= October 2014 =  
V/A - 7 & 7 is
The Greek Theatre
Dowling Poole
V/A - Leigh FF comp
Mark Fry
The Deviants
Hallock Hill
Sondra Sun-Odeon
Spacious Mind
White Manna
Kikagaku Moyu

(Vinyl box set from Fruits de Mer Records www.fruitsdemerrecords.com)

Ask any Terrascope writer to name their three or four favourite record labels and chances are that  endearingly oddball, vinyl-only microlabel Fruits de Mer will feature prominently in their replies and with very good reason if this stellar release is anything to go by.

“7 and 7 is” is in typically idiosyncratic FdeM fashion, a collection of 7 x 7 inch singles on which current artists reinterpret the music of the classic US psychedelic act of their choice with most bands getting two shots at “Stars in their Eyes”. Bevis Frond get us off to a flying start with a dyed in the wool organ driven “Night Sounds Loud”, originally by Clear Light, Nick Salomon’s vocals sounding pretty restrained in comparison with the original but otherwise a faithful and favourable reproduction. Salomon is also in form on the almost as short and very nearly as sharp “Sand”, with its proto-London Calling central riff. Higher State offer a, poppy perhaps even radio-friendly take on the Elevators - their “Wait For My Love” could have been the rejected theme tune for that Friends comedy series - while “You Don’t Know” is competent to the point of polished, if slightly neutered in comparison with the roughly hewn original. I never knew I’d miss that damned jug so much. Now I love the Chemistry Set and so it’s good to see them paying homage to the band of that name. “A House Is Not A Motel” has more of a Byrds feel to it thanks to multiple harmonies, something which Lee and Co generally lacked. It’s a cracker, as one late and largely unlamented Ulster comedian might once have uttered. “Live and Let Live” is marginally more measured than the original but a note perfect and superbly executed guitar break provides another one of those close your eyes and you could have been there moments.

What FdeM compilation project would be complete without Sendelica I hear you ask? Well fear not as here they are doing more than justice to a couple of United States of America tracks, which couldn’t have been an easy task given the unique credentials of Byrd/Moscowitz and co. In fact “Hard Coming Love” is one of the standout tracks in what it is already apparent is something of a golden hour from the Fruits factory, Their filmic, almost MOR take on “Love Song for the Dead” isn’t to be sniffed at either. King Penguin hop species into The Byrds and offer up their take on “She Don’t Care About Time”, the chiming guitars a dead ringer (ouch) for the parent act but a foot on the brake pedal and some lush orchestration ensure that the Penguins put their own seal on this age old classic. “5D” follows in similar fashion, but is given the indelible stamp of retro-style ’67 hipness with the use of sitar and backward vocals.

The Gathering Grey are less familiar to me but their dreamy “Sitting By The Window” is impressive enough and is if anything more languid than Moby Grape’s original. I’d love to comment on how they approach “I Am Not Willing” but it’s at that point that the promo-CD copy fails me I’m afraid. And so it’s left to our old mate Steve “Black Tempest” Bradbury to weird out Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” – in fact it’s a refreshingly straight rock take and is none the worse for that – and The Seventh Ring of Saturn who endeth the sermon with the Grateful Dead’s “Cream Puff War”. Now this should have been an inspired choice as the original would not have been out of place on Love’s De Capo album, home of the song which gave inspiration to the project and title. However despite some scorching guitar and a whole load of ozone the focus and hence the effect is a little lost with Garcia’s urgent, almost Lee-like vocals rendered something of a Dylanesque whine.

True to Fruits form this is a limited edition release, just 700 copies worldwide and on coloured vinyl. By the time you read this it will already be on release so tarry not, if this one isn’t in everyone’s end of year list of top compilations then I’m a White Rabbit. FdeM have done it again folks, pure and simple. (Ian Fraser)



(LPs from www.sugarbushrecords.com)

Rapidly becoming one of my favourite labels, Sugarbush return with another brace of albums that share a timeless quality whilst sounding very different from each other.

     Emerging from a mellow mist of sixties inspired melody and cool The Greek Theatre ooze that get back to the country vibe, sweet melodies and a relaxed attitude merging together to create a musical template that is relaxed and perfectly balanced, some fine playing lifting the songs into that zone occupied by The Byrds and their musical offshoots, the result a wholly satisfying listen.

    Opening with a delightful country shuffle and pedal steel, “Even You Will Find A Way Home My Son” is a great opener, easy listening, West Coast psych that floats around you, the pattern continued on both “August Streets” and the short and haunting “You and Your Brother”, the latter reminding me of Simon and Garfunkel on mushrooms and leading us nicely into the album's undoubted highlight the magnificent “Frozen Highway”, the tune maintaining that mellow vibe but adding some sublime guitar/organ playing, inventiveness by the bucket-full and a sweet warmth that really works. Ending side one, “Was It A Dream” is a nostalgic delight, with some of the most relaxed sax playing I have ever heard, the tune having a really light jazz sheen that adds to its whimsical nature.

