Moon of Ostara - The Star Child 4Zero records by Eric Nielsen

I think/hear England and the beginning of the wyrd 60's, as soon as the first notes creep out of the developing mists of The Star Child Part I. The album begins with ambience and lists lovingly into this organ figure and classic sound that alludes to the timbre and tone of all four Parts that make up The Star Child. Fred Laird is blessed with a magicians hand to dip back into the English 60's and 70's, seemingly anytime he wants.

I've been following Earthling Society for a while now (Beauty and the Beast is my favorite of theirs). And I've collaborated with Fred, (most notably on Earthling Tempel - A Pilgrimage to Thunderbolt Pagoda) and I have always been amazed how authentic and true Fred can make his sounds.

He has a strong sensibility for putting authentic instruments together with compelling ambiance and tasteful psychadelic top layers of mood. I first noticed his ability to do this on his guitar. In Earthling Society he has shown an adept hand at compostition, and this album finds Fred exploring the sometimes wide open spaces of Popol Vuh and orchestrating different sounds to carry the songs rather than focusing as much on the guitar.

Part II begins with a very Pink Floyd motif, this time it's a rhythm that reminds you of the roots and the soul and sounds that Moon of Ostara are born from and lay down a legacy towards. The guitars are often used as more of an accompliment than the lead. And when the guitars do lead, they are often so effected in a way as to invite images of otherworldly instrumentation.

All of this is done to me in a very pure white light that allows an opening into an appreciation of listening. Many sounds are bubbling through: some of the electronic sounds remind me of Hiroshi Higashi's synth playing in Acid Mothers Temple. It's of a similar pallette, though Fred's is played more in a sampled/intended style instead of the really loose and free that Higashi brings AMT. This track grinds blissfully on into a krautrock extravanganza and hypnotizes underneath a long bath of steady impactful german sounding depths and musical mantras.

These ambiant mantra pools are the base of the whole operation. It's a true pleasure to bathe in these giant fields of sound. The scope intended is epic, though it's not overdone, and rather the right number of layers and instruments and time to create a magic other land.

The beggining of Part III is the first move towards a more overt modern sound on the disc. Reminiscent of the new AMT live set, poppy and another true flavor of England. Part III starts to take the album from an ancient place and a recent past, that was being steeped and brewed before we were born and when we were kids, towards current times.

Part IV moves the album into the most current/future times. It's layered in ambiance and dipped in oils, and moves the Pink Floyd name of the lord bed right into a Mercury Rev or Flaming Lips big sendup. At first this seemed confusing, seeking a kind of resolution for the piece as a whole with just a trace of psychadelia lingering. Then clarity as a sort of 'Passion of Christ soundtrack' takes hold, then slowly, gently winding its way home.


    Lotus House Records MP3 Sampler
    High Mountain Tempel - Processional (An Invocation to Thee Angelic Sister)
    Raagnagrok - HJD
    Beggars - Will We Call It Love
    Maquiladora - Termez 1936
    Maquiladora - Song 26
    Buzz or Howl - Sendhe Mortu Chin Rigore
    Earthling Tempel - Celestial Inhabitants of the Sun
    Buzz or Howl - The Sins Of The Flower Are Visited On The Shunned
    Maquiladora - Light of the Rain
    High Mountain Tempel - The Ascended Master (Hang Gliding in Heaven)
    High Mountain Tempel - Fluctuat Nec Mergitur
    High Mountain Tempel - Tempel Walk
    Buzz or Howl - 05 Oct 05
    Buzz or Howl - Sun as the Destroyer of Dreams
    Live version at the Make Room SF 2005
    Maquiladora - In This Life
    Maquiladora - Simply to See You
    Maquiladora with Kawabata Makoto - Nampasen
    Maquiladora Maquiladora - Drunk and Lighting Fires (A Waltz)
    Maquiladora Maquiladora - Ritual of Hearts
    Maquiladora Maquiladora - Ankle
    Maquiladora - Mayday
    Loraine Loraine - Pasqually Old Pasqually

    Beggars - S/T
    by Pierro Scaruffi

    Maquiladora's Eric Nielsen and Bruce McKenzie joined forces with Skygreen Leopards' Glenn Donaldson to form Beggars, whose double-disc Beggars (Lotushouse, 2013) is a tour de force of ecstatic Eastern-influenced freak-folk. Mostly these pieces lean towards the traditional song format, although inevitably deformed by the musicians' pedigrees.

    The ghostly hyper-dilated drones of Ghost Coyote are imbued with quasi-Morricone western-movie guitar twang and even harmonica. The sweet lullaby and the trotting pace of Eureka My Love as well as the romantic honky-tonking Justine (with a refrain a bit reminiscent of Dylan's Blowing in the Wind) hark back to the heydays of country-rock. 2-3-74 Floating evokes the martial laments of the young Neil Young although diluted amid discordant guitar jamming and lulled by waves of funereal vocal harmonies. Berserker's Boogie is a lively and poppy almost-bluegrass tune. They even intone the singalong Queen Anne's Lace with drums, banjo and all.

    Thankfully, the spaced-out yodeling of Lullaby de Bourbon (memories of Aoxomoxoa-era Grateful Dead), the free-form quasi-jazz guitar and vocal interplay of Will We Call It Love, the seven-minute dreaming psalm Big Pink Sun and its sublimely disintegrating coda, remind us of what Maquiladora are best at. The 23-minute Midget Decapitates Clownis an ambitious concerto for suspense and agony. Far from being just a droning piece, it piles up sonic event after sonic event, producing the trancey effect out of a multitude of traumatic sounds. The chirping and tweeting that accumulates half-way into the piece decays into a nervous organic filigree and dies away in the most cryptic manner; one of the high points of Maquiladora's career.


    Beggars - S/T
    by Naysayer at KFJC

    Released from Lotus House Records, this is psych country/psych folk territory. Heavy on acoustic guitar with background mandolin, organ and lots of harmonies, these songs are about lost relationships, missed chances and old secrets. They sound like they should be sung around the fire pit outside an old shack in Topanga Canyon. Dusty, weedy, afternoon sunlight that blurs the vision. Turn it on, kick back and look directly into the sun. Track 5 of CD B is a 22 minute deep listening style excursion.

    Earthling Tempel - Pilgrimage To Thunderbolt Pagoda
    by Aquarius Records

    Not sure if this is part 4, or just the first in a new multi part epic, hardly matters, what does matter is, this is another glorious expansive collection of meditative psychedelic abstract dronefolk ambience. Every High Mountain Tempel disc we're reviewed thus far has gotten played to death here, and this one doesn't appear to be any different. Well, at least in that respect. In one distinct way it is very different, HMT are not going it alone this time. They've assembled a pretty impressive collection of sonic alchemists and musical conjurers to help with this ritual, Isis Aquarian from the Source Family, Charles Curtis from La Monte Young's Just Alap Raga Ensemble, and two crews from the UK we've never heard of, Earthling Society and Astarism, but even with all those cooks in the kitchen, HMT and friends have managed to weave another dark minimal masterpiece, all hushed barely there guitar shimmer, drifting whispered vocals, delicate crystalline melodies, dense swirls of piano, warm swells of tape hiss, mysterious voices and field recordings, whirring organ, bowed steel strings... so lovely.

    If the liner notes are to be believed, two of the tracks feature Earthling Society on their own, and those tracks do sound different, much less free and sprawling, a bit more structured, like seventies UK acid folk, swirling and melodic and quite lovely. The final two tracks find the two groups in full on collaborative mode, and the gears shift to something much more space rocky and Hawkwindy, all blissed out and heart-of-the-sun, until the final track which is a strummy, delicate, moody chill out closer, a sort of dour doom folk drift, that makes a perfect ending.

    Super nice packaging, silkscreened oversized 4 panel sleeve, white on black, with the cd-r affixed to the inside. And of course, SUPER LIMITED!

    High Mountain Tempel - The Glass Bead Game by Aquarius Records

    Part three in the ongoing series of limited cd-r explorations from mysterious drone combo High Mountain Tempel, and like the two before it, the band continue to delve into some murky sonic underworld, again presenting loooong songs, each separated by brief sonic interludes, this disc seems feature more actual vocals, the opening track features a processed voice, that sounds a bit like throat singing, or a Speak And Spell, intoning some arcane message, interwoven with long drawn out tones, and a thick ropy buzz, super dark and intense and atmospheric. Elsewhere sampled voices surface, there are bits of chanting here and there, all peppered throughout the disc. But even with the extra voices, the focus here is still on dark, lugubrious, extended dronescapes.

    The sound of High Mountain Tempel is probably closest to Expo '70, as their various permutations of dronemusic seem to have a definite krautrock vibe, that gives the sound a sort of spaced out quality, and a subtle propulsion, but unlike Expo '70, HMT seem to have a distinct Eastern influence, much of the music is meditative and subtly dramatic, a bit soundtracky, and some of it sounds like it could be Japanese. Especially the way field recordings are incorporated into the sounds. Giving everything a definite texture, some of it sounding like it was perhaps recorded live in some hilltop temple. Which we would imagine is the idea.

    Not sure what else to say actually. This is indeed fantastic, brooding and malefic, but also shimmery and dreamy, sonically it has much in common with the first two installments, so definitely check out those reviews to read more about their 'sound'.

    Needless to say, fans of the drone and folks into the current crop of cd-r soundscapers will for sure dig this, but like the other HMT discs, this is more than simple drone music, this is ritualistic alchemical soundwork, one can almost imagine stumbling across a group of cloaked figures huddled around a fire in a forest clearing, tossing various powders into the flames, causing the fire to change color and cast beastlike shadows on the branches above, and this is the sound filtering through the forest like a black moonlit fog...
    SUPER LIMITED of course, packaged beautifully in a foldover silkscreened sleeve, gold metallic on red on the outside, black on red on the inside.

    High Mountain Tempel - A Screaming Comes Across The Sky - The Faultline Scriptures
    by Aquarius Records

    Record number two from this mysterious drone-kraut styled duo. Their last disc was a huge hit around here, so we were pretty thrilled to get our hands on this one, a logical sonic extension of the first, delving deeper into some murky tripped out twilit soundworld.
    The disc opens with shimmering clouds of gongs and cymbals, whirring and sizzling, suspended over a deep distant rumble, a delicate intro to a record at once hypnotic and lovely, dark and dense.

    The record is arranged into three epic tracks, interspersed with short sonic interludes, ranging from field recordings of crickets, looped chants (Elizabeth Clare Prophet if we're not mistaken), spirituals and mysterious liturgical songs, whirring drones, and backwards percussion, but it's the long tracks where the duo get to spread out, let their dense soundscapes sprawl.

    The three long tracks sounds like movements of a greater whole, clocking in at 15 minutes, 11 minutes and nearly 17 minutes respectively, each rife with creepy delayed vocals, churning guitars and smeared chords, roiling muddy whirls, which often dissipate leaving streaks of fragmented melody and haunting slowed down voices. Buried amidst the drones and whirs, are lullaby-like melodies, skittery percussion, streaks of grinding distortion, hidden voices, more field recordings, thick swaths of cavernous rumbles, little bits of electronic glitch and lots and lots of low end buzz.

    Packaged in a fancy navy blue fold over sleeve, screenprinted in white ink, with a photocopied insert with liner notes and song credits.

    LIMITED TO 150 COPIES! Each one hand numbered.

 

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