Man-oh-man, the physical and not-so-phsical record crates have been quite full over the last month. Here’s a quick run down of some of the sounds that have turned our heads and grabbed our ears over the last 30 days or so…
Munehiro Narita – Live Performance: San Francisco
Let’s start things off with a bang, aye?
Guitar god Munehiro Narita, primarily known for his molten axe work in bands like High Rise, Green Flames and Kyoaku no Intention, is captured live in full mind-blowing flight here,
Recorded by Ethan Miller (of Howlin’ Rain and Heron Oblivion) and Guy Valdez, this album is so in the red, it practically pulsates with a menacing glow. Narita shreds like a ferocious beast, as he leads the rest of the trio (David Jasso on bass and TJ on drums) through each acid biker nightmare. Like the total bosses that they are, Jasso and TJ keep up exceedingly well, which explains why this lineup would eventually become a new band, P.S.F., that would end up recording new material.
If you want the primal thundering intensity of groups like Blue Cheer and Endless Boogie but played with the speed and attitude of Raw Power-era Stooges, then you need this record in your life.
In America, you can grab a copy from Feeding Tube Records, and if you’re in the UK, you can get yours through Cardinal Fuzz (at the time of writing, it appears that the vinyl has sold out, but you can still get the album digitally from Narita’s Bandcamp).
Spiral Galaxy – s/t
Spiral Galaxy’s cosmic self-titled LP is a psychedelic record collector’s dream. There’s so much going on in this record, it’s almost too overwhelming (but that dear friends, is indeed a very good thing).
Ok, let’s break it down. Spiral Galaxy is a project spearheaded by one of underground music’s greatest saints, Steve Krakow, and Sara Gossett, whom you may know as one of modern psychedelia’s best illustrators and flautists. Joining in on the record’s four mind-expanding tracks are Jean-Hervé of Faust, Ryley Walker, Alisha Sufit of Magic Carpet, Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple and Taralie of Spires that in the Sunset Rise (among others).
With this eclectic and heady crew, the record is of course a vibrant and dazzling mix of shimmering acid folk, Moog-driven kosmische jams and dense lysergic soundscapes. Any record that features celestial flutes and chanting vocals weaving through backwards guitar, chromatic analog synths and sunny waves of sitar is something to not only pick up, but to absorb and study religiously.
Again, the UK edition from Cardinal Fuzz appears to be sold out at the moment, but it can still be ordered through Light in The Attic Records.
More Eaze – Towards a Plane
Released by our buds at Aural Canyon Records, More Eaze’s Towards a Plane blurs the lines of various genres to paint a very personal portrait with sound.
Elements of free jazz, electro and post-rock are blended here with traits of ambient music, making the listener feel as though they are truly being toured through the imagination and frame of mind of the artist. The moods are generally calm and curious, which make for a rather positive and even cathartic listen.
Songs like “Negentropy” soothe with warm drones and reverberating processed saxophone notes, which gradually build and become a wall of sympathetic sound. At other times, field recordings and vocal samples are added to the mix, giving the record a real human touch. This is perhaps most evident on the dreamy “I Don’t Want to Leave The House Either,” which hits very close to home right now.
Grab this gorgeous release from Aural Canyon records digitally here,
Dark Leaves – Forest Flowing
Dark Leaves (A.K.A. Patrick Aston) has returned with Forest Flowing EP, which expands upon his strongly phantasmagoric take on the shadowy edges of British folk music.
The record’s three lush arrangements channel the fear, suspicion and uncertainty that the world is currently experiencing. Yet hearing these themes come through Aston’s distinctive folklore-inspired metaphoric lyrics help make the songs a respite from the nightmares that surround us all. In this way, his songs are much like the folktales and fables of old.
Aston’s deep, commanding vocals, intricate acoustic fingerpicking and hand percussion give the songs a haunting yet relaxing vibe. While melancholic and seemingly straight out of a Robin Hardy film, these songs will leave you feeling as chilled as any walk in a shady wood.
If you love the music of Mellow Candle, Stone Angel and The Iditarod, this absolutely belongs in your collection. Be sure to grab a download of it here.
Constantine – In Memory of a Summer Day
Speaking of psychedelic folk, Guerssen Records is doing the lord’s work by releasing the second album by whimsical modern acid folk legends, Constantine.
In Memory of a Summer Day is a delightful mix of sitars, acoustic guitars, proggy organs and harpsichords, and flutes that soar behind sweet vocal harmonies. The charmingly eccentric songs are made all the more perfect by containing lyrics that are rich with pre-raphaelite imagery.
The influence of artists like Midwinter, Mark Fry and the most genuinely twee material of The Incredible String Band is worn very obviously on the band’s sleeve. Yet, these pastoral psych vibes never appear forced. You walk away from this album feeling as though this group is just as influenced by all of the art, music and literature that the famed acid folk artists of the ’60s and ’70s were inspired by. Think about it. If artists of different eras consumed the same resources with the same exact enthusiasm and voracity, would it really be strange that they would create similar works? I would think not.
This album is simply beautiful and nothing short of magical. Buy yourself a copy of this album today.
Roy – Peace Love and Outer Space
If there’s one thing that I hope to see more of in the new decade, it’s concept albums. Thankfully, that’s exactly what the entity known as Roy has brought us.
Through interstellar jams and catchy psych-pop tunes, the album tells the story of a man who is visited by two aliens, Sky Brother and Sky Sister, who bring enlightening messages of love and peace through music and a magical authoritative object known as the Stone of Infinite Power. The gifts and lessons of Sky Brother and Sister could bring about world peace, but the government robs the narrator of the Stone. Seeing that mankind is not open enough for such teachings yet, they depart and refuse to return until our species is ready, leaving our poor narrator feeling more lost and dreamless as ever.
The ambitious narrative of this project actually succeeds quite well here, as the lyrics effectively explain and carry the sci-fi story from beat-to-beat. Musically, the songs are immensely enjoyable and never become bogged down by the record’s plot. Each track is filled with slick harmonies, poppy hooks and hypnotic melodies that make you never want to put the record down.
At times, the band sounds somewhere between S.F. Sorrow-era Pretty Things and Elephant Six groups like Circulatory System and The Olivia Tremor Control. The overall concept of the album is also reminiscent of the work of David Bowie, Gong and The Mars Volta.
Bonus credit is given to these folks for creating a companion cassette of synthesizer music that can be played on its own, as well as in tandem with the LP. I do not actually own the cassette, so I can’t speak to how great it works, but I love the idea (and dedication!)
You can order the record (and tape!) from Ideé Fix Records here.
Adderall Canyonly – Sadnessorzzz11one
Finally, we have Adderall Canyonly’s mysterious and wonderfully confounding Sadnessorzzz11one.
It’s hard to say what this album doesn’t have. Constructed via a series of various tape machines, Sadnessorzzz11one is a single hour-long track built out of pulsing synth dreamscapes, garbled guitar loops, processed vocal samples, and everything in between.
Most of this tape sounds like it could have been compiled from a bank of ’80s TV library recordings, John Carpenter soundtracks and Boards of Canada outtakes. While we’re still living in an age heavily influenced by ’80s nostalgia, this album couldn’t have come out at a better time.
The throbbing trance-inducing rhythms and stream of consciousness style of jamming makes this a hell of a great driving record. Much in the same way as Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, you can throw this on in your car and watch your scenery whip past you in time with the mesmerizing beats.
Grab a download of this synth-scape right here today.
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