Lasting 35 minutes, the album is just the right length, plenty of time to lose yourself in its depth but short enough to remain fresh and worthy of repeat. Released on the always excellent Thesearenotrecords label, also responsible for the excellent Landing album we reviewed recently. (http://thesearenotrecords.com/). On the same label Rambutan (Eric Hardiman) walks a similar musical path on “Universal Impulses” a collection of experimental sounds that move from drone to harsh noise, from the rhythmic to the place of stillness and contemplation, each track a delight be it the short and very contemporary sounding “Inside the Minute”, a piece that is almost classical in its approach, to the longer “Surface Elevation”, a track of great beauty that hovers in the room, built around chiming percussion and scratchy electronics. In Between the two there is much to love and admire, with the deep space drone of “The Slow Pulse” being a particular favourite of mine.
Unfortunately sold out on cassette but still available as a download, Elkhorn is a folk/psych-rock guitar duo featuring Jesse Sheppard on twelve-string acoustic and Drew Gardner on electric guitar. Over five long pieces the album is a mix of folk guitar and space rock soloing that reminds of the Dead or Quicksilver, primitive American styles mixing with the sounds of Kraut Rock, touches of Jazz and more experimental passages be it the drifting space explorations of “Seed” or the epic blues jamming of “Dogfish Blues” a track that sparkles from the speaker displaying the dexterity of both players, earthy and really fucking sweet. Elsewhere, “Earthbound” is a psychedelic delight, both guitars singing sweetly in a divine cloud of bliss, whilst “Conference of the Birds” is a gentler, Eastern sounding piece that reminds me of Kaleidoscope the U.S. Version, late night music to ease your mind and leave you with visions of beauty and stillness. (https://elkhorn.bandcamp.com/)
Moving on we come to the noise/drone of Quisling Meet whose “Lea King Unpleasantries” is a mix of feedback, noise, more noise and some feedback, presumably fed through various effects and devices. As the music moves on a bass becomes more prominent and flecks of melody emerge out of the noise, kinda like a slow early seventies Hawkwind, deep space drones that are good to dive into. Elsewhere, vocals are buried so deep it is hard to understand them and a guitar creeps and crawls over the top of the noise, relentless yet worth the effort. (https://quislingmeet.bandcamp.com/)
Filled with spacey psychedelia, “Live Ritual Proceedings Vol III” collect together three live sets from Alwanzatar a one person operation from Oslo, the music using plenty of sequencers,and synths as well as some elegant flute playing that lifts the music higher. One the final track chanted vocals give the feeling of ritual reminding me of “Holy Magick” (Graham Bond), the music slowly becoming more rhythmic and sequencer driven. Fans of Gong, Tangerine Dream, electronic or psychedelic jamming will find plenty to enjoy. (https://alwanzatar.bandcamp.com/)
Like playing your old Techno 12”ers at 33 rpm, the music of Unfollow (Tony Boggs) is late night dance music for the lonely, the repetitive beats, submerged in beautiful waves of emotion, Steve Reich meeting The Aphex Twin in an abandoned night club, the music strangely comforting yet alien at the same time. Over ten relatively short tracks, the music drifts in and out of your mind, catching you off guard, original and best heard at great volume allowing it to wash over you. (https://bluetapes.bandcamp.com/)
“Mysikeflowslune” is a drone driven cassette from Richard Chamberlain, the music sounding like a huge waterfall constantly falling close by, this drone augmented by various other sounds that add texture and interest without leaving the drone behind. Without much information to go on it is hard to tell if there are separate tracks or just gaps in the music, either way this is a compelling collection of noise that rumbles from the speakers. (email@example.com)
It seems that a Rumble would not be complete these days without a mention of the latest releases from the Heavy Psych Sounds Label, and this edition is no exception as the full on stoner/heavy rock of Monsternaut make you reach for a bottle of Jd and the volume button as “Dog Town” mixes a revving bike with a monster riff, hooking you in and getting your feet stomping. Elsewhere “Mountain Doom” celebrates the spirit of Black Sabbath with nicely distorted riffs, the same true of the excellent “Black Horizon”, a future heavy classic that gets your head shaking and gives that air guitar a workout. Never letting up, the final two tracks sum up the band with “Mexico” a slow and doom laden track that is crushingly heavy, whilst “Dragons” is much faster, rocking out with style. On the same label The Freeks have a punk/party feel to their heavy sounds, wah guitar and keys, organ, synths adding texture and variation to the sound with “Tiny Pieces” sounding like it could have come out of a heavy version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, whilst “Where Did You go” has some boogie woogie piano running through it, a nice touch. Over 13 tracks the band are inventive and much fun with “I'm a mess”, “There's No Turning Back Now” and “La Tumba” being particular favourites. One for those alcohol infused evening when you just want to party with friends.
Formed almost 20 years ago by QOTSA bassist Nick Oliveri, Mondo Generator have a similar sound and plenty of attitude all of which can be found on “Best Of” a twenty one track compilation spanning their whole career. Quite possibly outside the normal realms of the Terrascope, there is plenty to enjoy if you are fond of noisy guitars with the classic “Dog Food” worth the price of admission alone for its manic energy and riffing. Elsewhere, “Simple Exploding Man” sounds like early Mudhoney, “I Never Sleep” has distorted bass intro to die for and “All The Way Down” will make you leap around the kitchen like you are caught in a mosh.
Finally from Heavy Psych Sounds, the excellently named Glitter Wizard have a retro seventies heavy vibe on “Hollow Earth Tour” an eight track collection that mixes long tracks with shorter songs such as the excellent “Mycelia”, reminding me of Deep Purple at their best. Of the longer tracks “Scales” hits hard, a mix of Sabbath and Uriah Heep that really works, plenty of changes and energy throughout. Split into three sections, “Stoned Odyssey” moves from a sequence driven introduction into a heavy driving riff with echoed vocals and some fine guitar playing, a saxophone adding variation as the band jam out. To end the album, “Death of Atlantis” is seven minutes of heavy rock heaven, a slow and atmospheric beginning making way for a more complex heavy prog passage that ebbs and flows wonderfully. (http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/)
After all that heaviness it is time for a change of direction and some infectious grooves as Spacehead get you dancing with “Laughing Water” a fine collection of groove-laden music that features, drums/percussion, double bass and a trumpet that is looped, fed through effects and generally made to sound wonderful. Over eight tracks the band move between Jazz and a more modern dance orientated feel with “Dark Blue” definitely in the former camp whilst “Be Calmed” sounds Like “Fish” an excellent electronic track by Mr Scruff. Throughout the music is lively, engaging and very uplifting, the sound of a big band mixed with experimentation and quality tunes with “Octopus” and the latin flavoured “Machine Molle” , which reminds me of Sun Ra, being particularly fine to these ears, music for sunny days, long drives or just grooving around the house. (http://spaceheads.co.uk/)
Mixing pop with psychedelia and some experimentation, Matthew Squires sound like an Elephant six recruit on his album “Tambaleo” a collection of tunes that pull you in and engages you immediately each song flowing into the next with the whole thing sounding like a musical essay on a positive life. An early highlight is “Shining” a highly inventive track that remains tuneful yet never predictable, the craft of songwriting slightly twisted to excellent effect. As well as the music, the lyrics are also mighty fine, lines seemingly hinting art a larger truth, personal yet universal enough to have some meaning to us all. Reminding me of Bright Eyes jamming with Neutral Milk Hotel this is an album that will live long in the collection, an album that gets better each time you play it, beautifully written and produced an album to treasure. (https://matthewsquires.bandcamp.com/)
More excellent songwriting can be found on “Miracle Cure”, a six track collection from Skalar. Opening track “Unmystified Women” is melodic and powerful, its blend of folk and pop lifted by the vocals of Anne Smidt that soar above the music beautifully. On “Best Intentions” a lonely trumpet adds plenty of emotion to a gorgeous song, whilst the title track is simply lovely, a gentle and sparse tune that sways softly on a moon lit beach. To end, “Monkey Circle” features Bernhard Rupprecht on creaking floor, a detail that you only really notice because it is mentioned on the cover, the song itself containing some chugging guitar and strange lyrics, slightly darker and heavier than the previous tunes, but a good way to end a solid collection. (https://lollipoppeshoppe.bandcamp.com/releases)
Soft and gentle, the music of Sun Trodden (Erik Stephansson) is melodic and sweetly shining on his “Sun Trodden II” EP. Containing just five tunes, the listener is swiftly beguiled by “Wake Up”, a gorgeous tune that floats by, sweetly coated and easy to love. Equally lovable is “Melt”, a hint of Brian Wilson in its sound, Lush and warming, whilst the final tune “Become Light” has ripples of percussion running through, another great melodic tune that is understated and delightful. (http://www.suntrodden.com/)
And now a few words from Andrew Young as he introduces you to some fine sounds.
Here we are at the start of Jan 2017. Last year claimed the lives of quite a few of my favourite artists, it seemed like every week a huge talent was tragically snuffed out; let’s hope that 2017 is a much better year.
First up on the rumbles stereo is the new album from Cary Grace ‘The Uffculme Variations’ a live album recorded at the 2016 Kozfest available from www.carygrace.com available as a CD/ download. On this outing the Cary Grace Band is joined by special guests Professor Steffe Sharpstrings ( Here And Now Band, Planet Gong) guitar and the formidable Graham Clark (Gong, Magick Brother) electric violin.
The album features different versions of ‘Orange Sky’ originally on the Tygerland album, ‘Kosmik Eye’ a variation of ‘Eye’ from the double album Projections, ‘Cassiopeia’ from Perpetual Motion plus a few new ones.
Keyboard squelches introduce the set as we launch into some space rock of the highest order, the band given plenty of space to stretch out. I would have loved to have been at this show as the songs soar and ring out, Cary is in capable hands here and her mastery of various synths and keyboards is exemplary, highly recommended for all lovers of class A Space rock, plenty of sinewy violin and searing lead guitar, a solid rhythm section and Cary’s vocals and synths providing the main focus.
Consterdine ‘ Electric Organism ‘ continues the space rock theme and is a project by the keyboard player with Sendelica accompanied by Pete Bingham from that band playing guitars and mystical fx. 44 minutes of drifting keyboard washes with fine lead guitar by Pete. This is the second Consterdine release this year and is a great way for him to fill in time between the flurry of Sendelica albums providing an outlet for his synth stylings.
Another purely instrumental album comes courtesy of Gordon Stranger’s null project null ‘Population: nil’ www.harmonicunionmusic.bandcamp.com is available on cassette and digital download . Consisting of four songs ‘nix’ ‘noplace’ ’nada’ and ‘nowhere’ over the course of half hour. Pulsing, throbbing, building and decaying.
