archiv – singled out – missive 200

something from the vaults…..a very extended singled out from April 2009 to celebrate the 200th missive……

missive 200(a)
Singled Out
Missive 200 (a)

For Kelly and Mark – who incidentally don’t read this and if they did they’d probably groan and roll their eyes heaven wards and deny its (and my for that matter) existence. Still love ‘em and miss ‘em even when they are rolling their eyes with deep contempt heaven wards.

the ‘just a few of our favourite things’ one and then some more one.

Singled Out – just cool shit.

We pondered long and hard trying to come up with a way of celebrating this 200th missive. Strictly speaking there have been some 250 plus missives, during that time we’ve had our eyes and ears opened to some incredible sounds and some great labels, to think that when this all started – originally as tales from the attic some ten years ago we were fed scraps – and good scraps I can tell you. Since then its blossomed into something that I’ll be honest even if I worked flat out full time I still wouldn’t scratch the surface. To say I feel deeply honoured and indeed blessed to be doing such a thing is a gross understatement.

Anyway the 200th missive, the initial idea when the losing today web site was launched way back in early mists of this decade was to post a regular fortnightly singles column. Those who’ve regularly tuned in will tell you that things just never went to plan despite the promising early outlook – wherein we were actually posting regularly at 14 day intervals – the wheels have at times come off and we’ve gone somewhat awol – sometimes for the best part of a year. These days we’ve given up on schedules and deadlines and just post if and when we feel like which when you add it all up from the debut missive way back in September 2001 means that we’ve done a fair bit better than a missive a week. Anyway I’m blabbering.

How best to mark the occasion – considerations were made of contacting a select few groups to donate tracks. Not the most original idea. And then who would I ask, would they donate, would they even read the email I’d send, then if I forgot to ask such and such would they be offended. And so the curses and tribulations continued. Then we thought how about just casually throwing open the offer and then seeing if there where any takers. Then we were struck by nightmares of the only response coming from a tone deaf Peruvian pan piper with a morbid fixation for the Scorpions which on reflection may not as it happens been a bad thing. Again we held off remembering all to well our attempt a few years ago of a loosely considered ’festive 50’ wherein the receipts added up to nil. I don’t hold grudges but I can tell you that week was one spent down at the local WI looking for tips on how to make cupie dolls – the pins I should add where not an issue we bought a shed load trade. Much grumbling of profanities ensued. Where you ears burning I wonder. Of course our over-riding problem was our crippling shyness ultimately getting the better of us, not for us the scenario of going cap in hand and anyway where would I get the cap.

So my patient and pretty ones we decided after a few other deliberations to play it safe and to catch up on all the things – well not all – I mean that would clearly be foolish and would entail me writing until kingdom come – either that or waiting for Moz to make a killer album – indeed my money‘s on the kingdom come. So here you’ll find a fair amount of stuff that’s been around for ages that we’ve been meaning to review but for one reason or another – one of them being sheer laziness – we just didn’t get around to, along with some more recent stuff and some stuff that I suppose falls in between the two. So are we okay and clear about that then. Good glad we got that sorted. So all things being well across the following thesis like musings there’ll be psyche inspired things, dust wind tales type things, a few Brigadier’s, some tip top Greek fanzines, loads of distant noise platters, some trensmat off shoot stuff, static caravan goodies, a Vernon Joynston book, and loads of other things that’ll no doubt gather together to form a huge unintelligible mass of wordy nonsense. Just you wait and see.

As an added threat these will be bundled up into instalments to be posted every other day throughout April – groan all you like but the aim is to scratch up a bare minimum 200 reviews – piece of piss eh? Those of you who are gluttons for punishment can get updates by hooking up to – onwards then…..

The my space bit and other stuff….….. – now we are usually crap at remembering band names and other such like, there’s been many a time when we’ve reviewed stuff stating the immortal ‘previously unknown to us’ only to be told ‘well in fact you reviewed a track of our on some ridiculously obscure compilation in 1842’ and off we’ve scampered and yep lo and behold the blighters have been right and we have. I mention this because the Mundys struck a familiar chord in our gaff. A quick check revealed that we did indeed mention them albeit very briefly when we reviewed a compilation put out by Best Kept Secret entitled ‘we are not alone (volume 7)’ wherein I’ve noted we commented that their featured cut ’una mujer amabile’ may well be of interest to fans of the Charlatans. Anyway they hail from Argentina are a duo – Teo and Julian and they knock out the crispest slices of sun soaked guitar pop this sound of Matinee records, obviously much informed by Big Star, add in a smidgeon of the Raspberries (especially on ’ahora soy diferente’ – the best cut here) and perhaps the hook laden power pop sensibility of the Velvet Crush or more pertinently their former incarnation Choo Choo Train. Its all affectionately effervescent buzzed up beat pop filtered with harmonies and hooks aplenty which should in the first instance appeal to fans and admirers of the early career work of the Teenage Fanclub though that’ll be a Teenage Fanclub blissing out and fully fluent with a Merseysound dialect none more so is this the case than on the radio thrilling ’la gran libertad’. – apparently there’s a cassette and a seven inch imminent from this lot which we rather suspect should be high up on the wants list of many of you out there, sadly lacking in the information stakes Hair and Make Up are a North West of England based duo – Hair / Make Up (who else) just two tracks posted so far and both by the looks of things capturing them in the flesh doing a live thing (though ‘Quidzilla’ no matter how many times I’ve tried to resolve the matter just refuses to play annoyingly cutting out after 10 seconds) and strange beasts they are. Seemingly informed by Devo and early career Pere Ubu, Hair and Teeth craft a deeply satisfying albeit monochromatic, skewiff and mildly deranged and edgy Dadaist psychosis to their ear ware. Both fuzzy and wig flipped ‘dance to the murder‘ sees them managing to shoehorn and indeed side step an insidious array of ill fitting generic pissing pools and somehow glue them together into an addictive though decidedly dislocated and skewed agit alchemy in which case don’t be to surprised if you hear the vague drills and shrills of prog, art bop, post punk and death disco dialects being wired, dismembered and cobbled together in unhinged formations by lashings of schizoid electronics and general all round fried dynamics. Don’t know about you but I somehow feel we could really love them here. – perfect for those who are missing their quotient of sounds from the Workhouse – I know we are. New century classics are a quintet hailing from Krakow, Poland – a country whose underground scene we really need to hear more. They number in five and describe themselves as ‘experimental / shoe gaze’. How modest these bands seem these days none of your self gratifying look at me and how good we are (when sadly the truth is they never are). No sir. Not here. In fact we’re inclined to think that New Century Classics somewhat hide their bushel from view. There’s an EP kicking around entitled ’four rooms’ which we really must have, hear and no doubt hark about in these pages as to its merits until the cows come home. For now though we’ll have to be content with the four cuts posted on their showcase player (well three cuts in reality as ’drift motion’ disappears after 20 seconds which is a real shame because its initial impression had us thinking best thing here by a country mile). Anyway onwards. As you’ve probably gathered from the bands name New Century Classics are a classically tinged atmos – post rock combo who craft – well lets not beat about the bush here – frankly exquisite free spirited and abandoned nature bound collages that are both deceptively demurring and tender though faintly brushed with a mellowing bruised beauty. We here are more than smitten by ‘room two’ as it transfixes you with its coalescing arcs of wooing shy eyed violins and pastel shades of prettiness while ‘congratulate you where’ is dusted with warming sea breezes of south seas imported riff pines. Mind you it’s the Zerova re-drill of ‘room four’ that we advise you seek without delay – a snow globed cutie of frosted sculpturing and touching tear welling folktronics – a bit like Mum if you must ask. – described by one person as ‘someone breaking into a car…’ which we here must admit to being slightly at a loss to agree – perhaps said scribe has either been spending a tad to much time on the magic sauce or else should consider the merits of ear canal irrigation which of course in dear old sweet blighty (what a laugh) there is no such thing though happily so in America where things like tap dancing lessons for teeth are an everyday common occurrence. Anyhow we’ve lost the trail for a second – Quiet Times hail from Sunderland and are not a them but a he – that he being David Colley – a talented and (we’re assuming) youthful young soul who seems to be the proud owner of a time machine with a somewhat faulty console panel that once operated keeps flinging him backwards in time to the mid 60’s which be honest young is no bad thing. Two tracks you’ll find here on the showcasing MS player indelibly threaded with an identifiable 60’s psyche beat wooziness about their ways, very sparse and lo-fi though undeniably courting a kind of blissed out demeanour into whose grooves the extracts of vague Barrett-esque essences shimmer with a fuzzy light headedness especially on ‘up off of’ where don’t be to surprised if you here the odd ‘piper’ inflections wafting through the ether. That said our favourite of the brace is the shades adorned subliminal flashback that is ‘turn away’ a kind of stoned JMC relocated to some mystical retreat. Need we say more. Expect more happenings shortly. – now with a name like the cosmic mandoliners you dear listener are probably expecting something psychedelically enriching to bliss out your day. And your wondering to yourselves do the Cosmic Mandoliners stump up said goods I’m looking for. Well yes and no – is the very un-simple answer. TCM are French duo Vincent and Florian who have already by all accounts freaked the local populace with a sold out debut full length for the Centre of Wood imprint entitled ‘the gospel diaries’ (another label we must admit previously unknown to us who do a rather nifty line in packaging by the looks of things). Anyhow they are currently recording material for a second full length tentatively pencilled for 2009 release and should shortly be resurfacing with a collaboration with monks of the balhill (whose membership includes Vincent) via Canadian imprint Cloud Valley and an appearance (we think) on a compilation for the Second Mind publication (again all a mystery to us – are we slipping or what?). Anyhow TCM appear to mine some hitherto untouched daydreaming psychotropic folk drone seam that if we didn‘t know better seems to sit at a crossroads that sees early career Volcano the Bear on the left and Sunburned Hand of the Man on the right – that’s certainly the case on both ‘010210‘ and ‘030215‘ – both incidentally culled from their aforementioned ‘the gospel diaries‘ set – and both sounding like bent out of shape archaic fog bound shanties while ‘tan carniva’ once emerging from its ominous opening soon reveals itself as something of a fuzzily monastic crafted mind altering slice of deceptive albeit eerie beauty replete with gongs and looming tonal incantations that occupies a void somewhere between Komeda and a clearly frazzled GSYBE. mind you its not all doom and gloom – which it wasn’t anyway if you get my drift – ‘alp turqoisi’ perhaps the best track here is unusually crafted in the sense that it begins lushly longing and fulsome braided as it is by spectral tides of softly dissipating white noise sheens and sets about devolving becoming ever more dislocated and fractured the further it goes. Needless to say we need to hear more. – sonic brat is the alter ego of Singapore based composer Darren Ng who it seems has a thing for sculpturing the most delightfully demurring frost tipped and Brontean swept folktronics that we’ve rarely had the pleasure of hearing since fortdax’s shy eyed snow trod enchantment ’at bracken’ (none more so than on the quietly euphoric ‘pollen‘). coaxed with an intimate aura and teased and measured under a classically minded eye these evocative snow tipped slices of caressfully chilled ambience tweak tenderly at the work of Ryuichi Sakamoto, equipped with playful key flurries and engaging a delightfully pacifying tonality they vibrate with a wistful carefree demeanour best experienced for full impact in the stillness of night. With several releases under his belt most via furniture musique with his latest ‘quiet windows’ arriving courtesy of the Chinese net label Nephalai. We suggest you start your journey with the utterly disarming down tempo charms of ’when I used to be’ a snoozing crystal tipped gem orbiting through the cosmic voids sprinkling handfuls of enchanted dust and lulling all it encounters into states of swoon like awe. – a three piece from London town and the surrounding areas who describe their sound as ‘zombie lullabies for the darlick dancing generation’ which to be honest kind us left us speechless because there’s no where else to go as they’ve done it for us. Of course we here are better than that and loving nothing more than the rise to a challenge. Anyhow there’s a debut single kicking around which we want – entitled we suspect it may well feature ’detector’ though we’ll be buggered if we can find any details. As to the sound well the Loveburns seem to delight in concocting a crookedly wired and decidedly off kilter species of skewed rock-a-billy though not the quiff, big collars and brothel creepers kind that you’re probably more readily accustomed to, instead this brand has been rounded up, clubbed over the head and shoved in the boot of a car and dumped in a river only to be swamp dragged given a neat lesson in some fractured blues dialects and some warped angular accents. Several listens and if we didn’t know better we’d have to say that this was the work of a very youthful Half Man Half Biscuit pilfering about with discarded ditties by Mr Waits and those Beefheart dudes in fact forced to describe ’reality land’ – incidentally the best thing here by a short hair and clearly fried – we have to hazard a guess that it was Nigel and Co shimmying up to mark 1 of the Fall minus Smithy and aided and abetted by the Nightingales, mind you that said it should be right up the street of those among you admiring of the Teeth. Equally tasty ’detector’ has a pretty nifty and smoked delta side wind thing going on along with some (by the sounds of it) throbbing double bass and a wickedly distractive bare arsed and scatty mooching dynamic whose nearest comparison would be sound wise an remarkably upbeat Gallon Drunk in a face off with the Turbines. Don’t be to surprised if once you hear ’profit margin’ you have this unshakeable desire to root out records bearing the names of either the Scars or the Cravats branded on their labels while ’adoration’ is clearly spooked and kooky in a John Peel record box c.1980 type of way – did someone say the Native Hipsters. Between you and me they are gonna be the toast of the underground once word gets out. Nuff said. – we hooked up to this MS page late last night – you know the kind of thing – a quick trawl at a few sites seeing if you can come across anything worth viewing at closer detail the following morning when we happened across ‘future umbrella’ by Shugo Tokumaru. Now being late at night it struck a rather novel chord with us not since because it was clearly fried and kooky not to mention dippy and delightful but to us it was an ingenious Oriental take on Camberwick Green. We were as you can imagine immediately taken and spellbound. We left it there until the morning. Ah the morning, a spring fresh morn with the promise of sunshine later. We sought out the site again. Directed ourselves immediately to ’future umbrella’. indeed what we thought we’d heard the night before was not a trick or play on the imagination. Absolutely bonkers though beautifully so – and yes okay – warped and wonky and in someway recalling in terms of its delicately clockwork calibrated motions both Moondog and Raaymond Scott. Hailing from Tokyo Mr Tokumaru has to date released three full lengths one we’ve eyed being licensed to the much admired Active Suspension of France while the latest ‘exit’ made it as far as the States which seems like a logical place for it to be because there is a dizzy sense of the lysergic lemon popsicle feel of the Elephant 6 Collective about these cuts, a playful childlike flirty appeal from which radiates a glowing feel good aura both warm and uplifting. A kaleidoscopic parade of toys, chimes, keys and whatever else he can lay his hands upon, Tokumaru ploughs a rich psych pop vein, the distantly skewed lo-fi west coast kookiness of ‘mist’ is utterly loveable yet and despite the obvious allure of ‘future umbrella’ everything cowers in the shadows when stood next to the pickled effervescence of the skipping ‘parachute’ – a honey crusted babe tempered with a sun dazed affection sweetly sugar rushed with all manner of florescent soft psyche fancies that we here are thinking have been hoodwinked from the back pockets of an early Animal Collective or Busy Signals.

Here’s a little video…. – must admit we had to give the laptop a little shake seems there was a whole host of scratches, hisses and crackles that where generally ruining our listening experience. Mind you we did consider that maybe they were actually part of the tracks though some further delving revealed the same interfering distractions where affecting all the other tracks. Now I’m not one for being beaten so it occurred to us that maybe there was a rogue sound file on the site and off we went in search. We located one – a video. But still the clicks carried on. We scratched our heads. And scratched some more. We was the errant blighter. Aha another video in the comments was the culprit. So be warned when you do happen upon this site be mindful to isolate the two videos. Antonymes left us scant information other than a message asking us to take a peak, and take a peak we did. Venturing from somewhere in Wales, Antonymes sculptures such an exquisite alchemy. Exquisite in a Harold Budd / Charles Atlas / Sylvain Cheuveau / Max Richter type way. There’s something utterly statue-esque and graceful about these fragile and monochrome suites, a chamber like reverence, a hush perhaps that makes you take one step back and just stand in silence jaw agape. These crystal tipped opaque’s instil an all at once state of moving mournfulness and a hitherto caressing majesty, both ‘Antonymes’ and ‘grotesquely beautiful’ are daubed with the finite craftsmanship of Satie and Debussy – eloquent, enigmatic and enchanting though bruised and lonesome. ‘a light from the heavens’ is just near perfect picture box chilled ambience best savoured when the lights are extinguished with only the deathly still silence of night. Best track though by some distance is ’passing failure on the way’ – for once the glacial glaze is removed and in its place a celestial aura assumes that very much shimmers into the kind of cosmic terrains most would term dream pop / shoe gaze – an utterly divine slice of trip wired down tempo classicism softly coaxed by exotic mirages that imagines Kevin Shields shimmying up to a seriously blissed out Transglobal Underground while under the watchful supervision of Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart. – happened across Jessica Gallagher’s (for it is she who is Violent Violet) MS site via a friends link on P D Wilder’s page, in truth we were initially drawn to Violent Violet because we had this fleeting notion that the name was a play on our own Norwich based spiky felines Violet Violet. Couldn’t be further from the truth, Ms Gallagher is neither violent or in any way (we assume) a spiky topped feline with a thing for Sleater-Kinney (mind you strike the last comment she probably does) instead she does a killer line in head bowed scarred and bruised lo-fi minimalist folk blues (none more so than on the creaking gem ‘lorraine’ so delicately drawn you feel fearful that your mere presence in its company will somehow shatter its porcelain fragility) the type of which you’d suspect would find a loving and consolatory home over at Olympia’s K records. Each cut here – and there’s five of them in total – each share a pathological mindset to draw you low and make you feel somewhat humbled for the experience. Accompanied by the lonesome braid of aching keys and the odd porch lit acoustic strum there’s something almost hymnal approaching some kind of redemption like gospel that attaches to these frankly deeply satisfying albeit wounded treasures not to mention a woody vibrancy that bristles and breezes amid their wares, ’under the radar’ is particularly emotionally stressed barely making its way to its conclusion while the forlorn (which disappointingly cuts out after barely 10 seconds) ’stay away’ is from what we managed to salvage albeit briefly is wrapped in a sumptuous sepia texture that to us had all the wherewithal of a faded hurt memory packaged away from sunlight in some dusty attic. – those of you correctly spotting that this lot initially caught our eye by way of their name then award yourself a gold star and assume bragging rights for the rest of the evening which as I write is less than 30 minutes and counting. Be honest you’d be well pissed if a combo calling themselves Hallowed Butchery where floppy fringed fops festooning festivities with chirpy twee pop. Am I right? Well its just as well then that Maine (wasn’t that the setting for most of Stevo King’s horrors?) based doom mongers don’t do happy then. In fact by the looks of things the work of just one man – Ryan Scott Fairfield who it seems is fairly adept a crafting dread filled apocalyptic overtures, two such ritual like monastic operas feature here, ’pantheon enthroned’ our favourite it has to be said is very much bleached and brutalised by a grim reaping dark psychedelic touch and pierced by flashes of bastardised slo-core styled festering grind that punishingly sits somewhere between Nepalm Death and a youthful Slayer and happens upon moments of kaleidoscopic lucidity the type of which that wouldn’t look to out of place on an early career Porcupine Tree album. Elsewhere there’s the chilling and foreboding brute that is the black cathedral like ’the kennebec’ to contend with eked as it is by a disturbing funereal casting which we suggest is best viewed and indeed savoured once the sun is up. A debut full length ‘funeral rites for the living’ looms ominously on the horizon – our requests are already in.

Morton Valence ‘Chandelier’ (bastard). With their debut album about to venture into light the criminally perfect Morton Valence tease up the senses with this utterly desirable twin set. Of course ‘Chandelier’ the lead out track is no stranger to these pages having featured to much jaw dropped fondness way back at missive 163 wherein it was paired off with the equally arresting ’go to sleep’. Lets not beat about the bush as noted in previous despatches this is the finest slice of defence melting sub three minute pop currently in existence, like some rare heavenly revelation ’Chandelier’ is sumptuously graced with an irresistible ability to all at once crush, caress and charm whilst simultaneously restoring your faith in intoxicating allure of pop. Measured, graceful and delicately decorated in celestial baubles and an unreal tingling aura softly stressed by an unmistakable bitter sweet ache, courting a 60’s styled classicism often heard these days but never so elegantly sculptured its braided seductively with swoon filled arcs of swirling symphonics, honey dripped harmonies and a sense of something truly magical. Flip the disc for equally tempting ’hang it on the wall’ – softly bleached by a misty eyed 60’s silkiness and awash with tenderly serviced silvery sensations whose purpose it seems is to hang heavy and yank hard on your heart strings, this shy eyed babe is glazed and hazed with a lip biting introspection and purring pristine perfection the kind of which had us double checking to make sure the named ownership stamped across its hide wasn’t that of the High Wire. A debut full length entitled ’bob and veronica ride again’ approaches.

The Brian Jacket Letdown ‘white sky’ (gene pool). With a proper debut full length looming large and shortly due for release its been way too long since the Brian Jacket Letdown had our radar a wobbling in fact by our reckoning not since the ridiculously infectious ‘eat your friends’ from a few years back (see missive 106). Such periods of absence shouldn’t really be allowed at least not without a doctors note or a letter from a responsible person requesting they be excused and certainly not when you have a creative mindset at large who can kick out such disturbingly perfect nuggets as the brace of gems contained within the grooves of this frankly perfect single. Work shy fops you say – well it seems its been an absence well utilised not withstanding getting to grips with website updates via a laptop, these dudes have recently taken delivery of an ultra rare Mattel Optigan (which for those of you out there clueless to the relevance of these things is a thing for making strange woo woo noises that came onto the market in the early 70‘s a consisted of loop sampled contained on clear discs that could be played and manipulated using the optigan – if you are really keen there‘s a whole q&a thing at – we’re just to kind to you folk) while spending the rest of the time nailing together their debut full length proper ‘darling bit me‘. ’white sky’ is a teaser of what to expect. Between you and me sounds like a frisky Animal Collective, all orbiting sheens of woozy milky way montages (that’ll be the optigan you can hear) sweetly coalescing into light headed patterns formed from homely fuzzy felt lullaby like twinkles that strangely assume moments of hip shimmying wigginess when the onset of the slyly snazzy and soupy white funk accents appear (references if you need them Roxy’s ‘love is the drug’) by which point your consumed by the fluffy cosy toed sepia toned psychotropia festooning about your head space and trip wiring your nervous system. Too cute for its own good. Flipping the disc for ’devil in my room’ more dizzily affectionate soft topped pop though this time courting the countrified corteges of opining slide guitars, breezy harmonicas (always a good thing to have on a record by our reckoning) and fiddly diddly fiddles and much treated as where to the kind of faintly lysergic tipped and off balanced woody resonance as some of you may well have tripped across when hooked up to the likes of Panda Bear and Ariel Pink. In short a kaleidoscopic calypso carousel. Nuff said.

The Coronas ‘san diego song’ (3U). Doesn’t take much to confuse us these days – its an age thing I think – this one track CD promo arrived without fanfare at our gaff just this very morning. Now the Coronas have featured in these pages – and fairly recently we should add via their current ‘decision time’ single (see both missives 190 and 199). This is the Irish based combo who by all accounts have been the toast of the Hot Press crowd and have in recent times stumped up an array of chart bound sounds as well as a critically acclaimed full length in the shape of ’heroes and ghosts’. armed with that success they are now making a bid to bring their sound to the UK and Europe with said album getting an imminent re-packaging and re-release over here. ’san diego song’ is something of a live favourite, admittedly not a patch on the Marbles-esque ’decision time’ but still primed with more than enough emotion stirring calibre to ensure an easy transition into a Stateside consciousness whilst simultaneously probably proving an easy catch for the coming festival season if fans of Elbow et al have any say in the matter. Lighter anyone?

The video goes like this….

More in two days then…..

Take care….


missive 200 (b)
….and so it goes….. – don’t know about you but we find it damned hard to resist a band whose members go by the names of nib, hairy and nipples, of course we suspect that they aren’t the names on their passports if indeed they possess passports because having heard these snot nosed cuties we wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that this lot are under some kind of state controlled curfew. They hail from Ontario by all accounts have been around now for the best part of two decades no doubt scaring and amusing the bejezus out of record punters with their riotous revelry. And why not we ask. In short Chachi on Acid dish out a frantic line in brain damaged tastiness, fuzzy, trashy sometimes stupid often inept never dull, a bit like the Dwarves but without the sticky bits and obviously schooled in all things second wave UK punk / early 80’s east coast hardcore and happily pilfering riffs previously owned at one time by Bators and Thunders, stuff like ’everybody I know is an asshole’ and ‘I wanna be an alcoholic’ (even with its squeaky toy sounds) are instant spew venting pogo pounding shit faced anthems while ’resurrection cemetery’ breaks from the well oiled formula and veers towards a seriously freaked species of chord serrating metal that’d make Ozzy cack his pants, mind you best moment in our view is the daft and demented ‘speed city radio’ a kinda of Bad Brains lamping the crap out of the Beastie Boys type thing just wait till you hear the beer swilled and hiccupping chorus harmonies though that’ll be a strange take on the description harmonies sounds to us like Tarzan choking on a t-bone – priceless. – another combo who to much head scratching around these parts we’ve somehow arrived a little late to – Lillies of Mars are a Hackney / Shoreditch based duo (that’ll be Lisa strumming things, Marina also strumming things and as its described here doing the ‘dooggie groove’ – strangely not available in the local guitars and instruments mart and helped out by Andrea when playing live – he likes to hit and bash things) who to date have released (by the looks of things) a solitary self titled full length which we really must get to hear before our beard gets any longer and considering we’ve just shaved that should be like – now. Lillies of Mars are a seductive proposition sound wise – there’s an odd gauged beauty about ‘my liver hurts’ in so far as the way its deceptively draped in a brooding sun shaded soft psych tweaked west coast cast, both angelic and bitter; magical and spectral; fluffy and yet macabre sounding all at once disturbingly chilling and yet caressing as not unlike some lost treasure excavated from a rare vault sourcing expedition conducted by Sundazed. Then there’s ‘electro fix’ which sees them in a face off with Me Icon and found shrouded in all manner of dream weaving celestial baubles and orbiting amid a starry eyed spectral tapestry of eerie minimalist electro swathes and sugar kissed moments of blossoming braids. Whereas in sharp contrast ‘honourable horrible friend’ is ruptured and scarred with a becoming bleached edginess not heard around these parts since the wayward death carnival sounds of Lily Rose. Frankly stunning. – afraid its more of those peculiarly puzzling and demented toy town sounds emanating from out of Japan that we here frankly can’t get enough of, sadly no information other than to say itoken isc currently unsigned and by the sounds of things has spent formative years blissing out on the kind of rare library sounds much loved and in some small way reproduced by the likes of Stereolab, Plone and Broadcast in the 90’s – from the kookily cosmic plinky plonky down tempo dippyness of ‘cabbage’ to the mellowing lull of the frosted oriental rustics of ‘home and garden’ itoken engages in a lilting array crookedly calibrated moments whose lineage can be drawn directly back to Raymond Scott’s kindergarten electronics. Only ‘tourist’ and ‘penne bettola’ seek to break from the clock worked mechanisms, the former opting for a quite barking, skewif and quite possibly skedaddled and inebriated ukulele folly while the latter it should be said is primed for lovers of the TV show Pingu et al – an elephantine love note of fat squelching fanfares and wickedly deranged time signatures all decoded with a curious retro appeal that suggests it might do well being accompanied by one of those macabre animations that at one time found their way out of eastern European and onto early 70’s children’s television. Much recalling in some respects Gulliver.

Cave ‘the ride’ (static caravan). Ultra ruddy limited or so we’ve been led to believe, in fact we’re not even sure whether this has been officially let loose on the record buying public yet though either way will shift like shit off a hot shovel and be a thing of much desire and expense on the internet auction sites we shouldn‘t doubt. One for those of you who prescribe to all things mind warping and gridlocked kraut grooved, Cave last featured in these very pages courtesy of their again ultra limited outing for those noise and out there informed dudes over at Trensmat entitled ’butthash’. ’the ride’ is just as it says on the tin a smoking toking voyage upon a humungous psychotropic cosmic mama that once in its company has the weird and wired effect of having you imagine you’ve been teleported back through the decades to find yourself in the audience of an early 70’s Old Grey Whistle Test transmission and cutting strange trees in the wind shapes on the groove space whilst simultaneously having your head massaged by the densely layered hypnotic motorik riffage while your mind goes for a astral trip, hell its so spaced out and retro I kinda feel naked for not having a beard not to mention forced to adorn ourselves in Velcro implants to stop our wigs flipping. yabba yabba. Flip the disc and the stoned ones obsession with ’hash’ titles continues afoot – if ‘the ride’ was Amon Dull II then ’bobby’s Hash’ is a freaked out riff flashed kiss off between classic era Hawkwind and Sabbath, sounds to us like a heads down space boogying duel that as were between the combined might of current day beatnik beasts Mugstar and Avenging Force, a ferociously drilled mesmeric babe softly cured with strange psych tripped flavours which despite its fringe parting and grizzled hammer like locked grooved intonations is cut with the most sexiest of hip shimmying moves that you’re likely to hear for a fair while yet.

John Barrett’s bass drum of death ‘stain stick skin’ (fat possum). Fat Possum – at feckin last – we’ve managed to nail one of their releases, many the time we’ve been rooting through the various record counters of vinyl emporiums hoping to hook up to something on the label without much look, yes I know we could always order stuff online – but its just not the same paying for your gear and then waiting impatiently for the order to turn up, you hand over your cash for something and you want it there and then so that you can razz home as fast as the wind will take you in order to place said acquisition on the turntable and (depending how mean and impish you’ve been feeling with your record choices) annoy the crap out of your neighbours. This beauty is – I think we’ve read somewhere – strictly limited to just 100 copies in the UK – so get your arses into gear fast on this ‘un. Sadly no information to impart (well there probably is but we can’t be arsed checking – look its like this either I write something about how the blighter sounds or do a this is your life – are we clear on that?). John Barrett’s bass drum of death is as you’ve probably already figured out for yourselves a one man combo type thing that man being John Barrett armed with just a guitar and a bass drum. ‘stain stick skin’ is a killer slice of scuzzy and raw as f**k blistered blues equipped with the kind of snazzily crafted primitive skin that suggests a mojo bag tooting dust cloak adorned crossroads ventured preacher man rising from some kind of Sun Studios swamp possessed with the fused DNA of RL Burnside and Jon Spencer and comin‘ a callin‘ for your soul – or something like that. Need I say more. Flip side features ’the ballad of bandit X’ – hell did we just mention RL Burnside a second ago then this is Burnside to a tee – a hoochie coochie nugget of freewheeling mooching chord saturated delta vibed prairie folk blues – well smart.

Beach Fuzz ‘untitled’ (great pop supplement). Been way too long for our liking since we had any Great Pop Supplement ear ware doing strange things on our turntable. Anyway we happened across this looking we must admit a trifle bit lonesome and sorry for itself sitting unloved in a record rack of a local vinyl emporium. Well you know us lost causes etc…we took said hapless looking artefact with the promise of much love and playing to the counter handed over the dosh and off we both went homeward bound to the and eagerly awaiting house hi-fi. Noisy little bastard it is to. Apparently this lot hail from Manchester and feature members of Stuckometer, Axis Mundi and Eyehai (really – don’t ask us) and have been the toast of those who like their sounds slightly more frazzled and freeform by way of ultra limited outings for Golden Labs and Blackest Rainbow. Anyway two cuts feature on this strictly limited to 300 copies affair which comes replete with all your usual inserts snazzy looking fold around card sleeve and gubbins. Confusingly both tracks are titled ’untitled’ with ’untitled #1’ as we’ll call it to save confusion being a howling mirage of freakish sun drenched cosmic skree, all free formed noise folk styled squalling jam like trippiness and general out there kookiness that if we didn’t know better would have to say sounded like some of the more wigged out and abstract moments from the much loved Sunburned Hand of the Man’s back catalogue. Flip the disc for ’untitled #2’ which upon closer inspection we are beginning to have a sneaking feeling isn’t at all a separate track but the same cut divvied up across two sides of wax, any how its wired stuff, delightfully unsettling at times and not unlike Loren Connors in a chilled type mood – plenty of mantra like droning and general all round ’what the f**k is that’ styled waywardness and because of that you need and want it don’t you. We’ve ordered their two previous releases so expect more peculiar mind fried transmissions in future dispatches.

Beth Jeans Houghton ‘I love this world’ (bird). We promised previously that we’d nail a copy of this when we happened across her latest release for the esteemed Static Caravan (see missive 199) incidentally entitled ‘golden‘ and selling by all accounts like lolly ices on a hot summers day. ‘I love this world’ is the debut release which appeared – if we’ve got our facts right – sometime last Summer – seems to be sold out everywhere – so if you want a copy you’ll have to go to the label source or else no doubt pay exorbitant prices levelled by auction site chancers. Four tracks feature on this unsettlingly beautiful debut – BJH really does sound like she’s stepped from some sort of Disney conceived Brothers Grimm enchanted sleep, the sounds soft and delicate appear like ghostly whispers endowing sprinklings of magical fairy dust, the textures beguiled and floral cocoon the would be listener in a demurring woozy haze that’s all at once church like and reverent and yet supernaturally ethereal – none more so is this the case than on ’the garden’ wherein in procession upon procession of twinkling folk fancies shyly whisper their becoming love noted spell charms as the cascades of shy eyed woodland orchestrations and angelic harmonies tip toe to lull and caress like dreamy sirens beckoning through the foggy ether. Elsewhere the breezily ’sink’ is sumptuously awash in entrancing myriads of lolloping rustics and softly teased lullaby like chiming intones while the parting ’cruel Francis’ is a drifting slice of light headed shanty styled sweetness braided by cellos and what sounds like a rather impish accordion. Purchase on sight – great thing await. – described by those wonderful Club Hell people as ‘feel good after midnight music for the disturbed’ – blimey they weren’t kidding where they. Sadly no information about poppy mallow which can of instills a sense of mystery, a mystery only further intensified by the sounds emanating from their MS page. Just two tracks posted here but I’m sure you’ll agree both revealing enough creeping eeriness to have you hiding under the bed with a sense of intimidated dread waiting for sun up. ’ice-cream’ of course edges it in the ’blimey is it just me or is it cold in here and whose the uninvited guest’ stakes with its curdling feast of clock working deathly chimed music box corteges, doomed ceremonial funereal castings and the sickly scratching of something quite inhuman and chained lurking ominously in the shadows, a kind of early learning centre styled library sounds lullaby for psychotic tots. ‘sts’ is a bit lighter mood wise though still has you imagining a nocturnal tea party for waking toys happily serenaded by a macabre assemble of clockwork soldiers and pirouetting marionettes piping out carnival-esque creep show symphonies made up dismembered memories of Pram and Broadcast sounds of years gone by. We need to hear more.

Sunken Landscapes / My Cell is better than your Cell Phone ‘split’ (Nihil Underground / Scotch Tapes). Pressed on 7 inches of red wax and housed in a wraparound sleeve – frankly what else could a boy want – well ours is a nifty silver labelled promo – so that’s us sorted. Out now and no doubt the talk of the underground community, this simply essential vinyl split is limited to just 300 copies which I suppose for admiring patrons of Scotch Tapes releases probably seems like a sell out given their releases usually appear and disappear in the brief blink of an eyelid by way of their ultra scarce limited issue (ranging anything from single numbers to – ooh 30). This particular release – which I should add has no recommended RPM details meaning we’ve been playing it to our hearts content at various speeds and all to much rewarding success I should say though we’ve settled on 33 to be on the safe side – features Scotch Tapes head honcho Al in his workaholic capacity as My Cell Phone is better than your Cell Phone sharing wax space with the equally prolific (and it has to be said) previously unknown to us Sunken Landscapes. For his side of the bargain MCPIBTYCP (who unless we are much mistaken appears to be navigating through some kind of a to z of the genres given that no two of his releases bear any resemblance to the last) stumps up ’a gun named Jesus’ – a superbly crafted slice of chilled down tempo psychotropic dub by our reckoning and something that should appeal to fans of the early 90’s combo Depth Charge albeit replete with fat salacious fluid and spongy grooves and calibrated ever so slightly with an informed Detroit techno flavouring which on repeat listens really does at times sound like a spaced out Biosphere having been dunked in a flotation tank. Not to out shone Sunken Landscapes – incidentally one Andy Summers of Long Beach who we are suspecting is indeed not or either a relation of the Police guitarist (who has a place forever in our heart by way of his penning of ‘Sally’ a tale about a blow up doll no less) of the same name. his back catalogue stretches to some two dozen releases most via the Nihil Underground imprint whose releases to date have included outings from combos with such wonderful names as Bacteria Cult, Suburban Bathers and Lavish Womb (all of whom we’ll endeavour to check out in a future dispatch). Anyhow found here serving up ’other side of space’ Summers engages his aural space craft and ventures to the far reaches of sounds cosmic void and by our ears seems to traversing a universe previously occupied by the quieter dream-scaping and trippier moments of the lengthier side of Jean Michel Jarre’s ’magnetic fields’ set albeit now infested and populated by an extra terrestrial insectoid colony armed with all manner sand blasting tools whilst tapping out curiously confused binary transmissions whose message has been altered and fractured by ghostly white noise interruptions breaching the ether – of course it’s all very noise-trance like in nature with repeat exposure liable to have the effect of expanding your head. Recommended. and

Arthur Delaney ‘Darling’ (young and lost). Could have sworn we’d already reviewed this cutie but a quick check around the gaff proves otherwise. Again another single that’s no doubt be out for ages that you’ve all bought, loved to death and have now filed away somewhere in your tip top hi-fi hustling record collection. Out on the uber cool Young and Lost imprint (Pull Tiger Tail, Noah and the Whale, Good Shoes, Vincent Vincent et al) and housed in a picture sleeve featuring a rather demurring pixie-esque lady holding a twig which on the reverse becomes several twigs – whether this has anything to do with the actual song remains to be seen but still looks eye catchingly fetching. Anyway before we start rambling profusely can we just say that all good homes should own a copy of this, aside the obvious attraction of the sleeve Arthur Delaney – perhaps the most un rock ’n’ roll name since Lonnie Donegan – cuts a rather neat and summer grazed mellowing sound, I seem to recall reading he’s only 19 and yet sounds like a folk troubadour from the late 60’s who you’d easily imagine necking jars of moonshine with the likes of the Band and Loudon Wainwright III, ’darling’ his frankly remarkable sounding debut is classic era Dylan blessed with the creative allure and free spirited beauty of Rodriguez backed by a clearly chilled and popified variation of Buffalo Springfield that once found straying from the tinny speakers of a kitchen transistor will bathe you in a lilting summery radiance of softly shimmered prairie styled flavourings. Classy. Flip the disc for the markedly up-tempo throb of ’dance of fools’ a delightfully and decidedly catchy slice of shuffling country tinged jamboree that sounds to us like its been fermenting these last four decades in some long forgotten rickety shed just outside Nashville – well smart an adorably annoyingly good. Any questions.

Hektor ’cherry’ (self released) – must admit that since this arrived in our my space ‘comment’ box that its been causing a fair amount of ructions in our gaff, aside the video being clearly bonkers and dare we say affectionately so ‘cherry’ itself as a stand alone track is cut with the kind of buzz sawing flighty pop sensibility that nags cutely below your skin demanding repeat plays and your undivided love. Hektor are a French based quartet who to date have secured firmly under their collective belts two full lengths in the shape of ‘dams ta gueule’ and the recently released ’pas assez bien pour moi?’ from which ’cherry’ is culled and are currently unsigned – itself one of those great eternal ’why’ questions you sometimes find yourself asking. ’cherry’ is a sugar rushing abundance of dippy day-glo pop, festooned in all manner of whirling and wonky electronic squiggles and brandishing the kind of instantly infectious tug of hip hugging pop sensibility styled new wave riffage that suggests a passing fondness for fellow Anglais / Francophiles Maudite Dance albeit readily more saccharine and frisky in texture, add to that mix the swoon like matter of fact casual purr of lead lady Carine, a smidgeon of impish lunacy and some whooping backing harmonies and you have something acutely adorable – in the mean time we’ll try and blag those albums for further inspection – oh and while we are about it here’s the video…..

more shortly or sooner depending – updates and contact details via

take care

missive 200 (c)
Kakkmaddafakka ‘cool’ (sounds gold). No prizes for guessing how and why we picked up this blighter on a recent record buying foray – any of you muttering to yourselves ‘because its on vinyl’ make your way to the top of the class. Hailing from Bergen which I believe is in Norway the hotly tipped kakkmaddafakka – (would that be cack mother f**ker by any chance?) have apparently been causing fair amounts of fuss in their native area (not withstanding the small detail of a population head count of 8 and 5 of them no doubt being members of the bands family – does that really count – revolution not then sir – of course we only joke). Anyhow where were we before we rudely interrupted ourselves – ah yes kakkmaddafakka (try printing that on a badge – be like a bin lid) are a quartet ‘cool’ is their debut release – limited to just 500 copies and no doubt bound to fly off the shelves courtesy of the searching for the next new thing on the block record buying public’. sadly ’cool’ is – how can we put it – a stiff, okay agreed it has some nifty white funk Chic-esque meets Wildbunch moments and an obviously informed ear for late 70’s disco trip wired with a post punk pop sensibility laced with copious amounts of slinky hip hugging grinds that we here are more than a little in favour of though which puzzlingly only reveal themselves half way in, however the problem is it sounds a little cluttered, dislocated and frazzled at the intro and that’s not in a good way. Thankfully we prefer the far sharper flip cut ‘ooo’ – I feel there’s a song title pattern forming here – set at a running pace and laced with all manner of cutely infectious skanking ska rhythms and a rather merrily see sawing drinking song come sea shanty demeanour which to these ears sounds not unlike a seriously crooked and mooching Coral aping Cockney Rebel with an impishly youthful Space fiddling about beneath the mixing desk causing all manner of wiring skewif japery. Those wanting more are strongly recommended to hotfoot it over to their MS page at where you’ll find the damn fine and ruggedly rouged ’crazy on the dance floor’ packed wall to wall with strutting riffs and mirror balled disco-fied glam tweaked romo twists aplenty – quite tasty admittedly.

Ocean Bottom Nightmare ‘We are serious’ (OBM). Hailing from Nottingham having formed little over two years ago, Ocean Bottom Nightmare or OBM have been currying favourable notices from some of the more attuned underground music web blogs and rightly so as this four track debut EP attests. Adorned and infected with a squalid frustration these agitants are upon and about in the blink of an eye, its almost like being under siege such is the ferocity, bleached with violently acute stop start dynamics and packing a strangely becoming melodically drilled sensibility that courts a cripplingly hollowed and ravaged epicentre that impacts, erupts and splinters with such scalding head bowed resignation that it cuts you low. OBN differentiate a jagged and brutalised path that veers between hammer headed hardcore punk elements and a breed of atonal anthem bearing metal, all at once explicitly intense and brutal yet for all its bludgeoning sonic rhetoric harmoniously free spirited and becalmed. From the opening salvo ’defiling apep with the left foot’ with its aggressively animated full throttle fronted up sparring demeanour replete as were with corkscrewed riffing and interweaving three way vocals OBN adeptly prove their masterful aplomb at being able to concoct from an apocalyptic front line artillery a beautifully intense landscape that happily erupts and splinters between being uber cool and calamitous, none more so does this reveal itself than on the rupturing doom laden opera that is the burning ‘the blade was rusted like aquatic machines’ as it freewheels between moments of festering like inferno baiting carnage and mellowing MOR motifs. That said there’s some slick puss ridden bloated fuzz bass funk mooching attaching to ‘navigator’ – probably the best cut here even if it does stray worrying in territories you’d imagine finding had Faith No More, Jane’s Addiction and Asia teamed up and occupying – and more than worthy of the entrance fee on its own just to savour the point at 2.20 therein wherein everything literally goes tits up. And for those purists among you questioning their rock credentials we suggest you take a peak at the parting ‘itchy.tasty’ dipped as it is with a killer corkscrewing snake wound riffage that nods chiefly to Tom Petty though spiked with a serious full on raw as f**k blues howl much indebted to Zeppelin.

Ella Montclare ‘between islands’ (seawater). Admittedly another release that we’ve so far managed to inadvertently mislay and indeed delay in reviewing. Debut outing for the youthful singer song writing talent that is Ella Montclare who it seems has proven to be something of a darling with the my space set following her topping the sites trip hop chart with plays extending past the half mill mark and frankly its easy to see why. ‘between islands’ is slick and sophisticated, sumptuously seductive and sublimely stately. Need we say more. Indeed we do, obviously in rapture with all things early 90’s Bristol scene a la Portishead, Massive Attack et al, Ms Montclare here weaves a mesmerising melodic myriad sweetly harnessed by down tempo lounge like curvatures within which the finite flashing detail of sweetly orbiting nocturnal noir essences elope and escape from the groove fixtures to craft a deeply alluring ethereal siren-esque like intoxicating potion that we here are thinking is ripe listening fopr those much admiring of the caress fully cultivated shimmering tones of Musetta.

Norabelle ‘come the bluest dawn’ (static caravan). Another of those ultra limited affairs from the ever impressive Static HQ, limited to just 100 copies and not – we believe – officially out just yet but sure to sell out on pre orders alone we wouldn’t be to surprised. No information on Norabelle other than to say that they are a duo – Ken and Shane – who hail from Dublin and this achingly fragile four track beauty is we gather this is their debut EP. One of those releases that we suggest you find a quiet spot, fetch yourself a brew, maybe some handkerchiefs (believe you me when I say you will be thankful for them), pull up your pew nice and close, close your eyes and let yourself drift away to the tingling timbres unfolding within. Pretty hard trying to avoid getting caught by this release, beautifully bruised and tenderly crafted, its drifting airiness pursuing a demurring nature bound and free spirited Gaelic rustic-ness as it mellows and meanders to bypass your defences. But that is only half the story, what makes this release so captivating and indeed alluring is that its cast adrift with a ceaseless and frailly fragile melancholic undercurrent that if we didn’t know any better would have to say it’d had been the work of a less intensely and emotionally crippled Red House Painters – it’s the kind of bitter sweet awe that makes you want to throw your arms around it in sympathy or at the very least have you numbed, biting your lip and humbled in its company. Anyway its all touching stuff, the breezy carefree acoustic strums and the affecting laid back precision afforded to these shyly traded nuggets at times belying the same recoiling light headed romance as found softly water marking Nick Drake’s more thoughtful and less tortured moments especially on the woody aromatic braids of ’pins and needles’ while ’still’ similarly touched and treated is graced with a hymnal elegance. Yet despite both cuts being grazed by a simply affecting murmur like classicism they admittedly hide in the shade of the sets centrepiece ‘underpass‘. with its twinned vocals and tip toeing key cascades there’s a frosted symphonic signature at work here that aside being both quietly majestic and hypnotic literally cuts you in half with its surrendering love noted serenade which leaves the idyllically sea faring ’lemon’ to pick up the pieces and bid farewell though not before casting you under its lulling and looping porch lit pastoral spell. Till next time then.

Update – just had word – Norabelle has indeed sold out at source

Bibio ‘oval emerald vertigo’ (mush). Doesn’t really take much to confuse us lot here, though on this occasion I think you’ll agree that we fair grounds for appearing a little shall we say – befuddled. Recently mentioned in dispatches when we cast a more than fond eye and indeed ear over his absolutely gem like ‘vignetting the compost’ full length – just released via Mush records, it seems Mr Wilkinson (Stephen James to give his full name from the Midlands) just can’t stay out of the studio and leave his assorted array of toy instruments alone because no sooner does his third full length hit the racks then along comes this rather dinky 10 inch EP fast on its tail. Six tracks feature within – all exclusives to this set. Those much loving of the weirder more carnival-esque meets kaleidoscopically psych-illy warped and wonky toy noir tinkered lullabies on that aforementioned set will positively flip your wig over this. Here you’ll find the crooked lunar fried library lounge treatments of the dream weaving opening salvo ‘oval emerald vertigo’ – deliciously dinked and dimpled in soft centred lysergic fondants and sounding for all the world like a recording left out in the sun and proving a little worse for wear for the experience. A distant cousin in some respects is the skewed and clearly out of it dissipating dream coat ‘polycoulrophon’ – a gorgeously psyche shimmered aural canvas and a dizzy fringe ruffling example of what happens when you start mixing your smarties and space dust and inadvertently get the Busy Signals in to re-wire the Go Team’s debut seven for Pickled Egg with the inclusion of some strange ethereal choir – clearly barking stuff and perhaps the best thing here – certainly without doubt the most deranged in a glassy futuristic fairground visited by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop type way. Those of you relishing your sounds spiked with a free spirited unbound village fayre setting replete with may poles and all manner of archaic folk fancies will do well to fall longingly into the rambling rustics of ’carosello ellitico’ while once emerging from its pastoral opening the brief but beautiful ’six string marenghi’ is a frankly woefully short though lushened slice of ambience. ’Segee and the Indian’ applies the parting signatures to much euphoric and dare we tear stained and humbled joy a frost tipped garland of sepia traced celestial swathes replayed through what sounds like either a promenade stationed ice cream or some mind weaving dream machine. In short absolutely faultless and specifically for admirers of Emperor Penguin‘s ‘mysterious pony‘ set from a few years back – just need to get our mits on one of those 10 inch slabs of vinyl – I fear sleepless nights until we do.

G- Spots Studio G

And so the postman came a trundling with our daily stash of sounds and grooves among them a twelve inch sized cardboard mailer. That’ll be the latest Trunk release we thought. Tearing it from its packaging it was on the turntable in a flash. Much merriment abound there was an abundance of frivolity and dancing in the streets as we all celebrated the kooky sounds of Jonny Trunk’s latest raid of the vintage vinyl vaults. Then the fuzz come to move us along and so we did only we’d moved along to far and couldn’t hear the sounds piping from the house hi-fi. We sighed, someone cried another broke wind. On that note we agreed to call it a day.

Of course incidental music obsessive’s, fans of retro TV and those small number of you who assume strange identities once a month usually a Sunday and prefer on that day to be called Gilbert, Cedric, Hetty and Gertrude and meet up in the crookedly unsafe confines of a tree hut somewhere in Wiltshire adorned in matching tank tops and flashy looking snake belts for an afternoon’s japery (and young folk that isn’t a euphemism for the exchange of bodily fluids) and the guzzling of lashings of pop and ginger beer may well recognise or at least have a strangely knowing familiarity of these sounds given that for a post space age generation weaned on early 70’s children’s TV most of this type of stuff was as standard a fair for the day as spangles, long hot summers, weird wallpaper and ‘watch out there’s a Humphrey about’ adverts (younger readers might like to ask your ma and pa about those).

‘g-spots’ is a brief glimpse into the wonderful world of Studio G a library facility set up for the supply of jingles and incidental motifs. Called into being by a certain John Gale (who incidentally scored ‘Dr Phibes Rises Again;) in the 60’s who at the time employed as an advertising music finder was finding it increasing frustrating trying to source sounds of an out of the ordinary flavour and more in keeping with the then current trends of forward thinking modernism. Deciding to set up his own library music company Gale surrounded himself with an in house team of composers, engineers and producers alike – among the roll call Frederick Judd, Douglas Wood, Harry Pitch and Cliff Johns. Initially starting out with the issue of 7 inch EP’s the libraries release roster soon expanded to incorporate full length albums wherein over the course of the next decade and a half over 40 plus titles would be released individually covering various aspects of advertising / film and TV requirements and employing all manner of generic species (as far and wide as night music made up of dinky piano suites – to religious – replete with choirs and organ solos – and powerhouse – not quite a la Raymond Scott c.1930‘s but impact tuneage used mainly for sports and news network shows) as well as heavily focusing on the use of electronics and studio wizardry to do with tape loops and sound manipulations.

It’s a good chance that you’ve happened upon the sounds of Studio G at some point or other, both children’s TV shows from the 70’s Doctor Who and Vision On frequently made use of Gale’s catalogue in fact both ‘Goofy’ and ‘elephant dance’ used on the latter feature here as did the back dropping score to the Chesty Morgan soft porn / comedy flick ‘double agent’ – the one – I believe – where she suffocates the bad dudes with her over ample and voluptuous assets – mind you we will have to get a copy to check – the score that is – purely research you understand.

Given the range of sounds provided by the Studio G company Mr Trunks’ ’G-Spots’ admirably covers all the bases giving you more than apt a teaser in order to wet your appetite and have you happily venturing out to seek and source more. Here you’ll find cheesy moments (I mean would a Trunk release be worth its salt without at least some curio slices of kitsch – try Ivor Raymond‘s ‘wild cat walk‘ – dig that fat funk struck double bass man – far out), children’s stuff (see above), horror things, future peaks via sci-fi avenues (the aching ambient overtures of Eric Peters‘ ‘space service‘), ethereal sophistication (say no more than the demurring cocktail coolness of waiting for Nina’) and weird gear (the smoking jazz head psychotropics of ’moving parts’ and the proggy psyche stew of the minimalist atmospherics of ‘foggy dock‘ – for admirers of Add N to X perhaps).

Included within the excellent ’icicles’ by Douglas Wood which some of you may well remember featuring on the Trunk compilation ’now we are ten’- a lulling symphony of ascending and descending tip toeing plinky plonky key reverbs that sound like a strange waltz for an eerie nocturnal toys at play montage that’s best filed under lounge tinged monochromatic psyche. In fact on this collection (featuring 20 on the vinyl version and 26 – we believe on the CD) Mr Wood services approximately a third of the groove space, all the time his mood arrangements doing exactly as the title hints so that ‘moon nightclub’ is a softly chilled slice of lights out bossa-nova noir laced amour while ‘boy on space’ is a dinky slab of orbiting cosmic kookiness. One for the Plone fans among you methinks. Elsewhere the fried ethnic fractures of ‘voodoo tronics’ frankly just needs to be heard to be believed given we suspect some strange tobacco was being smoked that particular night. Those of you much loving your lunar styled ambience will do well to check out the brace of cosmic scores – Ashers’ ’cosmic dust’ very much a starry eyed glassy variant of Tangerine Dream helped out by a mellowing and youthful Mr Jarre and Mr Vangelis while Afzelius’ ’cosmic blues’ sounds ripe to have its own ’Tomorrow People’ styled TV show commissioned around it (though obviously some wit will now email me saying ’in fact bollocks it was the theme tune to…..’) – we are but hapless and useless in such matters. Though all said and done we’ve happily spent the day making strange shapes to the fat and wobbly whirring sounds of Mr Peters ’freak blues’ which has resulted in us incapacitating ourselves and no doubt being the subject of the complaints letter page in next week’s local village herald. Ah well such is life. Purchase on sight – preferably the vinyl version if only to truly savour the striking retro cover artwork.

For further information about Studio G and a chance to sample that 48 part catalogue go to – damn fine stuff we must admit and something that’s had us all a swooning here in the bijou confines of the record shed, and bijou it is I can tell you, barely enough room to swing a cat which we’ll admit we’ve tried with failing degrees of success and some strange looks from our feline mate Dylan who has since gone into hiding fearing that he’s the unwitting guinea pig of some experiment to propel objects into space by means of propulsion alone. Only joking Dylan is safe and sound and currently on fox watch which involves him hiding in a bush (and when he spots me) pretends to be top cat pouncing out from said hiding place in some sort of piss poor act of bravado trying to give the impression that he’s just scared off a pack of savage foxes when in reality they’ve already rumbled him (and me) and done the off some five minutes since. Of course you gotta give him credit, a pat and some biscuits and tell him what a brave boy he is only for him to blot his copy book by leaping some distance into the air on seeing his own shadow. Ah well. Where were we – ah yes Dad School which isn‘t as you‘ve probably already twigged some establishment for failing fathers in which case I‘d never be let out – instead it’s a musical journey in some respects undertaken by just one person – a Massachusetts resident by the name of Andrew Nolan who it appears is much informed by all things Durutti Column, Roy Budd, Codeine, Gnac (especially on the Twin Peaks-esque ‘Dimes’ with its dimpling of feedback burns) and Roy Montgomery which in our book is something to be both applauded and indeed admired. There’s much to love here, that is if you’re easily persuaded by the lulling bathing of lonesome and desirably pensive portraits of intimately woven intonations longingly drilled by the delayed detonation of sparsely wound slow core aspects of post rock and the occasional feedback eruptions. All at one touching, tragic and dare we say at times tumultuous Nolan’s aural landscape is a thing of bruised, brooding bleak beauty, to date he’s released a handful of – we assume – self released CD’s namely ‘womb’, ‘clouds 4’ and ‘Sydney as ghosts and fall’ – all of which we’ll endeavour to nail and inspect a little closer in a future missive. For now we suggest you dive in and savour the cuts available via the showcasing player here, from the hypnotic and trance like wistfulness of the oceanic sounding ‘signals’ which at roughly 2 minutes in sweetly terra forms from its initial entry point of arcing cascades of interweaving riff spectres into a mellowing and fragile storm passing sereneness. Best moment of the set though by some distance is ‘Plus Froid’ – exquisitely detailed and pepper corned by a night sky lightshow of forlorn arpeggio crests and scratched softly with a solemnly sweet though hitherto aching abandonment with its controls set to break your heart. Inspired.

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Fever Ray ‘when I grow up’ (unknown). And so there we were casually flicking through the pages of the latest issue of Plan B when we came across a most striking photograph of the Knife’s Karin and looking not unlike some Apache styled shamanic priestess, it really is inspired imagery. But then this is one half of the Knife a duo who excel to enthral in all manner of breathtaking and more often than not eerily supernatural visual detail. It seems Karin and Olaf are on sabbatical, re-emerging as Fever Ray the sister side of the equation appears determined not to rest on her laurels and in the shape of her debut self titled full length has delivered a set of such strange chemistry and ethereal beauty that you’d be almost forgiven for thinking the Knife – who? We are assuming that this is the first track culled from the set, well its either this or ’If I had a heart’ the albums opener – itself coming across like some archaic mystic mantra which at times could easily pass for Fleetwood Mac’s ’tusk’ albeit relocated to some dust bound and remote Aboriginal spiritual burial ground. ’when I grow up’ on the other hand possesses all the tricks and trappings that first had the Knife tweaking our radar all those many years back, elegant and magisterial its framed in a hollowed and ghostly exotic hue beneath which a becoming unfurling seduction quietly stirs, hypnotic in texture and mistral like it glides and draws softly expelling a mysterious potion sweetly tendered with ethnic garlands all the time slowly but surely assuming depth and dimension like a developing image of a photograph, the full focus being complete with the arrival of the sweeping and arcing oriental rapture like motifs from 2.20 onwards. Gorgeous stuff. You can hear the album in full by redirecting yourself towards while the rather wonderful video that accompanies said cut looks something like this……..
When I Grow Up from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

Ash Pool ‘Satan’s Slave’ (Hospital). We’ve tried playing this blighter at all manner of speeds each sounding wilfully ferocious to varying and dare we say terrifying degrees. Arriving as a rather pricey coloured vinyl 7 inch – 900 on blue 100 on clear via the eclectic New York based doom, drone, noise, psyche and everything in between imprint Hospital Productions whose catalogue in recent times seems to have boasted outings by the likes of Kevin Drumm, the Magik Markers, Prurient and the Hair Police, ‘Satan‘s Slave‘ sees the return to combat (and no doubt via for your soul) of Ash Pool (headed up by Hospital head honcho Dominick Fernow) following their full length ’world turns on its hinge’. As said two cuts feature within – we’ve settled for the 33rpm as it sounds less tormenting though must admit giving it a quick spin at 45rpm is akin to standing head on in the line of fire of some dastardly sand blasting exercise. Anyhow its vicious, its scalding, scares small children and animals alike and is frankly compulsive listening, the apocalyptic fury of lead out cut ‘origins of man’ really does have the hallmarks of some thing that’s recently crawled and slithered from the bowels of hell to front up some end of days crusade, utter sonic carnage that ruptures amid swollen seas of puss venting sickness, a bit like Killing Joke with a rocket up their arse if you must know – and evil at that. Flip the disc for ‘origins of aids’ – no doubt more head drilling brutality – we say no doubt as our copy sadly appears slightly pressed off centre and refuses to play even after persistent threats with the trusted hammer and pliers. Still bet you it’s a killer thing all eked in dread, despair and dark things alas we can but guess.

Cold Cave ’painted nails’ (hospital). More essential ear gear from those unlovable rascals over at hospital productions, apparently this caustic cutie sold out of its initial pressing in the blink of an eye forcing the label to quickly dig out the stampers and in order to satiate the demand press up a further batch this time on clear vinyl. As with the previous Hospital release by Ash Pool (or rather more the flip side of it) we here are suspecting some pressing skulduggery is at hand of the a side which despite repeat plays appears to be sticking, stuttering and stopping at various intervals making our listening pleasure somewhat fraught with impatience and annoyance – so while we resend back to Cargo in order to get a playable copy then you’ll have to wait for the verdict on both ’sex ads’ and ’I’ve seen the future and its no place for me’. On a happier note – and a frustrating one it has to be said – the flip side actually plays fine and is rather we must admit rather spiffing at that. ’always someone’ – a gloriously hazy celestial trip primed with stratospheric swathes of shade wearing psyche tinged electronic washes and prepped with pupil dilating fringe arranging hypnotic mantras all dutifully bound up in chorus’ of shimmering white noise which to these ears sounds not unlike a seriously bliss driven Spacemen 3 poking around at the underside of Kevin Shields galactic mixing desk. A gem in a word. Oh yea they are from Philadelphia and we wouldn’t be surprised if they shortly end up being your new favourite band – certainly the best thing we‘ve heard around these parts since Cheval Sombre – class in other words.

Wake the President / Je Suis Animal ‘split’ (electric honey). Thought the label name was familiar but didn’t make the connection until we did a bit of delving about. Basically overseen by HNC / HND music business students under the watchful eye of Creeping Bent head honcho Douglas MacIntyre, the principle behind which each year the students select a band and basically spend twelve months developing and polishing them up resulting in an album release. The label has in the past had the distinction of kick starting the careers of no less a formidable roll call whose names include Belle and Sebastian (’Tigermilk’) and Snow Patrol. Apparently Wake the President already has two single releases to their name as well as the recently surfaced debut full length a copy of which we’ll have to nail. This particular release pressed up o seven inches of black wax sees them sharing groove space with one of our current obsessions Je Suis Animal. Stumping up ’miss Tierney’ Wake the President do a neat line in affectionately sun breezed chiming twee pop the type that was once the remit of the Hoverchairs, Hey Paulette and the Bachelor Pad of whom we must admit in saying this throbbing sub three minute nugget is a ringer for while I suppose for good measure you could add in Decoration as an added reference marker, as to the sounds within the slender like cultivated slices of fleeting driftwood pop sweetly flavour the air space to bypass your defences and refresh and rejuvenate your surroundings with the delicate cascade of softly thrilled melodic hooks the type of which make you yearn for those celebrated Sarah morsels from yesteryear – blimey we’re getting all misty eyed now. Flip the disc for the simply adorable can do no wrong Je Suis Animal who if I recall rightly we mentioned last time out courtesy of their rather fine ’the mystery of marie Roget’ single for Angular which if you haven’t purchased by now and loved and played to the point of destruction then shame on you. Norway’s favourites pepper their side of the proceedings with ’fortune map’ – its another slab of c-86 caressed sugar glazed shimmering soft psyche pop liberally dusted and decorated with the subtle twist of 60’s motifs which to these ears sounds not unlike Camera Obscura upping their game several notches and found etching their own honeycombed take on a Shangri-La’s meets Spector type montage, its all hip wiggling good fun the donning of shades thoroughly recommended. – those of you out there considering yourselves to be purists of the finest and dandiest rock-a-boogie turntable threads will do well to tune into the neatly distilled raw and free spirited garage blues aromas wafting up through the drain vents from the oily basement confines that houses the Dirty Strangers. Led from the front by Alan Clayton this beat pop combo have been around on and off since the mid 80’s stuffing under their collective big buckled leather belts two full lengths before embarking on a extended period of what can only be described semi retirement to which only recently they‘ve re-emerged clutching in their wake a bit of a bitch of an album in the shape of ‘West 12 to Wittering‘. And okay you might be thinking to yourselves at this point so what, what’s to get excited, well young folk only the merest detail that they are mates of both Keef and Ronnie, both of whom briefly cut loose from their Stones moorings and found hanging around the streets kicking their heels waiting for a tour call from Mick of the Stones decided to call in on the Dirty Strangers sessions and lay some vintage grooves to the proceedings. Add to that the appearance of 60‘s Brit rocker Joe Brown, the odd stray member of Chuck Berry‘s entourage – Scott Mulvey – and the appearance at the mixing desk of a certain Brian James (albeit for only one track – incidentally featured here – the hip hugging riff shimmying cool as f**k new wave kiss off that is ‘she‘s a real Botticelli‘ – which should in the first instance curry the adoring glances of Marco Pirroni‘s latest garage glam charges the Wolfmen) – and you have a veritable pedigree of iconic talent muscling up to what can only referred to as a super group wet dream – agreed? Anyhow their aforementioned new album is currently waiting in the wings – by all accounts a musical of sorts loosely based and inspired by Laurent’s ’west side story’ from which you‘ll find five teaser cuts currently rotating on the show-casing player and damn smart stuff it is to. Amid the roll call an impish cockney twang like pastiche of Ike and Tina Turner’s ’nutbush’ here re-dressed as ’shepherd’s bush city limits’ citing quite possibly the first reference of that postal areas most famous duo Steptoe and Son on a song. And while ’liberty smile’ is a killer slice of strut sneer and possessed of a riff veering in close proximity to ’I want candy’ it’s the ’diamonds buried treasure mix’ that had us suffering near fatal palpitations, cut with a seriously smoked and chilled laid back blissed out soul groove that if you didn’t know any better you’d swear had been intended for the Stones’ immortal ’exile on main st.’ set but had been too wasted to be arsed attending the track listing roll call. All said and done one for fans of the Makers’ own musical opera the criminally overlooked ‘rock star god’ from a few years back. Hell we wanna a copy.

Alan Vega and ARE Weapons ‘see tha’ light’ (blast first petite). Not sure how limited this is but to be on the safe side we suggest you get your arses into gear a grab a copy just in the case. Think we are right in saying that this is part of the ongoing covers series to celebrate Alan Vega’s 70th birthday – a series which basically gathers together a shed load of Suicide admirers and has them doing covers of all your favourite and universally well known Vega / Rev ditties. Sadly it seems we’ve missed a fair few of these along the way in fact we haven’t had a sniff since we featured Mr Springsteen and the Horrors outings – rest assured we’ll try and nail the absent members for a future missive. For now though comes this pretty nifty 2 track one sided twelve inch wherein you’ll find Mr Vega sharing studio space with Suicide obsessive’s A.R.E. Weapons. ’see tha’ light’ is so slyly dirty and disquietingly seductive its enough to give you the horn, bedded upon a seriously comatose and chilled out stutter drilled psych tinged funk loop the type of which that should find adoring and admiring glances from the likes of the Black Angels and the People’s Revolutionary Choir base camps and kitted out with a floor rumbling percussive underpin A.R.E. Weapons equip the grooves with a simplistic hazily glazed lysergic landscape that leaves Mr Vega to step up to the microphone and frankly do very bad things that all said and done border on sexual and no doubt are probably deemed illegal in certain territories, plenty of crooning to – hell its been an absolute age since we heard the damn man sound so blissed out and wasted. In addition you get a rather frazzled and dislocated in an electro mutated type way version of Edwin Starr’s ‘war’ which should serve to have all you lovers of the early 80’s proto techno minimalist future groove of the kind drifting across the ocean from the New York underground (Arthur Baker et al) literally falling over yourselves in swoon like adulation – mind you not a patch on ‘see tha’ light’ alas.

The Cocktail Slippers ‘st valentine’s day massacre’ (wicked cool). We featured this lot in past despatches over the yuletide season when they featured on the Way Cool primed slice of seasonal salutations that was the ’Christmas a go go’ set with ’santa is coming home’ whilst additionally noting if I recall rightly that the track ‘stop‘ – currently to be found residing on their my space player was a bit of a belter. hailing from Oslo this lot are a quintet of fine felines going by such names as Rocket Queen, Squirrel, Bella Donna, Sugar Cane and Lisa Farfisa who should shortly see the emergence of their ‘st valentine’s day massacre’ full length doing no doubt brisk business down at the local record emporiums across the continents. By way of a taster of things to come comes this quite nifty brace of Van Zandt penned ditties to sizzle your radar sand send you scampering in search of the pre-order buttons. Pressed up on 7 inches of jukebox styled vinyl the title track leads the charge, a purring power pop glide of country breezed honky tonking adorned groove it is to, festooned with Shangri La’s like la la la harmonies and lovingly braided in all manner of honey combed Hammonds and demurring 60’s hip shimmying motifs the type of which that had these ears much imagining a youthful Bangles in a face off with the Runaways. Flip the disc for the far superior ’heard you got a thing for me’ – a shy eyed harmony fronted babe laced with the softly pining shrill of 50’s styled bubblegum meets doo-wop curvatures and devilishly delivered within a slyly slinky chassis that you’d be easily be forgiven for thinking ought to come branded with the seal of approval from Chess / Ace. A gem.

And here’s a video type thing for the single….

Plastic Toys ‘still alive’ (hill valley). Apt title considering we thought they’d thrown in the towel such is the seeming age since we last had any of their ear ware with which to woo our hi-fi with, in fact to much gnashing of teeth mainly due to the fact that we appear to have missed out on it, it seems this lot have been busy upping their profile by releasing a whole albums worth of stuff in the shape of last years ‘for tonight only’ debut. Of course no strangers to these pages given we eyed and were indeed blown away by their debut and debut single from what seems like aeons ago. Culled from the aforementioned debut full length ‘still live’ is a succulent desire laden bitter sweet and shadowy pop anthem of some measure, dinked in the braiding of retro glazed star crossed stadium saturating electronic swathes (think Duran Duran cross weaved with ‘jump’ era Van Halen) and armed and rippling with more hooks than a fishermen’s convention, this sleazy babe should by rights come accompanied with health warnings such is its addictive nature, evidently ripe for Stateside consumption and radio rotation it seems Plastic Toys still haven’t shaken off that unerring trait for kicking out grooves that instantly mainline into your senses and send your nervous system into scramble mode, all at once pulsating and throbbing and dare esay straying very much on the dirty and decadent side and frankly putting us in mind of Love and Rockets albeit that’ll be Ash and Co sent through White Rose Movement’s seduction blender. Flip over for crowd favourite ‘fabulous’ previously only available on an ultra limited CD accompanying the album (again to much grumbles something we seem to have missed out on – questions will be asked and blood will be spilt I can tell you). Anyway there’s a definite Nine Inch Nails thing going on here, very dark glam and frantic and furious and pretty much something that you’d imagine would lay waste to the most resistant of underground club floors across the land. Did we say essential – no – well its essential.

Attica Rage ‘dark city’ (vanduara). Apparently there’s a debut full length kicking around by this lot entitled ‘ruin nation’ which we’re inclined to think is either imminent or at the very least has only just been released – which having heard this two track juggernaut we feel may well be deserving of more than a passing inquiring interest. Hailing from Glasgow Attica Rage as you’d no doubt gather from their name are a power driven tour de force, ‘dark city’ is a heavy load bearing bastard, fast, slick and raging and riddled with all your dietary required festering chops and splintered with an underlying wind swept apocalyptic menace that’s serviced with a scalding and frenzied armoury of heads down no nonsense pummelling melodic blues rock – the type of stuff we suspect will equally appeal to both fans of Mendeed and Iron Maiden. That said our favoured moment is found looming large over on the flip side (isn’t it always the case) wherein the big guns are trundled out to wage all manner of carnage for their fierce some re-drill of Motorhead’s iconic speed metal nugget ’overkill’. Admittedly they don’t add or detract to or from the original but hell if like us you foolishly decide to play at maximum volume then may we suggest you don tin hats and gaffa tape your prized possessions or else suffer the fate of having yourself pinned to the wall as though facing up some land flattening tornado of biblical proportions and your listening space reduced to dust. Criminally good. – sounding not unlike something you’d expect to be appear on the Constellation or the nurturing arm of Fat Cat’s eclectic Splinter / 130701 sub imprints, Lyon based quartet Odland (that’s Odland with the Scandinavian accents on the ‘o’ making it meaning to be pronounced – if my schooling recalls rightly – Oooh – dland or at least something along those lines). They appear to have one release to their name at present – the recent ‘Ottocento’ full length which we here are thinking admirers of all things Eno, Budd, Satie and Hauschka should be seeking out without further delay notwithstanding the fact that these cuts are sometimes crafted and sculptured with a curious post rock symmetry that draws an affinity with Set Fire to Flames and Godspeed (especially on ‘les yeux de l’oiseau’), a tendency to be – shall we say a little impish in nature (see the tavern-esque up-tempo shanty like crookedness of ‘de Vienne a Paris’ and the bewitching switch that takes place on ‘la chanson du parasite’ wherein one minute its all deeply intense and sophisticated in a Serge type way the next seemingly relocated to some barrel piano festooned saloon bar replete with mewing stray cats) though mostly caressed with the deeply alluring sweep of classical intonations. Overall there’s a disquieting enchanted alchemy at work here whose roots can be traced to Goldfrapp’s ‘felt mountain’, these frail water coloured folk fancies tingle and twinkle within a sepia trimmed nostalgic canvas all the time endowing a sense of beguiled ghostly mystery that’s dressed and decorated by the teasing cortege of chiming lullabies, heart skipping cantering flurries and noir tweaked dramatics – as on ‘hype’. best moment of the set by a persuasive yank of the arm up the back proving to be ‘sur les murs de ma chambre’ not least because its possessed of a daunting bitter sweetness that tilts and lilts between the macabre and the magical and may well strangely find admirers in fans of Black Heart Procession’s earlier career work especially with its sighing string arrangements and creaking calibrations.

And here’s a video of them….
Ödland, Les Yeux de l’Oiseau from Lorenzo Papace on Vimeo. – mentioned this London based collective of kindred souls in recent singled out dispatches wherein their debut ’mind the gap’ EP was awarded the all to rare single of the missive honour – those of you who missed said words of unflinching fondness re-direct your mouse in the general direction of and then proceed to annoy the bollocks of your local record emporium owner with requests for a copy of said outing – you will not be disappointed – one of the finest and most curiously off the beaten track debuts its been our pleasure to hear in such an age.

Here’s a video of them (again) – any questions – thought not…..

Eskimo Project ‘hydrogen bomb’ (brass monkey music). Oh that we could do with more of this though sadly on this occasion we’ll just have to settle for the one track promo – for now that. Not officially out for a week or three and hailed in the press release as ‘the song of summer 2009’ which as you can imagine they would given they are trying to sell you the blighter so to speak – oh alright encourage you the unwitting scribe to pick it out of the mountains upon mountains of cd’s that come flying through the press box each and every day – (I only wish) and give it a deserved spin in the hope that kind words will flow through your critical quill or in our case the in house crooked keyboard buttons type typ-ey things with letters on. See faultless descriptions are us – why say something in one word when 27 will do nicely. Anyway where were we before we got hopelessly side tracked by our own inane rambling. Ah yes the press releases intimation that this here single – ‘hydrogen bomb’ – is THE (we forgot that bit – the stressed and in bold to boot ‘the’) song of summer 2009. Do you know I think they might be onto something here because there’s certain no refuting that there’s an uplifting radiant effervescence pouring through the grooves of this, clipped with Beatles-esque melodic mantras hell there’s even a moment when it veers into the wacky baccy vapour trails of ’I am the walrus’ as it glides heaven bound in a kaleidoscopic halo of honeycombed hues whilst sounding not unlike Julian Lennon shimmying up to the Soft Parade to re cut their finest moment ’nobody told you anything’. If this isn’t a hit then we’ll eat our hat which as it happens today is a family sized one of the pork pie variety – might be one of those with an egg in the middle – does this count – anyhow too late its been eaten – it was well tasty. As to the single of summer lets not jump the gun so soon we still need to wait for the sun first.

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Welcome return to our reading desk of the much missed Bucketful of Brains. Catering for all your 60’s garage beat / power pop needs and beyond and returning after an extended hiatus – BoB #72 billed as the ’back from the dead’ special features the Hammersmith Gorillas Jesse Hector and has him chewing the fat inside talking about 50 years in the business, a documentary ’a message to the world’ is currently doing the rounds on DVD. Elsewhere there’s features / interviews on the Sonics, Paul and Barry Ryan who achieved pop immortality with ’eloise’ and who are the subject of a re-issue treatment by Rev-Ola. Elsewhere Willard Grant Conpiracy’s Robert Fischer is put beneath the spotlight and forced to talk – then there’s your usual taste tailored reviews section amongst which the Jim Jones Revue get a deserved adoring notice while there’s an extended article on Stud Leather’s legendary ’cut loose’ single which you can hear by redirecting yourselves towards the general vicinity of – BoB also has a my space presence these days from where if you scroll around you can find all the ordering bumph.

And now for what’s getting to our regular update of pod cast transmissions being zoomed out into the depths of the void by those coolest of dudes over at the garage punk basement of sounds featuring more raw arsed retarded retro bad motherfecking boogie than you can frankly shake a mojo stick at, squeezed until their pips pop and shoehorned into dusty leather winkles you’ll find a whole host of shrieks, screams, struts, shimmies and the dandiest dastardly and dangerous devil groove sermonising from the finest reprobates of rock ’n’ roll’s underclass, all bases covered swamp surf, dragster, power pop, teen angst, bubblegum, garage, beat pop, snotty punk and arse frying rock n roll. Several newly posted shows feature here including the debut turntable terrorising transmission from the Screaming Soul Preacher as he blows the roof of the garage punk HQ clean off with a positive diamond mine of lost relics on the House of Wild Delights pod. Among the roll call the Chimes smoking’ ‘zindy lou’ and the jungle sounds of Jack Rodgers ‘taheene’ that said Japanese freak beat dudes the Outcasts ’long tall sally’ has to be heard to be believed, so wild and untamed we here are thinking its bordering on illegal – apparently culled from their ’87 opus ’the hound’ which we’ve somehow missed – damn. Throw in some Jackie Lee Cochran, some wild cat bop from Bobby Bare and wrap it all up with the Oblivians crucifying the shit out of everything in their line of sight. Its enough to get your Shindig shades all a steaming.

More tasty treats courtesy of Gretchen’s un-missable Hanging on for Mercy show now up to #44 – always great to find a show opening with someone who you consider a bit of hero, of course we are talking about Ric Menck (Velvet Crush, Choo Choo Train, Springfields etc…) in our view one of the finest purveyors of buzz sawed bubblegum pop around anywhere right now who features here with ‘she swirls around me‘ culled from his collection of rare odds n‘ sods ‘the ballad of ric menck‘. those loving your stuff slightly psych-y and lashed with reverb, eastern mantras and very much yearning for Donovan’s ’hurdy gurdy man’ may do well to search and secure the Nevermores’ ’what don’t you know’ – they are a St Louis based quartet have an album out called ’nevereverafter’ which we here are thinking we need hooking up to immediately – need more information please. Some neat tripster groove from the Morning After Girls, something slinky and soulful from the Nite Owls, a nugget and a half from the much adored Long Ryders and a spot of heart string sting from Cory Case – oh yea and a bit of Charlie Pickett thrown in for good measure. Need you ask for more – you do – okay the Drones, Choo Choo and the excellently named Eddy Current Suppression Ring who name alone makes it something we ought to be investigating further.

Sadly at present there’s no play option on Savage Kick #69 and we can’t even play it through I-tunes because our player is having an Easter hissy fit – so young folk we’ll have to come back to this at a later date. Probably tomorrow if we can pull ourselves away from stuffing our chops full of chocolate. Instead Rock n’ roll Suicide #65 has your ears pinned with R Fink’s devilish selection of scuzz buzzed and scowling trashed and chaos thrilled no future oblivion type three chord spiked topped mayhem. Some killer stuff here for all you shit faced glue sniffing punks like Cokerocket who are apparently on the Gonna Puke which be honest by name only you want stuff by right now, some dandy 60’s intoned girl pop from the Flips, some killer power pop from the high school lockers – though that said best of the set is the raucous f*ck you grind of the excellently named Fe Fi Fo Fums found here cutting some neat Johnny Thunders shapes with ’one more chance’ and the clearly shit faced Hammond drenched groove of the Wau y los Arrrghs – man we need to hear more of these dudes. – I think we are right in saying that these are two exclusives from the Padden repertoire – sadly no information as to what, how, where or indeed why etc…of course needing no introductions in these pages Mr Padden is one quarter of the impishly inspired and eclectically eccentric weird and wayward art rock pranksters Volcano the Bear who should be featuring in these pages over the coming weeks en masse as they have a by all accounts heavily release schedule about to kick start into action. Anyway for now some strangely normalised sounds from the Padden workbench, of course I say ’normalised’ with a fair amount of tongue super glued top the cheek. As said two exclusives feature on this ms player ’dumfries tape’ appears to adopt a similar ‘postcards from my travels’ attitude as those recent outings cobbled together by Darren Hayman. A pickled collage of promenade fancies, mood reclining muzak, music hall organ follies and a general all around sense of a vintage sepia trimmed Britain viewed through a fast forwarding viewfinder harking to a era of sun kissed beached landscapes ruined by persons adorned with hankies on heads, lolly ices, deck chairs and sand castles – kind of Joe Meek meets the Goons if indeed you are desperately seeking a musical map reference in which to place it. Better still though and a serious curio is the cover of the Undertones immortal ’teenage kicks’ – removed of the originals rapid fire anxiety and in its place decorated with an ominously slow piano refrain that finds itself accompanied by moments of erupting sugar bursts of squalling ripples with Mr Padden himself sounding it has to be said not so far removed from a certain Mr Wyatt. Has to be heard.

The Fallen Angels ’who do you love’ (sundazed). First of several ultra limited dinked 7 inches’ from the esteemed Sundazed imprint, you know the drill rare cuts from the coolest bands that ever where pressed up and decorated in faux vintage labelled 60’s styled picture bags. First up one of the great should’ve been massive bands, the Fallen Angels. Hailing from Washington DC favour and good luck never shone on the Fallen Angels as happened to fellow natives Nils Lofgren, Emmylou Harris and Cass Elliot to name but three. Suffering the indignation of being dropped by their uncaring label Roulette – an imprint who frankly by all accounts had little idea or indeed the gumption or wherewithal to market them, considering them a little ’far out’ and treacherously embarrassing the band as legend would have it by re-arranging the final recording edit of ’hello girl’ much to the annoyance of the band, a slight that was rewarded and repaid in kind by the group with one of their number producing a doll and proceeding to dismember it in front of a recording TV camera. This previously unreleased version of the cut sees them blending the mellowing intones of the latter career country driftwood inflections of the Byrds with the at the time happening breezy folk rock of Dylan to much mellowing mastery. Lead out cut is a rather nifty slice of hip shimmying and busying bitchin’ boogie that has them doing a previously unreleased take of the mighty Bo Diddley’s ‘who do you love’ and from it cooking up a real gas and lashing it with a serious hustling demeanour and lacing it with harmonicas aplenty. Crucial stuff.

The Preachers ‘stay out of my world’ (sundazed). Shuffling out of LA these long haired reprobates where deemed at the time – that’ll be 1965 – to un-commercial for the tastes of their label charges Moonglow, featuring a choice of vocalists (the growling blues preacher intones of Richard Fortunato and the cool as f**k chilled nasal drawl of John English), this dinked seven inch EP housed in the usual retro sleeve and sporting faux 60’s styled labels features three rare repressed slabs one of which a previously un-issued cover of ’hey joe’ (alone admittedly worthy of the entrance fee alone given its a killer folk rock re-drill of the song made famous by the Leaves and latterly by Hendrix). Then there’s the self penned ‘stay out of my world’ – a slice of wasted and out of it primitive pre psyche tempered garage groove that manages with some aplomb to out manoeuvre the holy garage grail pairing of the Standells and the Seeds while their version of ‘who do you love’ is a bastardised and bent out of shape n’ spanking punked up garage blues brew that’s sure to raise their profile among the Pebbles / Nuggets et al fraternity. Damn fine stuff – on clear vinyl as if you needed any further persuading.

Bad Seeds ’I’m a king bee’ (sundazed). Again pressed up in limited quantities all housed in fetching vintage picture bags and adorned with mocked up J-Beck labels, this four track feast gathers together all four sides of the Texans much sought after brace of sevens released during an all too brief short lived career. As the accompanying press release blurb rightly points out the Bad Seeds mixed up a unique brew of Stones-esque grooves with their own brand of primal twang – best heard and experienced on the daringly dirty and mooching ’I’m a king bee’ – hell I’d forgotten how subtle this babe was with its sexual overtones until I heard this cut. Then there’s the blissed out ballad-esque ’a taste of the same’ which should first and foremost appeal in droves to admirers of Bad Afro’s 60’s garage revisionists Baby Woodrose given its dashingly decoded in a shimmering shade adorned fatality. Flip over for the sizzling f**k you ’sick and tired’ which lies somewhere between a crossroads that separates Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and Del Shannon while choice cut of the set comes courtesy of the wig flipped garage beat boogie ’all night long’ – strut grooved speaker spanking stuff.

Seeland ‘goodbye’ (loaf). So in love with this cut that we literally weep, whirl and woo woo each and every time it comes into earshot. Culled from their recently released debut opus ‘tomorrow today’ which – yes yes yes I know we haven’t reviewed yet mainly because of the small but considerable detail that its so bloody wonderful that we skip the chores of sitting down cobbling together fond missives in order to do more of that weeping, whirling and woo wooing we mentioned just a second ago. Anyway left dangling over a rather hot furnace and forced to choose – we would have to own up and say this was one of any number of gems to be found on that aforementioned set. Featuring the combined and dare we say formidable duelling talents of ex members of Broadcast and Plone, Seeland invite you to hop aboard their galactic cruiser for a hyper driven blast into the far reaches of distant milky ways, ’goodbye’ is a honey crusted star crossed babe lovingly sedated and succulently saturated amid a teasing tapestry of cosmic curvatures, shimmering effervescences, twinkling lullabies and wig flipping pupil dilating drop dead gorgeous astral pop – if Bowie’s ’Ashes to Ashes’ was a failing and fading transmission from ‘space oddity’s’ Major Tom then ‘goodbye’ is an updated progress report of the Meek piloted Tornados cruise ship ‘telstar’. Nuff said. Flip the disc for the simply adorable ’tears of an architect’ – if this doesn’t tweak at the heartstrings then nothing will, a beautifully frosted and seemingly lonesome lullaby transmitted across the heaven’s that within its 10 minute odyssey evolves, devolves and terra forms with such breathtaking fluidity that belies a sense of strange alchemy across aural landscapes laced with drone montages, celestial fairgrounds, ethereal choirs, snoozing folk fancies and numbed glacial introspection – perfection.
Susunu Yakota ’a flower white’ (lo recordings). Already achieving something of an early heads up in the album of the year stakes in our gaff, Yakota’s ’mother’ is an seductively toned unreal coalescing odyssey of symbiotically fused moods and textures, all at once shimmering and seductive, fragile and frosted but dinked with an alluringly lush celestial opulence rarely heard here since last years Musetta opus ’mice to meet you’ and Heather Duby’s utterly arresting debut for Sub Pop at the tail end of the 90’s. this EP reprises three of ’mother’s’ more memorable choice cuts as revisited and sprinkled with star dust by the hands of label mates Seeland and Canada’s Montag and Oen Sujet. The set opens with the original mix of ’a flower light’ – angelic and tender its disturbingly beautiful and shyly graceful, Nancy Elizabeth’s softly purring vocals casting an almost enchantress like bewitchment to the occasion wallowing amid the spectral corteges of Cathedral-esque reverence which once left in the capable hands of Seeland achieves something that can only be described as an evangelical experience which at the time of writing this being Easter Sunday seems to me to be fittingly perfect given they endow a woozy star lit light show of glinting garlands and apparition like amorous arcs that collected together weave and radiate with a spellbinding aching desire that’s both flawless and utterly entrancing. Not to be outdone Montag’s recalibration of ’love tendrilises’ – serviced here by both a vocal and instrumental remix – repositions the original mix into a hermetically sealed orbiting orb, the textures dramatically redefined to service it with a wide screen aspect with the tempo slowed to a merest feint pulsing nocturnal heartbeat, the amorphous lounge like contours eliciting an almost supernatural aura and tenderly primed with a subtle though unmistakable purring passion all sublimely trimmed by the majestic processions of softly undulating orchestrations. Last up and by no means least Oen Sujet apply some wonderfully worked playfulness to their re-edit of ’a ray of light’ and into the bargain removes the original from its refined Chamber like hollowness and sets to work dimpling its matrix with some willowy tipped lunar collages much reminiscent of a youthful Cornelius though here brushed in all manner of thawing and snoozing frostily crystal tipped electronic serenades – quite a cutie all said and done.

missive 200 (f)
Bird by Snow ‘industrial collapse’ (gnome life). One of those ‘look ma what I found hiding under the bed’ type releases that will be popping up at regular intervals during this April batch of missives, haven’t a clue how long we’ve had this but judging by the dust sediment covering it we’d hazard a guess at Neolithic a fact summarily backed up by the primitive folk brew being cooked up inside. Anyhow there are just 300 of these babes kicking around (there are a few available still – don’t worry we’ve checked), comes housed in a hand printed sleeve with inserts and features two cuts to which admirers of Will Oldham may do well to enquire further about. Apparently these tracks where recorded way back in 2006 by way of a trusty 8 track cassette and are plastered two sides of wax each advisably labelled ‘play loud’ and ‘play quiet’ – ah how we love instructional tips on records such as recommended speeds to play the blighters at – which alas this omits. Ah well we’ve put it through its paces at a number of rpm selections and happily opted for a safe 33rpm – well it could have been 45rpm but we have the sneaking feeling it wasn’t meant to sound like the Chipmunks on acid. ‘no beard now’ starts sombrely then quickly shifts towards something that could quite easily be described as wasted – its all a deliciously and devilishly inscribed species of frazzled, unhinged, dislocated and buckled out of shape folk blues that the further in its goes the more wired and weird it gets assuming along the way some neat trimmings of good wholesome grizzled
Americana and ultimately culminating in some strangely becoming fringe parting progressive folk. Frankly has to be heard. Flip over for the excellently titled ’chew your fucking legs off (if you have to)’ – achingly slow, pensive, crafted from a woody resonance and bruisingly hollowed yet for all that touched with more than a passing nod to a certain Neil Young albeit harbouring a Leonard Cohen fixation. A whole albums worth entitled ’songbird / another ocean’ lies in wait seeking sympathetic ears. – and while your there check out the warmth filled vibes of the tender cascades awash within ‘if you wait’.

Hjaltalin ‘traffic music’ (self release / download). One of the key tracks featured on their recent and much desirable debut full length ‘sleep drunk seasons’ released via the miniscule but perfectly so kimi imprint, ‘traffic music‘ gets a much deserved showcase outing albeit only as a limited download only single. A deceptively breezy gem dizzily dinked with a most desirable slow / fast / stutter dynamic which upon first hearing admittedly sounds fuzzy and confused, stick with it though because ruminating amid those crooked and ad hoc time signatures elements of a youthful Pavement drawing pistols with an equally early career Jumbo bubble to the fore to decorate your listening space with carpets of spring time flora whilst their off kilter bent out of shape and sweetly radiant bitterly tangy woodland folk follies – themselves rippling tenderly with flutes, sun drenched harmonies and quirky Vernon Elliot styled brass arrangements mysteriously appear like spell charms bringing with them the onset of April showers. Accompanying said cut is an exclusive to this release new track entitled ’Stundarkorn’ – a noir tweaked spectral honey who once free of its initial minimalist overtures soon blossoms and unfurls into a gorgeously conceived slice of twilight tipped majestically frayed atmospheric campfire loveliness which unless we here didn’t know any better would have to say had been crafted by a gathering of various Godspeed, Set Fire to Flames and Black Heart Procession folk under the ever watchful eye of a certain Ennio Morricone. Classy eh?

And here’s an animated video for ’traffic music’ made by Hermann Karlsson… ….

Noiserv ‘bullets on parade’ (autumn ferment). We have this sneaking feeling that if Autumn Ferment continue to slyly off load releases matching the calibre of those that have already escaped into the public domain (Lisa O Piu, James Reid et al) and dare we say equal to those issued by the Fence Collective in their earlier formative years, then this small but special Moray based imprint may well indeed prove to be an invaluable incubator and shop window for that rare breed of eclectic up and coming musicians before they jettison to the bigger league much the same way as Twisted Nerve once was. Release number three sees them casting their net as far as Portugal this time hooking up to the looped folk montages hand crafted by Lisbon based Noiserv – better known to his parents and friends alike as David Santos. Having already released an EP ‘56010-92’ (free to download via the Merzbau imprint) and one full length ‘one hundred miles from thoughtlessness’ (again courtesy of Merzbau) the latter of which had the folk at Autumn Ferment literally licking their lips and rubbing their hands in admiration. Limited to just 500 vinyl copies builds in stature upon a looping acoustic framing over which the twinkling sounds of a clock working musical box slowly and ominously uncoil as though counting down the arrival of the gathering dust bowled storm that approaches in the distance, the shuffling textures thick with impending anticipation freewheel between being hypnotic and resigned while simultaneously woven by a crooked carnival of scratches and crackles, accordions and ethereal symphonies acting as though like ghostly epitaph signatures drifting through the ether, reference wise much deserving being filed alongside your prized Static Caravan era Tunng, early King Creosote and Birdpen releases – in other words quite smart then. Flip the disc and you’ll find Dollboy fresh from his ‘the beard of bees’ recordings via Static Caravan (a lovely thing it is to) and re-aligning Noiserv’s ‘Tokyo Girl’ into a strangely absorbing and dare we say head turning psychotropic glam tweaked re-wire that imagines Glitter’s ’rock n roll’ relocated to the urbane futuristic sparseness of Bowie’s Berlin trilogy and making it through the sonic worm hole sounding not unlike Swimmer One albeit trip wired by a certain Bill Nelson with his Red Noise head on though clearly still transcribing sounds in Be Bop (Deluxe). Recommended stuff.

And those with a fondness for Mr Nelson – a bit of an oldie from yesteryear…be warned we will be testing you later in this extended missive as we’re near finishing a biography about him via Helter Skelter…. – unsettlingly good and named after the Chrome album of the same name we wouldn’t wonder, from the grim imagery to the Dadaist chilled landscapes, there’s something unquestionably edgily austere about the aural wilderness that Alien Soundtracks navigate and explore, it’s a landscape similarly being plundered by the much admired Alrealon imprint at present, crafting out a psychotropic dub canvas that shares loosely an affinity with ’metal box’ era PiL albeit as though rewired by Cabaret Voltaire and admitted for further remoulds by a seriously out there 70 Gwen Party (the latter especially noted non more so than on mutoid drum n‘ bass styled ‘from here to infirmary‘ where to these ears it sounds like them crossing swords with Wagon Christ). Add to the equation a brandishing of titles such as the Fall-esque ‘opium den disco’ and ‘from here to infirmary’ then its easy to see why we just couldn’t resist. Mind you that said ’opium den disco’ is pretty much that – a seriously flipped and fried ’n’ wasted slab of dissipating nightmarish flashbacks of wailing guitars and ominous regimental marching treads. But then just like the name suggests Alien Soundtracks deal in a vaguely familiar though ostensibly fragmented and confused litany of sound collages, part ethnic / tribal – much drawing similarities at times with Muslim Gauze – though again abstract and part out there art rock in a skewed Henry Cow kind of way yet uttering a strange and discernible psyche dialect granted immersed in all manner of dismembered dislocated time signatures and squalling coils. Elsewhere ‘meet the new boss’ very much tunes into elements of early career Play Dead, the industrial intonations melded and moulded made more malleable by the curious appearance of reference markers nodding towards 23 Skidoo and Clock DVA (with a dollop of Muslim Gauze thrown in for good measure). All in all wonderfully wired and weirded out stuff and the kind of ear gear – had he been alive to hear it – that you could bet your arse a certain Mr Peel would have festooned amid his transmission play lists much to the annoyance of his ever receding in numbers ‘dandelion’ and flowers in their hair old time listening purists. – okay – yes the name admittedly amused us, we strongly suspect we shouldn’t like the lonely schizophrenic but damn the blighters they’re so scurrilously addictive and ‘couldn’t give a toss’ offensive that quite frankly we here feel mildly attracted not withstanding the fact that there’s just to much bloody PC around these days ruining people’s impish fun – and no spotty geeks we don’t mean PC as in pretend courtship (oops sorry Personal Computer – mind you it amounts to the same thing). Describing their sound as being pigeonholed under the ’acoustic / traditional Chinese / Celtic’ bracket (what the hell ever that is) you instantly get a measure of what this – essentially an Irish duo based in Dublin – are about when you eye their upcoming shows list at the top of which you’ll no doubt note ’resurrection gig with Jesus H Christ – part deux’ which barring rain and train works was due to take place yesterday – Easter Sunday no less. Okay not content with having offended at least half the population of the world with that one they set about targeting the rest. Now the curious thing about the lonely schizophrenic (look its all tongue in cheek okay – their not serious – or at least we assume their not serious) is that they are guaranteed to split a room in an instant between those who want to marry them and those who want to seriously maim them, there’ll be no Liberal Democrat styled fence sitting here. Apparently there’s an EP out and about – a copy of which we’ll have to nail entitled – er – ’greatest hits’ and on this here showcasing MS player you’ll find five various assorted drinking songs such as the explicit no holds barred home truths giving ’I miss me da’ – a sprightly Irish rover shanty jig that lurches more towards the bawdiness of ’Good Ship Venus’ than ’cockles and mussels’. ’rest in pieces’ tells the sad tale of a poor fluffy – a cat without a face owing to him being run over – see I told you they’d find some kind of Achilles like subject matter with which to offend. Mind you its not all in your face baiting – opening cut ’Panda Porn’ (look please don’t even trying asking) is a dirty as they come smoking and sleazy slinky slice of retro late 70’s funk – a bit like Rick James mooching up to Sylvester – plenty of swear words, very explicit and near the knuckle and backed by Shakatak like harmonies and rounded off with a neat but naughty Barry White moment that finds its way onto the glitter ball shone dance floor at 3.50 in. though all said and done our favourite moment comes courtesy of ’crab people’ – and yes we do agree with the Black Lodge when they refer to it as ‘this nations ‘children of the revolution’’ mind you that’ll be ‘children of the revolution’ refracted through a chemical lens belonging to those impish rock-meisters Tenacious D – which in that case why oh why do I feel compelled to step up with the odd (in fact very odd) spontaneous blast of the Osmonds ’crazy horses’ each and every time I hear it. Scary. – we eyed these via the friends list on Alien Soundtracks MS page and just loved the name and well – hell – thought we’d take a peak. Halloween Swim Team are a LA based trio who to date have snuffled up their collective jumpers a full length in the shape in of ‘the end of sky’ via the Modern Sleaze imprint which after hearing the cuts currently showcased on their MS player we are much of the mind that it’s a set we need to hear sooner rather than later. A curious blend of minimalist electronics and mutant dance collages whose obvious affinity lies first and foremost with current trendsetters Ladytron and Health, though scratch a little deeper and the frost dripped synth chimes and amorphous sheen of austerely applied sparse electro pop calibrations reveal something of a mindset shared with the likes of Modern Eon and Dalek I Love You – especially on ‘the magick song – not to mention the vaguely subtle intones of early career B-52’s especially viewed best on ‘country first’ wherein the strangely monochromatic edginess and sense of underlying menace harks back to the darker elements of Landscape’s skewed pop vocabulary. Best moment of the set is ‘inside out TV’ – an infectious slab of shimmering strut looped casio wiring coolness that superbly ruptures from moments of cosmic lulls to panic shrilled animation. Classy – certainly ones to watch all you Devo dudes.

Here’s a video of them doing the gliding and glassily slinky ‘coincidence’….well catchy….
Halloween Swim Team – Coincidence from Joshua Clarkson on Vimeo.

Favours for Sailors ‘furious sons’ (tough love). Blimey – this cutie is so radiant and effervescent we’ve had to spend the last half hour donning shades and rubbing ourselves down with sun lotion. Sparky and affectionate, we were imagining it had hotfooted across the pond having somehow strayed from its West Coast moorings – alas not so instead this six track outing finds its roots in London via a crooked path initialised in Cornwall. Freewheeling upon a melodic baseline whose matrix is founded about the subtle signposts of hardcore power pop and mathy motifs though liberally sprinkled in all manner of beaming shafts of razor sharp lemon twists, Favours for Sailors procure a dizzying distillation of deck pleasing fodder that calls up the sunny sided groove impressed spirits of the Lemonheads (immediately seek out ‘our name‘), Dinosaur JNR, Teenage Fanclub and Snares and Kites and moulds and melds the assembled nic nacs into a fuzzy feel good glow. Housed in an impressive looking gatefold sleeve that plays host to a 12 inch slab of wax and accompanied by a CD of said tracks for all you heathens without the luxury of stylus driven vibes, this is one hell of a slyly addictive and infectious release that insidiously grows with repeat listens while enlisting elements of Pavement to its cause none more so than on the unfeasible buzz sawed chugging and punchy ’n’ hopelessly hook laden ‘I dreamt that I dreamt that you loved me in your dreams‘ which finds itself blessed with all manner of catchy as f*ck woa woa chorus‘ while packing curious a subliminal messaging that quietly persuades you to go off seeking your stash of db‘s goodies for swift comparison. That said there’s more than a hint of that same Buffalo Springfield styled southern breeze that spiked the set of Moviola’s excellent ’durable dream’ set from a few years ago (whatever happened to them?) on the opening ’erode my empire’. Best moment of the set though by some marked distance is ’the nihilist prays’ as it shuffles and nudges with such an affecting casual air past your defences sprinkling your listening world with such an unerring warmth filled fondness that all you can do is surrender and swoon amid the spectacle of it all. – recommended not to be listened to alone in the dark in fact it’s a fair achievement getting through it in broad daylight such is the intense icy grip to which it claustrophobically conveys upon you the would be listener. the Vultures are a London and thereabouts based dark ambient / drone / noise collective who number four in the ranks each bringing with them an eclectic range of musical disciplines that range from jazz, improv and industrial right through to goth, rock and classical which by and large you be hard pressed to identify if you hadn’t been told such are the abstract and out there climates that they sculpture. Three extended suites feature on this here showcase player, deeply wayward stuff ‘blinded by squid ink’ in particular is parched and pierced by the same haunting tonalities that ventured forth on Volcano the Bears ‘yak’s folks y’are’ set furnished as it is by subtle arabesque mirages themselves sounding like they been sourced from the very heart of a Tibetan basin, the bowed chimes, the eerie monastic chill and ritual reverberations exacting a kind of archaic tribal like folk tablature to the proceedings. Its stunning stuff, arid and austere, the treated guitars slowly pining out distress calls into the wilderness amid fragmented landscapes dappled ominously by the wiring whirrs of manipulated laptop treatments and insectoid scratches and screeches – the scenery bleak, abandoned and distressed. Our favourite moment though is ’deep within the bat’s lair’ littered within ghostly glacial shimmers, looming improvisations and thick with skin prickling atmospherics brought to bear by the doomed drone collages themselves freewheeling in a strange hybrid alchemy that fuses ancient Aboriginal motifs to something sounding not unlike the fog bound echoes of dread you’d imagine chilling you to the core as you ventured forth upon Charon the ferryman’s boat towards your final resting place. As said not one for the feint of heart and deliciously despatched in a gripping detached despair and frankly the kind of dark psyche droned ambient folk that should first and foremost appeal to lovers of Aidan Baker et al whilst finding itself very much pissing in pools that those much admired Beta Lactam Ring dudes relieve themselves in.

Mainliners ‘dead mans hall’ (crusher). Quick mention for a few things that we managed to nail a few weeks back from Cargo, now either these have been given a limited re-issue / re-press or else I’ve been flogged old stock because it seems that this release in particular dates back to 2004 and was indeed the debut outing from Swedish imprint (hell we’ve got another a little later in the missive). These days expanded to a sextet and to date having proudly posted two full lengths (via Get Hip) both of which having been the subject of much chatter among the 60’s freak beat garage head. And rightly so we hasten to add because ’dead mans hall’ (despite being 5 years old – tut tut – there will be words) is a seriously smoking affair, bruising, licking its wounds and clipped with a seriously crippled late 60’s Stones-esque blues attachment whilst staring woefully from out of the bottom of a pain anaesthetising bottle of bourbon, laced in all manner of Hammonds and dutifully decorated in a decaying dispirited 60’s garb hell this sounds like something that Bad Afro are probably kicking themselves stupid for not putting out given its cut with the kind of authentic retro twist more associated with Baby Woodrose albeit bled through with elements of an early career ‘Leonne’ era Devastations. Classy stuff. Flip the disc for ‘daughter of dimes’ – a more up beat affair laced with all manner of slinky struts and pouting an ageless decandence, a purified slab of good time glam tweaked rock ‘n’ roll indelibly crafted from the more malleable and melodically astute and kick ass bits from both the New York Dolls and Heartbreakers back catalogues. Any questions then….did we mention the well tasty faux 60’s EP sleeves – look well dandy I can tell you.

Mainliners ‘Lucy’s Fur’ (Human Bretzel). Picked up on the same shopping expedition as saw the previous Mainliners release fall happily into our mits (see elsewhere somewhere on this missive). Again pressed up on seven inches of black wax though this time appearing on the previously unknown to us Human Bretzel imprint which we believe is based in Brest, France. As previously two more slabs of authentic 60’s groove crystal cut and primed with some killer soulful intonations, again as before it seems the Mainliners have a thing for adorning their platters with one side of pain and sorrow while the other is left for them to wander through the back streets of garage land and beyond and so with that in mind lead out cut ‘lucy’s fur’ finds itself tear stained and torn with the spectres of a faded love, a raging tornado of emotionally splintered soul blues succulently bedded upon classically trimmed shade adorned reverberating riffs whose remit it seems is to hung heavy on the heartstrings until the blighters snap or else wither away with inconsolable solitude. Flip over for ‘round 5’ – a nifty slice of cool as f**k speaker spanking ear wear which we here are thinking wouldn’t look to out of place not to say more than able in holding its own among your prized collection of early Who releases. Nuff said I think. http://www.humanbretzel.xcom

Mastica ‘uomini’ (crusher). Yes I know its been out for years, so long in fact that the band in question have probably called it a day retired and gone off in pursuit of some strange mystic commune. Again another item recently plundered from the pre sales list of Cargo and something no doubt that they’ve managed to trip across in a recent spring clean of the vaults. Issued in 1985 – well lets not beat about the bush here with such small details as dates because quite frankly we here are eyeing suspiciously the aforementioned date noted on the sleeve and label and are busy looking for tell tale clues that might indicate its origin being truer to the late 60’s – we’ve so far managed to find a bead, a bus ticket and some weird looking herb type leaves that when smelt lift your wig. Hailing from Northern Italy and numbering in five Mastica serve up the quite mind frying ‘uomini’ – jeez – all we’ll say record buying people is that this ought to come with jabs of some kind, a humping slice of psychotropic stoner groove unless I’m very much mistaken, this fried babe really does sound like its been propelled by thought straight from a beatnik commune filled magic bus from the 60’s and jettisoned across the astral corridors into a spiritually bereft modern day climate, elements of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane undeniably stoke the grooves while there’s more than a shared affinity with all things PSF mooching about – especially Acid Mothers – flavouring the head expanding brew, add in some Blue Cheer and a smidgeon or two of classic era Black Sabbath and you have yourself a serious ear popping pupils dilating slice of mind arranging lysergic grind. Flip the disc and you’ll find ‘scemo chi spara’ awaiting in all its blistered garage soul majesty, squirreling harmonicas and freak beat grooves aplenty this flipped and rampant blues renegade sounds for all the world like an echoing flashback from the mid 60’s packing some of the dirtiest and meanest riffs this side of a Scandinavian nuggets convention. Classy stuff – frankly we need to hear more – and soon.

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Wonderfully Courteous Gentlemen ‘you can can’ (wcg). Another corking debut it should be said and something that should appeal first and foremost to those of you much admiring of the future grooves currently being piped out of the collective mindsets both Swimmer One and Working for a Nuclear Free City. Its all throbbing synth driven grinds opening salvo ‘when the time comes’ managing to procure a melodic matrix that’s all at once glacially tipped in an austere death disco like aura (much likened to that of White Rose Movement) and yet desirably decoded in a strange pulsating funk swoon fluidity bled throughout with a wiring pop sensibility much reminiscent of indie electro chaps the Koreans from a few years back. Likewise both ‘break fall’ and ‘dance floors’ have enough of an ice cooled coolness about their wits to admirably cut a fair amount of seductive shapes on the sharpest club floors across the land the latter in particular aside being ruggedly hip grinding and mooching hooking into similar shadowy territories as was once the remit of a post Vince Clarke Depeche Mode. Mind you we here are more than a tad smitten by ‘we’ll be so happy’ – for us the best cut here by the odd country mile or two – very much taking its cue from a very youthful ‘scene 30’ era Echoboy albeit as though edgily recalibrated by a spacey psyche vibe implanted by a distinctly pop orientated Add N to X. Quite smart if you ask me.

The Shitty Limits ‘here are the limits’ (static shock). F**k me this good. Haven’t a clue how long this babe been rupturing the radio dials of the more in tuned of the record buying cognoscenti but hell does is make for a rousing racket. Already proud parents of several – well five that we’ve managed to spot – 7 inch releases including this ‘un as well as a few appearances on various compilations such as KCDY radio, the fucked up mix tape and of course last years Counter Culture ’08 set put out by Rough Trade, the Shitty Limits may well be the hottest thing in the postal regions covering High Wycombe, Reading and Guildford right at this moment. Frankly the equivalent of letting a spiky topped genie out of the bottle, by all accounts this lot are levelling to the ground every venue who’ve been fortunate enough to get them, perhaps at the moment on the Jim Jones Revue seem like a more fierce some prospect in the frazzled recording and live stakes. Featured here are six prime sliced servings of frenzied in your face and up at you close and personal three chord arse whipping proto punk nuggets, stupefying stuff fast and furious (the longest being a second short of the two minute ticket tape) and pretty much over in the time it takes you to utter the immortal head nodding ’what the f**k was that?’ blending an adept appreciation of first wave punk – US and Brit styled, oi and hardcore the Shitty Limits (don’t be distracted by the name into thinking these are a bunch of society baiting wasters)| come across like a free for all melee between Kleenex (check out ‘in your shoes‘), the Descendants, Black Flag and Minor Threat though ostensibly drilled with an impish pop sensibility that makes each and everyone of these gems something more than a terrace chant knees up, featuring a psychotic front man who sounds a time like a wired DNA cross fix between Stiv Bators and Jonathan Richman all backed by an armoury of bass, guitar and drum carnage who seem happy to stump up old skool Seeds and Standells riffs at pace – see ’I’m a square’ in case you need further evidence and proof while there‘s more than a whiff of garage beat shenanigans going on amid the thumping punch drunk row that is ‘taking two‘. Our favourite all said and done is the energetically mental and f**ked up squabble ’leave me alone’ rippling aplenty with power surged chords and a killer nag nag nag jab jab jab demeanour – tormenting and tasty and rounded of with someone bowing out saying ’that’s cool’ – damn feckin right it is. – got a message from Tim out of the Sonic Delays, seems this a splinter project of the Plenaries who as regular observers to these pages will no doubt be all to aware are much loved in these quarters having already seduced us with two rather quite perfect singles in the shape of ’wonderful thing’ and ’lost our way’. Anyhow Sonic Delays is described by Tim as ‘being the more extreme / experimental arm’ of the Plenaries and sees him paired with fellow Planerie Aimee. Promising recordings shortly there’s just one track posted on their MS player right now that being ‘Evil’ which if memory serves we eyed and reported about with much acclaim when it appeared on the Plenaries my space player not to mention turning up on the flip side of their last single albeit in its demo form – super chilled druggy tonalities, all blissed out soft psyche tonalities that we here much love and sounding not unlike Galaxie 500 aided and abetted by Cheval Sombre raiding Spacemen 3’s medication cabinet. We impatiently wait for more of the same.

Update – as is typical of these things no sooner do we post up a short mention for the Sonic Delays and the buggers only go and hot foot it into the studio to lay down a bit of a gem. ‘are we here?’ is cut in the finest tradition of dream pop trappings, a bitter sweetly bleary eyed babe silkily inoculated by a forlorn and faraway bliss fuelled demeanour and insulated amid a bathing of shimmering honey dripped fuzz tonalities, resonating feedback vapour trails and arcing opines of stratosphere piercing glazes this gorgeously statue-esque nugget which – if references are needed – falls somewhere between the cracks that separate a reclining My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, Autodrone and the much loved Insect Guide. If they carry on with this almost casual ease in cutting stuff like this and ‘evil’ then there’s no telling where this will go, good things do indeed lie in wait. – we feel there’s something of a mischievous side to the lost and found sounds persona aside the schizoid battery acid sound with which they / him / she (we’re not entirely certain at this point in time) seek to scramble your senses with, a link to their official website ‘’ no less relocates you immediately to the NBC website which be honest is neither use to man nor beast unless you’re one of these celebrity obsessed sycophants who frequently pours resources into the coffers of magazine tat like Heat and whatever other pointless ‘get a fu**in life of your own’ periodicals that are to be found stoking up the bottom half of shelves at your local newsagents and being much responsible for the depletion of rain forests in areas you’ve probably never heard of. Anyway now removed from the soapbox we’ll tackle the important matter in hand. The lost and found sound hail from Arizona, two tracks so far posted on their my space player, while release wise there’s been a positive plethora of activity that since 2007 has resulted in a dozen or so outings the latest being ‘somebody call me lighter’ – all these are available free as sound files for the sake of a well turned out email or better still throw in the postage and you can get yourselves physical copies. As to what you’ll get in return for your labours is some of that quirky manipulated squall and power electronics that we must admit we here are more than a tad fond of, something that we like to think will certainly raise eyebrows and no doubt complaints from the neighbours when played at full pelt. It seems the lost and found sound enjoy nothing more than exacting a blitz of bastardised binary intermissions, all delivered with more than a hint of shall we say dislocated, damaged and deformed dynamics, frenzied, confused and more than likely in some cases liable to bring on seizure attacks. We suggest you plug yourselves into ‘xposed sr. quet’ not least because its wired and wonky but because once scratched away of its communicative chaos and white noise sand blasting it reveals something of a crookedly playful funkiness much reminiscent of those brain damaged slabs of Dadaist dementia that passed out of Japan in the late 90’s as well as surfacing on the early catalogue roster of Tigerbeat6. Our own well turned out email request is venturing through cyberspace as I write.

Update – message from lost and found sound – he / she / they are in fact a he by the name of Stacy who has promised to send various sound files for review and listening pleasure including a split cassette release with Haunted Tapes who all things being well should feature amid these pages a little further along.

Bass Communion ‘loss’ (Soleilmoon). By our reckoning the second repress of ‘loss’ following its initial appearance on vinyl way back in 2006 and its subsequent expansion to double CD status the following year. Here given a limited edition outing of just 500 copies and sporting a rather fetching looking 12 inch picture disc housing ’loss’ which if previous BC releases are to be judged by should fly out the racks like nobodies business.

For the initiated among you Bass Communion is and has been since the late 90’s the more experimental guise of Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree fame. Providing an outlet for the darker half of his creative persona it has seen Wilson exploring sound textures and atmospherics as opposed to melody based structures, removed of the traditional verse, chorus, verse song writing rudiments applying to the work of Porcupine Tree, Bass Communion has by and large allowed him the freedom to disengage from such restrictions and be led by his instincts to traverse the hidden sub strata of sounds hidden micro-verse. To that end releases bearing the Bass Communion name have tendered to occupy territories best described as dark ambient and drone, last years excellent ’pacific codex’ – which incidentally it should at this point be noted was superbly packaged and released by the Equation imprint – the album itself featuring two elongated tracks of heavily sculptured aquatic ambience.

And so to ’loss’ as with ’pacific codex’ its made up of two elongated suites, perhaps the most accessible of all Bass Communion releases to date as it sub divides itself into one part neo classical and one part light drone, mind you that’s not to say that its anything approaching easy listening. Far from it. ’loss’ is as the title might hint is bleak, sombre and hurtfully reflective. The remit for the recording was to connect with the ‘aftermath of loss‘ and to that end Wilson succeeds in his intent. Devoid of emotion and compassion ‘loss – part 1’ flat lines with an eerie and empty consequence. From the initial thud that greets the entrance of ‘part one’ Wilson cleverly captures and mirrors that moment when the shock and the distressed confusion passes and hits an emotional wall only to be replaced by that extending chill of inconsolable regret wherein the blame making demanding thoughts of the why’s and how’s are substituted by the blame shifting towards a more personalised perspective bringing with it an abandoned and inescapable feeling of dread remorse. The piano based textures within perfectly compliment the mood, both spectral and haunting they are framed in a sepia aura that wither despondently all the time crippled by an unmistakable melancholia. Reference wise there’s more than an air of Satie in the grief stricken delivery, the key refrains turned in with a tortured tenderness shot through with a feeling sinking hopelessness.

Seemingly less demanding but nevertheless still bracing and penetrating, ’part 2’ over on the flip is initially grafted with an deeply isolated funereal casting, gloomy and doomed the textures shift sombrely towards a more atmospherically foreboding drone realm dinked ominously by monastic chimes which in their wake enlist a gripping detachment to the proceedings only to be led to a concluding passage of reflective passing wherein the swathes of drifting cathedral-esque calm usher a sense of quiet closure. Intense stuff. – further listening ‘Molotov and haze’

Splendor Mystic Solis ‘Heavy acid blowout tensions’ (Eclipse / Galactic Zoo). Haven’t a clue how many of these babies are kicking around but we’re suspecting this is ultra limited and yes we are aware – before you all start sending in complaints letters – that it came out in 2003. And no it isn’t something we’ve dredged up on our recent and dare I say ongoing spring clean – this came courtesy of a recent Cargo picking which I’m suspecting may well be part of them hooking up with Eclipse because we appear to have nailed a few My Cat is an Alien and Sunburned Hand oldies at the same time. Any regardless of all that this something (if you don’t have it already that is) that all psyche heads ought to sharpishly invest in.

Featuring three cuts committed to tape in ‘99 exacting the combined might of Kawabata Makoto (Acid Mothers), Nanjo Asahito (Ruins), Sasaki Hisashi (Ruins), Shimura Koji (White Heaven) and Plastic Crime wave (Utopia Carcrash) culled from three special appearances made in Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis and recorded and preserved for posterity. This space cadets is one serious freaky mother.

Housed in a damn fine looking psych-y sleeve with artwork provided for by Plastic Crimewave, this gathering was a one off Stateside tour, so f**king spaced out and druggy is the set that for the best part of the listening experience our mind freed itself of its moorings and went wandering on some sort of astral odyssey threatening never to return. Apparently the remit for this was to do Syd Barrett like freeform collages but hell there are times when it goes very much Hendrix like especially on ‘Splendor 2’. As you can imagine with such a collective of talent the sounds are – for want of a better description – out of it and out there, shit faced freeform space psyche that falls, veers and spirals between white hot moments of kraut styled power grind and bliss laced stoner groove, the three pronged guitar attack of Makoto, Asahito and Plastic Crimewave coalescing superbly to create one minute – punishing heads down no nonsense freak outs the next transcendental flashbacks that sometimes border on revelation like – stunning for those of you who love their sounds fried, fuzzy, acid laced, wig flipped and beefed up and cosmic as though they’ve arrived and limbered from some huge intergalactic space craft or at the very worst crawled from some sort of thickly lysergic tipped primal soup. If this doesn’t tweak and turn on your third eye with its kaleidoscopic advances then frankly your smoking the wrong shit.

Hafdis Huld ‘stop’ (red grape). Admittedly we appear to have lost this for a fair while – recently unearthed I the great April spring clean – which in case you are asking is going quite badly as it happens – red faces all around at some of the stuff we’ve somehow lost, mislaid or foolishly ignored. Anyway Hafdis Huld – already guaranteed a place in our affections courtesy of her quite ridiculously dippy ‘tomoko’ release from a year or more ago not to mention its follow up ‘diamonds on my belly’. since then there’s been an album which we know for a fact we haven’t got (see spring clean) because if we had you’d be reading about it here. Anyway the former Gus Gus starlet has no doubt won the hearts of the majority probably being feted and spoilt as we write and why not. Mind you that said ‘stop’ rarely hits the buttons, of course it’s the old Sam Brown (daughter of Sam no less who we mentioned in this very missive given he appeared on those Dirty Strangers recordings – and you think we just throw these reviews in the air and hope for the best – meticulous planning I can tell you goes into these as well as Olympic styled caber tossing lunges) chart topper (was it a chart topper) from ‘89. In Ms Huld’s capable hands its reduced to the merest of heartbeats stripped to the core and left openly vulnerable to sport its heart aching wounds, add in some softly demurred shy eyed vocals and the casual spectral strum of acoustics and you have something beautifully raw though as said falling considerably short of the benchmark she’s previously set for herself. Mind you for all that it still canes the opposition.

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19-04-2009 – recommended to us by the lost and found sound with whom they share a c-30 cassette split with which we think Stacy (who is the lost and found sound is emailing us – so expect further mentions in a few days when we’ve savoured the contents). An Arizona based trio no less comprising of friends Brandon, Zach and Stacy (yep the lost and found sound dude again) who in the own words ‘strive to musically recreate the artwork found on Atari 2600 cartridges’. we have to admit being much in favour of the overt use of subliminal messaging as ventured on the opening salvo ‘pyramid song’ on which we swear we hear amid the sounds of an intergalactic space station broadcast some distant robotic relation of Fireball XL5’s Robbie (the robot) mischievously advising ‘buy it, buy it’ mind you the clincher is the impish snippets of Gary Numan’s ‘M.E.’ albeit here revealed in its Basement Jaxx’s (‘where’s your head at’) guise sent happily through the crookedly cosmic blender. ‘riding high’ initially sounds like the arriving onset of some epic slice of pop heartbreak by the Walker Brothers or the Big O until the appearance of what sounds like an army of drunken mole men hijack it and put it up for ransom but then had that not been the case then things wouldn’t have sounded half as like a prank minded Echoboy mooching around the undercarriage of Add N to X’s console unit with a soldering iron and pliers. ‘sarcophagi’(that’s meant to have an additional ‘I’ at the end – this blighter of a PC keeps changing it) is best shall we say described as wonky, warped and very weird, a bit like a playful promenade jaunt as enacted by say – the Busy Signals – only the promenade has long since been succumbed by the advancing sea and the Busy Signals has been found donning his best looking snorkel and skins for a spot of the underwater sonatas. Last up and by no means least a spot of strangeness courtesy of ‘nownowherehere’ all dimpled with strange archaic dub mantras, flotillas of dream weaving mirages, soft psyche kookiness and oriental frost tipped motifs – nah we haven’t a clue what it means either. – armed with an array of guitars and electronics, Amberhaze is the work of Singapore based musician Giuliano Gullotti, one release firmly under his belt to date in the shape of the ‘newborn’ EP with the promise of a full length scheduled to arrive and no doubt break hearts this summer via the KittyWu imprint (more about them later). Described as falling somewhere between ‘shoe gaze / indie / electronics’ Amberhaze tread with measured elegance within realms already occupied by the likes of Yellow 6 and Workhouse, the melodies tear stained, introspective mellow delicately dapple the star crossed voids in a tempting array of sugar blazed sheens of frosted stratospheric opines, here you’ll be enchanted by the milky atmospherics of ‘a certain affinity’ as it playfully swirls and sways like some sort of forlornly minimalist toned New Order its inherent am orphic armoury of nocturnally tweaked glitchy electronics and glassy riffs playing out a lunar like courtship. Elsewhere ‘December’ is poised and subtly primed with the same glacial set classical pirouettes and twinkle some lullaby-esque Brontean flurries much recalling the early work of fortdax albeit re-engineered by a snoozing and serenely minded Maps and Diagrams. That said best moment of the set for us is the vapour trailed ‘crush’ – deceptively majestic and statue-esque amid its hollowed orbiting glazes lies an immeasurable beauty softly thawing, stretching and yearning. Utterly captivating.

Wooderson / Ox Scapula ‘split’ (we like danger). Must admit that we here are a tad cheesed off with ourselves because we’d have sworn we’d already given this our blessings in previous dispatches. However a quick root around the gaff reveals otherwise. Not sure how limited this four track face off is but given that previous We Like Danger ear ware (here’s to the atom bomb, herzoga, ms Thomason et al) have had a tendency to fly from the racks like the proverbial shit off a hot shovel we suggest you go in immediate search. A seven inch EP no less pressed up on black wax replete with inserts and all your usual packaging, this release sees the welcome return to the decks of Ox Scapula who occupy one half of the grooves being accompanied by Wooderson who – obviously – apply their craft across the remainder. Hailing from Sheffield and numbering four in the ranks. ’Audacious day’ and ’janet bruce’ marks their first official debut outing following the acclaim garnered by way of their demo which sadly we missed out on here – harrumph. Definitely cutting Dischord shapes with their jagged brand of agit based grizzled goo ‘Audacious Day’ it has to be said is a bit of a killer cut replete with revved up chorus’ of squalling sheens of driving riffage (which quite frankly from their initially appearances sound like Dick Dale firing up) whose bloodline easily finds something of a shared kinship with the latter career back catalogue of the Am Rep roster and here found lunging and about you up close and personal in the blink of an eye whilst concocting something of a decidedly savage and melodically astute brew. Think that covers it for now mind you did we mention the Fall-esque moments? ‘janet bruce’ is a more dislocated affair and perhaps all said and done the stronger of the two cuts, built around a seriously scarring mooching bass line and blessed with a spoken word delivery much recalling Rooney it frequently fractures and rages into seizure gripped menacing moments of white hot frenzy. Well tasty. Flip the disc for a brace of Ox Scapula gems, last featured in despatches with their ‘cuts’ debut – see missive 170 – both ‘the man’ and ‘suspended letter’ continue to reveal their growing love of all things math rock, the former smothered in an abrasive and abrupt goo is a jarring brew of distorted time signatures and wildly erratic stuttering rhythmic calibrations all at once fierce some, frenzied and dare we say wilfully manic in a charged and scarred Fugazi type manner. More settled is the accompanying ‘suspended letter’ well we say settled but then that only lasts for about a minute before the festering jabs of the intricately honed corkscrewing riffs assume a domineering presence and colour the proceedings with a fraughtly animated edge the type of which you’d have to flick back through your record rack to the likes of the Arm or San Lorenzo for a suitably comparable reference point.

The Scratch ‘destroyed by the look of love’ (pony land). Damn (ed), damn (ed), damn (ed) we’re so mightily pissed at ourselves because somehow we’ve managed to inadvertently mislay this babe much to our embarrassment and save it from a fate worse than – well in our gaff – death – that being the unheard mountain of CD’s currently hiding the floors of two rooms and several work surfaces. The Scratch should need no introductions in these pages, pardoning the French but they literally piss melodies so razor sharp, acutely addictive and drilled in threads of a vintage golden era new wave flavour that we here suspect them of having access to a time travelling device. Sadly we only have a one track promo of this their three track download only release – the gone missing in action cuts being ‘flicker’ and a live demo take of ‘not your friend’ (which we will enquire about in a begging letter and report back with haste in future despatches). Mind you we’ll forgive them just this once because the lead out cut ‘destroyed by the look of love’ is frankly worth the entrance fee on its own. This babe is primed and charged with the kind of wickedly audacious exuberance not heard around these parts since Supergrass started re-branding old Buzzcocks ditties as they’re own. And talking of the Buzzcocks the Shelley / Diggle et al reference markers aren’t lost on us here because ‘destroyed by the look of love’ has a definite ‘love bites’ edge to it albeit subtly smoked in the irrefutable shade adorned soft psyche hue of 60’s fuzz shakers the Shadows of Knight while cut pristinely with one of the most drop dead chorus’ this side of a garage beat pop styled Sundazed re-issue. Between you and me I think the blighters are toying with us.

Up date – Andy from the Scratch kindly sent over a finished copy of ‘destroyed by the look of love’ which we don’t mind admitting has been getting a fair hammering since being prized from its mailer, in fact so hot off the presses is this beauty that the ink has scarcely dried on it. Mind you that said it now gives us a chance to tune in and savour the previously reported gone missing in action flip cuts ‘flicker’ and ‘not your friend’ – and little blinders they are. ’flicker’ should rightly see itself garnering something of a thumbs up and some admiring glances from the psychedelic community draped as it is in softly warping lysergic tonalities that we here are thinking reveals someone in the ranks spending their spare time genning up on the finest kookily kaleidoscopic moments to be had from the Elephant 6 Collective back catalogue (Minders, Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control et al) and decided to observe those off kilter wonky west coast moulds through a vintage viewfinder and tender the emitting refractions with essences procured of a quintessentially English eccentricity that suggests Pete Shelley leading out a magic mushroom munching Syd loving collective made up of members of the Soft Boys, the Freed Unit and XTC in their Dukes guise. Trippy stuff. Not to be outdone ’not your friend’ lands a considerable jaw dropped punch, an unrepentant slab of searing, sneering, snot nosed spite replete with nasal drawls and a warring armoury of wilfully frantic spiked and sparring insurgent three chord hip hugging accoutrements that we here are suspecting has been born of some impish soul cross matching the DNA’s of the Godfathers with those of the Dead Boys. No prizes for guessing that you need this in your life sharpish.

Fever Fever ‘keys in the bowl’ (cherryade). Two Cherryade releases in as many days (the other being heavily hammered already debut full length from the Lovely Eggs) received over here in the bijou confines of the losing today record shed, blimey it must be Christmas and we’ve slept through the summer we thought. But then it was Christmas when we first stumbled upon the rather wilfully abrasive Norwich based trio Fever Fever whose contagious and caustic ’Hallelujah Carol’ proved one of a number of highlighting delights to be found hogging groove space on Cherryade’s annual festive soiree ‘a very cherry Christmas’ Volume 4. Accompanying this their official debut twin set is a press release replete with a photo portraying said trio with petulant scowls as though momentarily interrupted for the shot from lamping chunks out of each other and each adorning a t-shirt individualised by one letter – R S and E – arse (geddit – bloody hard work this explaining stuff). Its an image that perfectly conjures up what Fever Fever are about – volatile and vicious. Both these cuts ‘keys in the bowl’ and ‘stage shoes’ come shrink wrapped in the kind of up and at you gear shifting gusto that’s so acutely agitant in demeanour and delivery that it makes you wince and cower, the former a frenzied and furious f**k you three chord slab of riot grrl baiting that sounds not unlike fellow East Anglian compatriots Violet Violet albeit oozing and curdled with several side servings of bad assed attitude and lashed amid a crudely caustic armoury of quarrelsome combination pogo popping jabs. ‘stage shoes’ is equally shrilled with a teeth bearing gasket blowing antagonistic relentlessness that had us here reaching with haste for our stash of Rubella Ballet, Expelled and Ejected ear ware from yesteryear though quite frankly we are more than a tad smitten by its criminal ability to flash without due care or regard between being caustic and cutesy. Essential of course but then did you really need to ask?

The Phantom Band ‘the howling’ (chemikal underground). Indeed we here have been much loving of this lots debut full length ‘checkmate savage’ that in all the excitement and joy that its poured forth and bestowed upon our person we’ve somehow forgotten to write about it in despatches. That’ll teach the blighters for cobbling together a knee knocking nugget nurtured cutie. Anyhow debut single culled from that aforementioned set sees ‘the howling’ being turfed out of its safe confines and forced to embark on a bit of lonesome space walking. Hands up who fancies a spot of kraut folk. No I haven’t been on the pills again or else had a bang on the head that has somehow disengaged our ears and seemingly removed them reality – mind you two hours of Merzbow on the turntable may have played a small part in matters. Do we not hear the feint drift of Quickspace and Fly intoxicating the listening space and what’s this as we scratch a little deeper beneath the kosmic tonalities some slender and barely audible elements of the Band and Buffalo Springfield. Okay maybe not so much of the Springfield’s but there’s no denying that there’s a homely campfire pageantry unfurling here curiously tweaked by a discernible element or three of kraut borne motorik rhythms and the subtle wash of buzz humming hyper driven sprinkled space dust. Anyhow in truth one of the weakest cuts of the debut full length (see I told you the album was a gem) and something that has had us all in a quandary wondering whether to don the sheriffs hat or the space helmet, featuring loads of woo wooing moogs, dust bowled mantras, ghostly hymnal recitals which I suppose all adds up to being something that admirers of the Earlies should be rescuing from record racks and lavish much love and affection on while as a bonus for all you comic buffs the sleeve features artwork by Frank Quietly (all star Superman, new X-Men, Batman, the Invisibles et al). Ma are those beans ready yet?

The Authors ‘household appliances’ (Scribe). This lot featured in these very pages somewhere in the mists of time when we had the good fortune to hook up to their ‘taxi’ debut (see missive 138). Fast forward several years down the line and while it could be argued that the world domination train hasn’t quite managed to navigate its way to their Jersey located base camp just yet the trio happily (mind you that could equally be unhappily) hatch out the finest morsels of surging sugar pop this side of a hooks r’ us website service. ‘household appliance’ here featured twice in both its radio and full edit versions is a ridiculously catchy slice of playfully busy strut fused electro pop, replete with stuttering kick backs and dislocated rhythmic time signatures while blessed with the kind of candy trimmed electro framing that was once the sole remit of a Vince Clarke featured Depeche Mode this beauty slyly and serviced with a pulse racing urgency which when viewed as a whole seems them sharing something of an affinity with the gone quiet of late Computerclub. As always with these things our preferred cut is the flip side ‘hospital’ – trimmed as it is with a decidedly alluring backdrop of stilled atmospherics and glazed with bitter sweet trappings which unless our ears do deceive lends itself a certain frail and fragile detail that recalls a sense of ‘picnic by the motorway’ styled Suede motif about its wares while simultaneously being steeped with an austere majesty much reminiscent of a very youthful ‘Organisation’ era OMD and decoded with the type of numbed magnetism that makes Decoration such a bloody treat to hear. Will tug at the heartstrings.

Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones ‘octopus I love you’ (music 4 goldfish). The return of our favourite loons, how Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones have so far escaped institutionalisation is beyond us – mind you perhaps they have and are currently on the run, still whatever the case they occupy a rare and eccentric corner of pop’s ever expanding cosmos, a place where the lines between what passes for the great and genius and the whacked and weird blur, a place where the heralded and feted go unrecognised, unaccredited and largely ignored by the public at large, a place equally where the hopeless remain – er – hopeless. A brief run through of the admittance register would maybe read – Captain Beefheart, Viv Stanshall, Half Man Half Biscuit, the Fall, the Cravats and of course Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones. They have been a crucial part of our listening enjoyment for a good number of years, so blatantly obtuse, off the wall and so resistant to toeing the line they’ve hatched for themselves a world where only they exist, a world only they could exist. Latest release – incidentally a free download from their website – address below – features two cuts that initially appeared on their recent and I should hasten to add much loved here ‘psychedelic monsters’ set though here finding themselves culled from a session for the Mr Peel honouring Dandelion Radio. ‘Octopus I love you’ is braided by a loveably lilting and radiantly lazy eyed and summery laid back acoustic refrain that’s coloured coded with a swanky happy go lucky hand clapping dizziness that’s much reminiscent of the sparse lo-fi treatments applied by the Freed Unit to their criminally ignored ‘gigglegoo’ full length from a few years ago. Admittedly there are vague Barrett-esque impressions pickling the canvas and while the lyrics are barking in a one slate short of a roof type way there’s more than enough of a shyly effervescent crookedness here to suggest this lot can navigate their way around the pop sensibility maze and still emerge out of the exit with their credibility still intact. Flip over for ‘hairy monsters’ which for reasons best known only to us probably had us strangely recalling the Soft Hearted Scientists – well at least momentarily until that is it goes all Weddoes ‘sea monsters’ on us, throw in some childlike imagery, some kooky electronics, an underpinning of swathes of lunar like tides, some chugging guitars and we’re fast tracking a well beaten path up to the equally fried and foolishly neglected territories frequented by the Beatnik Filmstars. I wonder what medication their being prescribed these days?

And here’s the equally demented video…..fried stuff….you have been warned…

Octopus I Love you,t=1,mt=video

Fresh Legs ‘chess’ (cool for cats). Seem to recall us giving this label something of a panning in recent despatches when upon spotting we now had a sizeable gap in our prized Kabeedies collection mainly due to missing out on their third (I think) release which was by way of a brief detour to the beckoning arms of Cool for Cats there was unmitigated grumpiness for an entire weekend and beyond with words not heard on British shores since the arrival of the bearded blokes with big hats and funny looking ships led by a bloke called Kirk. I bet their ears were a burning as was our pile of fierce panda and related paraphernalia on the steaming funeral pyre that we’d hastily made in the front room, a front room that should be said here and now is sporting a rather smart looking hole that the cat invites his friends along to go pot holing on rainy days when playtime is cancelled and malted biccies and glasses of milk are the order of the day. Where exactly where we. Fresh Legs that’s the bunny. Fresh from the acclaim garnered by way of their debut single ‘Samwise’ – well we’re assuming it was acclaimed because it says so in the press release (almost) and as you know press releases never never lie unless of course they’re for Moz and extol such rib tickling witticisms as ‘his best to date’ and only then do we single him out because his adoring fans are well handy with complaints and quite frankly vivid and ingenious in their death threats – and anyway we need to up the blog readership count because lets be honest three readers is embarrassing. And so to Fresh Legs for a third and final time who by now have probably either dozed off, given up and gone to pub or else grown beards much like those mentioned earlier in this thesis like word generating appraisal. Two tracks feature within and smarties they are. ‘chess’ is precociously perfect, sitting somewhere between the much admired Johnny Foreigner and the ever adorable the Lovely Eggs, this baby freewheels between the mellow and manic. Graced by Ella’s vocals themselves teasingly dizzy and blessed for the best part with a cutely fetching head in the clouds wooziness under which mooches an armoury of potently patient hip hugging jig-sawing needle like strums whose reference markers indelibly cast a nod or two towards the early career work of the Weddoes and which quietly with stealth like adeptness slyly gather velocity to momentarily erupt and fracture into combustible shards of furiously thumping heads crunching meltdown and from that point on proceed to inscribe something delightfully deranged and unhinged. ‘house’ over on the flip – yep you’ve guessed rightly – is our preferred cut mainly due to the fact that its decorated with an insidiously off kilter dressing of a spiky, fragmented and fried funky groove all lovingly done up with the cross exchange of shouty boy / girl vocals and finished off with sun steamed cute as f**k harmonies. Could you honestly ask for anything sweeter we wonder – I somehow think not.

missive 200 (i)
Singled Out
‘surrounded in sound’

The Amateurs ‘Homesick’ (the animal farm). Annoyingly and not withstanding all manner of attempts being procured in order to find an adequate medium with which to prize the tunes locked within the grooves of this release we here are still no nearer having the faintest clue what the attending flip cuts to this (‘London sky‘ which incidentally we did get playing only for it to mysteriously die half way through not before that is revealing itself to be something of a softly radiating slice of radiantly joyful pop with trimmings of World Party to boot – ‘mystery thing’ – just in case you were taking notes) – the latest release – from the hotly tipped combo The Amateurs sounds like, which is a fair old shame considering the lead out ‘homesick’ is one of those best described slow to grow affairs. A mellowing thing that tenderly tweaks at the heart strings and finds itself delicately drilled with the kind of melodic framing that suggests it should be clocking up considerable mileage on drive time radio shows up via this fair nations broadcasting stations. Its all dainty easy listening, drifting and airy soft rock pop blessed with a quite desirable chorus twist that through repeat listens insidiously makes it hooks into your psyche to have you annoyingly whistling like a bad ‘un just when you least expect while simultaneously proving itself to be something that admirers of the Tacticians may easily find themselves swooning to.

The Anomalies ‘margarita’ (beyond music). Last time out they were terrorising our ear lugs and sending the in house hi-fi into moments of frenzied delirium with the frankly unstoppable ‘old skool’ (see missive 190). Between then and now there’s been an album ‘free soup social’ which as you’d probably gather from the hinting title is a prime packed potently infectious brew of genre munching party sounds from which this second single ‘margarita’ is culled. Here the impish Hereford based upstarts Sam and Murf seem intent on squeezing your pips until they pop while spooning out a canvas of sounds fused from an array of reference points that to these ears at times sound not unlike an army of beer swilling skanking Cossacks on some sort of misguided 18-30 travel deal to Morocco and packing a mother of a beat box banging out a crookedly infectious tapestry of intoxicating fez frying scratchin hip hop humping groove mashed up with discarded Basement Jaxx’s routines and wonky spacey sci-fi swirls. Irresistible by our reckoning.

Tom Waits ‘Lucinda / ain’t goin down to the well’ (Anti). Better get your arses rather smartish along to your local independent record emporium if you want one of these because by all accounts this is one of a number of one off releases to herald what has been (today) record day. Culled from the Edinburgh and Atlanta shows as part of last years acclaimed ‘Glitter and Doom’ tour. We here must admit we’re having something of a Waits time here having gotten hold of a copy of Barney Hoskins ‘lowside of the road – a life of Tom Waits’ tome which despite being nigh on a hundred or so pages in it still seems to us that for all his investigative prowess and techniques involving water torture, sleep deprivation and other such like that Mr Waits is proving to be the most evasive of subjects. Anyhow this limited edition release is worth the entrance fee alone just to hear the great man knocking out ‘bottom of the world’ which here sounds so bashed, bruised and bent out of shape that you feel as though you just woken up, found yourself in a gutter head down in a pool of vomit and suffering flashbacks of yourself the night before in a fog of drunken oblivion undergoing some serious heart to heart with a bottle of bourbon or three while precariously perched and hanging to a bar.

Narration ‘miracle’ (exploding light). Getting daft this now – another gem like release – where the hell are they all coming from we wonder – some water tampering perhaps. I’m certain we’ve mentioned Narration in past despatches but will be buggered if we can find any referring links. Anyway Narration are a trio based in Twickenham an area I’m fairly familiar with given I worked down there for a number of years and a place that should you visit then we heartily recommend you pay a visit to the Munch Box for all your feeding requirements. Anyhow Narration have been deservedly picked up by the ever watchful gaze of Classic Rock which seems about right that they should given their sound lends itself somewhat to what can only be described as an emotion sapping mercurial majesty that makes a lie out of their youthful years. Two cuts feature here and a brace of senses choking grandeur you’ll find hard to match or equal on another release for a fair while to come, both stunningly accomplished, measured and treated with a superbly framed wide screen presence. ‘miracle’ the lead out cut is an anthem waiting for an event, equal parts erupting euphoric echoes, stratosphere piercing riffage, star crossed arpeggios, wounded bitter sweet corteges and very much soldered with a steely eyed Stateside appeal. Mind you it pails into the shade when compared to the flip cut ‘please show me the lights’. An eight minute tortured, tormented slab of tear driven gem, a lovelorn epic beautifully caressed with cantering Brontean cascades and deliciously equipped with a pulse racing breathlessness that veers between the purring and punishing whilst all the time sumptuously finding itself cast in an alluring head bowed stateliness that bands operating in similar emotionally torn territories may well grudgingly admire through enviable glances.

Okay young folk more essential ear frazzling entertainment from those reprobates over at – the latest two pod cast uploads feature show #25 from Sonic Nightmares and Radioblivion #36 – its all your usual dirty and deviant middle conservative moral baiting bad assed boogie from the dark and unseen secret universe of garage / freak beat, Sonic Nightmares finds itself hosted by a quartet of taste makers who armed with cobbled together nugget detectors have been out and about sourcing and searching out the most smoking, sexy and wig sizzling slabs of shindig this side of a fading Wolfman Jack broadcast, prepare to be turned on to the sounds of the amazing Staggers whose we will be seeking out for ourselves, a trio of treats from the Swiss based primitively grooved Voodoo Rhythm imprint whose wares you can view by going to I know we have and enviably so. Elsewhere there’s Kim Gordon’s Free Kitten revving the shit out of the Spex’ ‘oh bondage up yours’ while we are suspecting that like us you’ll be threatening all manner of harm if you don’t get further information on how to get hold of that Jap tape featuring Lightning Beat Man who does an admirable butchering of Eddy Cochran’s ‘c’mon everybody’. Michael Kaiser dusts down his platters, oils up the turntable, gives the dansette a damn good winding and fires up the tinny speakers for another hours worth of cross eyed fringe parting toe tapping foot stomping yabba yabba groove that’s medically proven to make you the coolest kid on the block, among the much marvelled morsels on parade wig flipped bop blasters from the likes of Creation, Cramps, Eyes, Little Willie, Oblivions, Proud Scum and a smattering of cuts from New Zealand scuzz lords Los Hories whose Aaron features courtesy of a specially recorded interview.

Cross Stitched Eyes ‘Coronach’ (Alternative Tentacles). Already the proud parents of a 7 inch for Ruin Nation and an album ‘Face 2 farce’ via Active, Californian trio mark their debuting release for Alternative Tentacles with the fierce some no nonsense ‘Coronach’. Boasting a line up that variously features ex members of UK Subs, Rudimentary Peni, the Subhumans, Smart Pills, Tourette Syndrome and Black Mass, ’Coronach’ is a shrink wrapped and welcoming slab of potently drilled gloom doomed agit heavy load bearing punk grind.

A quick glimpse at the titles alone ought to put you on alert that this isn’t going to be happy clappy party music, I mean ‘rot’, ‘mourn for life’ and ‘suffer’ aren’t your usual pretty pop flavouring (and yes it isn’t lost on us that three of the track titles make up their name – ‘Cross’ ‘Stitched’ and ‘eyes’ – thought I’d spell it out just in case you weren’t giving your full and undivided attention). ‘Coronach’ is acutely antagonistic and coded with a slavish stare you down menace, it features a combative sortie of fourteen grimly scowling cuties that despite its combined slender 32 minute duration is scarred and scathing with intolerant intent. Frankly just what the good doctor ordered because finitely secured amid these grooves there’s very much a discernible Brit influenced hardcore mechanics afoot here, the incessant front line armoury of frantically furious gridlocked powered and punishing three chord assaults and its whole end of days apocalyptic demeanour in its initial opening stages had us much recalling Secret era Chron Gen and a very youthful Leather face – the latter especially recalled on the spiked and spiteful head butting ’age of consumption’ with the former represented by ’rot’. But then scratch a little deeper and what’s revealed is an unmistakable affinity with Killing Joke – none more so is this the case than on the warring and sluggishly squalid ’Substance’ and ‘end’ whereon the former Jaz and Co’s chop chop accents are melded and moulded into a sickly thick no future goo that to these ears sounds like them happily drop kicking a ’Blizzard of Oz’ era Ozzy into touch while the latter frankly leaves you numbed with a dread filled chill.

Elsewhere those who prefer their studded belt pogo boogie delivered in the blink of an eye will do well to hook up to the caustic and nasty 30 second sharply acute no prisoners taking ’face’ while the sub one minute fury of ’birth of right’ has an air of a DNA cross match impishly at work fusing elements of Discharge with a rabid Dead Kennedy’s. then there’s the speed freaked up and at you viciousness of ’cast out’ to contend with as it sends your hi-fi speakers into meltdown with its velocity and whose sheer uncompromising stance is matched only by the demented and skewed ’eyes’. tell me exactly – how can you resist?
Key tracks –
‘Substance‘. ‘End‘. ‘Eyes‘.

Drifting in Silence ‘face within’ (Labile). Press release describes the sounds within as –

‘shimmering ambience’s driven by groove rhythms and punctuated by instrumental riffs and snatches of concrete sounds’.

Now keep that thought in mind.

Second full length from Derrick Stembridge (for it is he who is Drifting in Silence) following his debuting 2007 opus ‘Chameleon’ which incidentally we disappointingly missed here. And we here are not kidding when we note our disappointment because if this 5 track set (with an additional three guest remixes) is anything to judge by then it seems we missed out on a treat.

Based in Chicago, Drifting in Silence does indeed sculpture a compelling dream weaving ambient canvas and ’face within’ is indeed by our reckoning a release best enjoyed and savoured alone plugged into a set of headphones, the volume racked to maximum and with eyes closed so that you can view those strangely dissipating shapes that form behind the eyelids and imagine them as cosmically strewn night lights illuminating celestial voids with the sounds piping into your psyche acting as a colourfully vivid backdrop for the flight in hand.

If there’s any complaint to be made about this set its just a small one because I won’t bother having you believe that Mr Stembridge pushes the ambient envelope in any given direction because – he doesn’t.

Instead this brand of dark ambience is tweaked and twisted upon a framing of mid 80’s euro disko accents (the opening salvo ‘forever’ lending itself to detectable elements of Front 242) and industrial dialects all abridged and set upon a gothically grand wide screen mounting. Mood wise its all at once dreamy and detached, at times bleakly beautifully at others clinically sparse and ominously sterile, amid the star crossed liquid like loosely connected techno textures leviathan like swathes swirl and weave almost as though navigating some given deep space trajectory (especially on the lonesome motorik beat laced epically tear stained and frosted overtures of the stately and orbiting ‘coming up for air’). It’s a consuming and compulsive listening experience the reference markers pointing in the general location of the likes of Plaid, FSOL and Apollo 440 while the appearance of the apocalyptic touches throughout hark back to a familiar landscape carved by Gary Numan’s darkly manifesting ’Pure’ set especially on the title track – its something that’s brought into sharper perspective by the ‘her odd fist’ remix of ‘face within’. ‘coming up for air’. That said ‘virus’ momentarily breaks itself free of the shackles and for awhile could – if that is our ears do not deceive – pass for the more reflective moments from Porcupine Tree’s ‘stupid dream’ set gorgeously braided as it is with parched acoustic pickings and the hollowed sound of hazy vocals piercing through the ether.

As said three additional remixes of ‘face within’ bolster the set, the previously mentioned ‘her odd fist’ along with the ‘drev remix’ and the ‘Anthony Baldino remix – amid the haze of over loading communicative traffic the former applies a spot of groove space tweaking face lifting to his re-engineering imparting a sumptuously vibrant wall of crystalline celestially tipped effervescent turbulence to the proceedings while Mr Baldino for his part supplants a hitherto to more minimalist and monochrome viewpoint, much reminiscent of a crooked latter career dark hearted Orbital the intricately busy and haunting swathes are eked out to form a curious though attractive dislocated techno funk matrix. Recommended listening.
Key tracks – ‘Virus’, ’Coming up for air‘.

One Day International ‘Blackbird’ (Independent). There be few among you one would suspect who manage to navigate through this without the shedding of a tear or three, for the debut full length from Irish quintet One Day International is elegantly beset with the kind of forlorn hopelessness you’d expect to find in a group therapy counselling session for those suffering at the unkind hand of love, like some kind of idiots guide for the overcoming of life’s frailties, ’Blackbird’ is a quiet consoling corner where damaged souls thankful of the shade can silently lick their wounds undisturbed.

All at once haunting and healing, ’blackbird’ is an eloquently toned and quietly disturbed masterpiece, emotionally fatigued yet melodically measured, its intimacy draws you close into a world of tortured tenderness. Comprised of eleven cuts ’blackbird’ is tutored with a crystalline classicist mindset that finds itself woven in a frail and fragile magisterial beauty of the type rarely encountered here outside of a Shady Bard release, shy eyed passion welling anaemic anthems whose canvas freewheels amid bitter sweet pastel stains to full blown vividly teased lushly longing orchestrations that serve to anchor the lyrically dulled optimistic love notes tenderly taking flight above. Beautifully conceived though crushingly humbling and numbing.

Mind you that doesn’t tell the full story for tracks such as the trembling ’lead balloon’ – a delicately braided babe replete with hushed rushes of key canters and the onset of eloping string arrangements and the broken spirited spectral amour of ’sleeping on trains’ with its noir shanty like blossoming and carnival-esque swirling cascades – there’s a strangely out of step affinity drawn towards Radiohead’s quieter and more introspective moments from their back catalogue. it’s a connection that comes into full focus on the simply irresistible ’Aliens’ – let’s not pull punches here but if this was sneaked onto ’In Rainbows’ there’s a deep suspicion that even the band would give it a double take, perhaps the albums centrepiece (if you discount the parting ’darken your door’ – more about that in a second) its framed in sparsely orbiting pockets of hymnal euphoria and celestially tipped lilts that quite frankly appear happy to enchant and hurt with equal measure. Likewise can easily be said for ‘big surprise’ with its sepia trimmed glassy piano trailed minimalism (mind there is a slightly worrying wobble at the start when the intro comes in like a chilled variant of Leo Sayer’s ‘when I need you‘). Elsewhere the quietly epic ’shiver’ ebbs and flows in the kind of vapour trails and hushed majesty more commonly occupied by the Bunnymen’s ’Ocean Rain’ while ’not over you’ is grazed with a heart heaving dusty soul appraisal that recalls at times Springsteen’s stripped and bared ’tom joad’ sessions albeit finding themselves relocated to some deep south spiritual commune and desirably decorated in all manner of cosmic twinkles towards its close. All said and done and despite the obvious affection poured upon ’aliens’ – for us the albums best moment comes courtesy of the exiting ’darken your door’ – taking its cue loosely from the Aloof’s ’one night stand’ (sound wise) this parched honey is trip wired with cooled corteges of head bowed opines and a ghostily hollowed resonance that literally rips you to the core. Utterly heartbreaking.
Key tracks – ‘Darken your door’, ‘Aliens’ and ‘Sleeping on trains’

Obsessive’s and completists alike and for that matter for anyone else whose ever sneaked a taping device into a gig to record the ensuing events for – er – posterity then we recommend you get your arses along to the BBC site via for a chance to hear an Archive on 4 special about bootlegs presented by David Hepworth entitled ’for one night illegally – the history of the bootleg’. featuring contributions from the likes of Joe Boyd, Danny Kelly and historian Clinton Haylon, Hepworth traces and plots a digestible history of the bootleg and its relevance to music culture beginning with the research / boffin recordings made by Lionel Mapleson of classical performances from the Metropolitan to the much fabled (for forty plus years until they turned up on a 7 disc Mosaic set after his death) archive of Charlie Parker solos as recorded by Dean Benedetti in the ’40’s. Elsewhere the infamous Dylan ’Judas’ show and the Pistols ‘Bollocks’ out-takes as gathered on the semi legendary ’Spunk’ set are mentioned while for every artist whose nose is put out of joint – Led Zep in the main (check the tale of the seizure by the feds of 5,000 warped double disc Zep recordings) there’s always an ally to be found – note Ryan Adams’ approval by his allowing bootleggers to plug in an 8 channel device connected to the mixing desk. Show available to listen to until 25/04/2009.

Rough Trade C-09 ’various’ (Rough Trade). Don’t know how readily available this is outside of the Rough Trade records patch but it’s a neat and dandy 15 track sortie through the ear ware of the labels roster. Making its appearance in part celebrating the recent ‘record day’ soiree – an event celebrated (we hope) all across the globe and an attempt to promote nay encourage you record buying lads and lasses to frequent the mysterious wonders awaiting within your local independent record emporium wherein there were treats aplenty to mark the occasion what with one off limited edition 7 inches from the likes of New Order, the Stooges, Bad Religion, the Smiths, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth / Beck and Slayer (|the latter two of which I must admit we missed and are now as I write administering furious kicks upon our person). Then there was the Jesus Lizard 9 x 7 inch set ‘Inch’ housed in a wall mountable pvc sleeve – and thing so gorgeous that we’ve scarcely slept since acquiring it instead preferring to intermittently exchange fond admiring glances in its general direction. Of course all these little treasures are now the domain of internet auction sites – the prices hiked the demand out stripped. And so to ‘C09’ – a cassette no less – and a format threatened with extinction a little while back though strangely coming back into vogue (witness labels such as Scotch Tapes, Best Kept Secret and the recent James Rutledge release ‘the great ecstasy of….’
via LOAF which we can’t recommend enough here especially since it comes accompanied by a poster featuring artwork done by former Black Dice-r Hisham Bharoocha). Mind you we’ve always had a soft spot for cassettes, in pre CD walkman days they were the essential on the go medium – tape all your records onto a cassette or the night before’s Peel show and off you pop, still preferable to CD’s given they retained that depth and warmth (albeit reduced somewhat depending on what type of tape you were using ferric, metal – we always preferred chrome – if I recall rightly – though obviously some wit will write in and say I’m talking bollocks) of vinyl. Mind you its only been recently that we’ve started looking fondly upon CD’s (indeed – it has taken us nearly 25 years) and even then the reason for that is only because we generally detest downloads – agreed they’re handy for putting a months worth of albums primed for review on a portable player – but little else – I’m mean you can’t look at the time, hold them or make handy ashtrays out of them.

And so as usual we’ve waffled. Back to the point. ‘C-09’ – in some respects Rough Trade’s attempt to rekindle those glory days of cassette compilations from the dim and dark past – notably the NME’s ‘c-81’ and ‘c-86’ sets from er – 1981 and 1986 – obviously. As said 15 tracks prized from the mits of their stellar roster and including a super duper exclusive and special guest – kids don’t wet your pants – its only Jarvis – as in the Cocker who’ll no doubt be teasing the airwaves next month when his second solo full length ‘further complications’ touches down over record racks. In addition there are previously unreleased exclusives from Jeffrey Lewis and Micachu while the Mystery Jets offer up their cover of the Cure’s ‘inbetween days’ – a version originally – by all accounts given away on CD that included a copy of the NME (two mentions and counting are we on a retainer).

Anyhow it’s the Cocker oik who opens proceedings with ‘Angela’ – and well we’d love to tell you it stinks and it’s a waste your time, my time and everybody else who gives a fig’s time but the truth is it’s a bit of cutie – okay fair dues not as good as the Micachu cut (hold your horses – its in a second) but damn fine all the same – a bit like a fuzz shocked T-Rex and pretty cool in a Wolfmen grizzled glam garage kind of way. Miracle Fortress stump up ‘have you seen her in your dreams’ – previously unknown to us (take that surprised look off your faces) – is well dreamy – what did you expect me to say – sugar glazed whirly pop, quite bracing in a lovelorn shoe gaze type way – suppose that means we’ll have to check them out I guess.

Micachu’s ‘lips’ here in its Clark Kunt’s heavy mental mix guise – indeed I too do blame alcopops and the age of Cartoon Network, young people these days always seem to think they invented offensive. Hey we had David Cassidy, Brotherhood of Man and the Osmonds to contend with – so bollocks to you. Anyway ’lips’ I suppose is best described as a fist fight between DAF and Front 242 with Big Black in ’Kerosene’ mode putting in the odd savage kicks, a jarring bastard of atonal nag nag pickled pop and mighty fine with it. Been way too long since we had anything by Jeffrey Lewis with which to worry our hi-fi with – well not since his debut it should be said – ’whistle past the graveyard’ is a wickedly wonky slice of demented and kooky prairie pop to which admirers of the Violent Femmes may well find deeply attractive as will those of you with various Folk Devils vinyl outings about your personage. Arthur Russell – again previously unknown to us – damn we are slipping in our old age – the mellowing and tender ’love is overtaking me’ is a wonderfully brisk and lulling slice of porch drifting Americana that neatly tweaks between the cracks that exist between Dylan and Rodriguez, sadly this particular recording is culled from a posthumous set – largely unheard and unrecognised in his lifetime but now getting some long deserved critical acclaim Mr Russell died of AIDS aged 40 in 1992. Little Joy – indeed they are – well at least that’s the case on the cutely nuzzling ’brand new start’ a fizzily demurring sweetie of slow cooked honky tonk, countrified radiance and dimples of briskly served 70’s MOR that once mixed, stirred and served will drive you to distraction. As for God Help the Girl’s ’musician please take heed’ – irresistible in a word. Sweeping 60’s arrangements that sound like they were nicked from a related period kitchen sink drama, elements of Dusty, Julie London and Nancy flicker and furl amid the advancing effervescent cascades of lushly airy noir tweaked uber pop. Another ensemble much noted by their prolonged absence in these dispatches are the Decembrists – here found stumping up ‘the rake’s song’ – one of those excitably angular pop sorties which according to last fm is about ‘a tale of young marriage, a sudden discontent spurned on by the joint death of mother and newborn, leading to delightfully angry infanticide’ – now if that’s the case then ‘delightfully’ is we’d hazard to argue a curiously usage of a word in terms of description, that said there’s a grim off set humour attaching here, morbidly dysfunctional and set to a persistent thud of a persistent strum that had us here briefly calling to mind the Triffids.

Flip the cassette over for side 2 – none of your continuous play without breaks here malarkey like your crap CD, culled from their current opus Super Furry Animals open matters with the hyper driven Kraftwerk meets New Musik – esque orbital whirly pop dream weaving of ‘inaugural trams’ which it must be said blends superbly into the Veils mildly excitable and frantically fraught ‘three sisters’. discounting Robert Wyatt – the saddest voice in pop – Antony and the Johnsons cooks up the frail and fragile ‘shake that devil’ – initially sounding like some rare and recently unearthed head bowed and hymnal soul / spiritual / blues styled shellac this beauty then appears to go on something of an evolutionary journey that sees it go via a dronal Low like moment before emerging as a saucy slab of smoking tail feather singeing militaristically delivered skat jazz – damn fine by our reckoning. As previously noted Mystery Jets re-wire the Cure’s ‘in between days’ and give it a delightfully light headed and dare we say skedaddled and dislocated after hours club floor throbbing dynamic which we must admit gives the original more than a run for its money. Incidentally those of you much loving of Cure covers ought to seek out a quite sumptuous double disc set put out by Manimal entitled ‘perfect as cats’ which features a plethora of stars and starlets from the underground doing tasty things to Smith and Co’s back catalogue including contributions from Bat for Lashes, the Dandy Warhols, Gangi, Ex-Reverie and more.

Back with ‘C-09’ – next up 1990’s – again another ensemble much missed in these pages – time to don the platform boots and the sequins because ‘the box’ is a deliriously sleazy and seductive slab of decadent glam boogie, all hand claps, massive riffage, Glitter-esque motifs and ooh oohs a plenty – blimey thought in was ‘72 for a second – did we mention it was insidiously infectious – no – well it is. Didn’t we used to get the Hold Steady records around here at one time – oh damn I can’t recall rightly – sure we did and I’m sure they were much loved – at some point anyway, anyhow ‘sequestered in Memphis’ is another corker of a cut, kinda like a mellowed Modern Lovers duelling with a considerably more mellowed Long Ryders – which I’m sure you’ll agree there’s no need to elaborate further on. Last up and rounding off the set in a dreamlike and demurring way British Sea Power’s bitter sweet ‘no man is an archipelago’ – these young folk – where do they get these titles from whatever happened to simple ones like ‘shout’, ‘fire’ and ‘the sad but true story of Ray Mingus, the lumberjack of bulk rock city, and his never slacking stribe in exploiting the so far undiscovered areas of the intention to bodily intercourse from the opposite species of his kind, during intake of all the mental condition that could be derived from fermentation’ – the latter young folk is we believe the longest record title ever and by a band called Rednex who hail from Sweden – love to see the sleeve that housed that title on it. Anyway British Sea Power – instrumental, introspective, intimate and will make you cry – gem like.

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As is typical of these things – go mentioning cassettes and a whole load of the blighters pour through the letter box – well alright then – just three – but a trio of tasty looking things that we recently eyed on the Norman records web site including a brace from Bristol’s Bum Tapes and a Beach Fuzz babe – Beach Fuzz of course featured earlier in this very dispatch with their latest GPS outing and will again before we wrap things up with a cd’r via Golden Lab.

Beach Fuzz ‘hole of hellos’ (blackest rainbow). A strictly limited to just 65 copies one sided cassette featuring one twenty minute freak out. We won’t bother going in to the mechanics of who / what / where Beach Fuzz are / is / at because a) its boring b) we can’t be arsed and most importantly c) we did all this shit when we mentioned their current outing for Great Pop Supplement (see somewhere above or else ). As you’d no doubt rightly expect from a band called Beach Fuzz these dudes are very much loving of their fuzzy feedback – distorted reverberations of the stuff literally pours from the casing of this release to melt your tape heads, in fact we’d even go so far as to say that amid its heavily waded brand of stoner psyche drones (of course piped with elements of art pop and swampy prog) there’s a head melting ominous spiritualism at work, reference wise its like a seriously spaced out and freaky Sunburned Hand of the Man with detectable overtones of Cave or Heavy Winged in the mix albeit here found re-wiring a primitive head trip collage out of discarded early career Flying Saucer Attack sounds. Its all deliciously wired, trippy and after a while very hypnotic in a kind of Chinese water torture tactic type way, high pitched frequency manipulations, freeform out there grooves and general all round mind warping discordance – we suggest you roll up a fat ’un get totally shit-faced with this a bliss grooved back dropping mantra. There will be more Beach Fuzz later on as we’ve just nailed a copy of their ’Nosferatu Hex’ CD though the elation of its acquisition has been somewhat dulled by our spotting of a further three BF releases that we haven’t got via Scumbag Relations, Lotus Birth and Golden Lab (again) – do you know what I can feel the tears beginning to well.

Joshooa and the (7 / 13th) Moon ‘the hundred monkey effect’ (bum tapes). Another cassette would you believe, this comes via the Bristol based tape only label Bum Tapes who it seems have been peppering the tape decks of a clued in cognoscenti for a year or so now and in that time have managed to rack up some dozen and a half releases in various limited issues. To date the roster has been graced by the sounds of Kaijo, Zac Kouns, Drunjus and Psychedelic Horseshit – the latter of whom just by name alone warrant further investigation. Joshooa and the (7 / 13th) Moon is the aural alter ego of a certain Josh McCabe a Michigan based sound manipulator who to date has been the proud parent of a handful of releases for the likes of Scumbag Relations (2nd mention this missive kids) and Cloud Valley et al. Strictly limited to just 20 hand numbered copies (ours in case you are taking notes is numero seven) sadly no titles here ’the hundred monkey effect’ found here residing upon a C-32 cassette is comprised – I think – always difficult keeping a check with tapes – of 5 tracks that find Mr McAbe crafting all manner of deeply unsettling dark ambience, both weird and wired, eerie and gloomily ethereal – lets just start by saying that this isn’t for night time listening at least not if you don’t want to remain awake all night cautiously eyeing every creak and shape shift that passes upon your darkened living space throughout the witching hour and beyond. As though revealing a secret aural universe by the application of a melodic microscope McAbe traverses the seldom surveyed outer reaches of ‘pop’s’ vast and sprawling universe, apocalyptic pulsar transmissions ushering in landscapes of sonic textures chilled, parched, arid and stripped to their bare bone by dread filled drone swathes, its grim stuff, stark and oblique, detached and desolate, between the ebbing and flowing of monolithic dronal tides splinters of radio transmission babble and modulating frequencies pierce through the ether to ominously whirr and weave amid the stilled and lifeless cavernous voids. Track 2 perhaps provides the sets show stealing moment, possessed of an almost oceanic sereneness and deathly calm this could easily be the backdrop to some huge leviathan like undersea beast lonesome and navigating with predatorily intent the light forbidding deep depths of an ocean basin. That said what first appears foreboding and daunting ultimately ends up leaving you markedly touched by it being a bruised, isolated and solemn portrait of a solitary existence.

Rahdunes ‘drink and drive or smoke and fly’ (bum tapes). Another cassette via those loveable rascals fond of retro mediums – Bum tapes this time via a trio from San Francisco by the name of rah dunes who to date have managed a fine selection of releases – well we are assuming a fine selection – by way of the likes of blackest rainbow, emperor jones and kill shaman – the latter being a split 12 inch with Expo 70 who as you may recall have featured a couple of times courtesy of these very pages. You can also expect further transmissions in the coming months via ecstatic yod, mistake by the lake and the 8mm imprints. For now though this pretty nifty three track affair which comes as a strictly limited edition of just 40, heavy on the psychotropic drone ’sounds’ the opening salvo is an orbiting monolith, hypnotic and mesmerising it’s a bit like having your wig flipped by a go on the dream machine, looping cycles bathed in sheens of pulsing drone swirls, the kind of pitched purring you’d imagine emanating from the engine room of a parked extra terrestrial space craft. Flip the cassette and you’ll find both ’acid meter’ and ’eruption factor’ occupying the spool space, the former a spot of freeform star glazed motorik groove laced drone kraut which for the best part sounds like Kraftwerk’s ’trans Europe express’ being derailed and sent hurtling to some yet un-chartered region deep in the far reaches of the cosmos – mind you on reflection its not two separate tracks at all but one huge ever growing slab of manipulated mind warping mosaics, the latter half of which assumes a curiously dub-tronic texture albeit framed with unrelenting whirring motifs themselves masking what sounds like some draconian styled clattering busyness from the floor of a Martian industrial workhouse. Decidedly deranged stuff but necessarily essential all the same.

Plastic Zooms ‘under // black’ (well I wonder). Debut single for both band and label, both hailing out of Japan this sure to be rare as hen’s teeth in a week or so outing is strictly limited to just 300 copies, one of those jukebox middle type wax affairs which we must admit a week or so ago where giving us a sizeable headache here as we couldn’t find any spare middles, mind you a quick random trawl through the record collection managed to salvage us not one but five of the blighters. Anyway before we waffle any further – Plastic Zoom as said hail from Japan and number six in the ranks, ’under // black’ is a fair old slab of death disco throb, dirty, dark and decadent replete with a wiring riffage much recalling the Scars, in fact if we didn’t know any better we’d have to say this sounds like something mailed out in the early 80’s that’s sadly somehow gotten itself lost in the postal system until now, pissing in a pool not so far from the much admired Levelload, there’s elements of mid 80’s Mark E Smith vocals here all dutifully clipped by a devilishly delirious dance floor mindset as though Brilliant where rewiring and taming old Fire Engines riffs and fused to the kind of electronic accoutrements you more readily find on a B-Movie record. Anyhow if you don’t believe us Rough Trade say it sounds like Franz and Killing Joke which suggests to me they were listening to a different record while Norman records mention Zongamin – good call. Flip the disc and you’ll find the same cut put on a hot tumble dry by Dandi Wind whose strips the original chassis bare and refits it with a more than admirable Front 242 meets Einstuerzende Neubauten / SPK mid 80’s euro – disko throb. Tasty stuff.

Lapels / Sponge Wings ‘split’ (philophobia). Must admit we’ve been a little more than smitten by this split release because aside housing amid its groove space four top of the table treats of tastiness the bugger comes packaged in a rather tasty – how best can we describe it – bandage lint that’s the bunny all fastened together by three badges – apparently there’s meant to be a cd with additional tracks accompanying this vinyl set sadly ours has gone west somewhere in transit. Anyhow it all looks quite smart even if the dressing does look oddly smeared and stained as though its been lifted from a hospital waste sack. As to the cuts inside – a brace from each sees Lapels (a quintet who hail from Wakefield) sharing wax space with Sponge Wings (duo Jay and Abi – location unspecified). The Lapels stump up ‘when we were evil’ and ‘abemantis’ – the former resplendently awash in all manner of warmly radiating ooh ooh harmonies and the kind of lushly laid and roving riffage that to these ears had us much imagining twee starlets The Hoverchairs shimmying up to the Weather Prophets and Sugar and kicking out ‘the wagon’ era Dinosaur Jnr tuneage for fun which at intermittent stages erupts into a rather rousing shouty chorus line which I must fear brought a wry smile upon our weathered features. ‘abemantis’ pretty much follows a similar drill, stuttering chugging riffs very much like a crooked and bashed Pavement if you must ask and bringing with it a strangely dislocated effervescent glow. Flip the disc for Sponge Wings who although we shouldn’t say it just slightly edge it for us in the vying for affections stakes, a curious brew which draws heavily it must be said on the essences of early career Hefner, well at least that’s the case on the opening ambit ’ice cream headache’ cast as it is in all manner of bitter sweet homeliness and punch drunk dynamics. That said there are times when ’ruby’s apparatus’ almost feels as though its going to splinter and come to a dead halt such is its becoming dishevelled delivery born of its crooked and creaking aimless shuffling and staggering demeanour. Quite a cutie if you ask me.

Mexican Kids at Home ‘recycled songs for a happy environment’ (wee pop). Think we may have inadvertently mentioned the Wee Pop label in passing in previous despatches when we mentioned the loveably cute Motifs, this London based imprint seems to be following in the finest tradition of all things Sarah, Sha La La, Caff, Egg and so on and so forth. To date they’ve dinked the hearts of a loving indie fan base with some two and a half dozen releases from the likes of – the aforementioned Motifs, the Darlings, Summer Cats, Little My and the Just Joans. Pressed upon a 3 inch cd-r, housed in a dinky envelope replete with handwritten authenticity certificate styled inserts and limited to just 160 copies – ours in case you are still taking notes is 103, Mexicans Kids at Home are – or so it seems skateboard fanatics – well at least two of their number are – who‘ve been through something of a line up change recently losing one member and then gaining two in his place – Hollie and Tom. They’ve had one previous release tucked under their collective knee pads in the shape of the long sold out ’when we all lived in igloos’ for Wee Pop with this new four track set destined to follow in quick pursuit. 11 minutes in total length, okay it might seem slight but its gorgeously so for the Mexican Kids at Home seem to delight in crafting out lolloping lovelies at the drop of a hat, this cutely honed acoustic strummed and banjo bristled collection is breathless framed in a laid back affectionate haze that some of you may prefer to refer as twee, well we wouldn’t blame you really because there is something mildly homely at work in the mix not least on the parting ’animal shells’ with its reception class styled chirpy chirpy sing-a-long demeanour which upon closer inspection and removed of its inebriated banjo casing does sometimes veer ever so closely to the more kooky and ghostly apparition like moments to be found on Animal Collectives early career catalogue. Elsewhere teased tales from the riverbank come to the fore on the opening light headed albeit too brief for its own good ’the canal swan song’ while perhaps the sets best moment ’no eyed deers’ is deliciously braided by the gorgeously summer sounding effervescent opine of a needle picked zig zagging riffs seemingly imported from some idyllically exotic paradise that you suspect the donning of grass skirts, shades, Hawaiian shirts and a quick mugging up on a few select hip shimmying moves a must while some of you older listeners out there may well be inclined to root out your copies of Johnny and Patti’s (nee Thunders and Palladin) ’love is strange’ cover for a quick reference. Mind you we here are equally loving of the brightly bushy tailed sweetly bitter folk treat ’one day older than today’ – all loveably lazy and hazy, filled with tambourines and see sawing violins – a perfect invitation to find a quiet spot in the shade and relax for a spell we think, criminally cute.

Beach Fuzz with Dave Jackson ‘nonfatal hex’ (golden lab). Okay third and final mention for Manchester’s Beach Fuzz for this particular missive well that’s discounting the off chance that we nail that errant trio of collection completing releases that we mentioned in passing elsewhere. This CD comes strictly limited to just 80 copies on the – we must admit so far embarrassingly ignored (by us anyway) – Golden Lab imprint who I believe operate out of Manchester. Anyway this caustic slice of tripping bad assed groove comes housed in a recycled card sleeve with the CD decorated in soya based ink. These dudes it seems have a penchant for the Grateful Dead and find themselves accompanied for this fringe parting 24 minute freak out by Solar Fire Trio’s Dave Jackson who diligently applies some blinding sand blasting saxophonic trimmings to the proceedings. Best described as a freeform pre-natural primitive head jam, a mind warping inferno of shit faced swamp groove abridged by moments of cranium caning squeeling jazz signatures and branded and packaged by the kind of wilfully ad hoc and abstract time codes that you suspect are best viewed by your inner eye while under the influence of some chemically enhanced substances. Sounding as though in a constant state of flux, ‘nosferatu hex’ terra forms with precarious intent, like a howling archaic druid ceremony its pitted with intelligible mantras borne of long lost tongues and serviced amid a clearly unhinged landscape of controlled chaos to which to its core elements of no wave and art rock splinter, rupture and are ultimately sucked into its embracing blistered mindset. Simultaneously more intense than previous outings though ostensibly more playful, amid the cauldron like grooves you’ll hear elements of PiL’s ’flowers of romance’ rubbing shoulders with Albert Ayler, likewise Sunburned Hand of the Man are never far from the reference markers while the general all round japery, sense of resistant mischief and wig flipped discordance owes a nod or three in the general direction of Henry Cow / This Heat disciples Volcano the Bear. Its of course weirdly freakish and clearly deranged which when you add it all up means its desirably essential. Any questions at the back?

White Belt Yellow Tag ‘you’re not invincible’ (distiller). Featuring former members of yourcodenameis:milo, left at montreal and cooper temple clause which I guess when you add it all up makes for something of a super group. We’re of the suspicion that this is the debut outing from Justin Lockey’s and co’s new combo, pressed on an uber limited ten inch in a smart looking sleeve that includes a CD for all you heathens without turntables, ‘you‘re not invincible‘ features four cuts the lead out title track being seismically anthem like in stature laced through with a jaw dropped cut you to the quick chorus thrust that’s honeycombed with vapour trails of celestial shoe gazed swathes and leathered throughout with a hackles clenching vibrancy that’s all at once immediate, potent and catchy as f**k. ‘news’ provides a more mellowed and bitter sweetly reclined option, still bruised by stratosphere piercing opines and softly sugar glazed with a demurring forlorn majesty that gear switches between been quietly euphoric and uplifting and laying you low and humbling. Flip over and you get the cantering ’picture all the same’ all ethereal harmonies and gathering in tension threading dynamics which though pretty neat from our vantage point is not one for those of you suffering palpitations and other anxiety related ailments which leaves the homely campfire like hymnal cutie ’song about growing’ to round up the pack, disappointing brief it has to be said just as you are getting into it and thinking nice stuff the blighter only goes and mosies exit stage left leaving you feeling a tad deflated.

Geese / Reg Pantal ’split’ (vanity case). Alas no wise words in the form of a press release or intelligible hand written letter accompanying this though we did note that despite there being just 300 copies of this die cut sleeve housed seven inch – our copy is in fact issue number 0308 – therefore making it an instant collectors item before we’ve scarcely coaxed it out of its wrapping to no doubt treat the turntable with its groove locked advances. Some of you may well recall us falling over ourselves courtesy of Geese’s last broadside into the world of recorded releases, in fact so much love was extolled in the general direction of ’the plane’s gone Dad’ that there were momentary bouts of light headedness causing all here in the tune tuck shop to take the rest of the day off and partake in a much needed siesta. Several months down the line and no doubt buoyed by the acclaim from a record buying nation both David and Graham don their Geese guises to lay a little magic dust in the shape of ’Kensington terrace’. we don’t mind saying that we could kiss this – all at once bracing and demurring, this delicately unfurling drama draws you near with an absorbingly frail and fragile enchanted out of step intimacy more readily recognised on records adorned with the name Oddfellows Casino a fact which becomes ever more apparent when you find yourself knee deep in the same kind of mercurial melodic classicism application as Pickled Egg’s finest. Throw in some subtle noir tipped framing, 70’s MOR beadings and a feint glossing of glowing clarinets (though someone will tell me it’s a sax or something or other – they always do – they’re very proud and guarded these wind instrument loving types) and you have yourself a quietly statue-esque and distressed numbed anthem like beauty. Flip the disc for Reg Pantal’s ‘sweetpea and suzanne’, regrettably previously unknown to us – well we say regrettably because we here think his intimately woven pop pastels are just the kind of thing that should be adorning our listening space when the day closes and we happen upon a brief moment to reflect on the day just passed. Anyway he hails from Leeds is firm buddies with Geese and on his side of the split he’s accompanied by Tom Turner on piano. Simply gorgeous and sounding not unlike its fell through a time fracture straight out of a bustling late 60’s nu folk scene, elements of Cohen without the desire to fish out the razor blades, Simon and Garfunkel and not the ’bridge over troubled water’ nonsense, a bit of Dylan and pretty much anyone else you’d care to mention which is not to say its derivative or copyist but rather more is possessed of that warmth filled symmetry of fuzzy feel goodness and sun stroked silkiness that makes you feel all is okay in the world, mind you its best experienced lolling about preferably on a porch or laid back and covered by the shade of a hanging tree. A bit of a gem all said and done.

Ice, Sea, Dead People ‘my twin brother’s a brother’ (buy yourself). About you like a rash, blimey it took us a fair moment to peel ourselves from the wall of our record listening habitat such is the gruff urgency of this veritable feast of sparring art dimpled math rock boogie. To date there’s been one previous outing by this London based trio in the shape of their 200 only ’hence Elvis’ debut 7 inch from way back in November 2007. Some 18 months on and it seems they’ve been quietly honing their craft and sharpening their riffage because ’my twin brother’s a brother’ is a caustic brew of see sawing angular groove, jarring and jagged and not unlike a particularly simmering sounding Erase Errata it should be said, all ad hoc schizoid time signatures, hell what am I saying there are no time signatures just eruptions and seizures all braided by maddeningly impatient vocal drills and caned deliciously with a vaguely volatile and punishing – albeit skewiff – bent out of shape pop sensibility. Flip side features ‘brrrrr’ – the preferred track push come to shove – more of the same potently drilled needle work and flame retardant festering groove gouging all boot laced up in squalling sheens of acutely discordant damaged blues styled grizzled fuzz fried goo. Limited to 500 copies all on dinner plate thick heavy duty vinyl.

Of Arrowe Hill ‘the bones saying no to the needle’ (Ouija board). Must admit we have been looking forward to receiving and indeed hearing this since Mr Easterbrook of the band dropped us a note to say it was on its way. Hell we’ve even spent the best part of the week wading through cobwebs, dead beetles and avoiding weird looking house spiders whilst rummaging through nailed up crates in the attic searching for the bunting, balloons and black candles in readiness for its arrival. And so it arrived – today – in fact within the last hour or so if you’re taking notes. A one sided white label seven inch with inserts that noted that this limited to 200 only release (not officially due for a month in both wax and download formats) was a taster that heralded the light of day appearance of the trio’s forthcoming full length ‘a few minutes in the absolute elsewhere’. of course no sooner was the blighter out of its wrapping it was on the turntable doing some serious damage on the hi-fi much to the delight of the neighbours who I should add at this juncture are still knocking at the door – possibly to enquire where such a nugget can be located I wouldn’t wonder. Anyway back to the important stuff not that the neighbours aren’t but lets just say if I hear the distant strains of the ‘South Pacific’ soundtrack and Abba’s ’thank you for the music’ one more time then I fear an injury followed by harsh words typically ending in off and the questioning of parentage will occur. As to Of Arrowe Hill who at this point in proceedings and given we’ve gone off road several times in this appraisal have now probably grown beards waiting for words of wonder to appear and words of wonder are exactly what you’ll get because blimey could it been that Ye Olde London towns psyche Squires and finest purveyors of the magikal and the strange have gone mellow on us. Easily their most accessible melodic missive to date, barely managing to touch the two minute ticker tape ‘the bones saying no to the needle’ is a rollicking death rattled lament, a rumbling dust ridden jamboree – a smoking mojo tooting cocktail of shuffling steam driven like crossroads cruising coffin dodging hearse driven bruised countrified blues finitely soaked in a curiously becoming Buffalo Springfield glow and yet stained with the solemn isolation of ’blind Joe Death’ era John Fahey delta drifts all dashed deliciously with forlornly parched treatments that echo to a primitive path once explored by a Sun era Presley, Cash and Perkins and refracted through a gritted 60‘s styled kaleidoscopic viewfinder. Lest it be said that this should be at the top of all discerning record lovers wants list otherwise questions will be asked and visits under the cover of darkness will be carried out. – been a fair while since we heard or indeed had cause to feature anything by Martin Wheeler – or to give him his better known to the record buying public ID Vector Lovers, these days located in Berlin and with three full lengths happily stuffed up his shirt as well as collaborating with some of the electronic scenes top table seated artists such as Ladytron, Black Dog and my robot friend. Billed as a ’new mix’
‘Genevieve’ here in all its full uncut 6 plus minute glory is a desirable slice of lights dimmed sultrily spectral shimmer toned glide pop re-aligned to a spacious wide screen aspect and shyly dappled with a purring and subtle techno dialect that finds itself tempered with all manner of crystalline orbs of mesmeric sophistication – a bit like a cosmic Beloved if truth be told re-drilled by a particularly chilled and laid back FSOL. Tasty. – mentioned this French based trio a little while back well here’s a little dream-scaping treat for you from those DreamKorp dudes – the video to the immeasurably lilting ‘I want success’…….sometimes I think we treat you too much…..

I Want Success (DreamKorp),t=1,mt=video

missive 200(k)

singled out –
‘surrounded in sound’ – a filing under the my space category ‘tropical / surf’ with the added tag line ‘the future’s so bright (I gotta wear shades)’ was always going to guarantee a mention in these pages, Forrest Wilson – not the author or at least we assume not – is a London based musician who it appears can’t pass by a sound making device without quickly cobbling together a pristinely drilled slice of ear candy. Here accompanied by four such cute blighters alas not surf like or indeed of a tropical variety instead decidedly distractive lightly toned prickling pop gems sweetly glazed in all manner of beat boxes, rickety keyboards no doubt salvaged from Sunday morning car boot sales and positively pulsating with the kind of wide eyed effervescence that had us here much recalling both Star Fighter Pilot and Stephen ‘Tintin’ Duffy though mind you that said we could more than equally throw in the Busy Signals’ name in that reference mix (especially on ‘tonight I‘m a camera‘). Its all gorgeously drilled and delightfully distractive stuff, feel good lo-fi electro folk from which we much admit ’thunder rain and music’ bended our admiring ear somewhat not least because it has a rather all at sea shanty like demeanour much reminiscent it has to be said of some of the more reclined moments from Tex La Homa’s ’dazzle me with transience’ set whilst not forgetting the debut self titled appearance of Toshack Highway. All said and done though we suggest you plug into the audaciously perky ’dig a fortnight’ which aside its sun glazed chirpiness is dimpled with a kind of early 80’s Atari meets early days Channel 4 ’Brookside’ type sound that quite frankly had us coming over quite misty eyed. – one of life’s considerable irks for me is that we don’t get to hear enough stuff from Spain, there was a time when we’d get all types of stuff from the likes of Butterfly and Elefant, not anymore I have to say with much crestfallen disappointment. So you can imagine our joy when we were contacted via a friend request by Madrid based musician Paco Salazar better known to the in tuned record loving community as Commodo. To date he’s released just one EP in the shape of ‘Raymond’ which we here must endeavour to nail as soon as possible because the sounds revealed here on his showcasing my space player reveal a hitherto tender and mercurial talent at work. Five cuts feature within with ‘Raymond’ opening the musical account – a sleepy headed music box cortege lulls the senses framed amid a dinky rustic calibration that’s fleshed out by all manner of library toned halos and strangely appealing light headed cosmic whirrs that have the curious appeal of being both playfully enchanting and impishly eerie in a Broadcast meets Grails type way. Likewise the forlorn promenade like ’intro’ has a porcelain styled retro feel about it that suggests at times a Joe Meek like application at work certainly one for those of you who love your Trunk record curios we feel while similarly appealing to fans of the silken electro orbits crafted out by a youthful Air. More up tempo in delivery ‘waterresistant’ balances a happy divide between a latter career fortdax and a Vince Clarke era Depeche Mode, a bracing slice of celestial traversing candy pop dimpled in all manner of excitably skewiff dynamics. Reducing the pace to a bare murmur the arresting noir shimmer of ‘little line’ teasingly brief at just 1.40 engages in some daintily delivered Erik Satie like sereneness though frankly it cowers shyly when sat next to what for us is the sets finest moment by some distance – the parting ’about me’. Adorned within a emotion rupturing classicism this beauty opens to the tear stained cortege of tumbling haunting arpeggio spectres that without warning erupt from their moorings and fracture into jagged bathing halos of jet streamed shoe gaze grandeur that unless our ears don’t deceive sounds not unlike the wide screen texture and opulent majesty as you’d probably expect to hear had Godspeed and Sigur Ros sought to swap studio notes under the presiding eye of Ennio Morricone.

And here’s the video for ‘Raymond’ all done with mirrors don’t you know…… – ah the Dash, been way too long since they featured in these pages – in fact the last time was via missive 132 when we hooked up and furiously jotted down a shed load of reasons as to why you needed their as then debut release ‘broom house road’ via Weekender records on your hi-fi and doing serious damage. Edging it somewhere between the Clash and the Ruts, the aforementioned debuts likeness to the Parkinsons wasn’t lost on us. Not sure what the work shy fops have been up to since then and now but we’ve noted that their tour diary is beginning to get a little busy. Anyway you can download for gratis that aforementioned single by navigating through this here page to the relevant links while found looming it large on their my space player you’ll find two new cuts ‘you can’t please everyone’ and ‘alone no more’ the former a scousedelic delta beauty pissing in a pool frequented by a young Coral while the latter is particularly recommended mainly for the fact it sounds like a 60’s drilled soulfully spiked mod blues belter laced up with riff struts aplenty all braided by some killer key accoutrements and riddled with an up and at you frantic frenzy that suggests to us someone in the camp has been wiling away the wee hours pouring over early Who gems.

Here’s a bit of a ropey video of the band doing ‘cinnamon junkie’ – well smart… – hailing from Manchester and numbering six in the ranks, Daniel Land and the Modern Painters have been the subject of much swoon chatter amid certain dream pop circles. To date they’ve silently dispatched under the cover of a starry darkness three releases – ‘voss’, ‘imagining October’ and the latest via the Sonic Cathedral imprint ‘within the boundaries’ as well as appearing on the latter’s ‘Sonic Cathedral Classic Volume 1’ a set collating together the labels first eleven releases and boasting a set list made up of such notables as School of Seven Bells, Dean and Britta, Mark Gardner and the Japancakes. For their part Daniel Land and the Modern Painters sculpture tenderly surrendering figurines of breathlessly hollowed celestial chime pools of sensitively slick and sophisticated vapour trailed beauty, measured and elegant and straying on the side of hurting these quietly divine heavenly heralds lilt and swoon with the shy eyed radiance of Chapterhouse (especially on the spectral lilt of ‘off your face again’) as though re-animated by the hand of Durutti Column, all at once lonesome, longing and lushly cradled these dream weaving mirages pulsate and purr with a reflective recoiling glow. From the statuesque frost bound timbres of the regretful cavernous caresses of ’lostening’ with its star glazed opining overtures to the chiming elegiac jubilance of the Cocteau Twins (who are similarly referenced on the homely snow dripped and tear stained ‘locust’) like sun bursting streamlined symphonics of ’within the boundaries’, Daniel Land and Co dimple the air waves with a deeply seductively glazed and hazed hymnal reverence which we here must admit to being more than a tad smitten by, none more so is the case than on the pedal steel stirred cruise controlled and countrified ‘smiling in slow motion’ a sighing beauty of such crestfallen bruised elegance that you feel hopelessly obliged to smother it in a re-assuring embrace. Mind you that said ‘codeine’ is no slouch and be something of a transistor tease given its subtly invested with elements of Chris Isaak’s ‘wicked game’ albeit as though envisaged and tweaked by Guy Chadwick. We need to hear more.

Additional update – both ‘codeine’ and ‘smiling in slow motion’ are culled from the bands forthcoming debut full length ‘love songs for the chemical generation’ due Autumn time.

Claire from Tayside Mental Health has been in touch – a parcel of cd’s is winging its way as I write – so expect plenty of fond words in a forthcoming missive – for now here’s something vaguely worrying by them – we here are thinking very Bronnt Industries Kapital like…..anyway its called ‘black magic robot’ – creepy stuff…..

Library Tapes ‘bourghesia’ (Secret Furry Hole). Debut outing for the Secret Furry Hole imprint and a bit of a cute at that though be mindful that it comes in an ultra limited issue of only 100 copies with word reaching us that numbers are low to near sold out. Anyway the Library Tapes should be no strangers to readers of these musings given they appeared on the much marvelled over ‘dream frequencies’ compilation put out by the Antennae imprint a year or so ago. In addition there have been quietly acclaimed releases for the likes of Make Mine Music, Resonant, Kning Disc and Home Normal to name just a few. Four tracks feature on this limited cdr which finds Library Tapes heading up a cast of contributors Machinefabriek, die stadt der romantische punks and Fabio orsi each rendering to tape their own on a variation interpretation of Henryk Gorecki’s ‘symphony no 3. Titled ‘bourgeoisie in Swedish’ Library Tapes serve up a six minute slice of chilled ambience metered out by the delicate undulation of dronal swathes, finitely solemn in texture yet reflective and regal, their spectral monochrome air brushings seemingly saturating and bathing the listening space with its elegantly Cathedral like majesty. Machinefabriek appear to take what seems like a small age to get going with their ‘bourgeoisie in Dutch‘, the opening minutes apparent silence softly crackling in life with an aching pulsing tenderness that soon begins to channel out hypnotic sheens of frequency bending white noise transmissions. Choosing to opt for the middle ground between Library Tapes and Machinefabriek, Die Stadt der Romantische Punks’ ‘Borghesia’ is awash with a gorgeously numbed and tear stained effecting hollowing introspective beauty, all opining glacial swathes, orbiting cycles and a sense of something truly treasured lost which leaves Fabio Orsi to bring the set to a close and in whose capable hands ’Borghesia’ is tendered with an enchanting almost celestial gracefulness, agreed its sparse and fragile but an ethereal beauty all the same though what those ghostly conversations piercing through the ether are all about is anyone’s guess – still it gives it a strangely eerie focus.

Additional Secret Furry Hole releases come courtesy of Ottawan resident His Clancyness with ’hissometer’ – an ultra limited 25 – 50 (no exactly certain of the pressing number) c-25 cassette type thing which we will try to nail in the coming weeks.

And our thanks go out to Mojo who after putting in a few rum issues of late have this month come up with the goodies – though more about that a little later – for now check out this smart link which we found while nosing through this months issue – well to be more exact it was when we were perusing the Ask Fred section and eyed something of a Cramps tribute site at wherein aside an interview with Lux and Ivy for Rex Doane’s Fool’s Paradise show via the New York located WFMU radio station from a few years ago – which you can hear in all its un-edited glory – there are eleven volumes of vault robbing bopping groove entitled Lux and Ivy’s Favorites all neatly teased up in to downloadable zip files – we’re downloading the blighters as we write – volume one safely nailed and playing right now – the treats inside including stuff by the tornadoes, the forbidden five, vern pullen and the blonde bomber Ronnie Dawson whose ‘Action Packed’ is still a lost nugget from the late 50’s which I remember Peelie dusting down for a rare play every few years or so.

More fiend

‘more fiend’.

we here are suspecting that’s some kind of wee pun or play on words – ‘more fiend‘ – morphine(d) – okay maybe its down to the fact then that we’ve had too much sun today – and yes you read right – I said sun – yellow thing, sits in the sky, kinda warm, a bit bright – you know the thing though to be honest with you over here in dear old Blighty such is it a rare occurrence that when it does come out people think it’s a UFO.

Anyhow ‘more fiend’ is the second full length from the Ohio based trio following the re-issue of 2002’s ’what’s the buzzing’ in 2004 – the band I believe being one of the last acts to be signed by the late Greg Shaw of Bomp fame. Between then and now – far from being work shy fops (although between you and me I’m of the belief that they are) they’ve appeared on a few by all accounts well heeled compilations put out by the likes of Ogetti Volanti, Columbus Alive and the much loved here first two volumes of Northern Star’s excellent ’pyschedelica’ sets (the third which we’ve had an absolute age – will get an extended review in a few days – honest).

Floorian craft out a deeply attractive and compulsive brand of psyche, not psyche of your usual frazzled sun hugging lysergic kind but rather more something bordering between frequenting the voids of hypnosis inducing space rock and out of it stoned styled bliss grooved drug mirages. Braided with a subtle line of supernatural / occultist symbolism (the six part mind flipping odyssey beginning with ’Samadhi’ and ending with ’Edenic’ that pretty much accounts for most of the set spells out ’SÉANCE’), these apocalyptic mojo tooting preacher men trip wire a darkly beset landscape that reveals them as possessed of a kinship to the Black Angels dust ridden Vietcong sound (none more so is this the case than on ‘the lower room’ where the shade adorned laid back and smoked road blues dialects shimmer and glow with the dulled opulence of a star sucking black hole as it assumes depth and stature taking to its bosom loosely translated Arabesque dialects and wah wah’s aplenty). Add in some finitely honed elements of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3 and Sunray into the mix and in some small respects a pinch or two of Cheval Sombre. But then its equal to say that there are nodding moments within the grooves of this brooding and dislocated ten track feast that suggest a passing working knowledge of 13th Floor Elevators, Grateful Dead and most notably Floyd especially on the parched and wasted ‘how far, how fast‘ with its swampy doom like foreboding monolithic austerity which aside kicking Wooden Shjips into touch also manages to pull of neat line in Porcupine Tree compliments.

Opening ominously to the chilled introductions of ’never even’ you’re immediately left wondering what you’ve stumbled into, a disembodied childlike conversation peeled as were straight from a Lewis Carroll script ripples through the ether its inviting first impression like lilt soon being replaced by something unnatural and macabre before the onset of the eerily chugging riffs begin to fracture, mooch and howl like a Lynchian nightmarish take of the Pixies ’bone machine’. ’missed’ on the other hand is awash with fuzzy drone overtures and mystical mantras seemingly carried across the voids by transcendental mistrals. That said the defining moment of the set comes in the shape of the terra forming six part ’SÉANCE’ – taking up the best of 23 minutes this head tripping beauty begins with the desolate and side winding arid and sun baked ’Samadhi’ a sprawling Tibetan styled ceremonial beast pitched with a monastic reverence and cut with a maddening claustrophobic and sultry charm clanging spiritualist splendour. The Eastern meditative effect is continued throughout until mid way through ‘Namaste‘ wherein the almost sedate and lethargic dronal tonalities give way to a dream weaving like resonance which by the parting ‘Edenic‘ manifests magnificently into something that veers into psych prog territories once ventured by Porcupine Tree’s ’radioactive toy’. Essential fringe parting ear candy for psychedelicised space cadets. Any questions?

Key tracks –

Never even
How far, how fast

missive 200(l)
Singled Out
Missive 200 (L)

Surrounded in sound….

Okay so we didn’t achieve our projected 200 review target – not for the want of trying though, mind you we did at least manage to rip together some 55,000 plus words. Alas ultimately we failed in part due to the singled out house cat Dylan feeling a tad under the weather, so much so in fact that we were on death watch on Monday evening, since then with the kind assistance of the Blue Cross veterinary practice he now appears on the mend – though don’t tell him that he’s due back there tomorrow for more tests – pure blighters still in shock over all the pin pricks, various fur shaves and the impertinent and inexcusable usage of thermometers about his person.

Anyhow I’m sure your bored with these missives marking the 200th transmission so to speak so I’m wrapping it up – right now with these final three instalments -yippee I hear you all cry – I should bloody coco. All those cd’s that we promised would get a check in that didn’t will get sorted next month which barring the end of the world will start in t minus 90 minutes and counting.

As usual I’m wittering so – records then…..

Maybeshewill ‘Sing the word hope in four part harmony’ (Field).

First came across this Leicester based quartet when they shared the sides of a limited 12 inch platter with Her Name is Calla (see Singled Out Missive #173). Much to our embarrassment we noted at the time that their debut opus ‘not for the want of trying’ had somehow escaped our gaze. Less than twelve months on and ‘sing the word hope in four part harmony’ their second full length arrives and a bitterly sweet beauty it is to that precariously walks in terms of melodic delivery a tight rope between brutal fury born of frustration and hopelessly resigned sighing grace.

Though found piloting a post rock trajectory, Maybeshewill temper and refine their sonic symphonies with a distinctly hardcore mindset, the riffmanship often acutely angular, jig-sawed and grizzled all at once impacts with a precision like torrential, tormented and turbulent cruelty. Yet for all that up front heavy bearing bravado there’s a hitherto tender tapestry being woven in the background, it’s a tenderness crippled with a passionate concern and bedevilled by a tear stained emotion erupting grandeur which amid the frequently drizzled ruptures and ravages of calamitous crescendos there passes moments of exquisitely detailed euphoric eclipses. Its this sculpturing application that gives ‘sing the word hope in four part harmony’ something of an insular like focus, clearly at the core a classicist approach lies, for all the animated aggression there’s an epic knowingness being cultured and cultivated, the twinkling ivories and the cantering braids in turn impart moments of arresting serene lulls whose remit it seems is to numb the listener into a momentary bouts of regretful thought provoked realisation – none more so is this the case than on the pulse racing and majestic ‘accept and embrace‘ – bedded beautifully with the tremblingly tumultuous lull of airily caress tipped Brontean cascade flurries and dispatched with some devilishly scored strut laced prog theatrics this desire tweaked honey provides something all at punishing and purring in design.

Reference wise Maybeshewill owe their wide screen drama laden bloodline to the likes of both Mogwai and San Lorenzo with the addition of trace elements of a late 90’s Constellation back catalogue – most notably godspeed and some 70’s vintage courtesy of Mountain. ’this time last year’ and ’last time this year’ both culled from the aforementioned Her Name is Calla split feature here the former a grizzled heads down no nonsense goliath deceptively peppered by moments of crestfallen and forlornly lip biting melancholy the latter a sky rippling vapour trailing symphony stained and scarred by an apocalyptic black heart and bludgeoned and tamed between moments of white hot ferocity and becalming dreaminess. Elsewhere there’s the scathing pyrotechnics of ‘how to have sex with a ghost’ – a volcanic seizure drilled slab of grizzled boogie weaved from needle picked armaments of stratospheric arpeggios. The introspectively mellowing tonalities of ’our history will be what we make of it’ offers a chance to draw breath and gather yourself together, an epitaph of sorts – gliding electronic swathes navigate a lonesome cosmic void with the additional layering of conscience pricking samples decrying man’s greed their only pilot – in some ways a shameful and apt summation of how meaningless and selfish that the so called civilised sections of the human race have become epitaph. All said it’s the parting title cut which steals the show and brings things perfectly to a close dimpled by a side winding momentum it’s a shyly spun bracing gem of finger wagging beauty which leaves scarcely a dry eye in the house. Leave the CD playing and after a minute or so silence you’ll hear a brief snatch of acoustics no doubt captured by someone no doubt forgetfully found leaving the tape player on.

Key tracks –

Sing the word hope in four part harmony
Accept and embrace
Our history will be what we make of it.

And here’s a little video of them doing ‘last time this year’ – hailing from Maryland and so far with only one song posting (but what a song) B4tcompr3550r which just to prove our remarkable ignorance in such matters is named or at least part named after some kind of device that no doubt does wonderfully useless things or uselessly wonderful things depending on your viewpoint or indeed none of the above. Anyhow they are a quintet and as said have so far posted just one cut in the shape of ‘imgp8062jpg’ which to us has all the hallmarks of sounding not unlike something that would have been concocted had Ultra Vivid Scene and a youthful Ride bumped into each other and found themselves with a spot of free studio time with which to swap notes and crystalline chords while Kitchens of Distinction looked on, all effects pedal laden blissfulness, kaleidoscopic shape cutting and the kind of dissipating fringe parting shade adorned dream weaving shoe gaze shimmering that you feel prolonged exposure to may well give you hallucinogenic flashbacks. There is promise of more to come….. – think I’m right in saying that we mentioned the newly conceived Welshcakes imprint via missive 199 when we checked out the Bordellos cut ‘I may be reborn’. indeed the label is run by those Bordellos types and is based in the little known Mecca of all things psychedelic – St Helens (kids you are just reading the wrong rock music history books, its all lies I tell you). If not its first release then certainly one of the first things that will appear on Welsh Cakes will be the third full length from the Bordellos which in the current climate of comedic childlike like fiscal budgets and ship sinking financial turmoil is topically titled ‘debt sounds’ a suitably skewiff play no doubt on the Beach Boys immortal ‘pet sounds’ and as was Wilson and Co’s opus awash in the kind of lush tonalities that were a fanfare of those optimistic free spirited and economic growth inspired days so to the Bordellos set mirrors the times-a-changing and is suitably treated with the kind of minimalist lo-fi austerity of a ration book. Including the aforementioned ’I may be reborn’ five specially selected prime slices are gathered from that forthcoming set on this their MS player. As previously noted there’s more than a whiff of Freed Unit’s equally lo-fi laden ’gigglegoo’ set from a few years back – especially on ‘I dream of Jimmy’, that same kind of punched and bent out of shape distant and dusty soft psych application though scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a veritable mixed grill of reference points where the palette touches base to varying degrees with the likes of Eugene Chadbourne and Jad Fair and the Stones whose influence is notable on the wasted and trip wired ’rolf harris’ which unless our ears are seriously deceiving us sounds like its recently awoken from the result of a Woodstock frequented spiked drug induced coma some 40 years on. Can’t wait for the album and I suspect you can’t either.

Speck Mountain ‘Some sweet relief’ (Carrot top). Pull up a pew kick back a spell and let the softly tingled tonalities of Chicago’s Speck Mountain’s bitter sweetly freewheeling and curdled comatose 60’s psyche washes purring from their second full length ’some sweet relief’ course through the grooves to invigorate, heal and for an idle moment wrap you up in a dreamy glaze.

Returning to the fray following last years acclaimed debut set ’summer above’ on the once much loved Carrot Top imprint, well we say once loved, our affection these days has been somewhat from afar given that we’ve rarely heard anything by the label since Archer Prewitt’s most admirable ’White Sky’ set from a fair few years back. We did once consider a strongly worded missive but being lazy it never got off the ‘that’ll show them’ planning stage and anyway be honest – would they have taken notice. Somehow I think not. Instead we satisfied ourselves by the uttering of ill thoughts. Which as you’d probably suspect doesn’t neatly bring us to Speck Mountain of whom we are thinking are above such petulance and nastiness, such is the tempting beauty of this nine track full length we’d be a tad shocked to discover that they’ve ever suffered or uttered a bad thought in their whole lives.

‘some sweet relief’ is gorgeously mellow and laid back in fact so laid back its almost horizontal and in peril of finding itself tumbling backwards arse over tit, pitched in a framing of crystalline textures delicate carved with a sparse spectral touch, the core founding members of Speck Mountain – Briedrick and Balabanian refer to their sound as ’ambient soul’ which once heard and experienced seems as good as any description and sure to out do and make laughable any thought clever and convenient generic umbrella that both you and me could ever dare to muster up.

What makes ’some sweet relief’ such a listening treat is that the sounds enveloping you rather more shimmer, glide and hover, restrained of their momentum and almost inert they appear like snake winding drift winds devoid of any recognisable cut or thrust or for that matter propulsion, their subtle Velveteen braids lushly coaxed in the delicate whispers of purred 60’s dialects appear shyly retiring though none the less like ghostly siren-esque advances, it’s a quality both arresting and yet something that you fear will ultimately provide its downfall given its so quietly entrancing and fragile in a world so marked for its jostling and busyness.

All at once haunting, measured and elegant, ’some sweet relief’ finds itself a kindred spirit in Mazzy Star (check out the opening ‘shame on the soul’ or better still on the country torched blues of ‘twin lines‘) and to a lesser extent Cheval Sombre whose equally intoxicating and lazy eyed debut full length ’Julie’ has been sumptuously sparring in the affection stakes. With the lights turned to dim these honey tipped treasures glow with a dulled passionate radiance Briedrick’s slender riff interplays at times sounding almost Will Sergeant-esque in their spectral simplicity the case in point best viewed on the lulling kaleidoscopically tweaked ‘I feel eternal’that aside sounding not unlike a distant cousin to Verve’s ’one way to go’ is peppered tastily by some soulfully smoked brass braids. Elsewhere there’s the tenderly opining parched spiritual blues of the title track to contend with while both ’backslider’ and ’backsliding’ – perhaps the sets centrepiece – is a twinkled twin set, the former a dreamily orbiting cortege of mellowing cosmic cuteness whose obvious reference marker is the more tranquilised moments to be found on Stereolab’s ’cobra and phases’ the latter shyly emerging from the former to find itself sumptuously drilled with a seductively hypnotic soft burnt love-noted caress. Mind you despite all that we must admit being rather partially attracted to the parting ‘Sister Water’ – an exquisitely dimpled babe adorned with the glimmering spectre of Velvet Underground overtures and bathed in a becoming fragile hymnal grace that’s sensitively awash in all manner of lulling braids of softly pulsing lysergic chimes and reverbs. Does it for us.
Key tracks –
Backslider / backsliding
Sister water
Shame on the soul

Bronnt Industries Kapital
Hard for Justice
Get Physical

There’s always been that suspicious air of a muzzled admiration for both Goblin and John Carpenter hiding quietly amid the grooves of his previous brace of full lengths for Static Caravan – ‘virtute et industrie’ and the recent ‘haxan’ – well hidden but all the same irrefutably and undeniably present, it lent itself perfectly to Bartel’s (for it is he who is Bronnt Industry Kapital) chamber like ambience. Inspired by a sense of wide screen cinematic aspects and displaying a distinct fondness for a retro stylising seemingly rooted in the 70’s, his craft has retained a strangely majestic tonality – dark agreed though peppered by both a sense of the macabre and mercurial while simultaneously unafraid of exploring aural pathways extending into both progressive and minimalist electronics.

Maintaining the same exquisitely focused retro glazed calibre as previously ‘hard for justice’ finds Bartel – shall we say – a little playful and in considerably lighter moods. Aided and abetted this time by fellow Bristol based musicians Nick Talbot of Gravenhurst fame for three co-written tracks and Anton Maiof (for one – Mr Maiof has previously worked with the likes of Rose Kemp and the insanely brilliant Steveless). This 8 track set sees him making a brief detour from Static Caravan to jump ship to local electronic imprint Get Physical – erstwhile home of Audiofly X, Booka Shade and Emmanuel for what can only be described as a cosmic cruising odyssey.

Aside the aforementioned reference markers – Goblin and John Carpenter – Bartel and Co take flight to explore galactic terrains previously traversed by the likes of Georgio Moroder, La Dusseldorf, Add N to X, Space, Fly, Mount Vernon Arts Lab, Fortdax and Broadcast (the latter two more than making themselves feel at home on the strangely sassy and subtle intones of the Lalo Schifrin styled off set funk brew ’streets of fury’ – one for you martial arts and blaxploitation connoisseurs I shouldn’t wonder).

Emitting a familiar aural vocabulary sourced from the 70’s decoded and deeply informed by the soundtracks of the day – Romero’s Zombie flicks and Carpenter’s ’Assault on precinct 13’ (especially on ‘an index of corporate art’) et al and with a hint of a space age childhood refracted through the sonic traffic of a futuristic world to come (BBC Radiophonic Workshop medleys and such like (look no further than the dream weaving ice dripped and bitterly sweet mirages weaved by the orbiting ‘threnody for the victims of Lucio Fulci‘), ’hard for justice’ flows and purrs like some long lost score for a forgotten cult albeit kitsch classic, lunar mirror balls and twinkling kraut rock inspired lullabies decorate the star gazed listening space skies.

Cuts such as ‘knights of Vipco’ once free of their Goblin-esque moorings pilot a Moroder grooved Euro disko voyage that neatly surveys and crystallises perfectly the whole sphere of Stereolab influence neatly surveying and distilling their navigational trajectory from ‘dots and loops’ to ‘sound dust’. while elsewhere those with a fondness for both French space rockers as were Tank and the much missed Midlands based combo L’Augmentation will do well to locate and adore ’european male’ a gorgeously sleekly sheened tropicalia of fringe parting kraut grinded mellowness succulently invested by some slyly worked psychotropic brass arrangements. Those of you admiring forlorn ice cream van sounds and celestial Wurlitzer’s ought to make a bee line for the tear stained ‘unbelievable computer of love’. However as far as things go with us best moment by some light year is ‘objects and purpose’ – a huge hyper driving beauty that unless we are very much mistaken sounds not unlike a summit meeting between Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis organised and chaired by Joe Meek. Classy.
Key tracks – Objects and purpose, Knights of vipco, Streets of fury.

Blimey don’t these episodes fly out fast – no sooner do we finish extolling the virtues of racking up your cool credits by way of the last batch of ear lobe humping pod cast posts from then along come five more shots of shows packed to bursting with sounds from under the record counter. This latest wave of twisted and twisting jack-knifed jiving ju-ju goo features the debut posting from Miss Snow who from the confines of her Tokyo located record booth delivers up the hip shimmying barnet spiking Mushi Mushi, again featuring a whole host of grinding grizzled groove from bands we’ve never heard of along with a few old favourites here notably Mad 3 and the 5678’s, some killer cuties to be found here not least the Nervous Wrecks whose ’munsters void’ is a blistering slab of bad assed fun shoehorned with twangs and fried sax aplenty and the frankly cool as f**k Drexels who appear to do a neat line in wig flipped beat pop kind of Gene Vincent meets the Trashmen if you’re looking for reference markers. Another band who we seem to have missed out on where all girl combo Lulu’s Marbles who were by all accounts the scourge of record racks in the 90’s releasing several wild as f**k garage grating full lengths for the Sexcite imprint – sadly lead vocalist / guitarist Akko died in ’99 (nb – the excellent resource). Those of you missing your staple diet of Rubettes and Showaddywaddy may well do yourselves a favour in checking the hopelessly punch drunk and rowdy ’big fat Saturday night’ by Youru no Strangers – demented while just on name alone the fly and his one man garbage (very Cramps don’t you think) should have you chomping at the bit mind you the added bonus is that ‘devil inside blues’ sounds very much like the coffin dragged dragster blues much loved by the likes of Muleskinner Jones, Ministry and RL Burnside.

Next up the second show from the London based Ixnayray hosted Way Past Cool who you may well recall near blew or lid clean off with his debut airing a few weeks back and had us a scrambling frantically amid the record racks of flea pit thrift stores trying to nail the play listed babies as our own. Buckle yourselves up for another rollicking and rampant 60 minute hotwired open topped ride on the sassily sleazy and corrupting wrong side of garage lands forbidden tracks. Among the treats being cranked out on the gaffa taped monophonic record deck you’ll hear lost pearls from the likes of the Apemen, the Necessary Evils, the criminally overlooked rockabilly pioneer Johnny Burnette and Jon Spencer while elsewhere there’s some dandy primitive growl from the likes of Bloodshot Bill whose MS page at we strongly advise you check out without undue delay. A rummage through the vintage vaults turns up the exquisitely precocious and kookily effervescent sherbet dipped ’egyptian shumba’ which apparently was one of only three releases by 60’s star Lou Christie’s former backing band the Tammys while those of you who love your tuneage to sound like it was recorded in a toilet by a tone deaf engineer will dig the frazzled creep fest of the Blow tops ’mister macabre’ – think the Mummies kicking chunks out of a Bryan Gregory era Cramps. Add in some Screaming Lord Sutch, the Masons and the Los Peyotes and you have yourselves a whole lot of one stop party pack humping top tapping tastiness.

More garage punk stuff in the next missive…. – another Japanese musician whose site we spied while rummaging around on my space, indeed admittedly we were drawn to the cute and sunny pastel ilustrations hinting perhaps the potential within would be equally matched and disappointed we weren’t. Apartment appears to be the alter ego of Tatsuya Namal and various friends (the illustrations incidentally by ‘larkin’) – to date they’ve committed three full length to the presses the latest being last years ‘sparkle bicycle’ whose title alone should give you a fair idea what to expect – and if what your thinking is sunny side up day-glo popsicles then award yourself a gold star and bragging rights for the rest of the evening because it seems Apartment have a hankering to western pop or to be more specific West coast pop albeit that’ll be west coast pop will a generous helping of affection in the general direction of George Harrison – well that at least appears to be the case on the ‘Revolver’-esque shades and 60‘s shimmers adorned ‘brown’. but then scratch a little deeper and there’s a definite sense of crookedly sparse mischief at work especially on new song ’fly’ which as breezy and wonky as it is certainly shares an affinity sound wise with the outer fringes of the Elephant 6 collective most notably imprints such as Happy Happy Birthday to Me. Elsewhere there’s some neatly skewed psyche via ’fixty age’ which at times had us fondly reaching for the Freed Units ’gigglegoo’ in order to check out its more ‘mummer’ era XTC footings. Sadly we can’t get new song ’cat’ to play or for that matter ’winter wolf’ though we must admit to being mildly smitten by the dinky and dizzy breezy lilt of ’sleeping bird’ not withstanding the small detail that it sounds as though its fell off the groove edges to the Summer Hymns debut set. We need to hear more I suspect. – I wish I had a Japanese pen pal who could dispatch record parcels jam packed with all manner of weird and wonderful offerings from Japanese imprints then hopefully we get to hold, stare and play to our hearts content the kind of stuff that Magic Books put out. Sadly we can’t give you to much information about the label as both their my space page and official web site is in Japanese however from what little info we can deduce (aside the fact that on their roster appears a certain Sonic Brat who we mentioned in passing a missive or so ago) they cater for all manner of things from electronics to ambience and no doubt all things in between. What we can say for certain though is that the sounds emanating from their my space player are indeed things of enchantment – from the sleepy headed woodland folk apparitions of the mellowing and bitter sweet lonesome ache of Chihei Hatakeyama’s ‘illution’ with its caressing cortege of love noted string arrangements and frosted landscapes to the demurring shy eyed igloo pop of Yuki Kaneko whose most desirable ’rm’ sounds not unlike a very youthful Mum dimpled as it is in bubble wrapped snow tipped clock work chimes, while TSAN named loosely perhaps after a certain ISAN do a neat line in trippy schizoid groove with ‘digitalized’ featured here, a robotically enhanced slab of grizzled future grind equipped with all manner of mutant house dialects and flipped with some seriously distractive hip wiggling moves and we suspect at a passing guess much in awe of Herbie Hancock’s ’rock it’ and Cornelius. We suggest though that you immediately check out 藤田建次/果て – blimey I hope that copied and pasted okay – anyway it’s the third track on the player – a beautifully reclining slice of hazy and dreamy west coast flavoured psyche folk which lovers of Damon and Naomi should go a bundle on. – another Japanese musician and again someone else currently residing on the Magic Books roster, Kenji Fujita does a more than idyllic line in dreamy laid back electro pop as the collage of his 2008 set ‘magnetic pilgrimage’ featured here on the showcasing MS player reveals, that said its ‘果て’ that should be attracting your due care and attention a sparsely toned slice of creaking lo-fi loveliness drilled with a rather fetching glassy eyed soft psych radiance that could easily pass for a stripped bare and dream weaving Damon and Naomi in reclining moods, okay the production is a little lacking sounding at times a tad warped but we here are thinking it adds to the overall sleepy headed charm. – mentioned in these very pages a little while back when we cast a fond eye over the wares of Magic Book records wherein indeed we found ourselves much smitten by a cut entitled ‘rm’ by none other than Yuki Kaneko who crafts these demurring shy eyed frost bound suites from an array of mediums ranging from cassette loops, toys, PC and found sounds – the sounds are fragile and frail, twinkling lullabies sculptured from ice as were, perfect for those who love their ambi-folk motifs dimpled daintily by thawing chime corteges and snoozing refrains – we suggest you hook up to the ornamental Oriental serene like reverence of the glassy peek a boo styled ‘rub’ and proceed therein to be lovingly lulled. – with a name like Vapour Trail we were as you can probably imagine half expecting to hear slabs of sky rocketing stratosphere piercing shoe gaze groove. So you can imagine how foolish we felt sitting there decked out in our smartest looking Colonel Steve Zodiac threads and cosmic helmet waiting for blast off. Man did we feel an arse though not in the literal or indeed biblical sense. Instead emanating from our speakers was something most unexpected and frankly quite affectionately lovable. Vapour trail hails from Japan above and beyond that the trail runs cold though we are assuming it’s a one man operation. Four tracks feature on the MS showcase player of which despite relentless persuasion with the trusted spanner and hammer sadly only two (‘moose’ and ‘thorn’) have deemed worthy to come out to play. Still two’s better than none though not as good as four and anyhow if it had been none then we’d have nothing to ramble on about. Its all woozily light headed stuff best enjoyed one suspects blissing out by sitting in the shade of an overhanging tree and lazily observing the world rush by while you take a spell to unwind and chill out. Vapour Trail concoct decidedly dinky folk-tronic charms that sweetly flirt, serenade and quietly seduce as the swirl and whirl around your headspace occupying the voids with pastoral cascades of lulling sun basked fairy dusk ’thorn’ edges it in terms of affection stakes though there’s an undisputed fuzzy felt warmth attaching to the glitch bitter sweetness of the restless ’moose’ of which fans of old school Minotaur Shock may well find deeply attractive.

Loren Connors
The curse of midnight Mary
Family Vineyard

The legend as retold is that those caught by the grave of Mary E Hart after midnight suffer the fate of death next day. And so the curse of Midnight Mary and her final resting place at the Evergreen Cemetery has become intrinsically linked within the cultural fabric of New Haven, Connecticut. The result as the legend goes of an accidental premature burial.

In 1981 Loren Connors undertook a pilgrimage to Mary’s resting place and armed with a tape recorder and a guitar he chanced his hand with the curse and made cassette recordings of his evening alone at the graveside of Mary. An extensive period of recordings followed that saw him pairing up with Kath Bloom and Tom Hanford these coming hot on the heels of the completion of his exhaustive 8 volume ‘unaccompanied acoustic guitar improvisations’ collection. It was during this phase that the ‘Midnight Mary’ recordings where subsequently forgotten and left to gather dust only to be unearthed recently some three decades after their initial capture.

The nine tracks that make up ‘the curse of Midnight Mary’ may well sound threadbare but its their sparse, simplistic structure and overall detached minimalism that echoes directly back to the great blues pioneers of the 20’s and helps draw upon the essence of past masters such as Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and most identifiably Skip James. For long standing admirers of Connors work its an insightful artefact finding the great man near the beginning of his personalised journey with the guitar, its raw, natural, pure and above all archaic in detail, his adept understanding of the intricacies and spirit of the primitive delta folk blues craft is all to apparent amid these lonesome grainy porch lit grooves wherein lies a curiously deep spiritual resonance.

Partly haunting and eerie, these nine improvisations creak solemnly capturing perfectly a hanged dog demeanour, Connors application of the blues delivered both with arid atmospherics and abstract handling all the time accompanied throughout by his plaintive moans inscribing as were an elegy to the spirit of Mary Hart. Perhaps if there is any complaint to be had its just that one suspects that this release is aimed at the blues and Connors purest, for those encountering Connors for the first time it can prove to be a hard going and deeply daunting spectacle.

That said there are gems ripe for the picking here, the fog bound shanty blues of ‘chant 6’ momentarily finds itself breaking cover to be lifted from the impenetrable remoteness that subdues the set at large, hell we even had to have a double take or two when we thought we heard the dislocated drifts of Wings’ ‘mull of Kintyre’ only for repeat listens to reveal it was in fact ‘Amazing Grace’ which depending on your viewpoint and how good a lawyer you have on your side amounts to the same thing. Elsewhere those among you preferring your reference markers a little more current may do well to check out both ‘Chant 7’ and ‘Chant 9’ – the former somewhat straying vaguely into the abstracted territories of a certain pre T-Rex Marc Bolan with the latter especially proving to be a must hear experience with its opining riffmanship and hiccupping and whooping mumbles which to these ears sounds not like a nifty slice of bent and bruised boogie which on first reaction has you recalling a youthful Muddy Waters though through repeat plays reveals something closer to the defining spirit of Captain Beefheart.

Key tracks –

Chant 6
Chant 9

Further reading about the legend of Midnight Mary can be found by redirecting your PC screen towards

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

missive 200 (n)
Paul Flaherty
Aria Nativa
Family Vineyard

We’re of the thinking that unless you have had a prior acquaintance with the work of Paul Flaherty (don’t worry we hadn’t either) – who blessed of a back catalogue that stretches to some 50 plus full lengths featuring an array of collaborations with the likes of Thurston Moore, Sunburned Hand of the Man and most notably Chris Corsano then nothing will quite prepare you for the unhinged and frantic freeform that will spew forth on your turntable.

Now faced with offer of listening to 40 minutes ‘out there jazz’ – the description I should add here to which ‘Aria Nativa’ was sold to me by and then noticing that said ‘out there jazz’ was in fact – by way of quick reference to the reverse of the sleeve – a solo four track suite to which the protagonist was accompanied by only an alto and tenor saxophone – then admit it – alarm bells are furiously shrieking and if you could decipher and translate into some understandable language would no doubt be shouting violently that maybe this was a little too far out even for your eclectic taste buds and armed with this information you may well be inclined to politely make your excuses and move on with an ever so quickening step. Admittedly we were similarly struck but hell armed with no prior knowledge as to his work and drawn by the fact it was on the rather excellent Family Vineyard imprint – well face it how could we resist – though admittedly we‘ve neglected to mention that the deal was sealed by the small detail that our vinyl copy was a promo and one of a select few of first pressings suffering from a minor sound defect (basically a click that lasts for about 30 seconds and no more – the problem has since be resolved).

Anyway a word of warning with this release – if like me your prone to playing stuff loud often without the aid of headphones and (weather permitting) with the windows wide open. Then think on. We’ve had some seriously strange looks from passers by when this blistered babe has been in full throttle not to mention some slightly bemused glances from the cat Dylan. Lets just say you’ll never be able to appreciate the tenderness of a sax solo after this experience armed as you will be with the knowledge of what it can do when pushed to the limits. Accompanied by Ken Hill cover work and a Ken Del Ponte poem entitled ’no more America’ ’Aria Nativa’ captures Flaherty performing in New York January 2007 and September the same year in New Hampshire across four cuts of powered and pulverised avant sax improvising. it’s a scalding affair the opening 15 minute salvo ’woman in a polka dot dress’ being bleached and ruptured by a positive sand blasted whirlwind of violently abrupt squalls of sax shrieks the intensity of which is only momentarily held at bay by brief excursions into serenely drizzled noir tipped rain swept terrains. It really is fried stuff all at once free spirited, freakish, fierce some, demanding and demented. Perhaps its nearest reference marker would be the wildly off road schizophrenia of Inside Ov a Butchers Shop. ’I don’t live here anymore’ is more conservative in comparison though still reveals Flaherty’s want of drilling out the most amazing of contortionist deliveries. ’weren’t there two of them’ opens side two – again an extended 15 minute composition initially beginning more mellower in texture it quickly sheds its skin to stutter, bark and howl hitting the kind of notes you suspect some Geneva like Convention for music has deemed at sometime or other to be unlawful, its as Spartan as it is caustic albeit delightfully skatty with Flaherty skilfully bringing things back to some sense (though obviously that’ll be sense in its loosest possible text) of normality just as things appear to be teetering at the point of chaos. Frankly needing to heard to be believed ’moving through the darkness’ rounds up the set, the most intricate piece here though alone knows don’t even dare ask me to describe what’s going on – is it really possible to initiate an autopsy on a saxophone? Wired stuff indeed and one for the serious improv purists among you.

Key tracks –

Moving through the darkness

Vignetting the compost

This particular release happened to find itself on the player late one night towards the tail end of last week in one of those ‘we’ll have a sneak peak at this and see if there’s anything interesting enough for considered listening in the morning’ moments that many months ago we promised to stop doing for fear of losing sleep staying up until the wee small hours savouring various sounds while copiously scribbling hand written notes which would eventually appear indecipherable in the cold harsh light of day. I think you know what’s coming next. Yep. We got hooked on this. In fact it wasn’t until just before 5 in the morning and three complete plays later that we finally decided to call it a night by which time night had also decided to call it a night and had slumbered off into hiding leaving day break and the dawn chorus to chirpily take its place. Thankfully next day there were no notes to decipher through scrunched up eyes, in fact the album lent itself such that to do anything but recline and let the sounds wash over you would be deemed to a busy and exhaustive folly.

Bibio is the alter ego of Midlands based resident Stephen James Wilkinson who we must admit to being a tad ashamed to have never heard of previous to this – we believe – his third full length. As apt a title as we’ve come across since in fact hearing er – ‘a psychedelic guide to monsterism island’ just this very morning – but you get my drift (don’t you?). ‘Vignetting the compost’ is sumptuously threaded by all manner of snoozing gemstones that have been sculptured from yawning electronics and rustic riffs sprinkled by the breezy life affirming glow of nature’s own magical essences, a gorgeously woven tapestry of parched floral recitals dashed with soft psyche overtones and originating as were from an enchanted woodshed. Its utterly disarming and captivating stuff alarmingly seducing and serene and sure to appeal in equal measures to fans of Tunng (as on ‘Weekend Wildfire‘ albeit here dimpled by early 70’s flashbacks), the Busy Signals (non more so is this the case than on the village fayre fancy ‘odd paws‘), Oddfellows Casino (especially on ‘great are the piths’) and Vernon Elliot.

Sixteen tracks feature within, part sepia glazed dream like corteges part wonky and inebriated clock working rustics that sometimes sound like they’re a little worse for wear for sitting in sun, these mellowing slices of fanciful melodic foliage are delicately awash with flotillas of dissipating fuzzy felt mirages and softly tipped lysergic myriads. Within prepare to be charmed by sea faring treats such as dream weaving ’top soil’ with its melting interloping riff work – much recalling it has to be said Toshack Highway’s self titled debut full length. Then there’s the lolloping banjo graced ‘thatched’ – a dizzy and dusty porch lit treat while in sharp contemplative contrast the divine and demurring sepia tweaked snow globed effect lullaby tracing that attaches to the simply adoring and bitter sweetly shy eyed ‘Torn under the window light’ is simply the stuff of jaw dropped numbed awe.

Rummage a bit under the floral undergrowth for the idyllic and woozy Oliver Postgate like charmed landscapes of ‘Dopplerton’ or the lulling albeit slightly seasick see sawing minimalism of the gramophone loft find that is ’under the pier’ and lest we omit to mention the parting 15 minute orbiting odyssey ’the garden shelter’ – droning cascades that to these ears sound like bagpipes, shimmering keys, music box montages and then silence for 5 and a half minutes the return being a rather nifty slice of delta folk rustics by way of mystical astral trip to Tibet. Quite perfect if you ask me.

Key tracks –

Torn under the window light
Top soil
Flesh rots, pip sown

A psychedelic guide to Monsterism Island
Lo Recordings

An utter cornucopia of wig flipping ornate opiate opining serenades we haven’t had this much fun with a record since we fired up the household Bunsen burner and in a fit of infant curiosities applied our own pyrotechnic experiments to replicating the lunar landscapes of Gerry Anderson’s UFO out of my mum’s prized Cliff Richard and Bobby Vee record collection in order to engage in the mother of all Dinky toy battles between a moon base Interceptor and a battered Captain Scarlet SUV. Oh the joy – mind you I wasn’t able to sit for weeks and proudly showed the welts resulting from the ensuing good natured beating for many weeks that was after she released me from incarceration out of the pantry.

Where were we. Ah yes. ’A psychedelic guide to Monsterism Island’. As you’d no doubt detect from the title this mind warping odyssey of strange sounds is indeed a bit psyche-y and while we are here we may as well say it’s a bit lounge-y, kraut-y, space-y, jazz-y, trip-y and tropicalia-y. A pure unadulterated adventure in sound featuring a mercurial gathering of magic mushroom munching merry minstrels amid whose assembled ranks you’ll find lurking fully paid up members of the Ghost Box collective, Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, some Super Furries, ex Octopus renegades, a few Future Sound of Londoners, the odd out in the cold Special(s) as well as the mighty Circulus, the more than admired in our gaff Wolf People, Batfinks, Luke Vibert and head gatekeeper of the library of weird tunes Mr Trunk of Trunk records fame.

Okay where exactly do we begin with this mind expanding 27 track kaleidoscopic journey. Well I suppose the best place is to list the likely reference markers from the out set so as to give you a flavour of what to expect, any names you see and you like – then Bob’s your uncle its probably for you. If not then the odious U2 album is there in the local and musically clueless record supermarket ready to part a fool and his / her hard earned dosh (am I being a bit harsh and dismissive here – of course not ‘no line on the horizon‘ is utter tosh despite what the advertising revenue chasing inkies tell you – mind its better than the Moz album – now that is painful). For lovers its best said of Raymond Scott, Vernon Elliot, the Radiophonic Workshop, Benge’s recent ’20 systems’ set, Beyond the Wizards Sleeve (again), the Superimposers, Optiganally Yours, Herbie Hancock’s ’future shock’ era work and more besides.

As said 27 cuts feature here, well strictly speaking 20 plus 7 linking interludes which we gather are there in order to allow you to pause for breath and give your fringe a quick comb and straighten before its sent off again for a spot of cosmic parting. A treasure trove of sepia jingles and pickled pupil dilating sound-scapes carved and crafted or so you’d be lulled to thinking from a long distant space age forever green in your inner child’s minds eye, fractured and fried fondant fancies calibrated with redolent retro glaze. The magic within folks is all done with mirrors – of course we lie its all festooned in marimbas and mellotrons.

Here you’ll find a rare and richly vibrant untamed paradise of dream woven mirages from the opening salvo the sultry and inviting intones of the summer drifting south pacific sea breezes of the ukulele drilled ’magic morning’ by the Monsters at Work who emerge again after a short nap in the afternoon sun with the arabesque tweaked lounge psych of ‘fisherman‘s jam‘. Mind you those among you who just can’t get enough of that south sea paradise sound should be mindful to fast forward through the set to Tremortex’s ‘final froog’ – for he is one third of the Monsters and sure as hell can have you in a grass skirt shaking maracas like a wild ‘un in the blink of an eye. Marc Shearer – former resident of 90’s indie poppers Octopus – a band it should said who we were most fond off at one time – stumps up some shimmering cosmic wooziness in the shape of the oceanic ’magma on my mind’ – think Discordia meets 808 State. Belbury Poly – a member of the disarmingly dizzy and fuzzy lost sound paradise that is the Ghost Box imprint who we’ve had occasion to feature in passing in these very pages cooks up some nifty and spongy sounding crooked goo that’s part kooky early 70’s TV styled ’vision on’ fayre and fried test card montages. Been a while since we had cause to mention Luke Vibert in dispatches – we’ve always been totally smitten by his Wagon Christ alter ego and rarely is his work far away from our turntable – on ’silver snorse hotel’ he teases the childhood recollections and takes you skipping down memory lane for a spot of twinkling nursery rhyming – a kind of Jack and Jill on space dust if your asking. next up Mr Trunk wades in with some smoking noir tipped jazz sophistication for ’nest we forget’ – very Vernon Elliot all said and done.

Wolf People forever hold a place in our hearts chiefly courtesy of their outings for the esteemed Battered Ornaments imprint, on ’village strollin’ they’re found togged up in their best tie dye threads and a tooting on a fat ’un whilst laying down some seriously laid back and chilled head expanding bliss grooves. Meanwhile over on the village green those impish medieval muses Circulus are busy adding a spot of maypole frolicking to the festivities with the flute tooted ’til we meet merry again’ – word has it a spanking new album is currently fermenting in their Wizardry lair. Previously unknown to us Amorphous Androgynous have apparently been releasing the results of their warping aural alchemy via their own Electronic Brain Violence imprint which straight after writing up this we are hastily heading over to to see what we can plunder, featuring Gary and Brian from FSOL fame ’mr s sponge’s groovy oscillations’ is pure early 70’s prog tomfoolery, all at once wonky, trippy and crooked a kind of shit faced jam between a wired Band and a clearly out of it VdGG if you’re forcing a comparison. Taking a break between SFA duties Mr Rhys loosens the mood to serene levels with ’wild robots power up’ – an orbiting bossa nova promenade like serenade that is unless our ears do deceive with falls somewhere in sound terms between early Echoboy and a youthful Mr Jarre which we here are thinking is a good thing. Right? Better known to family and friends as Pete Fowler, Squonjax who sculptures some rather fine transcendental willowy-ness on the cavernously captivating Budd-esque ’chocolate skull’. Dud Thud on the other hand is the library music obsessed alter ego of Specials founder Jerry Dammers who really should require no introductions in these pages and if he does well young persons with sizable blanks in your record knowledge your just listening to the wrong things. ’lonely library’ is just as you’d imagine something titled as such on the tin – lonesome library sounds which it should be said emerging from their sparse minimalist halo sound not unlike some curious snoozing fusion between John Brenton’s Landshipping and OJN guises. ’to all the Wizards in lockdown’ is a celestial mistral piloted by Grid / Beyond the Wizards Sleeve alchemist Richard Norris, all at once eerie and enchanting its possessed of that same ceremonial aura as braided the work of Add N to X. those of you loving your sounds – shall we say – on the fat, fuzzy and futuro funky side of the road should immediately seek out the stuttering schizoid happenings of Cherrystones wonderfully wonky ‘seven thousand pound bee’ while admirers of Emperor Penguin’s sublime ‘mysterious pony’ set from a few years back would do well to drop whatever your doing and immediately re-tune to the wigged out tonalities of hardfeelinguk’s ’volcanic drive’.

As previously reported the set has a few visitations from those dudes of lounge cool over at Ghost Box, of course Belbury Poly you can read about above ‘lair of the grolfax’ features the remarkable talents of label friends the Advisory Circle – essentially a solo project of the fingers in many pies workaholic Jon Brooks who here enchants all and sundry with some delightfully down tempo tipped star crossed milky way lounge loveliness. Next up some mystic psyche folk courtesy of Richie Crago via the decided hypnotic drone wiring snake charms of ‘wandering black holes’. Fans of the spellbinding archaic sounds of Men An Tol and the Owl Service will be all a swoon with the evocative entreaties of Nancy and Paddy’s frail and lo-fi pastoral flower ‘Owl Ritual’ – Paddy of course being Paddy Steer of Homelife fame and Nancy as in Nancy Elizabeth whose output has courted lovers of both the Leaf / Timbreland imprints. Last up Batfinks who by all accounts has from his shy Manchester retreat caught the undying affection of LOAF records, ’crystal hermitage’ featured wrapping up proceedings here is a gorgeously carved slice of looping driftwood rustic snake winds, deviously demurring and alluring and sprinkled ever so subtle with exotic essences. Nuff said. Buy.

Key tracks –

Circulus ’til we merry meet again’
Wolf People ’village strollin’
Gruff Rhys ’wild robots power up’
The advisory circle ’lair of grolfax’
Luke vibert ’silver snorse hotel’

Bronnt Industries Kapital
Static Caravan

Another release that went astray that we’ve had hanging about the gaff for a month or two much to our embarrassment is the second full length from Bristol based aural alchemist Bronnt Industries Kapital or as he’s better known to the local postman Guy Bartell. The subject of a specially put together reconnaissance team of crack marines who through the glow of night waded through mountains of dangerously piled CD’s in an attempt to track down the errant release. Okay we exaggerate a tad – still you can’t deny it adds a bit of dramatic tension to the proceedings. In truth the release came into question when we eyed a new BIK release – ‘hard for justice’ via the Get Physical imprint – of which in a flash we ordered (the vinyl version) and are now eagerly camped by the front door ready to pounce when the letter box creaks.

Such frivolity aside.


Released in a limited issue and housed in a stark ink stamped card envelope ’Haxan’ is a truly evocative, engaging and enchanting outing that should serve to see Bartell’s critical stock level rise swiftly. Resulting from a commission to provide a soundtrack for the Tartan films re-release of the much regarded and dare we say equally loathed silent movie from the early 20’s ’hexan’ – a film whose historical providence, relevance and cult therein we won’t bother replicating here other than to say if you feel inclined to read more then google IMDB or better still click on the following link

Recorded by all accounts (as was the film by and large) in order to capture that sense of witching hour isolation, Bartell crafts a richly arresting atmospheric odyssey of sound, its an album calibrated in such a way that despite the outward sense of sparsely minimalist applications often revealing themselves it should be noted as were like porcelain sculptured apparitions that there’s an deeply alluring inner warmth engineered by the lush tenderness of the orbiting crystal tipped chamber toned ambient corteges (the Goblin-esque ‘fire‘ for instance). Far from being some macabre like mausoleum piece (though that‘s not to say that the set is without its odd moment of hair at the back of the neck raising – see the psychotropic drone weaves of ‘for eternity‘ – very similar in texture to Mount Vernon Arts Lab’s ‘Séance at hobs end‘) ‘Haxan’ is rarely haunting in terms of edge of the seat suspense except that is with the exception of the ritualistic clock working of ‘preparations for trial’ where indeed a sense of sombre foreboding is instilled or the ominously rhythmic intones of ‘conspiracy’, while ’anna, the printers wife’ is very much found nodding to Owl Service’s chilling covers set ‘Cine’. That said ‘haxan’ is chilling only in the sense of the sereneness and out there transcendental quality it endows, the beauty and precision (and dare we say majesty) of the steady ebbs and flows of the arrangements casting as were a lulling spectacle of opining distress calls into the endless cosmic voids the overall result assuming something akin to a strange and dusty viewfinder replaying images of fade memories.

Elsewhere you’ll find the silvery shimmer like corteges of the uplifting ‘the youngest servant’, the ice tipped kooky and woozy mirages of the twinkling ‘torture chamber’ or the snow globed lullaby effects afforded to the chamber like reverence of ‘confessions’ though for us personally the dream like fuzzy dream sequences within ‘thunder with water’ just do fine by us.

Reference wise – of course Goblin are instantly recalled as is Fat Cat’s Hauschka, maybe a little John Carpenter especially via ’the power of lead’ though overall the ambient symphonies are dimpled by a classical vibrancy that on more than one occasion called to mind the unaccredited Godfather of ambience – Erik Satie that’s borne of the sets shimmering tides of gracefulness, introspection and application of space.

A haunting though hitherto spectral beauty.

Key tracks –

‘preparations for trial’
‘the youngest servant’
‘thunder with water’ – the work of artist Mathyas Anderson a Wisconsin based resident undertaking an odyssey into the far reaches of the un-chartered vapour strewn voids of ambiences ever evolving and expanding universe. These cavernous coliseums of sound are shoe gazed hybrids sculptured from porcelain and framed within celestial star kissed twinkles, from the locomotive rhythms of the bitter sweet epiphany that is ‘peach fuzz’ to the minimalist pastel shades applied to the nakedly spectral ‘seduced’ with its arcing monolithic Cathedral like structures and glacial swathes, Hollydrift cuts an alluring display of introspective isolationism, between the lilting and the lonesome these silver skinned glassy opines wallow, weave and wane with a tearful tenderness that’s both reverent and regal none more is this better exemplified than on the stately and ceremonial ‘Abygayle Surrey’ where the orbiting cycles and monastic harmonies swirl and dissipate to coalesce into a deeply affecting arabesque tweaked effervescence that has to be heard to be appreciated. Mind you we here are equally smitten by the frosted atmospherics of ‘an empty carrier’ – an EP entitled ‘peach fuzz’ arrives shortly via the Test Tube net label – we suggest you seek out.

Alas that’s your lot for a day or so – over the bank holiday weekend don’t be too surprised to find shed loads of missives littering up the gaff – loads of gear in preparation and near complete stages – alas there will be a y space type special thing. As to the internet label focus – alas postponed for a week or three – we’ve found stacks of sites and are currently checking them out and will once satisfied that we have enough to cause the near meltdown of your pc through over-active downloading then we’ll deliver.

As usual thanks yous to all those who’ve made these musings possible – I’m forever eternally grateful – those who’ve sent emails – I apologise for non reply – we’ve had something of an email issue crisis – I can receive but can’t send – I will check this out over the weekend because its getting laughable. For now please hook up to and send a message – honest I do reply. As for snail mail –

Till whenever take care….


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