...we'll post them all here...
Fans of the psychedelic and prog era will be interested in this archive release by Fuchsia. It begins with a track from Tony Durant's pre Fuchsia band Louise which is a wild and rampant slab of 60's garage psych. I'm liking 'The Band' an early demo from Fuchsia which shows a more progressive folk sound with an interlude so ridiculous it could have come from the warped nibs of Stackridge. The side long 'The Nothing Song' showcases an ambitious style of psych prog that encapsulates bits of Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Caravan. It's great this - so obviously of it's era but it's amazingly ambitious with some bits that have some really odd discordant chord changes somewhere between Love and Sonic Youth.
The innovation continues through selected tracks from their albums 'Fuchsia II' and 'Fuchsia III'. It's really cleverly orchestrated folk rock and prog that has elements of Barrett's Pink Floyd in the songwriting but a much more lush and progressive approach to instrumentation. Strangely contemporary in places too. Really enjoyed discovering this and with 7 songs this is an almost album length 7" release.
Clinton, Norman Records https://www.normanrecords.com/records2/165744-fuchsia-song
This is a double 7” including songs from 1967 to the present by Tony Durant, the main man from the band, Fuchsia. I am not at all familiar with the original band or cult album that came out in 1971. There are 7 tracks, two per side except side 2, which features the 8min track, The Nothing Song. Look at the Sun start things off with a low fi sound and vibe, a chorus that builds up like the song Stepping Stone. Apparently this is a track from a 1967 acetate! Cool. The Band, is a new song, the voice, 50 years later is aged for sure! Lots of strange instrumentation with a small section of classical music thrown in, like the Beatles would do. This is a very happy song. The Nothing Song is 8mins in length and again features a string and horn section like the old Moody Blues but then it shifts back and forth from a cool groovy track to this Moodies like sound. Very cool song with a lot of parts, including some violin focused parts (you can hear it below). Piper at the Gates of Time, nothing like pink Floyd, but another really catchy and cool tune, again with some violin and orchestration. Fuchsia song is a happy track with a really nice guitar line with a folky countryside vibe. Box of Destiny is a more laid back again the violin plays a key role. A slide or pedal steel solo was an interesting surprise.
The final track, Just Another Song, again features some more country folk influence. The release coincides with Tony putting the band together for a couple of gigs set up by the label in August. A few of these will be available at the gigs.. The 7” will also come with a cool reproduction of an original paper programme for a gig by the Ottawa Music Company in the 60s.. Great release.
Scott Heller, Writing About Music http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/fuchsia-song-7-fruits-de-mer-records.html
ANTON BARBEAU 'HEAVEN IS IN YOUR MIND'
Anton Barbeau is a very 21st century troubadour. Dividing his time between his native Sacramento, Berlin and the UK, he’s produced a huge body of work as a solo artist, producer and very briefly as a member of Scott Miller’s masterful pop-rock band The Loud Family. This EP sees him working with Fruits de Mer Records – a great fit as FdM specialise in psychedelia, space rock, acid folk and krautrock. Barbeau ticks all those boxes.
Three of the four songs on the “Heaven is in Your Mind” EP are covers. If you’re looking for slavishly note for note recreations, then look away now. Barbeau has taken the bits of the songs he likes, grafted them on to bits that really have no business being there and has punted them out to a bemused but appreciative audience. The title track sounded pretty far out when it was first released by Traffic in 1967. Fifty year later, Barbeau cranks out his drum machine and some analog synths and makes it weirder still. What’s the point in making a pale facsimile of something when you can have a little fun with it, right? His own “Secretion of the Wafer” is typical Barbeau – all elliptical melodies and playful lyrics. It’s psychedelic, but its “See Emily Play” psychedelic rather than the “fifty-minute guitar freakout” psychedelic -although Barbeau would probably make a good job of that, too.
Bowie’s “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) gets off pretty lightly – maybe because the original is pretty close to Barbeau’s own brand of nicely deranged pop. The most contentious tune is the version of “September Gurls” which opens up side two of this vinyl only release. Most versions of this – the powerpop “Johnny B. Goode” – are almost evangelical in their reverence to the original. Barbeau however, replaces Alex Chilton’s chiming Stratocaster guitar intro with a synth sound that sounds a lot like a musical doorbell. For the middle eight, he switches from the not-quite-falsetto that he’s being using in the verses, to an off-kilter croon and the guitar solo is forced through a variety of peculiar and unsuitable signal processors. It’s great. He may receive death threats from Cuban-heeled Big Star diehards, but it’s nice to hear a different spin put on it.
This isn’t the best way into the brightly coloured and twisty world of Anton Barbeau – his “Magic Act” record, or the two albums he made with Three Minute Tease will ease you into his repertoire in a gentler fashion. This is Barbeau at his most playful and it’s a joy to behold.
The scarily prolific Anton Barbeau brings his unique brand of “pre-apocalyptic psychedelic pop” back to the wonderful Fruits de Mer label once more on a four-track EP featuring one original and a trio of well-chosen covers. On his own wonderfully-titled ‘Secretion Of The Wafer’ he seems to evoke the spirits of early Bowie and Daevid Allen, positively glowing with that same aura of appealing eccentricity and boundless creativity. He has a fantastic knack for reinterpreting other people’s songs; thinking hard about them, digging deep, and then bringing out hidden aspects of them that he polishes until they’re gleaming. His version of Big Star’s ‘September Gurls’ is still a fantastic pop song, even re-imagined under a shimmering haze of synths and ghostly, barely-there electric piano. Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters’ gets a marvellously off-kilter electronic treatment that makes it sound icily strange and eerily spooky, while Traffic’s ‘Heaven Is In Your Mind’ is simply, erm, heavenly.
Neil Hussey, Shindig!
Hidden amongst the four tracks here is an original composition by Anton Barbeau. Surely a first for these Fruits De Mer singles. Not sure how he snuck that in. The best thing here though is opener 'Heaven Is In Your Mind' which is a creaking old track from the first Traffic album. A nicely psychedelic offering with those wandering up and down melodies that were so particular to the era. Barbeau creates in a nicely lo-fi style with programmed drum machines and eerie Meek style effects. Barbeau's original the ridiculously titled 'Secretion of the Wafer' fits in nicely - an oddball space psych offering with more than a hint of early David Bowie (more of him later).
