Welcome to Bliss/Aquamarine - alternative, underground and indie music.

ALBUM REVIEWS

MARK AND THE CLOUDS Cumulus (Mega Dodo)
Following their 2014 debut album Blue Skies Opening, Mark and the Clouds return with the follow-up, Cumulus, which is available on 180 gram vinyl, CD, download, or limited edition double CD. The single CD and download include four bonus tracks not on the LP, while the double CD also includes a recording of Mark and the Clouds' 2014 appearance at Games for May. On Her Bike is an effective combination of 60s pop whimsy and intense powerpop and psych-rock. Road, Mud and Cold is mellow country-rock with nice use of brass. You're So Cold is retro rock with an authentically vintage feel. I'm Stopping Here is melancholic 60s-ish folk balladry. Baby, You're Just a Liar is raw and sleazy garage rock. The Lady Was a Freak is a hard-hitting track with a chugga-chugga rhythm, incorporating elements of powerpop and 60s rock. Take My Sky is sophisticated retro pop reminiscent of late-period Beatles. Evil Fairies is psych-folk with darkly fantastical lyrics. An impressive vintage style album, well worth checking out. Available at www.mega-dodo.co.uk

THE BRAINIAC 5 Journey to X (Reckless)
Originally formed in the mid 1970s, The Brainiac 5 reformed in 2012, releasing the 10" EP Space is the Place a year later, followed by the retrospective album When Silence Was Sound, covering their output from 1977 to 1980, and then an album of new material, Exploding Universe, in 2015. They also appeared on Cherry Red's Another Splash of Colour box set of 1980s psychedelia. Now they return with their latest album Journey to X, its bizarre surrealist cover art featuring a shoe-shaped ship packed with Heath Robinson-esque wheels and pulleys, fishing rods, a giant nail, and a curved metal object that those familiar with Scandinavian archaeology will recognise as a Bronze Age lur.
Epic 12+ minute track The Human Scapegoat combines the dark and on-edge mood of post-punk, seriously heavy noise-rock riffage, African kalimba music, intense psych-rock, and lyrics drawn from ancient Mesopotamian poetry, the Old Norse Hįvamįl, and Sir James George Frazer's theories on sacrificial kings. Laura Riding is an ode to Robert Graves' muse, set to an angular mix of punk, smoky and sleazy jazz-blues, and psych-rock. At Noon is a jangly number somewhere between 1980s indie-pop and 1960s US folk-rock, with lyrics based on a poem by Elizabeth Jennings.
The World Inside introduces guest vocalist/lyricist Jessie Pie, the piece beginning as a laid-back blend of country, blues, jazz and psychedelia, before flying off at manic, improvisational noise-rock and psychedelic punk tangents. Some Things is punky psychedelic powerpop, harking back to The Brainiac 5's earlier sound, and also somewhat reminiscent of The Bevis Frond. Kill It is another long multi-part piece taking in punk rock 'n' roll, psychedelia both intense and hypnotic, and a few angular and experimental moments. A highly free-thinking album, taking bits of existing genres and transforming them into something new. Available on CD, LP or download; find out more at www.brainiac5.co.uk

JACK ELLISTER Roots Conference LP (Fruits de Mer/Friends of the Fish)
Jack Ellister's latest album, out on limited purple or black vinyl on Fruits de Mer's Friends of the Fish sublabel, is comprised entirely of cover versions. There's the stripped-down country of Yellow Roads (adapted from Jackson C. Frank's Yellow Walls) and the hushed psych-folk of Mark Fry's Song for Wilde, and there's the psych-pop tracks such as The Beatles' Dear Prudence with its effective use of church bell-like accompaniment, and The Open Mind's Magic Potion, an authentically 60s-sounding rendition with jangly and hazy moments. Steve Vai's Sisters isn't the heavy rock guitar pyrotechnics I thought it might have been based on my admittedly limited knowledge of the original artist's output, but a delicate, minimalistic piece with a slight jazzy touch. Dizzy Gillespie's Con Alma is completely reinvented as bizarre spacey experimentation, while Flying, originally by The Fool, sounds like 1960s pop combined with late 80s/early 90s electronic dance music. Far from being a standard covers album, Jack Ellister brings much that is new and inventive into his interpretations of these songs. Find out more at www.jackellister.com and www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

