A new month arrives, a new Rumbles begins... let’s go!
Working out of Germany, Killflavour are a bunch of psych-heads whose music is completely improvised whether recorded or on stage. On their latest album ‘Liquid Songs of a Deadbird’, the musicians induce a can-like groove with repetitive tribal drumming and half-sung, half-spoken vocals, the whole thing alive with electronic textures and swirling guitar. On other pieces there is a spacier more open sound, giving the musicians plenty of room to impress. For wholly improvised music there is obviously a high level of communication and understanding between the musicians, the songs ebbing and flowing with a unified vision creating some fine and varied psychedelic rock music with much to enjoy. Also available is ‘The Flavour of 51 Mandingos’, which treads a similar path and contains 9 songs all called ‘Mandingo'. (www.killflavour.com)
Anyone planning to drive a long distance should check out the heavy stoner-rock sounds of Rotor, whose album ‘r3’, is a glorious riff-fest containing 10 doses of instrumental metal. Both melodic and complex, the music twists and turns like an eel in a bucket, ensuring the listener is never bored or complacent. Leaving the best until last, the seven minute closing track ‘Transporter’ is filled with some wonderful and imaginative guitar playing and contains a whole albums worth of riffs amongst it grooves. (www.elecktrohasch.de)
Recently released on Ambientlive recordings, ‘The Crypt Of Artificial Intelligence’ and ‘Golden Ear Machine’ are two early albums by Mooch which have not previously been released. Recorded in 1994, ‘The Crypt’ features two synth players and a bassist, as well as Guitar and other sounds from Steve Palmer, who is the mainman behind the project and also remastered these albums for this release. Sounding like a mystical blend of The Orb and The Ozrics, the music is ambient space rock with a warm organic feel, the musicians questing for the light as they float on clouds of drifting synth and echoed guitar, the fluent bass holding everything together wonderfully. All this comes together in technicoloured splendour on the 22 minute ‘India Oceania’, whilst the final track ‘Medina Oasis’ is so laid back it is curled up in front of the fire, every single echo box being put to good use. On ‘Golden Ear Music’, Steve is joined by a drummer and an acoustic guitarist, giving the album a different emphasis, with the drums high in the mix and less electronic swirling. Highlight include the mellow ‘From Dawn to Day to Dusk’, and ‘Stellar Ritual’, which features a light rainfall of ethnic percussion and twinkling bells. (www.ambientlive.com)
Working in similar territory Radio Massacre International have created a very trippy tribute to Syd Barrett on their latest album ‘Rain Falls In Grey’. Featuring drums and bass as well as their usual collection of synths and guitars, the band get into the space-rock groove early on, with the magnificent title track having the feel of early Floyd jamming at Middle Earth. Elsewhere, the short ‘Syd’ is a titanic clashing of chords and drums, filled with manic energy, whilst closing track ‘….Far Away’ is a minor key lament that is both sad and beautiful. Boasting a cover drawn and designed by long time Syd admirer Daevid Allen, The whole album is destined to become one of those long lost space rock gems. (www.cuneiformrecords.com)
After all that elongated space rambling, it is time for The Ginger Envelope to bring some pop sensibilities back into the room with their sparkling collection of songs called ‘Edible Orchid’. Opening track ‘caretaker’ sets the tone immediately, a joyous romp with shimmering guitar, lively drums and bass and gorgeous keys, all topped of with the excellent vocals of Patrick Carey, the man responsible for the songwriting. On ‘failsafe’ there is a sweet country tinge complete with steel guitar, whilst ‘drift’ sound like something from a later Gorkys album. Now I come to think of it, that country tinge is evident throughout the songs and is the reason the album sound so unified, creating a beautiful collection that’s gonna sound glorious blasting out of the window on a summer day. (www.myspace.com/thegingerenvelope)
Mining a slightly darker vein Zillionaire, are an indie rock band with an ear for melody and a clean crisp production that allows the nuances of their excellent songs to shine through. On tracks such as ‘Jesus Told Me So’, the basic four piece are joined by a cellist giving the song a slow burning beauty, something heightened by the exquisitely understated guitar playing, bring to mind the Red House Painters. Just to confound the listener the closing track ‘New Cymbal’ is a 23 minutes drone of guitar noise, minimalist percussion and feedback, quite wonderful it is too, although heaven knows what the average indie kid will make of it.
