Archive for November 29, 2015

Greg Segal – “Skeleton Parade” (Phantom Airship 2015, Download)

Greg Segal is making up for time away from music with his third new album of 2015. His notes for Skeleton Parade explain that the pieces were built on improvised drum tracks: “skeleto-centric, a ‘Skeleton Parade’. This is a method I have used in the past, and have been intending to work a lot more with since setting up the kit. I see nearly endless possibilities from this. The goal is to have the end result be as organically linked together with the ‘skeleton’ as possible, so that the whole is flowing and intra-active”. We also learn that the drum tracks were recorded during and before the sessions for Greg’s previous 2015 A Handful Of Ashes and Beauty Sleep sets, so it’s no surprise that the albums are musically, if not thematically linked.

Greg has been fusing, intertwining and morphing a variety of Avant-Prog, Jazz and Classical styles these days with intriguing results. The Five Loves Of Shifty Ella Throckmorton recalls the chamber ensemble sound of early Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, with horns, winds, piano and who knows what else creating scenes that are alternately haunting and childlike playful. And throughout the piece the drums act like a conductor steering pace and thematic development. Varied avant-jazz percussion serves as an intriguing counterpoint on the eerily ambient Banish The Unconstructive, with its sci-fi electronics that seem to exist at the crossroads where Louis and Bebe Barron and Mr Roger’s Neighborhood meet. I like the underlying darkly meditative spaced out ambience that slowly drifts as frenetically playful jazzy synths and heavily fuzzed keys dance and drone, all seemingly guided by the percussion. Finally, the 21 minute The Zen Of Thrift Shopping is an intricately composed and arranged combination of symphonic theater, Kurt Weill, Carl Stalling, The Residents, Kosmiche Prog and Jazz themes. The thematic gears shift at a mischievously constant and impressively seamless pace, guiding us through a labyrinth of melodic, symphonic, soundscape and efx’d twists and turns. You could listen to this a hundred times and hear something new with each spin.

Maybe there’s something in taking a few years to focus on parenting and coming back with the creative batteries recharged and sights set on new horizons because Greg is really on a roll this year. And damn, I never knew what a fine drummer he is! Those who are tuned in to Greg’s expansive Paper Bag, Jugalbandi, Cold Sky, Dog Neutral and solo background will be especially impressed.

For more information visit the Greg Segal web site at: (There’s LOTS of history and information here)
Stream and download from the Greg Segal Bandcamp site:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Paradise 9 – “Live at Amersham Arms” (P9 Recordings 2015, CD/DL)

The latest from Paradise 9 is a smokin’ set of music from the band’s November 30, 2014 performance at The Amersham Arms SheepDog Bash2, which was a Sheepdog Records and promotion bash.

I recognize most of the songs from the past few Paradise 9 albums and EPs. The set opens with the Punk infused and spirited Rock ‘n’ Roll of Nothing For Tomorrow, which includes cool spacey/psychy guitar. The Space Rock flag flies high on Into The Ether, with its combination of searing acid-ambient and melodic guitars, alien synths and wailing horn. Hawkwind fans will dig this. Paradise 9 switch gears again with the bouncy melodic and 80s Pop imbued Broken Promises. Damn good catchy song. The catchy melodic hooks continue on the lightly Space/Psych colored Distant Dreams, which plays like a 70s inspired anthem. Were bodies swaying at the Amersham Arms during this one? Ditto for the dreamily flowing and meditatively melodic Crystalized Moments, which has a potent Pink Floyd vibe.

The 15 minute Points Of View/Take Me To The Future is the epic of the set, starting off as bouncy grooving rocker. I like the combination of punky edged Rock ‘n’ Roll, trippy soloing flute and Psych guitar leads. After several minutes the music seamlessly shifts to a Hawkwind/Space Rock and still high energy rock ‘n’ rolling jam, with wailing cosmic horn, spaced out guitar, synths and effects. After a while we soar into a thunderously soundscape and efx’d transition before launching into the edge-of-your-seat tension-laden space rocking Take Me To The Future segment, which includes the best deep space instrumental segments of the set. File under absolutely fucking AWESOME! Finally, we’ve got the short and to the point State Of The Nation, which begins with a shout of, “Any Punk rockers out there!!!?”, and we’re off and Space-Punk-Jam ROCKIN’. Killer set. What a great live band.

Visit the Paradise 9 web site at:
You can also stream, download and purchase at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Crystal Jacqueline – “Winter Deep” (Mega Dodo 2015, CDEP/DL)

The latest from Crystal Jacqueline is an EP that’s available as a limited edition of 100 digipacks signed by Jacqueline and available in a digital download edition too.

Winter Deep was the first part of a longer piece that appeared on Crystal’s excellent Rainflower album released earlier this year. Co-written by Mordecai Smyth and Crystal’s Honey Pot partner in crime Icarus Peel, it’s a tenderly hypnotic, ethereally mind-bending Folk-Psych song with beautiful vocals. Crystal takes Mike Herron’s Feast Of Stephen and injects a feeling of celebratory joy into this orchestral Folk-Psych gem. Very cool tripped out guitar too. Finally, we have a live performance medley of the title track and Mary Waiting from the Rainflower album. The fully produced Jacqueline and Honey Pot albums are exquisite but this stripped down live vocal and acoustic guitar duo is enchanting. I would love to see a live Crystal Jacqueline/Honey Pot split performance between full band and acoustic.

Wow, 2015 has been a stellar year for Jacqueline, between the Rainflower album, the Electronic Memory album with the Honey Pot, and now this end year EP. ALL recommended.

For more information visit the Mega Dodo web site at:
Stream and purchase at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Debbie Jaffe and Hal McGee – “Invisible Shadows: Early Cassette Recordings 1981″ (HalTapes 2015, 2-CDR/DL)

Invisible Shadows is a historical gem for Hal McGee/Debbie Jaffe and homemade music/cassette culture enthusiasts. Work on this document started in late 2014 when Debbie mailed Hal a box of 54 cassettes of raw recordings the duo made between 1981-86, with Hal concentrating on the earliest recordings made with a Panasonic Shoebox recorder. The result is a 2 1/2 hour Audio Documentary of the recordings made in Indianapolis during 1981 when the duo were first budding as experimental music artists. Some of the material was later used on the 1983 released 60 Minutes Of Laughter cassette album, though most have been unheard by anyone except Hal and Debbie until now. Interspersed among the recordings is over 30 minutes of audio commentary by Hal, providing history and context to what we are hearing.

Two youths with off the beaten path artistic interests finding a kindred soul in one another and with whom they can spread their creative wings and explore is a big deal when you’re in your early 20s. In the narrative Hal explains: “Debbie and I had absolutely no idea how to make experimental music. We just kind of made out of nothing as we went along, using the simplest of sound sources and sound makers, such as cheap kids bongo drums, a beaten up out of tune acoustic guitar, drum sticks, a harmonica, a gourd shaker, guitar amp, microphone, TV, turntable, common household objects and appliances, poems we had written, found texts and our voices. We resolved to try anything and everything, and to welcome so-called failure as a friend”.

The process and experience by which they found their experimental music muse is precisely what these recordings document. It’s important to understand the influence of Dada. In the recently released American Cassette Masters DVD documentary, Debbie describes a family move to Des Moines, Iowa and feeling stuck and isolated until finding the university Dada library where she spent much of her time reading everything she could get her hands on. For his part Hal points to the Beat writers, with emphasis on William Burroughs, who he says has been the single biggest inspiration on his artistic activities, ideas and development. Add to that the Dada that Debbie introduced him to and you have the makings of all the creative rebellion one could hope for.

