Released on Arachnidiscs Recordings as part of their split tape series, “Vol 10” sees Ross Barker and Tranzmit share tape space, each producing one long piece of music to excellent effect. With an expansive sound and fine production “Terra Incognita” is an outstanding slice of drone/experimental almost kraut music, the opening section sounding as if you have entered a newly discovered cavern that sparkles with crystals and mystery, as the piece progresses vocal samples begin to creep in, until a voice begins reciting a story or possibly a dream, the tale illustrated with electronics and field recordings pulling the listener in, the voice finally giving way to hypnotic sounds and a deep drone that writhes with energy until it too surrenders to snatches of radio shows and all manner of noise. Throughout the piece this cut and paste approach continues, creating a disorientating yet highly creative journey for the adventurous that even includes an eighties inspired song in the middle. Over on the other side Tranzmit treads similar ground with “Deep Video”, electronic textures and vocal samples blending together, the samples cut up and repeated inducing a trance like state in the listener changing your perception of time and space. Using samples from the internet, spam e-mails and TV commercials, the whole track is a wonderful ride through modern media that has been shoved through a sonic blender, intoxicating and highly recommended. With each side lasting 30 minutes this could one of the best hours you have experienced for a while, strap in and enjoy the world. (http://arachnidiscs.wordpress.com/)
Part of the same series and housed in a lovely fur-lined box, “Vol 9” sees Beard Closet and Primate Pyramid share a side each. Treating us to a dose of drifting noise, squalls of overdrive and hypnotic soundscapes Beard Closet do strange and interesting things to electric guitars notes and chord fighting with noise creating an landscape that crackles with life, music that lives for the moment, vibrant and intense. Again featuring one long piece, “The Erosion of Empathy” demands to be listened to and is richly rewarding in return. Featuring two pieces “Arc With No Story” and “Health Collapse”, Primate Pyramid tread similar ground creating dense textures and slabs of sound with the guitar as the primary instrument. Sounding like the soundtrack to some obscure Sci Fi classic, the listener is free to add his own visuals to the music and it floats, crawls and rumbles from the speakers both tracks having a strong sense of identity the spirit of early Tangerine Dream definitely present in the deep space sounds created.
Next up the latest from our friends Book Of Shadows, whose work is always appreciated around here. Released on Ram Horn Records, “Velvet Rut in a Violet Crown” is an 80 minute cassette that has a sprawling psychedelic/experimental feel, passages of quiet introspection contrasting with periods of howling noise. Opening with the lengthy “Ormazd Pt 1” the howling noise is quickly evident, the harsh sounds slowly resolving themselves into quieter contemplation, the musicians pulling all sorts of emotions from their instruments as the pieces makes the transition from one phase to another, the music having a physical presence that is hard to ignore. As the album continues there are fucked up Hawkwind style riffs, moments of great beauty and stillness, and dark folk moments, the side ending with the brief “Elementals” a fog of noise that drifts over everything offering a softer texture once you are inside, including the space-whispers of Sharon Crutcher which really lift the track. Over on side two tings contin ue in the same vein, the five tracks offering contrast, creativity and a sense of being alive, the whole album ending with “Sing Song” which, as the name suggests, is an actual song with lyrics verses and stuff like that. Almost suprisingly this works beautifully within the context of the album, the sound of coming home after a long journey. Get in touch with Carlton Crutcher for further enlightenment. (email@example.com )
Finally in the tape section a single from Graham Repulski which features two short fairly Lo-Fi tunes with “Over the Shit Rainbow” having jangly guitar and a pounding drum machine, the song sounding excellent when played very loud, whilst “Universal Tourist” has some anthemic guitar and a nice melodic vocal line. With the whole cassette only lasting four minutes this is short, sweet and catchy. (http://grahamrepulski.bandcamp.com/album/over-the-shit-rainbow-universal-tourist)
Moving swiftly on, we have a lot to get through, a handful of vinyl singles to come our way recently. Those who are fond of Mudhoney, Jesus Lizard, Post-Punk and noise in general will enjoy The Poles whose “Merman”/”The Pest” single mixes distorted guitar with melody, the vocalist sounding like Cobain at his most strangled, add a healthy dose of energy, short sharp solos and plenty of riffing and you get a couple of tunes that will blow the cobwebs right off, could have come out on early Sub Pop. (http://thepoles.bandcamp.com/album/merman-pest-7)
Living in a cloud of high end distortion Happy Families attempt to shred your eardrums on “New Forgetting”/”I Remember You”, vocals buried under the noise as a song struggles to prevent itself from being smothered, this is not necessarily a bad thing, the tunes having a crackling energy and certain charm with B-Side winning on points to these ears. (http://soniccathedral.bandcamp.com/album/new-forgetting)
With a definite eighties groove, the Hypnotic Anti-Pop (their words, but about right) of Sebastian Melmoth has an eccentric charm all its own, the a side being a tune about typeface, especially Comic Sans, sounding halfway between B.A. Robertson and Robert Wyatt, whilst the flip is a gentler song about transexualism, all good stuff and more interesting than the usual pop fayre.
