MUD PIE SUN Wooden Circle CD (Revolving Bell)
Mud Pie Sun started life as Mud Pie, who released three DIY cassette albums back in the early 90s on their own label and on Acid Tapes, the underground tape label run by Steve Lines of Stormclouds. After a twelve year hiatus, the band reformed under the name Mud Pie Sun in 2004, and have recently released this 14 track CD album. True to the band's background in the underground tapes scene, they continue to show a DIY ethos with their new recordings. Recorded at home mainly on 4-track or 8-track, the songs combine lo-fi pop, psych, American folk, and off-kilter experimentation. Just a few of the highlights include The Other Side, a prime slice of ramshackle indiepop with psychedelic undercurrents and vintage organ that gives the song a mod touch; Church of Bitter Souls, brilliant DIY psych-pop combining murmuring vocals and ultra-melodic instrumentation; House of Light, a meandering, hypnotic psychedelic piece with rattling/chugging percussion; and The Captain, a delightfully off-centre instrumental incorporating accordion and glockenspiel - but the entire album is well worth checking out. More info at www.mudpiesun.com
AALTO Tuulilabyrintit CD (Uulu)
Aalto are an excellent forward-thinking folk band from Finland, who combine traditional influences from various cultures with psychedelic and experimental sensibilities. Tuulilabyrintit is a beautiful melodic song featuring sitar and ethnic percussion, with touches of jazz here and there. Dyngyldai is a traditional Tuvan piece, set to an inventive arrangement that mixes blues-psych-rock and jazz influences with the bell-like tones of the traditional Finnish stringed instrument kantele. Juuret is a melodic song of great beauty, the tune of which sounds traditional but was composed by the band. Instrumentally there is an inventive world-fusion thing going on, combining didgeridoo, Mediterranean style guitar, jazz clarinet, shamanistic percussion, and the Tuvan stringed instrument doshpuluur. Kipinöitä is a minimalistic sitar instrumental inspired by traditional Indian music. Hyvät Hevoset is an ingenious mix of Tuvan throat singing, psychedelic blues-rock, and jazz. Intia is a collaboration with poet J K Ihalainen, who also provides lyrics for a couple of the other tracks. Here he recites a poem over a musical backdrop that effortlessly combines the traditional musics of India, Australia and Finland with its use of sitar, didgeridoo and kantele, and also ventures into experimental modern classical territory at one point. This is an astonishingly creative album that knows no musical boundaries, and is highly recommended to all who are open minded about music. More info at www.myspace.com/etnoaalto and www.uulu.fi
STEVE ROACH & BYRON METCALF Tales from the Ultra Tribe CD (Projekt)
The Ultra Tribe of the title are defined as 'future primitives', and are an apt metaphor for the music contained within this excellent instrumental album. Steve Roach's atmospheric electronica provides the hi-tech, futuristic components, whilst Byron Metcalf's shamanistic percussion contributes a raw spirituality of a kind that is largely missing from the modern world. In The Magma Clan, bleak droning is combined with clattering, clanking percussion in a way that works well. A Noble Direction includes some engaging use of tribal-style drums. Midnight Migration sounds like the soundtrack to some post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie, with its combination of spacey bleepage and harshly atmospheric drones. Road From Here is an effective blend of intense shamanistic drumming, drones, and electronic sound effects I can only describe as 'squelchy', whilst vibrating, mechanical electronics and mind-altering percussive components come together in Return of the Dragon Bone Tribe. Available from www.projekt.com
VARIOUS Re-Evolution: FdM Sings The Hollies LP & 7" (Fruits de Mer)
This compilation LP and 7" package is a tribute to The Hollies, featuring 16 tracks from bands from the UK, USA, Russia, Sweden and Portugal. It is pressed on coloured vinyl and limited to 800 copies. Highlights include the sublime atmospheric psychedelia of Beautify Junkyards' Buttterfly; the authentically retro-sounding psych-pop of The Seventh Ring of Saturn's All the World is Love, which incorporates sitar and swirling organ; Hi-Fiction Science's King Midas in Reverse, which begins as slightly off-centre DIY psych-pop, then takes on a heavier, spacier, instrumental psych-rock sound; Let the Heartaches Begin by The Re-Stoned, which combines the sound of vintage heavy rock with punk energy and whooshing spacey synth effects; the mindbending vintage synth-driven piece that is Moonweevil's Bus Stop; the brilliant psychedelic folk-rock of The Gathering Grey's Postcard; The Neutron Drivers' Water on the Brain, which intersperses retro pop and chugging/whirring psychedelic sections; the dreamlike atmospheric folky version of Butterfly by Us and Them; the raw, authentically 60s-ish version of Don't Run and Hide by The Higher State; and King Penguin's Dear Eloise, in which bouncy retro pop meets atmospheric Indian-influenced instrumentation. Available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS Whatever Happened to the Soft Hearted Scientists double LP & 7" EP (Fruits de Mer)
Limited edition coloured vinyl compilation bringing together material from The Soft Hearted Scientists' various CD releases, a couple of tracks exclusive to this album, and a 7" EP of previously unreleased demos. I wasn't sure what to expect, as although the Soft Hearted Scientists have existed since 2001, they had escaped my attention until now. As it happens, I was totally blown away by this album. There's heaps of truly fantastic material here, such as Mount Palomar (really catchy, ultra-melodic psych-pop with inventive use of synths), Wendigo (a great atmospheric mixture of vocal harmonies and retro-futuristic synth bleepery), The Yongy Bongy Bo (a fantastic psych-folk-pop rendition of Edward Lear's classic nonsense poem), The A470 Song (a creative juxtaposition of hypnotic psychedelic instrumentation and mantra-like vocals with effectively repetitive underground pop), Siberia (a more psychedelic version of old-school jangly indiepop - really fantastic), The Caterpillar Song (brilliant melodic psych-rock), Road to Rhayader (mellow psych-folk-pop with banjo), Comet's Tail (underground pop with lashings of vintage synth), and Light Years to Nothing (an instrumental that combines aspects of folk and vintage synth music).
The music here is so melodic and well-crafted that it has the potential to appeal to a wider audience than just fans of psychedelic music. I can see how these songs would also attract those who are into the more adventurous end of 80s and 90s indie music, or 1960s pop, or retro-futuristic synth music, or even folk. But although there are shades of the past to be heard here, it's just as much a forward-looking collection of songs as it is a backward-looking one, and the band incorporate lots of eclectic, creative ideas into their sound. This is a really exciting, uplifting album that has made me very keen to hear more of this band's output. Available from www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
VARIOUS Hail Be You Sovereigns, Lief and Dear: Dark Britannica III double CD (Cold Spring)
The latest in Cold Spring's ongoing series exploring the underground folk music of Britain. The Hare and the Moon provide an instrumental piece combining medieval-inspired folk elements and the bombast of classical music. The Elder Tree perform the traditional piece The Lonely Willow in a fittingly melancholic style, with some sophisticated violin work. Foxpockets combine accordion, harp and glockenspiel in an engaging and inventive manner. Venereum Arvum (aka Rapunzel and Sedayne) perform the traditional song Come Write Me Down (credited here as CWMD - A Diamond in My Eye) over an atmospheric drone backdrop incorporating harmonium and the Turkish lyre karadeniz kemence. Mary Jane provide an uptempo electric folk number with twin female vocals and Celtic-inspired fiddling and woodwind. Andrew King recites an excerpt from Rev. Robert Kirk's fairylore classic The Secret Commonwealth over a soundscape both eerie and ethereal. Earthling Society provide a very fine instrumental that starts off as a fairly minimalistic mandolin-led piece, before building up to a celebratory and ecstatic crescendo. The Rowan Amber Mill contribute an atmospheric psychedelic folk piece that is truly beautiful. Steve Tyler and Andy Clarke appear with the traditional song My Lady's Coach, incorporating some effective use of hurdy gurdy. Galley Beggar's Sun God is excellent acoustic folk-rock incorporating mandolin and harmony vocals. The bizarrely yet aptly named Drugged Shepherd by Hills Have Riffs is an elongated 11 and a half minute piece that transforms a traditional-inspired folk melody into an eerie psychedelic piece with pained vocal moans and mesmeric, at times jazz tinged, instrumentation.
A Tiding of Magpies' Coleman Grey comprises a poem about a piskie recited over an ambient soundscape, with interspersed sections of mandolin and Celtic whistle. Earthling Society return for An Elf-Knight's Lament, a beautiful song with female vocals and some nice use of viola and mandolin. Thornland are a pair of brothers with a background in black metal, whose Ancient Trees and Fractured Spines combines deep, doom-laden vocals with melodic acoustic instrumentation. Colossloth contribute a strange experimental noise-manipulation piece that has no real discernible connection to the folk tradition, yet still manages to sit comfortably alongside everything else here. Beneath the Oak appear with a hypnotic, minimalistic psych-folk piece with male and female vocals, which has made me keen to hear more of their output. Sol de Muerte's Sentinel takes on board aspects of folk, gothic and electronica, creating an end result that is simultaneously eerie, powerful and beautiful. Tim Graham provides a minimal acoustic song so strongly influenced by traditional folk that one would be forgiven for thinking it really was traditional. Woodwose contribute a brilliant instrumental inspired by early music, incorporating instruments such as hurdy gurdy, bagpipes and shawm. The Transmutations set the traditional song The Bramble Briar to instrumentation that combines folk aspects with foreboding experimental soundscaping. Nathaniel Robin Mann provides an innovative interpretation of the traditional American folk song Moonshiners, accompanied by - believe it or not - meat cleaver and wooden log. This piece proves that talented musicians can literally make anything into a musical instrument and make it work well. Lost Harbours make atmospheric and at times harsh experimental folk with wordless vocalisations, their piece lasting for an epic 11 and a quarter minutes.
The entire Dark Britannica series is well worth investigating by anyone with an interest in underground folk music, as well as experimental music that draws on folk themes. Available from www.coldspring.co.uk
SIMON BISH You Get To Live A Good Few Days CD (Pop Noise)
Long time followers of indiepop will recognise Simon Bish as Simon Goalpost of Thrilled Skinny. More recently he has joined up with Andy Fonda to record this brilliant album that fans of vintage indiepop cannot afford to miss. The songs are highly melodic and jangly, and have definite roots in the original indiepop scene, whilst instruments such as cello, violin and piano are also employed to add a touch of timeless sophistication. There are happy-go-lucky songs like She's a Butterfly Girl and The Girl in the Yellow Padlock Dress, as well as melancholic ones like I Can't Believe I'm Leaving You and Saw You There Today, the latter of which features some effective use of retro keyboard. A lyrical theme of insects crops up throughout the album, in tracks like Purple Bar, about the purple bar moth, You Get To Live A Good Few Days, which deals with the short lifespan of the dragonfly, and Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies, which is, well, self-explanatory. A very fine indiepop album! NB: Both the Pop Noise Records and Simon Bish websites seem to be down at present. Contact details coming soon.
UPDATE - The websites listed on the CD cover are no longer in operation, but Simon can be contacted via www.myspace.com/simongoalpost66
SIMON GOALPOST Embankment Verse CD (Pop Noise)
This is a collection of Simon's older lo-fi recordings from 1988-1995. The material here has a much more raw and homemade feel than the Simon Bish album. There are tracks that combine melodic pop tunes with harsh guitar noise, as well as some less noisy, and at times minimalistic, indiepop tracks, and pieces with a shambolic, off-centre nature. The songs are quite short, enabling Simon to cram a massive 30 tracks onto the CD. Empty Demijar is classic noisepop, Worse Things Happen is brilliant tuneful indiepop with retro keyboard, Cheese Grater Man can be described in much the same manner, but with an additional quirky touch, Hanging Rock Climber is indiepop with a strong tune and wry observational lyrics, Didn't Mean That Much To Me is raucous, shouty and angular, Let's Go Down the Allotment is very lo-fi, punk-tinged, quirky indiepop with a catchy tune that refuses to dislodge itself from my brain, as well as some off-kilter use of recorder and violin, whilst the alternative version of that track includes something that sounds like a bugle. The songs have a resolutely DIY and often chaotic approach, and it's clear that Simon Goalpost and his collaborators were having heaps of fun recording this stuff. Anyone with fond memories of the early 90s homemade noisepop underground will surely have as much fun listening to it. More info at www.myspace.com/simongoalpost66
THRILLED SKINNY Just Another Teenage Dream CD (Pop Noise)
30 track compilation bringing together the best of 80s/90s noisepop outfit Thrilled Skinny. The songs combine pop tunes, punky noise and energy, mod-ish retro organ, and a slightly off-centre atmosphere, to maximum effect. It's hard not to grin from ear to ear when listening to tracks like It's A Good Doss, Bottom of the Stairs, The Sweetest Kiss, I Love The Sound of Reversing Cars, Get Away, Standing on the Landing, or the quirky instrumental piece Slap a Ban. There's also another side to Thrilled Skinny, which is even more raucous and angular. Groovy Strait combines distorted snarling with what sounds like kazoo, Clinging to the Shelf is a million-miles-an-hour shoutathon, and the excellently titled Pop Star Prat is a prime slice of chaotic punk-pop with more of that kazoo. Contact Simon Goalpost via www.myspace.com/simongoalpost66
FRIGG Polka V CD (Sibelius Academy Folk Music Recordings)
Fifth album from prolific Finnish folk ensemble Frigg. The two Norwegian brothers, Gjermund and Einar Olav Larsen, have since left to concentrate on other projects, but Frigg's new material is still much in the same spirit as their earlier albums, combining Finnish and wider Nordic folk influences with elements of bluegrass. The current 7-piece lineup still includes three members of the Järvelä family, a family with a long history in folk music, some other members of which founded the famed fiddle ensemble JPP. Vierivä is a multi-part piece comprising breakneck-speed bluegrass and sombre, almost classical-infused sections. Bø! is an uplifting piece that effortlessly fuses bluegrass with the sort of fiddle music familiar from such bands as JPP. Polkka V is a delightfully eccentric take on the polka genre. Elinan Ja Teron Häävalssi is a slow and sophisticated wedding waltz. Kiulupolska is a superb mandolin/double bass/fiddle piece with hints of jazz, blues and even a touch of psychedelia alongside the folk aspects. Summer Solstice is a Finnish folk/bluegrass hybrid with a sunny and celebratory tone that totally lives up to its title. A really brilliant album that's right up there with Frigg's previous offerings. More info at www.frigg.fi
FALLING TREES Something Memorable CD (Pastime)
FALLING TREES On The Air: The Phonic FM Session CD (Pastime)
Two recent albums from 80s-influenced indie band Falling Trees. Something Memorable is a live album, a raw, no-frills recording of a pub gig, described by the band as "warts and all". It includes live versions of nine out of twelve tracks from their 2012 studio album The Memories that Hold Us Together, including the classic indiepop of November Rain, the punky Losing Face, the nostalgic Youth Club Disco, the emotional and harrowing Trick of the Light, and more. If you're completely new to Falling Trees, I would suggest listening first to the previous album The Memories that Hold Us Together. Something Memorable is a much rawer affair, often with shoutier vocals, and the versions here aren't always completely representative of Falling Trees' recorded output. It is however an interesting artefact for those who are already fans of Falling Trees.
On The Air is a live radio session originally broadcast on the Phil Young show on Phonic FM. The track list is identical to that of Something Memorable (though obviously different versions), plus an extra track Whatever You Say. This album is less rough around the edges than Something Memorable, and the songs have a fuller sound due to the additional guitar from Matthew North of Secrets for September. The way the songs are performed on this album is, in the most part, more in tune with Falling Trees' usual sound - for instance Losing Face here is much more of an indiepop thing than the punk-tinged version on Something Memorable. Youth Club Disco, however, has a whole new dimension, as Matthew North's guitar playing adds an element of 70s laid-back rock that was undoubtedly not a part of the earlier indiepop renditions of this track. This retro rock aspect also appears on Trick of the Light, complementing well the heavy and dark nature of the lyrics. Things to Look Forward To is also completely reinvented in this version. The indiepop sound of the original song is pushed aside by Matthew North's guitar soloing, which makes the track sound far more like heavy psych-rock or even the earliest manifestations of heavy metal. The rock aspects of some of the tracks here again means the album isn't entirely typical of Falling Trees, although the juxtaposition of indiepop and hard rock is more effective than one might expect.
Visit the following websites for more info:
DODSON AND FOGG Derring Do CD (Wisdom Twins)
Second album from Chris Wade's folk-rock project Dodson and Fogg, which features guest vocals from Trees' Celia Humphris and Mellow Candle's Alison O'Donnell (who has more recently collaborated with The Owl Service, and as Alison Williams was also a member of the unjustly overlooked Flibbertigibbet), as well as flute from Hawkwind's Nik Turner. Flying High is brilliant folk-rock with some effective use of flute and synthesised harpsichord. Leaves They Fall is a laid-back singer-songwriter piece with folky undercurrents. Can't Hold Me Down is an intense psych-blues-rock number. What Goes Around is a contemporary folk/singer-songwriter thing with some atmospheric use of trumpet that works really well. Too Bright is cheery folk-pop with lots of 'aah-ooh' and 'la la la' backing vocals from Celia Humphris and jazzy trumpet from Colin Jones, as well as a touch of rockish guitar soloing near the end. To The Sea is a mellow yet melancholic psych-folk song that is truly beautiful. Despite its generally laid-back sound, it also introduces some blisteringly intense psych-rock elements, which surprisingly don't sound at all out of place. Everybody Knows combines retro influences like 60s pop and vintage rock with an eccentric and inventive atmosphere. World Goes By is slightly off-centre underground folk-rock with prog hints and atmospheric, even dreampop-like, 'aah-aah' vocals. This is a superb album, with very high quality songwriting and musicianship. If you're into folk-rock, whether the American or British interpretations of that genre, or psychedelic music, you can't miss this. Available as a download from iTunes or Amazon, or CD from wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com
WHITE SAILS s/t CD (Ruska)
White Sails are a Californian/Finnish trio comprising Leigh Gregory (ex-Mellow Drunk), Ville Vilpponen (ex-Dora Flood, The Bias), and Ville's brother Jaakko Vilpponen. They cite late 60s/early 70s folk, classic rock, and country-tinged singer songwriters as influences, and all this can indeed be heard in their sound. They can not be dismissed as simple retro copyists however, as the music contains additional elements that are more contemporary. Slipping Away combines a strong melody with dreamlike, atmospheric musical accompaniment. The Turning of the Tide is equally likely to appeal to fans of the gutsier end of modern indie music as it is to those into retro rock, whilst All of My Days combines aspects of vintage folk-rock with elements that would sound just as at home in the contemporary alt-country or Americana scenes. Years is an instrumental piece bringing together mellow and more intense forms of folk-psych-rock. Departed is an effective blend of janglepop, prog and psych-rock. By Your Side is coming from a similar angle to bands like The Tyde. Seaside is a laid-back song with evocative lyrics and a strong memorable tune, that views vintage American folk-rock through a contemporary lens. An enjoyable album which seamlessly combines retro and modern sounds to great effect. Info at www.ruskarecords.com
KA MATE KA ORA Violence CD (White Birch)
This is less of a genre-transcending affair as the albums I reviewed earlier this issue by fellow White Birch bands Walking the Cow and Werner, favouring instead a more straightforward (though far from dull) indierock, indiepop, or shoegaze approach. Flowers is an angsty, emotional number with a chugging bassline and shoegazerish atmospheric noise. We're Finally On Our Own is less noisy and is essentially melancholic indiepop, though a little more sophisticated than this genre often is. Birdy is slow, woozy, reflective indiepop that takes me back to the early 90s. The noise then returns for the jagged and intense track Lobster. Last Words combines a sunny indiepop melody with harsh alt-rock instrumentation. Jasmine's Lullaby is introspective and atmospheric, with effective use of piano and slide guitar, which sets it apart from the more strictly noisepop-based material elsewhere on the album. Daisies Wine is a shoegaze track setting drawn-out vocals to an intense wall of fuzz. Dreamer of Pictures begins setting hushed vocals to a minimalistic ambient drone, then turns the volume up for a chugging, fuzzy indierock onslaught. Mistake Song has a different approach entirely - a subdued, artistic and sophisticated piece built around piano, cello, echoey guitar effects, trumpet, and distinctive drumming, that reminds the listener that vocalist/guitarist Stefano Venturini is also a member of Werner, a band who are rather more difficult to pigeonhole than Ka Mate Ka Ora.
Much of what Ka Mate Ka Ora are doing has definite roots in the late 1980s and early 1990s alternative scene; there are bits here and there that remind me a little of Ride, My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, or any number of noisepop or shoegaze bands being put out by Elefant Records during the same era. Whilst it's not hard to pinpoint the kind of bands who have had a direct or indirect influence on Ka Mate Ka Ora, it wouldn't be fair to dismiss them as mere copyists as they do have their own take on this sort of sound. Noisepop and shoegaze fans would do well to check out the album. Further info at whitebrecords.bandcamp.com and kamatekaora.bandcamp.com
WOODWOSE Dancing Stones CD (Rufus)
Woodwose is a collaboration between members of medieval ensemble Daughters of Elvin and traditional dance band Primeval. Using ancient instruments such as hurdy gurdy, bagpipes, Renaissance cittern, and pastoral oboe, along with modern guitar, they make medieval/Renaissance-inspired instrumental folk music that is truly superb. The moods vary across the album, making it a multi-dimensional yet coherent listening experience. Id/Psychling is uplifting and celebratory. Wildest Dreams is plaintive, reflective, yet paradoxically optimistic. Brude McBile has dark and off-centre qualities whilst retaining the feel of a traditional dance tune. Moonpig is an oboe-based piece with a largely classical feel, adding to that aspects of Renaissance music and French folk from the use of cittern and accordion. Purgatory/Paradise brings together elements of early music, traditional folk and modern composition, using ancient instruments to play a melody that sounds folky yet modern. This is a really exciting album from a collection of very talented musicians. Very highly recommended. More info at www.woodwose.org.uk
JINSKI Down Here CD (Lucky Smile)
A well-crafted album bringing together aspects of modern folk, country and pop. Live Long in the Day is contemporary folk. Down Here is mature intelligent pop with a rock kick and some effective use of trumpet and even yodelling! Ship Ahoy is folk-pop with a catchy chorus and a guest appearance from respected accordionist Karen Tweed. The Lion's Share is laid-back, country-tinged folk incorporating banjo and fiddle. I Remember Happy is bouncy 60s-ish pop. Change in the Weather recalls the more laid-back end of late 60s country-rock, whilst adding a Northern English twist with the incorporation of Northumbrian bagpipes. Jinski have a talented, sophisticated sound to rival that of many much more famous outfits, and the songs have a classic and generally timeless feel that transcends superficial fads and fashions. The album is available on CD in record shops (distributed by Proper) or as a download from iTunes or Amazon. Further information at www.jinski.com
BENEATH THE OAK Utopian Folk CD (self-released)
A top quality album from psych-folk four-piece Beneath The Oak. In Winter and the Moon, the lyrics explore mystical and magical themes, while unpredictable changes in the music add a progressive touch. My Eyes Close features late 60s-style songwriting set to very effective mandolin-led instrumentation. Oh Earthly Man is traditional-inspired and mystical psych-folk coming across rather like a cross between The Incredible String Band and Stone Breath. The Wizard's Garden combines Renaissance-era musical motifs with an expressive brand of contemporary dark folk. Baby Phoenix is a rollicking mandolin/guitar instrumental, like a psychedelic version of bluegrass. The music here is easily in the same league as any of the better known names from the world of psych-folk or dark folk. I am truly moved by this album, and recommend it highly. More information at www.facebook.com/beneath.the.oak
SOFT HEARTED SCIENTISTS False Lights CD (self-released)
Hot on the heels of the Soft Hearted Scientists' recent vinyl retrospective on Fruits de Mer comes their new self-released album, which is just as fantastic. The album comprises 14 tracks, encompassing bouncy, quirky psych-pop, musically adventurous psych-folk-pop, and the occasional atmospheric soundscape. The arrangements are ambitious and full-sounding, with a vast array of instruments, including but not limited to retro keyboards, musical saw, mandolin, accordion, piano, jaw harp and banjo. The lyrics are intelligently penned, using surreal humour to get across a serious message, whether it be scathing attacks on the scaremongering and stupidity of the tabloids, songs that highlight the atrocities of war, or pieces with a more positive outlook which celebrate nature and the sanity to be sought within nature. A high quality album from a band who deserve to be far better known than they are. More info at
VARIOUS Strange Fish five volume compilation LP series (Fruits de Mer)
Strange Fish is a series of instrumental compilations comprising two 12" LPs, two 12" double LPs, and a free bonus CD for buyers of all the vinyl albums. The first LP comprises two long electronic soundscapes by Craig Padilla, who is inspired by 70s analogue synth musicians as well as more recent ambient artists like Steve Roach; and an even longer track by Sendelica, which blends experimental soundscaping, psych-rock, spacerock, crashing wave sound effects, jazz, post-rock, and even a hint of music in the style of Wild West movie soundtracks.
The second album is a double LP, featuring odd experimental bleepery from Moonweevil, a spacerock meets prog-rock piece from Vespero, a blend of jazz, early synth music and heavy retro rock from Organic is Orgasmic, psych-rock with ambient/experimental undercurrents and a touch of jazz from Sendelica, fantastic atmospheric psych-rock from Temple Music, an inventive combination of Indian-influenced psych-rock, off the wall proggy stuff, forceful heavy rock and spacerock from The Grand Astoria, and vintage style ambient music meets intense psych-rock from Cat Frequency. There are also two tracks from Julie's Haircut, each one showing a very different side to this band. Tarazed is a nicely hypnotic track, a sort of retro-futuristic post-rock with jazz and funk undercurrents, whilst Asioli is a piano-led piece that straddles the boundaries between experimental neo-classical and jazz, being accompanied by synth riffage, found sounds, and spaced-out ambient effects. The other side of this LP consists of a near 25 minute piece by Mechanik, a Spanish band inspired by the psychedelic music emerging from 1970s Germany. Parts of their track combine intense psychedelic rock with spacey sound effects, while other bits are more laid-back and ethereal and perhaps best described as 'ambient rock'.