Much of what’s heard on these two CDs would come across as painful caterwauling to those unfamiliar with the larger Hal/Debbie history. And much of it certainly is! But what is striking throughout is the complete lack of inhibition and unbridled fun and joy as the duo experiment and explore in the course of their daily lives. And, indeed, as Hal explains: “Deb and I were trying to cultivate a kind of artistic infantilism, to draw closer to true uninhibited expression. A child’s world is unspoiled by consensus reality and societal conventions and words”.

That childlike abandon is conspicuous throughout. Crucially, this is the era before they had acquired any electronic equipment. We’ve got bongo drumming, acoustic guitar and other percussion accompanying various verbal exchanges, some of which seem to combine poetry and oddball Dada vaudeville/showtune songs. There’s frequent laughter and horseplay between free-wheeling exploration and attempts at off-the-cuff creation. If the phone rings… no problem. Answer it and that’s part of the recording.

Blago Bung sounds like dissonant guitar and wailing vocal Dada Delta Blues. Similar songs are like non-musician guitar with tribal freakout Latin Salsa singing. There’s even some good ‘ol living room rock ‘n’ roll, albeit with wild vocals, percussion and lyrics. I especially like Early Ugly Talk which fits right in with the quirkier end of the early 80s Post-Punk axis. And if the old Midnight Special booked lo-fi bands then Airplanes and Engines would have been the song to get Hal and Debbie a slot on the show. The 60 minutes of The Depression Tape recordings are highlights of non-music, consisting of hair-raising primal screaming, experimental guitar string (and voice) manipulation and dramatic spoken word/singing/chanting/growling/howling and speaking in tongues. Hal and Debbie even use shower time as an opportunity for unrestrained abandon that’s combined with playful fun. These two are really letting their hair down and letting anything and everything come out. (I’ll bet their neighbors loved them.)

Another highlight is Hal’s commentary about and the performance of their open mic night appearance at a Country & Western bar, which longtime fans will recognize as part of Hal & Debbie lore. The performance and Hal’s description of it, amidst melodic Country Folk-Pop amateurs, is the best part of the entire documentary. Having lived in the South and visited such establishments, to imagine this actually occurring in one of them is both frighteningly mind boggling and rolling on the floor hysterical.

The two were living their art. As Hal says, “Debbie and I employed elements of improvisation, chance process, coincidence, randomness and juxtaposition, not only in our artistic works, but in our daily lives as well”. Living his art is something that defines Hal’s life to this day. As he says in The Great American Cassette Masters video when asked how he manages to accomplish so much he reveals, quite simply, that “I have absolutely no other interests in life”.

Hal and Debbie went on to found the Cause & Effect label, which was one of the pioneers of 80s cassette culture, releasing audio works by themselves and many other artists from around the globe. Check this out for some genuine fly on the wall insight into their early development.

For more information visit the HalTapes web site at:
CLICK HERE to go directly to Invisible Shadows
Invisible Shadows and LOADS of other HalTapes releases can be streamed and download purchased at:
There’s lots of interview and live performance segments with Hal and Debbie in the just released Great American Cassette Masters DVD documentary that I highly recommend. Check it out at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Dog Hallucination – “Mitzi” (Aubjects 2015, Cassette/DL)

The new one from Dog Hallucination is a cassette release that features a swell photo of Mitzi the dog on the cover, a nice little booklet of artsy photography by D. Petri and overall some nice packaging and music that would make any dog proud (the cassette is housed in a DVD case and includes a 24 page art booklet). These are 4 track cassette and 16 track laptop recordings from 2004 to 2014 by D. Petri on guitar, drums, accordian, effects, zither, voice, cups, percussion, piano and field recordings. Doggy P. Lips on guitars, effects, drums and Jeremiah Gregg on sitar, piano, drums and co-writing. I usually match up the song descriptions with the song titles but since this is a cassette with endless song titles I’m just gonna do some kind of approximation since nothing really matters and this life is really just Mitzi’s hallucination.

