Archive for February 28, 2013

MV & EE – “Fuzz Weed” (Three Lobed Recordings 2013, TLR 097)

For some twelve years now, the Vermont based hippie collective MV & EE, centered on the duo of Mark Valentine and Erica Elder, have been making a wide mark across the New Weird American landscape. Whether it be their out of space and time folk songs, off-kilter Neil Young and Crazy Horse inspired rockers, their self-described “lunar ragas”, or their live extended ambient explorations, they show no signs of stopping, having released over 30 albums since 2001, rivalling Acid Mothers Temple for prolificacy. Their first album of 2013, Fuzzweed, arrives close on the heels of their last album of 2012, Space Homestead.

Fuzzweed builds on the laidback rural psychedelia of Space Homestead, but takes it further out, into the netherlands between the rustic peaks of the Green Mountains that run through the duo’s home state to the edges of something indefinable and not quite of this world. Opening cut, Environs, true to its name, seems to conjure up images of a passing countryside, but one seen through the eyes of someone tripping out on something decidedly hallucinogenic. It’s a little instrumental that’s a lovely, low key way to start the album. The pace doesn’t pick up much for the next song, Turbine (this is a seriously laidback album, folks), but it does inject a weirdly out of place electronic percussion track (similar to their classic song East Mountain High) which only adds to the otherworldliness of the song. It’s like walking from green summer fields into the fairy realms of the British Isles, but cast with a distinctly American mythology. Bridging the gap between the old, weird settings of the American countryside with a modern landscape of rundown, rusty roadside gas stations and trailer parks, Trailer Trash is nonetheless a sweet journey with strumming acoustic guitars, beautiful ghostly vocals, and acidic electric guitar soloing courtesy of Valentine (who’s vocals and guitar style both seem influenced by Neil Young’s). Jacked Up is just as laidback as the rest of the album, but with its random harmonics, like sparkling diamonds on golden ocean waves at sunset, it has a bit more of warm, West Coast vibe underlying it’s sound.

But it’s the 20-minute long Poor Boy Excursions that really define that ‘caught between this world and the next one over’ sound. Comprising pretty much all the aspects of their style, it starts with some dusty, acoustic slide guitar and Erica Elder’s distant, dreamily sung vocals, as the duo runs through a version of the old blues standard Poor Boy Blues. Pure and simple, it’s as rooted in the earth of the American landscape as one can get. There is, however, an ominous organic drone that slowly builds underneath, leading the listener onwards into the next section of the piece titled Long Way From Home, suggesting we are now getting further and further away from the rural countryside where we began. The title comes from Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home, the sometimes alternate title of the opening blues number, but the blues are left behind here as space guitars, strange voices, wandering bass and tumbling percussion begin to weave a vast psychedelic tapestry of sound. Perhaps we’re now sitting atop Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont, caught between the earth and the cosmos, and we’re ingesting some hallucinogenic substance, preparing ourselves for a journey beyond. And that’s exactly where the last part of Poor Boy Excursions, its title of Environments echoing the opening track, takes us. Environments is actually a piece the duo, along with members of their collective, often play live. This is the band in their lunar raga mode, with rambling Indian percussion and sitars balanced out with droning, lyseric guitars and spacey synths. Here, recorded in the studio, Environments takes on a new crispness as every note and microtone comes out. The sonic quality is deep and expansive, and if the listener closes his or her eyes, then, like its title suggests, it envelopes you, surrounding you in a new cosmic environment where anything seems possible.

Fuzzweed is not the kind of psychedelic music to get up and dance to, it’s the kind to sit back and relax to, letting your mind and spirit wander. Burn some incense, but instead of the exotic scents of sandalwood and patchouli, try some distinctively earthy and American ones like sage and cedar, and take the journey.

For more info, visit: and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Superstring Phobia – “Dropout” (Echostun, Superstring Productions 2012)

When someone chooses to name their band/solo project after a fear “of wanting to explain all of the particles and fundamental forces of nature in one theory by modelling them as vibrations of tiny supersymmetric strings” (see Wikipedia for further details), you can imagine Dropout being one of those albums that acts as a soundtrack for researching a Masters in Astrophysics. However, fear not; you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get absorbed by the pulsing beats, hot electronics and razor sharp guitar lines of Superstring Phobia, the brainchild of Leeds-based David Sanderson, who plays and programmes every sound on the album.

