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MONO - Pilgrimage Of The Soul / WANG WEN 惘闻 - 100,000 Whys

My favorite post rock band is dropping a new album in September!

Since I cannot for the life of me decide which group I am actually referring to with that statement, I am glad that Pelagic Records made it true for both bands at choice:

On September 17th Mono, one of the most epic and important live bands of the present - as recently proven on "Beyond The Past" - will be releasing a new double record.

On September 24th finally follows the physical release of  Wang Wen's "100,000 Whys".
The follow-up of the sensational "Invisible City" has already been around on Bandcamp since October 2020, yet I bravely withstood the temptation to immerse myself in it until a vinyl version was on the horizon.

With both groups (and this label) it's almost a no-brainer that you got to have it as a 12", since you can always expect an exceptionally beautiful packaging, which perfectly compliments the music.
So you can for sure expect me to show off my copies of both albums in a future post.

Now however let's turn one ear to Japan and the other to China and focus on what we can hear!

MONO - Pilgrimage Of The Soul (2021)

First of all a bit of advice I wish I could take to heart more consequently myself for anyone reviewing music: Just don't fucking read the promotional texts! In case of this album it could make you search for influences which - if they are even there at all - are present to a much smaller degree than suggested.
It is true that Mono are incorporating more electronic elements, but to talk of "faster tempos that are clearly influenced by disco and techno" seems like a sensationalistic exaggeration to me.

I'm not saying you shouldn't dance to the beat of "Imperfect Things", but at its core this is all still very much at home in post rock. So instead of Zement abducting you into the 90's Berlin club scene it's actually rather a closer approximation to Wang Wen's style of recent years which you can witness on "Pilgrimage Of The Soul".

Where I will definitely agree with the promo is that this album may indeed be the most dynamic and diverse the Japanese intrumentalists have ever done. Which in itself already is quite an accomplishment, when you already have over twenty years and ten albums worth of some of the most monumental escapism soundtracks under your belly.

The amazing changes between breathingly light and devastatingly heavy are all still there, just as the larger than life guitar layers and occasional glockenspiel, strings and grand pianos. The new grooves and synthetic textures which are around for maybe a quarter of the total playing time, only add to the scope and colour palette of the album's grandiosity in a fresh way.

With Mono's previous studio album "Nowhere Now Here" as well as their last two EPs having reached a level of production quality, which seems impossible to improve, just as there is no further cumulation of pure classical orchestral elements in the cards than on the latest live album, this broadening of the palette undoubtly is a logical creative decision.

And boy how it pays off! Because as much as it doesn't even seem believable at this point, the quartet may very well have outdone themselves yet again. The enormous climax and epilogue of "Innocence" or the incredibly deep, moving, hopeful and melancholic double finale of the all-trademarks-on-board epic "Hold Infinity In The Palm Of Your Hand" and the piano and strings ballad "And Eternity In An Hour" alone catapults "Pilgrimage Of The Soul" into spheres most artist will never even come close to.

Of course this won't become everyone's favorite Mono work - and it's too early for me to put it into perspective with everything else I know from them either -, but it will surely and rightfully win them new fans and cement the observation that you should always expect the pinnacle of outstanding post rock mastery from this band.

Ultimately there's not much more to say, but all the more to just feel, while Mono lead you through a larger world inside of yourself. And if you think you've already grown accustomed to their special powerful grip of your primal emotions, "Pilgrimage Of The Sould" might still - even without actual oomphoomphoomph techno - very much surprise you!

Maybe you've caught it somewhere between the lines:

If you seriously want to make my jaw drop to the floor and then nail it there for good, just record an album, which not only keeps up with Mono's "Pilgrimage Of The Soul", but which also immediately captures all my senses in an even more profound way. Enter Wang Wen!  

WANG WEN 惘闻 - 100,000 Whys (2020/2021)

Of course it isn't and shouldn't be a competition, yet while their live performances don't reach that same level of swansy, sheer sonic intensity their labelmates from Japan are often pushing into, the sound spectrum and compositonal variety of Wang Wen's music has often been a couple of steps ahead the successful Mono formula.

While the base of their sound could easily be described as post rock closely related to Mono, but with not only Chinese instead of Japanese, yet also much more prominent traditional influences in it, there is still more to them. And as tempting as it still is for me to compare the two bands, it has probably never been as appearant as on "100,000 Whys" that Wang Wen have developed a completely independent identy.

Not only is the interplay of often morriconesque guitars and keyboards, with carefully dosed, albeit still irrestistibly addictive horn, trumpet or flute melodies elevating the traditional post rock game to a league of its own, but it's also part of a larger toolset, with which Wang Wen can surprise you with exotic sounds and effects or entirely stir away into any musical direction of their choosing whenever they want.
Subtle mood changes through alterations from acoustic to artificial percussions or a much more sudden full-on electronic extravaganza? A jazzy bassline here, a venture into prog rock there? Latin sketches or ominous vocal incantations?
It's all game, yet it's never too much or distracting from the very coherent, eminently hopeful and uplifting spirit of this album.

"100,000 Whys" is definitely easier accessible than "Eight Horses" and probably also than "Sweet Home, Go!" or "Invisible City", but that doesn't mean it's any less sophisticated.
Even though the music sometimes disguises itself as pure entertainment without a double bottom of deeper aspiration, going so far as calling one track just "Shut Up And Play", it's of course always a display of fantastic compositional thought and craftsmanship, realized with everyone playing the exact right thing at the right time to make it work.

It's an album that allows you to just lean back and let yourself be flooded by its magic, but also caters to you when you're in a more proactive listening mode, ready to detect all kinds of impressive, but never show-offy (in terms of technical wankery) way.

Everything about this is just so delicately balanced. The production is once again powerful, super clean and perfectionist, but never sterile. It just all works together so incredibly well.
How good is this going to become once I hold the actual vinyl artwork in my hands?

I don't even need to love this more than I already do.

Right now for me the only imaginable possibility of Wang Wen not having delivered the post rock masterpiece of the year would be if you counted "100,000 Whys" by its digital premiere as a 2020 release. But yeah... no... I love this band way too much to do so.


LINGUA IGNOTA - Sinner Get Ready

"Caligula", Kristin Hayter aka Lingua Ignota's last full length (and one of my absolute favorite albums of 2019) was - still is! - an emotionally devastating, unfathomable colossus of  wrath and punishment, combining the harshness of her debut "All Bitches Die" with baroque neo-classical ideas and pushing those to the most glorious and hideous extremes.

With such an outstanding landmark in its neck there's no way of reviewing her newly released double album without drawing comparisons to its predecessor.

Yet due to the range displayed in her smaller digital releases since then, but also owed to the toll performing the material live took on her voice - plus her coming out of an operation against her chronical back pain - made it seem very likely that she would change the direction of her project to a more... let's say sustainable format.

The first two singles, both grand, hauntingly beautiful compositions centered around Hayter's piano and clean singing voice, strongly confirmed that assumption.

Accompanied by stunning videos "Pennsylvania Furnace"  and "Perpetual Flame Of Centralia" also did a great job of introducing the setting and central themes of the album.

However they are also purposely misleading, if you think you can build your expectation for the style of the whole album on them. Oh no, get ready for more... 

LINGUA IGNOTA - Sinner Get Ready (red in clear vinyl 2LP) (2021)

After the first single it already feels redundant to mention that "Sinner Get Ready" was inspired by Kristin Hayter staying in Pennsylvania during the pandemic. Furnace is a Pennsylvanian community and the song title "The Solitary Brethren Of Ephrata" features a biblically named Amish city also located in that state.
Nevertheless the central key location, which offers us a manifold metaphor for the understanding as well as the placement of this album within Lingua Ignota's dicography, has to be Centralia.

The area in and around Centralia is a largely abandoned lost place. I don't know how it really looks there, but one can imagine a calm and a certain beauty of nature reclaiming its place. Though under the deceptive surface of silence burns a fire.
It's a literal fire which broke out in a coaling mine under the borough of Centralia in the 1960s, an actual perpetual flame which is expected to last for up to 250 years. So according to recent scientific projections mankind will probably not survive long enough to watch it die out.
While the road through Centralia has recently been renewed (probably parallel to the early conception of "Sinner Get Ready") older pictures show huge fissures in it, through which smoke and life-threatening gases leaked out.

The raging fire at its prime was "Caligula".

In the same picture "Sinner Get Ready" is Centralia. At first sight a scene of sparse melancholy, yet with an all the more unsettling underbelly.

Lingua Ignota paints rural Pennsylvania as a morbid place shaped by the firm grip of religious beliefs. That old destructive fire, which man was always drawn to, burns in a particular American way here, shaping the inner and outer reality of societies and souls with a strictness and totality which is hard to grasp at least from my thankfully very heathenish Northern German point of view.

Hayter's lyrics are appeal and condemnation of the Pennsylvanian God. They are personal and part of a bigger conceptual field at the same time, with each and every line being written as a powerful quotable statement or invocation.
Just as I did at the beginning of my review for "Caligula" I could easily recite a whole bunch of lyrical excerpts here, but what is probably more useful to highlight the different nature of "Sinner Get Ready" is a list of several instruments being used by the singer and her collaborators Ryan Seaton and Seth Manchester alongside the piano.

Where "Caligula" - especially during its heaviest parts - relied a lot on samples and a rather fragmentary nature, the new album is a much more tangible and traditional affair with a mostly stripped down tapestry of actual instruments performing compositions between American folk, gospel and a more primal, universal worship music.
The naturalistic aspect of this is materialized with banjo, bells, bowed banjo, cello, clarinet, frame drums, guitar, harmonica, mandolins, melodicas, mountain dulcimer, organ, pennywhistle, saxophones, saxophone neck, shruti box, singing bowl, tibetan cymbals, triangels, wooden flute, wooden shakers, woodwind mouthpieces... while synths add further layers of atmosphere and drone.

Interestingly there are parts of the album - take the instrumentals of "Many Hands" or "The Sacred Linament Of Judgement", where the combination of drones, plucked and bowed strings and percussion sounds very reminiscent to thekind of Asian experimental music I'm drawn too lately. Especially Senyawa's masterpiece "Alkisah" finds a surprising relative and counterpart here.
Albeit coming from a culturally very different place, there's a shared sense of anachronism at work, which connects Hayter's twisted americana with the neubautish take on Indonesian folk, even though Lingua Ignota lives in a much bleaker reality.

As she takes us through this misogynic religious world, which is spiritually not too far from the barn where Tori Amos once infamously nursed a piglet, it is noteworthy, how brilliantly her journey is structured.

Side A is the prologue and challenge, which you have to overcome, as "The Order Of Spiritual Virgins" seems to drag out into eternity and "I Who Bend The tall Grasses" finds Kristin screaming into our faces with unforgiving intensity, not as black metal influenced as on "Caligula", but in a much more "real" and similarily frightening way. 
The next two sides are the main act, which features more archaic darkness, the harsh dark gospel of "Repent Now Confess Now", as well as the balladic grandeur of the two singles.

The albums biggest surprise however may come in the finale before it fades out with the false peace of "The Solitary Brethren Of Ephrata":

"Man Is Like A Spring Flower" is a multi-layered, almost orchestral piece, yet brought to life with "prepared piano", Moog Grandmother, Moog Voyager, Korg Wavestation, FM8 Soft Synth, Roland TB-303, Wurlitzer etc.
No, my familiarity with these tools is limited, but the effect clearly is a surprising introduction of a whole new palette of sounds, as if suddenly the recording studio had turned into a krautrock laboratory inhabited by a contempory classical composer, which in combination with Hayter's voice ascedning to its most operatic mode, opens the album up a lot and takes it to a whole new, unexpected level.

"Sinner Get Ready" is an amazing work of art from start to finish, and its packaging does it justice. With photographs by Hayter herself, the gatefold cover perfectly captures the mood of the musical narration.
Available in various vinyl colours, I find the red in clear variant to be very complimentary to the artwork.

All in all "Sinner Get Ready" has no reason to hide from "Caligula". It may be less punishing, it doesn't have the scary jump scares and such, but it is equally as profound and somehow horryfying. And probably even more cohesive as a complete work of art.  

A masterpiece and strong AOTY contender. Period.


CZLT - Junkyard


[I've recently joined Veil of Sound as a guest writer. I will - hopefully regularly - share selected reviews there, which may be slightly altered translations of texts from this blog (like in this case) or completely new alternative write-ups. I've honestly haven't made up my mind up about that a hundred percent, so we shall see.]

Und wieder einmal stelle ich hier eine Veröffentlichung meines aktuell anscheinend liebsten Labels WV Sorcerer Productions 巫唱片 vor, wobei dieses Album in gleichwertiger Kooperation mit Ascetic Visions und Homo-Sensibilis Sounds das Licht der Welt erblickt hat. Irgendwo schwammig zwischen Esoterik, Weltmusik, Psychedelik, Okkultismus, Advantgarde und Metal, zwischen Ost und West verortet sind diese Adressen aber alle.

Und es ist kaum ein Album vorstellbar, welches diese Ansätze ursprünglicher und unverfälschter vermitteln könnte als "Junkyard", Soloalbum von Czlt, ein Kürzel, hinter dem sich der Belgier Guillaume Cazalet verbirgt, Mitglied diverser musikalischer Projekte, von denen die aktuell in Kennerkreisen hohe Wellen schlagende Drone/Doom/Jazz-Big Band Neptunian Maximalism wohl das prominenteste ist.  

CZLT - Junkyard (violet vinyl LP) (2021)

Wo genannte Band auf ihrem epochalen Debüt "Éons" und dem dieses Jahr erschienen Livealbum "Solar Drone Ceremony" auf - ja was wohl? - überschäumenden Maximalismus setzt, da ist CZLT zwar ebenfalls vielschichtig, verpackt dies jedoch subtiler in einer zunächst reduzierter erscheinenden Form.

Die Instrumente sind Sitar und dazu passend mikrotonal gestimmte Gitarre. Das Genre ist Drone Metal.
Wobei der "Metal"-Part hier im Grunde eher Formsache ist, die auf einer unterschwelligen Grunddüsternis, vor allem jedoch den Assoziationen, die der Gitarrensound hervorruft, beruht.

Die typischsten Eigenschaften, die der nicht mit Sunn O))) oder den bei Kombination mit Sitar unbedingt referenzwürdigen Bong vertraute Headbanger mit Metal verbindet, treffen auf dieses aus zweit unbenannten Longtracks bestehende Album nämlich nicht zu.
Es mag noch so sehr Klischee sein, doch überwiegend ist Metal, ob rasend, groovend, stampfend, nun mal eine Musik, die mich dazu zwingen will, mich in Bewegung zu entladen.
"Junkyard" allerdings regt eher dazu an, sich im zeitvergessenen Zustand aufzuladen.

CZLT ist Drone. 

Drone (Dröhnen) an sich stellt ja erst einmal gar kein Genre dar, sondern ist einer der ursprünglichsten, integralsten Bestandteile von Musik überhaupt. Jede alte Kultur kennt ihre eigenen Drone-Instrumente, die ihr hilft, sich über diese Welt hinaus zu bewegen.
Und wo kein fassbares Werkzeug gezupft, gestrichen, geschlagen oder geblasen wird, da springt der menschliche Kehlkopf in die Bresche, wie wir es beispielsweise aus den Höhen des Himalaya kennen.

Auch Cazalet setzt dieses Mittel ein, genauso gekonnt, allerdings weniger vordergründig als bei Neptunian Maximalism. Der tibetisch inspirierte Gesang gehört hier gleichwertig zu modernen elektronischen Geräuschen zu einem ominösen Klangstrang, der sich untrennbar als Textur mit der dominanten, geduldig donnernden Gitarre und der permanent darüber solierenden Sitar verwebt.

"Junkyard" ist ein Album des langen, unmerklichen Aufbaus. Es gaukelt Stillstand vor und lädt deine Seele ein, entrückt in dieser Regungslosigkeit zu schweben. In Wahrheit jedoch brodelt und wächst es unter der Oberfläche, knapp unterhalb der Schwelle offensichtlicher Wahrnehmung. Es ist das langsame Augenöffnen eines erwachenden Riesen. Und wo Du glaubtest, deinen Geist auf leeren befreienden Durchzug gestellt zu haben, sporuliert tatsächlich eine tiefe Inspiration.

Nun gibt es in meinem Plattenregal durchaus schon einige Alben mit ähnlichem Effekt. Was CZLTs Werk unter diesen herausstehen lässt ist die Dichte, in der (Metal-)Moderne und Tradition untrennbar verschmelzen.
Der Schlüssel dazu ist schlicht, wie eingehend sich hier mit allen Versatzstücken auseinandergesetzt wurde. Guillaume Cazalet kennt nicht nur sein Effektboard, sondern strebt auch in Sitar und Kehlkopfgesang nach Wissen und Meisterschaft. Im Resultat ergibt das eben nicht nur mächtigen Wumms mit schöngeistig exotischem Anstrich, sondern befriedigt in seiner fundierten Virtuosität auch auf einer intellektuellen, mit der Kunst von Komponisten wie Eyvind Kang oder Jóhann Jóhannsson vergleichbaren Ebene.

Und was das Ganze mit dem titelgebenden Autofriedhof zu tun hat... das mag der interessierte Hörer den Liner Notes entnehmen. Ich muss an dieser Stelle ja nicht alles verraten.

Nur dass neben der Musik auch die limitierte violette Vinylversion inklusive zwei Postern sehr gefällt, das sei hier gerne noch gesagt.


CLARA ENGEL - Dressed In Borrowed Light

Wenn ich hier schon beim Bandcamp-Freitag bin: Seit gestern ist dort noch ein weiteres Album vorbestellbar, in welches ich schon seit einer Weile komplett hineinhorchen durfte.

Es stammt von der kanadischen Singer/Songwriterin Clara Engel, welche in der Vergangenheit u.a. schon mit Künstlern wie Thor Harris (Swans) oder Aidan Baker (Nadja) zusammengearbeitet hat.

CLARA ENGEL - Dressed In Borrowed Light (download) (2021)

Eines weiß ich bereits jetzt mit Gewissheit: Spätestens eine Woche nachdem ich dieses Review veröffentlicht habe, fällt mir garantiert die ultimative Referenz ein, um die Musik dieses Albums zu beschreiben. Irgendwie habe ich nämlich das Gefühl, dass es da draußen einen perfekten Vergleich sowohl für den Gesang als auch die Musik der Multiinstrumentalistin gibt, der mir beinahe auf der Zunge liegt...

Doch was soll's, ich komme auch so zurecht. Clara Engel selbst zitiert die Stilbezeichnungen experimenteller Folk und minimalistischer Holy Blues, welche die sechs durchschnittlich über sechsminütigen Lieder von "Dressed In Borrowed Light" tatsächlich schon sehr gut umreißen.
Es ist hauptsächlich mit akustischen Saiteninstrumenten, elektrischer Gitarre und sparsamer Perkussion von ihr selbst und ausgewählten, jeweils auf einem Track vertretenen Gastmusikern (u.a. an Lap-Steel-Gitarre, Cello und brendan-perryeskem Backgroundgesang) umgesetzte, lyrikbetonte Balladenmusik zwischen Americana und nicht geographisch verortbarem, universellen Anspruch.

Wer auf das reduziertere Material von Chelsea Wolfe, Marissa Nadler, Angel Olsen, Louise LemónJarboe oder auch (natürlich mit ganz anderer Stimmfarbe) Steve von Till steht, der findet hier nirgends eine hundertprozentige Entsprechung, aber doch so viele zwischen diesen Künstlern variierenden Ansatzpunkte, dass dieses Album mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit zumindest interessant sein sollte.

Mir gefallen die wunderbar auf den Punkt arrangierten Kompositionen und das unaufgeregte, nicht effektheischende und dennoch sehr packende Timbre in Engels Stimme ausgesprochen gut.

Dies ist ganz klar eines der pursten, schönsten, am direktesten die Gefühle ansprechenden Alben, die mir dieses Jahr untergekommen sind.

"Dressed In Borrowed Light" erscheint digital am 20. August. Ein physischer Tonträger ist derzeit noch nicht angekündigt, wäre aber sehr sehr wünschenswert.


Hey, der Bandcamp Friday ist wieder da!

Boah, ich komm doch eh schon nicht mit meiner neuen Musik hinterher... naja, habe mir trotzdem ein paar Tapes bestellt. Über die schreibe ich dann demnächst etwas in meinen Cassette Craze Chronicles.

So bleibt an dieser Stelle eigentlich nur Lingua Ignota zu erwähnen. Ihr neues Album "Sinner Get Ready" ist gestern erschienen, doch darum soll es hier noch nicht gehen. Es hat mich allerdings daran erinnert, dass ich die letzte digitale EP Kristin Hayters im Februar geskippt hatte, weil mir da gerade nicht der Kopf dafür frei war.
Mit einem Cover der Hardcorepunkband Iron Lung und noisegetränkten Interpretationen von Georg Friedrich Händel und Johann Sebastian Bach, versehen mit Hermann Hesse zitierenden spoken words durch Daughters-Sänger Alexis Marshall und Hayters eigenem Gesang in seiner ätherischsten, opernhaftesten Form, spannt "Agnus Dei" in insgesamt nur knapp über viertelstündiger Spielzeit einen weiten, von weißem Rauschen bedeckten Bogen, dessen Atmosphäre so dicht ist, dass man sie mit einem Messer blutig zerschneiden könnte.
Banausen werden hier bewusst eingeladen, dies als reinen Krach abzutun, Kenner wissen es besser. Denn wieder einmal beweist sich Lingua Ignota als eine der relevantesten musikalischen Künstlerinnen der Gegenwart. Besonders das klassische Titelstück ist wahnsinnig gut.

Und damit der Text hier nicht schon zu Ende ist, schummel ich hier jetzt auch noch zwei Alben des tschechischen Undergroundlabels Stoned To Death hinein, die ich mir gar nicht am Bandcamp Friday besorgt, sondern neulich als Download zusammen mit dem kranken Scheiß von Národní Diovadlo geschenkt bekommen habe:

Die Rhizom Fighters sind ähnlich irre wie jene Gruppe aufgestellt. Das Duo verbindet tollwütiges Freejazz-Drumming und Trompete mit experimenteller Elektroverwirrung. Und auf "Otua" kommt noch grindcoretaugliches Heisergebrüll dazu. Das Resultat ist abgefahrene heavy Improvisationsmucke, die das Avantgarde-Rad vielleicht nicht neu erfindet, jedoch durchaus spannend ist und einfach super viel Spaß macht.
Ach scheiß drauf, ich kauf mir jetzt doch eine der auf hundertfünfzig Stück limitierten und nur vierzehn Euro günstigen LPs von "Say No To Automatism!"
Um das einfach so liegenzulassen, bin ich wohl auch zu sehr von John Zorn und den Dead Neanderthals beschädigt, haha.

Nicht zwingend physisch haben muss ich hingegen das selbstbetitelte Debüt von Spiral Sadness.
"Sadcore" nennt sich diese kauzig, elektroakustische Low-Fi-Gruftimusik, auf der gerade der mit starkem Akzent und immenser Antriebslosigkeit dargebrachte Postpunksprechgesang schnell sowohl cringy als auch ermüdend rüberkommt.
Genügend interessante Ideen, um ab und zu mal einen Track einzuwerfen, gibt es hier schon, und irgendwie ist es auch ein Ereignis, dieses Zeug mal gehört zu haben. Ob man dieses jedoch mit einer Kassette zementieren muss? Ich glaub eher nicht. #sad
Es kann halt nicht jede Veröffentlichung eines Labels ein Volltreffer sein.



SABA ALIZADEH - I May Never See You Again

30M Records is a young label from Hamburg taking up the cause of spreading the gospel of experimental music from Iran. Fittingly one of the first 30M releases is from the one Iranian musician who I can already instantly name from the top of my head, since his last work "Scattered Memories" (on Karlrecords) left a huge impression on me and consequently ended up in the ranking of my top 22 favorite albums of 2019.

SABA ALIZADEH - I May Never See You Again (2021)

Given the title of its predecessor it seems a bit monothematic when the promo text for the new album talks about "meditations on the subject of memory". This new album is different than "Scattered Memories" though.
Where that album heavily featured the city of Tehran in themes and samples, "I May Never See You Again" comes across as a closer, yet more abstract internal monologue.

The pieces which are easisest to access are probably the two collaborations with German singer  Andreas Spechtl (Ja, Panik), who irradiates a calmness, which reminds me of Toby Driver's last solo albums, respectively the smoother performances on later Kayo Dot records.

There are also tracks, which prominently focus on Saba Alizadeh's masterful spike fiddle craft and partly pair it with haunting droning electric sounds. Due to the longing atmospheric tone of the kamancheh I find those very easy to enjoy, too.

The more experimental Alizadeh gets, the more it sounds like his music has been recorded somewhere in a metaphysical space within the body, and sometimes the intimacity created by this is a little much to bear, be it in "Ablution", which seems to drown in bubbling and rushing inner ear noises or in the closer "Azin", which finally goes too "artsy" for me. It's just uncomfortably close breathing noises, and I frankly cannot stand it. Luckily skipping this shortens the whole listening experience only insignificantly - and pieces like "Norouz 99", "Phasing Shadows" or the title track more than make up for it.

All in all Saba Alizadeh once again leads the listener on a subtle sonic adventure, which demands and rewards attention.

However as an entirety "I May Never See You Again" doesn't feel as cohesive as "Scattered Memories" for me. I'm mostly missing parts of the richness in Persion folkloristic influences and field recordings, which made that release so spectacular and tied it together, here.

more psych reissues (feat. BRIAN ELLIS and THE HEADS)

It seems like I'm catching up with some modern psych classics lately. After Hills' "Frid" a not too long while ago, I now got the vinyl reissues of two more albums which are (or should be) absolute classics.

BRIAN ELLIS - Quipu (sun marble vinyl 2LP) (2011/2021)

Multi-instrumentalist Brian Ellis was already familiar to me as a key figure in the San Diego psychedelic rock scene as well as in the El Paraiso Records section of my record collection through his performances with Psicomagia, Monarch, the Ellis/Munk Ensemble and of course his very own Brian Ellis Group.
Organ, synths, saxophone, guitars, bass, percussions... you name it, Brian Ellis plays it. So far every record with his participation I know is at least very good, if not absolutely brilliant.

Yet still "Quipo", that solo album from 2011, which has now been released on vinyl for the first time by Necio Records, succeeds in standing out.
With the exception of the drums on three of the seven tracks Ellis performed everything on this double album by himself - and it sounds like the live jam of a lifetime by the some greatest psychedelic jazz fusion freaks of a generation.

Ellis is the Dark Magus burning The Inner Mounting Mekanik Flame. He's walking on all the paths Miles Davis' electric phase and everything spawned by it, have build with an ease, as if he had been on stage with all the masters themselves. From the enlightened to the haunted - he channels it all. And then on side D with "Walomendem" he goes full Vander with a stunning Zeuhl epic, chants and all, an enormous offering to the almighty singularity which is Magma.

"Quipo" sounds like it should be a much more revered classic than it is. The good thing about this being a sleeper for the broader audience is that even though this beautiful transparent orange vinyl gatefold will probably already be sold out when I'm releasing this review, there's still a good chance to find the original CD for a relatively reasonable price.

THE HEADS - Relaxing With... The Heads (25th Anniversary Reissue) (silver / yellow with red splatter vinyl 2LP) (1996/2021)

An undisputed genre classic, yet for musically totally different reasons is the the 1996 debut of Bristol's THE HEADS. It's an album I didn't think I would need to have until very recently, because I already own a copy of their live recording from their Roadburn Festival performance in 2015, a double album which already has all the hits.

But then this anniversary edition includes a full bonus LP with a their first John Peel Session on the A-Side and tracks from two BBC Radio sessions plus a former 7" B-Side on the uhm... B-Side.
(Completionists might check out the digital version on Bandcamp - see below the review -, which includes even more of those.)

And yeah, this stuff kills live, so that was the kicker for me to want this. Just bring it on! 

The fun with "Relaxing With... The Heads" already starts with the iconic, but also quite misleading cover and title. Of course you can relax to whatever you want to, but this breed of space punk psych'n'roll is just wild! The Heads are utilizing primitivism ans sheer energy, but they do it in their very own distinct and almost timeless way, that sets them apart from everyone else - and which stills feels astonishingly fresh.

The album absolutely kicks ass, and so does the bonus material of this edition. However, in all honesty, the last five minutes of "Coogan's Bluff" alone would already make this worthwhile. Fuck yes, The Heads, man!