RECALLING: Quiet, ambient piano coolness… and… onward thru the fog. PARALLEL TO SUNRISE: Yes, a driving beat with spanglic guitar… quite pleasant and space age phucked upness in a good way! Now comes the phat bass….. changes space gears into the tinkling of a bicycle bell? Quiet field recordings… creepin’ horns, sounds a bit like a Dr. Who Jack in the Bachs… yes, very strange, out there and uncategorizable. THOUR: Some drums and piano that are simple and nice… now the sitar… sounds like a Peter Sellers movie, “Birdy Num Num”. I’m kinda trippin’ out man. I wonder how old D. Petri and the gang are? Yes, goddammit, it’s art!!! Even if it’s not really 1967!?!? It’s blowin’ thru the eternal ’67 Jasmine of our minds… chillin’ in the upstairs bathtub while the zombies are ordering pizza on the downstairs phone. SENDING: A singing bowl? Like Roky Erickson said, “I’m transmitting but not receiving” but I am receiving a Dog Hallucination full on… an ominous rumble of swellness. LOOKING OUT OVER NIGHT LIT: More of the same in a slightly different gear. I think I’m having a Transcendentlin’?!!? MOMETHROES: And more, it’s all quite lurvely, I feel so blissed out that I guess I’ll put off that East Texas crime spree. UNCANNY RESEMBLANCE: Damn the tape’s over and I’ve got 16 more titles on this side of the tape. That D. Petri is a sneaky clever boy. BIRTH SIX: A)IMPATIENCE: Lopsided wierdo rock, loping across the room in an 1980’s sorta way!?!? B) THIS THEN THAT: Sounds like a soundtrack to a 1983 No Budget thriller starring not very famous 12 year olds but in a good way. C) IT EASILY FOLLOWS: Switches gears, a bit more untempo nerd rock. I’m feelin’ some mid 70’s Zappa!?! Mebbe not, I never listened to Zappa, just the Captain. Gets into a nice little groove, yeah these guys can play!! D) ROYING INPASSE: The morning sun peeping over Weird Man Mountain, lets take the rest of our Vitamin A and seize the day! THIN BETWEEN: A) CLOSEST PLACES: Scattershot rock and rhythm, some nice piano and drumming and it keeps a nice stumblebum of lefthanded lollygagginess. B) THE DIGNITY OF FIRST APPREHENSION: It’s good that D. Petri is apprehensive but has some dignity about it… the field recording of night time outside buggish critters. C) HERE: Some Art Rock along with the night bugs. Oh yeah, this tape has interesting song titles but “Here” is not that interesting of a song title! UNCANNY RESEMBLANCE: Kinda like backwards Oompa Loompa music… startsta sound like Glam Rock Hogs ah rootin’ in the Krautrock Black Forest… back to meditative blasturations of the Goologong… quite quiet, like a still still… and it’s over!!!! Keep it up guys.

Stream, download and purchase from the Dog Hallucination Bandcamp site at:
Visit the Aubjects label web site at:

Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

Amalgamated – self-titled (Aubjects 2015, CD/DL)

“After highly regarded releases on their own Intangible Cat label and Denmark’s Metaphysical Circuits, another friendly oddity of electronic-organic multi-aesthetic experimentation has arrived. This self-titled album collects 9 specially selected pieces from the heap of material they recorded between 2004 and 2007. As per their standard procedure thus far, these tracks have been sculpted from their original improvised form into more delicate and intensely textural states. Strongly informed by 80’s industrial/cassette culture artists and creation methods, they mingle the sensibilities of home-tapers with their love for more current electronic artists and technologies. Noisy, dreamy lo-fi psychedelic elements are placed against carefully sculpted hi-fi electronics. The members of the group have worked on other projects: Gushing Cloud (Cory Bengtsen), Homogenized Terrestrials (Phillip Klampe), Headless Ballerinas Underwater (Bob Newell), Dog Hallucination (D. Petri), and Rebekahs’ Tape (Cory Bengtsen and Mike Richards).” So Sez the press release, on to the review!!

PLINTH: Ah, industrial techno intensity. I wasn’t expecting that. Suddenly becomes very quirky strange with some 1967 West Coast guitarness. Yes, It’s all quite lovely. It’s pile-driving my space oddity party head. BORBORYGMUS IX: My definition of “Psychedelic” is music that is “other”, not retro!!! And that’s something Amalgamated understand!! Piano with driving space out-thereness. WIRES AND WEEDS: Ooh, this one is very modern, nasty and nice… keeps gettin’ bigger and better… could mebbe use some vocals but that’s a bit piddlin’. UNWORM ASCENDING: Wow, some true space rock, then the foonkey bass. My wife Sharon sez “this is kinda nice”… pretty badass track, trippy, rockin’ the deep space. GYNOSOME: More, more, Amalgamated needs more… space guitar beauty and intensity… kinda what you’d expect DMT to sound like. NO ANSWER: Experimental strangeness with pre-recorded vocals, radio etc. Then goes into rhythmic loop melody… very King Crimson-esque. Yes, we like it… keeps going and going… exits with tree frogs and various critter noises. EMBRYOLYMBIC: Electronic-ness with guitar etc… gradually builds in energy. Now it’s an industrialized steam engine chugging along… some funky bass; it’s a party now!!! Starts to be way out and wacky but in a good way! SENTINEL: Slowly transitions into some snappy rock guy drumming… becomes a cool electronic thing.

The press release sez these tracks were culled from several years of recordings and it sounds like that! Amalgamated are utilizing the special pieces of music that have a unique magic for various reasons; mood, playing quality, recording quality etc. Big classic guitar flourish on top of everything else which oddly makes sense. Gets still and strange and it’s over.

Stream, download and purchase from the Amalgamated Bandcamp site at:
Visit the Aubjects label web site at:

Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

Steve Lawson – “A Crack Where The Light Gets In” / “The Way Home” (Self-Released 2015, Download)

The two latest from bassist Steve Lawson are companion albums, though different from one another as Lawson points out. They are solo bass albums but Lawson has added a new instrument called the Quneo which allows him to play drum and synth sounds alongside his bass. This works well throughout both albums as the electronics bring an interesting new dimension to Lawson’s music, nicely expanding on his already ambient sound without being intrusive.

Steve Lawson – “A Crack Where The Light Gets In”

I like the strange but pleasant blend of ambient drift and robotic electro pulse on the opener, Theoria (triptych i), which creates a sensation that is simultaneously fluid and off-kilter as the bass plays it’s meditative leads. It’s like Kraftwerk’s Computer World gone Ambient-Jazz, with a deep space element as soundscape trails are left to drench the auditory canvas. The Quneo sounds impressively like real drums on It’s Our Scars That Unite Us, which blends smooth Jazz with a cosmic vibe and effects that add a contrasting but nonetheless complimentary freaky element. Lawson’s bass leads beautifully play the part of both guitar and bass on Poiesis (triptych ii). I like how the lulling melodies and dreamy ambience play the straight men to the flittering, buzzing and bleeping effects. Each bass note and run melts into space on the tinkling and whirring The Ice Cracks But Holds Firm. Lawson injects sci-fi effect colorings into what starts as a cool lounge Jazz vibe on Praxis (triptych iii), but then circles back to the opening track theme with robotic insect electronics and an ambient fuzzed out Jazz lead. Finally, This Is My Truth… Tell Me Yours is the longest but subtlest of tracks, with Lawson playing tripped out Psychedelic leads alongside a hauntingly dreamy atmospheric flow.

Steve Lawson – “The Way Home”

The Way Home immediately distinguishes itself from its companion album with the opening title track, which has a bouncy soulful Pop melody and groove, though a spacey ambience soon rolls in like light fog, accentuated by trippy leads, as if to say that this may be accessible but we’re still going to transport you… elsewhere. Ask Me Again In Twenty Years returns to cosmic form, being a pure Space-Ambient-Jazz and freaky effects excursion. A Little Slower Than The Angels kicks up just a wee bit of a Hip-Hop/Dub pulse, over which Lawson plays spaced out leads amidst atmospheric drift, creating an overall Psychedelic-Jazz film soundtrack feel. The rhythmic pulse on Looking For The Burning Dog is like a throbbing drone/thrum in my brain as Lawson plays multiple leads with some of the most varied sounds of the set. One is a dead ringer for Jazz guitar and there’s some cool space-fuzz licks later in the piece (remember folks, ALL bass). Three Days In New York Can Change You Forever is another pure ambient-soundscape journey into deep space meditative bliss. There’s rhythm, trippy psyched out solos and effects. And it even gets a bit intensely noisy at the end. But this sucker will sweep you away. And Shut Out The World is a short melodic Jazz piece that closes the set.

I’ve been sporadically following Lawson’s work for 15 years now and he has consistently shown himself to be an accomplished Jazz bassist who is creatively exploring new approaches to his instrument, utilizing various effects and soundscape palettes, though never at the expense of making crystal clear that the man can really play. Both these albums go together well and for me really play like one set.

To stream, download and purchase these and LOTS of other Steve Lawson albums (both solo and collaborative) visit:
Visit the Steve Lawson web site at:
Lawson makes choices easy by pricing his digital albums low and even offers subscriptions and a 30 albums on USB Stick option. Check ’em out.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Homogenized Terrestrials – “Shadows Think Twice” (Aubjects 2015, CD/DL)

Homogenized Terrestrials is Phillip Klampe and I assume he plays every instrument on this CD? This is the follow up album to The Contaminist. “Once again there are eerie dreamy atmospheres and surreal explorations of unrecognized places and events. 16 Tracks of strange other worldly sounds allow the listener to shift away from the present into a place where both familiar and unusual details blend together to form the unexpected.” Sez the press release!

FIRE ENVELOPES: An instant attack of weirdness and bell ringing as the sirens are warbling to you from along the banks. SKED STEPPER: The music sounds like the title, some Sked Stepperness!! Yah, ambient experimental deep space spooky improv, excellent, maybe even Wicked Ass!!! YIBDAH: Yeah, I’m thinkin’ twice, mebbe even a third time about the Yibdah and how Homogenized Terrestrials can conjure such a thing?!?! Oh, the CD packaging is really beautiful with some amazing artwork/photography. Yes, it’s meditative. I’ve just now silenced the chattering monkey in my brain for the first time in days. SCRIPTURES: More intense non-ambient ambience… like pages of a book being burned one at a time… I’m sloooowwwing way down into the still nowness of Phillip Klampe and Friends, or is it all Phil? Yes, he’s quite a talented fellow!! One can’t help but think Soundtrack music when listening to this but when was the last time you heard good music in a movie? I think Hollywood doesn’t allow it! OBAYANEE YAMINAH: Yeah, pretty great song titles that somehow seem herbally influenced but mebbe that’s just my 1970’s sensibilities?!?! I really don’t know what the youth of America like to indulge in and I don’t know how old Phillip Klampe is of if he’s from America? FINDEK LIQUIFOLD: The best song title yet, (the Harvey Wallbanger Findek Liquifold of the Doppelganger Wine Bar Strategem Manifold Gold Dust!) and some pretty messed up (in a good way) music!!! Fidgety and deep space at the same time. GHOOSTS: Yes, what about the Ghoosts, they can get into your music and do any and all sorts of unpredictable sounds and attitudes careening around dream corners and closets! They might even bring in their friendly ghooost neighbors!? ASTRAL PROJECTIONS OF AN IRRADIATED CATERPILLAR: Yes, this one wins the prize for most far out/best song title. Music wise, more of the same (but in a good way) of the disturbing loveliness of Homo Terr! But again, this is sincerely high praise from a twice thinking shadow! DEFECTOR EXTRACTOR: Okay, this song title is reaching for the weirdness a little. Again, the music is authentic otherness of the highest order. I haven’t re-read my review of the previous Homog Terre album but I was prolly using all my same phrases of approval. FINGERTIPS TO: Fingertips to where? We have to know??! More psychotic spiritual new age music (but in a good way!) The female vocals are quite nice, as is everything else. A mantra from fingertips to horselips and back to toes tips!! Why am I thinking of Aunt Bea all the sudden? What is Homoge Terrest really doing to me? COLLAPSING MIND: Oh, this is a “good” song title, just when I’m thinkin’ mebbe Homogen Terrestr is watching me thru my compooter screen!?!? The music is like when yer egglike brain is cracklin’ in the fryin’ pan while Barbara Bush is pulling up her 1940’s dress and flashing you. SHON TEN: Short and sweet is the Shon Ten. RUST HAZE: Ah, nice song title that conjurs almost exactly what the music itself conjurs! Alien awareness that the living room needs sweeping. SCUBBLE: Silliness foul on this song title but at least it doesn’t have the words “red tide” or “whale”… male vocal chanting stillness with a bee in yer bonnet! SOUL TRANSFUSION: Yes, I’m being sucked thru the transfusion of sun and it’s fabulous!! (not in a bad way). I would love to have seen these guys play on Soul Train in 1979 but I guess it wasn’t meant to be!?!?! SHADOWS THINK TWICE: Last song, I hope Phillip Klampe doesn’t think I’m a bastard but I really kinda am! But I really love this music and the next time we pull out the mescaline enema at one of my wild and crazy parties I’m gonna slap on some Homogenized Terrestrials and pitch a bitch or paint the town red, I’m not sure which. Oh, the music isn’t over yet! Yes, it sounds like yer vacuuming your room in the 4th Dimension (but in a good way)…

Stream, download and purchase from the Homogenized Terrestrials Bandcamp site at:
Visit the Aubjects label web site at:

Reviewed by Carlton Crutcher

The Brainiac 5 – “Exploding Universe” (Reckless Records 2015, CD/DL)

Born out of the mid-70s UK pub and festival scene, Psych-Punk rockers The Brainiac 5 released one EP and one 7″ back in the day, then recorded one full length album (World Inside) which was produced by Hawkwind’s Martin Griffin. The band split before the album was released though it was eventually unleashed in 1988 by Reckless Records. In 2013 the band reformed and released the Space Is The Place 10″, and in 2014 the 16 song retrospective When Silence Was Sound which compiled the songs from their 70s releases, including the World Inside LP plus live tracks.

And now we’ve got Exploding Universe, a set of 10 new songs by reformed Brainiac 5 members Charles Taylor, John ‘Woody’ Wood and Duncan ‘Mad Dog’ Kerr, plus drummer Wayne Worrell and Nick Onley on sax and flute, with contributions from Ethan Landis on trumpet and percussionist Phil Overhead.

Haphazard! opens the set and sounds like the band picked up precisely where they left off, being a Punk edged rocker with jawharp effects, saxophone and a brief dirty Psych guitar lead. Ordinary Man goes in a different directly, being a bouncy bit of tightly arranged Punk-Pop with swinging horns and fine harmonies behind Taylor’s oh so very English vocals. Empty And Blue features sultry rocking Blues with lots of horn action, harmonica and dirty guitar, plus the cool and strange contrast of Taylor’s distinctly Brit-Punk vocals. I like how near the end the music veers into a kind of I Want Candy tribal rocking groove with cool manic Psych guitar. The Beauty Of It All continues the zig-zag down varying stylistic territory, being an acoustic driven singer-songwriter bit of Folk-Pop with a head nodding flow and a nice flute solo. I like how it builds to full band majesty and wraps up with a beautifully tasty guitar solo before easing back into the main theme for a peaceful finale. Walls Are Falling Down is a pleasant melodic horn swinging rocker. Your Body’s Alright is similar with rocking guitar and a good time dancefloor Jazz flavor. I like the way Stars Plan Ahead alternates between lazy grooving Jazz-Reggae and more rocking segments, with a detour into a brief Jazz-Prog transition before launching into a ripping guitar jam. Lots happening here. Ditto for Growing Up, which has a “Big Band” Punk vibe with Jazz and Blues swing plus bits of hard Psych guitar. (I’m The) Glue builds on this sound, deftly blending saucy swinging big band Jazz with Hard Rock and Psych guitar colorings and those ever present punky vocals. And Exorcist Plan is a spirited rocker that brings the set to a close.

In summary, decades may have passed for these guys but The Brainiac 5 have clearly matured as musicians, serving up an accessible set of tightly played and arranged songs that draw on Jazz, Blues, Pop, Punk, Hard Rock and Psych influences. Despite that array it’s all completely cohesive yet somehow… different. If you’re new to The Brainiac 5, as I was, check out both the new album and the retrospective collection. The early music is just as diverse and it’s cool to compare with where they have impressively arrived today.

To stream and download visit:
Visit The Brainiac 5 web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

The Perc Meets The Hidden Gentleman – “The Fruits of Sin & Labor” (Sireena 2015, CD, originally released 1990)

The Perc Meets The Hidden Gentleman is the duo of Tom “The Perc” Redecker and Emilio “The Hidden Gentleman” Winschetti. Originally released in 1990 in an LP edition of 2000, The Fruits of Sin & Labor was an A side of studio cuts and the B side live material, and this Sireena release (Redecker’s label) reissues it on CD for the first time.

We’ve got a hell of a lot of variety here. Bronx Vanilla is a trippy vocal song with dirty Neil Young guitar and spacey flowing keys that opens the set. I like the low register, drugged, droney Folk quality of Redecker’s voice. There’s a “Reprise” version later with even more up front Neil Young grunge guitar. We then do a complete stylistic 360 degree turn with the Funk-Disco grooving Feed your Heart To Beat. Wow, did ya get the number of that truck? The 4-part Comics Suite begins as a melodic vocals, piano and orchestral synth tune and then transitions to the Pete Meets Margo chat section, which sets the stage for the main rocking guitar, synth, piano and cheesy electro rhythm led song segment in which Redecker sings about Pete and Margo’s afternoon in the bedroom. The Widow On Strings is another shocking contrast, being a short tune that’s like a Philip Glass string ensemble composition with strange vocal accompaniment.

Hungry is the first of the live performance songs. It combines a drugged, Bluesy dobro sounding guitar with noisy Psych guitar and dark, droney vocals. It’s sparse but emotional and even a little disturbing, like some kind of stripped down Velvet Underground tune. The vocals and keys on Respect & Devotion sound like a soaring symphonic funeral procession punctuated by pounding march-like electro percussion and periodic intense stinging guitar leads. Niteride has a cool contrasting combination of dance pulse, ripping guitar leads and wild theatrical vocals. The nearly 13 minute Rock The Widow is by far the longest track of the set. Again we’ve got electro dance rhythms accompanied by excellent rocking lead and rhythm guitar and impassioned vocals. The keys are pretty basic, giving the music a homemade quality, yet the duo make full use of what’s available to them to create a full sound during their performance. As the song develops and transitions through multiple themes there are some wildly intense vocal and instrumental segments that create a full on maelstrom of Rock theater. The audience responds enthusiastically to this one. Finally, I Want Ya Scalp is another freaky Funk-Disco dance floor stomper that closes the set.

This album completely defies any attempt at classification. Despite the unabashed diversity there’s some cool and interesting music here. Check it out if what I’ve described sparks your interest.

For more information visit the Sireena web site at:
Visit The Perc Meets The Hidden Gentleman web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz