Monday, 21 December 2020

Spectrum - 1991-1995


Self Made Compilation 2020.

01 (I Love You) To the Moon and Back
02 Capo Waltz (Live)
03 Don't Go (Instrumental 1)
04 My Life Spins Round Your Every Smile
05 Don't Go (Instrumental 2)
06 True Love Will Find You in the End (Radio Mix)
07 To the Moon and Back (Remix)
08 Waves Wash Over Me (Remix)
09 My Life Spins Round Your Every Smile (Remix)
10 True Love Will Find You in the End (Extended Mix)
11 Taste the Ozone / 2 Chord 12 Bar
12 Don't Go (Vocal Version)
13 Drunk Suite / QuickSilver Glide Divine (Vocal Version)
14 Santa Claus
15 Indian Summer
16 Baby Don't You Worry (California Lullaby)
17 It's Alright
18 True Love Will Find You in the End (Guitar Version)
19 Thru the Rhythm
20 California Lullaby (Alternate Mix)

A compilation of Spectrum material released between 1991 - 1995.

(I Love You) To the Moon and Back
Capo Waltz (Live)

    - 7" single, Silvertone Records 1991.

Don't Go (Instrumental 1)
My Life Spins Round Your Every Smile
Don't Go (Instrumental 2)

    - 'How You Satisfy Me' single, Silvertone 1992.

True Love Will Find You in the End (Radio Mix)
To the Moon and Back (Remix)
Waves Wash Over Me (Remix)
My Life Spins Round Your Every Smile (Remix)

     - 'True Love Will Find You in the End' single, Silvertone 1992.

True Love Will Find You in the End (Extended Mix)

    - 'True Love Will Find You in the End' 12" single, Silvertone 1992.

Taste the Ozone / 2 Chord 12 Bar
Don't Go (Vocal Version)
Drunk Suite / QuickSilver Glide Divine (Vocal Version)

    - 'True Love Will Find You in the End' 7" single, Sympathy For The Record Industry 1992.

Santa Claus

    - 'Super Sympathy Spectrum Stocking' split 7" single with The Field Trip, Sympathy For The Record Industry 1992.

Indian Summer
Baby Don't You Worry (California Lullaby)
It's Alright
True Love Will Find You in the End (Guitar Version)

    - 'Indian Summer' EP, Silvertone 1993.

Thru the Rhythm
California Lullaby (Alternate Mix)

    - 'California Lullaby' 10" EP, Sympathy For The Record Industry 1994.

Spiritualized - The Electric Mainline


Self Made Compilation 2020.

01 Good Dope/Good Fun
02 Don't Go - Stay With Me
03 Don't Go - Stay With Me (The Individual)
04 Good Times
05 Electric Mainline Pt.1
06 Lay Back in the Sun
07 Electric Mainline Pt.2
08 Spread Your Wings (Pure Phase)
09 Take Good Care Of It (Live)
10 Things'll Never Be the Same (Live)
11 Clear Rush (Live)
12 Medication (Live)
13 Take Your Time (Live)
14 Smiles (Live)
15 Lay Back In The Sun (Alternate Mix)
16 Good Times (Alternate Mix)
17 Spread Your Wings (Instrumental)

A compilation of material from 1993-1995, when the band adopted the slight name change of Spiritualized Electric Mainline.

Good Dope/Good Fun

    - from split 7" single with Mercury Rev. Distributed by Greenpeace 1993.

Don't Go - Stay With Me
Don't Go - Stay With Me (The Individual)

    - from 'Let It Flow' CD 1. Dedicated 1995.

Good Times
Electric Mainline Pt.1
Lay Back in the Sun
Electric Mainline Pt.2

    - from 'Electric Mainline' EP. Dedicated 1994.

Spread Your Wings (Pure Phase)

    - from 'Exclusives', Various Artists cassette given away with Select magazine, 1995.

Take Good Care Of It (Live)
Things'll Never Be the Same (Live)
Clear Rush (Live)

    - from 'Let It Flow' CD 2. Dedicated 1995.

Medication (Live)
Take Your Time (Live)
Smiles (Live)

    - from 'Let It Flow' CD 3. Dedicated 1995.

