Sunday, 26 March 2017

COZMIC CORRIDORS - COZMIC CORRIDORS (Mental Experience LP, CD). REQUIEM - FOR A WORLD AFTER (Mental Experience LP, CD).

From the vaults, a couple of Krautrock curios that have been saved from obscurity by the cosmic crate diggers at Guerssen Records and released on their Mental Experience imprint.

As part of Mental Experience’s plan to re-issue the entire Pyramid Records back catalogue (see our review of Cologne Curiosities – The Unknown Krautrock Underground 1972 – 1976 for a bit more back story on this most enigmatic of German underground labels) the self titled Cozmic Corridors LP that originally surfaced sometime around the mid 90s as an ultra-limited handmade edition, (any original copies are lost forever in the mist of time), gets a long overdue re-release, with master tape sound and packaged with an insert with detailed liner notes by Krautrock brainbox Alan Freeman (Ultima Thule/The Crack In The Cosmic Egg). Featuring Mythos drummer Hans-Jürgen Pütz on percussion & effects, alongside synth/keyboard freak Alex Meyer, poet/vocalist Pauline Fund and mysterious guitarist Peter Förster, the album was recorded circa 1972-73 in Cologne by Toby “The Mad Twiddler” Robinson for his Pyramid label and is one of the more idiosyncratic Kraut/Kosmische albums of the era. More Rainbow In Curved Air than Journey Through A Burning Brain the Cozmic Corridors album is a record of tripped out ambient soundscapes, dark atmosphere, drones, plenty of MiniMoog, gothic Hammond organ, Rhodes, electric & 12-string acoustic guitars, ritual chants, effects and a vibe that has been described as “…haunting and seductive, recalling the atmospheric minimalism of Brian Eno and conjuring up images of celestial angels drifting like ribbons of smoke through the darkness of deep space…”.

Beautifully sparse and minimal, Cozmic Corridors has more in common with Terry Riley than the pulsing soundscapes of, say, Tangerine Dream……..with a droning organ motif underpinning a Moog improvisation ‘The Summit’ is a hypnotic, gothic trance out that is more avant-garde NYC circa 66 than early 70s West Germany. Much of the music on this record could be described as “Dark Ambient” with echoes of the early records from Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel and Popol Vuh, it’s an album that is totally ahead of it’s time in regards to the evolution of ambient music. Eno get lots of credit for “inventing” ambient music with albums such as Music For Airports, however the Krautrock forefathers were making inventive, warped “chill out” music (for the want of a better description) way before that. With meditative synth drones and soundscapes that sound almost sacred in places tracks such as the evocative ‘Niemand Versteht’ and totally epic drone out of ‘Daruber’ are near mystical journeys into an alternative side of Cosmic music very rarely heard. This may not be everybody’s idea of what Krautrock is but Cozmic Corridors is a absolute gem of a record and well worth your time.

A more “conventional” sounding Krautrock/Prog Rock LP is For A World After by Requiem which is a mix of darkly ambient Progressive Rock and Berlin-School sounds (Tangerine Dream etc.). This is the first ever reissue of this obscure electronic Kraut album. Originally released in Germany in 1981 as a private pressing of a 1000 copies on the tiny Daviton label, For A World After is a conceptual album which “tells the story of a world annihilation through nuclear war” (the threat of nuclear war was a very big deal in the early 80s, more so in Germany………...ask yer Dads kidz!) and was deeply influenced/inspired by the European rock and electronic scenes of the time (Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Jean Michel Jarre, Emerson Lake & Palmer, etc.). It’s a big sounding record that is full of delayed psychedelic electric guitar, effects, waves of analog keyboards and cosmic atmosphere………….a very 1980s record, crisp and clean but a little soulless, lacking the warmth of the Cozmic Corridors album with a stark, cold drum machine driving the tracks forward and loads of horrible, cheesy 80s pre-programmed synth sounds. It’s not a bad record but it really hasn’t aged very well…….. at best it’s a mix of post Force Majeure T.D. with some interesting Floydian guitar flourishes however there are far too many bland tracks of the kind of uninspiring 80s New Age Electronica that used to be on sale at crystal shops and healing centres. When bands like Kraftwerk were redefining the sonic landscape for the 80s and 90s at the same time this LP was being recorded, For A World After sounds like a record out of time, however it’s an interesting curio that fans of 80s Prog Rock and more mainstream stuff like Vangelis and Jean Michel Jarre may like quite big chunks of. You can stream the album at the Guerssen Bandcamp site here.....................
https://guerssenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/for-a-world-after and make your mind up about this yourself.

