archiv: singled out – missive 200 (m)…

missive 200(m)
Beatrice Antolini
A due

That we missed Ms Antolini’s debut ‘big saloon’ solo effort from a year or so ago is our loss and one that after having heard this its follow up is something that’s been escalated and elevated to the highest reaches of our ever expanding most wanted list.

We here are thinking you’ll never quite hear anything that matches the fluency, complexity and disarming seduction that pours from the grooves of this simply stunning eleven track feast. To simply call ‘ a due’ bewitching is to somehow criminally underplay and devalue it.

It is in simple terms – exquisite.

In fact we’d sooner have this than all your Allen’s, Winehouse’s, U2’s and whatever cheap formulised and predictable pop pap currently being peddled by the majors put together any day.

Intoxicating and inspired, ‘a due’ is a brim and overflowing with magic and mystery, like a strangely exotic travelling circus arriving in town, its all at once eerie, enchanting, inviting, unreal, dramatic and demurring.

For the uninitiated – like me – Ms Antolini was born in Macerata, an Italian town in the Marche province. She learnt to play piano at the age of three and went to the Frescobaldi Conservatory in Ferrara to study classical music. Spending her formative years playing drum and bass in various local ensembles, without any enduring success she set about recording a handful of demos in 2005, these recordings becoming the backbone to her aforementioned debut full length ’big saloon’.

So that’s the domestics done with, the rest they say is history.

Anyway back to the matter in hand – ‘a due’ – we here are thinking that a record has to be special if while listening your furiously scribbling notes and in your minds eye conjuring up weird imagery with which to compare it, imagery such as its ability to take the playful and the sinister from say the score of the ’Jungle Book’ and refract them through the kaleidoscopic looking lens of Alice in Wonderland or indeed the way that Antolini is able to weave a spellbinding tapestry that in an instant can be all at once chilling, cute and cuckoo or the small but all to important detail that due to her chameleonic ability that during your journey throughout her strange and beguiled nether world that you’ll have evoked an array of female musicians from the past and present from the likes of Nina Hagen and Diamanda Galas (best experienced on ‘funky show’) right through to Kate Bush, Bjork, Serafina Steer and Nico and for that matter all those in between while simultaneously dipping at will into worlds more readily occupied by the likes of Cobra Killer, Pizzicato 5 as well as fellow countrymen Musseta.

One of the main attributes that makes ‘a due’ such a compulsive listening spectacle is its refusal to rest on its laurels and sit still, within each track a sub plot is developing, just when you think your sure you have the measure of Antolini she throws an unexpected curveball that leaves you constantly teetering and reeling on the back foot. Likewise trying to bracket or pigeonhole this collection into a neat and safe category is rendered almost nigh impossible such is the multitude of generic sub species and cross pollination coming to fruition within with the range finder spectrum being tweaked and twisted to register everything and anything from sheer sophistication to the disquietingly surreal as she engages in elements as far ranging as hybridised charleston motifs (as on the wilfully scatty and ridiculously infectious ’pop goes to Saint Peter’ – a tail feather yanking hyper active cutie that sounds like it was bitten by a particularly potent funky bug) to smoked 50’s torch dialects (as on the sepia tinged spectral beauty of the ethereal noir traced ’clear my eyes’ with its fading mirage like nods to Komeda – a trick repeated to greater effect on the soft psyche dipped dream-scaping ’morbidalga’ replete as it is with dissipating hypnotics).

Amid all this Antolini joyously skips through an enchanted paradise of kooky time signatures and childlike fancies liberally laced and melodically fluent in music hall and operatic mechanics delicately tipped in all manner of mind bending hallucinogens – case in point the opening salvo ’new manner’ which aside tailgating the warped slipstream of Mirror Mirror’s recent offering manages to shoehorn between the grooves a curious fusing of Brechtian poise and a fading 40’s styled noir crested glamour. Elsewhere you’ll find Goth-ique rumba the order of the day on the Addams Family meets the Munsters styled skewif stew that is ’a new room for a quiet life’ accompanied by arresting Mexicana brass fanfares while the interlude like ’modern lover’ assumes a momentary willowy passage into library lounge a la Raymond Scott’s ’soothing sounds’ collection. Then there’s the Nancy Sinatra spliced with Nico spectral dreaminess of the ghostly 60’s obsessed ’secret cassette’ while the sets best moment is left to the parting shot the macabre ’taiga’ which aside leaving you feeling strangely unsettled and yet quietly euphoric at times manages to nod ever so gently in the general direction of White Noise’s ’an electric storm’. in a word – essential.
Key tracks –

Clear my eyes
New manner

Here’s a video featuring a live recording of ‘morbid alga’……

La petite Nicole
Alien 8

Its been an absolute age since we had any Alien 8 ear gear on the turntable that we were at one point seriously considering petitioning them and embarking on an embargo. That was until someone obviously more clever at foreseeing the pitfalls and practicalities of such adventures that we’d still have no Alien 8 ear gear with which to play and regale to you with much fond admiration upon the virtues of having these loveable artefacts adorning your record collection. And so it was left to Cargo records to come to our ailing assistance pressing firmly in our mits the labels latest brace of offerings (the other in case you were wondering being Aun‘s ‘motor sleep‘). And damn fine they are.

‘la petite Nicole’ is the second full length from Montreal based trio Torngat following their acclaimed 2007 debut offering ‘you could be’. a peculiarly perfect release it should be said featuring seven cuts that heard overall sound not unlike a bent around the edges and skewif sounding Grails albeit removed of the cataclysmic eruptions.

A gorgeous sound odyssey of sepia trimmed dusty heirlooms of faded memories replayed through a fracture to a half lit past long since gone, the melodies fragile and frost tipped are calibrated in all manner of twinkle some wonder and service an arresting tapestry of pristinely turned porcelain pop gems. As far as reference markers go this cutie will appeal first and foremost to fans of both Broadcast and Add N to X as well as admirers of Optiganally Yours, Busy Signals and Tele:Funken’s full length from 2000 ’a collection of ice cream vans – volume 2’.

‘la petite Nicole’ appears and indeed sounds like some recently unearthed and thought lost primitive library electronic score for an intended early 70‘s suspense thriller, both spectral and frazzled these skewed kaleidoscopic slices of easy listening promenade serenades sound for all the world like they’ve been left out in the sun to warp. Serene and lulling they make for an arresting and deeply dreamy experience, the lullaby-esque opener ’interlude’ sets the pace and scenery – a sweetly souring orbiting beauty invested both with a dainty frailty and a teasingly glassy aura that softly dissolves to re-appear as the title cut itself awash with the delicate furnishing of chamber like motifs. The playfully star crossed and mellowing ’afternoon moon pie’ lifts the bruised solemnity for a brief spell to assume an arresting bitter sweet embrace that nods in some small detail towards the flip cuts found on the Go Team’s debut outing for the Pickled Egg imprint while the cathedral-esque and stately prog like ’6.23pm’ finds itself bathed in swathes of drone cycles and shimmering hypnotic tides and sounds for all the world like a hugely lonesome leviathan tapping out distress calls to the void a bit like Goblin recalibrating ’close encounters’ with ’2001 – a space odyssey’.

It’s not all serene and lulling though, the moods are briefly interrupted by the arrival of both ’l’ecole penitencier’ and ’turtle eyes and fierce rabbit’ – the former incorporating motorik locomotive rhythms and subtle early 70’s krautrock dialects the latter channelling similar territorial divides though ostensibly emerging as a nifty slice of ‘Tangerine Dream’ like prog boogie. That said our favourite moment by some distance is the parting and dare we say deceptively beguiling ’going whats what’ which in its initial stages could easily pass for something foolishly omitted from Stereolab’s ’cobra phases’ set with its almost winsome fluffily drawn pastoral electronics but then through the haze emerges something more in tune with classic era Goblin (again) as though found in their potting shed blending the essences of Carpenters ’assault on precinct 13’ score and tempering its austere climes with the harmonious mood melting mirages of Morricone’s spaghetti western scores – absolute class.