    Over on the other side there is a Beach Boys feel to “Overprotection doesn't Work”, whilst “Mountains Meet Ocean Sound” is just a classic pop song that gets you grooving. After more loveliness from “Close In My Arms”, the band slow thing down even further on “Hold On” a tune so languid that you will want to curl up in a sunny meadow and listen, the addition of a Clarinet adding to the sleepiness, the song drifting the listener into the ideal state for “Sail Away”, a plucked guitar taking up the mood and running with it the piece slowly spinning into a mellow cloud of bliss that is both magnificent and over too quickly, the sound of the sea leading us into “Stupid Constapleton” the final track which remind me of Jefferson Airplane and is also too short. Recorded at home by Swedish duo Steve Froberg and Fredrik Persson, this collection has a rich sound and is packed with melodic sweetness that makes the music very listen-able and  difficult to age, as winter approaches this will keep the memories of summer alive.

   Sharing a love of melody, the latest album from Dowling Poole is a heady mixture of classic XTC, the more melodic side of Super Furry Animals and The Beatles at their most harmonic, the whole album sounding very English to these ears. Opening track “The Sun Is Mine” showcases all these influences  as well as some quality songwriting, the song inventive and laden with hooks. With a more pop-psych sheen, “A Kiss On The Ocean” is just a great song that is beautifully produced and very lovely, attributes that can also be found on the excellent “Saving It All For A Saturday” although the lyrics are much darker.  To close side one “Paper, Scissors, Stone” is a more relaxed tune with great harmonies and plenty of creative twists.

    Flip the record over and side two contains another five tunes filled with those creative twists with “Empires, Buildings and Acquisitions” opening things and highlighting musicians right on top of their game. With an almost Eno-esque ambience “Twilight Subplot” is another fine tune with magnificent vocals and a drifting atmosphere and droning strings, whilst “Getting A Licence” will definitely make you think of The Beatles, the whole album rounded off with “Clean”, a beautiful song that has some great guitar running through it.

    If you love melody, harmony and classic songwriting then these two albums come highly recommended. (Simon Lewis)



(CD from Thames Delta Recordings www.leighfolfestival.com)

Yes it’s that time of year again where we miss the Leigh Folk Festival by a good couple of months only to supply a retrospective and, I’ll say from the outset, favourable review of another sumptuous sampler providing, as the organisers would have it, a nutrient-rich taster of this, the festival that was. It follows the similar winning formula to 2013 even down to the alliterative use of the letter S to form the album title and the twenty four tracks therein span pretty much everything from ye sounde of Merrie England to what might be charitably described as a distant third cousins of what purists would term “folk”, but what would they know? Folk is people’s music, this is (mostly acoustic) music made by people and you can perform and listen to it in a tent while drinking beer and/or eating chips – more of which in a bit. Argument over and game on.

Turning our attention to the music and sundry other offerings here there are some impressive early markers courtesy of the organic guitar and beautiful voice of the wonderful Nancy Wallace before Ray Morgan provides a perfect poetic summation of the “Leigh Folk Festival”, or for that matter any family and bacchanalia friendly bash you can think of, in a two-minute ode at the end of which people leave vowing to buy more music, drink less beer and eat less chips. Spot on. Wolf People collaborators Stick in the Wheel continue the front-loaded female lead theme before the diversity digit is well and truly depressed and the Near Eastern grooves of She’Koyokh start getting the feet itchy. In quick succession we are treated to festival mainstays You Are The Wolf (an only slightly irritating remix of “Cuckoo”), Lost Harbour’s “Unquiet Stones” and a loping, faintly spectral “We Plow and Sow” (using a melody oft-applied to “Van Dieman’s Land”) courtesy of Sproatly Smith for whom we have a soft spot. Hey, there’s me muscling in on the alliterative S, look. Shucks.

So far so good, you’re probably thinking and you’d be dead right. However this lilac time develops into a fully formed purple patch ushered in by Trembling Bells and Mike Heron’s spine tingling version of the ISB classic “Waltz of the New Moon”, complete with some classically trained lupine howling courtesy of the divine Lavinia Blackwall. Terrascope is prepared to yield to few in its admiration of Alasdair Roberts and how good it is to hear him here on a beautiful but criminally brief “There Will Come Soft Rain”, note for note as good anything here. Diamond Family Archive of whom I know next to nought (ok make that nought) impress mightily with a lazy, hazy West Coast vibe courtesy of “Mute”, which has the same atmospheric, bewitching qualities of “Nights in White Satin” but without the overwrought chorus or that tedious flute middle eight. They are definitely an act worthy of some investigation.

Dare I suggest that the best though is yet to come? Greanvine, like Diamond Family Archive this time around, were an unknown quantity for me in the 2013 sampler (I subsequently learned that they are a splinter group of the Owl Service). They took top honours then and they do it again this time with a reverb drenched, bass laden Bruton Town-ish “The Captain’s Apprentice”, delivered in the silvery and disarming tones of one Diana Collier with whom I am much impressed. Good too to see avant-drone act Bear Bones who last year graced the mini-Terrastock Woolf Music. getting a well-deserved airing, their “Scorched Tongue My Love” counterbalancing Cath and Phil Tyler and Fran Morten who bookend it. At 5:31 it is also one of the longest cuts here – an eternity for some maybe but a mere twinkling for those of us happy to be hopelessly lost in their particular twilight zone. Into the final furlong we plough and widely feted C Joynes impresses with his listener friendly Fahey stylings as do Crafting Foes of whom Espers fans will doubtless approve while the recessional hymn “Tuning Fork of the Earth” courtesy of The Crying Lion (Trembling Bells/Bonnie Prince Billy project from a couple of years back) provides a plainsong epilogue, saving the nineteen second “Bells” which brings a metaphorical curtain down on an exceedingly enjoyable 80 or so minutes.

