I said in Record Collector recently that Fruits de Mer are quickly becoming a collectable label in their own right; they've a quality to their selection of releases that's extremely strong and though I don't get to review everything that they send over for promotion purposes there's always a little thrill of anticipation when one of their CDR review copies for their vinyl-only catalogue drops through the letterbox. I don't love everything they issue – in any case their psychedelic-folk range is far encompassing and never going to be consistently to any particular person's liking – but the attention to detail from the outer envelope through to the inner promotional material and on to the music itself is just so impressive.. and, frankly, it mostly is to my liking, for sure! So I just think that what these guys do is provide an immense service to musicians and listeners alike and I absolutely cherish being privileged in being on their review radar.
Their release of Permanent Clear Light's 7" 'Higher than the Sun' (b/w 'Afterwards') is a case in point. Due on 13th October, it's a limited to 800 copies coloured vinyl that continues a Fruits de Mer trend of releasing records where one side is an original and the other a cover version. PCL are a Finnish band, formed back in 2009 to play experimental, avant-garde jazz-rock though the A-side here is a beautiful and warmly melancholic song that's far more approachable, involving and immediate then sometimes those epithets suggest or deliver. There's a suggestion that it contains shades of 'Golden Brown' and I sort of hear that ... sort of ... and it could indeed be likened to just beyond that era of The Stranglers, but honestly I just hear it as a deliciously absorbing slice of sunshine lightness with a contrasting emotional depth. 'Afterwards' is a cover of the track from Van Der Graaf Generator's The Aerosol Grey Machine LP. I'll admit that although I've reviewed some Peter Hamill and some VDGG releases over the years, neither Hamill as a solo artist or VDGG themselves have ever really been significant in my listening, so I'm not going to be able to make a sensible comparison between this cover and the source material but again PCL's version has an appealing lightness to it that I'd not particularly associate with Hamill's work. I really liked both sides here.
American 'psychedelic maverick' Anton Barbeau has a three-track 7" on the same day, again one original song, the whimsical and up-tempo 'Psychedelic Mynde of Moses'. Here's what I mean about FdM's promotional material: "In a better world," they say, "everyone would still buy music on vinyl, this would be a hit single, Anton would be a superhero and bags of fruit pastilles would have no green ones in them." They are so right, my friends. Barbeau is firmly in a place where musicians such as Paul Roland, Robyn Hitchcock and Bevis Frond are sometimes found to inhabit – indeed Nick Saloman turns up to provide a guest turn on guitar on the lead track. The covers here are an anarchic take on Hitchcock's 'Sometimes I Wish I Was a Pretty Girl' and one that my old mates Keith Topping and Martin Day would both greatly appreciate, a minimalist, lo-fi but still effects-and-fuzz-laden version of Julian Cope's 'Out Of My Mind On Dope And Speed'. Ah it reminds me of happy days playing Marty's copy of Skellington up at his Kensal Rise bedsit after a beer-heavy Thursday night at the Fitzroy. (You've no idea what I'm talking about, have you?). I bloody loved everything on this one as well.