His cover of Big Star's ubiquitous 'September Gurls' suffers from the familiarity of the original coupled with a weak lo-fi production but he makes a reasonably good fist of Bowie's 'Scary Monsters'. Barbeau has the sort of voice that reminds me of two of my favourite musicians Mitch Easter (Let's Active) and Scott Miller (Game Theory). Perhaps I should seek out more of his original compositions but this is a nice four tracker that will please fans of the Fruits De Mer ethic.
Clinton, Norman Records www.normanrecords.com/records2/165743-anton-barbeau-heaven-is-in-your-mind
SOUNDS LIKE? Despite covering Traffic, Bowie and Big Star, Anton Barbeau always sounds like Anton Barbeau. We love him, we believe him to be the clever, but completely bastard son of Plastique Bertrand, but we believe lots of odd things, so let's just spin this shit, okay? The title track is the Traffic cover and much improved by the hesitant drum stack and reverb-to-death live feel. To paraphrase Goebbels, mixing a little old with the new makes the new much stronger and that's what he does with a flute and some feedback. Bowie also gets some treatment with a winter sharp, guitar in a dustbin riot of a take of "Scary Monsters" and the Big Star cover, "September Gurls" is returned, unsafely, to the late sixties with a muddy mix and a cut n pasted solo from instruments so fucked over that you couldn't tell guitar from toy clarinet, well I can't and I'm pissed. Never mind, the Barbeau original, "Secretion Of The Water" is something that Dr Phibes would write for a German scat movie soundtrack, all synth-jazzed drawls, cymbal splashes and lost dialogue from some rogue robot flick, outstanding.
IS IT ANY GOOD? Anton Barbeau is a special artist. Massively underrated, but still hellishly good at peverting, subverting and creating pop-rock. Dip in and wig out, tune up, turn in and freak on, you know the drill...
SIDEWALK SOCIETY 'STRANGE ROADS'
"The 2nd incarnation of the Action, brilliantly re birthed by the Sidewalk Society" Roger Powell (The Action)
"I didn't know what to expect but I think the album will get a lot of interest. There's nothing quite like it out there." Ian Whiteman (The Action)
“A brilliant, bonkers and brave idea that exceeds all expectations.” Andy Morten, Shindig!
Someone please alert Phil Collins - American psych rockers Sidewalk Society have covered his favourite group the Action’s ‘Rolled Gold’ in it’s entirety. ‘Rolled Gold’ was demo material recorded by the group in 1967 but only properly released in 1985. Now Sidewalk Society have recorded the album properly showcasing exactly what Collins has been on about all this time.
The songs are strident and confident examples of 60s psych pop that sits somewhere between the whimsy of David Bowie and the raw rock power of the Who whilst tracks like ’Something To Say’ aren’t far away from the glam tinged stomp of early Big Star. The band expertly re-create these songs with a series of blistering performance highlighted by some seriously Keith Moon styled drumming. Although this is quite a rocky sound there are moments where you can see why George Martin was so enamoured with the band. ’Things You Cannot See’ almost pre-empts the ambitious post Beatles bluster of Wings and Badfinger with stacked harmonies galore and ‘Brain’ sounds like some kind of Paul McCartney rocker with some great jangling guitars to the fore.
Sidewalk Society expertly recreate these stellar songs and inject new life into some of the less known moments of the late 60s psychedelic era
Clinton, Norman Records https://www.normanrecords.com/records2/165745-sidewalk-society-strange-roads
Way back in '67-'68, The Action recorded a set of demos based on their newly found love of West-Coast psych and all things groovy, they then split up and then reformed as Mighty Baby, although that is another story. Anyway the demos sat in the vaults until the early nineties when they were released as “Rolled Gold” by Reaction Recordings. Forward fast to the present and Californian group Sidewalk Society decide to turn their love of those demos into re-creating those songs, a task undertaken because they feel the tunes merit the effort, a tribute not a slavish copy. All I can say is I am glad they made the decision as this is a wonderful collection that will take you back to the swinging sixties and put a huge cheshire smile on your face.
As soon as the first chord of “Come Around” sounds it is like walking through a doorway to a rose tinted past filled with sunshine, a wall of harmonies giving the tune a sweetness hard to deny, the production giving the song life and vitality. Perfectly encapsulating the era, “Love Is All” is a perfect moment, a lost Psych pop classic brought to dazzling life, a swirl of enjoyment in which every sound is exactly as you would imagine it.
Over 14 tracks there is no dip in quality, each song a nugget of happiness with “Strange Roads” sounding like The Small Faces in full flight, “Brain” having some great guitar and a lysergic shimmer, whilst “Look At The View”, the longest tune on the set, adding tinkling piano to the harmonies and chiming guitar, another lost classic finally brought to life. That piano also features on “Little Boy” a moody song with a fine organ sound rolling throughout, the album brought to a close by “Follow Me” and “In My Dream” , the former an energetic groover that gets you stomping and is filled with tension, the latter a summery jangle that lies on the grass smoking a big fat joint, the music washing over you beautifully. Fans of Apple, The Small Faces, The End, Kaleidoscope and The Beatles should all rush out and buy this superb album.
Compiled by Tony Durant, the man behind Fuschia, “Song” is a seven track stroll through the history of this fine band beginning with “Look At The Sun” a 1967 track recorded with Louise his first recorded band that also included Chris Cutler. Obviously of its time, the track is a gloriously raucous slice of garage psychelia with plenty of fuzz and effects and swirling vocals. Fans of UK punk may also find themselves humming “Barbie Is Dead” when they hear the opening riff, or maybe that is just me. Moving on “The Band” remind me of The Idle Race in its atmosphere and construction, a lovely little tune that creeps under the skin injecting you with a great big smile the song originally recorded in 1971 just after the first album was released. Talking of which, “The Nothing Song” is an eight minute gem taken from that album and treading the line between Psych and Prog including some odd changes, some great string arrangements and reminding me of East Of Eden at their best.
Like a fine wine Fuschia then went for a long lie down, returning in 2013 to release “Fuschia II, from Psychedelia to a Distant Place” two tracks from the album included here with “Piper At The Gates Of Time” easily maintaining the feel and quality of the original album, droning strings adding plenty of emotion to the song, the vocals and guitar woven around the string to stunning effect, whilst “Fuschia Song” is a jauntier affair with excellent guitar work and bright production. As it should be the last two offerings are from the yet to be released latest album with the signature sound of violin and driving guitar firmly in place on “Box Of Destiny”, a lyrical nod to the Beatles also to be found, the whole collection rounded off by “Just Another Song” a softly floating slide guitar leading us in to a gentle and melancholy tune that is the perfect finale to another excellent release.
Finally Anton Barbeau offers three covers and one original on a sixteen minute single, opening with “Heaven Is In Your Mind” (Traffic) introduced by a distorted electronic beat and strings before Anton's distinctive voice takes over, the mood softened by a warm organ tone and acoustic guitars, a delightful end section adding extra loveliness to the song. On his own composition “Secretion of the Wafer” thing get stranger, synths creating an other-worldy atmosphere that is vaguely unsettling and definitely dream-like, especially in the middle section, what the fuck the song about however is anyone's guess, which is a good thing given the music. Originally by Big Star, “September Gurls” is an established classic which , on this version sounds like it was recorded in 1967, the original jangle almost lost in a haze of confusion, a brave mood, make up your own mind but for me there is something missing. Finally we are treated to a distorted and noisy version of “Scary Monsters” (Bowie) that will definitely divide the room but has plenty of ambition and drive, I kinda like it myself.
Fruit De Mer continue down their idiosyncratic path and do so with style, passion and an ear for the good stuff, hats off again.
Simon Lewis, Terrascope http://terrascope.co.uk/Reviews/Reviews_July_17.htm#SidewalkSoc
First up Anton Barbeau, much admired around these here parts, his latest EP ‘heaven is in your mind’ has a rather spiffing cover of Mr Bowie’s ‘scary monsters and super creeps’ tucked amid its grooves, always a favourite in our gaff only bettered in the affection stakes by ‘up the hill backwards’ – still before we go off tangent – left in the hands of Mr Barbeau the fracturing psychosis of the original is displaced by a darkly seductive insular / walls closing in shadowy vibe, the angular hysteria smoothed and woozily redecorated into a mind expansive mosaic of soft psych flashings with the effect still eerily pitched at panic attacking level....
Also incoming on the Fruits de Mer imprint a superb full length set from the Sidewalk Society entitled ‘strange roads – the songs of rolled gold’ – the collection, a faithful revisiting and re-recording of the Action at the height of their powers is superbly finessed in such a classiscist vintage that might suggest the band themselves were loitering in the famous Abbey Road studios out of shot of the watchful eye of George Martin hiding beneath the mixing desk whilst these lost heroes were laying down their sonic threads. This wee video showcases excerpts from this sublime set into the bargain revealing an acutely tuned turn of retro phrasing that effervescently fizzes with a savvy, a swagger and a coolly cut vibrant strut from which out of its grooves permeate rekindled moments from a faded golden age...
Last up for this summer batch of Fruits nuggets, a double disc set from the legendary Fuchsia. A smattering of career spanning cuts feature on this essential limited pressing with rare cuts from the vaults – an early recording by Louise – a pre Fuchsia adventure whose line up featured future Henry Cow man Chris Cutler,also featured a rare Fuchsia demo predating the recordings for the first album plus a smattering of cuts from his recent ‘Fuchsia II’ set.
Mark Barton , Losing Today https://marklosingtoday.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/and-briefly-fruits-de-mer-anton-barbeau-sidewalk-society-fuchsia-and-pink-floyd/
This 3CD set is a great selection of tracks taken from many of the different compilations that the band has released. Some of these on vinyl, others are special releases for the subscribers of the label, festival promo cds, etc.. CD 1, all the tracks (covers of classic Kraut rock bands (many from the Brain Label) was released on the FdM double LP, Head Music. CD 2 contains the rest of the Head Music, plus the Shrunken Head EP, a few from Roqueting through Space (4) and Vespero’s Juniper by Faust, from the FdM annual 2013 CD. Finally CD 3 has a great version of Brainticket by Astralasia, Starship Memory by Ax Genrich and Sunhair and finishing off with the 22min version of China (Electric Sandwich) as covered by the Bevis Frond!!
Scott Heller, Writing About Music
Preliminaries first. Kopf Musik is the album we’ve been expecting Fruits to release all along, tracking back to the earliest days of the label’s dalliance with all things past and preservable and gathering up every entrant in an omnipresent obsession with Krautrock.
Five releases are plundered for the occasion, including the horribly out-of-print Head Music and its Shrunken Head Music counterpart, and three CDs shatter the label’s traditional disdain for non-vinyl format because… well, because three hours of music would devour a lot of vinyl.
Still it’s a limited edition, bargain priced, and if you have even a glancing familiarity with the Fruits family, then you’ll recognize most of the conspirators: Jay Tausig, Palace of Swords, Frobisher Neck, Heads South by Weaving, Earthling Society, Black Tempest, Vibravoid, Cranium Pie, Helicon, Vespero, Astralasia, Bevis Frond, Ax Genrich and Sunhair.
Or not. But how about Kraftwerk, Amon Duul II, Tangerine Dream, La Dusseldorf, Faust, Brainticket, Can, Neu!… ah, now your little eyes have lit up, and now you know what to expect.
This is the Krautrock’s Greatest Hits collection that the original makers never did make, so FdM did it for them Yes, Eroc’s introduction is hideously annoying, but it lasts for just forty-two seconds, and then we’re into Johnny Vines-plays-Jane, and making it sound like Van der Graaf Generator.
Language of Light do odd things to “Mushroom” (Can) and Saturn’s Ambush turn “I Want More” (Can again) into whatever might have happened to it had Love and Rockets slipped it onto their first LP.
Running times range from truncated to epic (Bevis Frond’s twenty-two minute rampage through Electric Sandwich’s “China” tops the latter category); performances drift from nail-on-the-head (Earthling Society’s drifting “Paramechanical World”) to head-on-a-pole (Anla Courtis’s faraway radio take on “Trans-Europe Express”).
But you need to hear Vespero channeling Faust through “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun,” and Astralasia take Brainticket’s most eponymous masterpiece through some truly spectacular highs. Much admiration, too, for Zenith: Unto the Stars’ invocation of Popol Vuh’s “Mantra II,” and Cranium Pie’s “Black Sand,” another Brainticket jewel restudded with a whole new bucketload of gems.
Krautrock is such a disreputable term these days… and always has been, despite its ubiquity. Kopf Musik, on the other hand, fits the entire sound and scene exquisitely. Three discs, three hours. Roll on volume two.
Dave Thompson, Goldmine magazine
To celebrate its lucid Dreams Of Dr. Sardonicus event with Damo Suzuki headlining, the marvellously idiosyncratic Fruits de Mer label has assembled catalogue highlights of a krautrock hue over this three-CD set, initially for sale at its events. After an introduction by Grobschnitt's Eroc, the collection takes off through often audacious cover versions of Can, NEU!, Tangerine Dream, Popul Vuh, Faust and Brainticket classics, along with some epics they inspired. suitably insane and massive fun
Kris Needs, Electronic Sound magazine
KRIS GIETKOWSKI 'THREE OF A KIND'
Without a doubt, this month's most bonkers project has to be Polish multi-instrumentalist Kris Gietkowski remaking the debut albums by prog pioneers Egg, The Crazy world of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster as devoted instrumentals......this is the sort of thing that keeps making sound alive and fun
Kris Needs, Electronic Sound
ASTRALASIA - 'OCEANIA'
Spawned as an offshoot of the Magic Mushroom Band at around the time free festivals were giving way to raves and acid house (not to mention their more psychedelic derivatives), Marc ‘Swordfish’ Hunt and co have been there or thereabouts for the better part of thirty years, sailing ambient techno waters of varying hues and current. Sometimes they’ve appeared to be riding the eternal wave – usually at festivals - at other times years go by without you seeming to notice that they are there.
Well take note of them for now. Astralasia are still very much around and Oceania has to be their best effort for some considerable time (well at the very least since the last one). ‘Alooland’ is a synapse tickler of superlative quality that has the aural effect of consuming exotic substances in a tropical location without, frankly, the need to experience either. ‘Ghosts In Between’ is hardly less heady, presenting as it does a Gymnopedies-like variation on the theme of Manzarek’s Riders On The Storm’ runs. ‘Tangerine Skies’ is the band’s ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ moment but in all together more profound and satisfying groove, while the ECM styled Euro-Jazz stylings of ‘North Star’ features Stevie B on mellifluous sax. Over on the second disc (that’s Side 3 to you, or CD 2 for us reviewing sorts) ‘Astral Voyager’ gets up on its toes to kick things off apace System 7 style, before settling back into a loping, lotus-eating pace with ‘Ishdan’.
The defining statement though has to be the side-long ‘Time and Tide Eternal’, literally oceanic in its vastness although should you by now be tempted to don white robes and strike reclining poses with crystals or some such daftness, then a word to the wise, this one’s a little more challenging and unsettling. Full marks to Phoebe Thompson for supplying the beguiling flute, which, accompanied by a tapping percussive backing and some babbling disorientation, sounds not dissimilar on occasions from that album Nik Turner recorded in the Great Pyramid some years ago (goodness that was some years ago). While we’re at it with the plaudits it would be a disservice, too, not to mention Peter Pracownik who peppers all four sides with some lush harmonics and fluid Steve Hillage-influenced runs. Literally music to these ears.
And there we have it. With Oceania their creators have plucked from the deep a transcendental, psychotropic pearl, near-perfect at 3a.m. or 3p.m. Timeless and strange indeed. Now immerse yourselves.
Ian Fraser, Terrascope
First of all we should apologise for being a little late to the party with this one. Another release ripe for headphonic delight, incoming on the esteemed Fruits de Mer imprint an absolute mind mushrooming head trip from Astralasia. Pressed on coloured double vinyl replete with additional 7 inch and blotter paper no doubt aping the LSD saturated sheets of the late 60’s, ‘Oceania’ might well be best described a trip aboard a kind of cerebral carpet drifting deep into the subconscious exploring your inner head space for this mammoth sonic statement cuts across the realms of ambience, kosmische and transcendentalism like a hot knife through butter.
‘Alooland’ starts the journey, a demurring dream drift of swirling dissipates and dissolving textures, a cosmic jungle if you would so wish replete with bird song and a teaming of dub draped woozy wildlife. The decidedly beardy ‘ghosts inbetween’ changes the mood ever so slightly, positioned on a more solid terra-firma, this funky murmur tone comes wiggily shrouded in a trippy kosmiche jazz shelling pressed upon a mellowing motorik grooving while the title track closes the curtain on side one with some nifty Floydian spiked Tangerine Dream mind expansion. ‘tangerine skies’ opens matters on side 2, is that Rickie Lee Jones at the beginning, sure sounds her which is just as well as this ‘un takes its cue initially from the Orb’s ‘little fluffy clouds’ and then just drifts off radar into Ozric Tentacle magic lands, one we suggest best accompanied by the rolling of a fat ‘un and just letting yourself go. Sprayed in beguiled Balearic afterglows ‘kaleidoscopic’ arrives hazily adorned in misty romance dinked in tropicalic delirium which we must admit had us for the best part arguing with ourselves what it reminded us of more – Vini Reilly or Discordia. It’s left to the sides best moment to run out matters towards the end groove, ‘north star’ very much setting its dials for bliss state and into the bargain colouring in the invisible dots that exist between Embryo and Sendelica.
