Friday, 18 May 2018

PYRAMID - PYRAMID (Mental Experience LP, CD, D/L).

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……..

Sunday, 22 April 2018

LANDING - BELLS IN NEW TOWNS (El Paraiso Records LP, CD, D/L).

Back with their second album for El Paraiso Records, veteran Connecticut Experimental/Shoegaze/Alt Rock band Landing return with another record that again blurs the boundaries between genres, mixing heavy oscillating drones and fuzzy, motoric Psychedelia with the lush ambient soundscapes and dreamy vibes that fans of their rich multi-textured sound will be very familiar with. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, but showing no signs of losing creative momentum and much like their spiritual kins in Yo La Tengo and Bardo Pond, Landing have eclectically picked their influences from a wide range of musical eras and cultures creating a woozy mix of electric music for the body and mind.

Less experimental than their previous release on El Paraiso, 2016’s Third Sight, Bells In New Towns is a hazy blend of full tilt Shoegaze/Psych Rock that sounds not unlike the present day, bulked up Slowdive with shimmering guitars and half whispered vocals fusing together in the mix and glacial Eno-esque ambience that resonates over 10 exceptional tracks. Considered to be their finest, most cohesive effort to date, the songs on Bells In New Towns are very modern but also have timeless quality with echoes of the first wave of ethereal Dream Pop bands from nearly 30 years ago. Fuzz bass and minimal primitive electronic are the first sounds you hear once the needle drops……….then the onrushing waves of guitar squall kick in. ‘Nod’ opens the album with a skull crushing bass groove as Landing take their delicate mix of Shoegaze and ambient soundscaping somewhere much darker and heavier……….. on this record the ethereal components of their sound are firmly anchored by a tight, steady low-end, no doubt due to the fact that the album was partly recorded by seasoned New England rock producer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Pixies, Sonic Youth). Fluttering Electronica mixes with a much rockier sound right across the record giving real bite to Landing’s quite fragile sound, this is more than evident on tracks such as ‘By Two’ the pulsing Neu! inspired ‘Bright’, the fuzzed up and freaked out ‘Wait or Hide’ and the stunning closing track ‘Second Sight’. A really wonderful record that fans of both “classic” Shoegaze and more edgy modern Psych Rock will love to death.

Erm……Landing 04/05/2018, Bells in New Towns will available on lavender coloured vinyl and CD from all the best record stores, the usual suspects on line or direct from El Paraiso Records where pre-orders are being taken now.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

THE PREFAB MESSIAHS - PSYCHSPLOITATION TODAY (Lolipop Records/Burger Records CD, Cassette, D/L).

All the cool stuff you are going to need for a right proper rave up is here………….sounding in parts like the best tracks that never made it onto Nuggets (and then again sounding like lost gems from the Neo-Psychedelic 80s), The Prefab Messiahs are back with a new record of fuzzy Freakbeat, kaleidoscopic Psychedelia and Garage Rock swagger that knowingly channels bands such as the Oh Sees, The Kinks, The Flamin’ Groovies, Electric Prunes, Night Beats, Soft Boys and The Dukes of Stratosphear with a sly wink. Boston Anglophiles, The Prefab Messiahs have sucked up influences from the last 50 odd years of Psychedelia/Garage which oozes out all over Psychsploitation Today where the speaker shredding R&B raunch of The Kinks, the Stones and the Yardbirds mix with hazy West Coast jangley Psychedelia as the sweaty underground clubs of London crash together with the ballrooms of S.F. in the Prefabs’ groovy universe.

Very much like The Dukes of Stratosphear’s psychedelic adventures, Psychsploitation Today is a mix of homage and great song writing with some of the clues very obvious. ‘ Monster Riff’ with it’s…….errm……..monster riff a direct cop from ‘Shake Some Action’ is a love letter to The Flamin’ Groovies while ‘Outtayerhands’ is built on the Dave Davies killer riff from ‘I Need You’…………..The Prefab Messiahs are skilled musical magpies and have nicked all the shiny bits from all the best records and have shaped them into something warmly familiar that also work as inventive stand alone 60s Psych influenced songs. If you are not that bothered about records being cutting edge and are fans of classic Garage Rock/Neo-Psych there is so much to love here………from the lysergic swirl of ‘Psychsploitation’ all through to the ominous ‘Last Day on Earth’ Psychsploitation Today is a total trip. Dig it People.

Out NOW, Psychsploitation Today is available on CD (via Lolipop Records) and cassette (via Burger Records) from all cool record stores and the usual suspects on line. A digital download is available from the band’s Bandcamp site where you can also check out/stream/buy the album here…………………

Thursday, 5 April 2018

BLACK LIGHT WHITE LIGHT - HORIZONS (Forward Backwards Recordings LP, CD).

Horizons, the third full length release from Scandinavian Indie/Psych band Black Light White Light, harks back to not that long ago when Temples and TOY were poised to make a breakthrough into the mainstream. Psychedelic for sure but with plenty of Indie Rock smarts and a lush swirling production to appeal to both the PsychHeads and Indie Kids. Taking the dense and distorted Shoegaze atmospherics of early 90s Creation Records along with the rich textures of the late 80s 4AD releases and adding a modern twist to these “classic” sounds, Black Light White Light create a trippy Spectorish wall of sound with waves of fuzzed out guitars, tumbling drums and spaced out undulating synths that sucks in influences from 60s Swinging London to current American Psychedelic Rock. The band revolve around Martin Ejlertsen (vocals/guitars) who formed the band back in 2009, with other musicians brought in when needed to join drummer Viktor Höber in transforming his deep dreams into beautifully constructed spacious and distorted Psychedelia with a solid core of dark and pervasive melancholy. Horizons is essentially an album of strange Psychedelic Pop that fuses the adventurous 1960s with the fiercely independent spirit of the late 80s/early 90s, filtered through the lens of a very modern Psych Rock sensibility.

It has already been said that this is not an album but an experience. More expansive than the previous records, Horizons opens with the lush, layered dreamy ‘King Kong’ as the latest Black Light White Light album introduces keyboards as a new and fundamental element of the sound, making the songs breezy yet intrusive, with harmonies and chiming delay guitars under attack with fuzz, all enveloped in dark and pervasive melancholic melodies. The reference points for this record have to be early Tame Impala, Pond and Temples. Definitely Temples………….’Teenage Dream’ has the same tripped out vibe as many of the tracks on Sun Structures with Beatles-esque bass and pounding drums tipping the song into a swirling psychedelic vortex. The Temples influence/inspiration runs trough the spine of the LP, cropping up again on ‘Illusions/Emotions’, ‘Never Going Back’ and the album’s title track as Black Light White Light twist and turn through 11 stunning tracks. With detours into mellow West Coast Byrdsian jangle, the dark corners occupied by The Velvet Underground, rich wide screen cinematic soundscapes and twisted Synth Pop, Horizons is an extremely ambitious contemporary Psychedelic Indie Rock record that has been designed to cross over from the Psychedelic Realm into more mainstream Indie Rock world and have credibility in both. Maybe a bit too polished for the more dedicated PsychHead, nevertheless Horizons is a excellent record right from the first drop of the needle and could be the break out record that brings Black Light White Light the international recognition they deserve.

Out NOW via Forward Backward Recordings, Horizons is available on limited edition white vinyl and CD from all the best record emporiums, the usual suspects online or direct from the Black Light White Light store here…………………  


Wednesday, 4 April 2018

TEMPLE - TEMPLE (Mental Experience LP, CD, D/L).

Continuing with Guerssen Record’s reissue of the entire Pyramid label back catalogue via their Mental Experience imprint, the latest release is the self titled LP from Temple who were an ad–hoc outfit born out of several late night sessions at Dieter Dierks studios in Cologne circa 1976/77. As with most of producer Toby “The Mad Twiddler” Robinson’s recordings, they were made his with friends from the Cologne underground scene and other musicians from adjoining studios, among them for the Temple album just happened to be the now legendary producer Zeus B. Held who at the time was the keyboard player with Birth Control. Up to now the Pyramid reissues have been from the quite dark and experimental ambient soundscapes end of Krautrock, however Temple is probably the most "Rock" sounding of all the Pyramyd titles. It’s more a chaotic mix of Amon Düül II freak outs, early Hawkwind space boogie and the Hammond driven Psych/Prog of Birth Control than the measured pulse of Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh as Temple played a kind of heavy, dark Psychedelic Krautrock that sounded well ahead of its time with lots of loud guitars, swirling Hammond organ, atmospheric Mini–Moog/Mellotron and spacey effects with distorted & echoing vocals from the mysterious Poseidon and Pauline Fund (who also provided the spoken word interludes for the Cozmic Corridors LP). It’s not really Krautrock in the current definition of the genre but more a fantastic 70s German underground album and a gateway to the more proto heavy Goth/Psych sound that evolved during the end of that decade.

Previously unavailable until 1997 when the album turned up as a limited release on the Psi-Fi label, Temple is an absolute gem of a record and this re-issue is well overdue. Zeus B. Held’s keyboards are all over this LP and along with crunching guitars and a heavy bottom end, the opening track ‘Heathen’ has the feel of Birth Control at their best with driving Hammond pushing the track firmly into the British post psychedelic era of bands like Uriah Heep. The rest of the record flirts between Gothic Prog Rock (‘Leaves Are Falling / Black Light’), atmospheric spoken word that is very much in the style of Cozmic Corridors (‘Age of Ages’), Hawkwind-esque Space Rock chug (‘Ship On Fire’) and closes with the epic ‘Crazy Hat / Kingdom of Gabriel’ which channels Yeti era Amon Düül II. For an album that was recorded over 40 years ago, the Temple self titled one and only LP sounds remarkably fresh and fits perfectly into the modern Psych Rock landscape that is currently plundering the 70s for inspiration. More than just hazy late night studio jams, Temples consists of beautifully constructed spacey and atmospheric songs that are as good as anything that came out of the European post Psych underground towards the middle of the 1970s. Fans of the more straight ahead Freak Rock influenced German bands of this era will really dig this record.

Lovingly remastered from the original tapes and with liner notes by Alan Freeman (The Crack In The Cosmic Egg), Temple is out NOW on vinyl and CD and available from all the best record shops, the usual suspects online or direct from Guerssen Records on line. Alternatively, you can check out the album and stream/buy it from the Guerssen Bandcamp site here…………………..

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

THE AMAZING - IN TRANSIT (Partisan Records 2 x LP, CD, D/L).

Led by guitarist/singer Christoffer Gunrup and including guitarist Reine Fiske from Dungen, Stockholm’s The Amazing have always managed to stay just out of focus bluring the edges of Shoegaze, modern Psychedelica and Indie Rock and on their new record, In Transit, they once again perform the unlikely trick of making music that is both dreamlike, drifting across the consciousness, as well as perfectly constructed. Like their Icelandic cousins Sigur Rós, The Amazing create waves of glacial guitar washes and woozy soundscapes that right at their core are the sturdy foundations of intensely melodic songs. In Transit is the band’s fifth album since their 2009 debut and picks up right where 2016's acclaimed LP Ambulance left off……….the new songs expand on Gunrup's melancholic, textured vision with gorgeous tones, fed through layers of distortion in a style that blends Disintegration era The Cure, My Bloody Valentine’s squall outs and The Flaming Lips psychedelic experimentation all melding together in a vivid combination of melody and mood.

