Archive for February 13, 2013

The Re-Stoned – “Plasma” (R.A.I.G. 2012, CD / Nasoni Records 2013, LP)

Russian psychedelic and spaced out stoner rockers The Re-Stoned are back with their third album – Plasma. The album opens with the 11 minute Faces Of Earth, starting off with a slow and melodic psychedelic stoner groove and spaced out effects. Then near the 3 minute mark the band launch into a heavy stoned jam, with shimmering psych guitar licks and the space effects sweeping behind like a cosmic wind blowing through. Grease is next and picks up the pace considerably, being a hot and heavy stoner rock ‘n roll tune. It’s got a 70s hard rock feel, but adds a contemporary stoner edge, a combination I like a lot. And they kick it up a notch by embellishing the music with rapid fire alien synth effects. A monster rockin’ tune! The appropriately titled Acoustic takes The Re-Stoned into a very interesting different direction. It begins as an acoustic guitar and simple percussion combo, then adds trippy keyboards and effects, aided by Arkady Fedotov from Vespero on synths. I love the combination of acoustic music and spaced out effects, making this is pleasantly floating experience. But this is just a side trip as The Re-Stoned follow Acoustic with the heavy tripped out psychedelic rocking Moon Dust, another kick-ass rocker with ripping liquid psych guitar licks against a stoned rocking groove. But the band ease up after a few minutes, transitioning to a cosmic soundscape exploration that carries the song to the end. The Clay God is next and has a more classic stoner rock feel, but at the same time not being sludgy, having that mixture of modern stoner and 70s hard rock that I think these guys do so well. And sure enough, after a couple minutes the band launch into a hard rocking segment that includes the trademark Re-Stoned synth enhancements which give it all a spaced out edge. Lots happening on this space, psych, stoner, hard rock trip! The album closes with Alpha Rhythm, the longest track of the set at over 11 minutes. It begins with slowly soloing melodic guitars and synth effects, and just gradually develops from there. This track is all about mood and atmosphere and there’s a subtle freakiness to it all that keeps things interesting throughout.

BUT… that’s not all. The usually all instrumental Re-Stoned include two cover songs, pulling in singer Veronika Martynova to handle the vocals. These guys surprised me when they cropped up on the recently released Fruits de Mer Records compilation of contemporary bands covering songs by the 60s band The Hollies and did a damn fine job of covering that band’s Then The Heartaches Begin and really making it their own. And they do the same with Jefferson Airplane’s Today, taking the Airplane’s 3 minute song and stretching it out to 7 minutes. The band do a good job of retaining the spirit of the original, while taking it into the expected stoned and spaced out direction. Jefferson Airplane never sounded like this before. The other cover is Pink Floyd’s Julia Dream. This is, at the core, very similar to the original, but the liquid psych guitars and flittering synth effects really take the music elsewhere. Very cool.

I must say this is hands down the best Re-Stoned album yet. These guys are really growing and progressing nicely. I’m especially impressed with the variety of music as the band explore acoustic and atmospheric realms and even include creatively interpreted covers.

Note that the R.A.I.G. label (Russian Association of Independent Genres) released the CD version and Nasoni Records released the vinyl LP, and that the LP edition consists of 6 tracks instead of 8, having excluded the songs Grease and Acoustic. Note also that LP edition has different art than the CD image shown.

For more information you can visit the R.A.I.G. web site at:
Visit the Nasoni Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

The Pancakes – Catalog Overview and Interview

Formed by brother and sister team Rainer and Daniela Neeff, The Pancakes are a German trio who play psychedelic garage-rock, surf-rock, spaced out instrumental excursions, and more. Their first two albums – Brainshaker and Ugga Dtschagga – were reviewed in Aural Innovations #19, as well as a few Rainer and Daniela solo albums in subsequent issues. Keep reading for an overview of the rest of The Pancakes catalog to date, followed by a detailed interview with Rainer Neeff who provides history and insights into the band.

The Pancakes – “Space Cow” (Kerntonschall Klanglabor 2005, CAKE 007, CD)

The album opens with mooing cows (plus other farm animals) and UFO effects. Then a voice says, “What’s that? A flying saucer takes my cow?!”… and then we’re off into the psychedelic surf rocking instrumental Banana, which has a fun hip-shakin’ groove and cool spaced out guitar effects. Other highlights among the 12 tracks is Uuaah!, which is like a blend of 60s garage-psych and late 70s punk á la The Ramones. Daniela’s vocals would be just as much at home in either era. The music has catchy melodic hooks, makes the body want to move, and Rainer injects killer tripped out guitar gymnastic bits throughout. The Ghost brings to mind some lost 60s surf-psych Halloween gem, incorporating bits of Salsa, Link Wray, and more. See Your Face is like The Ventures joining up with The Cramps to make an acid rock ‘n roll band. This is really FUN stuff! I keep thinking how these songs would be perfect for some Quentin Tarantino movie. Walking is a down ‘n dirty psych rocker with wailing fuzz guitar and spaced out licks as Daniela spits out her sassy “No way out!” lyrics. And The Pancakes go south of the border on the lysergic oddball dance tune, Muchaschas Arriba.

There’s also a couple longer tracks I enjoyed. The cows and farm animals are back on the 11 minute Man On The Moon, and it seems that here we learn their fate after having been abducted at the beginning of the set. It’s a slow psychedelic stroll with a Bluesy edge. And there’s lots of great guitar, from searing acid drenched anguish, to deep space liquid psych, to raw brain frying rock. But it’s not just an extended jam, as there’s a linear narrative unfolding, and throughout Daniela is like a punk inspired Torch chanteuse. This is one seriously passionate psychedelic powerhouse of a song. Stars In the Underground opens with gorgeously nasty psychedelic metal riffs leading against a sultry rhythmic pulse. When the vocals kick in for the main song portion it’s got a bit of a stoner vibe, mostly due to Daniela’s vocals. But there’s lots of great jamming and psychedelicious guitar exploration. What I like best is that when The Pancakes jam there’s always a solid focus on rhythm, and in their case it’s usually the kind that makes the body want to move. These guys are all about GROOVES, even at their most exploratory. Finally, Flying is a slow, raw, Bluesy, metallic and ultra sultry psychedelic journey.

The Pancakes – “Aquanaut” (Kerntonschall 2007, 2-LP)

Recorded live on the 2006 Space Cow tour, Aquanaut is a 2-LP vinyl set released in a numbered edition of 280. After an Interstellar Overdrive sounding introductory bit, the band launch into the rousing rocker Peace. Ugga Dtschagga is the title track from their second album and opens with a screaming acid guitar workout from Rainer, which quickly morphs into a trademark Pancakes groove rocker. I love the part where Rainer goes ballistic on guitar while Daniela “jams” on vocals. You Ain’t Of My Kind is a swinging slab of surf-psych rock ‘n roll. And the rest of Side 1 is dominated by a scorching live version of Man On The Moon, the lengthy tune I enjoyed so much on Space Cow, and which seems to have become a staple of the band’s live set to this day. Fans of exploratory and rocking psychedelic guitar will be drooling over Rainer’s playing on this tune. He goes deep into space and gets downright acid-stoner at times. But he’s a highly articulate, expressive musician, even at his most spaced out.

Side 2 opens with the powerhouse rocking instrumental, Mozart, followed by a rousing rendition of The Ghost, another highlight song from the Space Cow album. Tommyknockers is a fun, whimsical punky song. And then we have The Bear, Side 2’s blast-off into acid rocking space. The Pancakes rock hard on this one and Rainer is like a man possessed on guitar. This is a jamming, deep space and hard psych rock guitar exploration, and all the while the band is rocking and rolling, never allowing that groove to let up for a moment. Killer!! Side 2 wraps up with Find My Way, another fun, whimsical, punky rocker. These guys really cover a lot of territory.

Side 3 kicks off with an early 70s sounding Kosmiche jam, with cool eerie organ that goes great with the tripping guitar. This leads into Violet Planet, another example of The Pancakes penchant for fun, accessible, rhythmic songs that also manage to rock hard and include aggressive psych guitar. Kosmos is an energetic psych rocker with Rainer really ripping it up on guitar. The Pancakes dive into the Blues on Lone Desert Highway, with Rainer kicking out passionate, mucho fuzzed, and often screaming leads. And Take The Bus is a heavily Funk infused psych rocker.

Side 4 begins with Surfing To The Center Of The Universe, a schizophrenic song that hops between slow and sultry segments to rapid fire surf-psych. Catch The Stars has a simple catchy melody that I enjoyed. But the lengthy monster track of Side 4 and the big finale to the album is Greenwood Desert. It comes roaring out of the starting gate as a Blues infused rock ‘n roll song. And, as expected, the band launch into a jam that leaves Rainer wide open to stretch out on guitar. This is all about high energy hard rock ‘n roll with a raw nasty psych edge. I have to believe this sucker had the entire audience on their feet and pumping their fists. A killer finale to this outstanding 2-LP live set.

The Pancakes – “Volcanic Frog Island” (Kerntonschall 2010, Cake 010, CD/LP)

Volcanic Frog Island is a 10 track album released in both vinyl and CD editions (you get a bonus track on the CD). Spanish Surf is a decent rocker, the best part being the rousing jam at the end. Duggyman is a cool, quirky song, with excellent guitar fills. “Duggymaaaan, inside my mind, Duggymaaaan, inside my head”. Break It Away is a killer groove rocker, and in the middle Rainer goes acid ballistic on guitar while an efx’d voice… I can’t quite make it out but sounds like it’s talking about flying saucers in the forest. Living In The City and Take The Bus are both characterized by funk, soul, and psychedelic swing. The Sun is a catchy psych rocker with a really cool 60s pop melody and a monster heavy psych guitar solo. If The Pancakes ever considered a single, this would be the one. Aladin is another 60s styled song, with bits of surf and a fun, quirky main melody. I’d make this the B-side to The Sun.

Then we’ve got some really good longer jam tunes. At 11 minutes, Seven Pleasures is the longest track of the set, being a combination of song and steady hard psych rocking jams. Rainer takes off and explores and we’re treated to some tasty outer space effects. I love Daniela’s vocals on this track, as they get downright menacing at times. Froggy D. is a raw, Bluesy surf-psych rocker. “The name is Froggy DDddeeeeeeeee!!”. More great guitar and another killer vocal performance from Daniela. This would be a hot one seeing the band live. Dr. Moreau meets Dracula at dawn and sends him back to space in 45 seconds (how’s that for a title?) starts off as a slow, sultry spaced out jam, but quickly morphs into molten metallic acid psych, with stoned bass and trippy Eastern influences. Finally, The Too Long Fried Hemp-Pancake Women is the CD bonus track. The first couple minutes consist of weird voices and effects, but then launches into a grooving spaced out psych rocker that brought to mind Tribe Of Cro with a surf rock edge.

The Pancakes – “Oh What’s That?” split LP with Magi Razzo (Kerntonschall 2011, LP)

The Pancakes side of this split LP with Magi Razzo consists of five tracks recorded during the Space Cow and Volcanic Frog Island sessions. Four of the songs – The Ghost, The Too Long Fried-Hemp Pancake Women, Flying, and Banana – are songs from those albums, though the credits note these are unreleased versions. Hawaii is the one track I don’t recognize.

