Thursday, 24 September 2015

Press Release: Festivalized: Music, Politics, Alternative Culture

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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]yahoo.co.uk.

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Battle Elk–Songs For Heroes EP

 

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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.

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Battle Elk Bandcamp

Battle Elk Website