Monday, 27 June 2011

Wave Your Freak Flag High..

Around 175000 punters shelled out £195 per ticket at last weekend's Glastonbury Festival. That's a turnover of over £34 million, a sum and a ticket price that would have been unimaginable, even with the helping hand of the sumptuous amounts of psychotropic drugs available at the 1984 festival, the first of the three I've been to. Back then the ticket price according to this poster was a handsome £13, and the crowd a far more tolerable 50000 or so.

If you had told prospective punters back in '84 that the bill would be topped by a band several years past their prime, a personality free pop diva, and a band that wouldn't know how to rock if they were mainlining amphetamines washed down with Jack Daniels, the whole thing would, in the words of Keith Moon, have "gone down like a lead Zeppelin". Oh, and if you were to tell that '84 crowd that Mrs Thatcher's constituency agent thought it was literally and metaphorically "safe" enough for him to attend there may well have been a riot (they were quite fashionable in her day you know).

That's not to say that had I gone this year that I would not have found something to keep me entertained, as the bill is simply vast. I suppose Glasto has become a victim of its own success, but the fact that it is now seen as a part of the Hooray Henrys' (and Henriettas') summer season along with Henley, Wimbledon, Ascot etc, is enough to put me off, let alone the inflated ticket price, over-zealous security and the sheer overwhelming size of the thing.

And another thing, those bleedin' flags. If I had shelled out nigh on £200 to see a few bands in a field, I would be more than a bit pissed off to have my view of Bonio & co obscured by a load of totem waving numpties.

Me and the missus were away for a weekend of R&R (rest & recuperation, not rock'n'roll) and I watched a bit of U2's frankly tame set in the B&B on Friday night. His Bononess getting the crowd to sing along to Blake's Jerusalem was a highlight. Was it me or was Bono dreadfully out of tune while singing England's unofficial anthem? If so, as an Irishman, I hope it was intentionally ironic, but knowing how po-faced he is, it probably wasn't!

During U2's set it had been the intention of Art Uncut (an offshoot of protest group UK Uncut) to unfurl a 20ft inflatable banner reading "U Pay Tax 2*", in protest at U2 Ltd moving its operations away from Ireland at a time of that country's greatest need of their no doubt significant tax revenue. Their new base is the Netherlands where apparently there is hardly any tax on music royalties. Should keep Paul Hewson in ludicrous shades and David Evans in bald patch hiding headgear for a few years then, so it must be ok. According to Sunday's Observer newspaper they were prevented from doing this by a team of beefy security types using somewhat over the top strong arm tactics, given the nature of the protest and the protestors. I'm afraid that this is yet another sign of the times. Glastonbury Festival used to be the expression of "us against them", a place were the laws of Britain applied but in a far more relaxed manner, but it has now firmly become the "them" it used to protest against.

The UK festival circuit has grown exponentially over the last decade, and there are now over 70 of them to chose from! At the beginning of September I'm off to The Endoftheroadfesval in deepest Wiltshire (so deep it's just about in Dorset!). This will be the first three day festival I've been to since Glastonbury 1995. Expect a report! Now, where did I put those wellies?.....

* Strangely, searching for this on Google Images draws a complete blank. Methinks corporate censorship afoot.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hi Fiction Science

Most folk when asked to think of musicians from Bristol will name Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky, a formidable triumvirate whose collective shadow looms over any new band from the city. Hi Fiction Science escape the comparison by forging their own take on acid-psych-folk music that stands on its own merits. They must have been raiding their parents' and possibly grandparents' (!) record collections to have come up with a sound that fuses classic acid-folk (Trees in particular springs to mind), indie shoegaze, krautrock and electronica. Knowledge of their lineage is apparent by the inclusion of a cover of a Third Ear Band song, Fleance from the 1972 Music From Macbeth LP, and how many modern bands have even heard of them? And it betters the original in my opinion. They also get to show their indie credos by homage paid in the cover version of Jonathan Richman's Old World.

Their own songs build on these influences and combined with a discernable Klaus Dinger motorik influence in places, added to the ubiquitous fuzzed psych-wah guitars over sundry electronic warbles and squeaks make for a heady and vibrant mix.

Musically timeless, the lysergically attuned Black Flower kicks off the album. As in a good wine take in the heady aroma, roll it on the ears. I’m getting Syd Floydisms, with some early Bickers’ House Of Love. A heady stew. Ah, now here’s some indie shoegaze, and when Maria’s folksy and affecting voice takes centre stage on Old World I’m put in mind of Sally Timms from the Mekons, or Jacqui McShee from Pentangle. The krautrock influence shows in places, particularly in the motorik rhythm on some songs.

