4 May 2015
Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)
There are some bands that live on in your memory due to the sheer quality of their output and the sense of enjoyment that their music brings. Thus were Mr Pine, this listener discovering them in the days of ye olde Myspace and regretfully not taking the opportunity to pick up their albums at the time (a warning to all those who stream and don't buy from the artist!). Thankfully, Chris Wade (the mainman from psych masters Dodson And Fogg) has reissued both of Mr Pine's albums as a double download, meaning that debut 'The Gift Of Wolves' and follow up 'Rewilding' are now both available in their psych folk glory. Formed in 2003 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, by Matt McLennan and Kevin Scott the band gradually attracted additional players and guest contributors (notably Alison O'Donnell from Mellow Candle) to create their beautiful and mysterious chamber folk. Here then is the chance to revisit (if you were a fan) or to introduce yourself to the box of delights that are Mr Pine’s first two recordings.
Highlights from the albums include opener 'Deux Fax Machina', its acoustic reverie shimmering with piano, chimes, cello and Scott's emotive vocals to create a classic piece of baroque acid folk. Mr Pine's songs are always carefully embellished, never overdone but tastefully and beautifully adorned with cascading piano runs, strings and orchestral touches. 'Soregh and Murn' is a prime example, vocal harmonies and a veritable tapestry of piano notes providing a backdrop for the bleak tale of a young man going out to war. ‘Field Of Glass Houses' is a masterful piece of summer haze that evokes memories of the 70s Canterbury scene, Caravan style piano, cello and plucked strings creating a sepia tinged psych masterpiece. 'Edge of the World' begins almost sermon-like, spoken word reminiscence echoed and accompanied by gentle piano notes, backwards tapes and a choir; a lysergic dreamscape that unsettles and pleases in equal measure. 'Nocturne' is a violin drenched lullaby that manages to be both absolutely beautiful and deeply melancholy; it reminds this listener of Bonnie Prince Billy in its grandeur and timelessness as accordion and xylophone add to the glistening folk orchestra. 'Pagan's Progress' is a Celtic reel of recorder and strings, hugely emotive and thrilling in its instinctively heathen and wild stomp whilst 'Jade Monolith' is a Pogues tinged nostalgic lament, a wintery, freezing paean to a hometown.
In general ‘Rewilding’ has a fuller sound (as there are many more collaborators, McLennan and Scott having commanded the first album almost between themselves) and it is often rockier and more driven whereas 'The Gift of Wolves' is a more reflective, gentle piece. However, that is not to say that the baroque, string laden beauty doesn't appear on 'Rewilding'; 'Set Piece' begins as a full on Go Between's style sophisticated rock song before breaking into a gorgeous violin and cello interlude that suggests Love's 'Forever Changes' in its ambition and sheer creativity. Likewise 'Blue Onyx' introduces harpsichords, 'Sleep of Ondine' features Alison O'Donnell's recognisable and evocative vocals whilst 'Dirge', a shimmering acoustic perfect piece of psych, predates the Fleet Foxes’ perfectly layered harmonies. Varied and rich in style, sound, mood and in their sonic adornment, these are very special albums indeed.
I cannot recommend this release highly enough. Affecting, ambitious and filled with seemingly limitless moments of beauty and inspiration, if you haven't already you need to introduce yourself to Mr Pine. This will, I guarantee, become a lifelong and lasting relationship.
Available now as a download at the Wisdom Twins bandcamp.
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
Now this is a fabulous piece of jangly retro psychedelia if I've ever heard one. I'm not the only one who thinks so either it seems, with this Baltimore based group catching the ear of the Marshmallow Overcoat's Timothy Gassen, whose expert hand ensures period-perfect production on this wee gem of a 7".
"Never Ever" is a lovely slice of jangling twelve string - unmistakably an homage to Roger McGuinn's influence, but the whirling Farfisa, and Flying Nun style vocals elevate it beyond the level of other sound-alikes. Its melancholy, memorable melody line doesn't do it any harm either.
The B-Side, "Beware The Noble Krell", is a different kettle of fish altogether. While still exhibiting enough of the same sonic characteristics to retain fans of the A-Side's attention, it's a noticeably more progressive offering, and a much darker one to boot. Fuelled by a giant mellotron / organ riff which is more King Crimson than the Byrds, "Beware The Noble Krell" creates a sense of Lovecraftian unease, which explodes into full-blown disorientation courtesy of shards of expertly manipulated backwards guitar.
An excellent balance is struck between these two sides, and one that makes it very difficult to guess which direction (or directions) a follow up full length could take. Quite the exciting launching pad.
7" and download available here:
Reviewed by Maggie Danna
Jackson Scott’s "Sunshine Redux" channels both new and old vibes, bringing to mind Ty Segall, Foxygen, Syd Barrett, and Mac DeMarco. His sound however, is totally new. Sonic experiments are liberally used and styles are creatively blended, yielding fantastic results. Transition-filled tracks laden with key changes, intensely ranging dynamics, and space rock distortions make this album a constantly surprising delight. Scott’s vocals are incredibly unique; pitch shifted and rather feminine, mellow, and slightly nasally. From creepily haunting in “Merry Nightmare” to energetic rock and roll in “Broken Record Repeat”, this album is widely diverse throughout. A recurring thought I had upon listening was that it feels both familiar and comforting yet highly strange.
Sunshine Redux is Scott’s second album. Now 22 years old, he released his first LP, "Melbourne", when he was only 20. On starting "Sunshine Redux", Scott wrote on his tumblr:
“never is the future. going to make another record now. will be influenced by Nas’s "Illmatic". will be influenced by Kubrick. will be influenced by nihilism and a whole mess of other things. will attempt not to give fucks about the outcome, we’ll see how that goes. what i do know is there is lots of optimism/hope/love in store so try not to get cynical on me. think i will start a band too.”
And it looks like he achieved exactly that.
“Ripe For Love”, one of the standout tracks on the album, commences with a baroque jangle evocative of the Kinks. The song then transitions to a percussion driven rock jam until it returns to its beginnings, sounding more like a space orchestra at this point and with the addition of dreamy vocal ohs that glissando down and away.
“Dissonance” is my favorite track. It starts with a droning Eastern-inspired guitar riff and spaced out heavily reverbed vocals, the kind of reverb that just melts you away. Then the song takes off; a dizzying chattering chaos of talking and laughter takes over, and only the question “How does that make you feel?” really stands out. Next decrescendo, minimalism, and dissonant guitar notes bridge the gap as the song returns to the original melody.
“Ripe For Love II” ends the album, shifting from an acoustic intro to a fuzzy fade out string outro.
I can’t recommend "Sunshine Redux" enough; it’s one of the most exciting albums I’ve heard so far this year. If you like catchy pop melodies coupled with cosmic effects you’re in for a treat.
"Sunshine Redux" is available here.
3 May 2015
We've got an exclusive stream today of both sides of the exceptional new Os Noctàmbulos 7", the most ferocious, garage-punk thing they've committed to tape so far.
You may find the sleeve art giving you a case of Deja Vu too - it comes from Martin Butler, who has supplied artwork for a number of our samplers.
Stream below, and pre-order here store.requiempouruntwister.com/ shipping around May 25.
Reviewed by Joseph Murphy.
Without ever hearing a note from Newcastle’s Kobadelta, a quick visit to their Bandcamp page reveals an admirable adherence to an aesthetic; each of their releases’ album art – all the way from their first single less than two year ago to the forthcoming Open Visions EP – is carefully designed. And that consistency carries over to their music. It is always heavy, tinged with a bit of doom and edge, while remaining open to experimentation within somewhat traditional song structures.
Conversely, their intended audience is not as precise: their songs may very well appeal to any number of people, those with their fingers on the pulse of underground space rock or the commuting hard rock radio listeners; it’s all a bit more complicated than saying this album is for one group and not another. So, whatever you hear in it – the heavy blues of Black Sabbath, the neo psych of the Black Angels, or the fuzzed rock of Queens of the Stone Age – there’s no denying there’s appeal.
For this listener – and in the context of this blog – Kobadelta has enough sprawling riffs and sonic playfulness to keep anyone happy for a listen. But, against the popular trends of genre compatriots, Kobadelta has refreshingly pushed the vocals to the front, and, though it wouldn’t work for everyone, it works for them. It gives the songs a narrative quality, and singer, Dominic Noble, earns the lifted spot in the mix, channeling a bit of ’80s goth charisma. With a smattering of festival dates since 2014 and openings for some notable acts, Kobadelta has gotten some well deserved traction.
Open Visions really finds its stride with Maskirovka and Watch What You’re Doing, the center pieces of the EP. Maskirovka is a hazy groove with fuzzy chorus and an unnerving chant quality to the recurring lyrics: "You are mine, and I am yours..." Throw in a tight rhythm section, arcing and stretched guitars, and sci-fi sounds, you've got a hit. Similarly, Watch What You’re Doing pounds through a thick riff and feels almost anthemic.
The new EP will be released on the 1st of May with gig at Think Tank in Newcastle with Coquin Migale and Sun Dance. Look for their forthcoming music video as well. Advance orders of the Open Visions EP are available on Kobadelta’s Bandcamp page here.
1 May 2015
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
No sophomore slump or 'more of the same' follow up here from Jacco Gardner. His debut "Cabinet Of Curiosities" (on the esteemed Trouble in Mind label) was a kaleidoscopic pop gem, the sort of album which most artists would be more than happy to replicate on a sophomore release, but with "Hypnophobia", Jacco Gardner proves himself to be more ambitious than the majority of his peers.
The striking sleeve art is the work of Julian House, famed for his Broadcast covers, as well as his work for 'hauntology' label Ghost Box. An odd pick for the sort of music that Gardner has previously made, but an ideal choice for the expanded palette on display here.
Let's be clear; Gardner hasn't dropped the Zombies style psychedelic baroque pop angle which earned him so many fans on "Cabinet of Curiosities". What he's done is broaden the field of presentation to incorporate, cinematic, progressive and radiophonic elements, while retaining the ear candy hooks. On the title track there's a Broadcast like approach to hypnotic Radiophonia, which contextualises the choice of sleeve artist and makes a whole lot of sense. Gardner, ever the musical magpie, has no problem integrating these shiny, in vogue references into his songs in a thoroughly natural fashion. "Before the Dawn", similarly borrows from krauty prog rock, and gives it a fresh, melodic spin. And for those worried about style over substance, there are more stripped back songs like "Face to Face", which demonstrate troubadourial tendencies that favourably recall Elliott Smith. Not a real word perhaps, but one that fits the bill here.
Gardner had total control over this record, playing everything but drums, and it shows. There's a cohesion and unity here that's just not possible to create when trying to communicate a vision to a bunch of other musicians, no matter how similarly inclined.
It'll be interesting to see where Jacco goes from here, retreating further into his seemingly limitless imagination, or opening the doors to something more collaborative. It's hard to imagine him bettering "Hypnophobia" with the former approach.
"Hypnophobia" is availabe here on vinyl, and here on CD.
Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & the Moon)
A perfect and spectral slice of electronica, UOVI's debut album ably traverses the hauntology genre, crosses over into darkly glistening ambient territory and visits the area of the avant garde where Coil, Kraftwerk and Stockhausen have on occasion resided. UOVI is the work of one man, Matthelos Peachyoza who describes his intention and approach with this recording as 'the sound of my synths going out of control. It’s about less computer interaction. It’s about the sounds and their dynamic relationship with each other. They have their own personalities when you get to know them’. Late night listening, this is a diverse and crafted piece of electronic esoterica that will delight fans of the afore mentioned artists, of the Ghost Box label and of fellow travellers in spooktronica such as Broadcast and John Foxx.
Opener 'Stripped Away' is a spooked piano led piece filled with echoes and sampled dialogue that recalls both Gary Numan's 'Sacrifice' era and the more synthesised moments of The Legendary Pink Dots. Haunting and wraithlike, this is music that layers and unfolds to create atmosphere and mood rather than hooks or riffs. Evocative and eerie, these are songs for dusk or dawn, not the daylight hours. 'Bluebells' is a perfect sliver of woozy ambience, analogue effects whirring past a solemn and melancholy motif of choirs and bells. Nocturnal and nuanced, this is an electronic tapestry of sound and genuine emotion that belies its synthetic origins. Next, 'Flux' ups the tension with a motorik bassline and beat, a night time ride through the dark heart of the city. Vintage keyboard sounds oscillate and orbit around the reverberating melody line, unsettling and yet warm and reassuring in it's tripped out motorized intent. '1975' is an echo laden ghost of a song, emerging into view before retreating behind swathes of hum and drone. The pace increases Jon Carpenter-style, cascades of bass synth pulsating beneath the unease. Never overdone and more concerned with evoking a moodscape, these tracks are no less than subtle, precise and effective electronic symphonies. 'While In Berlin' utilises vintage sounding patches and sounds that remind this listener of Kraftwerk's 'The Mix', latter day Front 242 and Coil's acid drenched Love's Secret Domain period in the complex, interwoven beats and air of slightly unhinged dramatic tension. 'A Separate Reality's swathes of digital strings wash in and out ominously over glitchy percussion until the most gorgeous Blade Runner-esque keyboard line emerges, icy strings creating something both truly heartbreaking and minddblowing. 'Witches' doom laden and otherworldly discordance creeps across squelches and uncanny analogue wails; again not unlike John Carpenter in its layered and carefully constructed minimalism. This is music to unnerve. Final track, 'Haunted Circuits’ is a monolithic black mass of a song, screaming electronics and waves of noise and static creating a fittingly shadowy and ambitious closer to a deeply original and hauntingly inventive album.
This is music for the cityscapes at their most toweringly brooding and malevolent, a night-time sonata of vintage and modern electronics that dazzles, disorientates and disquiets in equal measure. Dusk is falling; here is your soundtrack.
Available now as a download or as a limited CD with a 6 page booklet in a trigger jewel case.
30 Apr 2015
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
Before Terje Rypdal found acclaim with a string of accomplished jazz albums for ECM in the early seventies, he was in this short lived Norwegian band. Formed at a travelling Stax Revue show, the members of the Dream had all spent time in other popular Norwegian soul and pop acts, but it was the sounds coming from England, notably Hendrix, the Cream, and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers which informed Rypdal and company, with "Get Dreamy" generally regarded as Norway's first psychedelic album.
And psychedelic it certainly is, with Rypdal obviously relishing the opportunity to explore lengthier guitar sections, with some surprisingly exploratory freakouts. The rest of the band know their stuff too, whether it be heavy psych ala "Ain't No Use", white boy blues like "I'm Counting On You" or jazzier material like "Night of the Lonely Organist & His Mysterious Pals", which brings to mind some of the more swinging moments from "Axis: Bold As Love", without suffering too much for being in its considerable shadow.
The songs aren't always quite as memorable as the playing, but they're not the primary focus here, and there are very few moments when the band interplay is anything less than superb. Rydpal sent a copy of the original LP to Hendrix, so that Jimi would hear the track "Hey Jimi", written in tribute to him. Hendrix's copy turned up at auction with a number of other records from his London flat, and was apparently very well played. That in itself should act as the highest possible recommendation of the quality of the ensemble playing here.
RPM's new reissue has one bonus track, the final studio recording from the band. Recorded during its death throes, it eventually saw release on Rydpal's first solo album. It's an infectious Jimmy Smith inspired organ vamp, layered with appealing psychedelic flute chaos. A fitting closer which makes the fact that the Dream couldn't hold it together just a little longer even sadder.
29 Apr 2015
Reviewed by Hills Snyder
"The Fabric of Folk" by The Owl Service, originally released on clear vinyl and CD in 2008, is now offered on bandcamp in a redux edition, remixed and remastered with some parts re-recorded. The fabric referred to is corduroy, a material no longer the Cloth of The King (corde du roi), but associated since the 19th Century with artists, buskers and workers. Perhaps it was Dick Turpin, England’s most famous highwayman that inadvertently started the garment on it’s way to freedom from the aristocracy — he is said to have worn it for his execution in 1739 in an attempt to go out in style. The idea for the name of the EP came about inadvertently also — Owl Service folk lore credits singer Nancy Wallace, from a comment she made about the garb of Steven Collins and Rob Spriggs who both appeared at a Memory Band rehearsal wearing brown corduroy. All this is neatly woven up in that Ms. Wallace is also the singer on another Owl Service recording, that of the nineteenth century broadside ballad "Turpin Hero", which appears on their album "A Garland of Song".
"The Fabric of Folk" begins with the song "Wooden Coat", a spooky poem by Alison O’Donnell which revels in the inevitability of aging and death, hence the coffin referenced in the title. First heard are two melancholy guitar chords, likely A minor and C minor, that call to mind György Ligeti’s "Musica Ricercata II" as used in Kubrick’s "Eyes Wide Shut". These sounds signal that something unsettling is offered and when O’Donnell’s other-worldly vocals and Charlie Skelton’s Uilleann pipes kick in, it sounds like an invitation to something secret and nocturnal. This sense of mysterious ritual is reinforced later in the song, “follow, follow,” but these feelings are normalized (as death should be in a sane culture) when the lyrics make it clear that no Faustian pact to gain immortality is going down. Rather, unencumbered slumber is welcomed by the singer, “trapped in a fading being.” There is more space in the remix too, as some tambourine/rattle sounds have been removed. Death is ultimately accepted, even welcomed “I am ready to walk the wire / Feel the shining of my desire.” Shining desire — surely an embrace, the loss of illusion, its own transformation. The song ends rooted firmly in the long history of song with you, the listener, kneeling “at the gnarled tree.” As an interesting and possibly revealing interpretive aside, try listening to "The Wooden Coat" immediately after viewing the Alex Garland film, "Ex Machina", and imagine it sung by Ava.
A rousing version of the traditional "William and Earl Richard’s Daughter" follows, telling the story of Robin Hood’s birth in the good, green wood. Spirited vocals carry the story to the moment when Earl Richard wakes inquiring of his merry men where his daughter has gone. The answer is given first on the strings of a fiddle, then overlapped by a Page-era Yardbirds-sounding guitar solo. By songs end we know that the Earl’s love of his daughter and grandson prevent him from hanging William as formerly warned. Maybe it’s left up to the next generation of “merry men” to follow Robin from the Earl’s lofty hall back to the DIY wood.
Track three is another traditional song, the blood soaked "Flodden Field", which follows a template set by British electric folk of the sixties and seventies in that it delivers its dismal war story with an up-tempo, rather cheerful melody, perhaps as some sort of curative. The Us vs.Them lyrics are brought to the communal table by sheer force of harmony, as the final verdict is in tune with so many other songs of this type, that war is vanity — and all war is implicated, not just the particular bit of history laid out in its lines. As in a well known anti-war song from the seventies and eighties, "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", the protagonist won’t be returning home to dance.
Collins’ sweet hello to Sandy Denny, "Scarlett Threads & Silver Needles", completely re-recorded here with different instrumentation, follows as a nice weft/segue from the Child ballads to the final track, "The Fabric of Life". With lyrics by Dom Cooper, this song neatly provides a coda, weaving together various themes hinted at variously throughout the EP. Twin vocals intertwine, making actual the braid. The blood spilled in the Northumberland furrows now serves the harvest and threads of connection criss-cross through all these songs making for an intriguing listen you’ll want to revisit often.
Reviewed by Joseph Murphy.
Cardinal Fuzz and Sound Effect Records unearth Pretty Lightning’s A Magic Lane of Light and Rain early this May. The German duo from Saarbrücken – Christian Berghoff and Sebastian Haas – are following up their auspicious 2012 debut, There are Witches in the Woods (Fonal Records). Pretty Lightning plays a brand of heavy and psychedelic delta blues, one drenched by humidity and caked in dust. The duo’s music sweats like it has spent months incubating in the bayou. Like its predecessor, A Magic Lane of Light and Rains follows the same sure fire formula that worked so well: far out vocals over a thumping and rolling bit of thundering rhythms and blues riffs honored, dismantled and set aflame.
Standout track Good Old Liar slumps through a laid back and extended intro of tumbling drums and resonating chords before tightening into a layered and masterful close. Like so many other songs on the release, Good Old Liar begins as one thing and seamlessly finds its way to another. Likewise, after a number of listens, I’ve found I digest Pretty Lightning’s songs differently each time; that’s not to say the music changes with each listen, but the rhythms are a bit hypnotic and perfectly dense so that any listener might focus on one thing and then another with any given spin.
The Rainbow Machine begins with a single wavering note. From there, chant-like vocals follow a gritty lead. The song’s bridge sounds pumped from a haunted music box. The Rainbow Machine demonstrates Pretty Lightning’s tried and true methods: the songs are straightforward but sonically perfected (without a studio’s sheen), marrying the dizzying effects of psych with the salt of the earth delta blues style the duo most obviously admire. Similarly, album closer, Graveyard Howls, embodies grit and grime in their guitar’s lugubrious slides. Reaching eight minutes, Graveyard Howls is a highlight. The groove of this one is infectious.
Pretty Lightning’s music has a touch of a humid twang to it – when the heat makes it almost unbearable even to speak clearly – and a bounce one (at least to this listener) can’t help associating with dusty saddles. It’s mesmerizing. Tune in. Pretty Lightning is playing the Eindhoven Psych Lab in June; catch them there. A Magic Lane of Light and Rain is available for pre-order from the Cardinal Fuzz online store in various vinyl designs or CD.