One Gareth Bonello, two languages and a whole raft of 60s folk-SSW reflections. Take whispered melody, deft finger-picking, songs that shimmer then vanish, ripples on water, pervasive string textures a la Robert Kirby and we have what amounts to gorgeous refraction of Nick Drake's stately debut and a work of sublime hazy beauty.
Y brawd looks forward to Bonello's next port of call.
And so to Meic Mortimer Stevens, wizard and true Welsh star. Melodic nous and unquestionable earthy authenticity. He doesn't put a foot wrong on this astonishingly good outing. Sure, Dylanisms abound, particularly phrasing and breath control but Meic is his own man - through and through. Take in Breton idylls, wandering blind boys, and country loving.
2005 double CD brings together Gwydion's two official releases: Songs for the Old Religion  & The Faerie Shaman . Born Thomas deLong, reinvented as Gwydion Pendderwen: US musician, writer, poet, conservationist and druid.
Songs for the Old Religion hymns to the Sabbats, the seasonal round and pagan gods and goddesses. The Faerie Shaman broadens the palette with traditional celtic elements, harps and pipes.
In 1976 he travels to Wales and is called to the stage at the National Eisteddfod. His transatlantic love affair with Welsh myth and language deepening, he makes a fair stab at singing in Welsh on a couple of songs. Precursor to likes of In Gowan Ring and essential listening for those who dig this sort of thing - you know who you are...
Primal obscuro minimal synth culled from time when analog synthesiser ruled dystopian contrete jungles. Unforgiving, by turns sinister, always lithe, sinewy and faithful to minimal synth's fundamental tenet: simplicity, never sacrificing raw emotion for complex arrangements. Limited sonic palette fleshed out with drum machine, flat-toned vocal, and occasional bass line. Sounds remarkably contemporary in Modern Witch-like hauntological outing vein. Proof that pop not only eats itself but throws it back up for second helpings.
Overlooked in their day - at least in this parish - not soon forgotten.
Daft not punk. With year zero just around the corner Hillage elects to mantra up and blast off into new age trancy prog lunar suites and cosmic hurdy gurdy glissando, and producing top hole results to boot. So fair enough says y brawd.
Nick Cave's perennial right-hand voice of reason before side-lining in favour of assorted hairies in pursuit of swampy middle-aged mojo, Mick Harvey pulls a blinder on this the first of two Serge cover albums. Faithful, borderline pedestrian elevated by huge affection for source material. Way ahead of curve in terms of Sergiste interest outside France. English lyrics wisely eschew Serge's pyrotechnic wordplay and render bread and butter translation with just the right soupcon of Gallic sleazery. Quite a boon for the Francophiliac illiterate. Rollicking guitar, rolling rhythm and, ahem, persistent organ work their magic.
Iffy movie; nifty soundtrack. Curated by "musical supervisor" Joe Boyd, meaning right music used unobtrusively even when two bands - The Doors, Love - weren't in upstate New York vicinity at the time. Ever the budding eminence grise, Boyd either retains stock options in Elektra Records or betrays simple emotional attachment. Surely emotion is at play in Boyd's non-inclusion of Incredible String Band and instead touting the dire Melanie who unaccountably triumphs in slot ISB turn down against Boyd's better judgement. Y brawd digresses.
Movie is, in the main, a piece of shite notwithstanding some nice touches showing familiarity with original movie and, dare we say, history. Most obvious and tiresome is use of split screen. Knowing wink dialogue yields best surrender value - e.g. during negotiations on land use with Yasgur, old Max sucks on pipe and tells 'em to pay no mind to protests from neighbouring farmers. In particular we are warned not to "go dealing with the Browns" who live down the way.
Credible trip scene too (not on par with Easy Rider New Orleans cemetery - but then what is thank the lord?). Final points in soundtrack's favour: surprisingly on the money incidental music by Danny Elfman; no Alvin Lee.
01. Freedom - Richie Havens 02. Taking Woodstock Titles - Danny Elfman 03. Wooden Ships - Crosby, Stills & Nash 04. China Cat Sunflower (Live) - Grateful Dead 05. Maggie M'Gill - The Doors 06. Elliot's Place - Danny Elfman 07. Coming Into Los Angeles (Live) - Arlo Guthrie 08. I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag (Live) - Country Joe McDonald 09. Going Up The Country (Live) - Canned Heat 10. Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) (Live) - Janis Joplin 11. A Happening (Office #2) - Danny Elfman 12. The Red Telephone - Love 13. Beautiful People (Live) - Melanie 14. I Shall Be Released (Live) - The Band 15. Perspective Extended - Danny Elfman 16. One More Mile - The Paul Butterfield Blues Band 17. Volunteers - Jefferson Airplane
Postscript. Watching original movie engenders sympathy for psychonauts who moments earlier happily necked the brown ones only to then hear doom-laden stage announcement - think on.
Post postscriptum. Y brawd has access to authorially inscribed copy of Wavy Gravy's Hog Farm & Friends (with hand-drawn 'artwork' by Mr STP himself). Offers?
Fridge refugee Adem Ilhan's solo debut. Patently enthralled to whispering spirit of Vashti Bunyan and quieter ISB moments without slavish pandering to pixie-lated metaphysics or rural primitive whimsy. He captures Bunyan's domestic idyllisms in silences - soft hum ringing strings pause for breath, shifting from lowering intensity to breath-bating sigh - and instrumentation: hesitant autoharp, descending glockenspiel, understated organ, worn acoustics.
Full of moments you won't forget. Wrapped in warmth and familiarity only replicated in the place the fortunate call home.
Diverse array of 1950s field recordings. Instruments viz. double-reed sahnai or musette, end-blown bamboo flute tippera, Indian harmonium, sruti peti or hand-pumped reed drone, various members the lute clan - dotar, vina, ekatara, sarangi, tambura - not forgetting svaramandala or 40-stringed trapezoidal zither. Many performances feature human voice: Ahir cowherds, mystic wandering minstrels the Bauls, and aboriginal Gonds. Songs: ecstatic Muslim qawwali in Urdu, songs to Krishna Lover and Hero, and Hindi bhajan describing Shiva sipping hashish beverage while embracing white goddess Gauri. Heady stuff.
Somewhere in the gray wood by the river is the huntsman and in the brooming corn and in the castellated press of cities. His work lies all wheres and his hounds tire not. I have seen them in a dream, slaverous and wild and their eyes crazed with ravening for souls in this world. Fly them.
Between thought and expression, lies a lifetime. Well, for some mebbe. Not our Julian:
"We're post-Edisonian. It's really the sound of inchoate stumbling. You're creating in this massive rush and trying to excavate some kind of sense from that chaos. And that's the way I work all the time. Barf it out in chaos, and then orchestrate the chaos - that's how it's always worked for me". CE 2009
Unlike David Bowie, Julian doesn't need ideas. He simply needs one monolithic mo-foing obsession. Herein, the great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture: desert god monotheism.
Julian's schtick has and always will be a balancing act between right idiot and rite cool bastard. Therein lies greatness. Only thusly do we get savant lines such as "let there be instant karma / on every battery farmer' and "if you're a friend of Jesus, stay the hell away from me".
We also get right on rockin' out monging in droning on genius.
Sunday morning coming down. Palliative listening. Kinda Banco De Gaia lite, sans beats.
In the Ghitassara Sutta, the Buddha teaches:
There are five dangers of reciting the Dhamma with a musical intonation. What five? Oneself gets attached to the sound, others get attached to the sound, householders are annoyed, the concentration of those who do not like the sound is destroyed, and later generations copy it.
Fernhill arrive fully formed with grown up 90s debut. Julie Murphy, vocals; Andy Cutting, button accordionist extraordinaire; Ceri Rhys Matthews, plays cittern, lute, clarinet, and Pastoral oboe; Jonathan Shorland, Welsh flautist not unacquainted with music and musicians of Brittany. More mainstream, less compelling fare would follow but Ca' Nôs gets the balance right between musicianship and rough around the edges energy. A mix of Welsh, Breton, and English, ranging from romantic ballads to dance songs. Hypnotically pentangléd version of Banks of the Nile a stand out.