= September 2017 =  
Gilroy Mere
Magic Bus
Mt. Mountain
Kevin Kerrigan
Paul Beauchamp
V/A Lost Souls
In Zaire
Da Captain Trips
Ka Baird
Fumio Miyashita
Chris Forsyth
Kitchen Cynics
Brainiac 5
Paradise 9
Gutbucket comp
Hotel Wrecking City Traders

(LP on Clay Pipe Music  )

The Green Line is the new project from Oliver Cherer.  A prolific artist from St Leonards who records under various guises as Dollboy, Rhododendron,  Australian Test Labs as well as his own name.  Producing a body of work that takes in electronica, folk and ambient music. This work is the first specially commissioned piece that label owner Frances Castle has ever requested and what a lovely thing it is. Taking as its theme the Green Line buses that operated throughout the Home Counties, linking London with many country towns.  With this project Oliver takes us on a trip through suburbia and out to the sea side.

The record starts with the sounds of an actual bus that was recorded for a record that was never released.  “Dunroamin’” has its gestation in a simple pattern played on the piano by his daughter Jean.  Oliver hearing the simple two note scale thought “crikey that’s good, I could use that”.  Over this pattern we are introduced to some of the most popular house names in the country such as Fairisle, Hillside, Treetops, Woodlands and Dunroamin’. These names are gently recited over an old defunct Farfisa rhythm unit joined here by glockenspiels, bowed dulcimer and an American reed organ.

“Cuckoo Waltz” starts brightly with acoustic guitar, flute, string machines and voice, a lovely thing reminding me of the kind of sounds achieved by Sufjan Stevens on his “Illinoise” album. “RLH48” (named after an actual bus) settles us into the journey, with the pinging humming tones of a Coral electric guitar, ushering in percussion and synth along with Martin acoustic guitar and a Roland drum machine.  It has a gentle motorik beat, mirroring the pace of the bus, throughout its duration. “HopPickers” has Bowlatron, more Martin acoustic guitar, along with classical guitar, some sampled voices and a Sandvik musical saw.

 “A Lychgate” ups the nostalgia level with multi tracked wooden recorders, played here by Riz Maslen, cimbalom, layers of acoustic guitar and a Minibrute synth, a glimpsed rural idyll as seen through a slightly fogged up window.  So now we arrive at “Ditchling Beacon” with a lovely sweeping motif, picked out on a string machine and a musical box’s movement, light and airy, delightfully pastoral, taking in the vista; this piece is bolstered by more saw, mellotron, flute and synth.  “I Can See the Sea from Here” is slightly unsettling, incorporating glass chandelier, (yes it really can be a musical instrument), electric guitar, synths, Martin acoustic guitars and a cuatro. It is quite a busy piece, you can almost feel the bus labouring through the ups and downs of the gears.

“The Green Line” starts off with a bit of bird song and a pattern is established on the Farfisa rhythm unit, joined by some full fat open piano chords. More voices appear, it feels a bit like a sister piece to the earlier “cuckoo waltz”, bustling about with massed nylon strings from an acoustic guitar and piano, ending with more of those terrific big open piano chords, fading out to the rhythm unit. 

Time for a stroll as the bus has now decanted its passengers; there we find a lovely bench to take in the fine country air on “Moss and Yew”.   A delicate piece,  that has classical tendencies, probably due to the classical acoustic guitar lines, which are joined here by more Bowlatron, electric piano and synths.  

Every journey must end and so we re-board the bus at the end of a lovely day out in the countryside, with a sweeping string machine ushering in the final track “Just Turn for Home”.  A beautiful piece that showcases his fine acoustic guitar playing, along with some violin played here by Jennifer Maris, accompanied by the tones of an Oberheim OBMx and tinkling celeste, before yielding, to the sound of the impatient bus, gearing up for the return journey.   The busy chirping of sparrows and the cawing of crows accompanying us on our trip back home.

This is one of my favourite albums I have heard this year and another guaranteed sell out- so get on board quick, as it has just been released for pre orders.

(Andrew Young)



(LP/CD on Back To The Garden Records)

'Phillip the Egg' is that rare album that starts off strong – in this case “Mystical Mountain (i) Twelve Kings,” a nearly nine minute epic – and only keeps getting better as the album goes along.  Magic Bus drives down that intersection between Psych Boulevard and Prog Expressway, with pleasant side street diversions into Acid Folk and Space Rock territories.  All right, enough motoring metaphors.

“Mystical Mountain (i) Twelve Kings” welcomes you affably into Magic Bus’s “come join our merry band of travelers on our journey” vibe, builds and closes with an instrumental flourish.  The band has been upping their prog chops, er, progressively, over the course of their three albums, with this their strongest showing yet.  “Fading Light” is the first of several instrumentals scattered throughout.  Their instrumental flights of fancy have a way of settling you in comfortably, and when they end you have the feeling of “Aw, but I was comfy in that old chair.”

Not that the vocal tracks are lacking in any way, mind you, with no better example than “Trail to Canaa.”  Starting with lovely acoustic guitar, flute and vocals, the track gradually and methodically takes you through all of Magic Bus’s considerable instrumental array – including the former plus organs, guitar solos, mellotrons, and analogue synths, with shifting sections of heaviness and light touch.  Indeed with so much rich instrumentation to choose from, Magic Bus takes an egalitarian approach, rarely with one instrument dominating a song or the album.  It’s tough to choose a favorite track amid so many standouts, but for me, “Trail to Canaa” is the most sparkling gem in a handful of rubies.

The exotic flavoured “Zeta” is another vocal and instrumental potpourri, with a driving rhythm, an intermission of delights with beautiful mellotron and a driving guitar solo, before closing with the original vocal chant.  Later, we have two more instrumentals back-to-back, “Kepler 22b,” which takes its name from a possibly habitable extrasolar planet, and the sublime “Kalamazoo.”  “Kepler 22b,” as the name would imply, is a journey.  “Kalamazoo” is a pretty, acoustic-based piece, and I’m sure the Chamber of Commerce of this small Michigan town would appreciate the pilgrims coming to discover what inspired this lovely instrumental.  But a journey is a journey, whether it’s to the cosmos or a hamlet.

The album comes to a strong finish with “Yantra Tunnels.”  After an eastern flavoured start, the song transitions to some good old rock before the vocals finally kick in after more than 2 minutes (don’t you just love songs that do that?).  Finally, all the pieces come together for a yummy-delicious freak-out as said Bus goes careening off into the sunset.

Phillip the Egg is Magic Bus’s most diverse and satisfying collection yet.  An album that can’t help but put a smile on your face, it’s among my top albums of the year.

(Mark Feingold)



(EP from http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/ )
(12” EP from http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/)

What’s in a name? At first glance the Perth (Oz) quintet moniker evokes a double slab of crushing immovability suggestive of the more knuckle-dragging thud and blunder wing of the ever more inclusive church of the splatter day-glo saints of psychedelia.

Well if you’re thinking that the last thing the cause needs is more unimaginative sludge slow, stoner slab-dragging to pull it ever downwards then chill. This brace of releases is light years evolved from the tectonic grind and illustrate why, since forming in 2012 Mt. Mountain have gained a reputation for song craft, why their releases (two albums and a smattering of EPs and singles to date) have become like gold dust having been snapped up in something akin to a Klondyke frenzy. Of those here featured, the OMED release was the band’s first in 2013, followed by the prosaically titled EP, their first physical release a year later.

The four cuts on OMED are almost uniformly of leisurely pace but with an airiness and subtlety that evokes Pink Floyd cut through with the best that Sleepy Suns and Black Mountain can offer. Lead track, ‘At Death’s Door’ is a fine case in point. Weightless without being lightweight, the alternatingly playful and soaring, Gilmour-style guitars and light touch cymbals both tickle and delight the synapses while a plunking bass renders everything an organic grounding.

The rest follows in similar vein – don’t expect a bewildering range of genre-defying styles here, folks, and you’re more likely to crowd surf because you’re too blissed to stand. By the time the peerless, eight minute ‘I Don’t Mind’ blinks into daylight the impression is of Arboretum’s Dave Heumann nodding out while he digests his collected works of Carl Jung. ‘White Horses’ might well have given it a close run for its money except it can be bothered to do no more break into a cursory canter – and why not, as the late Barry Norman probably never said. By this time each track has bled into the other to the point of becoming almost indistinguishable. But then, when your track is this good why the hell would you want to change formula? Then, just when you recline into the cruise language they start crunching the gears a bit for a pleasurably bumpy coda and we’re done.

EP was the band’s first physical release in 2014 and while it too delivers over after over of slow to medium pace (apologies to those from non-cricketing nations at this point) it commences under somewhat more ominous looking cloud cover with ‘She Runs’. In fact it’s all a little heavier and more portentous this time around - slightly less languor and just a tad more anger perhaps. There’s a growing maturity and confidence to the song writing with bolder use of pace and texture (there’s great use of harmonica and some nice slide guitar too on the outstanding ‘Tomorrow’) to give it a fuller and, dare one say even more satisfying all-round field.

Full marks again to Dave and Brett at Cardinal Fuzz for bringing these two precious little gems to wider attention and helping to rescue them for what might otherwise have been criminally undeserved anonymity. The Hives once described themselves as “your new favourite band”. That’s a big claim for anyone but do yourselves an almighty favour, check out Mt. Mountain and make up your own minds. Get them both, but if you only choose on make it EP (and then get the other one next pay check, assuming stocks last).
(Ian Fraser)



( LP from Bandcamp  )

Recorded live this album offers the listener a long walk under Krautrock skies, clouds of rumbling ominous noise broken apart by passages of shimmering guitar, chanted vocals and primitive rhythms adding to the fun, the tracks obviously rehearsed but give plenty of space for improvisation and experimentation.

Opening with a low end storm, “In, But Not Of This World” slowly morphs into a jangling guitar haze with repetitive (in a good way) beats and echoed vocals hidden in the mix, the music seemingly taking off from earth to soar into space leaving only a vapour trail of sound in a clear blue sky.

With a timeless, motorik feel, “Shifting Paradigms” could be a long lost Can classic, four minutes of creepy enjoyment with half sung vocals and a slowly rising tension that crawls under the skin.

