Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Class M Planets is the project of Adam Goldman from Portland, OR (I’ll have to check with my friend Roger Neville-Neil if he’s aware of this musician) and while it’s clearly not space-rock – you guessed that from the cover image, right? – it’s going to interest blog readers who enjoy that sort of bucolic, pastoral, alt-folk psych singer-songwriter music that Cary Porter’s acrylic cover painting exactly suggests.
The accompanying press release for this LP, released in July 2014, invokes Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan, and a smattering of Leonard Cohen and I’d add that perhaps it just about swaps an orbit with Twink or much more particularly Ian A. Anderson but then again it’s quite charming enough to standalone. Regular readers of the blog will likely remember Adam for his split 7” single with Bevis Frond that I’d reviewed back in 2013, playing as thebrotheregg and releasing just as enchanting a record then.
Sixteen tracks, with Goldman working alongside different musicians on each, all reflect the vividness of that striking cover painting – again to quote the PR on this “the final product is a beautiful, 180 gram, vinyl album with full-colour gatefold and insert” – brief but gently crafted songs that have a contradiction to them simply because they are spaciously lo-fi but still lushly realised. A neat trick, I’d say.
So what these songs are, they’re wrapped up in an ethereal mysticism and still they’re about the here and now of real life. They’re elegant and approachable, heartfelt intimacies. As sparse as, say, a Pulco record, as neatly simple as a BMX Bandits song and as satisfyingly complex as you’d want.
Lizards Exist note themselves to be a space/psychedelic rock band from Croatia with influences from the 60s/70s Kraut and British prog rock scene. “Using only 100% analog vintage equipment (pre 1976) we bring these vintage sounds in its original form to the listener.” A visit to their Facebook page tells us their line-up: Boris - Drums Roko Margeta (aka Grimble Gromble) - Keyboards, Synths Siniša Mraović (aka Captain Binson) – Guitar, Tihomir Zdjelarević – Bass.
The eponymous album, four tracks, that is available on-line is their first, a meandering and loose instrumental collection leaning most heavily towards their Krautrock inspirations; recorded in March 2014. It’s intense and abstract, the musicians winding their way through the music in studious, serious, manner and in that respect it does have the early part of the 1970s clinging to it. Brozović is busy on the drum kit without being intrusive, working around it without having to hit everything Clem Burke-style but keeping the whole thing moving in the right direction and allowing his colleagues to deviate and explore.
The British influence comes through as stylistically Canterbury in their experimenting but there’s also a energetic groove happening throughout the recordings that means that while they sound almost chin-strokingly thoughtful about what they’re doing, there’s also some liveliness to their music and some judicious deconstructing into noise.
Thursday, 27 November 2014
Krankschaft have slipped past me a little bit since I reviewed their excellent album The Flame Red Superstar a while back, where they were essentially Steve Pond and Dead Fred and had produced a record that was a loving re-examination of some of the lesser known writings of Bob Calvert, who they’d worked with on, and around the time of, Bob’s career-affirming show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, itself recorded for posterity and released back in the day.
Fred’s no longer involved with the band, as I understand it that’s because of his recently revived Hawkwind membership and its associated commitments, so Krankschaft are now Steve Pond with newer recruits Alex Tsentides (bass) and Kevin Walker (drums). And, not to overdo the use of the ‘H’ word, since even those bands that most proudly wear their Hawkwind influences on their sleeves like a badge of allegiance to a common cause, the opening track of their new LP launches itself with unashamed, unabashed, Hawkwind riffs, effects and lyrics that have an early ‘Wind vibe and an influence from multiple Hawk-numbers. Bloody great it is, too.
Though they never drift away from the central space rock theme, ’Dark Energy’, as the record’s starting point, is the most overtly in debt to Hawkwind and they stretch their space-faring legs more widely and very ably across the other seven tracks. The wistfully disappointed ‘Jetpack’ (‘When I was young they said you won’t grow old / I hate this future we’ve been sold’) chimes with all of us who grew up in the scientific optimism of the 60s and 70s, a twist on the old notion of the jetpacks we were promised that’s touching and affecting… and very perceptive. Whatever happened to the future? ‘Day of the Quake’ is a driving and muscular interpretation of a Calvert poem; that regular returning to Bob’s words a reminder, I’d think, of just how much working and associating with Bob in the latter part of his life still means to Steve Pond.
‘Come Fly With Us’ has a jagged and spiralling guitar intro that’s catchy and attention grabbing and leads into an appropriately uplifting, really rather poppy song, that will do extremely well played live with its soaring lead guitar punctuated by Brock-like riffs. None of that is intended as a pun, either! (From the credits, I’m not sure whose song this is, by the way).
I try to put my finger on the opening of ‘Silent Witness’. Not sure whether to think it has some early 80s, New Romantic, leanings; whether it owes something to John Foxx, and/or Ultravox, or to Visage perhaps, twisted into a heavier rock thing as with Depeche Mode. I don’t know… but it’s a strong piece, it feels like it has substance and heart and it’s a memorable blend of electronics and guitar that stands out and a bit to one side from the rest of the record, an alternative pathway Krankschaft could explore – not out of place by any means, but just different.
The science fiction theme of ‘Moon’, the call of something lost millennia before, waiting to be rediscovered and reclaimed is beautifully realised in a quite charming song that’s more about the singing than the music so that instead of the words and vocals being the icing on the cake of the soundtrack, on this one the music is there to help describe and underline the vocals, and if the lyrics are a bit hippie in their outset they reach a satisfying conclusion.
‘Sheep’ has the band sounding like an updated middle-era Inner City Unit in some ways; I didn’t care for what I heard as the clichéd and hectoring lyrics (Sorry Steve!) so likely in the future this one is my ‘skip’ track I’m afraid, but ‘Who What Why’ plays us out energetically… should be a set closer in a live show. So, one track that I didn’t much care for – seven that are properly terrific. I think that counts as a result.
Saturday, 8 November 2014
This could be just the start of an on-going series of unreleased recordings from the Gothic Godfather not just because it contains re-workings and recorded as radio sessions material from Paul Roland’s extensive songbook but because it comes at a time when the muse is strong with a copious amount of new albums and re-thought reissues having appeared in recent years, alongside Roland’s parallel creative pathway which has seen him releasing books on Marc Bolan, Steampunk, and, most recently, H P Lovecraft.
The first ten tracks were recorded in January 2013 with a full band line-up that had been assembled for a charity show in London that winter and which, when a mooted series of British gigs failed to materialise, came together to lay down some potential radio session tracks. Largely, the versions they cut are more muscular, rocking, interpretations: ‘Re-animator’ from the album of the same name, ‘Captain Nemo’ from its Nevermore successor. ‘The Puppet Master’ and ‘Cairo’ which hail from Burnt Orchids, much further back in Paul’s catalogue. There’s a sense with these re-visitations that he really had a ball in playing them again, with an upfront and vigorous vocal performance full of menace and attack. And, while this reviewer gives thanks to the terrific reissue programme that has brought much of Paul’s canon back into circulation, there’s songs such as ‘Aleistair Crowley’, from the still pending reissue Gargoyles that reaffirms the yearning for the remainder to make their way along the queue.
These ten songs are so strong in the craft that created them and the verve with which they are played, as well as the gothic / steampunk / occult themes that tie them together, that they would have made a satisfying and internally consistent album by themselves. Recorded back in 2007, the following track here, a rip-roaring cover of Marc Bolan’s ‘Meadows Of The Sea’ almost feels like it comes from the same session, even while being perhaps more aggressively delivered while a version of Joy Division’s ‘Day Of The Lords’, originally released on Shadowplay, a Joy Division tribute album, is a brooding, pent-up and coiled take on the original that brings something new – as a good cover should. A largely acoustic version of ‘Kali’ from the recent Bates Motel [where ‘Tortured By The Daughter Of Fu Manchu’, from the January 2013 sessions here also appeared] is a exotic delight among the remaining selections, while another acoustic cut, the Bates Motel title-track is full of foreshadowed doom.
So it’s two different albums really, a internally consistent set that makes up the first half of the record and a more scattergun assembly of the remainder that has a lot of great material but has the feel of being bonus tracks to the main event. As a whole, though, this would make an excellent entry point into Paul Roland’s music… if you’ve not heard his work previously this one is recommended from that point of view. If, like me, you’re a fan, this one is an essential part of a Roland collection.
There are a few reviews starting to appear for the new edition of Strange Boat – Mike Scott & The Waterboys (Gonzo Multimedia paperback / Lumoni Press E-book).
Goodreads Website has a terrific review from musician and author Stephen Palmer that’s associated with the original SAF edition but is a commentary on the new edition. “In summary: a particularly well assembled biography of a fascinating musician. No fan of Mike Scott or the Waterboys, of ‘eighties music, or of the many strands of Celtic music will want to miss this entertaining book. Definitely recommended.”
The Rocker website doesn’t much care for Mike Scott or his music I’m afraid, but still thinks that Strange Boat is “still a good read… it filled an otherwise dull Monday afternoon quite comfortably.” You’ll need to scroll down to their 16th October entries to read this review.
At Get Ready To Rock website Jason Ritchie thinks Strange Boat “a comprehensive overview” and notes that Mike Scott comes across “a thoroughly nice person,” which I’m not quite sure chimes totally with his single-minded nature myself, but does conclude that “interviews with the man himself would have really provided a deeper insight into the lyrics and ways of creating music.” Which, of course, I can’t disagree with.
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Children of Leir releases a brand new Double A-side single through Simulations.
‘Black Annis’ b/w ‘Children Of Leir’ will be released on October 27th on 7” vinyl only and is limited to 100 copies.
...The Dane Hills area of Leicester was said to be haunted by a hideous blue skinned, hag-like creature known as Black Annis, possibly a relict of some local pagan deity. Although partial to all human flesh she took particular delight in eating young children, whom she would flay alive. She would then hang their skins like some grisly trophy upon the walls of a cave known as 'Black Annis' Bower'. She is said to have created the cave with her bare hands, tearing through the rock with her iron claws..
The single can be bought from the Children of Leir Bandcamp site.
The second Children of Leir album is due in 2015.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
So this is as about as far removed from space-rock as you’ll find posted on this blog, but republished in an updated edition by Gonzo Multimedia (Print Edition) and Lumoni Press (which is me… eBook edition) is my 2007 book on Mike Scott & The Waterboys. There’s a Goodreads Giveaway that runs until 31st August 2014; entries from anywhere in the world are very welcome and I’ve 2 copies to giveaway in this competition.
Otherwise, the book is available here in its print edition from Gonzo’s website (though it’ll also be available from other on-line retailers… I see Barnes & Noble are listing it already for example) and either at Smashwords or Amazon sites if you want to download the eBook version.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
A few things to mention. The new issue of Vive Le Rock magazine is out now – I’ve contributed a retrospective 30th anniversary piece on the Stonehenge Free Festivals which is compiled from interviews and material collected for Festivalized, which itself has a new publisher contracted and will appear towards the end of this year. Really pleased that VLR have devoted pages to celebrating the Stonehenge festivals and hope blog readers will get along to their newsagent or buy on-line and support this issue!
When I think of the work undertaken on the Festivalized book, one of the great memories was travelling down to Hove railway station and being picked up and driven to a scrap yard that he appeared to be living on by the legendary Gary Bamford of 2000DS. Gary and several members of his family died in a tragic head-on collision in Jamaica two or three years ago and his daughter Josie was serious injured in that accident. There’s some detail on what’s happen to Josie since and her plans for the future on this Kapipal Donations Page (Here) and it would be wonderful if blog readers who remember the free festival scene, Gary and 2000DS could click through, read its contents and make a donation however small (or large of course).
Finally a mention that at the World Science Fiction Convention, Lon Con 3, at Excel in August, I’ll be on a panel discussing the Music of the Future at 10am on Sunday 17th. There’s also a space rock panel in the afternoon that sadly I’m not on, but for sure will be attending. If any readers of this blog are going to the World Con that day and are sitting on on either of these panels it’d be great to say “Hello”.