Monday, 29 May 2017

FARFLUNG - UNWOUND CELLULOID FROWN EP (Heavy Psych Sounds LP, CD, D/L).

New from Heavy Psych Sounds, a stunning return to form from L.A. Space Rockers Farflung……..“Imagine, if the bastard child of Amon Düül II and Hawkwind arose from the ashes of America, stark and glimmering, bathed in the energetic glow of the Stooges”……….Following the lumpen heavy Stoner Rock of the disappointing 5 (which included an ill-conceived cover of Human League’s ‘Being Boiled’), the Unwound Celluloid Frown EP evokes the early Farflung albums of swirling, Hawkwind influenced Space Rock such as A Wound In Eternity and 25,0000 Ft Per Second. Mixing gargantuan riffs with more trippy, atmospheric passages, like fellow US psychonauts White Manna, Farflung have taken inspiration from classic early 70s European Space Rock/Kosmische Musik and added a million volts worth of pure Detroit proto-Punk energy to create a new record that is like a pimped, supercharged nuclear powered Star Cruiser heading deep into uncharted space on a full pelt wild ride to the furthest corners of the universe………….Fasten your safety belts, engage your breathing apparatus, it’s a trip and there aint no coming back.

In space, no one can hear you scream………Unwound Celluloid Frown reaches maximum velocity immediately, ‘ You Will Kill For Me’ rips a hole in the cosmos with a massive riff and spiraling synths sounding like Black Flag on acid. The EP twists and turns through 33 minutes of lysergic grooves and slamming riffs, alternating from dark and hypnotic tracks like ‘We Wish For Wounds’ and Axis Mundi to the squalling Space Rock of ‘Silver Ghosts With Crystal Spoons and the holy union of Hawkwind and Neu! On the throbbing title track. After, what we thought, was a huge let down, Farflug have followed 5 with a thrilling new EP of premium Space Rock that ranks among their best releases.

Out NOW on Heavy Psych Sounds, the Unwound Celluloid Frown EP is available on limited edition blue vinyl, regular black vinyl, CD and as a download from the label web store and Bandcamp site here………………
https://heavypsychsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com/album/farflung-unwound-cellular-frown where you can also stream the EP. Also available from the usual on line outlets and your local furry freek vinyl store.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

SLOWDIVE - SLOWDIVE (Dead Oceans LP, CD, Cassette, D/L).

There is always a concern with “iconic” bands reforming and after, no doubt lucratively, returning to their greatest moments deciding to record new material…………..the results aint always pretty. On the odd occasion it works, the chemistry and magic that originally made the band so great has remained, however going back into the studio can lead to tensions that split the band first time or simply the creative spark has gone. In the wake of the “Shoegaze revival” that has seen many early 90s bands reform, there was a massive commotion when it was announced that there was finally going to be follow up to MBV’s seminal Loveless album which soon died down once everyone twigged that it wasn’t actually very good, sounding like out-takes from the Loveless sessions and half formed ideas recorded sometime towards the end of the 90s. Since the Jesus And Mary Chain have reformed their records have been solid if not spectacular and we are hoping that the new Ride recordings are more Nowhere than Tarantula. After 22 years since the release of their last album, another classic Shoegaze band, Slowdive, have a new album in the record stores……………….and it’s absolutely brilliant!! Still sounding like Slowdive but with a modern reboot, their self titled fourth album is the sound of a band pushing forward and still relevant, not simply revisiting former glories. The new Slowdive LP can be seen as the next step following the more experimental and massively under rated Pygmalion album, although there is nothing quite as good as ‘Souvlaki Space Station’ (from the Souvlaki album) this is their strongest set of songs on one album the band have ever recorded.

Slowdive have gone and taken the whole Shoegaze genre by the scruff of the neck and dragged it into the future. Taking the epic ‘Rutti’ from the Pygmalion album as the “jumping back on” point and incorporating the more American Alt Rock influenced sound of Mojave 3 in their sonic pallet, Slowdive reflects the bands maturity as songwriters. Opening with the crystalline ‘Slomo’, it’s still classic Slowdive with dense layers of guitars and voices but there is a much more muscular spine to the ethereal swirl that they have always been known for……….‘Star Roving’, ‘Everyone Knows’ and the stunning ‘Go Get It’ are impressive modern Psych Rock songs, both tidal waves of immense, distorted guitars and thunderous drums, Slowdive have certainly “bulked up” during their time away. This is a seriously impressive record with tracks like ‘Don’t Know Why’, ‘Sugar For The Pill’ and ‘No Longer Making Time’ deep pools of sonic serenity and the album closes with the staggeringly beautiful ‘Falling Ashes’, Slowdive may, in some quarters, been accused of being soulless in the past but there is no way you could ever get that to stick with band who recorded this album. One of the essential records of 2017.

The self titled fourth Slowdive album is out NOW and in all good record shops, released by Dead Oceans, and available on vinyl, CD, limited edition cassette and as a download also from the label on line store and the Slowdive Bandcamp page here https://slowdive.bandcamp.com/album/slowdive.


THE SONIC DAWN - INTO THE LONG NIGHT (Heavy Psych Sounds LP, CD, D/L).

Outta the fertile Copenhagen Psych scene, Danish trio The Sonic Dawn have a slightly more skewed, idiosyncratic vision of 60s Garage/Psych than most bands mining the the same rich seam, their latest record, Into the Long Night, sees the band find real gems from a wider range of influences than most. On the surface The Sonic Dawn mix of 60s Freakbeat and West Coast Psychedelia, pulling in inspiration from jazzy Sitar Pop to heavy Psychedelic Rock, takes in the same acid infused influences as many of their peers, however the new album is deceptively complex, fluidly shifting between late 60s pop, mid 70s fusion and more modern Psych Rock strains crafting a style of familiar elements that is immersive yet decidedly their own.

Following a swirling 'Intro' piece, Into The Long Night kicks off proper with the mellow West Coast groove of ‘Emily Lemon’ and continually shape shifts through nine tracks of excellent Psychedelia. With a urgent electric piano riff, ‘On The Shore’ channels early 70s Jazz/Psych fusion before the album crashes into the groovy 60s Beat influenced ‘As Of Lately’………..the technical term, we think, is “all over the shop” as the record twists through heavy Psych Blues before taking a massive left turn into the beautiful, laid back and shimmering ‘Light Left On’ before finally closing with the electric sitar headswirler ‘Summer Voyage’. There is a lot to love here………..The Sonic Dawn have recorded an album that spans the whole 60s/70s Psychedelic spectrum and is the perfect soundtrack for hanging out on a balmy summer’s day with a few beers  and something interesting to smoke.

Out NOW via Heavy Psych Sounds on vinyl, CD and as a digital download from their online store, the usual online retailers and all good record shops. Also available directly from the band from their Bandcamp page here https://thesonicdawn.bandcamp.com/album/into-the-long-night where you can also stream the whole album. Check it out People.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

THE MOTHERS EARTH EXPERIMENT - THE MOTHERS EARTH EXPERIMENT (Swordfish Records LP, CD, D/L).

Swordfish Records have been an vital part of the Birmingham music scene for as long as we can remember as both a shop and an idiosyncratic boutique label supporting local talent. Following the excellent BLACKASH Black Witch EP, Swordfish Records have now released the debut album from Brum Prog/Psych sextet The Mothers Earth Experiment. The band seem to have come from nowhere and risen rapidly, following their debut EP in Sept 2015, their first live show was supporting Gong a month later…………….no doubt with heavy friends and serious connections there’s no scuzzing about playing at the bottom of the bill at The Wagon And Horses with a bunch of unknown local bands, as they have since played the Lunar Festival and opened for Syd Arthur, Purson, Acid Mothers Temple, Braids, Arthur Brown And Soft Machine ,to mention a few. Continuing on a upwards trajectory, their debut album hits the shops this weekend.

