27 Apr 2016

Fumaça Preta – Impuros Fanáticos

Reviewed by Todd Leiter-Weintraub (Hop On Pop)

When Fumaça Preta’s self-titled debut was released toward the end of 2014, it instantly leapt to the top of my “Best Of” list for that year; I mean, instantly. It only took one listen for the band’s particular mix of Tropicalia, experimentalism, and general madness to sink its hooks into me and to make the band an instant favorite.

But, where "Fumaça Preta" came screaming out of the gate like a bat out of hell, "Impuros Fanáticos", by contrast, creeps up on you like a spectre in the night.

It opens with the sound of a guitar crashing to the ground in the distance, howling wind, and the sound of a flute, fluttering like a frightened little bird. Then, a creeping, atmospheric groove comes into focus, sounding like the lost soundtrack to an old film noir. It is from that groove that bandleader Alex Figueria’s panicked vocal emerges, pleading in Portuguese. Where, on the first album, there was hysteria, here, there is desperation.

While atmosphere is the rule of the day here, the groove drives everything forward, as it always has with this drummer-led band. “Baldonero” emerges from the muck with an angry-sounding surf guitar playing against a Bossabeat and a pulsing bass line. And “Decimo Andar” raises the ante in the energy department, finally getting the motor running at full speed.

But, it’s not until near the end of the record—with the one-two punch of “Ressace Da Gloria” and “La Trampa”—that the band achieves the same level of in-your-face intensity that it pretty much maintained throughout their entire debut. That said, it’s anything but late in arriving. By the time the throttle is opened, the groove and atmosphere has already lulled the listener into an alternate state of consciousness, grooving along on a haze of mid-tempo voodoo funk, making the explosion at the end all the more effective by what preceded. So, when it kicks, it KICKS. It’s a masterful display of the power of sequencing.

Fumaça Preta remains one of the most interesting and exciting bands making music today. Jumbling together acid, Tropicalia, funk, jazz, samba, and anything else that catches their fancy in a musical blender that’s set to “liquefy.”

Yes, "Impuros Fanáticos" is a more-subdued affair than the first album, but when you drop the needle on this one, it doesn’t let go of you until the final fade. You’ll find yourself catching your breath without ever realizing that you lost it. Yes, they are that good.

CD, vinyl and digital available here (UK/EU), or here (US).

Looking Stateside - 80 US R&B, Mod, Soul and Garage Nuggets

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

For those unfamiliar with RPM's "Looking..." series, this fourth entry is an excellent way to get acquainted. Focusing on Mod sounds of the early to mid sixties, the series mines some very deep cuts indeed, and is an invaluable set of tools for those seeking to prove that there was much more to the mod scene than the Who, the Small Faces, and white blokes covering Motown tunes, with previous volumes featuring (mostly) UK sourced freakbeat, Northern Soul and R&B gems, mixing acknowledged classics with more obscure cuts - many on CD for the first time, bafflingly so given their obvious quality.

"Looking Stateside" shifts the focus to the US, an interesting proposition given that Mod as a phenomenon was almost exclusively an English thing (at the time at least). So what we have here is 80 tracks worth of stonkingly rare, and more often than not, first-rate tunes that would have gone down a treat in early sixties Mod clubs like the Flamingo, despite the fact that most of the featured artists had probably never even heard the M word.

The early Mods certainly knew how to appropriate all of the right stuff. There's a hugely diverse mixture of top drawer material here. It's no wonder that it's been such a consistently enduring aspect of youth culture.

There are three crammed to the gills discs here, each focusing on a different aspect; disc one: R&B, soul and rock n roll, disc two: Northern Soul and disc three: garage, 60s proto punk and psychedelia.