What also impresses is that this is clearly lovingly put together with no little humour on the part of the organisers not least in the one-liner explanatory notes accompanying each song. Thus Greanvine’s “The Captain’s Apprentice” is explained with “Line manager’s abuse of trainee duly addressed” while “Bare Bones’ instrumental “Scorched Tongue My Love” comes with “Hot cup of tea prompts personal injury claim”. I must say I like the cut of their jib, I really do.

Here’s hoping that Leigh Festival 2014 was a huge success, that the sun shone brightly and warmly and that everyone, beer drinkers and chip munchers included (or even especially) had a great time. I must say it’s a bloody long way to Leigh-on-Sea from my rural fastness in the west of Britain but never say never. Until then I shall content myself with this smashing snapshot and suggest that you might wish to do likewise. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from www.sheepdogrecords.com)

On this outing the band vert:x (all lower case) consist of multi instrumentalist Neil Whitehead (guitar, bass and vocals), Vince C (guitar), Fred Laird of Earthling society (guitar and mellotron) and Rich Om (all sentence case), who provides some superb spacey synthesizer wibbles.

This album follows on from a.f.m.o.m.a.h.e. (A Floating Mass of Metal and Heavy Electricity) which was released in 2007 and Ggantija released in 2009.

The CD comes in a distinctive slip case with the rather minimalist information on a paper band, which has to be slid off to get to the CD.  On hearing the start of the first track “Murasaki 312” the listener could dismiss vert:x as just another "wall of sound band", in fact I have to confess that the first time I heard them I did just that; but take the time to give it a proper listen and you quickly realise that this is no bland grey concrete barricade as there is an intricacy in the way that the music has been put together more akin to the craft and precision of dry stone walling. Pay closer attention and you will begin to pick up the way that said wall is a finely detailed structure composed of psychedelic patterns of interlocking shapes and textures, overlaid with tendrils of organic life weaving their designs; this is followed by “S.p.a.c.e.p.u.n.k.” which is a rocking, screaming guitar, storm of a track that would make a corpse dance; “Space ride #3” takes the "Like a hawkwind" riff, familiar to fans of Silverspace, and builds on it to create a very enjoyable area of floaty free space; “Psychic indicator” is the only track with vocals and is a more traditional space rock number; all of this prepares us nicely for the final track “Planet of the mindstealers”  which for me is the highlight of the album, being just over 26 minutes of pure acid fuelled driving energy to drift and soar with; vert:x certainly stole my mind with this one.

Comparisons with early Hawkwind are inevitable but tend to provide a distraction from, and fall way short of, recognising what is really happening here.  If you like Sula Bassana's Electric moon, Can, Carlton Melton, Spacelords etc then you are going to feel very much at home here. (Steve Judd)



(LP/DL http://accoladesf.com/ )

Hailing from San Francisco, Accolade are a band whose sound is rooted in the classic albums of the early seventies mixing folk, prog and medieval influences to great affect sounding like UK folk-rock band Renaissance, which is not that surprising when the sleeve notes reveal that the album is dedicated to Michael Dunford and vocalist Stefanie Renee sounds uncannily like Annie Haslam at times. 

    Straight from the off the band set out their stall with the short but sweet “Gelfling Song” mixing Ocarina, Rainstick, Djembe and Recorder, the music held together with a drifting cloud of vocal harmony that sits above it. With a medieval slant, Drums and Flugel Horn, “”Elf King” takes you straight back to the UK in 1972, the folk music movement in full flight, the swet vocals again lifting the song ever higher.

   Apparently the oldest known song, “Hymn to the Moon Goddess” was found on ancient tablets inscribed in Cuneiform and dated 1400 BC. Whether the modern interpretation is accurate is open to debate but it certainly sounds fine when covered by Accolade, rolling percussion, vocals and an Alpine Zither giving it an otherworldly  feel. To round of side one, “The Journey” is an expansive piece that starts in a mellow mood before slowly building in volume and tempo, a rocking electric guitar adding bite and passion to the track, the band alternating the quiet and loud passages perfectly to create a mighty slice of folk-rock that leaves you wanting more.

    This, of course, brings us nicely to side two which harbours just one track “The Lady of Shalott”, the track split into four parts and the lyrics courtesy of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Over the course of the track you can hear Harpsichords, Recorders,piano,  a rock band in full flight, medieval influences, hand percussion and some excellent trumpet, the track highlighting the excellent musicianship, the players obviously deeply into the piece playing with passion and a great deal of skill.

   This is a lovely album whose natural home is on vinyl as it was obviously programmed with that in mind. My one word of caution is that the vocals may be an acquired taste as they are definitely on the high side. Having said this, fans of Renaissance, Steeleye Span, or Sandy Denny (etc, etc) should definitely investigate and enjoy. (Simon Lewis)



(CD and LP from Second Language)

Fry has enjoyed a wonderful renaissance since Sunbeam reissued his cult classic Dreaming with Alice, which I reviewed here back in 2006. (In an eerily synchronistic piece of timing, my review was proceeded by our dear departed friend, Tony Dale’s review of the self-titled 3” CD-R by a new duo trading as The A. Lords. Of course, there would be no way of us knowing that within five years’ time, Fry would collaborate with that self-same pair on a new album, I Lived In Trees, and that it would mark the beginning of a new relationship with Second Language that finds further fruition on this, his fourth studio album!

            Fry tells us that the songs on this new recording were inspired by flying or (in a nod back to those halcyon days with Alice) “more specifically about dreaming about flying”, with additional inspiration from the life and works of French aviator and philosopher Antoine de St. Exupéry. So perhaps it is fitting that our journey begins in ‘Aeroplanes’, a gorgeous wisp of an acoustic floater that could just as easily have accompanied The Snowman’s journey from Brighton to the North Pole as related in Raymond Brigg’s classic children’s tale. ‘Along The Way’ introduces tender horn accompaniment, a soft female backing vocal, and swaying, nostalgic melody that’d be the envy of Leonard Cohen or Jeff Kelly. This is a heartstring-tugger that’ll have you wiping tears away from your cheeks before the final notes drift off into the horizon.

            Guy Fixsen’s immaculately intricate production must also be praised early and often – each guitar string, brass flourish, and violin note is tastefully draped around Fry’s heartwarming voice with the care and precision of a master painter (Fry’s other job!) adding the final perfect stroke to his latest masterpiece.

            As I ventured further into the album, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that warm and cozy feeling that washed over me every time I put on one of Nick Drake’s albums, sat back with a warm glass of wine or a steaming cup of coffee and watched the sun set (or rise) over the mountains in the far off distance. Like Drake, Fry has soundtracked that hypnagogic state where reality blurs with dreams, where the mind can conjure up false memories or create new realities with just the slightest hint of stimulation. The album demands your full attention to bask in its intricately interwoven sonic textures. To bring the ambience a little closer to the present musical landscape, I was often reminded of Neil Halstead’s solo work – an occasional country vibe (‘the brilliantly unforgettable ‘Dials For Home’), a relaxed delivery, and an easygoing manner that your parents may have found respite in via the works of Perry Como or Andy Williams (and that is a compliment).

            So treat yourself to a long, contemplative cry or a nostalgic gaze back across your life’s journey to today and let Mark Fry pilot the controls. There’s a warm south wind behind you and a bright clear sky ahead. Just push back your seat, kick off your shoes, put up your feet, place a set of headphones around your head, and enjoy the ride, bathed within the delicate sounds of Fry’s finest album to date. (Jeff Penczak)





(CD from Gonzo Multimedia http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk)

A tip of the hat is due to Gonzo Multimedia for blowing dust off this tantalising threesome – “Gonzo” being the operative word showcasing as they do the legendary and much missed Mick Farren and an intermittent yet constant later incarnation of the Deviants featuring Andy Colquhoun, Doug Lunn and Ric Parnell together with occasional appearances by minor underground ignobility the likes of Phil Taylor, Ade Shaw, Andy Ward, Alan Powell and old Deviant/Fairies hotshots Paul Rudolph and Larry Wallis.

Barbarian Princes, a 1999 live document of the Deviants’ time in Japan is choc-full of nuggets including the sinister and, to these ears, quite sensational “Aztec Calendar” which typifies the Deviants’ mixture of sleazy biker blues and beat poetry. It also turns up on The Deathray Tapes (more of which in a bit) but is even more scary and debauched in its raw, live setting. “Eating Jello With a Heated Fork” is as urgent, direct, pointless and subversive as anything which came out of the Punk explosion (of which of course the Deviants were god(less)fathers of sorts) while the increasingly atonally voiced “Thunder on the Mountain” and its dirty chugging rhythms makes me so glad I’ve lived a pure and sheltered life.

As with all of these releases what elevates this live set beyond mere curiosity value even more than Micky’s anti-presence is Colquhoun’s energetic, glass shard guitar, not note perfect I grant you (hell this is da blooz as played by a bunch of old anarcho-punk-hippies not the Eagles or whoever) but it carries the day. He even gets his shot at singing his composition “Lennon Song” the voice faintly reminiscent of the subject matter without becoming pastiche. However, this is still Farren’s show, as exemplified on the bizarre and explicit “Dogpoet”, with its typical beat up rejoinder “the harsh reality of a poor dogpoet who finds himself locked out of the cathouse”. Versions of late period Deviant staples “God’s Worst Nightmare” and “It’s Alright Ma” (from The Deathray Tapes) and the self-explanatory “Lurid Night” – never one to shirk from the dark urban underbelly was our Mr F, just listen to the incendiary, low-life “Leader Hotel” – also receive a muscular if at times teeth grating airing. There is also a bonus DVD included, of which I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing but I think we all get the picture. Nasty Tales indeed.

Also from 1999, the Deathray Tapes is a part studio part live collection of foreboding and vitriol spanning various occasional projects from 1977 and 1998. No-one, including the man himself, would accuse Mick of being able to sing – he couldn’t carry a tune in a coffin, and by and large he doesn’t try to. His mostly spoken word delivery is imparted, nay spat, in the form of a dissolute growling, toothless narrative. There is some cross-over with the Barbarian Princes (for instance “Aztec Calendar” and a slithering and seething “God’s Worst Nightmare” recorded at Terrastock in 1997) but also some perversely alluring “new” stuff such as “Gunfire In The Night” and the cloying paranoia of “People Are Afraid of Reality” with Colquhoun again on scintillating form. The hammy horror of “Love Among the Zombies” and the swamp donkey blues “Yellow Dog” (another top Terrastock cut, this time from 1998) contrast with the short-span psychosis of “Mick Farren Has Left The Planet”, dirty bar room fug of “Twilight of the Gods” with its Eastern hook and, best of all, the Bo Diddley groove of “Memphis Psychosis”, again from Terrastock ’97. Oh and “Let’s Loot The Supermarket” gets one of its periodic dust-offs, the 1977 date and Rudolph/Wallis/Powell line-up suggesting it could be from the Screwed Up EP (it’s in the loft somewhere, together with the deconsecrated turntable).

And so to Dr Crow (2002), recorded in LA and here featuring two tracks that originally appeared on its Japanese release. “When Dr Crow Turns on the Radio” is a fair take on turn of the 80s Zappa (pre-synclavier and pasteurised production values). Do my aged ears deceive me or is “Strawberry Fields” – yes that one – actually far, far better than it has any right to be? OK so Farren sounds like the sozzled, bastard offspring of Lee Marvin and Louis Armstrong, but then what did you really expect? Musically it ain’t bad at all, ma. Elsewhere the old Mick (black) magic conjures up the usual cast of misfits and grotesques. The part Morricone/part sea shanty “The Murdering Officer”, the bump and grind “Taste The Blue”, and “Diablo’s Cadillac” are all horribly malevolent (thankfully) while the Latino flecked “Bela Lugosi” (“he couldn’t tell what the hell was happening”) recounting the actor’s decline and fall makes Elvis Presley’s demise sound positively dignified. On the soulful “You’re Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond” Farren is joined on vocals by Johnette Napolitano (with Mick sounding like Joe Cocker’s tone deaf twin brother) although there’s no hiding place for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, which is beyond a parody of bad karaoke although a nicely surreal narrative from Mick, culminating in a rousing chorus of “what a bastard” just about saves the day with a heavy shot of novelty value. Believe it or not but “Long Dry Season” is about drought and not prohibition and is a more than decent slow burn-up, Colquhoun duelling with Jack Lancaster’s saxophone before “What Do You Want” provides the sling shot that brings down the crow straight out of the sky. It is irredeemable rubbish that would have Adam Faith spinning in his grave and sends the rest of us running to the drinks cabinet or that place under the stairs. This really needs putting out of everyone’s misery – where’s a silver bullet when you need one? That aside though, Dr Crow offers quite a few tricks and treats, if perhaps lacking the gravitational pull of the other two releases here.

Three re-releases to treasure, then, and a welcome reminder a year after his passing of the great Mick Farren and his wonderful tales of dark and sordid life. Now repeat after me, “I must think nice thoughts, I must think nice thoughts, I must think nice thoughts...”.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP  from http://lastationradar.com/)

    Tapping into a rich vein of pure drone that will have fans of the genre grinning like weightless Cheshire Cats, this Berlin/London based duo of Will Greeson and DuChamp create music that drifts over the room like a gossamer cloud, changing the dynamics whilst remaining almost motionless, the sounds hovering out of reach yet sounding intimate in texture.

Opening track “Lucky 15” seems designed to levitate you, giving you space to open up inner visions and ancient memories, the drone ever swelling whilst holding you in place with ease, a thirteen minute journey that lasts forever. On “Naval Reserve” there is a more easily identified presence. A slow motion guitar riff giving definition to the piece as it slowly writhes, sounding like Mono at their slowest, some low bass notes leading us out at the end.

Opening with another shimmering drone, although one with a darker texture, side two continues the magic as “Kensington, CA” takes us even further out there, the track containing waves of feedback and a feral heartbeat, drums pacing throughout the track with something on their mind leading you through the ruins of forgotten cities lost in the heart of a dense rainforest on some faraway planet, the music finally congealing into the sounds of an alien craft leaving the area. To finish, “Epitaphium” is a transparent wave of sound that wanders through the last days of the world, ghostly and compelling, leaving the listener with a different sense of reality that seems cleaner than the one before, a lone voice at the end of the music adding a touch of human emotion to the piece, a touch that exhibits the craft and care that has been put into the album as a whole.

Housed in a beautiful cover that suits the mood of the music within this is one of those rare releases that brings all the strands together perfectly creating a piece of art that is timeless and beautiful, every Terrascopic home should have one.

(Simon Lewis)



( LP/DL from http://bit.ly/1dArBeA )

     Recording under the name Hallock Hill, Tom Lecky creates minimalist piano pieces that shimmer with light and beauty. On this collection the tunes have been expanded by the production and additional arrangements of Tim Noble, his contribution adding a subtle layer of experimentation and otherworldliness to the music, the tracks distorted and sometimes lost as if the piano itself is haunted by ghosts of the past.

As if to advertise its fragile nature, the collection begins with “I Light the Lamp and Sit Down”, a truly delicate piece that is a mere ripple of sound as brief as it is engaging the piece bleeding into “The Good Dead” the pace hardly raised as an autumnal chill enters the room, the sound of thunder heard in the distance. As the album moves on the experimental nature becomes more pronounced with “Villages of the Black Earth” mixing tumbling notes with drone and electronics to chilling effect, re-creating that moment in horror films when you realise all is not what it seems in the sleepy shire. To close side one “Another Light” injects a flickering of light into the room, a delicate and restful track that bring to mind Satie mixed by Eno, even the sudden shards of noise seem uplifting and perfectly placed.

I have played this album a lot recently and it sounds equally good at both low and high volume, the loudness offering a myriad of sounds whilst in its quietness it captures your attention like birds singing outside the window or a sudden flash of light from a passing car.

Opening side two, “Workbench Atheist” begins as a whisper of sound before the middle section offers a sudden rumble of noise, the passing of a train that is slowly dissolved into a light drift of drone that fades slowly. Following on “Demons in the Birchwood” is a rattling shower of bells noise and echo, a swelling organ adding depth to the track before the sweetness and melancholy of “Farewell Pale Corpse of Many Sins” returns us to the rippling piano and minimalist tendencies of the album. To end, “Massed Bands and Megaphones” blends both parts of the album together softness and experimentation holding hands as they walk into the sunset leaving the listener wholly satisfied by what they have just experienced. (Simon Lewis)



(http://on.fb.me/1ngT6Fn )

Using field recordings, programming, vocals, electronics and an array of real instruments, Stuart Carter and Richard Johnson have created a surreal and psychedelic musical landscape that is creative, unsettling, engaging and sometimes primitive, simple repeated patterns, cut up vocal lines and noise combining to dramatic effect over six tracks.

With a motif that gets under your skin “Enough is Never pts 1,2,3” is a startling way to begin the original hypnotic rhythm soon giving way to a more chaotic section sounds moving in and out of earshot, intertwining to create new combinations leaving you disorientated but smiling. On part 3 the vocals return is if they had never gone, enough is never enough, enough is never enough, repeatedly the same, enough is never enough, the drunken background sounds further destroying your sense of reality, repeatedly the same, enough is never enough, enough.

On “Another Context Revealed”” I am strongly reminded of the hallucinogenic atmosphere found on “Seven-Up” that magnificent album by Ash Ra and Timothy Leary, a simple guitar riff forming the foundation for spoken word and electronics, the track disturbing and cloying in it atmosphere and lyrical content. Toward the end the piece breaks down into a wall of noise, confusion and chaos, an electronic beat rendering you unable to think.

To end side one “”A Past Forever Sick” continues the weirdness distorted words floats past, sounds scuttle across the room and your brain tries to make sense of it creating your own version of events, lets cough up another plan. In the middle a bizarre sung section further confuses, where will it end?, let's cough up another plan.

Having had some brief respite as you turned the record over, side starts with a different band, well it sounds like it, with “Dream Your Dreams” having a beautiful acoustic guitar, drifting synth lines and sweetly whispered vocals. Of course, this is just a device to lure you in again, the song fading into an ambient drone, spoken word and electronics before taking on a darker hue, dream your dreams, dream your dreams, harsh percussion and the sound of clocks breaking through the walls of sleep, dream your dreams, un-quiet slumber is assured.

Quite possibly the band motto “Logic Is (Not) The Answer” begins with an electrical appliance orchestra covering the sounds of insects, before more obtuse words seek to enter your synapses and subvert you, the sounds getting harsher and more distorted as the track moves onward until you are left with a squall of noise and a slight headache.

To end the short “Those Codes Within” is a brief summary of what has gone before and includes an endless loop in the run out groove, enough is never enough, END. (Simon Lewis)



( LP/CD http://sondrasunodeon.com/music )

Opening with a rising swell of Cello, guitar, Loops and Voice, the aptly named “Violent Sea” immediately draws you into the personal world of Sondra Sun-Odeon, the music filled with atmosphere and a longing that permeates the whole album, a search for something just out of reach. As the swell subsides you are left with a beautiful and haunting voice, rippling guitar, a droning cello courtesy of Helena Espvall (Espers) and understated percussion from Ben McConnel (Marissa Nadler, Rain Machine), this combination allowing the song to float off into the sky. With the Cello and voice again working in perfect unison “Gate” is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in a very long time, all you can do is sit back and let its elegance wash over you, an almost aching sadness conveyed within its arrangement making grown men weep with bitter sweet joy.

  Adding some wonderful violin/viola to the sound, Leyna Marika Papach come centre stage for “Belonging”, the tune sounding almost like chamber music as the strings dance sensually around each other, as they do on “Samarkand” that follows each musician finding space around the voice, the song a slow motion haze of emotion that leads the listener into the delicate and delightful “Golden Bird” the piece having a more traditional song structure with the addition of a Bass, played by  Fon Lin Nyeu, joining the drums and giving it an almost pop feel, in a good way of course.

     Throughout side one the music remains ethereal, floating the listener into golden swaying fields filled with nostalgic scents and long forgotten memories, the uncluttered arrangements allowing the musicians plenty of space to express themselves and the listener room for their own visions.

   Opening side two there is a slight change in tempo as “The Apple” adds a rock element with drums to the fore, an electric guitar and a sense of tension in the music,this soon dissipates however as the song subsides into mellower pastures, the change in mood highly effective making it a highlight on the album, the fact that it is the longest song perhaps marking it out as the centrepiece, especially as it dissolves into a more abstract and experimental soundscape at the end. Reminding me of the music of Stone Breath but with a more feminine slant “Lady In The Woods” has a creepy quality in its grooves, something also found on  “Witches” the drums adding tension behind rippling guitar, a more traditional sounding guitar solo adding to the rock sensibilities of the tune. To end “Hair” transforms into a Doom-Folk band, a slow burning claustrophobic feel created by the dark riff and wailing voice, the whole track a lesson in restraint and atmosphere that is a distant cry from the beauty and light of the opening tracks.

   Definitely designed to be heard as an album rather than a collection of songs the running order has obviously been chosen with great care, the dynamics of the music as important as the arrangements and composition creating a magnificent collection that rewards repeated listening taking time to reveal its full glory. (Simon Lewis)



(LP from Kommun 2 [Sweden] and Sound Effect [Greece])

Äntligen! Our dear friends finally return to scratch that seven year itch that’s kept them from our earwaves for far too long. Several members have filled in the gaps with more, er, commercial endeavours (e.g., writing/producing/performing in Annika Norlan’s innocuous, above-ground pop band, Säkert; and performing some sort of twisted indie-pop in the award-winning, Syket (Best Swedish Pop Band of 2011)) and the pseudonymous Råd Kjetil project has yielded interesting crops following an amicable crossbreeding with Senza Testa, but our five intrepid psychonauts reconvened about four years ago at Space Your Face studio to record this organic collection of lengthy cosmic jams that immediately melt away the intervening years and paste one of John Prine’s enigmatic illegal smiles across our faces as soon as the needle hits the 2 ounces of coloured plastic (mine’s green) with the hole in the middle.

                  The greazy truckers jump right in and get their feet wet with the blistering boogie of, well, the ‘Buckwheat Boogie’, and they’re immediately firing on all cylinders: David Åkerlund’s ferocious drumbeats, Jens Unosson’s swirling, serpentining organ, firebreathing six-string adventures from Thomas Brännström and Niklas Viklund, and a solid anchor from bassist Henrik Oja. They’ve chosen to launch their return with a headbanging klusterfuck that’ll rattle your cages and rip the cobwebs right out of your satisfied mind. Whooosh, bam, than you ma’am!

                  The back-to-nature theme continues on ’Cosmic Barley’ and I’m not sure if I should eat or smoke this homegrown goodie or spin it into John Barleycorn’s finest whistle wetter. Weeping wah-wahs, swaying guitar pyrotechnics, and a primo duet between Brännström and Viklund demonstrate these cosmic gardeners have lost none of their impeccable timing – they feed off each other brilliantly as the track meanders around the room, bouncing off the walls and settling down alongside Unosson’s spacey keyboard runs. It’s a little proggy, a little krautrocky, and eventually erupts into a Hawkwindish “what the fuck did I just hear?” I think my mind disappeared for about ten minutes, but when I found it under the sofa, I snapped it back in and sat back to digest another five minutes of wah-wah thunder that’d find Jimi somewhere up there smiling.

                  Side One ends with the brainteaser, ‘It Was…But It Shall Never Be’ that’s as mysteriously navelgazing as its title. Molasses flows out of the speakers and across the floor then travels up your spine until you’re transfixed inside a heavy-lidded nodder that just needs a Joshua Light Show to complete the transition back to the Avalon Ballroom, San Francisco, ca. 1968. I thought I spotted Janis trading hits with Cippo over in the corner…or maybe my mind and I weren’t meant to be on the same plane and I dreamt it all. No matter. It’s the album’s shortest track, but the one that I’ll return to often to breathe in its heady aroma.

                  Flipping my brain inside out, I drop the needle on Side Two’s opener, the stealthy, creepy-crawly cosmic rumble of the ‘Drop City Ghost Rustle’. An ominous bass line tiptoes around sinewy guitar lines that creep up and down your goose-pimpled backbone with icy fingers. An organ wanders in from a nearby room while heavy breathing drums stumble in on the proceedings like an angry father catching you with his teenaged daughter discussing something a little more sensuous than the Pythagorean Theorem. This is The Doors at their most sinister clashing with Amon Düül on a bender…the stars playing with Lucifer Sam’s dice, while Syd plays cards with Uncle Floyd over a glass of blood red Beaujolais.

                  It’ll be hard, no impossible to top, but ‘Red Car Blues’ is up to the challenge. An hypnotic bass line (think ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ deconstructed by Geezer Butler) swallows a bottle full of ED-correcting pharmaceuticals and flaunts its new found glory in the face of another guitar-shredding solo that would be declared an illegal weapon if wielded by ne’er-do-wells in a dark back alley.

                  Unosson promises Volume Two (from the same sessions) early next year, with another album of more recent recordings projected for release “soon” on the Brazilian Essence-Music label. Shout it from the mountaintops, The Boys Are Back In Town! Välkommen tillbaka! (Jeff Penczak)



(Ltd edition vinyl LP/CD/Download from Cardinal Fuzz http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com/)

Every now and again a band releases a record that shatters one’s preconceptions and makes the listener stand up and take notice. Take a bow White Manna (and for that matter Cardinal Fuzz) who bring us the not so much an incendiary as scorched earth “Live Frequencies”, salvaged from the black box of two Stateside gigs and sheathed in a striking “blotter” art cover. Do not for one moment be fooled by the relatively gentle first half of opening gambit, “E-Shra”. What makes White Manna stand out from a great many of the more noodlesome or else two dimensional inhabitants of the primordial psychedelic soup is a garage-punk energy that at its very best, on “Evil” and “Sweet Jesus” for instance, conjures up MC5 or New York Dolls jamming full-tilt with the Pink Fairies in the teeth of Hawkwind’s old wind machine. The fact that they keep this energy going for up to 10 minutes at a time is testimony either to wilful and exuberant stamina or else Manna’s little helper (surely not). The other four tracks that form the parent album (the LP also comes with four download versions of album tracks which detract not a bit from the overall presentation) are pretty much on a par. Both “Acid Head” and “I’m Comin’ Home” sound like a darker, heavier and less pretentious Echo and The Bunnymen circa Heaven up Here (entirely unintentional I’m sure, but no bad thing) while “X-Ray” has that crawling, narcotic quality so beloved of your reviewer, but which gets cut loose into free-fall towards the final quarter, meaning that it works just as well on the sprung dance floor as it does on the bean bag.

I was gutted not to have seen this lot when they toured the UK recently and as excellent as this live document is, I don’t feel much better for having missed the gig. Well poor ol’ green eyed me still gives his gold seal of approval to what might just be the live album of 2014. Buy it, play it often and play it loud. You’ll love yourself for it, even if your neighbours will hate you forever afterwards.

(Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD/DL from http://bit.ly/1r89LGq )

Crabstock was a one day psych festival organised by Fruit De Mer Records and Sendelica held in the band's home town of Cardigan. I was lucky enough to attend this rather excellent gathering that will live long in the memory with some great music and a friendly vibe.

   So, the question is, will the album live up to the memories? Thankfully the answer is yes as the band kick of their set with the energetic Hawkwind style riffing of “Standing On The Edge” The guitar of Pete Bingham already set to tear your head off as the band get their improvised heads on and aim for the stars. Continuing with the epic “Manhole of the Universe” the musicians take us even further out there, a tight but loose rhythm section holding it all together allowing plenty of room for that soaring guitar work reminding me of an instrumental version of The Outskirts of Infinity or early Bevis, some bubbling, twinkling synths the perfect icing on the lysergic cake being served up, especially on the mellower middle section where the band attempt to float the audience into another dimension. To end side one the band use the basic riff of “Set The Controls” as a launch pad for some deep space exploration, a Gong inspired sax taking the chance to stroll through the piece adding a warm desert breeze of sound rich with exotic spice and incense, the band getting a righteous groove on, heads nodding all around.

     Changing tack slightly, side two kicks off with the hypnotic “Motorik Jam” which does pretty much what it says on the tin, an overdriven guitar riff assaulting the senses before guitar and sax dance around each other with precision and understanding. Having expended a fair amount of energy the music takes a more relaxed turn as “Screaming and Streaming Into the Starlit Nite” allows everyone to take a breather, the mid seventies Floyd vibe giving the sax plenty of room to shine before the guitar takes over creating wave upon wave of shimmering loveliness.

    Having recorded a version of “Maggot Brain” for Fruit De Mer, Sendelica felt moved enough to try it out live for the first time and dedicate it to Keith, the label's head honcho and a thoroughly decent bloke. This, as it turns out, was a great idea Sendelica's particular version of the tune finding the grandiose cosmic visions of the original and, although nobody is going to beat Eddie Hazel's guitar work, Pete Bingham makes a damn fine attempt, the tune the perfect way to end this album and a rather sparkling set.

    Of course, the release of this fine album begs the question did any other musicians get recorded and if so, can we hear them please? (Simon Lewis)



(Ltd edition CD and Vinyl from Cardinal Fuzz http://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com)

Previously available on cassette only, Mammatus Clouds receives a tasteful limited edition vinyl and CD release and is my welcome introduction to this newest and most intriguing of Japanese cult bands (their name translates as “geometric patterns”) famed for their lengthy improvised excursions – or in this case two marathons and a sprint.

“Pond” is a glorious and profound soundtrack to some arcane ritual, gently percussive and with Ryu Kurosawa’s sitar to the fore. You might think that at over 27 minutes long it would sound a might overblown, yet the meditative and spiritual quality draws the listener in so that it seems to pass in no time at all. Imagine if you will the Third Ear Band with guitar and sitar instead of cello and oboe and you have a pretty fair idea of what to expect. The comparatively concise “Never Know” continues in similar fashion beginning sedately enough with the gentle strumming of guitar and sitar the jingle jangle of bells, slowly building so that the latter sound like a jungle at night. Then about six minutes in there is a further subtle change, just a hint of a jarring, discordant guitar heralding a greater urgency and the construction of a minor masterpiece of ambient, psychedelic drone complete with a muted, mumbled vocal which could be “Tomorrow Never Knows” or a close relation thereof and a shimmering crescendo in the finale. By contrast to the first two numbers the closing “There Is No Other Place (International Harvester)” is a three minute out-and-out rocker of wig out proportions and one that the Flower Travelling Band or even Acid Mothers Temple would be proud of. Cor, wot a scorcha! Not to mention a nicely irreverent coda to a most fulfilling, at times thoroughly cleansing listen which is bound to have me reaching for the repeat play button.

(Ian Fraser)




(7” Vinyl Single from Fruits de Mer Records www.fruitsdemerrecords.com)

Billed as America’s answer to Nick Saloman, this is Al Simones’ first ever 7” inch (come to think of it how many other acts can boast one in this ‘ere digital age) and features a couple of tracks from his back catalogue which comprises four home recorded albums on his own label. The parallels with Saloman don’t end there, “Majic Ship” (from the 1999 LP 'Balloon Ride') is a tuneful mini-psych classic peppered with searing hot lead guitar and dreamy acoustic interludes all crammed into 5:50. The marvellous “Seize the Moment”, at just shy of five minutes is heavy on reverb and drenched in delay and is also likely to find a most receptive and appreciative audience amongst Bevis and Terrascope aficionados. The time seems right for Al Simones, possibly THE best psychedelic guitarist, and for that matter psych songwriter, nobody but a long-time Terrascope reader has ever heard (of) – I know for example that Phil’s a big fan of his work. Another FdeM release destined to be stamped “sold out” before too long, we reckon.

(Ian Fraser)