Saturday, 16 June 2018

PRANA CRAFTER - ENTER THE STREAM (Sunrise Ocean Bender/Cardinal Fuzz LP, CD, D/L).

Inspired/influenced as much by the sounds of early 70s kosmische German bands such as Agitation Free as by American introspective Alt-Rock singer/songwriters, Prana Crafter’s very unique approach to Acid Folk takes his new long player, Enter The Stream, deep into uncharted waters rarely explored by his peers. Following the release of two critically acclaimed cassette only albums mixing Krautrock tinged Psych Rock/ Acid Folk on Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Eiderdown Records respectively, Enter the Stream is Prana Crafter’s most cohesive record to date seamlessly flowing through eight absorbing tracks. Effortlessly blending the craft of writing hazy, gently psychedelic songs that are almost completely stripped down to the basics of voice and guitar with cosmic, transcendental guitar improvisations, Prana Crafter conjures up atmospheric soundscapes that if you can imagine the beautiful noise made by a very stoned Neil Young jamming with the Cosmic Jokers you would not be that far away from the sound of the sonic-tapestry woven from the fluid stream of consciousness that runs through the record.

From start to finish, Enter the Stream is a journey that takes the listener through a landscape of pristine natural beauty, human emotion, and esoteric undercurrents. Opening with the mellow album title track, Prana Crafter’s songs have a beautiful lo-fi simplicity that reflect the bucolic surroundings of his home in the Washington woods far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, blending the primal energies of nature with guitars, synthesizers and singing bowls in a umbilical connection to Mother Earth. Gently ebbing and flowing through reverb laden Acid Folk and spectral kosmische guitar sketches that channel the liquid guitar playing of Ash Ra Tempel’s Manuel Göttsching, Enter The Stream is unlike any Psych/Folk album you are going to hear this year…………..inventive and rooted in nature it’s a Kosmische-Acid-Folk opus that shimmers in brilliant refracted sunlight among the trees. A joint release by UK  Psych label Cardinal Fuzz and the strange and beautiful US label Sunrise Ocean Bender (who have a history of spotting up and coming talent, being the original home of the brilliant JuJu among others), you can check the record out here………….

Due for release 21/07/2018, the record will be available on limited edition transparent green and white vinyl or for the purists good old black vinyl. Available to pre-order now from Cardinal Fuzz (for UK and Europe) and Sunrise Ocean Bender (for North America) plus the usual suspects online……..also due to be released as a download and a very limited edition CD direct from Cardinal Fuzz. It’s sonic nectar People, cascading in the mind and splashing mantras against the your third ear.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

TREMBLING BELLS - DUNGENESS (Tin Angel Records LP, CD, D/L). THE LEFT OUTSIDES - ALL THAT REMAINS (Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube Records LP,D/L).

There may have been a sea change since the heady heights of the Acid Folk revival of ten or so years ago where a new generation of PsychFolkies were dipping into the Island back catalogue of the late 60s/early 70s and getting into the timeless sounds of Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, Nick Drake, John Martyn and ISB with the more adventurous seeking out records by Trees, Vashti Bunyan, Comus, Trader Horne and Mellow Candle among many other great LPs of the era. A whole scene had developed with brand new bands channeling the sounds of a more gentle era with the early Green Man festivals being the focus point for what was happening at the time. It was groovy for a while with bands escaping the traditional folk hell of real ale and weird beards playing to a more psychedelically minded audience and it reached a point where artists seeped traditional influences such as The Unthanks were gravitating from the folk clubs to medium sized concert halls. Tastes have changed with twisted Americana seeming now more popular than rootsy British Psych Folk, but there are still a few great UK bands keeping the faith and recording albums that mix the freewheeling sound of UFO Club era Fairport Convention with a muscular Folk sensibility……….more Middle Earth than middle America. Two such bands are Trembling Bells and The Left Outsides who both have fantastic new records out at the moment.

Blending the attack of squalling Acid Rock guitar with a nimble rhythm section Trembling Bells approach to Folk Rock has more than a faint echo of Fairport Convention’s “heyday” when the band featured the stellar talents of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny (way before trad Folk Luddite Dave Swarbrick had led the band into musical irrelevance by the end of the 70s………..the current incarnation of the band are still living off the fumes of records recorded 50 years ago). Taking the sounds of the more tripped out late 60s/early 70s Acid Folk bands as a launch pad for their songs, Trembling Bells then add plenty of modern Psych Rock influences creating music that is Folk Rock inspired but is not really Folk Rock in the…….erm……traditional sense but a complex mix of a whole host of of fluid layers and textures seeping down to the Folk roots. Now releasing records on the much admired label Tin Angel Records, the current LP Dungeness is their seventh since their 2009 debut and no doubt their best and most Psychedelic to date. Housed in a sleeve that resembles the debut album by Fotheringay to such a degree it borders on plagiarism but is a perfect indicator where Trembling Bells are at in 2018……..heavily influenced by “classic” British 60s/70s Psychedelic Folk Rock, the new LP taps into records such as Fairport’s Unhalfbricking, On The Shore by Trees, Richard and Linda Thompson’s Pour Down Like Silver to name just a few, but with a solid spine of inventive modern Psych Rock and driven by fuzzed up and freaked out guitars………Dungeness is the record that should bust the band out of the “Folk ghetto” to wider PsychHead audience. Both thrilling and beautifully subtle, it’s a killer record from start to finish with not a duff track in sight. One of this year’s essential records. Out NOW via Tin Angel Records on vinyl and CD from all the best record shops (and HMV) or on line from the usual suspects. Check it out/stream it/by it from the Tin Angel Bandcamp site here………….

Less likely to frighten the hardcore folkies is the beautiful new LP from London Psych Folk duo The Left Outsides. All That Remains is far more rooted in the golden age of Acid Folk as the '60s slid into the '70s, more suited to late night listening than Trembling Bells supercharged Psychedelic Folk Rock. Alison Cotton's vocals, harmonium and viola blend with Mark Nicholas's voice, bass, guitar, piano and drums in ways that recall Joe Boyd’s late 60’s coterie of acid tinged Folk artists, Sandy Denny’s and Richard Thompson’s solo releases mixed with a hint of David Roback's post Rain Parade project Opel and ex Galaxie 500’s Damon And Naomi’s lo-fi Psychedelia. It’s a record that is a well balanced blend of “classic” Psych/Folk Rock influences (‘The Unbroken Circle’, ‘Down to the Waterside’, ‘Clothed in Ivy, Obscured by Dust’ and ‘All That Remains’) and more stripped back atmospheric songs that really is quite wonderful and well worth your attention. Available on vinyl only in limited edition pressing via Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records (USA) and selling like hot cakes, All That Remains has had such good reviews from all over the place so expect a second pressing sometime soon. You can check out/stream the album here…………


Sunday, 3 June 2018

THREE DIMENSIONAL TANX - A COMPULSION FOR PROPULSION (CD, D/L).

Veterans of endless live shows, Lancastrian Space Punx Three Dimensional Tanx are back with a new album……….. and like their previous release, 2016’s Attack!, it’s a full on barrage of unpretentious Nuggety Psychedelic Punk Rock guaranteed to get the party started. Whereas Attack! was a mad mix of “The Stooges in space, Astral travel with the Buzzcocks, The Doors and The Damned jamming on one of the moons of Jupiter and The Ramones on acid”, 3D Tanx have really found their groove on A Compulsion For Propulsion, smoothing out the rough edges and expanding their sonic palette with Post Punk, Krautrock and Psych Pop influences. Featuring 15 tracks in less than 40 minutes, it’s a monster of a record, still wild and energetic but tightly focused and their best collection of songs to date. This is the album 3D Tanx have been threatening to make for years……….an album that finally manages to bottle much of the spirit that have made them such a hit with live audiences.

Once you get your head round the concept that 3D Tanx are a Punk band playing Psych infused Garage Rock and Krautrock then A Compulsion For Propulsion starts to make perfect sense. Free of any excess, 3D Tanx are a lean and mean machine with most of their songs stripped down to around the 2 minute mark…………the album does includes a couple of epic trippy wig outs where the band channel the Psychedelic smarts of Pink Floyd and CAN, but bear in mind that in Three Dimensional Tanx Psychedelic five dimensional world epic is around 5 minutes long. The record opens with the frantic ‘His Latest Apparatus’, which sounds like Devo and The Seeds crashing together, and doesn’t let up till the fade out of the very Psychedelic ‘Racing Car #9’………it’s a white knuckle ride all the way and a total blast, bristling with infectious stabs of pop-inflected modern Garage Rock. It’s the much needed antidote to shit Stoner Rock bands that think playing one riff for fucking ever is somehow cosmic. There is some great stuff here, from the swirly Sonics vibe of ‘The Human Stupid’, the Stooges-esque riffing on ‘E is For Engine’ to the kinetic groove of ‘Spiderman Pinball’, A Compulsion For Propulsion is packed with loads little gems, short and sweet with no messing. Recommended.

Out NOW, A Compulsion For Propulsion is available on CD or as a D/L direct from the 3D Tanx Bandcamp site. Check it out/stream it/buy it here……..

Saturday, 2 June 2018

SUN DIAL - SCIENCE FICTION : A COMPENDIUM OF SPACE SOUNDTRAX (Sulatron Records LP, CD).

Legendary modern Psych Rock pioneers Sun Dial are back with a new record released by the the THE German Psychedelic music label Sulatron Records. It’s way different to their last record Made in the Machine, which was an exercise in pushing at the boundaries of contemporary Psychedelia, as Science Fiction : A Compendium Of Space Soundtrax is more of a labour of love with Sun Dial finally releasing 20 years worth of mainly Electronica based super catchy instrumentals inspired by Sci-Fi movie soundtracks. A common theme running through previous Sun Dial records is their special interest the music of Sci Fi and Space on celluloid, such as THX 1138, 2001; A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner among others and over the years Sun Dial's catalogue has been in demand for various film and television soundtracks (such as the acclaimed horror film Helen Alone and documentaries on the history of the CIA/Vietnam/MK ULTRA) and Science Fiction is an extension of this. Pulling together influences from John Carpenter’s minimal electronic scores, the lush wide screen sweep of Vangelis and 60s cut and paste Electronica mixed with the classic Krautrock sounds of Ash Ra Tempel and Agitation Free, Science Fiction is a collection of short atmospheric pieces beamed back from deep space that combine robot rhythms and analogue synths with shimmering Acid Rock guitar to stunning effect.

It’s a diverse record, opening with the droning electronic hum of ‘Hanger 13’, Science Fiction is a twisting journey through endless possible galaxies evoking the futuristic feel of experimental soundscapes from the late 50s through to the mid 70s. It’s a total trip, taking in the mutant 70s Space Funk of ‘Mind Machine’ and ‘Infra Red’, the Space Rock sounds of ‘Rise Of The Robots' and ‘Ghost Ship’, the dystopian thump of ‘Aftershock’, the Blade Runner-esque symphonic sweep of ‘Starwatchers’ and the cool glacial guitars and 60s swirling organ on ‘Alien X’ and ‘White Stone’. It’s a fantastic record of Krautrock/Space Rock infused Electronica and in some ways, Science Fiction is the perfect follow up to Made In The Machine, although much more experimental with much shorter tracks it is unmistakably Sun Dial, albeit taking a diversion into uncharted expanses of space, still well ahead of the curve, never standing still.

Science Fiction : A Compendium Of Space Soundtrax will be available on vinyl mid to late June, limited to 750 copies on green vinyl and can be pre-ordered now from the usual on line sellers. Also available on CD NOW (with bonus track, the long version of ‘Hanger 13’) from all the tuned in record shops, on line or direct from Sulatron Records.

Monday, 28 May 2018

CHICKN - WOWSERS! (Inner Ear Records LP, D/L).

New from the fantastic Greek Prog/Psych label Inner Ear Records comes the sophomore album, WOWSERS!, from Athens cosmic jokers CHICKN. Led by guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Angelos Krallis, The band are a loose collective of Athens' finest musicians from the city’s thriving underground, coming together to play far out music. Their debut album released towards the end of 2016 was a heavy Prog/Psych album heavily influenced by North African sounds whereas WOWSERS! is way more playful………during the recording of the album the band were inspired greatly by sounds from The Stooges, David Bowie, T.Rex and Ariel Pink to Sun Ra, Red Crayola, Captain Beefheart, CAN and Alice Coltraine and have managed to make a record that sounds an awful lot like Gong (both the classic 70s line up and the rebirthed post Daevid Allen band). WOWSERS! is essentially a 70s influenced left field Prog Rock record with bright splashes of heady Psychedelia added to the mix………….recorded live during a 10 day studio lock in over New Year 2017/18 it sounds like it was a lot of fun to make.

Opening with a brief blast of free form noise, CHICKN ease into the silky smooth groove of ‘Am I Cher?’ which like a lot of the record channels the irreverence/experimentation of classic Gong/Hillage with the Punk edge of Planet Gong. The Gong vibe of tricksy time changes, off kilter guitar riffs, Free Jazz sax fills and shouty choruses is a constant thread throughout WOWSERS! and no more evident on tracks such as ‘Too Many Parables’, the gloriously freaked out ‘I Cry Diamonds’ which includes a cheeky wink in the direction of Daevid Allen’s iconic “OM” riff and the berserk ‘Elevational Love Of Frank Zappa’. Elsewhere CHICKN revisit the track ‘Chickn Tribe’ from the first album and rework it as a wild Proggy Punk Jazz number, channel mid 70s Pink Floyd in there own idiosyncratic way on the epic ‘China Must Win’, explore Cosmic Country music on ‘Egg Of Love’ and close the album with the delicate electric piano piece ‘Cloud Over Athens’ which has a stunningly strange and beautiful coda. Totally accessible with no more than a couple of songs stretching over the five minute mark, WOWSERS! can be seen as an amalgamation of the great Psych/Prog/Kraut records that Virgin used to release before Branson started chasing the “punk pound”……….seriously recommended for fans of 70s tripped out Psych/Prog and more modern bands like Sendelica. Check it out here.....

Out NOW on Inner Ear Records, WOWSERS! by CHICKN is available on vinyl (standard issue black and limited edition green) or as a digital download from all the best record stores, on line or direct from the Inner Ear Records web shop.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

WOODEN SHJIPS - V. (Thrill Jockey LP, CD, D/L).

It’s been a while…………….Wooden Shjips are back with a surprisingly mellow record that is destined to be the Psychedelic sound of the summer. 50 years on from the Summer Of Love, the new record channels hazy West Coast vibes with the bite of contemporary Psychedelia. It still sounds like Wooden Shjips as all the elements are all in place with tight unfussy drumming and rolling bass providing a platform for swirling keyboards and Ripley Johnson’s waves of rippling guitar, but way more laid back than any of the previous records. V. was recorded “as an antidote to the pervasive anxiety both political and natural”in the modern world and absolutely shimmers with summer sounds with gorgeous chilled out songs that reflect Wooden Shjips love of classic Rock from the Velvet Underground to Neil Young, as well as more overt love of the San Francisco scene of the 60’s.

Wooden Shjips ease into a groove immediately with the spacey ‘Eclipse’……………shimmering guitar ricochets across the speakers (the album has been recorded with “a nice headphone mix with a lot of movement”), the bass and drums keep it taut giving Johnson space to peel off into more a more trippy headspace. Add some spacey sax to the mix then we have Wooden Shjips heading deeper into the Psychedelic realm than ever before. They have dialled down the relentless intensity of the previous records giving the songs way more atmosphere and the whole record has a unhurried, hazy vibe and totally Psychedelic with the slow burning ‘Staring At The Sun’ the standout track on a album of great songs. The track slowly unfolds as a stoned Spiritualized groove mixes with languid guitar lines, gently drifting through nearly 8 minutes of Psychedelic serenity. It’s a beautiful record……………it’s different, but distinctly Wooden Shjips. You can check it out here https://woodenshjips.bandcamp.com/album/v

V. is out NOW on vinyl and CD via Thrill Jockey Records and is available everywhere, even HMV.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O. - ELECTRIC DREAM ECSTASY (Essence Music LP, CD, D/L).

From the very cool Brazilian boutique label Essence Music, a new release from the legendary Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. with three stunning tracks of mind melting Psychedelia from the Japanese freak out masters. Electric Dream Ecstasy features the soon-to-become-a-classic ‘From Planet Orb With Love. Part 1’ and two new workings of the classic ‘Pink Lady Lemonade', one acoustic with pastoral, complex string arrangements and ghostly synths, the other a wild Mutant Disco/Krautrock blow out.

‘From Planet Orb With Love. Part 1’ is AMT at their best with a squalling Psychedelic sprawl held down tight with the band’s muscular new rhythm section merging into CAN-esque passages with the one-of-a-kind vocalist Jyonson Tsu blended into the mix. The two remakes of ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’ are astounding…………’Pink Lady Lemonade (You're My Orb)’ is ATM gone “acoustic” with the mesmerizing Pink Lady riff gently picked out on an acoustic guitar while other acoustic instruments, harmonica and subtle synth washes swirl around it. It has the feel of Kikagaku Moyo at their most pastoral with Japanese traditional folk music at it’s core. Taking up the whole of the second side of the LP, ‘Pink Lady Lemonade (Electric Dream Ecstasy)’ is from a different planet altogether. Mutant Disco bass lines and relentless stomping Krautrock drums drive this epic 20 minute improvisation to the furthest reaches of out there, crossing the borders of improvisation and moving towards free composition in a crescendo fuzzed up and freaked out Acid Rock guitar. If you buy the CD release of Electric Dream Ecstasy then you get a berserk bonus track as AMT take on the David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti song ‘Sycamore Trees’ from Twin Peaks turning it into something way more psychotic sounding than the original. Keeping the twangy essence of the Badalamenti tune, guitarist Kawabata Makoto scribbles tripped out, free form squall all over it turning it into 10 minutes plus of mind scrambling Psychedelia. Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. are really the undisputed masters of free form freak outs and this LP merely confirms this. Essential listening…………….check it out here.

Limited to 200 copies on black vinyl and the CD edition limited to 500 copies, Electric Dream Ecstasy is available to order/buy from all the best record stores, on line merchants or direct from Essence Music. Housed in screenprinted heavy-weight black stock sleeve with gold ink the LP has totally different artwork from the CD. If you are quick/lucky Electric Dream Ecstasy is also available as a strictly limited art edition of 89 hand-numbered copies that includes the vinyl edition on gold vinyl, the CD edition and a beautiful large handmade & hand-painted textured hanging banner that complements the vinyl artwork aesthetic.