Gordon now completely on his own, having ditched the rest of Bogquake along the way. Synths have never sounded better, It’s a shame that this album became lost to the mists of time. It was duly handed in by Gordon as a fulfilment to his contract, being given to the receptionist of the record company without a word; here it sat for a good number of years before being discovered in the back of a filing cabinet when the company was sold in a charity shop. The tapes were cleaned up and are presented here for the first time some 40 years later. Gordon was one of the first really explore the Synthesiser and was once in the running to be a part of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop where his work would have been a perfect fit. The legend of Gordon keeps growing.
Kuparilinna ‘ Kuparilinna’ http://kuparilinna.bancamp.com available on vinyl/cassette/ download . Kuparilinna were formed in Helsinki in 2014, this is their debut album and draws on influences from the Indy rock of Belle And Sebastion, and of folk rock in general, but always with a pop sensibility.
The record starts with the surftastic pop rock of Tuulee translated as The Wind That Blows sung by lead singer Liila Jokelin, great organ underpinning this very catchy song. Some of the songs have trumpet bursts, lending a nice Forever Changes vibe, always with organ present in a very sixties style.
Sung entirely in Finnish a sweet, folky slightly Psychedelic mood is maintained throughout these eleven well recorded and executed songs, This is a very good playful debut, which I feel could do very well for them if given enough exposure, indeed I find myself singing along to a number of the songs in Finnish!
Dying For Bad Music have a couple of new releases out. The first of which Abraham Chapman ‘Nothing To Leave Behind’ www.dyingforbadmusic.com available as 82 x CD copies with download codes for sale.
The recordings date from 1978 and present a soli guitar album in the style of some of Takoma greats like John Fahey, played on 12 string guitar. Discovered amongst a bunch of old reel to reel tapes and recorded onto tascam by Jaybo from Trading Post.
Initially the tapes were purchased to be recorded over, but were given a cursory listen first and out jumped these primitive country blues, deemed sufficiently good enough by label owner Marcus Obst to be transferred to tape prior to wiping.
It became apparent to Marcus that these primitive country blues were actually of the ‘WOW’ variety. A search was then on to find out who this guy was, but alas no information could be found. The quality is distinctly of the lo-fi variety but clear enough. A great addition to the small band of players like Robbie Basho, Toulouse Engelhardt, etc.
The second release from them is by C. Strom ‘Sings And Plays’ available as an edition of 55 Cd’s with download code. These recordings are taken from a dozen or so albums from the last twelve years and represent a fair selection of his work as a songwriter and as a traditionalist.
The songs possess a haunting raw quality and are indebted to some of the pioneering American folk musicians of early traditional music. Played mainly on guitar and banjo, most of these tunes are short with many hovering about the two minute mark. You would be hard pressed to see these as anything but American primitive originals by Riley Puckett or Charlie Poole etc.
Up next we have a lovely album by Simon Felton ‘Return To Easton Square’ on Pink Hedgehog records www.pinkhedgehog.com limited edition CD and download.
A new discovery for me I must say, I have been impressed by the quality of this timeless pop/psych album. This album is a first class singer songwriter record , recorded at home in Portland, Dorset using GarageBand, Pro Tools and real/unreal instruments played by Simon. Imagine 10cc crossed with XTC with a bit of Al Stewart thrown in. It’s that good!
The song writing is top notch and instrumentation is always sympathetically played with no wasted notes. The songs concern a number of subjects from daytime telly to unrequited love, black dogs to plastic fantastic lovers. Bouncy, clever pop music, with plenty of twists and turns. It is from the top drawer, making you want to play it again as soon as its ended.
Now to investigate his back catalogue, which include his first band Garfield’s Birthday. This CD is being sold for £6.00 and is a genuine bargain, how I have missed out on this fella’s work is almost unforgivable [the band are regulars right here in Rumbles! - Ed] , dazzling perfect pop music that gets under your skin, clever and highly, highly recommended.
Feu Robertson ‘Sticky Situations with Troubles’ https://feurobertson.bandcamp.com digital album.
Hailing from France Feu Robertson is a band which was a bit confusing at first I thought it sounded like someone’s name. These guys play a kind of chamber rock with songs sung in English, filling out their sound with cello, transverse flute ?, bagpipe, sax and accordion.
Over the course of an hour they deliver the songs of guitarist and singer Charlemagne Ganashine with aplomb. It’s inventive stuff, with touches of Movietone crossed with Songs Ohia . There are snippets of dialogue, found sounds, choirs and bells.
These mostly lengthy, labyrinthine tracks are sometimes noisy and dissonant and sometimes gentle and reflective, but mostly driving Indy rock is the order of the day with many of the songs going through plenty of twists and turns before concluding. I must say I had a bit of difficulty deciphering the lyrics which although sung in English could well be an entirely new language, it’s well worth persevering with it though, as quite a few of these songs are slow growers, gradually revealing their charms with successive plays.
Over the last few years labels like Light In The Attic, Guerssen, etc, keep unearthing these lost delights from the early part of the seventies and here is another, issued appropriately enough on the Got Kinda Lost label which is a sister label to the afore mentioned Guerssen from Spain.
Here we have a double album by unknown psychedelic minstrel Paul Marcano And Lightdreams called 10,0001 Dreams. Available on 2LP/CD both with Digital Downloads www.guerssen.com . Completely out of time and pretty unique Paul comes across like a blend of Steve Hillage, Randy California and Michael Brooks. Mainly instrumental and mainly performed on purely the guitar, multitracked and overdubbed with some pretty trite lyrics involving building Islands in Space, following streams and chasing utopian dreams, it’s very singular in its execution and over its fairly long duration we are treated to plenty of mellow, heavily treated, curlicues of atmospheric guitar.
10,0001 Dreams, the title track, sets out the stall early, thirteen plus minutes of unlocking the doors of perception, through a series of recurring dreams and of keys to unfathomable locks, accompanied by big dollops of echoing filigree lead guitar. Stream could almost be an outtake from ‘Fish Rising’. One of the tracks In Memory Of Being Here is over 23 minutes long and a couple are over the 10 minute mark.
Stuff like this was pretty thin on the ground in the early eighties when these songs were recorded and released on cassette, to an indifferent audience, but I bet that to those who heard it loved it. It’s home recorded, yet hi-fi. Well worth getting. For fans of Bobby Trimble, Simones and our own Bevis Frond. File under utopian outer space colonization.
Sendelica 10th Anniversary Tour double CD/DVD on Friends Of The Fish www.sendelica.bandcamp.com Released at the tail end of last year.
This time we have songs from the recent Cromlech Chronicles album performed live from various venues, Live at Puffin, Live at the 15th Dream Of Dr Sardonicus and also from the BlindCat festival, all from 2016. God help the poor Sendelica completist,as they are turning into one of the most prolific bands of modern times, with a myriad of highly limited releases.
Sendelica are a purely instrumental psychedelic rock band with progressive tendencies, whose songs are fleshed out with mainly lenghty guitar and saxophone passages, with a few keyboard textures and some Theremin thrown in, all held together with a muscular rhythm section, anchoring the long sinewy passages and providing the glue for the space exploration of Lee Ralfe’s sax and Pete Bingham’s guitar.
The Chromlech Suite is perfomed in its entirety, over a couple of the sides, along with the lengthy Drone In E part 1 and 2. The DVD portion has the same suite recorded at last year’s Kozfest (with guest guitarist Riccardo Cavicchia) and a take from Primar Fortress.
It also includes an acoustic Sendelica set (featuring guest vocals by Sarah Evans) taken from the 15th Dream Of Sardinicus for the following songs ; Spaceman Bubblegum/E Thang/Ziggy Stardust/ Venus In Furs and Clubtimes Over. Finishing off with the Drone Band (featuring Horst Sunhair- keyboards and Colin Consterdine- Laptop) live at the Cellar Door performing Drone In E part 1.
The Lancashire Hustlers Adventure Steep Hill Music LP/CD and download. www.lancashirehustlers.com - This is the third album from the London based Hustlers who comprise Brent Thorley and Ian Pakes together they have created a quite modern pop opera. it’s clever, progressive pop music with cinematic leanings, both literate and compelling, they make it seem quite effortless, and over a series of vignettes and sketches, take in such seemingly disparate acts such as Steely Dan, XTC, the Kinks and Crowded House. June Wedding, Desert Drive, White Star Liner and Zen Hotel are the standout tracks but really it works best as a whole, with plenty of arch social commentary throughout, these tunes are bang on the money.
Multi Instrumentalists to a man, they present us with a pretty song novella, played on a plethora of instruments, including nylon strung guitar, piano, mellotron, keyboards, electric guitar, tamboura, African kalimba and metallophone amongst others, phew!
Over the course of these 12 songs, there emerges a succinct, literate album of quirky, deliciously skewed, pop songs.
Loudhailer Electric Company Cursus Duffy Howard Music https://loudhailer.net or firstname.lastname@example.org available on CD Digipak and download.
Hull band Loudhailer Electric Company are a great festival band with plenty of swirling violins, electric and acoustic guitars, drums, bass and harmonica. Straight out of the gates we are presented with the sound of a highly competent band that to me sound a bit like a psychedelic Siouxsie and the Banshees. The band’s songwriter and main vocalist Lou Duffy-Howard had some success with Red Guitars releasing a few singles and a couple of albums. The album also features some spoken word sections by Rich Duffy-Howard.
Gypsey Race, Aftermath, Hawk Moon and Night Heron are the standout tracks for me, with particular merit going to violinist Chris Heron, who invests these songs with some particularly tasty playing and lead guitarist Jeff Parsons, playing some searing lead guitar lines throughout the proceedings. Terrascope editor Phil McMullen is apparently a big fan of this band.
The album title Cursus, refers to stories of life along the neolithic courses which lead to the tallest standing stone in the UK, at Rudston in East Yorkshire, with the song Gypsey Race about the legendary stream which runs through the wolds and the closer Night Heron about Lake Windermere further out west.
Thanks for those Andrew, much appreciated. Moving on, “Confection” is a five track EP from Son Of Skooshny Basically the work of Mark Breyer, another old friend of Phil's, the music sparkles with class, bright jangling psych-pop which reminds me of The Church or The Green Pajamas (as it did last time I reviewed them) . Opening track “Just A Test” is a meaty introduction, the guitar tones sweetened by the vocal melodies, a hint of Bevis Frond to be found within the tune, whilst “No Ho” is a slower, more reflective tune, the requisite jangle weaving its way through the melancholy song beautifully. Quite simply magnificent, “Cloud Cover” demands attention, cloaking you in sweetness, the words and music in total harmony, a feeling of lightness lifting the song delightfully. With some fine Beatlesque harmonies, “Half of the World” drifts past in a summery haze, reminding me of Crowded House, the whole EP rounded of with the essential sound of “The Subtle Eye”, which is just a classic tune that lodges itself in your head compelling you to play it again. Another triumphant collection of tunes from Mark Breyer, go get one. (https://sonofskooshny.bandcamp.com/)
It has taken so long to finish this Rumble that another batch of fuzzed up guitar happiness has arrived from the Heavy Psych Sounds label including a collection of covers from Nick Oliveri, although it is actually Nick singing with other bands including Komatsu, their cover of “Lockdown” being a suitably distorted and energetic opening that demands volume and gets you rocking. Elswhere, Svetlanas do a fine job on “Speedfreak” (Motorhead), whilst this brief six track collection is rounded of by a nicely judged cover of “Eccentric Man” (Groundhogs) that stays true the the slightly strange quality of the original and features original drummer Ken Pustelnik. Hailing from Italy, The Clamps are a Punk/Garage/Stoner trio who make a beautiful racket on their second album “Blend, Shake, Swallow”, eleven tracks of manic energy and good times. After the instrumental mood setting of “Barracuda”, the band get into their stride with “Liar”, reminding me of The Monomen or The Bags, a single piano note adding a nod to the Stooges. Elsewhere, “Fake and Blind” has a great chugging riff and loads of attitude, whilst “In My Head” sounds like Sabbath at 45. For those who like this genre this collection is well worth searching out, each track a small energy filled gem.
Mixing seventies heavy psych with stoner rock and plenty of soaring guitar, Mothership seem to have hit the motherlode on “High Strangeness” a collection of tunes that remind you of Robin Trower, Sabbath, Kyuss and The Groundhogs, with highlights including the magnificent “Crown of Lies” a tune with more riff changes than your average Diamond Head epic as well as the perfectly over the top solo to round it off.Equally as fine, “Ride the Sun” has more explosive guitar and a seventies heavy vibe all downtuned and distorted. Moving on some mood and atmosphere is added with the echoed guitar sweetness of “Eternal Trip”, a beautifully controlled solo floating over the top, this short gentle interlude giving way to “Wise Man” the band returning to their heavy ways with another signature riff and great interplay between all three musicians, the whole finally ending with “Speed Dealer”, a heavy as fuck boogie with guitar overload that makes me wish i still had hair, such is life. For me one of the finest release on the label so far.
Heavy and doom laden Dead Witches cover themselves in a wall of dense sludge on “Ouija” their debut album sounding like Sabbath at 16rpm, the dark, distorted riffs of guitar and bass joined by primeval drumming and the suitably witch like vocals of Virginia Monti, the whole thing sounding foreboding and cloaked in other realms. With titles such as “Dead”, “Drawing Down the Moon” and “Mind Funeral” it is obvious that this ain't no hippy band, the midnight, pentagram atmosphere maintained across the whole album, drawing you in, as creepy as a seventies UK horror flick, a sense of unease forever growing in your soul. Best of all is the title track, the guitar detuned to oblivion creating a fog of noise, the vocals almost lost in the swirling atmosphere, the music constantly, but slowly changing as it rolls forward dstroying everything in its path. (http://www.heavypsychsounds.com/)
Opening with some breezy jazz drumming that is soon joined by guitar, brass and double bass, “Geist” is a fabulous way to begin “Peripherique” a new four track EP from Mass Spectrometer, a mainly studio based experimental group hailing originally from New Zealand and Yorkshire, where they now reside. On this release they add the double bass and brass to their sound creating music that is filled with vitality and references their love of Blue Note, Impulse and other 50's/60's jazz. On the title track,a fabulous organ takes centre stage, a relaxed vibe flowing over the piece, bass and drums creating a dancing rythym for the rest of the musicians to weave around. Equally delightful, “Anchorite” introduces vocals, the lyrics painting pictures and telling stories, reminding me of the work of Robert Wyatt, indeed their are elements of Soft Machine to be found throughout this disc. To End, “Avignon” has a prog feel, the bass heavier and more straight forward, trumpet and keys whirling around each other whilst an electric guitar adds some subtle distorted energy. If their is one complaint it is that the whole thing is far too short, i look forward to hearing more. (https://massspectrometer.bandcamp.com/album/p-riph-rique)
Next up a couple of releases from the always interesting Front and Follow label, with “The Blow Vol 2” being a split Cass/DL featuring Time Attendant and Howlround. Splitting their time between four tunes, Time Attendent begin with “Distance Gatherer”, a dissonant wail of harsh noise that fades in and out, metallic shards mixed with swirling pulses and background drones, each seemingly seperate from the other making for a woozy piece of electronics. Warmer in feel, “Elementary Electronics” bleeps and twinkles across the room, some semblance of rythym holding the track together with a pulse and click as the track begins to get moving, a deep sequence propelling it forward. Sounding like some sort of primitive seventies electronic music, “Adventure Screen” could be the soundtrack to a strange abstract movie, intense and disturbing, whilst the final piece “Speaking in Spirals” is a random collection of burbles, swoops, and whistles that has life and vitality, is entertaining to listen and would help in the removal of unwanted salesmen from your lounge.