Effortlessly gorgeous, In Transit exists in a somnambulistic netherworld on the cusp of deep dreams, ebbing and flowing in and out of consciousness throughout 11 spellbinding songs. You hear that from the very start of the album, when ‘Pull’ slides into view,with slide guitar casting shapes and shadows across the arpeggios beneath, while lightly jazzy drums slowly propel the song forward through it’s foggy narcotic state while Gunrup whispers his barely audible lyrics within this vast ocean of sound . The rest of the record unhurriedly unfolds as The Amazing take pieces of the Robert Smith song book and add to it fragments of Wayne Coyne’s expanded mind and MBV’s guitars overdriven to the point of collapse to create heavy-lidded shimmering soundscapes and hazy, twisted Psych/Prog/Indie reveries full of reverb and distortion. Stunningly beautiful, In Transit seamlessly fuses the ringing guitars and pulsing bass lines of The Cure on tracks such as ‘Voices Sound’ the Post Punk swirl of ‘Rewind’ and the weightlessness of ‘Leave Us A Light’ with the epic Psych Rock/Shoegaze sprawls of ‘Benson se Convirtio Completamente Furiosa’ and ‘Je Travaille Dans la Banque’. For fans of the previous albums, The Amazing aren’t the kind of band who insist every album has to sound radically different from the one before. They change incrementally, adjusting and refining their sound rather than revolutionising it………………this time, the development from Ambulance is a slightly fuller sound with more vocals and more overdubs giving some subtle depth to the the Swedish five piece's signature dreamlike translucent, crystalline sound.

In Transit is out April 6th 2018 via Partisan Records and is available as a limited edition gatefold 2 x LP, CD and as digital download from all the best record stores and the usual subjects on line as well as being bundled with an extremely limited edition art print, sold exclusively through The Amazing’s Bandcamp page. Pre-order the LP/CD/download here…………..

Monday, 2 April 2018

PLUTONIUM BABY - BLAST! SCI-FI MUSIC FOR CONTEMPORARY FREAKS (Area Pirata Records LP, CD, D/L).

Plutonium Baby are back with their first record for quite some time on Area Pirata Records, the home of Italian Garage Rock. The band are influenced by the trash aesthetic of Russ Mayer, Troma movies and cult sci-fi films like Liquid Sky along with the stripped back Garage Rock of The Dirtbombs, The Gories, The Screamers and The Sonics and the proto Punk of the Modern Lovers and Velvet Underground among others. Absorbing all these influences, BLAST! Sci-Fi Music For Contemporary Freaks by the trashy Italian Garage/Punk trio comes on like the bastard offspring of an unholy night of sex and drugs and rock and roll between the B52s, CBGBs Blondie, Suicide, ? And The Mysterians, Jay Reatard, Pussy Galore and The Rezillos, raw ,loud, snotty and totally seeped in the classic sounds that define the genre…………it’s gloriously dumb and a ton of fun.

It’s a………erm……total blast as Black Guitarra, from the Rock'n'Roll girl duo Motorama, with Fil Sharp and Feith Da Grave (both from Italian Garage/Punk band Cactus) conjure up a wall of Garage Rock squall with fuzzed up guitars, crashing drums and swirling keyboards, channelling 60s Sc-FI Psych frenzy with songs about universes created to beat boredom, subhuman races, freak twins and psychopathic healers. Plutonium Baby flirt with Garage/Psych, Surf sounds, acid drenched wig outs and Punk Pop in a 30 minute short sharp shot of trashy and electrifying Rock ‘n’ Roll on a 12 track rocket fueled trip to Garageland’s twilight zone where all the freaks get it on. Great stuff………………..primitive Garage Rock at its best.

Out NOW on limited edition vinyl and CD via Area Pirata Records and available from all the usual suspects online or directly from the label. BLAST! Sci-Fi Music For Contemporary Freaks is also available as a download from the Area Pirata Bandcamp page where you can check out/stream/buy the record here………………….