Archive for June 25, 2012

Barrett Elmore – “Woodlands” (Trail Records 2012, TR 012)

Barrett Elmore hail from Sweden. The band (Claes Mikael Svensson: drums, percussion, backing vocals; Max Karlström: bass, vocals, organ, harmonica, synthesizer; Mikaela Eriksson: vocals; and William Friman: guitar, piano, organ) are definitely influenced by early Pink Floyd (although I don’t hear much of Syd Barrett in their sound, more early post Barrett influence like the albums Saucerful of Secrets, More and Umma Gumma (my personal favourite PF period), with maybe just touches of the Syd era.

But hey, let’s not go pigeonholing Barrett Elmore into a Pink Floyd clone category, this band definitely has their own unique sound, whether it’s the brooding ambience of opening piece Entrance, or the spacy psych folk of The Creek or the goth-style Drowning (with its Breathe-like coda), or the twangy surf psych of Storm, or the majestic and hauntingly beautiful title track. Barrett Elmore takes a bunch of retro sounds and updates them to create beautiful, weird, melancholy, modern psychedelic music. There are two main lead vocalists in this band. When Mikaela Eriksson is singing the music takes on a dreamy, Cocteau Twins feel to it. Max Karlström on the other hand has a menacing, Peter Murphy-like sound to his voice, so those tracks take on more of a goth feel. But despite the numerous influences and sounds going on here, at its heart, this is still psychedelic music. With the instruments (and the vocals) run through trippy effects, strange sound effects (both sounds of nature and bizarre, scary sounds like cackling laughter) running through the mix, this is one freaky trip.

One of my favourite cuts on the album is the 12-minute closer, a so-called ‘bonus track’, an instrumental called Psilocybe Semilanceata. Starting with spacey synth and organ coming in under birdsong and heartbeat, you almost think this is going to be the most Floydian number on the album, but this piece takes off all over the place, creating a vast hallucinatory soundscape out of which emerge haunting folk guitars, raindrop-like piano melodies, wild cacophonous drums, trippy acid rock and other strange musical musings. Lovely stuff!

It’s nice to see Trail Records (known for their re-issues and compilations) releasing new original music as well. Woodlands by Barrett Elmore is a fine addition to their catalogue and an excellent addition to any psychedelic music lover’s collection.

For more info, visit:

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Sula Bassana – “Dark Days” (Sulatron Records 2012, CD/2-LP)

There are few other artists out there in the space/psych genre that are as talented and prolific as Dave Schmidt, aka Sula Bassana. A quick count of his discography for the past 20 years includes over 125 releases that he’s either produced or played on! Besides his numerous side projects such as Zone Six, Liquid Visions, Weltraumstaunen, Interkosmos, Südstern 44, Electric Moon and others, he’s had a prolific solo career with 15 albums released under his own name (or as a collaboration) since 2001.

On Dark Days, his latest solo effort (out in July), Dave plays almost every instrument heard on the album including guitars, bass, drums, synthesizers, organ and Mellotron (with some additional drums and gong added by Pablo Carneval (formerly of Electric Moon). The only thing Dave apparently doesn’t do is vocals. For this album he recruited David Henriksson (of Swedish psychsters The Movements) to sing vocals on the opening cut. And what a great opening cut it is! Dave eschews the mellower, spacier electronica influenced sound of 2009’s excellent album The Night, and gets back to some great psychedelic rocking on Dark Days. The opening cut, Underground, definitely has a super, late 60’s vibe to it with some great use of the wah-wah pedal, and some simply spectacular guitar work. The riffs are fresh and exciting, and Henriksson’s vocals are appropriately hallucinatory. This song rivals the title track from Dreamer as one of Sula Bassana’s best flat out psych rock tunes. And Dave’s only getting warmed up! Underground segues right into Departure, a trancy, guitar and ‘tron space rock trip. Clocking in at just over 6-minutes, it’s, believe it or not, the shortest track on the album! It’s followed by the longest, the epic 20-minute long Surrealistic Journey. This one is one trippy ride. The pace slowly builds as druggy wah-wah guitars and electronics vie for space with 60’s style organ and a gently tapping drumbeat, but then it cuts loose, colourful sounds swirling and spinning around some of the most propulsive rhythms on the album. It shifts back to down tempo in the middle for a spacey interlude before kicking into high gear again as the Surrealistic Journey reaches its end. But it’s not the end of the album; we’re only half way through!