Continuing the repetitive beats “Hiding Nature ?” ends side one in flawless fashion, the drums propelling the music forward, riding over drones and vocals, the sound flecked with forest noise/percussion, the whole a delicious mix of Amon Duul  and The Honolulu Mountain Daffodils, or at least their epic track “Guitars of the Oceanic Undergrowth”. As the music moves on a simple organ riff pulls the sound together offering a softer ride out of the forest, the music taking on more form and offering a warmth, as if the sun has broken through, something that remains until the final fadeout.

Sprawling over side two, “Word as Shape” opens with a wave of samples and drones before the drums take control once again solidifying the piece, offering a platform on which to hang the swirling atmospherics and slow moving melodies, these elements beautifully balanced across twenty three minutes, the ebb and flow of the music allowing the listener to drift off to wherever they choose to go.

Never too complex or flashy, there is a deep beauty to this music, the band controlling the tension and flow of the music with great skill making it easy to listen to and enjoy, moments of heaviness balanced with lighter passages, those in turn broken with stranger slices of sound.
The more I listen to this album, the better it gets, a definite for that end of year list  that I never actually compile and a damn near flawless album. (Simon Lewis)



( CD on 21st Century Genius)

It's been seven years since the superb debut release by KK (as he was then) 'Telescopes,' and its follow-ups 'The Magic Lantern' and 'Empty World.' Known through the composition and studio worlds for his production duties as well as his formal releases, Kerrigan has an enviable position in music; but of course this must be maintained as time passes.

Kerrigan's fourth album 'Solasta' ('luminous light') is a turn to the classical world, with ten compositions for orchestra, all of them inspired by six months of travelling the world. 'There Is Hope' is an uptempo piece for orchestra and solo violin, while 'Emerald Eyes' brings in a strong Celtic element, as well as extra string instruments. The whole is expertly recorded and produced. 'Opals' brings in the soprano Esther Dee of the Medieval Baebes, to create a quite beautiful piece of music - almost cosmic in its grace. 'Zoetrope' meanwhile brings in piano before the violins and cellos return. The 3/4 metre also gives this track a light feel. 'Stardust' is almost weightless in its feather-touch ambience, in which two chords echo and return, echo and return, before a brief climax using the same two chords. You have the feeling that this music evokes the end of something...

'Refugee' continues the album in quiet mode, with its glissando violin (provided brilliantly by Bev Lee Harling) and the cello underneath. There's a hint of Middle Eastern scales in the notes of the violin as the string orchestra shimmers nearby. A beautiful, reflective track, this. 'Planet Earth' again features a gorgeous violin part, with a chord sequences reminiscent of the cuts on 'Telescopes' and 'The Magic Lantern.' 'Subaqueous' uses delays and other production techniques to evoke the long, reverberant sounds of the deep ocean, with a piano hovering somewhere. 'Exile' matches virtuoso arpeggios (Julian Rodriguez) with gentle chords and then a bigger sound, while the final track 'Vermillion' is a drift of calm chords and cosmic, reverberated, shimmering single notes.

My only complaint about this marvellous album is that, with this kind of (for want of a better word) 'ambient' or 'quiet' music, you often need slightly longer tracks for the listener to acclimatise to the compositional world. A listener will receive the full intent of a track like 'Subaqueous' over, say, six minutes rather than three and a half. But this is a minor point, even though it seems proven by the seven minute closing track. The music on 'Solasta' is always beautiful and highly evocative, and comes highly recommended from me. This is worthy of standing next to the mighty 'Telescopes.' (Steve Palmer)



( CDs from Boring Machines )

Heavily influenced by the Italian Prog/horror scene that sprang up in the seventies, “Le Nove Ombre Del Caos” is the soundtrack to a movie not yet made, the music a swirling mix of gothic organ, twisted psychedelia and heavy guitar passages, the whole thing pounding the senses into submission, with plenty of twists and turns and a gloriously overblown heart.  Opening with the church organ madness of “Un Ssospiro Nel Profondo Nero” you are immediately pulled into the music, a dark atmosphere grabbing you as a pulsing sequence dances over the organ work leading you down a particularly creepy rabbit hole. 

   Opening with a chilling piano waltz, “Il Museo Delle Anime Perse” suddenly exploded into a slice of heavy, Gothic Prog, the lyrics sung by psychotic monks on a day trip to hell, a track that sounds even better at paralysing volume the atmosphere enhanced even further by what follows as “La Giostra Del Folle” leads into a nursery for the unsane, a twinkling waltz, manic laughter and a general air of malevolance pervade the room, a mobile spins aimlessly and far away a door creaks and slams, music to make you look over your shoulder and you are almost grateful as the next track takes you back to the heavy prog sound. For the rest of the album the heaviness shares the stage with atmospheric drones, the sounds of shovels and plenty of noise, all summed up on the final track, a thirteen minute epic that begins with a vocal section that is almost jolly, but perhaps jolly creepy, reminding me of The Flying Pickets, at least until the chanting takes us back to the monastery and the atmosphere leads back down, a droning organ adding to the feel, tension building until the track falls into the pits of hell, deep dark drones, creeping synths and pulses squirming together in a pool of noise, until all is silence.

    Inspired by a letter written by Darwin, “One Single Sound” is split into four parts, each using a single drone, a single field recording and a single drumbeat as its source material. Creating textures and drones from these sources, Barnacle (Matteo Uggeri) has created a micro cosmic world of sound that rattles and creeps through time, the sampled drumbeats adding to movement to the swathe of drones and subtle textures to be found. Seemingly playful in their intent, the sudden appearance of a human voice in the first track makes you sit up and smile, the music ever changing as it flows onwards, the changes taking place in micro fashion making it hard to notice quite what has changed.

   After the movement of “I Hate A Barnacle” there is a more ambient feel to “As No Man Ever Did Before”, a softer approach to the sound palette although some rattling percussive sounds soon add more movement to the piece.  Moving on, “Not Even A Sailor” slows things down again, casting the listener adrift on a becalmed ocean, chiming bells and rising drone creating a hazy backdrop before creaks and rattles enter the fray and the piece becomes more agitated, sampled voices/coughing adding mystery and narrative to the music, the percussive elements becoming more pronounced and the drones harsher.

    Finally, “In A Slow Moving Ship” opens with atmospheric field recording that slowly submerge beneath a softly spoken drone, the music then adding those familiar creaks, rattles and percussive moments before drifting in to nothing.

   With all four pieces carrying very similar elements of sound and structure, this is a collection that flows perfectly, each merging into the next to create a very listenable album.

    Mixing synthesisers with Appalachian dulcimer, field recording and musical saw, Paul Beauchamp's latest album is influenced by grey foggy morning that he has experienced both in Northern Italy and North Carolina. As you can probably imagine, the music is slow moving, often delicate and very atmospheric, the saw working extremely well and it glides above droning chords, especially on the magnificent opener, “Condense” a track soon to appear on “the best ambient drone album ever” well, if they ever get around to compiling it anyway. Elsewhere, the dulcimer adds a human touch to the icy proceeding although you can hear the notes freezing as they enter the slow moving river of sound. Over nine tracks, the music remains engaging and focused with the scrapes and rumble of “Tendril” being a favourite, whilst the nine minute “Drift” is one of those pieces that makes time less linear, sounds that are easy to get lost in. Overall the album works as one long piece split into sections, another gem from a label that always delivers. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from PsychoftheSouth)

Featuring Garage,Psych and Rock oddities from Arkansas and beyond 1966-1972, it seems amazing that the series has reached number 5 and the quality remains just as good as the first volume.

  Kicking off with the good stuff, The Milestones offer us “Survey: Black Insanity” / “She's Gone Away”, the former a brief slice of full on Garage madness with vitriolic lyrics, whilst the latter is a moody number complete with a theremin and a haunting riff to boot.

    Moving on “Pictures In Life” is the pick of a fine brace from Saints of Buddha, some great primitive guitar work catching the ear, whilst both “Grass” and “Death” from End Of Construction could be lost West Coast classics, with the latter bearing a similarity with the sublime H.P.Lovecraft.

  Over twenty three tracks it is inevitable that you are gonna like some tunes more than others, for me those that hit the spot include the long stoned mellowness of “Mary Jane”- Southern Freight, the organ led RnB of “He's Your Man” - Brothers, Cousins and Friends, and the very UK sounding “Carnival Ride” - House, a track that sounds like Family or The Greatest Show on Earth. Special mention also needs to go to Purple Canteen who contribute three fine tracks including the heavy psych brilliance of “Brains In My Feet” a tune worthy of the entry Price itself, whilst a magnificent garage/psych cover of “Harlem Shuffle” by The Offbeats will make you grin or grimace depending on your purity laws, me I grinned like a Cheshire cat.

    If you are a fan of this kinda thing then you are gonna love digging through this collection, warts, crackles and all. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/Download from Bandcamp )
(Ltd edition LP/CD and Download from Bandcamp)

You could far worse than to look to Italy as Southern Europe’s psych-rock counterpoint to Sweden these days. Very different in sound but just as important and impressive in its own sweet way.

Of course it doesn’t help that when you search for In Zaire on the ol’ Googlenet you have to wade through an abundance of references to Johnny Wakelin’s worryingly enduring “novelty hit” of that name from the Mid 70s. Luckily we at Terrascope are familiar with them having had the privilege of reviewing their formidable debut full length release White Sun Black Sun. A refreshingly upbeat blend of danceable electronica and old school musical proficiency, it was one of the highlights of 2013’s releases and one which snuck under the radar of all but a few attuned to the wavelength of Sound Of Cobra who were good enough to give it a helping hand at the time.

The mostly instrumental Visions Of The Age To Come is a similar amalgam of PFM superimposed with BPM (as played by humans) incorporating rhythmic tribal invocation, explosive musicianship (with just an occasional hint of prog-rock bombast) and a whole load of knobs switches and wires to cook up and infectious cocktail of shamanic intensity. There’s so much here that it shouldn’t really work but somehow does, and beautifully to. It really hits its stride on ‘Headscape’ on which they let rip like a demented Ozrics and it hardly disappoints from then on in. The funny bleeps that presage and later permeate the dense rhythms and searing guitar on ‘Synchronicity’ neatly encapsulates this juxtaposition of genres and influences (both external ones and, you sense, from within the band). The highlight is, arguably, the exotically flecked, dub infused ‘Nibiru’. Those of us who have been around a while will find a myriad of fleeting reference points while those still in the greenwood will also find so much to wonder at. It manages both nuance and sensitivity while at the same time ensuring a right old tear up.

It’s all meant to work really well live. Well we checked out that particular claim and were suitably impressed. So much so in fact that don’t be surprised if you see an announcement of some live Terrascopic involvement very soon.

Da Captain Trips pack the cinematic heft of Dead Sea Apes but with a more upbeat delivery (aha, these rockist tendencies, you can’t keep them down you know) while their use of effects tends to centre on more traditional synth washes and space drips than the more experimentally inclined In Zaire.

Stylistically they are not at all dissimilar to Sendelica with whom they have shared both stage and album release. This association is underlined on the aptly titled ‘Revelation’ featuring the trademark mellifluous sax of Lee Relfe, which, as so often, puts one in mind of Didier Malherbe (there, that’s got Gong heads’ attention). Add to that some majestically symphonic synth washes, a tight yet relaxed sounding rhythm section and some typically expressive guitarist work from Cavitos and it ranks as one of three or four outstanding cuts on what is an assured and very pleasurable listen.
Other claims to best of the bunch here include ‘Dear Zhadia’ which switches direction this way and that without ever any danger of losing the listener or disappearing down (or for that matter up) a very dark hole and the heavier and more brooding ‘Trepasses Bay’. The fact these tracks follow sequentially makes for a more impressive mid-section than I’ve been able to boast for many a year. Hell I could mention the gorgeous ‘Peaceful Place’ and the blissful acoustic coda ‘Mother Earth’ too. There I just did.

When all said and done, then, this is all very good indeed and none the worse for not being afraid to give vent to some historic and wonderfully melodic influences. There are those listening to this who may wonder why they bothered fighting the Punk Wars. Some of them may well be the same ones pondering why it is the shops are full of vinyl once more. Well, let them. Sometimes moving on means taking a step or two backwards. Works for me, and it works well here, too.
(Ian Fraser)



(LP/Download from http://badafro.dk)

The great thing about writing for Terrascope is that you get to see – or rather hear – the world without having to bother leaving the desk. Next stop on a personal World tour is Aarhus (detention for anyone who follows that up with “in the middle of Aarstreet”) Denmark, home to noise rockers Narcostanicos. Formed in 2012 this heavy duty septet spew out a visceral and thrilling outpouring of cacophonous, occasionally atonal clatter that, depending on your mood or point of view, is either exciting and invigorating or just plain irksome. I’d go with the former pretty much every time.
The pummelling wall of death delivery is rendered an additional armed front courtesy of a rasping, compelling sax, which puts one immediately in mind of uncompromising UK alt-super group Sex Swing, of whose debut album we were pleased to wax lyrical on this very same virtual vellum back last November http://bit.ly/2gA4fAK

The aptly titled ‘Vile’ follows ‘Vulvic Church’ as sure as a savage beating follows your door being kicked in. It’s marvellous, really it is, but just when you think you’re going to have to go the full 12 rounds with Mike Tyson at his prime breaking each one of your ribs, ‘Mania’ produces a slight off-break. It’s still as intense as a migraine headache but is overlaid by an almost jazzy noir. As reference points go then imagine the Birthday Party, Fun House era Stooges and CCS playing simultaneously on different stages in the same room with the doors locked and bolted from the outside.
And so it goes. The curiously appealing nausea of ‘Television Dreams’ and more is yet to follow, including the night stalking ‘Matamoros’, which tones things down while somehow managing to ramp up the suspense several fold - that saxophone in particular will play on in your head long after the dust has settled – and concluding with the berserk, pile-driving skronkfest of ‘Bliss’ (see? A sense of humour).

It might not be your dinner party music of choice (hey, please invite me if in fact it is) but it’s an inescapable truth that this lot would absolutely smash it live. If you live in or near Denmark then lucky you. The rest of us may just have to live in hope. And fear. Yeah, definitely a bit of that, too.
(Ian Fraser) 



(LP http://www.divisionists.co.uk/)

Tracing a line from Velvet Underground, Mott the Hoople, Television, Dinosaur Jr, Teenage Fanclub and Bevis Frond, to name a few, Divisionists are a classic rock band, stripped down and with plenty of energy and power. Fronted by Brendan Quinn, (Abunai), the band possess a melodic sweetness that blends perfectly with fuzzy guitars, soaring leads and arrangements that bring the best out over everything.

    Take, for instance, “Say You Can”, the track that leads you in, or actually explodes out of the speakers when you drop the needle, perfectly fuzzed guitar, chiming melodies and a solo that takes you back to the psychedelic goodness of Abunai, kinda like The Feelies fronted by Nick Saloman and a blindingly good opening salvo.

     Slowing things done “Fraction Of Grace” is majestic lesson in guitar driven Power- Pop that is beautifully sung, whilst “Alone” is delicate and delightful, gorgeous ringing guitars allowing the listener to drift off in nostalgic splendour.    

     Throughout the album, the rhythm section holds a steady beat that glues the songs together allowing the guitars to weave magic in the spaces, something very evident on the excellent cover of  “Pale Blue Eyes” that closes side one, the song given a new lease of life, coated in a lysergic sheen and dripping with emotional goodness.

    With the first side filled with shorter tunes, it takes the band until the flip before they reach the five minute mark as “Colours (Song For A Spacemen)” gently blows your mind, a slow grooving riff hypnotising you as vocals drift overhead, a West Coast vibe floating through the room, with a synth adding some alien strangeness to the mix, the whole a classic psych track that needs to be heard.

    Across the whole album, never a second is wasted, with “All Fall Down” having a frantic garage heart, ( I bet it goes down a storm live), The 12 song collection brought to a close by “We Must Be Careful”, seven minutes of guitar driven bliss, a gentle opening slowly becoming more tense and powerful until the band  start to wander across Neil Young's ranch, the lead guitar in particular sitting on the man's porch for a while, the band roaming freely to devastating effect.

     Clocking in a 47 minutes, this is a timeless beauty of a record, looking back affectionately at its musical past whilst staring defiantly into the future and I fucking love it. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/Cass/Download from http://www.dragcity.com/)
(LP/Download from http://www.dragcity.com/)  

Now based in New York, Ka Baird was a founding member of experimental psych sisterhood (and veterans of Terrasctock 6) Spires That In the Sunset Rise, formed in Chicago at the start of the Millennium. Sapropelic Pycnic combines improvisation, rhythmic textures, electronic processing of conventional instrumentation and some astonishing vocals comprising mad chanting and quasi operatic workouts

Playful flute trills usher in ‘Migration’, accompanied by minimalist bleeps evoking an almost childlike innocence and disarming simplicity. If Palitoy did Lo-Fi electronica then this is what it would sound like.The single ‘Tok Tru’ is heavily reminiscent of the outro to ‘Strawberry Fields’. Ancient, timeless and very strange, you feel the urge to seek out the nearest woodland clearing armed only with a set bongos and a roughly hewn flute. Be warned. Your reverie will be disturbed by the oddest chanting, like Patti Smith in the throes of primal screaming (or something more instantly karmic and downright powerful).
Lengthy centrepiece ‘Transmigration’ is truly a warped wonderland in a world of its own. A thing of outlandish and incandescent beauty wherein rippling repeat refrains of electronic manipulation are punctuated by soaring “operatic” vocals. Absolutely bizarre – in a good and quite compelling sense. ‘Metamorphosis’ affects synthesized bird song and stuttering, pitter-patter rhythms, while ‘Oneric’ is harsher, opening the door on a bubbling, crackling and more brownfield landscape. Musically speaking, though, it’s the see-sawing ‘You Are Myself’ (a title worthy of a member of the Gong family if ever there was one) that takes the plaudits, a pleasurable stumble through a surreal pastoral idyll, while Ka’s not inconsiderable vocal power soars above an achingly beautiful backdrop.
Quite enchanting and most peculiar, it’s great that a label of such standing as Drag City is prepared to take a punt when all too often releases such as this are condemned to the obscurity of home release and poor distro. One destined for cult status perhaps, although at a time when the Space Lady is receiving a lot of positive press maybe there is now a market to tap into here.

Fumio Miyashita, was a member of the Far East Family Band dubbed Japan’s answer to Pink Floyd. In 1979 and 1980 he guested on The Boffomundo Show, a Los Angeles based cable TV show. Unsurprisingly given Miyashita’s provenance as a pioneering synth-wizard the results are less like Floyd and more in sync with the techno-stylings of the German greats – Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze (who produced and mixed a number of FETB albums) and Ashra.

The 1979 appearance is captured here in three segments, prosaically titled ‘October 30 1979 Parts 1-3’, of which my own favourite is the suspenseful and atmospheric Part 2, partly because that could pass for a session outtake – albeit a very strange one - of Pink Floyd somewhere between Syd going AWOL and the filming of Live At Pompeii. Gentle beats and dense, bass heavy soundscapes render more urgency and an ominous sense of impending discomfort largely missing from the other two pieces which have a lighter and more optimistic air (not that there’s anything at all amiss with either of them although the vocals on Part 3 do come as a bit of a shock when they hit and took a couple of listens to get used to).

Legend has it that the sound from Fumio’s multiplicity of hardware was channelled through a single mike and a single 12” bookend speaker by the studio engineers. If so then it makes the quality of what is captured here all the more remarkable. In 1980, Miyashita – and the speaker – were back in action, this time backed by members of the Far East Family Band. The result is a one-way 23 minute trip upriver and through a maze of tropical twists and turns, a psychedelic mission to find and kill Kurt, although whether anyone will remember the instructions when we get there is a moot point. It’s a fuller and more rounded sound as you might expect given the presence of guitar and bass this time around. It’s also gently hypnotic, the synthesis of Fumio’s gadgetry and the strings is certainly effective and sensitively crafted – again if we are talking reference points then this is how Rainbow Dome Music might have sounded had Steve Hillage teamed up with Tim Blake but with a hint of traditional Japanese music thrown in to delicious effect. (Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD on No Quarter Records)

