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Sunday, 13 August 2017
New from the Belgian label EXAG Records an exciting new project that transcends borders and genres. The concept of the BLACK’EX Split Series is to take groundbreaking/innovative new music from two artists, from two different countries and then press it on to a limited edition 10” vinyl record, creating connections between artists from around the world, building bridges between countries that otherwise may never exist. BLACK'EX Split Series #1 brings together Dave Cocks from Italy, better known as one half of the duo Throw Down Bones with French artist Monolithe Noir who now resides in Belgium.
Side A features ‘Borders’, the first solo effort by Cocks which focuses on his personal journey of fleeing the centre and finding himself in the peripheral places. Cocks makes use of Noise Militia equipment, handmade pieces by Throw Down Bones partner Frankie combing primordial beats, looped electronics and noise to create something that falls between a dark ambient soundscape and a deeply psychedelic drone out. Hazy vocals courtesy of Nadia Daou (TAU) lace through the rhythm amassing a veritable tapestry of rich texture within the sound. Side B features ‘La Bégum’, a more experimental piece using old school modular synths to create a track that has echoes of early 60s/70s adventures into electronic music. The track reverberates with a hypnotic energy whilst exuding a catchy countenance that has the feel of proto-techno as imagined in a 60s Musique Concrète workshop.
BLACK'EX Split Series #1 is out NOW and available from either the EXAG Records store or their Bandcamp site here……………………………….
where you can stream the tunes. Keep ‘em peeled for further releases from this series.
Saturday, 12 August 2017
New from the delightfully quirky, thoroughly English Indie/Psychedelic/Whatever label Gare du Nord Records is the first solo album from the Arch Drude’s little bro’ Joss Cope. Although generally best known for his contributions to Julian Cope’s albums Fried and St Julian where he co-wrote the songs 'Pulsar' and 'Christmas Mourning' with Julian and Donald Ross Skinner, Joss Cope was part of the mid 80s Creation Records “psychedelic scene” playing with Crash, The Weather Prophets, Rose McDowell and Biff Bang Pow before putting out two albums of his own work with Something Pretty Beautiful. In 1991 he formed the psych band The United States of Mind with Ashley Wood(Chemistry Set), Dave Morgan and Greenwood Goulding (Rockingbirds), (only one eponymously titled album of blistering British psychedelia was released on the appropriately titled DyscFunctional imprint, before the band split in 1994) and in more recent years he’s played guitar with psychedelic soulsters Dexter Bentley and bass with Sergeant Buzfuz, as well as becoming inspired to write songs for himself again. Unrequited Lullabies is his first collection of his own work since the late 80s………… recorded in Finland with with a trio of top Helsinki musicians, guitarist Veli-Pekka Oinonen (Nights of Iguana, Leningrad Cowboys), bassist Esa Lehporturo and percussionist Ville Raasakka with………..erm……….. Irish keyboardist O’Reilly O’Rourke (which we are convinced is a Julian Cope pseudonym on the lines Double DeHarrison), it’s an album of 60s inspired Neo-Psychedelica which combines English whimsy with an acid fried intensity of the more subtle Nuggets influenced bands of the 80s and has already been described as Syd Barrett fronting The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.
Cut from the same cloth as Julian Cope’s first two “Tamworth” albums and the Creation Records mid 80s output, Unrequited Lullabies is a riot of jangling guitars, Psych Pop smarts, fuzz freak outs and off the wall psychedelia that, along with more current influences, channels Kevin Ayers and the “Canterbury Scene” possibly more than Syd Barrett and the hip London bands from the Sixties. It’s a wonderful record that proudly shows off all it’s influences………………the stand out tracks among a bunch of really great tunes have be the supercharged jangle pop of ‘Learn To Float’, the beatific and tripped out ‘Cloudless Skies’, 'Started Something' and ‘Turned Out Nice Again’, a very groovy ‘Nobody Knows This Is Everywhere’ and the bucolic album closer Streaming’. It’s fair to say that many of the songs here would not sound out of place on the early Julian Cope solo albums and fans of those records are really going to love this, however with a record packed with beautifully constructed Psych Pop songs Joss Cope has shown that both the Cope brothers are brilliant songwriters. Check it out People.
Due for release 6/10/17, Unrequited Lullabies will be available on vinyl, CD and as a download. Pre-orders are being taken here…………
Saturday, 5 August 2017
New from the Spanish crate diggers Guerssen Records is the latest re-release, via their Mental Experience imprint, in their ongoing reissue program of the willfully obscure Krautrock records originally issued by the Pyramid label. Galactic Explorers' Epitaph For Venus is another album shrouded in mystery from Pyramid (The Psych/Space Rock label Psi-Fi produced six "reissues" of albums by this supposedly long lost label around 20 years ago. In some circles, these releases were generally considered to be a hoax and it was widely believed at the time that the albums were recorded in the mid '90s in the UK during the height of the Krautrock revival) and a candidate for being dubbed 'Ambient' way before Ambient existed as a genre.……………..produced by Toby “The Mad Twiddler” Robinson in Cologne, circa 1974, Epitaph For Venus is an album of minimal Kosmische sounds that bring to mind the meditative ambiences explored and developed on the early Tangerine Dream Ohr releases, with plenty of Minimoog, analogue synths / keyboards, effects, loops, tape manipulation and treated percussion.
Although two of the the three long tracks have previously surfaced on Virgin Records hard to find Unknown Deutschland compilations, however this is the first time any of these tracks have been widely available on vinyl and whether or not this record is an “authentic” Krautrock album does not diminish the quality of the music presented here. The album opens with the gentle pulse of ‘Lunarscape’, a nearly 20 minute bliss out of extended minimalistic atmospherics with subtle jazzy touches added to the mix ,where the trio of Johannes Lutz (Mini Moog, Hammond Organ and……err….Lunatron), Holst Seisert(Synths, Fender Rhodes and Effects) and possibly the best known of the band due to his work with the German Prog Rock/Free Jazz outfit Dzyan, Reinhard Karwatky (Synths, Percussion and Organ) pilot a trip of translucent beauty, surfing on sine waves across the rugged surface of the moon. The other two tracks on the album are very much in the same style………….’Ethereal Jazz’ is much more of an abstract, 60s/70s European Free Jazz influenced piece that ebbs and flows with the cosmic tides while ‘Venus Rising’ is a exercise in Kosmische soundscaping, it’s a trip to the centre of the brain where you can see ancient solar systems forming and listen to the vibrations cosmic winds as you are transported to the furthest out parts of the minds eye. For fans of minimal, experimental cosmic sounds and krautrock pioneers such as Popol Vuh, Sand, Peter Michael Hamel, Tangerine Dream, Baba Yaga, Cluster, Cozmic Corridors and Brainticket, this is well worth your time.
Remastered from the original tapes and with liner notes by Alan Freeman, head boss at Ultima Thule and author of The Crack In The Cosmic Egg, Epitaph For Venus is out NOW on vinyl and CD from very cool record stores and all the usual suspects on line. Also available directly from the Guerssen Records website or from their Bandcamp page here.............
Saturday, 29 July 2017
As one of the more hallucinogenicly warped bands to emerge from the thriving Italian Psych Rock scene, the Italian duo of Andrea Bellentani and Simon Maccari have been exploring the darker side of the Psychedelic Experience since 2001 as The Diaphanoids. Fuzzed up and re-toxed, The Diaphanoids return with a new album of their very own sleazy, iconic brand of psychallucisergic rock. Released by People In The Sky Records, Blessed Poisons follows their previous releases, 2008’s dreamy retro-inspired Astral Weekend and the 2014 follow-up, LSME. which blended together 70’s cosmic flavours, fuzzed-out guitars and motorik beats, as the final story in this epic trilogy that has travelled through inner and outer space, alternate dimensions and realities in a highly altered state of mind. Stoned immaculate, Blessed Poisons is the sound of transcendent visions, of scarves drenched in oils, blood full of fractured rhythm, translucent guitars and acid drenched vocals blasted through the kaleidoscopic prism of a blown mind.
Opening with the cacophonous head rush of the albums title track, Blessed Poisons is a full-throated battle cry from the Psychedelic Underground. From tracks such as ‘Too Many Stars And Not Enough Night’, with its ecstatic floating guitars and shimmering keyboards, to the smacked-down drums and hashed-up guitar solos of ‘Iconize Yourself’ the album oozes hallucinatory rage echoing out into a dead, empty reality. It’s modern Psychedelia at it’s best, deconstructing tripped out influences from the last 40 years, pulling together the lysergic proto-Punk of Suicide and Chrome, 70s Krautrock, Neo-Psychedelic 80s Post Punk, swirling Shoegaze and experimental soundscaping The Diaphanoids have created a record that is reassuringly familiar while pulling Psychedelic Rock well out of it’s comfort zone into uncharted corners of a cold dark universe. One of the most Psychedelic albums released so far this year and well worth checking out.
Blessed Poisons is released 11/08/2017 on CD via People In The Sky. Available from all the best groovy record stores and the usual suspects on line.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
Arriving through our post portal, one of the furthest out records you will hear all year…………………….Fiore Spietato is the fifth album from Unimother 27, the recording alias of Italian multi instrumentalist and bedroom Psychonaut Piero Ranalli ( if his music is anything to go by this man is a veteran of at least a 1000 psychic wars) and contains five freaked out tracks of Acid Rock squall, twisted Psychedelic improvisations and trippy Space Rock. Aided and abbeted by drummer "Mr Fist", Piero deconstructs the assumed “laws” of Psychedelic Rock and reassembles the music in strange and twisted shapes.
His music is hard to describe, but if you could get your head round the concept of a bus with Chrome and Acid Mother’s Temple on board tipping over a cliff, then this is the sound of the wreckage. It’s not the easiest album to get into, but after a few listens the Acid squall becomes near transcendental. The opening track ‘There Is No Trip For Cats’ is a LSD soaked guitar wig out that sounds like Alien Soundtracks era Chrome on a bad come down…………and it gets weirder. ‘Hierophantes’ is an angular guitar improvisation dragged along by clattering drums while ‘Something About The Clouds’ is broken Krautrock glued back together the wrong way round and is completely deranged. This is certainly not easy listening, however beautiful melodies emerge from the chaos from time to time…………. ‘The Wheels Of Memory’ is a fantastic guitar improvisation which has echoes of blissed out 60s West Coast guitar bands such as QMS and the Steve Miller Band. Clocking in at around the 15 minute mark the albums title track is a winding, spiraling track that anyone into the Cosmic Jokers will really love, slowly fading out into a gentle hum of feedback. It’s not going to be to everybodies taste, however if you like you Psych Rock further out there than most then you are likely going to dig this.
Fiore Spietato is out NOW and you can pick up a copy on Discogs here and check out the Pineal Gland website for more weirdness.
Friday, 21 July 2017
Seeing that 60s Psychedelia really didn’t hit the UK provinces full on until 1970, there was always a flip side to Swinging London. For every band of dilettante acid dandies freaking out at the Roundhouse or getting it together in the country there were a dozen hard gigging bands playing the northern clubs and discotheques every weekend. Apart from a few isolated pockets outside of the groovy epicenter, the fall out from the Summer Of Love was a London thing…………that’s where the really ambitious bands had to base themselves, however seeing that the Pop charts were full of hip tunes, a watered down version of Psychedelia seeped into almost every town in the UK. There were loads of venues and a load of bands available to play them……….they were hardworking professional musicians who could make a decent living mixing a dash of cabaret and comedy with a set of Freakbeat/Psych tinged pop tunes and if they were lucky they would be given an opportunity to record a single. Toby Twirl were one such band, originally from Newcastle they were playing regular gigs between 1968 until 1971……..they had the threads but were slightly uncool and no doubt the closest they came to a psychedelic experience was the hallucinogenic effects of Newcastle Brown Ale, but by the sound of their long overdue debut album they could really tear up a dancefloor on a Saturday night in Blackburn. The tapes of previously thought lost demo and showcase recordings were recently discovered by the band's drummer, John Reed, which have been carefully transferred to a digital medium and professionally mastered. This mix of original songs with a collection crowd pleasing hits of the day is soon to be released as a limited edition 180 gram LP and CD by the good folk at Mega Dodo.
Toby Twirl were formed from the ashes of several Newcastle Beat groups and were briefly signed to Decca Records. The group released three singles on Decca……..'Back In Time', ‘Toffee Apple Sunday' and 'Movin' In'. Although critically acclaimed in later years, as these tracks have appeared on countless Freakbeat/Psych Pop compilations in the last two decades, none of the singles charted due to lack of major radio play at the time. The lost recordings that appear here walk a fine line between a cheesy desperation to get a hit single and a solid night club act. Side one of the album is very Pop orientated but includes a very cool cover of the Beatles ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man and the aforementioned Freakbeat tune ‘Movin In’. Side two is bonkers…….in a good way. There are covers of Steppenwolf and The Guess Who (‘Born To Be Wild’ and ‘American Woman’), a straight cover of ‘Something’ (for the slow dance), The Everly Brothers ‘When Will I Be Loved’ done Trojan moonstomp style and a fantastic cover of the Easybeats hit ‘Good Times’ which sounds like a Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels out take. Toby Twirl were late to the Psychedelic party and although there are some great tracks here, it sounds as if they were at heart a cabaret band (all be it a very successful one and were a top draw around the North of England) and played what worked for a beered up Saturday night crowd as opposed to finding their own path. They were good at what they did………the songs are played immaculately, the close harmonies are as tight as you like and they were a proper party band but they lacked the visceral energy and originality of bands such as Tomorrow or the Move and remind us of the Rock influenced club/cabaret bands that used to rock up on TV talent shows like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces in the early 70s. It’s a strange release for Mega Dodo, but all the same if you dig the seriously obscure side of British Pop Sike this will be right up your street. It’s a rare glimpse of the other side of the Psychedelic 60s.
Due for limited release 06/10/2017, keep ‘em peeled for pre-orders.
Monday, 17 July 2017
ALISON O’DONNELL - CLIMB SHEER THE FIELDS OF PEACE (Mega Dodo LP, CD, D/L). RICHARD BONE - AGE OF FALCONRY (Mega Dodo CD, D/L).
July sees the release of a couple of strange and beautiful albums from the ever reliable boutique label Mega Dodo……………….
Irish Folk singer Alison O’Donnell really should need no introduction, but for those of you new to her music here’s a brief biog………….. Born in Dublin, Alison O’Donnell recorded her first single, 'Feeling High', in 1968 for Simon Napier Bell’s SNB label at the age of 15 with the cult Progressive Folk-Rock band, Mellow Candle. They signed to Decca's Deram label in the early 70s and gigged their only album Swaddling Songs extensively in Ireland and Britain, appearing in concert with the likes of Genesis, Thin Lizzy, Donovan, The Chieftains and Steeleye Span before splitting up in 1973. Now considered a Folk Rock classic, Swaddling Songs was “rediscovered” during the Psych/Acid Folk revival of the mid noughties which led to a renewed interest in her work and an invitation to join Irish Wyrdfolk outfit United Bible Studies among various collaborations with the new breed of twisted Folk artists including a fruitful meeting of minds with English Psych Folk band The Owl Service. Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is Alison O’Donnell’s first proper solo album since 2009s Hey Hey Hippy Witch (a much under rated record that features contributions from various members of United Bible Studies, The Owl Service, Circulus and musicians from Mellow Candle) and is a collaboration with Dave Colohan from Raising Holy Sparks and mixes Folk and Electronica with remarkable effect. Although Folktronica is a genre that you would not immediately associate with Alison O’Donnell, as with her previous albums, Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is at turns unpredictable, chilling, heart-breaking and exhilarating as acoustic guitars and snaky synths combine with O’Donnell’s vocals to send shivers down the backbone; it easily stands shoulder to shoulder with her best work. Deeply atmospheric and stunningly beautiful, Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is Folktronica it best. Stripped down to stark and unfussy arrangements, the beauty is in the their simplicity, giving plenty of space to Alison O’Donnell’s wonderful voice in the mix, the songs have an ethereal quality not a million miles away from the pastoral psychedelia of United Bible Studies and Kate Bush at her more daringly experimental moments. Sometimes sounding almost like devotional music from a time before electricity and at other times having a more quirky, modern feel this is a collection of some of the finest Folk based songs you will hear all year.
Also new from Mega Dodo is Age Of Falconry by American Electronic musician Richard Bone. With roots in experimental Electronica, Richard has been releasing solo records on his own Quirkworks label since the early 90s and Age of Falconry is Richard’s first release with Mega Dodo. Richard’s versatile compositions walk the edge of combining the abstract with contemporary Electronica. His music steps out of the ordinary, transforms into unusual shapes and spheres, the latter ranging from hypnotizing and a bit foreboding to free form compositions with quirky elements occasionally lurking underneath. Age of Falconry has a haunting beauty at work on many of its tracks, juxtaposed with a cheery warmth, both elements sitting comfortably next to each other despite their polar opposite natures. It’s an album that mixes together many of the strands of modern Electronica………..the opening track, ‘Queensberry Wilde’, is a beguiling piece of Folktronica, where elsewhere there are hints of Eno’s Music For Airports and Apollo albums and elements of Ambient soundscaping and minimal Krautrock compositions. Tracks such as the haunting ‘A Shooting Star Was I’ and ‘Winged Persia’ are Eno-esque in their construction while other tracks like ‘Mabuhay!’and ‘Damfino’ sound like they have come from one the fantastic early 90s Ambient collections that labels like Warp and Leaf used to put out. There is a darker side to Richard Bone’s work as exemplified by the weird and glitchy ‘Urgent Curious’ and the brooding ‘Apotheosis’ which are in stark contrast to the lighter compositions on the album. If you are a fan of 80s/90s Ambient music, this is a record you need to check out.
Both albums are out NOW……………..Alison O’Donnell’s Climb Sheer The Fields Of Peace is a limited edition vinyl and CD release while Richard Bone’s Age Of Falconry is a limited edition CD release only. Available from all good record stores and on line outlets with copies also available directly from the Mega Dodo store or bandcamp page here https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/merch