= October 2012 =  
The Green Pajamas
Gnod / Shit & Shine
The Dukes of Kent
Anvil Salute
Stone Breath
classic Green Pajamas
The Goblin Market




( CD www.greenmonkeyrecords.com)

To be honest I have had this album for several weeks and it has taken several plays to fully appreciate its beauty and strength as it seems more obscure and dense than the other albums I own by the band. Now it has revealed itself to me however, it has become a favourite of mine that has also prompted me to re-visit the other discs, which made me realise just how brilliant the Green Pajamas are to my ears.

  Opening with the epic song cycle “The Fall of the Queen Bee” which ties eight songs together around a loose theme of adventures within the colony, ending in the untimely death of the queen, this latest Green Pajamas collection maintains the high quality and imaginative songwriting that the band are known for, with dark themes a-plenty and an ear for melody that ensures emotions are high.

  Immediately drawing you in, the first three songs are perfection, gently drifting tunes that have a complex heart, the simplicity of the tune carved into intricate shapes by the arrangements and instrumentation with the magnificent “Ring Around the Sun” being particularly effective. Seemingly having a direct line to your heart “Sky Blue Balloon” will stop you in your tracks, to these ears one of the finest songs that the band have ever written, its fragility cloaked with lyrical uncertainty, a chiming refrain adding another layer of feeling to the song.

   With a gypsy air and plenty of energy, “The Queen Bee's Last Tango” is at the centre of the song cycle, the pivotal moment in the tale, told beautifully in a shimmering surreal atmosphere that blown away by the swarming guitars at the end , the band giving Neil Young a run for his money in the tones and emotion displayed.

    After the slow, haunting lament of “Silk's Last Hour”, the weird fairy tale waltz of “The Queen Bee Is Dead” speaks of confusion and sadness before the cycle is rounded of with the gentle psychedelia of “Wrong Home”, a slowly dancing piano leading us out into an uncertain future.

     Split into two, the second half of the album is called “Cruel Dreams Cruel Things” consisting of another eight songs and opening with the guitar driven “A Piece of a Dream” which definitely does sound like vintage Pajamas with some great distorted guitar running through the song, living happily with bright and breezy strings. Sweet and delightful, “Carrie” is a shadowy love song with a glorious melody, whilst “2nd to the Reward” is a more upbeat tune with obscure lyrics and more wonderful guitar playing.

    After the slightly strange, laid-back stomp of “Beat Me Sally” complete with great organ work and horns, “Supervirgin” has a melody line that seems very familiar although that may be just because it is so good, who knows, either way this is a song that gets you singing along with consummate ease.  As gentle as a summers breeze, “Christabel”aches with sadness, the music sticking pins in your heart before “In The Midnight Dim” gets all creepy and carnival minded as Christabel re-appears as a phantom come to haunt your dreams, the waltz time adding to the air of gothic menace. To round things off, “The Spell” has a lounge feel in its latin rhythms reminding me of Thomas Dolby for some strange reason and providing this collection with another texture right at the end.

    Fans of The Green Pajamas will be well rewarded by this album, a fine collection that has hidden depths both musically and lyrically, a future classic you can hear now. (Simon Lewis)



(Limited edition Vinyl from Rocket Recordings http://rocketrecordings.blogspot.co.uk/ )

As the name clearly implies, this is the latest in a series of what it must be said are always-welcome collaborations featuring Rocket Recordings artists and affiliates. In this case the accolades go to Manchester experimental rockers, the ever-worthy Gnod, and the none-too delicately named but no less laudable Shit and Shine, with each given free reign over a side each of what in old language would be termed a “mini album” - under 30 minutes in total - to, as they say “do it to you”.

Gnod’s industrial-strength brand of urban, psychedelic electronica has been well documented here on the ‘Scope and has found something of a fan in the raggedy-arsed shape of your scribe. The tastefully titled “Shitting Through The Eye Of A Needle In A Haystack” takes as its starting point a repetitive chant reminiscent of Skull Defekts and Lungfish luminary Daniel Higgs, which builds to a typically driving and noisy crescendo before ebbing and flowing through a squall of lysergic dubstep over which the maniacal Metal Box vocal is a constant and gnawing feature. Should anyone find a way of impregnating LSD onto sheet metal and not blotters, this is what it would sound like in your head. At the same time challenging, crushing, cleansing and invigorating, if you get a chance to see Gnod at this year’s Supersonic festival in Birmingham later this month or for that matter any of their warm-up gigs then you might regret not doing so if for whatever strange reason you decide to pass it up.

Continuing along scatological lines, Anglo-American noise monsters Shit and Shine display a similar irreverence towards what might be termed conventional structures as befits an outfit whose previous excursions have included the provocatively titled “Toilet Door Tits” and “Biggest Cock in Christendom”. Their contribution here, “Ladies Circle”, is a mash-up of styles akin to a remixed Captain Beefheart getting well and truly dunked in the Dub Tank. The angular, jerking rhythms, irregular beats and slowed down, heavily distorted vocals (remember those so-called satanic messages that supposedly manifested themselves when records were played backwards at a certain speed? Well I think they’re back) really do work extremely well and make a fine introduction for anyone yet to discover this mischievous yet curiously enigmatic and underrated bunch.

An inspired if all-too brief collaborative effort, then, on which Gnod and Shit and Shine complement and compete wonderfully (for what it’s worth the Terrascope vote goes to Shit and Shine by a puppy’s nose, but then one (cyber) man’s kling is another’s klang) and is one which further marks Chris Reader’s Rocket Recordings out as Blighty’s answer to Thrill Jockey.

(Collisions 03 is released on 15th October 2012 and will be limited to 500 copies, 150 of which will be in yellow vinyl. Blink and you’ll...hey where did they go?)

(Ian Fraser)



(LP on Sugarbush Records www.sugarbushrecords.com)
Readers with long memories will no doubt recall me unreservedly recommending the countryfied jangly power-pop delights of The Silent's Blue's debut six-song LP 'Tune In' back in issue three of the Ptolemaic Terrascope in 1990. I'd long since finished writing for Bucketfull of Brains magazine by that stage and honestly can't remember whether they similarly endorsed the album, but I can't imagine it would have been awarded any accolade less than "record of the month" over there, as the band fit their oeuvre like a musical glove, guitarist Markus Holler even having done a stint with the Fortunate Sons at one time, whereupon he was replaced by former Flamin’ Groovy Chris Wilson. Which was about as close to sainthood as it’s possible to imagine round at Bucketfull HQ in the mid-eighties. I notice that latterday editor, Nick West, also gets a credit in the sleevenotes. It all starts to make sense.
Well, they're back - or at least Markus Holler most certainly is, along with Chris Gussman and Pablo Videla on drums plus Iain Rae on piano, the latter (Rae, not the piano) being ex-Gallagher & Lyle. Which says a great deal for the melodic musical fayre on offer here: nine tracks chock-full of chiming guitars, shimmering harmonies and West Coast licks with influences ranging from the Byrds through Crazy Horse to Tom Petty and Joe Walsh: a melting pot of pop,rock, psych and folk with great gobs of swirling guitar which will assuredly set feet tapping and shims shimmying, to lapse into engineering argot for a moment or two.

‘Limits of the Truth’ is one of my favourite cuts on the album, reminding me strongly of early Jackson Browne at the outset. It’s the start of a trio of great numbers: ‘When I needed You’ is a song worthy of the great Mr Saloman (the guitar work that closes ‘Every Day Brings Something new’ over on the flipside is similarly eloquent), and Side One’s closer ‘Blue Turns to Red’ is just beautifully constructed and performed - a song to be heard and remembered for long after the sun sets over the distant horizon.

I'm not entirely sure about the wisdom of naming your band after a minor branch of royalty who count amongst their number the grand-master of the Freemasons and a notorious Nazi sympathiser; also possibly lost in translation is the fact that the British county of Kent is famous for its oast houses, brick buildings where traditionally hops were dried (you'll have seen one on the cover of the Daddy Longlegs album 'Oakdown Farm', in case you're still scratching your head); but for all that 'Welcome to the Oast House' is a fine, fine album. Vinyl only, limited edition, with no plans to release it on CD - and a fabulous sleeve which truly does the format justice, thanks to Adam Widener from San Francisco.
(Phil McMullen)



(CDs from Deep Water www.dwacres.com)

I have always loved the music of Anvil Salute, their free flowing psychedelic ramblings speak of open spaces, cool forest and flashes of enlightenment, the playing always sympathetic and filled with passion. On their latest collection however, even long term fans will be blown away by their brilliance, seven songs that shine out with joy creating their strongest album to date.

Opening with the hypnotic and drifting “Your Telephone Body”, a simple riff decorated with droning strings and percussion, the band seem to bloom before your ears reeling you into their world effortlessly, allowing you to relax into the musical cushion as “Don Peyote (superfluous Poncho)” takes over adding a lysergic coating to the sound, with rolling hand drums and more hypnotic drone making you want to spin around the living room. On the excellently named “Instead of Him: A Table, A Chair” the mood is slowed again, the gently teasing oriental tones sounding like the ideal music to watch clouds by, so drifting is the ambience. This delicate psychedelic seasoning is maintained on “Leaping Heart Jamboree”, a softly spoken folk influenced tune that brims with natural magic flowing like a mountain stream eager to meet the sea.

At a shade under twelve minutes “Get In When You Feel In” could be seen as the centrepiece of the album, its beautiful Floydian beginnings surrounding the listener in a blissful cloak of sound that slowly rises as the track moves forward, the music never feeling the need to suddenly get louder, speed up or change, happy just to be, in simple perfection.

Twinkling with delightful string playing, “Fourth Person Singular” is awash with a phased droning ambience that floats in and out of the track seemingly intent on dissolving the piece entirely, an strategy that creates a dizzying effect best heard sitting down, whilst final track “Runge-Kutta” ( a name that sounds Eastern but is really a way of solving ordinary differential equations) takes all that has gone before and mixes it into a glorious finale that fades into a unforgettable golden sunset leaving you happy and completely content.

The latest harvest from a recent glut of Stone Breath releases finds the band performing live as a four piece, the band in acoustic song mode, producing a rich a varied collection that has a magical whisper and charm at its heart. Recorded in State College PA. March 31 2012, the performance is opened by the beautiful “The Night Birds Psalm”, the musicians immediately in harmony with each other, their voices rising over the delicate playing in sublime fashion. With a host of instruments and three distinct and harmonious vocalists, the band continue to enchant on “The Sleeping Rise”, a soft sweet intro giving way to a nagging riff that propels the song along with energy and rhythm a-plenty, the band maintaining the groove for the delightful “Where the Crows Go”. As with most Stone Breath songs there is a mysterious pagan heart to be revealed the more you listen, the sweetness of the music adding golden light to the lyrical content. One of the most recognisable Stone breath sounds is the Banjo/Voice combination of leader TimeMOTHeye and this combination reveals itself on the excellent “The Song of the Bone-White Bird”, a classic moment that sums up all that is good about the man and his music.

Over 10 tracks, Carin Wagner, Brooke Elizabeth, Don Belch, and Timothy Renner himself prove that they are more than capable musicians, playing together as one unit allowing the strengths of the songs to shine through, with the the wonderful humour of “To Sleep With Skeletons” being lifted to another level by the vibrancy of the performance. Fans of the band will not be disappointed, those of you who are curious should just dive in.

So, another brace of aural excellence from Deep Water, long may it continue. (Simon Lewis)



(Book from CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ISBN-10: 1477461841)

Garry “Moonboot” Masters will be well known to readers of the Terrascope as the man behind the Magic Mushroom Band, and, later, in collaboration with drummer and producer Swordfish, as part of the much loved trance/psych/ambient collective Astralasia. Now the man, living with partner Kim Oz (also of the MMB and Astralasia) in Australia, has written his autobiography, focussing on those wild days of the ‘eighties and ‘nineties.

The book begins with a brief overview of Garry’s childhood and upbringing, where it is ascertained that he was keen on girls and music. The book is written in a colloquial style, much as its author would speak it, which makes for smooth, albeit slang-ridden prose. Photographs augment the text. Soon we’re off into mushroom land, exploring Garry’s love for the guitar, psychedelia and of course the mighty shroom.

After a few false starts with various musicians, the earliest version of the MMB was formed. Inevitably, this intrepid group of musicians, way out of line with prevailing musical trends, had little success, but they persisted, powered in large part by Garry’s certainty in what he wanted to do. At length a new, more stable version of the band kicked in for the early ‘eighties, albeit one limited to squats and squalid flats. They were based in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire, and I remember seeing them perform one night in about 1982, in Slough: the music was great and they had a fab light show. Soon, tapes were forthcoming, the locals liked the fact that the MMB brought lots of fans with them, and success (including with no less than John Peel) beckoned. There was also trouble, at the Battle Of The Beanfield.

Soon it was the late ‘eighties. Trance and ambience lay on the horizon. As the MMB rose and fell, another band, powered by the production skills of Swordfish, and featuring Garry, Kim, Wayne and others, hove into view: Astralasia. This band took Garry, Swordfish and their team to new heights of success with a series of superb albums, not least the legendary The Politics Of Ecstasy, which remains to this day one of the greats of psychedelic ambience.

Eventually the bubble burst, Garry and Kim and their daughter Jasmine left for Australia (Kim’s native country), and Garry discovered the delights of demonstrating the didgeridoo – not bad for a pom, as he wryly remarked. He still writes and performs music with Kim.

This book will be of considerable interest to all those who remember the ‘eighties alternative scene, so-called New Age Travellers, Stonehenge, Fruit Salad Lights, Ozric Tentacles (friends of the MMB and Astralasia) and much, much more. Never less than entertaining, and written with verve and the kind of warts’n’all honesty that you need in a musical biography, it comes highly recommended from this particular sonic traveller. (Steve Palmer)



(CDs from Green Monkey )

Here it is – the release that started it all, rescued and remastered from the original cassette master. One spring evening in 1984, Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross retired to Joe’s parents’ house, set up a single mic, turned on Jeff’s 4-track reel-to-reel TEAC, and laid down the initial tracks of what would soon become their debut album (well, cassette if you’re keeping score.) Later sessions were abetted by soon-to-become-permanent drummer Karl Wilhelm and assorted friends. Additional recordings and overdubs were performed at Jeff’s house. Having rejected Felix The Cat Explodes, The Flying Nun, and The Pigeon-toed Orange Peel, Ross and Kelly settled on The Green Pajamas after one of the tracks on the album. On July 14, 25 copies of the cassette were available for purchase at local record shop, Cellophane Square, where it came to the attention of local record mogul, Tom Dyer, who reissued it on his Green Monkey imprint. The rest, as they say, is another story. Now, nearly 30 years and almost as many releases later, fans, completists, and everyone interested in seminal paisley underground psychedelia can enjoy the fruits of that spring evening.

Boasting liner notes from Ross and Dyer (from which much of the preceding was lifted), Summer of Lust has been meticulously remastered  by Dyer (“with Joe looking over my shoulder”) from the best and cleanest sources possible – in most cases the original master cassette. (Tech heads can get all the details from the liners.) Another bonus: Jeff’s lyric sheet is included so you can follow along at home on your favourite karaoke machine!

So, to the music…. Sure, it’s rough: lo-fi, 4-track, bedroom recordings (one was even recorded in a field with a friend banging on a waste basket). But you will immediately hear the trademark grasp of melody, rhythm, and exceptional guitar playing that would come to identify all future Pajamas efforts. ‘Katie Lied’ kicks off the album with crystalline, Byrdsian guitar pyrotechnics, even if Kelly’s novitiate vocalisations seem a little forced. A complete about-face awaits us on the eastern-tinged ‘Anna Maria’, whose chanting vocals have an almost religious tone. ‘My Mad Kitty’ introduces Ross’ elegant vocal stylings and Jeff’s 12-string and Mattel Synsonic drums to the mix. Ross’ deadpan delivery and Kelly’s serpentining guitar solos propel Ross’ ‘Another One of Those Nights’, one of several tracks featuring original PJ drummer (spoiler alert!) Joe Bauer.

A bleeding organ hums along on ‘Dance With The Angels,’ Jeff’s initial foray into what would become a frequently revisited theme of songs about celestial beings (his wife Susanne notwithstanding!). The keyboard flourishes to ‘In This Castle’ add a distinct psychedelic flavour to the proceedings, as does  the overtly Revolver/Sgt. Pepper-ish ‘With A Flower In Her Hair’ (containing the first of Kelly’s soon-to-be-famous, epic, mindbending solos). And that aforementioned theme song ends the album in true singalong fashion with yet another of Kelly’s indescribably delicious melodies. A fun Summer of Lust commercial parody (featuring Kelly’s dad and the immortal critique, “It’s like Gilbert & Sullivan on drugs”) and the enthralling, unreleased ‘The Dreams Inside The Butterfly’s Mind’ are added as collectable bonus tracks. The latter predates the album sessions, but was omitted from the final release as it is a Kelly solo recording (perhaps his earliest to get an official airing). And be sure to hang on for a wonderful little baroque ditty (played on clavichord) that originally filled up the blank space at the end of side one of the cassette version!

