=  June 2024 =  
Thos. Greenwood & the Talismans
Brown Acid comp
Alula Down
Black Tempest












 
 
 
 
 
 

THOMAS GREENWOOD AND THE TALISMANS - ATES

(LP, Digital on Subsound Records (Europe), Echodelick Records (US))

 

This record is a very enjoyable brand of accessible, melodic psych rock/pop.  Thomas Mascheroni, aka Thomas Greenwood, hails from Bergamo, Italy, which also happens to be the home of Terrascope favorites Buck Curran and Adele H.  The emphasis here is on songwriting; all eight tracks herein have catchy tunes and fine vocals by Greenwood.  The songs are tinged with psychedelia, but it’s not overpowering.  There are very few guitar solos or extended synth passages, just quality songs.

 

That isn’t to say the band doesn’t have chops.  Greenwood (guitars, vocals) and his Talismans - Cristian Bona (bass) and Lorenzo Zenk (drums) - are a tight, proficient squad.  They play with an economy of style, and the production values like lots of reverb expand the trio’s performances to fill the soundspace.

The playing can occasionally get a little heavier and riffnocentric (just made up that term), such as on “Sleepwalker,” “Sunhouse” and “Crack,” but most of the tracks are mid-tempo and well-balanced between light and heavy.

 

There’s a concept to the album.  Ates is a fictitious hidden city buried beneath the mountains of Turkey.  In the story, it’s considered a mystical locale where legend has it people found refuge in the past from environmental catastrophes.  The only songs which have a vaguely Anatolian style are the psychedelic instrumental “The Road to Ates” and portions of “Crack.”  The rest of the tracks are more typical western rock oriented.

 

Album closer “Crack” is the heaviest track, a nice piece of blues rock that may get you playing air guitar along with Greenwood.  The excellent cover art depicting a mountain range in purplish-red hues has a worn quality to it – what did they used to call jeans intentionally made to look threadbare and beat up – distressed?  Recorded in what was once a barn near Lake Iseo east of Bergamo, Ates is impressive song-oriented album-rock done in a universally appealing style.  More please.

 

(Mark Feingold)



VARIOUS ARTISTS – BROWN ACID - THE EIGHTEENTH TRIP

(LP, CD, Digital on RidingEasy Records)

 

Those Brown Acid dudes from RidingEasy are back at it.  That would be Daniel Hall and Lance Barresi, your curators for this living museum of mostly early Seventies proto-metal/heavy psych they call ‘Heavy Rock from the Underground Comedown.’  How they’ve managed to fill 18 volumes and counting of one-hit – or make that zero hit – wonders of premium bummer Rawk is anyone’s guess.  But the well hasn’t run dry yet, and judging by this collection, we’re not into the dregs either.

 

I’ll just hit some of the highlights here.  Leading off is St. Louis’s Back Jack, with “Bridge Waters Dynamite” from 1974.  Coming on something like a head-on collision between Grand Funk Railroad and Aerosmith from that period, it’s a head-bobbing distorted concoction starting with those beloved kick-off lyrics of yore, ‘people, are you ready?’  Back Jack might as well be saying that to you good listeners about Brown Acid The Eighteenth Trip.

 

The Smokin’ Buku Band proves with “Hot Love” that apparently you can’t get too shameless trying to sound like Led Zeppelin.  Initially a big riff on “Communication Breakdown,” the ditty goes on to be a cornucopia of Zep references.  Atlantis’s “Moby Shark” is almost a novelty song about everybody’s favorite blockbuster shark movie from 1975.  I’ve gotta admit, it would be fun to dance to.  The Chicago Triangle’s “Ripped Off” is a little like a Brown Acidified version of Van Halen from when the latter was playing for beer and weed in backyard parties.

 

If The Smokin’ Buku Band brazenly channeled Led Zeppelin on Side One, Parchment Farm gives a similar treatment to James Gang on Side Two opener “Songs of the Dead” from 1971.  Still, the guitar playing on this track by Paul Cockrum is so simply blazing, it’s one of the album’s true gems.  The only ‘name’ band, if you could call it that, which I recognized from the collection was Cleveland’s The Damnation of Adam Blessing, here rechristened Glory in a later 1973 variant.  I’d always felt Damnation was one band who collectively had their shit together, and on “Nightmare,” they prove it.  This song’s got it all - rousing vocal harmonies, grinding Hammond, twin lead guitars, and a band that’s locked in, firing on all cylinders.  “Nightmare” is the album’s premiere standout track.

 

On 1968’s “Realize,” The Pawnbrokers, from Fargo, North Dakota, offer up a sound not too distant from what Messrs. Clapton, Bruce and Baker were conjuring up around that time.  Chicago’s Brothers of the Ghetto close out the set and bring on the funk rock with “Rockin’ Chair.”  It’s a hip-shaking groove with bouncy organ and a squalling guitar solo to get you moving.

 

The Brown Acid series is alive and well, and as long as RidingEasy continues dishing ‘em out, we’ll keep devouring them.  Who knew there were so many bands churning out quality greasy sleaze back then, one forgotten single at a time?  If you’re new to the series, brother you’ve got some catching up to do.  All others, dig this one herewith.

 

(Mark Feingold)



ALULA DOWN – THE LEYLINE
(CD from https://www.reverbworship.com/reverb-worship and DL from  https://aluladown.bandcamp.com/)

Weirdshire mainstays Kate Gathercole and Mark Waters conceived and created Leyline in 2022 on a journey from the Aegean Sea, along the ancient and mysterious Michael/Apollo leyline, across Greece and up through Italy and France. Over 13 tracks bundled into six pieces it depicts places and experiences, evoking crashing Aegean waves, droughts, storms and people encountered along the way.

The aesthetic resembles that of a stripped-down United Bible Studies or cosmic country cousins of Burd Ellen. Found sounds and field recording of waves, birds, crickets, bells and yer actual people abound, intermingling with picked and sawed violin, sonorous plucked double bass, plinked ukulele, the drone of harmonium and his and hers vocals. The first voice, heard on the exquisitely drone-coaxed ‘Walk/Arrive/Escape’, is Mark’s calming and unpretentious light tenor, thereafter it is mostly Kate’s engaging tones that grace the vocal tracks. ‘Delphi’ is quite possibly the stand-out cut, a celebration of The Oracle that seems to linger long after the passage into another time and place; a slice of sun-drenched acid folk updated and refined for modern palettes. The instrumental arch-solemnity of ‘Sacra Di San Michele pt. 1’ and ‘Perugia’s’ parched meditation - it’s repeat spoken word mantra of ‘water, and the absence of water’ pinpointing the probable cause of the current eye-watering price of olive oil - meanwhile contrast nicely with the disarming sung-vocal offerings.

You may think that not much happens amidst all the tranquillity. You’d be mistaken. For all its languid charm this is a heady and subtly productive cottage industry. A most evocative and gratifying travelogue, you’ll want to leave part of you somewhere on route, irrespective of any need to leave the comfort of your armchair for no other reason than to replenish your glass. There’s nothing here to quell the arcadian reverie, which suits me fine. You’ll find me out there on the trail and down with the lotus eaters. Always better to travel hopefully than to arrive, and all that.

(Ian Fraser)



BLACK TEMPEST - ASTRAL PASTORAL (LP on Echodelick Records)

Stephen Bradbury in the guise of Black Tempest has released many a fine record over the past several years, making inventive yet highly accessible electronic psychedelia that touches and celebrates many influences whilst cultivating a distinct character. The last release ‘Psyborg’ was a darker affair affected strongly by the world of Covid and associated anxieties. This time around as the title suggests, ‘Astral Pastoral’ addresses wider themes of ecology and environment, in large part an observation on the rolling downs and heathland of Southern England, drawing strongly but not exclusively on Kosmische sound and also weaving in subtle nods to other musical heritage.

The key piece on the record is the side long ‘Astral Pastoral No.9’, which at over 23 minutes qualifies as an epic. It is a piece of shifting moods and textures, underpinned by birdsong and environmental sounds and a very clear sense of the natural world where electronic sound and nature harmonise and paint compelling sonic pictures.  It is also a journey in sound where sometimes floating and sometimes bubbling or pulsating melodies, atmospheric tides of synthesized choral and orchestral textures and delicate acoustic guitar create a Kosmische grandeur and conjure echoes of Phaedra and Force Majeure era Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh but also the holy minimalism of Arvo Part or John Taverner. Within this overall soundscape interludes of percussive electronic groove with organ colourings create a pastoral autobahn where movement is perhaps at a more leisurely pace with observational spoken word providing commentary. A final section of more experimental and dissonant sound with fractured electronic melodies further breaks up the more bucolic and at times blissful mood of the opening section. It’s a captivating, thoughtful and memorable piece of music and repeat listening will reward you with further appreciation of its depth and subtleties.

‘Outlier’ follows and is more overtly Eno/Kosmische influenced with a sense of motion and a cinematic enveloping sound. It’s an elegant, at times nocturnal sound but I can also imagine it soundtracking the awakening of Spring. ‘Skylarks and Cornflowers’ is a much shorter piece with a jaunty folk dance inspired melody for plucked harp and flute with electronic dissonance woven in which would be a perfect prelude to loading up your Wicker Man. ‘Pastoral Astral’ has a darker edge with ritualistic percussion, cosmic drones and an air of mystery with again a cinematic yet also partly improvised feel. ‘Hinterland’ is again a shorter, darker piece where a gentle flute melody is woven into more abstract electronica with a strong spacey feel. To finish, the more melodic, uplifting and  gently anthemic ‘Box Hill’ where a lovely circular guitar and piano melody are again wrapped in electronic colourings creating a sense of sunrise or sunset.

This is an album that takes us on a journey in sound through a treasured landscape and a natural diary that celebrates a sense of place and being there. To call it pastoral Kosmische undersells what is a well crafted musical travelogue where each listen reveals more details in the depth of sound, musical ideas and themes that only further enhance the listening experience and fuel the imagination. Strongly recommended for a satisfying staycation in your preferred listening bolthole or for soundtracking your actual journey. Highly recommended.

(Francis Comyn)