Describing themselves as a ‘mysterious Finnish ice-bear-loving forest hippie collective,’ and who am I to argue, Boris Morgana could certainly be labelled Wyrd-folk as they scrape rattle and abuse their instruments to create some very improvised music that crackles with life. Mixing acoustic instruments with electronics allows for a wide tonal palette, something the band fully realises on ‘Rotti Frutti’, an immensely listenable collection of strangeness. Also available from the band is ‘Im Plodoovosch’, which features the rather wonderful ‘Plodoovosch Ja Sapeli’, an 18 minute epic, that highlights everything good about the band. (email@example.com)
Featuring the talents of Michael Donnelly and the many fingered Brad Rose, Alligator Crystal Moth play acoustic improvisational music that has a touch of Kaleidoscope (U.S.) amongst its eastern sounding pieces. Obviously, being released on Deep Water, the music gets much stranger than the 60’s band, something that immediately apparent on ‘White Horse’, a tumble of percussion and half heard melody that remains highly listenable, despite its strangeness.
Whilst previous albums have been created by tapes moving between the duo, this latest double CD release ‘Bones Of the Great Divide’ was played live, giving the pieces a looser and very vibrant feel which the players maintain over eleven sparkling pieces. One of those albums that reveals its true nature with repeated listening, meaning you will be enjoying even more every time you play it. (www.dwacres.com)
As well as the above album, Deep Water sent a whole host of wonderful music my way, so let’s continue with Anvil Salute, whose ‘This Is the Voice of Doom Calling’ is a folk inspired collection of instrumental ramblings that is loose in its feel but tight in its musicianship. Over ten tracks, the band paints pictures with sounds, visions of running water, snowy mountaintops, deserted buildings and abandoned cars all coming into my head. For me this approach works best on the longer songs such as ‘Tiniest Happiness’, the eerie soundscape of ‘Balkania’, and the truly magical ‘My Former Life Is No Longer Mine’. From magical to mystical, the music of Evening Fires is as beautiful as the starry sky on their self-titled debut. Featuring bells, drums, guitar, organ, flute, synth and voice, this is music for contemplation, delicate and soothing but never twee and boring, the sounds alive with possibility. One listen to ‘Last Candle’ will have you smiling in your dreams, whilst the long ‘Founding Of A Temple’ is a beautifully realised meditation in sound, simply gorgeous. Featuring just percussion and guitar and recorded live, ‘Levitate and Dissolve’ the latest album from Flying Sutra, is a roller coaster ride of epic proportions, Robert Cozzolino (Percussion) and George Draguns (Guitars), keeping control of the dynamic tension with great precision. Whilst undoubtedly noisy, the musicians retain control, knowing exactly when to press down on the throttle, something they certainly do on the excellently named ‘Pat Metheney’s Kidney Stone’. Elsewhere, the 1:13 rifferama of ‘Cock Rock’ has its tongue firmly in its cheek, whilst ‘Blood Blister’ finishes off the album in a flurry of distorted happiness. Still with Deep Water, a couple of split CD’s, the first of which pairs the experimental drone of Niagara Falls, with the noisier tendencies of The Clear Spots. Named ‘Plays Spiral Isles’ the Niagara Falls offer three tracks of wonderful smoke filled music, the second of which ‘Acid Of Ants’ is a tense scuttle of noise that creeps under the skin like that itch you just cannot reach. The third piece ‘Morning Mold’ is a much slower track, the sound of space debris floating endlessly across the universe, to be finally sucked into a dying sun. Naming their side ‘Smokehouse Debris’ the Clear Spots, offer one long piece entitled ‘Roach Beef Sandwich’, which is split into four parts. Opening with a heavy space rock riff, highly distorted and thunderous in its intent, the band slow it down to enter a far more experimental passage, building into a frenetic crescendo of chaos, the band launching into another killer riff that mixes the Stooges and Hawkwind, finally disintegrating under the weight of their sonic fury. Finally on Deep water Pefkin and The Circle and the Point share another split CD, with Pefkin offering one long track entitled ‘Sunblinded Visions By a Silver Sea’. You can almost hear the waves lapping at the shore and feel the sun on your face, so strong is the mood of the piece an enticing and gentle guitar mixed with electronics, the music evolving into a heart-warming drone filled with bliss. Following a similar path, The Circle and the Point offer four more pieces of guitar and electronic drone, gently weaving their experimental magic through the brain. As is so often the case with this kind of music, it is the longer tracks that stand out, with the 12-minute ‘Endgame’ shimmering with majestic heat. So, all of the above available from Deep Water, and all worth a listen.
Featuring the rhythmic talents of Thomas Kozumplik and Lorne Watson, Loop 2.4.3 play purely percussive music on their debut album ‘Batterie’. Originally recorded as a session for Sonarchy Radio (Seattle), the album contains six experimental pieces of music and also includes samples of voice/noise that are triggered live. Beautifully recorded, the pieces range from soft hypnotic sound to far more powerful pieces, the whole package having a dynamic range that holds the listeners attention. As both players come from a classical background, the playing is precise and beautifully controlled, leaving you wondering how many hands the players have, even more so when you consider the album to have been recorded live in a one hour session. (www.loop243.com)
Beautiful, haunting and filled with ethnic sounds, ‘Hibrasiliswhereweare’ is the latest album from Brasil and the Gallow Brothers Band. Sounding like the perfect soundtrack for a heatwave, the music is slow and moody mixing a myriad of hand percussion with sensual trumpets, heat haze vocals and slow motion keyboards. Over six tracks the music unfolds like a story, the oppressive heat hanging over everything, clouding judgements and frying minds, whilst the principal characters play their part to perfection. (www.brasilandthegallowbrothersband.org)
Comprising of two previously albums, ‘Balloon Adventure’ and ‘Mogwash’,
The latest, self titled, release from John White is crammed with dreamy psych-pop, infused with glorious vocal harmonies and enriched with melodies stolen from heaven. Reminding me of The Kings of Convenience, these are songs to get lost in, soft and delicious. Of course, just to confuse things (this is the Terrascope after all), the last track is a 23 minute instrumental called ‘Instrumental’, a slow string led drone that could be the perfect soundtrack to a sunset. Even more suprising perhaps, is the fact that the album is released on Last Visible Dog, a label not generally known for gentle pop psych although when the music is this good it matters little where it came from. More typical of the label is ‘Hum Hum Hum’, a rather fine collection of sweeping drones and fractured folk melodies from Finnish collective Vapaa. Featuring droning strings, guitars, percussion, voices, plus other not quite identifiable instruments, the music is rich and organic, the sound of the wind blowing through the forest, the moon behind a thin veil of clouds. For the most part the music is gentle in texture, never becoming harsh or discordant, although there is plenty of experimentation to be found, making the album a thoughtful and intense listening experience, especially through headphones. Finally on Last Visible Dog, the sublime duo of Gianluca Becuzzi and Fabio Orsi stun the senses and chill the mind with the three tracks that make up ‘Wildflowers Under the Sofa’, the music made up with samples from previous works enhanced with new sounds. Opening track ‘First Flower’ is a day gazing at the bluest sky watching the clouds dance, a slow and delicate guitar motif slowly receding to be replaced by a stately drone of considerable power, the piece changing again, with the guitar returning mingling with chiming strings. Track two ‘No Flower’ is a slowly rising drone full of deep magic, ending in a flurry of white noise, whilst the final track ‘Last Flower’ is a gentle walk home, as warm as the evening sun, and very healing. (www.lastvisibledog.com)
Formerly a member of George, Suzy Mangion possesses a rich and evocative voice, which she puts to good use on her solo album ‘The Other Side Of The Mountain’. After the short and gentle opener ‘Sudden Glory’, things get serious with the folk dance rhythm of ‘Ohio The Homeland’, a beautiful sung lament full of longing and sadness. On ‘Chant’, the voice is echoed and layered to dizzying affect, the song too short for my taste, although the gorgeous banjo led ‘Evenings at Home’ more than makes up for it, an almost traditional American folk song. On the extremely pretty ‘Many Happy Returns’ the spirit of Karen Carpenter is invoked, the vocal performance quite breathtaking, whilst On ‘The March Past’, a scratchy electronic pulse is overlaid with a droning chord and delicate vocals in the spirit of Vashti Bunyan. Over 40 minutes this album never puts a foot wrong, with a crystal clear production the icing on a sweet and very beautiful cake. (www.pickled-egg.co.uk).
Also on Pickled Egg, the ridiculously schizophrenic a.P.A.t.T. manage to squeeze 27 songs into an hour, with track one the sound of someone inserting a cassette, track two sounding like the theme tune to a seventies sitcom and track three sounding like a mix of King Crimson, Sun Ra and Slayer, and that’s just the first eight minutes. After a while you will find it best just to lie back and enjoy the ride, jazz, tapes going backwards, woozy dub skronking, electro funk circus music, Cozy Powell drum riffs, 70’s porn music, phones, and the spirit of Zappa stoned for the first time in his life. All in all it is magnificent stuff, play it to your friend and watch them reel about in confusion.
After releasing an album on the New American Folk Hero label under the name Droopy Septum (reviewed in a previous Rumble), Ryan Emmett has changed his name to Hunted Creatures and released his latest collection ‘Black Ash Lotus’ on the Dynamo Sound label. Treading a similar path to his previous outing, the first three track are short drones recorded live in Pittsburgh, all of which feature the sax playing of Justin George, something that gives the pieces a discordant eerie edge. The final to piece are purely solo pieces, still dark and moody, with the final piece ‘Black Ash December’ being a particularly dense and impenetrable slice of drone that gets right under your skin. (www.dynamosound.cjb.net). On the same label Natura Nasa, play live improvised noisescapes that rattle moan and creak, shards of feedback piercing the drones while percussive noises punctuate the music. This is more like sculpture than music, but once you get the fell it is a sculpture worth exploring from many different angles. On this self titled CD, the music is continuos, although cut up into four nameless tracks with track three being my favourite slice.
The opening track of ‘Sinker’, the latest album from The Failures’ Union reminded me so much of Husker Du that I knew I had to write something about them. I guess it is the frantic and angular guitar shapes that really appeals, that and the fact they have a song ‘Watch The Sky’ that last 47 seconds and still has lyrics and everything. Actually there is much to enjoy, although it is the guitar that does it for me and will for anyone who likes a bit of melodic noise, roll on summer so that I can open the windows. (www.onepercentpress.com)
Blending field recordings, lo-fi pop/folk, and percussion, among other things, ‘The End of the World’ is the final album from Danish band The Presidents Men. A bit of a shame that, as I have not heard anything else by them and this is a rather fine collection of dream-laden songs and more experimental pieces, having the same ambience as ‘Chill Out’ by the KLF, although this album is more acoustic and more organic, it is just the feel that is similar. The album also includes several versions of Nico’s ‘Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams’, although I have to confess to not knowing the original so it is hard for me to comment. Disregarding my own shortcomings however, this is a mellow magical experience, and with ‘The Black Fish’, the band have created a track that will doubtless turn up on numerous acid-folk compilations and deservedly so. (www.bsbta.com/abeardofsnails).
From the same label ‘Wendigo in the Church of Merriment’ is a joint project between Inhibitionists and Rough Ride of Crafts. A highly experimental project this would be of great interest for those who enjoyed the recent ‘John Barley Reborn’ project (Woven Wheat) or the Hand/Eye Project from a few years ago. With rattling, night in the woods drones, shaking percussion, ghostly vocals and a wyrd heart, the music is a dark delight, with tracks such as ‘Silencers’, ‘The Hardened Baker Plummets’ or ‘Decorate the Edges’ oozing quality and demonstrating the diversity within.
Named after the French phrase for royalty and other public figures displayed on their deathbed, ‘Lit de Parade’ is the first official studio release from Norwegian composer Sten Ove Toft. Working with slow funereal drones, the music is a flicker in the twilight, a lost soul moving on, the sound stretched and slowed down until almost nothing remains but the purity of the tone. A perfect example of this is the second track ‘Lit de Parade 2’ 13 minutes of icy stillness, that seems to pulsate with majestic light. On Track 6, the sound begins to break apart, a crackling soundscape of broken ice and chilly winds, beautiful but stark. Finally you find yourself sinking to the bottom of a dark peaceful ocean, somehow transformed but alive. (www.roggbif.com)
Sometimes the songs of Rivulets are too beautiful to listen to, such is their fragile intensity. This is certainly true of ‘Can’t I Wonder’, to be found on their latest album ‘You Are My Home’, a song so wonderful it stops me in my tracks every time. This quality is also present on the rest of the album, the band wringing every ounce of emotion from their songs, with the Cello and Vila adding extra dynamics to the C.S.N. structures of the tunes. For indeed there is a West Coast acoustic vibe to the record, although this in infused with a melancholic sadness that is captured by some excellent playing from everyone involved. Halfway through ‘Greenhouse’ changes the focus, a warm afternoon drone that is followed by the simple yet effective ‘Win or Lose’, another album highlight, from an album filled with jewels. (www.importantrecords.com)
It’s not often I compare someone to John Martyn, but on his ‘Tipping In’ EP, Rob St. John, conveys that same smoky charm, and a delicate touch on the guitar, although without the echoplex!. With just three track, the collection leaves you begging for more, the charms of the title track (with saw backing), ‘Wooden Rose’ and ‘The Acid Test’ merely whetting the appetite, folk music is alive and well and this Scottish musician should be around to help you celebrate for many years to come. (www.myspace.com/robstjohn)
‘Learning How To Crawl’ is both the title and the first track on the latest slice of lo-fi psychedelia from Shalloboi, whose last release ‘Petals’ still enjoys an airing around this neck of the woods, from time to time. After the creepy psych of the opener, ‘Surprise, Surprise’, is a slow and exquisite folk/psych tune with some understated cello lifting the song, giving it a melancholy air. Third track, ‘Flowers For Kara’, is another slowburner, almost as much a drone as a song, crawling into your spine and settling into your brain and driving your dreams. This same approach is also favoured on ‘Kansas City Cursed’ the 34 minute final track, a sprawling psych folk ghost story, maybe. Throughout the track, gradual change in tone and form are introduced with consummate timing, resulting in a beautiful and haunting piece of music. (www.shalloboi.com)
Released on the Harha Askel label (who released a similar compilation featuring guitar players last year) ‘sing With Me-Music For The Human Voice’, is a collection of wonderful experimental folk songs with the accent firmly on the voice, although the music is excellent too. After the little girl vocal nursery rhyme of Lammppukello, the prolific Robert Horton (didn’t think we would get through a rumble without him did you?) enthrals us with the old Americana weirdness of ‘Fry Your Brains Out In Your Hat’, after which Alligator Crystal Moth take you further out there with the truly wonderful ‘The Mad Courier’. While these may be the most well known names on the compilation, at least to Terrascope readers, every single track is worth hearing, showing how versatile and inventive humans and their voices can be. Possibly Rumbles album of the month. (For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org and I hope you do.)
Whilst I really like the opening track on ‘Better Forever’ the latest album from Dramady, I can’t help noticing that amongst the synths, trumpets and excellent melodies, the bass line is a deadringer for the bass line on ‘Billy the Monster’ (the Deviants). This is probably coincidence however as I imagine the band are too young to have ever heard the song, and there is much else to attract the attention as the album progresses. Take for instance, the quirky charms and weird lyrics of ‘Simple Pleasures’ or even the wistfulness of the delightful ‘Train’, both good reasons to hear this album. With a definite pop bent, the duo of Zacery Stanley, and Amanda Mason Wiles, make full use of their talents on a variety of instruments including Clarinet, Trumpet, Sax, and no Guitar which gives the album an unusual focus, good stuff indeed.