With a title like ‘astral voyager’ there was never going to be any doubt or fear that this was going to fry your headspace with wiring salutations crusted in harsh gouging, a pulsing peace pipe very much recalling those lengthy workouts by Paris Angels albeit as though retooled by a youthful Echoboy and cut with the same kind of mind morphing mosaics that used to occasion themselves out of the much-missed Delirium sound house in the mid 90’s. something of the John Barry ghosts through the twinkle toned noir lounge smouldering of ‘Ishdan’ with its feint daubing of the mystique snaking through its hypno-grooved shimmer toning. All said though it’s the 22 minute colossus ‘time and tide eternal’ which occupies the entirety of side 4 that provides ‘Oceania’ with its formidable centre piece for what is a humungous meditative out of body astral ride sailing on cosmic ocean drifts populated by floaty ripples of dream dazed arabesque mirages, hallucinogenic hazes and lulling at peace with everything flotillas of bliss kissed out there-ness. Classy. For the seriously bonged out among you the label are at present cobbling together one of their legendary special edition sets of the album that features posters, white labels, special coloured wax variations, a live vinyl set and all manner of hush hush secret goodies all no doubt forced with some difficulty into a humungous box
Mark Barton - The Sunday Experience
No sea-change from ambient favourites
You can take Astralasia’s mellow vibes as a counterpoint to any number of things: as a contrast to the more muscular songs of their elder sibling, The Magic Mushroom Band, or – within the free festival scene they sprung from – as a kind of chill-out antidote to the flourescent effervescence of fellow instrumentalists Ozric Tentacles.
Not that Marc Swordfish and company can’t deliver a robust tune themselves, as we hear the deeper we dive into Oceania, but essentially what they purvey are elongated compositions to feel at ease with, without their suites ever merging into some homogenous whole. What’s immersing about this double – FdM promise a very limited special version with bonus 7” and live CD alongside the main release – is the way that it effortlessly glides through different instrumentation and moods. The airy wind chimes of Kaleidoscopic, the busy piano of Mushroom Heartbeat, the smoky saxophone that drifts in and out, the shoreline ambience and the spacious stretch-outs.
It’s lazy in a good way, not navel-gazing but still contemplative and inward-looking, a night-time companion to a nostalgic notion or a moment of elusively dreamy idealism. Time & Tide Eternal says the expansive final track, the extended coda to four sides of scrumptiously trippy electronica.
Ian Abrahams, Record Collector
Three years on from Astralasia’s last double album ‘Wind On Water’, the band have topped that long sold out release with ‘Oceania’. Split across double vinyl, the band present 80 minutes of largely chilled out electronica.
Its 11 tracks delve deep into the lost continent it is named after and, as the band describe it: “It’s about birth, life, love, death, afterlife and rebirth…the whole cycle. It’s either a meditative, shared with a loved one in embrace, or a remembrance of loved ones gone, or in that state in between.”
Describing the tracks won’t do it justice. A hugely ambitious release that will surely interest followers of Pink Floyd, The Orb and Angelo Badalamenti.
Jason Barnard, The Strange Brew
"time to discorporate, leave your body, into the wonderful psychedelic sounds of Astralasia"
Keys and Chords
One of my favourite space rock groups Astralasia are back on Fruits De Mer following their sold out LP ‘Wind On Water’. They’ve been around for a long time and all that experience shows in their latest double CD ‘Oceania’. “It’s about birth, life, love, death, afterlife and rebirth” says the band, quite a concept! CD 1 (vinyl side 1) first and as the anticipation builds on opener ‘Alooland’, ‘Ghost Inbetween’ takes a surprising turn, vaguely like The Doors’ ‘Riders on the Storm’ in its electric piano lines. The title track is a heavier synthesised affair with Orb like narration a la ‘Pink Fluffy Clouds’ while ‘Tangerine Skies’, the opener on side two speaks for itself in musical direction. The biggest surprise on album one though is the final track on side two ‘North Star’ which has some glorious sax and what I can I only describe as ethnic electronic percussion. Album two starts with another track heavily influenced by Tangerine Dream, ‘Astral Voyager’- it also took me back to the first time I heard Steve Hillage’s ‘Fish Rising’, marvellous. Awakened from the trance, ‘Ishdan’ has an oriental flavour and ‘Mushroom Heartbeat’ features a rare solo piano excursion, very inventive and risky a la Cecil Taylor perhaps amidst the pulses and beats. The album concludes with a side long experimental, ambient piece called ‘Time & Tide Eternal’, a slow builder with wistful flute sounds and tabla.
Phil Jackson, Acid Dragon magazine
I really liked the last Astralasia record a lot. I had no idea they had a new one. The group is very diverse so you are never quite sure what you will get but for sure a lot of spaced out electronic music and maybe some guitar as well. This is a double album with most tracks between 5 and 7mins with the exception of the long side 4 22 min Time, Tide and Eternal. The album starts off with Alooland, a sort of new age synth piece. This is not my favorite style of stuff from this band at all. It slowly builds up with synth bass and programmed drums. Ghosts in between is another synth piece with some nice piano. Oceania has a very fast synth arpeggio and some really cool psychedelic guitar playing. Great track. Tangerine Skies starts with a female spoken voice and then a dreamy synth line starts and there are some more ethereal voices mixed in as it builds up. Kaleidoscopic returns to this new age Kurzweil like synth with some piano stuff, a very floating happy elevator music track. A bit of lounge jazz like guitar which later evolves into some cool guitar. This ends and it changes into a very much piano focused song until the end. North Star features a pretty cool saxophone, played very slowly. This track slowly builds in some pretty cool layers over the 7mins. Side 3 starts with Astral Voyager with some Ozrics like guitar as the track builds up. Mushroom heartbeat starts with a piano work out before the synth and female voice kicks in. A long Shore is a 2.5 min track that ends side C with another floating new age like thing with some saxophone. Side D is the 22 min long track. It takes a long time to develop and features flute, electric tabla (?), and some other extra percussive sounds we have not heard yet on the album. A quite deep bass that shakes the floor is also present (mostly likey synth) as the track grows. It gets really spaced out and lost in space around 15mins until the end. If you like the last several albums you will dig this one as well.
Scott Heller, Writing About Music
Astralasia has been one of my favourite ambient/electronic acts since separating their celestial body from their old mothership The Magic Mushroom Band in the beginning of the 90s. During the White Bird era around '98 their music went a bit too commercial for my taste, but luckily Swordfish with his fellow astral travellers have released some totally amazing stuff lately on labels like Tonefloat and Fruits de Mer. I really enjoyed the 2014 FdM 2LP Wind on Water that sold out quicly. Oceania is another 80-minute masterpiece of psychedelic, hypnotic, usually soothing soundscapes from the primeval sea that is the ancient place of birth for all of us and the life itself.
In addition to huge array of synthesizers, sequencers and who knows what kind of weird electronic wizardy the album also includes for example very nice electric guitar, sax and electric violin, if I'm not mistaken. In the early to mid 90s Astralasia became famous for their use of spoken world samples, and there's a litte bit of that included here as well. This is still instrumental, atmospheric electronic music for the most part. You can just put this album on, close your eyes and float along with the cosmos. In a sense time does not exist, there is only now where the past and the future are intervined. I really like that place. This album is perfect for those late chilled-out moments but also works on a lazy Sunday morning, for example. I won't go through the tracks this time, but some of the titles include "Tangerine Skies", "Astral Voyager", "Mushroom Heartbeat" and "Time & Tide Eternal", just to give you some kind of an idea. Do yourself a favour and get this album if you can still find it, since it's already sold-out on pre-orders on the label. There will also be a very special version limited to 200 copies that will include an exclusice 7" among other things...
DJ Astro, Astral Zone
This split single tackles two of Frank’s better-known and best-loved tracks, reimagining them as an acid rock barnstormer (Finland’s Superfjord) and a Sabbathian monster head pounder (prolific Welsh combo and longtime Fruits De Mer contributors, Sendelica). Superfjord add an electronic, progressive vibe to Zappa’s cinematic, jazzy instrumental (originally released on Hot Rats) that gives it a nice, Yes/ELP groove. Stellar guitar work combines with fancy keyboard runs that combine a little Canterbury Scene headiness with an elegant, neo-classical sheen that works on many different levels.
Karen Langley (Babel) raps through Zappa’s giddy ode to canine piss over Sendelica’s throbbing, escalating crunch, at once both ominously stealthy and full-on big boot boogie. Langley occasionally oversteps her remit and turns her performance into an audition for a West End musical – just a tad too emotionally overwrought for my taste. Her heart (and lungs) are in the right place, but a little more restraint might have gone a lot further.
Jeff Penczak, Soundblab
SENDELICA/SUPERFJORD - 'ZAPPA'
Both bands have recorded a cover of one of the songs of Frank Zappa and the split single appears april 17 2017 via Fruits De Mer Records on 7 "colored vinyl, the A-side song" Peaches En Regalia "is called and is played by Superfjord.
Here I hear the band be performing a wonderfully melodic symphonic instrumental, which are several good tempo.
On the further side of the single I hear Sendelica play the song "Do not Eat The Yellow Snow" and in it the band I enjoy a nice swinging progressive rock song with a rather monotonous rhythm that the end is slightly heavier.
The split single "Zappa" Super Fjord and Sendelica contains two excellent Zappa covers, which I can recommend every lover of the music of Frank Zappa, but also those who love symphonic music and progressive rock will certainly enjoy here
Carry Munter, New Underground Music (auto-translated from Dutch)
Peaches en Regalia by Superfjord starts things off. They stick pretty close to the original with adding one new section and all the melodies, etc.. are intact. I enjoyed it. Sendelica, on the other hand, really make this cover of Don’t eat the Yellow Snow, a new track. A very cool 7”.
Scotter Heller, Writing About Music blog
Frank Zappa was a musician with a devoted following, one that shows no sign of weakening almost a quarter of a century after his death. With that in mind it's a brave move to cover an artist that many would think uncoverable. Purely from a technical point of view this is not for the faint hearted. And who would want to upset those fervent Zappaphiles?!
Welsh spacerockers Sendelica and Finland's Superfjord have stepped up to the proverbial plate, each taking a side each of this limited edition 7” to give their spin on a couple of Frank's most iconic compositions.
Superfjord's version of 'Peaches En Regalia' keeps the originals sense of fun, ups the acid-rock ante and adds an additional jammed out section. It's also has one hell of a funky bassline. Sendelica opt to tackle 'Don't Eat The Yellow Snow', beginning with a spaced out ethereal section that segues into a heavier riff-based part which has an almost glam-rock feel, making full use of two drummers.
As they say in football parlance this two-tracker is a game of two halves. Difficult to pick a winner as they're both enjoyable. And hey, music ain't no competition after all, it's a collaborative labour of love. Another winning combination from Fruits de Mer.
Afraid it’s another of those essential type Fruits de Mer happenings that this time extending its influential radar to the legendary freak king himself, Frank Zappa. Now when it comes to naming artists deserving of the tag genius, in the era of ‘pop music and beyond’ all must surely be measured against the Zappa, a restless musical soul who hopped, fused and blurred the musical disciples with impish creativity leaving a body of work that to this day still has the ability to confound not to mention provoke critical debate and discussion. With Fruits de Mer’s curious affiliation and affection for the eclectic and the outsider, its only strange that its took them so long to link their musical carriage to the Zappa sonic express. The incoming ‘Zappa’ set comes pressed on 7 inches of wax, coloured obviously and limited in quantity, upon its grooves sit Superfjord and Sendelica each trading a side each and rephrasing a selected cut from Zappa’s formidable and extensive back catalogue. First up Superfjord go head to head with ‘peaches en regalia’ – a cut that originally reared it’s wigged out head on ‘hot rats’ – which listening just now had me very much recalling L’Augmentation, but that’s for another day. Left however in the hands of these dudes, ‘peaches en regalia’ stirs pipes and purrs to the original’s pastoral majesty though here invested with a liberal dose of breezy progressive grooving which all said had us very much in mind of the legendary Supersister, which by our reckoning is only a good thing. Sendelica turn their sights upon ‘don’t eat the yellow snow’ – originally appearing on ‘apostrophe’ – a set which even when he was playing with a straight bat he’d still manage to sound fried. Bingham and Co rethread the whole mix initially splitting it in two parts and fuse both together so that what first appears as a rather dandy slice of hypnotically snaking stoner glam emerging from a woozily dream draped ghost folk recital soon splinters and morphs with the appearance of Babal’s Karen Langley into a horn hazed gospel smoker. Recommended of course.
Mark Barton, The Sunday Experience
Zappa cover versions can be tricky. A true iconoclast with a unique compositional style, interpretations of his tunes can come across as pallid and pointless imitations.
Finland's superfjord almost fall into this trap on 'Peaches'. They stick closely to the original - playful, ebullient, ridiculously catchy - but part of the problem is that the piece is so tightly constructed, it doesn't allow much space for personal expression, apart from a brief solo break that sounds like '80s Hawkwind playing jazz. Sendelica's version of 'Snow' starts out loose and spacey; fluttering, floaty synths and FX and a relaxed vocal over that melodic bass hook, before lurching into a downtuned, lurching metal riff - though a floating, disembodied sax and ethereal female vocals push things interestingly.
Most Zappa music nowadays seems to consist of the "respectable" stuff played in concert halls by virtuosic new music ensembles. It's nice to be reminded that he was, at heart, one of rock's most peerless provocateurs
Neil Hussey, Shindig!
What a great invention: to put Superfjord and Sendelica to cover a couple of the most famous Frank Zappa tunes on a 7" single! Superfjord has risen rather quicly to one of the leading Finnish psychedelic rock bands and they have a steady and ecstatic fan base by now. "Peaches En Regalia" happens to be my favourite Zappa tune from my favourite Zappa LP Hot Rats, so I was quite naturally very keen on hearing what one of my favourite Finnish psych rock bands would make out of it. Now I can say that they did an excellent job! Their version is a bit more spacey, jazzy and psychedelic without loosing any of the original vibe and progressive, melodic grooviness. Just because they are Superfjord they have even put in a little bonus jam in the middle. These guys are superb musicians with limitless sense for style and mood so I'd even say I prefer this to the original right now.
Our old Welsh friends Sendelica (who are playing a few gigs in Finland again this month!) have choosen a bit different Zappa track: "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"! This of course presents Zappa's humorous side and isn't really that special musically, but Sendelica makes it sound a lot heavier with two drummers and dropped tuning. There are also some psychedelic elements to make things more interesting, of course. The bluesy/jazzy vocals are by Babal singer Karen Langley. I like it! Better get this beauty fast before it's gone.
DJ AStro, Astral Zone
OK, here comes the writings of a musical heretic. I know next to nothing about Zappa and have rarely listened to any of his work. I, then, come to these two tracks almost completely cold, not hearing them as covers but in and of their own right. Superfjord's Jussi Ristikaarto talks about wanting to preserve the 'bubbly and energetic' nature of 'Peaches En Regalia' and notes how the Zappa version has a soundtrack quality that they'd wanted to preserve in their interpretation, which sort of does my reviewer job for me, because their cut has the vibe of a funky and freaky 60s pop culture film, probably set in swinging Soho, all flowery shirts and flares, and people conversing in groovy metaphors... photographers and models, pop stars and groupies and not much plot but lots of running around London town, visiting little clubs that look like they've been set-up in someone's front room. Makes me smile!
Superfjord are, then, doing the light touch on their side; flip it over and immediately there is a different texture, with Sendelica - and guest vocalist Karen Langley - opening 'Don't Eat the Yellow Snow' with a sinister, forbidding entry into what becomes a heavy riffing, heavy saxophone, dense drumming, number, all grain and fuzz and wailing underneath a declaiming vocal, purposefully stomping one step at a time through the tune and out of the other end. Two sides, two very different takes.
Ian Abrahams, Spacerock Reviews
KRIS GIETKOWSKI - 'THREE OF A KIND'
We’ve been here before, a few months ago, when a Polish multi-instrumentalist haunting the deepest recesses of YouTube sat down to record a large chunk of the debut album by a Canterbury combo best remembered for spawning Hatfield & the North. And we said all that then, so we’ll repeat some more – Songs from the First Album by Egg was, indeed, a faithful cover of a side-and-a-half of Egg, the debut album by the band that had just shed the young Steve Hillage when they got the chance to record it.
Only now it’s joined by two other discs, Tracks from the First Album by Atomic Rooster, and Tracks from the First Album by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown… which are both revealed, in turn, to be the albums in their entirety, plus a bonus b-side on the Brown disc, in the form of the non-LP “Rest Cure.” Egg, too, is rendered complete here, and maybe you wonder why anybody would want to reward Gietkowski’s endeavors by offering more than a cursory shrug to three organ-heavy instrumental reinventions of albums that most of us surely have owned for the best part of the last fifty years?
The question answers itself. Stripped of lyrics, stripped of all the redolence and nostalgia that still draws ears to “Friday the 13th,” “I Will Be Absorbed” and “Spontaneous Apple Creation,” the three discs here stands as tributes not to the music, but to the moods and momentum that made them possible in the first place.
Because they’re not simply straightforward renderings (if they were, Brown’s “Fire Poem” would really be in trouble); you recognize themes and riffs, but the focus shifts to other plains and even planets – less masterpieces of underworld psychedelia, Gietkowski resurrects all three albums as existentialist soundtracks for the bleakest gothic silent movies nobody ever made, operatic phantoms of prog masked and made flesh by the sheer audacity of the concept. Plus, where else are you going to hear “The Hall of the Mountain King” a la Vincent Crane?
The birth of prog is often viewed as something of a hit and miss affair, at least in the months before the seventies dawned to coalesce its disparate strands into something that the mainstream could get its teeth into. Three of a Kind is aptly named, then, in that it isolates a few of those original strands and demonstrates how exquisitely woven they already were.
Don’t let it pass you by.
Dave Thompson, goldmine Magazine
high on my list of people I need to buy a pint for is KRIS GIETKOWSKI. Three Of A Kind (***, STRANGE FISH 3-CD) sees this estimable dudemeister tackling the bulk of the debut albums by Egg, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster all on his lonesome, as befi ts a Polish multi-instrumentalist with a commendably abstruse hobby. It seems churlish to carp when Gietkowski only recorded this stuff for his own amusement, but it should perhaps be pointed out that his versions are essentially note-perfect replicas, and none of them feature vocals. Nevertheless, his playing is beyond reproach, and finding a surrogate Arthur Brown or Mont Campbell is admittedly a tall order these days without recourse to unchaining the weird relative you harbour in your crawlspace.
Marco Rossi, Shindig!
KRIS GIETKOWSKI - SONGS FROM 'EGG'
Kris Gietkowski was born in Poland and made his own amplifiers old radios to distort his guitar and keyboard.
In 2007 he moved to Britain, where he bought his solo and bass guitar, keyboards and Hammond organ.
Two years ago, posted Kris "While Growing My Hair" and other songs of Egg on youtube called Grietek, which drew the attention of music Keith Jones, who is also the owner of the Fruits De Mer Records label and that there resulted in the Fruits De Mer Records on april 17, 2017 releases the album "Songs from the First LP by Egg" (1970) in a very limited edition of 300 units as LP on colored vinyl.
The album, which contains seven songs, beginning with "While Growing My Hair" and in it I hear Kris be performing an excellent progressive electronic number that is very danceable (listen to this song from the youtube link under review) and followed by "I Will Be Absorbed", another fine swinging progressive number and here are various tempos.
Then put me Kris "The Song Of The McGillicudie pusillanimous (Or Do not Worry James, Your Socks Are Hanging In The Coal Cellar With Thomas)" before and I get to hear a beautiful swinging rock song that played at a fairly high pace and is dominated by the Hammond organ, and "Movement 1" follows and in it he plays a great groovy psychedelic piece progressive rock, where classic rock is in interwoven, which contains some great tempo changes and shows similarities with the music of the Nice.
Then dishes out Kris me "Movement 2" for and in this song it makes me enjoy a delicious piece of progressive rock, played at an average tempo and several tempo changes and this is followed by "Movement 3", in which he goes making fantastic music and the final track "Movement 4" I get to put such delightful progressive rock song where the music is similar to that of the Soft Machine from their beginnings.
"Songs From the First LP By Egg" by Kris Gietkowski is a fantastic record, which I enjoyed from beginning to end, so that I can recommend any progressive rock fan.
Carry Munter, New Underground Music (auto-translated from Dutch)
At first, these appear to be straightforward reinterpretations of songs from the first LP by Egg, hence the name. But Polish musician Kris Gietkowski has charged them with a lo-fi bounce, where the originals glisten and pomp, these versions - constructed with homemade amplifiers and devoid of words - emit a kind of frantic glee. The smell of hot electronics and the thrill of the amateur intoxicates.
However, his production is far from amateurish; his musicianship is superb, especially on "Symphony No.2 Movement 4", and more so knowing that Kris plays each part himself. The results are, ultimately, mixed; whilst enjoyable, it's a bit like riding the tea-cups underneath a rollercoaster - each has its own distinct thrill, but the lure of the big dipper wins.
One must congratulate FdM though, for sticking to their mission of releasing the interesting and esoteric. This definitely ticks both of those boxes.
Spenser Tomson, Shindig!
I have to admit I'm not that familiar with the first LP by Egg, being still in nappies when it was released. My earliest musical memories coming a few years later and limited to the glam pop and tartan-clad boy bands prevalent on AM radio at the time. Anyway thanks to the powers of the Internet I've learnt that Egg were a three-piece prog band who signed to Decca in 1969 and released and eponymous debut LP a year later.
Fast forward 47 years and in a bizarre labour of love, Polish multi-instrumentalist Kris Gietkowski has decided to record a full length LP featuring most of the songs from Egg's first LP. Notice that that's most and not all, as the press release explains - “it's only 'most of' as one of the tracks would have taken him months to learn and he didn't fancy the ten second intro track on the original album.”
Reading that I knew I'd just love this LP, regardless of how it sounded. But anyway it sounds pretty good. A fully instumental album full of jazz-prog organ fugues, proto math-rock and quasi-classical passages in what I'm led to believe is a fairly faithful replica of the original LP. And it comes as a colour-in-colour vinyl LP, yellow in white to look like a poached egg. How can any self-respecting vinyl freak not dig that right!?!
Harmonic Distortion http://harmonicdistort.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/kris-gietkowski-songs-from-first-lp-by.html
This is a pretty interesting jazzy, instrumental organ driven remake of the first EGG record from 1970. I don’t actually own the original but I remember my friend Malcolm Humes (RIP), played EGG for me a few times. Egg was Dave Stewart's (Organ player in Egg, Hatfield and the North, Soft Machine and National Health (all great bands!) band. What is most interesting is that Kris (from Poland but living in England) plays all the instruments on this record! THe long Symphony No. 2 is my favorite part of the album
Scott Heller, Writing About Music http://writingaboutmusic.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/kris-gietkowski-songs-from-first-album.html
JACK ELLISTER - ROOTS CONFERENCE
Returning back to the Fruits de Mer, the label have announced the first happenings for the coming 2017 season, strictly speaking both releases are heading out on the Friends of the Fish imprint, this is the sub label marketed beneath the umbrella of FdM yet to all intents and purposes is self financed by the bands themselves. First up ‘roots conference’ by Jack Ellister is a 300 only vinyl full length that superbly showcases his grasp of the lysergic pop rudiments to such an extent that we suspect in a parallel universe he’s a Barrett acolyte with means to time travelling and occasionally drawn on by a whim dares to step out of their 60’s into our now with eye swirling musical threads of out there mind warping magick, in essence a covers collection featuring his working of Bowie’s ‘drive in Saturday’ taken from last years FdM annual freebie ‘Fashion’ along with various re-readings of groove by Jackson C Brown, Open Mind, the Fool, Mark Fry and more. Expected sometime February / March.
Mark Barton - The Sunday Experience
waiting for a completely acoustic work in preparation, Jack offers us his second album that continues the line of the electric psychedelic pop, started with the debut album to pay tribute to the musicians who influenced him as a composer, guitarist and sung. A collection of songs among the most beautiful and less obvious the psychedelic '60s, but not limited to, filtered and reinterpreted through the diaphanous personality of a great artist like Jack. There are The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Open Mind, etc ... but also Dizzy Gillespie, etc…
Rossana Morriello, Rockzilla
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...meanwhile, you can read our earlier reviews in the FdM archives
our 2016 reviews.... http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/reviews2.html
and our older reviews...
http://www.fruitsdemerrecords.com/reviews 2014 archive.html