Dropout comes across as an intriguing mash-up of Ozrics-style spacefunk, krautrock, and techno, as opposed to the more brain-thumping and bass-heavy school of traditional spacerock (yes, that is Hawkwind I am talking about!). The album opens with Lunar Descent, which features a jarring beat that brings to mind Kraftwerk’s Musik Non-Stop for a few seconds before a series of processed guitars swoop down from above. After a brief Steve Hillage-style lead break, the layers of electronics return, weaving in and out of the guitar lines to form complex layers of sound that could be a highly funked-up version of Throbbing Gristle. The title track, with its funky intro and underwater electronics owes an obvious debt to Ozric Tentacles (think Sploosh!), and is certainly none the worse for it. This is definitely spacerock that would not be out of place on the dancefloor. With that in mind, the following Haunted Dancefloor is three and a half minutes of synthesized electro-beats, almost closer to dubstep than spacerock. The way the different layers of electronics fit together in such cosmic patterns is quite amazing. Highly processed guitars return for Funk Implant, with the jerky rhythm sounding a little like Shriekback’s Pretty Little Things, before a soaring rock guitar solo (again reminiscent of Hillage and perhaps Ed Wynne) rises above the electro soundscape. Outer Space Rock doesn’t exactly rock, but rather squeezes its insidious way into the senses like a spacier version of The Prodigy, while lightening fast guitar lines skate across the electronic beats. This is followed by the nine minute Sonic Guru, providing further variations on the guitar/synth network theme. Inside The Kaleidoscope Mind slows the pace with an off-beat rhythm that almost sounds like it is tripping backwards over itself. An epic, almost melancholic, rock guitar solo rises above the swamp of electronic noise on Psychic Stream. The album concludes with New World Orbit, a medium-paced workout of interstellar guitar and beats.

Other than the artists namechecked above, Superstring Phobia reminds me of guitar-meets-electronics bands like Space Mirrors (but without all the dark bits) and Psy Corps; it doesn’t so much rock as overwhelm you with layers of sound. All-in-all, a great album from a visionary multi-instrumentalist. Also worth a listen is his trans-Atlantic project Nebulous Amphibians with San Franciscan Jon Drukman, again in awe of Ozric Tentacles and accessed via the link below. (CLICK HERE to read the Nebulous Amphibians review we posted)

For more information visit Superstring Phobia at:
David’s work on the Nebulous Amphibians can be heard on
Email David Sanderson at:

Reviewed by Pat Albertson

Bahrain – “Rest” (Blue Circle 2012, GI 92)

Bahrain are the Austin, Texas based quartet of D. Boone on guitars, Colleen Gugan on bass, keyboards and vocals, Mel on drums, and Scott Telles (ST 37) on bass, keyboards and vocals. The latest from the band is Rest, a 19 track set of live performances, demos, improvs and cover tunes recorded between 2000 and 2005, with some new overdubs, mixing and mastering in 2010. The group actually disbanded in 2005 but reunited for one show in 2012 to promote the release of this CD.

Among the live cut highlight are two tracks from 2004, Audio and The Death Of Magellan, which have a raw acoustic feel, along with steady choppy bass and drumming and simple but catchy keyboard melodies. Vocals on Audio are handled by both Colleen and Scott, and when Scott is on his distinct vocals instantly bring to mind ST 37. The Death of Magellan is similar but darker and I like the dissonance of the vocals and keyboard melody. There are also lots of improv tracks on the album that cover a range of territory, from the raw rock of Drone Sweet Drone, to the spaced out strangeness with lots of crazy keyboard and electronic fun of Reel Gone Loop, and the easy paced rocking alongside rapid-fire organ of Cosmic Descent Odyssey. Backstairs is a highlight, being a pretty cool 9 minutes of dark, moody, dissonant, jamming noise-psych, which also includes a simple but intense keyboard backdrop. We’re also treated to the very first Bahrain rehearsal from 2000, which is a raw jamming rocker. Monkey Calls The Tune is from a rehearsal later the same year that features screechy punk with adventurous rhythmic and instrumental gymnastics and cool keyboard embellishments. This is one of my favorite tracks of the set.

