Archive for May 15, 2012

Amongst Myselves – “Ambient, Landscape and Space” (self-released 2012)

From Australia, the music on Ambient, Landscape and Space is performed by Steve Roberts on guitar, bass and synth, with Bernard Haselhoff on guitar synth and Garry Roberts on electronic percussion. This release contains remixes of tracks from previous Amongst Myselves releases as well as 3 unreleased tracks showing other sides of Amongst Myselves’ music.

GREYBOX SHADOW (INTO THE LIGHT MIX): Opens with birds and ghostly sounds…gets progressively louder…some nice drones, then one big beat!…gets better and better, true ambient space!! Some nice Bernard Haselhoff guitar synth!! BAY OF DREAMS (THROUGH THE MEMORIES MIX): A more contemplative feel on this one! Meditation music to float thru inner space!! Beautiful, ethereal…these guys have probably been doing this kind of stuff for 35 years in various projects. SHORELINE FADING: Starts with waves crashing…very short, just the sounds. ARGO NAVIS (BLINDED MIX): Cicadas? or a synth version!? Keyboard melody with some burblin’ drones…synth swooshes…very similar to the David Bowie Low ambient, instrumental pieces that were done with Brian Eno. SOUTHERN LIGHTS (BLACK HOLE MIX): Yes, let’s drone into the black hole. Then comes the big doumbek drum by Garry Roberts (Steve’s brother?). Bringing the earth together with space…yes, that’s us here!! For an experimental album this is also very slick and commercial without the compromise…big wall of sound with the driving drumbeat! Then goes into ethereal drone space. INTERSTELLAR MESSAGE: Some Morse code intro then some Prog-like keys…a short one. SHIP OF DREAMS (THE JOURNEY CONTINUES MIX): More loveliness, my wife says she “Loves it”…big military drum beat with soaring keys…probably can’t compare this to anything!?! Maybe a cross between 70’s Prog-rock and Tangerine Dream!!? SYENE (A NEW WORLD MIX): Rhis one is more Arabic, almost a Cure feel!! Pretty cool, just needs some Robert Smith vocals about how tormented and rich he is!! DEMON HAUNTED WORLD-SOMNIUM: The spooky track, some kinda female vocal?…effected out doumbek…and the haunted house slips off the side of a mountain into demon world out-thereness!! INTERLUDE-THE DARK AND COLD: Then the rain and thunder, sounds like field recordings!…gets weirder and weirder…really sounds like a different band from the earlier tracks! Tripped out female(?) vocals by the mystery singer!! UP INTO THE AIR AND OVER THE EDGE (BETWEEN THE TREES AND CLOUDS MIX): More soaring beauty! What to say? This is what New Age music should have been, music with artistic and spiritual integrity!! Not just a product for people who don’t know better!!! TALES (IT’S BEEN A GOOD TRIP MIX): Now the big Night Club Disco hit! Big bass and drum machine…again, different than any previous track!!

The CD also comes with a DVD of visual pieces, along with the music, that were created by Steve Roberts and visual artist Bernard Haselhoff. “With his experience in time-lapse cinematography, Steve Roberts has created several of the tracks using his custom computer controlled hardware and DSLR cameras. Time-lapse footage goes hand in hand with his form of ambient music and adds to the serenity when appropriate, while Bernard’s use of his unsettling oil paintings brings an added depth to Amongst Myselves’ darker moments.”. A little Stonehenge, old photographs! Uber psychedelic! Some real artsy stuff, like you are looking from inside a snow globe!! Oh, there is some footage of the guys playing!! Nice to see some guys my age still kicking ass!! Some really cool early 70’s-ish acid art/paintings…some really excellent camera work on a lot of this!! Reminds me of the movie Koyaanisqatsi!! It’s hard to imagine why these guys aren’t doing this kinda filmwork for some big money!??! Maybe it’s the major label’s/big studio’s agenda to make “No” art!?!?

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Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

Altbau – s/t (self-released 2011)

From Berlin Germany, Altbau is Boerge on drums, Kalle Hochnebel on bass and sounds and The Rock Cylon RC50 on loops. They describe themselves as instrumental music somewhere between Motorhead and Mogwai, “influenced by rock, electro, no wave and funk the band creates soundscapes and grooves towering in a structured or freestyle way.”

DEAF DRONES: Rock drums, bass and keys. Starts to pick up tempo and volume! Sounds like a guitar but none credited?! STRASSENTEERUNG: More well done funk, but to me there’s not much original or unique about this?!? Well played and recorded funky instrumental rock!! Reminds me a lot of 1980’s Austin Texas underground bands. I wanna like this but I just can’t get into it, I’ve reviewed several CD’s for Aural Innovations that are in this vein!! To me, it seems that if you’re in a band that’s committed to doing something different/experimental you should also consider breaking from the rock instrument and music structure!! However I’m starting to realize that the less challenging music has more mass appeal. DYSFUNK: Comes out with very uptempo drum beat then the bass and guitar! Cool sounds!?!? The drums are great but dominate the sound so much that it starts to be samey. But then some nice driving guitar!! I’m sure Altbau are hugely popular in Germany but to me it’s pretty normal and boring! This really sounds like basic tracks before the overdubs, without being justified as tracks that can stand on their on their own, without overdubs! TWYNN PEEKS: Clever title??!! The music reminds me of a tire commercial or a band doing a sound check! The playing is “good” but not artistically interesting or innovative in any way that I can tell. If you could hear the other instruments besides the drums then the tracks might stand a chance of being interesting?!? DE MON STAR: I’m sure this music is fun to play but not so much fun to listen! Boerge on drums and Kalle Hochnebel on bass and sounds are accomplished/good musicians but not unique enough with their style of playing or song structure to warrant a CD of instrumental tracks!! Of course that’s just my opinion and my opinion is probably very different than lots of people’s opinions! Kinda like soundtrack music for an 80’s detective show! Gets very rockin’ but not rockin’ enuff. The press release compares them to Motorhead and Mogwai and I would never say that!! SEXCH8TEL (BONUS): Funky drums!…and bass and loops that are mixed down….around 3:10 gets pretty rockin’ and interesting?? The drummer should just record a solo album of all drums and the world could hear how great he is!! Around 9:20 the loops get kinda interesting but it’s over!

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Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

Temple Music – “Children Of The Sun” (AntiClock Records 2012, cytacart001)

Temple Music started as a solo project of English musician Alan Trench, also known for his work with World Serpent and the dark folk band Orchis. For this release Alan, on guitar, synths, vocals and programming, is joined by Stephen Robinson (The Beloved) on bass, synths, and harmonium, R. Loftiss (Gray Field Recordings, Language of Light) on vocals and Frank Suchomel (Inalonelyplace, Language of Light) playing keyboards. Although coming out of the avant-folk scene, Temple Music also has roots in the European ritual/ambient/drone music of such acts as Hybrids, Mirror and Coil.

MIRRORS: Opens with white noise buzz and goes directly into uptempo pop rock. The nice lead vocal by Alan Trench kinda reminds me of some classic Echo and the Bunnymen or the Teardrop Explodes, but still keeping the experimental/underground credibility….”mirrors are windows” yes indeed!! CHILDREN OF THE SUN: Slower tempo on this but still with rock format! Nice feel, quality pop done for the right reasons! Alan Trench and R. Loftiss singing together and some badass Trench guitar. Very impressive! A pop anthem, reminds me of Swans during their folk phase! ISM: And the hits keep coming, mid-tempo drum machine thump along with a nice melody. Sounds a bit like the Police “Every Step You Take”. Some more intriguing lyrics – “the only way out, he said, is through”. DEATH WENT FISHING: This one reminds me of Nikki Sudden. A beautiful damaged profound pop gem! The R. Loftiss vocal is so perfectly sung and mixed on all these songs that you don’t really notice unless you’re listening for it! It just adds a lightness and female energy. MOMENTUM: Opens with industrial driving drum machine along with ethereal synths, then comes the distant punk guitar as the drums fade out! Very odd, almost upside down mix with the guitar buried and synth swooshes to the forefront! Now the Stephen Robinson harmonium! As everything else goes away…then the big out front acoustic guitar of strumming loveliness!!…along with some very nice keys by Frank Suchomel…..Oh, and when the vocals finally come in, they just keep sounding cooler and cooler! Probably the most unique track on the CD without completely departing from the pop/rock format! More of the excellent lyrics by Trench/Robinson….starts to hit a nice groove musically like the Krautrock bands Harmonia/Cluster etc…and more of the great Trench guitar!! Also, this track is nice and long, my only complaint about this CD is that it’s too short! Yes, the more port I drink the better it sounds!! Outro’s with harmonium spaciness. WARLORD OF THE ROYAL CROCODILES: This is kind of a hidden track, a Marc Bolan cover…opens with loud guitar explosion….the hit!!…very cool uptempo with nice R. Loftiss vocals, driving guitar and rhythm! Hits bizzarro chanting otherness! Wow, short and sweet, this one should have gone on for another 20 minutes at least.

This edition comes with a hand-painted cover by Alan Trench with gold stamping throughout and a separate lyric sheet.

For more information visit

Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

Instant Drone Factory – “Ho Avuto Paura del Mare” (Living Tunes Records 2011, CD)

Instant Drone Factory are a multi-national mix of German, Italian and Japanese musicians, featuring Frank Gingeleit on guitar and guitar synthesizer, Andrea Tabacco on guitar and vocals, Thomas Hinkel on synthesizer and flute, Rie Miyazaki on bass and Morihide Sawada on drums (the latter two from Marble Sheep). Ho Avuto Paura del Mare (Italian for I Was Frightened By The Sea) is their latest album and includes guests Norbert Schwefel on piano and Verona Davis on vocals. I should add that the cover art is an oil-on-canvas painting by Raphaela Langenberg, inspired by the idea of being scared by the sea.

The album opens with Ain’t Nobody. Piano and free-jazz drumming dominate, but are augmented by spacey guitar and effects. Then about halfway through the drums get more of a rock beat going, the guitar comes to the forefront and takes on an acidic quality, and brief vocals sing in a kind of Punk-Soul style. Lots of interesting contrasts and the entire 9 minute piece feels like an extended buildup. Put Down The Guns is a Can-like rocker with pounding tribal drumming, trippy jamming guitars, ethereal flute, a cool old time organ sound, effects, and Damo styled vocals.

I like the combination of crunchy guitar blasts and spaced out guitar on Out Of The Chaos. The piano plays a lulling melody in the background while the band marches along steadily playing very intense and determined Rock. Frank and Andreas’ guitars really go together well on this tune. Ghost Rider is next and right out of the chute the band set a frantic, quirky rhythmic pace, with both guitar and synths creating atmospheric effects. Morhide is like a man possessed on the drums, the guitars are wild, and the vocals are like Captain Beefheart meets Damo.

In stark contrast to the previous two tracks, Ho Avuto Paura del Mare / Do You Love What You See starts off very meditative, with guitars, drums and synths all contributing to the soundscape pool. The vocals are anything but meditative, singing Italian lyrics in a sort of punk-ish crooning style. The music trips along, slowly evolving and establishing a cool jazzy groove, and all the while various spacey effects come and go. Then in the last few minutes the intensity level builds and the band rock out for the finale. RIPPING guitar! The musicians really gel on this 15 minute tune.

Instant Drone Factory will appeal to fans of classic Krautrock (particularly Can), but the musicians are clearly jazz influenced as well. The sound quality and production of the album are excellent, which is important with this band because each musician makes very distinct and often contrasting contributions and the listener needs to hear that to really appreciate the music. Check these guys out.

For more information visit the Instant Drone Factory web site at:
For purchasing the CD in the US, Instant Drone Factory recommends Grooves-Inc as the best deal. CLICK HERE to go directory to Ho Avuto Paura del Mare at Grooves-Inc.
All Instant Drone Factory CDs are internationally distributed by the German Indigo distribution company. If you don’t find it in your country or if it’s over-priced (“import price”) you can order directly from the Instant Drone Factory website.
Hear the entire Ho Avuto Paura del Mare album online at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Books of Shadows – Four Recent Albums

Book of Shadows – “Hanged Man” (Reverb Worship 2012, RW175)

Hanged Man was the first Book of Shadows album, only released in small quantities in 2003, and now reissued by Reverb Worship in an edition of 50 copies. I reviewed this album over 8 years ago so I’m diving in with a fresh ear. The reissue is minus 4 songs from the original release, but includes 3 tracks not on the original that Carlton tells me were from the sessions just prior to Hanged Man, before Aaron Bennack joined the band.

Two of the things that make the music so beautiful and interesting are Sharon’s haunting, space whispery vocals, and the contrasting, and sometimes truly odd combinations of music and sounds that the musicians manage to bring together so nicely. The album opens with the The Beach, on which guitars, bass, keys and vocals create a spacey-ambient-wryd-folk brand of haunting beauty. As is the case throughout the album, Sharon’s vocals are mesmerizing, like a spectre looming over the proceedings. Bring Ginger Candy is a Carlton-Sharon duo piece that features a cool and strange combination of lo-fi folk-psych and freaky alien electronics that kind of reminds me of Fit & Limo. I love the combination of beautiful melodies, atmosphere and vocals on Heavens Mirror. I like the shimmering effects that serve as a strange sort of contrasting support to the vocals. It’s hard to describe but sounds really cool. On Keep Sharing, Aaron’s guitar almost sounds like a Western movie theme, and surrounded by Sharon’s one-women choir the effect is yet another example of captivating Book of Shadows combinations. With Krisna we get pulsating electronics that provide spaced out rhythmic-like support to the song, with Sharon going into space whisper mode as she chants “Kriiiiiii-snaaaaaa”. Sacred Grove features more spacey atmospherics, effects and vocals along with some of the most interesting guitar work from Aaron on the album. Free is similar, with space electronics, melodic guitar and space whispery vocals. Samhain is a Carlton-Aaron duo piece. This is quite different because instead of Sharon’s vocals we have Carlton doing spoken word. There’s more interesting guitar patterns and effects along with spaced out keys. But then along with Carlton’s narrative we’ve got a demonic efx’d “almost” voice and what sounds like crunchy metallic guitar chords joining in. And all along Aaron continues with the original guitar theme and Carlton continues speaking. Pretty wild stuff and further evidence of Book of Shadows’ flair for contrasting elements that work together well. Finally, Intangible Smurf is a short track that brings the album to a close.

Among the new tracks that were from sessions recorded prior to Hanged Man is Woman Is The Altar, which consists of a repetitive robotic electronic pattern, spaced out theremin, and vocals. As the nearly 10 minute track evolves, the theremin jams while various other noises and effects wander through. Ring Pass Not combines spaced out electronics, guitar and space whispers, and includes Joel Crutcher from ST 37 on guitar. Finally, Common Heart is a Carlton-Sharon duo piece and at 9+ minutes another lengthier track. Experimental space electronics and Sharon’s vocals make for an intriguing combination. I really floated along with this one.

Check it out at:

Book of Shadows – “Cayleper” (Ikuisuus 2011, is-049)

On the Cayleper album we get a mixture of Aaron Bennack composed duo and trio pieces, and improvisations by larger Book of Shadows lineups. It opens and closes with brief Sharon-Aaron duo tracks. Earhorn To The Other Side is a droney atmospheric piece with Sharon on vocals and Aaron on drums and flute. Jimmy Turned The Page is one of the most song-like tunes I’ve heard from Book of Shadows, with pleasant melodic guitar. Tran-smitten is another Sharon-Aaron duo track featuring vocals plus folky guitar patterns that are soon interrupted by a brief noisy segment before returning to the original theme. The noise bit didn’t work too well for me as they had a really nice groove going.

Zizabah is one of three Sharon-Carlton-Aaron tracks. Nice experimental sounds and soundscapes, and for the last minute they shift gears and go into deep space. Tommy Walked Down The Hall Of Trianglic Energies is a cool combination of church choir/Gregorian chant, ambience, bubbly-blurpy effects, and trip guitar. For ambient/soundscape drift this is one of my favorites of the set. At nearly 11 minutes I Played Crawling Chaos On My Jambox In The Graveyard is the longest track of the set and another highlight. It’s slowly developing with a cinematic feel and conjured up images of a deserted ghost town on another planet. I see tumbleweeds blowing down the dusty street, but the surface is in space. Wow, a simple combination of space whisper/chant vocals, guitar and ambience really got my imagination going. Kresnayarsk is an Aaron solo track, starting off with somber, moody piano, then adding effects which start off as embellishment and later take over the piano.

Cayleper also includes four improv tracks with larger Book of Shadows lineups. I like the way the music builds up on the space-noise exploratory Space Tide At The Trailer. Sharon sounds like the witches from the Suspiria soundtrack (which I had been listening to recently so it was fresh in my mind). The vocals get even witchier on The Listening Pilgrim. We’ve got busy sound patterns like bees buzzing around, blowing wind, anguished avant-Beefhearty Blues guitar, and more. Lots of interesting guitar that goes great with the electronics and vocals. Coming At You Live Leper is the only track without Aaron, but adds Joel Crutcher on guitar. Its starts off as a symphony of noise, with pulsating drones and tortured guitars. Things soon settle down and the band embark on a noise-soundscape-psychedelic segment that gets increasingly intense before receding once again. Experimental free-improv with an atmospheric noise-psych edge. Finally, for Hawkfib we’ve got a 7 musician (4 guitars) Book of Shadows lineup. It starts off with the same noise-symphony feel, with freaked out psychedelic jamming, electric Miles-like funky grooves, and general sound and mood exploration. Lots of interesting variety on this album.

Check it out at:

Book of Shadows – “Festival of Shadows” (Lonktaar 2011, LONKTAAR 13, 2xCDR)

Festival of Shadows is a 2-CDR set released by Lonktaar in an edition of 44 copies. If you liked the previous album descriptions or are already a Book of Shadows fan, suffice it to say this is an interesting and varied collection, so instead of dissecting all 21 tracks I’ll touch on the tracks that stood out for me.

Scudder consists of avant-folk acoustic guitar, wailing, rumbling, volcanic electric guitar, vocals and atmospherics. It all gets wild and fun as both guitars eventually start rocking out against a windswept backdrop. Somewhat similar is Never Seen, an interesting combination of strumming acoustic guitar, electric guitar, alien effects and vocals. Never Seen 2 features a similar theme, though in the last couple minutes drums kick in, setting a clear rhythmic pulse, with shimmering liquid psych guitar licks and electronic effects.

Cheer Up Charlie is a 19 minute track with three guitars, keys and vocals. It’s relatively peaceful, with the three guitars strumming and playing various spacey effects, backed by soundscapes and Sharon’s fluttering and sometimes banshee-like vocals. They get a groove going at times, which is an interesting contrast with what the vocals and keys are doing. There are some moments when the guitars start to rumble, the drones get louder and it sounds like things might start to get aggressive, but calm is maintained. Lots of good ideas on this one but the musicians aren’t consistently in sync with one another throughout this lengthy track. But Book of Shadows follow it up with Nopalo, a concise 4+ minutes that combines contrasting elements working together seamlessly to create an avant-ambient space trip.

At 11+ minutes The First One From Sunday is another longer track. It’s more on the audio-art experimental side, but includes an intriguing mixture of contrasting elements. It starts off as an industrial dirge, morphing into wind effects that sound like being in the frozen tundra. Along with this the vocals howl, the guitars trip along, and electronic effects color the landscape. Closing out the first CD is the 12 minute Gardens of the Ancients. Wow, this was a surprise. Carlton must have had a hankering for his ST 37 roots because that’s what this kind of sounds like. They get a dark bass groove going, add sizzling guitar and a cacophony of space electronics and we’re rocking out in space.

Opening the second CD is Psychic Driftwood Dragonfly, a song-like Sharon-Aaron duo track with lulling acoustic guitar and vocals. Aaron pops in with a quick shot of twisted ripping electric acid guitar, then pops in later with brief jamming Bluesy leads, and then again with wildman leads. Aaron gets a little Frippertronic on Ecstatic Tears Of Light, which includes cool loops and guitar leads. The Revenge Of Crash Corrigan is an experimental free-improv piece on which the music moves along steadily and busily, with all the musicians doing their own thing yet it all gels nicely. Later on the music morphs into something more spaced out and psychedelic atmospheric. Red Ochre features a different use of Sharon’s vocals than I typically hear, doing something that reminds me of an old Laurie Anderson tune.

River World is a 33 minute improv epic with vocals, keys and four guitars. It all starts off a bit disjointed as the guitars amble along with some trippy avant-psychedelic noodling. After a while it starts coming together as a spacey soundscape/noise-psych sculpture. Pretty cool but it doesn’t flow seamlessly enough for such a long track. But The Magician is a killer closing track. Sharon does spoken word while Carlton cranks out true UFO effects. Scott Telles from ST 37 joins in on keys and Sam Royal contributes drums and mandolin (the mandolin must be heavily efx’d because I can’t detect it).

Check it out at:

Book of Shadows – “Poppets and Strings” (Kendra Steiner Editions 2011, KSE #202, 3″ CDR)

Poppets and Strings is a 3″ mini-CDR released by Kendra Steiner Editions in an edition of 82 numbered discs consisting of two 9 minute tracks.

Leander features the trio of Sharon, Carlton, and Brett Humphrey on guitar and electronics. Sharon is in space-whisper-meets-harpy mode, surrounded by haunting space-scapes and trippy guitar. The keys and electronics get really spaced out and the guitar feedback pulsates along with the keys. I like how the music and vocals drift along and the vocals get gorgeously caterwauling along with the more intense musical moments.

The title track is a Sharon/Carlton duo piece with both contributing vocals and keys and recalls classic floating space electronica more than most Book of Shadows tracks I’ve heard. Even Sharon’s vocals, while not 360 degrees from what we’re accustomed to take on a slightly different character, though still function as an equally contributing instrument. An excellent deep space meditation.

Check it out at:

Visit the Book of Shadows web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Nacosta – Wilderness City (Ancient Conductor Records 2011, AC 001)

Nacosta are a psychedelic folk group from Los Angeles, and Wilderness City is their debut EP. They bill themselves as bridging “a gap between Nick Drake’s fingerpicked introspection and Sonic Youth’s in your face noise collages.” Hmm, don’t quite hear anything like that going on. Nonetheless, I do really like what I hear.

One thing is for certain, these guys can write a catchy tune. This is amply evident from the psychedelically explosive opening salvo of Take, a terrific rock tune with great harmonies and exceedingly enticing sonic textures. Things don’t let up after that, but they do mellow out with the trippy, 60ish sounding folk tune New Magick, featuring some very memorable and groovy melodies indeed. I really like these guys’ vocal harmonies. But don’t think it’s all pretty singing and folksy ditties. The next track, Blade of Grass takes us into some frightening sonic realms as it careens and swirls about with strange noises dripping like multi-colored rainfall from the acoustic guitar strings. It segues quite nicely into the haunting The Betrayal, a dreamy, march-like excursion into longing melodies fused with intriguing, multi-layered rhythms. Nacosta excel at creating these great folk pop tunes that are married to multidimensional stratums of auditory experience, whether the droning, hypnotic bleed of Treehouse or the colorful explosion of the tripped out closer Clear. Great stuff!

I kept wishing this was a full-length album. Wilderness City is a good, solid 22 minutes of music, but it leaves you begging for more. Good news is they have another EP on the way!

For more info, visit:

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald