Aug 20, 2008

helena espvall & masaki batoh

If the pentagrams and moccasins and ponchos of the now nearly bygone “freak folk” era made listening to Fairport Convention cool again, Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh's self-titled collaboration serves as a reminder that British longhairs of the ’60s were nerds, nerds, nerds. Cellist Espvall, best known for her work with Espers, and Batoh, the guitarist of Japanese psych band Ghost, deploy an arsenal of exotic stringed instruments. They play earnest covers of folk songs from Espvall’s native Sweden, with her clear, thin voice taking the lead, then close the album with an epic improvisation complete with oceanic sounds. So far, so Incredible String Band. Listeners should not equip their local forest glade with a maypoles or prep tarot cards in anticipation of the arrival of Helena Espvall and Masaki Batoh. Both Espers and Ghost succeed by blending virtuosity with an ability to imbue their music with true eeriness. Despite its medieval chord progressions and finger-cymbals, Espvall and Batoh’s record is more earnest than evocative. The album does not sustain a mood – like a ’60s folk album that jumps from sea-chanty to murder ballad to sitar-enhanced jam, it seems too studious to carry real emotional weight.

Rather, it bears sheer instrumental prowess and vague loveliness as its hallmarks. The folk songs with Espvall’s reverb’d vocals rising over Batoh’s meticulously-picked strings (electric and non) and her own gently rumbling cello are very pretty. The instrumentals often seem like efforts to bring disparate string instruments together, just to see how nice they sound together. On the delicate “Zeranium,” Batoh’s near croon leads the song closer to Low or Ida than the typical freak folk album of yesteryear.

Batoh and Espvall’s skillful musicianship ensure that each individual song works (aside from a misguided cover of the Son House song "Death Letter”), particularly the last two tracks, “Kling Klang” and the enveloping jam "Kyklopes." The menagerie of instruments unleashed and variety of songs attempted leave one with the impression that Espvall and Batoh had a great time figuring out each others' strengths, interests, and influences, and experimenting in the studio. But the deliberateness that resulted, when overlaid with the record's painfully clear, spacious production, void the album of spirit. It's deft enough, and holds the promise of further interesting Espvall/Batoh work, if they can transcend their schoolishness.

Sorprendente y hechizada colaboración entre Helena Espvall (Espers) que tras el precioso disco con Meg Baird & Sharron Kraus se cruza en su camino, nada menos, que con Masaki Batoh quien lleva un par de décadas reescribiendo los códigos del acid-folk y la psicodelia, más que un preferido en f. ya lo sabeis. Me evoca fácilmente a los primeros discos de Ghost, creo que con eso ya queda todo dicho, pero hay que añadir que con Helena al lado todo brilla un poco más. Sí, uno de los discos del año.

aldea f.: ghost

beth jeans houghton

Aug 13, 2008

black moses

Adiós Isaac, el último que quedaba se fue.

Aug 10, 2008

sir richard bishop

"Bishop creates abstract and dissonant fingerstyle webs that evoke those famous LSD experiments with spiders; and he stretchesout in long raga-influenced improvisations that accelerate into flatpicked furies. " - Acoustic Guitar

This is an essential document by one of America's most original and inventive unaccompanied guitaristsworking today. While My Guitar Violently Bleeds is a splendid three piece gem in which the good Sir branches out & nods to points west, east & otherworldly. Classic spaghetti western tinged spidery fretwork(“Zurvan”), Fushitsusha style feedback drenched psych decay (“Smashana”) and a brilliant lengthy raga epic (“Mahavidya”) round out the proceedings by the Sun City Girls master musician.

Atrapado quedarás en la telaraña de Mahavidya: to finish the album off we are treated to the album's longest piece, the 25 minute epic 'Mahavidya', a haunting raga underpinned with an Eastern drone allowing Bishop to effortlessly fingerpick over the top. Meditative and involving we hear the track build slowly and subtly from sparsely picked out notes to the kind of frenetic strumming and desperately technical playing the man is probably best known for.

Aug 5, 2008


Naked Acid is the second solo release from Portland artist Valet, aka Honey Owens. She states: "These songs were Inspired by the Pacific Northwest landscape, semi-conscious dream states and the idea of one's dna code being accessed as eternal memory. I started off with the idea to make a 'songs' record but it really didn't turn out that way. Instead the record became it's own story. Track one is a static beach journey duet with Adrian Orange, and tracks 3, 4 and 5 are collaborations with Mark Evan Burden (Silentist) on drums."

From the gentle narcotic haze of the album opener "We Went There," which is dissected by Honey's trademark incendiary guitar work, to the lazy alien country blues of "Fuck It," and through the hyperventilating rhythmic distortion of the closer "Streets," Naked Acid is a fever dream of ghostly incantation and smudged psychedelia. Honey Owens follows up her widely lauded Blood Is Clean album from early 2007 with another trip through the fertile garden of her imagination. She will be touring starting in mid-February to support the album.

Aug 4, 2008

mogollar (rare earth XXII)

Like we said in the 3 Hur-el review, above, the Middle Eastern '60s/'70s psychedelic rock scene is quite a happenin' phenomenon here at Aquarius -- bands from Istanbul blending the "heavy" beat sounds of London, L.A. and San Francisco with their own ethnic musical traditions. So, along with that great 3 Hur-el disc, we're *really* pleased to have just gotten cd copies in stock of a 1971 album by the fantastic Mogollar (or Les Mogol as they were known in France, where this LP was first released). This band has been a super favorite of ours ever since we first heard 'em on the "Love Peace & Poetry: Asian Psychedelia", "Turkish Delights", and "Hava Narghile" compilations. Yep, they appeared on all three of those fab comps, deservedly so as they were not only one of Turkey's biggest pop bands of the time but also one of the best, near as we can tell. They formed in 1967, playing a style of experimental psychedelic rock based on the folk music of the Anatolian region of Turkey. Their unique Anatolian (or Anadolu) "pop" sound is simply a delight, as amply demonstrated by this particular album. It features 13 tracks (none of 'em to be found on the aforementioned comps) that are based on traditional songs -- but for sure the original versions didn't sound like this, so groovy and hip. They employ some standard sixties rock instrumention -- plenty of electric organ getting almost "Inna-gadda-da-vida"-ish at times -- but also really bring the traditional Turkish instruments to the fore, playing ikligs and baglamas and darbukas and kasiks...all kinds of stringed and percussion instruments, often used traditionally but more often just fiercely strummed to great rock 'n' roll heights. Compared to 3 Hur-el's "Hurel Arsivi" this almost-all-instrumental album is folkier *and* jazzier, the electric organ giving some tracks a kind of Martin Denny exotica vibe. Both discs, though, would make great party records. Highly recommended!!

La portada que veis se corresponde a la edición francesa del disco, la más extendida y la que, supongo, llegó a Europa: Danses et rythmes de la Turquie d'hier à aujourd'hui'. Así, buscar el albúm por su título original es un pérdida de tiempo. Es posible que sea más bonito el nombre que en Francia se le dió pero ese Anadolu Pop resulta muy revelador. Provenientes de la región Anatolia (la parte más oriental del país) recogen el mágico y excitante folclore de la zona, emanando de sus cuerdas y percusiones un traditional-folk infeccioso e irrestible que, en ocasiones, se ve aderezado por oscuras líneas de bajo, teclados y sintes.

Consultando páginas occidentales, figura siempre este disco como su debut, pero en realidad no es así, hay más de 10 grabaciones desde su debut en el 68, lo que desconozco es cuales de ellas son lp's y cuales ep's. De hecho, dudo de si se trata de una recopilación, puesto que comparando las primeras canciones con las últimas, en las que se introducen claramente en la psicodelia, parece haber una evolución en su sonido.
Recuperado por el indispensable sello, yo diría esencial, World Psychedelia. Pocas palabras tengo para describir su música, se me agotan, que hablen 'Madimak' o 'Toroslar' eastern-folk en estado puro. Un eterno preferido.