Sunday, 31 July 2011

Sendelica – The Pavilion Of Magic And The Trials Of The Seven Surviving Elohim

I've written about the prolific musical activities of Pete Bingham and Glenda Pescado previously on this blog, including an interview a year or so ago with Pete, and reviewed recent Sendelica releases for R2 (The Girl From The Future Who Lit Up The Sky With Golden Worlds) and Record Collector (Streamedelica She Sighed As She Hit Rewind On The Dream Mangler Remote) ... or was it the other way around ... but despite the releases coming fast upon each other, a real outpouring of improvisational ideas, it's always a delight, actually an event, to receive the next one. Long, meandering and absolutely obscure title? Check! Neu!, Hawkwind and Pink Floyd influences? Check! Krautrock and space rock sensibilities cut through with a refreshingly contemporary vibe? Check!

The Pavilion Of Magic... comprises seven new tracks plus their excellent and luxuriously exotic cover of 'Venus In Furs' with Alice Davidson providing vocals which was originally issued as a 7" single by vinyl specialists Fruits De Mer in 2010 and another bonus cover, this time a delightful and very pastoral reading of Captain Beefheart's 'This Is The Day' featuring vocals from Molara. Those are great additions to the main event and a nice contrast to Sendelica's usual instrumental-only methodology, and both, for my money, better renditions than their take on 'Urban Guerilla' on Fruit De Mer's recent Roqueting Through Space LP - which is the only instance I can think of when I found myself just a little underwhelmed by what was delivered.

The main event itself though. First off, I loved guest saxophonist Lee Relfe's work on Streamedelica She Sighed... but Relfe's contributions here, on the sprawling and shiny 'Banshees & Fetches, and most particularly on the simply exquisite blissfulness of 'Arizona Spree', totally excels and is completely mesmerising.

'Zhyly Byly' opens proceedings, a muscular and strident composition with a definite Russian tone to it (the band have been out there playing live – and good friend of this blog, and someone very much at the forefront of Russian space and heavy psychedelic rock, Alisa Coral, mastered this album) that also for me has something of the feel of Hawkwind's 'Snake Dance' to it in places, whereas the next track, 'The Elohim' is a studied and pensive piece that seems to evoke something of Pink Floyd's Meddle in its tone and atmosphere. On to a couple of shorter pieces, 'Guiding The Night' and 'Orion Delight', the former another strident and relentlessly insistent number while the latter is a bright and uplifting with a definite vivaciousness to it highlighted by some lovely bright guitar work from Bingham.

We've touched on the next couple of tracks: I keep coming back to 'Arizona Spree' and just immersing myself in its idyllic layers but in addition, writing about it, I'm finding it to be a perfect companion piece to 'Orion Delight' in that each, in their individual ways, are enriching pieces that just have a feel-good vibe to them. The album 'proper' rounds out with the more experimental 'The Pavilion Of Magic' which, being honest, I found less engaging than what comes before and just a bit grey in comparison to the really inspiring compositions earlier in the record. And yes, I know we have to have texture and contrast but what I'm finding in the middle of the album is a mood that I don't really want to be shaken out of and that's probably why this one jars because it lifts you out of a state of mind – like waking up in the middle of a really nice dream to discover it is Monday morning. It pales in the success of what we've heard before simply because of the mood change that it invokes.

So that personal note aside, this is another terrific Sendelica album. I trust the aforementioned prolific outpouring will long continue! Like some of the previous Sendelica albums, this comes as a standard CD and as a CD + DVD package that includes 'Ritual', another in a series of films that marry striking visuals to Sendelica music, the band in aftershow jamming mode in Cardigan, and a promotional video for 'Banshees & Fetches'. I've fallen a little behind with blogging here due to print deadlines and a trip up to London to attend the playback of Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson's new album at Air Studios – which I'll blog about during the week – so haven't yet properly sat down to watch 'Ritual', which is a 38 minute film of laid-back and calming soundscapes juxtaposed with imaginative and evocative visuals that deserves far more of a write-up than I can provide at the moment but which I'll revisit as part of a general blog entry in the next couple of weeks.

Something aside from this album that I should note here; the rights to Sendelica's earliest recordings have now reverted to the band and are available to purchase as downloads from the Sound Awesome Market Place here. This includes their 2007 debut album, Entering The Rainbow Light, their first ever release, Theowlshaveeyes EP and The Alternative Realities Of The Re-Awakening Somnabulist.

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