31 Jul 2013

Flat Ed "Clapped Out" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Recorded over the prolonged period of 2005 to 2013 whilst living variously in France, England and Wales, and featuring songs that were written as far back as 1995, it's no real surprise that Flat Ed's "Clapped Out" initially comes across as a bit of a stylistic hodge-podge, that sounds like the work of more than one personality. Add to this the knowledge that Flat Ed (real name Stephane Iserable) also hosts a ridiculously diverse, genre straddling radio show called Popcast, and his approach to making "Clapped Out" starts to make a lot more sense.
It's almost like Iserable has put together "Clapped Out" the way a radio programmer would sequence a show, rather than the way an artist would normally put together an album. 
Is it cohesive? No, it flits between folk, prog, pop and primitive electronica in a fashion that's likely to addle those of a less flexible mindset, but if listening to Tarantino soundtracks has taught me anything, it's that a lack of cohesion can still make for a pretty exhilarating listen, and that's certainly the case here.
Naturally I'm drawn towards the tracks with a more classic rock / pop sound, the best of these being "24 Hours" which evokes Squeeze and Billy Bragg without being derivative of either, "Scapegoat" with it's subtle britpopesque guitar parts, "Growing Crows" which has a classic sixties pop sound, and "Sister School" which has a nagging, infectious low-key chorus layered in wordless backing vocals and what sounds like subtle mellotron. Very nice indeed.
That's just the tip of the iceberg though on an album that also finds space for folktronica ("Late Autumn Walk"), rumbling near-industrial ("Upstairs to Bed"), beaty proto-electronica "Cool Hassle" and piano laden balladry ("Concrete").
The old chestnut "something for everyone" gets bandied around a lot by lazy writers, but in this case it's entirely true. Well worth investigating, especially when the layered harmony vocals pile up towards the end of "Funny".
And if you buy it on vinyl (which I'd certainly recommend - it's a tremendous sounding pressing), you also get a free download of "Distant Cowboy Replay", a collection of covers featuring glowing reinterpretations of songs by the Byrds, the Kinks and a whole lot more.

You can stream the album here, or buy digitally or on vinyl through the same link.

30 Jul 2013

David A Jaycock "Ten Songs" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Big Eyes Family Band alumni David A Jaycock is a bit of an oddity on the English folk scene. With an elliptical acoustic guitar style that owes as much to the Takoma school of John Fahey as it does to the more close to home influences of Bert Jansch et al, and a fondness for blanketing his carefully considered vignettes with archaic seventies synth sounds, Jaycock's music has a distinctly English quality that drips home counties atmosphere.
Take spooky opener "Ghosts and Gold" , a moody, almost Edwardian ghost story sparingly illustrated with concise, effective language and an unusually fluid, yet mechanical guitar accompaniment that stops and starts like a vintage Victorian wind up music box.
"Brighton Morgue" continues the ornate fingerstyle guitar work, but also introduces some startling, heavy synth drones, layered with so much weighty malevolence that it would have been vetoed off a mid seventies Pink Floyd record - heavy stuff, but with a stark beauty.
Haunted fairground opus "Decanting Sand" is perhaps the most attention grabbing cut here and highlights Jaycock's strengths - intricate fingerstyle guitarwork, compelling vocals and a woozy psychedelic air provided by (possibly) a theremin and tumbling, kaleidoscopic synths expertly crafted for a headfirst trip down the rabbithole.
You've probably gathered by this point that "Ten Songs" is mostly a moody beast. While that's certainly true, it's also strangely easy to get into. Those in the know have told me that of his numerous releases "Ten Songs" is by far his most accessible, and James Yorkston has been vocal in his support ("best album of the year", that man has said).
It's certainly a more focused work than previous material I've heard of his, with an increased use of vocals adding an extra layer of humanity that despite it's dark trappings, makes this an easy album to engage with.
Perfect music for a slightly overcast Sunday morning, or a lonesome evening in front of the fireplace.

Available here - it's a bargain!

29 Jul 2013

Bob Downes "Deep Down Heavy" Review (Reissue)

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

A total treat for the ears (and feet) here with Esoteric handling the first ever official CD release of Bob Downes' "Deep Down Heavy", originally released on the cheapo Music For Pleasure label in 1970.
Downes' second album (Esoteric also reissued his first here a few months back), "Deep Down Heavy" is a stylistically diverse and totally fascinating document of it's times.
Downes is of course most celebrated for his saxophone and flute skills, but anyone expecting a straight jazz album will be grabbed by the shoulders and shaken vigorously by this one. Joined by the likes of Chris Spedding, Alan Rushton and Ray Russell, this is a hugely entertaining piece that uses progressive jazz as a starting point but is equally reliant on heavy funky psychedelic rock.
Take opener "Too Late" - it all starts incongruously enough with some of Downes' delicate pastoral flute work, but within half a minute we're in thunderous heavy rock territory with drums that reimagine John Bonham as a member of Funkadelic. Totally outrageous stuff.
Likewise the tribal percussion and atmospheric flutework of "Day Dream" has more in common with Black Widow than Miles Davis.
Also featured prominently is poet Robert Cockburn (who elected to record his pieces on location on various London public transports - only in the late sixties...). Heady stuff, but a treat for those who enjoyed the nutjob BBC Radiophonic Workshop / David Cain "Seasons" release on Trunk last year. Speaking of the Workshop, the sinister ambient throb that acts as a backdrop to Cockburn's "Hollow Moment" sounds an awful lot like a precursor to Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire's "Legend of Hell House" soundtrack which was yet to come.
Fear not though, it's not all progressive weirdness. There's plenty of funky, heavy jazz grooves here for those who don't want to wander too far beyond the fringes, with Downes taking the lead on Saxophone behind some piping hot crate digger's-dream drums.
Certainly as an album "Deep Down Heavy" is wildly stylistically incoherent, but as a document of the anything goes, melting pot nature of the U.K underground of the late sixties and early seventies it's nigh on essential, and more importantly ceaselessly entertaining.
100% recommended.

You can buy this wee gem here.

Let this play through to get an idea what you're in for.... 

28 Jul 2013

Big Dwarf "Towards Abstraction" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

With a visually sumptuous but pretty much music-free social media campaign leading up to it's release, "Towards Abstraction" certainly had my curiosity aroused to the point where finally having the opportunity to hear it was bound to be an anti-climax to some degree.
Or so you'd think. 
Turns out that while "Towards Abstraction" is a profoundly confusing listen to begin with, subsequent spins reveal a uniquely contemporary take on psychedelia that bypasses all of the influences you're expecting to hear in favor of something far more individualistic.
In a genre where repetition and open tribute are rife this is a most unusual prospect. It's almost like they've taken it upon themselves to create a psychedelic album without having actually heard one before, resulting in an unusually broad, original, genre-hopping exercise - an album almost without precedent (although Mansun's eclectic run of early E.Ps are occasionally evoked).
So, how to explain the unexplainable then? Broadly speaking, Big Dwarf deal in lengthy songs that reside in some previously unexplored realm halfway between progressive rock and britpop, awash with swirling synthesizers, spacey guitar breaks and groovy beatboxes. An odd mixture, but an appealing one that makes perfect sense once mindsets have been suitably adjusted.
"Kill 'em (in their sleep)" is the (comparatively) concise, listener-friendly drawcard, with a memorably laid back chorus and sparkling guitars, but the general approach is unhurried with memorably trippy sequences blossoming often and with little respect for conventional song structure.
Oh, and "Inner Space" is commandeered  by the authoritative vocal presence of Mellow Candle's Alison O'Donnell who comes across like some shamanistic hippie goddess with a lesson for all mankind, deftly supported  by some floaty Orb-tastic electronic ambiance.