The CD also includes several cover songs, some by bands I’ve never heard. Wonder Boy sounds familiar but I’ve never heard of The Mind Splinters. Bahrain are faithful to the original on New Order’s Dreams Never End. Prog-God Peter Hammill pre-dated Punk with his 1975 Nadir’s Big Chance, and Bahrain do the song kick ass justice. Yesterday Box was the title of a 1986 cassette album by Scott Telles’ 80s band The Elegant Doormats, which Bahrain cover here. It’s steady driving punky rock with a noisy edge but solid melodic hooks and great vocals from Scott, who I think has a damn good and instantly recognizable vocal style for this kind of music. And Roky Erickson’s I Walked With A Zombie is always a fun song no matter who’s doing it.

If you’re not already familiar with Bahrain, but you’re an ST 37 fan then there’s lots to enjoy here, though newcomers may not care for the less than stellar quality of many of the live and rehearsal tracks.

There is a Bahrain Myspace page at
Rest is limited to 100 copies so anyone interested should contact Scott Telles at

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Anthroprophh – s/t (Rocket Records 2013, LAUNCH050)

Anthroprophh is the solo project, and this is the first solo album, by The Heads guitarist and vocalist (and audio generator operator) Paul Allen. The Heads are a UK band formed in the early 90’s. Initially inspired by emerging stoner rock bands of the time like Monster Magnet, albeit with a heavier dose of noise thrown in, on later albums like 33 (2004) and Dead in the Water (2005) they began to explore longer form, more experimental rock. For his debut album (released on vinyl and as a download), Allen has taken inspiration from his own band’s later albums, but tempered it with the rhythms of Krautrock for some truly inspired, mostly instrumental psychedelic rock. Opening cut, Hermit, is a churning, LSD soaked electric voyage, from its sea of wah wah’d distortion opening, through its stormy, acidic guitar work and pounding Can-inspired rhythms to its swirling, hallucinogenic coda. These tracks aren’t as long as some of 20-minute monsters found on the above mentioned Heads LP’s, the shortest one being the solo electro-acoustic Discretion Shot (clocking in at 1:09), but their sound is focused, each piece developing its own distinct sonic snapshot, whether it be the tribal intensity of Precession, the droning space journey of Ende or the mind-altering, bad trip British garage rock meets alien landscape of We. Allen does break into longer form exploration with one track on the album though, the 16 1/2 minute Entropy. This one is a sonic buffet for kosmiche loving ears, all intense, part machine, part human rhythmic minimalism married to guitar atmospherics and bubbling, cosmic electronic noises. Allen shows supreme control over his guitar here, slowly developing the ambience, weaving it in and out of the driving tempo of the percussion. The piece ever so slowly builds in intensity over its course, as Allen subtly introduces more and more sounds, finally cutting lose on his guitar for some hypnotic, spiralling soloing only when the tension can’t take it anymore. Mesmerizingly brilliant!

For more info, visit and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

The Fusion Syndicate – self-titled (Cleopatra Records, 2012)

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Billy Sherwood must have a pretty impressive Christmas card list, if the guest stars on this album are anything to go by. Earlier in the year, he pulled together a dream lineup of talent from the likes of Yes, King Crimson and Gong for a project called The Prog Collective. Just a few months later, the cast list is even more staggering on The Fusion Syndicate, the second of a one-two riff on beloved (or derided, depending on which side of the fence you are on) musical genres from the early ’70’s. Name any significant fusion or progressive band or artist from that era, and the chances are that someone associated with them will be on this album. From Yes, Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson, Genesis, Hawkwind, Gong, Weather Report, Soft Machine and Brand X, to sidemen for Frank Zappa, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth (not to mention … ahem … Billy Idol), all the boxes are well and truly ticked. Each guest appears on one track only with Sherwood acting as the glue that binds it all together, conceptualizing, writing, producing and playing all the instruments (keyboards, guitars, drums) not handled by the guest list on any particular track.

Ever wondered what a super-session featuring members of Hawkwind, Yes and Mahavishnu might sound like? No? Album-opener Random Acts Of Science gives a clue, with solos taken in turn by Nik Turner (proving he can play it straight, rather than just employing his usual blow-and-hope approach), Rick Wakeman and violinist Jerry Goodman, plus Sherwood sounding sharp on guitar. John McLaughlin’s electric work is probably the closest touchstone for this track. On Stone Cold Infusion former pop-punker, but undercover progfan, Steve Stevens provides lead guitar, while former King Crimson saxman Mel Collins and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess trade solos over the solid bass work of Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin and drums of Billy Cobham, who’s 1973 Spectrum album could be accused of bringing fusion into the mainstream in the first place. As is the case throughout the album, the standard of musicianship here is just astounding, but rarely feels forced, with nobody trying too hard to steal the show. Billy Sheehan’s bass is prominent on Molecular Breakdown, playing some crazy scales and time signitures, while Jay Beckenstein (Spiro Gira) blows a mellow sax, making it sound more like a violin at times, and Billy Sherwood brings out the occasional guitar shred; Porcupine Tree’s Gavin Harrison provides drums. Larry Coryell’s electric and acoustic guitars are prominent in Particle Acceleration, while Sherwood pulls some Jeff Berlin-style bass tricks out of the bag. Chick Corea-sideman Eric Marienthal adds some tasty sax, which brings to mind David Sanborn albums from the 1980’s. Dixie Dregs and Deep Purple Blackmore-replacement Steve Morse takes a few uplifting guitar solos on At The Edge Of The Middle, Randy Brecker adds some trumpet, and Percy Jones puts in some fat and slinky basslines, while jazz pianist Jim Beard tinkles the ivories with tasteful manner and blinding speed. Atom Smashing combines the talents of guitarist John Etheridge, periodic Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye and Zappa-drummer Chad Wackerman for a convincing jazz-funk workout. Closing track In The Spirit Of … combines the guitar of Steve Hillage with keyboards from Scott Kinsey (Tribal Tech), sax from Theo Travis (Soft Machine Legacy) and Tool’s Justin Chancellor on surprisingly jazzy bass.

Each of these tracks is about seven minutes in length, and with few real hooks, the songs start blending together after a while, something which is not necessarily a bad thing. As an updating of the classic fusion sound from the ’70’s, The Fusion Syndicate delivers in spades, and will appeal to fans of all the jazz names (if not the rock artists) here, while the standard of virtuoso musicianship will leave listeners gasping for breath and grasping for more of the same. As Rick Wakeman says, “[It’s] always a pleasure to work with Billy Sherwood and all the other musicians he chooses. Add some great music and the combination is complete”.

The Fusion Syndicate is available from Purple Pyramid records and can be ordered at
For further information on this and other Cleopatra/Purple Pyramid releases, go to

Reviewed by Pat Albertson

Nektar – “A Spoonful Of Time” (Purple Pyramid, 2012, CLP 8932)

A bit of background information is called for prior to reviewing this album. Purple Pyramid is the prgressive/psychedelic division of Cleopatra Records, the far-out label that brought us some stunning spacerock back in the 1990’s, including re-igniting the careers of ex-Hawkwinders Nik Turner and Simon House, while also releasing a range of covers albums (Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Brian Eno, Hawkwind) of variable quality. Billy Sherwood, multi-instrumentalist producer and associate of the 1990’s Yes, also has a long history of organizing tribute albums – XYZ – A Tribute To Rush, Return To The Dark Side Of The Moon, Dragon Attack – A Tribute To Queen – using a stellar cast of musicians from such bands as Yes, Deep Purple, Hawkwind, Gong and King Crimson. Nektar, on the other hand, just have a long history full-stop (going back to their first release Journey To The Centre Of The Eye in 1971), plus a revolving door of musicians, none of whom can claim the distinction of having played on every single Nektar album. The combining factors of updating progressive rock glories, cover versions and high profile guest stars are key to the release of A Spoonful Of Time. Although released under the Nektar brand name, and featuring long time band members Roye Albrighton (vocals and guitar) and Ron Howden (drums) – the contributions of current the Nektar keyboard player being hard to gauge behind a host of keyboard-toting guest artists – the very existence of A Spoonful Of Time owes as much to Sherwood (who mixed the album and plays on almost all the tracks) and Cleopatra as it does to Nektar. The appearance of a covers collection this late in a band’s career hints at burned out creativity, but at least provides some new music beyond yet another live album or collection of material from their own archives (to be fair, Nektar have got a brand new studio album – Time Machine – in the works for 2013, which would fly in the face of burnout accusations).

Anyway, that is enough background history and speculation, now on to the music itself. Cover or tribute albums generally seem to take one of two divergent paths, either that of complete destruction and reconfiguration, or of faithful homage to the original tracks. In this regard, Nektar and Sherwood have taken the latter, and safer, path. A version of Rush’s Spirit Of The Radio, for example is almost note perfect in its backing track, with only Geddy Lee’s unreproducable vocals, and parts of the guitar solo providing any notable difference from the original. Probably the greater amount of risk-taking is in the actual choice of who and what to cover. A few of the songs – 2000 Light Years From Home, Riders On The Storm, Can’t Find My Way Home – predate the career of Nektar, and could therefore be seen as being an influence on the original members of the band, as well as being fan-pleasing favorites. Others, like Toto’s AOR workhorse Africa, The O-Jays’ For The Love Of Money, and aforementioned Spirit Of The Radio are frankly quite baffling as far as song selection is concerned. Prog-lite favorite Sirius (originally done by The Alan Parsons Project) serves as a reasonable entree, with some fine guitar work from Albrighton. Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle gets a kind of soul-funk workout, sounding a little like The Neville Brothers’ cover, and featuring (unlikely as it might seem) Brainticket’s Joel Vandroogenbroeck on keys and flute, with additional keyboards by Geoff Downes (Buggles/Yes/Asia). Pink Floyd chestnut Wish You Were Here is played pretty straight, and could actually fit right into the greater Nektar canon; Tangerine Dream’s Edgar Frose supplies keyboards and Albrighton takes a sizzling guitar solo. For The Love Of Money is one of the more unlikely tracks to appear on a prog-related album, but it works really well, with a decidedly funky rhythm track laid down by Sherwood and Deep Purple’s Ian Paice, and surprisingly tuneful sax from Nik Turner, pretty much a compulsory addition to these types of projects. Can’t Find My Way Home, featuring members of Yes, Dream Theater and King Crimson, neither adds nor subtracts from the Blind Faith original, although Steve Howe’s delicate acoustic picking is worthy of mention. As far as The Rolling Stones’ pioneering spacerock masterpiece 2000 Light Years From Home is concerned, it would seem nigh impossible for any version of this song to be anything other than superb, and the welcome addition of Hawkwind’s Simon House on violin is just the icing on the cake. ’80’s bass shredder Bill Sheehan and The Zombies’ Rod Argent add significant punch to Riders On The Storm, the latter bringing his signature Hammond sound along for the ride. Ginger Baker’s appearance on Blinded By The Light is unexpected but unremarkable, but the song takes a strange Nektarised turn with a lengthy guitar solo, a Chopsticks-style piano line from Opeth’s Joakim Svalberg. Simon House is back on violin for Roxy’s Out Of The Blue, while King Crimson’s David Cross takes his turn with a bow on the prog-folk version of Neil Young’s Old Man (another unlikely but well executed selection). Klaus Henatsch nails Gary Wright’s keyboard parts on Dream Weaver, while Mahavishnu violinist Jerry Goodman also puts in a good performance. Like Nik Turner, Rick Wakeman is generally on the guest list for these Billy Sherwood projects, and he appears on a lounge-lizard version of I’m Not In Love; Jan Vandroogenbroeck returns with flute and sitar, a million light years from his Cottonwoodhill origins. He is also on Africa, which features Patrick Moraz (Yes/Moody Blues) on keys and former Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball (who also sang on the original recording). It is perhaps an unfortunate choice of closing number, as its AOR sheen is unlikely to appeal to the progressive rock fans who would be the usual target audience of Nektar.

So there you have it. A non-essential but pleasant and occasionally exciting album of covers featuring a vast array of talent. Not a good first point of entry for Nektar’s catalog perhaps, but there is plenty here that will appeal to the less-purist progressive rock aficionado.