Their self-penned tunes are short and simple and engaging with guitar usually dominant through a smorgasbord of pedals and effects, often with the previously mentioned added samples and squiggles, lending the album an otherworldly feel.

The ethereal Spirit Broken highlights Maria’s sultry tones sitting atop a languid instrumental track to great effect, changing up a gear towards the end. At four and a half minutes this is way too short. I want more! In fact at a mere forty minutes, this album sometimes feels like it’s teasing the listener. “Wait ‘til you see us do this live” it says “then we’ll stretch out”.

PSK is another slice of psych-acid-folk atmospherics. I just love her voice. Fleance has a vocal that sounds ancient, as indeed it should, and the backing is a glorious stew of slow space guitars, chugging along at a leisurely pace, building to a climax of squalling. We end with the punky Undulating Blue, which you could imagine a certain Julian H Cope showing off in front of, until that charming voice comes in and takes you somewhere else entirely.

A fine debut offering and a marvellous slice of psych-rock-acid-folk that sounds as old as the hills yet as modern as now all at the same time. I will definitely try to catch this band live, as I’m hoping for a ten minute version of Spirit Broken!

Track listing:
Black Flower
Old World
Metal Terrapin
Spirit Broken
Undulating Blue 

Line up:
Maria Charles - Vocals, Guitar
Jeff Green - Bass, Keyboards, Percussion
James McKeown - Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion
Matt Rich - Keyboards, Samples
Aidan Searle - Drums, Percussion

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, 19 June 2011

It's prog Jim, but not as I know it...

How do you listen to music? Are you satisfied with your collection and only venture into the musical unknown on very rare occasions, preferring to stick with what you know, being quite happy playing the same Yes/Genesis/King Crimson/whatever albums over and over again? If your answer to that question is yes, then you’re the polar opposite of this author.

I have a large collection of music (not just what might be loosely termed “prog”) including all the prog classics and many from the more obscure end of the spectrum. However I reckon that I spend most of my time searching for and listening to the new and hitherto undiscovered. This love of always chasing after the new was instilled in me many decades ago by a certain John Peel, a name probably not unknown to those of you reading this outside the UK. From the time I discovered Mr Peel in the early mid 70s as a young teenager up to about 1990 I was a religious devotee of his late night radio show.

Probably the first obscure artist (to my young ears anyway) and the man responsible for my tastes veering leftfield from that moment on was the now sadly departed Captain Beefheart who has joined Peely to raid the bottomless juke box in the sky.

Returning to the here and now, I do still play all the old stuff but fairly infrequently, and I would not part with my collection unless on the verge of destitution. It feels like visiting an old friend, and the familiarity soon returns even if I’ve not called upon my old mate for some weeks.

My reason for writing this ramble is on the mp3 player as I write. In A Perfect World, the new album by Karmakanic was sent to me for review and after a cursory listen I told Nick that I simply couldn’t review it fairly. I’m sure the musicians enjoyed putting it together and it is a well produced album. BUT it starts off sounding like the sort of thing Yes cross-bred with Genesis might have come up with 30 odd years ago with added bombast. They would probably take that as a compliment, but if the point of your band is to recreate a nostalgic “classic” prog sound, why bother? Why not form a covers band, as anything you create will not be remembered for any positive reasons, at least in my book. These musical time machine bands no doubt delight in their “prog” tag, but hey “prog” is short for progressive, meaning pushing forwards to the new. Progressive is something these bands are certainly not in my view, a more fitting label would be “retro” short for retrogressive.

Karmakanic and bands of their ilk cater for exactly the sort of backward looking and elitist nerdy fan base that so bedevils the American scene, as eloquently described by Raffaella Berry in a great article for Nick's site some months back. Luckily here in the UK as there is not a prog scene as such we don’t have that problem. I’m sure Karmakanic have their fans over here, being an offshoot of The Flower Kings (another band whose sound is not my particular cup of larks’ vomit!), but they won’t be in the majority when it comes to the more discerning new music hunter.

I’ve been listening In A Perfect World while I type this and it’s taken until track 4 of 7 before anything approaching interesting happens. If the rest of the album was in the vein of the edgy Latin flavoured Can’t Take It With You, I might be more inclined to stick with the band. I may have been a bit harsh on Karmakanic earlier, there are some good instrumental passages, I especially dig the heavy riff in Bite The Grit, but it’s the retro feel of the whole album that puts me off.

Sharing the flash drive are albums by the afore mentioned incomparable Captain Beefheart (Live 1974) and the over productive Acid Mothers Temple (Goodbye John Peel – appropriately) and a new album by Italian jazz fusion band Garua. Yep, you guessed it, I’m headed for Garua as it’s new and I’ve never heard anything by them before, as that is my musical ethos!

Thank you and good night!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Jo Hamilton - Gown

Another impulse buy, and one that I have no regrets after taking the chance. Jo Hamilton’s beguiling mezzo-soprano is here augmented at various points by a string section, brass, woodwind, found sounds, “Nordic mumbling”, Appalachian dulcimer, gamelan, “curious programming”, as well as the more traditional guitar bass piano and drums.

How to introduce this? Second song Pick Me Up is a great other worldly pop song in the tradition of Kate Bush. In fact Ms Bush might have come up with this album had she found more inspiration than was required to mess about with her back catalogue to no great effect on the underwhelming Director’s Cut.

Jo’s voice is first heard to greatest effect on the hope filled but musically melancholic There It Is, a beautiful piece of writing. Deeper (Glorious) is for me the high point of the album, a slow building slightly off kilter song about a joyously deepening relationship. “This is glorious” proclaims the song and so it is.

Due to her parents constant moving Jo spent time in Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Cambodia in her youth, and now, settled in Birmingham, her well travelled past comes across in the music which covers many global bases while still maintaining its own unique feel, never losing an ear for a good pop tune, if slightly left-field, a plus point in my opinion.

The enhanced edition comes with access to some free downloads, including some photos from various exotic locations. Jamaica is where the jazzy and smoky Paradise was written and it shows in the warm lazy effortless nature of the song. You can almost see the glorious sunset as a string section swoops and glides through the coda. Lovely.

Liathach strays a wee bit too close to power ballad territory for my liking, but the following Mekong Song with only acoustic guitar and gamelan for company, the latter recorded in Cambodia next to a water filled crater, soon puts things back on track..


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Amplifier - XOYO, Shoreditch, London - 15th June 2011

We missed the first third of support act The Pineapple Thief's set, seen by yours truly for the third time this year, but what we did see was well worth it, ended as ever by psych wigout Too Much To Lose, and they got a good reception from a mixed crowd, including a few who were obviously PT fans judging by their t-shirts.

Actually, a word on the crowd. Being a couple of middle-aged blokes of around the half century, we were musing beforehand as to whether or not we would be the oldest in the audience, which we thought might be a crowd of young teen boy metal-moshers, certainly the impression I got from the only other time I've seen the band, emerging after a few hours in a submarine at 2000 Trees festival in 2009 - it was a tad wet. We need not have worried, as the crowd covered everything from young teens to folk even older than us two old codgers, and there were a fair (literal & metaphorical) number of female fans too. The moshing, such as it was, was limited to some spirited head nodding and a happily drunk couple near us shouting "A-Ha" in between songs for some reason.

Amplifier are a hard rock band. That description alone should put me off, as I gave up on hard rock decades ago. What makes this group now float my boat after many months of drip feeding by my colleague and big Amplifier fan Phill, is that at no time is singer Sel tempted to gargle barbed wire, a trait that turns me right off Opeth and dozens of other throat shredders. Sel has a great singing voice and uses it to full effect. Another plus point is that the rock is tempered by many proggish touches, and that combined with Sel's intelligent socio-sci-fi lyrics makes for a compelling listen.

Back to the gig - After a short break, Amplifier, the eight-legged groove machine, emerged dead on their 9:30 scheduled kick-off time to a rousing reception from the 500 strong crowd. Sometime studio cohort and general helping hand Charlie Barnes introduced us to The Octopus, which he placed on top of the bass drum and there it remained until the end.

The eight-legged groove machine then dispensed their brand of heavy-rock-prog (rather than prog-heavy-rock) to an appreciative audience. Sel Balamir, Neil Mahony and Matt Brobin, and for this tour augmented by Steve Durose from Oceansize, effectively played two sets, the first hour and a quarter being 6/8ths, to use an appropriate fraction, of their epic double album The Octopus which live is as heavy as a neutron star. The thing is monstrous!

Where's Sel?
From the moment The Wave started the set, we were taken on journey into the far reaches of the strange Amplifier galaxy, propelled by bludgeon riffola, a fuel that never ran out, backing Sel's lyrics of imminent social collapse under the boot of The Man. Highlight for me was a storming version of Interstellar.

There he is!
Looking round the audience I thought to myself, that had this band been around in 1975, they would have had an audience of headbangin' leather and denim clad longhairs, and they would have been playing somewhere like The Hammersmith Odeon to an audience of thousands. I reckon that as music becomes more peripheral to modern culture, and far more disposable, those days are long passed never to return, unfortunately for bands like Amplifier. And Muse* fill stadiums? There is no justice!

After a brief towelling down the band return for the second set, or encore or whatever it was, to play four pre-Octopus songs.
As I came to this band late some were unfamiliar, as I haven't yet listened to their back catalogue enough, but the fans who had been with the band since the start upped the nodding into real headbanging for the last two numbers in particular.

After the carnage..
Two hours of space rock heaviness, that's the way to do it. A great time was had by all. "A-Ha" indeed!
*Not a dig at Muse, but if you're a fan of that band you really should give Amplifier a go!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Alberto Rigoni - Rebirth

Don't let the cover put you off! Not my cup of tea at all, but ultimately irrelevant to the music contained within.

Alberto Rigoni is a bass guitarist and composer, and member of prog-metal band TwinSpirits, and founder of an electro-pop duo Lady & The BASS (the latter unknown to me I admit). This, his sophomore solo offering, boasts contributions from Gavin Harrison, John Macaluso (Ark, Malmsteen, TNT) and others and together they produce a polished album with obvious high production values.

The music on this album is mostly low intensity instrumental jazz-fusion, and the title track in particular highlights Alberto's fluid chops to great effect. Other songs are not so dominated by the bass guitar, and there is some fine guitar picking on Story Of A Man for instance, and the general feel so far is of a laid back soundscape washing over the listener in waves. Ideal listening after a hard day's work, study, or whatever your monkey is.

So far so good. However, with the fifth song the atmosphere is ruined by the sudden inclusion of the FM rock friendly Emptiness, replete with that awful generic American style guitar squalling and vocals you'd cross the street to avoid, stuff you've all heard a million times before. It sounds like something Foreigner would write in their sleep. If that's your bag then fair enough, but in my opinion Emptiness and the similar sounding seventh song With All My Forces ruin what would otherwise have been a pleasant if not groundbreaking album, lending it a jarring and schizophrenic quality.

The only way I'd listen to this album again is by deleting those two tracks mentioned above. The remaining seven pieces will not win any awards for innovation, but they are finely crafted and well produced.

If I've not frightened you off, then you can get the album here:

Excluding tracks 5 & 7 - 2.5 out of 5

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Gösta Berlings Saga - Glue Works

Named after a famous 19th century Swedish novel, the story of a defrocked church minister with added sword and sorcery, this band has a lineage that one can trace back through Anekdoten, the recently reformed Änglagård, and older influences such as Hansson & Karlsson, the ubiquitous King Crimson, and Van Der Graaf Generator. In fact Änglagård's Mattias Olsson is involved here on production duties and contributes "additional hidden and lost sounds".

Any entirely instrumental band has to be able to keep the listener's attention with many intricate twists and turns, or go the other way and create a trance-like ambience. Gösta Berlings Saga, not unsurprisingly given their influences, go for the former approach, and highly successful it is too. I've listened to this album quite a few times before attacking the keyboard, and each time I hear something I missed previously.

The first thing I notice is a powerful organic sound propelled by Gabriel's bass and Alexander's driving back beat on the opening piece, the cryptically named 354. The tune marches along, embellished by some nice piano flourishes from David before becoming darker and pulling you round in a very fast orbit. There's even a musical saw interlude before the crunching finale. An impressive start.

Instrumental bands can call their songs anything they like, and there are some great titles here. Icosahedron is "..a regular polyhedron with 20 identical equilateral triangular faces, 30 edges and 12 vertices" - and who am I to argue! Gliese 581g is a planet orbiting Gliese 581 in the constellation of Libra, and is reckoned to be an Earth-like planet with a good chance of supporting life. Where do they find these titles?!

Icosahedron with Einar's crashing chords puts me in mind of one of the instrumental passages from The Strangler's Meninblack album, but with added cojones. More musical saw and waltzing cello gives a chamber music feel to Island, the first longer piece on the album. The theme is taken over by bass and drum, you can feel the build up. The spirit of Änglagård is very much in evidence on this great piece of stomping waltz music from another galaxy.

Geosignal has a glam rock beat overlaid with some trumpet and more crashing Stranglers-like chords. A surprising but fun deviation.

Soterargarten 1 reprises a title from the last album, where it was listed as Soterargarten 3, and the band's myspace site has Soterargarten 2 for streaming. It's all a bit confusing! Anyway, after a mournful trumpet intro a huge marching bass/drums riff establishes a theme, and it lurches along like Iron Man in a rage. Then it stops, and a quiet reflective piano led section later joined by trumpet and cello builds to a gentle climax, lulling the listener after the carnage that has gone before. Wonderful stuff. You'll have buy the thing to find out more!

I don't usually go for track by track descriptions (ok, I haven't described every song here, but five out of seven is good going for me!) , as personally I find reviews that give an overall impression far more helpful, but this has sucked me in, in a good way I hasten add, but I'll stop now, having hopefully teased you just enough to investigate further.

Track listing:
1. 354 (5:54)
2. Icosahedron (3:12)
3. Island (12:58)
4. Gliese 581g (5:53)
5. Waves (2:55)
6. Geosignal (2:22)
7. Soterargartan 1 (12:51)

- Einar Baldursson / guitars
- David Lundberg / keyboards
- Alexander Skepp / drums and percussion
- Gabriel Hermansson / bass

Additional musicians
- Mattias Olsson / additional hidden and lost sounds
- Fredrik Carlzon / French horn, trumpet
- Cecilia Linne / cello
- Leo Svensson / musical saw
- Ulf Akerstedt / bass tuba, bass trumpet, contrabass trumpet, bass harmonica

Buy it here..
Cuneiform Records

4 out of 5

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Memories Of Machines - Warm Winter

In which Tim Bowness of No Man fame and Giancarlo Erra from Italy’s Nosound get together to blend the former’s breathy dreamy vocals to the latter’s laid back spacey soundscapes and guitar playing, all ably aided and abetted by the multifarious talents of Robert Fripp, Colin Edwin, Steven Wilson (mainly production duties), Peter Hammill, Julianne Regan and others. With a cast like that it is difficult to see how this could fail, and it doesn’t let you down!

Starting off sounding like a more full on No Man album, no bad thing, the sound fills out as we move from song to song. Giancarlo* gives the title track, apparently a leftover from the No Man album Schoolyard Ghosts, a searing guitar break, and the following song Lucky You, Lucky Me ends with a lovely melodic guitar run that fades out well too soon. Fripp starts the swoonsome Change Me Once Again with some trademark stylings, some of Tim’s love-ballad-from-space poetry follows, then a Giancarlo solo  – absolutely gorgeous!

Some plaintive trumpet and sax on Lost And Found In The Digital World over Fripp’s soundscapes lend the song a world-weary feel, existing only in bytes and floating away to somewhere more restful, free of self - “It’s time for letting go..” and peace is found. More gorgeousness!

Four of the songs here have been released in very different guises by No Man, but the album has a cohesive, optimistic and organic feel of its own. Some of lyrics are direct, some oblique, most are relationship based as you would expect if you know Tim’s work with No Man. An album of beautiful dreamprog if ever there was one – oh no, is that a new category?

I got this at the same time as A Scarcity Of Miracles by Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins, and they make for perfect companions. Another candidate for album of the year, no question.

*All the credits for guitar parts are my semi-educated guesses!

Read Tim Bowness’ blog on how the album came together here.

Three of the songs are on Soundcloud here.

Track listing:
  1. New Memories Of Machines
  2. Before We Fall
  3. Beautiful Songs You Should Know
  4. Warm Winter
  5. Lucky You, Lucky Me
  6. Change Me Once Again
  7. Something In Our Lives
  8. Lost And Found In The Digital World
  9. Schoolyard Ghosts
  10. At The Centre Of It All
4 out of 5

Jakszyk Fripp and Collins - A Scarcity Of Miracles

A Scarcity Of Miracles is given extra kudos in that it has been given the tag line “A King Crimson ProjecKt” owing to its numerous connections to the KC family tree. Aside from that it has its own drawing power simply through the respect its five contributors command within the world of modern progressive rock.

Long awaited by many including this writer, the arrival of this album will disappoint those expecting a loud KC type improv thang, but most folk I would hope have approached this with no preconceptions. My first impressions are of a late summer evening’s contemplative listen. Fully formed songs have arisen out of dreamy soundscapes lent a warm glow by Mel Collins’ mellifluous sax playing. The lyrics, which one assumes are probably mainly the work of Jakko Jakszyk and possibly Tony Levin hint at loss and regret and decay and dark nights of the soul, but the organic and emotionally warm music means it never gets depressing. Judging by the numerous meteorological references I can only surmise that the main lyricist must live here in the UK!

Instrumentally, no-one gets to go off on a tangent and the whole thing is, well, lovely, and definitely the sum of its parts rather than a showcase for individual indulgence. The Price We Pay features Jakko’s Gu Zheng which is really the only instrumentation one could describe as exotic, to Western ears at least. Tony Levin’s trusty bass and Chapman Stick underpin everything with a sonic hug. Gavin Harrison’s drumming is down in the mix, and a bit like a good referee in a football match he never intentionally plays a starring role. This man is a perfect example of the drummers’ most prized skill, that of “less is more”. The Other Man has a Japan-like quality, Levin sounding like Mick Karn, then Fripp enters with a brief burst of traditional Frippisms, but quietly. Certainly the most complex song on the album, Collins’ sax then weaves in and out of a shifting time signature, Fripp and Jakko joining in. At just under six minutes, it ain’t long enough! In fact my only small gripe is that at 43 minutes the album feels like it should be about ten minutes longer.

A bit like a good claret, this album has to be given the attention it deserves in order to be fully savoured and appreciated, and it will leave you well satisfied after consumption. One of the best albums of the year so far in my humble opinion.

For less than £2 more than the standard cd issue, get the dvd/cd issue which as well as the standard cd features a great sounding 5:1 surround sound mix, and alternate takes of most of the songs, two impovs from Fripp/Jakszyk and the video for the title track.

Track list:
1.      A Scarcity Of Miracles
2.      The Price We Pay
3.      Secrets
4.      This House
5.      The Other Man
6.      The Light Of Day

Line up:
Robert Fripp – Guitars, Soundscapes
Mel Collins – Alto & Soprano Saxophones & Flute
Jakko M Jakszyk – Guitar, Vocals, Gu Zheng & Keyboards
Tony Levin – Bass & Chapman Stick
Gavin Harrison – Drums & Percussion

4 out of 5

Saturday, 4 June 2011

No Man's Land - The Drowning Desert

The best thing about being asked to review releases for other sites is being sent albums by bands from all corners of the globe which would likely otherwise have remained undiscovered.

This album landed on my desk last week. No Man's Land are a Greek band who have issued four albums (could be wrong here - it's hard to find definitive info on this group!) since their debut Zalion in 1988. Atmospheric rock with a hint of psychedelia is their bag, and The Drowning Desert, released in 2010 continues in that vein. The main band, a guitar/bass/drums line up is here augmented by piano, cello, and some plaintive trombone, which features as the main lead instrument on some tracks giving the already organic sound a warm and emotional feel in a quite understated but accomplished fashion.

The Drowning Desert is more structured than some of their previous more psychedelically inclined works, but that's no bad thing. The rockiest thing here is the opener MS408 featuring a bubbling bass riff overlaid with some nice fuzzed sustain guitar and later the soon to be ubiquitous trumpet lines, leading straight into the title track which is taken at a slower pace than the intro, a nice contrast. Soon the trumpet gets to show its feelings with some fine blowing, then some nice wordless vocalising lending the song a kind of 60s B-movie feel, and ending with a squiggle of synth squeaks and more fuzz guitar. Very nice indeed!

Often a problem with some lesser known bands is vocals added as an after thought, along with hamfisted English lyrics from non-English speaking lyricists. No worries on that score here as the singer has a fine voice that puts me in mind of UK indie-goth bands from the 1980s for some reason and his English lyrics are fine considering the writer is putting his thoughts down in a secondary language. Pterodactyl Bones concludes the album with some fine trumpet blowing that I wish had gone on for longer than the tantalising short burst at the song's conclusion.

I wouldn't call this "prog" necessarily, neither is it fusion, or spacerock, but I can say it creates an complete atmosphere all its own and is well worth your attention.

The Drowning Desert seems to be a vinyl only release at present and is available here.

The band's myspace site has tracks from their other works including an 18 minute spacey wigout called "Writers Have No Real Life" that does not seem to be on any of their albums, and it's well worth checking out.

Bas Athanassiades - Vocals, Guitar, Analogue Synthesizer
Nick Petavrides - Bass
Chris Silver Triantafillopolous - Drums
Don Fuestenberg - Trumpet
Kostas Kakouris - Piano
George Tzivas - Percussion
Stavos Parginos - Cello
Kat Papachristou - Backing Vocals

3.5 out of 5

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