Lay Back In The Sun (Alternate Mix)

    - from  'Lay Back In The Sun' CD single. Dedicated 1995.

Good Times (Alternate Mix)

    - from Various Artists compilation 'Volume 12' 1994.

Spread Your Wings (Instrumental)

    - from 'Lay Back In The Sun' CD single. Dedicated 1995.

Spiritualized - This Way All Of The Time


Self Made Compilation 2020

01 Anyway That You Want Me
02 Step Into The Breeze Pt.1
03 Step Into The Breeze Pt.2
04 Anyway That You Want Me (Demo)
05 I Want You
06 Feel So Sad
07 Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies)
08 Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes)
09 Run
10 Luminescence (Stay With Me)
11 I Want You 
12 Effervescent (Chimes)
13 Why Don't You Smile Now?
14 You Know It's True (Instrumental)
15 100 Bars (Flashback)
16 Medication
17 Smiles (Live)
18 Angel Sigh 
19 Feel So Sad
20 Space
21 Shine A Light (Live)
22 100 Bars (Accapella)
23 Smiles (Live)

A compilation of material from the Laser Guided Melodies era, 1990 - 1993.

Anyway That You Want Me
Step Into The Breeze Pt.1
Step Into The Breeze Pt.2

 - 7", 12" & CD Single, Dedicated 1990.

Anyway That You Want Me (Demo)

 - from 'Anyway That You Want Me (Remixes)' 12" Single, Dedicated 1990.

I Want You
Feel So Sad

- 7" Single, Fierce Records 1991.

Feel So Sad (Rhapsodies)
Feel So Sad (Glides and Chimes)

 - 12" & CD Single Dedicated 1991.

Luminescence (Stay With Me)
I Want You 
Effervescent (Chimes)

 - 7", 12" & CD Single, Dedicated 1991.

Why Don't You Smile Now?

 - 'Smile/Sway' 7", 12" & CD Single, Dedicated 1991.

You Know It's True (Instrumental)
100 Bars (Flashback)

 - 'I Want You' 7" & CD Single, Dedicated 1992.

Smiles (Live)
Angel Sigh 
Feel So Sad

 - 7" & 12" Single, CD EP, Dedicated 1992.

Shine A Light

 - 'In A Field Of Their Own - Highlights Of Glastonbury 1992', NME 1992.

100 Bars (Accapella)

 - 'Smiles (Live)' 7" Flexi Disc, Dedicated 1993.

Smiles (Live)

 - 'Volume Six' Various Artists Compilation, 1993.

Note: the three posts this December will be the last post Spacemen 3 / Spiritualized / Sonic Boom / Spectrum on this platform. Their releases become more widely available after this point, please try to buy from the artist. To tidy up the last couple of years of posts though, here are some handy compilations rounding up the material.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Brocken Spectre - Interference Overhead / Fireworks Thrower


Treehouse Orchestra Recordings. TOR077. 2020.

01 Interference Overhead
02 Fireworks Thrower

Stephen Benson - Guitars & Bass.
Marc Gillen - Guitars & Vocals.
Steve Orchiton - Drums.

Recorded at Scott's Self Storage, September 2020.

Mixed and mastered by Jonathan Sharp, October 2020.


Various Artists - Esoterica Britannica X


Fan made compilation 2020.

01 Burial - Night Bus
02 The Chemical Brothers - Hanna's Theme
03 Damon Albarn - Apple Carts
04 Broadcast - Man is Not a Bird
05 Cate Le Bon - Shoeing the Bones
06 Mica Levi - Lonely Void
07 White Noise - Your Hidden Dreams
08 The Bonzo Dog Band - Quiet Talks and Summer Walks
09 Super Furry Animals - Ymaelodi A'r Ymylon
10 Mount Vernon Arts Lab - Warminister 4
11 Gwenno - Daromres Y'n Howl
12 Radiohead - Burn the Witch
13 Jocelyn Pook - Masked Ball (Extended Mix)
14 Richard Dawson - Ogre
15 The Raincoats - Only Loved at Night
16 Micahu and the Shapes - Eat Your Heart
17 Wreckless Eric - Lureland
18 Swell Maps - The Stars Are Like An Avalanche
19 Boards Of Canada - The Colour of the Fire
20 Cate Le Bon - The Eiggy Sea
21 The Fall - To NK Roachment- Yarbles
22 Pink Floyd - Jugband Blues

Friend David has provided us with a new installment of the Esoterica Britannica series.

Messol featuring Eleanor Servanté - Battle of Black Beck / Faint Lines


Treehouse Orchestra Recordings TOR076. 2020.

01 Battle of Black Beck
02 Faint Lines

Marc Gillen: Guitars, keyboards and sounds.

with Eleanor Servanté: Vocals.

Words by Marc Gillen.

Recorded at home, August - September 2020.

Mixed and arranged by Alastair Popple at the Kitchen Sync.

Photography by Marc Gillen.

"Messol is a new project for me, the idea being I write a song, ask someone to sing it, use it as an A-side. Then I write a B-side, maybe an instrumental or a little experiment, then put it out as a single. Repeat and fade, maybe one day if I get a few done it will make for a cool wonky mixtape.

If I'm really lucky different singers will sing the songs and bring something to the words and melody that goes places I would not. A chance to see what opens up. It's always fascinating to hear someone sing your words, collaboration is a beautiful thing.

I am thrilled that Eleanor Servanté agreed to sing on these two tracks; after hearing the wonderful 'Distaff Lines', I knew I wanted Eleanor to sing 'Battle of Black Beck', which I wrote three years ago and it was going to be a Mystery Spring song, but it always seemed to slip away quietly. It was always the odd one out. Three years of roaming and now Eleanor has given it a home."

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Tír na nÓg ‎– Tir Na Nog


Chrysalis 1971

01 Time Is Like A Promise
02 Mariner Blues
03 Daisy Lady
04 Tir Na Nog
05 Aberdeen Angus
06 Looking Up
07 Boat Song
08 Our Love Will Not Decay
09 Hey Friend
10 Dance Of Years
11 Live A Day
12 Piccadilly
13 Dante

Haven'y had any psych / acid folk in a while. Here's the debut by Tir Na Nog; progressive Irish folk and one of the originators of the alternate folk movement. 

I was listening to this while working on a project concerning the Lammas Night Laments series. Hopefully that will see fruition in the next few months. 

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Various Artists - From Czech Electronic Music Studios


Supraphon 1974

01 Zbyněk Vostřák - Scales Of Light
02 Miloslav Ištvan - Isle Of Toys
03 Václav Kučera - Two Parts From The Kinetic Ballet 2) The Labyrinth
04 Václav Kučera - Two Parts From The Kinetic Ballet 3) The Spiral

For anyone that is interested; here is a tasty slice of Czech Musique Concrète.

Manfred Hubler and Sigi Schwab - Vampyros Lesbos Sexadelic Dance Party


Crippled Dick Hot Wax 1995

01 Droge CX 9
02 The Lions and the Cucumber
03 There's No Satisfaction
04 Dedicated to Love
05 People's Playground (Version A)
06 We Don't Care
07 People's Playground (Version B)
08 The Ballad of a Fair Singer
09 Necronomania
10 Kamasutra
11 The Message
12 Shindai Lovers
13 The Six Wisdoms of Aspasia
14 Countdown to Nowhere

During the initial lockdown of March to June 2020, I embarked on several film seasons; some with friends, some alone.

One of the most fun was the films of Jess Franco, specifically with the late actress Soledad Miranda.

While watching the seminal 1970 classic 'Vampiros Lesbos', I remembered how wonderful the soundtrack by Manfred Hubler and Sigi Schwab was.

Parts of the soundtrack were used in other Franco films, notably 'She Killed In Ecstasy' and 'Eugenie de Sade'.

The soundtrack wasn't issued at the time of the films release and this Crippled Dick Hot Wax pressing comes from 1995.

Monday, 28 September 2020

James Blackshaw - Miscellania


Self made compilation 2017

01 No Ghosts
02 River of Heaven
03 Spiralling Skeleton Memorial (Live)
04 The Broken Hourglass
05 Cross
06 Are You Alright? (Chump Change)
07 Between Tides

Here's a round up of hard to find, non album Blackshaw tracks. Makes for a good 30 minute EP. The tracks are from:

No Ghosts - taken from the Various Artists album 'Gold Leaf Branches', Digitalis Recordings, 2005.