Discs one and two are full of dance-floor friendly stompers with an alarmingly high hit-rate, but it's disc three that will presumably be of most interest to Active Listener readers. Genre fans will be familiar with some of this content, including well selected tracks by the Misunderstood, the Sonics and the Wailers, but even the most studious listener will be making new and exciting discoveries here. There are some garage standards for sure, the soulful, funky garage groove of Love Society's "Tobacco Road" being particularly good (and just wait for that long, sustained fuzz guitar to come in), but there are at least as many originals worth salivating over. The Knickerbockers (of "Lies" fame), prove that they were more than a Beatlesque garage combo with the appealingly soulful "As a Matter of Fact". The Brogues' brutal "Don't Shoot Me Down" makes an always welcome appearance. Then there's the International Bongo Band's "Congo" a bongo led jangle-beat fest that sounds like an early Animals number that's had the studio doors thrown open to a street party.

Obviously there's a lot happening here and much too much content to focus on more than a smattering of tracks before the readers eyes are likely to glaze over. Suffice to say that I could have randomly pulled any five or six tracks from here out of a hat and had the same enthusiastic response; it'd be entirely reasonable to expect a little filler amongst these eighty tracks, especially given how many are making their CD debut, but the compilers obviously have a well attuned set of ears. This is a thoroughly, and consistently enjoyable set of floor-fillers that made even my tired, under-slept feet shuffle involuntarily.

The whole package comes in an attractive clam shell box, with an extremely thorough 36 page book which will swallow much more of your time than you expect. Highly recommended.

Available here (UK/EU), and here (US).

25 Apr 2016

Klaus Morlock - Penumbra

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Following the unsettling electronic majesty of 2014’s début ‘The Bridmore Lodge Tapes’ and his beautifully melancholic sophomore album, ‘The Child Garden’, Klaus Morlock slips once more out of the shadows with this new release, ‘Penumbra’. Like previous work there is an intriguing back story to the recording; herein lies a musical interpretation of the tale of Molly Kingston, a 17 year old Londoner who vanished with warning only to be heard of again by way of a mysterious letter stating she had joined a ‘celestial’ group named Penumbra. Furthermore, it was written that she had ‘attained the highest spiritual bliss’ and ‘had acquired the long sought after ability’ to enter and harvest the dreams of those deemed ready and susceptible. Indeed, the letter informed, this is what had happened to Molly and accounted for her disappearance. And then others started to vanish. In each case a similar letter was the only explanation or their sudden vanishing and in this letter they claimed to have been met and ‘harvested’ in their dreams by both Molly and her sinister sounding dream twin Ladybird. This back story alone is enough to give any listener the shivers; that the music is equally haunting and affecting will come as no surprise to those who have fallen under Morlock’s spell with previous albums.

The album opens with 'Arrival', the eerie and looped sound of woodwind and piano offering a gentle but slightly off kilter refrain amongst the crackle and buzz of an old phonograph. Like a decaying dream or sepia photograph this is reminiscent of an old and vaguely uneasy memory, in much the same way that the more pastoral elements of classic 70's soundtracks such as 'Let's Scare Jessica To Death' or 'Suspiria' can be. A solar wind enters as a sombre and mournful cello takes centre stage, followed by a host of spectral voices and keys which float and linger lysergically, a ghostly lament. This composition is incredibly intricate and is clearly carefully put together to achieve the greatest emotional impact and the surest and subtlest of atmospheres. It is a testament to Morlock's muse that the piece remains delicate, restrained and all the more powerful for this; he hints at the horror lurking underneath rather than over doing or over emphasising the element of terror, thus masterfully controlling the suspense. Next, 'With Ladybird' soars with a hypnagogic, dreamlike quality, an analogue synth solo that evokes the finest works of Tangerine Dream and Cluster. The track then morphs into a haunted slice of harpsichord led darkness, each note gliding with crescendo through a spectre filled dreamscape until the sound of rain descends and solitary piano picks out a chillingly memorable melody. Mellotron strings build and layer around the piano in a choral and darkly angelic fanfare; a genuinely heartstopping moment. Fans of Belbury Poly, Keith Seatman and The Advisory Circle would be well advised to seek this out immediately.

'Lovely Molly' creeps into view with a murmer of voices, howling wind and some truly beautiful plucked harp and synth strings. Raising the hairs on the back of this listener's neck, this track ably balances the gorgeous vintage keyboard reverie with a deep sense of yearning and wraith like creeping unease. The mellotron strings that then appear are both utterly unearthly and majestic, raising things to a cosmiche and King Crimson-esque peak before some deeply acid folk flute takes us once again into a sepia, 70's hued world, the disconcerting reverberating conclusion of which stays with the listener long after the song has finished. Indeed there is something of an electronica based vision of 70's wyrd folk and folk horror soundtracks here; something urban perhaps but also with a hint of 'Lemora' or 'Valerie And Her Week of Wonders', an otherworldly gothic and surreal sense of terror. 'The Chamber Of Lost Dreams' the album's (or mini album's) closer begins with with a rasping doom laden synth note before a carnivalesque loop filled with backwards sounds begins its twisted carousel. Any revelry takes a decidedly (and pleasingly) disturbing turn as the backwards melodies seep through, creating a track that truly sounds a though someone is picking their way through your dreams and turning them back and forth in their fingers. Moans and sparkling synth lines take over, reverberating and echoing outwards as the electronic symphony ascends further and further into the ether. Suddenly, there is silence save for some unearthly bells and backwards sounds; then the most melancholy and beautiful descending melody appears, xylophone and picked guitar following its central motif. If this had been released accompanying a film of pastoral terror in the 70's this soundtrack would be rightly revered as an all time classic with copies of the original on vinyl going for vast sums. Treat it as such; this is a masterpiece and stands head and shoulders above most contemporary and 'classic' soundtracks to horror, wyrd and psychotronic cinema.

Here then is another masterpiece of spooked electronica, of sophisticated and carefully wrought drama, suspense and tension. The composer himself is a shadowy figure with little known about him save that he has been involved in several of the last few years most essential electronic and hauntological releases, be it The Unseen’s ‘The Goatman’ soundtrack, his previous two long players or his forthcoming appearance on surrealist soundscaper So There’s imminent new album. What is known is that his name indicates that listeners are due to be rewarded with a special and spectral slice of vintage electronics and a soundtrack that will live in, indeed harvest, your dreams for many nights to come.

Available now as a ‘name your price’ download at Klaus Morlock’s Bandcamp site, do not miss out.

21 Apr 2016

Surly Gates - Lay Low

Reviewed by Dedric Moore (KC Psych Fest)

Surly Gates deliver "Lay Low" as a tribute to guitar rock of the early 70's without adding in the pomp that leveled classic rock by 1975. Touches of southern rock, California rock, and a heady dose of jamming makes for a great listen as songs stretch epically. The songs feel good and Surly Gates confidently makes them sound like their own.

It's been interesting to hear the psych community move past their 60's obsession with the Summer of Love vibes and head towards the early 70's. "Lay Low" is a prime example of how to do it right. Excellent vocals, locked-in bass and drums, and production values which make the band sound like you are hearing them live coming out of the speakers.

"Pisces" kicks off with a blistering jam that teases with warm vocal harmonies and then the beats build up to a nice groove and wham, the song kicks into overdrive with the band blowing out the speakers and a wild guitar solo screeching on top.

"People" feels like a lost "Déjà Vu" song by CSNY, with meditative words and a melody which coasts along at a mellow pace as the organ bounces you along. Another guitar solo? It’s more than welcome.

"Lay Low" is one of the standout tracks with its catchy lead-in riff and syncopated bass and drums on the verse. The chorus opens up and works its way back to the groove with a great use of subtle dynamics. There is a healthy dash of Texas psych in the vocals and background guitars as a bonus.

"Proud Indian" is another song that starts out with quiet vocal harmonies before kicking into the beat. This one has some nice psych guitar that veers into space on the breaks, and the organ line is catchy as can be. "Growl" has a carnival vibe with its waltzing rhythm and is somewhat reminiscent of "White Album" era Beatles. The song builds nicely and has another great guitar solo that is on point.

"Under Your Tongue" adds in some acoustic guitars that meld nicely with the organ riff, and an ever present bass groove that keeps building in its complexity until it crescendos with the drums at the climax of the guitar solo. "Shivaratri" drops in with its fun house organ groove and has a bit of a Doors feel that then goes 70s classic rock with dual guitars singing out.

And "Wicked Lover" has that vintage bass and guitar synced riff that gets the body moving and possibly some air guitar action. It has a Black Angels feel and that isn’t a bad thing. "Wicked Lover" is catchy and has an inspired slow time breakdown.

"Catatonia" winds it down with gentle guitars, trumpet and electric piano. It even has a Byrds vibe at just the right moment.

Their songs take the time to stretch out and let the guitars flex their tone and add some great solos. Acoustic guitars, classic organ, occasional dual guitar solos, vocal harmonies, and solid songwriting make this a worthwhile listen.

Full stream and download here:

18 Apr 2016

The Active Listener Sampler 41

Hi Folks. We're super busy in Active Listener land at the moment, but we're trying our best to keep up our monthly sampler releases for you all.

Here's our latest offering, with sleeve art by Mark McGee. There are some real beauties on this one, featuring artists we've recently reviewed, lots of new artists that you won't have encountered in our pages yet, and a few premieres of tracks from artists we all know and love.

Check out the link below to stream or download - free downloads welcome, and any donations very gratefully received to cover our mounting costs. Enjoy!

The Ventures Beach Party

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

The Ventures get a bit of a rough deal when it comes to appraising the surf bands of the early sixties. It's certainly true that they stuck around for much longer than they should have, with diminishing returns setting in by the very late sixties / early seventies, but the run of albums they released up until around 1968 are more often than not very entertaining affairs, with (depending who you ask) at least five to ten of them making for some fairly essential listening - often much better listening than the numerous 'hits' collections on the market which bypass a lot of their more interesting album material ("The Creeper" anyone?!).

Cherry Red's El Records label has just reissued one of their harder to find original LPs, 1962's "Beach Party" (also known as "Mashed Potatoes and Gravy"), and while it's not quite up to the very high standard of 1963's sci-fi surf opus "The Ventures in Space", or 1966's superhero themed "The Ventures Play The Batman Theme", it's one of the band's most enjoyable outings in a more purely surf-oriented vein.

It's a nicely varied affair too. "Lucille" is given a bendy twist, and there's a great version of "Poison Ivy" which is right up there with Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs' phenomenal version - two excellent examples of the band's knack for recasting popular vocal tunes in a purely instrumental setting without them feeling like backing tracks. There's also plenty of fun mashed potato referencing rock n roll too, not to mention a definitive take on the Lively Ones' "Surf Rider" (actually written by the Ventures' Nokie Edwards"), here recast as "Spudnik". Best of all though are the moody minor key numbers; "Hernando's Hideaway" and the slinky spy guitars of "Hot Summer (Asian Mashed)". If there was ever a Get Smart episode set in Chinatown, this would have provided the perfect soundtrack. Not bad work for a band that released five albums in 1962 alone!

Aside from the original twelve track album, this new edition features 22 bonus tracks as a sort of 'best of' sampler from the band's first nine albums, as well as covers of the band's biggest hit "Walk Don't Run" by Johnny Smith and Chet Atkins. "Beach Party" on its own is a thoroughly worthwhile purchase, these added bonus tracks make this the perfect sampler of the band's early career, providing lots of the hits, as well as a hint of the unexpected pleasures to be found when investigating their albums in greater depth. Recommended!

Available here (UK/EU), and here (US).

16 Apr 2016

Sons of the Void "ST"

Reviewed by Joseph Murphy

Whether David Max is a familiar name or not, many of his past projects certainly are or should be: Psychic TV, Tadpoles, and – under his own name – the excellent “Simple Psychedelic Pleasures” (2009, from the highly-regarded Mind Expansion Records). This year marks a new entry, pressed this time by the increasingly venerable Sunrise Ocean Bender.

After their partnership during the “Simple Psychedelic Pleasures” tour, Max and Nick Nobody (who toured with Max in support) reconvened in Basel, Switzerland, where they began Logical Magic Recordings and wrote/recorded and re-recorded over the course of three years what would become the self-titled debut of Sons of the Void. What resulted is an epic, aural experience that blends – almost deliriously so – dream soundscapes, field recordings, psychedelic obscurities and off-kilter pop.

First track, “Leichenblume” begins with – at least to this ear – the opening of a door; beyond is a far off chant then tentative guitar work and odd, woodwind accents. It all accumulates and gives way to a lush, patchwork of bright, otherworldly sounds, all with Max’s steady voice guiding us deeper inside.

Follow-up, “Don’t Forget to Pray” got a wonderful video treatment a while back, and it’s a perfect beacon for the album, continuing along the path previously set for densely-layered, mature and immediately-classic experimental pop.

Sons of the Void is a dramatic step away from Max’s previous projects (see Tadpoles and Psychic TV), both of which wrangled some harsh noise, albeit in often beautiful ways. For Sons of the Void, there will be no credit given for feedback guitars; “A Kick Like That” gets closest with some excellent fuzz, and “Hope I Don’t Miss” makes room for a wall of sound passage. Instead, Max and Nobody weave layers of melody into pleasant, sunshine-dripping pop songs as maximalists of musical subtlety. This is a masterwork by musicians for, in many ways, musicians – or, at least, music lovers unafraid of headphone worthy acts. As a whole, It’s well worth the solitary experience and close listen.

“Sons of the Void” is pressed on a limited-run, cyan vinyl and includes a download. Orders can be made through Sunrise Ocean Bender’s store or Bandcamp page below, where you can also preview a few tracks.

14 Apr 2016

Sharron Kraus - Hen Llan Recordings

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Over the last fourteen years Sharron Kraus has been quietly amassing one of the most important and potentially timeless and lasting back catalogues of modern psych folk. Her previous long player, 2015's 'Friends And Enemies; Lovers and Strangers' (reviewed here at The Active Listener) was possibly a career highlight amongst a prolific and treasure filled discography. This new instrumental EP, recorded in Hen Llan in Wales, picks up where 'Friends And Enemies…' left off with a similar sense of baroque woodland pageantry, filled with a veritable forest's worth of recorder, harp and acoustic guitar.

Opener 'Hen Llano' is a delicate and eerie wonder, cascading harp suggesting an ominous wander through the shadow filled trees as trepidatious and spectral recorder enters to further add a sense of a haunted fairy tale. This piece is incredibly intricate and beautifully put together, as is the EP as a whole, and it is amazingly transportive; close your eyes and you are in another world completely, one where you might not want to stray from the path...'Holy Isle' is a more medieval sounding and dynamic piece, at times the harmonised woodwind is strident and bold before it then gently lulls as if the music itself has become bewitched. 'Sad Day At Pen Parc's melancholic air is utterly spellbinding, every harp note is discernible and the interplay between the instrumentation is seamless and hugely affecting. There is always a risk that instrumental music containing elements of harp and woodwind might stray into new age 'music of the panpipes' territory but 'Hen Llan Recordings' never does, it keeps a solid, earthy and sadly wistful air that is graceful, meaningful and emotive. Finally 'The Green Abbey' is a stately procession, the acoustic guitar keeping time as the harp descends over the beat like a waterfall. And then it is over; brief this EP might be but it is also perfect. It perhaps can be seen as a sister release or companion to 'Friends And Enemies..' and it certainly creates a genuine sense of excitement for Kraus's next release.

Released and housed in a beautiful handmade sleeve by the fine Reverb Worship label, this EP is already onto its second edition as the first sold out almost immediately. It can also be purchased as a download from Sharron's own Bandcamp page. Hasten ye there!

13 Apr 2016

The Tomcats - Running At Shadows: The Spanish Recordings 1965-1966

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

I'm sure that the majority of you will be intimately familiar with July, an Ealing based psychedelic band who released a classic self titled album on the Major Minor label in 1968 with a heavy Beatles / Floyd / Kaleidoscope (UK) feel to it - now a major collectible and an extremely well regarded album in its own right. Less will realise that many of July's members had been kicking around in bands since the late fifties. Formed from the nucleus of two bands - the Tomcats and the Second Thoughts (who featured a pre-Nirvana Patrick Campbell-Lyons on vocals), the final line-up of the Tomcats immediately preceded July, with an almost identical line-up of Tom Newman, Chris Jackson, Alan James, Tony Duhig and Jon Field.

After some local UK success the Tomcats decided to try their luck in Spain, where they were treated as a sort of surrogate Rolling Stones - the Stones themselves being banned in Franco era Spain along with a number of other bands deemed to be 'dangerous' by the authorities. The Tomcats took advantage of this and released four successful EPs over 1965 and 1966 which, along with a few rarities and tracks recorded by the Second Thoughts, make up this fine new collection.

Those hoping for more of July's psych pop won't find it here - the band weren't exposed to any psychedelic influences until they returned to Ealing in 1967-1968 - but those with a penchant for moody R&B and beat will find this a rewarding listen.

It's heavy on cover versions, as one would expect from a band who were essentially providing big hits recorded elsewhere in the world  the chance to get past Spain's borders. The Rolling Stones covers are certainly interesting. While they're no substitute for the originals, they don't try to purely replicate them either, so there are a few surprises to be had with a sitarless "Paint it Black" being more than the interesting novelty that it should be. Standards of the time like "Cocaine" and the Yardbirds' "For Your Love" also get surprisingly spirited and gritty treatments, with the Tomcats' version of "Roadrunner" being particularly definitive. There's also an enjoyably rough and ready take on "Monday Monday" infused with plenty of garage spirit and appeallingly ragged harmonies.

Originals are in short supply but the moody title track proves that the songwriting prowess showcased on "July"didn't just manifest overnight, while the anthemic "It Ain't Right" features startling acid guitar work which would sound right at home on a West Coast US export of a similar period. Even better are the traditional Spanish folk songs which the band give the beat treatment. I'm not certain how well known these songs are outside of Spain (any Spanish readers care to let us know?) but they're all new to me and pretty exciting in their own right, particularly the wild freakbeat of "A Tu Vera" and the percussive, fuzzy "Pena, Penita, Pena"- probably the two most potent tracks here.

Archival collections like this often feel like unnecessary footnotes, especially when greater things are to follow from its contributors. That, happily, is not the case here. While the exhaustively complete nature of "Running At Shadows" ensures the odd dip in quality, this has more than its fair share of gem, especially for a collection that doesn't cherry-pick its contents.

Available here (UK/EU) and here (US).

10 Apr 2016

Eerie Wanda – Hum

Reviewed by Shaun Rogan

Imagine if you will, the emergence of a new female talent that casts spells on you from the corner of your room, from your holy speakers. Imagine if she wrote a set of songs that refracted some prime influences such as Francoise Hardy, The Free Design, Wendy & Bonnie, Aztec Camera, Stereolab, Real Estate and Lush, as well as encapsulating her own psych-pop sensibility and melded them into something lovely and evocative. Imagine the feeling of wellbeing you would encounter being subjected to the aural equivalent of sitting on a balcony in Antibes and watching the sun slowly set whilst drinking ice cold margueritas.

You can imagine that? Well, brothers and sisters I am pleased to say you need imagine no longer as Eerie Wanda (aka Marina Tadic) is here to guide you safely and dreamily into the nocturnal hours, with this in mind, and all of the sonic resources required to make it a fun ride.

The correctly titled ‘Hum’ is an assured debut from Eerie Wanda, built on solidly constructed and fully realised songs and aided and abetted by the hand picked (Jacco Gardner affiliated) expert backing band at the disposal of the enigmatic Ms Tadic. The arrangements are breathy and often sparse, allowing a lovely separation of the instruments deployed, and as with much ‘modern psychedelic pop,’ the mood is woozy, somewhat blurred, occasionally shadowy but generally good natured. The more you allow yourself to be seduced by the songs held within, the more you sink under and into the world being constructed for you. As Syd once said, "one thinks of it all as a dream."

Opener, “Happy Hard Times” deceives somewhat with its minor key, rather ominous dirge-like bridge, sitting oddly against the rather fey and lovely verse, and is perhaps the closest Eerie Wanda come to giving me hypnophobia. The song does however set a template from which the remaining 12 songs can somnambulate into your consciousness in the most disarming way. Eerie Wanda are experts at candy coated insinuation, like your favourite cat who you know doesn’t love you quite ever as much as you want. And that is a cool trick to pull on any listener, instantly familiar, instantly keeping you at a distance – you can listen but you can’t touch.

This approach is exemplified by one of my personal favourites on the record, “New Harmony” a lovely affair with beautifully intoned vibrato guitar riffs and vocal incantations which combine in overall sonic effect to gently wrap itself around you and warm your heart but makes clear you will always be an observer, a listener and you should never interrupt. I would imagine people stand stock still at Eerie Wanda shows as they are covered by these songs, or maybe sway gently like flowers at the mercy of the breeze. Totally Grooved.

“Volcano Lagoon” sounds like a laid back version of ‘Brain Damage’ by Pink Floyd if it had been recorded in 1968 on the Left Bank, it's another huge winner, skating around the periphery of your senses, delicately balanced and always teetering on the point of being in focus but never fully getting there. A delight.

Much of ‘Hum’ gives an impression of assuredness, of a creator that could be slightly twisted but is happy, and if seemingly detached, then contented in being so. It’s a lovely zone to inhabit for some idle relaxation and a refreshing change from being instructed or implored as many songwriters do when bringing their work to your door. It’s nice sometimes to escape and ‘Hum’ does that. You hum the tunes you don’t want to learn the words – they are Eerie Wanda’s words not mine and she likes that just fine. As do I. I am her loyal servant and will do her bidding.

The title track is a slow pony trek across the open fields of your brain, by turn being ever so self-effacing and then flirtatious with the listener. Again it's all signatured with that lovely crystalline lead guitar which performs a beautifully understated break at its mid-point before sliding back into the vocals which are the centre of gravity at all times on this excellent debut. If Marina’s vocals are centre stage, the sympathetic guitar accompaniment is very much her partner in crime.

“To Dream Again” has an almost 1980’s New Wave feel to it with its slightly jerky rhythm, jarring your ears whilst the vocal lines cascade gently down around you. Again its impeccably restrained, deliberately, calculatedly restrained to create a precise mood in the listener. It’s a very refreshing approach that oozes charm. It makes me want to drink red wine and smoke Gauloises. Ace.

And so the courtship of the listener continues over the remainder of the record, voice and guitar often counterpointing each other; “The Reason” in a playful call and response, into the French disko of “Vinny” to the dreamy slightly unsettling hang-overture of ‘The Boy’ and concluding with the yearning adieu of “There Are Many Things” which leaves matters suitably unresolved and bittersweet as Eerie Wanda gently climb out of your bedroom window into the pitch black of night. You may be left pondering what has just gone before but it has most definitely been a lovely, lazy, carefree half-hour in the company of Eerie Wanda.

Maybe Eerie Wanda will drop by again? She knows I’d love to see her.

Available in a myriad of formats here: