La Era De Acuario - La Era De Acuario

Necio Records

Released: 2nd April 2021
Necio Records continue to uncover exciting new psych bands from South America, with their latest release being the debut album from La Era De Acuario (The Age Of Aquarius). Formed only recently in 2018 by Ximena Gama and Sabú Avilés, the Mexican band released the Lunar EP in 2019 and now follow it up with an eight-track album, stretching to some thirty-five minutes. Indeed, there are only four new tracks here as all four of the EP's songs are included, but seeing as only one hundred CDs were ever issued of that release, there are not going to be many folks who can claim to own them! As the name suggests, this is a band whose focus is very much on the 1960s, yet thankfully their music not only reflects the sparkling psych pop of that era, but it is infused with more contemporary neo-pysch instrumentation that firms up the sound and gives the songs a more powerful edge. There are two cover versions: 'Hippie Hippie Hourrah' which was originally recorded by French legend Jacques Dutronc, and 'Fotografia' which is a take on Status Quo's 'Pictures Of Matchstick Men'. These are both straightforward and respectful versions of those songs and though it could have all sounded a bit kitsch and retro, it is the twist of the female vocals and the quality of the songs themselves that help prevent this. They still sound great. Some of the band's own songs have a similar groove, but the light lysergic sparkles are beefed up by rocking guitars that add both muscle and drive. This transforms the opener 'Om Ganesh' into something quite spectacular. It shudders, glints and wobbles like a marshmallow kaleidoscope but the glam-edged guitars lift it to a different sphere where it shows it can more than hold its ground. 'Etéreo' shimmers with eastern promise in a psychedelic shower, while 'Lunar' runs round harmonic bends. It's the non-EP songs that carry a heavier psych feel, with 'Agujero Negro' ('Black Hole') sounding edgy and threatening with its combination of space rock zooms and castanets quite unique. 'Bailando En El Mar' ('Dancing In The Sea') adds space effects to its weighty organ riffs and serious guitars, while 'Orgón' is a heavier trip with a meaty bass running up against droning organs and scything guitars. It is still very 1960s but popped rather than pop. La Era De Acuario has been pressed in an attractive clear vinyl with a purple splatter effect and is available through the label's Bandcamp page. There are only 300 copies so get in quickly.

White Canyon & The 5th Dimension - Spectral Illusion

Necio Records

Released: 2nd April 2021
One of the highlights of last year was Necio giving a vinyl release to the eponymous debut album by White Canyon & The 5th Dimension which was one of those rare records that hit all of the right spots on a first listen. The Brazilian duo of Gabriela Zaith and Léo Gudan had been together for a relatively short period of time but succeeded in creating music with a shimmering beauty that wrapped itself around you and forced you to surrender to its hypnotic charms. Less than two years on from recording that debut, White Canyon return with their second album, Spectral Illusion, and, as the cover suggests, there is a darker, more mystical edge to the music though it loses none of the refinement and melodic grace of its predecessor. There is a classical feel to this collection; everything is done so beautifully it is difficult not to surrender to it even if your musical preference is for the raw rather than the refined. The duo here submerge you into shadowy soundscapes where spirits dance and faded memories whisper. White Canyon are consummate guides as they smooth over the sharp peaks of the highs and cushion the deepest drops to the lows. Opening with the title track, there is a nice Latin feel to the guitars as we enter the softly distorted world of dream psych. Vocals breathe and guitars mesmerise as the song builds in power; it really is an attractive thing and its six-and-a-half minutes seem barely enough. 'Sensitive Fate' is built on a rumbling drone where chiming guitars frame a smooth female vocal that is delivered in a dreamy shoegaze style, while 'Endless Sea' fittingly stretches over nine minutes with its gentle double vocal hinting at eternity as the music swells and pulses. There's power in the words, though they barely break out of the background. They bring reassurance to the unknown and reveal beauty in the darkness that lies all around. The closing track 'Oroboros' is a stunner with elegiac voices hiding behind some beautifully sombre guitar work to create moments that are achingly pretty. It sheds its skin in a clever ending that works so much better than an ill-considered fade out. There are more forceful moments. 'Seven Kingdoms' grows from gentle beginnings to lay down some impressive guitar sounds, 'Electric Ghost' hammers gently at your senses while guitars chatter all around, and 'Look Up To The Sky' with its weaving flutes and chimes hints at 1960s' psych. It's probably the odd one out here, but is not too far removed to seem like an intrusion. Spectral Illusion is available to download from the band's Bandcamp page, and look out for the forthcoming vinyl release on Necio Records.

Lorelle Meets The Obsolete - 01.05.2019 En Vivo

El Derrumbe

Released: 11th April 2021
In 2019 Lorelle Meets The Obsolete recorded a special radio session for Aire Libre 105.3 FM in Mexico City which was broadcast on the 'La Otra Música' show hosted by Martín Delgado, a key player in Mexico's thriving underground scene. The session took place in the middle of a run of shows promoting the release of the band's excellent De Facto album and the group's key duo of Lorena Quintanilla (Lorelle) and Alberto González (The Obsolete) were fortunate enough to have the members of their touring band with them, namely Fernando Nuti (New Candys, bass), Andrea Davì (Mamuthones, drums) and José Orozco (Camedor, synths). This was fitting because in many ways De Facto had marked a new beginning for LMTO, it being recorded as a five-piece with all of the vocals in Spanish and with completely new songs being written rather than simply old ideas being developed. The session was such a success that it was decided to turn it into a live LP, but one that was to be limited in scope. Just 300 copies of En Vivo were pressed on translucent Clockwork Orange vinyl and released on the band's own El Derrumbe label. The record is not being sold digitally and won't be available on any streaming platform, making it a rare prize that will undoubtedly become a sought-after collectors' item. Given the circumstances, it was obvious that De Facto would feature prominently, with eight of its nine tracks included, along with 'What's Holding You?', a song from the band's third album, Chambers (2014). This is a powerful number built over a fat bass with ratcheting guitars leading to a magnificent middle section full of wailing feedback and an even more cutting outro. Though there are many strings to LMTO's bow, they are never better than when they rock out and the nine-minute savage guitar wipe-out of 'Unificado' is another highlight. Beginning in the style of a Velvet Underground ballad, it is quickly overtaken and consumed by a six-minute guitar frenzy, which is utterly splendid. The band show they can mix the rough with the smooth in the beautifully balanced 'Líneas En Hojas', and they draw things to a conclusion by blending three tracks into one: 'Resistir', 'El Durrumbe' and 'La Maga' which makes for a stunning conclusion. If you haven't spun De Facto for a while, this live album will remind you of just how wonderful it is. Some copies of this are still available, so get hold of one while you can on the band's Bandcamp page.

