Electronic Sound: Reviews (Issue 86)

Reviews originally published in Issue 86 of Electronic Sound magazine, February 2022:

(Library Of The Occult)

“Pagantronica”. That’s how Bristol modular maestro James McKeown describes this splendidly squelchy homage to the Roman god Saturn, partly inspired by his discovery of that most holy of tomes: the Reader’s Digest 1977 Folklore book. Clearly looking to ensure a decent harvest in the wider Avon area, McKeown offers up nine gently beat-driven modular instrumentals, possibly even sacrificing an overworked Moog Mother-32 in the process.

There are whiffs of proggy bombast. The title track brings to mind Ken Freeman’s fab widdly synths on Jeff Wayne’s The War Of The Worlds, and also – oddly – his theme to ace 1980s BBC series The Tripods. ‘The Drowned King’ adds driving organic bass and a hint of Suicide. But the overall mood is of languid somnambulance. ‘The Vestal King’ is an incoming tide of melodic ambience, and ‘Kama Loka’ brings soothing arpeggios to the party. All in all, it’s an impressive feast.

Album available here:

Music For Underwater Supermarkets
(Happy Robots)

Who is Roman Angelos? Technically, he’s New York library music obsessive Rich Bennett. But when Bennett amused himself on an overnight ferry to Croatia by concocting an imaginary life story for the ship’s hangdog resident organist, the fictional Angelos was born. And if 2020 debut album Spacetronic Lunchbox was a brief raid on a Tesco Express – 11 one-minute tracks, pitched somewhere between Miami Vice and The Jetsons – then Music For Underwater Supermarkets is a full-blown weekly shop, spilling over the sides of the trolley.

Inspired by the jazzy muzak of his childhood malls, it’s Apple Pie Americana with a melancholy twist. The Miles Davis trumpets on ‘Swimming Through The Aisles’ elbow aside a chorus of lilting flutes for the last tin of Spam on the bottom shelf. Meanwhile, ‘The Looking Glass’ is pure 1960s Easy Listening, the sound of James Coburn pondering the grooviest brand of marrowfat peas. Batchelors, obviously. For those not averse for shopping in a silk kimono, it’s an album of splendid vibes and – indeed – splendid vibes.

Album available here:

Hounds And Echo In Conjunction
(Waxing Crescent)

“This isn’t your momma’s bootgaze record,” says James “Kuma” Graham of this ambient journey across the American south-west. No, but if you’ve an uncle who runs a flyblown desert diner and keeps rattlesnakes in cages, he’ll be delighted. Graham is an electronic scenester from Vancouver, but is clearly enthralled by the dark, hallucinatory Americana of Easy Rider and Hunter S Thompson.

So the likes of ‘Spooky Action At A Distance’ and ‘Stretched Halfway To The Infinite’ combine hummadruz drones with spectral pedal steel guitars, and elsewhere there’s the clank of motel signs and the rattle of lonesome trains. ‘Falls Out Of You By Gravity’, meanwhile, is the nightmarish choir and throbbing church organ of some long-corrupted congregation. “Low and lonesome sounds for dark nights” is how Graham himself describes the album, and it’s certainly a distant cousin of The KLF’s windswept Chill Out… with genetic traces of Ry Cooder’s score for Paris, Texas. An exquisitely evocative road trip.

Album available here:

(Fire Records)

From the mountains of Colorado comes this superlative album of psychedelic devotions. There’s a hint of Jandek’s outsider discordancy to the detuned guitar of opener ‘Hum Menina’, but Foster’s pitch-perfect whisper was honed in church choirs and transcends all. “I feel like a ghost / Denied the holy host” she sings on ‘Guardian Angel’, and ‘Dali Rama’ even finds space for a Latin recitation: “Amor agitat molem”…  “love moves the mass”. Traditional folk, woozy synths and hymnal melodies combine to create a plea for salvation capable of touching the steeliest of heathen hearts.

Album available here:

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