Unlike some of his improvised side projects, Dave is writing songs here. They may be long, instrumental excursions, with room for improvising within them, but they are structured, and each piece has its own distinct feel to it. This is especially true about the title track. Dark Days is a roaring symphony of Mellotron and distorted guitar sludge with Middle Eastern overtones, all set to a stately rhythm. The following piece, cheekily named Bright Nights, is an ambient piece of sorts… a soundscape of strange guitar noodlings, cymbal swells, feedback and distortion. Sula Bassana at his most experimental. But it’s no throwaway. At almost 10-minutes long, it’s Dave exploring some deep sonic territory. In the final three minutes, it shockingly explodes into a sludge-metal finale, with double the sludge at no extra cost! It sets us up for the album’s closer. Well, actually, no, it doesn’t. Dave’s musical soul is a restless one, and he’s not content to repeat anything we’ve heard on the album previously. Arriving Nowhere effortlessly careens between mid-tempo, psychedelic space funk and motorik Krautrock. Sula’s deliciously freaked out guitar work coils seductively around and through the rhythms as they drive heavier and faster, building for almost 17-minutes until we arrive… well, not nowhere. Just at the end of yet another brilliant album from Sula Bassana. The Night was my number one album of 2009. And even though it’s only midway through this year, I can confidently say that Darker Days is already in the running for 2012 album of the year. Highly recommended!

For more info, visit: and

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

Omenopus – “The Plague” (Monty Maggot Records 2012, MMCD005)

Omenopus is the trio of Lee Potts, John Pierpoint, and Bridget Wishart (plus guests), and their latest release is a 4 track 20 minute CDEP titled The Plague. I’ll quote the description from the Omenopus web site: “The Plague, portrayed through the sympathetic lyrics of Bridget Wishart and Thomas Nashe as poetry, nursery rhymes and litanies, is one woman’s allegory of England during the 1300’s as the plague and death advance across the land.”

The music on The Plague Part I (Plague of Ten) consists of soundscapes and a repetitive looped effect, later joined by what sounds like a wind instrument (probably Bridget’s EWI), over which Bridget sings in a quiet whispery style. After drifting along with Part I, The Plague Part II (Plague of Fire) took me completely by surprise, being a heavy and intense slab of electro-Metal with Bridget doing the growly Metal vocal style, but putting her own spin on it (and unlike most growly Metal vocals you can make out the lyrics). With The Plague Part III (Solitude) we’re back to a more dreamy atmospheric vibe, with sparse electro beats, pleasant keyboard melodies, alien electronics, violin and amazing vocals and vocal effects by Bridget. The music and vocals on this track remind me of what Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel were doing years ago.

Bridget wrote the lyrics to the first three parts but on The Plague Part IV (A Litany in Time of Plague) Bridget recites a poem from 1592 written by Thomas Nashe, accompanied by music that is part Baroque whimsy, and then… SMACK!… we’re in serious death Metal territory, with appropriately explosive guitar by guest Nigel Potter. As for the death Metal elements… Hey, it’s the freakin’ PLAGUE we’re talking about here! Widespread miserable death doesn’t get any worse than that and death Metal certainly characterizes the horror of it all. The music is theatrical and at all times interesting, taking numerous twists and turns and soon circles back to the original theme. And for the finale total focus is on Bridget as she recites the final lines from Nashe’s poem:

Haste, therefore, each degree
To welcome destiny
Heaven is our heritage
Earth but a player’s stage
Mount we unto the sky
I am sick, I must die

I must say Omenopus have done an impressive job of creating a mini-concept album. But wait! There’s MORE… the package also includes a second 6 song 20+ minute CDEP titled Scars. The set begins with Sentiments, an electro groove tune punctuated by soundscape effects and funky guitar, with vocals by both Bridget and… I’m guessing the male vocals are Lee as he wrote the lyrics. Songline opens with hypnotic didgeridoo by guest Mark Wadsworth plus tribal percussion and soundscapes. Crunchy guitar chords and other effects are carefully placed as if to accompany the spoken word poetic lyrics. Brookleaze is a beautiful piano and wind instrument instrumental. I’m again guessing that’s Bridget’s EWI. The Binary Dimension is a short spaced out soundscape piece. Omenopus totally rock out on My Secret Ghost, which segues right into Second Sight. Together these two songs make an absolutely KILLER 9+ minute Space Rock-Prog-Electronic-Metal rocking song. And if all this isn’t enough for an “EP”, pop the two discs into your computer CD drive, look at them in whatever file management system you use and you’ll find 5 hidden tracks. Very cool and lots of interesting variety across these two EPs.

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

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Samsara Blues Experiment – “Revelation & Mystery” (World in Sound 2011, WIS-3012)

After the acclaim of their first release, Long Distance Trip, Berlin’s Samsara Blues Experiment now graces us with a second release in the form of Revelation & Mystery.

The album has that heavy stoner feel throughout, very much in the sound of Black Sabbath, Clutch, Colour Haze, Seven That Spells, The Machine, and many others, yet it seems worlds apart from Long Distance Trip.

Revelation & Mystery is more song based than it is lengthy improvisational pieces. It has a very definite Black Sabbath and Clutch feel on a number of the tracks, which really drive along, grinding the mechanisms of the machine, and allowing the guitar to really come alive and take us on a crazy psychedelic trip, for which the band are well known, and here on this album, collectively and individually, the band are on fire, and running on full power.

The sound is very high quality and very well produced. It has good balance of heavy and mellow, fast and slow, and to me it shows that Samsara Blues Experiment have a lot more to offer than the Pink Floyd long improvisation stuff of their previous release. But for me, this is what I liked about them, and I find that Revelation & Mystery has none of this stuff on it sadly. It leans more to the heavier side of the band having a shorter track length, which unfortunately makes it not as experimental in my eyes. Good? Yes, but I really prefer all the long Pink Floyd moments of Long Distance Trip above the majority of the tracks on Revelation & Mystery. So, if that is what you like about Samsara Blues Experiment, then I imagine that you may feel the same way.

A great album nonetheless, and once again the cover artwork by Russian artist Oleg Korolev is also fantastic and worthy of a mention…

For more info visit:,
Or e-mail:

Reviewed by Albert Pollard

Last Hippie Standing (Merlins Nose Records 2011, MN1003, DVD)

Last Hippie Standing is a documentary DVD directed by Marcus Robbin, which takes a close look at the masses of hippies who travelled to Goa, India, in the late sixties and early seventies.

It is a testament to the search for spirituality and freedom in the land of the so-called Guru’s, Saddhu’s, and Swami’s. It is an ode to a different way of living, and it certainly gives an insight into the minds of a handful of the contributors about why they chose to emigrate to the paradise that is Goa.

Throughout the 45 minutes, we are taken on a journey through the eyes of the first wave of hippies that left their native shores in search of the hippie ideal in India. We explore the counter-culture through interwoven un-released super-8 footage of what Goa was like in the early seventies, comparing it with the dance culture that it spawned in the recent past and modern day.

The documentary is very well put together and it really does get into the heart of why so many went to India, and indeed why they still do so. It unravels what it was that they went to find, and subsequently what they found, embracing an ethic that is almost lost in the modern world, but not quite.

Whether a hippie, wanting to see the past, or a rave lord, wanting to experience the now, Last Hippie Standing is a perfect slice of film making, showing the union that turned a once quiet paradise from hippie Mecca into techno Heaven.

For more info visit: and

Reviewed by Albert Pollard

Radio Free Clear Light – “Joyful Noises Vol 1: Tamoanchan” (Black Note Music 2012, 056)

The album is minimal in its working, ambient in its structure, and fluent in its execution and production. It is concealed in darkness, devoid of light. It is ritualistic in pattern, where sombreness drives emotion through repetition.

It is an experimental sound, heavily laden with rhythmic drumbeats, sounding like a meld of Jorge Reyes and early Pink Floyd thrown into a darkened cave with Mescalito on trumpet and jazz vibe. This style remains throughout, getting darker, and a fraction jazzier as we proceed through. It has a definite Jorge Reyes aspect to it, which I love, and it really gets to the heart of what Radio Free Clear Light are trying to achieve on Joyful Noises Vol 1: Tamoanchan.

The majority of the tracks have a very hypnotic ambient trance feel to them, which some people have likened to Steve Roach and Bill Laswell, and I hear what they mean, but I find this better than any Steve Roach or Bill Laswell album. There are many resemblances in this genre, and a lot of them can be found on Black Note Music. Kyron for one is very much in the same vein, very experimental in nature, whilst being very electronic in sound.

Joyful Noises Vol 1: Tamoanchan is exactly this, a spacey electronic experimentation; I look forward to Joyful Noises Vol 2.

