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


David CW Briggs is a prolific artist with many albums out on his own Folk Archive label as well as on Reverb Worship. He was also involved with the band Hills Have Riffs, who appeared on volume three of Cold Spring's Dark Britannica series of underground folk. I have a selection of his recent solo albums on Folk Archive, which are homemade CDRs with a cut 'n' paste visual aesthetic reminiscent of the vintage tape label scene. If you're not a fan of folk, don't be put off by the name of DCWB's label. Folk is just one of his many influences, alongside lo-fi hometaper pop, psych, blues, experimental and more.

First up, the 8-track mini-album Eye Have Nothing. I Cannot Bear is psych-folk with an off-centre eeriness, Following Me Around is lo-fi hometaper music taking on board elements of raw blues and country, Happy Anniversary is 60s-tinged psych with added experimental darkness, Fraunley II is an angular and surreal instrumental blending folk motifs with car horn-esque bits and abstract experimentation, while Fraunley is its song-based counterpart, a choppy-changey eccentric psych-pop number. An adventurous and free-thinking album with a true DIY spirit.

Magical Thinking Man's Dead is a 12-track album including amongst other pieces the fractured lo-fi songwriting of Green Light and Silly Little Things That We Do, the raw, distorted garage/psych of Hope You'll Be, the hypnotic experimental psych of Shroud, and the brilliant catchy homemade pop of Repetition Daze which ought to appeal just as much to fans of indiepop as those into the poppier side of 60s psych. Treguard is pastoral psych-folk with an experimental undercurrent, Magical Thinking Man's Dead is an epic track over 9 minutes long, starting off as eccentric DIY pop before giving way to a more laid-back and drawn-out psychedelic sound, and Leave Something Witchy is an instrumental straddling post-rock, folk and psych.

Duality, Folk and Work Songs' sleeve incorporates intriguing photography and surreal collage art alongside a 1980s computer font. There are 10 songs here, including the off-kilter minimalistic hometaper pop of Satellites, the fractured, lo-fi psychedelic blues of Eye Miss You, the starkly hypnotic cover of Julian Cope's Out of my Mind on Dope and Speed, the angular and slightly dissonant noisepop of Growing Things, and the ethereal psych-folk instrumental Bruce Langhorne, making for a raw and honest collection of music that is eclectic yet cohesive.

Becoming Strange (An English Country Garden of Delights) goes one further with the surrealist artwork: a man with an exposed skull cooks a severed head on a camping stove, while a disembodied hand reaches out of the sky to bash him with a hammer. Meanwhile an ape with a fox in her apron pocket gathers firewood as a besuited man with a dinosaur (?) skull is about to enjoy a cup of tea. Musically speaking, we have here the lopsided, choppy-changey blues of Hanging Gardens, the off-kilter homemade pop of Trying, the hushed and eerie underground folk of Becoming Strange, the lo-fi psych-pop of Out of Phase, the superb psych-folk instrumental Scurf and more.

Finally there is Op-Art Blues, which comes with various art inserts comprising computer-manipulated abstract collage, old-school fanzine style cut 'n' paste photocopy, and hand-drawn pen sketching. The music encompasses raw, homemade, psychedelic blues (Bridget Riley), minimal and melancholic indiepop (Roll Away the Years), pastoral psych-folk (Rune, Rune, Rune), and slightly off-centre homemade pop (Face Pressed Against My Window). There are also noisier pieces such as Losing Faces, a riotous number that successfully blends the chugging noise of punk with heavy psychedelia and the hazy atmosphere of shoegaze, and Your Last Intention, early 90s-flavoured noisepop with an anthemic, epic nature that transcends its brevity. The album also features a cover of The Fugs' Nothing, which brings together hypnotic, meandering psychedelia with harsh and dissonant aspects and a melody that in another context could possibly pass for traditional folk.

I don't know if DCWB was involved in the early 1990s tape label scene; I don't remember coming across him at the time (though that could just be my own memory failing me), but his music and artwork has a definite DIY aesthetic that would have fitted right in in that milieu. It's great to come across an artist who is keeping the real DIY spirit alive. The CDRs are very limited - just 25 copies each. Downloads are also available. Find out more at davidcwbriggs.bandcamp.com

UPDATE - Since writing the above article, I have received David CW Briggs' album The Homemade World, which is again a homemade CDR limited to just 25 copies, packaged with DCWB's trademark cut 'n' paste surrealist artwork. Yet Will Never Reveal is lo-fi minimalist songwriting bridging the gap between contemporary folk and the more pensive side of indiepop. Arctic Aladdin is powerful psych-folk pairing hushed vocals with a deeply atmospheric soundscape made up of layered pulsing humming drones. Orderly Row is off-kilter psych-pop with bluesy harmonica and innovative use of birdsong samples as percussion. The Has-Been is a shimmering, ethereal piece that combines a 60s-ish melody with the atmospheric swirl of dreampop. Don't You See It's Already Gone is off-centre lo-fi hometaper pop setting distorted echoey vocals to a gently strummed guitar. An album with an inventive, eclectic spirit, a homespun lo-fi charm, and a sense of genuineness and honesty which is something I always appreciate in music.

UPDATE II - The latest CDR from this prolific home recording artist, Short Shrift, is out now, featuring the darkly psychedelic folk-rock of Small Ancient Mirrors, the gentle meandering instrumental psych-folk of Laying Low, the lo-fi noisepop of The Homemade World (Long Version), and the lopsided and woozy psychedelic blues of Oh, Can You Please See Me! In addition, When You Know Your Mind blends the angular and experimental with a hypnotic atmosphere, bringing in elements of psych-rock, shoegaze, and the off-kilter nature of outsider music, whilst The Man Who Disappeared Into His Own Eyes brings homemade indiepop together with psychedelic aspects and a sense of eeriness. Limited to 25 copies only, with a download version also available at Bandcamp.


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Text Kim Harten, 2017/2018.