Ok, I am going to hand you over to Steve Palmer, who will tempt you with some brand new sounds for your ears.
Sky Architect are European (Scandinavian/Dutch) space-progressive musicians who on their album "A Billion Years Of Solitude" present seven tracks of progressive, jazzy, space-inflected music that is pleasing to the ear. Opening with the doomy chords and synthi warblings of 'The Curious One,' the music travels through various moods, including sections of riffola, sections with vocals, and many instrumental solos. It complex, yes, but not overly complex, or complex in that clever-clever way of bands who don't understand the meaning of the word "progressive." 'Wormholes' and 'Tides' are shorter tracks before the eleven minute jazz-prog ramblings of 'Elegy Of A Solitary Giant,' which alas does rather hint at 'Jazz Odyssey.' After a mellotron/metal freakout the album concludes with 'Traveller's Last Candle,' which includes some fine guitar playing. The relentless chop-and-change of moods and styles does jar over the duration of a whole album, but this is certainly one for fans of modern prog.
A new album by Black Tempest is always going to be an interesting listen, and such is the case with Stephen Bradbury's new one "Sticks And Bells And Ancient Spells," ensconced in a very nice Pete Fowler (Super furry Animals) digipack cover. After a folky intro, spacey chords emerge into the listener's audio spectrum, before mutating into a sequence and a variety of synth textures. The track evolves very nicely via some analogue pads and a flute mellotron. Great textures - and the track varies a lot over its duration. After an ambient insert, more 'tron and more sequences emerge to conclude the twenty minute cut. 'The Crack Between The Worlds' and 'Pyramid' are short tracks of ethereal ambience and jagged sequencing respectively, with the former the best track on the album, before the eleven minutes of 'Morning Star,' which fixes more bouncing sequences against light electronic effects. Unfortunately nothing else happens, which makes it rather a damp squib. Overall however, this is a very nice listen.
"Hexen" by Paul Roland is a collection of sixteen strange, ghoulish, yet compelling synth and guitar infused songs, opening with the freaky 'Sanctus,' which matches "religious" style female vocals with various keyboards. The album was written to accompany a classic Danish horror film by the same name, but legal jousting and an ounce of bad luck meant that Roland and his troupe of neo-gothic musicians were unable to release the album as originally envisaged. Later songs run through pastoral, gothic, and metal soundworlds, not least the lovely 'Devil's Wood,' 'As I Walked Out One Morning' and 'Benedictus,' which matches the sound and feel of the opening track. Also excellent: the instrumental 'Inquisitor' and 'Orgy In The Woods.' An intriguing work.
(www.facebook.com/Real Paul Roland)
The Magic Theatre are Sophia Churney and Dan Popplewell, whose brand of orchestrally supported music is both quirky and lovely. Formerly of Mark Radcliffe-endorsed one-hit-wonders Ooberman (whose 'Shorley Wall' he played to death) the pair have released a new album "The Long Way Home." Opener 'The Sampler' matches a fey vocal with lush orchestral backing to great effect. 'It Was Glorious' is more of a pop song, as is the uptempo 'Festival Of Fire,' which is much more uptempo than the previous two songs, and which is enlivened by Arabic influences, also to good effect. 'I Got The Answer' throws a throwaway chorus at the listener, but 'Cathedrals Of The Mind' is more of an orchestral whimsy. 'Love Is Blue' (a cover version) opens with a harpsichord riff to die for, evoking the classy songs of yesteryear, as does the glorious 'I Want To Die By Your Side' - an album highlight for sure. One thinks of the retro works of the Soundcarriers. Album closer 'The Long Way Home' settles the listener down with a melancholic ballad. A really good album with lots to recommend it, and beautifully arranged and played.
"Dogface," "Deep Water" and "Steam Radio Tapes" collects the work of noted sax player and session man from decades past Gary Windo, whose credits include a long line of the great and the good, not least Nick Mason and Robert Wyatt. Inevitably filled with jazz chops and the atmosphere of smoky late-night bars, the music (mostly instrumental, though with vocal inclusions) evokes in particular the world of Canterbury bands and the 'seventies jazz fusion scene. "Steam Radio Tapes" has an astonishing guest list - Mason and Wyatt, plus Julie Driscoll, and others. The story here is that Nick Mason wanted to test the new Floyd studios, so he asked Windo to make an album there, ending up playing all the drums. The music is jazzy and funky. "Deep Water" is a different kettle of jazz fish - more of an eighties production, the cuts not so inspired, with the exception of the violin-enhanced 'Breakfast In Bed.' "Dogface" is by far the best of the trio, with energy to spare. A live feel pervades the whole album, though this is studio work. Great stuff.
Joey Molland is a name known to many via his links with '60's Apple band Badfinger. "Return To Memphis," as the title implies, is an album of country/US cuts. The songs have lush backing vocals that serve to raise the otherwise pedestrian nature of the songs. Album highlights include 'Hero,' which matches bittersweet lyrics with a nice Hammond-infused backing.
Welsh psych-nutters and all round multi-coloured electrick shamen Sendelica present a double disk of what can best be described as hippy trippy dippy synth/sound/spoken word/psychedelic musical collages, here presented to the listener as a pair of limited-edition CDs. (The really limited edition has a make-your-own-Stonehenge kit! You guys!!) So, if you like stretched-out psychedelic soundscapes done by a band with a suitably long and colourful heritage, this is for you. Disk one opener 'Return Of The Maggot Brains' features extended guitar solos and mucho trippy vocal effects, while 'Mr Floyd Walker' is more of a synth ambience jam, undercut by guitars and sundry effects. The twenty nine minutes of 'Sun Of Sunfazed' (great title) opens gently enough before heading off into trippy, almost Hawkwind-esque (Whitezone) music - great track, with hints of dub and Berlin ambience. Disk two does similarly, except the overall tone throughout is more chilled, even minimal in places. Bertie's trumpet adds considerably to the mix on the album highlight 'Sketches Of Cardiza'. A half hour freakout/jam/random ambience concludes the album. Excellent stuff, and fans of the Welsh wonders will not want to miss out.
I liked "Sun Songs" by Preston Lovinggood (April 2013 Rumbles) and his new album "Shadow Songs" is up to the same standard. First cut 'Overactor' is a mournful song, and maybe not the best opener, but 'Natural' is more uptempo and brings in the full band. "Sun Songs" is slow and melancholic with a great vocal and terrific arrangement, as is the vaguely retro 'Little Gods.' 'TMI (False Lover Blues)' evokes DeVries, as did the earlier album, and this cut is an album highlight; everything comes together so well on this song. 'Pat Conroy Beach Music' is a spooky little interlude before the closing pair of tracks, both of which have nice clean productions to end everything up. Good music.
Trick Mammoth come from Dunedin, New Zealand, and bring light-hearted, occasionally New Wave sounds to their uptempo poppy songs on "Floristry," their debut album. 'Baltimore,' 'Pinker Sea' and 'Terracota' all crash and burn before the dark lyrics and bright sounds of 'Delphine (With A Purpose)' - an album highlight. 'Vesper II' has boy/girl vocals, while the title track matches occasional grungy interludes with more boy/girl vocals, and the album closer returns to the formula of uptempo pop and Millie Lovelock's vocals. Although a nice listen, the slight lack of variety in the tone and sound does grate slightly, but this is a promising venture.
"Flying And The Silence" by Nheap is a collection of instrumentals vaguely in the post-rock/soundscape/electronica bracket, but put together with charm and distinction. Nheap is the moniker of Italian multi-instrumentalist Massimo Discepoli, and the album opens with the Rhodes and drums of 'Origin Of Water,' which enters Zero7 territory with panache. 'Primary Colours' ramps up the drum textures but keeps the Rhodes, as does 'Half-asleep.' 'Wandering' brings in arpeggiated guitars and some lovely floating textures, while 'Expressionism At Night' enters jazz noodling territory, with its stop/start drumming. 'Between The Trees' is another album highlight with some great backwards sounds and a nice organ vibe underneath the Rhodes; similarly with 'Lost In A Leaf.' Album closer 'Recurring Dream' is an intense texture of rolling, reverberated pianos. A great album indeed, and one you just know people are going to put on of a quiet Sunday morning.
Italian band Fitness Forever perhaps take love-of-analogue-and-retro to excess ("none of the microphones used were from later than 1978") but the sound is amazing! A kind of retro, laid back, lounge retroism, but with no sense of irony or even a hint of naffness. After an opening instrumental the album gets going with 'Hotel Flamingo,' with Italian vocals, a hint of Brazil, and much superb orchestration. Amazing, as are all the following tracks. Particularly excellent: 'Le Intenzioni Del Re,' 'Cosmos' (the title track, which does funkier-than-thou with brilliance) and 'closing cut 'Il Mare.' Retro-heads will love this, and for sheer style it will be hard to beat. Kudos to all those involved in the project.
Frances England, on her new album "Paths We Have Worn," at once reminded me of the fey, intelligent songs of Aimee Mann, though in an entirely different setting. England, a resident of San Francisco, has her witty songs accompanied by violin, pattering drums, and simple, but solid bass. Opener 'Fall Out Of The Sky' wishes for emotional honesty in relationships, but 'One You Wanna Know' is rather darker, with hints of the obsessive quality of some love (great song though). 'All That We Got' is single quality, with harmony vocals and a fabulous chorus. You could imagine this on thousands of laptops in America last thing at night. The thunking 3/4 chords of 'Come Back To Me' introduces probably the most quirky song on the album (lots of animal/plant references), while 'On Our Way' stands out for the great organ-infused production - an album highlight. Americana underpins 'Light Brings Colour,' more acoustic guitar supports the melancholic but conversational 'Since It's Been You & Me,' while album closer 'Chemical Wonder' is electro-folk done beautifully. I have to say, the quality of this album shines through pretty much on every track.
"One Did" by Prescott (yes, that Prescott, bizarrely sewing cloth on the front cover of the CD) is the solo project of former Stump bassist Kevin Hopper, whose jazzy bass floops, pops and whooms over this instrumental album. Supported only by jazz drummer Frank Byng and keyboards/guitar wizard Rhodri Marsden, the tracks inhabit that place between jazz and rock opened up by the Mahavishnu Orchestra and explored by so many since the early 'seventies. 'Floored,' 'Didism' and 'Two Words Ruder' all utilise a concept of "micro-riffing," in which repetitous fragments of a track are deployed over and over again, but with the weird synths of Marsden floating over everything this isn't in most cases a problem. 'Philby Flies' opens with delightful faux-brass before heading off into trippy noodle territory via a kind of bent Morricone 'Western' guitar. Loved it! - an album highlight, even if that brass isn't real... 'Métro Monique' is a kind of Morse Code bass workout which flies out into Fender Rhodes territory later, while the brief 'Piece Of Cake' hints at circus rides and scary monsters - quite a funny cut, this one. The album ends with the haunting piano strains of 'One Done.' For sheer verve this will be a tough album to beat - by turns odd, melodic, exciting.
Smoky American bars are like as not the place you might find gravel-voiced singer Hamilton Sims playing with Pacific Mean Time, alongside the others of the band. On their album 'Pacific Mean Time' ten songs float up out of the speakers - melodic, mournful and beautifully produced. Opener 'Blindfolds' is both a tuneful ride and a sad epigram, 'Minutes To Midnight' introduces more of a beat and less of the dreamy, Sparklehorse-style sound, while 'A Simple Thing' begins like Zeppelin-lite, but then enters a kind of REM state, with arpeggiated guitars and hazy vocals. A particularly strong cut, superbly produced. 'Straight Shot Towards The Sun' returns the listener to melancholy via eerie piano and effect-laden vocals: "A laden dream, from far away," which is undoubtedly what this band wants the listener to experience. 'Perfect Rose' is even slower, reminding me of the work of The Besnard Lakes, while 'How To Cheat Death' brings in a hint of Americana to the mix, though more (alas) of the effected vocals. The album closes with the six minute slow epic 'Last Song On The Record,' which, like the album opener, is deep, dreamy and dense. A very involving listen.
"The Visitation" by My Autumn Empire (the nom de plume of multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Thomas Holton) takes as its subject matter the way relationships can turn from one+one to one+an alien. Holton was watching a lot of SF when he wrote the album, and the theme of alienation within the ordinariness of life runs through all of it: beginning with "I trusted you, I trusted you" to something more sinister at the end. 'When You Crash Landed' hints sonically at a kind of Porcupine Tree sound with less guitars and more reverb. 'Blue Coat' takes the reverb away and adds some 'eighties synths, while the terrific 'Where Has Everybody Gone?' is a lovely eerie lullaby with some great analogue synths wheeling away. 'Afternoon Transmission' is an instrumental linking the two halves of the piece, but 'It's Around' returns to fully-fledged songwriting - great harmony vocals on this cut. 'Andrew' and 'The People I Love' are light guitar stompers, but the title track has a kind of late 'seventies indie feel - I was reminded of The Undertones by that guitar riff. Album closer 'All In My Head' is a gentle, almost Beatles-esque slow-burner. True feeling, originality and some great vocals make this a rewarding listen.
John Bassett is the man behind UK prog notables Kingbathmat, whose albums have graced Terrascope on a number of occasions recently. Playing all the instruments here except the drums (Nathan Summers), Bassett presents ten songs, all essentially acoustic, all played with verve and sympathy, especially the often multi-tracked guitars. Opener 'Stay Away From The Dark' shows Bassett to have a voice not unlike Robert Wyatt, though without Wyatt's tremulous quality. The opening two songs are quite slow, but 'Nothing Sacred' is more uptempo. 'Pantomime' adds keyboards (beautiful, analogue wibbly ones) and an electric guitar to the mix, making for a fine track. 'Kylerhea' inhabits roughly the same territory but with the addition of a few Genesis-style weird time signatures. 'Keep Dear' has a particularly Wyatt-esque vocal, which, with the sampled flute mellotron beneath, is an interesting combination. The lengthy 'Something That's More Worthwhile' begins calm and simple but then ramps things up with the addition of keyboards and some effect-delayed vocals. Album closer 'Comedian' evokes school with the aid of a piano and the ever-present acoustic guitars. Deep, melancholic and rather good. One for fans of Steven Wilson for sure.
"Perdix" by Vensaire is a most curious proposition: eight comparatively long songs, part organic whole, part creation of Animal Collective and Arcade Fire recordist Scott Colburn. The music is complex, rock-based and certainly echoes those two so-famous bands, but there is something else here too... Opener 'If' recalls early Arcade Fire, as the track bounces between sounds and tempos. 'Tel Aviv' is more stompy, more glam and much more fun - an album highlight. 'Porteno' sounds half African half Latin, with rustling drums and clattering percussion - strong backing vocals certainly echo Animal Collective, but the track is original, with its own vibe. 'Finding It Found' is less frenetic and more floaty, with big reverb vocals keening away over Spanish guitars; a very nice cut. 'See I'm You' has happy clappy vocals and a big sound, but not much by way of a tune, and 'Song 6' sounds pretty much the same. A number of musical ideas run through the eleven minute 'Rose Cottage,' giving the track more of an anthemic feel as it thrums and crashes to its mid point, then diminishes to the end, where the sound is lighter, as are the vocals. 'Wanderer Christened' is a very slow tempo jaunt through dreamy, heavily treated multiple vocals. A great end. Overall the album is a bit of a curate's egg, but with lots to commend it.
Clearlight is a name that will be known to all lovers of progressive, Canterbury or electronic music dating from the 'seventies, "Clearlight Symphony" being a classic of its kind. Featuring legendary musician Cyrille Verdeaux, a new album, "Impressionist Symphony" is much to be welcomed. And there are some fabulous guests - Steve Hillage and Didier Malherbe of Gong (the latter's sax is at once recognisable!), also Don Falcone and synth wizard Tim Blake. The music is progressive in the best way: varied, symphonic, with lots of great solo performances. 'Renoir En Couleur' runs through a vast array of styles, with Hillage and Malherbe keeping it all together. Fantastic track, somehow both old and new in tone and texture. 'Time Is Monet' (oh dear) is similar in timbre. but with more violin and less of a rock feel. 'Pissarro King' features Ozrics-style bubbles and another superb contribution from Hillage, who really is on form with this album. 'Degas De La Marine' is a weird mixture of full orchestra and synths, but 'Van Gogh 3rd Ear' is a delightful synth-infused jazz number. Terrific. 'Gaugin Dans L'Autre' is almost a microcosm of the whole album with its many shifting moods, while 'Lautrec Too Loose' (another oh dear) returns the listener to rock sounds and much piano soloing. Album closer 'Monet Time' is essentially Verdeaux on his own at the piano, with violin accompaniment courtesy Craig Fry. A beautiful ending to an extraordinary album. Anybody into progressive rock, Gong, Hillage or anyone of their ilk simply has to listen to this!
Thanks for those, Steve.
Now to move into heavier territory and round up some of the more riff obsessed bands that have turned up in recent weeks (or maybe months). First up PYPY, whose album “Pagan Days” sounds like The Runaways , The Monomen and Devo getting together to jam some old Hawkwind riffs, the combination of heavy riffing, female vocals a jagged new wave influence and plenty of wah guitar something that sounds excellent to these ears. Guaranteed to get you up in the morning the title track says it all really, brutal noisy and fun as rock and roll should be. Elsewhere, “New York” has a snotty Stranglers inspired bassline, “Daffodils” has a weird Disco bassline and some funkier/spacier guitar sounds mixed into the distorted riff, whilst “Psychedelic Overlords” ends as it begun with stoner attitude and plenty of volume. Stranger than it first appears, this is an fine collection that may catch you unawares and will make you stomp your feet. (https://slovenly.bandcamp.com/album/pypy-pagan-day-lp)
Playing a complex brand of Stoner Rock with punk attitude and plenty of imagination, Deamon's Child certainly catch your attention on their self-titled debut album. After a very brief and possibly pointless opening intro the band get started on “Affchen Fahrt Fahrrad” some tricky rhythms and metal guitar riffs combined in interesting ways, meaning the song is not predictable yet is still catchy and rocks. On “Delfine” the drumming of Tim Mohr keeps the song moving with plenty of pace, and a collection of meaty riffs ensures the tune is never boring, one that needs turning way up. Over nine songs the pace rarely lets up and the fact that the lyrics are in German makes no real difference as they are delivered with emotion and style by Ana Muhi, the line up completed by Missu whose guitar is clean and brutal, meaning the whole album is a raucous joy for the ears, especially if you have a taste for all things grunge or metallic. (http://deamonschild.bandcamp.com/merch)
Sounding like a classic seventies heavy rock band, their feet rooted in the earth their eyes gazing at the stars, Marblewood have produced an album of great style and epic beauty, the giant riffs tempered by softer passages, an understanding of dynamics and class songwriting, the whole thing top of with some superb playing, The guitar work of Marc Walser reminding me of Robin Trower in its tones and expressive power.
With a Sabbath like doomy riff, “”Kailash” is a slow-burning opener, control being the key to the song as it glides its way through 8 glorious minutes, the slow guitar solo stretching nerve endings, sounding like an outtake from “Bridge of Sighs”. Equally as good is “Hit the Brakes” a rocking riff and swirling hammond organ providing the foundation for plenty of musical interplay, shades of Clear Blue Sky to be heard in its changes and flights of fancy. With a shimmering Eastern sounding opening and spoken word passage “Splendour” takes the band into more Psychedelic spaces the band creating plenty of ambience as the song floats along on clouds of incense drifting into a delightful cosmic jam as it rolls along. Again containing some breathtaking guitar playing “Silence” is another example of the band working together The Bass and Drums of Ariane Bertogg and David Zurbuchen respectively, creating a solid beat that writhes and enfolds around the guitar, whilst the organ of Michael Marti adds drones, textures and deft flourishes to this piece and the album as a whole. After these two quieter tunes “Postwar Apocalypse” is a noisier affair, with some interesting dynamics and almost jazz fusion passages, not quite though, the band stay in Rock mode but with an eye for the less used path, the track meandering all over the place yet doing so with purpose.
To round off this epic release we are treated to the twenty one minutes of “In The Beginning” a massive jam that was the first thing the band recorded together in the studio. As you would imagine it is a rambling affair that takes a while to get going, however there is an evident quality from the beginning, the musicians enjoying the experience, as will you. Available on CD and Vinyl, there is also a free download on the website, what are you waiting for. (http://marblewood.net/) (Just downloaded this, and it's all that Simon says and more besides. Love it!! - Phil)
Next up a selection of oldies but goldies with some new releases/rare/live tracks etc from bands you used to love and may well still do. First Up “Captured raw” a selection of jams, song sketches and solos from the guitar player Tommy Bolin, best known for his time with Deep Purple I guess, but who also worked with Zephyr, James gang and as a solo artist.
Recorded between 1973 and 1976 at the studio of good friend Phillip Polimeni, but kept in the archives until now (more volumes are promised), the pieces on the disc showcase Bolin's accomplished playing, ranging from blues to more jazzy pieces, the style relaxed and tasteful, emotion being more important than speed, with tracks like the nine minute “Mixed Madness” having a mellow fusion feel to them, whilst “Off the Hook” has a definite Texas blues vibe in its swagger. With the sessions featuring some fine musicians, who allow Mr Bolin the space he needs to soar, there is plenty to enjoy on this disc, the highlight, playing wise, being the lengthy “Collective Energy” although the sound is a little murky here and there, the whole set rounded off with “Another Highway”, an actual song, in a country rock style recorded with Bolin's Band Fox, a jaunty number that is the perfect final flourish. (http://www.tbolin.com/polimeni/index.html)
Also suffering from the occasional sound problems The Keef Hartley band “Live” recorded at the Aachen open air festival 1970 is a fine and energetic set that makes up for the sound with the sheer enthusiasm of the band. Appearing amongst a line-up that included Deep Purple, Free Golden Earring, Taste, Caravan , Can, Floyd, Amon Dull and Krokodil to name but a few, I imagine The band felt right at home, their jazzy prog-blues material tailor made for the audience with the musicians seemingly in fine form, the trumpet solo from Dave Caswell on “You Can't take it With You” an early highlight, the band then rocking out on a rousing version of “The Time Is Near” stretching the song out over 13 minutes complete with some fabulous guitar from main songwriter Miller Anderson. Highlight of the set, of course, is a thirty minute rendition of the five part “Halfbreed Suite” the band's mix of jazz and rock meaning the piece is varied and dynamic, the skronking sax held together by the solid rock rhythm section, whilst a thunderous wah guitar drives it on. To end their set the band take on a cover of “Think It Over” (B B King), pounding it to death, in a good way, for 14 minutes, the rock side of the band taking over for more great soloing, sounding not unlike the Pink Fairies in their heyday, at least until the brass returns again. Sadly, all good thing have to end and the band sign of with a final crescendo. Sound like everyone had a good time and even if you weren't there at least we have this snapshot to remind us of those heady daze. (http://www.sireena.de/)
So everyone knows “Dirty Water” by The Standells right ?, a garage classic that still sounds magnificent today, but did you know they are still touring and have just released their first album for 40 years. Entitled “Bump” the collection was intended to keep the same fuzzed up attitude of the sixties and on many levels it has succeeded, but time passes and it is impossible to maintain those feelings somany years later, so it is also a more relaxed and power pop orientated affair, although this is not a bad thing and the disc contains its fair share of small gems. The weirdest thing about it is the fact that it opens with a cover of “7&7 is”, nothing wrong with the cover nice and snotty, as required, it just seems a strange choice as Love recorded the definitive version and listeners now have to compare the rest of the album to this tune. With a riff that could have been written by Tom Petty, “It's All About the Money” is a great sing-a-long tune, whilst “Help You Anne” has a definite sixties garage groove with that distinctive organ sound and driving guitar all intact. Next up a cover of “Pushing Too Hard” which, again, is fine but I would rather hear some more new material from the band, especially when it is as good as “And I Got It” and “Mr One Percent” both of which have energy and swagger a-plenty. It is good to see they are still around I bet they still sound excellent live, but this album seems to lack something quite probably the revolutionary spirit that drove the sixties forward. (http://www.standells-official.com/)
Moving across the Atlantic we come to another band that I was surprised to find still around, albeit with one original member and some newer ones that have actually been in the band for 20 years. Still containing that twin guitar sound Wishbone Ash have never gone away with Andy Powell steering the ship across the musical landscape and still managing to deliver the goods, at least on “Blue Horizon”, their latest album that could be no other band in it's sound. Opening track says it all really, twin guitar, melody, great vocals and an ability to rock it out as needed, yet manages to sound fresh with a bright and powerful production. Elsewhere, tracks like “Strange How Things Come Back around” and “Mary Jane” have a lyrical charm to go with the musical interplay, whilst the title track sums it all up in seven lovely minutes. Not something I am gonna play a lot but ideal for those lazy summer days in the garden. (http://wishboneash.com/)
Edgy and distinctive, the music of Monkey Puzzle Trio is hard to pin down. On their latest album “The Pattern Familiar”, there are shades of post rock, lazz and prog, mixed with avante garde sensibilities and a taste for the weird. All this works really well and the whole album is accessible and intriguing with “Orange car” being an early highlight reminding me of Rollerball in its construction and ambience. Featuring the excellent rhythym section of Drummer Charles Hayward (This heat) and bassist Nick Doyne-Ditmas, the music is inventive and tightly controlled allowing plenty of space for the vocal escapades,wordplay and sonic textures of Viv Corringham to shine out, the words and melodies playful and restless, the trio always aware of each others presence. Over twelve tracks, the listener is slowly drawn into their sonic world, emerging on the other side slightly dazed but smiling, good stuff indeed. (http://www.slowfoot.co.uk/thePatternFamiliar.html)
Exploring the relationship between dreams and death, “Sleep Dreamt A brother” is a haunting and emotional collection from Mathew Sawyer that is infused with strings, piano and classical guitar. Opening track “New Bird To Me” reminds me of a more acoustic based Paul Roland, possibly because Mathew's voice is similar, but also because of the construction of the track and the melancholy atmosphere it creates. One of those songs that you just have to listen to “Don't Tell The Others What We Were Singing” is plain gorgeous, with lyrics that make you think about relationships from the past, the string ensuring the song drips with emotion. Even sadder is “October All the Time” the lyrics matched by the arrangement, whilst the title track itself is the pivotal moment on the disc, the moment when the threshold is crossed, the theme continued on “Death is Like a Dream We'll Have” the title balanced by the line “Love Is Like a Dream We have”, the song suggesting that death is merely a dream as well, offering hope and positivity. However, on “Another World” the spoken word section about dreams of someone who has recently departed are almost too painful to listen too, the minor chord piano around them wringing out every ounce of emotion. This same sadness is present on “The Golden Heart”, the tune reaching the emotional depths of some of Townes Van Zandt's songs, although this track has a strange almost lysergic shimmer hovering around it. To end. “How To Work” has a drum machine to lighten the mood although the lyrics remain strange and compelling, the vocal arrangement giving the song a surrealist quality that really works. I have listened to this album a lot recently and it has crept under my skin to become a personal favourite, lovers of sad/emotional/raw music and lyrics should definitely here this beautiful collection. (http://www.firerecords.com/site/index.php?page=release&releaseid=00000000886)
After an album that draining it is time to leap about a bit as the recently reformed The Beatpack get all fuzzed up on their latest single “I'm Walkin'” a great slice of garage action with a meaty riff, a fine bass line and snotty vocals, the track exploding with energy during the solos. On the B-side “Hey Senorita” has the same groove as “Mr Pharmacist” visions of Go-Go dancers shaking their hair on a paisley floor springing to mind, a nicely fuzzed solo and some ringing harmonica the icing on the garage cake, go get a slice. (http://staterecs.com/)