Key tracks –

Going whats what
La petite Nicole

Just been a reading Simon Reynolds ‘post punk interview’ type thing – (the proper title you’ll no doubt come across when we come to review it further down the line in this herein bumper missive harvest (that is if we remember to review it) – anyhow one of the interviews featured a piece by the late John Peel wherein during the course of his words of wisdom mentioned the Cravats who as you all should know went on to become the Very Things with this particular track being singled out for praise by Mr Peel – and rightly so – ‘the bushes scream while my daddy prunes’ – was there ever a better title for a record…..oh yea here’s the video….

Jackie O Motherfucker ‘the blood of life’ (fire).

Debut Fire release for Jackie O Motherfucker and – I think I’m right in saying to much blushing embarrassment – our first full on encounter with the ever revolving collective centring around the much enviable tortured talents of Tom Greenwood. House in a gatefold sleeve this vinyl collection features 4 cuts culled from a radio session recorded for the Dutch radio station VPRO way back in November 2007. Basically a dusting down of old favourites ‘hey Mr Sky’ and ‘the grave’ along with a brace of exclusive previously unreleased gems in the shape of a reworking of an old traditional Canadian folk song ‘lost Jimmy Walen’ and the set stealing 18 minute head jam ‘the blood of life’.

For the best part its an intimate affair, gentle and meandering, the bare boned deliveries afforded to both ‘hey mr sky’ and ‘the grave’ cast an almost hymnal though funereal elegance that on first appearance sound as though they are drawn from a distant bloodline extending back to the likes of Smog, Palace Brothers and Codeine. The former sublimely charred by some deftly applied stilted reverb and achingly swollen by an arid country folk blues hue while the latter is a dustily parched and carved lolloping apparition side winding with a softly bespoke psyche folk rustiness that’s all at once irresistibly bruised, forlorn and crushed – both are so intensely humbled that they blister acutely with a hollowed hanged dog resonance. The porch lit and spectral ‘lost Jimmy Walen’ lightens the mood slightly and momentarily emerges from out of the haze though still finds itself solemnly swelled with a death rattling grip and a numbed heart string yanking ghostly aura while you yourself are sat bottle of bourbon in hand trying your fastest to find your way to its bottom before you drown yourself in hopeless sorrow.

Flip the disc for the epic ‘the blood of life’. As previously mentioned an eighteen minute psychotropic voyage that strays into cosmic voids more readily associated with the likes of the Black Angels, Wooden Shjips and the Crystal Antlers while simultaneously straying aboard the smoked bliss fuelled mindset of both the Doors and Amon Dull, laced and threaded by mind melting washes of transcendental droning loops, subtle motorik kraut / space grooves and sedate arabesque motifs this kaleidoscopic mantra sumptuously freewheels a landscape where the fabled dusty plains of the crossroads exists. Need we say more. Thoroughly recommended.

Greater California ‘all the colours’ (Subtitled Audio).

We don’t mind saying that we’ve gotten ourselves a rather fine glowing tan through sitting in close proximity to this little cutie.

Hailing – obviously – from California – to be more precise Long Beach, Greater California centre around the core collective of six likeminded individuals who with the aid of a select number of friends and acquaintances (among whom on this particular occasion Tom Waits backroom man Steven Hodges is counted) have a hankering and an adept craftsmanship to boot for eking out sugar glazed gems that sound for all the world as though they’ve where mistakenly left behind in a potting shed at the tail end of the 60’s and left to germinate in their quiet undisturbed state into affectionately dappled MOR beauties only to be discovered and teased out of hiding by some kind of Sundazed styled re-appraisal.

Having already released a few platters to their name one such we have noted with interest being put out by the Aussie imprint Low Transit Industries who I swear have been in recent communications and hopefully all things being well (if it was them that is) a few of their little treasures you’ll find dotted about these pages to varying measures of admiration.

Anyhow as the title suggests (talk about doing as it says on the tin) ‘all the colours’ is a positive cornucopia of loveliness – rich, vibrant and radiant in all manner of honeycombed West Coast dialects, cascades of chiming 12 strings, lysergic pastels and feel good effervescence, the melodies coaxed and coated with a silky, sumptuous sun screened aspect whose reference points though obviously lying with Wilson (the Brian variety – none more so than on ‘the foolish son‘), the Byrds (particularly ‘them the downs’ though here sounding as though they are heavily vibed by distant echoes of Arthur Lee and Love) and West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band stray to playful absorb a shared mindset with the likes of the E6 Collective (notably the Minders and Of Montreal), Clock Strikes 13, Belles will Ring and the much loved (though absent from our turntable for such an age) Doleful Lions.

Ten cuts feature within that shimmer with such warming accessibility and immediacy that its thirty nine minute duration is over in the blink of an eye, from the lightly toned melting harmony laced opening of the title track with its softly bathed caresses of 60’s Brit psyche pop inflections, the lush arabesque mantras and hymnal opines of the swirling dream coat that is the quite magnificent ’it’s great’ (which imagines a youthful George Harrison relocated from the Beatles and shimmying up to a seriously chilled though elegantly slow burn epic tinged Walker Brothers) and the milky sugar spun spangled Will Bunnymen styled riff-man-ship that purrs and throbs throughout the snake winding hip grinding lysergic pop of ‘charmer‘.

That said the sets best moments are less obviously infused with a psychedelic persona, ‘the disappearing’ – a beautifully baroque styled slice of timeless tastiness seductively weaves and woos possessed of a gloriously off balanced tavern-esque shanty like demeanour that aside freewheeling closely with the Stranglers ‘la folie’ (in particular ‘Golden Brown’) could viewed from ac different angle be likened to a variant of Broadcast overseen and orchestrated by Brian Jones. The sleepy headed ‘The Soft Lights’ wraps up matters exquisitely, cradled and book-ended by a lilting harmonic drilled lullaby-esque intro and outro the shrill intones of head swirling corteges of jangling soft psyche chimes soar and serenade amid brass fanfares (very early Jumbo) to leave you breathlessly a swoon – best embraced first and foremost by admirers of the Earlies we think. A bit of a gem.

The first bona fide summer record now all we need is the sun.

Key tracks – the soft lights, the disappearing, the foolish son.

Philip Clemo ‘the rooms’ (all colours arts).

Eclectic, part ethereal irrefutably entrancing the latest offering from Philip Clemo and assembled friends and acquaintances ‘the rooms’ is shortly to be given its official Stateside release following quite acclaim across the UK and Europe.

Clemo has long been on the radar of the more in tuned record buying public, his work has blurred the edges between classical and ambient, post rock and jazz, world and progressive trance. Three years in the making, ’the rooms’ features contributions from 22 individual artists including BJ Cole, Theo Travis, Clive Bell, Simon Hopkins and Henry Lowther to name just a few.

An exploration of ‘sonic space’ appears to be the remit borne of an underlying sound tapestry which throughout the album evolves, fractures and subtly shape shifts through a spectrum of atmospheric moods and climates. An extraordinary sound collage comprised of nine suites that viewed in one sitting engage for want of a better description a meditative spiritual rebirth upon the listener

In terms of reference points Talk Talk’s ‘spirit of Eden’ appears to be the most obvious and perhaps laziest comparison the fact re-affirmed by the appearance of the unquestionably skilful sound engineering talents of Phill Brown yet while it’s justified to say its as equally appealing to admirers of both Miles Davies and Brian Eno scratch beneath the surface gloss and you‘ll find that Clemo explores similar territorial sound-scapes as Ariel Kalma.

In essence ’the rooms’ makes for a cleverly textured slice of spacious (structured freeform) transcendental escapism with the opening 17 minute salvo ’the place’ perhaps providing the sets centrepiece – a gorgeously orbiting slab of sophisticatedly chilled craftsmanship both intoxicating and mellowing, it navigates in side winding formations sumptuously meandering between moments of sheer drift like states of near quiet purrs of calming lulls to moments of intricately layered busying myriads of softly tutored jazz tinged mirages that momentarily at junctures erupt as though veering up towards some sort of climatic epoch only to dissipate, recoil and be spirited away by the domineering tranquil splendour.

Fear not – those of the belief that maybe things go a little downhill from thereon in would do well to think again, while the remainder of ‘the rooms’ mightn‘t quite match the all consuming chilled canvas prepared by the opening suite there’s still more than enough left in the locker to entice, entrance while deceptively deceiving with you with its flirtatious formations. ’dream of shattered mirrors’ is as sultry as it is seductive, a smoking soft psych tipped lounge jazz babe dappled with looping mind melting snake-wind riffs, arabesque accents and noir brush strokes that gathered together would be best serviced for maximum enjoyment in the wee small hours of the night with the lights out. The mesmerising ’the humming top (dancing through the wreckage)’ is similarly scribed in suggestively trip wired hotly baked Middle Eastern mantras sounding not unlike at times a less skittish and clearly blessed out Ozric Tentacles. That said our personal favourite is the parting and dare we say ghostly blissed out ’taking a hand (in the company of Angels)’ – the only vocal piece on the set – provided by Chloe Goodchild – who sounds it must be said like a less intense Nico spliced with Allison O’Donnell – this enchanting apparition delicately coming across like some strangely beguiled folk jazz throwback from the late 60’s. all in all ‘the rooms’ is a work of restless intimate beauty elegantly poised and indelibly crafted to be savoured in a personal me time moment.

Key tracks –

Taking a hand (in the company of angels)
The place
The humming top (dancing through the wreckage)

Wendy and Bonnie

While the focus on 1969 has all been about the demise of the Beatles, the birth of rock, the end of the hippy dream, the arguable birth of punk and key note recorded moments from Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, Captain Beefheart and Genesis – yes dear folks – indeed Genesis you really should re-acquaint yourselves with ‘from Genesis to revelation’ and ponder long and hard how a creative force who recorded such would by and large be the same collective who committed aural atrocity with ‘invisible touch’ – a deeply painful and pointless release that even now fills me with disturbed dread when I pass by it in record shops. However lest not we forget the arrival that year of two key releases that annoyingly always seem to be overlooked by various ’respected’ musical scribes when putting together lists of essential records for purchase – and believe you me there have been a fair few this year already given that this is the 40th anniversary of that golden key stone era in rock ‘n’ pop’s rich lineage. Here we are talking Bee Gees’ ‘Odessa’ {- which has just been re-mastered, spruced up and expanded to a killer 3 CD set as part of an ongoing (40th anniversary) re-release schedule – hopefully we still be around to witness ‘cucumber castle’ and (our favourite edging both ‘1st‘ and ‘Odessa‘) ‘Trafalgar’ (those thinking I’ve taken leave of my senses would do well to check out the Rodriguez like ‘lion in winter’ and the bitter sweet ‘walking back to Waterloo’) which should see the light of day next year and the year after respectively} and Wendy and Bonnie’s ‘Genesis’.

I can clearly remember the exact moment (the dates a little scatty but the place I’m certain) when I was introduced to the sound of Wendy and Bonnie. It must have been sometime in the very early part of this decade (nb it was 2001). The occasion – a visit to the much loved Probe records in Liverpool – wherein both Bob and Rob where holding forte that day spotting me from behind the safe confines of their counter and greeting me with a impish smile more reminiscent of schoolboys with japery on their mind. One engaged in warm convivial conversation while the other slipped onto the store’s sound system with all the deftness and slight of hand of a magician a disc whose origin and detail I couldn’t immediately make out. Then in silence the three of us stood and took in the sounds drifting from the speakers. Now obviously at this point I was, I suspect, expected to immediately identify said track as Wendy and Bonnie’s ’I realised you’ and in doing so reveal the extent of my unquestionable depth of knowledge into all things obscure and 60’s. Alas I failed – not quite pitifully – I did muster a brief murmur of ’is it the Free Design?’ to which momentarily they appeared impressed before quickly re-engaging with reality and sniggering amongst themselves. Was it Stereolab, no it couldn’t be, it seemed to natural and lacking in Gane and Co’s over elaborate lushness – I was at this point still going through my Stereolab phase, loving the albums (’Cobra phases’ and ’sound dust’) that the snobbish ’Lab purists and the ’I saw them first’ merchants absolutely hated. Of course I had heard of Wendy and Bonnie but had never heard Wendy and Bonnie. This was in the days when the only way to source rare out of print tracks was via tape / CD swaps, word of mouth, radio broadcasts – Peel et al, car boots, thrift stores or via re-issues by vault trawling imprints. The internet was still in its relative infancy, downloads, you tube, torrent, I tunes and whatever other applications you care you mention were still awaiting release from the confines of their creators minds eye into reality. Kids – believe me when I say you have it so easy these days.

The CD in question was a limited CD issue of Wendy and Bonnie’s ‘Genesis’ full length put out by those rather nice people over at Sundazed. Pricey but perfect. Untouched, untainted, un-mastered and a truly remarkable lost gem from an age of innocence and incense. All that I’d read and heard about this recording didn’t prepare me for the listening experience I was about to embark upon. How had this release lapsed into relative obscurity to become a much sought after item among record collectors and soft psyche obsessives. Read on.

Fast forward several years on and now blessed with having both sisters on board Sundazed – who in recent times have been spinning our heads with some excellent re-issues – (try the recent expanded Dennis Wilson set ’pacific ocean blue’ and perhaps the ongoing vault pinching and re-press programme featuring the Byrds for starters) have clearly upped the stakes and increased their kudos credits with this frankly jaw dropping triple vinyl archive. The last defining word on the ’genesis’ saga and a timely excavation given that this year marks its 40th anniversary. The set also available as a double disc CD package – but be honest you want nay desire the full on vinyl package – is accompanied by detailed liner notes provided by producer Irwin Chusid. Inside the beautiful gatefold packaging you’ll find housed the three discs. The set replicates the 2001 issue – the story goes that Sundazed got in touch with Wendy and Bonnie Flower with a view to getting a possible vinyl package licensed, call it fortuitous timing but the Flowers’ parents were in the process of moving home and had unearthed a treasure trove of cassettes and masters to which the sisters were slowly trawling through. When Sundazed where alerted to this fact moves where made to incorporate these recordings into a once and for all complete audio archive. So not only do you get the original album mix for ’genesis’ along with the handful of demos that accompanied its 2001 issue but you are treated three sides of previously unreleased and unheard demos and live recordings a selection of which feature early skeletal incarnations of tracks planned for a ’genesis’ follow up. In addition a handful of acetates featuring the Crystal Fountain – the late 60’s combo featuring both sisters prior to them being persuaded to go it alone by Cal Tjader, a side serving of nifty covers – Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘we can work it out’, a side brimming of alternate mixes and cuts including an instrumental edit of ’let yourself go another time’ plus a must hear version of ’children laughing’ recorded at a Christmas pageant in ’69 and featuring Pa Flower conducting the Gratton Middle School Band and Miss Burns’ Glee Club in an inspired rewire.

As said previously the repackaged ‘genesis’ holds the rare distinction of being a record that actually exceeds expectations. So many of these expanded releases and re-issues are often appealed on what amounts to faded memories and rose tinted recollections however everything you’ve probably heard about ’genesis’ is true and perhaps understated at that. A perfect crystallisation of the moods and vibes of the time, it truly is deserving of the tag ’lost gem’.

How it laboured into obscurity was the result of bad timing. Signed to the fledging Skye imprint, more associated with the jazz scene, despite scoring an unexpected stateside hit with Lena and Gabor the label ran into financial trouble and went into bankruptcy, further heartache was to ensue when producer / arranger and close confidante of the sisters Gary McFarland died as a result of a heartache brought on by poisoning.

As to the sounds. What can I say. Exquisite. The sweet distillation and fusing of drifting west coast accents and hazily smoked easy listening silkiness peppered with skipping rhythms, mellowing mantras, fluffy follies and lovelorn (sometimes bitter sweet and shy eyed) sugar glazed drills of innocence make this a positively sun bathed timeless confection comparable perhaps of that era to the Mommas and Pappas chiefly. From the breezy purr of ’the paisley window pane’ with its Doors-esque ’light my fire’ inflections and Free Design styled light headedness to the wig flipping and effervescent shimmer toned ’let yourself go another time’ (and of its time – the hip shimmying upbeat paisley pop of ‘its what’s really happening‘) – a pristinely teased slice of demurring kaleidoscopic pop drizzled with some amazing key workouts – and that folks is just the opening brace. Stereolab enthusiasts and I should include here admirers of Musetta (perhaps more so with the ghostly ‘five o’clock in the morning’ – largely a sumptuous slice of interweaving harmony based soft psyche folk bewitchment) should of course retune immediately to both ’I realized you’ and ‘you keep hanging up on my mind’ the latter especially being calibrated in irresistibly airy soft centred Latino dialects and florescent feel good harmonies such as would suggest Wilson and Co on a South American sabbatical. Then there’s the measured lilt of the sophisticated and dreamy and dare we say enchanting ‘by the sea’ – a gorgeously orbiting and twinkling frost tipped love note dimpled with lazy eyed reclines and disarming spectral arrangements that coalesce with such distracting spellbinding allure it as though you‘ve been kissed by an apparition. Throw in some late 60’s smoking fuzzy freak outs melded with subtle strains of delicate jazz treatments for ’the winter is cold’ and utterly entrance with the cosmic lullaby-esque lull of the albums finest moment ’children laughing’ and you wonder how on earth this treasure remained off radar for so long. A truly remarkable debut.

As to the remainder of the set, frankly a positive smorgasbord of delights. Of course without doubt the aforementioned and set parting ’children laughing’ here performed by the Gratton Middle School Band and the Glee Club should be your first port of call – in truth wipes the floor with the Polyphonic Spree. And while the out takes of ’Genesis’ found nuzzling on side three are more than worth a spin they are purely curiosity value only though arguably do give insight into the development of the tracks. That said the alternate version of ’the winter is cold’ on side 4 does have a slightly more fractured and looser edge than the final mix making it somewhat superior, also worth hooking up to is the sparsely arranged ’years’ – apparently the last song recorded by Wendy and Bonnie set to a gorgeously beguiling snow tipped clockwork dynamic and positively fizzing with la la harmonies while ’the ice cream man song’ is a sepia tickled treasure that freewheels in the tail smoke of the Beatles’ ’nowhere man’ and ’fool on the hill’ and will cut you in two with its introspective bitter sweet casting.

A class apart.

Key tracks –

Children laughing
The paisley window pane
By the sea
I realized you

Further Sundazed obsessions on their way….

Moby Grape ‘the place and the time’ (double vinyl set)
The Remains ‘s/t’ 2xlp set
Bettye Lavette ’do your duty’
Bad Seeds ‘I’m a king bee’ 7 inch
The Preachers ‘who do you love’ 7 inch
Fallen Angels ‘who do you love’ 7 inch

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