And thankfully, reviewers are being very kind to "Poor Old Thing"!
Here are a couple of the latest...
From ProgReviews Blogspot (27th January 2013):
UK indie label FRUITS de MER Records have been a going concern for a few years now, cementing their place in the market with their own particular brand of limited edition vinyl only releases. One of their slightly unusual habits is to produce some material aimed more or less exclusively towards their firmest core of buyers, and the most spectacular of their productions to fit this description is their final release of 2012: A double album, CD only on this occasion, that basically is unavailable to the public at large. Instead a select few of their most dedicated buyers and a select few reviewers was given the pleasure of enjoying this particular production. For free. I'm not aware of too many other labels laying down this much effort for what is basically a Christmas present to their most dedicated supporters, but kudos to Fruits de Mer for doing so. As far as creating a real emotional attachment to their endeavors, this is a stroke of genius. Especially as most of the people who receive it will know how much this production have cost in terms of time and money to put together.
The first disc of this dual package has been named "The Crabs Sell Out", and as one might expect from that choice of description the whooping 17 tracks you'll find on this disc are fairly accessible items, quite a few that wouldn't have been out of place on regular mainstream daytime radio. As usual all contributions generally hold a high quality, just about the only letdown for me personally was the freaked out version of Hoochie Coochie Man towards the very end, Permanent Clear Light's Tuitsie Fruitsie Ice-Cream Man (Madman Blues). A song that will find it's audience for sure, but not compatible with my personal taste in music. A couple of more tracks were of the kind I'd describe as pleasant experiences, good music but not to the extent of really impressing. The Bevis Frond's Not Quite Home with it's acoustic guitars and vocals dominated verse followed by a harder edged, riff and vocals based chorus is the first of these and The Pretty Things' rock and roll goes rockabilly with an early 70's hard rock flavoring Rosalyn the second of these. Both compositions again sure to have it's avid followers, but to my mind none of these were truly standout features.
But the rest of the material range from good to great to my ears. The Past Tense opens this disc with a delightful psych-dripping guitar theme firmly backed by organ and keyboard effects, while Stay utilize careful psychedelic keyboard effects on top of sitar and guitars taking turns in providing the main psychedelic features on Super Heavy Soul Mammoth Explosion Remix. Sky Picnic have nice Beatlesesque verse parts adding a Tom Petty edge for the chorus, contrasted by a darker toned and more distinctly psychedelic oriented instrumental sequences on Lost Is Found. Anton Barbeau showcase the strength of relative simplicity on Occupy/Divide, where vocals and acoustic guitars dominate the proceedings in an inspired manner with a brooding dark undercurrent catering for the psychedelic tendencies quite nicely. The Seventh Ring of Saturn utilize elegant spacey keyboard details to their slow but tight arrangement on Pillsbury Palace, a subtly distanced affair with a slight detached nature. Jack Ellister combines loose improvised sounding psych instrument breakdowns with darker toned, harder edged compact 60's tinged rock to good effect, while Rob Clarke & The Wooltones use the buzzing psychedelic guitar solo to good effect following their spoof radio advert and lighter toned, acoustic based start of their creation Are You Wooltoned.
The Lucid Dream provides the first taste of the truly brilliant for me with Hits Me Like I'm Stoned, Live on Dandelion Radio. Complete with raga drones and an elongated feature that should find favor among those who are dedicated fans of 70's Hawkwind. King Penguin use light toned guitars and gentler psychedelic details on Cedar Hill, with a slight southern rock flavor that gives this effort a distinct US sound. Johnny Vines American Mourning should be a thrill for those truly fond of the good old Mellotron, and utilize an effective build up from light toned simplicity to majestic splendor, with a sound that I'd describe as perhaps more post rock than psychedelic as such, at the most majestic with a slight metal edge to the proceedings. Soft Hearted Scientists pair off light toned vocals and acoustic guitar displays effectively with darker toned vocals and organ, following an initial introduction. Leigh Gregory showcase effective use of sparse arrangements with vocals, acoustic guitars and violin on the mournful, melancholic piece Eleanor. Beau sticks to the same principle of simplicity even more brilliantly on Poor Old Thing, a superb constellation of bass, acoustic guitar and vocals, with barely audible rhythms beneath. Paul Roland's Adam Adamant also sticks to the simplistic, with sax and trumpet bursts (I think) supplementing plucked guitars and steady rhythms, with a couple of keyboard overlays thrown in for good measure.