The latest outing by Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band maintains the high standard set by their previous release, ‘The Rarity of Experience’, a double record with no filler and plenty of killer guitar work across its grooves. ‘Rarity’ was very much guitar driven, expansive with an ‘epic’ feel at times. What we have here is a much leaner, tauter affair and stylistically it’s a diverse set taking in the very best infusions of an extremely well put together 1970’s record collection as a basis for something which is much greater than the sum of its influences.
The opening 11 plus minutes of ‘History & Science Fiction’ starts with a burst of bass guitar and rattling percussion that would grace any early Talking Heads record and evolves from there into a song of two parts – the first section with a strong Television vibe, building the groove until a mid- section breather sets up the final ascent to a slowly swelling, brassy, finale. Following this comes the only vocal track on the album ‘Have We Mistaken The Bottle For The Whiskey Inside?’ which, as well as having a great title, delivers a very satisfying Stonesy guitar riff. The real showpiece however is the title track, a band workout highlighting some superb guitar, keyboards and drum interplay over the best part of 16 minutes. It roars down the Autobahn at Warp Factor 10 with a Neu! style groove that doesn’t let up for a moment. Chris Forsyth’s guitar on this track is a masterclass of creative economy – if you can imagine Michael Rother playing JJ Cale with a hint of Robert Fripp and his League of Gentlemen’s disjointed take on new wave funk you are getting there. The record closes with ‘Two Minutes Love’, unsurprisingly about two minutes long. It’s a beautiful and atmospheric guitar piece with subtle keyboard and percussion shimmers, perfect to close this great record.

When I first read the title of this album quickly I misread it as ‘Dreaming in the Northern Dream’ and I started thinking about Bill Nelson, who’s ‘Northern Dream’ record set him on the way to John Peel’s ears and guitar hero folklore. This is quite apt as like the venerable Mr. Nelson, Chris Forsyth is a guitarist who elevates the humble guitar solo to a thoughtful and inventive thing of beauty. This is a record that is intelligent, insistent and demanding of your attention.

(Francis Comyn)



from Bandcamp

During my time as Reviews Editor for the Mighty Terrascope, one of the constant joys has been the music of Alan Davidson, whose astonishingly prolific output has maintained a quality and style unique to himself, instantly recognisable and a joy to the ears. At the heart of his work has been a love for his local area and history, evoking memories of his family and characters around the region of Aberdeen and this trait has come to fruition on “Apardion” a 15 track album with eight to be found on a beautiful slate grey vinyl, the whole fifteen on the accompanying CD.
   Tracing the history of Aberdeen through some key historical moments, the album opens with “Strandloopers”, an echoing guitar and chimes paving the way for a tale of the ancient hunter/gatherers that lived in the area.  On the title track, the atmospheres of United Bible Studies are called up, a rising, stuttering drone that opens into the story of a Viking raid on the town, then known as Apardion, killing the inhabitants and breaking their swords, whilst the beautiful and haunting “After the Fire” tells of a fire in 1244 that destroyed the town, yet allowed it to be rebuilt in cleaner, stronger fashion.

     One of my favourite moments on the album is the poignant story of “Janet's Gift” telling of a lady who broke into the town whilst it was sealed off from the outside world, thus bringing the plague to its citizens and killing a quarter of the population, all this and a wonderful guitar solo to boot, perfect, and a perfect example of the craft of Mr Davidson.

    Over the course of the album the listener is drawn into the tales becoming emotionally attached to the town and its troubles and triumphs right up to the present day and the double edged sword of the oil industry, via tragedy and football triumphs, all beautifully documented in word and music, timeless, essential and packaged with a rare eye to detail.

    Back in June/ July Alan spent time in Govan/Glasgow, recording songs on a Tascam multi track and exploring the area. With him he had some old photos of people from Aberdeen and it was these photos he used as his influence, weaving imaginary lives around them. The result is an emotional and gorgeous collection with tales of writers, unmarried mothers, ancient sites, factory workers and all manner of characters each given life as much by the words as the music, the listener again becoming involved in their lives. Perhaps this album could be seen as a companion to “Apardion”, the history moved to a more personal level yet equally as important in the grand scheme of things. However you want to look at it, the album is another beauty from an artist who should be hailed as a national treasure, long may it continue. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from Bandcamp )

Regular readers of the Terrascope will no doubt be familiar with The Brainiac 5. With only a few months passed since the review of “Journey to X”, here we are with yet another outing from this Psyche punk outfit. For those new to Brainiac 5 they started out in the mid-seventies in the south west before moving to London. They have resurfaced a few times over the years with occasional releases. This particular album is reassuringly called ‘We’re ready’.

The music starts with ‘Drinking song’, where tight percussive beats lead into vocals with a chorus of “We’re ready and stronger than we know”, a sentiment I certainly wouldn’t disagree with. Moving on ‘Holy tangible’ is pure psyched out bliss with searing fuzzed guitar and a deep punchy rhythm, whilst  ‘Wave’ comes as a bit of a surprise with a sultry blues sound complete with harmonica, before diving headlong into a more familiar psyche sound, albeit with excellent tempo changes throughout making for a deeply satisfying eight and a half minutes; the charmingly disconcerting ‘From the doorway’ reinforces the fact that this is a band willing to experiment; the next track ‘She’s free’ is a complete reworking of ‘Trotsky’ from 1978 with beautiful vocals by Jessie Pie emerging from a dub beat interspersed with powerful guitar; ‘My time’ is given the studio treatment and brings a change of direction with a tight almost glam rocky sound to it; some rich bluesy guitar can be found in ‘Night games’ which develops into a nicely gritty track; finally, to round things off we have ‘Space is the place - for the sun ra’ a real powerhouse of a track.

A very nicely put together set of tracks from a top band.  (Steve Judd)


PARADISE 9 - 20th ANNIVERSARY 1997-2017
(2XCD from Paradise 9)

Paradise 9 have been regulars of the festival scene for quite a few years, as evidenced by the title of this CD. They are a psychedelic space rock band capable of pumping out powerful tunes with a gritty punky edge, whilst being equally comfortable producing long spacey floating tracks that take you all the way out there and back again.

    This is a double CD of live material recorded over the years, disc one ‘These days’ being recordings from Kozfest and The Blind Cat Festivals 2016. Of particular note are; a punchy ‘Nothing for tomorrow’ which along with ‘Distant dreams’ and ‘Points of view’ warrant a warning of being some of the most contagious ear worms around; ‘Anyhow anyway’ and ‘State of the nation’ nicely show off Gregg’s ability to produce powerful vocals; ‘Ocean rise’ is one of those deliciously drifting spacey tracks. The recordings from these festivals are pretty good and have perfectly captured the sound from both events. 

    Disc two ‘Those days’ has earlier recordings ranging from 1998 to 2013 with only three tracks that make an appearance on the first disc and these are very different beasts to the 2016 versions reflecting how the band’s sound has evolved over the years. ‘Into the ethers’, ‘These days’ and ‘Crystalized moments’ are excellent psyche space tracks with some superb clarinet; ‘All said and done’ is a fabulous track recorded at the acoustic revolution 1998.

   This is a valuable addition to the CD cabinet for fans, and a good introduction for those not familiar with the band.  Now if I can just stop ‘Nothing for tomorrow’ going around in my head. (Steve Judd)



(LP from http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com)

Here I am sat at home battling the aches and pains of a particularly nasty little bug intent on attacking my joints and those mischievous scamps from Cardinal Fuzz insist on plying me not with paracetamol based product but music that cannot fail to stimulate mind and body. It hurts I tell you.

Inspired by the original UK Gutbucket comps of the early 70s, Return of Son of Gutbucket features eight premier Canadian contemporary psychedelic acts each of whom has provided a tracks exclusive to this compilation.

Annunaki’s ‘Obelisk’ is more Heads than Heads, a taut, explosive four minutes or so of face melting that strips down and speeds up ‘Spliff Riff’.  Thrilling stuff. Any concerns that this was going herald a succession of bands flooring it in an extreme noiseathon, however, are quickly and welcomingly dispelled. Backhomes’ ‘If You Want It’, for instance, is a sinister psychedelic drone with dubstep reverberations, building layer on layer before ebbing back to the void. It’s immediately followed in fine style by Hawkeyes – acid drenched desert music looking out on vistas filmed by Leone and scored by Morricone as interpreted by our old mates Dead Sea Apes. As opening triptychs go that’s pretty varied and mighty damn fine.

Moths and Locusts are receiving a lot of attention at the moment. Here, tribal invocation and Arboretum-like incantation on ‘Ghengis Khan’ is interspersed with energetic bursts of propulsive instrumentation, putting a different and quite delicious twist on ‘quiet-loud’. Psychic Pollution’s hypnotic, metronome-like rhythms and Shooting Guns accentuate the more industrial sounds of psychedelia – no gnomes or scarecrows here, no sir. Motorik may well seem ubiquitous and increasingly unimaginative these days but when it is performed with craft and dexterity it can still thrill as these offerings attest.

‘Stuck In A Maze’ by Radiation Flowers is succulent, mogadon paced shoegaze psych with female swoon vocals and an ambience that wouldn’t disgrace Mazzy Star or Tess Parks and underlines the breadth of sub-themes present here. It’s left to TBWNIAS (The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol) to bring us home. Theirs must rank as one of the most unwieldy acronyms since NWOBHM but here they are anything but cumbersome, a jangly guitar intro laying the basis for a muscular workout which combines the right balance of deftness and heft. 

An intelligent compilation chock full of the good and the varied. It does Cana-duh proud and no mistake.
(Ian Fraser)


(LP from http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com and http://evilhoodoo.bigcartel.com)

Aussie veterans Hotel Wrecking City Traders do nothing by half on this their fifth album release and first doubler. Dig yourselves in for something of a war of attrition following which you can all compare shrapnel wounds.

Opening salvo ‘Quasar’ is based on a Sonic Youth, Teen Age Riot style riff which tears it up in what might have been the chorus were there any vocals and in the coda. It’s a force 10 blast of mustard gas and without doubt is character building stuff.  ‘Kanged Cortex’ is another firestorm that it’s hard to see how you can seek refuge from. Of subtlety there is little.  By now a picture is beginning to emerge.

‘Chasing The Tendrils’ starts in welcome fashion with a fresher, jauntier feel and which they set themselves the challenge of maintaining over 17 minutes. Herein lies an ever-so-slight problem. The tracks are too long, ranging from 11 minutes up to 22 minutes (the admittedly jaw dropping download track ‘Oroni’) whereas either urgency of pace or want for variety should dictate that some are of more of a more standard length. As a result, there is an occasional sense of overload and the risk of outstayed welcome. There is also a tendency for favourable beginnings (the title track in particular hints at heady eastern promise) to descend into cacophonous shredding or blur into a pile-driving onslaught of which there is nothing wrong but at times gives the doubtlessly false impression of being a little short on ideas.

What I wouldn’t pay to see them live, though.
(Ian Fraser)