a momentary lapse of vinyl

How do they do it – you may well ask. Last year they gave us the formidable and on paper brave Strange Fish series spread across 5 volumes discounting the bonus 6th volume for patrons buying the set in one complete take this following a year topping  double subscribers freebie ‘the crabs sell out / freak out ’ in 2012 and a special crabstock live  seven inch last year. This year their finest vintage yet saw the year start with an enviable roster of releases by Schizo Fun Addict, Schnauser and Crystal Jacqueline, then there was the return of Astralasia to turntables followed by a rare appearance by Simones on 7 inch. To top it off, or so we all thought, there was the small question of the ‘7 and 7 is’ box set gathering together (obviously) 7 x 7 inches featuring the celebrated old guard covering seasoned selections of rare 60’s groove. And yes by this stage you’d rightly expect most labels to rest on their laurels not Fruits de Mer – currently about is the ‘postcards from the deep’ set – a formidable 10 flexi disc boxset replete with cards, a CD and a handy little box shaped like a clamshell. So while we are here marvelling whilst picking our jaws from the floor you’d expect the seasonal year ending subscribers freebie to be a catalogue filler given all the treats ushered out this year. Only it isn’t, for this year’s subscribers only selection is a formidable gathering of friends old, new and occasionally thought lost all paying tribute to Syd Barrett. Rather apt in our view not least since in my mind’s eye I’ve always seen Fruits de Mer as some haven for old school Barrett / Floyd waifs and strays, since the earliest days when its older brother Bracken records first started appearing on our doormat there was always a sense though not explicitly or obviously so of something subtle bearing the essence of a Syd flavouring. ‘A momentary lapse of vinyl’ is a frankly eye watering double disc happening that gathers together a formidable 30 strong song cycle. All quality control has been rammed up to maxima for this year end celebration which goes a little like this…..been far too long since Ilona V graced these pages, a more perfect set opener we couldn’t imagine, their version of ‘golden hair’ comes graced upon a haunting casing unto which the serenely eerie spectacle of shimmering orbs emerges through the twilight haze like some brief checking in by a ghostly apparition, if you are in need of reference markers you couldn’t go far wrong in describing it as a thawing Nico. Max Kinghorn-Mills might or might not be an actual band, if not then I’m suspecting not the name this mysterio came born with, whatever the case his / their rephrasing of ‘dark globe’ is peppered in the kind of softly wistful prairie son perfection that hints at a guarded love for the critically undervalued Soft Parade (the Anxious records version) albeit here dizzily dimpled in the crooked lolloping loveliness of a youthful early career gathering of kingsbury manx and of montreal types. Previously unheard and indeed unknown around here, Claudio Cataldi does a rather neat Robyn Hitchcock in situ with the Egyptians on the star glazed ‘she took a long cold look’ while crookedness aplenty is the order of the day for ZX+’s rebranding of ‘jugband blues’ whose clear disregard for time signatures and kaleidoscopic theatrics nods to a pickled and far out Cardiacs. James McKeown admired around these parts even if we don’t always get around to reviewing his related releases – resend links – we mislaid them – stumbles trippily in day dreaming formations across the warping wastelands of ‘dominoes’ along the way steadily losing touch with reality. Ah Sproatly Smith – of whom we will making an end of year resolution to pester and feature more in 2015 – are frankly beyond compare, ‘late night’ is found here captured live, a woozy sun kissed floral fancy all seasoned in sighing slides and a breezy vintage shimmered to an adoring of Curved Air and Mellow Candle. Adored around here the Chemistry Set fresh from their killer ‘elapsed memories’ set – in our humbled view their best moment yet stump up a freshly minted re-take of ‘see Emily play’ and take it by the hand from out of Barrett’s fried Carroll lysergic landscapes and send it to play in the sun along the way craftily skinning in some neat Beach Boys ‘heroes and villains’ motifs along with their own ‘we live as we dream…alone’. ‘scream thy last scream’ here recoded by the frankly immense Vespero is coiled in a weird hallucinogenic carnival of sound, several parts Gong, a little Cardiacs and the kooky warping of a young Sparks all coalescing into a head frying and freaked prog opera. Oh my – the magic mushroom band – by our reckoning one of the finest to ever have graced the pop cosmos here recalibrating ‘set the controls for the heart of the sun’ into a mind weaving meditative eastern mantra that might just outshine a gathering of both Goat, Master Musicians and Gnod types in so far as the pitching of third eye turn on tastiness. Fuzzy and gnarled as hell in a Dead Boys type way, the Jet Age drag out a punkoid take on ‘let’s split’ while Jim Jenkin another previously unheard of set a flame beneath Barrett’s wired and wonky ‘bike’ and replaces the originals eccentric whimsy with a fracturing frazzled Nightingales styled head kick. Todd Dillingham and Golly McCry (birth certificates please as proof) capture perfectly the nursery rhyme enchanted willowyness of ‘the Gnome’ to decorate it all manner of surreal strangeness and peculiar play which happily had us recalling the much missed Murmurs of Irma. And then there is the Mega Dodo contingent, a four pronged head off headed up by Mordecai Smyth who turns his gaze upon one of our personal favourite Barrett penned moments ‘candy and a currant bun’ here given a super sexy and sultry makeover that purrs and prowls across the grooves with cool cat like slinkiness. A near faithful kaleidoscopic trim from Sky Picnic for ‘Apples and Oranges’ might just paint swirly shapes on the eyeballs of those much loving of the Purple Gang while Octopus Syng do a wildly tripping cocktail out of ‘Flaming’ which between you and me we suspect its ingredients are heavily biased toward mushrooms of a magic kind. Unknown to us before today that is Wild Pink Yonder flirts with your listening lobes with a spot of nifty bubble grooved psych pop honeycombs which strangely enough joins the dots between the Heartthrobs, the Primitives and the darling buds. ‘Matilda Mother’ always the difficult one to truly get right you suspect and perhaps one of the more adventurous and complex offerings from Barrett’s fractured mind is here dutifully stripped back, dismantled and jigsawed together by Jack Ellister into a dissipating dream coat peppered in lysergic washes haloed in dronal tides which once faded emerges fully formed as a skedaddled noir jazz sortie ripe with wig flipping intent. ‘terrapin’ left in the hands of David CW Briggs assumes a wonderfully lolloping and smoked out off kilter Beck meets Simple Kid vibe while I  am voyager 1 round off CD1 and bring us neatly full circle with a hymnally hushed lunar rendition of ‘golden hair’ awash in bowed instrumentation. CD2 opens with Cary Grace – again another artist previously yet to trouble our hi-fi here coming up against ‘Cirrus Minor’ – a transfixing not say spectral pastoral posy ushered in to the sound of bird song and hazel tipped in a beautifully entrancing dream weave which once the arrest of a lone siren call fades is replaced a mind morphing slice of serene cosmicalia. Jay Tausig mentioned a little earlier this missive (and a little later again – just to keep you on your toes) peppers the listening space with some softly speckled and drifting lazy eyed psych pop for his interpretation of ‘fearless’. Mechanik don space helmets for some dandified motoric mind blasting for ‘remember a day’ while Folie Diamond stump up one of the sets highlights with their big beardy and out of it and wasted take on ‘let there be more light’. Like 1 am voyager 1, Rob Gould reveals a thing for bowed augmentation with the cosmic chime of ‘a saucerful of secrets’ – this dream dipped babe managing to touch base with both Stockhausen and Craig Padilla I admirable style. You can always rely on Sendelica to give matters a caning and ‘the nile song’ is no exception, enigmatic, poised and stately and possessed of the spirit of Jefferson Airplane at their most arresting. The fourth of the Mega Dodo quartet is the beguiling Crystal Jacqueline whose version of ‘Grantchester Meadows’ is just pure sonic sorcery while the portraits do a neatly bright eyed and sun shiney jig on their version of ‘Stay’. A kind of triptych of sorts ‘pastoral symphony’ by Extra features a serene suite dimpled by the ghosts of ‘cymbaline’, ‘green is the colour’ and ‘crying song’ which by these ears ought to be something that ought to appeal to the Terrascopic subscribers among you as it translates to the same mercurial craft of a blissed out youthfully fragile porcupine tree in parts whilst at other nodding to Dan Haywood and the New Hawks. Interstellar Emily nail down a pretty wig flipped version of ‘interstellar overdrive’ (be honest – what else did you expect) this one arriving adorned in 60’s keys and freaked out lost in the moment riff rupturing pyrotechnics while bringing the whole set to a rousing finale space rocking psych prog motoric messengers Vibravoid go headlong in the daunting netherworlds of ‘Chapter 24’ to get all experimental, weird and electronically freaked to venture landscapes once upon a time ventured upon by Louis and  Bebe Barron albeit with the inclusion of the Clangers and Robbie the Robot. kind of makes you wonder how they’ll top this one, here’s to next year. 

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3 Responses to a momentary lapse of vinyl

  1. Pingback: momentary two | the sunday experience

  2. Pingback: Tales from the Attic – Volume 55 | the sunday experience

  3. Pingback: tales from the attic – volume 64 | the sunday experience

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