missive 300 – 5
Missive 300 – part 5
Revolutions of a 45 kind….
Various ‘sorrow’s children’ (fruits de mer). On a personal level I must admit to arriving late upon Pretty Things ‘SF Sorrow’ if truth be known I was more than familiar with its pursuing opus ’parachute’ (an acknowledged inspiration for the Floyd’s ‘dark side of the moon’ no less – something I never knew) which like its predecessor was for years largely ignored, forgotten and hitherto lost. It may well have been whilst tuning into the Mark Radcliffe hosted ‘out on blue 6’ show via the fun packed radio 1 in the early 90’s that I’m sure I first encountered ‘defecting grey’ which though not on the original edition of ‘sorrow’ was gathered up and shoehorned onto the expanded set a decade or so ago. Deranged, discordant and totally fried it was and still is the nearest thing to my mind’s eye idea of psych in all its wayward eccentricity – even surpassing classic 7’s of the day from the Floyd, the Move and the purple gang whilst shedding a guiding light to both the Cardiacs and Supergrass.
Oft pushed to the shadows ’SF Sorrow’ remains the great lost relic of the 60’s, unsupported by its label who upon its release legend has it withdrew promotion leaving it to fend for itself competing against that weeks releases which included the Beatles ’white album’, Stones’ ’beggars banquet’ and the kinks ’village green preservation society’. As the press release so rightly states, pretty things occupy an enviable outsider or more pertinently a seminal presence on rock high table, seminal oft a coded word for you exist without reaping the rewards and kudos whilst others less talented achieve stardom and fame, ‘SF Sorrow’ saw them like many others of the day (Beatles, Stones and Floyd et al) influenced by the changing tide of sounds, styles and attitudes, the brief passing of psychedelias high had seen a general trend / fashion towards jettisoning the single in favour of promoting the album as a collected art form opening the doors later to the emergence of progressive rock. Seemingly operating in a different head space to their fellow recording artists much use was made of their time at Abby Road, experimenting with the new electronic gadgets under the ever watchful and guiding eye of producer Norman Smith so began the recording sessions for ’sorrow’. based upon a short story the album traced the life cycle of S.F. Sorrow through birth, childhood, love, war, loss, depression, self realisation and eventual death, it was the first concept / rock opera – and don’t let Who fans tell you otherwise. Its underlying themes of – some would say madness borne of reflection and self realisation through hardship and loss would be something more acutely revisited on Floyd’s ’the wall’ a decade or so later.
A true labour of love for the Fruits de Mer gang, they’ve pulled out all the stops to ensure and achieve the affection and respect that this oft overlooked classic so richly deserves, a year in the planning gathering together a galaxy of FdM faces old and new and entrusting to them the task of bringing this celebration to fruition it affords a long overdue re-evaluation of this most significant and influential of 60’s release with the added bonus of getting the projects blessing from the Pretty Things themselves.
All thirteen cuts as featured on the ‘68 original are rephrased within, with a dimpling of dead eyed 60’s shimmers and key swirls Chicago’s finest soft psychedelicists The Luck of Eden open proceedings in fine style with some killer lysergic tweaked power popping groove for their recalibration of ‘SF Sorrow is born’ – a faithful sky parting slab of effervescently crystalline kaleidoscopia that freewheels in orbits once ventured by the Small Faces albeit as though kitted out with a supercharged Paul Revere and the Raiders. Applying a dour death doomed demeanour to the matters albeit only briefly there’s something numbing and breathless about the seventh ring of Saturn’s take on ‘death’ with its slow pausing death knells fading to dissolve into a quietly majestic and timeless hymnal noir folk sortie which chills in its bare boned recital. On a personal level ‘Baron Saturday’ has always been my favoured cut of the album, in terms of the albums story / song cycle it marks the step from reality into fantasy and hitherto into the albums extended trip sequence, a shoe shuffling cornucopia of shuffling beats and mind warping montages that freewheel between the schizoid and the jubilant though left to Senrab Mendips devices is scoured with a senses scrambling creeping uneasiness replete with what sounds like the spectre of the much missed Vivian Stanshall making an appearance on backing vocals.
Not quite sure what Sky Picnic smoke but they endow their given cut ’bracelets of fingers’ in all manner mysterious deep psyche folk fancifulness, like some spell weaving Jefferson Airplane at the height of their powers these dudes seductively dream weave their way through a woozy melodic path sprinkled in Eastern mantras and ghostly trip wiring transcendentalism. That their mercurial un-worldliness is matched here only by Hi Fiction Science who tasked with the re-sculpturing of the albums first notable turning point into Sorrow’s despair – ‘private sorrow’ court something of seriously chilled and tripped out vibe that tie dyed sumptuously to a mooching lazy eyed strobe like clock working rhythm leaving Maria’s ghostly siren-esque tones to spell craft in bewitching fashion to recall Curved Air‘s Sonja Kristina. Jay Tausig is left to wrestle down ’well of destiny’ – an absolutely fried account he files in to – the originals dream dipped reprise suitably enhanced here by the desolate detailing of fracturing and distorting prog dialects which to these ears sound like ghostly echoes of a discarded Stockhausen / Goldsmith soundtrack. More progged out loveliness arrives courtesy of King Penguin’s masterly coverage of ‘old man going’ the sighing and weeping string accompaniment exacting upon it a richly tailored tear stained head bowed hollowing.
The well heeled buzz sawing Sidewalk Society tune up a strutting gem out of ’she says good morning’ bristling as it does in optimism all the time bleached by a honeycombed hullah of kooky fringe flopped Hammonds, sun kissed harmonies and trip dipped fuzzy aftershocks. Having wowed us on their last appearance in these pages courtesy of their version of traffic’s ‘utterly simple’ via the ‘keep off the grass’ set, Extra it seems certainly pride themselves on making covers their own and so to ‘the journey’ which fed through their hallucinogenic spin dryer is served with an acutely mind morphing magic ride of psyched freak beat schizophrenia. The original version of ‘balloon burning’ is pretty awesome though left in the hands of Langor is re-rephrased with a distinctly acid lined accent which after the fractured and hollowing Arabesque accents dissipate suddenly jettisons its cargo and fires up abruptly into a frantic fuzz frilled nugget that if I didn’t know better I’d have said had the handiwork of a certain Joe Meek tattooed upon its hide. Time for hearts to skip with the arrival of the sweetly garlanded and gorgeously abandoned reflective bandstand reverie of the Gathering Grey’s interpretation of cold light of day realisation enshrined in ‘trust’.
Neu prog overlords Earthling Society stump up a neat opiate odyssey out of the assembled ingredients of ‘I see you’ re-enacting an almost out there and lost in the moment Sabbath-ian meets the Magic Mushroom Band mind fracturing tapestry. Ugly things cohorts the Loons draw things to a close with an exacting brutally forthright and stark take on ’the loneliest man’ with the Pretty Things appearing at the curtain call with a live exclusive of the same cut culled from their live appearance at the 100 club in December 2010.
The set will on release (April time) come as a limited 700 only coloured wax pressing housed in a by all accounts eye catching gatefold sleeve with artwork provided for by Frank Suchomel with the middle section opening up to reveal an interview with ‘Sorrow’s’ authors Phil May and Dick Taylor as they recall the making of the album. An invaluable and essential addition to any well ordered record collection and a worthy inductee to the all ready enviable Fruits De Mer canon.
Future FdM releases will see the arrival at some point of ‘head music’ – a double disc kraut rock extravaganza of today’s space groovers retracing the cosmic steps of yesterdays astral astronauts – after that there’ll be a handful of singles from lucid dream – who shouldn’t be strangers to those tuned into these pages, Cranium Pie and a Nick Nicely nugget – while I’m sure I’ve also heard that the Chemistry Set will be shortly releasing a new 7 via the same place.
http://thebirdday.bandcamp.com/album/collect-vibrations – been out for a while this un still that doesn’t detract from the fact that its one off those releases that should be tracked down, played and loved to bits especially if your listening axis has its radar firmly pointed in the direction of the superimposers, joe meek (just check out the orbiting ‘feel the wave pt2‘), animal collective and all those fine things that the likes of the more surreal and trippy arm of the elephant 6 collective had to offer as well as those rare exotic delights that where to be found upon the grooves of that hugely enjoyable ’monsterism island’ compilation from a few years ago. Seducing all here is a head frying collage of chirpy sun dripped loveliness wired to the tripadelic strains of honey toned psyche all traced with the kind of feel good sepia glow of an exquisitely crafted subterranean Superimposers redrafting the Beach Boys as were on a florescent day glo dinghy with Busy Signals on navigating duties and Lemon Jelly paddling for dear life (as on the adorably amorphous ‘you will understand‘). Utterly infectious, euphoric and effervescent is the best way to describe these surreal psychedelicised sea shanties, warming west coast breeze in like shimmering shoals of driftwood upon the curvaceous and graceful symphonics themselves metered out with fat spongy beats, bitter sweet lush lounge lilts and acutely audacious 70’s sourced smoked out disco dimples. Damn – its so breathless – from the minute ‘spinning’ orbits into ear space your hooked by the rush of its kaleidoscopic kookiness and its unmistakable sugar kissed artistry, ‘the past noise’ a kind of disco-fied darling trip wired with Animal Collective first appears wonky to soon settle and seduce with an eye for the Knife as it purrs like a delectable love note haloed with quicksilver foot work. Elsewhere ‘five fingers’ is cut like an affectionate acid dipped mind warping free design like flashback while blessed in all manner of sleepy headed dialects ‘woven words’ is cradled in a deliciously off guarded sun setting down tempo tropicalia that posits it somewhere musically on a distant blood line to Fleetwood mac’s ’albatross’. ’more movement’ reveals some impish blighter in the bird day camp has seen fit to splice together the DNA of both 70’s echoes Space and Cerrone and mould out a frisky beat driven astral folk lovely. All said our favourite moment arrives in the shape of some strutting dead eyed strum sassiness for ‘the 11th’ offers a moment of contagious cosmic disco as though a galactic studio 54 had ventured earth’s orbit with the criminally overlooked pepe deluxe redecorating the retro lounge funk chic of the go team into a radiant fringe parting powder puffing pop pout.
No ceremony ‘heartbreaker’ – regular patrons to these missives will be all to aware of our undying fondness for these guys in ‘hurt love’ and ‘wearme’ they pitched arguably two of the finest cuts of the year and into the bargain posited themselves as notable aural authors of chilled sophisticated elegance. Incidentally both cuts are currently doing the rounds plastered on an uber limited 10 inch set. Next up ‘heartbreaker’ – again shortly for release and similarly set to appear pressed upon 10 inches of limited lavish slabs of wax, seduction bleeds through the very pores of this honey, much more panoramic and full on in terms of texture and production, dipped in all manner of frost framed buzz sawed electronic beats cradled with sub psyche riffage there’s still that trademark frailness about its wares yet here focused and distilled with a psychotropic shell within which beats a hyper driven pulsar that murmurs seductively with a demurring elegance and a silent majesty as though a heavenly haloed variant of White Rose Movement in laid back moods had set off on some celestial voyage into the very depths of pristine pop.
FWY! ‘marina del ray 6pm’ (moon glyph). Those moon glyph types are at it again sneaking darling little gems under the radar for consumption by a knowing and well tuned in underground cognoscenti – last time in these pages was a sneak peak of a forthcoming food pyramid album – available on cd and wax no less – this time it’s the turn of FWY! Which in case if like me you didn’t know is the musical making alter ego of one Edmund Xavier – of whom it says in the press notes is a resident of San Francisco and has in recent times gotten something of reputation for the crafting of mellowed guit-ronic pop courtesy of a handful of limited cassette releases all of which – we here are sad to report with much grinding of teeth – have somewhat been missed by our usually reliable radar. That said there’s a new cassette about to hit tape head world by the name of ’san clemente’ – a download of which we have here from which the label has sneaked out as a taster the cut ’marina del ray 6pm’ – simply divine if you like your sounds purring as though a soundtrack sumptuously aglow tracing hot sultry nights fading to close, deliciously hazily glazed and haloed with a relaxing chill some exotic drive time appeal which ought to cause admirers of ’isares’ era Manual.
Staying with Moon Glyph a little while longer for a teaser taste of Angel Eyes – who for those that don’t know is the alter ego of one Andrew Cowie of Melbourne way – a follow up no less to his No Not Fun debut ‘vice to vice’ will shortly see release action on a limited cassette – its something that the label seem chuffed to bits about declaring said collection as being packed with ripened ‘melodic slow mo codeine dreams‘ – does it for us I can tell you in which case for now then ‘flicked bottle tops’ is currently being aired to herald said outing – wave forming frost chipped glissandos ebb and flow delicately to seduce and lilt in equal measure with majestic sedate poise like a heaven spun ice sculptured Cheval Sombre. Album words to follow soon.
Staying with cassette only releases in the main – a couple of tasty teats from the bathetic imprint who you may recall releases that ultra limited Lee Noble full length – review of course with much fondness in these pages – anyhow oodles of lovelies are about to embark and seduce the outside listening world – in celebration of the labels relocation to Asheville, NC three new releases arrive under the collective heading ‘the Asheville collection’ – first up comes Merryl – better known to friends and family as Will Isenogle – ‘love song’ taken from his untitled cassette is a demurring drone symphony replete with shimmering echo effects and trance trimmed reverbs all set upon a hypnotic psychotropic dream weave of oscillating orbs which mid way through rupture and fracture into noise nicking fissures the type of which should find it principally appealing to admirers of Astral Social Club. Culled from his self titled debut cassette, Zach Smith or Difference Clouds as he prefers to be known musically has a Ross Brubeck video currently being aired in cyberspace for the track ’compositions’ – the track itself is a gorgeous star lit stellar drive through the cosmic heavens and is blessed with an air of a youthful Jarre about its wares albeit in a light sabre duel with Maps and Diagrams with ISAN refereeing all cut with chorus’ of body popping synth keys pinging merrily like a lunar pinball machine to craft out a most desirable mesmeric and kaleidoscopic mosaic motif. Bringing up the rear guard of trio are Villages or more specifically Ross Gentry who on ‘beach pneumatic transit‘ incidentally culled from his ‘the spilling past‘ cassette carves out something richly steeped in measured poise, elegance and majesty not to mention sun dried in the forlorn head bowed tear staining hollowed rapture of godspeed you black emperor.
The Neutron Drivers ’s/t’ (self released). Freewheeling in the same vintage turned sonic terrains more overly given over to the likes of Sweet Apple and new york’s Werewolves, quartet the Neutron Drivers feature among their ranks one Patrick Flynn found here taking time out from Schizo Fun Addict engagements to do a spot of extra curricula activities. A bit of a belter is this 5 track EP which admittedly will slyly catch many off their guard blessed as it is with an ear catching melodically astute exterior that avoids the usual bandwagon hopping skinny jean wearing script to be tweaked with an off centred lackadaisical power pop shimmy that sumptuously ripples through its core. ’it’s not me (its you)’ opens proceedings traced to a bitter sweetly caressed crystalline jangle whose pristine pop pageantry purrs to the mercurially mellowed tongue of the Church at the height of their powers whilst possessed of a hip strutting flag waving bluster of a would be crusade heading triumphantly over the hills ’age and guile’ charges out of the traps like a bit between the teeth Springsteen fronting some hipster grooved late 70’s tweaked new waving kids on the block. Over on the flip sits ‘mirrored walls’ which no amount of listens so far has managed to shake the imagining of a bliss kissed ‘bandwagonesque’ era Teenage Fanclub shimmying up to Gumball and the Makers in a after hours studio soiree while the simply exquisitely crafted ’strange lullabies’ blossoms with a definite dimpling of a pub rock fayre that’s delicately spliced with a demurring early 70’s MOR glow flecked in all manner of reflective 60’s pop shimmers. All said and shading it in the best moment of the set stakes and equipped in those aforementioned Sweet Apple reference markers is ’long way down’ which clearly has stoking amid its grooves a quite literally smoking mellowness of a retro country rock lilt which nibbles craftily around the edges of an early 70’s Stones back catalogue albeit as though zapped and zinged by a coolly coalescing Gram Parsons backed by the Faces. Essential in our book.
We should say at this point that the above release was sent over by Jet Schizo Fun Addict who we owe a big thanks to because aside much enthusing of said platter he also included in a goodie bag of items a copy of Schizo’s much sought after FdM single – the labels first as it happens – as well as a quick time recording of his directorial debut ‘towers’ which alas we haven’t had a chance to view yet – but will – though which has been receiving plaudits from the underground film network – in addition – and also on our list to be reviewed shortly the ‘towers’ soundtrack which features the Scizo’s, the neutron drivers, top shelf books – incidentally Patrick’s solo project, Ilona V, Young Circle, peanut butter lovesickle, the soft explosions, spectacle experiment and much more……
Those of you who can’t get enough of No Ceremony – what do you mean you’ve never heard of them – heavens above dear brethren we mention them every 5 minutes – please pay more attention at the back – anyhow those as said who adore no ceremony ought to copping an earful of this little cutie. From Mint Julep – a husband and wife combo who hail from Portland and who released a by all accounts highly acclaimed full length last year entitled ‘save your season’ which alas we missed – fear not a missive replete with harsh words and diabolical utterances is at this moment winging its way to their press people under the pain of – well not quite death – more in the line of in growing toenail misfortunes – hang on I’ve lost my train of thought now such is our grumbling disbelief at not hearing said platter. Anyway this lot sometimes skulk around as helios and goldmund and are about to release a new single type platter entitled ‘to the sea’ via village green – gorgeous it is to – framed in a lilting star glazed ethereal glow this ice trimmed lo-fi electro dream pop lovely softly seduces to dink into the twilight folds of classic era b-movie and OMD’s debut full length all the time stealing itself upon an surrendering incline of intoxicating pure purring glacial groove.
A moving picture show accompanying said track goes a little like this…..
Paul Curreri ‘poor little motorbike’ via tin angel – not sure whether we’re allowed to share this sound cloud link but hey ho we’ve done it – admittedly we here are a tad bit smitten by this off centred gem – sprightly little thing it is blended from a funky countrified mid west extract which slyly smokes and snakes its way into your sub conscious with the distractive smoulder of a pre ‘addicted to love’ era Robert Palmer albeit as though found singing from a mid 80’s Paul Simon song sheet. That said we‘re taken by the flip cut ‘juju‘ a delirious display of coolly coalescing calypso coaxed chill pop replete with steelpans, gospel chorus’ and some nifty 4 brothers styled fretwork – blissful.
Should need no introduction in these pages should Fireworks Night not least since we were most blown away by their debuting ‘it’s a wide, wide sea’ opus and its pursuing ‘as fools we are’ set from a few years back – seems an age since they last adorned our turntable so much so that we feared the worst. Good news then that we hear from afar that a new album is in the offing – ‘one winter, one spring’ be its name – out via organ grinder – though not before ‘amongst the disappeared’ gets an airing – which to these ears – and while we try to nab a full finished copy for review – we’ll just say has a more than passing off kilter charm to its wares as a prime time talking heads platter……
Due to enter turntable orbit via stolen recordings on record store day is a by all accounts drop dead cool Bo Ningen 10 inch that captures the band live and fierce some at a recent outing at Shoreditch’s St Leonard’s Church – three tracks will muddy the grooves when this hulking beast descends from which this here video for one of the selected cuts ‘daikaisei’ can be seen right now in all its mind melting glory. A sub thirteen minute head trip is what you get for your trouble what first sounds like some bad assed Sabbath boogie soon ruptures, splinters and sheds its skin to reveal a seriously wasted mutant Hawkwind hybrid albeit as though sonically spiked by a wig flipped freak storm beckoning kraut gouged psyche singed Acid Mothers gridlocked by a stoner growling White Hills, add in lashings of feedback effects, molten motorik mantras and a states altering reality checking out vibe and you clearly have a humungous head fucking feast of skull skedaddling skree.
And as part of our new parental discipline disasters series a little word of warning to Mamas and Papas across the globe highlighting the pitfalls of locking your impish rapscallion offspring in the pantry under the stairs without the fore thought of removing all combustible objects from said vicinity. Not content with peppering both a secret corner of face book world and the left side area of the counter of Probe records by way of the occasional donation of their latest musical wares – Windmill Moth Glue – surely in no need of introductions here – have seen fit to expand their repertoire to making moving picture shows via their newly aired PMtv channel. Recorded at the dust dungeons literally last week – I kid you not – 27th February to be precise for those note takers among you and people who obsess at such minutiae details ’Chinese Children’s finger’ is an improvised splatter shock of noise niking no wave riddled with scatter fire rhythms and acutely demented stop start time signatures all immersed in a playful lo-fi butchery which is sonically signposted by smidgeons of Henry Cow, this heat, melt banana, captain beef heart as well as various Andy Pyne related alter egos emerging from the foolproof projects imprint and dare we say nibbling ever so slyly to a crooked melodic mantra that certain devotees of a youthful pre ‘song and legend‘ Sex Gang Children may find of passing interest, in short something for those who prefer their sounds shall we say tastefully terrorised, caned, discordant and so far left field that its off the grid – all said a certain Mr Peel would have canonised them.
Part 6 shortly…