12 Jun 2017

Nirvana (UK) - Local Anaesthetic / Songs of Love & Praise


Reviewed by Nathan Ford

UK psych-pop duo Nirvana had a pretty good run on Island Records. The three albums they recorded for Island are now held in high regard (although they weren't hugely successful at the time), and tracks like "Rainbow Chaser" and "Tiny Goddess" are among the very best that UK psychedelia had to offer from the next tier bands.

With the arrival of the progressive era Alex Spyropoulos amicably left, leaving Patrick Campbell Lyons in sole charge of the name and his sole album for the Vertigo label "Local Anaesthetic" is an adventurous stab at the prog-rock aesthetic from an artist who's gift was for perfect three minute pop singles. This being the case, you'd expect this to be a somewhat uncomfortable metamorphosis, but where side long tracks were the order of the day, Campbell Lyons' approach was to continue to write those perfect, short pop gems, stick them together into side long suites, and surround himself with tried and true prog legends (Jade Warrior and King Crimson's Mel Collins) who could stretch the material into more ambitious directions. It's not always 100% successful but it's never dull. And the sleeve is one of iconic Vertigo photographer Keef's very best.

More successful, but less popular from a collector's viewpoint is the followup album "Songs of Love & Praise", released on the Philips label in 1972. It's a bit of a forgotten entry in the Nirvana catalogue. All traces of psychedelia have been stripped away and the lengthy prog expeditions of "Local Anaesthetic" have been left behind in favour of a simpler, contemporary pop approach, which reminds me a lot of the sort of material that Ray Davies and Donovan were producing around this time, although the inspiration here appears to be less sporadic than the scattershot approach these two were exhibiting by this point.

The re-recordings of "Pentecost Hotel" and "Rainbow Chaser" aren't a patch on the originals and give the impression that Campbell Lyons was perhaps struggling a little in the songwriting department at the time, an impression which is certainly not borne out by the new tracks which make up the rest of the album. Again leading a crack band, Campbell Lyons seems much more comfortable here and the arrangements are inventive, with some lovely instrumental interludes.

I admit I didn't expect much from "Songs of Love & Praise", but put aside expectations of trippiness and this is a pretty hard album to dislike. It's not hugely substantial, but it is thoroughly charming. Particularly fine is the closing "Stadium", which provides a rousing, climactic end to the original album.

Both releases are lovingly remastered as is Esoteric's way, with extensive sleeve notes and bonus tracks that don't detract from the main course and will prove essential to collectors.

Available here and here.

8 Jun 2017

Halasan Bazar - Burns


Reviewed by Shaun C. Rogan

Ah! 'Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!' As Danny Kaye memorably sang (or was it Donald O'Connor? No matter). Here is a really great piece of work from Danish psychotropic innerspace explorers Halasan Bazar who aim to turn us into true believers with their new release; the chiming, oddly affecting and very strangely beautiful record entitled 'Burns'.

Mining a seam of baroque - freak - pop-psychedelia not unlike that pursued by the likes of Jacco Gardner and Kurt Heasley in recent years (no bad thing), "Burns" has strength in depth. Every song is an unhinged and hook laden narco-fairground ride waiting to take the active listener through a hall of musical mirrors that disturb and confound in equal measure. Thank God for mental illness.

After a brief rippling intro, 'Honest People' kicks things off proper with an ecstatic chiming guitar fest and equally delirious and declamatory lead vocal that reminds me a little of Dean Wareham, in a good way of course. "Get Sick and Die" (apart from being a great title for a song) has an elegantly wasted vibe to it that gets your toe tapping instantly and like the rest of this record hooks you like a hungry catfish on a pole. There is so much going on in these relatively simple but sonically highly crafted arrangements that elevate matters into something eerily sophisticated and engaging. In tone, in depth, in staying the right side of self-indulgence (nothing here is over 4 and a half minutes long), Halasan Bazar crank out killer tune after killer tune. "Fools" is a trip to the drive-in with your favourite girl in your dads car on a beautiful July evening where you lean back and look at the stars just as the acid you took before you picked her up kicks in. And then you realise you're gonna have to drive home.

'Freak' is a sick serenade that sets my teeth on edge with its see-sawing strings and its glib drugged out insanity. "Burns My Mind" is a lovely alt-country prairie lament that never quite feels settled with a macabre sensibility to the impressionistic and dream like lyric. The off-kilter melancholy of "Junky" has a certain sunny-side up quality as if being presented at some psychedelic holiday camp talent competition on the Baltic coast to a captive audience of drooling freaks. Halasan Bazar are definitely messing with your mind and they know exactly what buttons to press.

Enigmatic closer, "Lucky You" penetrates the walls of your head with its reprise of ecclesiastically skewed organ washes that seem to emit a sick warm polluting odour that threatens to submerge you until the clutch is released and a gently stomping valedictory love song rises out of the fog. As a way of bringing proceedings to a close it seems entirely appropriate as it is both happy and twisted.

With 'Burns', Halasan Bazar present an irresistable cavalcade of memorable classically framed pop psych delights shot through with an anxiety that is somewhat unique and sets them apart from their peers. They are The Brian Wilson Massacre, they are Galaxie 600, they are Arcade Fire blazing on high grade acid and stripped of phony pretention, they are a glittering North Sea surf reflecting the light of the summer sun in endless pinpricks of luminosity but most of all they are themselves - a hazy, sweet, sour, ragged dream freak scene that I wandered into one evening. You need this record to help soundtrack your life in 2017, to help you make sense of the insanity that has swamped the world and threatens to drag us under. Feel the burn.

Available from visionary record stores on vinyl/cd around the planet and the bands record label through the widget below (where you can also here the whole thing)

2 Jun 2017

Prana Crafter - MindStreamBlessing


Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Over a year has passed since we at The Active Listener delighted in the psych wonder of 'Rupture of Planes' from Prana Crafter, the project of Washington Woods guitarist William Sol. It is fortuitous then that from his isolated forest home Sol has been quietly assembling his latest offering, 'MindStreamBlessing', which is now available courtesy of  Eiderdown records.

Opener 'At Agartha's Gate' delicately enters on a hush of chiming guitars and mellotron, a gently epic introduction that recalls both Zeppelin's 'Rain Song' and Ben Chasny's finest moments with Six Organs of Admittance. Yet these are just reference points; Prana Crafter are unique in their own individual vision and in the particular combination of both rustic and cosmiche that they conjure seemingly at will. If this track is the mist over the redwoods and the sense of soft rain on your skin, then follower 'As The Weather Commands' is the full blown thunderstorm. Cascades of corrosive psych fuzz guitar flow over strident bass in torrents, a truly captivating and thrilling downpour of controlled noise and melody. Feedback swells and calm interludes give way to a wash of symphonic keyboards, summoning a break in the deluge that is almost meditative; a breathing out after the force of nature that preceded. 'Prajna Pines' is equally transcendental, rough hewn and distorted picked guitar soaking into the sound of organ and American backwoods blues; you can nearly smell the pine tree needles and the damp of the forest surrounds. The album's title track ushers in a darkening mood, swirling guitar lines disappearing amidst a fog of echoing keyboards until an urgent and beautifully tense acoustic refrain emerges. Sol is a master of this, of creating and carefully constructing a mood both melancholic and triumphant, that captivates to the extent that this listener found himself literally holding his breath at times. Next, 'Luminous Clouds' places a pensive guitar line over a shimmering organ drone that builds and layers until there is a veritable guitar orchestra at play. Shuddering bursts of electricity crash through the looped percussive and circular backing in a manner suggestive of Neil Young accompanying Mike Oldfield circa Ommadawn. Unpredictable and deeply emotive, this album contains many such moments that leave you practically shivering with both excitement and release. Closer 'Bardo Nectar' is a case in point; what on the surface appears as a bluesy, Americana stroll then unleashes waves of guitar that, in their dark fury, wouldn't be out of place on an early Sabbath album. A fitting end to an album that confidently combines harmony and an unshackled joy in noise, contemplation and wild expression and a sense of both the rural and the universal.

Seek out this album and make it your soundtrack to this year; take it with you when you walk, drive or wander. But make sure and also investigate the other jewels in Prana Crafter's back catalogue, this is a treasure trove that is quietly and steadily growing in size with 'MindStreamBlessing' a crowning achievement.

Available now as a limited edition cassette as well as a download release in a beautifully illustrated cover from Eiderdown records.

25 May 2017

The Black Watch – The Gospel According to John


Reviewed by Todd Leiter-Weintraub (Hop On Pop)

For more than 30 years, The Black Watch have been flying under the radar of even the mainstream indie community, quietly releasing album after album of accomplished guitar-based indie rock. They’ve developed a dedicated cult following of people who seem to only share their music with the folks who they believe will love the band as much as they do.

But The Black Watch don’t want to be a secret, and The Black Watch shouldn’t be a secret; they should be a band that is just as well-known and just as beloved as any of their more-celebrated jangle pop cohorts. Their 15 th album, “The Gospel According to John” is another brilliant collection of impeccable indie rock that should, hopefully, gain them a wider audience.

While it’s not an offering that makes any radical changes to their well-established, jangling, vaguely psychedelic pop sound, there has been one noticeable tweak: the increased—and more-aggressive—presence of the guitars. There are simply more of them, and they are more immediately demanding of your attention.

Much of this change can be attributed to new guitar player Andy Creighton (The World Record), whose layers of effects-washed guitars carry echoes of Ira Kaplan’s (Yo La Tengo) affecting, slightly-off key moaning. It’s a sound that takes up a lot of space in the mix, but still provides a fine compliment to songwriter/bandleader John Frederick ‘s melodies and faux-British- accented vocals.

A perfect example is in album opener “Whence”, which kicks off with a wall of guitars so forceful that it pinned me to the wall before quickly dropping down to something a little more gentle. But, even after the dynamic shift, there remained layers: guitars chiming on the top of the mix, on equal footing with the vocals, leaving another layer of fuzz floating, menacingly, below the surface.

“Way Strange World” follows in much the same manner, with the guitars simultaneously playing off of both the vocal line and the rhythm section. The influence of the great NYC band Television is another obvious point of reference.

There is not much change in mood or sound throughout the album, but that’s okay. The band sets an immersive tone and carries the listener along on a wave of sound for 37 minutes of bliss, before dropping them off at the end of the line, with the chiming, propulsive “Satellite”.

It’s the same band, that you have (or should have) known since the 80s, but this time their terrific songs are colored with wider sonic palate and more adventurous harmonic constructions than ever before. Think not just of Yo La Tengo, but also of Eleventh Dream Day, and other post-rock- type outfits of the 1990s. It’s a lot to take in, but there is something new to hear every time you put the record on. So, my recommendation is to put this one on often.

And then go back and discover the 14 more great albums that The Black Watch has put out since the 1980s.

And now you’re in on the secret, too!

11 May 2017

King Black Acid - Twin Flames


Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Daniel Riddle's King Black Acid are one of Portland's longest running psychedelic collectives. My knowledge of their output is limited and doesn't reach beyond their exploratory mid nineties output, so this new three track EP is a major surprise to me. Granted, twenty plus years have passed, but gone is the free-form space-rock of the likes of "The Wombstar Session" or the Frippian guitar textures of "Royal Subjects", replaced with carefully structured and intricate songcraft. This evolution will presumably come as less of a surprise to those who've been keeping tabs on a more regular basis than myself, but I trust they'll be just as impressed as I am by the contents of "Twin Lights".

This is a richly textured, lush production with meticulously crafted songs which suggest the direction My Morning Jacket might have taken had they embraced Pink Floyd in place of Prince. I doubt this is what Gram Parsons had in mind when he coined the term cosmic American music, but the cap certainly fits here.

Unusually in the current musical climate, nothing is in a rush here and these three lengthy tracks would be in danger of meandering in lesser hands, but here their unhurried pace is a virtue, creating a hypnotic tapestry that I found irresistable. The production deserves a mention too - it's almost as much of a star here as Riddle's songs. Check out the intro to "Headful of You" for a masterclass in slow-motion, free-falling lusciousness. And the chorus positively soars - great song.

The title track continues in this vein, adding a bit of a "Cold Roses" era Ryan Adams and the Cardinals vibe to it. This creates an intriguing dichotomy between the Earthbound and the ethereal which should collapse in on itself in the messiest of fashions, but maintains its balance perfectly.

Lovely stuff.

You can hear the title track below. CD and digital available here.

4 May 2017

Dulls - Moon Violet


Reviewed by Joseph Murphy.

On last year’s self-titled debut (reviewed here), Philadelphia’s Dulls took a lighter touch to both their shoegaze and alternative-era leanings; they preferred, it seemed, to let space between voicings develop the theme throughout. But on this year’s Moon Violet, the band puts guitar-centered hooks at the forefront, channeling their grittier predecessors of the DIY genres – even with standout-track, “New Dream,” which, in other hands, might be a slow-burner but builds, here, to a dense pay off in the chorus that’s deserving of an angry sing-along. Moon Violet is another promising step for Dulls, exploring similar terrain as their debut while taking a few risks along the way – perhaps, in part, thanks to recording and mixing by John Ceparano of The Stargazer Lilies, whose own albums value similar balances between lush passages and the very human slide of the fingers across guitar strings.

The opening track, “View,” feels familiar from the start: a single guitar, lightly reverbed though heavily strummed through the progression. The result – when the whole band comes in – refuses to crowd the song with pummel and force, rather Dulls extends the simplicity, whether through a few accent leads or a tight rhythm; further still, when the layers drop away for the verse, the space left behind still hums with strength of the intro. This serves as the model for Dulls: lean all the way in and pull back to give perfect contrast.

Both releases from Dulls have been short, but, in so few songs, the band has proven their careful consideration, curating each release to their format (in both cases, cassette) and their ideal listeners, ones looking for mature reflections of legendary acts that still resonate – and maybe more so now – and conversations with those long-standing musical heroes. Perhaps four songs is the perfect tactile experience for listening, creating a balance and natural split. This level of consideration is somehow imbued in both releases; both feel meticulously plotted while still embracing the nuances of each musician’s contributions.

“Moon Violet” is available digitally or on limited-edition cassette below. This one just gets better with every listen. So, let it play through again; any good tape deck will do.

Highly recommended.

3 May 2017

David Colohan - A Melbourne Nocturne

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

David Colohan continues his steady creative flow with ‘A Melbourne Nocturne’, a delicate yet quietly epic piece of work that contains echoes of his previous releases with Raising Holy Sparks, United Bible Studies and Look To The North whilst also staking out new ground and travelling into territory uniquely his own. Available originally as a limited cassette from PSI Lab (now sold out) this release can now be fortunately be found on Colohan’s Bandcamp site and a good thing too; to miss out on something this exploratory, immersive and affecting would be a genuine loss. Recorded between Melbourne, Ballymahon & Southampton, Colohan describes the birth and cultimation of the piece as ‘(coming) to light amongst the moongazing crowd that had gathered outside Labour In Vain on Melbourne's Brunswick Street during the lunar eclipse of July 16th, 2000, before finally manifesting itself on the Summer Solstice of June 20th, 2016’. Indeed there are several themes and motifs that run through the collected pieces on this album that speak of something lunar, celestial and perhaps also the tension between gazing at the sky whilst being tethered and earthbound.

'A Melbourne Dreaming' opens the album with a reverberated choir of voices, a stillness and a sense of the sacred that is both arresting and deeply beautiful. This slowly fades into 'Yarra Yarra, River of Mists', a spoken word piece recounting the (psycho)geography of the land framed with atmospheric bursts of Matt Leivers' soprano saxophone and Colohan's drifting, analogue synth. There are elements of Tangerine Dream's 'Phaedra' here, Popol Vuh's 'Aguirre' and Terry Riley's 'A Rainbow Curved In Air'; a cosmiche and intuitive landscape of sound conjured through echoed vocals and vintage electronics. The choral element returns for 'A Circle Of Chalk Surrounds The City', a hum and murmur of voices surrounding the yearning, keening vocal creating a sense of vastness and ancient leylines imbued in the dry earth. Next, 'Moonrise Over Mount Burnett' paints a vivid image of the heat and the haze in the antipodean dusk, swells of synth and drifting saxophone suggestive of the twilit colours and humid air. 'Moon Fades Over Fitzroy' is a polyphony of voices, a psalm to the living, breathing continent whilst 'Fiona Paints The Starlight Dark' is a gorgeous, night sky symphony of melancholy strings, a lament to a memory long gone. A bell signals 'The Last Tram Home' as both organ and modular synth pulse and rattle their way forward, narrating the night-time journey. Peals of saxophone add to the emerging cityscape as the circling electronics suggest motion and travel. 'Shell Middens, Scarred Trees, Fish Traps, Mounds And Quarries' follows, a communal mass of choral parts combining to create something at once both celestial and deeply human, a sense of stretching out for the stars. Exquisitely beautiful, there are hints of Lisa Gerrard to be found here as well as perhaps Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. 'A Circle Of Stars Surrounds St Kilda' swirls in to view on banks of quiet wind and waves of electronica, a gentle sadness pervading. Likewise 'The Fire, Where We Once Lived' breaths an air of solemnity, voices wordlessly calling out into the darkness, pained at times, rapturous at others. Colohan is an expert story teller through sound, this is effectively an instrumental album and yet it feels as if the listener knows exactly the images he is intending to illustrate and the precise mood of the tales he tells. 'Fionnuala Dreams The Desert Closer' buzzes into life, its modular harmonies, swells and rises pulled as much from deep within Colohan's memories and psyche as from his keyboards. Truly affecting, this is music for late at night; the liminal times. The album closes with 'Towards The Southern Aurora', a delicate and breathtaking vocal piece that both haunts and enraptures, speaking to the ghosts of the surrounding landscape. It is a fittingly atmospheric piece to conclude these travels (and there is a sense of having journeyed, this being a record of Colohan's impressions of Australia and the lasting memories impressed upon him by the land).Additionally, should an alternative soundtrack to the heat stricken, strange dreamscape of 'Picnic At Hanging Rock' ever be required, this is it.

‘A Melbourne Nocturne’ then is an album which dares to reach its hand out to the night sky and to feel the awe and dread that this act involves. It also recognises and contains the beauty, transcendence and despair that comes with acknowledging the vastness of the universe around us and translates this into some of the most affecting music you will hear. Seek this recording out; turn your eyes to the sky.

15 Apr 2017

Jon Brooks - Autres Directions


Reviewed by Shaun C. Rogan

Ah, Spring 2017 is almost fully upon us and like the blooming daffodils, Clay Pipe Records has emerged from hibernation to herald the real new year with another beautifully evocative offering from Jon Brooks. As with Jon's previous outings on the label ('52' and 'Shapwick') there is a strong sense of conceptualisation and sonic impressionism (or audio cinema verite if you like) that informs 'Autres Directions'. In this instance the new offering is inspired by time spent by its creator in Brittany and Normandy in northern France. And perhaps this sleek, beautiful organic, wonderfully alive and textured work is a prescient love letter from post-Brexit Britain to its soon to be divorced European counterpart?

Musically there is much to place the record in the ongoing artistic development of its author. Part episodic series of ethereal soundscape canvasses, part field recording driven hauntological essay, part ambient/prog reinterpretation of the kind of approach the likes of Pink Floyd, Harmonia or Eno were aiming for in the 1970's - In totality it reflects all of this whilst retaining its own robust identity and makes for a deeply immersive sonic experience that reveals great depth with repeated listens. Read on active listener, read on...

'Se Reveille' calls us to rise with a cluster of brightly repeated notes, concluding with the perfect intonation of our French ferry announcer advising us that our journey across La Manche is about to conclude, our arrival on the north coast of France imminent. We make landfall by 'Le Chateau' where gentle analogue waves lap on the shore beneath the castle walls. This is probably my favourite piece on the record with its warm droning filigree of notes evoking nothing simpler or more beautiful than beads of sunlight dancing on the gently crashing surf. Seagull sirens of sound float in and out of view rising upwards on the thermals of sound that swirl upward into a sunbaked blue sky. Imagine 'Big City' by the Spacemen 3 removed from its urban environment, slowed, stretched and relocated to a beautiful place of coastal countryside. It is a stunningly beautiful moment of teleportation on a consistently beguiling and absorbing record.

"PN_17" glides into view following the sound of a train passing before unfurling itself on the other side of the tracks to reveal a hushed afternoon meadow of sound punctuated with some lovely gently swaying tones and bird calls. Sounds swell, feedback builds and fades, pictures sharpen then dissolve.

The use of field recordings that capture distant voices inside a revolving 5 note synth wash on the title track manages the very difficult trick of being both very simple whilst entrancing the listener into a kaleidoscopic reverie of flashbacks entirely sourced from one's own memory banks - hauntology par excellence.It's final cluster of hazy, unintelligible voices close out the first side of the record in a strong and strangely cinematic fashion.

Side two opens with "L'ancienne Grange", a tightly wound melody with counterpoint set in a botanical garden of mysterious and exotic sounds - it has an almost hypnotic quality. "Lanverec" is a slow burn descending drone piece replete with bird calls and a somewhat sinister vibe to it that gives rise to thoughts of cloudy hillsides, overamped electricity pylons and shaded country lanes. It leaves the listener uncertain of the intended destination and definitely strikes hard as the most unsettling point on the record. "Centre Vile" follows, bringing some momentary focus with its soberingly sharp church bell introduction ringing out a note of awakening. This call to prayer is followed by washes of synth, bowed cymbals (I think) and drones that once more envelop and surround the listener. It's a pretty mesmerising scene, heavy with blankets of ambient sound that breathe slowly and deeply through the speakers.

Le depart arrives all too quickly with the brief and appropriately titled 'Sortie', its combination of field recordings and light drones transporting the listener effectively to the point of departure. The ferry announcers call is heard and closes the circle but on this ocassion the voices are distant, mysterious and unclear giving way a denouement is almost indetectable. We arrive back at our present location, unsure of where we have been but our perceptions changed by the journey we have completed. Therein lies the power at the heart of 'Autres Directions'.

So once again Clay Pipe release a compelling work of imagination and guile, another wonderfully evocative piece of work from Jon Brooks that may be his best solo outing thus far. Needless to say as with all Clay Pipe releases this is beautifully packaged in what I am interepeting as a wonderful collision of vintage Blue Note and Highway Code graphic artwork courtesy of the endlessly talented label owner Frances Castle (on a lovely fog coloured vinyl too). Equally needless to say, this limited vinyl run of 500 will almost certainly sell out with days of (pre)release so look sharp and grab a copy while you can. Au revoir mes amis.

Vinyl pre-orders are available from the label, and digital will be available directly from Mr Brooks on the release date of May 5th. Put it in your diary!

29 Mar 2017

Lamagaia - Lamagaia


Reviewed by Joseph Murphy

There are few bands around now that insist upon long-form songs; still, there are fewer that absolutely require just shy of twenty minutes to really express a contained, continuous and coherent idea. Gothenburg, Sweden’s Lamagaia make long songs feel necessary and effortless – even brief, in a way, by their continually vibrant, fresh take on Krautrock-inspired heavy psych; the two songs making up their proper debut, “Aurora” and “Panorama Vju”, are both one side of a 12”, but their urgency and pace have a way of shrinking their significant lengths to quick and potent doses.

With only a 7” and a self-released 12” to their name – both available from the band’s Bandcamp – Lamagaia is slowly but surely building their catalog; in so few tracks, the band has quickly and impressively built a brand, one of balanced fervor and outrageous composure. Their eponymous debut simply tills new tracts of the fertile ground. “Aurora” is a deft and dense track that, at first, feels so complete as it builds, the vocals – straightforward as they are, though masterfully effected – come as a surprise, almost unnecessary to the song’s fullness. It’s hard to find such welcome surprises in most listens.

“Panorama Vju,” undoes all the density and frenzy of its reverse side and spirals through a hazy and atmospheric exploration. The song really gets its legs five minutes in as it vaults a skyward, delay-heavy melody, only to let loose entirely through the remainder of the song with washes of guitar noise and manipulations. Co-released by Sunrise Ocean Bender and Cardinal Fuzz, get the vinyl or digital format of your choice on their respective Bandcamp pages.

Highly recommend this one.

27 Mar 2017

Barrett's Dottled Beauty - Owls In Her Eyes


Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Here is something very special indeed. A collaboration between fellow ornithologists and Scottish sound technicians Gayle Brogan (of the wonderful Pefkin and Electroscope) and Alan Cynic (of the legendary and critically acclaimed Kitchen Cynics), 'Owls In Her Eyes'can be found 'nursing an obsession equally with Syd Barrett and lepidptera' within the grooves of this vinyl only release. Housed in a beautiful collage style sleeve designed by Alan himself, four lengthy but weightless and truly transcendent tracks take the listener from the coastal haar of Kitchen Cynic's native Aberdeen to the misty showers of Brogan's west coast. Indeed, there is much of a sense of nature and of a wild and weather stricken environment contained within the floating, drifting beauty of these hugely atmospheric, arcane and ambitious pieces.

'The Cynic, the Dipper and the Thrush' opens the album with harmonium drones and picked acoustic guitar, Barrett hued slide pulling the song into focus as Brogan's unearthly but startlingly beautiful vocals emerge from the morning haze. Cynic's deep Aberdonian brogue recites a delicate spoken word piece as shimmering cascades of guitar and analogue synth gently hover behind. An incantation to the land and to the seasons that is reminiscent of the ethereal yet earthy Fovea Hex, this is material to truly raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Midway, a descending guitar run and flanged vocal takes us deeper down the rabbit hole into a more cosmiche universe, something more madcap and lysergic before the song ends in a symphony of backwards tapes and voices. Next, 'Forvie' enters on a foundation of pulsating organ drones and subtle fuzz guitar that combined proves quietly effective. Brogan's vocals are again utterly striking and the track seems to have its own internal pulse and breath, wraith-like synth bleeps and vintage keyboard sounds pick out an unearthly and eerie melody from the glistening haze. Cynic's guitar builds to come to the fore along with a steady, insistent harmonium note before Brogan's layered vocals create a ghost filled, echoing choral resonance that seems to linger long after the track has finished. The album's title track comes next, repeated keyboard spirals and a deep humming herald a breathtaking duet between Cynic's emotive and haunting voice and Brogan's treated backing vocals. Droning psych guitar notes pierce through the washes of sound, slide guitar and strings weep and wander towards the stars; the result is akin to ancient Scots lament by way of the UFO Club in London's swinging 60s. Genuinely affecting and quite unique, this really has to be heard. Finally, 'The Rain Has Come In Misty Showers' starts with a melancholy, resonating keyboard pulse and Brogan's pensive and reverberating vocals, a deep sense of stormclouds overhead and the weathered landscape never far from mind. Indeed, a piece by visionary poet John Clare is recited, further emboldening a mood that seems rich and filled with the environment and its effects upon both the psyche and human condition. At once filled with beauty and dread, this is a heartbreaking piece that begs to be played somewhere wild, barren and windswept, preferably at dusk.

This album comes very highly recommended; fans of Pefkin and The Kitchen Cynics will both want to seek this out and for newcomers this serves as a different but equally fine entry point to both artists, providing you also seek out their rewarding back catalogues along the way. 'Owls In Her Eyes' is a veritable nestful of riches, do not let this pass you by but also do not delay; this release is limited to 80 copies complete with download code.