"Towards Abstraction" is released by AJAR Records July 28. You can order it here.

25 Jul 2013

The Sufis "Inventions" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

I got a bit of grief last year for so vigorously recommending the first Sufis album to a few people that couldn't handle the more experimental, oscillator-fuelled, sound collage bits that made up about half of that album. Fair call - I enjoyed those bits and thought they counter-balanced the more overtly pop moments on the album nicely, but I can see how others who heard a track like "Rosalie's Garden" might want an album full of those more simplistic, melodic pleasures.
Now down to a core duo of Calvin LaPorte & Evan Smith, it seems the Sufis are now on the same wavelength as these listeners : "I wanted to write concise pop songs, each with a unique and particular quality" LaPorte says in the accompanying press release, and that's exactly what he's done here. The freaky instrumentals are a thing of the past then, but that experimental mindset is still alive and well, albeit in a more consistently palatable form on these twelve (fourteen on the bonus track edition) acid-pop gems.
These two Nashville natives still sound like they've been both temporally and geographically displaced with the vast majority of these tunes sounding like Syd Barrett has hijacked the good ship "Revolver" with a few Kink(s)y baroque harpsichord flourishes for extremely good measure. You'd think Carnaby Street was just around the corner.
Several other tracks, notably "No Expression" also have a more raucous vintage garage vibe (more ragged folk-rock than the MC5 naturally), possibly a hangover from the Market Squares single they recorded with Paul Messis last year.
The vast majority though could be slotted into a 1968 U.K psych-pop playlist without eyebrows being significantly raised, and while you'd have to be pretty stubborn not to admit that tunes like the bass-driven "The End" take their cues from "Taxman" and "The Word", they're far from hollow retreads, with plenty of good humor (see "Most Peculiar Happening Cat") and lots of inventive touches.
"Inventions" is the Sufis doing what they do best, twisting the overly familiar into unfamiliar and exciting new shapes and the fact that they've assembled one of the most enjoyable albums of the year in the process is testament to their expertise and the natural ease with which they operate.

Get the vinyl LP here, or the CD here. 
Burger Records will also be releasing on Cassette. 

24 Jul 2013

Listen To New Roy Harper Track "Time is Temporary"

Roy Harper's new album "Man & Myth" is due out on Bella Union on the 23rd of September.
In demand producer / songwriter Jonathan Wilson has produced four of the album's seven tracks, and Bella Union have unveiled the first of these tracks "Time is Temporary" here.
Harper explains the track this way : “"Time is Temporary" is based on a thought, that maybe I will pass you in the street, or in a train, or a restaurant, and we’ll look at each other and have the same sort of feelings, but never take it any further, never take the next step that both of us seemed to want to, so we’ll never know what might have been.”

Trappist Afterland "Like a Beehive, The Hill Was Alive" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Devotional psychedelic folk has got to be a pretty niche genre right? Visit eBay and you'll find literally thousands of different albums in this supposedly niche genre. Where the hell did all of these come from? Why are these artists never featured on any of the myriad compilations that unendingly spew forth from the various psych genres? Burning questions, but questions with a pretty straightforward answer unfortunately.
Unscrupulous vinyl traders realized pretty early on in the piece that if they added "psychedelic" to their twee Christian folk LP's description said item's price would skyrocket, and thus was born the devotional psychedelic or acid folk genre. In all fairness, these artists themselves would have never considered themselves psychedelic in any fashion (indeed the idea is probably offensive to some of the more devout practitioners), while a very small percentage of these artists did come from a psychedelic background and made that obvious on their albums to a varying degree - the majority however were gentle beardy folk geezers with more rounded off edges than Cat Stevens and James Taylor put together.
It's with trepidation then that I approach anything given the "Devotional psych folk" handle, although with Melbourne based outfit Trappist Afterland I may have finally hit the jackpot. Simply speaking, their third album "Like a Beehive, The Hill Was Alive" sounds exactly like I'd hoped all those first generation LPs would sound like - enough acoustic instrumentation to warrant the folk moniker, but layered with all sorts of drones, sinister ritualistic chanting, psychedelic organ work, and beautiful, exotic sounding instrumentation from far off climes.
It's also more often than not decidedly sinister, with a creepy undercurrent that makes it difficult to discern exactly whom or what they're so righteously devoted to. "The Penitent's Rail" in particular dips it's toe into murky Comus inspired waters where there are all sorts of creepy things lurking.
The first three quarters of the album run very much along these diabolical, ritualistic lines until the closing one-two of "The Hoarder Stows" and "Beehive" arrive, cast in a regal splendor that suggests some sort of triumph of good over evil has just taken place under our very noses.
I'm certainly not smart enough to work my way through all of the subtext  and work out exactly what's going on here, but the mystery only adds to it's considerable appeal.
Very highly recommended.

Available digitally through the Bandcamp widget below, and coming soon on CD in a very limited edition on Eleven Willows.

23 Jul 2013

Fruits de Mer August Singles Review

We checked out Stay's "Mersey Dream" E.P yesterday (back here), but there's plenty more on Fruits de Mer's agenda for August  with a return to 7" E.Ps - five of them in total for the month. Let's check out the other four.

Jack Ellister "Dawn Dream Club" E.P
Following up on last year's rather good "Man With the Biochopper" (also on FDM), Ellister is back with an excellent all covers E.P. First up (and most successfully) he tackles George Harrison's "Within You, Without You", removes most of the Indian instrumentation and in the process transforms it into something that sounds strangely like it would have sounded like if it'd been a Lennon "Pepper" tune, instead of that mystic Indian bloke. Marvelous.
He also tackles Mark Fry's "Song For Wilde", and Pink Floyd's "Flaming" in suitably adventurous fashion. MUCH more psychedelic than the "Biochopper" single so if that didn't float your boat, this is still well worth a listen.

Me & My Kites (With Tony Durant) "The Band"
Fuchsia super-fans Me & My Kites jumped at the chance to work with Tony Durant, and together they've given this old Fuchsia number a thorough seeing to in a fashion that bridges the more experimental qualities of their own recent debut (reviewed here), with the more structured songwriting of the new Fuchsia LP (which you can check out here). The B-Side is a completely different extended version of "Isis' Adventure" which leaves the album version for dead, with lots of extra vocal meanderings and general extended trippiness in the spirit of the times they wish that they came from.

