friends of the fish – a first collection

No sooner do we despatch the Autumnal FdM releases then along comes a quite unexpected goodie in the shape of a sample CD entitled ‘friends of the fish – a first collection’. The first of what we understand to be an occasional gift from the label to be sent out to all those on their subscription list – the next being the now legendary Xmas freebie which this year is rumoured to be a double disc Floyd tribute set entitled ‘a momentary lapse of vinyl’ journeying upwards of 140 minutes of turntable bliss. Back to ‘a first collection’ – as mentioned somewhere else this missive (see Sendelica elsewhere) the friends of the fish is an off shoot imprint given the blessing and push by FdM but run by a consortium of musicians familiar to admirers of the label – this sampler set, an introduction if you like, pauses for time to take a check on the activities of acts associated with the label and sheds the spotlight on 14 members of the fruits de mer extended family. Now we don’t admitting that thus far we have managed to mislay the latest Soft Hearted Scientists set ‘the slow cyclone’ which Keith FdM kindly sent over a little while back, fear not a crap team of  reconnaissance has been sent forth to root out the errant blighter for closer listening attention. Anyhow while, and indeed until  that happens ’Away’ prized from that set is sumptuously steeled in a drifting wide open seafaring aspect that has you imagining being adrift ocean bound heading for the horizon to tip over the edge of the world all the time buoyed and hoisted by the seamless melodic crest of undulating hushed harmonies and the delicate navigational canter of the fleet fingered pastorals. Unbeknownst to me seems that Cherry Red have repackaged and reissued Bevis Frond’s 1988 opus  ‘miasma’ and given it the expanded treatment from off which you can find ‘big hole’ – a sub 4 minute slab of deep and down stone cold blues heaviness that emerges from the smoky bliss kissed haze toking Hendrix tabs- does it for us. Next up Stay – indeed admired around here every time they rear into earshot courtesy of the Fruits dudes stump up ‘the change is coming’ – a sassy 60’s psych soul  shakedown which to these ears puts it out like a killer youthful Charlatans. Equally adored around these here parts are the Luck of Eden Hall whose ‘victoria moon’ set I suspect with much sadness we are a tad light on cut lysergic shapes with ‘super phantasmal heroine’ which after initially tripping out sounding as though its emerged from the fractured mindscapes of the Walking Seeds ‘bad orb…’ soon gets to being busy exacting its mind expanding magicalia in redecorating your head space in all manner of kaleidoscopic shadings before twiddling about with your reality settings. Prized from his ‘space of a second’ set Nick Nicely is here exquisitely showcased by the ghostly ‘the change in Charmaine’ which is here found elegantly set in sepia twists and the rarefied flavouring of Victoriana apparitions all turned into a curiously alluring dub gothique glazing. Pulled from their ‘bite the hand’ full length three minute tease admirably acquit themselves in revealing their kaleidoscopic pop credentials with the deliriously woozy and lysergic ‘tell me’ – indeed we need to hear more. Vibravoid – no introductions needed – safe to say they do musically the equivalent of chemical highs, ‘do it allright’ pulled from their ‘minddrugs’ double re-issue is quite tame by their own formidable standard, though even in playful mode  this babe still sound like a cruise controlled  tripping Spacemen 3 lunar odyssey. And so to Sidewalk Society – sad to say its been a while since they graced our turntable still ‘shadows in the sky’ prized from their ‘saturn and the crescent moon set’ soon emerges from noodling TV21 space age wistfulness (imagine Barry orchestrating Shadow Men on a Shadowy Planet with Meek liner notes)to hatch into a rather nifty slab of space rocking boogie that solders together some brief forgotten studio mind link between Stereolab and Supersister. Adored in previous missive despatches ‘Aunty Powders her nose’ finds Icarus Peel time travelling back to an lost age of Floyds, Bowies, tomorrows and purple gangs for some dandified psych beat pop which neatly leads us to the Electric Stars’ ‘Georgie (the brightest star)’ which has something of the Keith West’s about its wares all twinkled in a seductive widescreen twinkling. Regular observers of these pages will be all too aware that we here were blown away by this lots last full length ‘business meets fashion’ from which ‘westward ho’ is taken (they have a new set just out ‘protein for everyone’ – begging letters are being cobbled up as I write), anyhow its by Schnauser a collective of similarly minded folk adept at freewheeling what can only be described as a joyously effervescent cornucopia of sound in an aural carnival that manages to ingest elements of music hall, west coast pop, prog, oompah sounds, surrealism and psych pop – normally in the very same song with this honey sitting prettily somewhere on a musical axis sat upon by ‘wild honey’ era Beach Boys, the heartstrings, Bacharach and david and no doubt – God’s choir. I suspect – with much embarrassment – that we were sent a download link to Hi fiction science’s album ‘curious yellow’ which in all the excitement I appear to have mislaid whereupon I’m now kicking myself hard as having heard ‘magpie (against the sun)’ we do believe that this might just be the album that slipped the net given its harvested by a similar soft seduction that heralded Magnet’s ‘wicker man’ soundtrack albeit here as though the sessions had been hijacked by both a super chilled Neil Young and Linda Perhacs. Into the final stretch Astralasia’s ‘sands of time’ comes pulled from a vault raiding set just out entitled ‘blue spores’ which gathers together an aural armoury of gems gathering dust in the studio, shy on seven minutes of high grade unadulterated pure ambient bliss groove. Sendelica see out matters with ‘spaceman bubblegum’ from their current ‘live at crabstock’ set – see elsewhere for full review – but just to tease you a little a 12 minute mind altering Ozrics meets Embryo is what awaits.         

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