Saturday, 3 October 2015

Dave Brock Announces New Solo Album: Brockworld

Dave Brock Announces New Solo Album



Deep in the Devon countryside, from within what appears from the outside to be an old milking shed but which on the inside – part TARDIS, part Aladdin’s Cave – is revealed to be a recording studio, something stirs. Drums are pounding, the bass is rumbling. Guitars are insistently strumming, synthesisers are powering up into sci-fi soundscapes. Welcome to Brockworld.

Following on from his critically acclaimed Looking For Love In The Lost Land Of Dreams [‘Haunting and beautiful’, 4 Stars, Record Collector], Hawkwind mainstay Dave Brock releases his latest solo LP, an eclectic compendium of psychedelic rock songs interspersed with evocative instrumentals and experimental tunes that once again confirms his place as our foremost spacerock visionary.

Brockworld is bursting with vivid ideas, a dynamic outpouring from a musician always seeking new sounds and different techniques. From the moment this album bursts out into ‘Life Without Passion’, through the heavy space drone of ‘Horizon’, to the wryly engaging ‘Falling out of Love’ and the kaleidoscopic twists and turns of ‘Age of Psychedelia’, this album aptly captures Dave Brock’s roving creativity.

“Sometimes it’s that industrial space freighter chugging down the space-ways, sometimes a nimble solar sailing ship drifting from star to star, his deft hand on the tiller… that’s Dave Brock’s special vision.” Interstellar Overdrive - The Shindig! Guide To Spacerock discusses Dave Brock’s spacerock legacy.

Pre-Order Link: Here

Dave Brock: Brockworld is officially released on 16th November 2015

flier front uncropped

flier back

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Press Release: Festivalized: Music, Politics, Alternative Culture


Festivalized: Music, Politics and the Alternative Culture

By Ian Abrahams and Bridget Wishart

Gonzo Multimedia (Paperback) / Lumoni Press (Digital)

Publication Date: 23rd November 2015

Singer/Songwriter/Performance Artist Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind, Hippy Slags, Demented Stoats, Spirits Burning) and Music Journalist Ian Abrahams (Hawkwind – Sonic Assassins, Strange Boat – Mike Scott & The Waterboys, Record Collector, R2, Vive Le Rock) announce the publication of their ‘talking heads’ book on the British free festival scene of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, Festivalized.

Published in paperback by Gonzo Multimedia and through digital/eBook formats by Lumoni Press, Festivalized surveys the history of the free festivals through the stories and viewpoints of those who were there. Musicians, Stage Organisers, Writers, Band Managers, Attendees, Travellers, and Landowners all bring their eye-witness accounts and first-hand experiences to this vivid document of the alternative culture at play.

Researched through over 50 interviews, including members of notable festival bands such as Hawkwind, Magic Mushroom Band, Ozric Tentacles, The Levellers, Here & Now, Magic Muscle, Mandragora, Zounds, Smartpils, Culture Shock, and 2000DS, and respected counterculture commentators such as Mick Farren and Penny Rimbaud, Festivalized relates the highs and lows, the conflicts and the achievements of the festival scene. From the festivals at Glastonbury, Windsor Great Park and Stonehenge to the travelling Convoy park-ups and the myriad 80s gatherings and on to the last great free festival at Castlemorton in 1992, here is an extensive recounting of the festivals and the characters that inhabited them.

Covering the musical, social and political aspects of the free festivals, Festivalized is an even-handed and comprehensive account of their development out of the 60s counterculture, their peak at Stonehenge in 1984 when a reputed 80,000 revellers gathered on Salisbury Plain, and their decline into hard drugs that saw bands attacked on stage, violent confrontations with the Thatcher government, and alleged infiltration by the security services. Never sentimental, always objective, Festivalized is a valuable and engaging oral history of a scene now vanished, some would argue expelled, from the British countryside.

For further details, review copies, cover images, or to arrange interviews with Bridget Wishart or Ian Abrahams, please email ianabrahams1 [at]

Connect With Festivalized On Facebook

Pre-Order the eBook edition with Amazon:

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Battle Elk–Songs For Heroes EP



I had the press and links for the first recordings from this Norwegian duo land in my inbox this morning and though it did some of the things I really wish bands pitching their music for review wouldn’t do – forgetting that the recipients should be bcc’d and not visible to all, putting sizeable attachments instead of web-friendly images and the like – it had such enthusiasm to it that I had to click through and give it a listen and thought it very listenable indeed.

Battle Elk is a progressive space/stoner duo from rural Magnor, Norway,” they explain. “Our songs all take place in a fictional world where warriors are mounted on elks and dragons terrorize the skies. We're inspired by old sci-fi and fantasy novels, adventure game soundtracks, loud guitars and Belgian beer. Battle Elk is Bjørn Marius Kristiansen and Espen Gunstensen.” They go to declaim their favourite Belgian beer as being Kriek Lambic, a Cherry-flavoured beer. Sounds delicious to me!

They’ve got a bit of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, if BRMC’s vocalist was Hawkwind-era Lemmy, a moody, heavy drawl that lingers across the four tracks of their debut EP, available from 25th September though they’re promoting an available from today single, ‘Charango Moon’ drawn from it as well. When they say they’ve compiled all their influences into it, it does indeed have that sense of a first effort, wanting to throw everything at it as though it’ll be the only chance they have, whereas from what they’re releasing it’s clear that it’s a project that they should keep progressing with.

But then, that approach does give the EP a varied texture, ‘Shield Wall’ being a heavy stoner salvo of an opening track that lyrically sets up their concept’s narrative, ‘Black Sector Highway’ shifting between robust vocals and strident minimalist playing and a more melodic, progressive folk, almost Americana, tune that feels as though its been recorded out in the wilderness with the wind howling around it.

‘Charango Moon’ is a proper single with a bit of pop sense, a bit of 60s psychedelia, and though it feels a bit underdone, the limitations of starting out and recording, as they say they did, in Bjørn’s “mouldy basements over the course of two intense weekends”, and though it wanders a bit, its certainly listen-again stuff. And ‘Mount The Elk’ has that BRMC thing going on that I really liked. I think these guys have had a great time putting this set together – more power to them – and there’s every chance that they’ll get better as they gain experience.

battle elk press05


Battle Elk Bandcamp

Battle Elk Website

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Pure Phase Ensemble 4 – Live At SpaceFest!

Pure Phase Ensemble 4 artwork

I’ll tell you the moment that I really get into, really start to ‘get’ this record. It’s on track 3, ‘Notaki’. Spacerockers, it’s ‘Dream Of Isis’. I mean, it’s not actually ‘Dream Of Isis’, a Hawkwind song so obscure that even the Hawks themselves haven’t dug it out, dusted it off, and reintroduced it to the set. (For those who can’t bring this one to mind, it’s the B-side to ‘Back On The Streets’, their standalone 7” recorded circa Astounding Sounds… that slightly jazzy, partly funky, partly experimental and touching on oriental with indecipherable chanting, oddity). It’s not clockwork and regimented, or minimalist but energetic, like ‘Dream Of Isis’, instead its organic and spacey, but there’s an echo of it in its bass-lines and its plaintive background chanting and the frenetically busy feel of the whole thing. Coincidence… or an influence? I don’t know! It’s bloody great and I’d love to think that within this new space rock there’s a nod or glance back at something also great, but now overlooked, which ‘Dream Of Isis’ is. I might just be way off though… or properly way out, man, like the thoroughly exciting and engaging ‘Notaki’ is.

Pure Phase Ensemble 4 include Ride’s Mark Gardener and Ray Dickaty, once of Spiritualized and from that, and the musing above, you can tell that this comes from that crossroads out in the ether where shoegaze and spacerock somehow meet and condense the 70s and the 90s into one soundscape that owes progressive and indie and twists it into something contemporary. The band was put together specifically for the annual Gdansk SpaceFest event – I’ll quote here from the PR for this release: “The city of Gdansk plays host to this blossoming music festival each year in the first week of December, at which time numerous select musicians from Poland and abroad gather to take part in a special workshop series. They collectively compose a concert's worth of music, which they then present live to the festival-goers. Each year, this unique performance is recorded live and subsequently released as an LP.” The idea is that each festival is co-curated alongside Dickaty and Nasiono Records’ Karol Schwarz, and this one fell to Gardener.

"For me, this is interesting - it's perfect because it reminds me in some ways of how some of the early Ride songs came together... I didn't come in with a script, nor does Ray. There is no pre-work on this. It was just completely spontaneous," explains Mark Gardener. "Sometimes music like that is good before things get thought about too much and worked on too much. That can kill the energy sometimes. Of course some things have got to be worked and developed, but in this scenario, with such little time and to get an interesting set together, I think it's been good to keep it fresh and not over-worked."

It’s a hugely atmospheric set infused with melodic playing and, at points, some perfectly crystalline vocals, setting itself out into the vastness of space and drifting off in an interstellar, kaleidoscopic daydream haze. Bright colours, bright lights but still ethereal, intangible. It travels as though everything is about the journey, dancing out across stars and rejoicing in the way it effortlessly disperses out into multiple pathways.

Pure Phase Ensemble 4 - Mark closeup [Photo Pawel Jozwiak]

Photo © Pawel Jozwiak

What Gardener and collaborators have created, what they’ve composed and sent forth, is music with heart. It envelops its listeners, pulls them into that journey, and floats out, all kindred spirits together in our collective mind’s eye. A mind journey. ‘It’s not over/until it’s over’ sings Gardener on ‘Morning Rise’, a warming and comforting mesh of sounds with an uplifting, life-affirming lilt. You can hear it, let it fill your headphones or your headspace, and want it never to be over. 

Pure Phase Ensemble 4 Purchase Link

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Cary Grace –Tygerland



Drifting across boundaries, geographic, musical, comes Cary Grace, Somerset-based American, who I see getting a lot of review attention in my regular newsfeeds for psych sounds, and with justice because while the first 30 seconds of the opening title track had me wondering what was coming next – a discordant noisefest experiment – what does come next is an eclectic mix of psychedelic, progressive, jazz-fusion which moves from rich and rounded to minimalistic and bare by turn. I love it.

There’s a Pink Floyd aura to some of its early statements, part of a session from August 2014 recorded with Here & Now and Sentient’s Steffe Sharpstrings, and former Scissor Sisters keyboardist John Garden which is scattered through this record. It’s the laconic drawl of the intro to ‘Cyanide’, the second track on the album, and taken from that August work, that bursts into perfect melodic rock with Cary’s purposeful but not overpowering vocals which starts to say what a delight this one is going to be. It’s slick but edgy, rippled with sentiments of bitter frustration and building into a powerfully reflective moment. And then it twists away into ‘Orange Sky’, a much more sparse affair… I was listening to OMD’s Architecture & Morality for the first time in many years very recently; ‘Orange Sky’ has something of the hauntingly understated tones that something like ‘Sealand’ has, a feeling that even while it wraps into itself, it’s still describing a vista that is wide and open, desolate and strikingly beautiful. Its moods, Cary’s Minimoog generated,  are introverted, but the space that it visualises is vast.

‘War Child’ shifts into blues rock, studied, sleazy and alive. Here, if this were a Waterboys song, I could hear Mike Scott and his drawling diction, pulling shapes with the words, expanding and stretching them, and Cary does a similar thing, getting every word loaded with meaning and articulated with purpose. But then, it’s not about it being a record that’s like this, or like that… it’s one of the most singular, distinctive albums that I’ve been sent in quite a while, and any comparison is just to say that it has qualities that stand it along side musicians and records that have meant things across the years, it has that sort of lasting quality to it.

That hard-bitten blues gives away to light and air, ‘Limelight’, where Cary stretches out into a summertime evening warmth that’s jazzy and pop, lazily feeling good and drifting with the flow, another one taken from last August’s session I believe, and if so then built on Steffi’s expressive guitar work, and certainly also predicated on Cary’s voice leaving that blues sound behind and finding lilt and breeze. Easy going, easy listening, easy to become immersed in and float away with.

From there, the strumming and gentle bass and drums rhythms that opens ‘Razorwire’ keeps the record bathed in that sense of brightness and enveloping warmth… you could give yourself to the song and never want to come back. ‘Into The Indigo’ echoes back to earlier work, noted as recorded during sessions for Cary’s ‘Perpetual Motion’ album which some lovely winding, roving, violin from sometime Gong musician Graham Clark that gives its new home an additional texture. And then its into a 20 minute experimental, improvised, artistic, poetic, and  oft reflective piece of sound and word, ‘Windsong’ that takes this exceptional record to its conclusions.

Cary Grace Official Website

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Strange Boat Price Drop!

Looking forward to The Waterboys at Glastonbury? Price drop on the Amazon Kindle edition of 'Strange Boat - Mike Scott & The Waterboys' for the rest of June. Read it at Glasters - or anywhere else for that matter - for 1.99! Then I'll afford a hair cut!


Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lay Llamas – Space Jungle Mantra


“Italian afro-funk psychonauts touch down in the Roundhouse temple,” says Dave Weller of 4Zero Records, in his opening description of the latest release from his label. “Originally, in the distant future, a mythical tribe of Nigerian time travellers... now an Italian afro-funk-space-psych outfit. Last year they released their acclaimed debut album, Ostro, on Rocket Recordings and toured the UK in support of Swedish voodoo rockers, Goat, culminating in an unforgettable performance at London’s Roundhouse. Captured on digital multi-track the subsequent recording was just too good to only be shared with ‘friends and family’ and so we are making it available as a highly limited CD and a highly unlimited download, that includes a unique prismatic remix.”

They’re a Sicilian duo, Nicola Giunta and Gioele Valenti, though they’re backed here in a live context by guitar, drum and synth, playing an addictively repetitive primal trance fusion thing that has something mystical at its core, something mystical in a primitive sense, invoking old gods and delving deep for a sense of groove rooted in instinct and freeness. Dave is right, of course, a live set far too good to not be made more widely available. ‘Spiritual Expedition’ they declaim as one of the track titles, a thoughtful and understated, angular yet intoxicating, drift where the restrained but insistent drum patterns push along a soundscape that mostly wants to hide itself in the background, emerging occasionally from its undergrowth and then burying itself back into itself again before swishing out into ‘Something Wrong’ with Nicola’s singing chanting vocals akin to a ritualistic camp-fire sermon.

Before that, the mid-point of their Roundhouse set assuming that the album represent the full swathe of the performance is the scene-setting jungle squawking of ‘Overmind’ and ‘Beyond The Time & Space’, into which they insert the opening wash of synths, communing with nature, building up gossamer-thin layers of sound that shimmer into their rainforest of effects. It’s an entrancing start that luxuriates in the expanse of time in which they allow it to grow and develop, nearly six minutes before it starts to become more forceful, more robust, hinting that they could let it loose in a muscular release but keeping it held-back, keeping it crystalline and fragile. They play that bit out in transporting their audience back to a supplication to those old gods or pagan calls, and then let loose their groove with ‘Archaic Revival’, a funky call to dance and movement that wants the audience to respond as one, as a tribe with single purpose.

It’s all long-form, extended music. Each track takes its time to build into its theme, their tunes all having plenty of space to work within – no walls of sound but instead a sense of freedom where they give each other a massive amount of room to play in. ‘The Place Where We Come From Is The Place Where We’re Going To’ its final expanse, eighteen minutes that starts at a sloth’s pace and a tribal dance’s sense of destiny and purpose, a world music with a satisfying range that reaches a crescendo of sorts, a flickering of bodies in unison around a fire, the flames licking upwards and the bodies flowing around it before ending in an off-kilter reverb appropriately coiling the suite back into itself again.


Lay Llamas on Facebook

4Zero Records Website

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Kettering Vampires – Nico & The Velvet Underground

alan jenkins

So the fabulous conceit driving this record is that The Velvet Underground & Nico was not a seminal and acclaimed work of the mid-60s, but actually a bloody good surf-rock instrumental record by some guys calling themselves The Otter Sandwich. It’s completely different of course, with the titular names reversed and the running order set back-to-front, and they’re no longer The Otter Sandwich, but are in fact The Kettering Vampires, but of course it’s a surf-rock LP. How else would The Jesus & Mary Chain have recorded ‘Cherry Came Too’ if it wasn’t?

‘European Sun’ becomes, then, a classic Californian or Hawaiian dream, angular guitar twangs and cascading drums but it can’t be that simple and ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ is sombre squelching keyboards with some suitably tongue-in-cheek squiggles over the top that segues into the L Ninja Snake (yes, honest) guitar-led ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’ and some more honest to country twanging of ‘There She Goes Again’. ‘Heroin’ is 15 minutes of stone-cold serious Krautrock played by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark circa Architecture & Morality during which I notice the iTunes banner says it’s ‘The Experimental Surf Music Tribute To The Velvet Underground & Nico’ whereas, this track aside, it’s just great surf’s up stuff. But then, I’ve been playing it in my car in what’s passing for the Cornish summer. Catch this wave, I’d be surfin’ on top of the world, man.

‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’? A Big Country-esque spaghetti soundtrack wherein Mr Ninja Snake plays the part of Hank Marvin, guitarist of this parish. Or the delightfully 50s sweet ‘Femme Fatale’. ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’, a Stranglers opening instrumental with the Men in Black in a good mood and it's ‘Sunday Morning’ having been played to the JAMC once and the brothers Reid asked to re-create it from the notes they’d made while listening. I'm Hanging Ten on my Big Wednesday because this is my summer's Pet Sounds, right?

Cordelia Records

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Damned and Damned some more


First Damned bit of this blog; a heads-up that I’m interviewing the great Brian James in the current issue of Vive Le Rock magazine, talking about his terrific new solo album The Guitar That Dripped Blood and generally chatting about his other recent solo work… and checking with him which bottle of wine would make the appropriate soundtrack to his latest record. Easy Action Records have Brian’s solo records on sale here including a handy bundle of his previous albums. Tell all your Damned friends!



So that gives me a neat neat neat segue into mentioning a new creator-owned comic by my old mate Paul Cornell, This Damned Band, which is nothing to do with The Damned I should point out but is a six-part mini-series from Dark Horse Comics that tells “the story of Motherfather, global rock superstars of 1974.  Like several prominent musicians of that era, some of the band like to intimate that they, you know, worship Satan.  But then they discover they’re actually, you know, worshiping Satan. This Damned Band is a somewhat cruel comedy/horror six-issue miniseries, definitely not for children, told as if we’re seeing a documentary movie that’s been pieced together by a film crew.  So there are interviews to camera, sections where ‘filmed footage’ is replaced with ‘artist’s depiction’ to render the subjective experiences of drug use, questions from out of frame.  One of my favourite shows is Parks and Recreation. I love that specific use of the documentary mode, where one can get reactions to camera and see intimately the gap between what people say and what they mean.  So, obviously, when writing a dark comedy about how mainstream the occult was in the 1970s, P&R was a major influence.” 


Really looking forward to this one! Pre-order it with your local comic book store!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Crystal Jacqueline – Rainflower



I was enthusing about Electronic Memory, Mega Dodo’s Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey collection in Record Collector recently, a collection of songs, some of which had previously had appeared on vinyl via Fruits De Mer, just as I’d enthused about Sun Arise, Crystal Jacqueline’s first solo album back a couple of years ago in R2. What’s next is Jacqui’s newest solo recordings – of course in tandem with Icarus Peel – and after all that previous enthusing… well, here’s another record from deepest Devon to enthuse about!

Though it’s still infused through with that hazy 60s psychedelia that they’ve totally captured with such a delicate, light touch in their recordings, Rainflower feels like a more sophisticated, more grown-up record. Partly that might be because there’s more original material on this record than earlier albums, with Icarus’s song-writing in the ascendancy; perhaps they’re buoyed by the great comments both Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot are getting both in print and across psych-related websites. I hope so. There’s a couple of great covers: Status Quo’s ‘In My Chair’ really bursts out, a much rock-driven track than we’re used to hearing and quite startling in its exuberance, and a rendition of the Floyd’s ‘Grantchester Meadows’ that’s also part of FdM’s ‘Momentary One’ 7” single that Ian McCann was reviewing in Record Collector recently.

But what’s great is the way that Icarus and Jacqui are stretching their creative legs and pushing, bending, their sound in different directions. ‘Siren’ is dark psych-folk, shimmering and unsettling with Jacqueline’s vocals being a, well indeed, siren call, imploring, tempting, dangerous. It’s a compelling track with its urgency at the fore. ‘Winter Deep / Dress of White Lace’ an opus, with Mordecai Smyth sharing writing credits, a cleansing and dreamy drift out of the darkness where the Winter is a frosty sharpness described by beautiful vocals and beguiling guitar playing that gives way to a Floyd-ish second half that applies a background of what I’m going to describe as idyllic looseness, that then wraps itself around a delicious and redemptive vocal.

The title track is summer afternoon after a thunderstorm, that perfect quality of air when everything feels renewed and refreshed. ‘Strange Bloom’ is an elusive and hypnotic trip that expands out into another heavier track, and ‘Again… Dragonfly’ is a mystical soundtrack that allows Jacqueline to put some power into the vocal delivery and add that extra bit of magical majesty to the evocative words. All the promise of Sun Arise confirmed and and built on.

Crystal Jacqueline on Facebook

Mega Dodo Website