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GOD UNKNOWN

Monster Magnet

Test Patterns Vol. 1

    Born from the Red Bank of New Jersey, the early days of Monster Magnet were a cosmos away from the major-label, alternative rock boom that would suck the band into the shiny MTV world of the early to middle 90s. Originally formed by Dave Wyndorf, John McBain and Tim Cronin, Monster Magnet lysergic oozed into the world in 1989 with two demo tapes – ‘Forget About Life, I’m High On Dope’ and ‘I’m Stoned, What Ya Gonna Do About It?’ – making it perfectly clear from the start where they were coming from. This was a band revelling in bad trips and the death of the hippy dream with a Manson Family stare, playing squelchy lo-fi psychedelic music with a rabid punk rock sneer, like The Stooges terrorising Hawkwind at the most unpleasant free festival imaginable. There were tales of entire audiences at their gigs being spiked with LSD. It didn’t matter if this was true or not, it all added to the mystique. This was indeed a satanic drug thing, you wouldn’t understand.

    Those two demos formed the base of what would become their pivotal ‘Spine Of God’ album from 1991 and the ’25…Tab’ EP, which featured the mesmerising 32-minute opus itself, ‘Tab’.

    Long considered to be the true essence of Magnet’s early psychedelic voyages, ‘Tab’ is finally returning to earth’s stratosphere with the release of ‘Test Patterns: Vol.1’,

    ‘Test Patterns: Vol. 1’ features a 2021 remix of ‘Tab’ by John McBain, alongside the original demo, recorded in 1988 and then released on the aforementioned ‘Forget About Life, I’m High On Dope’ in 1989.

    “When Magnet started, John and I worked in record stores in Red Bank and Dave worked in the comic bookstore and we made a lot of tapes for each other,” recalls Tim Cronin. “A lot of ‘check this shit out’ kind of stuff…Hawkwind, early UFO, Amon Duul, Can, Skullflower, Morgen, Loop, Crystalized Movements, early Alice Cooper, Walking Seeds, Butthole Surfers, Spacemen 3. When we recorded the first demo and got to TAB, we just beat the shit out of it until it became heavy, noisy, weird, mean and either too long or not long enough, depending on your mood. Everything we wanted in a song (at least everything I wanted in a song), punishingly psychedelic. Jersey Shore krautrock.”

    TRACK LISTING

    Tab (2021 Remix)
    Tab (original Demo, Recorded In 1988 & Released On 1989's ‘forget About Life, I’m High On Dope’)

    The Jonny Halifax Invocation

    Açid Blüüs Räägs : Volume 1

      “…Acid blues punk meets freeform drone raag transcendentalism” JONNY HALIFAX is an untutored aleatoric free blues outsider. His new collection of sound is an instrumental departure into godless raag brut improvisations, layered, manipulated and sculpted into heavily immersive feral sonic collages. Invocations of an hallucinatory apocalyptic near future. Previously the creator of junkshop blues skronk one man band HONKEYFINGER, which then mutated into the gospel fuzz psych of Julian Cope endorsed JONNY HALIFAX & THE HOWLING TRUTH with their ““slitherin’ electro -programmed slide guitar driven mung worship”, alongside the ambient drone metal noisescapes of DEATHENTEREDINERROR, now THE JONNY HALIFAX INVOCATION channel heavy meditations on the present into an uncompromising free blues transcendentalism that burn raga-shaped holes into your chakra with searing psychedelic intensity.

      Inspired by Henry Flynt’s avant bluegrass experiments fusing country blues with eastern acoustic musical stylings, Spacemen 3’s contemporary sitar music, and the monolithic drone doom immersion of Sunn 0))), THE JONNY HALIFAX INVOCATION build hypnotic instrumental soundscapes using lap steel and homemade slide guitars, harmonica and alto sax. Underpinned by layers of acoustic and electronic drone instruments and fed through an arsenal of pedalboard electronics that would make Dave Gilmour weep. The blues are transmogrified, unhinged, reduced and re-imagined as intoxicating, trance-inducing, feedback-drenched noise paintings. AÇID BLÜÜS RÄÄGS Volume 1 plays like a psychedelic western movie soundtrack, frenzied electric lap steel guitar suites play to melting cowboy minds.

      Flaming tumbleweeds blow in slow motion across wide open concrete vistas. Jodorowsky's El Topo meets Ballard’s High Rise in an apocalyptic knife edge disintegrating urban landscape. Shut your eyes and conjure the best nightmares you’ve never had. The JONNY HALIFAX musical CV also includes studio contributions to releases by Andrew Weatherall’s TWO LONE SWORDSMEN, UK metal behemoths ORANGE GOBLIN, hardcore thrash upstarts HECK (formerly BABY GODZILLA), and pan european psych noise titans MELTING HAND

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Lake Of Fire
      2. Dead Swamp Transmissions
      3. Invocation Of The Beats
      4. Scorched Earth Blüüs
      5. The Time Of The Wolves

      Cassels

      Gut Feeling

        Tripe. It’s what graces the cover of Cassels’ third album, A Gut Feeling. It looks gross. And Cassels are a rock band who’ve often sounded gross. You know the adjectives. ‘Discordant’. ‘Angular’. ‘Cynical’. Shellac quickly mentioned. I’ve done it already, see?Listening to A Gut Feeling, though, Cassels sound different. Not too different – the molten riff of advance single ‘Mr Henderson Coughs’ puts paid to the idea that the London-based duo have taken a hard 180. But instead of writing as quickly as possible, riding the churn forced on DIY bands by an indifferent ecosystem, the Covid-19 pandemic gave the brothers Beck (Jim, guitar/vocals, and Loz, drums/BVs) some time to mull things over. Instead of sticking with the stripped-back recording approach of previous LPs, Jim and Loz spent time at Tom Hill’s Bookhouse Studios in South London, considering tone, layering tracks, and bringing new instruments into the fold.

        Lyrically, the approach has changed too. Rather than presented as personal experience, Jim notes that his words this time around “are an intentionally muddy mix of experience, opinion, red herrings and fiction,” adding, “I found that setting myself the brief of writing character pieces offered a nice way of sneaking quite personal things into the songs without being explicitly autobiographical.” The result is the most satisfying and unexpected collection of songs in the Cassels catalogue. Instruments at turns razor-sharp and bludgeon-blunt provide the backing track to a savage, hilarious, and tender collection of short stories. Jim notes that “writing can be a great way of unearthing hang-ups and becoming acquainted with your own anxieties”. Hardly new ground for a rock band, but presented in this third person format – unbiased and filled to the brim with human warmth – these songs are more empathetic than anything the band have written before. You might have been Michael on his daily commute.

        Perhaps you’re Sarah, or have a mum like her. And many of us will recognise ourselves in the heart-breaking ‘Family Visits Relative’. It’s clear that the band still aren’t afraid to tackle weighty subjects too, with A Gut Feeling picking up where their previous album, The Perfect Ending, left off. ‘Charlie Goes Skiing’ pulls a similar trick to Future of the Left’s ‘Goals in Slow Motion’ – setting a screed against consumerism to one of the most propulsive, catchy tracks on the record. It’s followed by ‘Dog Drops Bone’, a rustling loop overlaid with sad, simple chords reminiscent of a Sparklehorse tune, which uses the internal monologue of a beloved canine companion to question the true depth and sincerity of human relationships. This kicks into the breakneck ‘Beth’s Recurring Dream’ – a track exploring a sexual identity crisis which owes as much to early Los Campesinos! as it does Steve Albini. Of ‘Your Humble Narrator’, the album’s punishing, pulsing opener and A Gut Feeling’s thematic frame, Jim explains: “I liked the idea of introducing an unreliable narrator who frames the album as an exercise in manipulation for personal gain. When a person engages with a piece of art they are invariably being manipulated by the artist to some degree – that’s part of the fun. The artist aims to elicit some sort of emotional response, the audience buys into the conceit at the promise of experiencing some form of escape.” as listeners, we experience that manipulation first-hand on A Gut Feeling. But the fact Cassels have packaged it up as offal feels like another bleak wink. This is far from a stinking by-product, salvaged and sold to maximise profit. It’s nothing less than the most complete, relatable, and fully realised piece of art the duo has produced to date. Emotional response elicited. Conceit embraced. Escape gratefully achieved.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: At points arrhythmic and delightfully angular, heavy af and absolutely littered with a++ riffs, Cassels' 'Gut Feeling' is every bit the modern punk-rock monolith. At points hilariously obscure, before being brilliantly incisively candid and all above a roaring, jagged collection of time signatures and perfectly avant momentum. Very clever and VERY exciting.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Your Humble Narrator
        2. Pete's Vile Colleague
        3. Family Visits Relative
        4. Mr Henderson Coughs
        5. Michael's Daily Commute
        6. Charlie Goes Skiing
        7. Dog Drops Bone
        8. Beth's Recurring Dream
        9. Sarah Misses Them

        James Johnston / Steve Gullick

        We Travel Time

          James Johnston (Gallon Drunk / Nick Cave / PJ Harvey) and Steve Gullick (renowned music photographer) are pleased to announce their new album. It's a dark but beautiful trip. After working together on an art show in late 2019, the idea of making music again immediately resurfaced. Without any firm strategy, Johnston and Gullick began recording, unprompted, drawing 3 upon a shared love of noise, folk, and classical. After the first tracks began to evolve, however, they knew they’d unearthed something compelling and fresh, not to mention unexpectedly mysterious. This became WE TRAVEL TIME.The result is a deceptively crafted album that slowly reveals – and, more importantly, embraces – beauty in its cracks. Piano, voice, violin and guitar create a drifting haze, with the focus on these acoustic elements forging an imagined soundtrack which offers echoes of Big Star, Nico, Lee Hazlewood and Palace Brothers, as well as the gentle, haunting influence of contemporary minimal classical. Ambient sounds – birds, rain, cars, clocks, distant voices – also drift in and out, melting into the music’s fabric via windows left open during the early 2020 heatwave. WE TRAVEL TIME, nonetheless, resists definition, remaining enigmatically timeless.

          Wellwater Conspiracy

          Lucy Leave / Sleeveless

            Wellwater Conspiracy were a mid 1990's supergroup featuring Monster Magnet and Soundgarden members who wanted to live out their psychedelic rock needs that their other bands didn't provide. From their 1997 classic 'Declaration of Conformity' this 7" is a cover of the Syd Barrett penned early Pink Floyd track - Lucy Leave. Its awesome, its limited. 300 copies only. Get it whilst you can!

            Peter J Smyth

            Black Smoke

              As front man of leading psych kraut rock heavyweights MUGSTAR Peter J Smyth knows a thing or two of how to riff out and play long passages of fuzz covered repetition, pummelling audiences into submission. 'Black Smoke' however sees a warmer, more introspective Smyth drawing on the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. Seventeen tracks of finger picked beauty recalling John Fahey, Mount Eerie amongst others and allowing an observation of one's mind, while in a more spiritual context examination of one's soul. 'Black Smoke' is an intricate album, full of dynamic intensity and stark observations. Lyrically, Smyth shines with a collection of poetic sonnets that translate moments of austere contemplation and urban alienation. In a performative sense, Smyth is confounding, ambiguous but sublime, leading the listener through a series of dense pilgrimages, describing a lost prodigal son in search of redemption. Limited to 500 copies on bright red vinyl. 


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