8 Sept 2014

Reviews: Matchess, Simones, The Lords of Thyme

Reviews by Nathan Ford

Matchess is the solo persona of Verma's Whitney Johnson. Originally released on cassette early last year, and now on vinyl from Trouble in Mind Records, "Seraphastra" sees Johnson put Verma's Krauty space rock to one side in favour of spooky Radiophonic drones which are as bewitching as they are terrifying.
Think White Noise's "An Electric Storm" or Ruth White's "Flowers of Evil" for a precedent, but Whitney takes things much further in both directions, accentuating the pop smarts hidden in the former, and adding layers of squalling guitars amidst the vintage synthesizer drones to create something with much more disquiet than the latter. You can stream the whole thing here, or grab the vinyl from here.

Those who have dug real deep down the rabbit hole may have come across Al Simones before. He self-released a number of  now extremely collectable albums in the nineties, and Fruits de Mer are giving him a second chance at finding an adoring public with an archive 7" release featuring "Majic Ship" and "Seize The Moment". The time is certainly far more ripe now than it would have been when these were originally recorded, with variations on his brand of fuzz drenched psychedelic jangle now flirting with the mainstream. He's the missing link in home recorded psychedelia between McKay and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and on the evidence of "Majic Ship" he may be better than either of them. Pre-order here - Fruits de Mers releases are pretty limited and sell out super quick.

The Lords of Thyme follow-up their extremely promising 7" debut on Sunstone with a four track CD which consolidates the strengths of the "Proud Maisre" single, and reveals a few new ones. Split evenly between startling interpretations of traditional material and intriguing originals, this self titled E.P is a nicely varied package. Stand out "The Cutty Wren" continues to refine the Pentangle style folk-jazz of "Proud Maisre", while "Fare Thee Well" classes up the joint with a T-Bone Burnett style production job, punctuated by some gorgeously swelling steel guitar. "English Rain" on the other hand is less genre-bound, and on a pretty grand scale, recalling the sprawling Albion wonder of Dexys' "Don't Stand Me Down".

Available soon from Sunstone Records - message them here to pre-order.

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