Also resolutely without any guitars, Rasputina instead use the cello, played by main songwriter Melora Creagen, as the focus of the songs. This approach gives the band a unique and dramatic approach helped by inventive arrangements, strong songs, and the use of Dulcimer, Recorder and Piano to add texture and variety. Having avidly read the news for the last two years, the lyrics are based on words, phrases and whole stories culled from the media, giving the song the strange sensation of being current, whilst the cello adds a more romantic/chamber music feel to them. This is not always true however, with the fuzzed up cello on ‘Choose Me For Champion’ adding anger to the music, something echoed by the fine vocals of Creager. Over twelve complex and thoughtful songs this album will beguile and entertain, never dull and never less than excellent, meaning there are new layers to be explored on every listen. The band are playing their first ever UK gig supporting Robyn Hitchcock soon, which, on this evidence, is a good match. I just hope the audience gives them time to display their own angular take on the world. (www.rasputina.com)
Similarly structured, less orchestrated songs can be found on ‘This Is How I Found You’, the new album from Miwa Gemini, whose strong voice is augmented with guitar, banjo, and mandolin, giving a dusty folk feel to the songs. Highlights include the blues stomp of ‘Traveling Man’, the lovely banjo flecked ‘Pieces’ which reminds me of early Michelle Shocked, and the soft/loud/soft Nirvana folk of ‘Angels Prayer, which sounds perfect as the flood waters rise again. (www.rockparkrecords.com)
Over two discs and thirty-five songs, found sounds, field recordings and oddities, the rather wonderful Hamilton yarns display a sense of English eccentricity and playfulness on their album ‘Search For The Underwater Town’.
Including woozy piano waltzes, the sounds of boats, snatches of songs, and music that could be the soundtrack to your childhood in a sleepy seaside town, the whole collection is nostalgic, dream like, majestic and marvellous. More ramshackle than polished, this very untidiness is essential to the charm of the record, as refreshing as a sea breeze and as English as soggy sandwiches at Whitsun, I love it. (www.harkrecordindings.co.uk)
Drifting out of Sweden on a golden cloud of pop loveliness, Club 8, are gorgeous purveyors of melodic perfection on their soft focused album ‘The Boy Who Couldn’t Stop Dreaming’, the opening track of which could melt the hearts of grumpy old men everywhere. Slightly more upbeat is current single ‘Whatever You Want’ has touches of St Etienne in it’s pristine groove, the angelic vocals of Karolina Komstedt adding the perfect amount of sweetness to the mix. Never less than beautiful, this is an album to bring sunshine into the room, with songs such as ‘Hopes and Dreams’ or the title track adding a touch of melancholy, although the quality of the songwriting suggests a bright future beckons. (www.fortunapop.com)
Those of you who missed the two William D Drake albums released this year, can now enjoy his schizophrenic charms on a four track EP ‘Earthy Shrine’ which features two examples of his pop/psych and two of his piano work. Side A (pop side) opens with the lively drunken swagger of ‘Serendipity Doodah’, a Kevin Ayers style piano riff augmented by twisted brass and a strong vocal delivery, to deliver a little gem of a song. More sombre in mood, ‘Sister To The Night’ is a piano driven lament of great quality, again having a Canterbury feel. Track three is a solo piano piece entitled ‘The Kissing Song’, the piano uses a number of variations as the tune progresses, sounding like Keith Emerson might if he understood the word constraint. Finally, the unreleased ‘Kiln’ rounds of a musically satisfying venture with some classical aplomb, showcasing the talents Mr Drake has at his fingertips. (www.shebearrecords.com)
Another EP worth your attention is the East European Folk Rock of La Scala, whose ‘Harlequin’, is a rollicking good time. Reminiscent of Alex Harvey and co at their manic best, opening track ‘Bon Vivant’ leaps and wails like lots of cats in a small box, full of manic energy. The same energy is present on ‘Parallel Lives’ which has a Gorkys feel to it, whilst the title track has a more psychedelic fell in its rattling guitar work. (www.highwheelrecordssllc.com). On the same label and in glorious 180g red vinyl (drool drool), Dragged By Horses sound like The Pixies meeting Badgeman under the auspices of Steve Albini. Among the many highlights is the stop start glory of ‘One Way Ticket To Rome’, the ragged destruction of ‘The Need To Fight’, and the punk intensity of ‘1000,000’. At just under half an hour this is a rollercoaster best heard loud, which is what is happening now, which could just be the perfect place to end this edition of Rumbles, thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone who sent me stuff for review, we love you all.
Rumbles for February 2008 was brought to you by Simon Lewis. Artwork, layout & editing: Phil McMullen. © Terrascope Online MMVIII