For further information visit the Cleopatra label web site at

Reviewed by Pat Albertson

The Re-Stoned – “Analog” (R.A.I.G. 2011, CD, R061)

[Ed. note – This review is being posted after the reivew of the most recent Re-Stoned album Plasma. CLICK HERE to read that review]

The Re-Stoned are a three piece band from Moscow. This looks to be their third full length title as their earlier releases are Return To The Reptiles EP (2009), Revealed Gravitation (2010) and Vermel (2011). But after hearing Analog I now realize that I should put those CD’s on my want list. Re-Stoned is usually described as ’70’s-like psychedelia. The band generally focuses on free-flowing improvisations that much of the time include some much-welcomed lengthy jams. The CD opener, Northern Lights, may be a bit repetitive,but still good [don’t get me wrong], as the ten-minute title track Analog sort of has a Hawkwind-like vibe to it, especially during the first half of the song. Then I noticed it got bluesy thereafter and I also got something good out of Put The Sound Down Or Get The Hell Out. The only way this CD could be better is if these tunes had some vocals, even occasional ones. At first, I wasn’t aware that Analog was an all-instrumental disc. Feedback is indeed a very ’70’s like cut, with some truly great guitar riffs, as Music For Jimmy would likely be a good song to hear while you’re on the road and the fourteen-minute epic Dream Of Vodyanoy serves the listener(s) with a healthy dose of psych effects and wah-wah guitar intact.

Personnel: Ilya Lipkin – guitar, Vladmir Nikulin – bass and Vladmir Muchnov (Lord Of Doubts, Ark Of Passage) – drums. Analog was notably mastered by Alisa Coral (who heads up Space Mirrors and Psi Corps). Rather than second guessing, I contacted the band myself and they told me that their influences were Jimi Hendrix (it shows, no doubt), Black Sabbath, Miles Davis, Led Zeppelin, Blue Cheer and Frank Zappa. The Re-Stoned describes themselves as classic rock / psychedelic. Recommended for fans of Fu Manchu, Nebula, Mastodon, Kyuss, Colour Haze and possibly The Sword or Valient Thorr.

For more information visit The R.A.I.G. label web site at:
Visit The Re-Stoned Myspace page at:

Reviewed by Mike Reed

The Legendary Pink Dots – “Chemical Playschool 15″ (Rustblade/Broken Silence 2012, CD)

The Legendary Pink Dots are an esoteric underground communal Beatnik collective phenomena and a band I avidly collect and listen to often for the past 15 years, ever since discovering them at a gig in Oslo, a review which can be found in the old index on the old Aural Innovations page, spring 1998 issue. Please CLICK HERE to check it out before reading this review.

Most of my favorite material of theirs was produced between 1980 and 1998, despite lineups and sounds that changed drastically during those eras, the band adopting sounds ranging from electronic underground pop-goth (Brighter Now, Curse) to sprawling progressive concept LP’s in the 80’s (The Tower, Asylum) to full blown spacerock in the 90’s (The Maria Dimension, Hallway Of The Gods, From Here You’ll Watch The World Go By). Since the band’s humble beginnings with the 1980 Chemical Playschool 1+2 cassette releases being early favorites, found collected on The Legendary Pink Box; Ancient Daze and Stained Glass Soma Fountains compilations, like much of the later Chemical Playschool releases like 3+4 and 8+9 as well, having been blown away by them live the 3 times I have seen them play Oslo, in 1998, 2009 and 2011, they never disappoint with a live show, and very rarely with an album release. On Chemical Playschool 15 the linup is unchanged from the latest album, with core members Edward Ka-Spel and The Silverman who founded the LPD’s together with some wonderfully artistic psychedelic post-punk musicians in 1980, and in 2013, recruits Erik Drost, and Raymond Steeg are present as well. For those who are curious if it is the same Mr. Steeg that worked with Hawkwind between Distant Horizons and Canterbury Fayre” albums, yes it is the “missing link” between two of my favorite musical ensembles, the very same Raymond Steeg we have seen credited in Hawkwind CD’s as sound man.

The problem the post-Millenium lineups of the LPD’s is that they get too abstract and non-musical, creating “noise” music or “drone” music, if one likes those descriptives. A few odd albums here and there are still “rock” or “kraut” or “psychedelic” and at least contain “songs”, like the latest studio album proper, Seconds Late For The Brighton Line a few years ago which I have both on CD and on double LP. But alot of LPD’s output elsewhere, most notably Edward Ka-Spel’s post-Millenial solo material, is abstract loop and electronic experimentation, like on this 15th Chemical Playschool edition. The series set out to capture the closest to the Dots’ creative collective / communal “playschool” approach to churn out as much obscurantic material as they are capable of as they live and breathe as a creative entity, with a band that has a sprawling miasma of mythology and internal cross references over the years, be it The China Dolls or the ever ominous Premonitions. During the years, you may have been busy taking exams at The Chemical Playschool but was too stoned reading your Obituary to notice The Cloud Zero pass over and you ended up as a Broken China Doll at The Terminal Kaleidoscope. What do you do then? Join a Cult? Now, CP15 leaves me underwhelmed and a little afraid that the band seems to be treading water towards their 33rd year of existence, with no mythical LPD mythology to expand upon. This is scraping the bottom of the barrel, you dedicated Dotheads and all ye Monk like followers. My last 3 favorite LPD albums were All The King’s Men in 2002, Your Children Will Placate You From Premature Graves from 2006 and Plutonium Blonde from 2008. They were solid, psychedelic, songs balanced out with abstract pieces, all in all fine efforts. This is a band that has been on labels like PIAS and ROIR, so they carry weight of authority as well.

The opener Immaculate Conception is throwaway electronic sound sculpture with phased quasi-psychedelic guitar echo effects and a rubbish lyric that goes repeatedly, “I live at the center of the Universe…..” etc. etc. ad infinitum. There is nothing that jumps out and “grabs you” on CP15 except for some brief interesting moments, some of the film samples and Edward’s monologues 11-19 minutes into Sparks Fly / Museum, the second track. The Opium Den Parts 1-3 is a long experimental track with half spoken vocals, with some acoustic guitar 5 minutes into the song. AAAAARGH!!! HULK MISS THE 80’s & 90’s DOTS! HULK SMASH!!! Yes, I get agressive when I hear experiments that fail. I get angry. Track 4 is called Ranting And Raving and has a spoken intro and more weird ambient interludes. IT REALLY DOES NOT GO ANYWHERE. Excpect no more when Edward returns on vocals over a noisy backdrop, some ranting that does not inspire me at all. It’s directly unlikable. Immaculate Conclusion has echoey chanting voice from Edward and ambient noodling. It really is formless, mis-shapen and most of all uninspired. It sucks. Life with The Dots is no longer like running away to join a travelling Circus or meeting Gypsy caravans at night to get your fortune told with Tarot cards or gaze into a Crystal Ball. So hide your wings in a ghost tower, sails crackling at every breath you take, The Madcap Laughed…. AND NOW HULK SMASH CP15!! HULK ANGRY AT EDWOOD, PLAN 9 FROM OWTEW SPAFE! So the verdict is, I am pissed off that I bought Chemical Playschool 15 but as I collect and adore this reputable band and will never give up listening to them, I will brace myself for future experimentation and take anger management courses. Avoid. I never thought I’d ever say that about a Dots album. S.O.A.B.!!!

For more information visit AND AND

Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford

My Education – “A Drink For All My Friends” (Haute Magie 2012, RELIC 020, CD/LP)

The latest from Austin, Texas based My Education is a set of psychedelically dreamy and cinematic powerhouse wall-of-sound compositions that are all about folk-like serenity and image inducing intensity. The band are the sextet of James Alexander on viola, guitar and programming, Chris Hackstie on acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitars, Brian Purington on guitar Vincent Duncan on drums and percussion, Scott Telles (ST 37) on bass, and Henna Chou on piano, keyboards and cello, plus guests on vibraphone, saxophone and keyboards.

The album opens with the double edged title track. A Drink… is a light droney chamber orchestral intro that leads into …For All My Friends. It opens with melodic yet dark and droning viola, cello, and guitar, with the other band members soon joining in. The harsh acidic guitar makes for an interesting contrast against this theme. And when the explosion comes it’s a massive and desnse blast of noisy acid-folk-drone rock. When the lead melody guitar is added the music reaches even further heights of intensity, adding a strange orchestral heavy prog and metal infusion. Wow, there is a LOT happening on this track and it all develops seamlessly. Mister 1986 is next and features stringed instruments, acoustic guitar, and piano passages, alternating with the addition of two electric guitars, one having a 60s Western soundtrack sound and the other a harsher acidic edge. And once again the band build up to explosive levels of head on attack, and I love the way they create a cooperative contrast between aggression and dreamy melodic seduction. Black Box consists of psychedelic drone rock for valium heads that deftly combines serene melodies with dissonance, and is laced with spaced out mission control samples. Roboter-Höhlenbewohner is one of the more high octane heavy guitar driven rock ‘n rollers of the set. It’s a got a prog-like sense of thematic development, and these guys use multiple guitarists such that each creates his unique and individual voice within the piece. I like the spacey keyboard effects too. Happy Village starts off like the earlier tracks, being a slow, melodic, droney folk-orchestral meditative journey. Around the halfway mark the music doesn’t so much explode as it does quickly yet surreptitiously build to the same levels of eruptive intensity heard on Mister 1986. And just as Happy Village is coming in for a landing the band launch directly into the closing track, the powerhouse rock ‘n rolling Homunculus, a kick ass ripper of a finale. Guitars and saxophone are blazing on this monster!

My Education excel at creating beautiful melodies and craftily using their various instrumentation to create and execute their compositions, which sets them apart from a lot of other cinematic/psychedelic wall-of-sound bands in that the listener really gets a sense of the instrumentation involved. A Drink For All My Friends is a raging tour-de-force and psychedelically dreamy meditation, all rolled into one.

For more information visit the My Education web site at:
Visit the Hauge Magie web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Deep Space Destructors – “II” (self-released 2012)

This Finnish trio start off the first of four tracks on this CD somewhat slow and droney and meditatively heavy and instrumental in a My Sleeping Karma fashion, but that is only the opener. The accented vocals sound like Dark Sun’s very similar singer as well. Maybe it’s just being Norwegian, Finland is like an strange language with its nasal accentuation and is distant to Scandinavian. If the singer had been female, it may as well have been a spacey Amon Düül II section from the Wolf City album as well. The track in question is called Beneath A Black Star. It seems from the get go this band is related to the weird kraut-goes-Doom stylings with heapings of drone one hears bubbling up with bands like Astra, with the psychedelicized kraut-goes-Sabbath influence. Deserted Planet 2078 is the next track and is a departure being less heavy, with keyboards reminding me of the first Orange Goblin album’s Star Shaped Cloud, but it does not build to a mind-blowing keyboard and lyrical climax like that song does. Its just kind of low key like Astra often do, and the vocals are present. Spacy Phantasy is next and has a vintage slowed down Fly To The Rainbow feel (Scorpions on Brain label!) but soon doomingly meanders into the Rise Above label bands like Astra or early Orange Goblin again, with heavy guitars and keyboard bits. The song gets progressive after 2 1/2 minutes, with more complex and uptempo changes with spacey vocals. Sykli is the last track, of this short album clocking in under 40 minutes, and is sung in Finnish language. It is slow at first and picks up after 8 minutes to a rockier groove.

Sorry, my Norwegian-Swedish-Danish abilities are 100%. Finnish language has roots, I believe, from an ancient slavic people that wandered north, and they have pirated Chris Cringle since the 50’s from the Norwegians who had him first. Well, not counting the Dutch who created him, before the Norwegians, but never mind. We share the Trolls, at least, and the North Pole. We are proud of Lappland which unites us all even more. Forgetting the bitterness and quarrel within the otherwise peaceful Nordic countries we belong to, in Finland there is, likewise in Sweden, a large amount of Hawkwind-related musicians, though I hear very little Hawkwind in Deep Space Destructors. They play much more like Astra, My Sleeping Karma and old Orange Goblin with smatterings of light prog influences and the Düül krauting out ca. 1973. They mellow out and come crashing in waves back in but never too heavy for the most faint hearted. The CD comes in a beautiful sleeve with titles made to read when stoned, as looking at them straight I barely make them out. The band released two albums in 2012, their debut “I” and this one, “II” at the end of the year. Jani Pitkänen plays bass and sings, Markus Pitkänen is the drummer and Petri Lassila handles guitars and backing vocals. They hail from Oulu, in a country far far far away I can assume. It’s pretty good if you go for this sort of style of Rise Above label/My Sleeping Karma brand doomishness, but it tires me a little, leaves me in a neutral mood. I give them a solid 4 out of 6 points on the dice for this effort. With a title like Deep Space Destructors I expected a fast heavy dose of Spacerock a la Hazard Wings (see other review) but ’tis not. But I like this CD, it seems subtle enough to be a grower.

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Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford