystery of 'Kelpie,' which evokes water and time through its orchestral synths, basic rhythm and chord sequence. 'Cwn Annwn' matches distorted voices and field recordings with weird samples, segueing into 'Moss,' which returns to glitchy rhythms and minimal synth drones. 'Vantage Point' is acid, mad and bad, with everything distorted to the max, while 'Timber Wolf' is a soundscape of birdsong, synths and transistor-radio textures. 'Aqueduct' channels Tangerine Dream by way of Dougans & Cobain, while album closer 'Beddgelert' pits piano samples against one another, creating another atmospheric cut. The scope and variety of this album act in its favour, creating an hour of absorbing listening. Available at FSOL Digital, and highly recommended. (www.secondthought.co.uk) (Steve Palmer)



(CD on Sunbeam)

This audience recording captures the band that invented “jazz-rock” live in New York City at its peak, featuring Larry Coryell’s ripping guitar runs, insane sax blasts from Jim Pepper, maniacal drumming courtesy Bob Moses, and the occasional vocal drip-in courtesy Coryell and fellow guitarist Chip Baker. The legendary band had recently issued their lone LP on ABC (Out of Sight and Sound, also reissued on Sunbeam), but fans always claimed you had to see/hear them live to appreciate their massive talents. Despite the lo-fi recording captured by the mono-directional mic that superfan Ted Gehrke draped across the overhanging water pipes that winter night, you can still appreciate how hot this band really was.

The set consists of most of the tracks off the album with Coryell’s jaw-dropping, Chuck Berry riffage on ‘Cosmic Daddy Dancer’ (‘Oh Carol’ by any other name) an early highlight. The music is a wacky combination of free jazz, avant garde rock, and vaguely psychedelic garage – think The Fugs-meet-The Mothers. The band is fast and loose throughout, but it’s the two second-set tracks that close the album that are the true revelation here. With invited guests Dave Liebman (tenor sax), Randy Brecker (trumpet) and Joe Beck (third guitar) rounding out their powerful sound, the band tear into free form jamming that rips the paint off the walls, shreds your preconceptions about what “jazz rock fusion” is all about, and most assuredly left performers and audience alike completely drained. Even the maddest concoctions that Miles or Coltrane dreamed up during their acid-fried peaks don’t come close to this aural assault, from which your ears/heart/brain are unlikely to recover for a few hours after the show ends. (Jeff Penczak)