Monday, 12 June 2017

MIND DE-CODER 70

MIND DE-CODER 70

 
'Let's go down and blow our mind's in toyland'


THE ALAN BOWN!     TOYLAND


If I’m ruthlessly honest I only started the show with this track because of its killer opening line: ‘Let’s go down and blow our mind’s in toyland’, an invitation that all but the most jaded cynic would find hard to refuse. There was a penchant for this sort of thing in English psychedelia at the time, largely inspired by Syd Barrett, Lewis Carroll and the spirit of Sgt. Peppers that manifested itself in a particular longing for a return to the nursery. There was a peculiarly Edwardian version of childhood that reflected the English psyche, where things were just simpler, magic flying chairs were stored away in the playroom, and pixies played at the bottom of the garden, skipping gaily around fairy circles of fly agaric mushrooms. Released in 1967, Toyland is a very good example of this sort of thing, but it failed to chart, probably because the Alan Bown were primarily known for their stomping R’n’B/Soul club sets and Toyland was perceived as a shameless attempt to cash-in on a short-lived sub-genre (toytown psychedelia) that possibly had more to do with the amount of LSD the band was gobbling and less to do with the musical tastes of the listening public. I’m all for it, me.

OS MUTANTES     FUGA NO. 2


Psychedelic tropicalia from Brazil’s Os Mutantes, whose second album, simply called MUTANTES, released in 1969, is a playful mix of the experimental and the exotic. Some argue that it’s a bit too playful, others that it’s a bit too experimental – no one seems to mind its exoticness - but I think it’s exactly what good psychedelia should be: a piecing together of sounds that disorientate the senses, bewitches, bewilders and elevates, enabling the mind to float hither and tither to see what it can find. Fuga No. 2 does that very nicely, I think.

THE TRAPPIST AFTERLAND     COME TO ME/THE GOLDEN BOUGH


Two segued tracks from Melbourne based psych-folk artists The Trappist Underland, whose third album, LIKE A BEEHIVE, THE HILL WAS ALIVE, was digitally released by the very fine Active Listener in 2014. The band take a ritualistic, tribal approach to recording which results in a recherché mix of traditional instruments from different cultures and a sound rich in arcane psychedelia. LIKE A BEEHIVE, THE HILL WAS ALIVE, for example, is very heavily influenced by the gnostic gospels and the New Testament; one look at the album cover will indicate a band very much at home to the esoteric.


 THE SUFIS     I DON’T KNOW


On their eponymously titled debut album, released in 2012, The Sufis channel the spirit of Syd-era Pink Floyd to Beatle-esque highs. In truth, they don’t get very far beyond that template, but if you’re a fan of paisley shirts and joss-sticks – a fan of Mind De-Coder, in fact – you’ll find much to enjoy.

ORIENTAL SUNSHINE     ACROSS YOUR LIFE


Indo-prog loveliness from Norway that owes as much to Peter, Mary and Paul as it does Ravi Shankar. Released in 1970, sitars abound and pretty vocal melodies soar on the group’s debut release, DEDICATED TO THE BIRD WE LOVE, a long lost psych-folk album whose mellow charms reveal hippie navel gazing at its best.

NATHAN HALL AND THE SINISTER LOCALS     EVERYBODY’S BURNING EFFIGIES


Nathan Hall, of course, is singer-songwriter with Mind De-Coder favourites the Soft Hearted Scientists, who are on something of a sabbatical to re-charge the old batteries. Nathan, meanwhile, appears to be emitting and has created the Sinister Locals, a shadowy musical organisation with a changing cast of characters, as a vehicle for exploring the darker side of psychedelia.  That being said, the rather fine Everybody’s Burning Effigies wouldn’t actually be out of place on any of the Soft Hearted Scientists’ recent albums, but taken as a whole, THE VOLTA STURGEON FACE EP, released earlier this year and from which this track was taken, is a gorgeous addition to the canon, featuring a bucolic psych-folk charm with gentle baroque flourishes and neo-prog derring-do. As lovely as it sounds.

THE FOCAL POINT     SYCAMORE SID


Named by Brian Epstein, who promptly died, The Focal Point released just the one single of precious toytown psychedelia, in 1967, which was typical of much of the burgeoning psychedelic scene of the time in its sketch of an eccentric character, very much in the tradition of the Edwardian music hall style that so enthralled British psychedelic also-rans of the time – I’m thinking of Koobas (‘Gypsy Fred’), Billy J. Kramer (‘Town of Tuxley Toymaker’), Keith West (‘Grocer Jack’), and Barnaby Rudge (‘Joe, Organ & Co.’) et al. at this point, but not in an unnecessarily bad way. As for the story of Sycamore Sid, the listening public couldn’t give two jots or, indeed, a tittle, and The Focal Point disbanded shortly thereafter, another foot-note in the world of swinging psychedelic music…

GERANIUM POND     DOGS IN BASKETS


…but at least they got to release a single, which is more than can be said for Geranium Pond, who only got to record a single which their record company declined to release. Dogs In Baskets, recorded in 1968, is exactly the sort of acid-baked psychedelic lullaby that gives acid-baked psychedelic lullabies a bad name, and yet somewhere amidst the mellotron, the erratic string quartet splashes of colour and the harpsichord-led whimsy is a song I’m quite fond of. A foot-note to a foot-note, I’m afraid.

ILONA V     GOLDEN HAIR


Ilona Virostek is an American singer-songwriter who sings tender stripped-down songs which embody the charm and wonder of stepping into a secret garden where everything is serene and pure. This radiant version of Syd Barrett’s Golden Hair can be found on the Fruits De Mer release A MOMENTARY LAPSE OF VINYL, released in 2014 as an exclusive double CD made available to club members at the Fruits De Mer website. It features some 30 tracks of pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd/ Barrett covers, taking in nursery songs to deep space epics recorded by the artists on its frankly formidable roster and is quite as wonderful as it sounds.

TEMPLES     IN MY POCKET


Having been playing Temple’s sophomore release, VOLCANO, pretty much none stop now I can safely say that this track, In My Pocket, is the album’s earworm. It’s an album of melodic pop dreaminess that is never less than lovely, but it only touches upon the psychedelic possibilities of their first. It often appears as if I damning the band with faint praise, when in fact I like them a lot, but sometimes they seem a little too cautious for me, a little restrained; but there’s no denying they know their way around a meticulously crafted pop song. A simple unhinged wig-out would solve everything, I think.

THE GREEN PAJAMAS     FALLING THROUGH THE HOLE


Seattle’s Green Pajamas seem to have some 20-odd releases behind them since forming in 1984. The Alice-inspired Falling Through The Hole is taken from their second release, and first album proper, BOOK OF HOURS, released in 1986, although I appear to have stumbled across a 2010 re-issue called THE COMPLETE BOOK OF HOURS, that includes a load of extra tracks garnered from German, Greek and Australian versions of the album. It’s an album unabashedly in love with psychedelic pop in all its glory, mixing a 60s psych fixation with 80s new-wave innovations that manage to make it sound old and new at the same time. It’s generally regarded as a psych-pop masterpiece by those who have actually heard it, and the band itself is widely considered the best band from Seattle that you’ve never heard of, but sadly, despite the critical acclaim, popularity continues to elude them. A bit like a lot of the bands I like, come to think of it.

ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS     POEM BY THE SEA


WINDS OF CHANGE was the debut album by Eric Burdon & the Animals, released in 1967, following the break of the original Animals in 1966. With this new band Burdon began to move from the gritty blues sound of the original mid-1960s group into a new found love of psychedelic music – he even has a song on the album called Yes, I Am Experienced in homage to Jimi Hendrix whom he counted as a major inspiration, and The Beatles get a look in too; WINDS OF CHANGE is dedicated to George Harrison whose espousal of Hindu philosophy following a visit to India the previous year Burdon also cited as an inspiration. Clearly then, Burdon was on something of a psychedelic trip when recording this album, which is awash with conceptual psychedelic mood pieces. Poem By The Sea is an echo-drenched spoken word piece (one of three on the album!) which eventually leads into a cover of The Stones’ Paint It Black, which I couldn’t really be doing with, so instead I have it float away into…

DEUTER     ATLANTIS


I understand that Deuter went on to make quite the name for himself in your new-age circles with over 60 albums or so of the meditational/relaxation/Glastonbury gift-shop variety. His first album, however, D, released in 1971, whilst in many ways containing all of the elements of what he would come to refine later, is an avant-garde krautrock masterpiece that alternates between Indian classical music and abstract synth dreamscapes mixed with tribal, ritual percussions, reversed phasing and tape-recorder experimentation, hissing electronic drones, samples of doves and street noise, sonic explorations, explosions of guitar and, crucially, sweet tunes. Unequivocally recommended to anybody looking for something ‘a bit different’.

PLASTIC ONO BAND     REMEMBER LOVE

     
This is really quite lovely – makes you wonder why she otherwise went in for all the caterwauling, really. Recorded in Room 1742 Hotel La Reine Elizabeth, Montreal, during John and Yoko’s 'Bed-In', after everyone had gone home following the recording of Give Peace A Chance in 1969, and was on the b-side of that very single.

SEDAYNE     GENTLE SISTERHOOD


The bardic Sedayne (Sean Breadin to his mum) appears to be one half of husband and wife folk artists Rapunzel and Sedayne (Rapunzel’s mum calls her Rachel McCarron) but there’s not much more I can say about him, or why Rapunzel doesn’t appear on this song. Between them they record a mesmerising mixture of old folk ballads and newly penned songs, exquisite Arcadian instrumentals often involving field-recorded vagabondian components and obscure instruments, such as the kemence, the kaossilator, and, indeed, the cwrth. The ghostly Gentle Sisterhood, which pretty much illustrates just how far out and beautiful your psych-folk can be, appears on the Sproatly Smith curated WEIRDSHIRE: BEATING THE BOUNDS, released in 2015, an album that celebrates the weird and wonderful psych-folk groups that seem to inhabit that wyrdest of all counties, Herefordshire.

NANCY SINATRA AND LEE HAZELWOOD     SOME VELVET MORNING


The first time I heard Some Velvet Morning it stopped me dead in my tracks; I think I may have even swooned a little. I'd never heard such a weird, ethereal and breathtakingly sexy song before and I stood there entranced, unable to imagine how such a mesmerizingly trippy song could exist in the same world as me without my having heard it before. Fortunately, I’d just wandered into the Rough Trade shop down Portobello Road at the time so I was pretty much able to satisfy my curiosity straight away regarding who had produced something so mystifyingly lovely. I bought LIGHTNING’S GIRL: THE BEST OF NANCY SINATRA straight away and it remains one of my favourite CDs of all time. Some Velvet Morning was initially released on the album MOVIN’ WITH NANCY, the soundtrack to her 1967 television special of the same name, which featured the first performance of the song, and was later released as a single. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate that everyone who hears this song for the first time feels exactly the same way I did about it. It’s spell-bindingly gorgeous and has never been bettered – not by Slowdive, not by The Primitives, and certainly not by Kate Moss and Primal Scream (even though I got really excited by the potential of that version until I actually heard it).

EROC      HORROGOLL 



Otherworldly krautrock vibes from Eroc (better known to his mum as Joachim Heinz Ehrig, although you can see why everyone might just prefer Eroc) who served time as drummer and band leader with the decidedly un-krautrock Grobschnitt (it doesn’t translate – I’ve already looked) who enjoyed too much of a sense of humour to be counted in the krautrock canon. His solo work, however, is, I understand, a thing apart. Horrorgoll is taken from his eponymous debut album, released in 1975, a very abstract affair, rich in electronic synthscapes and, in this instance, experimental sound manipulations that seem to have invented the Moon Wiring Club. I was going to save this track for a Halloween special, but actually like it so much I thought that I’d just get it out there.


 E.E. CUMMINGS     EXCEPT IN YOUR


You never quite know what you’re going to receive from the fabulous Trunk Records, but last week I found an invitation to download E.E. CUMMINGS READS HIS OWN POEMS VOL. 1 in my inbox that I found fairly irresistible. I’ve always been a fan, me (and I’m finding it quite stressful that I haven’t yet spelled his name in the proper way – e.e. cummings - there, I’ll be alright now).

DUNGEN     WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE TOMORROW


…or, Det Du Tänker Idag Är Du I Morgon, to give it its correct title, is taken from the album TA DET LUGNT, released in 2004, the third album from Swedish psych-rockers Dungen, although Dungen exist in the same way that Tame Impala exists – they are, in fact, the creation of 24 year old Swedish multi-instrumentalist Gustav Ejstes, who takes on a band when he wishes to tour his material. This is an album very much at home to the spirit of 1967/68 but, crucially, the Swedish spirit of those revolutionary years, so what you get is a peculiarly Scandinavian mix of dew-drop strings, free jazz breakdowns, brief whiffs of AM radio tuning, flute minuets, lushly cascading pianos, prog time changes, florid medieval chimes, sky-melting freakouts, church organs, fuzz-guitar jousts, doubled mountain-top whistles, roaring six-string solos, and autumnal instrumental interludes, lifted, no doubt, from his parent’s record collection. It sounds fantastic.

BABA YAGA     MOKSCHA


This is probably the most intriguing track on the show – a krautrock/middle-eastern hybrid named after a fictional hallucinogenic fungal extract from Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Island’ that reveals to the user the inter-connectedness of all things. Comprised of Ingo Werner, former member of obscure krautrock act My Solid Ground, and the highly exotic skills of Iranian percussionist and multi-instrumentalist Nemat Darman, this track arguably attempts to do the same thing. It’s one of two tracks on the duo’s second album, COLLAGE, released in 1974, an epic cocktail of Eastern raga like textures, space voyager synth surfaces and occasional funk jazz moments (as opposed to jazz-funk moments) that provide a soundscape of mind bending trippery; a true example of blissful, far-out krautrock grandeur.

MOODSWINGS     SPIRITUAL HIGH


This is the incredibly rare ‘lost’ Star Trek mix of Spiritual High, a track that otherwise features Chrissie Hynde on vocals and sampled Martin Luther’s ‘I have a dream’ speech to improving effect. Originally recorded by Jon and Vangelis as State of Independence, it was also covered by Donna Summer before Moodswings re-recorded it in three parts as Spiritual High (State of Independence) for their debut album MINDFOOD in 1992. That being said, this is the original 12” vinyl version, released in 1990, which also includes the spirit of The Beatles’ Tomorrow Never Knows, and pretty much does what it says on label, producing a state of spaced out euphoria that is almost narcotic in the high it produces. All four versions of this track are fantastic, and on the internet you can find a mix of all the tracks that someone has kindly segued together – it lasts some 25 minutes or so and is life-affirming in its loveliness – but this is Star Trek version, the Star Trek version, ladies and gentlemen.

THE APPLES IN STEREO    IV. FROM OUTSIDE, IN FLOATS A MUSIC BOX



A trifling little number with which to conclude the show, one of eight interludes from the album HER WALLPAPER REVERIE, released in 1999, and an album I shall return to more fully in my next show.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MIND DE-CODER 69

MIND DE-CODER 69



‘God is alive in a sugar cube’
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OS MUTANTES    DOM QUIXOTE


If anything, Os Mutantes second album, MUTANTES, released in 1969, is even more far out than their eponymous debut album. Full of inventive psychedelic arrangements it fuses traditional Brazilian tropicália with dizzying cut ‘n’ paste experimentation that owes less to the Sgt. Pepperism’s of their first album and more to The Mothers of Invention. Side two is generally regarded self-indulgent prog eclecticism that doesn’t bear much of a second listen, but side one, and especially album opener Dom Quixote, shows just how far ahead of the game they were.

RON GEESIN     SPIKY DIVING BELLES


In your less avant-garde circles, Ron Geesin is primarily known for composing the orchestral arrangements for Pink Floyd’s ATOM HEART MOTHER. For those more at home to a certain outré experimentalism, however, Geesin is regarded as a pioneer of your musique concrète and other novel applications of sound. Spiky Diving Belles, recorded in 1971, is taken from a 1995 release, LAND OF MIST, a collection of musical ambiences recorded between the early 1970s and the mid-80s. It’s not an easy listen but remains a sonic curiosity; a gurgling sea of crisp electronics and playful melodies.

ARIANNE CHURCHMAN     MIDSUMMER LEY LINE HOTLINE


Arianne Churchman is artist and folk enthusiast from East Anglia whose work investigates British folk traditions, celebrations and customs using the forms of performance, film, sound and sculpture to explore the themes of a common folk consciousness. A perfect fit, then, for the folks at Calendar Customs whose series of tape cassette releases similarly explore this world of symbolism and ritual and whose artistic reinterpretations are no stranger to this show. Midsummer Ley Line Hotline can be found on the release FOLKLORE TAPES CALENDAR CUSTOMS VOL. IV: CROWN OF LIGHT (MIDSUMMER AND FOLKLORE), released in 2016, the fourth instalment in a series that focuses on pre-Christian traditions and observances associated with midsummer, often marking key points in the agricultural year when planting began or harvesting was completed. Clearly, I’m fascinated with this stuff. You can find out more about Folklore Tapes here.

TEMPLES     ALL JOIN IN


We want more Mellotrons”, they said (I expect), and new album VOLCANO is certainly awash with synth waves and wooshes, replacing the guitars from their previous album – a bit like the leap Tame Impala made from LONERISM to CURRENTS. Nothing wrong with that, of course, although I seem to be the only person in the world who didn’t take to CURRENTS as much as I expected to. Temples have discarded their psychedelic heart for a sort of synth-pop sweetness, but it’s undeniable that singer James Bagshaw knows his way round a catchy melody. Does that sound like faint praise? It’s still growing on me.

JACCO GARDNER     LAZY OLD SUN


Dutch musician Jacco Gardener gives this song a languid psychedelic touch denied it by The Kinks, who, famously, couldn’t be doing with that sort of thing at all. This a gorgeous, Mellotron-soaked, raga-inspired, sun-dappled interpretation of a song that was as near to psychedelic goings-on that The Kinks ever managed.

THE RIOT SQUAD     TOY SOLDIER


The Riot Squad were one of those great lost bands of the sixties who went through so many line-up changes that by the time of their final split in 1969 there had been fifteen incarnations of the band. Drummer Mitch Mitchell was in an early line-up and in 1967 David Bowie was on lead vocals for at least nine weeks while he was recording material for his own solo debut release. They never managed to release anything at the time, but they did record at least four tracks that were eventually released in 2013 as THE TOY SOLDIER EP. On it, the band cover what was, at that point, an unreleased version of the Velvet Underground’s I’m Waiting For My Man, making him the first person ever to cover a Velvet’s track, and on Toy Soldier they rip off the chorus of Venus In Furs wholesale. If not quite the Holy Grail of Bowie releases, it is at the very least and outstanding curio. Enjoy.

CLIFF WARD     A PATH THROUGH THE FOREST


Cliff Ward is largely known as seventies singer-songwriter Clifford T. Ward who had a big hit in 1973 called Gaye these days, and his earlier work forgotten, despite recording a number of hook-laden pop nuggets with his band The Secrets throughout the 60s. A Path Through The Forest was turned into a blistering single by The Factory – one of the great psychedelic releases of 1968, and, indeed, ever – but his original version, demoed in 1967, but never released in its own right, is weirder still, managing to sound like it was recorded under water by someone on magic mushrooms on a day-trip from the moon. 

MOON WIRING CLUB     MASTER OF TICKETS


A hauntological offering from Ian Hodgson taken from the Moon Wiring Club’s 10th anniversary album EXIT PANTOMIME CONTROL, released last year alongside the epic 3 CD set WHEN A NEW TRICK COMES OUT I DO A NEW ONE. EXIT PANTOMIME CONTROL revisits key ideas and themes of the series so far; gathering the ghosts for an eldritch dramaturgy of anachronistic hip hop and ether dream atmospheres inspired by subversive, experimental ‘70s theatre, all taking the form of a good ol’ Panto held at The Clinksell Play House.

LIEVEN MARTENS MOANA     GRONDEMENTS DU VOLCAN DE L’ILE


Lieven Martens Moana is a Belgian composer who, under the moniker Dolphins Into The Future, blended new age, early synthesizer music and exotic field recordings making one-of-a-kind soundscapes during the mid-2000s. His most recent recording, IDYLLS, combines an aria, two scherzos and a coda, a field recording based on the writings on Robert Louis Stevenson, and a closing track recorded on an actual 19th century wax cylinder. I, however, was drawn to Grondements Du Volcan De L’ile, a gentle thunderstorm that sounds as lush and ornate as ancient ruins.

ALICE COLTRANE     JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA


I’ve always kind of avoided Alice Coltrane, me, having previously found her a bit too uncompromising for my delicate tastes - but following a recommendation from Soft Hearted Scientist’s Nathan Hall I checked out her 1971 release JOURNEY IN SATCHIDANANDA and found it to be remarkably accessible for an album steeped in your modal and experimental jazz (a phrase designed to otherwise send a shiver of anxiety through my untutored soul). However, and quite unexpectedly, I found the album to be  an intensely devotional listen with exotic flourishes and sublime harp playing which, if listened to under enhanced circumstances, say, has the power to draw one inward on a spiritual journey of radiant self-discovery. It really is that far out. A highly recommended album.

PINK FLOYD     VEGETABLE MAN


Following the release of last years box set THE EARLY YEARS 1965-1972, fans finally got to hear the band-approved release of the semi-mythological Vegetable Man, recorded by Pink Floyd in 1967 as the b-side to their proposed 3rd single Scream Thy Last Scream. Essentially a description of what Syd was wearing at the time of the recording, it is generally regarded as one of the key tracks that document his breakdown as a recording artist and as a person. Consequently passed over for the considerably less dark Apples and Oranges, it would have made a terrible single but it is a compelling song, although, being a fan of his more whimsical side, I tend to prefer the Jesus and Mary Chain’s version which I heard first.

THE TROGGS     MAYBE THE MADMAN



Tongue-in-cheek psychedelia (I should imagine) from The Troggs, a band not particularly known for their forays into the kaleidoscopic world of lysergic exploration. That being said, I’ve always had a soft spot for this particular track, which appeared as the b-side to their 1968 release Little Girl, for its lines:

Maybe the madman was right
The sun travels on round the world and keeps shining while we sleep at night
Maybe the sky doesn’t cry

Although the next line:

The rain drops are just condensation our tears cry for children that lie

… does slightly blow it a bit, and the rest of the lyrics aren’t much better either, but it’s a lovely enough tune and everso slightly trippier than the untied psychedelic shoelace of destiny.


RIDE    MAKING JUDY SMILE



Making Judy Smile is a bit of a throwaway track on an album that features Dreams Burn Down, Cool Your Boots and OX4, but I’ve always thought it was kind of gorgeous. Taken from their second album GOING BLANK AGAIN, released in 1992 (25 years ago for heaven’s sake!) I see it as their Lovely Rita to Sgt. Pepper’s A Day In The Life (and I’m sure by now I must have mentioned somewhere about how much I love Lovely Rita, a song which never fails to put a smile on my face - a bit like Judy’s I imagine - so look how manifestly that all hangs together).


KING GIZZARD AND THE WIZARD LIZARD     FLYING MICROTONAL BANANA



This is the title track from an album that, as suggested by the title (sort of), finds the band experimenting with Eastern microtones that double the amount of playable notes on their guitars. In fact, it’s not quite as trippy as previous efforts but with touches of Afro-funk and the brain-scrambling squawks of a Turkish horn-type instrument known as a zurna thrown in, this is an album, the first of five promised this year(!) that shows that this is a group chomping at the psychedelic bit.


ALULA DOWN     HEREFORD GARDEN DREAMING



Alula Down is the home recording project of Kate Gathercole and Mark Waters, otherwise members of rural acid folk performers, and Mind De-Coder favourites, Sproatly Smith. Fittingly enough, therefore, the lovely Hereford Garden Dreaming can be found on the Sproatly Smith curated album WEIRDSHIRE: BEATING THE BOUNDS, a compilation of psych-folk rural-core (entirely made up word) from Herefordshire. Quite clearly there’s something in water around those parts – a land of mists and shifting borders where darkness is suffused with beauty and myths and legends define the landscape – that is instantly recognisable in the music. Hereford Garden Dreaming is a spell-binding, enchanting listen with Kate Gathercole's enthralling vocals taking the listener to another time completely. Quite ravishing.

THE HONEY POT     RAINY DAY MUSHROOM PILLOW


For their 100th vinyl release, the brilliant FruitsDe Mer record label approached Devon based purveyors of very English sweet, surreal and strange psychedelic sounds, The Melting Pot, to come up with something special to mark the occasion. Arguably they’d have done a fine enough job on their own, but the band invited fellow Fruits De Mer travellers and friends to join them so what you get is a double album called ASCENDING SCALES - a mix of new songs along with classic and obscure tracks from the 60s/early 70s featuring performances from The Bevis Frond, Dick Taylor from The Pretty Things, Judy Dyble (Fairport Convention/Trader Horne), James Lowe (The Electric Prunes), the guys from July, Ilona V, Anton Barbeau, Us and Them, and even Bruce Woodley from Buggles! The rather fine cover of The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s superlative Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow eschews the wistful melancholy of the original for acid jiggery and pokery, and very fine it is too.

EUROS CHILDS     LAZY BRAIN


Everything you hear on Euros Childs’ new album REFRESH!, released late last year, is essentially his voice fed through a sampler, so there are no instruments used as such, although I do notice that a toy piano and xylophone are listed at some point. Very few of the tracks (I’d hesitate to call them songs) stick around for much longer than a minute or so, they all more or less sound like Lazy Brain, and you’d probably only want to ever listen to it once, but, nevertheless, Euros Childs has delivered another album of impish, oddball charm, wistfully at odds with the world and all the better for it.

OUR SOLAR SYSTEM      AT THE EDGE OF TIME


This is cosmic music of the highest order. At The Edge Of Time is taken from the album IN TIME, released in 2016, by what appears to be a loosely collaborative affair featuring the work of some 30 musicians or so who between them have created an album that consists of just two mind-blowing tracks. Largely the brainchild of Swedish musician Mattias Gustavsson, who may be a member of Dungen, a band firmly rooted in 70s progressive and psychedelic rock, IN TIME is in thrall to the likes of Amon Duul II, Can, Pink Floyd, Gram Parsons, and even jazz musicians like Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman or Sun Ra, but it remains a remarkable thing in and of itself. Side 1 has the whirlwind style of a free jazz, darkwave ambient drone about it which, in truth, first time I heard it put me in mind of Spinal Tap’s Jazz Odyssey, but At the Edge of Time exists truly in a place outside of time’s confines, floating in space, surrounded by infinite stars and sounds, projecting an indefinable sound that’s boundless and beautiful. It really is far fucking out. Marvellous.

THE HARDY TREE     BALTIC WHARF


The Hardy Tree is the musical project of the fairly wonderful Clay Pipe Music record label’s founder Frances Castle. Her album THROUGH THE PASSAGES OF TIME is a haunting, psycho-geographical exploration of buildings and areas of London that no longer exist - small places stumbled upon by accident, traced on maps, and illustrated in Georgian prints; frequently visited pubs that have been rebuilt and renamed; the ship breakers yard decorated with wooden figureheads at Baltic Wharf, or the Thames Watermen living in the shadow of the Hawksmoor designed church at Horselydown; lost places re-imagined and brought to life using clusters of sequenced Moogs, off Kilter electronics, vibes, and Mellotron to create an enchanting wistful paean to an England long forgotten. It’s both nostalgic and modern, alluring and enigmatic, and altogether quite gorgeous.

SPROATLY SMITH     RIBBONS


The latest release from the very fine A Year In The Country project is called THE RESTLESS FIELD - a study of the land as a place of conflict and protest as well as beauty and escape; an exploration and acknowledgment of the history and possibility of protest, resistance and struggle in the landscape/rural areas, in contrast with more often referred to urban events. It takes inspiration from flashpoints in history while also interweaving personal and societal myth, memory, the lost and hidden tales of the land. It is, therefore, a perfect vehicle for Sproatly Smith who have contributed the bucolic and lovely Ribbons to the project. For those of you who may be interested in this sort of thing, the A Year In The Country project is conceived as a set of year long journeys; cyclical explorations of an otherly pastoralism, a wandering amongst subculture that draws from the undergrowth of the land – the patterns beneath the plough, pylons and amongst the edgelands. Those wanderings take in the beauty and escape of rural pastures, intertwined with a search for expressions of an underlying unsettledness to the bucolic countryside dream. 

FE-FI-FOUR PLUS TWO     I WANNA COME BACK (FROM THE WORLD OF LSD)



The marvellously monikered Fe-Fi-Four plus Two released the fuzz-drenched I want To Come Back (From The World Of LSD) in 1967 – and it’s generally regarded by music historians as the first psychedelic single by a native New Mexican group (make of that what you will). Although it’s something of an anti-LSD song, the inventive vocal arrangements, distorted guitars and snarling vocals make this a classic of the psych-garage genre and an absolute fitting end to the show.