White Sails "Laguna Dream" E.P
Mellow Drunk's Leigh Gregory along with Ville and Jaakko Vilpponen follow up their debut full length with this intriguing little four tracker combining covers of Sabbath's uncharacteristically lovely acoustic numbers "Laguna Sunrise" and "Fluff", with a couple of their own numbers done in a similar style.
"Laguna Sunrise" stands up best to the covers process with some lovely swelling guitar work enhancing it's fragile melody, while the two originals are moodier, minor key affairs with "Death on a Pale Horse" in particular having a nice pastoral prog interlude flavor of it's own, along with a nice bit of Bonham boom-thwack.

Crystal Jacqueline "A Fairy Tale" E.P
The most contemporary sounding offering from this month's selection, "A Fairy Tale" is made up of three sixties covers, twisted into unfamiliar shapes with the help of fellow Honey Pot member Icarus Peel.
The Trogg's "Cousin Jane" is given a sparse, skeletal arrangement that hints at This Mortal Coil, while Second Hand's "A Fairytale" goes the rave-up route with lashings of organ, harpsichord, slashing guitars and I'm pretty sure I heard a kitchen sink somewhere in there too.
Best of all is "Play With Fire", transformed from it's already moody baroque-pop beginnings, into something even darker with a hypnotic, cascading guitar lick threatening to pull you down into a paranoid filled abyss. In the best possible way, of course.

Limited edition  7" vinyl only affairs as always - pre-order here or you're likely to miss out.

22 Jul 2013

Stay "Mersey Dream" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

At the risk of sounding like a snob, encountering the phrase "fresh from supporting Beady Eye and Ocean Color Scene" in a press release would not usually encourage me to continue reading, but the unusually high caliber of material that Stay are covering on this 7" E.P, plus the fact that the esteemed Fruits de Mer label have deemed it worthy of release made me put my prejudices to one side briefly. Good thing too, as I bet the headliners at those particular shows were blown offstage (that's not a groupie joke) by these guys.
With four albums (and an earlier Fruits de Mer 7") behind them already, a veneer of professionalism was certainly expected, but "Mersey Dream" surpasses all expectations, delivering four immaculate slices of psychedelic mersey pop - all the more unusual as these lads hail from sunny Spain (although their last album 2012's "The Fourth Dimension" was recorded in Liverpool).
Comprising three very well chosen covers (obviously connoisseurs, these chaps), and one original that doesn't sound even remotely intimidated by the heavyweight mid to late sixties company it's keeping here, "Mersey Dream" may well be my favorite E.P of the year so far.
The original title track does admittedly sound quite a lot like Ocean Color Scene in places, although lacking their inherent naffness (sorry fans), and with a much more convincing vintage atmosphere than the Scene manage to capture, not to mention a particularly well written tune.
The covers are similarly solid, and awash in a lovely analogue glow with plenty of vintage psychedelic florishes. The Marmalade's "I See The Rain" gets an organ-heavy run through with some searing lead guitars, while the Beatles "If I Needed Someone" adds a bunch of sitar - fair enough, it is one of George's tune after all.
Best of all is the Fairytale's "Guess I Was Dreaming" which doesn't depart hugely from the original blueprint, but does a marvelously subtle job of enhancing everything that made that original such a ripper.
Great stuff - I'm ready for "Mersey Dream Volume two" - how about the Remo Four and the 23rd Turnoff next time?
Visit again same time tomorrow and we'll take a look at the other four Fruits de Mer releases for August.

Released early August by Fruits de Mer Records as a strictly limited edition 7" E.P - pre-order here now - these titles sell out very quickly and do not get digital or CD releases.

Check out some samples here:

21 Jul 2013

Harry Robinson "Twins of Evil" Soundtrack Review (Reissue)

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

The Death Waltz Recording Company continue to service the needs of the cult soundtrack afficianado with the first fruits of their partnership with Hammer films.
James Bernard's score for "The Devil Rides Out" was planned as the first release in this series - a suitable choice with Bernard being the composer most associated with the studio, but delays with that title have led to Harry Robinson's "Twins of Evil" making it into the waiting public's hands first.
Sadly no Hammer scores were ever released commercially back in the day when the films originally came out, an injustice that has only partly been righted by the work of a few specialist labels over the last twenty years or so (more often than not in compilation form rather than as complete scores).
"Twins of Evil" however is one of the few Hammer scores that HAS previously been released (Silva Screen released a CD version back in 2002), but this heavy pressing is the first time a vinyl version has been released, and Death Waltz have taken their customary care to ensure it's a thing of beauty with a specially commissioned cover and thorough sleevenotes by indecently knowledgeable Marcus Hearn.
Robinson's score has less of the moody gothic ambience than James Bernard's scores - there's less of that sense of creeping unease and tension that he does so well. Instead Robinson's scores are grandiose, sweeping things with a high sense of adventure, romance and even a little exoticism in places. There's more of a sense that something exciting, dramatic and terrifying is happening right now, rather than the promise of something sinister to come that you'd normally associate with a Hammer score.
Certainly a departure from the studio's scores of the sixties, but the results sound surprisingly contemporary now to these ears. Certainly the best of Robinson's scores for the studio.
And this one is available on CD as well as vinyl - something a little different for the label.

Buy the Vinyl here, the CD here, or the DVD here.

18 Jul 2013

Burnin Red Ivanhoe "Canal Trip - An Anthology 1969-1974" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

With a formidable live reputation (John Peel once claimed they were the most exciting live band on the planet), and a sprawling, but often patchy back catalogue, Burnin Red Ivanhoe are a perfect candidate for the double CD anthology treatment.
There's a lot of snobbery around collections like this (especially when you start looking at specialist genres, which lets make no bones about it - this is) but a well compiled anthology can really make you re-evaluate a band's significance. Let's remember that bands of this era were encouraged to tour constantly and release an album a year at least - a far cry from the workload of artists of our generation, and certainly an arrangement that ensured that a certain amount of filler was inevitable for all but the most prolific songwriters.
Kudos then to Esoteric for excising the more dubious moments and turning a good back catalogue into something pretty great here on "Canal Trip".
Debuting with a double LP in 1969 it was clear immediately that this Danish band had ideas aplenty, and mostly not above their station. There's little of the sense of  searching for an identity that most debuts betray, with hard progressive jazz, heavily Who influenced hard rock, rambling proto prog with a nod to the Canterbury scene and pastoral Scandinavian folk melodies effortlessly coallescing into something immediately distinctive and more than a little groundbreaking for the time.
Subsequent albums had moments of inspiration that matched that audacious debut (all pretty much excerpted here), but there was really not that far they could go in refining a sound that was seemingly all there from the beginning.
As far as highlights go "Antique Peppermint" showcases their melodic, hard edged progressive jazz sensibilities infectiously, while "Purple Hearts" shows they could have been contenders in the psych-pop field had they been so inclined. Best of all though is "Gong Gong The Elephant Song", a lengthy piece of space-rock infused progressive jazz with a driving guitar riff, and saxophonist Karsten Vogel enthusiastically playing the part of the titular elephant in a manner Eric Dolphy would be terrified by.
Sounds awful on paper doesn't it? Bloody great though.

A total bargain - get it here.

