= AUGUST 2 0 1 4 =

ello and welcome to another epic edition of Ptolemaic Rumbles. Let’s break with tradition and dive right in with some cassettes we have been sent over the last few months. First up is ‘Everyone Has a Picture of the Ocean’, a collection of experimental pieces from Mark Greer. Opening with ‘Piano Song’ a long minimalist piano piece that ebbs and flows like the tide, the listener is soothed as the music slowly decays into a soft drone. This mood is quickly broken as the discordant noise of ‘Spring’ fills the room, chattering electronics and the buzz of machine/insect hybrids sounding disquieting and all too real.

‘Sky and Forest’ is a gentle guitar led track as is the following ‘Flower in the Stone’. To end side one the long title track is filled with effected guitar and strange rumblings becoming a hazy drifting drone laid over the remains of melody. Over on the other side both ‘Sky in Stone’ and ‘Flower in the Sky’ continue the soft guitar themes, whilst  ‘The Dragon Gate’ is a different beast, being a long field recording of a parade or similar, there are no clues on the box. To end ‘Circus Wheel’ is a high pitch tone that oscillates and chimes relentlessly, a harsh end to what had been up to that point a more mellow affair. Good stuff though and well worth hearing. (http://bit.ly/1qB1cnG )

    Next up a split tape called ‘Sexx Tape’ featuring Asian Babes and Future Glue. To begin Asian Babes bring four songs to the party none of which lasts longer than 90 secs (secs on the mind!) but boy do they use the time well, with ‘Rosalee’ sounding like Hawkwind as an indie band, whilst ‘Dry Burger’ is a forty second punk thrash to jump around to, ‘John Cooper's Clarks’ is another high energy tune and ‘Sting’ sounds like an under produced Rezillos, in a good way, excellent. On the other side Future Glue offer ‘out of Hand’ a moody garage/psych tune that last seven minutes  and has shades of The Fuzztones and The Doors running through its lo-fi heart, the track slowly picking up pace as it moves along until it becomes a much noisier animal in the middle. All good stuff, just add beer and have fun. (http://bit.ly/1oj5ApV )

     Another artist with a liking for short songs is Graham Repulski whose ‘Portable Grindhouse’ cassette features brief tracks with distorted guitar and vocals , experimentation and melody sounding something like a more pop-orientated Butthole Surfers. This is a good thing, the excellent production ensuring the songs are full of life. Highlights include the weird Beefheart styled ‘I Shot An Arrow In The Air’, the sample-led drone of  ‘Great Fakers’  and the strange yet melodic ‘D-Beat at Dawn’ which at over three minutes counts as an epic. Highly enjoyable and inventive throughout, this is a fine way to spend twenty minutes of your life. (http://bit.ly/VM9QY1 )

    To Round of the tapes, a couple of offerings from Layne Garrett, a long time friend of the Terrascope and a creative artist always worth hearing. On ‘Guitar Tape’ The sounds of a resonator and electric guitar are recorded at the same time, slowed down, sped up and generally messed around with resulting in seven experimental and varied pieces that stutter and creep through the room. Unlikely to be filed under Easy Listening, there is still a warmth to the music that makes it appealing and rewarding. Finally we come to ‘Weed Tree’ a collaboration between Layne Garrett (Guitar) and Amanda Huron (Drums) with all pieces recorded live. As you can imagine there is plenty of noise to be found in the recordings, however there is also an understated subtlety and it is obvious that the musicians are listening to each other meaning the tracks have dynamics and energy allowing the listener to become fully involved in the music. (http://bit.ly/1nnkWu7 )

    As well as cassette tapes we have also received some 7" singles over the last few months. Vinyl is always a pleasure to receive and to linger over. Featuring surf guitar and melodic strings, ‘Dark Ages’ is a collaboration between Plantagenet 3 and A Little Orchestra that sounds like a soundtrack to some cult sixties movie. On the A-side ‘Canute (the Irresistible Surf) has a Shadows twang fed through a hazy filter, the string adding a sadness to the tune. On the B-side ‘Godiva and Tom’ has similar tendencies although the sharper guitar tone gives the tune a more sinister edge, the string again adding plenty of atmosphere. (http://bit.ly/1mAFEX4 )

    Come the zombie apocalypse it will be bands like  Human Adult Band that will be providing the soundtrack, at least if their latest single is anything to go by. Awash with scuzzy guitar, moody vocals and dark atmosphere ‘Garbage and th' Trees’ is a fuzz laden gem, a lo-fi Sabbath that needs plenty of volume to reveal its full glory. On the flip, ‘Night Terrors’ is a slab on monolithic noise that is relentless and dense as fuck. Even a brief spot of  space exploration in the middles seems to have dark undertones, the whole thing reminding me of Linus Pauling Quartet. (http://bit.ly/1p328jp )

    Out on Worldwide Records, ‘Pearly’ is a great sixties sounding tune that has a warm and happy feel in the hands of Et Tu Bruce, a Uk based band who have recently supported The Zombies. With some great harmonies and a bright mix the song has hooks that stay with you as does ‘Mr Lee’ the similar sounding B-Side, another excellent tune with a happy Psych-Pop sheen. (http://www.ettubruce.com/)

    Last, but definitely not least, in the singles section come a couple of releases from the always excellent Static Caravan. First up The Grafham Water Sailing Club deliver some heavy psych with ‘Ankara’, a tune that opens with a cloud of noise before a driving riff pushes the song into the fast lane where it roars relentlessly and with style, a whirlwind of guitar and keys held together with a hypnotic beat. On the other side ‘Feelin' Blue’ has a tribal pulse and a Joy Division feel, atmospheric and cloying in a good way.

     On the same label and pressed on clear vinyl comes ‘Hospital’, an slice of electronic pop from The Duke St Workshop. Sparse and repetitive, the tunes has glistening strands of electronics running through it, picking out melodies and simple rhythms. Almost cinematic in its structure the tune has grace and poise to spare. On the flipside ‘Cyclone fence’ continues the minimalist vibe coming across like the soundtrack to a long forgotten Sci-Fi epic. (http://www.staticcaravan.org/)

    Ok, now it is time to hand over to Steve Palmer who will lead us through a mountain of recent releases.

    Chris Stroffolino's ‘Griffith Park’ is a set of songs sung in a slightly drawling voice to the accompaniment of a battered old piano (hints of honky-tonk in the sound). The man was discovered by film director Jeff Feuerzeig, playing said beaten-up old piano in a suburb of Los Angeles; and thus a recording relationship was forged. The songs cover all the difficulties of life, interspersed with sprightly piano vamps, which really add to the overall feel. 'Break Up, Make Up' is a blackly comic look at relationships, while 'I'm Not Going Astray' is much slower, and set in waltz time. Hard to believe these songs were recorded in the back of Stroffolino's old van, in which he travels around. (‘Chris The Piano Van’ emblazoned in chalk on the side of his vehicle - he's homeless.) A cover of Richard Hell's 'Time' is set low in Stroffolino's vocal range, but it suits the melancholy subject matter. 'Fire Side Of Me' is uptempo and more melodic than some of the other fare - hints of Elvis Costello, I thought. As an introduction to a unique talent, this is unusual and engaging.

   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.

(http://on.fb.me/VMadS8 )

Smoky American bars are like as not the kind of 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. (www.pacificmeantime.com)

‘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.  (http://bit.ly/1wlHpku )

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.  ( www.johnbassettmusic.com )

‘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.  (www.vensaire.com)

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. Not to be confused with Clear Light, the folk-rock group from Los Angeles that released one LP off Elektra in 1967, famously known for including two drummers, one of them being Dallas Taylor of CSNY. But I digress. Featuring legendary musician Cyrille Verdeaux, a new Clearlight 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!

(http://bit.ly/1wlI4mc )

Census Of Hallucinations are space rock merchants in the mode of Harvey Bainbridge - full of space effects, samples and psych guitar. The new album ‘Coming Of The Unicorn’ features thirteen tracks of prime space rock, opening with 'Something That Effects All People', which mixes guitar improv with spacey synths and effects in a kind of trippy ambience. 'Only Time Will Tell' brings in the vocals of Tim Jones and Terri B/Maxine Marten into a slow dub track, followed by the backwards trippiness of 'As Within So Without,' which has a nice jazzy feel to it. 'Put The Head On' reminded me of the much missed spacerock band Soma, while the title track has a hint of Mandragora amidst the synth pads and sequences. 'Stars' opens with flute mellotron and sampled effects before heading off into a spacey belter of a track. 'Miracle,' 'Electroid' and 'Crystal Spheres Of Light' all plough various spacerock furrows, but 'Love You True' is more of a traditional song in The Rabbit's Hat mode. The album closes with a mutated version of 'As Within So Without.' Spacerock fans will welcome this varied and well produced album.

(http://bit.ly/1BP30C5 )

‘Kelvedon Hatch’ by Spaceship (aka Mark Williamson, another good friend of the Terrascope and a veteran of last year’s Woolf Music festival), is a single fifty minute piece evoking memories of the Cold War - the titular location was a site of British governmental retreat in the event of nuclear war. Opening with sound effects and a ghostly synth pad, the piece transforms very slowly, adding guitar arpeggios, slightly altered synth sounds, and further effects. The pace of change is slow, the mood chilled, evoking those dangerous times. Slowly the synths gain complexity, and the heavily delayed guitar goes in and out of the mix. The central part of the piece returns to minimal settings, but then the complexity picks up again. Housed in well presented artwork, with both written and artistic backing, this is indeed an interesting piece.

(http://bit.ly/1loKQlU )

Glass Wands present a mixture of classically scored but modern music on their self-titled album. Piloted by a pianist (it would seem - no details are given) the music also features synths and drums. The music is instrumental, inhabiting a space between neo-classical, trip-hop and ambient. Opening cuts 'Silverleaf' and 'Out To Sea' are light in texture, while 'Anchor' lives almost entirely on the piano, rolling out chords and arpeggios very nicely. 'Blackwell' has a folk vibe to it, as does, to a lesser extent, 'Elizabeth.' 'Ceiling Of Stars' matches a stately drum beat to some retro synth sounds, while 'We Were Fine' is again mostly a piano piece. 'Magic Keys' brings in a ghostly, vocal synth sound for a short track, before the comparatively uptempo and complex 'Services,' which utilises the full band. The album closes with 'Figures,' which is pretty melancholy, and is played mostly by the piano. A curious mix of gentle and downbeat, without being too downbeat. (no contact details given)

‘2012 Space Traffic Jam’ is the incomprehensible title of a new progressive/space album by Marcelo Paganini, which opens with the trippy/jazzy 'Sphinxes Of Babel,' which pretty much sets out the band's stall - complex guitar solos, excellent drumming courtesy of Gary Husband, with various vocal and synth interjections. 'Somewhere Somehow' features Yes stalwarts Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood, but opens with a drum solo. The lyrics on the album, we are told, are very important: ‘There is only now and we are here forever’ being an example of this importance. Marc Madore plays a nice Ricky bass on this cut. 'Last BART To San Bruno' has a great phased/shifted guitar sound, and some nice splashy drums, while 'B4Ever Now' has the kind of singing you hear in bathrooms all over the world. 'For Real' is a weird mash up of punk, jazz and prog, while the Rhodes-inflected title track mixes nice synth and guitar into a slow jazz-funk offering. Fans of albums placed into the progressive rock genre may be interested in thinking about considering this one.

(http://bit.ly/1nnno3M )

‘Songs From The Portal’ by Paul ‘Lefty’ Wright opens with a killer track, 'A Tap On The Shoulder,' which merges psychedelia, East-European folk and more into a great little number. The artist has been around the music biz for a while, it seems, as a session musician (guitar, sitar) and more. 'Moths' is a kind of retro musical number, with changes of mood, weird spoken inserts, cellos, bass and more... 'Child Of Yesterday' is similar. The mood is almost operatic, yet based in a rock and psychedelic foundation - a fascinating mix. 'Mr Petals' opens with multi-tracked voices and a chamber orchestra/Hammond backing, before heading off into a kind of Summer Of Love pastiche - beautifully done. 'Riversong' echoes some of the very early Yes tracks, with a gorgeous drum/bass rhythm and great vocals. Flutes and some wrecked Hammond enliven the loping 'Hypnotist,' while 'Uncle John' showcases Wright's guitar playing, and also his vocals. 'Jam At Jim's' is mutated jazz, 'He's Been Dead' is even madder and faster, while 'In The Quiet Of The Night' is a slow retro instrumental. So much for sides A and B of what is presumably a double LP. Side C opens with a Yes-like instrumental in 11/8 time, then a spooky accordion-inflected number, 'Sausages Are Frying.' Some terrific cellos and sitar underscore the loping 'Multani DMA' (one of my fave tracks on the album) while 'Spacebag' is a kind of garage number, with blarting sax and tinny guitars - hints of Zappa, I thought. 'Godfrey Bartholomew' is a nine minute excursion into progressive lunacy, travelling restlessly through a variety of retro territories. 'Timothy' is another Eastern-inflected number wth more terrific flutes (the flutes on this album really add to its lustre), while 'Remember Today' is glitzy rock. 'Oh, It's a Lovely Evening' closes proceedings in delerious style. There's a lot of music here, spread out over almost ninety minutes, but the work, although demanding, is so well done it never outstays its welcome. I would imagine this will be one of the releases of the year come the end of 2014.


Chickencage Experience are German psych nutters formed from multi-harmonic Frankfurt ensemble Polytoxicomane Philharmonie, whose ‘Go Ape’ I reviewed in 2010 - freakout krautjazz, by all accounts, and most enjoyable. The new Chickencage Experience album ‘KamaSutra BlackBelt’ is a collection of psychedelic pop songs (their description - semi-accurate, I'd say) somewhere in the rock category, but with much more going on than in most such music. Scored for band plus synths and other instruments, the vocals are uniformly good, with the usual very high standard of musicianship elsewhere. 'Mayday Sister Mayday' and 'Top Secret' are both retro-peering numbers, but 'Werküken' is a slower, more ponderous cut with a hint of dub in it. The eight minute 'Thousand Miles' is rather a nice organ-suffused piece, with a fine chord sequence and a cosmic vocal. 'Still Flaky But Free' also hits the eight minute mark, but is more rock, and with some odd time signatures; great guitar sounds on this track. 'Hope-Song' is the nearest this band are going to get to a single, while 'An Ocean Of Gold' is a jazzy reverie, before the wah-guitar, Rhodes-enlivened freakout rock of 'Whitewash,' which ends the album is excellent style. Another great album with lots to enjoy. (www.nasoni-records.com)

Gonzo Multimedia have been doing superb work of late, re-releasing a number of rock and progressive classics from musical eras gone by. The latest in this programme is a trio of Brand X albums. Best known perhaps for including drum maestro and Genesis skins-basher Phil Collins, the band in fact featured a massive roster of jazz rock talent, including John Giblin (bass), Preston Heyman (percussion) and John Goodsall (guitars). ‘Is There Anything About?’ features the final proper line-up of the band, and will certainly appeal to lovers of Steps Ahead, Jean-Luc Ponty et al. Although technically a ‘rarities’ (ie contractual obligation) album, the musicianship is uniformly excellent and the sounds really nice, albeit with a bit of an 'eighties glaze. 'A Longer April' (sax ahoy!) and the bass-heavy and mightily groovy title track are the standout cuts. ‘{Missing Period}’ is something special for Brand X freaks, as it amounts to a never before released first album, thought lost, recorded in 1975 and '76, but recently rediscovered in the family vaults of John Goodsall. The sound is pretty good overall. 'Dead Pretty' is a high-intensity opener with shed-loads of solos and a sliding, growling bass, while the eleven minute 'Kugelblitz' features some Ponty-esque synths and the kind of guitar solos Alan Holdsworth was doing at the time; also hints of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the top/tail chord structures. Still loads of original stuff though. 'Why Won't You Lend Me Yours?' brings in a little more variety - there's a terrific strings/breakdown section in the middle powered in large part by Percy Jones' bass - while concluding cut 'Tito's Leg' is just manic. Sixty-odd minutes of the band at their live peak is what's offered on ‘Live At The Roxy LA,’ which dates from 1979 and features Robin Lumley on keyboards. This is a previously unreleased soundboard recording. The tracks are all quite long - typically twelve minutes - and allow the band to breathe a little; witness the synth/drum opening, with the full band coming in section by section. The audience is enthusiastic and the improvised sections are great, with bassist Percy Jones on particularly fine form. The album highlight for me is 'Malaga Virgin' which features all those wibbly synth solos and fuzzed guitar scorches that you expect from jazz rock. Much US-style whooping from the audience here! Finally, something a little different is Percy Jones' solo album ‘Cape Catastrophe,’ which dates from the late 'eighties and was recorded in New York. Comprising eight tracks, the music is founded in a drum machine and various synths, with Jones' bass added live during a digital mixdown. The mood is distinctly cooler than the classic Brand X material, with hints of techno (sampled rhythms and weirdness) and electronica, all overlaid with bass parts that sometimes you might count as solos, elsewhere as accompaniment. The lengthier tracks are the standouts: 'Cape Catastrophe' (found sounds and digital rhythms that hint at the ethnic dance music that was to follow a few years later) and the twenty three minute 'Barrio,' which is a weird amalgam of ethnic sounds, rhythmic glitches and sliding bass. In places gothic, elsewhere a kind of trippy minimalism.


    John Wetton is a name that will be known to many a music fan, from his work in the classic era King Crimson, then on to UK, Asia and more. The double CD ‘Monkey Business/Jack-Knife’ is a compilation of live tracks, ideas, demos and more, covering the period 1972 to 1997. Opening with a couple of stomping rock tracks, the album quickly enters King Crimson territory with demos and live versions of 'Easy Money' and 'The Night Watch,' with the live version of the latter being a particularly nice version. Many of the demo versions here ('Woman,' 'The Laughing Lake,' 'Magazines') include microphone clonks and extraneous sounds, as Wetton hums tunes against a piano or guitar - odd listening, like leafing through a very old diary. 'Rich Men Lie' is a demo with electric piano, synths and drum machine beneath the vocal, while 'Cologne 1977' lies somewhere between demo and final recording. The demo and live versions of 'The Book Of Saturday' and 'Starless' are fascinating, and Crimson fans will definitely want to hear these. Also covered are 'The Glory Of Winning' (multi-tracked voices and all) and three more versions of 'The Laughing Lake.' Another version of 'Starless' is accompanied by acoustic guitar as Wetton hums the tune. This disk ends with versions of 'Cologne' (this time 1997) and a curious, doom-laden piano-led version dated 1997 of 'Starless.' Though this disc is almost without exception interesting listening, it is aimed at collectors of Wetton and Crimsonalia. ‘Jack-Knife’ is rather a different prospect. Prepared with Richard Palmer-James (who took over as Crimson's lyricist when Pete Sinfield departed the band), the album consists of nine complete tracks, and is the first release since 1995. Opening with the funky guitar/synth led 'Wish You Would,' the material is pop-rock, underpinned by Wetton's superb bass playing. 'Too Much Monkey Business' is a live version of the opening track from the other disc, while 'You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover' has the feel of disposable pop. 'Confessions' follows similarly, but 'Eyesight To The Blind' is rather a good synth-rock number featuring a bluesy vocal. 'Walk On Heaven's Ground' and 'Mustang Momma' have good tunes and are to these ears the best tracks on the album. The closer, 'Adoration,' is a whimsical ditty. More fun for Crimson/Wetton fans.  (www.cherryred.co.uk)

‘Snowghost Pieces’ by Moebius, Story & Leidecker is a collection of eleven high-tech electronic pieces, bringing together Moebius (best known as being one half of Cluster) and the two American musicians Tim Story and Jon Leidecker, both of whom have back catalogues almost as impressive. Album opener 'Flathead' mixes a hypnotic sampled rhythm with various electronic sounds and pads to create an absorbing piece. The album tracks are apparently improvised, but you would not know from the compositional quality and style, as evinced by 'Treadmill' and 'Cut Bank,' both of which match oddity with traditional chord sequences. 'Fracture Fuss' ups the tempo and adds a very nice overlay of melodic synths and weird little effects - an album highlight for certain. 'Yaak' and 'Olara' are more downtempo, with hints of early '80s Tangerine Dream in the former and Steve Reich mallet instrument minimalism in the latter. 'Whelmed' is a glacially slow dub piece, while 'Pinozeek' has an Orb flavour to it, with its sampled toy instruments and glitchy additions. The album closes with 'Vex' and 'Defenestrate,' which both use sampled rhythms and slow mutation of sounds to excellent effect; the former blessed with a fab bass. Given how difficult it is these days to do anything different in electronic music, this is a very good album indeed. Recommended. (www.bureau-b.com)

Little Red Rabbit Records have of late been expanding their sound world, and ‘Peaks’ by P.J. Philipson - a member of Starless & Bible Black and The Woodbine & Ivy Band - continues this foray. (The album is released on the ‘outsider’ imprint Little Crackd Rabbit.) Consisting of twelve improvised pieces played on massively delayed electric guitar and recorded one night in Manchester in a church, the album has just about enough diversity and melody to carry it. By turns melancholic, tonally bright, fast, slow, and church organ-like via a swell pedal, elsewhere Fripp-esque, the pieces make for great ‘last thing at night’ listening. Without overdubs and inspired by the local landscape, this is an intriguing release, and certainly one to play for those ‘reflective’ moments. I liked it a lot. (www.littlecrackdrabbit.co.uk)

‘Acid Witch Mountain’ by Masters comes across as psychedelic film music - all instrumental, all hinting at retro territories, with lots of surf guitar, 'sixties guitar, fuzz guitar, clattering drums and thunking bass. Piloted by the recording duo of Christos Fanaras and Miklos Kemecsi here's more than a hint of West Coast surf style in these short pieces, although the opening track, beginning with a great, mysterious note sequence, is perhaps untypical of the work as a whole. The whole thing is very well orchestrated and sizzling with atmosphere. The second, third and fourth tracks bristle with spiky guitars, oddments of percussion and subtle keyboard layers, with surf guitar and brass section stabs making frequent appearances. The fifth track brings in a lurching rhythm and a the kind of gonzo guitar and Egyptian vibe that you get in spoof Oriental films, while the sixth track has more gothic elements, with particularly good drums. The seventh track is an ambient interlude, before the listener is off again on a psychedelic trek, with the Terry Riley-esque ninth track an album highlight. Fans of retro cinema will lap up this great album, which is superbly arranged and orchestrated. Excellent. (www.adaadat.co.uk)

Alana Amram & The Rough Gems hail from New York, with Amram herself a veteran of the American music scene; she has played alongside or worked for a long list of sonic notables. Her third album ‘Spring River’ is Americana played with a small band - drums, bass, guitar and pedal steel guitar. Opening with the soft/loud cosmic rock of the title track, the mood is duly set. The lady herself has a smooth, slightly nasal voice, which goes well with the material here, all of which is beautifully played by what I guess is her current hand-picked band. 'Window Rock' is a great mix of lighter (pedal steel) elements and scroonging slide guitar, superbly played by long-time collaborator Scott Metzger. Great track. 'Should I Go Now' is more of a ballad, with a classic ballad chord sequence, while 'Motorbike' comes over like a forgotten REM oldie, with great lyrics: ‘The streets are like cocaine, and I can't get enough.’ 'Another Man's World' opens with a hint of Eno via guitar and pedal steel (again, beautifully played) before 'Daughter Of The Sun' returns us to trad Americana territory, mournfully sung, with more than a hint of heartache. 'Train' is a thunking rock number, and perhaps not as successful as the more subtle numbers, while 'People Like To Talk' again merges a melancholy backing with a vividly told tale. Album closer 'Tall Oak Tree' introduces maybe the most affecting vocal on the album, telling another sad tale: ‘Tall, old tree, battered by the sea’. This album oozes class. (www.alanaamram.com)

Tuneful, brisk pop-rock is the mode d'emploi of Seattle residents Vibragun, whose eight track self-titled album brings rippling guitar and thrumming bass to a number of cuts. Opening with the uptempo 'Send Me To The Dream,' the sound world is uncompromising: rock band, mostly guitar-based, with songs intercut by dramatic instrumental sections. Well-recorded drums add considerably to the mix, but the bass is particularly good here, courtesy John West. 'Supernova Comedown' hints strongly at Jane's Addiction, but is a great track in its own right, as is the more UK-sounding 'Dream Disintegrate,' where Amber Joy Smith comes in on vocals. 'Charm Bracelet' is more of a stomper where main man Joel Bergstrom's vocals come across like an alternate Psychedelic Furs; and more great bass on this cut. 'All The Cool Kids' packs a lot into its just-over-two-minutes, and here there's a hint of Canadian rock maestros Rush. Great track. 'Get Away' returns the listener to Smith's more ethereal vocals, while album closer 'Dirty Thing' is a thrashing dual-vocal rock bash. This album isn't just very well put together, it has swagger and more than enough musicality to raise it above so many other rock acts. Great stuff. (www.vibragun.com)

Yodelling Dutch prog-pop band Focus will need no introduction to a Terrascopic audience. In ‘Golden Oldies’ they present nine re-recordings of their classic material, including such world-wide smashes as 'Hocus Pocus' and 'Sylvia.' On their own admission, they were unsure that this album was such a good idea, but the recordings went so well they decided to go ahead with it. Not being a fan of the band originally I approached this album as a ‘new’ listener, although the two tracks mentioned above are known to me. 'Hocus Pocus' has all the madness and over-the-top musicality of the original, while 'Sylvia' is such a strong tune it can easily weather a new version. Jan Akkerman's 'House Of The King' features main man Thijs van Leer on flute, while van Leer's 'Neurotika' is a jazz-rock whirlwind with more yodelling! The two 'Focus' tracks all have great Hammond playing and a nice relaxed vibe, with Menno Gootjes' guitar to the fore. Whether this album will recommend itself to the band's fans is a moot point, but coming to it as a new listener, there is much to enjoy here. A brave move, I'd say, and successful musically. (www.focustheband.com)

Another band reappearing from long ago is Curved Air, with ‘North Star’ being their first album of new material since 1976, although the band in their current form have been gigging since 2009. 1976 is a long time ago, but a few of the original members remain; notably iconic singer Sonja Kristina, whose voice is in fine form, but not forgetting drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and guitarist Kirby Gregory, who rejoined the band last year. The overall sound leans into jazz rock, in no small part because of the busy bass of Chris Harris, though the Rhodes/synth sound of keyboards man Robert Norton adds to this also. 'Times Games' is notably jazz rock; this could easily be a Jean-Luc Ponty number, and it's played with considerable verve. A few of the tracks are co-written by original Curved Air violinist Darryl Way, including 'Puppets,' 'Situations' and 'Young Mother,' though Way doesn't play on this album. There are also a few cover versions, including an great version of The Police's 'Spirits In The Material World' - an album highlight, this. Robert Norton's cover of Snow Patrol's 'Chasing Cars' is very relaxed, though perhaps not an obvious choice of cover version. The album closes with an almost ambient version of The Beatles' 'Across The Universe,' which I have to say, as a massive Beatles fan, ain't at all bad. The mix of original material and cover versions works really well on this album. Curved Air fans should definitely investigate, even though it has been a long wait. (www.curvedair.com)

And so to the final album in this tryptich of progressivity, ‘Children Of The Cosmos’ by original Curved Air violinist Darryl Way. This is a solo album in all regards - played by the man alone, with most songs written by him (there is one traditional cover and one instance of Pachelbel's Canon). Listeners familiar with the solo work of ex-Hawkwind violinist Simon House will enjoy the mix here of electronic sounds (supported by drum machines), a wide variety of violin sounds, and Way's rather good vocals, which reminded me in places of original Steve Hackett Band vocalist Pete Hicks. The opening couple of tracks are quite slow and moody, but the album sparks into life with the brilliant 'The Best Of Times' - uplifting and gorgeous track. 'Summer Of Love' looks back to '60s times, and features a scorching violin solo at its close, while 'Don't Look Back' is an uptempo and positive song about the mistakes of ignoring the future; and here we encounter Pachelbel. 'Fire With Fire' features a female vocalist known only as Rosie, but she has a lovely voice and it's a great song (Way has a distinct ear for a tune). 'Lagan Love' is a version of the trad tune, while the next three tracks are tales of winter, modernity and America, each different in tone. Way is honest in admitting that finding ‘age appropriate’ lyrics were ‘a challenge,’ but there are no problems here. The album concludes with 'Sergey,' which is a kind of classical romp, uptempo and witty. Varied moods, tunes, superb playing and a sense of joie de vivre make this a very enjoyable album. (www.darrylway.com)

Chris Braide is a songwriter who has written for the good and the great, and the not-so-great also, unless you happen to like sugary American pop. His third solo album ‘Fifty Dollar Planets And Twenty Cent Stars’ presents eleven pop-rock songs. 'This Is For The Girl' is a strong tune given a synth-heavy arrangement, and this is an album highlight. 'Let Me Love You' is a smoky dance-floor slow-burner with the kind of heavily compressed sound beloved of modernity; nice arrangement though. 'It's Not Too Late' reminded me favourably of Del Amitri - great tune and vocal. This would be a hit if it was a single - the album highlight for sure. 'Take What You Can' is another fine vocal, here underpinned by strummed guitar before other instruments come in. This one reminded me of World Party, and is another highlight. 'Agent Wilde And The Speedway Dancers' closes the album in lyrically quirky style. A certain anonymity pervades this album, in part due to its production I think; three excellent songs though. (www.cherryred.co.uk)

Last year I reviewed the 'sorted, man' space-trumpet EP ‘Sun Radar’ by ex-James brass afficionado Andy Diagram's dance outfit Spaceheads, another band close to the Terrascope’s heart and veterans of one or more Terrastock festivals - and here they are again with another four track EP, this time entitled ‘Trip To The Moon.’ It's the same uptempo mix of trumpet mutations, loops and wacky samples, opening with 'Cosmic Freight Train,' wherein Hassell-style muted drum sounds turn into train horns and the like. Great stuff; witty and musically clever to the max. The title track is slower, with extended trumpet sounds acting against blippy samples, while 'Dirty Planet' is a funky booty-shaker with an irrepressible rhythm and much sample-o-delia on top. 'Spooky Action (At A Distance)' opens with, indeed, some spooky trumpet and vocal samples, before heading off into a kind of dubby film soundtrack from some alternate 1955. More great music from these lads. (www.spaceheads.co.uk)

Ziguri make big krauty spacerock on their self-titled album, with three musicians making up the trio: Dieter Kölsch, Udo Erdenreich and Günther Schickert, with this latter - the combo's guitarist - notable for his work with Klaus Schulze. Active between 1987 and 1997, the trio reformed in 2011 and have recently completed their debut release. Opening with the tribal drums, thrumming bass and the subtle echo-laden guitar of Schickert on 'General Klickman,' the music is a strange amalgam of motorik rhythms and trippy, heavily effected vocals, with the guitars floating in, out and above the music. It's not freeform, but it has elements of improv. 'Massa' channels the music of Ashra Tempel into a marvellous guitar-laden piece, with again the tribal drumming providing a solid foundation. 'Yoyodyne' is more of a rock/fuzz piece, slower in tempo and with the bass more to the fore. The dual Teutonic vocals are something of an acquired taste, but not entirely out of place, and certainly not impossible to listen to. 'Bella Hopp' again uses the Hillage echo technique to great effect, and this cut is perhaps the one in which Schickert shines the brightest; nice bass too. The album closes with 'Goa Construction,' which is a kind of ambient Hawkwind piece rooted on effected bass and thudding drums (the drums throughout the album are ‘tribal’ in the Peter Gabriel sense). Space cadets will certainly want to check out this intriguing release, with those into krautrock guitar players (eg Manuel Göttsching) in for a pleasant surprise. (www.bureau-b.com)

‘Sultry Kissing Lounge’ by Markus Reuter is a collection of ‘touch guitar’ instrumentals played by the artist on the spring 2014 Crimson ProjeKCt Tour. In this collection of thirteen short pieces (typically around six minutes) Reuter uses his high-tech synth/guitar to create a series of floaty instrumentals. In each case the pieces opened the live set, providing a launching point for two drummers to come in. They're all quite ambient, occasionally ('Francesca') in Eno mode, although some head off into stranger territory, such as the more Frippesque 'Veronica.' 'Josefine,' the piece last played (though not last on the album), is a particularly nice combination of textures and long-hanging solo notes. For fans of this tour the album will make excellent listening, but even those who didn't catch it will enjoy it as a late-night chilled experience. (www.markusreuter.com)

Antifolk - now there's an interesting genre. Music For Dead Birds make antifolk on their album ‘Vitamins,’ and essentially it's folk-sounding but with rock guitar, bass and drums. All of the tracks use the quiet/loud/quiet dynamic evolved in the '90s grunge scene, not least on the dramatic opening cut 'Forever Wasted.' This Irish band have been going for seven years, and are a tight unit; the songs have a hint of trad and a lot of rock. 'It's Fine' opens with acoustic guitars before going off into the heavy stuff, 'Magic Witch' employs a great riff, while 'Dead Pets' uses the dirtiest guitar distortion. 'I Could See It' has more of a nihilist air, while album closer 'A Better View,' opening with a classic acoustic guitar run, then goes into a great mixture of bare electric guitar and rolling vocals before once more going all grunge. The sudden stop/starts, so beloved of Seattle residents, do sometimes get a little wearing, but it's never less than intriguing listening, and the good songs have their own chutzpah.


‘Empty Town’ by Alec Danger (a Finnish gentleman I believe) is an EP length collection of six songs roughly in singer-songwriter mode, albeit with orchestration, opening with '18th Century House,' which nicely mixes cats, accidental meetings, trumpets and slide guitar into an engaging song. Danger's voice hints at James Taylor in places. 'Nobody Knows' has a loping jazz vibe to it, both in its conversational vocal and deep, deep bass. 'Pie In The Sky' matches a catchy chorus with a more produced (keyboards, etc) arrangement, while 'Jade' is a weird little electro-stomper with more than a hint of the '80s about it. 'On That Day' takes out most of the synths to keep essentially voice and guitar, to the song's success; this is the most attractive song on the EP, and certainly my favourite. EP closer 'Please Don't Tell Me' returns to a more uptempo sound and more synths. There's much here to enjoy, and though I think the less produced tracks work best, the whole EP stands up very well to repeated listens. Subtle and melodic; recommended. (‘Teosto’ - no contact details given)

Manchester duo Shield Patterns, formed in 2012, present on their debut album ‘Contour Lines’ a mixture of deep, dark, dense synth landscapes around which the half spoken, half whisper/sung voice of Claire Brentnall variously floats, intersects and dives beneath. 'Shade' and 'Carve The Dirt' stand awash in reverb and multiple delays, making a kind of synth-gothic soundscape. Very effective indeed. The listener is inevitably reminded of some of Kate Bush's earlier ‘whispered’ work, eg. on ‘Never For Ever,’ and there is a hint of Bush in Brentnall's voice. ‘Ghost Words’ is perhaps more of a traditional sound, and again I was reminded of Kate Bush, but this is no bad thing, and the voice/band are entirely original. Lead single 'Dust Hung Heavy' matches another fey vocal with glitchy and tribal synths and samples, while 'Dead Air' is like listening to artfully preserved audio fragments woven into a song. Fantastic. 'Present State' is quite harsh compared to the rest of the album, and mostly instrumental; perhaps an earlier piece. The album closes with 'Weyoume' and 'Charon,' both of which further explore spooky, effect-heavy musical timbres. This is one of the best albums of its type that I've heard for ages. Highly recommended, and a real delight to listen to. (www.gizehrecords.com)

The Galileo 7 are a band formed from the ashes of influential proto-baggy '80s group The Prisoners, whose only link is main man Allan Crockford. (I enjoyed their three track State Productions sampler, reviewed last year.) On the band's third album ‘Down Memory Lane’ eleven groovy, catchy, vaguely retro, organ-infused pop-tastic songs hove into view, opening with the inspiring and upbeat 'Don't Follow Me,' to which I say, ‘Tune!’ 'My Cover Is Blown' has quieter bits and another great chorus, while 'You're Not Dreaming' does similarly. The title track brings in acoustic guitars and a hint of strings mellotron, as Crockford's slightly reserved, slightly nasal voice relates a tale of looking inward to make sense of life: ‘Trying to make sense of a world behind my eyes.’ 'Nobody Told You' is ‘obviously’ retro, with great backing vocals and the obligatory harpsichord (hey, we've all done it). Great cut, this! 'Don't Know What I'm Waiting For' has more than a hint of New Wave in it; maybe a hint of the Buzzcocks. 'I'm Still Here,' 'Tide's Rising,' 'Fools' and 'Don't Want To Know' all continue the formula of catchy, multi-harmonied songs (recalling the early work of the Charlatans in places) before the whispery, spooky vocal of 'Little By Little' closes the proceedings. Highly entertaining and great fun. (http://bit.ly/VMavsn )

Akin to The Galileo 7 is Suzi Chunk, three tracks from whom I enjoyed last year even more (on the same sampler). So, on the same label and equally as far out is the new single by her and Groovy Uncle, which shakes booty, parps brass and jangles tambourine like a good retro single should. A great cut with tons of surf-tastic energy! As Mark Radcliffe observed some years ago about something completely different, ‘if you don't like this, you don't like music.’ No pressure then, Mark. B-side 'Wet Weekend' is slower but just as strong, channeled, it would seem, direct from 1966. Simply irresistible for all who like music. It's a limited edition of 500 on heavyweight vinyl, so don't leave it too long, eh?

‘For Those Who Caught The Sun In Flight’ by Tomorrow We Sail (a Leeds-based collective of seven members formed in 2009) is an album of intensely moody, deeply reverberated and beautifully orchestrated tracks, many of them quite lengthy. 'The Well & The Tide' contains an impassioned vocal and slowly beating drums, with orchestral instruments and synths backing; a very striking opening. 'Never Goodbye' is a standout, continuing the compositional method of gradual building and gradual decay, as instruments come in and out of the mix, beneath the layers of vocals. I can see why this band toured with Last Harbour. 'December' builds into a full rock track, with crashing drums and cymbals, guitars flying everywhere and keening synths - comparisons with Sigur Ros are not inaccurate. 'The White Rose' opens with haunting female vocals, and was an opening single release for the band, with what seems to be a strong political message, while album conclusion 'For Rosa' utilises guitars and more drums and crashing cymbals as it follows its anthemic fourteen minutes. It's the sort of album that, after listening, makes you think, ‘wow, that was quite an experience.’ (www.gizehrecords.com)

Everyone loves '60s styled retro! Or so it seems. Of course, you have to have top quality songs for it to work, else it's just aimless pastiche. ‘She's On Her Way’ by Michael Lynch just about makes it into the not-pastiche section, as jangly guitars, piano and ‘ooh ooh’ backing vocals skitter over a pattering mid-60's beat. There's a hint of The Move and a hint of Merseybeat. The backing cut 'This Girl' is slower and roughly as strong as the A-side. Promising.

(http://bit.ly/1rs8oca )

Hayley Reardon (2012 Bostonian Of The Year!) on her album ‘Wayfindings’ offers the listener seven tracks of Americana singer-songwritery in quite mellow mood, opening with the strummed guitars and pattering tabla of 'Nervous,' which would doubtless go down well in folk country. Reardon is very young, only seventeen, but there is an assuredness in the singing especially that suggests an older musician. The songs are personal and supported by guitar, cello and tabla (‘which I fell in love with’) to good effect. The songs meander in classic style - these aren't ‘tunes’ - but are uniformly good. Rather ironically the standout track is the last one, 'Make Some Good,' which has the best vocal and a particularly nice guitar accompaniment, with the cello also strong; beautifully put together. Those into Tracy Chapman might like this. (www.hayleyreardon.com)

‘Seven Seas’ by Lab Partners immediately recalls Ride and Slowdive, but to my mind also the fuzzy songs of De Vries on his outstanding album ‘Death To God.’ 'Simple Machine' belts it out, but 'Taking Our Time' slows things down and adds a delightful little guitar riff. This tune is drawled out in a manner so remarkably like Travis DeVries that I checked to see if it was him! It wasn't. Great song anyway, and an album highlight for sure. 'Starlight' is upbeat and rocky, with another strong tune (these guys can write), while 'Do You Feel Life' is a bit more warm and fuzzy, with multiply layered guitars working nicely; and a strong chorus. Another album highlight is 'Six Times,' with a great arpeggiated riff and some groovy Hammond. 'The Set Up' is cool, but 'Mothman Night Terrors' (great title!) is massive and anthemic - another album highlight. In a nutshell, then - this is good, very good, and comes recommended from me. (www.labpartners.net)

Last year I reviewed the marvellous ‘Firefly’ by The Wonder Revolution, so I was pleased to hear the follow-up, ‘WOW.’ In similar mode to the previous album the songs on ‘WOW’ are created apparently from acoustic loops, played by real people, with dreamy vocals floating on top - a winning combination when done this well. 'Breathing With A Butterfly' is brief, rippling along on acoustic guitars, while 'Moss Clumps, Knee High' is more like a walk through ancient greenery. 'Clusters' comes over like a long lost Genesis track from 1971, albeit with dual dreamy vocals floating impossibly gossamer-like on top. Really gorgeous - this band has a style all its own, despite the obvious dream-pop/shoegaze associations. 'Tree Woman' ramps up the quantity of acoustic guitar loops, adding birdsong for that sunny afternoon feel - beautifully done - while 'Wonder Mind (Let It Shine)' is, almost, a traditionally structured song; the nearest this band will get to a standard single! 'Pixie Mountain' similarly is perfect music for a sunny summer afternoon, this time with a multiplicity of vocal chorales all flowing along with each other. The two concluding pieces do similarly, in both cases with a hint of Americana. Lovely, involving, special. If you liked the last album, this will be a definite purchase for you. (http://bit.ly/1oj6frm )

‘Please do not play this record while in a state of romantic agitation,’ advises the inner sleeve of ‘You're Mine Again’ by Nick Grey & The Random Agitation. Okay, no worries there. Devised by Nick Grey, a resident variously of France and Canada, the songs seamlessly blend acoustic instruments with subtle and timbre-varying synth backdrops, as on the title track opener, which matches a slightly creepy vocal (‘You're mine again!’) with a loping arrangement. All the songs feature multiple vocals, and half ambient, half electro backings - as Grey fan Julian Cope remarks on a previous release, ‘One of the most truly ambient records I've heard in many a year.’ 'Heart Of The Glacier' epitomises this perfectly, as does the following cut 'Structure & Faith,' albeit with a hint of very early '80s electropop. 'Wounded, Yet Feudal' is a weird mixture of Mercury Rev and Lou Reed (vocals, anyway), but 'The Wasp Lover' is more of a Bowie styled song, with an arch lyric: ‘She's on the lookout now, for my bones.’ We've all been there, Nick. The album concludes with Sarah Maison's 'Enchantée,' sung in French by her, which is a perfect closing statement. Lyrically both abstruse and witty. (www.nick-grey.com)

Drone music either works or doesn't, being so dependent on the particulars of the timbre and tone, and ‘Wilderness Of Mirrors’ by Lawrence English is, thank goodness, one of those that does work - there's nothing worse than a dull, disappointing drone. Built up from layers of stretched-out instrumentation, the composer remarks that ‘The amorphous and entangled nature of the modern world is one where thoughtless information prevails,’ and amorphous & entangled is the perfect description for this music. Backwards piano timbres seem to oscillate through the dense, fuzzy fabric of what appear to be distorted guitars, before doomier textures come into the listener's sensorium, and, much later, almost battle-like rumbles and thuds. A good drone, this, in which the trick of leaving timbres to linger just long enough, then moving on, is well caught. (www.hermana.co.uk)

I'm going to review ‘Talons EP’ by The Toothe from track 2, 'Mustard,' as track 1 didn't play. The band are American psyche-folkers, with a nice line in jaunty songs, enlivened, in the case of 'Mustard,' by a harmonica outburst. 'Husk' is similarly what the band call ‘Apocalyptic Americana,’ although Folk Noir is maybe better, the song rolling along on arpeggiated guitars, bass and a rather fab analogue synth. Nice! 'Slab' has that jolly 1-2-3-4 backing with a walking jazz bass that hints at British retro territory; and indeed this is the least Americana cut on the EP. Good little song. I liked 'Winedark' for its nasal, ironic vocal and wa-hey! backing vocals. Terrific guitars too. The EP closes with the title track, which is much softer than previous cuts, adding a really lovely vocal to the mix. You'd have to be quite a grumpy old bore not to like this. Carefree and breezy. (http://bit.ly/1oj6fI0 )

Returning to dreampop - female vocals, lots of reverb, slow pace - we find ‘Haunted Hall,’ an EP by Del Venicci, who are a duo formed in late 2012 to whom two other band members have recently been added. The sound of opener 'Speaking To Snakes' is quite distorted, even faux-industrial in places, which adds a certain fingers-down-the-blackboard quality. In the title track we come across a similar slightly uneasy feel, while 'Teenage Swingers' is filled with manic vocals and more of an upbeat vibe. 'Shadow Braid,' 'Jungle Arms' and 'Contagion' follow the same template, with the latter track featuring a stomping beat amidst all the reverb and angst. A curate's egg, this one. (www.teamclermont.com)

‘I Will Be A Pilgrim’ by Arch Garrison (the project of one Craig Fortnam, also of North Sea Radio Orchestra) is a superb homage to the chalk downland environments of southern England, played against subtle nylon guitars, light percussion and keyboards, and sung in a keening, not-quite-mournful voice. Openers 'Where The Green Lane Runs' and 'Everything All' are tuneful and evocative, sung in a voice that quite often recalls Robert Wyatt. 'The Oldest Road' is about the Ridgeway Trail, while 'Vamp 1' and its later sibling 'Vamp 2' are instrumentals played on nylon guitars, that in their style and feel evoke the kora (twenty-one stringed harp) of Mali, and the playing of African icon Ali Farka Toure. 'I Will Be A Pilgrim' opens with much keyboard work before the song appears; excellent harmonies here, and synth/keyboard interludes, themselves enlivened with finger cymbals. 'Bubble,' 'O Sweet Tomorrow' and 'Other People' are all as good as what has gone before, before the second instrumental and then the album closers, 'Six Feet Under Yeah' and 'Reprise,' the former of which lollops along on a swift 1-2, 1-2 beat, the latter of which again recalls the kora, plinking above backwards synths and high pitched keyboard ostinatos. Intricate arrangements, profundity, overall vision and terrific vocals make this an outstanding release. Highly recommended. (http://bit.ly/1p2VyPE )

The first album release since 2011 by Olekranon is ‘Danaus,’ an eleven track disc of noise, weirdness and other avante garde dronery. Some of the tracks are structured ('Nine Streams,'  'Marionette') while others are noise and drone ('Crooked Wheel', albeit with sampled rhythms, and 'Severed'). Fans of noiseniks Ursula Minor should enjoy this one. (http://bit.ly/1nnoz36 )

Brian Maloney is a member of revered US psych-rock band Black Sun Ensemble, but on his solo album ‘Lua De Pescadero’ (released this year, though recorded 2010-2011) he presents ten instrumental cuts, opening with the solo electric guitar of 'Avo Duarte Do Pescadero,' which is slow and melancholy, uplifted occasionally by distant drums and saxophone. Maloney is a multi-instrumentalist - this is truly a solo album, recorded as an accompaniment to the Black Sun Ensemble album ‘Across The Sea Of Id.’ 'Devil's Slide' continues the glacially slow mood, in a different arrangement, but 'Goodbye Annie' is rather different - hints of synth drone beneath an eerie solo acoustic guitar. 'I Remember Rainer' is similar, but with a radically different guitar sound; the drones are more complex too, changing timbre swiftly. 'Gray Wave Cove' has a full chord sequence and more subtle keyboard underpinnings, 'Ano Nuevo' bring in found sounds (fires crackling?) which adds much to the atmosphere, while concluding cut 'Waves At Montana' is a fabulous exercise in cut-up Indian psychedelia and whooshing synths. Although this is on the surface quite a simple album, it does draw you in through mood and playing style as you listen through it.


‘Firework’ by American art-popsters New God inevitably recalls the formula of reverb (in this case natural - an abandoned racquetball court) and multi-layered vocal harmonies that says Animal Collective, and, by extension, The Beach Boys. The tracks whizz by pretty quickly: 'Firework' and 'Demon Chant' both go in for big reverberation and many, many layers, but 'Summer Girl' is more of a traditional song - could be a single, even. 'Ocean Hum' returns to the multi-voice template, this time with a bit of a religious air, while 'More' skitters by on sampled percussion and drum machines, adding nicely vocodered voices to the mix - my favourite track, this. 'I Know Something About You' is again more of a trad song, accompanied by an Edge-like guitar, 'In A Flash' has glam drums and a charming tune, while album closer 'Dumb' features slow tempo and a kind of Righteous Brothers style, again reverberated by the racquetball court. An enjoyable listen indeed. (www.new-god.com)

City Walls Autumn Falls are an American band whose brand of mellow acoustic rock is both retro (CSNY) and more forward looking on their album ‘Factory.’ The opener is the title track, featuring layered vocals and harmonies that evoke that sun-kissed Laurel Canyon vibe of 1970 or thereabouts. 'December Moon' and 'You're Going To Miss Me' tell tales of love affairs gone wrong,  while 'Patti' is a nice little waltztime tale of times gone by, struggling and surviving. 'Sheltered Me' has a bit of a tune and a really nice pattering rhythm, underpinned by the bass, 'Lonely Too' is another lament for loves gone by and mind games gone wrong, while 'Let Love' has call-and-response vocals that work nicely with the lyrical concerns - more sadness. 'Heroes' has by far the best tune of the album - why isn't this the opening track? - while the album closes with 'Home,' which does exactly as it says on the tin. Those in need of a classic style American harmony group planted somewhere on the West Coast (although the band is from New York state) could do worse than investigate this release. (http://bit.ly/1AIcwpj )

‘Dream Machine’ by American fuzz-psych band The Freeways hovers, quite comfortably it must be said, between surf, Paisley Underground and psychedelia. 'Fast Wave' is a delightful little instrumental leading into the trippiness of 'Angels,' which features the laid-back vocal stylings of band leader Karen Zanes; backwards guitars and deeply reverberated backing vocals add to the confident, nicely arranged sound. 'Venice Beach' is another instrumental, with, again, a certain confidence in the sound and mix adding considerably to the listening experience. 'Paragon' alas is a bit of a mess, but at least it's short. 'Secret Mind' drops the vocals almost beneath the instrumentation so that you can't make out the lyrics, 'You're My Addiction' sounds like a surf-psych Joy Division, while 'Feel Your Body' revels in trippy tape effects, bass reverb and more of Ms Zanes' languid vocals. 'Easy Does It' is another, perhaps too artfully naïve song, while album closer 'To Just Be' is overtly surf, to great effect. A couple of goofy misses don't detract much from the enjoyment derived from listening to this album. (www.the-freeways.com)


    Thanks for those Steve. Over now to another Steve, the legend that is Steve Pescott, who’s been writing for Rumbles since the very beginning of time (although these are more recent):

I don't know what it is about sleeve art using crude black stencilling on white card stock, but to me it always suggests a hint of the forbidden and a basic, no b.s. approach. The latest entrant coming bedecked in that stark, crate-loving lettering is BABEL's ‘Sturm und Drang’ (c.d.) on the Arachnidiscs imprint (http://bit.ly/1oj6wKW ). This comes as a part two in Babelman Jakob Rehlinger's trilogy and as a follow up to the ‘Heurter’ c.d. Even though I'm not that conversant with sound collagist / psychester Jakob's modus operandi for this project, I'd suspect that this exercise in guitar gamelan would require the strings to be restrained in gaffa tape or somesuch, so as to avoid unnecessary sustain and bleed into the rhythmic warp and weft. Having had the merry hell beaten out of 'em, these tightly-bound victims seem to summon up an early period Glenn Branca-conducted unit gatecrashing a Z'ev-hosted percussion seminar, making for a surprisingly wide span of timbres, considering the fairly limited sources that were selected. And it's not the bug-eyed clatterfest one would expect, as one or two segments; with their doctored vocalese and primitive wind instrumentation, open a portal into weird M.R. Jamesian rune-casting invocations.....Mr. Karswell...they're playing your tune....and ever grateful of a tidy link, Jakob also sits in the big plush Executive Producer's chair for PARTLI CLOUDI's ‘Two Moron Ever Nose’ (c.d.). And like Babel, this is another purely one man operation, this time helmed by Stephen Wolf (also of noisists Summer Amp and improv unit New Yaki), which was painstakingly recorded over a four year stretch on Canada's Vancouver Island. Mock portentous varispeeded dialogues hover malevolently over the solid trudge of faux tribal rhythmatics and unusually colourful sonic juxtapositions. Check out my favourite ‘High Lonesome’ where a sludge brown voice is whipped to a fine froth by a massively detuned string pile-ip. A sweat-drenched psychedelic fever dream orchestrated by Max Ernst might be one way of perceiving this silver sliver, but then the very same effects could be induced by overdoing it on too many exotic cheese products before bedtime. P.S. What is it with those lovable moptop references? I refer you to...’Revolution No. 8’ and then, roll the c.d. title around your tongue a little?..Nice collaged sleeve too, which sees Ganesh (the Elephant God), a sea urchin and a rather large snake battle for supremacy over a image-crowded battlefield. Also on Arachnidiscs, but a clear country mile away from the school of Joe Collage, comes the ‘Intuitions’ c.d. by Beijing resident Michelle Proksell a.k.a. MUTED RAINBOW.  Tripping the light fantastic through this glorious collection however, I need to stress that there's nothing muted or Dulux pastel-shaded here. Instead this vibrant slice of improvised acid folk (fed through very discreet electroacoustic processing), greets the listener with a series of dazzling squiggles and slashes, all rendered in bold primary colours. Aided and abetted by a trio of pluckers/strummists (Gabriele de Seta, Gregorio Samsaro and Pupa Tag), one might imagine a whole host of exotic junkshop finds like fonofiddles, mandolas, psalterys and cymbalums being used. Though every screech 'n' twang remains uncredited. So you and I will just have to suck it in and rely on guesswork - which is half the fun as I'm sure you'll agree. Very difficult to select a standout track, if pressed, but after a moment or two of fairly deep thort, I'd head towards Michelle's wordless siren-tones that delicately swirl and waft around the seven minutes and thirty-five seconds of ‘Ave Maria’. A wide and expansive soundscape is generated which is made all the more surprising when one realises that these seven tracks were initially recorded in the confines of various bed and living room spaces. For those au fait with The Habibibyya, Angus Maclise, MV & EE, Forest and Denmark's Shiggajon...this is pretty essential...remember the name?

Rummaging through countless bins of audio detritus from all four corners of the known world (much in the same vein as Infinite Exchange's Posset), comes OMMM (also known to friend and foe alike as Edmund Davie). His latest c.d. ‘Sound Art’ finds this London-based zero-fi electronicist fiendishly concocting a hyperdense collection, bristling with static electricity crackle and ear-unfriendly loopage, while short wave transmissions and grey rhythmic mulch provides effective industrially shaded backdrops. These crackpot visions kick up enough ugloid whoomph for certain Japanoise monsters such as Pain Jerk, C.C.C.C. and The Incapacitants to rise as one, applaud warmly and award this new(ish) kid on the block with a laurel wreath and special commendation. Other facets of Edmund's fractured poisonality can be found on the 'Animal Fact' and 'Tape Moderne' imprints as Extractor Fan and D.J. Negative Skills respectively... (www.adaadat.co.uk) Also on the same label lives D.J. TOPGEAR. A name that unfortunately brings to mind those three dreadful, overgrown kid, car-bore tw*ts whose t.v. time is hopefully drawing to a close. Thankfully Tokyo resident and rampant noisemonger Simon Petre (aka D.J. Topgear), quite obviously has his grey matter set on far higher things than wire wheels and screeching rubber. His ‘PSS4’ (c.d.) with humourously monnikered pieces like ‘Fake Visual Touch Screen Vending Machine’, ‘Inconsolable Allegorical Warp’ and ‘Fitful Diarama Lacks Warmth’ seem to reference a certain Sonig Records-styled warped whimsicality (see Scratch Pet Land and a.e. for example...) which comes anchored to a strange fifties 'Festival of Britain'-like vibe where even a robot maid or particle accelerator could be within the grasp of anyone with (a) a soldering iron and (b) a subscription to ‘Popular Electronics’ magazine..and the very last product from the adaadat production line... It makes sense to me that the amount of cacophany churned out on the ‘Mountains of Mayonnaise’ c.d. by noisesome experimentalist ROMVELOPE (otherwise known as Bjorn Hatleskog), must surely have its origins in the infernal cacophone. But as any well-grounded cove surely knows, this instrument does not exist in our dimension and we are thankfully spared its terrible beauty. However, twenty-first century earth's 'no-imput mixer', beloved of Japan's Toshimaru Nakamura, can run it a close second. And in Bjorn's hands, it has been truly tested to destruction, as after fifty-two minutes of tortuous cracklings and purging, corrosive waveforms (see ‘Whoppler’ and ‘Rubberama’ especially), this box of (cruel) tricks eventually gave up the ghost and duly imploded. Proving the point that you just cant get sturdy circuitry these days... still, as long as it's within the warranty period and Bjorn has kept the receipt, he should be o.k. for a cash refund, or indeed a credit note to the value of...

    I first chanced upon TAMING POWER at a time when the good ship Terrascope was a paper and staples entity. Purely a one-man concern, Norwegian Askild Hagland has over time, pursued a rather isolated, lo-fi, avant gardist path, where his recordings have leant upon the barest minimum of instrumentation (guitars/tape decks), and then following suit, have been released in numbers very much in the bare minimum. The ‘Autumn Works 2000’ album for example, was a limited, blink and you'll miss it edition of two hundred, as was the ‘Selected Works 2000’ ten incher... The ‘Selected Works 2001’ has been deleted for well over twelve years and this reissue cdr certainly reinforces T.P.'s minimalist oeuvre as the the reel-to-reel tape recorder is again the centre of Askild's universe. The ten short(ish) tracks of processed/chopped 'n'diced feedback cover a number of variations of kosmiche gloop and industrially-charged atmospherics and it just goes to show, the less colours in the paintbox, the more the creative mind works to compensate. Imagine fifties lab-coated tape wizards Luening and Ussachevsky's ‘Tape Recorder Music’ l.p. (recently reactivated on Finders Keepers Records/U.K.), squeezed through an early eighties post punk/d.i.y. aesthetic and you're certainly over half way there... Contact: Early Morning Records, Markveien 29B, 0554 Oslo, Norway. earlymrecords@yahoo.no 

‘The Cessation Elegy’ c.d. by JAKOB RIIS & BILL HORIST (on the Lavathief imprint), comes as the culmination of a number of well-received gigs that this Danish/American alliance undertook in the U/S. North-West during 2009. And though the nicely appointed gold on black sleeve art might suggest a pastiche of a 'Tompkins Square' repro of a pre-war blues obscurity, the contents reveal anything but. Instead, it's a successful fusion of Jakob's laptop and processing handiwork with Bill's avant/sheet metal electric axework and occasional acoustic fingerpicking skills (think Peter Walker or Robbie Basho...). Leafy glade versus silicon valley projections like ‘A Rakish Gasp’ or ‘Wind, Tar to Baleene Flame’ certainly work as vital breathing space to the gitbox squall and a qwerty keyboard's noisesome workload, that's encapsulated in the epic ‘A Certainty Drowned in the Channels of Memory’. A very fetching and sonically bulging statement of intent from these associates of Lotte Anker/Mats Gustafsson and K.K. Null/John Zorn respectively). Unfortunately though, this has been issued in a number that only just reaches three figures... so speed is of the essence if you want to nab one... (lavathief@gmail.com) (lavathief.blogspot.co.uk)

You don't have to be that conversant with the blues, be it urban electric, folk-tinged or pre-war primitive to see that ex-member of Ghost and Fushitsusha H. USUI is completely at ease with the moods and structures associated with that art form. His ‘Sings the Blues’ l.p. shows him doing just that, albeit in his own idiosyncratic way. After all, even if the dozen tracks here don't exactly travel down the prescribed twelve bar route, there's still a certain something in the tempos, the ragged/hushed vocal moans and the sombre production values that suggest a certain primary colour that rhymes with 'glue'. This clanky, warts'n'all collection finds his vocals, guitar or banjo lines embellished with the occasional telling overdub of steel guitar whine (‘Dedication Blues’) and in ‘A Fake Blues’ stray blurts of cornet which suggest blind enthusiasm winning over musical ability and...is all the better for it. All things considered, (well not ALL..) this might be considered as occupying a middle ground between the confrontational folk angst of Kan Mikami and the ashen-faced, black dog gloom of Shuji Inaba. One thing is clear though...even though Usui san ‘woke up this mornin'‘ (that's a given...) this would be on a ringed planet with two moons and a denser atmosphere.  Contact: VHF Records, P.O. Box 7365, Fairfax Station, VA 22039, U.S.A. www.vhfrecords.com

Thanks, Steve. Now it’s time to delve back into the box and see what is lurking there.

    Raising a squall of heavy kraut noise, The Diaphanoids know how to get your attention on ‘LSME’ their rather excellent album that contains eight tracks of Psychedelic goodness, the sounds of Floyd, Tangerine Dream, Brainticket etc, etc to be found, although the band create their own identity from within these influences. After the noisy drive of ‘55th Dimesion Nervous Meltdown’, the band get into a mellower mood on ‘You Can't Shine if you Don't Burn’ a drifting epic with some wonderful guitar noises and a floatation tank ambience. From this point on anything goes the album filled with motorik beats, acid riffs, rambling synths and a healthy dose of imagination and attitude that makes it a pleasure from start to finish, a journey for the head that will get your body moving. (http://on.fb.me/1q7A02r )

    Playing heavy guitar driven Psych with a mix of Grunge and Shoegaze at its core, Dirty Lungs display plenty of energy on their self-titled  album. After a couple of fine opening salvoes the album really kicks into gear with ‘Dead In A Graveyard’ the sound of Hawkwind played by Mudhoney in a sleazy club with hardly any light but plenty of curling smoke and booze. To balance this ‘Crazy (Don't You Die)’ is a sad slow ballad with beautiful guitar rippling throughout and some heart felt vocals that compel you to listen. Elsewhere ‘It's All melted’ harks back to sixties Texan Psych with its lysergic riffery, whilst ‘Space, Man’ has a drifting Spacemen 3 vibe the tune getting progressively noisier as it drifts into a black hole. All in all a wonderful collection that is definitely a grower. (http://bit.ly/1vxdVvR )

    Continuing the reasonably noisy theme, The Forty Nineteens entertain with their brand of power pop on ‘Spin It’ their latest album which is a pleasing blend of guitars and melody. Opening track ‘Falling Down’ sets the scene, a song you will easily sing along to, as is ‘Modern Romance’ a nagging guitar riff and plenty of energy creating another power pop classic to get you moving. After seven quality tracks the album is rounded off with a fine cover of ‘Dead Flowers’ complete with honky tonk piano and a rolling bar room feel, the only problem being that you will find yourself singing the song for the rest of the day. Good stuff, especially for driving, fans of The Cars, The Stones or Tom Petty should enjoy this one. (http://bit.ly/YO38mf )

   Playing some quality power-pop songs with a hint of glam and the occasional foray into heavy rock, ‘Jupiter Diamond’ is highly enjoyable collection of Tunes from Peter Barron. Opening with the Bolan influneced ‘Electric Boogie’ the trio of bass/drums and guitar prove to be a tight a solid unit, the tight rhythm section of Danny Lectrow and Nick Harradence allowing plenty of foundation for the guitar and vocals of Mr barron. Filled with strong hooks, chunky riffs and a sense of storytelling, the whole album is mighty fine with highlights including the heavier sounding ‘Out on a Limb’ a tune that chugs along beautifully, the seventies rock of ‘Blood Runs Black’ and the sweet sounding title track, a ballad that closes the album in style although I can't hear the Prince influenced mentioned in the press release. I also could not find a link to the physical release. (http://bit.ly/1rs9gNV )

    Next up the Terrascopes favourite punk band, well the only one that sends us stuff to review and as we don't usually cover punk that is fine with us, I just have a soft spot for The Destructors, whose music usually makes me want to leap about and open a beer. Thing haven't changed. it seems. On their latest album ‘Malchance’ 13 songs about bad luck played at breakneck speed with plenty of three chord riffery and words that have meaning. Highlights include the sonic assault of ‘Psychic Hits (and Mrs), a song that sums up all that is good about the band, the twisted noise of ‘(I Am) The Dark Wave’ which has shades of Killing Joke running through it and the punk boogie of ‘I Hate You’ which will bring a smile to your face. The only downside is a slightly dodgy cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ that is best skipped over, other than that this is another noisy collection to get your revolution started. (http://bit.ly/1qB8FmJ )

   Also available is ‘Divide Et Impera’ a split EP featuring The Destructors and Cretin77, each band offering three songs. Filled with energy and passion, Cretin77 have all the right moves with ‘Johhny's Story’ being the pick of the trio  having an almost Ska undertone, whilst the longer ‘Transmission’ turns out to be a cover of the Joy Division tune that has plenty of drive although it was never going to be good as the original. As for The Destructors it is definitely business as usual as they work their way through the side with ‘For the Queen For the Country’ being suitably vitriolic whilst a cover of ‘Rosalyn’ is an interesting choice that goes a long way towards forgiveness for the ‘Eleanor Rigby’ thing, the disc wrapped up with ‘Underneath the Afghan Sun’ an angry song with acoustic guitars and a slower pace, yet containing a lot of power.

    Playing his own brand of Spiritually influenced guitar psych, Jesse Rakusin also known as Awaken has come up with his finest collection yet with ‘Moksha’ his latest album that contains seven tracks of mystical blues based sound that is noisy yet muted, the lo-fi production meaning the music drifts and floats as if recorded in a strong breeze reminding of ‘Seven Up’ the classic album from Ash Ra and T. Leary. Not that the music sounds the same but the hazy atmosphere created is mellow, other worldly and hauntingly psychedelic. Loud guitar music for those with a quiet soul. (http://bit.ly/1twgspK )

    With a film noire and slightly surreal atmosphere, ‘One Shapeless day’ is a haunting collection of tunes from Tom Fazzini. It all starts off well enough a sweet guitar melody giving ‘Essence’ a warm and sunny feel, but as ‘Signal Arrives’ the music begins to disintegrate, effects begin to emerge like insects from the wall cavities, the rhythm more electronic and disturbing. Extra strangeness is supplied by narrations by David Coxon the juxtaposition of words, melody and unexpected sound carrying the album forward creating a body of work that is startling, alive and unpredictable. As you continue the journey you become completely immersed in an alien and unsettling world with tracks like ‘The Programme’ mixing drone and paranoia, until, eventually ‘Maya Deren’ leads us back out with sweet guitar notes and melody. (http://bit.ly/1zjvmAm )

    Right here is a bit of an oddity for a summer rumble, ‘Psych-Out Christmas’ a whole collection of psychedelic Christmas tunes featuring the likes of The Fuzztones, Iggy, Sleepy Sun and The Movements. This actually arrived slightly too late for last Christmas so has been on hold for a while. After the traditional bad joke, fake sixties, spoken intro, things get going with a sitar drenched ‘Christmas Time (Is Here Again) from Elephant Stone which give the song a suitably Psych Pop coating, whilst The Cosmonauts get a bit heavier on ‘It's Christmas Day’. Slightly stranger is the latin influenced lounge rendition of ‘Silent Night’ by Quintron and Miss Pussycat, the tune definitely having a groove to it. Elsewhere on the disc Sons of Hippies offer us a great version of ‘Time of the Season’ that is heavy and moody, whilst The Fuzztones sound just like the Fuzztones on ‘Santa Claus’ and The Candy Store give ‘Frosty the Snowman’ a groovy sixties feel. Right at the end Iggy Pop arrives for a rendition of ‘White Christmas’ a large whisky is recommended whilst listening. So maybe kinda throwaway but much better than ‘Now that's what I call the same commercial Christmas shit you bought last year and the year before etc etc’ and much fun at least once. (http://bit.ly/1p2XIPa )

  Next up Dutch three-pieceThe Good Hand make lots of lovely melodic noise on ‘Atman’, a disc that contains plenty of riffing, melody and inventiveness, the band having a sound of their own yet remaining varied and interesting throughout the 12 tracks on show. To Open ‘Namaste’ is driven by a grungy riff and a solid rhythm that propel the song onward reminding me of Badgeman in their sound. Tinged with a more psychedelic feel ‘Greenwich Mean Time’ is a beautifully constructed track with some great playing and inspired touches that lift the song such as the phased drumming in the middle and the way the tune seems to be constructed from lots of small sections. Elsewhere on the disc ‘Enough is Enough’ has a mellow groove that is at odds with the lyrics, whilst ‘Anthem’ has a nagging riff that compels you to listen. Finally the title track ends the album with a squeal of feedback and a drifting lysergic cloud of noise before some lonesome chords and a single voice float in, the song picking up pace to become a full-on rock epic, filled with some excellent riffs and playing including an extended solo that takes the track up to the 20 minute mark without becoming dull, a good trick if you can pull it off.. So if you like rock with a coating of Psych and stoner thrown in then give this band a listen. (http://on.fb.me/1AIeGFh )

 Dirty, down tuned and sludge infested, Ichabod will blow the cobwebs away on ‘Dreamscapes from Dead Space’, their latest offering which comes after a couple of line-up changes and a renewed sense of purpose. Opening with the brutal sounds of ‘Huckleberry’ the band sound like a hurricane heading your way, the storm suddenly broken by a softer second half that is gently stoned, the energy ramped up again as ‘Looking Glass’ comes creeping in sounding like one of those Elektrohasch bands we used to review a few years ago. A personal favourite on the album is the stop/start riffing of ‘Baba Yaga’, the spirit of Sabbath never far away from the tune. From here on in, the band move between stoner psychedelia and heaviness with final track ‘Return of the Hag’ featuring plenty of wah and a flute adding another texture to the sound and ending a solid collection on a high, which is probably the best way to hear it. (http://bit.ly/1wlNcqg )

    Having sung backing vocals for Wolf People on their album ‘Fain’, the voices of Stick In The Wheel may well be familiar to Terrascope regulars. On their latest EP ‘Bones’, the band play stripped down folk that defintely echo the sounds of Wolf People, dark and sinister songs that are rich with atmosphere. Over five tunes the band sing of madness, Loom Weavers, murder and allmanner of traditional folk themes with ‘Four Loom Weaver’ and ‘Poor Old Man’ being particularly striking. Not listed on the cover, a final track ‘Ends’ (so the press release tells me) is a haunting slice of ambience that is creepy and compelling, rounding of an excellent collection that is filled with great playing, wonderful vocals and oodles of energy. (http://www.stickinthewheel.com/)

    Housed in a lovely home-made package and long overdue for review, ‘In Ruins’ is an inventive collection of songs with and experimental edge created by Sebastian Melmoth, who are a band rather than an individual. Opening track ‘The Engineering Of Consent’ mixes Timothy Leary samples with ambient musical backing, the words and sounds blending beautifully creating a dream like state in the listener. On ‘Miet Mitzvah’ there is a hint of Lou Reed in the melody and vocal delivery, whilst ‘White Noise and Bleak Horizons’ has a far more experimental bent, the track opening with a swarm of electronic insects before developing into a dark pulsating ritual that is dense and startling, forever increasing the tension as it proceeds. Throughout the rest of the album the band walk effortlessly between these soundscapes, the lyrics always entertaining, the music edgy yet catchy. Good stuff that deserves a listen. (http://bit.ly/1sgAlze )

    Playing a groovy fuzzed up psych pop sound, DeathCats have much to enjoy on their album ‘All Hail Deathcats’ with opener ‘Solid’ proving to be a catchy slice of that sound with plenty of attitude and energy to spare. Elsewhere ‘Jaguar’ has a punk/new wave sound, whilst ‘Saturday Night Golden Retrevier’ bristles with electricity, rattling along with a great big grin on its face. By the time you get to ‘Troll Toll’, the moodier closing tune that suddenly bursts into life, you will have danced around the room, drank more than you should and also have a great big grin on your face, not terribly original but most entertaining. (http://bit.ly/1gN684B )

    Mixing ambient psych, a little bit of prog and the type of atmospheric music championed by the likes of  Eno or Jon Hasell, the music of Landeril is emotional, relaxing and always interesting. After ‘Little Boy Crystal’ the mellow folksy opener, thing become more ethereal as electronics and percussion collide on the short instrumental ‘Skyspray’, the piece serving as an introduction to ‘If Your Smile Was Meant For Me’ a Lovely acoustic song that has a distinctive vocal style that defines it. Loaded with melancholy, ‘Over Land and Sea-Delivered’ sees Jessica Bailiff guest with some atmospheric vocals that blend well with rest of the  instrumentation used on the tune. At just over 4 minutes ‘The Black Swarm’ turns out to be the longest piece on the album, a rhythmic slice of atmospheric drone, that drifts quietly into a minimalist sea of sound, the whole album completed by ‘A City Trout’, another short piece that blends beauty with more experimental sounds. A relaxing and thoughtful collection that walks the line between sleep and dreams. (http://bit.ly/1v9vzbH )

    Containing a similar sound palette but with more electronic textures ‘The Act Of Letting Go’ the latest album from Cellarscape is a vibrant collection of tunes with a bright production and an inquisitive heart. Opening track ‘ Iteration’ is a brief flash of glitchy flamenco that gives away to the pulsating vibe of ‘Look Backwards, Lean Forwards’ a piece that uses the tensions between acoustic and electronic sounds to ram home its message. Elsewhere, ‘We Shape the Clouds’ is a beautiful piano ballad with ghostly electronic touches, whilst ‘Circa 39’ has a softly spoken ambience at the beginning,, the song slowly building the tension as more instrumentation arrives, a repeated vocal line adding to the feel. Possibly the most interesting piece is ‘Timelapsetiredsky’ a ten minute epic that moves from sweet guitar tune into denser passages of sound that still retain melody and purpose, with droning strings adding plenty of emotion. (http://bit.ly/1wlNBce )

    Featuring members of The Olivia Tremor Control, Circulatory System, Moths and The Good Ship, amongst others, Old Smokey, seem to want to redefine Americana on their excellent album ‘Wester Easter’ a rollicking collection of tunes featuring Banjo, Lap Steel, Strings, Clarinet and Drums, the instrumentation allowing the band to move from more traditional sounds through to European Gypsy stylings, Western soundtracks and country picking all played with a rock and roll heart. After the chanted and lively stomp of ‘Dead Man's Post’, the Gypsy feel can be found on ‘The Transylvania Effect’ whilst ‘You're Always Gonna Be Able To get One More’ is Wyrd Americana, traditional music with a psychedelic haze hanging around its head, that sound continued on ‘All the Way Slow’ which reminds me of Kaleidoscope (U.S.), in fact that band serves as an excellent reference point for this album especially if you imagine it blended with the music of Puerto Muerto, another band who tread a similar path. Anyway over this band rarely put a foot wrong and should you should definitely check them out, the whole collection rounded off by the excellent ‘Transylvania Jam’ a not so hidden, hidden track. (http://bit.ly/VMbc53 )

    To end this edition of Rumbles a brace of releases from the always excellent Front and Follow label (www.frontandfollow.com) . First up Kemper Norton reinterprets ‘To Mahina’ originally by The Doomed Bird of Providence and concerning Australia's worst natural disaster in 1899 when a cyclone killed 400 people, washing dead dolphins to the top of 50 foot cliffs. As you would imagine, the music is suitably atmospheric and downbeats, shards of electronics creating a cold and deadly atmosphere that walks the line between modern electronics and early German pioneers. Over four tracks the music remains glacial and strangely beautiful with vocals fom the original track adding a chilling atmosphere to the collection that works best as one long piece split into four parts rather than four individual pieces.

    Delicate, fragile and almost ghostly, the music of Lutine, mixes elements of folk, classical and minimalism into a gossamer whole, with sweet harmonies and sparse instrumentation drifting together to create ‘White Flowers’  a ten track collection that will enchant your cynical self and relax your very soul. Featuring Heather Minor and Emma Morton, the first thing that strikes you is their beautiful voices that work so well together with the title track being an early highlight, piano and voice dancing softly and joyously around the room, the equally wonderful ‘So It Goes’ having a traditional feel and something of the qualities of Shirley and Dolly Collins about it. Another highlight is ‘Come Wander’ the voices seemingly on their purist on this tune the notes dripping like water off trees after a summer rain shower. Featuring a wider instrumental selection, ‘Death and the Lady’ has droning backdrop over which the two voices intertwine singing a traditional sounding tune that has all the hallmarks of a future classic. To end, ‘To The Sea’ sounds like coming home, a sad, melancholy tune that seems to be tinged with longing for better times.  This is a truly delightful collection that will definitely be played frequently around here and seems the perfect place to end this mammoth Rumble. Thanks as ever to everyone who sent us stuff and to those who wrote about it.

Terrascopic Rumbles for August was brought to you by Simon Lewis, with contributions from Steve Palmer and Steve Pescott. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2014