Self produced by a band blessed with a self determined vision and drive, The Mothers Earth Project have stated themselves “We feel artistic freedom has become feared within the music industry, and we aim to express what is close to us and raise awareness through our music and art.”, you have to award 10/10 for the sheer ambition of their debut album………however you need to deduct at least a million points for massive self indulgence. As well as being influenced by the thrilling and inventive side of classic Prog Rock they have also absorbed some of the more pretentious elements that blighted the genre back in the day. Crammed with a ton of ideas, The Mothers Earth Experiment debut could have really done with an experienced producer at the controls who would curb some of the excess and streamline the bands sound, stripping back some of the over complex arrangements that the band have not quite got the chops to pull off. You can’t fault the bands desire to experiment and push the envelope as far as possible and there is enough good stuff here that would have made a fantastic EP, however as an album The Mothers Earth Project debut LP is mainly for serious hardcore ProgHeads only. With time, The Mothers Earth Project have a truly mindblowing album in them, but unfortunately it’s not this one…………………….other opinions are available.

Out NOW on Swordfish Records on multi-coloured splatter vinyl, CD and as a download, The Mothers Earth Experiment debut album is available from all good record stores and the usual suspects on line.


Sunday, 14 May 2017

MATTHEW EDWARDS & THE UNFORTUNATES - FOLKLORE (Gare Du Nord Records LP, D/L).

If there is a label anymore quintessentially British than Gare Du Nord Records, then we have yet to come across it………………in a parallel universe somewhere a version of Gare Du Nord exists with David Bowie, Syd Barrett, Marc Bolan, Kevin Ayers, Fairport Convention, Robyn Hitchcock and quite possibly ELO all signed to the label, no doubt a fantasy wish list for this universe. For a while now the GDN family of artists have been releasing a mix of quality gentle psychedelia, 70s influenced Pop/Rock and quirky Indie Pop (usually on the same record) that could not exist anywhere beyond these shores. New to the label and with an album out very soon, Singer/Songwriter Matthew Edwards very English blend of wry melancholia, literate lyrics and avant-garde flourishes is a perfect fit for Gare Du Nord. Born and bred in Birmingham UK but having relocated to the U.S.A in the 90s, Folklore, the new album from  Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates chronicles Edwards' return to his home city after 20 years living in California. Recorded at veteran Indie producer John A Rivers (Felt, Dead Can Dance and many more) Leamington Spa studio and in San Francisco, with contributions from ex members of 70s English Avant-Rock group Henry Cow (singer Dagmar Krause and guitarist Fred Frith) and ex Captain Beefheart, Pere Ubu and PJ Harvey (among others) keyboard player Eric Drew Feldman, Folklore is a beautifully constructed perfect collision of Art Rock and introspective songwriting as cascades of discordant guitars crash headlong into lush Folk-like arrangements that underscore Matthew Edwards’ wonderful songs.

Folklore would work perfectly as an acoustic album, the songs are that good, however the boat has been well and truly pushed out and the album has a massive “wide screen” sound that make the songs sparkle. Pulling together a whole host of influences/inspiration from nearly five decades of popular (and not that popular) music, Folklore blends classic Scott Walker and David Bowie with bucolic English Folk Rock adding Post Punk/Art Rock influences from the likes of Wire into the mix to create an expansive soundscape that has been compared to the work of Stephen Duffy’s Alt Folk Rock influenced Lilac Time, Neil Hannon’s witty and literate The Divine Comedy and the sharp pop sensibility of Edwin Collins’ post Orange Juice albums. The Bowie/Walker influence runs deep here, tracks like the fantastic ‘Ungainly’ with it’s Mike Garson-esque piano melody that could be an outtake from Aladin Sane and ‘The Willow Girl’, were the feel of the mighty Scott 4 is evoked, channel the late 60s/early 70s output of two of the finest songwriters of their generation. Elsewhere there are more modern influences with buzzing Post Punk guitars on ‘I Can Move The Moon’ and ‘When We Arrived At The Mountain’ while the album closes with the frantic ‘A Young Man’ which is not a million miles away from the awesome Post Punk Skiffle sound of The Woodentops. Simply stunning, Folklore is an absolute gem of a record with ten rock solid tunes that is way more than the sum of it’s influences. It’s safe to say that Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates have recorded an absolute brilliant LP that demands to be heard by as many people as possible, distilling years of experience and musical inspiration into an album that is both comfortingly familiar and starkly experimental………………seriously recommended and then some.

Due for release 02/06/2017 by Gare Du Nord Records and available on vinyl from any record shop worth it’s salt. Pre-orders and download available from the Matthew Edwards & The Unfortunates Bandcamp site here………


QUINTESSENCE - MOVE INTO THE LIGHT : THE COMPLETE ISLAND RECORDINGS 1969 - 1971 (Esoteric 2 x CD)

Very little (if any) remains of the West London Freak Scene since the property developers moved in around 30 years ago. What was once the epicentre of the…..errr……London Underground, Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill Gate, Portobello Road and the surrounding areas, was home to an enclave of freaks, immigrants, drug dealers and bohemians long before the hippies got there and back in the late 60s and early 70s that could hold its head up as England’s answer to New York’s Greenwich Village or San Francisco’s Haight Asbury. It was a special area....Eric Clapton formed Cream whilst living there, Jimi Hendrix died there, Van Morrison sang about it on the song ‘Slim Slow Slider’ on his Astral Weeks album and Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell immortalised it in their cult film, Performance. At the cusp of the 70s, Notting Hill was the base for Freak Scene luminaries such as The Edgar Broughton Band, Mick Farren, The Pink Faries, Sam Gopal, International Times, Juniors Eyes, Marc Bolan’s hippy acoustic groovers Tyrannosaurs Rex, Frendz, Hawkwind, Barney Bubbles, Mighty Baby, Nigel Waymouth,The Pretty Things and never one to miss a bandwagon, Richard Branson, in the wake of the success of his hip record stores including the flagship shop in Notting Hill would set up the Virgin Records label on Portobello Road in 1973 and exploit the alternative scene even if most of his signings were not culled directly from the local community. Part of this beautiful swirling mess were Quintessence, a band very much born out of the Grove, celebrating their home in the song ‘Notting Hill Gate’ (“Getting it straight in Notting Hill Gate. We all sit around and meditate”). A sextet who based their music on ragas and mantras and took their Eastern path very seriously, the band comprised Australians Phil ‘Shiva’ Jones (vocals, keyboards), Ron ‘Raja Ram’ Rothfield (flute) along with Allan Mostert (lead guitar), Richard ‘Shambhu Babaji’ Vaughan (bass), Dave ‘Maha Dev’ Codling (rhythm guitar) and Jeremy ‘Jake’ Milton (drums). One of the few British based bands to successfully fuse Acid Rock and Eastern spirituality, within months of their formation in 1969 the pretty esoteric mix (even for ‘69) of Psychedelic Rock with Indian devotional music and their electrifying live performances had earned the band a dedicated following and Quintessence quickly caught the ear of Island Records boss Chris Blackwell. In a the space of three years and during a phase of intense creativity Quintessence recorded three classic, timeless albums for Island Records until a dispute over money saw them dropped from the label……………..for the first time the complete Island recordings have been collected together by Cherry Red Records, remastered and released as a 2 x CD set on their Prog/Psych imprint Esoteric Records.

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Although at the turn of the 70s Quintessence were an extremely popular band on the Underground scene, playing the very first Glastonbury Festival in 1970 and the legendary Glastonbury Fayre of 1971 among a host of other festivals and gigs which included selling out the Royal Albert Hall, headlining at the Lyceum Ballroom and playing the Montreaux Jazz Festival, they had kinda dropped right of the radar by the end of the decade (we stumbled across them by picking up cheap second hand copies of Bumpers and Nice Enough To Eat, mainly for the Traffic, Nick Drake and King Crimson tracks but having our tiny teenage minds blown by ‘Ganga Mai’ and a live version of ‘Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Guaranga’ which originally appeared on the Island double LP sampler Bumpers in 1970). Maybe just too damn idiosyncratic to really fit in anywhere, Quintessence have been overlooked many times when a new generation get their minds scrambled by Psychedelic music. However, time has been kind to the band’s three Island releases, still sounding as fresh and vibrant as when they first appeared and with recent releases from new great Psych Rock bands such as Flowers Must Die and Sherpa plunging deep into Eastern music maybe this is the time that Quintessence get the recognition they deserve as one of the most innovative British bands from the early 70s. Released late 1969, In Blissful Company was a distillation of their free form Jazz/Rock inspired live sets where the band would drift into epic Grateful Dead style cosmic jams…………produced by John Barham, who had worked with George Harrison on the Wonderwall soundtrack and would also work again with Harrison on his All Things Must Pass album, In Blissful Company tapped into the late 60s zeitgeist of all thing spiritual, gurus and mystics and Indian vibes; a sudden passion provoked by the Beatles involvement with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, fascinated by his techniques of Transcendental Meditation. In Blissful Company was, in every respect, a landmark achievement. A gatefold with die-cut booklet, it would be Island’s most expensive album packaging at the time. With its Indian god cover art and interior photos of the extended Quintessence ashram, Quintessence represented to the public an alternative way of being. And they all looked very happy.The opening track, ‘Giants’, seers into the brain like a bullet into the third eye…….one of the most underrated Psych Rock songs of the era where Quintessence channelled Acid Rock through a prism of Eastern influences with the track dominated by Allan Mostert’s scorching guitar playing. A fluid, mellow-toned, Grateful Dead influence would determine Allan’s playing in due course; for the time being the Jimi Hendrix sound was where it was at, spiced with a fascination for Ravi Shankar. The debut album from Quintessence is where the West Coast Freak Scene met the West London Freak Scene, both spiritual and mind melting, a collision of squalling Psychedelia and more transcendetal moods with producer John Barham honing their onstage magic into sublime studio sculptures, with inspired touches like the addition of oboe and female choir on ‘Chant’ and slowing down a tambour on tape to create a mesmerisic drone in ‘Midnight Mode’. Evolving into a drone out of epic proportions, ‘Midnight Mode’ closes the album……………it’s mix of mellow vibes and Eastern flavour not out of place in today’s modern Psych scenes. Now considered a classic, the first Quintessence album would have sounded terribly quaint and very dated even only a decade ago, but times have changed and modern Psych bands are now embracing the sounds of the early 70s again with albums such as In Blissful Company ripe for rediscovery and reappraisal.

Quintessence’s second, self titled, album was even better. Island originally had signed the band after only a few months of being together, with an album recorded and in the shops around six months later and In Blissful Company reflected this. More sonically adventurous, the second album saw Quintessence riding on a wave of popularity that saw them able to experiment more and this is evident on the opening track, with producer John Barham still at the controls the original studio recording of ‘Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Guaranga’ has a depth that the debut album lacked. Elsewhere, mixed in with devotional mood pieces, there is more Prog/Psych feel with Raja Ram’s  spiraling flute piece ‘Prisms’ leading the way for bands like Gong to take trips to the further out there melding together Jazz and Psychedelic influences. Seguing near seamlessly into the the wonderful Twilight Zones,……………these tracks along with the tripped out ‘Only Love’ were possibly as near to perfection Quintessence ever got. Quintessence also included a couple of live tracks that highlight what a great live band they were at the time and what a beautifully fluid guitar player Allan Mostert was……….both ‘Burning Bush’ and ‘St. Pancras’ are full on freak outs that still sound brilliant today. With the record peaking at 22 in the album charts, it looked as if Quintessence were on course to fulfil the expectations of their label and audience alike. One still-born goal they set themselves was an opera/oratorio, requiring an Indian orchestra and Tibetan musicians, based on a spiritual journey from Ladbroke Grove to the East. ‘High On Mount Kailash’ on the second album would be the project’s sole survivor. This record, nearly 50 years after it was recorded, has aged and matured beautifully and really needs you to wrap your ears round it. The second album by Quintessence shows a band at the peak of their powers……………the band were darlings of the music press and the underground earning admiration from such luminaries as Pete Townshend of The Who (who attended Quintessence concerts) and Jim Morrison of The Doors, selling out shows on a regular basis with stunning live performances and Island were negotiating for their records to be released in the USA……..what could possibly go wrong??

Released in 1971, Dive Deep was mostly produced by the band themselves. John Barham had been sacked by Raja Ram and although he returned to salvage some of the tracks at the mixing stage, Quintessence were given free reign to indulge in their predilection to jam and see what happened. Nowhere as good as the first two records but still with a good few great tracks, Dive Deep saw the band moving in a more Prog Rock direction with epic tracks such as ‘Dance To The One’ and ‘Epitaph For Tomorrow’ both clocking in around the 10 minute mark. It’s different, but essentially the same Quintessence but with more of an eye on the expanding Prog/Psych market in the UK. More gentle than before, Dive Deep shows off the band’s outstanding musical ability with the album’s title track being really good while  ‘Epitaph For Tomorrow’ is an outstanding song, strange and beautiful in equal measures sounding more like the songs from the previous albums with squalling, fuzzed out guitar running through it’s core. It’s a solid album but was not a great seller for Island records which caused a degree of consternation for the label and in an act of outstanding career suicide, four out of the six band members vetoed an American record deal because of a disagreement over the amount of advance they had been offered. Following the band’s sell out show at the Royal Albert Hall, American tour dates had already been booked with the opening show set to be at Carnegie Hall……………..had Quintessence made it across the Atlantic they would have gone down a storm, more so when they hit the ballrooms of S.F. .Seriously pissed off with Quintessence, Island Records quickly lost interest, dropping the band from the label at the first opportunity and although the first three albums were reissued on CD by Repertoire Records nearly 10 years ago they have to date still yet to have an official release in the U.S.A. . The band resurfaced briefly on RCA’s long forgotten Prog Rock imprint Neon (what RCA hoped would be their progressive equivalent of Harvest, Vertigo or Deram) before singer and principle songwriter ‘Shiva’ Jones along with Dave ‘Maha Dev’ Codling were kicked out the band, never again reaching the creative and critically acclaimed heights of their remarkable first two albums for Island Records and quickly fading into obscurity as tastes changed over the following decades.

Maybe the best band you have never heard of, the music of Quintessence is well worth exploring for any discerning PsychHead, fans of classic Prog and anyone into Indo/Jazz fusion. Out NOW and available from all good record shops/online, check it out People.



Sunday, 7 May 2017

CAN - THE SINGLES (Spoon/Mute Records 3 x LP, CD, D/L).



For a band whose legendary early 70s LPs of some of the most innovative music of the the decade helped shape the Post Punk musical landscape of the 80s and 90s (and whose influence still informs a whole host of modern Psych Rock bands), collecting together all of the CAN singles on one album does not seem like the most obvious of releases. However CAN were always about the groove, even at their most experimental, driven by the groundbreaking "half-man, half machine" drumming of the late, great Jaki Liebezeit (described as "one of the few drummers to convincingly meld the funky and the cerebral") and with a little judicious editing some classic CAN tracks made perfect sense as 7” singles, with a few even bothering the charts. Spanning from the tail end of singer Malcolm Mooney’s time in the band and going full circle to when he rejoined the band for CAN’s reunion/swansong album Rite Time released in 1989, this unique document is the first time the singles have been presented together and shows the breadth of their influential career, from well loved tracks like ‘Halleluwah’, ‘Vitamin C’ and ‘I Want More’ to more obscure singles such as ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Turtles Have Short Legs’. Sequenced with both A and B sides in chronological order, the album charts CAN’s journey from a Psychedelic Rock band, through their most innovative/creative period with beautiful freak Damo Suzuki fronting the band, the muso Prog Rock/Virgin Records era and the mutant Euro Disco phase with ex-Traffic sidemen Rosko Gee and Rebop Kwaku Baah now part of the band, before finally running out of steam in the early 80s. Maybe not an essential album, but still a fascinating trail of classic tunes until the band’s quality control mechanism spectacularly failed towards the end of their 12 official studio album career (if you include Soundtracks) that is mainly for CAN completests but also an excellent introduction for anyone new to the work of one of the most important bands of the Twentieth Century.

First appearing on the Soundtracks album, ‘Soul Desert’/’She Brings The Rain’ marks the transition between Malcolm Mooney leaving and Damo Suzuki joining CAN, with Mooney’s final contribution to the band being the most un-CAN like track imaginable…..’She Brings The Rain’ being a gentle Jazz influenced tune with Mooney’s psychedelic lyrics a million miles away from the berserk freak outs on Monster Movie. The run of CAN albums from 1971 to 1973 which included Tago Mago, Ege Bamyasi and Future Days are simply peerless and it is surprising how many great singles were released during this period………..’Spoon’, the non album cuts ‘Shikako Maru Ten’ and ‘Turtles Have Short Legs’, a heavily edited ‘Halleluwah’, ‘Vitamin C’, ‘I’m So Green’ (pre-dating the Stone Roses baggy shuffle beat by a good 15 years), ‘Mushroom’, the twisted funk of ‘Moonshake’ (a bit hit in mainland Europe) and an edit of the title track from Future Days all appeared on 7” vinyl as either an A or B side. After Damo Suzuki left the band after Future Days and was not replaced with another singer, CAN moved more in a Prog Rock direction and were now releasing albums on Virgin Records who were putting out singles, more as tasters for the albums, with very little success until CAN had a freak hit with their pop satire ‘I Want More’. 40 years on, ‘I Want More’ still sounds a fresh as ever…….a mix of Bohannon-esqe Disco and pulsing Giorgio Moroder sequenced synths sees CAN at their most commercial but still experimental, confusing people who bought Flow Motion expecting it to be more of the same. At this point, the quality drops quite alarmingly with the last few CAN albums being as succession of diminishing returns …………although the chugging Funk Rock of ‘Don’t Say No’/ ‘Return’ (featuring the supple bass playing of Rosko Gee) is fantastic, recording a Disco version of ‘Silent Night’ is possibly not the best idea CAN ever had………although it is not as bad as their re-working of ‘Can Can’ which shows that Germans do have a sense of humour!!!! Completing the circle, Malcolm Mooney rejoined CAN in the mid 80s for one final album…………although no where near as intense and important (or anywhere as good) as their early 70s recordings, Rite Time is the sound of a band having fun playing together again and an edit of ‘Hoolah Hoolah’ is a fitting way to close a CAN singles collection.

CAN - The Singles is due for release on 16 June 2017 by Spoon / Mute Records on triple vinyl, download, and CD. Available on line and from all good record shops worldwide.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

THE SUNDOWNERS - CUT THE MASTER (Skeleton Key Records LP, D/L).

It’s been a couple of years since The Sundowners debut landed in a whirl of very positive critical response………….it’s exhilarating mix of 60s Brydsian jangle, headswirling Psychedelia and very twisted British Folk Rock caught the ear of many a discerning PsychHead. Fast forward to NOW and one of Britain’s most promising up-and-coming Psychedelic bands are back with a new album, the warped guitars, groove-bodied bass, hypnotic drums and emphatic dual vocals of Niamh Rowe and Fiona Skelly from the debut LP remain firmly in place, with the band’s sound now expanded into a majestic, multi-layered cinematic soundscape.

Inspired by an eclectic range of sounds and wide- ranging, very cool record collections, that takes in such diverse sounds as Shocking Blue, The United States Of America, CAN, Wendy and Bonnie, Scott Walker and Emmylou Harris among others, the band are continually honing and evolving their sound with refreshing innovative touches from driving riffs and thunderous grooves to swirling soundscapes and stellar harmonies from the ethereal voices of Skelly and Rowe. With a solid core of Psychedelic Pop sensibility running through album and the 12 tracks linked by Andy Votel’s ambient interludes, this is The Sundowners strongest set of songs to date. Cut The Master is built on the solid foundations laid down for the previous record, with depth and more shade introduced with more of an atmospheric 70s inspired witchy, spook folk vibe added to the already potent mix of 60s Rickenbacker jangle, Psychedelic Rock and Acid Folk. The album opens with the darkly psychedelic ‘Before The Storm’ and then twists and turns through two sides of excellent BritPsych that blends together pulsing motorik grooves, frantic Psych Pop and blissed out Psych Folk in gorgeous psychedelic wide-screen sound. The pick of a record full of fantastic tunes have to be the beautiful ‘Walk On In’, the modern Psych Pop groove of ‘Ritual’ and full on wig out of ‘The Watchful Eye’. Sonically innovative and fresh, Cut The Master is modern British Psych Rock at it best……………inspired by the classic sounds of the 60s/early 70s but also not afraid to evolve and experiment with the sound of their records, The Sundowners are destined to join the long list of great bands that have emerged from the fertile Liverpool Psych scene.

Cut The Master is out NOW on Skeleton Key Records on vinyl and CD, available from all good record stores (and HMV) or on line from all the usual suspects.

Monday, 1 May 2017

EFFERVESCENT ELEPHANTS - GANESH SESSIONS (Area Pirata Records CD, D/L).

Back in time, and way before the Internet, there was this great little Italian underground Neo-Psychedelic band, Effervescent Elephants, who were massively influenced by Eastern/Indian head music and the sounds of early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett (the clue’s in the name kidz!!). Part of the 80s Italian Psych scene, they released a few great singles and a couple of albums before disbanding in 1991 and going their separate ways…………………..in the mid 90s there was a CD release of their complete works on the Italian label Mellow Records, (if you can find a copy), but otherwise their music is little known outside their homeland. The Effervescent Elephants returned to the studio for the first time for a long time in 2011 to record an album with Italian Psych/Prog legend Claudio Rocchi and with some spare studio remaining they decide to re-record some of songs they had played during the 80s, along with some previously unreleased songs...........................the results have now been released as the Ganesh Sessions on Area Pirata Records (the home of Italian Garage Rock). The Ganesh Sessions are raw, one take, live studio recordings with no overdubs and are Psychedelic as fuck. What these recordings may lack in polish is made up in sheer headswirling trippyness as the band re-live their 80s heyday.

The Ganesh Sessions consist of 10 tracks of Neo-Psych swirlyness (plus a bonus track; a lost remix of ‘Apollo e Le Muse’ by………err……Robby Rave from the original sessions with Claudio Rocchi) where the band re-work some of their favourite old tunes, cover a couple of Syd Barratt compositions (‘Astronomy Domine’ and ‘Maize’) and set the controls to the heart of the sun via India with the epic studio jam ‘Astral Raga’. It’s the sound of the Paisley Underground crash landing at the UFO club with a ton of mind expanding drugs……..and it’s all good stuff. The stand out tracks just have to be the Floydian ‘Confusion In Marrakech’, the Byrdsian Folk-Rock jangle of the Effervescent Elephants cover of The Strange Flowers tune ‘December’ and a re-working of their 1986 debut single ‘Radio Muezzin’. The psychedelic sounds of The Effervescent Elephants may be new to a lot of PsychHeads outside of Italy, however they are well worth checking out if you dig classic 80s Neo-Psych. Although still available as a download from the Mellow Records Bandcamp page here, all we need now is for someone to re-issue the CD of Effervescent Elephants - The Complete Works sometime soon.

The Ganesh Sessions are out NOW on Area Pirata Records, available on CD (limited edition of 300 copies) and as a digital download from the Area Pirata Bandcamp page https://areapiratarec.bandcamp.com/album/ganesh-sessions or directly from their webstore.