Volume three is another double LP, this time of largely or wholly synth-based music. There are tracks influenced by the German Kosmische and Motorik scenes and other 1970s synth music, and tracks that are likely to appeal to fans of modern ambient or electronica, as well as tracks that are less easy to pigeonhole. Earthling Society are one such band who are worthy of some further discussion. I first heard them on the Dark Britannica compilation Hail Be You Sovereigns, Lief and Dear, appearing with two very fine underground folk tracks. Their piece here is something very different entirely - so much so, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was by a completely different band. It's a three-part piece, over 13 minutes long, the first part combining 1960s surf and space instrumental music with psychedelia and hammered dulcimer, the second being an experimental electronic piece combining 1970s-ish synth music with demonic laughter, and the final part introducing some laid-back and meandering sitar, acoustic guitar and woodwind-based psychedelia. There are three tracks from Vert:x, showing this outfit are equally adept at mindbending experimental electronica or powerful, intense spacerock. Black Tempest contribute an engaging mixture of ethereal synthesised flute, droning, bleeping and whooshing synths, neoclassical piano, and psychedelic rock guitar.
On volume four, Cat Frequency combines laid-back, meandering psychedelic guitar music with 70s-ish synth burblings. Organic is Orgasmic combine psych, post-rock and sci-fi-ish bleeping and whooshing synths. Zenith: Unto the Stars make relaxing, ethereal synth music. The Vox Humana is a solo project of Dylan Line of the Soft Hearted Scientists; the track here sets melodic guitar and synth music to an experimental soundscape backdrop made up of drones, found sounds, dreampop-like atmospheric noise, and shortwave radio samples. James McKeown of Hi-Fiction Science appears with four solo tracks of a very high standard, ranging from the hypnotically repetitive (Avebury) to the strongly melodic, psychedelic and folky (Euclid Dreaming). Temple Music make laid-back psych-folk with ethereal synth accompaniment.
Volume five is a bonus CD, unavailable for sale, but sent out as an exclusive freebie for buyers of all the vinyl LPs. Elevation is an ambient/drone project of Michael Padilla of The Soft Bombs, featuring some effective use of didgeridoo and psychedelic effects. Jay Tausig provides a mindbending mixture of prog, psych and ambient. The Golden Cake Company make spacey synth music with Middle Eastern-influenced melodic motifs and experimental aspects. Mademoiselle Marquee combine floaty atmospheric music with eerie atonal whistling and wordless vocalisations. Oceanfire make heavy spacerock, and their track is the only one here to include lyrics. Purple Rock Trip are an aptly named band making mind-altering instrumental psych-rock, with a 'bigness' and intricacy that is encapsulated within the name of their track, Cathedral. Beau, who recorded for John Peel's Dandelion label in the 70s, contributes an instrumental piece recorded in the 1980s, which combines plinky-plonky keyboard with a heavier psych-rock sound.
The albums are priced low - £10 per LP, £15 per double LP - and are, like all Fruits de Mer releases, very limited, with approximately 400 copies of each LP being made available for sale. More information at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
THE SELFISH CALES Prologue CDR (self-released)
Great homemade album from this Italian retro band with psych and mod influences. Colours of the Mind is sunny retro pop with ba-ba-bas and mod-ish organ. Black Opal combines summery harmony pop with intense psych-rock guitar and sci-fi vintage synth. Young Old Fashioned Girl is well-crafted melodic psych-rock, morphing into a more delicate sound near the end. State of Eternity and Imaginary Journey both feature some nice use of sitar and piano. Light Worms is a fantastic track combining wild and heavy psych-rock with dreamlike mellotron and surrealistic lyrics. Useless is an uptempo track with mod, funk and psych-rock elements and some effectively off-kilter use of synth. Peepin John has a folky touch, which works really well. Good to know there are still home recording artists out there, especially when the music is of such a high standard as this. More information at www.theselfishcales.com
LICKY Under the Gun download only album (Lickable Life)
This album is download only, but as I don't review downloads, the band were kind enough to send me the songs on CDR. Licky make energetic and irreverent synth-driven punk-pop inspired by Kraftwerk, 80s synthpop, and assorted new wave outfits. Back in the 90s, much of their output would have fitted squarely into the disco-punk scene so beloved of the fanzines of the time, and filed alongside bands such as Bis, Dweeb, Mogul, Helen Love, or for those who had heard of them, the criminally overlooked Redditch band Schup, who were one of the few local bands I was aware of who were operating outside of the narrow confines of straightforward punk or metal. Despite the similarities with 90s disco-punk, Licky also incorporate a darker and more experimental streak than was generally typical of that genre into some of their tracks, which gives their music more of a potential to stand the test of time.
Here we have songs like Number One With A Bullet, in which vintage synths bleep and whoosh while the singer snarls darkly humorous lyrics about killing rock stars. Sexually Active combines punk, goth, rock and New Romantic influences with cheeky humour. It's Blood Love is a slower track with melancholic tones, bringing together aspects of 80s indiepop and experimental synth music. Certain Loss of Innocence is a sort of off-centre gothic/indiepop/electronica combo, with a reflective maturity in keeping with its title, which sets it apart from the sort of youthful aggression that characterises disco-punk. Hottie Hunt returns to the uptempo, energetic synth-punk sound, with more of that cheeky sexual humour. Twenty Minutes combines the chug and snarl of punk with intelligently experimental synth music and jangly 80s indiepop. Money on my Mind combines 80s synthpop and 70s spacerock with the aggression of punk. We Sound Like Kiss is heaps of fun with its infectious energy and laugh out loud lyrics. The same can be said for Lickable Life, with its chorus of "Our lyrics are stupid, we know/But they'll play in your head all night"! Also listen out for the brutal yet hypnotic experimental noise excursion near the end of this track. It's a fun album, and a breath of fresh air. Hear Licky's music at soundcloud.com/licky
17 PYGMIES Isabel CD (Trakwerx)
As with 17 Pygmies' recent Celestina trilogy (reviewed earlier this issue), this album has been put together with tremendous attention to detail. The factory-pressed CDR comes packaged within a signed, hand-assembled cardboard wallet with a string-art cover, and the package also contains a handmade booklet comprising a sci-fi novelette that continues where the Celestina story left off. It's a dark, strange and fantastical tale, but also carries a serious underlying message warning against the dangers of tyranny and religious zealotry.