River of Heaven - taken from the Various Artists album 'Imaginational Anthem (Volume Two)', Tompkins Square, 2005.

Spiralling Skeleton Memorial - taken from the Various Artists album 'A Raga For Peter Walker', Tompkins Square, 2005.

The Broken Hourglass - taken from the Various Artists album 'The Garden of Forking Paths', Important Records, 2008.

Cross - taken from the Various Artists album 'Young God Amazon Sampler',  Young God Records, 2010.

Are You Alright? (Chump Change) - by Blackshaw, Wood, Wood & Tomlinson. Taken from the Various Artists album 'Benefit For The Recovery In Japan', Antiopic, 2011.

Between Tides - by Roger Eno, remix and collaboration with Blackshaw. Released on 'Greater Lengths', All Saints, 2014.

Spectrum - Undo The Taboo


Silvertone Records 1994

01 Undo The Taboo
02 In The Fullness Of Time
03 Turn The Tide (Sub-Aqua)
04 Go To Sleep

The first (and only) single release from the 'Highs, Lows And Heavenly Blows' LP. This period also marks the end of Sonic's / Spectrum's time with Silvertone Records. 

Various Artists - Autumn 2020


01 James Blackshaw - Gate of Ivory
02 Brigid Dawson and the Mothers Network - Ballet of Apes
03 Pye Corner Audio - Magnetic Acid Part One
04 Country Joe & The Fish - Section 43
05 Valium Aggelein - Triumph Of The Metal People
06 Sandro Brugnolini - Vortice
07 Saffron - Vision is a Lonely Word
08 Robert Hermel - Industrie Spatiale
09 Craven Faults - Deipkeir
10 Bulbils - New Island
11 Andrew Wasylyk - Dreamt The Breakers Spill
12 Zbynek Vostrak - Scales Of Light
13 Ennio Morricone - Bambole

New mixtape for your pandemic times.

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.

Spiritualized - Let It Flow

Dedicated 1995.

CD 1:

01 Let it Flow
02 Don't Go / Stay With Me
03 Don't Go / Stay With Me (The Individual)

CD 2:

01 Let it Flow
02 Take Good Care Of It (Live)
03 Things'll Never Be the Same (Live)
04 Clear Rush (Live)

CD 3:

01 Let it Flow
02 Medication (Live)
03 Take Your Time (Live)
04 Smile (Live)

The next Spiritualized single after the 'Electric Mainline' E.P. was 'Let it Flow'. It was released as three compact discs; the first came with a slip case to house the other two.

If I remember rightly, they were sold for £1.99 each, so for your £5.97 you got a live mini album plus a couple of new tracks.

All top notch stuff, the 90's were a bargain.

The Nightowl Sings - Slow Cancellation E.P.

TOR074. June 2020.

01 Summer's Yawn
02 Angry Bees
03 Municipal Dreams
04 Stieg & Eva
05 Future Shock

Marc Gillen - Guitars, Keyboards, Samples, Percussion and Vocals.


Stephen Benson - Additional Guitar and Bass on 'Municipal Dreams' and 'Stieg & Eva'.

Recorded at home by Marc Gillen, April 2020.

Mixed and produced by Stephen Benson, April 2020.

Cover art by Marc Gillen.

"Rain is nowhere
Cloudless drift
Grass is barren brown
Quiet screams are made
But neighbours don't hear
At least the kale is doing well

Photos arrive
From a seaside town
Desolate and clear
Switch on the battered synths
And try to reclaim
Yesterday's joy

Time circles
Like a drunk vulture
No merry-go-round
Just back to the start again
Roll the dice
But someone stole my dreams today"

These songs were written and recorded during the first two weeks of lockdown. I had been reading Eva Gabrielsson's 'Stieg and Eva' as the dark curtain of lockdown descended and this proved to be a good catalyst for the E.P. The books tales of isolation, political upheaval and cultural butchery seemed apt. The music and lyrics for the E.P. came quickly and I was trying to play with different sounds and trying not to get hung up on the perfect take, just going with what felt right. Ste helped do the mixing and added a few overdubs. Its funny how difficult times have you looking for home; for me that's songwriting and TOR, and I'm glad this loose creative family is always a home I can rely on. - Marc.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Deuter - Soundtrack

Kuckuck 1973

01 Princess Of Dawn
02 Winter Sun
03 Triad
04 Tom Bombadills Dance
05 Pearls
06 Arabia
07 Cray-Fish
08 Deep Sea
09 Starlight
10 Phoenix
11 Hoodle-Doodle
12 Gotic Velvet
13 Green Cherub
14 Desert-Rock
15 Synthi-Effect
16 Flea-Dance
17 Flea-Dance II
18 Laser
19 Up And Down
20 Desert-Rock II
21 Kolibri
22 Elefantentempel
23 Reed
24 Singing Bell
25 Evening
26 Together

Deuter is a new age artist that has an extensive back catalogue. This record from 1973 is actually a library record, it's contents for use in film and television.

Krautrock flavoured new age ambient.

Note: the above cover is from the 2018 reissue on Black Sweat Records.

Robbie Basho - Omar Khayyam Country (Live)

Grass-Tops Recordings 2013 (Recorded live 1978)

01 Omar Khayyam Country (Live)

When Grass-Tops recordings were in the full swing of releasing and re-releasing Basho material, this wee gem came out via the Basho Soundcloud.

That page, along with Grass-Tops Recordings is now sadly defunct.

Eleanor Servanté - Distaff Lines

TOR073. Released May 2020.

01 Bonny George Campbell
02 Matty Groves
03 The Lyke Wake Dirge
04 The Twa Corbies
05 Flash Company
06 The Maid of Culmore
07 Island Spinning Song
08 Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye
09 The Snows they Melt the Soonest

I first met Eleanor Servanté when she performed at Cakes & Ale cafe in Carlisle in 2017. I was taken aback by the purity of her voice, her knowledge of folk tradition and the origin of the songs she was performing as well her ability to sing the majority of these songs from memory. She sang acapella.

After the performance I approached Eleanor with the idea of recording her for a release on Treehouse. We recorded three sessions between 2018 and 2020 at Warwick Bazaar. I recorded and discussed ideas with Eleanor and Al mixed and produced. 

The artwork was also by Eleanor; a spinning wheel from the title of one of the songs. The 'distaff' of the title is a part of a spinning wheel, while the distaff line is the female lineage of a family.

Here are Eleanor's notes on the songs presented:

"The final song on this EP was once sung by a street singer in Newcastle, almost two hundred years ago. I have been singing - and collecting songs - for as long as I can remember, and it's tiny, vivid details like this which really capture my imagination. Folk songs were (and are!) formally performed, of course… However, especially before widespread recorded music, folk songs were sung by, well, the folk. Especially before music could be recorded and played back, if you wanted music then you had to make your own. So almost everybody would sing them. At their spinning wheels, on sailing ships, over cooking pots or tin baths, pretty much anywhere you can think of. And it's this idea of folk music that appeals most to me, and to which I kept returning over the course of this project. I sing these songs over my spinning wheel, in local pubs, walking the dog, at my sewing machine, passing the time at cold and windy bus stops… and now here, for you. And if ever you should find yourself humming one of these tunes to yourself, then I shall consider my work here complete.

‘Bonny George Campbell’

This beautiful Scottish lament was collected - along with many others - by Francis James Child during the 19th century, although it’s likely older still.

‘Matty Groves’

This song started out as an early 17th century broadside ballad - the earliest known variant appears in 1613 - and also the first narrative folk ballad I ever learned. Traditionally set in the North of England, it’s a delightfully melodramatic tale of adultery, epic sword fights… and impaling and pinning people to walls. Because this is a murder ballad, and apparently just stabbing them wouldn’t be nearly exciting enough.

‘The Lyke Wake Dirge’

'Lyke' is a very old word for 'corpse'; this funeral chant has its origins in medieval Yorkshire, though the tune we know today is Victorian (written by Sir Harold Boulton, in 'Songs of the North'). It would have been sung at the 'wake' or vigil over the body, and vividly describes the judgement of the dead. The instrument you hear is a rebec, an early ancestor of the violin; this particular one was handmade by my father for my 21st birthday.

'The Twa Corbies'

There's a lovely old English song called 'The Three Ravens' in which a knight gets himself killed (an unfortunate occupational hazard) and his hawk and his hounds keep vigil and his wife drags him off for burial before obediently keeling over and dying herself because that's what women do in these things… This Scottish variant is rather more brutal!

'Flash Company'/ 'The Yellow Handkerchief'

I've known this Victorian song since I was a child, but little me had no idea what the pretty words actually referred to. The Victorians' preferred euphemism was 'the great social evil'... Put it this way: traditionally, a yellow flag flown from the mast of a ship signalled that it was riddled with disease, and thus under quarantine.

'The Maid of Culmore'

This lovely Irish song is another of the many attributed only to our dear friend, 'trad.' The visceral, elemental imagery rather speaks for itself.

'Island Spinning Song'

Collected in the 1950s, this gorgeous working song was translated from Scottish Gaelic, and the chorus maintains echoes of the Gaelic Mouth Music tradition. Love divination was a surprisingly common pastime back in the day, and here the spinning wheel is equated with the figurative wheel of fate. The rhythm you hear in the record is my own spinning wheel; she's a traditional wheel, fully functional… and although she's already had a long life before coming to me, I'm fairly sure that this is her musical debut!

'Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye'

Written by Joseph B. Geoghegan and published in London in 1867, this variant on the arguably more famous 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' was popular on both sides of the Atlantic during the latter part of the 19th century and beyond.

'The Snows They Melt The Soonest'

This was first recorded in the written tradition after being heard from a Newcastle street singer in 1821." - Eleanor Servanté.

As ever, free download available from our Bandcamp.

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Various Artists - Diana and Helen's Garden Chill Out

Mix 2020

01 Palace Video VHS Ident
02 Susan Christie - Rainy Day
03 The Missunderstood - My Mind
04 Mohave Triangles - Eternal Light (Edit)
05 Arbete & Fritid - Petrokemi, Det Kan Man Inte Bada I
06 Cat's Eyes - Black Madonna
07 Mirrorring - Mine
08 Brian Hodgson & Delia Derbyshire - The End
09 Extradition - A Moonsong
10 Frank Zappa - Willie the Pimp
11 Trees Speak - Soul Sequencer
12 Vinegar - Missi Solis (Edit)
13 Deuter - Evening
14 Constance Denby - Om Mani Padme Hum
15 John Coltrane - I Wish I Knew

A mixtape for your lockdown.

Spectrum - True Love Will Find You In The End (U.S. Version)

Sympathy for the Record Industry 1992

01. True Love Will Find You In The End 
02. Don't Go (Vocal Version)
03. Taste the Ozone
04. The Drunk Suite/Quicksilver Glide Devine

This U.S. E.P. collects together alternative versions of Spectrum songs unavailable in the U.K.

We Are The Wooden Houses - Song Without A Song / Class Mask

TOR072. Released April 2020.

1. Song Without a Song
2. Class Mask

The first new release by We Are The Wooden Houses (Alastair Popple and Myself) in nearly four years.

'Song Without a Song' comes from a stash of material recorded between 2015-2018 for the unreleased album 'Lair'. Pastoral ambient.

'Class Mask' was originally intended as a split single with Twin Beaks. With that project indefinitely shelved, this piece of organ and electronic hauntology now finds a new home on this release.

Artwork comes courtesy of Cumbrian illustrator Emily Ford.

Free download and limited edition CD available from Bandcamp.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Various Artists - Three Films by Goatherder

TOR071. Released March 2020.

01. The Heartwood Institute - Castlerigg
02. Amy Tweddle - RAF Silloth Abandoned
03. Goatherder - Kingmoor

Last year, I was preparing for a photography exhibition. As I collected together the pictures, I began to wonder about film, and how static film shots differ from still life photographs.

In October, I chose and shot at three different locations. They were the Castlerigg stone circle near Keswick, the abandoned RAF base in Silloth and Kingmoor nature reserve in Carlisle. All locations are in Cumbria.

I had began discussing film and soundtracks with two friends; Jonathan Sharp (The Heartwood Institute) and Amy Tweddle (wearequasaars), and they provide two of the pieces here.The third I made myself.

Three short films about the absence of people.

Links below for both film and soundtrack.

Joji Yuasa ‎- Music For Theatrical Drama

Edition Omega Point 2006

01 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 1
02 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 2
03 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 3
04 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 4
05 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 5
06 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 6
07 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 7
08 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 8
09 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 9
10 Oen (A  Woman Names 'En') Part 10
11 Mittsu No Sekai

From the Obscure Tape Music of Japan series. 'Oen (A Woman Names En)' is from 1963 and 'Mittsu No Sekai' was composed in 1959 for orchestra and tape.

The Electric Prunes ‎- Mass In F Minor

Reprise Records 1968

01 Kyrie Eleison
02 Gloria
03 Credo
04 Sanctus
05 Benedictus
06 Agnus Dei

In 1968, The Electric Prunes found themselves with even more contractual bad luck. This time, they had to record arrangements for producer David Axelrod's vision of Gregorian chant cum psychedelia opus.

The band split during the recording and the finished result has Canadian band The Collectors filling in with session musicians.

This should result in a bitter disappointment, but it's a psych classic.

Friday, 28 February 2020

Les Rallizes Dénudés - '77 Live

Rivista Inc. 1991

01 Enter the Mirror
02 Night of the Assassins
03 Flames of Ice
04 A Memory is Far
05 Strong Out Deeper than the Night
06 The Night Collectors
07 The Last One

My favourite live recording of Japan's extreme noise makers. Devastating and essential.

Daphne Oram - The Oram Tapes Volume One

Young Americans 2012

Disc 1:

01 Just For You (Excerpt 1)
02 Eton
03 The Innocents - Savage Noises (Excerpt) (1961)
04 Anchor Butter
05 Manchester 2 (1962)
06 Wool (1967)
07 Oxford
08 Hydrogen Tones
09 2001 Effects Tape 1
10 2001 Effects Tape 2
11 Phensic (1961)
12 New Atlantis (1963)
13 Just For You (Excerpt 2)
14 Winters Journey (Intro) (1958)
15 Pulse Persephone (Alternate Parts For Mixing)
16 Light Music (Excerpt)
17 Stroke
18 Shell Flight (Excerpt)
19 Anacin Components
20 G.O.S. (Excerpt - 15" Tape Transferred At 7.5" Ps)

Disc 2:

01 Costain Outtake
02 London University (Excerpt) (1968)
03 Encephalagraph
04 Anacin (Excerpt)
05 Hamlet - Youth Theatre (1963)
06 For Granada (1967)
07 Oramics Demonstration (Excerpt)
08 Electronic Sound Patterns (Excerpt) (1962)
09 Pure Tone Excerpts
10 Canadian Idyll
11 Hospital
12 Mermaid (Excerpt)
13 Shell
14 Illustrations (Fireworks / Hardwich High School) (1967)
15 Ursa Major (Outtake) (1962)
16 Ursa Major (Sun Mix) (1962)
17 Oddments (Excerpt)
18 Osram & Rank / Pulse Persephone Experiment (1963)
19 Pulse Persephone Pitch Experiment (1963)
20 Sardonica (Excerpt)
21 Progs (Excerpt)
22 Barclays Bank (Excerpt)
23 Birth Of Baby
24 Speech Test

Compiled from a stash of tapes found in the 2000's. Focusing on the more avant garde and darker pieces composed.

Spiritualized Electric Mainline - Electric Mainline E.P.

Dedicated 1993

01 Lay Back in the Sun
02 Electric Mainline Pt. 1
03 Good Times
04 Electric Mainline Pt. 2

This record marks the start of the second phase of the music of Jason Pierce / Spiritualized and one of my favourite E.P.'s of all time.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Datetenryu - Unto

Belle Antique 1997

01 Tohfukuji
02 Baseball Game
03 Soft
04 Unto
05 Foggy Day

Brilliant Japanese psych art jazz improv. Tracks 1-3 from "Live Tape" 1978, track 4 Live Tape 1975 and track 5 Studio Tape 1982.