Saturday, 29 August 2020

Country Joe And The Fish - Country Joe And The Fish E.P.


Rag Baby Records 1966

01 Bass Strings

02 Thing Called Love

03 Section 43

I don'y always like the music of Country Joe, but I've always been interested in their idea of using records as propaganda and promotion of counter culture ideas.

This E.P. (their second release) became legendary in San Francisco and was sold for $1 a copy. Despite it's cottage industry origins, it appeared in underground record shops in New York and London.

Moving away from folky protest, the band move into bay area psychedelia.

Spiritualized Electric Mainline - Lay Back In The Sun


Dedicated 1995

01 Lay Back in the Sun

02 The Slide Song

03 Spread Your Wings (Instrumental)

04 Lay Back in the Sun (Instrumental)

The final release from the Pure Phase / Electric Mainline period of Spiritualized.

The Byrds - Ideas As Maps


Self Made 2017 (Recorded 1967)

01 So You Want to Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star

02 Have You Seen Her Face?

03 C.T.A. - 102

04 Renaissance Fair

05 Time Between

06 Everybody's Been Burned

07 Thoughts and Words

08 It Happens Each Day

09 The Girl With No Name

10 Mind Gardens

11 My Back Pages

The Byrds re-imagined alternate history continues. This time, it's 1967 and the album 'Younger Than Yesterday'. 

To be fair, the original album is one of the band's finest and it hasn't been altered too much. 

The track 'Why?' has been removed, an earlier (in my opinion better) version was recorded the previous year and I used that on my own 1966 version 'Byrds '66'. The outtake 'It Happens Each Day' has been added, it's a complete mystery why this Crosby original was left unreleased. 'Mind Gardens' has been substituted for an earlier take and finally, the original single version of 'My Back Pages' has been used with it's lovely Leslie Speaker lead guitar for extra psych.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Albert Marcœur / This Heat - Untitled (Split Cassette)

Free cassette given away with Tago Mago magazine 1982

01 Albert Marcœur - Deux Lions Au Soleil
02 This Heat with Mario Boyer Diekuuroh - Various Cassette Recordings 1978-79

French magazine Tago Mago gave away a split cassette with a 1982 issue. On side one, we get excerpts from a soundtrack by Albert Marcœur.

Side two has my interest; exclusive material by This Heat. Together with new buddy Mario Boyer Diekuuroh they make a 16 minute collage of near world music style jams.

Ennio Morricone - Spasmo

Soundtrack 1974.

01 Bambole
02 Spasmo
03 Stress Infinito
04 Bambole (#2)
05 Spasmo (#2)
06 Stress Infinito (#2)
07 Bambole (#3)
08 Spasmo (#3)
09 Stress Infinito (#3)
10 Bambole (#4)
11 Spasmo (#4)
12 Stress Infinito (#4)
13 Bambole (#5)

Very sad to hear of the passing of the genius composer, Ennio Morricone.

Here's one of his lesser known soundtracks. Beautiful music for a 1974 slasher flick by Umberto Lenzi.

Released on CD by Digitmovies in 2006 and several versions by Dagored in 2015.

Goatherder - Isolation on the Solway Coast

TOR075. 2020.

01 Isolation on the Solway Coast
02 What Could've Been, Huh
03 Solway Television

All music performed and produced by Stephen Benson.


Emily Ford - Voice on 'Isolation on the Solway Coast'.
Francesca Bertoletti - Piano on 'What Could've Been Huh?'
Steve Orchiton - Drums on 'Solway Television'.

Recorded and produced March-June 2020.

When lockdown began on March 24th 2020, I decided that every evening I would walk the short distance from my home to a hill overlooking the Solway Coast and photograph the sunset. I wanted to document the passing of time in this strange period and also have something that gave me a routine. It was also a moment to myself in which I could just be quiet and watch the sea. I done this for 70 days, ending on June the 1st.

The track 'Isolation on the Solway Coast' is a direct consequence of that routine; the music moves as the Solway, calm and quiet. It slowly shifts from acoustic to electronic instruments to mark the change in life and feeling during this period. It was recorded, mixed and completed on the 10th of April.

I met Francesca Bertoletti in 2017. We worked together on a couple of photoshoots. Francesca is always a pleasure to work with; creative and always full of ideas. 

During our last session together, she played me a piano piece she was working on. There was no plan for it, so she generously gave it to me to do with what I liked. I spent a long time reconstructing and effecting the piece of music, it was useful for keeping my mind off other things. The entire track is made from the 30 seconds of audio Francesca recorded. 

Solway Television began as a concept after I read an article about regional programming. Border TV has been the programming provider for Cumbria and South West Scotland since this region first had its opportunity to have local television. There was another bidder for the contract; Solway Television. When Border TV was successful in its bid, Solway Television came to nothing. I wondered what a television broadcaster from my home of the west coast would be like; what programs, graphics and music it would produce. 

The basis of the track was someone remembering these programs, news articles, music, theme tunes, but obviously it never existed, so this is an abstract collage. The Covid 19 pandemic and other huge changes in my personal life also altered my memories of my own time; lockdown brought a huge existential crisis and nothing to do but think about it. 

As the original concept goes, an individual is looking back at this fictional television station, I am also looking back by including snippets of recordings I have made over the years. Field recordings, improvisations, jams and experiments have been chopped up and included. Also included are several short pieces of music made on a synthesizer that belongs to Marc. I had been displaced quickly and I didn't have my full and usual arrangement of instruments and recording equipment to hand. I did have this synth however. It is not in full working order, but the crackle and distortion from these sounds is all part of it. Finally, there are also manipulated and altered samples from sections of 'Programs for Schools'; television  made to be shown in school from around the time I was a young child in the early 1980's.

I edited and sequenced it in a way that couldn't make sense, also layering audio from disparate sources that don't belong together. I think this was a way of dealing with dementia in my immediate family and how memories must feel for them.

The photographs were the front cover image were generously donated by Melanie Plumley. Melanie worked as a sound engineer for Border Television in the 1970's and the pictures are of the sound desk she worked with.

Made at home.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Walter Wegmüller - Tarot

Die Kosmischen Kuriere / Ohr 1973

01 Der Narr
02 Der Magier
03 Die Hohepriesterin
04 Die Herrscherin
05 Der Herrscher
06 Der Hohepriester
07 Die Entscheidung
08 Der Wagen
09 Die Gerechtigkeit
10 Der Weise
11 Das Glücksrad
12 Die Kraft
13 Die Prüfung
14 Der Tod
15 Die Mässigkeit
16 Der Teufel
17 Die Zerstörung
18 Die Sterne
19 Der Mond
20 Die Sonne
21 Das Gericht
22 Die Welt

I was sad to learn of the passing of painter and artist Walter Wegmüller this March. Released in 1973, 'Tarot' was a double concept album that came with it's own deck of Tarot cards.

Wegmüller essentially narrates this set, the music is provided by the Ash Ra Tempel / Cosmic Jokers crowd.

Full on kosmiche.