Sunday, 19 June 2011

Moon Duo - Fallout

Here's some really gritty, fuzz-laden space rock from San Francisco's Moon Duo. I've heard some of their music on-line before and thought them interesting and one to investigate but this track really makes you sit up and take notice of their new single's driving, distorted and yet strangely melodic trip, particularly with its sub-Doctor Who titles effect on this video. (Let me go all geeky just for a moment, the visual reminds me a lot of the regeneration of Peter Davison in 'Caves of Androzani'. OK, phew, geek moment come and gone. Thanks).

They've released a couple of EPs, which is where I believe I've heard some of their stuff before, but they also unleashed their debut album, Mazes, a couple of months back and based on 'Fallout' I really ought to be checking them out a bit further. This, from their PR, is what I can tell you about them at the moment: "Formed in San Francisco in 2009 by Wooden Shijps guitarist Ripley Johnson and his partner, Sanae Yamada, Moon Duo’s first two critically acclaimed EPs, Killing Time (2009) and Escape (2010), fused the futuristic pylon hum and transistor reverb of Suicide or Silver Apples with the heat-haze fuzz of American rock ‘n’ roll to create tracks of blistering, 12-cylinder space rock. Now their debut album Mazes, recorded in San Francisco and mixed in Berlin during 2010 as the band prepared to move to the mountains of Colorado, explores a far broader, lighter, sound."

'Fallout' really hits a number of marks; it's an intriguing track, panoramic and yet wearing its minimalism as a badge of honour, muscular and yet visceral, and really quite a thrilling five and a half minutes. Turn it up and blast it out.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Hawkwind – Parallel Universe

Here's some detail on the 3CD Hawkwind anthology due out from EMI in August, courtesy of their publicity department who've kindly allowed me to repost the detail here. I'll be reviewing this one in due course for Record Collector but will also write something up here in due course since this is a significant release that contains a good selection of previously unreleased United Artists-era material including studio takes of 'It's So Easy' and 'You'd Better Believe It', a very different studio cut of 'Wind of Change', alternative vocals on a studio 'Seven By Seven' and what's noted as being a previously unreleased track, 'Take What You Can', which actually appeared on a Weird Tapes release under the title 'Make What You Can' (I don't have the original of that to refer to, so can't say at this point if it is the same recording or another previously unknown version). This anthology also pulls together a slew of stuff that's previously been available as bonus tracks on the EMI remasters from a few years back. Sleevenotes by Nik Turner. Here's the press detail I received from EMI:


A Liberty/U.A. Years Anthology 1970 – 1974

3CD journey through the mind-altering space-rock of


- 12 Previously Unreleased Tracks -

Release Date: 22 August 2011

Following the release last year of Hawkwind at the BBC 1972, EMI will release a 3CD extensive journey through Hawkwind's mind-altering space rock.

'Parallel Universe' is a 3CD journey through the four years Hawkwind spent on the Liberty/U.A. labels. This package of great tracks is something that no serious Hawkwind fan or collector should be without. These are the seminal recordings of the band, the essence of what Hawkwind was at that time, and was all about.

As well as containing a good cross-section of the band's output over the first five years, (the band was actually formed in 1969), the album also features previously unreleased different versions of some songs, as well as a couple of previously unreleased new songs, 'Hog Farm', and 'Take What You Can'. All add to and sit alongside the known recorded history.

Initially the band was psychedelic, musicians from a variety of musical genres, of very different stripes. Mick Slattery, blues guitarist, who played in the band at the conception, but left before the first album was produced; Dave Brock, a blues guitarist and busker; Nik Turner, a free-jazz saxophonist; John Harrison, a big-band bassist; Huw Lloyd-Langton, a classical guitarist; Dik Mik Davis, a primitive Concrete Music Electronics exponent, and Terry Ollis, a primitive drummer. They put together the first album, simply titled, Hawkwind - which was basically a live studio-recording of their live performance; a lot of jamming and free-form music, as well as a couple 'songs': 'Hurry on Sundown', and Mirror of Illusion'. The whole thing was recorded twice and the best of the two versions chosen for the album, with some guitar added by the producer Dick Taylor, guitarist with that band 'The Pretty Things'. The two songs on the album were released as the band's first single.

Their second album, Xin Search of Space, was a little more structured than the first, with more songs, and influence from Nik's friend Robert Calvert, the 'space poet', who he grew up with in Thanet, Kent. With Barney Bubbles, who had designed the album cover, Robert composed the 'Hawkwind Log', the logbook of the 'Space-Ship Hawkwind', and gave the band a whole science fictional emphasis. The concept took the form of the 'Space-Ship Hawkwind,' which had crashed-landed on earth, and become 2-dimensional, the vinyl was the remaining 2-dimensional remnants of the crew, and the logbook was the Ship's log, describing the Ship's adventures.

The band were now Dave Anderson, ex-bassist from Amon Duul, Dave Brock, Nik, Terry, Dik Mik on his Dik-Mikator, and Del Dettmar, ex-roadie from The Pretty Things and Hawkwind, on synthesizer and Delatron. They were definitely moving into space. In their live work, they were joined by the fabulous statuesque dancer and mime artist, Miss Stacia.

Robert then became more involved in the creative writing of songs, and performance ideas, and devised his Meisterwerk, the concept epic, 'The Space Ritual', the spectacular mixed media show, which would feature the song 'Silver Machine'. At this point, exit Dave Anderson, enter 'Lemmy' [Ian Kilmister], a friend of Dik Mik, and ex-guitarist from Opal Butterfly, Sam Gopal's Dream, and ex-roadie with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Lemmy played loud deep Space-bass. On the drum front, exit Terry Ollis, and enter Simon King, also ex-Opal Butterfly. The band recorded the song 'Silver Machine' live at the Roundhouse at the 'Greasy Truckers Party'with Robert singing.

The show was compared by the resident D.J. extraordinaire, the very Awesome Mr Andy Dunkley, the thoroughly lovable guy, [who very sadly, lately passed on to the next world, we miss him]. At this time Robert was a very delicate chap, a manic-depressive, subject to regular nervous breakdowns, and unfortunately all the creative activity and excitement was too much for him; he had a nervous breakdown. His vocals needed replacing, on the recording of 'Silver Machine' as they were deemed not strong enough, so Lemmy stepped in and replaced Robert's vocals. The single went to number 3 in the UK, and gave the band the finance to produce Robert's 'Space Ritual' extravaganza, which proved wildly successful.

A live recording was made of the show, and released as a double album to great acclaim.

Tracklistings:Hawkwind – Parallel Universe
Great tracks, great artists. Simon House, the violin virtuoso, ex- High Tide, Third Ear Band, and latterly David Bowie, joined the band, and featured on the following album, The Hall Of The Mountain Grill, and on the fourth single 'Psychedelic Warlords'/'It's So Easy'. After which the band had two drummers. And the beat still goes on…
As a belated follow up to 'Silver Machine', 'Urban Guerrilla'/'Brainbox Pollution' were recorded, but the BBC refused to play the 'A' side, the police visited Nik's flat and tore up the floorboards looking for armaments and explosives, and the band were stopped frequently by Her Majesty's Constabulary. Their next album was Doremi Farsol Latido.
(A Liberty/U.A. Years Anthology 1970 – 1974)

CD 1:
Hurry On Sundown (original mono single)
Mirror Of Illusion (mono single edit)
You Know You're Only Dreaming (original 1970 version) (previously unreleased)
The Reason Is (alternate version) (previously unreleased)
Be Yourself (alternate mix) (previously unreleased)
Seeing It As You Really Are (from the album Hawkwind)
Hog Farm (previously unreleased)
Kiss Of The Velvet Whip (aka Sweet Mistress Of Pain) (1971 version) (previously unreleased)
You Shouldn't Do That (from the album In Search Of Space)
Master Of The Universe (original vocal take) (previously unreleased)
Children Of The Sun (from the album In Search Of Space)
Paranoia (Greasy Truckers Party version – live)

CD 2:

Brainstorm (from the album Doremi Fasol Latido)
Space Is Deep (from the album Doremi Fasol Latido)
Lord Of Light (from the album Doremi Fasol Latido)
Take What You Can (previously unreleased)
Silver Machine (original single mix)
Seven By Seven (original single alternate vocal mix) (previously unreleased)
Born To Go (Space Ritual version - live)
Down Throught The Night (Space Ritual version - live)
Orgone Accumulator (Space Ritual version - live)
Sonic Attack (Space Ritual version - live)

CD 3:
Urban Guerilla (original single)
Brainbox Pollution (Full length version) (previously unreleased)
It's So Easy (original studio version) (previously unreleased)
You'd Better Believe It (Rockfield Studios version) (previously unreleased)
Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear In Smoke) (single version)
Wind Of Change (alternate version) (previously unreleased)
Paradox (remix single edit)
Hall Of The Mountain Grill (from the album Hall Of The Mountain Grill)
Lost Johnny (from the album Hall Of The Mountain Grill)
D-Rider (1999 Party version - live)
The Watcher (1999 Party version - live)

Hawkwind Zoo - Sunshine Special E.P. (digital download only)

1. Kiss Of The Velvet Whip (aka Sweet Mistress Of Pain) (1969 mix) * (Previously unreleased)
2. Cymbaline *
3. Hurry On Sundown (1969 mix) * (Previously unreleased)
4. Kiss Of The Velvet Whip (aka Sweet Mistress Of Pain) (1972 stereo remix)
5. Hurry On Sundown (1972 stereo remix)
* mono

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Lunar Dunes - Galaxsea

Following on from last night's rather beefy stoner rock and some acoustic-based dark folk, here's something completely different. This is Adam Blake from Cornershop, Transglobal Underground's Hamilton Lee and (not noted from any other band – sorry) Ian Blackaby who've previously released one other album, 2007's From Above, have played with Damo Suzuki and are now here again with Lunar Dunes, an improvisational and free-flowing, and largely instrumentally focused collection that is firmly from the jazz-rock / avant-garde wing of space rock. I'll note hear that while I say 'instrumentally focused', this does feature vocals from Krupa Pattni (also of Transglobal Underground), but those vocals are ones that compliment the music almost as though the voice is an additional instrumentation and it wouldn't be correct, to my ears, to describe these nine tracks as 'songs' – they are beguilingly wispy compositions to which the vocal contribution has a part to play in delivering mood and texture rather than as a recitation of lyrics across the top of the music.

This is another delightful 4Zero Records release – how does Dave Weller keep finding these bands – blissful, tranquil and soothingly smooth sounds with a crystalline quality that slip in and out of differing grooves, switching into Eastern and Oriental notes, sometimes finding a slightly firmer rhythm in the guitar and drums with which to shake-up the albums overarching sense of wistfully exotic flavours. One to relax and drift out with.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Van Cleef - Dalek Gulch

Here's a promo video from YouTube of Australian band Van Cleef that I've been asked to pass along to blog readers. "The music video 'Dalek Gulch' is the first single from our debut feature length album Where The River Meets The Rock," I'm told by the band's Christian Thompson. "The clip is entirely written, directed and produced by the band ... no outside help whatsoever, and we are extremely proud of it. The album was recorded in South Australia and mastered by JJ Golden in Ventura California." Their album is currently available for download and for a limited time is set to a 'name your own price' which can be $0.00.

Looks to me like these guys really had a ball putting this video together, really beefy stoner / space rock with some gruffly portentous lyrics – 'cryogenics won't mend a broken heart'. You've got to agree with them... and I liked the comment on their YouTube page that said, "Before the lyrics started I had my money on the first word being SCIENCE!" Me too!

I've downloaded the album – on the strength of the excellent title for the first track: 'Barracuda Booty Boogie' – and it's a lot of fun, seems to have plenty of tongue in its cheek with heavy stuff, some rather more melodic rockers and real solid drumming. It's available here.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Paul Roland - Grimm

Following on from his two most recent albums, Re-Animator and Nevermore, which, respectively, took the works of H. P. Lovecraft and Jules Verne as their literary starting points, Paul Roland's latest album is a collection of songs that rework stories by the Brothers Grimm in an appropriately dark folk manner. I've mentioned before here that, since being sent a copy of Re-Animator by Black Widow Records a few years back, I've become a huge fan of Paul's work and, aside from the latest releases, I've enjoyed the Demos collection that was released a year or so back and the excellent sequence of reissues that Syborg Music have been putting together. To tell you a little story about that, I had to drive from Cornwall to Cheltenham for a business meeting last month – a journey I've made several times recently and know like the back of my hand. This time, it might have been that I was driving more slowly than normal and got into a rhythm that took my concentration away, or it might have just that I'd been mulling things over in my mind, but likely it was that I was sharing the journey with Syborg's twofer CD of A Cabinet of Curiosities / Happy Families and enjoying again the company of 'Walter the Occultist' and the eccentricities of 'Wyndham Hill', not to mention the old school humour of 'Best Years of our Lives' that caused me not only to fail to spot the two Gloucester exits on the M5 that I watch out for in anticipation of the Cheltenham exit, but also the Cheltenham exit itself... finally picking up the thread of the journey with Cheltenham behind me and Tewkesbury on the exit sign. Absorbing are the music and words of our Mr. Roland.

Grimm seems to be part of a period of prolonged creativity in the music field (Roland is also a successful author), I talked to him a while back for an article that's unfortunately yet to see publication and he was at that point enthusing about projects that he felt where the most prominent on his radar... this one, of course, but also "one that's going to be very British, but 40s, 50s Britain: seedy, boarding house, end-of-the-pier Britain. Then there's a revisionist history of the Wild West, the true story of Wyatt Earp, or Doc Holliday's deathbed confession. I've got to be careful, an Englishman can't sing about the Civil War! It wouldn't be authentic and part of my modus operandi is to always be authentic." I love the sound of both of those and very much hope that they'll be in the pipeline.

But I also had the chance to ask Paul about both Grimm, while it was still in its formative period, and his other interests. "It's based on the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, but the original versions not a fluffy, Disney, version. I don't write for other people, I write for myself but it's the writer part of me, like a film director... I'm making all these little movies for people to listen to, a writer, even one who is associated with a particular genre, like M. R. James and ghost stories or H. G. Wells with science fiction, they always did other things. I have my centre that I gravitate towards, this Victorian or Edwardian thing, but I know I've done it a lot and I have to say something new to say if I do another like that. I recorded one track in the space rock vein, 'Journey to the Centre of the Mind', and I was going to put it on the Demos album but it sounded too finished so I held it off."

This is one is definite step away from what Paul's been doing with his recent work, a very stripped-down affair that's nonetheless rich in atmosphere and textures and which, as Roland notes, captures what I understand and at points recall the tone and style of the Brothers Grimm to have been. He's working almost on his own here, where other releases have been full band recordings with a guest appearance on backing vocals by Rosie Eade and some spoken word interludes from closer to home, Michael and Joshua Roland. I enjoy the way that this creates an intimacy to the songs, so that they become very much the cautionary folklore being repeated to an intimate audience on a cold winter's eve. The words are ones that have resonance with that sense of traditional story, on the delightful 'Rapunzel' evoking that 'over the hills and far away' idea... "if you wait you wait in vain and here you must remain." It's the folklore of the "malformed man and wife" whose "limbs were as curved as their black cat's spine." It's the King and his firstborn son, 'The Devil's Bride', wearisome companions and forest paths, it's the Grimm stories that you'll be familiar with and those that perhaps you'll know less well, or want to uncover, as part of listening and absorbing this collection.

"I can hardly believe it myself after the long delays which saw the trolls toiling deep in the dark forests of Germany hewing out the pits in each individual compact disc with their tiny chisels one track at a time," Paul noted on his latest newsletter. "But it's true. And as I live and wheeze it's a mighty fine piece of work, if I may say so, having played every instrument on it myself and even engineered the recording in my own studio at World's End. But I can put my hand on both my hearts and say it's exactly the way I wanted it to sound, so I hope you will agree it is a welcome addition to the Roland discography." This one can be purchased direct from the Paul Roland Appreciation Society, PRAS, at the price including postage of £ 12 GBP (or €15 euros) and payment can be made via PayPal to the PRAS email address: rolandtowers [@] (remove brackets of course when using this address).

Paul Roland Blog

Paul Roland on Twitter

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hawkwind – Leave No Star Unturned (Press)

I was recently asked to provide notes for the forthcoming release of the Hawkwind segment of the fabled Six Hour Technicolor Dream show from the Cambridge Corn Exchange, January 1972. This one is due out in August with the initial pressing coming in a limited edition deluxe packaging before reverting to standard CD format for future pressings. There's also a vinyl edition planned for this, details on the label's website. Here's the press release information:

Artist: Hawkwind

CD/Vinyl Release: Leave No Star Unturned

Release Date: 28th August 2011

Label & Cat: Easy Action Recordings, EARS041 (CD) – DPROMLP88 (LP)

On 27th January 1972, Hawkwind, their comrades in Notting Hill / Ladbroke Grove psychedelic proto-punk agitprop The Pink Fairies, and what would be labelled as The Last Minute Put-Together Boogie Band featuring the elusive Syd Barrett were brought together at The Cambridge Corn Exchange under the title The Six Hour Technicolor Dream by local music promoter and 'Head Shop' proprietor Steve Brink. If we'd had the technology of today way back then, then for such a line-up we'd most certainly have on our shelves the DVD with its 5.1 stereo soundtrack, the CD box set, and the Blu-ray package. Instead, what we have is something previously shrouded in mystery and rumour; quarter-inch ReVox open reel sourced recordings that have been whispered of in the circles of those who know. One of only two known copies of this show surfaced in the mid-80s, promptly to vanish into the vaults unheard and unreleased. Thankfully, the other finally emerged from a forgotten loft space in 2005 and made its way into the hands of Easy Action Records via a circuitous route which included an appearance at the famous Bonham's auction house in London's affluent Knightsbridge - what a contrast to the anarchic 'peace and love' characters decrying the evil tentacles of 'The Man' who play on these recordings.

The three bands lining-up that night represent a legacy of huge importance to students, followers and historians of the underground counterculture of the late '60s and early '70s. Leave No Star Unturned delivers the Hawkwind portion of that gathering and in doing so illuminates the band at the start of what can be seen in hindsight as its mainstream breakthrough year – if 'mainstream' could ever be a label applied at any time across the band's forty-year-plus history of being the perennial outsiders surviving, if not on the edge of time, then certainly on the outside of the music industry. But it's 1972 – the year that 'Silver Machine' took them to the top reaches of the Singles Chart and on to Top Of The Pops, the year that Radio One embraced them for In Concert and the year that they embarked on their ambitious science fiction theatre Space Ritual tour – the show that yielded the fabulously dense and atmospheric wall-of-sound that is the Space Ritual Alive In Liverpool And London double album.

Featuring among the Hawkwind ranks here are their ever-present figurehead and Hawklord Dave Brock, the thundering pre-Motorhead bass-playing of Lemmy, space poet and lyricist Robert Calvert, and the freewheeling, improvisational and theatrical heart of the band, Nik Turner. There's an early version of 'Silver Machine', before the single version was captured at The Roundhouse and overdubbed at Morgan Studios with Lemmy's growling vocal, and featuring here an all together different delivery by Calvert (the song's co-writer alongside Brock). There's the second chronologically known live recording of 'Born To Go', blistering versions of 'Master Of The Universe' and 'You Shouldn't Do That', and a contrastingly spacious and spacey rendition of 'You Know You're Only Dreaming'. This is Hawkwind building to a crescendo on stage and off – building up the myth and legend that would make them the embodiment of tripped-out space rock in perpetuity.

The Hawkwind back catalogue of this era, their time on United Artists, has been lovingly managed and maintained for availability by EMI who have generously granted a licence for the release of this historic recording. Hawkwind fans are indebted to them for their support in enabling this show to be widely heard and cherished. The deluxe packaging, and the extensive sleevenotes written by Hawkwind biographer Ian Abrahams support this soundtrack but it's the blistering power and energy of the improvisational Hawkwind that, indeed, leaves no star unturned.