 Overall, there’s a charming innocence to the recordings – just two guys huddled together in an attic banging out some tunes they wrote and recorded just for fun. But it’s easy to hear what Tom Dyer honed in on when he offered them a recording contract – he would go on to release over a dozen Green Pajamas and Jeff Kelly singles and albums. Now you can enjoy the first one, complete with full liner notes, bonus tracks and exclusive photos. Oh, and a collectable postcard replicating the album cover of Joe’s initial cassette release!

Next up is the third release from the Green Pajamas side project (named after a Christina Rossetti poem) featuring guitarists Jeff Kelly and Laura Weller. Their 2001 debut (Ghostland) put music to Ms. Rossetti’s poems and their 2005 follow-up (Haunted) set themes and inspirations from Joyce Carol Oates’ novels and short stories to music. After a lengthy hiatus, the duo return with a haunting collection of ethereal tunes that put music to seven Brontë sisters’ poems, add a couple originals, and revisit an old Green Pajamas favourite, ‘High Waving Heather’ from Seven Fathoms Down and Falling, originally released on Nick Saloman’s Woronzow imprint back in 1999. A forlorn piano tinkles behind Kelly and Weller’s harmonic duet on opener ‘The Night Is Darkening Round Me’, before cinematic strings and horns unveil the tortured soul who, “bound by a tyrant’s spell”, cannot escape nature’s wrath. ‘The Lock’ relates the true story of Kelly’s visit to the Brontë parsonage in Haworth where he was fascinated to discover a preserved lock of Emily’s hair, which becomes a talisman that he obsesses over and ponders stealing:

And If I could, I’d touch it
Steal it from this place
And if I could, I’d kiss it
And hide it away
So that no one was as close to you
As me.

Anyone who’s ever been fascinated with a historical figure to the point of owning some special part of them, i.e., a relic, can relate to Kelly’s frustration at having to walk away and leave his fantasy relationship behind.

Weller is in fine voice throughout – not unlike the Kate Bush of ‘Wuthering Heights’ that originally attracted Kelly to the idea of resurrecting the Goblin Market project. The tender piano ballad ‘Tell Me, Tell Me, Smiling Child’ revisits the cycle of life perhaps best captured in Joni Mitchell’s ‘Circle Game’, but the mournful string embellishments add another dimension of grief, as a parent watches her child at play and realises, from her point of view, that these days will soon fade into adulthood and the innocence of youth will inevitably yield to the responsibilities, fears, and anguish of parenthood with its tearful-yet-fleeting grasp of the nostalgic world the child will soon leave behind.

‘The Linnet In The Rocky Dells’ merges perfectly and seamlessly with a revamped ‘High Waving Heather’, which focuses on the gothic possibilities of roaming the moors in search of lost love. The synth swashes create an eerie atmosphere for Kelly’s despondent, yearning vocal. In the setting of the album’s other Gothic tales of love and lost, the song takes on a new interpretation, populated by possessed scarecrows, evil changelings and apparitions, and wild dogs. The original tore a page out of Roger McGuinn’s songbook and was perhaps the “Byrdsiest” of all PJ tunes; this reincarnation adds a Gothic dimension to their repertoire somewhat akin to Ghostland’s ‘Autumn Leaves’, reversibly, a Goblin Market track later covered by the Pajamas.

This may be the most cinematic of all Goblin Market releases – the soaring strings add an epic sweep to the tunes that cry out for visual interpretation (there is a video of ‘A Lonely Thing’ to get an idea of where this concept could go), and with the success of all those silly Twilight movies, there may be a Gothic Revival afoot – you read it here first! Still, with all the eerie images, unrequited love, ‘Moorland Ghosts’ and vivid characterisations captured within these tales and tunes, Hollywood could do worse than get a screenwriter to turn this into a film. I’d be first in line to buy a ticket.

(Jeff Penczak)