The flip side features Magi Razzo, a band that existed on the German Punk and New Wave scene from 1979-1986 and released several albums and EPs, and also included Rainer and Daniela’s father Werner Neeff. The 8 tracks on this LP were recorded in 1986 with the final lineup of the band, consisting of 6 musicians playing guitar, drums, Moog, guitar, bass, violin, mandolin and vocals in German. The music is emblematic of the times, though I must say the musicianship is excellent, the band a tight unit, with good production and interesting arrangements. Among the highlights is Java Girl, a quirky brand of New Wav-ish rock with a kind of pop-Arabian vibe and surf guitar. Der Rhein ist tot includes cool flittering synth embellishments and wah’d psychy guitar leads on this otherwise dancey lounge-pop song. Flashback No. 5 is a fast-paced instrumental that sounds like the theme to a 60s TV show. Kind of like The Ventures with a dose of early 80s New Wave. And it gets really cool and crazy later in the song when the violin starts screech jamming. Silicon Orbit is a little different, with a cool avant-garde feel from the violin and Moog, sounding like The Velvet Underground might have had they been born in the Punk era. Very interesting band. Oh, and the LP comes on nice translucent vinyl.

Various Artists – “UFOs Over Ellmendingen” (Kerntonschall 2012, Kerntonschallrakete001, LP)

Recorded live at the Alien Rocket Flight Festival Vol 2 on October 14, 2001, UFOs Over Ellmendingen is a vinyl LP set documenting performances by The Pancakes, Zone Six, and Ax Genrich. The first half of Side 1 features Ax Genrich, the great guitarist from pioneering Krautrockers Guru Guru playing A Trip To Paradise, a song from his 2011 album of the same name. CLICK HERE to read my review of that album. A grooving bassline and drums provide an anchor for Ax’s vocals and exploratory psychedelic soundscape guitar, which soon becomes a full blown space jam with some mightily explosive guitar. I really dig the bass solo which Ax jams along with creating spaced out acid-atmospheric effects. I’ve been happy to see Ax active in recent years. He also released a new album, Fretboard Jungle, in 2012. CLICK HERE to read my review of that album.

The rest of Side 1 is taken up by The Pancakes doing an explosive rendition of Man On The Moon. It starts off with ripping psych guitar before easing into the main song segment. Daniela leads the way with her vocals while Rainer’s guitar is in especially aggressive spaced out acid rock mode. Wow, the whole band is cookin'; this is the HOTTEST I’ve heard The Pancakes yet! Excellent psych guitar! The Pancakes continue on Side 2 with a song called Elephant that I’ve not heard before. A funky wandering groove lays the foundation for lots of heavy psych rocking jamming and killer psycho guitar.

Rounding out the set is Zone Six, a band most Aural Innovations readers will know. What you may not know is that The Pancakes’ Rainer Neeff has been their guitarist for the past few years, and in this configuration they’re a trio with Sula Bassana (aka Dave Schmidt) on drums and Frau Komet on bass (two-thirds of Electric Moon!). Rollatorcat features 15 luscious minutes of heavy acid rocking improvisational space exploration.

I really enjoyed immersing myself in all these albums and The Pancakes are clearly one of the hot bands on the German underground psych scene. Their albums feature a great combination of songs and instrumental workouts. During songs you often have to listen closely to capture and appreciate Rainer’s intricate guitar work. And Daniela has such a great voice for this music. Her vocals would be equally at home singing Punk or Blues, and I’d describe her singing with The Pancakes as a combination of both.

Wanting to know more about the band I conducted the following interview via email with Rainer Neeff:

Aural Innovations (AI): I can trace The Pancakes back to the Brainshaker CD from 1998. Tell me about when and how the band was formed.

Rainer Neeff (RN): Well, me (Rainer) and my sister Daniela, we have been making music together since kindergarden. In our children’s room we played drums on our self-made drumkit out of cans and bottles, and we sometimes destroyed the strings of our mother’s guitar when we made wild tones on it; not real music, just loud trash like children do. I remember the first music I really liked was Elvis Presley and we explored the radio for rock ‘n roll stuff from the 50s and 60s. Then when I was 13, me and my sister Daniela formed a school band, and we learned playing bass and guitar by covering some sixties stuff like The Animals House Of The Rising Sun and The Rolling Stones The Last Time and The Velvet Underground’s Run Run Run. Our first band name was The Gorgs in 1992, with me on guitar, Daniela on guitar and vocals, and Cornelia Deike Gantz on drums. At that time I’d written my first song, Tommyknockers, and Daniela the song Crime. The first studio versions can be heard on The Pancakes Brainshaker album from 1998. So one year later in 1993 the band became a new line up and a new name. We called ourselves The Screaming Silence, with me on guitar, Daniela on guitar and vocals, Flavio all Pepe on guitar, Max Khäni on bass, and Tomek Mrutschkowsky on drums. We played realy freaked out cover versions from Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin and stuff like that, and we created more and more our own style and music, and me and Daniela wrote our own own songs.

