Saturday, 17 February 2018

SEVEN THAT SPELLS - THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF KRAUTROCK : OMEGA (Sulatron Records LP, CD, D/L).

Outta Zagreb, Croatia and back with their first album since 2014, Seven That Spells release final part of the trilogy The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock. Following 2011’s AUM and the second part of the trilogy, IO, the new LP, OMEGA, is a beast of a record; brutal and driving, mystical and really not from this world………………..a mix of dense Stoner Rock, modern Prog/Metal and cosmic Psychedelia created over a span of three years with Blake Fleming, the American drummer extraordinaire who pushed the twisted Prog Rock of the early The Mars Volta demos to uncharted regions of the galaxy, and guitarist Gordan Tomić joining the Seven That Spells core personnel of Niko Potočnjak and Jeremy White. Their definition of Krautrock goes well beyond the minimal motorik grooves of Can, Neu! and Kraftwerk, and into the wilder realms of outliers like Amon Düül II and Agitation Free, as well as German bands such as Grobschnitt, Eloy and Hairy Chapter…………add to this some potent Slavic magic and you have got a highly combustible mix of ingredients.

With two epic Space Rock/Stoner Rock/Prog Rock tracks at it’s core, The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock : OMEGA kicks in with Fleming’s fluid, pile driver drumming hitting terminal velocity at the first drop of the needle as the sludgy ‘In III’ gives way to the epic sprawl of ‘Omega’. Part Prog Rock odyssey, part Stoner trance out, the album’s title track is a spiraling journey clocking in just under 20 minutes that streaks across the cosmos leaving a trail of sparks and fire as Seven That Spells release the breaks on a white knuckle ride to the edge of the universe. The other epic track, ‘Future Lords’, mixes together the headrush of ritualistic tribal drumming with wave upon wave of fuzzy distorted guitars forming arcs of beautiful noise. Less experimental than IO, the new Seven That Spells LP sees the band moving more in the direction of heavy riffing Space Rock but with plenty of twists and turns to keep it really interesting. Ultimately, OMEGA is not reinventing the genre, but it’s Blake Fleming’s powerhouse drumming that elevates Seven That Spells endgame in their The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock trilogy way above the host of other bands mining the same seam of Stoner Prog………………..hopefully this line up of the band will stay together long enough to play some live shows across Europe. Now that would be something.

Due for release by Sulatron Records 23/02/2018, The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock : OMEGA by Seven That Spells will be available on vinyl and CD from all the best record shops, online or direct from Sulatron, you can check it out here…….
File under Psychedelic Wall Of Sound.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

THE KUMARI - THE KUMARI (Metal Postcard Records LP, D/L).

We first stumbled across London Garage/Psych band The Kumari in early 2013 shortly after the release of their debut 45, 'Fall In Love With The Sun', on Heavy Soul Records and had our minds blown by it’s gorgeous 60s West Coast inspired psychedelic swirl. Fast forward to the now and the years in between have seen the release four more excellent, critically acclaimed 7” singles on an assortment of very cool psychedelically inclined indie labels and a rapidly growing fan base from live shows on London’s thriving Psych scene. Now hooked up with the strange and beautiful Metal Postcard Records, 2018 sees the release of their long awaited first LP………….The Kumari’s self titled debut is a collection of eleven 60s/early 70s inspired Neo-Psychedelic songs, mostly previously unreleased except for a handful of the best tunes from the singles, that are short, sharp Psych Pop gems that have faint echoes of the groovy bands who were part of the 80s Psychedelic Revival along with other newer bands such as The Higher State, Sonic Dawn, Green Seagull and The Orange Drop…………………quite a contrast to the current trend of Psych bands sounding like Hawkwind, NEU! and Sonic Youth fighting in a sack.

