Tagged: progressive rock

The Horrid Mysteries Revisited

Cologne Curiosities: The Unknown Krautrock Underground 1972-1976 (MENTAL EXPERIENCE MENT005) is another outing for the recordings made by English producer Toby Robinson when he was working in Cologne in the 1970s. Using the Dieter Dierks studio during downtime, he produced a series of records for his own Pyramid label, issuing the LPs with cover paintings produced I think by local art students. Robinson played on a number of these projects, and the largely unknown musicians were swapped around between bands much like a Kosmische Wrecking Crew. Some of the Pyramid label records were reissued around 1996-97 by Gary Ramon on his Psi-Fi imprint, and indeed we noted them in issue #2 of TSP magazine. Around the same time, Trevor Manwaring was compiling tracks for the Virgin compilations Unknown Deutschland – The Krautrock Archive. It was at a time when there was a lot of interest in rediscovering krautrock in the UK. Some experts in the field had their doubts that the records were even genuine, but I think this myth has now been dispelled. I’d go so far as to ask myself how “unknown” these bands really are now, given that this is the third reissue programme for this music (and Mental Experience promise more to come).

The Astral Army – in their themes, not unlike Gong making wild claims about the power of radio waves and space travel. In sound, they made a heavy-handed rock pounding with excessive lead guitar noodling, and a singer who seems to be imitating Iggy for no good reason. Score 1 so far for a typically stodgy 70s Germanic sausage-fest…

Spirulina features the keyboard player Manfred Hof who also played on the Golem record from this label. ‘The Message’ is a superb piece of Pink Floyd exploratory drifting with a lush string-synth drone. Wisely, the band stay in the same place pretty much for ten mins, with some slightly more energetic freaking out as they reach a stargate dimensional warp at the end. What message is vouchsafed on this instrumental noodle? None at all, and I’m grateful for that.

Chronos were a three-piece of guitar-bass-drum nobodies which Toby Robinson used as a platform for his far-out synth burblings on ‘Schaudernacht’. Robinson soars like an analogue flying squirrel over the ancient rooftops of Cologne, but the guitarist isn’t doing the music many favours with his insistent strums and riffs, which eat up most of the available ether. Even so, there’s an urgency to this one that could easily have passed muster with the most astringent and austere New Wave band of 1979.

On ‘Feuerwerk’, Neil Andersen gives free expression to his soul through a solo guitar and synth turn, overdubbing himself as needed. Can’t resist saying that as a “firework” it’s a very damp squib. Not enough structure or inherent melody to this soggy morass for my ears. But the overall sound is strangely pleasing. With his meandering burbles, Andersen might have found a home in MIMEO that sprawling improv orchestra of the early 2000s, whose music resembles this in a superficial way.

Baal features members of Spirulina and Chronos, showing how the Pyramid label could build “house bands” through interchangeable versatile players. Their song ‘No God / Astaroth’ stands out on this comp for its coarse, snarly textures – it’s a blues-based growl presumably containing some lament of protest about society’s restrictions. They may have had Edgar Broughton Band in mind as a model, yet it also emerges inadvertantly as one of Viv Stanshall’s blues-inflected parodies. The weedy keyboard soloing is quite at odds with the aggressive push of this boozy grunt-a-fest.

Ten To Zen is the band for you if you snarfed up this comp in hopes of feeding your Tangerine Dream fixation. This band comprised three synth players, Dieter Ruf, Henni Gatjens, and Jan Klaska. Their ‘Innerst’ thus stands alone in this company for being all-electronic, but the fellows also have a strong rapport as a team, and their three machines – hopefully those enormous Moogs that were housed in mahogany cabinets – lock together in a satisfying cosmic throb. Ten To Zen also were capable of nuances and delicacy in their tonal shadings, an achievement which it’s hard to attach to most of the other thumpers on this label.

Fuerrote sees Neil Andersen back in action, this time teaming up with Toby Robinson and the guitarist Hans Lorenzen. Their ‘Ganz Wie Due Willst’ is one of the stronger sets on the record, has more by way of dynamic change and illogical shifts in mood, and generally casts the same sort of grisly hue as The Nazgul, which was one of the darker-themed Robinson projects from this period. The trio work themselves into a genuinely unsettling and uncertain place through their stately, free-form explorations, enhanced by just the right amount of studio effects.

These seven cuts can be yours to savour yet again, on double vinyl LP or CD. Remastered by Toby Robinson and with liner notes by Alan Freeman. From 6th October 2016.

Italian Progressive Rock III

The Sound Projector Radio Show
Friday 28th April 2017

  1. Triade, ‘Caro Fratello’
    From La Storia Di Sabazio (1973)
  2. Toto Torquati, ‘Uomo nasce fiore cresce appassisce muore’
    From Gli Occhi Di Un Bambino (1973)
  3. Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno, ‘Il Mondo Cade (Su Di Me)’
    From Per Un Mondo Di Cristallo (1972)
  4. Procession, ‘Un Mondo Di Libertà’
    From Frontiera (1972)
  5. Samadhi, ‘Passaggio di Via Arpino’
    From Samadhi (1974)
  6. Semiramis, ‘Per Una Strada Affollata’
    From Dedicato a Frazz (1973)
  7. Pholas Dactylus, ‘Concerto delle menti (parte 2)’
    From Concerto Delle Menti (1973)
  8. Planetarium, ‘Life’
    From Infinity (1971)
  9. Pangea, ‘Xanadu’
    From Invasori (1976)
  10. Quella Vecchia Locanda, ‘Il Tempo Della Gioia’
    From Il Tempo Della Gioia (1974)
  11. Panna Fredda, ‘Un re senza reame’
    From Uno (1971)

Red Giant

Fine instrumental music from Møster! on their album When You Cut Into The Present (HUBRO MUSIC HUBROCD2565), where Kjetil Møster and his men turn in five lively performances with a rock set-up that’s a framework for Kjetil’s sax melodies and the guitar efforts of Hans Magnus Ryan. Last noted this band for their 2014 album Inner Earth, where Steve Hanson responded warmly to their “heavy prog” vibe. I would concur…in places we can find traces of “jazziness” in their playing, and it’s not just because of the agitated sax blowing, but the fact that they don’t follow conventional verse-chorus structures or time signatures, and instead tend to keep blurting it out for eight or nine minutes at a time, in a sprawling jam-session style, provided we can use that phrase without any suggestion that this is flabby, self-indulgent or shapeless music. Rather, Møster! are as taut as a spelunker’s climbing rope (I’m using imagery suggested by the front cover, and I just hope they actually go cave exploring on weekends, thus validating my speculation) and punch their messages home with close attention to dynamics, energy, and concision. Come to think of it, their drummer Kenneth Kapstad may be one of the more important members in that regard. Whereas a lot of Hubro records tend to be a little too pleasant and countrified for me, this album delivers a strong avant-rocky punch to the bread-basket. The album title is derived from a William Burroughs quote, which is in fact completed by one of the track titles here, but it looks as though that’s about as this band goes as regards flirting with underground culture or experimenting with cut-ups. From 12 July 2016.

Lover’s Paranoia

The Sexphonie album by Tyll (MENTAL EXPERIENCE MENT004) is a welcome reissue of a very obscure 1975 Krautrock album, originally released on the small German label Kerston Records. The guitarist Det Fonfara, who performed as Teflon Fonfara, was approached by label boss Fred Kersten to put together a record, most likely to cash in on the “popularity” (ahem) of Krautrock at the time. After all, Kerston had just put out a compilation record called Proton 1, featuring a bunch of fourth-division nobodies from the German prog and fusion areas – Nexus, Penicillin, Zyma, and Andorra. Fonfara designed the cover to that particular canard.

Fonfara’s response to the commission appears to have been to assemble a pick-up crew and rush them into the studio in short order – much the same way, perhaps, as Polydor Records had hoped to create the German equivalent to The Beatles when they approached Uwe Nettelbeck. Instead, they got Faust – but that’s another story. Fonfara had connections with Eulenspygel at the time, so he poached the drummer Günter Klinger and brought in some muso-friends of Eulenspygel as well. Tyll were thus a studio band who only made this one record, and what’s more the project was completed in a matter of weeks. The other members were bassist Achim Bosch, who later played on the Mongoloid album by German New Wave band Ernst, and vocalist Michael Scherf, who has vanished from view since.

Matter of fact, there’s at least three singers on Sexphonie, including Susanne and Ulrike Schemmp, and their performance really lifts up the song ‘Paranoia Eines Verliebten’, turning it into a species of post-hippy Bubblegum Pop, laced with edgy singing, a riotous “party” atmosphere and a strong beat that Phil Spector would have loved. The multiple vocalist thing also works well on ‘Delirium-Song Grammophon’; the words may all be in German, but I can’t help feeling this bunch are preaching heavily about something. This may be why other experts have compared Tyll to the more explicitly political agit-group, Floh De Cologne.

The remainder of the album is great too though, Essentially it’s a basic rock trio set-up with guitar instrumentals and very string drumming, with melodies that occasionally trigger associations of non-Western music, and highly syncopated time signatures. Fonfara may not be an exceptionally inventive guitarist, but he’s not excessive or self-indulgent; his taut and compacted work on ‘Tim’ is impressive, to say nothing of the ingenious studio-concocted freakout that appears unexpectedly in the middle of that song. ‘Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarrre’ is another gem of power-trio looseness and facility that rivals early Guru Guru…‘Asiatische Liebeserklaring’ is more explicitly Indian in its references, the guitar sounding like a sitar, and pasted thickly with hippy dreams of exotic travels and bricks of hashish.

If I am right about my speculative notion that Sexphonie was intended as a quickie cash-in attempt by Fred Kersten, it has ironically turned into something which fans of the genre (and 70s guitar music in general) can now truly appreciate and savour. This may account for why originals of the LP command a £300 price tag. If you’re thinking of investigating the label for further buried treasure, I wouldn’t bother – it appears Kerston Records mostly released 7-inches of Schlager and German Pop. From 3rd June 2016.

A Prog-Rock Christmas

The Sound Projector Radio Show
Friday 16th December 2016

  1. Stray, ‘Only What You Can Make It’
    From Stray, UK 1970
  2. Pinnacle, ‘Cyborg’
    From Assassin, UK 1974
  3. T.P. Smoke, ‘Dreams’
    From T.P. Smoke, 1970
  4. SBB, ‘Na Pierwszy Ogie?’
    From Nowy Horyzont, Poland 1975
  5. Master’s Apprenctices, ‘Melodies Of St. Kilda’
    From A Toast To Panama Red, UK 1971
  6. Yonin Bayashi, ‘Continental Laid Back Breakers’
    From Golden Picnics, Japan 1976
  7. Satin Whale, ‘Trace Of Sadness’
    From Lost Mankind, Germany 1975
  8. Talix, ‘Jecker buy kamagra amazon Abschied’
    From Spuren, Germany 1971
  9. Web, ‘Ymphasomniac’
    From I Spider, UK 1970
  10. Museo Rosenbach, ‘Ai Di La’Del Bene E Dei Male’
    From Zarathustra, Italy 1973
  11. The Norman Haines Band, ‘Everything You See (Mr. Armageddon)’
    From Den Of Iniquity, UK 1971
  12. Wishbone Ash, ‘Pilgrim’
    From On Air, UK 1997 (Recorded in the 1970s)
  13. Sensation’s Fix, ‘Space Closure’
    From Fragments Of Light, Italy 1974
  14. Weidorje, ‘Booldemug’
    From Weidorje, France 1978
  15. Sweet Slag, ‘Milk Train’
    From Tracking With Close-Ups, UK 1971

MacArthur’s Lark

macarthur

Here’s another reissue obscurity from Out-Sider Music, the Spanish offshoot of Guerssen, whose other offshoot Mental Experience brought us the reissues of Circles and Red Square. MacArthur (OSR044) was made by an American band in the late 1970s and described here as a “US basement psych-prog monster”. I understand why these reissue labels feel the need to hype everything they put out, but this is such a mediocre example of 1970s American rock that I find this hyperbole hard to swallow. Apart from some quite good flashes of accomplished lead guitar work, this whole album is an undistinguished piece of work, with lame songs, poor vocals, and a heavy-handed rhythm section.

MacArthur are sold to us as a form of progressive rock or psychedelic rock, but for the most part they resemble a third-rate version of Kansas, Boston, or Foghat. A charitable listener might find consonances between album opener ‘Light Up’ and the early work of Focus (it comes within an ace of turning into ‘Sylvia’), and ‘The Black Forest’ is a Flamenco-tinged instrumental that vaguely suggests sword-and-sorcery themes drawn from the well of Led Zeppelin IV. On ‘Prelude No 1 in C Major’, the guitarist indulges his skill for baroque classical guitar, and ‘The Shock Of The New’ is a showcase for ELP-styled pyrotechnics with speedy acoustic piano licks followed by Euro-prog moog solo excess. But MacArthur’s real passion is for playing power ballads, with unexceptional time signatures and unemotive vocals from the lead singer, and this material is what characterises most of the album. It’s quite some way from being “underground” as I would understand it; it seems more plausible that MacArthur had their sights set on finding their way into the AOR charts and FM radio play. Unfortunate timing for them, given that MTV was just about to dawn, resulting in significant changes to the market and audience they were seeking for their music.

The story of it is that MacArthur recorded the album at home in 1979, on a four-track machine. There are other, less credible, stories that say it was recorded in 1973 and released in 1974, but this is probably just wishful thinking. The creative nexus is songwriter Ben MacArthur and instrumentalist-arranger Bill Heffelfinger, who met in Saginaw in Michigan. Heffelfinger seems to be the main creative powerhouse; he arranged the songs and produced the album, the guitar and keyboard solos are all his, and so are what the press notes describe as “mini-moog analog synth attacks”.

The resulting album was a private-press release, comprising 200 copies (or 500; again, there are conflicting stories about this detail). It appeared in a very plain sleeve; the label is at pains to tell us the lengths they have gone to restore the “embossed letters” which appear on the LP version of this release, sparing no expense to represent the band’s original intention. Before this official release, there was a bootleg version circulating with a rather attractive collage cover, retitled The Black Forest, a release which may well have been the source of the wrong dates and other misinformation. Even that bootleg is rare, which persuades me that there are some vinyl collectors who will chase after anything provided it’s obscure enough, regardless of the quality of the music. Guerrsen and Out-Sider have been “reissuing rare and obscure psychedelic, progressive, folk and garage albums from the 60s to early 80s” now since 2010, arguably picking up the torch from other dubious labels who do likewise, such as Akarma, Radioactive Records, and Phoenix.

MacArthur is a very mixed bag and extremely uneven album which I can’t recommend, except as an odd period piece. From 16th April 2016.

The Hills Have Eyes

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Kosmose
Kosmic Music From The Black Country
BELGIUM SUB ROSA SR394 2 x CD (2015)

This double-CD release rounds up all known private recordings of Kosmose, a lesser-known Belgian band who made their own form of free-improvised cosmic music in the 1970s. Some of its members may be known to you through later Belgian bands: for instance the keyboard player Alain Neffe and the drummer Guy-Marc Hinant went on to form Pseudo Code in the 1980s, whose work has crossed our path very tangentially; and Neffe went on to create the Insane Music cassette label, home to all sorts of unfathomably strange Belgian art music (often involving his own contributions), by I Scream, Human Flesh, Cortex, Bene Gesserit, and others – and at least 25 volumes of the series Insane Music for Insane People. But before that, there was a band called SIC founded in 1969, just at the dog-end of the hippy culture’s height, which was led by Kosmose’s bass guitarist, Francis Pourcel and the guitarist Daniel Malempré. SIC grew into Kosmose as more members joined, including Alain Neffe, and “attempts at home-made and experimental music” were made in 1971. However, what’s represented here is 11 tracks of free-form trippery from 1974 to 1978, made on an open-reel tape recorder; and most of the music is performed by the core trio of Pourcel, Hinant and Neffe, with occasional guitar solos from Malempré or Paul Kutzner when present; however, Kosmose want to stress they were a collective and had “no specific leader”.

The label proposes this music was consciously influenced by Kosmische Musik from Germany and evolved into “a purely improvised form of noisy free jazz”. I found it heavy going. Despite some moments where the combo manage to lift themselves off the ground, the music trudges and plods where we’d prefer it to soar in the air and glide through outer space. There are superficial resemblances to Gong, Pink Floyd, and Tangerine Dream, which unfortunately only serve to remind us how much better these commercially-successful bands did it. Kosmose’s improvisations are rather dull, staying in the same key for long stretches of time, and the lead instrumentalist generally struggles to find an original or unexpected statement that might lift the band out of their self-made quagmire. The sound of the band has few surprises, too; the guitars, bass and drums sound much the same as many other workaday third-division prog clumpers from the period, and Neffe’s unimaginative use of strings organ and synthesiser routinely fails to provide any excitement to the music. The comparisons to improvisation and free jazz don’t really stand up; there is little evidence that Kosmose understand extended technique, or were aware any of the adventurous ground-breaking work that was done in UK improvisation in the mid-1970s. Terms like “improvised” and “free jazz” are used carelessly these days. The most we can say for Kosmose is that they shared a collaborative form of playing open-ended rock music that didn’t depend on rehearsals or charts or 12-bar boogie.

The “Black Country” of the subtitle refers to Charleroi, a municipality of Belgium where the band originated, and from which they didn’t budge; the dozen or so concerts Kosmose played did not venture outside the Charleroi area. It used to be a thriving city of heavy industry, called the Black Country because of the coal basin, and the workers produced steel, metal and glass; but these industries were starting to fail in the 1970s, leading to economic depression, unemployment and crime in the 1980s and 1990s. The parallels with my own country’s coal industry (and that of others) are sadly all too apparent. However, if members of Kosmose felt any disaffection or political unrest, it’s certainly not reflected in their music, which is solipsistic to the point of being vacuous. None of the tunes have any titles, and they are pretty much vague abstractions, whose central purpose is about the band burrowing into themselves, taking comfort in the warmth of meaningless free noodling. I would say this attitude is clearly shown in the sleeve notes which contain many paragraphs of reminiscences by the band members; but what they talk about is how they rehearsed, played, interacted with each other, speaking of “a silent form of alchemy made its way through our music-playing bodies”, and similar guff. I’d like to learn more about how (if) they assimilated and learned from the music culture of the 1970s, but that is not discussed in much detail; they appear to have absorbed it all by osmosis, and then spent their musical career feeding off each other. They never signed with a label and never had a record released.

Not unpleasant to listen to, nor do I begrudge them two CDs of materials – they clearly needed 18-minute sprawling jam sessions just to get warmed up. But the stunted ambitions of this group don’t make for a rewarding spin. A rather disappointing set of flabby, introspective music by not very distinguished musicians. From 31 December 2015.

Traces of Whom

Carlo Costa Quartet

Carlo Costa Quartet
Sediment
USA NEITHER NOR RECORDS n/n 001 CD (2015)

With a name that conjures up moustachioed Latin jazz, the Carlo Costa Quartet’s slithering, metallic drums and drones could scarcely be a more surprising or unsettling encounter for someone in search of a smiley pick up. This inadvertently red herring is the sole sign of humour in a musical statement that sups the lifeblood of the atonally inclined likes of AMM and Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, squeezing out six sides of stark, teeth-rattling improvisation at a painful grind that leaves Bohren und der Club of Gore looking like Slayer.

While boasting fairly conventional instrumentation, the quartet (led by percussionist Costa, with Jonathon Moritz on tenor/alto sax, Steve Swell on trombone and Sean Ali on double bass) does a splendid job of subsuming all humanity into a nightmarish, metallic pulp, pricked by instruments played pointillistically or ground together into a grim, black sediment. Tension is back-of-the-neck; the brittle barrage of bows, breaths, scrapes and bangs somehow providing panoramic possibility thanks to musicians who know every inch of their instruments and their potential for an unsettling sonic range. Were it not for the availability of video footage of their conventional live set up one could easily envisage musical athletes powering through a set grounded by super-gravity. Rather, a lights-out policy would be preferable, that listener imaginations could be free to speculate on this music’s unwholesome origins.

vestigium

Julie Tippetts & Martin Archer
Vestigium
UK DISCUS 48CD 2 x CD (2015)

Truly confounding my ability to describe is the fluid-formed fourth phase of the ongoing collaboration between versatile ‘jazz’ vocalist Julie Tippetts and multi-faceted composer/instrumentalist Martin Archer; a sprawling double album of proggish jazz fusion that provides solid evidence that not only is their partnership producing increasingly healthy rumination matter, but also that we listeners would be foolish to scoff at Archer’s vaunted ambition for it to take its rightful place in the Canterbury music canon, alongside Soft Machine’s Third, Centipede’s Septober Energy and suchlike. His word is good enough for me, for as I attempt to make sense of this peerless undertaking – every listen prompting a revised description – I feel as though my every effort to make sense of it is a disservice.

This owes in part to the shifting oneiric narrative that binds together this eclectic assemblage of almost wandering instrumental textures and oft stretched-to-breaking-point vocals that issue from the barely-being phase between sleep and consciousness, with correspondingly smouldering, stream-of-consciousness lyrics that walk the line between somniloquy (‘Disappeared Mountain’) and free association (‘Soliciting Crabs’), only occasionally exiting the cocoon of slumber to register a presence bold and dynamic enough to cause the collapse of the whole song structure itself when fever pitch hits (the explosive ‘Firefly’ and closer ‘Stalking the Vision’). Julie Tippetts’ early career as a folk singer is as well-documented as it is redundant here, as are occasional comparisons to Scott Walker for his similar metamorphosis. If anything, Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis supplies a more suitable comparison, his once melancholic register but a hazy memory in that group’s post-rock-y finale Laughing Stock – a destination quite reminiscent of this album – and his more bare-bones solo follow-up.

Equally intangible are Archer’s spidery, Sun Ra-esque keyboard and woodwind lines, which lurk innocuously while somehow holding together the parts of up to eleven top-shelf musicians, as well as a number of viscous, distorted electronic/acoustic backdrops. Such light-handedness corresponds to the sleeve image of a footprint in sand: an ephemeral dream image of identity eroding and provisional in the passing of time, yet rendered permanent through the agency of the subconscious. This harmony of oppositions is maintained for as long as no attempt to interfere or resolve matters into repeated rhythm is honoured. Any narrative tendency (the Lewis Carroll-inspired ‘Like Alice’ for instance) is incidental as this musical ooze assumes and relinquishes form without attachment. It is exquisite, and if Tippetts and Archer are to continue building on this standard, then we have much to look forward to.

Stained Glass Hearts

Larkspurs

Larkspurs
Larkspurs
USA NO LABEL CD (2015)

Apart from Oho-offshoot El Sledge (+), White Boy and Tangerine Dream during their last days, a parent/sibling combination in a band still remains a fairly rare occurrence. Another addition to this select group is the father/daughter team of Jess Srogoncik (guitar/bouzouki/theremin) and violinist Alexis Ronstadt who, along with drummer Nick Vega and Emily Schalick (bass) comprise baroque psychesters Larkspurs.

Youth and experience in one package as Jess has a pretty interesting past as a member of Majora recording artists Paris 1942. An outfit known for having Moe Tucker, late of the Velvets, in its ranks – and also being the first port of call (or thereabouts) for future members of the Meat Puppets and the Sun City Girls. In fact, S.C.G.’s Alan Bishop gets a ‘thank you’ in the sleeve notes.

Under the intriguing banner of an art nouveau Bodhisattva (take a bow Christopher Kelm!), this Phoenix, Arizona-based quartet deploys, alongside the Buck Dharma’ed leads of her father, classically-trained Alexis as one of its principal voices in this eight-strong collection of darkly-veiled instrumental pieces. Her poignantly lyrical bowmanship finding echoes in the works of King Crimson’s David Cross and the real creative force behind early Pavlov’s Dog: Sigfried Carver.

Bolstered by supple/rippling bass strings that compliment a dynamic yet measured percussive drive, these ‘live-in-the-studio’ recordings go from a whisper (the chamberesque “Il Gatto Alla Soglia”) to the powerful quasi-prog scream of “Surveillance” with its relentless Crimsonoid (them again!!) six-string/violin lines, to the sublime Arabian filligree that insinuates itself into “Saharan Crepuscule”, a track which transplants an American twang onto Groups Doueh and Interane.

This release shows that this particular East/West baton (in the charge of Tucson, Arizona’s Black Sun Ensemble for some time) has now been passed on after all.

Fear and Confusion

007

Got a lot of time for this unusual album from Greece – Yenesis (NEGATIVE POSITIVE) by the seven-piece line-up Zenerik, who characterise their work as “progressive-jazz-psychedelic-folk”. We received a CDR version from Dimitris Karytsiotis in Athens who released two vinyl editions – one of them in white vinyl – on his own Positive/Negative label in June 2015. (He also runs an online record store, Vinyl Kiosk.) After I played it on the radio and responded with my usual excess of enthusiasm, those involved kindly sent me a vinyl edition and CD pressing too. The talented seven players here perform using a mix of rock and jazz instrumentation, woodwinds and electric guitars competing fiercely in the performance space alongside a percussion section that’s determined to hammer everything into the ground. Melodic snatches rub up alongside atonal noise; tuneful proggy instrumentals vie with scrabbly, abstract sections. There’s even a Moog synth player, nicknamed “Super Mario” from Ankh Productions, getting in on the act with quite menacing low-level growls and murmurings. If they want some imagery from Greek mythology, I’ve no hesitation in likening this band to the Hydra, that many-headed serpentine monster which featured so heavily in Herakles’ second labour. If Zenerik appear at times to be fighting among themselves, it’s a friendly brawl and always to great musical effect; the listener has several strands of competing information to decode, intertwined like strange strands of seaweed in a salty wine-dark sea.

The seven players don’t have much of a history that I can find, apart from Lina Fontara who has also recorded with Popi’s Orchestra. The assurance with which this record has been made is remarkable, and it carries a freshness and spontaneity kamagra no prescription that is highly enjoyable, along with its very clean recording sound. For these and many other reasons, it does feel old-fashioned in a good way, the same kind of straight-ahead production that you used to get on early 1970s prog albums, and it feels like Zenerik are productively revisiting the English jazz-rock agenda which enjoyed its brief flurry of success in the UK. For lovers of records which straddled the 1970s prog-jazz divide such as Keith Tippett’s Centipede, Indian Summer, or John Stevens’ Away, or even early versions of Henry Cow, this record will be most welcome, but this isn’t to say that Zenerik are self-consciously attempting to emulate progressive or psychedelic rock in the same “retro” manner that you find on Sulatron Records, for instance. There’s just a lot of musical craft, a love of playing together, and a refusal to attempt to “update” the sound for contemporary audiences.

It remains to mention the track titles, which are quite pointedly called ‘Fear’, ‘Confusion’, ‘Realization’, ‘Acceptance’ and ‘Deliverance’ – which can easily be read as the story of Greek’s unfortunate economic collapse in the so-called Eurozone crisis, although sadly it doesn’t look as if this poor abandoned country has yet reached the ‘Deliverance’ Stage. This political-economical critique is not explicitly embedded in the music, although ‘Confusion’ contains a lot of anger and dissonant wails, and the album opens with a 30-second babel of voices speaking international languages, possibly sampled from newscasts. A fine distinctive release; there are variant editions, including the CD which has a black cover. Arrived 24 June 2015.