At that time I began to hear music from Guru Guru, Amon Düül, Greatful Dead, Neil Young, Sonic Youth, some Grunge music and The Doors, Hawkwind!, Dead Moon, and also surf music from the 50s like The Trashmen, HP LOVECRAFT live in San Francisco!, The 13th Floor Elevators, Paternoster (German Kraut ’70), Ragnarök (Swedish Psyche), Hendrix, The Fuzztones, The Gravedigger 5, and I always looked after long songs and experimental stuff. When I went to concerts I always waited for the longest song, when the band begins to freak out. Long songs became like a drug for me, and my own music got more and more experimental, and my guitar solos and instrumentals became longer and longer. I liked to play Sunshine Of Your Love and stuff like that, where I could really freak out in the experimental middle parts. And the real drug at that time was the first album UFO from the German Krautrock band Guru Guru, the album Goo from Sonic Youth, Dead Moon Night by Dead Moon, and even the first three UFO records! Not the later UFO stuff, but Prince Kajuku, Boogie For George, the old UFO stuff. Also the song When The Music’s Over by The Doors (a real magic one). But the band split up in 1994 and me and my sister created a new one called Shabby Snuggles, which turned into The Pancakes on May 6, 1995 with our first Pancake drummer Mathias Wendorf. We didnt know at that time that another band called The Pancakes existed, but at that time no one had internet and the whole music scene was totaly different from today. It was really hard to find good underground music. Today one click and the band stands in your room.

AI: In 2002 (issue #19) one of my writers reviewed your first two albums – Brainshaker (1998) and Ugga Dtschagga (2001). He described Brainshaker as “psych/surf/garage”, and Ugga Dtschagga as a “more pronounced move into heavy acid rock”. Tell me about the music you intended to create in the beginning, and how you feel it has developed/evolved over the years.

RN: Well, I think The Pancakes played over the years always the same (hahaha laugh), but earlier we thought to put shorter, more compact tracks on our albums, because where we lived people didn’t like long songs on albums. But as the years went by we put more and more long tracks and experimental stuff on the albums. We played stoner rock in 1996 before the stoner rock wave came over to Germany. In our rehearsals we’ve play since the beginning our structured shorter tracks and then we always turn in a freak 50 minute session that wipes everything out. Since the Space Cow period we allowed ourselves to put the session stuff and experimental unstructured stuff that comes out of the universe on an album, because it’s realy great great magic. Some tracks also had a process over the years, like the track Elephant from the Ufos Over Ellmendingen Live LP from 2012. That was the first time we played it live, but I had this riff in my head since 1994. It took nearly 20 years to play it with the band live, and its a typical stoner rock riff from 1994, from times where we had never heard about stoner rock on the Schwäbische alb (area in the outback south of Germany). Some people say we are influenced by Colour Haze and stuff like this, but I heard Colour Haze the first time in 2010.
I think the influences come more from the 60s and early 70s and the records I heard from my father from that good old analog technic time. Well, I don t like very much computer overdubbed music. Every tone should be played live and should not be digitally copied and copied. It’s ok to put an additional guitar or extra analog ufo track on a song, but not that stuff from the normal radio, where every tone is a lie. We try to keep it as real as it could be, and I prefer first take live recordings like Froggy D or 7 Pleasures from our Volcanic Frog Island album.

AI: Have Rainer and Daniela always been the primary members of the band? I see that from Space Cow through today The Pancakes have been the same trio with Russell McSwan on drums. Was the lineup the same on the Brainshaker and Ugga Dtschagga albums?

RN: Oh yes, me and Daniela are the real primary members of The Pancakes. I think we both would be in the sanatory wuahahahaha if we didn’t start to make music. Making music is like a therapy for us, and makes our mind and soul free. On the first album, Brainshaker, we had another new line-up, because me and my sister moved from the Schwäbische alb to Pforzheim. So the line-up in 1998 was me on guitar, Daniela on guitar and Sirkka Hammer on bass, on the drums there was our good old band friend over all these years Johnny Park (Johnny Pfitzenmaier)! Normally a very very very good guitarist, but here very very excellent on the Brainshaker drums! But this formation split up in 2000 and since then we’ve had the real good good excellent drummer RUSSELL MCSWAN from Scotland! And Daniela started to play bass! So since Ugga Dtschagga I’m the only guitarist in the band, and I think it works better as 3-piece, with me on guitar, Daniela Neeff on bass/vocals and Russell McSwan on drums. Johnny Park our old drummer recorded the Ugga Dtschagga album! Then Johnny Park moved to Stuttgart and I startet to record all on my own and bring it out on my new record label KERNTONSCHALL RECORDS! (formerly it was “Schwarzmond”!) (even earlier it was “Herpes Klänge”). So everything from The Pancakes since the Ugga Dtschagga period is recorded and mixed and mastered by me and the band. So you get the real “Pancake Tone” as it’s thought, without a producer or something from outside the band since the year 2000, including the Ugga Dtschagga album with the real cool recordings of Johnny Park (our old drummer) and the crazy Russell McSwan on drums!!!

AI: Looking at the past reviews we’ve done in Aural Innovations I see that Daniela had a solo album in 2002 and Rainer has had at least three. Have there been other solo projects or band projects outside The Pancakes you’ve been involved with?

RN: Daniela played in the German punk band Rhythmus Radikal and makes music projects with children. Russell played in the fantastic band Hugh Reed and The Velvet Underpants and now Sons Of Grunge. I did a lot of sessions, projects and recordings like Krawutje (Krautrock), The Cosmic Poison Eaters (Dada Psychedelic), Die Enzgeheimen (Psychedelic Kraut Rap, König Raginhardt (Surf-Psyche), and played also with Iain from Schroedingers Cat, and I did some crazy sessions with the German Krautkultband “EMBRYO”! I recorded more stuff like the the yellow Rainer Neeff Frisco Howlin LP A side. I hope to bring it some day out on a record. And at the moment I’m a member of Zone Six and “Krautzone”, also a new project called Ghosts Of Chapel Hill (Psyche Folk), and still there is a lot going around THE PANCAKES PLANET!

AI: You’ve been releasing your albums on your own Kerntonschall label. Have you always self-released your music?

RN: Oh Yes!. Except the real delicious fantastic 7″ single club single by Swamp Room Records, THE PANCAKES “OVER THE HILL” !!! The Oh Whats That album was also planned on Swamp Room Records, but then Swamp Room did a wipe out, so we decided to put it out ourselves.