The Kumari are dab hands with a Psych Pop tune with their songs stripped of any excess baggage, clocking in at around the 3 minute mark and brimming with pop smarts. The Kumari’s roots are deeply embedded in “classic” Psychedelia/Garage Rock that brings together the Nuggety goodness of the first psychedelic era, early 70s post psychedelic fuzzed out Rock and the 60s revivalists from a decade later but with a twist of modern Psych Rock to keep The Kumari relevant and not a living museum dedicated to all things retro. Nearly five years in the making, this LP is a distillation of their influences/inspiration as The Kumari navigate their way through 50 years of groovy psychedelic sounds, mixing spiky modern Psych Pop with jangly guitars and heady vibes straight outta the 60s and the fuzzed out, squally mayhem of the best Garage Rock bands ……………….effectively this is a snap shot of where the band are at early 2018 and no doubt this record makes up the bulk of their current live set. Drop the needle on side one of The Kumari’s debut LP and the Eastern influenced swirl of the band’s calling card, ‘Kumari’, drifts from your speakers and hangs in the air like the finest hashish smoke before the hectic Glam stomp of ‘Space Witch’ snaps you out of your reverie. The rest of the record twists and turns through two sides of the many hues across the psychedelic spectrum taking in, among other great tunes, the Byrdsian ‘Girl Don't Exist’, the twisted heavy rockin’ ‘Bring It Back’ and their very cool debut single before closing with the barely controlled chaos of ‘Outro’………….it’s a trip People.

Due for release on Metal Postcard Records very soon (March maybe?????), the self titled debut album from The Kumari will be available on vinyl or as a digital download……………keep ‘em peeled for an official release date and any info about pre-orders.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

STRANGE FLOWERS - BEST THINGS ARE YET TO COME (Area Pirata Records 2 x CD, D/L).

Strange Flowers are happening………………to mark the passing of three decades since Neo-Psych veterans The Strange Flowers first burst onto the Italian psychedelic scene, Area Pirata Records (the home of Italian Garage Rock) have released an epic 2 x CD, 30 track anthology of newly mixed, and/or mastered songs from each of their 7 albums plus 5 previously unreleased tracks (3 of them specially recorded for this record) tracing the story so far. Best Things Are Yet To Come charts the sometimes bumpy journey from a young Paisley Underground inspired band to mainstays of the Italian Psych Scene that are well respected and much loved across mainland Europe with the songs unfolding in a chronological order over the two discs. Split into two distinctive sections, disc 1 (“The First Republic”) covers the first phase of the band from 1987 to 1996 where international success always seemed a mere touch away if given the breaks and a bit more luck, while the second disc (“The Second And Third Republic”) chronicles the years following The Strange Flowers critically acclaimed return in 2006 where they have now cemented their reputation as one of the finest Italian Psychedelic Pop bands………….it’s a definitive collection that spans the long strange trip from the Byrdsian jangle of the early years, through the tripped out 90s to the grown up, artfully crafted Psychedelia of their recent records.

The early material has been favorably compared to 80s Neo-Psychedelic bands such as The Rain Parade with it’s distinctive sound no doubt influenced by the Paisley Underground, however the first years of The Strange Flowers appeared to be a series of false starts with band being more popular in Germany than back at home. It’s the German connection that led to the release of their debut single (‘Me And The Eggman’ b/w ‘Janet's Faces’) which appeared on the Unique label in 1990, followed by the long delayed Music For Astronauts LP which finally appeared as part of the Teen Trash series issued by German Psych label Music Maniac in 1994. Disc 1 brings together a choice collection of songs which includes the fantastic debut single, cuts from the first album and songs that although written at the start of the 90s did not appear on record until 2006……………….it’s all quite brilliant!! The Strange Flowers early songs are concise, acid soaked Psych Pop gems, mostly around the 3 minute mark and stripped of any excess. The first single, ‘Me And The Eggman’, is a kaleidoscopic swirl of a tune that would not sound out of place on Emergency Third Rail Power Trip and if the tracks from Music For Astronauts had appeared around five years earlier and not as Grunge was giving way to Brit Pop, The Strange Flowers coulda bin contenders if not for a series of unfortunate events putting them in the wrong place at the wrong time. The standout track from the first disc is the previously unreleased ‘The Sixth Color’, written in 1993 but only recently recorded, which is a hazy technicolour trip back in time to the early 80s L.A. Psychedelic Underground of The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock, Eleventh Dream Day and, of course, The Rain Parade.

Finally recording songs originally written back in the 90s, The Strange Flowers returned with a new album in 2006, but this time Ortoflorovivaistica landed at the start of a new Psychedelic Revival and for once they were at the heart of a growing Italian Psychedelic scene. Released by Nasoni Records, Ortoflorovivaistica received glowing reviews which which kick started the most productive period of their career recording six albums between 2006 and 2015………………Disc two contains the highlights from these records. Opening with a re-recording of ‘Strange Girl 2000’, this is The Strange Flowers at their trippiest and most Psychedelic with a Raga Rock work out that gracefully unwinds over a blissed out 10 minutes, the second disc of Best Things Are Yet To Come charts the evolution of the band into a thoroughly modern Psychedelic Pop outfit firing on all cylinders. Still influenced by American Psych bands, still free of any self indulgence, they have developed as song writers creating beautiful tunes with their last LP Pearls At Swine being a fine example of how much they have become masters of their craft. There are some outstanding tunes here including the West Coast vibes of ‘The Naked Monk’ and ‘Everyone Has A Spot In The Sunshine’, the groovy ‘Underneath Electric Wires’ and the 60s influenced ‘Watching The Clouds From A Strawberry Tree’ that are the pick of a second CD packed great songs. Working as both a celebration of 30 years of the Psychedelic adventures of The Strange Flowers and also an introduction to a band little known outside mainland Europe, Best Things Are Yet To Come is well worth checking out.

Available as a lavishly packaged 2 x CD or as a digital download, Best Things Are Yet To Come is out NOW. You can order it from the Area Pirata on line store or alternatively check it out/stream it/buy it from the Area Pirate Bandcamp site here………..

Sunday, 28 January 2018

DREAMWEAPON - SOL (Fuzz Club LP, D/L).

Another year and the sheer quality of releases from Fuzz Club remain undiminished. One of the first albums to land in 2018 will be sophomore LP from Portugal’s Dreamweapon and it’s already one of this year’s essential records. Made up of 10,000 Russos bassist Andre Couto, João Campos Costa and Edgar Moreira, they take their name from one of the less celebrated Spacemen 3 LPs, a live album that consists of mainly minimalist drone improvisations inspired by the work of La Monte Young, but based on the trippy otherworldly haze of the new record it fits the band perfectly. Consisting of four extended one take improvisations, SOL sees Dreamweapon dive deep into the narcotic netherworld existing somewhere between waking reality and a somnambulistic dream like state. The hiss of feedback and noise fuse with droning, oscillating synths, samples and subtle cascading guitars with the only thing keeping the sparse soundscapes together being the incessant motorik bassline that forces it’s way right to the back of your unconscious and the stripped back minimalist thud of a drum machine.

The relentless Kraftwerk on acid groove of ‘Mashinne’ opens side one of SOL. Bass and drum machine lock together with Teutonic tightness providing solid bottom end for Dreamweapon’s trance like sonic landscapes that mix drones, guitars and synths to create sprawling near transcendental states. ‘Blauekirshe’ is very much in the same vain, built around rock solid bass lines while the rest of the instruments swirl around the central core, it’s heavily Krautrock influenced but drenched in the fluidity of the best psychedelic music from the last 50 years. Flip the disc and we find the epic almost shamanic ‘Qram’………….primitive, urgent and clocking in at the near 15 minute mark, it’s a distillation of everything Dreamweapon are about, sucking the listener into a vortex of beautiful noise. Whilst you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a “dark” record, what makes SOL such a great album is that on each listen you scratch at the surface some more and uncover little subtle nuances that offer a faint glimmer of hope, like a light at the end of the tunnel………such as the subtle jangling guitars or those moments where all the noise comes together just before the tracks end on a hum of feedback. Closing the record is one of the highlights of the most recent Reverb Conspiracy compilation…………..’Monte da Virgem’ is a motorik monster driven by unstoppable heavy duty bass that is reminiscent of Föllakzoid at their relentless best. It’s a beast of a tune! For their second album Dreamweapon have melded together a mix of elements and influences, while sounding familiar to many bands operating on the edge of reality they have stamped their own unique take on Psych Rock in 2018. Excellent stuff.

Due for release 16/02/2018, SOL will be available on vinyl from all the best record stores and online outlets. Pre-orders are being taken now at the Fuzz Club store.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

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

The latest release from Spanish crate diggers Guerssen Records of their planned reissue of the entire back catalogue of the Pyramid label is a album of experimental Kosmische soundscapes from The Nazgûl. First released in 1976 with a CD reissue in 1998 on Psi-Fi records, this strange Avant-Garde artefact gets proper re-release on the Guerssen imprint Mental Experience, remastered and with extensive sleeve notes from Krautrock connoisseur Alan Freeman (Ultima Thule, The Crack In The Cosmic Egg). Recorded and produced by Toby ‘The Mad Twiddler’ Robinson in Cologne circa 1975, like most Pyramid releases, The Nazgûl’s self titled LP is shrouded in mystery with the musicians who played on this Tolkien inspired oddity known only as Frodo, Pippin and Gandalf. The music itself is an almost beat free mix of Stockhausen inspired Musique Concrète and leftfield Krautrock by bands such Kluster and Faust blended with the more experimental side of early Pink Floyd/Tangerine Dream, with treated percussion, gongs & guitars, trippy Hammond & Mini-Moog, tape loops, weird noises and drones that together create a sinister/ ritualistic atmosphere which would today be filed under Dark Ambient.

The Nazgûl LP is effectively four long pieces of abstract percussion workouts and improvised soundscaping that touches the edges of Krautrock, Free Jazz, Space Rock and Avant-Garde experimentation which could be compared to more modern day adventurers in the “Out There” such as Nurse With Wound. The two tracks on side one, ‘The Tower of Barad–Dûr’ and ‘Shelob’s Lair’ are both 12 minutes of Kosmische ambience with other worldly organ and guitar punctuated with clattering percussion that sounds not unlike Pink Floyd at there late 60s experimental wig out period best. The opener on side two, ‘The Dead Marshes’, features Free Jazz trumpet while the rest of The Nazgûl hit anything that goes clang. It really is from the seriously strange end of the Krautrock spectrum and no doubt not to everybody’s taste but in the sphere of electronic avant-garde it is high quality deep esoterica of the weird and spooky kind. The album closes with ‘Mount Doom’ which is full of electronic hiss and tape manipulation which sounds not unlike the very early Cabaret Voltaire experimental recordings. Sounding way ahead of it’s time (if it is from 1975, some rumors suggest otherwise) The Nazgûl, although of limited appeal, is an excellent Dark Ambient record…………possibly more suitable for music at a black mass than a polite dinner party.

The Nazgûl is out NOW and available on LP, CD and download from all the best record shops, online retailers or direct from the Guerssen web shop. Stream the whole album here https://guerssenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-nazg-l.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

VVLVA - PATH OF VIRTUE (World In Sound LP, CD).

With neo-classical flourishes and heavy rock riffing Path Of Virtue, the debut album from German band Vvlva, is a total throwback to when Post-Psychedelic British rock bands such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep ruled the world……….and it’s great! Channeling early 70s British rock with a tip of the hat to German bands like Birth Control, Path Of Virtue is a heavy, Psychedelic tinged beast of a record that blends epic, spherical Hammond organ passages with hard driven guitar riffs/solos……in no way are Vvlva reinventing the wheel but they are fitting massive Monster Truck tyres to it.

Kicking off with 'Black Sands', the kind of organ-driven classical bombast that Jon Lord and Ken Hensley in their pomp would have been proud of, Vvlva take a well worn musical style and breathe new life into it. Reliving what could be considered a golden age of British rock, Path Of Virtue comes on as part imitation/part homage to the period between around 1969 to 1974 where Psychedelia, Prog Rock and heavy Blues boogie where all mixed together into a potent, heady brew. Dominated by snarling, swirling Hammond organ Vvlva lovingly filch grooves from this era from the funky Blues of ‘Motel Floor’. through the heads down boogie of ‘Dieb der Seeen’ to the slowburning Psych/Prog of the title track. In no way original, and that is really not the point, however Path Of Virtue is a thoroughly enjoyable record that any lover of “classic” Brit hard rock is going to want to check out.

Due for release 16/02/2018 via World In Sound, Path Of Virtue will be available on vinyl (black and limited edition gold pressing) and CD from all tuned in record stores, the usual suspects on line or direct from the World In Sound web store.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

VARIOUS ARTISTS - REVERB CONSPIRACY : VOLUME 5 (Fuzz Club LP, CD).

Back for a fifth instalment, Fuzz Club’s new Reverb Conspiracy compilation hits the shops next weekend. As usual it a lovingly curated, peerless 16 track collection of some of the best fuzzed up and freaked out tunes released in the last 12 months from all around the world and other planets. Featuring a mix of Fuzz Club signings and tracks from bands on other cool, psychedelically inclined Indie labels, these compilations have been likened to a modern-day Nuggets series and hailed by The Vinyl Factory as “a time-capsule-like documentation of modern Psych”, it’s previous four volumes have included music from GOAT, Anton Newcombe, The KVB, The Cosmic Dead, Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation and Ulrika Spacek to name just a few. Psychedelia is a broad church………..whether it be Psych Rock, Garage Rock, Post Punk, Shoegaze, Krautrock or just straight up Psychedelic Rock’n’Roll, the Reverb Conspiracy collections hold a mirror up to the Psych Underground and pulls together some of the best bands currently melting minds, reflecting where Psychedelia is heading at this point in time and also providing an introduction to hot new bands you really need to check out, with Volume 5 including tracks from TRAAMS and their biting motorik Post Punk, cult Italian Psych rockers Julie’s Haircut, the harrowing psychedelic snarl of Portsmouth upstarts Melt Dunes and many, many more.

From Fuzz Club’s very own impressive international collection of bands, Reverb Conspiracy: Volume 5 includes contributions from Dead Vibrations, JuJu, Helicon, 10000 Russos, NONN, Sekel, The Gluts and Spirit Valley which even as a label sampler alone would be pretty special. Newly signed to Fuzz Club and with their debut album for the label imminent, Swedish Shoegazers Dead Vibrations open side one of Reverb Conspiracy: Volume 5 with their epic single ‘Swirl’ which first appeared on the tiny Lazy Octopus Records label last May……..channeling classic early 90s Shoegaze but tempered with an hard edged modern Psych snarl it’s pretty obvious why Fuzz Club wanted to sign this band. Also newish to Fuzz Club are Glasgow PsychHeads Helicon and JuJu (the solo project of Italian multi-instrumentalist Gioele Valenti) with Helicon’s contribution ‘The Bold Yin’ coming from their recently released debut album that has left a trail of blown minds in it’s wake while the JuJu track ‘Bring 'Em War is a little older, taken from the stunning debut album that first appeared early last year via Sunrise Ocean Bender. Fans of Fuzz Club’s most recent releases should be familiar with NONN, Sekel, The Gluts and, of course, the mighty 10000 Russo’s who’s devastating Distress Distress LP made you realize that everything you thought you knew about Psych Rock is wrong. Slightly falling through the cracks last year was Negatives by Amsterdam based Aussies Spirit Valley and ‘TNNLVSSN’ taken from that record will make you want to do some serious back tracking.

Sprawling over four sides of vinyl, Reverb Conspiracy: Volume 5 has plenty of space for a wide spectrum of Psychedelic hues………………the aforementioned Psych Noiseniks Melt Dunes take Nuggety Garage Rock influences from 60s bands such as the Seeds and ? And The Mysterions and beat the shit out of them with a ton of Punk attitude while Julie’s Haircut follow in the grand tradition of European psychedelic strangeness sounding a bit like Van Der Graaf Generator gone very wrong. Elsewhere the brilliant Dreamweapon contribute the pulsing Krautrock track ‘Monte da Virgem’ and Psychedelic Trips To Death provide menacing discordant Post Punk growl with ‘The Flesh’. With the rest of the record made up with tracks by Avenue Z, Black Heart Death Cult and You Said Strange, Volume 5 is another fantastic addition to the annual Reverb Conspiracy compilations…………………totally accessible, it’s a collection of tracks that is possibly tailored more towards the curious Indie Kid as you don’t need to be a complete Psych Rock obsessive to “get it” and like the previous compilations, Reverb Conspiracy: Volume 5 works as a gateway to a wider Psychedelic Universe.

Due for release 19/01/2018, Reverb Conspiracy: Volume 5 is available as 2 x LP on coloured 180g vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, limited to 600 copies and on CD limited to 500 copies. Available from all the best record stores, the usual suspects online and direct from Fuzz Club (pre-orders being taken now).