And we are back with Fruits de Mer for what can only be described as their most ambitious release since that awesomely all consuming Strange Fish gathering last year, now comes a visual tripping aural dream coat arriving as a limited 700 only 7 x 7 inch box set. Featuring a gathering of familiar FdM (the Bevis Frond, the Chemistry Set, King Penguin, the Gathering Grey, Sendelica, the Higher State, the Seventh Ring of Saturn and Black Tempest) talent this epic release comes housed in a scrumptious cardboard box featuring 14 sides of 60’s groove all adorned upon slabs of red, white and blue wax replete with humungous fold out poster. I suspect these dudes are spoiling us now. Entitled ‘7 and 7 is’ the brief is simple invite along for the party your seven (well eight as it happens) favourite bands with the simple request that they lay down two cuts from a cherished act of their own choice the only catch being the artists in question had to be plucked from the late 60’s stateside scene The result dear listener turntable titans of yesteryear (the Byrds, Moby Grape, 13th Floor Elevators, Love, Spirit, Grateful Dead, United States of America and Clear Light) reborn anew and rephrased in a nu psych tongue. Trimmed in all manner of tangy teen beat bubble groove the Higher State re-tweak two sorties from the canon of the 13th floor elevators in the guise of ‘wait for my love’ and ‘you don’t know’ – the former smoked in a tigerishly sassy radio kissing trippy mop topping beat pop haloing while the latter, which in truth steals it for us, is a killer slab of purring psych beat that oozes with the mystery, wonderment and the whiff of Wimple Winch – which as you all know comparisons alone would have many a band retiring happily into the shadows. One of the sets highlights is the freak storm brought to bear by Sendelica whose retreatments of United States of America’s ‘hard coming love’ and ‘love some for the dead che’ provides something of a head spinning trip that leaves you feeling as though your senses have been treated to a lysergic hot wash followed by a psychedelic tumble drying, the former a fuzzy blues beatnik beauty that nods ever so subtly to Jefferson Airplane while the latter an outlandish and astounding spectacle of stereophonic seduction and bewitchment shimmered in a beckoning honey dipped and silky soaked siren-esque spell crafting. Talking of freaky, its been way too long since we heard the Bevis one sounding so out there, heavy and lost in the moment as evidenced here on the tripping stoner spiked cover of clear lights ‘night sounds’ which to these ears on repeat listens veers ever so succinctly into the mystical music lands of fellow FdM mainstays the luck of eden hall (about more of whom later oh patient ones). More wig flipping happenings are encountered on the stylus scrambling acid fried nugget that is the stoned out fringe flicking wasted ju-ju ‘sand’. Much adored around these here parts the Chemistry Set turn in a brace of quite sublimely faithful Love cover and while, the crystalline ‘a house is not a motel’ softly rushes and whispers like a ghostly charger over spectral sands to achieve critical mass at its close but its their rephrasing of ‘live and let live’ that gets our vote as the best moment of the twinset. Of course like ‘motel’, ‘live and let live’ originally appeared on Love’s – at the time – commercially ignored ‘forever changes’- ripe for Chemistry Set examination you feel, the melodic eccentricity the baroque detailing play to the Set’s chemistry, the tip toing pastorals, fracturing melodies and scuzzy freakbeat riffola serving perfectly as compositional foils- though do remember to turn up to max and strap yourselves in for the cataclysmic skull popping finale. Next up king penguin set their sights upon the Byrds – first up ‘she don’t care about time’ comes deliciously trimmed in surrendering string symphonia and woozy harpsichord recitals together kissed with the trademark spray of jangling riff shimmers it had us I must admit reaching for our prized Clock Strikes 13 and Autumn Leaves platters for fond comparison. the sitar saturated ’5d’ on the other hand is a beautified rustic posy that sways and weaves upon a gorgeously woody inner warmth radiating feel good vibe ripe for campfire cheer and moonshine merriment. Something else deserving of immediate inspection are the Gathering Grey’s wayward re-channelling of Moby Grape’s ‘I am not willing’ and ‘sitting by the window’. Talk about ripping up the form book, the gathering dudes literally smash up the original template to reconfigure a deeply alluring and abstract jigsaw puzzle from the assembled fractured shards. ‘I am not willing’ frankly can only be described as zonked out, if this had the name flaming lips tattooed on its arse you’d been kissing it forevermore, in short a gorgeously dissipating dream coat weaved of blurring south sea shanties, reclining country cool and spectral wooziness all stitched together in a bonged out chemical carnival that had we not known better we’d have hazarded a meeting of minds between toshack highway and j xaverre (who strangely enough is due to appear later in this missive). Oh and then there’s the sleepy headed trip tapestry that be ‘sitting by the window’ which in truth aside being quite stunning in its murmuring majesty sounds as though its dropped one and entered the woozy folds of Doors-esque dreaminess only to redecorate the surroundings in a wispy lacing of mythical folk trimmings. Edging things in the best sides of this humungous set stakes Black Tempest’s re-tread of Spirit’s ‘nature’s way’ and the Seventh Ring of Saturn’s hairy makeover of Grateful Dead’s ‘cream puff war’ surely take some shifting with the Tempest ones opting for some epic progian grandeur which by these ears sounds like the result of some superstar after hours studio note exchanging between the Floyd, ELO and Andy Partridge. As to the Saturn ones, absolutely off its axis, shitfaced and gone – wired out stoner beatniks need only apply.