17 Pygmies have an eclectic yet coherent sound. There are a number of tracks here in a truly beautiful neoclassical style, which would make excellent film soundtrack music. Isabel III is best described as ethereal progressive pop, and includes an impressive violin solo that straddles the boundaries between classical and folk. Isabel IV combines spacey ambient music and experimental sound manipulation with neoclassical composition in a way that works really well. The band cite Henryk Gorecki as one of the composers who inspired the music on this album, and I can certainly hear his influence on this track. Isabel V introduces electronic percussion and synth burblings as a backdrop for a brooding, minimalistic neoclassical piece. Isabel VII is an engagingly atmospheric piece with some nice use of wordless vocals. Isabel IX is great psych-pop with ethereal and progressive elements and some effective incorporation of surbahar (bass sitar). Isabel XI is a very beautiful song in the traditional folk ballad style, with prog touches here and there, interspersed with a brief section of experimental pop. Another very fine album from this extremely talented outfit. Available from www.trakwerx.com/label.htm
17 PYGMIES Jedda by the Sea and Captured In Ice double CD (LTM)
17 Pygmies have a long history in music, and LTM have recently released this double album comprising the entirety of their 1980s albums Jedda by the Sea and Captured In Ice, plus the 5-track EP Hatikva and five outtakes from the albums. This version of 17 Pygmies is a completely different band from the one that released Isabel and the Celestina trilogy, with only Jackson Del Rey remaining from the original lineup. (Jackson Del Rey also went by the name Philip Drucker during this early period). The music here is, however, similarly eclectic and accomplished, and draws on some of the same influences as the later incarnation of 17 Pygmies, including prog, dreampop, psych, folk, experimental and classical music, whilst also adding other elements ranging from post-punk to synthpop to African-style percussion.
Lawrence of Arabia brings together angular prog, Middle Eastern musical motifs, and the harshness of punk. Chegança combines South American influences with prog. To No Avail is a fantastic piece that mixes laid-back psychedelic folk-rock with experimental sound manipulation and a brooding gothic atmosphere in a way that was years ahead of its time. Vows and Words Never Said are ethereal alternative pop songs, which dating from 1983/1984 could be counted amongst the earliest examples of dreampop or indiepop, although there is more emphasis on synths than is usually the case with those genres. Waiting to Arrive combines post-punk with atmospheric sound effects. Still Waters is an inventive mixture of stately 18th century-style dance music with psychedelic effects, synth, and discordant violin scraping. Last Grave at Dimbaza is an effective blend of post-punk, surf, psych and folk. Lazarus is melancholic alternative pop with the addition of folky violin, which works really well. Hollow Lands is an evocative piano-based neoclassical piece. Tropical Grasslands is an energetic percussion piece inspired by African folk musics.
Moving onto 1985 album Captured In Ice, this is, in the most part, much more of a pop album, with less eclecticism and experimentalism than its predecessor. The music here is essentially a kind of ultramelodic, synth-driven indiepop with crossover appeal. The songs are poppy enough for the album's original release to have sold well, got rave reviews, and gained the band a deal with a subsidiary of Island Records, whilst also having enough intelligence and depth to appeal to fans of underground music. The band do venture into more experimental territory in Icarus, which combines bleak post-punk with Eastern chanting, before morphing into an ethereal, hypnotic psychedelic folk-pop number; Autumn Cathedral, which bridges the abyss between synthpop and prog rock; and The Way, which is a sort of off-centre prog-pop with flute. The outtakes section comprises the plaintive neoclassical Piano Song, the African-influenced percussive piece Cheetah Acacia Tree, and three alternative versions of tracks from Captured In Ice.
LTM are to be congratulated for exposing these superb albums to a new audience. More info at www.ltmrecordings.com
PERMANENT CLEAR LIGHT Beyond These Things CD (Havasupai)
Permanent Clear Light are an excellent psych band from Finland whose music incorporates a wide variety of instruments including violin, mellotron, banjo, lapsteel, oscillators, cornet, and more. The first couple of tracks are dreamlike yet melodic psych-pop, but as the album progresses it becomes more eclectic and exploratory, with Permanent Clear Light taking on board additional influences from other genres. There's jazz and heavy prog rock in Harvest Time; spacerock, prog, folk and experimental sound manipulation in Higher than the Sun: Astral Travel; Indian music, prog, classical, and sophisticated pop music in And the Skies Will Fall; psychedelic blues-rock in Love Gun; and jazz and spacey effects in Skirmish. Finally there is Weary Moon, a brilliant psych-folk-rock track with banjo, harmonica, brass and woodwind, lapsteel, atmospheric effects, and expressive percussion. A fantastic, inventive album from a band I hope to hear more from. More info at permanentclearlight.bandpage.com
IN GOWAN RING The Glinting Spade CD (Merlin's Nose)
In Gowan Ring is the psych-folk project centred around the extremely talented songwriter/musician B'ee, aka B'eirth, who is also known for his more recent band Birch Book. This is a very welcome reissue of In Gowan Ring's long out of print and sought after third album from 1999. This version comes with fantastic Art Nouveau-inspired psychedelic cover art, and is also available as a deluxe vinyl edition. Two Wax Dolls combines a minimalistic acoustic guitar arrangement with drones, chimes and found sounds, before introducing violin and brass for an effective baroque-style instrumental section. Arrowsmith's Fire is Donovan-esque folk with evocative, atmospheric accompaniment. Bow Star is an ethereal and hypnotic drone piece incorporating chimes and metallic clattering sounds that, far from being harsh on the ear, actually have a relaxing and reassuring effect on the listener. Cipher's String on the Tree in the Dream of the Queen combines spacey ambient music with Renaissance, baroque, and Middle Eastern touches, and songwriting that recalls Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band, and traditional folk balladry. There is much truly beautiful material on this album, and Merlin's Nose Records are to be applauded for making it available again. More info at www.merlins-nose.com
ARROWWOOD Beautiful Grave CD (Merlin's Nose)
Arrowwood is the musical project of Chelsea Robb, which for this release also features guest appearances from Pythagumus Marshall (Novemthree) and Kim Larsen (Of the Wand and the Moon). As with the In Gowan Ring CD reviewed above, Beautiful Grave is also available as a deluxe vinyl edition. The music is a kind of experimental psychedelic folk that evokes a primitive, pagan mysticism without being too overt or cliched. Ballad of the Hanged Men features a minimalistic arrangement based around acoustic guitar, bells and tambourine, its dark lyrics and melody contrasting with Chelsea's breathy, sweet and somewhat childlike vocals. Beautiful Grave is perfectly named as it is both eerie and sublime. Its medieval-tinged accompaniment includes recorder, flute, psaltery or perhaps zither, and percussion, along with some nice use of birdsong. Dreaming Knoll is an atmospheric instrumental comprising gently pulsating drones, tinkling bells and heartbeat-like drumming. Flowerleaf Coffin is a raw, shamanistic piece featuring guttural male droning vocals alongside swelling drones and minimal percussion. Goblin Market is an otherworldly experimental piece with backwards vocals and music and ominous thunderstorm sound effects. Greenwood Bird is an ethereal psych-folk song that is really very beautiful. The Stag's Head is a superb instrumental based around harmonium, Indian-influenced percussion, and evocative tinkling bells. Another really fantastic album from Merlin's Nose! Available from www.merlins-nose.com
AMBER Pearls of Amber CD (Merlin's Nose)
As well as the current releases from Merlin's Nose reviewed above, I also received some of the label's back catalogue material, starting with this 6-track mini-album which was recorded in 1970-1971 and released in 2011. There are essentially two sides to this band: Sea Shell Rock Me is a delicate and ethereal psych-folk piece with sitar, coming across like a mixture of The Incredible String Band and the more overtly folky side of Donovan, with a touch of Nick Drake in the songwriting. Other tracks seem more American-influenced, such as White Angel, which is like a stripped-down acoustic version of psychedelic blues-rock, and Earlie in the Morning, which combines American-style folk with tablas. There is a raw and unpretentious quality to the recordings, with minimalistic arrangements and bits of studio chit chat appearing at the start of a couple of tracks. There are strong tunes (Sea Shell Rock Me in particular is a tough one to dislodge from the brain), and impassioned vocals. Worth checking out for fans of vintage psych-folk. Available from www.merlins-nose.com
JAHRTAL Reprisen & Instrumentalstuecke CDR (Merlin's Nose)
This is a limited CDR reissue of a now rare cassette originally put out by Sloow Tapes. There are also plans to release this material on vinyl. It's a predominantly instrumental album, broadly categorisable as psych-folk and experimental folk, incorporating aspects of sitar music, ambient music, delicate and ethereal underground folk, and spaced-out psychedelia. There are melodies that sound like trad folk tunes, or old hymns, or something more freeform and avant-garde. As well as the instrumental pieces, Der Pfeifer im Jahrtal includes some rare use of voice, adding wordless vocals as an additional instrument alongside floating and pulsating drones supplied largely by hurdy gurdy, and medieval-tinged wooden flute. Jahrtal are occupying much the same sort of musical space as bands like Stone Breath, In Gowan Ring, or a lot of the material that comes out on the Dark Britannica compilations. Anyone who enjoys music of this type ought to check out this album. More info at www.merlins-nose.com
PATHS OF PRAKRITI Axis Mundi CD (Merlin's Nose)
Paths of Prakriti is the musical project of Jon Reier Sylte from Trondheim, Norway. Some tracks here owe a lot to late 60s and early 70s American folk-rock, whilst others opt for an elongated, meandering psychedelic sound that incorporates sitar and shimmering atmospheric synth. And then there are those that are less rockish, with a jangly sound that is sure to appeal to fans of classic mid to late 80s indiepop. Running Dry also includes some soaring flute, which gives it a 60s sunshine pop feel. These various influences are effectively combined to create an overall sound that is chilled-out and often summery, and very highly recommended. I have greatly enjoyed listening to all the releases from Merlin's Nose, and will be keeping an eye out for what the label has to offer in future. www.merlins-nose.com
ORCHIS A Thousand Winters CD (Infinite Fog)
Orchis comprises members of Cunnan, SQE, Twelve Thousand Days, Temple Music, and The Howling Larsons. This is a reissue of their now rare second album from 1996. Blood of Bone sets the witch chant The Witches' Rune to an evocative mixture of atmospheric effects and medieval-tinged flute. Blackwaterside effectively juxtaposes this melodic traditional folk song with a huge wall of harsh noise. The Hare/Jennet is an elaboration of the shape-changing spell attributed to 17th century witch Isobel Gowdie, with woozy and ethereal psych-folk accompaniment. He Walks in Winter is an intense combination of psych, folk, and brutal yet atmospheric noise. Megaera is the medieval piece Trotto, as also performed by Estampie, combined with powerful and emotional chanting and harsh industrial clanking. A very fine album of pagan psych-folk and neo-medieval music, great to see it being made available again. More info at www.infinitefog.ru
ALEPPO PINE Holy Picnic CD (Alone)
An impressive psych-folk-rock album from this Barcelona band. Chilled-out songs - and a handful of more uptempo ones - inspired by American folk music are accompanied by a variety of instruments such as sitar, Indian percussion, organ, flute, violin, glockenspiel, spacey synth, jangly guitar, cello, bells and chimes. There are mystical, esoteric lyrics (some of the song titles include Magic Dolmen, Black Wizard, Mystic Lady, and 3rd Eye) and some effective use of twin male/female vocals. There is an authentically vintage sound here, but the obvious talent and creativity displayed by this band makes the album something far more than just a mere rehash of 60s and 70s psychedelia. This is a very special, very exciting album from a band I hope to hear more from.
Band info: aleppopine.bandcamp.com/
DODSON AND FOGG Sounds of Day and Night CD (Wisdom Twins)
Dodson and Fogg, the brainchild of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Chris Wade, is proving to be a very prolific project, this being the third album of theirs to be reviewed this issue. Whereas the first two albums featured guest appearances from a number of well known names from the world of psych and folk-rock, this album has Chris Wade playing all the instruments except trumpet, which is provided by Colin Jones. The title track is an instrumental that combines folk, jazz and vintage heavy rock. Hear it in the Morning Still is laid-back classic rock with touches of jazzy trumpet. It's All Right harks back to the 60s singer-songwriter tradition. Lost in Words is an excellent song that combines elements of folk, psych and prog. Lying in the Sun adds an extra quirk-factor to the singer-songwriter sound. Lonely Little Bird is well crafted psych-folk with proggy tangents. Free in the Night is a very fine psych instrumental including flute, sitar and synthesised strings. There is, on the whole, less of an overt folk influence on this album, with more emphasis on classic rock, psych, and singer-songwriter sounds, but the high quality musicianship Dodson and Fogg are known for is still present here of course. More info at wisdomtwinsbooks.weebly.com/dodson-and-fogg.html
CENSUS OF HALLUCINATIONS Spirit of Yellow CD (Stone Premonitions)
This album comprises new versions of tracks from the Stone Premonitions archive, the bulk of which were originally recorded by Tim Jones and Terri-B's previous band The Rabbit's Hat. Having access to improved recording technology since the songs' original release, the aim was to produce definitive versions of these classic tracks. Working with a variety of new musicians has enabled these artists to add something of their own vision to the material, and the songwriters themselves have said that the benefit of hindsight can bring about an entirely different perspective on a song written many years ago. Appearing alongside founder members Tim Jones and Terri-B are David Hendry of spacerock project OHead, John Simms and Maxine Marten of Clear Blue Sky, and Kevin Hodge, a drummer and guitarist who has performed with over 70 bands over the last 35 years, having direct experience with a variety of genres from punk to funk to R'N'B. The cover art for Spirit of Yellow is a collaboration between Terri-B and The Morrigan's Colin Masson.
I am well acquainted with the original versions, and in some cases, subsequent reworkings, of the tracks here, and am pleased to see that Census of Hallucinations have chosen to reinterpret some of my personal favourites, such as Forest, Church, Lie Again, Sara Jane, Hieronymus, and Orion. Forest is effectively augmented with spacey synths and tropical bird samples, and introduces a more overtly proggy sound than was the case with the original. Church, a classic critique of 'one true way' religion, has a harder-edged rock sound in this version, which is much in keeping with the hard-hitting, forceful nature of the lyrics. There is a very fine version of Riding the War, which adds psych and heavy rock touches to a sparse acoustic arrangement. Infra Red is psych/prog with some nicely ethereal moments, including some effective use of floaty ambient synth. Lie Again is an excellent psych-rock track with lyrical condemnation of hypocrisy and selfishness. Sara Jane is a heart-wrenching tale of a lonely young girl ignored by her mother, whose only friend is a doll, the Sara Jane of the title. Here it is set to a hard-edged vintage-style rock arrangement with prog and psych elements. Hieronymus is a darkly ethereal exploration of the art of Hieronymus Bosch and its philosophical implications, morphing into a creative though brief sci-fi ambient-meets-prog excursion near the end. This new version of Orion incorporates ethereal and whooshing spacey synths, a very apt and effective addition.
I first heard most, if not all, of these songs in the 1990s, but they are so timeless and well crafted that they never get old, and they shine no matter what additional musical influences have made their way into the recordings since they first appeared close to 20 years ago. Whether you're into spacerock, prog, psych, or just plain classic, timeless, genre-transcending songwriting, there is a lot to like here. Even fans of the more melodic end of heavy metal may enjoy the album - John Simms' intricate guitar playing has a definite vintage metal quality about it. This is a really high-calibre album. The songwriting and musicianship are in a league above much of what comes out of the underground, but to say the music sounds mainstream would be to do it a grave injustice as it is completely free from the blandness and banality that characterises commerce-driven music. There is an astonishing level of musical talent coming out of the Stone Premonitions collective, and this album is one that best demonstrates that. I fully recommend it as one of the best places to start exploring the label. More info at www.aural-innovations.com/stonepremonitions
THE MORRISONS Morrisons Brew CD (Pastime)
The Morrisons were around during the first wave of indiepop back in the 1980s; they took a break from music during the 90s but reformed a few years ago and have been releasing a prolific quantity of music on a variety of labels ever since. Morrisons Brew, their fifth album in the last ten years, is packaged within fantastic cover art reminiscent of Victorian theatre posters viewed through a psychedelic lens. The music has the classic 1980s indiepop sound, really melodic and jangly. Some songs are reminiscent of various other indiepop bands from the same era, such as The Brilliant Corners, Mighty Mighty, and early Orange Juice. Others are coming from a more folky angle, such as 1000 Miles Away, which sounds inspired by 60s American folk-rock; So Sad So Mad, a melancholic, 60s-ish psych-folk track that is really beautiful; and Secret Place, a similarly melancholic and touching blend of 60s folk and janglepop. The Morrisons continue to impress with their engaging combination of old-school indiepop and 1960s-style folk; fans of either of these genres can't afford to miss this album. More info at www.pastimerecords.webs.com and www.freewebs.com/themorrisonsband and www.facebook.com/morrisonsband
TEMPLE MUSIC Thanattafferent Matter CD (Cryptanthus)
Temple Music is one of a number of bands featuring Alan Trench, the others being Orchis, Cunnan, Twelve Thousand Days, and The Howling Larsons. I received an advance CDR copy of their forthcoming album Thanattafferent Matter, to be released on Cryptanthus in the UK, as well as Anticlock (USA), Orphic (Greece) and Silken Tofu (Belgium). I'm unsure of the exact release date, but the website below, and the Facebook page linked from it, should have some more news nearer the time.
Sunsys is psych-folk-rock meets spacerock, with soaring flute, whooshing synth, and intense, psyched-out guitar soloing. Lycanthropic Fold combines an acoustic guitar melody with harsh, abstract synthesised sounds. From the Serene Republic is fantastic psych-rock, both heavy and mesmeric. Repercussive Repeal (Of Obsolescence) takes a folk-tinged melody and wraps it up in all manner of brain-bending, surreal sound effects, searing psychedelic guitar, and vintage synths. Unfortunately the remaining tracks refused to play on my somewhat temperamental CD player, which occasionally objects to CDRs. But judging by what I have been able to hear of Thanattafferent Matter, it certainly appears to be an excellent album of instrumental psychedelic music, that effectively combines a heavy intensity with an experimental sensibility. More info at templemusic1.bandcamp.com
JAMES McKEOWN Sublime Knight Elect CDR (Reverb Worship)
New 9-track album from multi-instrumentalist James McKeown. A handful of these tracks previously appeared on Fruits de Mer's instrumental album Strange Fish Four; these were among my favourite contributions to the Strange Fish series, so I was delighted to receive this full length album that compiles those tracks along with other predominantly instrumental compositions in the same vein. Citing Masonic and alchemical ritual, Neolithic ceremonial sites, and astronomy as influences on the music here, James McKeown has produced a work of true beauty in the shape of this album. Melodic guitar music is accented with shimmering and burbling vintage synths and atmospheric effects; there's often a hypnotically repetitive quality to the music, whilst retaining its strongly tuneful nature. The music combines aspects of psych-folk, post-rock, spacerock and shoegaze, but efforts to pigeonhole it ultimately fall flat as overall the music essentially transcends genre. James McKeown is a highly talented artist, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future releases from him. This CDR version with handmade artwork is limited to just 50 copies, although a digital edition is also available via James' own label Negative Drive Records. More info at www.reverbworship.com and negativedriverecords.bandcamp.com
BACK TO AQUAMARINE