The second disc of this set, "The Crabs Freak Out", comes with an expectation of more challenging material than on the first one. And while quite a few of the 15 songs aren't your typical freakout items, just about all the most challenging material is found on the second part of this relatively exclusive double feature.
Personally I found this second part to be ever so slightly less interesting than the opening disc however, not due to any details that resides in the quality department though I should stress. As with most other music this is a matter of personal taste more than anything else. Temple Music's Big Old Sun was a piece I found dizzying and annoying rather than hypnotic with it's distinct brain-twisting electronic motif oscillating at the start and end, and Palace of Swords' The Castle Spectre with it's repetitive, distinct synth theme backed by careful droning keys and percussion grew way too repetitive and bothersome for my personal taste.
In the pleasant but not that impressive department, according to my taste, there's a few instances as well. Sendelica's Space Hopper Blues is a nice enough feature, but to my ears more of a typical power trio blues based hard rock affair with subtle space rock effects applied rather than the opposite in expression, nice enough material but lacking the finder details that would elevate it to the level of, say, one of the classic Robin Trower escapades from the early 70's. Anla Courtis' Helice de Sauco is a very different piece, and it's dampened acoustic guitar and electronics freakout one of those items that will have it's very dedicated audience, but again lacking some finer detail or other to make a grand impression for me. Then there's Helicon's two pieces, the elegant piano and guitar combination of Introduction to an Interlude and the psych-drenched counterpart Pollen, fine pieces of music both but too short to manage to create a real impact for me.
The remaining songs all managed to make more of an impression with me however. Vespero's Another Strangest Thing in the Ocean is a fine display of controlled space rock with improvisational elements included, and Red Elektra '69's Ride in the Stars is an item that has the spirit of Hawkwind written all over it, in a good way I might add. Vibravoid use spoken like vocals and a dark, brooding organ to good effect on Random Generated Future, a composition that blend some rather obvious nods in the direction of The Doors with a few select futuristic space rock details. Nice. Vert:x' Cube Abuse returns to the classic Hawkwind style. The harder edged part of it to be precise, and I suspect a studio recording of this track would reveal quite a few tasty secrets hidden on this live recording. An enjoyable romp nonetheless. The Luck of Eden Hall's A Drop in the Ocean kicks off with dark toned, fuzz and fuzzy guitars dominating, then shifts towards more of an electronics and keyboards driven affair building up to freakout climaxes. Earthling Society's In the Garden is a feature I suspect will find most favor amongst fans of psychedelic folk music, with acoustic guitars, drones and recorders alongside careful percussion, and a second half rising in pace and intensity alongside female moans. A song where the word climax is sure to be used in descriptions and perhaps even in a few personal experiences for some listeners. Psychedelic music and the realm of the erotic aren't items commonly combined, at least not these days, but those eager for music celebrating the more intimate parts of existence should take notice of this one. Hills Have Riffs' Remembering is a much more grounded affair, with a dual layer of acoustic guitars supplemented by a subtle brooding drone and careful guitar solo details, a tad repetitive but establishing a nifty and compelling mood and atmosphere still. Finally there's Language of Light's Nancy's Song to Psyche, opening with spoken female words, a dark drone as undercurrent and echoing guitar licks, developing into a smooth space and freakout-tinged affair sporting echoing fragmented spoken words, a distinct bass guitar motif beneath, an effective organ backdrop and some odd but suitable rhythm details. A hypnotic affair that manage to survive the disturbing, jarring electronic noise that concludes this introspective space journey.
All in all this double album assembled by Fruits de Mer is yet another high quality item in their release history. Those who'd like to get a taste of this production better hope it turns up on ebay at some point however, or that they know someone whose been lucky enough to receive this one in the post. An intriguing collection of music, and with more than 2 hours of it I would have given it the description very good value for money if it had been commercially available. As it isn't, I'll have to conclude that those lucky enough to get this double CD in the post got themselves a real treat for Christmas.
My rating: 75/100
From Mark Barton (13th January 2013):
Those savvy enough to have gotten their name on the fruits de mer mailing list will have by now received in the post a treat of some measure with the arrival on door mats of a superb double disc set entitled ‘the crabs sell out’ / ‘the crabs freak out’. a gathering of talent emerging from the ever extending fruits de mer family. Not your slack happy filler frolic, no siree - rather more a tasty and bolt tight cornucopia of psyched out gems and progged to the eyes nuggets spread across a mind melting 2 and a half hours. Familiar and not so familiar clued in cadets swirl, swoon and shimmer from out of the grooves. This freebie compilation - yes you read right - free, gratis for nowt is a bench marking line in the sand as to how to cobble together a compilation, featuring rare re-edits, lost gems, exclusives from the likes of the legendary pretty things, bevis frond and the chemistry set as well as giving a brief showcasing of the talent pencilled in to appear on the labels catalogue this year. ‘the crabs sell out’ comprises of seventeen psyched out sorties with the set opening with the past tense and their self titled theme tune - this cosmic blues bruiser that for all the world sounds like its been powered by a DC engine hitherto mainlines on the tail smoke of Alien Ballroom’s recent opus in terms of reference markers albeit as though docking along the way of its galactic voyage at refuelling points manned by Alphastone and Faust all dashed and dinked in a head drilling Hawkwind like haloing. Its been a fair old while since we spotted Stay on the stereophonic system - ’super heavy soul mammoth explosion remix’ is just what the good mind doctor ordered, sharing a sonic DNA with the aforementioned past tense cut, this baby comes spiked and garnished in a deliciously hazy arabesque motif that swoons and swirls atop a driving hip shimmying psyche grooving Absolutely far out - drive time transcendentalism if you must. Adorned in all manner of 60’s threads and found freebasing on a darkening blend of brooding psych goo ’lost is found’ finds itself culled from the forthcoming platter from the hugely rated Sky Picnic, presaged upon a snake winding motif and graced and groomed in all manner of hypnotic wooziness this wasted and freakish 60’s reprobate comes across like a super skinned up Jefferson Airplane. Those fancying something a little more in the vein of a shit faced Marc Bolan under Syd Barrett mind control ought to fast track yourselves to the glam grizzled ‘occupy divide’ here served up by Anton Barbeau - a super psyched sortie that cools and coalesces with the kind of schizoid and fractured cool of Paul Roland which for those unaware of these things essentially means it’s the dogs danders. Talking of Mr Roland, the man himself appears further along the grooves bringing with him ’Adam Adamant’ - fear not - not quite a homage to the band aid buccaneer who set siege to the pop charts in the early 80’s but rather more a celebratory nod to the swashbuckling doyen of aristocratic cool from 60’s TV folklore, a sadly short lived series peeled from a creative collective who’d sanctioned both Dr Who and the Avengers - the hero an Edwardian dandy frozen in time and thawed out in a swinging 60’s setting, all your hallmark action accoutrements in place - a nemesis, a betrayed love, a hero lost and out of time and a story line bordering on the genius and ludicrous - here resuscitated by Roland whose typically eccentric English psych mastery brings to life to instil a sense of mystery, mirth and magic to the proceedings as it stalks and saunters in shadowy type peek a boo fashion. Next up the seventh ring of Saturn opt for spot of mind altering mosaics that blissfully kiss a lysergic sky dappled and dream washed in