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Thursday, 30 April 2015
Hailing from the dark, foreboding swamps of……er……..Saarbrücken, Germany and raised on moonshine and L.S.D., if Deliverance is ever remade by director David Lynch then there is no doubt the Spook Blues duo Pretty Lightning will be providing the soundtrack. Pretty lightning are Christian Berghoff and Sebastian Haas, both members of the sprawling ritualistic ‘Neo-Hippie-Spook-Folk’ collective Datashock, who put the band together in 2007 and released their debut LP on the Finnish label Fonal Records in 2012. There Are Witches In The Woods showcased their sparse, muddy psychedelic Delta Blues sound and the band’s second album, A Magic Lane Of Light And Rain, provides more of the same with minimal stomping drums, reverb drenched dirty Blues riffs, ghostly vocals, analog keys/loops and songs that sound as if they have been captured from some half remembered twilight reverie. Recorded in glorious lo-fidelity in a way that holds no regards for studio polish or any hi-tech sheen, there aint nuthin’ fancy about the strange magic conjured up on this record…….it’s raw psychedelic Blues stripped down to the bone.
A Magic Lane Of Light And Rain is an heady mix of primal Blues stomp and warped psychedelia as Pretty Lightning’s take on the Blues is to tear it apart and put it back together upside down, twisting it into strange new shapes. There are some really great tunes on this long player, ‘Woodlands’ is straight dirty blooze, unfussy drumming holds down the backbeat while the guitarist keeps his pact with the Devil he made down at the crossroads with searing bottleneck slide licks.....the stripped back, atmospheric ‘Good Old Liar’ goes to the same dark places in the swamplands as the Bad Seeds, however with its swirling organ and Garage Rock groove ‘Marble Moon’ is possibly the most instantly accessible track here. The rest of the album is wonderfully psychedelic….. there is an experimental, improvisational side to Pretty Lightning no doubt developed during their time playing with Datashock; ’Moonshine Blooze’ mixes together a cyclical groove with backwards guitar and heavily distorted vocals whereas the weird voodoo of ‘Hypnooze’ has languid slide guitar locked together with hypnotic, pulsing drums merging with a looped female voice, the result is something akin to The Smoke Fairies on a massive mushroom bender. The best two tracks on the record blend both the experimental with the more straightforward Blues Rock…..’ A Gift From A Bone To A Bell’ combines a couple of minutes of psychedelic backwards tracks and guitar drones before bursting into life with tumbling drums. ‘Graveyard Howls’ is an epic hallucinatory Psych/Blues guitar and drums wig-out……extra colour is added with additional keys and loops to a track that sees Pretty Lightning heading towards the vibe of Led Zeppelin’s ‘In My Time Of Dying’ with some scorching slide guitar playing. This is another top quality release from Cardinal Fuzz and we recommend you check this record out…. although fantastically psychedelic, fans of the Black Keys and the White Stripes are also really going to dig this album. You can catch Pretty Lightning at Eindhoven Psych Lab and numerous other places during the year this as they aim to put a spell on you with their creepy Voodoo Blues.
A Magic Lane Of Light And Rain is due for release on 11th May but is now available to pre-order from Cardinal Fuzz at their online store. The album will be available on limited edition vinyl in creamy/yellow swirl, black with yellow speckles or blacker than black pressings. The album is also available on an unfashionable CD. As an option you can also get a copy of the CD/black vinyl direct from Pretty Lightning via their Bandcamp page.
Sunday, 26 April 2015
Coming to you from Cardinal Fuzz, one of the finest purveyors of Psych Rock/Psychedelia, is the fourth studio album from the Californian psychedelic juggernaut White Manna and it’s a hell of a ride. Named after the mischievous nature god from Greek mythology, Pan finds White Manna peaking, whipped into shape by touring a ferocious, mind melting, live set, as witnessed at last year’s Liverpool Psych Fest which left many of the audience with a rewired neural synapse. Pretty accurately described as a cross between the early Stooges and Lemmy era Hawkwind, White Manna mix the take no prisoners, balls out, sonic assault of the former with the acid fried deep space jams of the latter, locking you into their primordial grooves, ramping up the intensity of distortion and guitar wig-outs as they explore their own hallucinatory visions.
White Manna are heavy, very heavy……..after a short burst of squealing feedback, the album opener ‘Pan’ explodes into life with a fuzzed up, relentless riff straight outta Ron Ashton’s “Book of Fuzzed Up, Relentless Riffs” (the 1969 first edition) before hitting the afterburners and rocking it to the moon before heading out towards the cosmos. This track encapsulates White Manna’s thing……brutal Detroit proto-punk inspired riffing melded with fuzzed up freak flag waving wildness from Ladbroke Grove circa 1971……...this is underground Psych Rock at its best and ‘Dunes I’ is more of the same with ferocious Garage Punk pounding with wave upon wave of nasty, twisted, amplifier destroying guitar noise. White Manna owe some debt to the sheer sonic force of the Stooges,MC5 and Blue Cheer for their sound……’Evil’ is total Stooges style heavy Garage Rock…….it’s nothing startlingly original, but fuck, it’s some of the most exciting, supercharged Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll about at the moment. There is a change of tone for the spaced-out ‘Dunes II’, distant vocals emerge from a fuzzy narcotic haze of distortion and drones that rises and hangs suspended in the smoky air……..space cadet stoner rock with a nod to the more psychedelic side of classic early 70s Black Sabbath. The final two tracks on Pan are a couple prime cuts of mind blowing Space Rock…….the Hawkwind influences/comparisons are all here for everyone to hear (there is also a cover of ‘Master Of The Universe’ as a bonus track on the CD release). ‘Beta Travelers’ taps into the psychedelic hard rock sound of the great Space Ritual era and coming in at just over 11 minutes long, ‘Eshra’ is an epic Kosmische jam that spirals out to the furthest points of the known universe before crashing back to Earth. After already recording four astounding albums, Pan finds White Manna right at the top of their game and you really need to check this record out.
Available as a limited edition multi-splatter vinyl LP or on good old black vinyl and also on CD, Pan will be released on the 1st June but is available to pre-order now from Cardinal Fuzz in the UK/Europe………either from their online store or Bandcamp page………or Stateside from Captcha Records.
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
GLOWPEOPLE – HAPPEN (Cosmic Primitive Records CD, D/L). SPURIOUS TRANSIENTS – PLANET CANTALOUPE EP (7” Vinyl).
Following their 2013 debut album Things, West Midlands and the surrounding Shires based Glowpeople return with a new release. Though underground festival favourites, Glowpeople are not retro Prog throwbacks who think that when Gentle Giant split up was the day the music died, but sonic adventurers taking their cues from much more experimental, jazz tinged, cosmic musik and Happen is an enthralling blend of Miles Davis Bitches Brew era Jazz Fusion, Ambient Dub and Future Funk but also succeeds in transcending genres. There is some impressive stuff on this record……. from the liquid funk of ‘Gap The Mind’, the monster groove of ‘Medusa’, the early 90s Ambient Dub excursions of 'Touch It', the album title track echoing the music Jah Wobble made with Holgar Czukay in the mid 80s and all the way through to the cosmic soundscapes of ‘Abstract’ (even though this is head music I would be hard pressed to call that much of this album truly "psychedelic", however there are some strong elements of classic Prog/Psych and with Steve Hillage influenced soloing, ‘Tie Dye Sky’ loudly screams “WE LIKE GONG!.... LOTS!”). Mainly improvisational and mostly instrumental, Happen is not going to be everybody’s cup of mushroom tea as it could be argued that some of the tracks could have benefited with a tighter structure from a bit more self-editing in the recording process, nonetheless there are some great tunes and really interesting ideas here…… The band strongly recommend that you listen to this record in the same heightened state that it was recorded in and I very much doubt they just had a couple of light ales each before going into the studio.
Happen is available now from Cosmic Primitive Records as either a CD or a digital download and while CD stocks last, directly from the band at http://glowpeople.soundawesome.com/ or at their live shows………Tune in, turn on, Glow.
Coming very soon on 7” vinyl………..Planet Cantaloupe, a new EP from Welsh Kosmische Musik/Psychedelia influenced band Spurious Transients. The band was originally the solo project of Gavin Lloyd Wilson and since the very promising Portraits Of A Landscape album released last year, Spurious Transients have now expanded to a sextet which includes sitar/tanpura and saxophone as part of the line-up. The new EP shows a marked change in direction from the debut album which mixed sitar drones, soaring EBow guitars, sweeping synths, minimal electronics and found sounds/field recordings to create harsh Electroacoustic music and more psych tinged, ambient/cosmic soundscapes as the new tracks have a much more jazzier feel than before. The track ‘Planet Cantaloupe’ is a fantastic, loose limbed, wonky Space Jazz/Psychedelic jam which is later reprised with added bubbling electronics. Also included on the EP is the more experimental ‘Gitarau Cosmig’ which was recorded during the Portraits Of A Landscape sessions but was not included on the album……..it’s a pretty challenging listen with buzzing synths, clattering guitar and plodding drums……..I can’t help feeling that Spurious Transients may have missed a trick here by not including one of the excellent, more psychedelic cuts from the album instead (‘Under The Same Stars’ which features singer/composer Ghost Dust would have worked really well).
Planet Cantaloupe will be available on 7” coloured vinyl sometime in July….check the bands Facebook page for details. In the meantime Portraits Of A Landscape is still available as either a CD or Download from the Spurious Transients Bandcamp page https://spurioustransients.bandcamp.com and is worth checking out for the more psych tinged, ambient/cosmic side of the album…….play the last four tracks either stupid loud or listen to them on headphones, they sound great.
Saturday, 11 April 2015
More interesting sounds from Italy………. Falling somewhere between Mogwaiesque Post Rock and the more somnolent sounds of Sigur Ros, Gemini is the debut album from Sicilian quartet Good Morning Finch. There is nothing on this record that is pushing the envelope with its mix of “quiet, loud, quiet” song structures and woozy soundscapes but nevertheless there are some great songs that hint of the promise to come as the band evolve from a raw Post Rock band into something much more thrilling. Gemini has the feel of a band in transition as Good Morning Finch move towards a more Dream Pop influenced sound, even though there are some fantastic noisy Post Rock tunes like “Atomite” and “Cane”, it is the longer tracks that are more interesting as they give the band more space to explore and experiment…….”Copenhagen”, “Malia” and the album’s title track are all excellent, plus bonus points for not singing in English as it really adds to the atmosphere of these songs.
Gemini is available as either a “name your price” download and also as a limited edition CD from the band’s Bandcamp page http://goodmorningfinch.bandcamp.com/album/gemini-2015 .……..there is no doubt a massive Sigur Ros influence on this record and if that kind of sound is your thing we recommend that you check this out.
Saturday, 4 April 2015
MALKA – THE CONSTANT STATE (D/L). MAYFLOWER MADAME – INTO THE HAZE (Custom Made Records Cassette Single)
Coming straight outta NYC (via Peru), Malka construct majestic soundscapes of crystalline, shimmering beauty from swirling guitars and waves of synth washes which they combine with a solid Indie Rock structure to create epic sounding songs. Taking influence more from the cool, clean sounds of bands like M83 and Sigur Ros, as opposed to the squalling, distorted mayhem of the classic Jesus & Mary Chain “wall of sound meets wall of noise” approach, the Psych tinged Indie Rock/Dreampop four piece have released a very impressive first EP, The Constant State, which takes a genre-melding journey, constantly ebbing and flowing, through the otherworldly landscapes of Dreampop, Nugaze and Psychedelic Rock. There are some great songs on this EP……….with an early 90s feel, the opening track, the radio friendly ‘A Flock Of Crows’ is possibly the most straight forward Indie Rock style tune out of the seven tracks here and has hints of the jangle pop of early Chapterhouse. Of the other tracks ‘Diamond Girl’ with its screaming guitar coda is particularly good, as is the blissed out Dreampop of ‘Mientras Se Respira’ (one of two songs sung in Spanish). The stand out track is ‘For Now We Live’, a reverb soaked Explosions In The Sky style epic where soaring guitars build and build to a massive crescendo before falling back to earth.
The Constant State EP is currently available as a download only…….but we can imagine that this very classy EP will be picked up by someone for a proper release very soon. Check it out at the Malka bandcamp page https://malkanyc.bandcamp.com/.
Whereas Malka take their influences from the early 90s and the more recent “Dream-Gaze” bands (is that a genre????), Mayflower Madame from Oslo, Norway go back much further into the dark heart of early 80s Post-Punk Neo-Psychedelia for inspiration. Mayflower Madame have tapped into a generally unsung period in the evolution of Psych Rock…….although many of the bands from this time ended up being put in a box marked “Goth Rock”, they were the first psychedelic revivalists. The early 80s were interesting times as after the Punk year zero everything was in flux and the myriad of genres that followed had still to take their full form………in this environment Punk bands were discovering what are now considered to be the Psych-Rock cornerstones (the Velvet Underground, the first Doors album, Forever Changes by Love, Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation etc. etc. etc.) and absorbed these sounds. From this came the first wave of Neo-Psychedelic bands which included the more obvious psychedelic bands like The Teardrop Explodes, Echo & The Bunnymen, Robyn Hitchcock’s brilliant The Soft Boys and the darker proto Goth bands like The Cult, The Lemon Kittens, The Cure and Siouxsie & The Banshees (plus a special mention for the Cure/Banshees spin off, the acid fried The Glove)……………and from Mayflower Madame’s first release for Custom Made Records, a limited edition cassette featuring their debut single ‘Into The Haze’ along with the psychedelic, mind bending B-side ‘Confusion Hill’, it is certainly evident that they have been influenced by this era.
Originally a self-released single in 2013, ‘Into The Haze’ has echoes of the Heaven Up Here period Bunnymen.....with lots of reverb and delay, the clear, cutting tones of Will Sargent-esque guitars slice through tribal drumming and portentous bass. This is a great track and received some great reviews when first released. ‘Confusion Hill’ is a new track and has much darker vibe comparable to when Siouxsie & Banshees plunged into full-on psychedelia around the time of their A Kiss In The Dreamhouse album or the period before Robert Smith started making pop singles.
Look for the band’s debut album coming in spring of 2015, but in the meantime the Into The Haze limited edition cassette single is available to buy from the Custom Made Records web page and there are still a few copies of the original Into The Haze EP on 12” vinyl for sale on Mayflower Madame’s Bandcamp page http://mayflowermadame.bandcamp.com/