17 Jul 2013

Dark Ocean Colors "Close Enough To See" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

The Pillbugs must be pretty near the top of the pile (with the Green Pajamas) when it comes to woefully underappreciated psych-pop bands. With a filler-free back catalogue (no mean feat for a band who's albums  routinely featured between 20 and 32 tracks) of quality Beatlesque psych-pop they should have been huge, but broke up back in 2008 after the death of founding member Mark Kelley.
Pillbug vocalist/guitarist/ keyboardist/producer Mark Mikel then hooked up with longtime friend Scott Hunt (who has a pretty extensive back catalogue of his own) to form Dark Ocean Colors, who have now followed up their self titled 2011 debut with "Close Enough to See" which is (no surprises here) GREAT.
If I can make a gross generalization and suggest that the Pillbugs sound was based almost exclusively on the Beatles sound circa '66-68, "Close Enough To See" sees Mikel evolving a few years with a sound that evokes the multi-structured, post-psychedelic songs of Abbey Road and John's sonic experimentation on "The White Album", particularly on lengthy opener "Everything Again", which investigates more ideas in it's six and a half minutes than most albums I've heard this year.
Mikel and Hunt are effortlessly great songwriters. These are complicated songs, crammed with so many instantly memorable hooks that you're fooled into thinking that they're the most simple things you've ever heard. Radio seems to have conditioned us to equate catchy with simple and It's not until you start paying attention to the complex vocal harmonies, horn charts, cellos and constantly changing song structures that you realize just how clever these two are. It's easy for albums like this to come off as forced or smart-arse, but these tracks are pulled off with what appears to be consumate ease - unpredictable, hooky and with added power-pop muscle (on "95" in particular) that makes you remember just how good those early Cheap Trick albums were.
Magic. I can't recommend this enough.

"Close Enough to See" is currently available digitally via iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, Spotify etc. CDs and vinyl will be available soon through Mark's website..

16 Jul 2013

Juleah "Shimmering Road" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Taking inspiration initially from shoegaze, britpop and psychedelia, young Austrian social worker Julia Hummer, needing a therapeutic escape from her emotionally demanding dayjob, began deconstructing songs by the likes of Oasis and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, covering them and uploading them to youtube where she quickly developed an impressive (and impressed) following.
Pretty soon Julia discovered that her own songwriting was worth investigating and "Shimmering Road" is the result of this - the next step in her journey and a labour of love painstakingly assembled in her spare time over a year in her home studio.
One might reasonably expect something fairly derivative, old fashioned sounding and lo-fi from this sort of approach, but "Shimmering Road" is not that record. Julia has channeled her influences into something distinctively her own, combining the less noisy aspects of shoegaze with the hazy psychedelic dream-pop of Mazzy Star or even Opal. Her love for Britpop meanwhile has left it's mark in more subtle ways, mainly in a tendency to write direct, concise and melodic songs with big choruses, although the results pleasingly sound a lot more like Beach House than Blur.
The production too is top notch throughout, awash with layers of lovingly tweaked guitars and with a massive drum sound anchoring everything.
As good as the songwriting and production is though, the real drawcard for this writer at least, is Hummer's voice which has the husky charm of a shoegaze Stevie Nicks and when given the opportunity to soar every bit as much power as that comparison suggests.

Stream or download here:

Bob Dylan - Bootleg Series Vol. 10 Trailer Featuring Previously Unheard Tracks

Further to last month's look at what could be on the next volume of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series (you can read about that here), Columbia Records have now released this fascinating trailer for Volume Ten - Another Self Portrait.
The trailer features interviews with Al Kooper and David Bromberg, who both played on the sessions, as well as clips for songs including “Went To See The Gypsy”, “Pretty Saro”, “Tell Old Bill”, "Time Passes Slowly” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece”.
Sounds pretty great.

The set will be available in a standard 2CD version or a deluxe 4CD slipcase which will also include the original Self Portrait as well as Dylan and the Band's complete Isle of Wight performance form 1969.

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 - Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)
CD 1
1 Went To See The Gypsy (demo)
2 In Search Of Little Sadie (without overdubs, Self Portrait)
3 Pretty Saro (unreleased, Self Portrait)
4 Alberta #3 (alternate version, Self Portrait)
5 Spanish Is The Loving Tongue (unreleased, Self Portrait)
6 Annie's Going To Sing Her Song (unreleased, Self Portrait)
7 Time Passes Slowly #1 (alternate version, New Morning)
8 Only A Hobo (unreleased, Greatest Hits II)
9 Minstrel Boy (unreleased, The Basement Tapes)
10 I Threw It All Away (alternate version, Nashville Skyline)
11 Railroad Bill (unreleased, Self Portrait)
12 Thirsty Boots (unreleased, Self Portrait)
13 This Evening So Soon (unreleased, Self Portrait)
14 These Hands (unreleased, Self Portrait)
15 Little Sadie (without overdubs, Self Portrait)
16 House Carpenter (unreleased, Self Portrait)
17 All The Tired Horses (without overdubs, Self Portrait)

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 - Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)
CD 2
1 If Not For You (alternate version, New Morning)
2 Wallflower (alternate version, 1971)
3 Wigwam (original version without overdubs, Self Portrait)
4 Days Of '49 (original version without overdubs, Self Portrait)
5 Working On A Guru (unreleased, New Morning)
6 Country Pie (alternate version, Nashville Skyline)
7 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (Live With The Band, Isle Of Wight 1969)
8 Highway 61 Revisited (Live With The Band, Isle Of Wight 1969)
9 Copper Kettle (without overdubs, Self Portrait)
10 Bring Me A Little Water (unreleased, New Morning)
11 Sign On The Window (with orchestral overdubs, New Morning)
12 Tattle O'Day (unreleased, Self Portrait)
13 If Dogs Run Free (alternate version, New Morning)
14 New Morning (with horn section overdubs, New Morning)
15 Went To See The Gypsy (alternate version, New Morning)
16 Belle Isle (without overdubs, Self Portrait)
17 Time Passes Slowly #2 (alternate version, New Morning)
18 When I Paint My Masterpiece (demo)

Bob Dylan & The Band Isle of Wight - August 31, 1969
1 She Belongs To Me
2 I Threw It All Away
3 Maggie's Farm
4 Wild Mountain Thyme
5 It Ain't Me, Babe
6 To Ramona/ Mr. Tambourine Man
7 I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
8 Lay Lady Lay
9 Highway 61 Revisited
10 One Too Many Mornings
11 I Pity The Poor Immigrant
12 Like A Rolling Stone
13 I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
14 Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
15 Minstrel Boy
16 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

15 Jul 2013

The Frowning Clouds "Gospel Songs From The Church Of Scientology" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Initially released as a limited edition pressing of 100 cassette copies for their European tour earlier in the year, Saturno Records have now made this unexpectedly entertaining gem available as a download on their bandcamp site.
For those who haven't been paying attention, the Frowning Clouds are a five piece from Geelong in Australia who have a bunch of great recordings to their credit - think early Stones and particularly Kinks with totally authentic sounding freakbeat production stylings. Interested yet?
Despite their impressive track record thus far I had pretty low expectations for this, a hundred copies to sell on tour - that warrants an afternoon's work tops surely?
And while this does have an off the cuff spontaneity to it, the songwriting can't be faulted. If these guys can afford to dump material of this quality onto a release that they initially thought would only be a heard by 100 people then they've got a pretty bright future.
Opener "13 Stick Fight" is an inessential but hugely enjoyable, gritty, reverb-laden instrumental tribute to Link Wray's "Rumble", but from there on in it's filler-free vocal material all the way, with "Guess Again" adding some sunny Californian surf harmonies - Allah-La's may have made this sort of thing popular again, but I'd argue the Frowning Clouds do it better.
Killer choruses and grimy garage jangle with a sunny disposition - what's not to love?

Get it here:

14 Jul 2013

Deep Space "Evil Dreams" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

The only thing more surprising than the sheer number of psychedelic wonders emanating from Austin, TX is the consistent excellence that they manage to unleash.
The latest to find their way onto my various listening apparatus' are Deep Space, and although the name may conjure images of druidic space jams, this only tells part of the story of this five piece.
Deep Space evoke the exploratory nature of the heavier end of the space rock spectrum (think Spacemen 3 rather than Hawkwind) with a dense, heavy production style that ensures that the menacing garage specter of fellow Austin exports the Black Angels is never too far away.
In their words:
"Deep Space continues to search and explore the outer frontier of the universe with songs like "Lady Heroin" & "Motorcycle". The songs on "Evil Dreams" detail the conflict that transpires within the trip into a darkened mind." 
It starts with a bang, in a singularly terrifying fashion with the menacing, screeching guitars of "Evil Dreams", before the guitars take a backseat to the ominous bassline and distinctly Manzarekian keyboards of "Motorcycle". A fifteen minute epic of almost unbearably mounting tension, with frontman Robbie D Love channeling Jim Morrison's shamanistic, apocalyptic poet - it's pretty exhausting stuff, so it comes as a bit of a relief when side two (cassettes are where it's at now people, keep up!) lightens the load somewhat with "Inner Light" toning the guitars back to a ragged garage jangle, before closer "Lady Heroin" goes all Velvet Underground on us.
Lots to enjoy here for lovers of that distinctive Austin sound.

Buy the cassette, download or stream here:

Q & A with Dodson & Fogg's Chris Wade

Following up on last week's review of  Dodson & Fogg's new album "Sounds of Day & Night" (read the review here) I had a bit of a chat to Chris Wade about what it takes to release four albums in a year, and more...

"Sounds of Day & Night" seems to be going in a much more psychedelic direction. What's caused this? 

Well the psychedelic sound wasn't consciously done really. I've just got more confident and used to the home set up and also with all the instruments as well, so I can pick something up and add it in and it seems that these things combined can often give it all a bit of a dreamy sound. I always start a song the same way with a vocal and guitar and just see where it ends up. This album just seemed to develop into something more what people might call psychedelic.

I sense that you've got to the point where you're relying less on the sound of albums and bands that you love, and trying to do your own thing more. That you're more influenced by yourself than others now, if you prefer. Is this a conscious effort, or a natural evolution from spending so much time writing and recording in the last year? 

Again I don't think you can plan that kind of thing, but it might come more natural. I never purposely set out to recreate my favourite bands on purpose but must have done that by accident, and I think now maybe, like you say with writing and recording nearly constantly, I must have developed a way of writing a song, and hopefully my own style as well. I know that it is getting more fun to do, that's for sure.

Tell us a bit about what you see as the highlight tracks on "Sounds of Day & Night". 

I am really fond of the instrumental two part title track, I think that opens and closes the set nicely and I really enjoyed recording those songs, putting layers of sounds over each other and playing the flute and the guitar on the second part. I think they like maybe represent the new day and the night as the sun goes down and maybe the other songs are everything in between. I am really happy with it as a whole but my highlights are maybe Night Train, which I loved getting some keyboards on to. Also Hear it in the Morning Still is one I am proud of. But I am also happy with Lonely Little Bird and the more acousticy ones. The whole album kind of drifts around, like little short stories and scenarios, it follows characters and then it sort of buggers off to someone else. I like that element of it, so it almost seems like, dreaded phrase here, a "concept album." People have given me the total opposites as their stand out tracks so I like that it has a lot of mixed elements and might appeal to folkies, prog fans and anyone just interested in songs.

There's been mention of a American label planning on releasing your albums on vinyl - what can you tell us about this so far? 

Yeah I cant wait. I won't say too much in case it doesn't happen or if the floor boards crack now and I fall into the abyss and am never heard from again, but they are planning on releasing the first album on vinyl first and then hopefully the other two after that. It's a dream of mine to have my music on a record, so I am ridiculously excited about it. So is my dad actually, he'll be the first to get one, the sod!

Tell us a bit about the side project album "Moonlight Banquet", (which I somehow missed.) 

I didn't promote Moonlight Banquet at all because it was just a little side thing. There were instrumentals that didn't really fit the sound of Dodson and Fogg so I released them on my site. They were things I had on the side that I tweaked with and added some guitars and stuff.

So, including "Moonlight Banquet" you've released four albums in less than a year. Are the song ideas becoming more difficult to come by? Knowing your drive, I imagine you're already thinking about the next album. What have you got lined up next for us? 

Funnily enough it seems to be getting easier because I do it so much and there are quite a lot of ideas that I think are horrid so I never used them, I would say half of the ideas never turn into proper songs, so luckily I always have fresh ideas all the time and I am able to get the bad ones out and work on the good and interesting ones. For now at least. I come up with a tune in my head or a chord and then I often map it out in my head while I'm doing the pots or the hoovering or whatever, then rush into the office (sometimes my jamas fall down in the hurry) and get it down on the microphone before I forget it, then work on it after, or maybe right there and then. I'm lucky to be in the position to be able to record any time of the day as well. As for the next album, I have some half written ideas, a few full tracks ready to record and other ideas swimming around. I'll start recording it soon, and hopefully this time I will get Celia from Trees on board and maybe some others. But Sounds of Day and Night seems to be doing better than the other two and I think maybe the name is starting to seep out there a bit, so I've got to keep going and keep the interest up. I am really enjoying it, ridiculously so at the minute, so I can't wait to record some more music for next year!

13 Jul 2013

Introducing Elastic Sleep (Free Download)

Scouring my inbox the other morning as I attempted to reach a state that could be loosely termed 'awake', I found an e-mail from the fantastically named Ecstatic Sheep. Upon rubbing my eyes furiously, and focusing a little harder I ascertained that the band it was from was actually named Elastic Sleep - not a bad consolation prize namewise and fairly appropriate given the current state I was in.
I get a lot of music e-mailed through to me, with quality varying wildly from phenomenal to terrible (or terribly inappropriate to send to me anyway - I get so so so much Metal ).
This however was at the phenomenal end of the spectrum and absolutely 100% up my street.
A short two minute burst of intensely melodic shoegaze with just the right grit to beauty ratio.
This lot are gonna go places.

Free download and stream here :

11 Jul 2013

Mix CD Competition

We haven't had a competition for a while here, and this one's a little bit outside the square but if you love making mix CDs this could be right up your street.


# Put together a mix CD of your favorites tunes - lets keep it to ten tracks only (as I have to have time to listen to all of the entries to choose the winner).

# Send it to me at:

The Active Listener
Mix CD Comp
Att: Nathan Ford
15 Watson St
Nelson 7010
New Zealand

# Fancy artwork or packaging may be the deciding factor if I'm having trouble deciding between the two best entries.

# Make sure you include your name, e-mail and postal address.


# The winning entry will receive all of the mix CDs that have been entered (except your own entry). It could be 2 CDs, it could be 100 - who knows? If there aren't many entries I'll add a few other mystery bits and pieces to the prize pool.

# I'll keep your winning entry and upload it onto the Active Listener Mixcloud Page for all to hear.

Right - hop to it! Entries close August 22. Depending where you're sending from, post may take up to a couple of weeks to get to me, so please allow time for this! Whether this is a success or not depends entirely on you - looking forward to seeing how many entries turn up, and listening intently.

Keep in mind your target audience - a mix full of hip-hop and top 40 isn't likely to score well here, no matter how well it's compiled.
Let's prove that the art of the carefully crafted mix CD isn't dead!
Remember, the mixtape is an artform - an outlet for your musical sophistication.
Who will be crowned king (or indeed queen) of the mix CD?

10 Jul 2013

The Active Listener Sampler # 10 Out Now!

It's time for this month's sampler. More great sounds for you from all over the globe.

This month's cover is provided by Matt Talbot - check out his art at mattrobot.com

This month's sampler features the following gems:

1. Magic Arm - Warning Sign 04:17
2. Felipe Arcazas & Vintage Cucumber - Asa Vajda 03:28
3. Virta - Tales From the Deep Waters 04:32
4. Fuchsia - Girl From Kandahar 04:25
5. Naked Maja - VOID 05:41
6. Ummagma - Back To You 02:52
7. Children of Leir - Simulations 04:26
8. Dead Leaf Echo - Birth 04:18
9. Me & My Kites - Isis' Adventure (Extended Version) 04:20
10. The Wax Collection - Moon 03:11
11. The Beginner's Mynd - Hazy 03:28
12. Diamond Incarnation - Cloud Of Absence 04:11
13. Psychlops Eyepatch - As Haunted As A Thousand Theremins 03:48
14. White Sails - The Answer 04:09
15. Kiskin' Zhar - Цыганская Баба 02:29
16. The Ocular Audio Experiment - Pretty Girls 05:08
17. The Flying Eyes - Lay With Me 05:47

Download or stream here (any donations are welcome and helpful for site maintenance, but feel free to download for free)


Swedish perpetrators of some of the darkest psychedelic shoegaze and drone you're likely to ever hear, the Janitors inhabit a world founded by the likes of the Spacemen 3 and Loop, but twist and turn their roots into something far more sinister. That they manage to do so while serving up songs with hooks like "Do It Again", a skeletal boogie that would appeal to fans of Queens of the Stone Age, is admirable.
Only those with an interest in the heaviest of heavy psych need apply - this is not music for the faint of heart, but those with a love of evil drone and heavy garage clamor will be totally in their element.
Cardinal Fuzz here combines their "Head Honcho" and "Worker Drone Queen" E.Ps onto a double (white) LP with bonus tracks.
Get it here.

Sounding like the result of some unholy communion between Harvest Records and Flying Nun (appropriately enough as Warren claims to have been either born, or conceived in the Harvest Records carpark), Michael Warren is a madcap and melodically gifted songwriter with a very short attention span, and a knack for plundering everything from lo-fi to psychedelia to surf to Booker T & The M.Gs and beyond - Timeless D.I.Y music.
If you fancy the idea of the Clean fronted by Kevin Ayers you should check this out.
And every copy has a unique hand made cover made by Warren himself.
Get it here.
Listen :

"I love music, videogames and synthesizers." begins Gryzor 87's accompanying press release, and "Cyberpast" makes no attempt to hide this obsession, openly claiming to be a tribute to his favorite electronic musicians of the classic synth era. This works far beyond pastiche though, and often betters the material it's based on. Very careful attention to detail is only part of the reason for this success with Vangelis and Kitaro often evoked. Most importantly though it's a case of style AND substance, with as much effort put into writing decent tunes, as capturing period detail, with "The Unknown Love" trumping everything else here, sounding as it does like an outtake from "Oxygene" - and one that Jean Michel would have been mad to leave on the cutting room floor.
Get it here.

Definitely deserving of a longer review, but impossible to write one for as more than 2-3 minutes of listening will leave you with that painted onto the sofa feeling that only the best brownies offer. Signed to the wonderful Woodsist label ( home of Woods!), the Herbcraft people decamped to an 18th century New England barn with Mmoss's Doug Tuttle, where the distinctly trippy contents of this here LP were captured on vintage tape.
It's fabulous head music, with long, winding songs that start off with memorable eastern based riffs before heading off into the unknown in a fashion that evokes the most exploratory of Syd era Floyd at it's best.
Get it here.
Listen :

9 Jul 2013

Fuchsia - Tony Durant Interview

Following on from last week's review of the new Fuchsia album (their first in 41 years, read the review and stream the album here), I had a chat with Fuchsia mastermind Tony Durant, now based in Sydney about the past, the present and the future.

The original Fuchsia LP was released back in 1972. How did you feel about it at the time and looking back how do you feel about it now?

I think Fuchsia came out of the experimental stuff I had been doing with Louise, a very uncompromising Psych band in the late 60’s. I left the band (we remained/remain good friends) and went to University (Exeter) to have a break from music…It didn’t last . Louise were quite Gothic in some respects…my songs had titles like Rue Morgue and Asgard, which in retrospect is quite Spinal Tap ! University opened me to a whole new world of music and other influences. I started writing again, and found a couple of like minded lads in Greg (Mike Gregory) and Mick Day, and the original songs for Fuchsia were quite hard edged in a way ( Like Ring of Red Roses demo on the Mahagonny album) The original idea was to add string players and have, as it were, two bands, augmenting half the performance with strings.

I think youthful arrogance took over then. I determined to write stuff that had not been written before. Anything ‘familiar’ I would throw out. Naturally there were cadences which might have rung a few bells with some people, but generally speaking a big part of the structures/chords were fairly unusual. I’d use dischords , or would make up the chords sometimes. Take ‘The Nothing Song’, for example. We play that live now, and people are very amused by my opening dialogue, where I describe the song as being ‘very difficult’ and suggest if there are any Music Students in the room perhaps they can help! Difficult, not so much for us playing, but for the audience.This always gets a laugh . Normal song formats might go A, A, B, A, A, B, bridge/solo, A, B ,B , . end (A =verse, B=Chorus) Nothing Song follows more A, B, C, A, B, D, E, F, A, B , D, E, F, SOLO, A, B,C F, G, etc …!! !!! People maybe did struggle, and yet, people now really love that song. Have audiences progressed I wonder ?

I am not trained as a musician. I wrote all the string parts on a half track (single track) tape machine, listening to each part against the guitar chords. Maybe that’s why it sounds a bit unusual/odd. I remember well the feeling of sitting down with the string players (Maddy, Vanessa and Janet) and playing Gone with the Mouse or Nothing Song for the first time…sheer elation. A real buzz.

It was a very exciting moment to get the recording contract with Kingdom/Chrysalis. I thought I’s finally arrived and that the big time was upon me. We had been into a recording studio for a day, and had one gigs playing experience. Consequently the album was not easy to create. It was like walking along a musical tightrope, and only just staying on. We were at the limit of our abilities, and there were some scary moments when we nearly fell off ! But we got there. Then it all went pear shaped. The record company didn’t know what to do with it, ( where and in what genre could it belong? ) and after 6 months of tours promised then falling through, enough was enough.

When something ‘fails’ I think we tend to post mortem; look at the flaws and learn from it. I have said to people that as an artist you create, then you hack and chip at what you have done in the effort to better it. Sometimes you can lose sight of what’s good and what you were trying to achieve in the first place. Standing up too close. I think in seeking an explanation as to why this had not worked market wise , I lost sight of everything that was good about the record, and only saw what was bad. I moved on with my music career, and it was forgotten.  Certainly there was no regret or sense of bitterness about the project. I merely went on with my musical and family life, and couldn’t imagine all the wonderful adventures that lay ahead which continue to enrich and excite. How lucky am I?

In the intervening years I have learnt a lot, probably how to live better with my creativity and myself , which we all do as we grow older. When I became aware the album had become this cult item, I was absolutely stunned. …it was beyond belief. That this little record had gone off on it’s own, making its own way in life, finding new friends , who I realize hold it very dear. And people were saying such nice things! I owe all this to Gianpaolo Binelli (Nightwings) who found me here in Australia and told me the news. I was able to go back and re master/remedy a few minor problems, but very carefully and subtley. ( I hate old albums that have been really messed with. Like re painting an old master…well, rather a minor master!) I have learnt to develop something of an immunity to it’s flaws, and see something of the beauty that is there. It is part of an era; an innocence is there not often seen today. I play a few of the songs, but actually performing them now for the first time, as we only ever played ‘live’ once. Yes, people out there, and my friends in the band, seem to love these strange old songs.

I feel that the rediscovery and re-release of this old record has opened the door to me writing music again, and actually playing it ‘live’, which was a major step for me.

2005 saw the release of "Fuchsia, Mahagonny & Other Gems" a collection early demos, plus tracks from a mid seventies theatrical project. Were there any plans (or hopes) for a second "proper" Fuchsia at the time these were recorded? 

No ! I just thought I wanted to get this music out there, and maybe someone could listen to it, and enjoy it. (I have a great fondness for the Mahagonny songs. ) However, I did start to write again. Very slowly and hesitantly. Colin and Cam Cairnes, Melbourne film makers, found the Fuchsia album in Melbourne, loved it, and decided to do a doco on the story. They did a very nice job, coming up here and cementing a lasting friendship. They were very encouraging about early versions of new songs as they evolved.

Fast-forward to 2013, and 41 years after the original album you've released "Fuchsia 2 From Psychedelia to a Distant Place." It's a long time between albums. Why now? What led up to "Fuchsia 2'? 

Fuchsia 1 was really an unfinished project. A few commentators said what a pity it was, having heard where the band was going with the later demos on the Mahagonny/Gems album, that the music never grew to maturity. John O’Regan, a well respected UK journalist wrote a fabulous article for Mojo magazine ( “Burried Treasure”) on the first album when it was re-released. I found even more encouragement here to continue.

The song writing continued, and I became more attached to the process down in my little studio, as the songs continued to evolve.

For me songs don’t start with “hey, I have this idea for a song about ‘x’ or ‘y’.” For me it starts with a chord sequence, musical phrases, nonsense lyrics, not really about anything but scanning well. It seems with me the lyric ideas actually seem to form from somewhere back in the sub conscious, and emerge without you controlling what’s going on. Then the conscious mind starts to come in and they develop. So the songs seem to develop from out of an emotion/mood that is in the music. The conscious mind makes sense of and develops the idea that the subconscious mind puts up. The songs have quite a depth to them, I think. There’s a lot going on, hopefully without being pretentious.

In terms of the evolution of the Fuchsia II album, having recorded a few roughs, I thought to put out a little EP; drum machine, synth strings all that sort of thing. The idea of ever fronting a band ???.What ?? ..come on !! Never in a million years did I think in a year or so I’d be doing that. It’s amazing what people around you can help you achieve. I tried real strings and it sounded great. I’d stop music teachers in the street outside my house, loading violins or cellos into cars, and ask them if they were interested ! My talented cousin Arun Luthra in New York helped me write out a few parts for string players to read. Just like back in the early 70’s, it sounded great ! Then I thought, why not real drums? I’d done it before with jingles I’d recorded and it worked. So Lloyd came in, and a good friend helped with more studio time. I was encouraged greatly to turn up the vocals, as I still had problems listening to myself. A good remix and mastering at Don Bartley’s studio, and there was an album I felt very proud of.

So it’s been a long evolution, as the songs themselves grew from scraps, and every stage built on the former, as I slowly started to see the qualities emerging at each stage of the process.

You've come a long way musically since 1972. How do you see "Fuchsia 2" in relation to the original Fuchsia LP? 

It is definitely a progression. From the unfinished business of the first album…..The new album is probably not as experimental. It is I’m sure more accessible, with song ideas being more real/current/tangible; less whimsical. It would have to be less experimental, when so much has happened in music in the 40 years since Fuchsia’s first incarnation.
I have done a lot of musical things in the intervening years. I learned a huge amount about vocals and backing vocals in record production, jingle/film music creation. I play a little better now! I have a far greater understanding of how the different instruments can work together. Consequently Fuchsia II is to my mind a better album than the first, in terms of what it achieves musically and song wise. However, as one critic pointed out, it may be not as adventurous, but hell, I was 20 then !!

"Fuchsia 2" has been receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews. How do you feel about it? Do you feel like the critics are getting what you're trying to do? 

The reviews have been so amazing . I just want to keep re-reading them!! To have people who listen to so much music come down so strongly in the new album’s favour is so gratifying. They really get it . They understand the songs. This could have been a disaster… “Man’s follow up of cult classic 40 years on…Should have quit while on top”, I can see it now ! Wow, one guy described the album as a work of art. Thanks buddy! Fuchsia 1 we got one review only in Melody Maker..a good one ,but saying how much they looked forward to the follow up to see where this band would go. Hell, it sure was a long trime coming !… I wonder if the reviewer who wrote that in 1971, Chris Welch, is still alive ?

Can you tell us a little about the lineage of these songs? Have you been carrying them around for years, or are they relatively new? 

I described earlier how the songs seem to evolve from music /chord sequences, melodies, nonsense lyric ideas/scanning, coming from the subconscious ( like abstract painting slowly taking on form) then the conscious mind takes over the lyrics and gets busy directing and developing them into a coherent idea. The songs came from strange places. For example, the string motif for Melancholy Road was from a piece of film music I wrote for a lad mowing a lawn on a hot day! It sounded so…’melancholy’, and fitted in well with the idea for the song. ‘I’ll Remember her Face‘ was recorded for a film years ago, and for the movie only required 2 verses. (John Tams sang it, the Warhorse songwriter and Albion Band legend) I finally finished a middle section and a last verse recently. Rainbow Song, as its now called, is a very a revamped oldie. The rest are new, all written within the last 4 years.