Beatles, Robyn Hitchcock and a super chilled Floyd essences for their gorgeously lazy eyed and out there ’pillsbury palace’. long admired around these here parts Nick Saloman or to give him his more recognised nom de plume - the bevis frond - has been spiking our stereo for more years than I care to remember, recently returning to the fray after a long period of self imposed exile the acclaimed stoned out ‘the leaving of London’ was a stunning sonic serving blending stoned out freak licks with folk ballads, ‘not quite home’ follows in a similar vein to the quieter aspects of that set, introspective and self revelatory, it reveals an unresolved vulnerability and the same kind of personal sensitivity that ghosted through the matrix of his ’London’ album - the healing process crowned and caressed in rustic hues and dappled in a freedom that smoulders with breezy abandonment. Recently eyed on that rather spiffing ‘the man with the bio chopper’ set, Jack Elister drops the altering states tab ‘great Esmeralda’ - a glorious overload of colours, sensations, imagery and generic twists subsumed into a pristinely head expanding pure pocket psych pop symphony mushroomed and shoehorned into a sub 4 minute hallucinogenic stew - disorientating stuff. Mentioned this in passing last missive out and again later on because we’ve got hot off the presses promos of their new single - ‘are you wool toned’ by rob clarke and the wool tones starts out with a spot of ‘phoenix nights’ chicanery before blistering and blossoming into a succulent slab of sunshine smoked 60’s groove that kisses and chimes like a buzz sawing Hamburg era Beatles shimmying up to a jangle happy Byrds which all said should have those of you much loving of the .Wicked Whispers all a swooning in the aisles. In our humbled opinion this next lot are yet to put a foot wrong - prized from a session tape recorded in 2009 for the much admired dandelion radio the lucid dream just exude cool, ‘hits me like I’m stoned’ is sedately smoked in the kind of bliss kissed dreamy narcotic psych pop much ventured on the kind of platters that names like spacemen 3 and Cheval Sombre adorn that said once the blissy mists clear it’s a head down all out cosmic freak out until the groove end - stoned out seduction in short. Absolutely gem like is all I’ll say about King Penguin’s ’cedar hill’ except to add that through the smoke scarred wasteland a head bowed slab of haunting and hollowing shimmer toned country rock emerges ushered in by the ghosts of Clark and Cash on its shoulder. Those much admiring the works of explosions in the sky and the workhouse and the like may well fall hopelessly headlong into the post rock-ian atmos pop of Johnny Vines’ utterly humbling ‘American mourning’ - all at once panoramic and stratospheric, divinely hurting - like a head bowed bruised and bloodied Floyd. I wad about to say that the opening sequence of the next cut - incidentally titled ‘drifting away’ reminded me of Soft Hearted Scientists until I realised it was them, call it a curse or view it as something to be proud of but such is their unique song craft that these unsung heroes nay purveyors of pastoral psych have over the years carved themselves something of a niche in terms of style, sound and imagery. Inspired by passing glances to Barrett, Davies and Innes, there’s a quintessentially charmed old English eccentricity attaching to SHS, out of time, out of fashion and no doubt out of their minds, their acute appreciation of tuneful timeless pageantry and that impish sense of mischievously putting the listener constantly on a back foot draws a mind sharing parallel to the much missed Vivian Stanshall. A new album is set for self release later this year while FdM will be issuing forth to a unbeknownst audience a double disc sonic soiree of songs past, present and future which should in some way pass as an introduction to this most waywardly weird and wired of talents - for now ’drifting away’ - previously unreleased and barking, manages in its finite duration to deliver a love ode to a willow tree in the kind of bizarre union of mayday merriment, kaleidoscopic kisses and oddball opera that would make Circulus green at the gills. Those preferring their sounds somewhat daubes in Cambridge folk pastels and clipped in a heart heavy ghostly reflection much recalling an autumnally aching Simon and Garfunkel will do well to visit Leigh Gregory’s touching ’Eleanor’ while one time Dandelion imprint star Beau or Chris Midgley as he’s better known to the tax man graces the grooves with something of a lost gem from the early 80’s, ’poor old thing’ is a homely slice of rustic mourn that tackles the realisation of mortality, and what might first appear such a depressing concept is cheered by a loveably upbeat ’ah well’ what will be casualness. One of the moments of the ’crabs’ set is permanent clear light’s clearly shit faced ’tutsie fruitsie ice cream man’ - a live improvised studio take recorded in an admittedly drunken stupor, man they sound wasted but bitching all the same, a growling blues brute that imagines Beefheart in a fist fight with Waters. Rounding off CD1 the mighty Pretty Things with a killer cool live take from the 100 club in 2010 of the classic ’Rosalyn’ here nailed down in an up yours and tight as a gnat’s back passage booming blues drill - Stones eat your heart out. ‘the crabs freak out’ gathers together another 15 purveyors of the sonic arts, the set opens with something of a curio from the legendary Chemistry Set. ’concert intro’ is just it says on the tin lid, appearing at the Razzmatazz club in Barcelona early last year this little lovely was premiered as a backdrop marking the arrival to stage of the band, went down so well that they’ve included it here. This ambi-psych gem comes caressed in wonderment and steeled in magic ornate tip toeing key pirouettes chime hypnotically unfurling and gathering depth and dimension until blossoming into a beat driven dream coat that along the way terra-forms into a swirling haze of cosmic ice cream van overtures - blissfully beautiful. Next up Vespero who for those with ever shortening memories appeared here in the last missive as part of an absolutely must have split set with temple music wherein they covered Faust’s ’jennifer’. hailing from Russia this lot have been on the watch list of the more in tuned cognoscenti for some years having released a plethora of quietly acclaimed full lengths, taking the Floyd / Vangelis and the whole prog / space rock template as were onto the next evolutionary stage, adept at blending genres their craft is second to none in that it fuses classical, soundtrack, ambient, space, psych, post everything - such is their adept ability of blurring the lines that they have more in common with the 90’s trance scene than the 70’s prog era - ’another strangest thing in the ocean’ is a dream drifting slice of mind melting out there mesmeric groove that taps succinctly into a sonic sphere that imagines a stoned out ozric tentacles sharing studio space with a blessed out Porcupine Tree - nuff said our kid. Strut grooved stoner gouging is the order of the day for the Hawkwind obsessing cosmic overlords Red Elektra 69 on their black hole veering rock a boogie ’ride into the stars’. needing no introductions Vibravoid are pretty much in a class of their own - ’random generated future’ is a Hammond soaked slab of cool kaleidoscopic fuzz pop - ultra vivid scene anyone. Culled from live tapes recorded at the - er - growler rally - the impenetrable drone drilled white out that is ’cube abuse’ by Vert : X was written as a tribute to Neu’s Kaus Dinger, a heads down kiss arse slab of bearded beatnik cosmic blues boogie which unless my ears do deceive ought in the first instance appeal to those who voyage upon the monolithic mothership that is mugstar. Prized from volume 2 of their ’butterfly revolutions’ set, Chicago’s premier psych purveyors the luck of eden hall go all woozy and wasted on the trip-a-delic ’a drop in the ocean’ - a truly mind fracturing experience with every thing dissolving and dissipating into seas of disorientation - in truth the closest you’ll come to being out there without the comedown. Equally frazzled is Sendelica’s ’space hopper blues’ - a jarring primordial cosmic jam with an obvious eye on Hendrix - be warned will melt heads. Been ages since we heard anything from Anla Courtis who when he last appeared in these pages on FdM’s ball dropping ‘head music’ set wherein a rather inspired re-reading of Kraftwerk’s ‘trans europe express’ was heard - we must admit to owning up to a embarrassing moment wherein our pain in the backside spell checker went on auto pilot and decided to name change Anla to the less attractive Anal. So with that pricking the conscience moment out of the bag lets proceed - we first hit upon Anla Courtis not through FdM but via the much loved and sadly much missed of late Beta Lactam Ring imprint, seems Mr Courtis has been peppering the headphones of the more attuned for nearly twenty years amassing along the way a formidable back catalogue via outings for blackest rainbow, RRR, American Tapes and digital narcis to name just a small select few - arriving here with an exclusive unreleased cut in tow - ’helice de Sauco’ is sumptuously carved in a stilled finger picked craftsmanship whose dry arid sedate wilderness recalls at once the delta blues of John Fahey and Jack Rose - quite classy if you ask me which of course you probably weren’t. also mentioned last time out in brief passing were Earthling Society who have a new full length entitled ‘Zodiak’ currently looming in record world which I heartily recommend you seek out at your most earliest convenience and in return we’ll dig out our download copy and have it praised, adored and lovingly commented upon in time for the next missive (in truth we forgot about it). Anyhow they stump up ’in the garden’ a mushrooming mosaic that finds the Earthling ones in frivolous mood, apparently as they put it in the liner notes ’a mantra to rise the kundalini serpent from the mulahadra chakra with the aid of 4 valium and 7 pints of nutty slack’ - as apt a description you’ll get to describe the unbridled carnival unfolding within, a true fringe flicker that finds the Earthling dudes leaving their galactic mother ship on the blocks instead skipping playfully on a mind weaving trip that involves at points a woozy yellow brick road where knee slapping medieval merriment occasions albeit as though refracted through the telling third eye of the Elephant 6 collective, light headed rustic follies, sitars, flutes, lutes and the occasional out there transmission - quite barking in a Bonzos on bad acid type way if you ask me. Temple music you’ll recall from that mighty fine and aforementioned split outing with Vespero wherein they totally re-skinned the Hollies ’pegusus’ in a most alluring and beguiling fashion which on reflection we’ll just say needs to be heard to be believed - here servicing this set with ’big old sun’ - a woody and woozy slice of recycling drift pop which had us recalling ’mirrors’ era flying saucer attack all said. Afforded two bites Helicon drop by briefly for a swift gulp of cosmic tea and a portion of moon rock scone before departing like ghostly apparitions back into the ether though not before leaving as a parting gift to sweetly disarming slices of lullaby-esque star gazing in the guise of ‘introduction to an interlude’ and ‘pollen’ - breaching the ticker tape at 46 and 41 seconds respectively this brace of reprises arrive culled from their ‘suburban decay’ opus which incidentally you can find at http://heliconglasgow.bandcamp.com/ of which first listening impressions would suggest you retune to immediately and crank your dials to 12 and lose yourself in the bliss kissed dream pop loveliness of ‘truth or consequence’. think I’ve commented previously that hills have rifs is such a killer name - anyhow basically a one man operation by all accounts that man being DCW Briggs who on ‘remembering’ crafts a spacious beauty that somehow manages to join the dots between that man John Fahey - again - and Bardo Pond in more mellowed moods - there’s a band camp set entitled ‘wyndham fauna’ that deserves immediate inspection via http://hillshaveriffs.bandcamp.com/ . Forced to choose our favourite moment of this second CD we’d be inclined to throw our hand in with language of light whose eerily dark and foreboding ‘Nancy’s song to psyche’ initially appearing on the gray field recordings set ‘hypnagogia’ via reverb worship wherein it was known as ‘Nancy’s song to Charlie’ - this version sees the original re-tolled and evermore sinister in presentation - there’s a beautiful bleakness that attaches to this ominous cut, whispered vocals, drone drizzled passages, murder-esque noir bleaches, frequency manipulations and a chilled to the core iciness which recalls or at least imagines a particularly youthful and wilful Add N to X consorting with White Noise to craft some ghostly horror-phonic recital. Stunning in short. Which I’m afraid leaves the lonesome lunar lilts of Palace of Swords to wrap up matters and grace the proceedings with an adorably etched cosmic carnival via ‘the castle spectre’. Now that’s what I call music.