Teenage Fancub - Endless Arcade


Released: 30th April 2021
It has been a comfort over the years that in a changing and perplexing world Teenage Fanclub have been a rare constant. Ever since Grand Prix the band have worked in the same way, with every album consisting of twelve tracks, four each written by Raymond McGinley, Norman Blake and Gerard Love. Each new release has brought with it a warm glow of familiarity and belonging, and for some reason a conviction that this state of affairs would endure forever. But no more. Of course the elephant not in the room this time around is Love, the band's original bassist and composer of some of Fanclub's finest songs, including the majestic 'Sparky's Dream' and 'Ain't That Enough'. His unwillingness to continue touring saw him depart from the ranks in 2018, a loss which must have been little less than shattering for his long time friends and bandmates. With established keyboardist Dave McGowan moving over to bass and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci-man Euros Childs introduced on keyboards, change this time around was inevitable and to their credit the Fannies have done everything to keep this to a minimum, sticking to their twelve-track formula with Blake and McGinley stepping up to contribute six tracks each. What we are left with is undoubtedly familiar yet undoubtedly different. The three composers always sang from the same hymn sheet, absorbed the same influences and possessed the same ability to tease out a memorable melody, yet each approached their craft from a slightly different angle and there is no doubt that Love's warm vocals and delicate swerves in musical direction are missed. This doesn't make Endless Arcade a failure, but it does make it a fresh beginning and the band have set off on their new path in a tentative mood. Perhaps this was inevitable despite the length of time they had to prepare these songs. Teenage Fanclub do not work at pace these days; having released their first five albums in five years, it has taken over twenty for their last five to emerge and well over four have passed since their last offering, Here. It is also over two years since Love flew the nest, but doubtless there has been a need for deep contemplation. The result is an undoubted surrender of a little punch and sparkle. "Everything's fallen apart," sings Ray, "Hold on to the hand of a friend," while Norman is equally as downbeat, "I have lost any sense of belonging. The sun won't shine on me."

Teenage Fanclub have never been party people, but there is usually some light and hope in their songs. In Endless Arcade this is more difficult to find, though there are undoubtedly moments where everything becomes right with the world. Opening track 'Home' is the most obvious example. It flows beautifully and it would appear the band were enjoying it so much they didn't want it to end and the guitar outro is stretched to take the song past seven minutes. It really is a beautiful thing and helps the frame the album as much as Norman's complaints about the sky being grey and Ray's title track that starts off, "Winter is coming..." As usual, Ray's songs open outwardly and Norman's inwardly, but sorrow and darkness abound in each direction; it really is only the beauty of the music that lifts the mood and makes the collection a lighter load to bear. With side one including 'Everything Is Falling Apart' and 'The Sun Won't Shine On Me', you get the picture. Yet the former is wrapped in such delicate guitars it would be difficult not to warm to it, while the latter threatens to run off and tell its mum if you utter any harsh words. Side two is equally draped in melancholy. "It's hard to walk into the future when your shoes are made of lead," proclaims Ray on a song titled 'The Future' and again you look to the music for salvation. 'In Our Dreams' has a nice sixties' psych wooziness to it, 'I'm More Inclined' almost borders on jaunty, and 'Living With You' bounces along nicely. A bit of a strange one, this, but it was always going to be. Change hurts, but the world is a better place for Teenage Fanclub, hurt or otherwise. As you would expect, Endless Arcade is smooth, melodic and insidious, and its inherent charms help to carry it through the darkness.

Iceage - Seek Shelter

Mexican Summer

Released: 7th May 2021
OK, we'll hold our hands up on this one. Having had this album for a month and having played it at least a dozen times, we still can't decide whether we like it or hate it and that is pretty perplexing. We first discovered Iceage when 2011's New Brigade blew us away with its icy punk attitude and detached aggression. In reality it was little more than twenty-three minutes of brutal instability. 2013's You're Nothing impressed even more. The Danes had managed to add a few minutes to that first tally but their approach remained untamed and chaotic. "There's a vile fury with us," spat singer Elias Rønnenfelt, and the band took no pains to disguise it. A huge part of the attraction of Iceage was that their own self-loathing was merely a part of their more general loathing, yet in Seek Shelter everything has been turned on its head. The music is no longer chaotic and crumbling, the attitude is no longer defiant, and Rønnenfelt actually sounds comfortable in himself, which is unsettling in the extreme. Perhaps the pandemic is to blame. With the storm raging across the world Iceage sought shelter from its sting and found comfort in more traditional havens. There is music here that sounds like the romantic, tumbling rock of The Libertines, songs that suspiciously sound like they were written for a stadium, and in 'Drink Rain' a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on The Kinks' Village Green. With Pete Kember at the production helm, we see 'Vendetta' built around one of his spacy keyboard whirls, but the song itself is baggy and could have emerged from Manchester back in the day. As an album, it's eclectic and safe, and that is not something we thought we would ever hear said about Iceage. There's a gospel choir added to the horns, piano and strings that the band have used before and they add new textures to the music while lyrically there is a new vision as Rønnenfelt proclaims, "We have nothing in the end but love." When Beyondless was released in 2018, we thought Iceage were taking tentative steps towards embracing the world of psych, yet with Seek Sheter they appear to be embracing the whole world. You'll have to make your own minds up.

White Flowers - Day By Day

Tough Love

Released: 7th May 2021
As any good goth knows, beauty can only be found in the darkness and White Flowers' quest to unearth treasure in a bleak arena is pretty much a theme on Day By Day, inspired as it is by Joey Cobb and Katie Drew's move back to their native Preston after studying at art college in London. Their music mirrors the post-industrial bleakness of the north which they were rediscovering, and finds inspiration from the post-punk music this spawned, yet with wider influences also at work. London's psych scene has encouraged experimentation with distorted sound and there's a nod to other legendary bands and labels. The guitars on 'Daylight' are pure And Also The Trees, while there are hints of My Bloody Valentine, All About Eve, This Mortal Coil and inevitably, those other 4AD icons the Cocteau Twins. Like Liz Fraser, Drew's vocals have the substance to subjegate everything around them. The thickness of the often woozy soundtrack is no barrier as her voice rises and falls with assured grace, cutting through any restraints. They can be inordinately pretty as on the marvellous 'Day By Day', the contrast between voice and music mirroring the band's adopted monochrome imagery, the white against the black. It must be acknowledged that it is incredibly difficult to listen to this collection and not think of Beach House, another male/female duo who live in the land of obfuscated dream pop. Both bands overlay drugged backgrounds with vocals that sparkle and soar, lifting their songs from the shadowy depths. Yet for all their similarities, the bands will always remain half-a-world apart, so assiduously are White Flowers rooted in their heartland. Recorded at the Manchester studio of Jez Williams of Doves, who also produced the record, this was not a quick process, the ten songs being built up over two years, often with long breaks in between sessions to seek inspiration. Yet the album stands as a whole; there are no obvious signs of new ideas pushing out the old. Perhaps this is because the atmosphere is more important than the notes; all of the songs here work to create a mood that wavers from uncertainty, to resignation, and resolve. And in draping beauty on ashes there is the constant feeling that escapism lies at its very heart. Let's hope that White Flowers never manage to break free and they begin to explore the avenues this collection has opened up.

