Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ray Off Clean & Dry Area Before Application (United Fairy Moons)

There's no way on earth that I could pin down what New Zealand's Ray Off are doing in mere words. Their sound is way too complex and genre-bending to be placed in any existing field. I guess phrases like soft, dense clouds of psychedelic drone primitivism, haunting folk structures and glacial improv all have been key ingredients in the past and although this new outing (Mainly a solo thing from United Fairy Moons boss James Currin) certainly has its base in the same intoxicating hot pools it’s at the same time quite different.

There seems to be a whole lot more electronics, piano and collage-like record techniques present this time out which results in an ambush of freeform cosmic patterns where the instruments are no longer easily identified. This new disc is also less folky and not quite as direct as last year’s amazing Ghost Wolf of Thunder Mountain but although being somewhat challenging, the fruits are indeed plentiful.

Adam Bugaj Wave of Tears (Deep Water)

Adam Bugaj is a member of rustic noise rockers the Clear Spots, an ensemble we’ve praised on repeated occasions here at the BF headquarters. Given that it shouldn’t even be a question whether we enjoy Bugaj’s solo music or not, but this is such a different cup of tea that it unquestionably has to live on its own merits. Luckily Wave of Tears is shock full with the kind of sonic wisdom, intricate collage-like pop structures and sparkling electronica that is all too rare these days.

Chopped underwater ceremonies and melodic fragments are placed against a tapestry of tape-hiss and polyrhythmic psychedelia. Imagine a rousing but still downcast sound carousel reminiscent of Wilson/Parks as much as Dreamies and you’re in the right sketchy ballpark.

It’s been way too long since I last heard a recording that managed to surprise me as much as this one and that’s capable of growing with every single listen. I have had this CD-R in my possession for a couple of months now and every time I return to the disc it’s like it has a new unspoken, hidden message to tell. This is an unknown classic that probably is destined to a life in obscurity, but if you ask me it’s one of the finest things I’ve heard in 2006. Highly recommended.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alvarius B s/t (Abduction)

I know that I already have bored everyone silly with comments on how much I love the Sun City Girls, and my respect for what they do have only increased in recent years. Maybe not as much for the new SCG material as for all their side projects.

This disc is a much-needed reissue of the first Alvarius B (Alan Bishop) LP, an album including 28 acoustic guitar excursions that despite its obvious instrumental limitations still manages to cover a lot of the hallucinatory brilliant grounds SCG refers to as home. The music was recorded from 1981 to 1989 onto various portable cassette decks and this reissue includes the original music from the LP plus four unreleased bonus tracks.

What we get is a pretty fucked up racket of rustic front-porch instrumentals that are delivered with a somewhat primitive, if not even sloppy approach. There’s a strong sense of home-recorded Appalachian folk running through it all, but to be honest this is probably as much inspired by Eastern music and lo-fi aesthetics as it is by narrow parkways and back roads dusted with brilliantly colored fallen leaves. Despite the delicate and sketchy guitar style there's often a bit of a cacophonic sense to some of these tracks, but it's only briefly that they veer off into pure noise excursions. This is the kind of guitar music that either will make you paint images of beautiful places or see strange visions of radiant thick smoke twisting in effervescing spirals and eerie patterns.

Jens If You’ve Seen Me Lately… (Goddamn I’m A Countryman)
Råd Kjetil And The Loving Eye Of God Mattmar (Goddamn I’m A Countryman)

It’s always a pleasure to receive a new package from the amazing Goddamn I’m A Countryman imprint. Besides the opportunity to treat your ears to some of the most potent, contemporary psychedelic music around we also get the chance to witness a label that no matter what always will follow their own route through the wilderness. That goes from just about everything from the press kit to the actual packaging.

If You’ve Seen Me Lately, Please Tell Me Where I’ve Been is the second solo album from Jens Unosson, one of the founding members and keyboard player of the Spacious Mind. Like the debut we get a tasty bit of soft-spoken psychedelic folk with a strong historical/genealogical connection to the varied sounds of the late '60's/early '70's rock underground. One can always argue if we really need another slice of hippie-esque guitar-sitar-flute-keyboard psychedelia but as long as it’s this unique and top shelf in terms of sonic quality I am not the one that’s going to complain. I wrote elsewhere that it’s relieving that it finally seems to be ok to return to a specific part of the music history that from time to time seems to have been forbidden territories. I guess my perspective when it comes to these kind of things is that there are interesting aspects of pretty much every sonic era, so combing chosen segments of the past with the future will always lead to interesting sonic meetings if placed in the right talented hands. Jens does (with help from female singer Linnea) just that.

Mattmar is the second epic album from the mysterious Råd Kjetil And The Loving Eye Of God. I’ve never quite managed to figure out who these guys are but it goes without saying that they’re somehow connected to the Spacious Mind camp and that’s to tell you the truth all we need to know. In terms of sounds this is a bit closer to the mothership; a nightly, stretched-out visit to the land of glacially changing structures, harmonious and cosmic passages, floating psychedelia, Eastern inspired ragas and subtle experimentalism. Nice.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Deep Water update

Our long-awaited (by us, anyway) review of Terrastock 6 is now up at the Deep Water site, co-written in round-robin fashion by several of our team and just chock full of impressions and opinions. Enjoy!


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

After the goldrush #10a

Wailing Bones Volume 5 is the fourth installment in Foxglove’s ongoing series of CD-R releases, split between four artists, each contributing long form tracks. This volume is one of the finest, and by far the most aggressive, I’ve heard so far as it both features the rustic noise and psychdelicised, muddy waters of the Clear Spots (which we have praised before) as well as the spacious outback improv and avant-blues-folk of the Lost Domain. Add to all this even heavier goods and epic contributions from Wolfskull and Heavy Winged and you got yourself another stellar compilation from the Digitalis/Foxglove/Foxy Digitalis camp.

More of the heavy stuff comes from Finland’s Tivol on their new album for Last Visible Dog. Three epic Krautrock pieces (think Amon Düül 2 at their loudest) based around primitive guitar workouts and percussive grooves provide loud, psychedelic excess of the most repetitious variety. Tivol is obviously in huge debt to the entire Krautrock movement, but there is enough uniqueness here to make their cascading collisions of layers upon layers of guitars, throbbing bass-lines and propulsive drumming a very worthwhile endeavor.

More to come…