Both albums are out NOW on LP and CD and available from the more out there record stores………….or directly from either the Guerssen Records on line store or their Bandcamp page. For the USA both records are available via Forced Exposure.




Saturday, 25 March 2017

MYTHIC SUNSHIP - LAND BETWEEN RIVERS (El Paraiso Records LP, CD).

From Copenhagen’s deep Psychedelic Underground comes a new record from heavy Psych Stoners, Mythic Sunship. On their second album on El Paraiso, the Copenhagen quartet drive even thicker grooves into their niche of extended cave-man fuzz voyages with three epic cuts of extra heavy, smoked out, sprawled out stuff……………break out the bong People and strap in for a wild ride to “out there” and back.

Fuzzed up and freaked out, Mythic Sunship cut a sharp edge into their 10 minutes plus sagas, often churning out tracks with seemingly endless amounts of energy. It’s all here: wild bursts of fuzzy and echo-perplexed guitars, thick Sabbath-esque basslines, and a galloping myriad of drums tossing and turning like a wild beast. As deep and dense as the most opaque dope haze, Land Between Rivers opens with the sprawling 15 minute Kosmik jam ‘Nishapur’ which slowly grinds through the gears at a glacial pace before exploding into shards of swooping and twisting guitars sending sparks flying skywards. With it’s killer riff and interlocking guitars, ‘High Tide’ is a “Dead Head” friendly, West Coast, QMS in space workout………….guitars sparkle and swirl while the rhythm section hold down the bottom end as tight as you like adding fuel to an endless pyre of blazed-out dual fuzz guitar action. It’s a tune that pushes right to the edge, stares into the void but knows when to pull back before it collapses into itself……..it’s 13 minutes of blissed-out Heavy Psych riff-worshipping that mixes together the freeform jamming of the late 60s with the controlled aggression of modern Psych and it’s a total trip. The albums vapor trail is left by the relatively short (only 6 minutes in length) but stoned immaculate ‘Silt’ bringing the album to a end in a hail of feedback and noise. What Mythic Sunship deliver in raw, untamed energy, is kept in place by their deeply grounded tone, Land Between Rivers was captured in a wooden cabin in the north of Sealand, Denmark, where the band secluded themselves and drove deep, making their release as akin to earthy doom as to spaced-out krautrock - making this feel like the “Götterdämmerung of Scandinavian heavy psych”.

Due for release on 29/04/2017, Land Between Rivers is available to pre-order from the El Paraiso shop here…………………….



Sunday, 19 March 2017

MARK & THE CLOUDS - CUMULUS (Mega Dodo LP, CD, 2 x CD, D/L).

Mark & The Clouds are another of the fantastic British Neo-Psych bands that are totally seeped in the sounds of the UK 60s Beat/Psychedelic scene ………….. If there was ever a band that was a perfect fit for the psychedelically inclined label Mega Dodo, then this band is it. Cumulus, the band’s second album for Mega Dodo, is a total trip that has been influenced by classic British Psych/Beat groups such as The Beatles, The Small Faces and the Kinks etc…..you would spend a lot of time trying to find anything stunningly original here, but that’s not the point………the album is a blend of timeless, catchy and powerful Psych Pop that 60s RetroHeads will really dig.

Evoking sweaty nights at the Marquee circa 1966 and the more bucolic psychedelia of the following year, Cumulus sees Mark & The Clouds treading the same path as the classic 60s bands……………Brutal, maximum R&B/Freakbeat morphing into more trippy tunes as the band mix up Pretty Things rave ups with more gentle Beatle-esque jangle. The stand out tracks are the Beatles Revolver era influenced ‘On Her Bike’ and ‘Another Grey Morning’ and the harder R&B influenced ‘You’re So Cold’ and ‘Baby, You’re Just A Liar’…………………..it’s a album of great 60s influenced songs with both bite and subtlety from London’s premier Psych revivalists. Well worth a listen.

Out now on Mega Dodo records, Cumulus is available on limited edition LP, CD (with bonus tracks) and 2 x CD with a bonus disc of Mark & The Clouds set at last years Games For May festival at the Half Moon in Putney. Get your copy direct from the Mega Dodo webstore or their Bandcamp page here…………………………


Saturday, 18 March 2017

THE BLACK ANGELS - DEATH SONG (Partisan Records 2 x LP, CD, D/L).

Arguably the most important Neo-Psych band of this decade, The Black Angels return with their first full-length release in four years and their debut for Partisan Records. After a short hiatus, the prime-movers behind the world renowned Levitation Festival are back with a brand new album, Death Song, who’s title acknowledges one of the band’s early influences and from where they took their name…….. ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ from the first Velvet’s LP. Death Song is an 11-track collection of new songs that offers a sharply honed elaboration on their signature sound…….menacing fuzz guitar and cutting wordplay, steeped in a murky hallucinatory dream. Perfectly comfortable with who they are, The Black Angels feel no need to radically alter their sound to chase a bigger audience and the new album is a natural successor to the Indigo Meadow album from 2013 and the Clear Lake Forest EP from a year later, with a more expansive sound evolving organically. Recorded between Seattle and Austin, ‘Death Song’ features production from Phil Eck (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins) and is a real tilt at crossing over from being a cult band to more mainstream success without sacrificing any of the elements that made The Black Angels such a great band in the first place.

Written and recorded in large part during the recent U.S. election cycle, the music on Death Song serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease. ‘Currency’, a strong contender for the heaviest song the band has ever put to wax, meditates on the governing role the monetary system plays in our lives, while slow-building Psychedelic earworm ‘Half Believing’ questions the nature and confusing realities of devotion. Elsewhere, there is the obligatory nod to the band’s Austin Psych forefathers, the mighty 13th Floor Elevators, on ‘I’d Kill For Her’ (c’mon, it’s a Black Angels album……it’s expected!!), fuzzed up Psychedelic swirl outs ( ‘Comanche Moon’, ‘Hunt Me Down’ and the mind melting ‘Grab As Much (As You Can)’), the twisted disco of ‘Medicine’ and pulsing motrik grooves of the tripped out ‘I Dreamt’ and ‘Death March’. Closing with lysegic reverie of ‘Life Song’, the new Black Angels album is a total triumph from the moment the needle is dropped on track one, side one until it hits the run out grooves on the flip. Possibly the band’s best album to date and the one to suck the Indie Kids and Alt-Rock Dads into The Black Angels weird and wonderful Psychedelic Universe.

Due for release on the 21st of April, the album will be available on 2 x vinyl LP and CD and is available to pre-order now either from the Partisan Records store or direct from the band at http://theblackangels.com/ where the album is available in various bundles with a ton of other band merch. Check it out People.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

THE GREEK THEATRE - BROKEN CIRCLE (Sugerbush Records LP, D/L).

Broken Circle is the second and long awaited-album by Sweden’s premier West Coast Psych act The Greek Theatre. The first album, Lost Out At Sea, was a gem of an LP and took many people by surprise such is its quality. This brand new album is the sequel of sorts but goes much deeper into full-on Psychedelia yet retains…….and even improves on…….their excellent songwriting from the first album. Sounding like a long lost recording from the vaults, Broken Circle evokes the hazy daze of Stillwater, Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape and Love, with nine tracks of shimmering, sunkissed Psychedelia, this is one of the most beautifully mellow albums we have heard for quite a while……..we doubt if you will hear anything more tripped out and blessed this year.

While a lot of modern Psych bands adhere to trance like Floydian Space Rock, it is a rare thing to find an album of song based Psychedelia, which is what this album gives you………..and then some. The Greek Theatre channel the golden vibes of S.F circa 67/68 to create a mini masterpiece of grade A quality. The absolutely gorgeous ‘Fat Apple (At About Noon)’ which opens the album is a deep, rich track that evokes the swirling pop smarts of the Holy Mackerel blended with the laconic West Coast vibes of the early line up of the Steve Miller Band. The Greek Theatre add to their sonic palette West Coast Acid Folk and classic 60s Folk Rock troubadour elements with the beautifully evocative ‘Still Lost At Sea’ and the impressive ‘Stray Dog Blues’. There is a delicate gossamar fragility about The Greek Theatre’s songs which at times is heartbreaking and at others completely life affirming…….there is certainly echoes of Nick Drake at his best here. The album’s title track is The Free Design jamming with Airplane in a liquid light swirl out down at the Matrix while ‘Kings Of Old’ shows off the band’s West Coast Psychedelic Rock influences with six minutes of spiraling Acid Rock guitars as The Greek Theatre party like it’s 1969.The Greek Theatre’s “sound” may not be totally original, but they have skillfully pulled together all of their impeccable influences in order to record a record that is quite simply spellbinding. Closing the album is The Greek Theatre’s very own “Teenage Symphony To God”……’Now Is The Time’ is a distant relative to Forever Changes beautifully constructed with the complexity of Smile era Beach Boys……………totally stunning. Broken Circle is the first album of 2017 to totally blow our minds. Seriously recommended!!!!!!.

Broken Circle is out now on vinyl via Sugarbush records……………be quick getting your hands on this record as it is limited to a run of only 300 copies. You can buy the download/stream it to find out how fucking great this record is for yourself from The Greek Theatre’s Bandcamp page here…………………… https://thegreektheatre1.bandcamp.com/album/broken-circle


SONIC JESUS - GRACE (Fuzz Club Records deluxe LP, LP, CD, DL).

Strange things are happening People………….the Psychedelic Gothik 80s are back…….in full force. Channelling the proto-Goth and dark psychedelia of the decade for their enthralling second LP, Grace, shows Sonic Jesus take on an insatiable new form, ditching their industrial and hypnotic psych-rock for an expansive synth-driven Post-Punk sound that falls somewhere between Interpol, Joy Division and Cold Cave. In keeping with the more recent releases from Fuzz Club, the new Sonic Jesus LP takes the 80s Psych/Goth Rock model of low slung rumbling bass and thunderous drums underpinning dense guitars and sweeping synths, retooling the sound for a modern Psych Rock audience. There’s still the hypnotic Sonic Jesus darkness ebbing beneath the noise but these new tracks show the band reverberating around a new-found pop sensibility. Don’t be fooled though, this is no bubblegum pop; it is dark, complex, introspective and often heart-breaking. Using brooding synths not too dissimilar from Marty Rev’s Clouds of Glory, Grace is an album that truly gets under your skin.

Opening with the totally euphoric ‘I’m In Grace’, Sonic Jesus have fully embraced the richness of massive sounding 80s/90s widescreen production………..melodically it is utterly anthemic, yet Tiziano Veronese’s vocals sound as if he is being crushed by the weight of the world. This is a striking juxtaposition that continues throughout the album. ‘No Hope’ is propelled deep rumbling bass; the chorus is a majestic crescendo driven by euphoric synths. Tiziano's vocals are drowning amongst a dark ethereal haze, distorted and adding to the mystery and depth of this release. ’No Way’ has an 80s electro feel; it's utterly euphoric, soaring with clipped wings whilst ’Space Heels’ is seeped in a fragile melancholy. It’s clear Sonic Jesus have embraced pop with open arms but they’ve done it on their own terms – the edge, drone and passion are still pumping through its veins. Fans of the Sisters Of Mercy are going to love this record………..it’s dark and brooding while also being euphoric and uplifting, it’s Floodland for a new generation of outsiders with a soul. Maybe not one for the Psych Rock purists, however Sonic Jesus are pushing at boundaries of the genre and have created a epic record that transcends mere labels and defies expectations.

Grace is out NOW on Fuzz Club Records and is available on deluxe vinyl, standard vinyl and CD……………..Deluxe vinyl comes on 180g ultra clear vinyl with a tip-on gatefold sleeve limited to 300 copies (only 250 available online). Standard vinyl comes on 180g white vinyl limited to 700 copies. Available from the Fuzz Club online shop and all the best record stores…………………….the digital download is available to buy from the label’s Bandcamp page here…… https://fuzzclub.bandcamp.com/album/grace where you can also stream the album. 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

HEAT EXCHANGE - REMINISCENCE (Out-Sider Records LP, CD, D/L).

From those dedicated crate diggers and archive explorers, the musical archaeologists at the Catalonia based reissue record label group Guerssen Records comes an album of really great Post-Psychedelic heavy Prog and hard Rock from little known Canadian outfit Heat Exchange. Influenced by the early 70s British Progressive bands Heat Exchange played a blend of jazzy Prog Rock and Bluesy Hard Rock that was popular in the Rock Clubs and University venues around the UK at the time. Heat Exchange had the chops and a whole bunch of well constructed songs with powerful vocals, sax, flute, wah- wah, organ and a seriously solid rhythm section that bring to mind the Island/Vertigo/Harvest etc. bands such as King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Samurai, Human Beast, Deep Purple, If, Colosseum and Blodwyn Pig. During their brief existence Heat Exchange recorded an album of which only four tracks were released as singles for the legendary Yorkville label…………..however for the first time ever the complete Heat Exchange studio recordings, including their 45s plus the previously unreleased recordings they did for their never released LP in 1972 are collected together, remastered from original reel-to-reel tapes and 45s and have been newly released by the Guerssen imprint Out-Sider Records complete with detailed liner notes and photos, including an introduction by Rich Sheppard (After The Sabbath). 

For fans of classic 70s Progressive Rock, Guerssen have unearthed a rough diamond………….although Heat Exchange would not have won any points for originality, Reminiscence is a solid, absorbing Post-Psych/Prog Rock album and there is lots to love here. We think that the technical term is “all over the place” as Heat Exchange pull in influences from the whole early 70s Prog Rock spectrum……….The opening track ‘For Those Who Listen’ is a Folk/Prog Arthurian romp with flute and harpsichord, while ‘Inferno’ and ‘Philosophy’ are heavy on the Hammond hard rock squalls. There is FM Radio rock (‘Scorpio Lady’) and far out Psychedelic Jazz (‘Scat’) all mixed together in Heat Exchange’s strange brew. The 10 minute closing track ‘Four To Open The Door’ is a tripped out Psych Rock wig out which twists and turns around a central flute riff and gives the band the chance to jam………..it’s Jethro Tull on hard drugs. Elsewhere there are some really cool, accessible tunes………. ‘Stopwatch’ is a lost Prog classic with piano, sax and guitar combining beautifully and ‘She Made Me All Alone’ is a sax driven heavy Blues has the feel of Traffic when they rocked out. This gem is one to check out for all you classic 60s/70s ProgHeads, not arf!!!!!.

Out NOW on Out-Sider Records, Reminiscence by Heat Exchange is available on vinyl and CD from all groovy record stores, the Guerssen on-line store and the Guerssen Bandcamp page here.......................
https://guerssenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/reminiscence where you can also buy the download.