RUTH'S REFRIGERATOR Suddenly a Disfigured Head Parachuted CD (Cordelia)
A welcome reissue of this long unavailable album by Ruth's Refrigerator, who included amongst them Ruth Miller (PO!, The Creams), Alan Jenkins (The Deep Freeze Mice, The Chrysanthemums, The Creams), Blodwyn P. Teabag (The Creams), and Robyn Gibson (The Ammonites, The Creams, Immediate, and now The Junipers). She Lies in State is brilliant jangly indiepop written by Ruth, a must for PO! fans. Alan's Refrigerator is an instrumental piece with a surfy twang. Picasso's Problem is DIY pop with a punky chug. Mind the Paprika, Joe is quirky underground pop with a guest appearance from The Deep Freeze Mice's Sherree Lawrence on organ. Robyn Hitchcock's Innocent Boy is performed in indiepop style. Hello Anne of Green Poplars is off-kilter pop-rock with a surreal sense of humour. The album proper ends with Fish in the Air/Birds in the Sea, an epic 10+ minutes of quirky psych-pop with experimental elements. This extended reissue also includes six extra tracks: a couple of instrumentals with a distinct absurdist streak are followed by alternative versions of two album tracks (Hello Anne and The Red Queen), the spiky post-punk of I Am Big Chief Radio Luxembourg, and a cover of The Zombies' She's Not There. An important album that bridges the gap between indiepop and the more eccentric sounds of Alan Jenkins' other bands. Find out more at www.cordeliarecords.co.uk

ANDY B Coming Home CDR (Pastime)
Home recorded album by indiepop songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Andy B (also of The Thought Clouds and National Pastime), featuring tracks that also appeared on his recent batch of EPs alongside some songs that are exclusive to this album. The melancholic, world-weary indiepop Andy B is most known for is represented here in songs like Your Chance Has Come and Gone and The Waiting Game, but this album also reveals the noisier side of Andy's output. There's the rollicking, fuzzy noisepop of Still Cold Outside, the noisy powerpop of In the Firing Line, and the chug-along punk-pop with a melancholic edge that is Messengers Passing Through. Falling to the Ground is dark noisepop which laments the degeneration of a once beloved home town, whilst The Little Things is atmospheric noisepop in which Andy's shoegaze influence comes to the fore. Available on CD at pastimerecords.webs.com or download at pastimerecords.bandcamp.com

RUBEN VINE & MICHAEL JAYSTON The Life and Times of an Imaginary Rock Star (Articles of Faith)
A lavish package released for Record Store Day (Saturday 22nd April 2017), on double vinyl LP, CD, or download, accompanied by a 28 page comic illustrated by Francisco Maldonado and Oscar Blanco. The album features the apparently unlikely pairing of underground musician Ruben Vine and well-known actor Michael Jayston, known for his role in Shakespeare productions, historical dramas, soaps, sitcoms and Doctor Who. What we have here is a sort of allegorical punk rock opera, with Ruben Vine's heavy-hitting music punctuated by scene-setting narrations from Michael Jayston. The music draws largely from punk, metal, classic rock, and hard-edged alternative rock, whilst taking on board ideas from beyond the rock sphere and also combining rock subgenres in a creative manner. Swallowed by the Mainstream blends lazy, hazy psych-rock with choppy post-punk riffage. Gossips employs strings and piano for a sophisticated artistic touch. The Journey is another string-led piece, most akin to chamber pop, featuring a catchy chorus alongside a pro-underground, pro-free thought manifesto narrated by Michael Jayston. Modern Lament sets punky vocals to an inventive orchestrated arrangement. The theme of the album and its accompanying artwork celebrates underground creativity over mainstream blandness. The story is set in a dystopian world populated by 'junkie consumers' who blindly follow the messages pumped out by the cathode ray tubes that double as their own heads. It is the job of the underground heroes, led by Ruben Vine himself, to combat the morass of banality, violence, prejudice, greed and environmental destruction that is the norm among these people. Ruben Vine urges creative people to take control of their own destiny by embracing the DIY philosophy, as an antidote to the corporate music industry dictating people's tastes. Find out more at www.rubenvine.com

BRINSLEY SCHWARZ It's All Over Now (Mega Dodo)
Recorded in 1974 but unreleased for decades, this long-lost album by Brinsley Schwarz (the master tape of which shockingly almost ended up in a dumpster before being rescued from the studio by the band's guitarist Ian Gomm), is now available on Mega Dodo as limited orange or black vinyl, very limited cassette, and CD. We Can Mess Around is a catchy number that blends country rock with a pop sensibility. As Lovers Do is smooth, orchestrated pop harking back to the early 1960s. Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song) is vintage soul with soaring vocal harmonies and strings. Do The Cod is a lively rock 'n' roll instrumental. Everybody is a brilliant mix of hard-hitting garage rock and catchy 60s-ish pop, taking a brief and unexpected diversion into jazz territory with the sax solo. Give Me Back My Love is ultramelodic 60s-style pop beefed up with a more intense rock guitar style. Whilst often regarded as part of the Pub Rock scene, Brinsley Schwarz have a far more sophisticated and ambitious sound than may be expected from the Pub Rock tag. This is a polished album full of catchy tunes that ought to have been massive hits. Available at www.mega-dodo.co.uk

THE KITCHEN CYNICS/MICAH P. HINSON/WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY/TISSŲ LAKE Song, By Toad Split 12" Series volume 6 LP (Song, By Toad)
Song, By Toad is an Edinburgh-based independent label which evolved out of a blog of the same name, and also runs its own warehouse recording space, where the four artists/bands here recorded their tracks. There are three tracks each from the Willard Grant Conspiracy and Micah P. Hinson, who probably need no introduction for most readers, and Scottish underground bands Tissų Lake, who are new to me, and the Kitchen Cynics, who are a long-running project I've been a supporter of since the 1990s. The album is nicely presented, with a full colour inner sleeve with photos of the bands in the recording studio, and is pressed on orange heavyweight vinyl and also comes with a download code.
Willard Grant Conspiracy appear with Light a Candle, an atmospheric viola and cello-led instrumental with shades of Americana and neoclassical but ultimately transcending genre. They also contribute The Only Child, folk with a dark and brooding atmosphere, and Love You Apart, bleak and twisted folk. The Only Child in particular is superb and has left me curious to hear more from them (the band have a long history but this is actually the first time I've knowingly heard them). Tissų Lake's When Work is Done is hushed violin and guitar-based songwriting; there's hints of Nick Drake at times, but rather more cinematic and off-centre. The Mist on the Lake is a folky, film score-like instrumental, whilst I Am Like a Lake sets half-spoken vocals to an arrangement that comes across like a mix of folk and lo-fi American indie rock.
Micah P. Hinson appears with three slices of spare, fractured Americana, including a cover of Phil Ochs' Changes. The main highlights of the album for me come from the Kitchen Cynics, who appear with new versions of three songs that previously appeared on self-released CDRs. Venus on a Buckie is inspired by Scottish folk ballads, and set to a hypnotic psych-folk arrangement. The Place You Hid is stripped-down psych-folk-rock with a lyrical wit. Francis Masson, Botanist is told from the perspective of the title character and accompanied by minimal yet effects-laden electric guitar. Available at www.songbytoad.com

ASTRALASIA Oceania double LP (Fruits de Mer)
Following on from 2014's Wind on Water, long-running festival band Astralasia return to Fruits de Mer with their new double album Oceania. Alooland is an ambient piece incorporating chilled-out psychedelic aspects, soothing drones and nature sounds. Ghosts Inbetween combines a kind of laid-back electronic jazz with busy dance beats and psychedelic elements. Kaleidoscope is shimmering electronic psychedelia with additional aspects of prog, spacerock and ambient. North Star brings in sax and acoustic guitar for a flowing and meditative contemporary jazz piece. Ishdan is electronic psychedelia with a Middle Eastern influenced melody. Mushroom Heartbeat intersperses heady electronic sections with passages of semi-abstract, improvisational piano, bridging the gap between neoclassical and jazz. The album ends with the epic 22 minute track Time & Tide Eternal, in which the ambient aspects take on a darker and more experimental character, whilst other parts of the piece have a meditative feel, drawing from world musics and the natural environment. The album seamlessly pulls together elements of various disparate genres to create a cohesive whole, and makes for a relaxing and enjoyable listening experience. More info at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

KRIS GIETKOWSKI Songs from the First Album by Egg LP (Fruits de Mer/Strange Fish)
Out on Fruits de Mer's Strange Fish offshoot is this collection of Egg covers by Polish multi-instrumentalist Kris Gietkowski, pressed on two-colour vinyl resembling a giant poached egg! There are seven instrumental tracks here, including While Growing My Hair, eccentric prog with a bouncy rhythm and a vaguely classical melody; I Will Be Absorbed, mellow prog-jazz; The Song of McGillicudie the Pusillanimous, frenetic prog with folk and jazz tinges, reminiscent at times of Caravan's more off-centre moments; and Movement 1, Grieg goes prog, with retro organ. The LP sold out on pre-order, so Fruits de Mer have also issued a 3 CD set entitled Three of a Kind, which features the Egg covers album with different mixes of the first three tracks as bonus tracks, plus two extra albums of Atomic Rooster and Crazy World of Arthur Brown covers, which will be sold initially at Fruits de Mer's 2017 gigs/festivals. For more information visit www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

THE INSEKTLIFE CYCLE Vivid Dreams Parade CD (Mega Dodo)
The Insektlife Cycle are an instrumental band from the Philippines. Whilst their members' musical roots are in doom and death metal bands, The Insektlife Cycle themselves fit more comfortably within the psych and prog scenes, as well as having much to appeal to fans of post-rock and shoegaze. Unicycle Monologue mixes the angular rhythms of prog with heavy psych-rock. Electric Sadness and Forbidden Earth Dance blend post-rock with the dreamlike atmospheric effects of shoegaze and the twisty-turny characteristics of prog. Tristful Ecstasy is mellow, late 60s-ish psych-rock combined with elements of funk-rock, prog, and spacey atmospherics. Neonderthal is a mixture of choppy indie-rock, swirling hypnotic psychedelia and full-on shoegaze noise. Available at www.mega-dodo.co.uk

FRET! Through the Wound the Light Comes In CD (Cruel Nature)
Fret! are a seriously noisy three-piece from Newcastle upon Tyne. The album's cover art, giving a sinister edge to those cutesy big-eyed cartoon portraits popular in the 1970s, sets the scene for the sort of warped, chaotic sounds on offer here. DK puts the ROCK! back into post-rock, with a brutal noise factor to rival any punk or metal band. Freeman combines an Americana-ish melody with a blackened, twisted atmosphere and an intense, impassioned vocal delivery from Cath Tyler. Attune features a dark, folk-tinged melody set to choppy, thrashy guitar noise. Judders is raw underground rock topped with a fierce shriek. Another of their tracks is called Hillbilly, but hoedown music this ain't. What you get instead is grinding noise-rock with plenty of angular twists and turns. A riotous, exhilarating album - available at fretband.bandcamp.com

VARIOUS The Restless Field CD (A Year in the Country)
The latest in A Year in the Country's series of themed compilations, this one taking its inspiration from the wars, conflicts, strikes, protests and mass trespass events that have occurred in Britain over the centuries. As to be expected from the album's theme, the music here tends towards the bleak, and whilst the genres found on here are many, the shared theme and the dark aesthetics common to all pieces here give a cohesive feel to the album. Vic Mars' Mortimer's Cross builds up tension in a manner very like incidental cinematic music, while the use of recorder and music box gives a nod towards eerie psych-folk. Bare Bones have links with The Straw Bear Band and The Owl Service, and tread a similar road to Stone Breath with the combination of medieval music and raw and dark Appalachian-inspired folk based around banjo and droning fiddle. Assembled Minds provide an electronic, beat-driven instrumental made with analogue synths; it could almost be called a dance track yet its cold, dark and somewhat experimental nature sets it apart from your average dance music by many, many miles. Listening Center's whirring and chugging vintage synths conjure up images of a dystopian sci-fi movie from the 1970s. Pulselovers accompany a strong electronic melody with an effective mix of hypnotic pulsing chugging rhythm, spacey whirrs, atmospheric drones, and nature sounds.
Sproatly Smith appear with a dark, experimental, ethereal psych-folk piece, largely instrumental aside from wordless vocals. Polypores make tense, ominous, soundtrack-like electronic music. Time Attendant's piece mixes melodic analogue synth music with grinding, glitchy noise and mechanical, abstract percussion. The label's in-house music project, also called A Year in the Country, provides a semi-abstract piece hinting at film sound effects and incidental music, its atmosphere tense and fractured. David Colohan of United Bible Studies contributes a minimalistic neoclassical piece based on twin interweaving woodwind instruments; the mood is mournful yet with a glint of hope. You will also find the harsh electronic soundscaping of Field Lines Cartographer, and the plaintive ambient music of Grey Frequency, Endurance, and Depatterning. The album follows the same visual format as its predecessors, with a great deal of care and effort having gone into its handmade packaging. Find out more at www.ayearinthecountry.co.uk

ANDY B Night Comes Down CDR (Pastime)
The prolific Andy B returns with a new album which compiles tracks from his recent Catch My Breath and The Fast Lane EPs along with five new tracks which have also been released simultaneously as the EP A Numbers Game. The general feel of this album is noisy and dark, with Andy's shoegaze and post-punk influences brought in alongside the reflective, melancholic indiepop he is most known for. Night Comes Down features bleak and menacing guitar noise alongside a bouncy piano riff and retro keyboard ornamentation. Not in This Lifetime is old-school melancholic indiepop with an effective juxtaposition of fuzz guitar and synthesised strings. Later Than You Think is retro fuzz-pop with that pensive, wistful atmosphere that characterises much of Andy's songwriting. Days Pass Me By is plaintive strummy bedroom pop fleshed out with synth orchestration and piano. Available on CD at pastimerecords.webs.com or download at pastimerecords.bandcamp.com

7SHADES Bursting CD (Snafu Recordings)
7shades include amongst others Neil Spragg (Omnia Opera, Sir Real, Mocca), and were formed to pay tribute to the music of Tim Smith and Cardiacs. They are however a tribute band with a difference - you won't find cover versions here but original music that aims (and succeeds!) to capture the spirit of Cardiacs' innovative and seminal prog-punk-psych-pop. In Milky Train, bombastic choral and orchestral music collides with angular, jerky, choppy-changey prog-punk. Marking Time is a fine slice of eccentric pop with whirring, clanging rhythms. Nudey Prod Games combines playground rhymes with an altogether darker lyrical theme, set to gleefully absurdist, spacey, proggy art-rock. Spring's Sordid Show has feverish and woozy experimental music giving way to huge, intense prog rock riffage. Hello Sailor begins with a torrent of impish, maniacal laughter, before launching into an exciting melange of punk and experimental psychedelia. Renard is excellent quirky yet sophisticated pop with folk, psych and prog touches. Perfect Storm is less frenetic than much else here, opting instead for a shimmering, ethereal psych arrangement. Prog has a reputation in some quarters as a pompous genre that takes itself far too seriously, but 7shades, like Cardiacs before them, show that prog can be fun, and can have just as much punk spirit as the most subversive of punk bands. Anyone who misses Cardiacs, or who favours adventurous, genre-hopping music in general, really ought to check out this album. Find out more at www.7shades.me.uk

VARIOUS Kopf Musik triple CD (Fruits de Mer)
Bumper triple album compiling almost all the covers of German psychedelia Fruits de Mer has put out since the label was launched in 2008. Much of the material originally appeared on the Head Music double album, whilst other tracks come from other FdM compilations such as Shrunken Head Music, Roqueting Through Space, and Krautrock Sensation. The CDs will initially be sold at FdM's gigs and festivals throughout 2017, with the remainder being made more generally available via the FdM website.
Just a few of the tracks on offer here: Palace of Swords' version of Lila Engel by Neu!, pairing hypnotic electronic music with mantra-like repeated vocals. Dead Sea Apes provide a spacey, floaty version of Kraftwerk's Rückstoß Gondoliere, in which flowing psychedelic guitar is accompanied by swelling ambient drones. Vibravoid's Nearby Shiras, originally by Kalacakra, is an atmospheric, Eastern-tinged piece. Zenith: Unto the Stars appear with a version of Popul Vuh's Mantra II, in which a dark folky melody is accompanied by ambient drones and atmospheric electronics. Temple Music cover Neu!'s Negativland, a kind of post-punk psychedelic jam session in which squalling guitar noise and cosmic electronics come together over a chugging hypnotic rhythm. Language of Light's version of Mushroom by Can is an inventive, darkly psychedelic slice of experimental rock. Anla Courtis reinvents Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express as an intense, slicing noise piece.
Jay Tausig's version of Amon Duul II's Surrounded by the Stars blends heavy-hitting rock with shimmering, spacey effects and Middle Eastern influences. Black Tempest appear with a version of Tangerine Dream's Rubycon part 1, in which the mechanical chug of vintage synths appears alongside spacey and somewhat eerie ambient music. Vespero perform Faust's J'ai Mal aux Dents, angular rock ornamented by whooshing analogue synths and flowing psychedelic guitar work. Frobisher Neck provide a version of Isi by Neu!, in which a gentle melody is set to a hypnotic mix of motorik chug, lilting Mellotron and airy ambient elements. Starship Memory by Ax Genrich and Sunhair is actually an original track, but it fits in well alongside the cover versions, drawing from a similar set of influences. This track was only otherwise available on a promo CD from the 14th Dream of Dr Sardonicus festival; if you missed out on that event you have another chance to hear this chilled-out, hypnotic, ambient psych piece here. Final track is The Bevis Frond covering Electric Sandwich's China, a 36+ minute epic psych-rock instrumental originally filling one whole side of the Sideways LP, with plenty of the intense, fluid and intricate guitar work The Bevis Frond is known for. Find out more at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com

CRYSTAL JACQUELINE Await the Queen CD/double LP (Mega Dodo)
Crystal Jacqueline has released several singles and albums on Mega Dodo and Fruits de Mer since 2010, both solo and with her band The Honey Pot. She returns to Mega Dodo with this limited edition double LP (available only by mailorder from Mega Dodo, Heyday Mail Order, or Clear Spot), which is also available more widely on CD or download. Your Bartered Bride is strongly tuneful psychedelic pop-rock. Yesterlove is classy balladry with a brooding atmosphere. Ivy is ethereal psych-folk. Akhbar is very lovely folk-pop with Middle Eastern influences and spacey psychedelic effects. Rubies My Heart is excellent; a well crafted piece bringing together aspects of 1970s pop and rock with a dreamlike psychedelic feel. Breathe is one of the more forceful and dark tracks here but still maintains that ethereal psychedelic mood that pervades the album as a whole. Spanish Horses is an inventive track that effectively blends a strong pop tune with discordant noise, folky fiddle, distinctive percussion, and psychedelic effects. Await the Queen has a multi-part structure that is freeform and experimental whilst still being song-based, its most intense moments having the feel of a feverish dream. Some very beautiful songs here; find out more at www.mega-dodo.co.uk

RENEE LODEWIJCKX & ABSENT MUSIC Chez Renee CD & DVD (EE Tapes)
In 1988, Renee Lodewijckx made the erotic art video Chez Renee, with accompanying performances, drawings and paintings. Her intention was to go beyond 'cheap eroticism' with a direct, intrusive approach intended to overwhelm and disarm the spectator. Instead of being the object, Renee looks back at the audience, her glance the object. The soundtrack for the film and performances, made by Renee Lodewijckx and Absent Music, was originally released as a limited edition cassette. It has since been remixed and remastered and is now available on CD with accompanying DVD and oversized booklet in a 7" single style plastic outer sleeve. The booklet contains film stills, paintings, and background information on the Chez Renee project's history.
The five pieces here are presented in the form of one long track. Intro is a minimal synth instrumental based around a repeated riff, the mood mellow yet with a dark undertone. Meer blends thunderstorm sounds, synth drones, and sparse guitar with Renee's narration. Lente, Grasse begins as a fine slice of experimental jazz combining electronic drones with wailing sax, and managing to sound laid-back and intense all at once. Then the theme shifts, taking in atmospheric nature sounds, thumping electronic drums and minimal guitar along with a gentle drone as backdrop for Renee's folk-tinged vocals. Ik Houd Mijn Adem In is superb experimental folk, with medieval and ethnic inspired guitar melodies over a floaty electronic backing. Dawn to Dusk is DIY synthpop with a soothing, ethereal atmosphere. The album is experimental yet strongly melodic, incorporating elements of ambient, synthpop, folk and jazz for an inventive result. Available at www.eetapes.be

THE MOTHERS EARTH EXPERIMENT s/t (Swordfish)
Debut album from eclectic West Midlands outfit The Mothers Earth Experiment. They believe that artistic freedom has become feared within the music industry, and are making a laudable attempt to combat this stagnation with their inventive brand of contemporary progressive music. Talos blends vintage style psych-rock with modern electronica, taking in elements of prog, funk and jazz along the way and incorporating strong, expressive vocals. Quietus is soaring, sophisticated and anthemic, its accompaniment combining choppy prog rhythms with jazz and world music influences and dreamlike ethereal moments. Elbow Room shifts seamlessly from genre to genre, the post-rock-esque intro giving way to mellow psychedelic jazz, lurching twisty-turny prog, atmospheric electronica and flowing psych-rock, all topped off with Mark Roberts' powerful, soulful vocals. Mono No Aware is an innovative musical journey, its starting point an evocative experimental piece informed by world music and drone. As the piece develops further, the listener is transported through a heady concoction of blisteringly heavy rock and progressive jazz. Cool Down Mama spreads the band's ecological message via an impressive and intense psych-funk-rock track incorporating proggy touches and tribal-style chanting and drumming. An excellent album, available on limited edition multicoloured splatter vinyl as well as CD and download. Find out more at www.themothersearthexperiment.com and www.swordfishrecords.co.uk

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