Featuring members of The Prisoners, Prime Movers and Solarflare, “Love Me Lies” has fuzz a-plenty as Graham Day and the Forefathers get you rocking, with shades of The Faces meet The Kinks present in their sound, the band holding nothing back as they blast their way to the finish, the musicianship good enough to allow subtle touches to be heard inside the noise. More straightforward and organ driven, “30-60-90” has a fabulous groove and some mean guitar/organ interplay that kicks the tune into life, the whole band obviously enjoying themselves. . On a quick side note, I went to school with two members of this band, seems weird to be reviewing ing them now 30 odd (sometimes very odd), years later. (http://staterecs.com/)
Featuring improvised drones and experimentation that were recorded over two weekends then listened to, re-worked and made cohesive over the next two years , “Archive:Volume One” is an unsettling listen from A.R.C Soundtracks, the sounds of guitar organ voice and percussion blending into one whole, meaning it is often impossible to split the sounds, where one begins and one ends. Featuring the talents of K.Craig and David Armes, the sounds are made more poignant by the fact that the third member and main catalyst Marc Rahr died in 2012, meaning the need to release the music became more personal and important. Opening with “The Road to the Camp” the music is slow to evolve, a drifting mist of sound that covers everything, diminishing your view of the world around and creating visions instead. On “And You'd Step Out” a disembodied voice sits uneasily on a fragile web of sound, the words telling half a story buried so low in the mix that you have to strain to listen, restrained guitar and pulsing drums adding tension to the melancholy ambience of the track. Like the theme to a sinister western set on the Yorkshire Moors, “Covered Mirrors” threatens to burst forth into sonic violence at any moment yet never does, whilst “The Path” is dark and eerie, reminding me of early Tangerine Dream or Floyd. As the album moves on its mood becomes more oppressive, a weariness that creeps into the bones, with “It's All Dreams Now” leaking sadness and taut with tension. Finally, “Sunset, San Augustin” leads us out with faint traces of hope, a simple two chord riff playing host to noise, percussion and rays of deliverance. (http://www.littlecrackdrabbit.co.uk/)
Next up some Swedish Psychedelia from Octopus Ride, whose self titled debut album contains two long tracks that mix samples, shimmering guitar, energetic rhythm and a touch of Brian Eno recording with Syd. All in all an album that is hard to pin down, the lack of track names or distinct parts also making it difficult to write about. On side one, the album is available on vinyl, the most startling section involves an early Floyd bass line and Donald Sutherland being particularly creepy, the band then moving into more traditional ambient psych pastures with enough variation in sound and textures to keep thing interesting, the latter stages having a West Coast vibe about them. Over on side two a chirping synth heralds a stranger section, a rumbling drone filled with memories of Kraut – Rock, the piece eventually turning into an actual song, well more of a shimmering lysergic haze than a song, but beguiling none the less. As the track moves on it becomes disjointed and slightly unsettling, like walking through unfamiliar woodland as night falls, each sound needing to be analysed for intent, that still hanging in the background leading the way out to a quiet fade. At this point the band suddenly rock out with vengeance, a fully formed psych rock gem appearing as if by magic, restoring order in your brain and giving you a chance to shimmy around the kitchen. However as with most thing on the album the tune suddenly disintegrates, to great effect, and we are back to a mellow Floydian guitar haze that that leaves us smiling at the end of a fine, varied and sometimes startling album. (http://shop.bilocationrecords.com/index.php?a=53163&lang=eng)
Clocking in at just 25 minutes, “Wah” a collection of four improvised pieces from Babils is a mix of Space and Kraut with a loose free flowing feel and some excellent guitar work. Opening track “Ousianah” gets quickly into the groove and then abruptly stops, not even a fadeout, which is strange especially as the next piece “Ousendiabo” is slower in tempo and has a more experimental feel about it, the trumpet being given licence to roam. On “O Pel De Ghen” thing get heavier yet remain nicely weird, a Hawkind like riff providing the foundation for some psychedelic noodling above, a style that “Si Dja Fun” continues to close the disc. Some great sounds to be heard throughout, just too short to really get into. (http://babils.bandcamp.com/album/wah)
Ok, that's it for now, although the pile continues to grow, thanks to everyone who contributed to this edition of Rumbles. There’ll be more soon!
Terrascopic Rumbles for April was brought to you by Simon Lewis & Steve Palmer. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2014