Piper at the Gates , like Gone with the mouse on the first album is a song about the decline of civilisations. (Now that is a broad and adventurous topic for a pop song!) There’s this darkness in the music…and the song: snapshots of the blindness in living within a failing civilization .

The original Fuchsia LP has amassed a legion of die hard fans since it's original release in 1972. One of these fans - David Svedmyr even named his band (Me & My Kites) after one of your songs. You've collaborated on a song with Me & My Kites for a forthcoming Fruits de Mer 7". Tell us a little about this. 

So many people have contacted me over the years, telling me of how Fuchsia 1 came into their lives. Very touching stories. David contacted me from Sweden, saying an older musical colleague had passed the link on to him. He and many of his friends been in love with the album for a few years! He said he was going to record ‘The band’, an old demo of mine. He then got me to sing on it. They have done their version of it, but still quite like the original. He’s invited me over next year to tour Fuchsia II, with them supporting. It could be amazing. They are lovely people, and so late 60’s … I mean that in the nicest way! The reborn Woodstock generation. They have their own album, which is a very unusual record well into the psych genre. They love that period. I have seen these guys doing cover versions of early Pink Floyd stuff, perfectly.

You're based in Australia now, and you're playing the new album live there. Is your live band the same band who worked on the album with you? And any plans to tour outside of Australia? 

The live band has only Lloyd Ghi ( drums) who played on the album. The album was recorded here in my little studio in Sydney. (apart from drums) I did all guitars/percussion. String players came and went, reading the mainly illegible charts I provided ( I am getting better now courtesy of the Sibelius programme !) 2 of the guys are old friends from Perth days, who love to play, and have been great in their support of the project. We have been doing a few gigs, but despite the amazing reviews, it’s a hard process. We need a good publicist which I am working on.
Touring outside Australia? Yes please! Hopefully with Me and My Kites , starting in Sweden next year.

Kosmischer Läufer "Volume 1 – The Secret Cosmic Music Of The East German Olympic Program 1972-83" Review

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

"For the first time since it was recorded in East Berlin over 30 years ago the music of Martin Zeichnete can finally be heard. A disciple of the Kosmische Muzik of the likes of Kraftwerk, Can and Neu! that was drifting across the Wall from the West, Martin's idea of using the motorik, hypnotic beat of krautrock in the training of athletes was taken and exploited by the DDRs Olympic Committee."

A great story, and the fact that Martin Zeichnete (Kosmischer Läufer / "Cosmic Runner")  is actually two Scottish gentlemen from the here and now with a penchant for vintage synthesizers doesn't take the shine off what at the end of the day is a damn fine piece of kosmiche musik.
Sure, every man and his dog is adding a motorik beat to their musik, sorry, music, these days (to the point where I never want to type the word again), but Kosmischer Läufer go one step further. They don't sound like they're merely influenced by the likes of Neu and Kraftwerk. You'd swear that between leaving Kraftwerk and forming Neu, Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother spent a couple of days in the studio and committed this to tape. We all love a fairy tale, but without music that sounds this authentic there's no way so many of us would have fallen for this one.
So musically you know what to expect - it kinda reminds me of the first Neu album without the discordant, challenging,  noisy bits, and with a heap more synths. How can that be a bad thing?
Bookended by two short pieces (3 minute warm-up and warm-down pieces), the three longer pieces are memorable additions to the kosmische canon that all but the most unprogressive will welcome with open arms.
I don't know whether it's a psychological symptom of the introductory story that makes this material sound so instantly familiar, but "Die lange Gerade" and "Sandtrommel" in particular have entrenched themselves in my psyche to the point where if I was to hear one in isolation, I'd probably swear on my life that it was from the seventies and that I'd been listening to it for years.

There's a Kickstarter campaign running right now to get this pressed on vinyl - visit here to find out more or pledge. - I've made my pledge.

Download or stream here:

8 Jul 2013


Reviewed / Interviewed by Nathan Ford

The Beginner's Mynd are an exciting new DC three piece who use strictly vintage analogue gear to capture songs that fully embrace the more melodic end of the sixties psychedelic pop spectrum.
"Hazy" combines a sparkling Rickenbacker intro that sounds like McGuinn copping the Beatles, with some charming Farfisa. There's a magic moment when you're sure you know what's coming next, but the guitars unexpectedly drop out to be replaced with what sounds like a wobbly mellotron, creating an instantaneous pastoral calm.
"Time Dilation" is a more subdued beast with plenty of jangle, a general air of melancholy, and beautifully rendered backwards guitars - like a cross between "I'm Only Sleeping" and "Rain".
A hugely promising debut, and apparently the follow-up single is recorded and ready to go too.

Download or stream it here:

I had a quick chat with Dan McNabb from The Beginner's Mynd's to see what makes them tick:

There's not much info out there about who you guys are - introduce us briefly to the Beginner's Mynd.

Sure. I'm Dan McNabb. I write the songs, sing, and played the guitars and bass on the recordings. Larry Ferguson plays the drums, and Carrie Ferguson plays keyboards. The Beginner's Mynd had previously been the title of a home demo project I wrote and recorded under. A few months ago we all got together and talked about starting something up. I'd been writing a lot of new stuff, Larry and Carrie had some time, and so the plan of getting the The Beginner's Mynd going as a group was hatched.

You've got a great vintage sound - how much of that is intentional, and how much comes down to the gear you use?

Thanks - The tones on the recordings were very intentional, and the vintage instruments have a lot to do with them being at least evocative of an era. We also had the goal of doing everything analog to tape, with no computer involvement. While a particular sound is the obvious end goal, working with the limitations of the instruments and within the confines of that process has an effect on the performances too. There's a different energy when someone presses record on a tape machine; it springs to life with a "clunk", and then you need to deliver. I think the pressure helps. At times it can be a double-edged sword, but I think we rose to the challenge and are happy with the results.

Who are your main influences?

I have to take the opportunity to cite the Dukes of Stratosphear for being a massive philosophical influence. 25 O'Clock can be put right next to any of my favorite 60's psych records, and the fact that they did it using period recording techniques with all 60s vintage instruments in the 1980's (when I doubt it was fashionable or seemingly worthwhile to do so) speaks to the dedication of how far they went for the sake of authenticity and tone. So - to Sir John Johns, The Red Curtian, Lord Cornelius Plum, E.I.E.I. Owen, and John Leckie - thank you.

Who's on the scene now that you enjoy?

I hesitate to name names for fear of leaving people out, but in the last few days The Paperhead, The Higher State, Jacco Gardner, The Resonars, New Electric Ride, and Morgan Delt have spun on one playback device or another. It seems like I find out about a great new band every day that I could add to the list. These are exciting times.

What's the response been like to the debut single?

The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

You've got a master plan (I believe) to release digital singles, then release them as an album? Tell us a bit about this.

We listen to and collect records, so it's important to us that these songs get pressed to vinyl. At some point in the future everything online will be compiled and pressed. We don't have plans for this as of yet, but I'd say it's likely we'll put everyting out on an EP sooner than later.

Follow the Beginner's Mynd on Facebook here.