Yetti - II

Drone Rock Records

Released: 17th May 2021
Unsurprisingly, Brexit and Covid have not been catalysts for the free flow of vinyl from continental European pressing plants, so Drone Rock Records have had to wait until nearly halfway through the year before following up January's fine offerings from Mienakunaru and Domboshawa. With two new collections finally about to touch down, the first to emerge is the second album from Brighton's Yetti which was originally intended to have followed fairly sharply on the heels of the band's well-received eponymous debut released in the Autumn of 2019. Consisting of seven songs over half an hour the band rely on weighty punches rather than long, drawn-out assaults and though they are self-proclaimed lovers of Loop and The Heads, a lot of what is on offer here is heavy psych Sabbath served over big hypnotic rhythms and weighty drones, all draped in impenetrable gloom. And not just Sabbath, but Sabbath in a particularly nasty mood. Opener 'Holsten' ploughs through the mire towards huge riffing choruses that fail to break through the enveloping murk but still pack a mighty punch. 'Ranaldo' saws and buzzes nastily before doubling its volume halfway through, sending you reeling if you are playing this record loud. As your brain begins to stop shaking, 'Sierra' unsettles it again as it drips venom, with sharp guitars biting over a grating drone, its slow pace only adding to the disturbance. 'Ohrwurm' ('Earworm') dresses up as the blues whilst an underground guitar gives it the lie and chanting vocals add a layer of mystery. It's probably the most accessible song here, though whether you will be humming it in Tescos is another matter. 'Gronkulla' has a stabbing post-punk backdrop with a spoken vocal, while 'Toroloco' ('Mad Bull') sees bassist Mark Adams again involved on vocals, his voice used as a further texture to complement his enormous, shuddering bass, and the biting guitars of Bob Neely and Ian Humes. It's another powerful moment which is cut away abruptly to make way for drummer Dan Joyce's mighty introduction to the eight-minute closer, 'Schwul'. As guitars crash in waves over a heavy, mesmeric beat, this is a lesson in controlled power. Its sound is not as grimy as most of the album, but the song is infused with iron, both in sound and purpose. There's no doubt II is a darker collection than Yetti, and it is another fine addition to the shadowy side of the 'lockdown' genre. These aren't songs you would particularly want to meet in a dark alley; even in a live environment you'd think twice about looking them in the eye. Best keep your head down while they push you around a bit so you can leave in one piece. Pressed in a very limited edition, there are just 150 copies of II available on black and white 'galaxy effect' vinyl which comes with a cut-out sticker of the Yetti two-fingered salute. These are only available through the DRR website and from the band themselves, whilst a further 100 copies on plain grey vinyl are available for shops and distribution. Both versions come with a digital download code when purchased through the DRR website and pre-orders are open now.

Gruff Rhys - Seeking New Gods

Rough Trade

Released: 21st May 2021
It is not a surprise that the inspiration behind Gruff Rhys's latest solo album is Mount Paektu, a volcano lying on the border of China and North Korea. Indeed, it would have been a surprise if the singer had been stirred up by something more prosaic, for it has been obvious since the Super Furry Animals first dropped on the scene like an offering from God, that their minds were not stimulated by the commonplace and the ordinary. It is also not surprising that the singer struggled to put these songs together until he internalised the myths and legends surrounding the peak and gave them a personal meaning. For Rhys's music is rooted in humanity, particularly the quirkiness of it and the oddities that can be found in everyday situations. Mount Paektu has existed for million of years, which is intimidating when compared to the lifespan of a man, but when you convert a billion tons of rock into an internal volcano you have created something off which you can bounce your humanity and measure its stride. Musically, Seeking New Gods is lighter than would be found on an SFA album and as it opens with 'Mausoleum Of My Former Self' the strong melodies and rolling piano immediately throw to mind some of Steve Harley's post-Cockney Rebel work. This is not an invidious comparison: both men have notably idiosyncratic approaches to their art, both revel in a cracking tune, both make good use of backing harmonies and both write lyrics that appear tangental to the real world. Aided and abetted by regular collaborators Osian Gwynedd on piano and synths, and former Flaming Lip Kliph Scurlock on drums, Rhys's music borders on soft rock with its edges touched by a gentle psychedelic brush. There's a glammy flow to 'Loan Your Loneliness' which hints at Chicory Tip, and 'Holiest Of The Holy Men' appears to have been dragged from the same era with more than a hint of Wings about it. The mood is retro and even when the music starts to bite, as in the spikily abrasive choruses of the 'The Keep', this is balanced by the gentle verses where Rhys's soft falsetto is joined by the simplest piano chords. Sonically, then, Seeking New Gods is an easy pill to swallow; it doesn't threaten, it doesn't challenge but has a blissful, sedate air about it, and perhaps that is exactly what the mythology of Mount Paektu is offering. Rhys looks to compare the essence of eternity with the fleeting impermanence of life: "Everlasting hissing currents / Hyper structures, plastic idols / Kissing couples, cloud formations / Cold gatekeepers, neon shadows..." Life is a contrast of chance and choice balanced against time, and every move should be considered. Ultimately, this has turned out to be a good one.

Firefriend - Dead Icons

Cardinal Fuzz / Little Cloud

Released: 28th May 2021
In the five years since they started recording their own music, Sao Paulo's Firefriend have been impressively prolific with Dead Icons their sixth collection to be released in that time. Universally well received, the band have built up a well deserved reputation for producing music that is increasingly exploratory and seductive. There is certainly a lot of love for them in the UK and this release is going to do nothing but bolster that enthusiasm as these ten songs over forty-five minutes are some of their darkest, strongest and most memorable to date. The great thing about a Firefriend album is that their music flows beautifully; it glides past you so smoothly you don't even realise it is simultaneously hitting all sorts of triggers in your brain that will draw out an emotional response. That's a fantastic weapon to have in your armoury as you can press your point without seeming to try, and by the end of the record you are preaching to the already-converted. And when you are part of the underground resistance battling against the darkness that inflicts society, Firefriend are a very potent ally to have. Never has subversion sounded so sweet.

The songs on Dead Icons are built around the gently repeating rhythms of drummer Caca Amaral on which are draped delicate patterns of guitars that chatter and chide, often injected with a fuzziness that softens without losing too much harmonic edge. Vocals from guitarist Yury Hermuche are earnest and queryring, while those of bassist Julia Grassetti are softer, sometimes barely more than whispers, accompanied by waves of vibrating sound that wash over everything to create some authentic shoegaze soundscapes. There are moments here that simply leave you breathless. At the close of side one, the immaculate 'Tomorrow' harks back to the beautiful sounds of early 4AD and shows a fine use of stereo, gorgeous guitars leaking out on all sides. It really is a stunner and it's the highlight here, though there are plenty of other fine moments. 'Hexagonal Mess' is redolent of The Fauns, 'One Thousand Miles High' chimes over a searching vocal, while the title track is gracefully insistent. There's a deceiving Pixies bass intro to 'Spin' which fails to explode, but drifts into a gentle, polychromatic beauty of a song. When Firefriend are at their darkest, they become a model of constrained power. 'Three Dimensional Sound Glitch' is a noisy, burrowing psych worm, while 'Ongoing Crash' drips rage from a hollow core. There's not a song here that doesn't fit and not a moment when you are not carried along with the flow. Dead Icons is quite simply a bloody remarkable record.

First released digitally in November 2020, Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud have now sensibly released this album on vinyl, though only 500 copies have been pressed so you will need to get in quickly. If the world was a better place they would have pressed a few million and given them to every schoolkid in the world to teach them how things should be. As it is, there are 125 in yellow and purple splatter vinyl, 175 in half-and-half red and black, and 200 in black. Good luck in finding one.

Black Tempel Pyrämid - Tapes

Weird Beard

Released: 28th May 2021
"Unremittingly dark and intrinsically disturbing". Prism of the Present, Patrick R. Pärk's first lockdown offering under the guise of Black Tempel Pyrämid, was truly unsettling and it will undoubtedly remain as one of the bleakest collections of the pandemic genre. Little did we know then, but this was only one of three albums Pärk recorded over the lockdown and Weird Beard now follow up that initial release with volumes two and three, packaged together on a double cassette, simply named Tapes. Housed in a slipcase which matches the obi strips used on the label's previous nine extremely limited edition cassettes, this looks great and nicely rounds off the first volume of this fascinating series.

The first tape here is titled Mountain Meditations and contains ten tracks running to just over forty-three minutes. It was recorded from August to December 2020 at the time of the Cameron Peak wildfire which caused the evacuation of over 20,000 people in Colorado, torching some 208,663 acres and just surpassing the recent Pine Gulch Fire to become the largest in the history of the State. So, with COVID reaching out its icy fingers, it seemed as though the fires of hell were hot on its heels. Understandably, then, this is not a jolly collection of tunes, but perhaps surprisingly it is not so unremittingly hostile as Prism Of The Present. Perhaps a fire is more understandable, something with which nature deals on a regular basis, something primal that can cleanse and purify in advance of a new dawn. The tape opens edgily, 'Red Feather Wildfire' full of nagging repetition and unsettling jangling, while 'Forest Coronation' is a deep throated growl that drips menace. 'Tempered Night Black' treads a broken path that calls to mind Bowie's 'Warszawa', hinting at sadness and loss though its choral vocals are more Wagnerian than Bowie's sombre ghosts. Occasionally hints of positivity are allowed through. 'Black Smoke Ceremony' has a purposeful, tribal rhythm while the second side is altogether less harrowing. Here the repetition doesn't seek to inveigle but rather demonstrates renewed growth and vigour. When all the confusion has been burned away we are left only with original truths, and from there there is no retreat.

The second tape here is titled Hermetic Visions (Winter Soltice Procession) and this again comprises ten tracks stretching to just under forty-four minutes recorded between December 2020 and February this year. There is a completely different edge to these recordings. With the new year hot on the heels of the solstice, these songs are filled with positivity, yearning and warmth. 'Tree Of Secrets' stretches out an embrace as the beat rushes along briskly and it borders on uplifting. Things almost become hurried; three tracks in a row fail to break the three-minute mark: 'Forester Deviation', 'Crystal Rituals' and 'Haunted Leaves' are all echoes of themselves as if the same view has been captured from three different viewpoints. Hermeticism embraces the idea of a primeval, divine wisdom, revealed in the ancient days, traces of which can still be found in various arenas today. These snapshots capture the essence of this wisdom, revealing the same patterns wherever you look, and showing that they reflect more light than shade. The title track, running in at over seven minutes, celebrates this truth as flutes serenade lightly over a prolonged, sparkling dance. It is a statement of certainty and celebration. The tape winds down with the gentle 'Winged Corridors' which is almost calming as distant flutes play over a gentle beat and wavering notes that hint at restfulness and peace.

There's a mysticism at the very heart of Black Tempel Pyrämid's music yet its success is down to the fact it is capable of reflecting the days in which we live. These aren't lost tales of myth and legend, but an inspiration to seek for deeper truths in a seemingly ungiving, concrete world. A total lottery again as to whether you will be able to grasp a copy of this. They will be going online on the Weird Beard website on Friday. Best of luck.

Codex Serafini - Invisible Landscape

Halfmeltedbrain Records

Released: 28th May 2021
"Codex Serafini are a Saturnian Ritualistic band hailing from outer-space, currently passing through Earth. Invisible Landscape is a fractalized imagining of a cosmos navigable only by sound. Cavernous by intention, the four recordings presented on this piece are a shrieking cacophony, indecipherable conjurations of ecstatic noise from beyond the solar veil." So states the band's publicity machine and if you were ever wondering why so many of us dour post-punkers shy away from the psych world, the use of such utter cods as this to describe bands and music comes pretty high on the list. The most important thing to us was (and is) honesty and this was found by stripping away the ludicrous fantasies and bombast that had been built up around music to expose its bare bones, which could then be reshaped into something that was naked, stark and unapologetic. If it tended to seriousness, well, this was a revolution; a moral crusade. The only problem with all this is that when you listen to this utterly insane four-track EP it actually makes you believe that you were mistaken all the time and these really are visitors from some unimaginably twisted planet. What we would like to say is that Codex Serafini are a band from Brighton who refuse to reveal their real names, play with their faces disguised, and have taken far too many of the wrong drugs. What we will say is buy this bloody music, have a lot of drinks and lose youself in nineteen minutes of reckless abandon. Then do it again. You may not feel better in the morning, but you will have experienced one hell of a ride. 'Organismic Thought' opens slowly to wailing vocals and blues riffing, before turning into a screaming bastardisation of the B52s. It's fabulous, but 'Crawling Space' is even better, broken and wayward, shrieking and muted at the same time; alien dub in the making. 'Mendoza's Memory' is a distorted middle-eastern dance that snaps at your brain and sends it spinning in spirals, before 'Time, Change, Become' ends things in a welter of yapping and wailing voices and guitars that are only prevented from escaping the atmosphere by the imposing weight of the rhythm section. Available on download and cassette from the band's Bandcamp page, we can only say that this is utterly essential and you need it in your life. And we're going to have a long lie down and think about where we went wrong. Catch them live if at all possible. The lovely Hot Box Live Events have a Codex Serafini show on-line which is riveting and can be viewed here.

Technicolor Blood - Technicolor Blood

Band / LeBackstore Records

Released: 28th May 2021
Montreal quartet Technicolor Blood were formed in 2017 by a roster of veteran rockers from a cross-section of scenes. Comprising of Marty (Scat Rag Boosters) on vocals, synths and guitar; Boredom L (The Aversions) on bass and synths; Carl Ulrich (Dutch Oven) on drums; and Spacy Steph (Le Chelsea Beat) on guitar, this is the band's first twelve-inch offering which is perhaps more of a mini-album than an EP with its six tracks stretching to some thirty minutes. With experience over many genres, it is perhaps not surprising that the music here does not sit in one place, some of the tracks being fairly classic space rock and others leaning more into the post-punk field. Opener 'Last Night' is of the latter type and is reminiscent of fellow countrymen Preoccupations with its rigid rhythms and coldly enunciated vocals. It may lean a little more towards classic rock with the guitars not so tightly controlled, but it's an impressive opening salvo. The following 'Moebius' opens up with a riff that could have been written by Big Country while in the background guitars fuzz and synths burble. It's probably the most commercial song here with a nice, spaced-out outro. 'The War On Terror' sits nearer the punk end of post-punk, forceful, urgent and breathless, while the other three songs are heavier rockers. 'Sonic Space Sister' lives up to its title as it opens to whirling synths that fizz over a deep drone. The guitars adopt classic psych tones as the song powers forward, driven by the forceful rhythm section. It's the longest track here at over eight minutes and changes pace neatly to avoid too much needless repetition. 'Never Command' waltzes along heavily and is straight rock, with closer 'Prisoner' again more rooted in the psych field and seeing plenty of tremolo action. When TB rock, the music is dense and uncompromising and certainly in a live scenario they would very likely knock you over. Technicolor Blood is available as a download from the band's Bandcamp page. There are some neat purple haze vinyl copies available from Les Disques LeBackstore which are limited to a run of 350. If you are in the Americas, this is well worth investigation, but the minimum $20 postage may be a little steep for UK listeners.

Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend

Dirty Hit

Released: 6th June 2021


There's something about a certain new crop of indie bands that we find a little disturbing and we often wonder whether it is just our ageing punk values nagging at us, or whether we suffer from some sort of ridiculous class bigotry. Black Country, New Road are one such example. Much as we enjoy watching them play live, there's something about them that sets our teeth on edge and makes us want to dismiss them as rich kids with too many Weather Report albums. Wolf Alice are of the same ilk. Happily, we managed to see them live early doors and so bought those first releases that now sell for a gazillion quid each. But since those early, almost archetypal indie days, they have progressed with a professionalism that is just a little terrifying and are either trying to become all things to all people, or they really do have some magic about them which has allowed them to absorb influences from every shade of the spectrum and present their songs in a highly polished way which will appeal to a large proportion of the population. There are eleven songs on Blue Weekend which stretch over forty minutes, and they all sound smooth and different and faultless and stadium-ready. It is difficult not to listen to the record and think, "This is the indie song, this is the R&B song, this is the punk song, this is the country song..." It's like an odd compilation where all of the tunes have quality and are easy to like, but perhaps are a little harder to love.

In truth, it is difficult not to be a little cynical about a band who appear to be desperate to achieve fame, and who wanted a big hit album so much their label released it in as many formats as they thought they could get away with. Of course, nobody has to buy them all, but there are always people who love a band who will try and get hold of the complete set and these are the people a band should be cherishing, not screwing. As well as the black vinyl, Blue Weekend is available on red vinyl (indies exclusive), blue vinyl with a free CD, green vinyl (webstore exclusive), numbered blue marbled vinyl with lenticular cover, red vinyl with a numbered obi strip, numbered yellow vinyl (HMV), red vinyl with a free 7" (RSD), picture disc, six cassettes and three CDs. And, as good as the record may be, that is a bit shit. Yet it would be wrong to dismiss an album simply because of dodgy politics. Especially when there is so much here that is good to the ears.

Opening with the quite terrific 'The Beach' it's as though the trio approached this album in a tentative mood, knocking gently at the door, though further progress reveals that this apparent vulnerability and lack of assurance pretty much begins and ends here. After its dreamy opening, the vocal in 'Delicious Things' calls to mind All Saints and though the subject matter might be about social dislocation, the song is so solid and placed it really doesn't feel like it. 'Lipstick On The Glass' is smooth and soulful, while 'Smile' is the album's highlight, bringing to mind the Wolf Alice of old. This is rockier and more combative, with the swearing complementing it nicely. "I am what I am and I'm good at it," states Ellie Rowsell and we don't doubt it for a minute. We can live without sixties-style ballad 'Safe From Heartbreak' and the soft, Enya-like 'How Can I Make It OK?' You get the feeling from the lyrics that Wolf Alice are playing out multiple scenarios in order to discover exactly where they belong, whether socially, sexually or musically, and the punk charge of 'Play The Greatest Hits' leaves them no nearer to a conclusion despite the obvious catharsis. 'The Last Man On Earth' is really quite accomplished with its lyrical adeptness and swirling melodies, 'No Hard Feelings' is pretty and disposable, while closer 'The Beach II' bring things full circle leaving us hopefully, but probably not, "happy ever after".

This is a good record, no question about it, and there really are some songs that will leave you catching your breath. But it also leaves some nagging doubts. Perhaps it's best not to think too hard about it and just immerse yourself in its better moments...

Pink Drone - Modernism

Hip Slang

Released: 10th June 2021


With his debut collection, Fluxus, appearing near the end of last year, it hasn't taken long for John Rose to record the follow up album, Modernism, which is again released under the Pink Drone banner. When you hit a creative wave, it is important to take the best advantage of it and, as Bowie moved straight on from recording Hunky Dory to starting on Ziggy Stardust, Rose barely stopped for breath after finishing Fluxus before returning to the studio to lay down the eleven tracks featured here. The ideas he developed in the early recordings continued to flow, and there is a keenness to experiment with new sounds, so while this record remains in the post-punk-synth field, it has a wide scope and a heavy punch. 'Modernism', ironically, is a century-old concept now, the desire to create something new not by ignoring the past, but by revising its context and re-writing it into something contemporary. Thus Pink Drone's Modernism retains its classical shape, averaging just over three minutes a track, and borrows the sounds of the late 1970s and early 1980s in order to reflect the mood of today. And it is very much a single concept that needs to be taken on board as a whole and not as a series of throwaway moments. The occasional vocals are perfect, distant and drained of emotion, the drum patterns are achingly archaic, and the synths swirl hauntingly out of your memories. When guitars are used, they capture the same mood. On 'Blackout' they sound like Robert Smith creating a Bond theme, while 'Somnambulist' has more than a hint of early PiL about it. There are even nods to the German electronic bands of that era in 'Dusseldorf' and 'Antenna', both draping layers of retro synths over unflinching beats. Fluxus was a breath of fresh air when it first appeared; a genuine post-punk record the like of which nobody makes any more. Modernism is very much more of the same and it can't fail to grab you. The familiarity of some sounds will make you both smile and yearn for days gone by, yet as a whole Modernism will encourage further exploration into what can be achieved today with a good ear and a good vision.

OCE∆NSS - Atlantic

Weird Beard

Released: 11th June 202
After concluding their first series of limited edition cassettes in fine style with the recent double BTP collection, Weird Beard haven't put their feet up but have raced straight into Season Two with a compilation of all of the material so far released by Mexican quartet, Oceanss. It has to be said that there are some remarkable bands currently to be found in South America and Oceanss are the latest to add to the essential list. This tape consists of the band's singles 'We Sink' (2012), 'Mediterranean' (2013) and 'Neuromancer X' (2019) as well as the five tracks found on the original Atlantic EP, first released in 2015. The music is dark alternative rock with "a suffocating atmosphere ... multiple distortions, powerful bass and whispered voices, as if emerging violently from the bottom of the sea." This accounts for the band's name and the song titles Oceanss have used as they have looked to capture the feeling of being both submerged and empowered by the weight of the churning waters. And they have succeeded in fine style. There's thirty-five minutes of music here, all of it pressing, opening with the EP tracks and concluding with the singles. 'Tarot' is built on church organs and sways thoughtfully before a plangent guitar brings it to a conclusion. It's the odd one out here as 'DLYSD' immediately attacks with more force in a glorious punk-surf way, the buried vocals pushed along by a thumping rhythm and some glorious Link Wray guitars. 'Lick The Stars' dances in the darkness, guitars shimmering and vocals drifting, while 'Outer Limits' emerges from the depths to muscle along the surface. It's tough and grey, but Luis Alberto's guitars are somehow uplifting and affirming. There's no affirmation on the final EP track 'Ancolia' which is the most broken and Carlos Orozco's bass almost succeeds in bursting through and ripping the song apart at the seams. It's a very fine thing indeed. The oldest track here, 'We Sink' races along almost BRMC style with guitars howling all around, while 'Mediterranean' is more muffled, the disembodied vocals sounding like a re-animated Andrew Eldritch lost in the world of drone. The cassette ends with the band's newest song, 'Neuromancer X' which again gathers around a solid backbeat with the vocals twisted and indistinguishable and guitars crying in impotent rage. We like this a lot; it's dark and dense and thoughtful and strangely alluring. Again, there will only be fifty of these tapes to chase so good luck with that. Maybe some will make it to the Weird Beard webpage. If they do, grab one.

The Sisters Of Mercy - BBC Sessions 1982-1984


Released: 12th June 2021
A small slice of heaven (or is that hell?) for once on RSD as BBC sessions from both The Sisters Of Mercy and The March Violets were released in two album sets. The offering from the Sisters is pressed on heavyweight "Smokey" 180g vinyl and contains twelve tracks from two Peel sessions from 1982 and 1984, and a Kid Jenson session from 1983. Why the fuck nobody can spell "smoky" these days is just another annoyance in a particularly irritating world, but the discs look great and the black print on the inside of the cover is a nice touch. It's a shame that this is as far as it goes, with no inner sleeves or download codes included. Side four is blank and unetched, though the simple Merciful Release logo on the label is highly effective.

For many of us The Sisters Of Mercy only existed between 1982 and 1985, so these are peak period recordings; the later Steinman work was great in its overblown pomposity but never captured the shadowy bite of the original band. Dumping Pat Morrison was just a sign that Andrew Eldritch had no interest in the Sisters being anything more than an outlet for his own work and the subsquent Vision Thing outfit was a poor shadow of what had been before. It would probably be better not to mention the electro-Sisters of recent years, who made a living on the live circuit without recording any new music, a miserable disappointment.

BBC sessions from indie bands on small labels usually offer up far cleaner recordings than the original records and the production is often a lot sharper. This is undoubtedly the case here. The 1982 Peel session includes both sides of the fabulous 'Alice' / 'Floorshow' single as well as the band's cover of The Stooges' '1969' (originally found on the 'Alice' twelve-inch). The other track is the elusive 'Good Things' that was released as an unofficial (bootleg) single around 1987, but otherwise remained hidden. The sound is fabulous. The bass is punchy, the guitars sharp and Eldritch's vocals less drenched in reverb but no less effective. Memories fly back of just how great this band were. Gary Marx's guitar lines were sublime and Eldritch's lyrics were exquisite dark poetry, a powerful combination. Perhaps 'Alice' suffers a little from being too polished with the original single delightfuly grubby, and more work has definitely been put into 'Floorshow' to make it a little murkier, no doubt due to the need to lay some effects on the strenuous vocals.

The Jensen session from 1983 features incisive versions of 'Valentine' and 'Burn' from the Reptile House EP as well as 'Heartland', the b-side of the 'Temple Of Love' single. Also included is the band's fabulous cover version of Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' which remains an eternal fans' favourite. The band is still in its original form here with Marx and Eldritch joined by bassist Craig Adams and rhythm guitarist Ben Gunn, though by the 1984 Peel session Wayne Hussey has replaced Gunn with the band's sound consequently becoming less stark and a little more rounded. This section includes the brilliant singles 'Walk Away' and 'No Time To Cry' as well as 'Poison Door' (b-side of 'Walk Away') and the stunning cover version of Hot Chocolate's 'Emma'. Hussey's guitars undoubtedly give the songs more depth without erasing the pleasing darkness of the sound. Eldritch is is masterful form while Mark Radcliffe's clever production doesn't add any unnecessary polish. The early version of 'No Time To Cry' is considerably different to how the 1985 single would eventually emerge and is a fascinating listen. It is songs like this and the cover versions that make these radio sessions so endlessly appealing.

None of these tracks have previously been released on vinyl, which is the format on which all Sisters' songs of this period were first released, and the memories of this great era are almost overwhelming as the album plays. Utterly beautiful, utterly essential, utterly brilliant ... there's tears in our eyes.

The March Violets - Big Soul Kiss - The BBC Recordings


Released: 12th June 2021
To make things even better, the BBC also released its radio sessions by The March Violets recorded from 1982 to 1986. Again, a double vinyl edition, this collection is issued in a tidy gatefold sleeve and features twenty-three tracks from six sessions. There are John Peel sessions from 1982, 1983 and 1984, Kid Jensen and Richard Skinner sessions from 1984, and a Janice Long session from 1986. These have been pressed – naturally – on violet vinyl, which is actually more of a translucent purple, though it's the thought that counts. Nine of the songs are previousy unreleased.

For those not in the know, The March Violets formed in Leeds at the end of 1981 and became one of the most popular of the early goth bands who blossomed in that part of Yorkshire. Like others of the era, including The Sisters Of Mercy, they preferred the cold insistency of a drum machine (Dr Rhythm) to a real drummer, but were unusual in having two singers, male and female, to interract on their recordings. The original band members were Tom Ashton (guitar), Laurence Elliot (bass), Simon Denbigh (vocals) and Rosie Garland (vocals), with the songs being written by Denbigh, Ashton and Elliot. Finding the Violets to be in harmony with his own band's approach, Andrew Eldritch of the Sisters Of Mercy released their first two singles on his own Merciful Release label in 1982 before they consequently formed their own Rebirth label.

The March Violets never got around to releasing an album, though their seven singles were quite remarkably good. The first Peel session here features the Violets' second single 'Grooving In Green' and its b-side 'Steam', as well as the magnificent '1 2 I Love You' and 'Radiant Boys' which was first released on the 1984 compilation Natural History. Produced by former Mott The Hoople drummer Dale Griffin, these songs have not been tidied up too much and sound suitably primitive, especially '1 2 I Love You' which was to undergo considerable change before its eventual 1983 release as the b-side of 'Crow Baby'. The second Peel session, recorded some seven months later, was again produced by Griffin who, again, was impressively restrained. The songs here show a greater maturity with the band using the contrast between the vocals of Simon Denbigh and Rosie Garland to excellent effect. This is what makes 'The Undertow' so impressive, another song that was first to appear on Natural History, as well 'Strange Head'. Stunning single 'Crow Baby' is pretty much as it was eventually released, while 'Slow Drip Lizard' eventually saw light of day as an extra on the twelve-inch version of the 'Snakedance' single.

Cleo (Jean) Murray had taken over from Garland on vocals by the time of the Kid Jensen session from February 1984. 'Walk Into The Sun' is here in almost identical form to its single release, while 'Deep' was to be the band's first single after Denbigh departed in February 1985. The band sound so much more accomplished at this stage, yet the music is so obviously March Violets nobody could accuse them of moving too far away from their roots. The other two tracks from this session are new ones. 'Kill The Delight' sways heavily as Murray and Denbigh sing against each other, while 'Big Soul Kiss' is another solid, dark rocker with a combatant vocal duel. The final Peel session, recorded just four months later, features 'Lights Go Out' which was a b-side of 'Walk Into The Sun', and 'Electric Shades' which was one of two magnificent b-sides to 'Deep'. As with 'Deep', the early version here features Denbigh though both songs would be recorded with just Murray's vocals for the eventual single release. In truth, the single version of 'Electric Shades' is a world better; the song being perfect for Murray's voice and it remains one of the best tracks the March Violets ever produced. Tom Ashton's guitar is simply gorgeous and it's just a shame 'Eldorado' doesn't feature here as well. 'Love Hit' and 'Don't Take It Lightly' are officially unreleased songs though both had appeared on some of the numerous Violets' bootlegs.

The session for Richard Skinner recorded at the end of 1984 saw the band dipping into their past to resurrect 'Snake Dance', while also adding 'Deep' and the previously unreleased 'The Face Of The Dragonfly'. The latter is probably the weakest of the unreleased songs, not really making its point despite its length, though Murray makes a decent enough stab at imitating Garland on 'Snake Dance', while 'Deep' appears as a finished product, ripe and ready for release. The final four tracks here are from a 1986 Janice Long session. The band is now without Denbigh and with a real drummer, with the music far more commercially orientated. This is a shame as the edge to the sound has disappeared, with even Ashton's guitar lacking its customary bite.

An excellent release, very nicely done and it's brilliant to have these sessions available to play on vinyl. They just don't make bands like this any more ....


DDT - Freshwater

Drone Rock Records

Pre-order: 18th June 2021
For those who may not be in the know, DDT is a collaboration between Michael Dieter, Andy Duvall and Anthony Taibi, current and former members of Carlton Melton and White Manna, two of modern psych's most highly regarded bands. DDT was formed over a particularly wet January in 2019 when the trio decided they needed to create a vehicle in which they could pursue their more experimental ideas. With nods to the likes of Sun Araw and the more avant-garde end of classic krautrock, the debut album Enter The Bend was released by Drone Rock Records in late 2019 and was a series of improvisations and one takes that captured the trio's first musical moments. Their new outing, Freshwater, finds the band adding greater depth to that early sound with more instrumentation, including double drums, mellotron, guitars and trumpets. Duvall describes the collection as being "a big leap from our debut ... stranger, heavier, more confident," with Taibi adding, "It’s hard for me to think about or listen to these recordings without relating it to the craziness of 2020." What we are presented with is ten songs over thirty-five minutes, ranging in scope from a minute-and-a-half to over six minutes, where confidence is certainly the key word. These are a well-considered series of mindscapes created by musicians who have dug deep into the recesses of the brain to uncover the confusion, hope and determination residing there over a year of lockdowns, agitation, increasing polarisation and paranoia. The result is an exciting mixture of sounds with the unsettling 'Divided Attention' opening the show with its tense guitars a complete contrast to the following 'Lay Lines' which pulses along gently to a motorik beat with only minor grumblings underneath some gently wavering keyboards and guitars. In general there is more doubt than hope to be found. The meandering alien backwash to 'Always Return' is genuinely disturbing, with the backing horns warped and strange, while 'Wake Of The Second Wave' (the title speaks for itself) is painfully sharp and cutting. 'The Crows Know' is blunt and brutal, sounding like a brain at bursting point. One glimpse at the excellent cover artwork will give you some idea of how these songs sound: a combustible mass of blood, ideas and confusion. Amongst all of the pain there are traces of a robust fightback as the album draws to its end. 'Dynamo' shows strength of purpose, 'Marking The Clouds' is powerful and oblique though unthreatening, while the closer 'The Second Third' leaves us with no conclusion, its heavy drone and soaring synths neither symbols of surrender nor victory. The dying, rough pulses show us that the fight goes on. Freshwater is being released in a run of just 250 copies and is available in two variants, both of which come with an instant digital download when purchased through the DRR website. The special edition of 150 copies is in cherry cola and cream swirled vinyl with red splatter effect, while the regular edition of 100 copies is in cherry cola vinyl and mainly available from record shops. Orders open from 18th June here though the records will not be sent out until late June or early July, by which time they will be long sold out so dive in quickly.

Hurry - Fake Ideas

Lame-O Records

Released: 25th June 2021
Sometimes an album comes along and simply knocks you off your feet because it is so damn near perfection. It doesn't happen very often but when it does it really is a moment to savour. Fake ideas is the fourth album from Hurry, originally a front for Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter-guitarist Matt Scottoline, but more recently a fully-fledged band additionally featuring Rob DeCarolis on drums, Joe DeCarolis on bass and Justin Fox on guitar. The music they produce is warm indie guitar pop and Hurry's ability to do the simple things well lifts this ten-track, thirty-nine minute offering head and shoulders above those of their contemporaries. There is just an easiness about everything they do, an obvious mastery of melody and exemplary decision-making. You'll struggle to find a note out of place on this record, a guitar line that doesn't do the right thing at the right time and a song that doesn't ache in sufficient measure. It really is quite beautiful and a resounding success for Scottoline who made a concious decision to alter direction for this album. Previously he had looked to escape traditional rock sounds, but "this time around there has been a back to basics approach with both the songwriting style and instrumentation." And who can argue with shimmering, jangling guitars, easy rhythms and earnest vocals that dwell on both love and the singer's struggles with an anxiety disorder. It makes the lyrics honest and open; navigating life is a struggle we all face and Scottoline's words are embracing rather than defensive. From the gentle climb into opening track, 'It's Dangerous', we find ourselves on solid ground. The guitar sound is glorious as it takes a tangental path from the wordy vocals but always serves to complement and usher us to the correct destination. 'Where You Go, I Go' is warmingly familiar and half the trick of this album is that it doesn't stray far from old paths that conjure intimate memories. Here they invoke nostalgia, and in 'Sometimes I'm Not There' they simply impress with their poise and grace. It's a major highlight, but there are so many here to choose from. At its halfway point, 2021 hasn't been the best year for music, but in the field of jangly, heart-wrenching pop it is throwing up all sorts of surprises and there is much to love. And you won't love anything as much as this.

Psychic Lemon - Studio Jams Volumes 3 and 4

Weird Beard

Released: 30th June 2021
Weird Beard released Volumes 1 & 2 of Psychic Lemon's Studio Jams in June last year where the band laid down their frustrations at the lockdown in a series of powerful jams. These were heavy, dark and thoroughly pissed off recordings from a band who had hoped to be in the studio rehearsing songs for their fourth album, the follow-up to 2019's Freak Mammals, but instead were trapped in limbo by the virus. The first two volumes ran in at an impressive 105 minutes of music, and the final two in the collection add another hour to that, making this second tape equally good value for money. It is interesting how lockdown sounds developed over the year of 2020. Initially they were all bitterness, fear and helplessness, but as time progressed they began to mirror the ennui that grew as fear dissipated but time did not. Boredom became an enemy of endurance, but the end result of that conflict was not surrender, but defiance, the music breaking through the torpor to reflect a new-found determination to fight back hard to reclaim a way of living that was gradually becoming a memory. This collection reflects that course perfectly. The thirteen minutes of 'Jam 10' considers the battle. Built over a solid, mid-tempo rhythm track, guitars gossip and complain while official announcements are broadcast in the background. Though the song builds in power and pace with a sharper attack and a growing purpose, the final broadcast makes it clear that no victory has been won. Time again rattles by as 'Jam 11' steals a further thirteen minutes and there is little here to threaten the clock ticking. Some synths tap their fingers and guitars occasionally groan but there is near-resignation in the repetitive beat. 'Non-specific Mental Reactivity' is the most broken track here with guitars flickering over a rumbling drone with some ghostly background wailing. If this is the brain attempting to come to terms with the situation, then the result is impressive. Volume 4 demonstrates that new-found defiance, opening with 'Jam 12' which stretches over fourteen minutes and is built around a bobbing bass loop. This session simply drips determination and hisses viciously as big guitars strike out in all directions with telling force. There's little doubt they are hitting their mark; you can almost hear the broken pieces striking the ground before they are trodden into the dust. This is powerful stuff that will shake you to the core and as you up the volume, the power increases exponentially. Blimey. The closer 'Jam 13' almost makes it to nineteen minutes and again is a bit of a monster. Martin Law's scattered beats encourage Andy Hibberd's crushing bass, while Andy Briston's guitars are worthy of a whole handful of ASBOs. This is sonic assault and battery and it's intoxicating. Psychic Lemon's journey through the lockdown months has been one of the most fascinating to behold. They have captured the whole essence of that grim period with perfect displays of unease, inertia and resolve as these four volumes, released into the community by Weird Beard, will stand as a bewitching testament to a bewildering era.

Charlie Butler - Analog Funeral

Weird Beard

Released: 30th June 2021
With the vinyl tailback heading over the horizon, Weird Beard are managing to fill the gaps in our lives with their fascinating series of cassette releases, this four-track collection from Charlie Butler being offered up alongside the epic outing from Psychic Lemon. Butler is best known as a member of Cody Noon, Mothertrucker and Head Drop, but has recently started recording as a solo artist and his first collection consists of four tracks, running in at just under half an hour. The tracks range from ten minutes to three-and-a-half, each one an atmospheric, lo-fi instrumental. Opening to flickering synths and a creeping bass, 'Wooly Neptune' could be an Ennio Morricone score to a sci-fi western as partially buried, phased guitars play out an melodic accompaniment that builds in intensity, gradually becoming more aggressive and mocking as the track progresses. It's the longest number here, stretching to over ten minutes, and is followed by the shortest, 'Future Visions', three-and-a-half minutes of strident noise that says very little promising about our future. Or our visions. The title track is the pick of the bunch as shuddering guitars smother a nudging bass loop; they begin to grind more as the background drone increases in weight creating a doomy and solemn march. Closer 'Spine Of The World' sees gently distorted guitars telling the same tale over and over while a light drone, occasionally burbling and fizzing, drags the piece along. It's as if Butler has stripped a pop song down to its component parts and left them standing there alone and naked. Altogether an interesting opening salvo from Charlie; he builds atmosphere cleverly but Analog Funeral is not smothered in darkness or laden with threats. It's probing and questioning and open ended. Which is nice.
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