For more info visit:

Reviewed by Albert Pollard

Baby Woodrose – “Love Comes Down” (Bad Afro Records 2011, AFROCD042)

Keep in mind that this is the first Baby Woodrose CD that I’ve heard – however, I do have all three of their spin-off band – Dragontears discs. See my review of their Turn On Tune In Fuck Off CD in the Aural Innovations issue May, 2011. I was somewhat amazed at just how many titles this Danish psychedelic / rock trio has out at the current time. Picks like Blows Your Mind (2002), Mindblowing Seeds and Discounted Flowers (2011) and Third Eye Surgery (2012) are all on the Bad Afro Records label. Thus I guess I now need to add those titles to my want list. Something I was not aware of about this Love Comes Down CD is that it was originally released in 2006 as a vinyl only pressing in a limited edition of 500 copies, making it the rarest / hardest-to-find Baby Woodrose title. About every one of these fourteen tracks are good – at least I thought so. Tunes like What Ya Gonna Do? (employing some great harmonica), Found My Way Out, the superbly arranged No Other Girl, the awesome all-psyched out Growing Younger (maybe the disc’s best cut), the rocking Christine, the MC5-like Born To Lose, Nobody Knows and the title cut Love Comes Down most definitely had me hooked after the first play. Also just found out that this disc does not include the two specially-released songs – a couple of stoner rock gems Cherry Bomb and The Keeper (these two songs were laid down in the studio at the same time that the CD was initially recorded) that comes as a free 7″ single when purchasing a vinyl copy of this title. So, what about us patrons who no longer have a turntable that simply cannot play a vinyl LP – even if we wanted to? I believe they did the same with the previously mentioned Dragontears Turn On Tune In disc.

Line-up: Lorenzo Woodrose – guitar & vocals, The Moody Guru – bassist and Fuzz Daddy (aka Rocco Woodrose) – drums. Fans of the Hellacopters, Monster Magnet, The Seeds, (obviously) Dragontears, the Magnificent Brotherhood, MC5 and the Stooges should eat this effort up.

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Reviewed by Mike Reed

Sendelica – “The Satori in Elegance of the Majestic Stonegazer” (FRG Records 2012)

Sendelica follow up last year’s The Pavilion Of Magic And The Trials Of The Seven Surviving Elohim with the almost as lengthy titled The Satori in Elegance of the Majestic Stonegazer. Magical Ninin is the heavy hitting opening track. It’s a hard rocking psychedelic instrumental with searing guitar and a hypnotizing melodic riff. Some spaced out synths are present but somewhat secondarily as this tune is all about heavy guitar driven psych ROCK. I’ll bet it kills when played live. Aetheraland follows and does a 360 degree shift, being a gorgeously meditative floating psychedelic number. It’s got a seductive flute melody which combined with the keyboards gives the music an early 70s Prog feel.

Satori in Elegance is a 4-part suite, starting off with an introductory piece that drifts along with pleasant guitar, bits of sax and birds chirping. Near the end the guitar starts to get a little more aggressive, and then with Pt II busts out into a chunky slab of psychedelic hard rock with a metallic edge… and now we’re rockin’ again, with blazing acidic guitar, and though I wouldn’t have recognized it I see from the credits that Iain Hawk Khan (Schroedinger’s Cat) contributes his monster electric fusion sitar. As Pt III arrives the mood settles, with drifting atmospheric keys, ambient-jazzy guitar, plus a cool and interesting trip guitar sound playing mind-bending leads. It all jams along for a while and about halfway through as the guitar is playing easy-paced solos the band gets a jazzy groove going and the keyboard and bass take over lead melodic duties. I like the ambient-jazzy groove with electronic edge feel of this part and… oooh, now we’ve got some cool old time organ jamming along with the off-kilter electronic rhythmic pulse. There’s a lot happening on this 15 minute excursion, with multiple thematic shifts and some interesting combinations of instruments and musical styles. Pt 4 returns to the drifting meditative psychedelic theme. The birds are chirping again and though it sounds like the music is building up to some intense climax its really all part of a peaceful finale.

Preseli Daze is next and is a nearly 12 minute jam with heavy acidic psych guitar front and center, augmented by saxophone. The rhythmic pulse starts off slow paced but picks up speed after a few minutes as Pete Bingham alternates between ripping up his guitar, playing passionate ambient leads and metallic psych leads. Glenda Pescado’s bass jams along with him and I think Lee Relfe’s sax very nicely fits in with these guys. Finally, Sendelica go almost completely Metal on the fist-pumping closing number, The Majectic Stonegazer.

If you like Sendelica at their heaviest then this album is for you, though there’s still plenty of variety that keeps things interesting for this listener throughout. The album is available on CD, but as they’ve been doing with the past several releases there is also a limited edition (100) CD+DVD package that includes the Sendelica movie When The Rising Apes Meet The Fallen Angels, plus bonus promo videos (I’ve not seen the movie or videos so can’t comment).

For more information visit the Sendelica web site at:
Digital download available at

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Quarkspace – “Spacefolds 11″ (Eternity’s Jest Records 2011, Download)

The Quarkspace Spacefolds series of all improvisational jams continues with its 11th edition. I can’t call Quarkspace Columbus, Ohio based anymore because the members are now scattered. But these guys are old friends and periodically converge on the mothership (i.e., Paul William’s basement studio) in Columbus to record. As with Spacefolds 10, the new album features the original Quarkspace lineup of Darren Gough on guitar, Chet Santia on bass and guitar, Jay Swanson on keyboards and synth, and Paul Williams on drums, synth, keyboards and loops.

The album opens with Surfer Attack, a brief introductory piece with rapid fire electro-percussion and a pleasant melody. But the band get down to business with Quarkallax, a high intensity tension builder with beautiful singing guitar licks, 70s styled syncopated synth patterns, and various other electronics and keys. Last of the ADATs features Jay Swanson’s piano leading the way. Jay has a distinctive style and improvisational melodic flair that stands alone, almost sounding like a jazz pianist playing to a lounge crowd. And accompanying the piano are sweet cosmic guitar licks, bass and drums. The band get a groove going on Christophah Moltisanti. The guitar really rocks out, jamming away in a slightly Bluesy style, along with nice 70s flavored keys creating melody and soundscapes, and it’s all held together by the grooving electronic patterns. Flavioic Interlude and Flavioic Interlude 2 are both light, melodic space-jazz jams. Endless Autobahn has a cool offbeat rhythmic groove, which guitar and keys jam along to. I really like the searing cosmically acidic guitar that starts off Got Run Over By The Bus, eh John?. But there’s so much more going on as the jam includes shimmering psychedelic guitar, Chet’s distinctive jamming bass grooves, and a chilled but rocking spaced out vibe. It all mellows out at the end, including a bit of acoustic guitar in the last minute. A short track, The Tree Whose Leaves Fall Last is also one of the most serene. Really beautiful, and I like the way its offset by bits of jamming Blues guitar. Squirrel Inside a Scoop of Transparent Grape Ice Cream is a really cool mixture of elements, with dark jamming piano, classic prog keys, spaced out electronics, and wild wah’d funky Bluesy psych guitar. Lots going on here. Very intense. One of my favorites of the set. And Celestine Farewell is peaceful tune that, like the Farewell of the title, makes for a fitting closing track.

It’s always a pleasure hearing a new Quarkspace album. I still miss the days of their live shows. These guys could jam away for hours and it would always sound totally practiced and planned. If you like all instrumental, improvisational space rock, these guys have a sound very much their own.

For more information you can visit the Quarkspace web site at:
The album is a digital only release and is available from iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and other music services.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Cranium Pie & the Research Station – “A Visit To Newport Hospital”/”Queen St. Gang” (Fruits de Mer Records 2012, 7″ vinyl)

Fruits de Mer Records specialize in vinyl only releases featuring contemporary bands covering songs – many quite obscure -from the 1960s and early 1970s. Of all the bands I’ve discovered through Fruits de Mer I think UK based Cranium Pie may well be my favorite. Their latest release is a single that covers two songs from early days of UK Prog-Psych.

Side A is a cover of the 1971 Egg song, A Visit To Newport Hospital. It’s got that classic organ melody AND sound, but also swirling spaced out effects and bleeping, flittering electronics, which make for a cool combination with the organ. The music is in the spirit of the original, but we’ve also got funky grooves that give the rhythmic pace an interesting off-kilter feel. Cranium Pie really make the song their own, with elements that are faithful to the original but injecting plenty of their own ideas, and for me that’s what a cover song should be about.

The flip side features Cranium Pie’s rendition of Queen St. Gang, originally on Arzachel’s 1969 album. This is a fitting match for the Egg cover because Arzachel’s members included the musicians who went on to form Egg, plus Steve Hillage. Similar to the Egg cover, the band start off with a classic keyboard sound and recognizable melody from the original, but the Pie take off into their own exploratory direction, with a great combination of jazz-psych jamming and spaced out surrealistic fun which ends up being much longer than the original. Great stuff!

The single will be available mid-June or so and is limited to 800 copies, and as usual this is vinyl ONLY, no CDs or downloads. If interested you better hurry because Fruits de Mer releases sell out QUICK!

For more information visit the Fruits de Mer Records web site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz