Reviews

S.C.FREE Compilation

Also worthy of note is the ten track various artist compilation SCFREE.  This artefact is not for sale but will be supplied free of charge alongside paying orders made to Striate Cortex until the edition of 50 is extinguished.  Andy invited submissions stipulating they be about five minutes in length and ambient(ish) in nature.  The idea being to both encourage business and to promote the work of worthy artists with a connection to his label.  Slick.  No midwich track due to, y’know, ‘life’, but there could well be something from me on volume two.

Anyway, even without me it is pretty much all good.  Everything has the chance to engage, nothing has the chance to outstay its welcome, most leaves you wishing it was twice as long.  My favourites are the four tracks that top and tail the album.  The opener, Tim Newman’s ‘Park Page is Empty’, is a lovely, guitar-led see-sawing throb.  The second track, Mark Bradley’s ‘Sacred Musics’ is a Vangelisian curve of precious metal, slightly discordant to keep its edge serrated (a prime example of what an ex-girlfriend of mine used to call ‘wob-wob’ electronica).  At the other end of the compilation, the ninth track, Daniel Thomas’s ‘Heavy Density’, is the kind of refried physics you might hear whilst lying in your garage-constructed time machine, resisting the temptation to crawl out of the box, at peace, trusting the math and waiting for the cycle to conclude.  The final track, ‘Moonship (Phase One)’ is a live piece by Small Things on Sundays which suggests a desert camp fire scene on a sandy planet.  Huge, docile pack animals purr and buzz as they sleep nearby, ornithopters flap overhead, some radio chatter is ignored as the explorers relax.  Beautiful.   Radio Free Midwich

Vibrafuzz Family – Vibrafuzz Family

Vibrafuzz Family contains a collection of six tracks by Vibrafuzz Family, the umbrella name for projects involving Tim Newman, who explores music covering 1970s Krautrock and Kosmische along with acoustic guitar pieces and traditional Indonesian Gamelan. The album-length collection is grounded in a mellow, contemplative soundworld, with endlessly looping and echoed melodies wound into a variety of moods that reference and use the sounds of Ash Ra Tempel, Tortoise, drum breaks, Ambient and psychedelic fuzz guitar.

The tracks were collected after an alternate version of ‘Freak Ballad’ was submitted for inclusion on a compilation by the Striate Cortex label. Recorded at various locations and times, Vibrafuzz Family showcases a rich variety of sound and provides a series of points of reference for Newman’s work.   Fourier Transform website

Tim Newman  – Gamelan

Earlier this year I was pleasantly surprised by a three piece band from Bristol, Vibrafuzz. Two members got the credit for the guitar, while Tim Newman got credit for guitar and all the “rest”. Here he has a solo release, which I think is an equal surprise. Inspired by a record from His Name Is Alive (always good to mention that lovely guy!) who recorded a Gamelan LP, Newman found a website which contained samples of every not of every instrument in the Gamelan set (in case you are interested: http://www.marsudiraras.org) which he took to his keyboard and played around with. I could have easily believed that Newman plays a real Gamelan, perhaps various layers of them, but alright: so its only samples. I thinkm this is an excellent release. Ten relatively short pieces, quiet, rhythmic, introspective. Never fast, never loud. Tranquility all round. One piece is inspired by Steve Reich’s “phase shifting” technique using a single note in slightly different tempi. Mild overtones all around. Very ethnic. I know, I don’t know mush about, but it could have been a traditional recording from Indonesia. Maybe ini.itu should invite him to record?   Vital weekly

Vibrafuzz – The Oneness Of Vibrafuzz

An awesome album. Two great tracks of acid trip, like Ash Ra Tempel playing along to Tortoise. Cosmic synth, drum breaks and exciting guitar, a good mix for some kind of reinvented Krautrock.   Sound Of Cobra www.soundofcobra.tk

Vibrafuzz are a three piece band from bristol and this is their debut release. It “is based upon a ’70s vinyl LP and was inspired by the writings of Julian Cope’s Krautrock / Japrock samplers”, I am told, and the cover reveals its an Ash Ra Tempel album. They read about one track per side and when they heard the album after recording their own two times twenty minutes it turned out Ash Ra sounded differently. Nice story and and surly gives you a pretty good clue as to where to place Vibrafuss on the musical map. Krautrock it is. All three members get credit for guitars, while Tim Newman also gets credit for “all the rest”. This brings back thise endless guitar doodling of such bands as Acid Mothers Tempel and every space rock band before that. But I must admit that I quite enjoyed this particular one.

Vibrafuzz also uses a bit of electronics, more than seems usual (allowed?) in this kind of music, amd that adds a gentle even more flowing aspect to the music. More cosmic than Kraut at times, but I am the first to admit those differences are quite small. Striate Cortex has been playing this over and over since they got it and its easy to understand why: it has a great drive, through endless guitar solos, banging drum machines and swirling space synths. Two times twenty minutes, but as easily it could have been two times forty and it would still be equally great. Excellent music to do some hyperactive stuff along to: cleaning the dishes for instance or air guitar.  Vital Weekly

Inspired by early prog records and a review of an Ash Ra Tempel album, this Bristol based trio decided to make an album that paid tribute to both. The result is this: two tracks of driving kosmische rock with radiating wah-wah guitar and some dubby bass and melodica on the second.  Boa Melody Bar

The Dovetail Consort - East and West EP

Bristol based solo artist Tim Newman releases this very beautiful collection of guitar instrumentals on the superb Irish based Rusted Rail label. The six track mini album is pressed on a very cute little 3 inch sized cd and comes housed in a beautiful handmade miniature card sleeve. The album features 20 minutes of haunting guitar instrumental sounds calling to mind the likes of James Blackshaw with some added strings. Fans of the slightly eastern tinged avant folk sounds of the likes of John Fahey will instantly fall in love with this one. Features some beautifully meditative folk guitar picking with a lovely spacial kind of ambient feel about it.   Road Records

East & West is a simple yet delicately harmonious record that shifts slowly through many acoustic fields of vision. At times I am reminded of the Dead Man’s Shoes soundtrack and at others a totally organic version of Labradford. One thing is clear here, these guys have had enough time to dwell on and capture the beauty and stillness that surrounds anyone awakening to the crow of the cockerel on a blistering summer’s morning.
Songs that are plucked delicately, shift in waves of gentle repetition and slip you into hazy fields of humid summer country air. An apt title, as this release mixes many ingredients from the musical world of the Eastern and the Western hemisperes of this world and the results are palpably hypnotic.
“1919” has that uplifting melancholy that just makes you want to stare from your window and pretend the world does not exist. Once the song ends, it’s clear that the real world could never be as beautiful as the one created in this song. Acoustic guitars spin joyous patterns and the listener becomes giddily trapped in this world of ambient folk inspired haziness.
Acoustic guitars are the driving force on this release. Many songs sound like they are taking shape right before your ears. A jam session that is taking form and flight with tiny splashes of sound that have an impact on the whole jigsaw – like picture. Violins, Mandolins and instruments that I just cannot put a name to all add to this charmingly bright picturesque EP.  Crumbs in The Butter

The Dovetail Consort, an instrumental group hailing from Bristol, has released their first EP, The East and West on the indie record label Rusted Rail. The adorable 3-inch disc, which is placed in a hand-made sleeve, features a scenic photo of a dusty road at sunset, prepping you for the 20 minutes of serene lullabies that lie within. The group’s sound features mainly acoustic guitar and strings, but there are many more instruments thrown in to give the album an eclectic blend of Eastern and Western sound, hence, the album title. The opening track, “Devotional”, is a positive, earthy tune. It could easily be used on a movie soundtrack, playing while the credits roll after a bittersweet ending. It reminds me of what I imagine the Tuscan countryside would sound like, if hills could make music. From there, the album morphs into a more oriental sound on “Three Weeks”. I can never exactly put my finger on what instruments are being played, as they change often, but it makes for a decent track. “Mainsail” has a similar vibe-both depressing and intriguing. The blending of Eastern and Western musical styles delivers a unique sound that you don’t get to hear often. The Dovetail Consort aren’t what anyone would consider “mainstream music”, and you’ll never hear them anywhere in public (unless it’s a zen garden). You can’t dance, sing, or really even get high to their music. But their EP is perfect for artists who just need a bit of soothing background noise while working on a project.  balconytv.com

Oh nice one, more hard to identify 3″ CDs on Rusted Rail! Just what our stockrooms need! It’s a good job their releases tend to be of a very high standard innit. Otherwise I’d have to start windmilling. They do good press releases too, I’ve just read the one for this Dovetail Consort release and it’s a beauty – leaving me totally at sea to find more words to add to it. It does mention Can though so I guess I should make it clear that it sounds next to nothing like them in practice, it’s obviously more their musical approach that he’s interested in rather than their overall sound. Essentially these tracks are based on simple, but heavily edited, folky guitar pieces which take on an almost mantra-like quality through the repetition of notes and phrases. It’s quite beautiful really.   Norman Records

There’s something rewarding about a record which is open about reference points and inspirations without sounding like any of those catalysts. Bristol-based Tim Newman’s titles refer, variously to David Crosby’s boat (Mainsail), the original full name of “much maligned goth pioneers” – his words – Bauhaus (1919), Indian classical music (Devotional) and Ian Carr’s Nucleus (Elastic Folk) and all of these points of his musical compass make me warm to the record before the laser hits the pits. The music created by Mr. Newman is a charming world of guitar melodies with mandolin, ‘cello, thumb piano and percussion, all wrapped up in Rusted Rails hard-to-resist 3″ format, delightful on both ear and eye.   Boa Melody Bar

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