How did I miss this guy? When you get a lot of promos things sometimes slip beneath the cracks. A couple years ago I received a CD by Yordan Orchestra, which I apparently played a track from on my radio show but didn’t review. In recent months I received a CDEP by a band called MYTRON, which I’ve not really gotten to yet (I’m so lame). But it took the good folks at Fruits de Mer Records and a new 7″ single to knock me over the head and wake me up to the magic that is Dutch musician and songwriter Jack Ellister. So I’m going to make it up to Jack and give you the skinny on all these releases.
Jack Ellister – “The Man With The Biochopper” / “Citadel” (Regal Crabomophone 2012, winkle 6, 7″ vinyl)
Fruits de Mer Records specialize in vinyl only releases featuring contemporary bands covering songs – many quite obscure -from the 1960s and early 1970s. Regal Crabomophone is the sub-label they use for releases that include original music by the artists. The A-side of this Jack Ellister solo single is an original by Jack called The Man With The Biochopper. The music has a classic 60s sound, but without feeling retro, and a totally spaced out vibe. The best contemporary analogy I can think of is Vibravoid’s songs. It’s got a great catchy melody and Jack fits plenty of tripped out instrumental bits within the confines of a 3+ minute song. The B-side features Jack’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ Citadel, which appeared on the 1967 Their Satanic Majesties Request album. The vocals, melody and general vibe of Jack’s version are faithful to the original, but I’d say he outdoes the Stones for pure psychedelia, leaving us with a tasty instrumental finale.
The single will be available mid-August and is limited to 800 copies, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!
Yordan Orchestra – “Psych Introduxeon: Bringing Ingredients Together” (MegatierProductions 2009)
Yordan Orchestra was a band headed up by Jack Ellister (spelled Aleister in the credits) that released this one CD in 2009. There’s quite a lot of variety across this 6-track, 30 minute set. The CD opens with the catchy pop-psych Käpt’n el HansIG. Jack really has a flair for writing songs that stick like glue on the first listen, which is certainly helped by the excellent production and arrangements. And like The Man With The Biochopper, this has a 60s feel while at the same time not feeling too retro. I love how the song grooves along at a bouncy pace, but then surprised me with an explosive bit near the end. Faced You In A Neon Light is next and has a more modern rock sound, but the arrangements and thematic shifts hint at a sort of prog-pop style. Jack packs a LOT into this song that’s barely over 3 minutes. RMDK is a somber acoustic song with Mellotron-ish backdrops and passionate vocal delivery from Jack. Washington Z (Zodiac Fullhorn Set Monarch) goes in a different direction, with the band in orchestral prog-psych mode. It opens with dark and ominous piano, orchestration and effects, and Jack singing in a theatrical style that recalls Peter Hammill, but then gets so anguished that I was reminded of Mr Doctor from Devil Doll. VERY intense! Jack is back at what I’m starting to feel is his own brand of prog-pop-psych on the whimsically fun Marjolyne. The final track, T-Borne Egg, starts off very atmospheric, with ambient bells, soundscapes, flowing effects and a light drum and tambourine beat. The track is over 9 minutes so I was looking forward to hear how it would develop. But, alas, things go silent shortly after 2 minutes. Yeah, ok, I know this game, I’ll play along to see what happens. Finally, around the 7 minute mark it all comes back to life as Jack launches into a heavy psych rock song with an eerie keyboard melody and the best psyched out guitar on the album. This is very cool and I wish it would have been a stand-alone and more fully developed song.
In summary, there’s lots of interesting variety on Psych Introduxeon. The music is overall very accessible, but the blending of Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Pop elements adds a complexity to the music that made it all the more enjoyable for me across multiple spins.
MYTRON – “Palast” (Megatier 2011, CDEP)
MYTRON was formed in 2011 after Yordan Orchestra ceased activities and is the duo of Jack (again spelled Aleister) and Anne von Freyburg. The jacket of this CDEP is interesting as it says MYTRON on the cover, and the promo sheet is all about MYTRON, but the spine and inside say Yordan Orchestra. I suspect a bit of intentional confusion.
This is a short EP. We’ve got Palast, a beautifully seductive and catchy psychedelic song. Once again Jack captures the spirit of the 60s in both music and lyrics, singing of “peace and love and warmth and shelter”, but injects spaced out electronic effects and beats that gives the music is a more updated feel. There’s two versions of the song, one a “radio edit” and the other the “album version”. There’s only about 5 seconds difference in the length between each version and I’m struggling to detect a difference between them. Regardless, it’s an outstanding song. Ditto for The Temple’s Hall. I love the liquid psych guitar licks and keys. The vibe is totally 60s but its driven by modern electronica grooves, making for a very interesting combination. Fluctuation Sign is a bit different, being more purely electronic than psychedelic, propelled by a simple keyboard melody but still a very nice song.
I think MYTRON are working on a full length album and I’ll be very curious to hear how an entire set turns out. I see on the MYTRON web site that they’re playing lots of live shows. MYTRON… Yordan Orchestra… Jack Ellister solo… he’s got my attention.
For information about the new Jack Ellister 7″ single visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at: http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com
For information about MYTRON, Yordan Orchestra, and all of Jack’s activities, visit the Jack Ellister web site at: http://www.jackellister.com and http://www.mytron.org
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz