Now that the Leed’s psychonauts glowing debut “Pearl Mystic” is out it’s high (heh) time to get acquainted with their debut self-titled EP, released back in ‘11 on cassette by Sun Ark Records, now it’s available from Faux Discx on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl, so you can listen to the fuzzy echoing ride through infectious riffs in the full audiophiliac glory. These are the kinds of worms you’d like to get. Highly recommended!
The title of this curio might be the way UK’s Pascall Ansell (a.k.a. Panelak) treats his guitar in the creative process: he strips it of all dignity and forces it to crawl through the mud and the deafening clatter. Strings are violently plucked, there are violent washes of electroacoustic, noisy collages in the vein of John Wiese, and there is a whole lotta harsh drones, guitar torture and contact mic sounds that you just keep wondering where they came from. Everything is up in steam, you can barely make out the shapes, yet you know some incredible carnage is taking place.
Man, I could’ve been driving past this beatnik’s house last summer when I was in the UK. The provocatively named Naomi Chomsky may be coming from London or its whereabouts (I don’t really care), but his music is way beyong the urban congestion and urban leanings of that city. Instead, we get an exhausting, sun-gazing psychedelic ruminations that bring the brilliant beings of Alan Watts or Sandy Bull to mind, lulling you into a trancelike state with motorik guitar semi-improvisations and trippy minimalism. It comes from England, it sounds like a lost gem from the late 50’s/early 60’s Cascadian/Californian forest, recorded in lo-fi conditions with a healthy aid of the then still legal LSD-25 or a nice dose of psilocybin mushrooms, back when nobody has heard of terms like “psychedelic” or “trippy”. Primal and authentic, Recommended.
Following the smeared, disintegrating loops of William Basinski, Scotland’s ambientalist Derek McArthur’s newest work focuses on piano at its quietest and most introverted: it takes emotional, sad pieces and loops them over and over; overlapping, modifying, amplifiying, silencing and re-shaping the original experience in different manners. Ambience meets conceptualism.
A 30 minute long jam broken into two 15-minute pieces from the Cumbrian wilderness (that’s in the north of the United Kingdom, for the less geo-savvy readers) based label Treehouse Orchestra Recordings. The first track is a sitar-tinged, Easterny psychedelic folk jam which picks up the pace with some cleverly sampled and looped live drums for a full-on psychedelic freak out (well, maybe not that amplified, but still very trippy!). The second track is steeped in angelic, krautrock-influenced guitar ambience that spreads into infinity - think Manuel Gottsching and his modern-day equivalent Mark McGuire and you’re pretty much spot-on. You can also buy the cassette if you like - it’s got some beautiful packaging!
When I was a bit younger, I always thought if I had a band or at least a solo musical project at least one of my/our covers would picture a burning house. Then I found about Swell Maps’ A Trip to Marineville, a rough deconstruction of punk and post-punk genre that would foreshadow the coming of the noise rock genre in the next decade. The picture of a stately middle-class detached house devoured by flames reflects the savage and uncrontrolled music of the album very well.
The Birmingham based trio is considered as one of the most experimental and forward-looking bands of the post-punk genre, among with This Heat. But while the music of This Heat was brooding, dark, electronically augumented and highly krautrocky in nature (peaking with their suffocating, apocalyptic masterpiece “The Fall of Saigon”), Swell Maps were quite the opposite, going for noisy, uncontrolled jolly mess of guitars, drums and aggressive vocals. Swell Maps weren’t trying to be political in their songs, they were not trying to channel some youthful alienation, they just had a “fuck it, let’s make it loud” attitude, going for a dizzying ride through fast rhythms and unpolished improvisations. And I should put a strong stress on the word “unpolished”. Because even today, A Trip to Marineville is in-the-red loud and abrasive, even if compared to modern-day noise rock and punk records. It must have been quite a feat in its day and age and it must’ve scared away (at least initially) a whole lot of rockers who considered themselves “seasoned” or “hardcore” listeners. They have already listened to punk rock, after all! But Swell Maps turned the volume up to eleven and added amphetaminic paranoia on top of it all.
The music of Swell Maps was punk rock on steroids - hyper-energetic, often hyper-kinetic and enhancing the inherent “weirdness” of many punk rockers - like in “Harmony in Your Bathroom” ripe with bathroom and water-related sound effects. “A Trip to Marineville” was also full of twisted sense of humor and a sense of having great fun while making music - these guys just seem to have churned out one killer after another, equipping the absolutely nuclear riffage with maniacal, somewhat messy drumming. It is joyous as fuck and doesn’t take itself seriously, prancing around like a doped-up prankster. We got to associate post-punk with grim-faced grittiness or social commentary, always dark and always serious. Swell Maps show us the lighter side of post-punk. They are the ray of light.
(Cassette, Space Slave, 2013)
With the fresh, broad new look on life and retaining the sacred mysticism and the mastery of ancient-sounding drone from United Kingdom’s Jake Webster, he continues his travel into Eastern-tinged stretched ragaes in the vein of calmest, most ambiental moments of Vibracathedral Orchestra. Or Ravi Shankar, if you will. Or even La Monte Young, if you’re into the more dronier “thing”. Yes, the more dronier description would be appropriate - for this is a true monster of an album, an ever growing manifestation of the lightened mind, the mind exploding with ideas and ideas of construction, creation & unlimited creativity.
This is what Tuluum Shimmering did with his music - he showed the process of changing, the slow, sometimes monotonous and repetitive, but always psychedelic and fascinating, always mesmerizing and entrancing. While on his early releases Jake was basing his compositions on endless loops of overdriven guitar or synth loops, being repeated and manipulated to oblivion, on the newest album he switches to the incredibly smooth, New Age-ian kind of sacred music, where the endless sitar drones soothingly lead the way to the temple of various Indian Gods. Tuluum Shimmering makes the music for the exploration of unknown geographic areas, both musically and physically, by travelling there. I don’t know if he’s even been to India or a similar country, because if he hasn’t, then damn, he nailed the sound of those regions.
Later on, the seemingly endless, slow burning Indian drone session endes, and is replaced by another long jam, this time starting with a calm psych folk session, somewhat like a relaxed and more informal incarnation of Tortioise just jamming in heaven (or just fucking around with their instruments while in the spring garden, lying with their guitars in the grass and playing them, shit like that). It’s also completely different from anything Tuluum Shimmering has done before, in a sense of focusing on a jam itself rather than creating thick, droney, Skaters-like tape manipulations, keeping the guitar flowing gently and effortlessly with the help of the slowly rolling drums.
The second part of the album “Lake of Mapang” is shorter and makes a return to the style of drone TS made us accustomed to. It’s based on traditional instruments, droning endlessly, but instead of the ancient, pagan atmospherics the droning instruments here retaing a sense of familiarity and the homegrown utopia. Especially on the closing track of the entire release (side D) sounds more like an avant-garde, drone-enhanced take on a generic traditional folk tune, expanded and stripped of unneeded elements to enhance the feeling of “tribal” minimalism.
Jake Webster travels through the wildest, most unexplored regions with his colorful, highly psychedelic music. This time however, he seems to be moving closer home and attaching a slightly more academic approach to the music he makes - instead of raw, hypnotic tape loops we get competent, tightly composed pieces that lie closer to the bliss of Golden Retriever than the chaotic trippiness of Skaters. Recommended!
One doesn’t need to be a MENSA member to guess by the cover and the album title (and the label which released it, let’s not forget that) that we will be dealing with some ritualistic, deeply resonating psychedelia. Jake Blanchard (an illustrator and founder of Tor Press) seems to be reaching into the past for inspiration, and I don’t mean the 20th century. The sounds of “Archaic Practices” are, well… ancient-sounding. But what does this even mean?
The opening “Malediction” answers this question with a head-spinning clarity: the ominous, foreboding drone of the piece sounds in-human, as if it was the primeval, original music made by some sentient creatures that walked the Earth before we even stepped down from the trees. It is the sound of an unknown civilization conducting unknown rituals deep in a cave in the times so prehistoric that no trace of those creatures’ presence was left. The endless, moss-covered drone might bring to mind the longest, most pagan moments of Loren Chasse’s monumental Of project, standing in sheer contrast to his usual introverted field recording/psych folk impressions with the unpenetrable wall of sound.
The following “Envenoming” and “Wandering Djinn” retain the dark ambient atmospherics, unsettling and nocturnal and add deeply echoing, resonating bells and primitive percussive instruments to the washes of overwhelming, bassy sounds the soruce of which gets increasingly harder to describe. Some might hear nods to Starving Weirdos and their kind of cold, alienated “coastal psychedelia”, where they tried to emulate the dread of the ocean and the dark clouds over the coast. It’s equally dark here, but even more suspended and darkened.
However, a final, triumphtant moment of light comes with the closing “Faint Visitant”, which still relies on suspended, droning guitars and thick, psychedelic ambience but throws the feeling of dread, instead going for lysergic wonder and a sense of discovery of something new, intanglible and exciting. There are moments of harsh, distorted guitar feedback in here, but it doesn’t interrupt the blissful ride through multilayered drones much. Those in love with the mysterious, arcane and the occult might feel at home here.
Ian Breen and Rob Gregg from Manchester, UK have created a ghostly, hazy and beautifully melodic beat-infused ambient music that occupies the space somewhere between smeared ambient techno and melancholic pop with lots of reverbed vocals and dusted atmospherics. Taking cues from such acts as Raime or Holy Other, Borland are at the same time haunting and beatiful, existing in “surreal eternal twilight, with themes of love, loss and supernatural powers running throughout each of it’s hypnotic eight songs”. Another great find that took me by surprise. Recommended!
This wonderful compilation took me by surprise while randomly browsing through the vaaaaast (like the Ikea head warehouse vast) archives of my e-mails. The stunning artwork caught my eye and the music just followed (or actually even surpassed; and fitted; the artwork!). Brilliant & beatific, mutlilevel and higher existence ambient passages cross beat filled areas full of futuristic trippertronics. A mindblowing, monstrous collection of the forerunners of the most modern incarnation of psychedelic music. 43 tracks. Available for free. Incredible. Highly recommended!