Complementing side one, Howlround offers one long track that is like being deep in an aviary filled with strange alien birdsin the middle of their dawn chorus, with all manner of electronic sounds competing to get their message across. With plenty of variation in tone texture and dynamics this is an engaging listen, the track changing towards the end submerging the listener into an alien oceans to listen to the creatures of the deep. Not easy listening by any means but rewarding. On the same label, “A City Rewritten”,, is a collection of remixed track by various artist (on the label), of “A City Remembrancer” originally by Shape Worship. Opening with a ghostly string driven drone we find Laura Cannell mixing “Tamesis”, the strings adding subtle melodies through the drone creating a dense slice of chambr music. Filled with vocal samples the Pye Corner Audio re-mix of “Vertices” adds layers of electronic atmosphere, the disembodied voices slowly moving up the banks of the Thames, their meaning lost both in the electronics and the cut up nature of the samples, a bass drum and sequence joining in as the voices fade morphing the track into some delightful ambient electronica that sounds like The Orb. Mixed by Eva Bowen, “An Exemplar” continues the electronic (almost) dance theme, with a nagging beat propelling the track along through waves of sound and samples, whilst “1987” finds Hoofus turning the track into a cross between Neu and early Human League, something sounds better than it may look on paper. Returning to the more abstract drone style of electronic music, Kemper Norton's take on “Necropolis” is rich with texture, the sound thick and coiling around itself in never ending spirals. Finally, Lutine offer their take on “Tamesis” ending as we began, this time the tune turning into a delicate folk song with sweet voices and a gentle, relaxing sound that slowly melts in autumnal sunshine. (http://www.frontandfollow.com/)
Treading his own resolute path and with most songs lasting less than two minutes, often less than one, Graham Repulski releases music faster than the Terrascope can keep up with it and there are now 4 EP's to tell you about, “Re-Arranged at Hotel Strange”, “Contaminated Man”, “Boy Lung” which are all avaliable in a nice boxed set of cassettes or download and “I'm Even Younger Now” which is avaliables as a single cassette or download. Throughout these releases the sound remains constant, fairly lo-fi songs that are wrapped in noise and distortion, each a small moment in time that flickers briefly before the next one takes over. With a definite Punk ethic, this is jangly grunge or the more obscure end of new wave, touches of Sonic Youth or Jesus and Mary Chain to be heard in the sonic onslaught. Hidden within “Contaminated Man” are a couple of longer songs, notably the excellent “The Next Great Cake” a fine and noisy tune making me wish there were more longer songs to be found as it has time to mature and change. At the other end of the spectrum, Only 4 of the 16 songs on “Boy Lung” make it over the 90 second mark, such a cattergun approach creating a very trippy and disorientating ride that is well worth the ticket price. Overall there are plenty of changes in pace, texture, emotion and instrumentation to be found, as well as a very individual approach and song titles such as “Forgettable Acid Trip” , “Bob For Uncles” or “Racing Towards the Bottom of a Bottomless Pit” to be found, give it a go. (https://grahamrepulski.bandcamp.com/)
Another musician treading his own path is Chad Beattie who,under the name Yes Selma, creates indie music that is often very personal, wry, introspective and rather excellent. On the album “Roadkill” there is a dark atmosphere pervading, the lyrics dealing with loneliness, drinking, murder, lost love etc etc, the guitars distorted and the vocals understated, the tales coming to life thanks to the arrangements and instrumentation, each a small vignette that all adds up to a collection of short stories, the work of Raymond Carver set to music perhaps. For some strange reason the songs remind me of both the work of Ring and Bright Eyes, perhaps in the delivery as much as the sound, however you feel about it the music slowly sucks you in with songs such as “Love Song” (a very dark tale) or the haunting “Rather Than Silence” being particularly effective, whilst “A Song in the Winter” is just a beautiful tune. Even more personal, the album “Someday We'll Blame Each Other” was written to try and win back an old lover (it failed) , the lyrics printed on the sleeve so that you don't miss one word of the emotional plea. Once again the music perfectly fits the mood, the playing understated yet very effective. Over ten tracks, there is regret , anger, pleading and hardly any light at all, a world lit by a single bulb in an empty room.
More upbeat, the third and final album Chad sent me, “Songs of Happiness” has some more experimental passages, with opening song “Useless Eater” being an abstract soundscape, a brief introduction before the more orthodox “Little Boy” takes over, the lyrics again introspective and an integral part of the music. As the album goes on you realise that although the music is much more cheerful the lyrics are just as dark, as one listen to “Outer Space” or “Noise Poem” will tell you. Maybe an aquired taste, i really enjoyed these album, maybe you will. (https://chadbeattie.bandcamp.com/)
With a smokey, Americana sound the guitar, percussion, female vocals of Leisure Tank have a definite PJ Harvey vibe about them, especially on the opening two tracks on their debut album “Wetsuit”. With a bright clean production the songs shine out and there is a wonderful balance to the songs both in sound and arrangement with “No Beat No More” hooking you in from the start whilst “Shadow” only re-inforces the quality. Elsewhere a mandolin adds a sparkle to “Soldier” and the slow blues of the beautifullt sung “Black Dog” adds another dimension to the album. Not groundbreaking but a solid debut and i bet they are excellent live. (http://www.leisuretank.com/)
Released on the well named Cat On The Howling Moon Records “Into the Light” is a 4 track EP from Gu-Ru with an unashamedly sixties feel, Farfisa organ and a joyous vibe, with opening track “When I'm With You” displaying these attributes by the bucketload, a groovy (slightly cheesy) tune that will get you frugging around the lava lamp. With a slight prog tinge the title track is a moody little number that also strolls into lounge territory, a great combination in my opinion. These qualities continue with “Flo” another fine track with a soundtrack vibe, the whole EP rounded off with “Pleasure Mile”, another slice of Lounge-Psych best served with a cocktail and a great big grin, superb. (https://catonthehowlingmoonrecords.bandcamp.com/).
With heavy, spaced-out guitar and plenty of flair Buddha Sentenza are an instrumental psych rock band augmented by some excellent keys/synths and violin giving the band a wide and expansive sound that sounds mighty good at high volume. On “Semaphora”, their latest album they get into it right from the off as “Jet” struts from the speakers, heavy guitar riffs giving way to more psychedelic passages and vice versa, a solid rythym section, not only holding it together but adding plenty of flourish to the song. Suprisingly, “Greek Ancestry suprises by starting with a single acoustic instrument, beofre stretching out into a trippy laid back tune with organ to the fore. Indeed, there is plenty of variety on the album with “Kreen” having an almost Swamp Americana vibe, whilst “Laika” is a heavy prog affair, “Blood Rust” gives the guitar room to space out magnificently and “The End Is Coming...We'll Take It From Here” is ten minutes of progressive psychedelia mixed with more free flowing guitar passages. More complex than it first appears this album reveals more layers on each listen which is never a bad thing. (http://www.worldinsound.de/)
Finally, a few words from Steve Palmer to lead you out of this Rumble.
Lukas Read on his album "Neo Age" makes a kind of hyper-real country music, clawhammer style, with strange and wonderfully spacey sounds in the background, courtesy guest musician Sam Creacher, who also produced the album. Opening with the curious charm of 'Deep Winter Rag,' the music winds through wide-open-spaces courtesy of more excellently played acoustic guitar. Highlights include the boogie-tastic 'Bojangles Boogie' and the mournful title track. 'Creacher Jump' meanwhile is a mournful elegy to something or other complete with shimmering electric guitar. Varied sounds, great playing and attention to detail make this a super listen.
Welsh psych popsters Fforesteering make vaguely retro pop music on their self-titled album. The singer sounds a bit like Gruff Rhys (I'm not saying that because I don't know any other Welsh singers - he really does). The songs are tuneful and well played, opening with the title track, with its sighing backing vocals and smart tempo. The band sing in Welsh - 'Yn Galw,' 'Ar Agor,' 'Aagau' etc, which is to be commended, except for the penultimate track in heavily reverbed English. 'Yn Galw' is the perfect example of the band's oevre, with its choppy rhythm, softly sung vocals (just on the right side of pastiche) and a great little bass riff bubbling up. Maracas on every track though...? Hard to say if they'll go far (the album is supported by a Welsh culture organisation, and part of the album was recorded for BBC Radio Cymru) but let's hope for the best. They deserve success.
"Lifestyle Bible" by electronic cut-up artist Conformist is a collection of fairly random samples stitched together glitch-style. The effect is schizophrenic, part-industrial, part-musical, and sometimes listenable. Fans of cut'n'paste will enjoy this.
Ryan Choi's "Whenmill" takes an apparently ordinary musical instrument - in this case the ukulele from Choi's home location of Hawaii - and turns it into an expressive solo instrument. This is virtuoso ukulele music. Admittedly the instrument is a baritone ukulele with more notes, tones and flexibility than the usual ukulele, but, still... Four brief tracks made perfect "getting up on a Sunday morning" music. Terrific!
"I Can't Tell You (How This Feels)" by Richard John-Riley is twenty minutes of expansive psychedelia in the ultra-trippy sense of the word - journeying, weird, often gorgeous. Thought and care has gone into this brand of electronic music. The main, ten-minute track brings thunking drums and all sorts of odd samples (what used to be called "tape effects") to the languorously sung song. A radio mix and a second track 'Your Honesty' (similar, but more vocodered and mellow) complete the work. Trippy-dippy and enjoyable.
Some Some Unicorn is a former online music project that's evolved into a free-jazz collective, in the manner of some of Martin Archer's works. In 'Unicornicopia' a huge, mutating, brassy, stringy electro-improvisational affair is flung at the listener, who has no choice but to allow these huge slabs of sound and perplexity to wash over them. Pseudo-scat female voices flutter over ethno-plays, while, later, enormous stabs of squeaky sax splurge over zingy guitars, 'fifties style. Great listening, it must be said, though impossible to say exactly why. That may be a good thing of course. I sometimes find these "free jazz" excursions a bit samey, and this one does go on a bit, but it definitely has the hallmark of excellence deep inside.
Did somebody mention Martin Archer? On "Warning: May Contain Notes" by Discus Records' mega-choir Juxtavoices, six huge compositions ranging from Lux Aeterna-like anti-melody space epics, through freaky small-voice pieces, to ultra-crazy linguistic slabs (the epic 'To You & Me Krakatoa') enchant, bewilder, or otherwise engage the listener. The overwhelming majority of the album (a collection of works recorded over three years) is listenable, and some of it is rather gorgeous, not least when the solo voices, or pairs/trios of solo voices poke through all the mayhem, like sunbeams through stormclouds.
Fans of Yoshio Machida may remember my review last year of the Jorge Queijo, Hiroki Chiba & Yoshio Machida album "Luminant" ("In conclusion, there is nothing to fear from the steelpan on this album."). Here now is the man's solo work for steel pan - 'Tender Blues' parts one to six, featuring delicate ambient pan playing. Parts of this album leave the plane of acoustic instrumentation altogether, becoming an almost electronic wash - a very odd aural effect. The solo lines and pan effects rise, fall and spread out in fluid style. In conclusion, this album is meditative, lovely and wholly not to be afraid of. Hmmm, perhaps this is an instrument I should investigate myself...
Jack Ellister's new album "Roots Conference" is a return to the plangent psinger-psongwriter-psych of his debut "Tune Up Your..." (title too long to type), but which this time is a collection of covers, showing how he as a writer has been influenced by others. Ellister's gritty, albeit tuneful voice covers such material as The Beatles' 'Dear Prudence' and Pink Floyd's 'Matilda Mother,' with the former being a curious bell-infested version and the latter a cosmic stretch in multi-vocals wobbling and splurging through various delays, flanges and other effects; plus piano and synth. The man has many, many fans, and all will be delighted with this varied release. (www.fruitsdemerrecords.com)
"Sacred Revelations" by Joost Dijkema is a collection of clawhammer, fingerpicked solo guitar pieces, with added fiddle, drums and vocals. This young musician has a feel for melody and is an admirably adroit player. His cracked, phlegmy voice is terrific on the opener 'The Sun Behind The Mountain,' while later on the title track is a Zeppish (III) country piece, 'Heathland Home' is a beautifully played acoustic ramble, and 'Maintenance' uses electric guitar, big delays and reverbs to infuse space into the proceedings. An excellent album, with some outstanding playing. (Twin Dimension Records)
AK Musick was a '70s project in free improvisation style founded by clarinet maestro Hans Kumpf. On this self-titled album, re-released from the archives by Guerssen Records, six recordings made in 1972 whirl, lope, bounce or otherwise rush by the listener. It's crazy stuff for sure. Recorded in three hours, it does however sound like it was recorded in three hours. Fans of avante garde free electro-acoustica will go for this one, but others may be baffled.
"Ramshackle" by Dancing Mice guitarist G.J. Gibson is a collection of nine bouncy pop songs: drums, bass, guitar, organ, voice - you get the quirky picture. 'Scunner In The Summer' has a good melody, and introduces Gibson's voice as a mixture of Ian Curtis and Anton Barbeau. 'Chip Shop Blues' is a waltztime glimmer of hope from ordinary life, while 'Jammin' The Jumps' ups the drum power and adds Hammond-esque riffs before the main half-event appears. Fans of quirky, lo-fi Anglo-psych (think Pink Hedgehog Records) would enjoy this for sure.
What is post-rock? Oui Mais Non would have you believe on their album "Des Engins..." that it is an instrumental mixture of drums, bass, guitar and... vibraphone? The album titles are printed so small on the CD that I can't read them, so here's some impressions: progressive, excellent bass, tight splashy cymbals, fast, dubby, slow, mournful and vibraphoney. I liked it - enough improv to breathe and enough structure to listen to.
Drawing Virtual Gardens release their fourth dark ambient release "Heartbeats Of A Premature Image," which takes drones, synth pads and processed guitar sounds to make a superb electronic album. Deeply reverberated instruments (synths? real? it doesn't matter) combine into lush textures, like impressions of vast, multi-person dreams. The main man is David Gutman, here credited with everything, but there are guitar samples from guest Ariel Gutman, which in some pieces are more to the fore, elsewhere retreating. Good horizontal listening, and beautifully presented in a hand-made card case. This release has style in all departments.
"Cumulus" is the new album from Mega Dodo's Mark & The Clouds, which merges classic '60s psych with some great songs. Opener 'On Her Bike' ticks all the boxes, with multi-harmonies and a retro melody - hints of Shack on this first cut, I think. 'Road, Mud & Cold' is more of an acoustic lament, while 'Hit By Lightning' ramps up the fuzz a bit. Other highlights include the Kinks-esque 'Your So Cold' and 'Baby, You're Just A Liar,' with its Who influences - stomps and struts to excellent effect. I think this second album is a bit more focussed than the debut 'Blue Skies Opening,' so kudos to the band! Nice one.
Maurizio Grandinetti is a guitarist who explores the multifarious tones and timbres of his instruments on "SEEK," which merges noise, bass and some more noise to skull-crushing effect - his instruments being acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars. This is pure sound, taken to the guitarist's logical extreme. In some places more like synths, the textures are amazing, not least on the track that reduces the skreek impact a little, 'Junghae LEE Lunatico,' with its plinks, plonks and super-fast fretboard runs. Challenging though.
Fancy reading a book about travelling across America? Then "A Good Lie Ain't Easy" by Nico Lee may be your thing. Think classic road trip, words spat upon the pages, four actors acting up, and lots of diners and food. If you're American this could well be for you, but Brits will struggle to determine the point of it all.
"Stoned In Love" by Sendelica is space rock - heavy, guitars, spacey vocals, cosmic synths in the background. The band are popular, with their Hawkwind-esque brand of space rock in Hawkwind mode. Cut two is the tabla mix. Meanwhile, in a different country, Soft Hearted Scientists also have a new single out, from their "Golden Omens" album - 'Shiver Me Timbers,' which nicely echoes retro modernity. The "AA side" is 'Crystal Coves,' which in similarly nautical fashion takes looking backwards into forwards territory, this time with a knowing acoustic fret and some resonant synths. Meanwhile, even more elsewhere it would seem, Moloko (yes! that Moloko!) also have a single on the ever expanding FdM label, 'Can't Wait 'Til Sunday' being the title, a veritable clockwork orange of a stomper, coming across like Kirsty McColl's "A New England" crossed with Teenage Fanclub. Crazy! But really rather good, as is the "AA side" 'Never Know What You've Got,' which has a similar vibe, rhythm and sound but which is more like Kirsty versus Orange Juice. Mmm, juicy!
Terrascopic Rumbles for January was brought to you by Simon Lewis, Steve Palmer and Andrew Young. Artwork, layout & direction by Phil McMullen - © Terrascope Online, 2017