AI: Have you experienced changes over the years distributing CDs and vinyl as an independent label in the digital download age?

RN: Yes, people now buy more vinyl. There is a little vinyl scene coming up and underground bands bring out vinyls limited to 300, 500 or 1000 pieces. It’s like an oldtimer scene with lots of underground rarities and cool freaks!!! But most people, “the handy people” I say, always want mp3’s for free download and all for free in bad quality on YouTube… I dont like this!!! I don’t like handy consumed music. I’ve thrown mine on the wall 5 years ago, we don t need it, I’ve got no “handy”. Ten years ago we sold more CDs but today we sell more vinyl than CDs.

AI: There seems to be an increased interest in vinyl these days. You released Aquanaut, the split with Magi Razzo, and UFOs Over Ellmendingen as vinyl only releases. And Volcanic Frog Island is available as both vinyl and CD. How do you decide if you are going to released one format or the other, or both?

RN: Well, normally I would put out everything strictly on vinyl, but it’s a money thing. It would also be cool if a record could be made out of hemp or something rather than out of oil! To produce a CD is much cheaper, and you reach with a CD more people, because many people don t have a turntable, and if you give demos to a club or venue you need a CD. But I hope I can put out also the Brainshaker and the Spacecow albums on a vinyl someday.

AI: Have you considered selling digital download albums too? I’ve noticed that a lot of bands/labels that release vinyl LPs these days also include a download code.

RN: No, I don t want to do that!!! It’s a Sound Thing!… and many more!!! I think it’s better to put a CD in a vinyl like we did with the Volcanic Frog Island album, because the sound on a digital CD is much better than a digital mp3, so you get all in one, a good analog sound and an acceptable digital sound. The best is analog sound on a good analog turntable station!!! Digital is not round, it’s square formed edgey waves, analog waves are round music waves!!! We use mp3 in the internet only for advertising. But people, if you really want to hear good sound, and if you want to help the artist buy something to eat and be able to live then buy our vinyls and cds!!!

AI: Last year you released a split LP with a band called Magi Razzo. When I first listened to Magi Razzo, whose recordings seem to be from the 1980s, I thought they were an interesting style of music to pair with The Pancakes. But then I saw Werner Neeff was a member. Werner is the one who sent me the package of LPs and CDs. Does he run, or help run, your Kerntonschall label?

RN: Werner is my father, and a member of Magi Razzo. He helps me with the distribution. Today he plays in the band White Sands, and with me in The Cosmic Poison Eaters. I found the Magi Razzo tapes in a box where you put shoes, and saved it over 20 years in my living room to bring it out someday. It was funny to do the singing on it 25 years later, with Michael Wurster and Wolfgang Dürr and Werner on vocals. So Magi Razzo still exists.

AI: You are also now the guitarist in Zone Six. How did that come about? Did you replace Julius K? It looks like you doubled up with both bands for the Ellmendingen show. Have there been other shows where both The Pancakes and Zone Six played?

RN: Well, I don t know if I replaced Julius K. It was on The Pancakes birthday on May 6, 2011 when The Pancakes
had a gig together with Zone Six live at Hegel in Tübingen. Sula Bassana and Frau Komet Lulu turned up and said that the drummer left the band, and then they asked me if I can play guitar, and Dave is going to replace the drummer, Frau Komet and Paul Pott will play bass and Modulfix does his magictones! So, crazy as I am, I said yes, and I did, and from that day on I was in Zone Six. That was the first time The Pancakes played together with Zone Six. It was a very great evening and show but I was very exhausted in the end. It was like a marathon walk to play in both high energy bands. Iain from Schroedinger’s Cat was in the audience too, that was cool, because I haven’t seen him for years.

The next marathon for me was the Alien Rocket Flight Festival Vol.2, where the UFOs Over Ellmendingen LP was recorded.
It was planned that The Pancakes, Ax Genrich (from Guru Guru) & Band, and Electric Moon would play at the Festival. Then Sula Bassana and Frau Komet turned up and said that their drummer is ill and he can’t play the gig. They asked me if I can play guitar, Sula plays drums and Frau Komet plays bass. So this went out as a Zone Six show in a smaller line-up. But this was very great and really really exhausting for me, because I did two shows that evening, The Pancakes and Zone Six, and I recorded all the stuff including Ax Genrich, with everything miked up. I think I will not do so much in one evening again, so the UFOs OVER ELLMENDINGEN LP is really a thing that happens only once in a life, and it’s very great.

AI: I think the UFOs Over Ellmendingen LP is an excellent live document with The Pancakes, Ax Genrich and Zone Six. Was this a single night with just the three bands or more of a festival with others as well?

RN: Yes, this was an evening with those 3 bands! Me and Werner had the idea of making a festival with underground, Kraut and psychedelic bands. We called it Alien Rocket Flight Festival. My idea was to record everything and to bring out a vinyl. On the Alien Rocket Flight Vol. 1 it didn’t work with the recording, but did on Vol. 2! I m looking for a place to start an Alien Rocket Flight Vol. 3 this year 2013, with also bringing out a vinyl from the evening. I hope there will be more Alien Rocket Flight festivals in future.

AI: Do The Pancakes play live often? Have you played shows outside of Germany?

RN: No, we don’t play so much live. I think its in the average 1 or 2 times in a month you can see us on a stage. I would be happy if we played more, but there are some personal circumstances from each member and the surroundings, and the other thing is that you can get more gigs but around here you mostly have to play for free!, and that’s not good when you need money for eating and living. There is a strange mentality around here in Germany. Many people want art and music for free, like free downloads, free entry at concerts and so on. The younger people are very strange, (under 30). They are full on free mp3 shit and want to see concerts from underground bands for free on YouTube while they’re full of chemicals, not natural drugs, hanging around lazy on the sofa… that’s a little bit sad for the underground scene! Most people here don’t see that there is a lot of work behind the music and recording, and they don’t understand that an underground artist needs money for eating and living. I don’t speak about Phil Collins or someone like that, even Lou Reed. I mean real underground artists! So we are happy about vinyl freaks that understand this! And thanx to all of them! And yes, we played a couple of shows in Scotland, Switzerland and in France.

AI: Germany seems to get some pretty good festivals. I understand Burg Herzburg to be pretty big and includes pioneering psychedelic/krautrock/progressive bands from the 70s, as well as comtemporary bands playing that style of music. This is something we do NOT have in the U.S. With that in mind, do you find German audiences receptive to your music? Are most of your albums/CDs distributed in Germany?

RN: I’ve been at the Herzberg 3 times, and yes peace to all, good festival!!! I think this was the first time I’d seen Sula Bassana (Dave Schmidt) playing there with Liquid Visions 10 years ago or something. This was really “Pancake Style”!!! And now we play in the same band Zone Six!!! Strange how things come!!!

Yes, most of our albums are distributed in Germany, but we’ve got a lot of fans in Ukraine and even a few in Israel!
German audiences are receptive to our music, but the underground freaks are spread in every corner of Germany. Some drive 500 kilometers to a gig. I think there are a lot more people that like that kind of music, but many don’t know that there is such an underground scene. Once we played a gig in Tübingen for the great “Music Maniac Records” (The Fuzztones!, Dead Moon!, Atilla And The Huns!, The Droogs!, The Vietnam Veterans!!!) at Rimpo Record Store. “MUSIC MANIAC RECORDS” is a real real cool underground label! It was 12.00 noon in the middle of the street. There were many people listening and they were really surprised about the handmade psychedelic music by The Pancakes. We sold many records that day, and most of the people thought this wouldn’t exist since the seventies in this all overdubbed Pro Tools normal radio world. They were really surprised about German underground psyche!

AI: Any other news or future projects you would like to share with our readers?

RN: We planned a “THE PANCAKES” / “LA IRA DE DIOS” split vinyl and hopefuly soon a giant new THE PANCAKES album on Kerntonschall Records. Maybe a project with The Lombego Surfers (Switzerland). I want to bring out my Rainer Neeff Tones From The Forest album and I think someday there will be a KRAUTZONE LP and a ZONE SIX LP maybe on Sulatron Records and a Cosmic Poison Eaters CD release on Kerntonschall. And maybe a Ghosts Of Chapel Hill release with Onkel Kaktus. But at the moment these are great visions.

Cheers and may all good ghosts be with you!!!


The Pancakes – “Brainshaker” (Honky Tonk 1998, Cake 001, CD)
The Pancakes – “Ugga Dtschagga” (Schwarzmond/Honky Tonk 2001, Cake 003, CD)
The Pancakes – “Space Cow” (Kerntonschall Klanglabor 2005, CAKE 007, CD)
The Pancakes – “Aquanaut” (Kerntonschall 2007, 2-LP)
The Pancakes – “Volcanic Frog Island” (Kerntonschall 2010, Cake 010, CD/LP)
The Pancakes – “Oh What’s That?” split LP with Magi Razzo (Kerntonschall 2011, LP)

Various Artists – “UFOs Over Ellmendingen” (Kerntonschall 2012, Kerntonschallrakete001, LP)

Rainer Neeff – “San Francisco Howlin” (Schwarzmond/Honky Tonk 1999, Cake 002, LP)
Rainer Neeff – “Music For Flowers Bees And Gnomes” (self-released 2002, CD)
Rainer Neeff – “Tango Day On Jupiter” (Kerntonschall 2004, CD)

Daniela Neeff – “Love It!” (Herpes-Klange 2002, Cake 010, CD)

Rainer Neeff with Zone Six:
Zone Six – “Live at Sulatron Labelnight, Fulda, 2011″ (Sulatron Records 2011, CD)
Zone Six / Vespero – “The Split Thing” (Transubstans Records 2012, CD/LP
Zone Six / The Pancakes / Ax Genrich & Band Ufos Over Ellmendingen (Kerntonschall Records 2012 Rackete 001) LP

For more information you can visit The Pancakes at their Kerntonschall Records label at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Voïvod – “Target Earth” (Century Media 2013, 72770189612)

Voïvod is an eminent Canadian underground/punk/thrash/progressive era band that have covered Astronomy Domine, The Nile Song and 21st Century Schitzoid Man, had Rush producer Terry Brown tweak their 1991 effort Angel Rat and has, during a slightly bad spell without former bassists Blacky or Eric Forrest, had Jason Newsted (from Metallica) as a member and, they’ve explored so many various interesting phases from the out and out futuristic Chrome-style cyber-space-thrash-punk album Killing Technology (1986) and the insanely gothic space assault like Phobos (1997) to more mellow psych/prog efforts like Angel Rat (1991) and The Outer Limits (1993). With an awesome cartoonist drummer leading the band, a la Christian Vander, named Away, who also does all the artwork and Voïvod comics for the band, they have an album which just came out in the wee month of January 2013 called Target Earth. More on the actual album a bit later in the article.

First: Voïvod is a band I rate very highly for the thrash genre, with an apocalyptic SF theme of a storyline continuing throughout all their albums, being concept albums about the warrior Voïvod and others like Korgull the Exterminator who come from a ravaged Earth in the future. Voïvod has travelled on and out into Space and beyond over the years a la Magma’s Kobaian mythos, a band they in many ways echo, also having French as their native language, and thus a funny sounding accented vocalist named Snake. Along with Celtic Frost, Fates Warning up to 1990, Iced Earth, Manilla Road, and early Tiamat amongst others, Voïvod pioneered and blurred the boundaries between early black metal, thrash and progressive and punk genres

And the new album? Not so sure. In fact I discussed for an hour or two with Away at Betong in Oslo before and after Voïvod played a night in 1997, our common love of Hawkwind and Magma and Van Der Graaf Generator and many other prog acts from the seventies we shared interest in, as they tend to cover cutting edge prog stuff like Floyd and Crimson, when not being cutting edge with their own material. They always have a good idea mapping a course for each album in their musical story of Voïvod and his adventures. That night guitarist Piggy (who passed away from cancer some years ago) played strings by firing off all kinds of sounds with a toy raygun on all the different modes onto his guitar strings. It was awesome. Check out the 1997 Phobos CD for those crazy sounding experiments. A true art band if there ever was one! So, since Piggy’s death they hired a new guitarist called Chewy who fills in rather nicely. Jason Newsted has been dispatched from the mothership to join Eric Forrest on the ex-member prison planet, only to be replaced by a returned Blacky.

And the result? I have to say my opinion of the new album falls somewhere between being underwhelmed yet satisfied, expecting something not so mindblowing as their older material. Their last CD, Infini from 2009 had some quality stuff and showed Voïvod were still a creative and vital act in an otherwise bleak metal landscape filled with Emo, symphonic and stoner and other modern upstart genres generally filled with poseurs too young to even have been born when Voïvod released their first album, the excellent War And Pain in 1983. Target Earth chugs along nicely without much notice. It’s good, it just does not possess much melodic or progressive qualities, almost as if the band has decided for a simple and less complex approach, and each song just moves on in a similar fashion. Not the feast I expected upon Blacky’s return, there is just some elements missing. A standout track can be found amongst the bonus tracks on the deluxe CD, namely Man in the Trees from Roadburn Fest.

I recommend Target Earth only to those familiar with the band already, but not as a starting point to check out the band. Set forth and sample the previously mentioned albums in this article, and take exploration from there. But, thank whomever is your deity, that we still have Voïvod after 30 years in existence.

For more info, visit:

Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford

Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri – “Not the Weapon, But the Hand” (K-SCOPE 2012, 204)

Are you curious how modern balladeering Marillion would sound like if they were gene-spliced with cutting edge prog like Porcupine Tree? Would the result be a poetry laden and technological creative soup along the lines of ‘tronic wave experimental esoteric bands like The Legendary Pink Dots and their ilk? I am afraid the answer echoes and shouts “yes!” “yes!” repeatedly from a ghostly other dimension. Not The Weapon But the Hand is a truly progressive album in the modern sense, it grows on you with its low key approach and many fine details. Hogarth is a fine vocalist when he really gels. Often his work with Marillion is a bit non-descript, but imagine an album somewhere in between his two solo efforts like the rocky-poppy Ice Cream Genius album from 1998 and the laid back mature balladeering of his Natural Selection live album some five years ago. Mature, reflected, subtle and intricately crafted. Richard Barbieri from Porcupine Tree and Japan does instrumentation and it works very well, with all his electronic ambience, guitars, experimental hi tech beats and washes of synths with Hogarth’s voice narrating songcraftingly on top is very comfortable to listen to. A Cat With Seven Souls and Your Beautiful Face are two of the tracks that struck me as very poetic and serious. There are no whimsical or humorous elements about this record, it definitely is “art rock” with all its pretensions, but not an out and out “prog” album. I could compare it to Steven Wilson’s solo outings; to an extent, Peter Hammill’s solo work, The Legendary Pink Dots, and a bit of Hogarth era Marillion. But far better than Marillion with Hogarth on vocals. Hogarth really needs to distinguish his own voice. I feel his Marillion work does not hold up against the Fish era of the band, but now I realise there is no need to compare him with Fish. This is totally different than either, yet would appeal to fans of Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson very much. Set forth and purchase this if you are a fan of Porcupine Tree, Marillion or serious poetic/muso “art rock” in general. A fine collection that will not date on your record shelf.

For more info, visit:, and

Reviewed by Christian Eric Mumford

Sky Picnic – “Paint Me A Dream” (Nasoni Records 2012, LP)

Sky Picnic are the Brooklyn, New York based trio of Chris Sherman on guitar and vocals, Leah Cinnamon on bass and vocals, and Pete Meriwether on drums and percussion. Paint Me A Dream is billed as their second full length album, though the band have also released a couple EPs, singles, and contributed to various compilations. Here’s the skinny on the album’s 9 songs:

The album opens with Lost Is Found, a psych rock song with a 60s feel and a killer intense acid freakout jam for the finale. The title track is next and is a more overtly 60s sounding song. It rocks out but has a floating trippy feel, a nice flute melody (maybe synth produced), acoustic and electric guitars, space effects, and a damn good melody. Freak Out Ethel starts off with an early Pink Floyd feel, like Astronomy Domine crossed with Careful With that Ax Eugene, but then morphs into a heavy driving psych rock instrumental. Dream Yourself Away has a pleasant guitar melody and vocals, plus an orchestral mellotron-like backdrop. About halfway through the music quiets into the dream-state of the title… “dreeeeeeam yourself awaaaaay”… with cool efx’d guitar licks and haunting vocals, gradually building and receding in intensity, with the orchestral keys projecting the song into Prog-Psych realms. Another damn good song! Kaleidoscopic Cadence is a short but lovely acoustic Folk-Psych song, and wraps up with more of those classic Prog orchestral embellishments. Rippled continues the 60s dreamy Prog-Psych drift that I’m catching from the last two tracks, and in parts has an underlying Ennio Morricone soundtrack vibe. Translucent Lucy is a chunky psychedelic rock ‘n roll song with a bit of a surf edge and cool wah’d guitar solo. At 8 minutes Slumbers Gate is the longest track of the set. For the first couple minutes the band playfully meander. But then the drums start to rock out hard, while the guitar goes into deep space with the effects. This lasts a couple more minutes before things go quiet and the musicians focus on pure spaced out atmosphere and effects creation, once again recalling early experimental Pink Floyd. In fact, in the last couple minutes I’m reminded of Atom Heart Mother. Sky Picnic cover a lot of interesting ground on this track. Finally, Aurora is a brief instrumental that brings the album to a close on a heavy psych rocking note.

In summary, Sky Picnic are heavily 60s psychedelic influenced but are by NO means a retro act. Vibravoid might be a good analogy. I’ve liked all their releases but what stands out on Paint Me A Dream is the songwriting, which is a pretty impressive. Solid songs and melodies, AND lots of cool freaky and often spaced out psychedelic music.

Note that the album is available in black and colored vinyl editions, as well as digital download. AND for you vinyl junkies in the U.S. who are accustomed to paying big bucks for Nasoni imports, the LP is available for a very reasonable price at the Sky Picnic Bandcamp site.

For more information you can visit the Sky Picnic web site at:
Purchase the LP or digital download at:
Visit the Nasoni Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Solus3 – “Corner Of The World” (self-released 2011, CD2) / “Corner Of The Dub” (self-released 2012, CD3)

My introduction to Solus3 was through Lunar Dunes, a UK based space rock band who have released two excellent albums – Lunar Dunes (2007) and Galaxsea (2011). Solus3 consists of four members of Lunar Dunes, and while Solus3 are deep in space, they are very different from Lunar Dunes.

Corner Of The World is the second Solus3 album and opens with the 10 minute Unfold. What a strange and fascinating blend of musical elements! There’s a Dub foundation, along with spacey atmospherics and effects, didge-like throat singing, a steady lead and groove by harp (of all instruments), trumpet, and vocals from Krupa MaNomay (female) that are simultaneously haunting and sultry. It all comes together in ways that a very difficult to describe, and that’s a good thing because these folks are doing something that to my ears is quite different. Bassist Ian Blackaby, who is in both bands, describes Solus3 as a kind of Post-Punk development of the Dunes, like Lunar Dunes without the guitar player and the harp taking the central role.

The fun continues on Tricked By A Monster, which is more of a structured, accessible jazz-Dub-in-space song, though there’s no shortage of adventurous cosmic embellishments by the trumpet and effects, plus guitar from guest Jemma Freeman and Larry Whelan from Lunar Dunes contributes keyboards and saxophone. I love the combination of Dub-bass, floating harp leads and vocals. Corner Of The World is similar and I really like the section where the harp actually jams while the drums rock out. Lollardy is a lysergic experimental space-jazz-lullaby that blends harp, trumpet, off-kilter percussion and what sounds like a bagpipe trying to be an Arabian call-to-prayer horn. When Porn Jam came on I instantly recognized it, though it took me a minute to make the connection with the track Moon Bathing, from the Lunar Dunes album Galaxsea, which this is a re-working of, being a trippy, hip-shaking lounge-jazz-in-space groover. Reich is an instrumental with cool looped effects and cosmic keys, synths and harp, all zipping along playing a repetitive and slowly developing pattern. After a few minutes the music transitions to gentle drifting lullaby mode, though it quickly starts to edge back toward the more intense opening theme. Finally, the album wraps up with the 10+ minute Pumori, a hypnotic trip that takes us to a dark, smoky, surreal alien lounge and features Krupa’s most soulful vocals of the set.

This is very interesting and mesmerizing music which will appeal to those who fancy a creative mix of psychedelia, Dub and jazz, though these descriptions don’t begin to characterize what this off-the-beaten-path band are about. And speaking of Dub, the latest Solus3 album is titled Corner Of The Dub. It’s described as “a half sibling to Corner Of The World” and features remixes by various artists of tracks from the Corner Of The World album.

We get two Tricked By A Monster treatments, one by The Krell, but the more interesting of which is by Gary Langan (Art Of Noise), which adds more effects and puts interesting freakout emphasis on the guitar. Dr. Das adds a more classic Dub vibe to Reich, without straying too far from the original, and I like the brief scorching effects. Shugmonkey injects a quirky, whimsical edge into Lollardy. Corner Of The World is another tune that gets a double dose of remix surgery, but they’re both by the same artist – Dub Colossus. He Dubs it up and adds lots of spaced out effects on his Firfir Remix, and does the same on his King Krar Remix, though it sounds like he focuses more on grooves for the later. Eccodek is all about atmosphere in their treatment of Unfold. There’s a second Unfold entry, this time by Phil Meadley who takes it 360 degrees from Eccodek into hyper-kinetic electro-robot-dance territory. Gianni Mantice takes the most liberties of just about anyone with his manipulation of Porn Jam and comes out with one of my favorites of the set. It’s got lots of wild space effects, heavy grooves, plus a cool and strange Arabian styled male vocal. The one track that doesn’t take on a single song from Corner Of The World is Monster Mori Remix, a nearly 10 minute piece that the promo sheet describes as “a Frankenstein monster of prog dubtronica built out of our spare parts”, so I’m assuming it’s a remix glom of various Solus3 tracks, and indeed I recognize a lot of it.

In summary, Corner Of The Dub is a fun listen when experienced alongside Corner Of The World. But I’d not like someone to hear it as their introduction to Solus3. Start with Corner Of The World and the band’s excellent debut, The Sky Above The Roof.

For more information you can visit the Solus3 web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz