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Monday, 28 May 2018
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
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.
Friday, 18 May 2018
Toby “The Mad Twiddler” Robinson’s Pyramid label is no doubt one of the most enigmatic from the 1970’s Krautrock scene, shrouded in mystery and for a long time with no real physical evidence that records were not some kind of kosmische hoax with Krautrock “experts” either dismissing them as ersatz “fakes” or insisting that they were the real deal when released by the Psi-Fi label in the mid 90s. Recorded by The Mad Twiddler between 1972 and 1976 using studios in and around Cologne during down time in the early hours with an assortment of musicians/friends, the albums produced for the Pyramid label were released in tiny quantities, hand made and mostly sold in art galleries and a few Cologne record shops with the rest being shared among friends (this is probably why they remained so obscure, even among experts). On the one hand writers such as Alan Freeman, co-author of The Crack In The Cosmic Egg, will vouch for their authenticity following long conversations with both Robinson and the late Trevor Manwaring (the co-ordinator of the Virgin Records Unknown Deutschland compilations which cherry picked the best of the Pyramid catalogue and was a prime mover in the Psi-Fi releases)………….however, there is the more cynical view that the Psi-Fi releases are a 90s knock off with everybody from Julian Cope to Sun Dial involved if you believe the rumors. Regardless of the actual truth (down in our psychedelic basement we are of the opinion that they are genuine) the Pyramid albums are fantastic Krautrock obscurities and for the last year Spanish crate diggers Guerssen Records have been reissuing the entire catalogue via their Mental Experience imprint. The latest release is the self titled album from Pyramid which is a mind blowing 33 minute languid trip to the far side of the universe.
With one spacey Krautrock track, ‘Dawn Defender’, spread over two sides of vinyl that channels the cosmic “outthereness” of Pink Floyd, Cosmic Jokers, Agitation Free and Ash Ra Tempel, Pyramid is a slowly unfolding album of abstract and experimental Psychedelic Space Rock with glacial electronic soundscapes punctuated by heavily treated guitar improvisations. It has not dated and sounds very fresh and modern, possibly more because not many current Psych/Kraut bands are the most forward thinking muthafuckers, still mining the 70s for their sound as opposed to the record being a recently recorded cosmic hoax. You can hear why some folk think this record is a wind up as the synth washes and guitar tones all sound very contemporary. Split into three very distinctive sections, ‘Dawn Defender’ opens with an abstract, spacey improvisation with ricocheting guitars pinballing around minimal percussion before a colossal bass lines drops pushing the track further into a narcotic netherworld in a swirl of synths and dark drones. It’s a strange dreamy-like musical journey throwing up ultra vivid psychedelic textures as it morphs into a full tilt, scorching Acid Rock wig out not unlike Agitation Free at their best before easing into a long celestial Mellotron passage drifting effortlessly to a close. It’s a record that has been compared to the first Cosmic Jokers LP and A.R & the Machines and perhaps the jewel of the Pyramid back catalogue.
Out NOW, the self titled, remastered Pyramid album is available on LP and CD with liner notes by Alan Freeman from all the best record shops. Also available direct from Guerssen Records where you can check out/stream/buy the D/L here……..