CHOICE MUSIC FROM THE LAST MONTH
CURATED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

The very last monthly playlist of 2022 is a bumper edition of eclectic choice music from the last month, with a smattering of tracks from upcoming December releases too.

This month’s picks have been collected from Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Shea’ Bordello and Graham Domain. The full track list can be found below the Spotify link.

The monthly will be back in the New Year. Until then absorb this behemoth of a selection, and next month, ponder and peruse the blog’s 140 plus albums of 2022 features.

TRACK LIST IN FULL

Black Market Karma/Tess Parks  ‘The Sky Was All Diseased’
Enter Laughing  ‘Met Me When I landed’
Salem Trials  ‘Man From Atlantis Is Dead’
Humour  ‘Jeans’
Cities Aviv  ‘Funktion’
Vlimmer  ‘Mathematik’
Gabrielle Ornate  ‘Phantasm’
Dead Horses  ‘Can’t Talk, Can’t Sleep’
Lunar Bird  ‘Driven By The Light’
Mui Zyu  ‘Rotten Bun’
Thank You Lord For Satan  ‘When We Dance’
Pozi  ‘Slightly Shaking Cells’
My Friend Peter  ‘When I Was’
U.S. Girls  ‘Bless This Mess’
Sofie Royer  ‘Feeling Bad Forsyth Street’
Surya Botofasina  ‘Beloved California Temple’
Edrix Puzzle  ‘Shadow of Phobe’
Let Spin  ‘Waveform Guru’
Etceteral  ‘Gologlavka’
Juga-Naut  ‘Camel Walk’
The Pyramids  ‘Queens Of The Spirits Part 1’
Illogic  ‘Nowhere Fast’
Planet Asia/Snowgoons/Flash  ‘Metabolism’
Dabbla/alone  ‘Adept’
Karu  ‘Spears Of Leaves’
Neon Kittens  ‘Nil By Vein’
Renelle 893/King Kashmere  ‘My Demons’
Mount Kimbie/Don Maker/Kai Campos Ft. Slowthai  ‘Kissing’
Homeboy Sandman/Deca  ‘Satellite’
Uusi Aika  ‘S-T’
Gillian Stone  ‘The Throne’
Raw Poetic/Damu The Fudgemunk  ‘A Mile In My Head’
Boldy James/Futurewave  ‘Mortemir Milestone’
Arthur King  ‘Dig Precious Things’
Tom Skinner  ‘Voices (Of The Past)’
Trans Zimmer & The DJs  ‘Wind Quintet No. 3 In E Major, Second Movement’
George T  ‘Dub On, King’s Cross’
The Dark Jazz Project  ‘Great Skies’
Noémi Büchi  ‘Measuring All Possibilities’
Russ Spence  ‘Spectrum’
Seez Mics/Aupheus  ‘Cancel The Guillotine’
Dezron Douglas  ‘J Bird’
Fliptrix/Illinformed  ‘Eden’
Apollo Brown/Philmore Greene  ‘This Is Me’
Illogic  ‘She Didn’t Write’
Milc/Televangel Ft. AJ Suede  ‘Ronald Reagan’
Vincent/The Owl/Nick Catchdubs  ‘Fade 2 Black’
Shirt/Jack Splash  ‘Cancel Culture’
Clouds In A Headlock/ASM/Daylight Robbery  ‘3D Maze’
The Strange Neighbour/Leolex/Bobby Slice Ft. DJ Sixkay  ‘Keep Your Head Straight’
Kormac  Ft. Loah & Jafaris  ‘Bottom Of The Ocean’
A. O. Gerber  ‘Walk In The Dark’
Ben Pagano  ‘Hot Capital’
Hög Sjö  ‘Love Is A Gamble’
Kinked  ‘Introduzione Alla Fabula’
Årabrot  ‘Going Up’
Old Fire Ft. Julia Holter  ‘Window Without A World’
Meg Baird  ‘Star Hill Song’
Susanna/Stina Stjern/Delphine Dora  ‘Elevation’
Rita Braga  ‘Nothing Came From Nowhere’
Orchid Mantis  ‘Endless Life’
The Zew  ‘Come On Down’
Ocelot  ‘Santa Ana’
LINN  ‘Okay, Sister’
Sanfeliu  ‘Grassy Patch’
Young Ritual  ‘Ages’
Yermot  ‘Leaning To Lie’


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PLAYLIST SPECIAL
TEAM EFOORT/COMPILED BY DOMINIC VALVONA

Each month the Monolith Cocktail pool of collaborators search long and hard for the choicest of choice tracks; mixing genres and geography into an encapsulation of the last month on the blog.

That team includes me (Dominic Valvona), Matt ‘rap control’ Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea, Andrew C. Kidd and Graham Domain.

You may have noticed since the summer that we’ve started compiling a Youtube playlist version, which includes extra bonuses from the No Base Trio and a seasonal treat from Escupemetralla plus some alternative tunes from the same artists on the Spotify list.

So without further ado, here is the October Revue:

And the Youtube version:

Full Track List:-

Montparnasse Musique Ft. Muambuyi and Mopero Mupemba ‘Panter’
Muramuke ‘Just One More’
Balaklava Blues ‘BEAT UP’
Marlowe/L’Orange/Solemn Brigham Ft. Deniro Farrar ‘Godfist’
Rockness Monsta/Method Man/Ron Browz ‘Beastie Boyz’
BeTheGun ‘Metropolis’
Lee Tracy/Isaac Manning  ‘Love Is Everything’
Lee Scott Ft. Sly Moon ‘THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, THE LESS I CARE’
Voice Actor ‘Battling Dust’
Juga-Naut ‘To The Table’
Ernesto Djédjé ‘Nini’
Liraz ‘Mimiram’
Mehmet Aslan/Niño de Elche ‘Tangerine’
Underground Canopy ‘Space Gems’
Valentina Magaletti ‘Low Delights’
Carl Stone ‘Sasagin’
Tau & The Drones Of Praise ‘Bandia’
Keep Shelly In London Ft. Sugar For The Pill ‘Don’t Want Your Romance’
Librarians With Hickeys ‘I Better Get Home’
Una Rose ‘Partly’
Carla dal Formo ‘Side By Side’
Derrero ‘Long Are The Days’
Super Hit ‘Donde’
Rahill ‘Haenim’
David Westlake ‘English Parish Churches’
Cormac o Caoimh ‘Didn’t We’
VRï ‘Aberhonddu’
Tuomo & Markus ‘Highest Mountain’
Pitou ‘Dancer’ Dana Gavanski ‘Strangers’
The Zew ‘Come On Down’
Brona McVittie ‘Living Without You’
Brian Eno ‘These Small Noises’
Edouard Ferlet ‘REFLEX’
Rich Aucoin ‘Esc’
Puppies In The Sun ‘Light Became Light’
Short Fuze Ft. Dr. Khil ‘Love Letters To The Lost’
Loyle Camer ‘Speed Of Flight’
Ill Move Sporadic/Tenchoo ‘Amulet Chamber’
Atmosphere ‘Sculpting With Fire’
Ghoster ‘CRAME 4’
Clark ‘Frau Wav (Brief Fling)’
Verbz/Mr Slipz ‘Music Banging Like’
Jester Jacobs/Jack Danz ‘Opportune’
Darko The Super/Yuri Beats ‘Don’t Stay’
Open Mike Eagle ‘I’ll Fight You’ A.G. ‘The Sphinx’
El Gant Ft. DJ Premier ‘Leave It Alone’
Heavy Links/Luca Brazi ‘Complicated Theory’
Fliptrix, King Kashmere/Pitch 92 ‘Primordial Soup’
Shirt/Jack Splash ‘Death To Wall Art’
Smellington Piff/Ill Informed ‘Hard Times’



Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

Dominic Valvona’s Reviews Roundup

A Glitterbeat Records Double-Bill:-

Liraz ‘Roya’
(Glitterbeat Records) 7th October 2022

With one foot on the nostalgic dance floors of, a pre-revolutionary, Tehran, Cairo, Beirut and Tel Aviv, and another, sweeping a fantastical Persian landscape, pop princess Liraz oozes passionate yearns and diaphanous delivered protestations on her third album, Roya. In the adopted Farsi-tongue that title translates as ‘fantasy’. And this latest harmonious Israeli-Iranian traverse has plenty of it; swirled in vaporous whispers, veils and the airy across matinée romantic swoons and the yearning.

It’s a fantasy in the fact that Liraz has once more recorded an album in a clandestine manner, with musicians from Iran in Istanbul – a flavor of that city’s age-old cultural wellspring is evident in the music. Out of the shadows of Tehran’s secret police and having to remain anonymous, this form of fantasy imagines peace throughout the Middle East and good relations specifically between Liraz’s ancestral Iranian and adopted Israeli homes. The daughter of Sephardic Jews who left Iran at a time of cordial relations with Israel, in the time since, both countries have locked horns in a both cold and hot war. Although being Jewish in what was once the heartlands of the atavistic Persian Empire has never been exactly easy, with persecutions going back generations and a millennia or three. And so the ensemble cast of ‘tar’ lute, wasp-waisted wooden Iranian flute, viola and violin players and voices have taken a big risk in fraternizing and making an album with an Israeli citizen; especially one of Jewish heritage. It probably doesn’t help that Liraz also starred as a Farsi-speaking Mossad operative in the semi-successful Apple TV espionage series Tehran. And in light of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, demonstrations and civil unrest is being met with extreme violence and subjugation by the state. We could even being seeing the catalyst of regime change, with talk of what comes next, power and administration wise, daring to be aired and seriously challenged by a more liberal generation of young Iranians: such has been the outcry.

As an actor, now in the role of her life, Liraz builds bridges across those barriers as she imagines and retells in song the stories and yearnings of women silenced in Iran, banned from singing. A union is formed between a life and ancestry she can only be a part of in the Iranian diaspora.

Musically this translates into exotic sweeps, bouncy and retro disco zapped pop with a Middle Eastern suffusion of familiar panovison framed fantasies. With a swell and weeping of moving strings it could even be a musical reference to the classical strained beauty and lament of the Eastern European Jewish community – although Liraz’s ancestry is connected to the Iberian Sephardic Jews.

The album’s bookended by two versions of the title-track. The first is a lifting of veils Arabian Kate Bush, galloping up that hill of sand, the second, a tearful, stripped of electronics traditional and classical-bowed farewell. Between those points there’s an incredibly voiced stirring of disco, pop, psychedelic and Middle Eastern fusions; the near-halcyon against retro throwbacks to more liberated freer times in the region. Yet all thoroughly invigorated, refreshed and given a suitably contemporary electric feel.

Contouring the piques and lows there’s a dance of disco-funk (with even the fuzz whacker-whacker buzz of Fred Wesley & The J.B.s) and kitsch Franco-Arabian pop, soulful longing and Moroder-esque synth-electro pop. Liraz is all the while the perfect enchantress or moving vocalist, with a beautiful voice, cadence and articulation.

By far Liraz’s greatest adventure and sound, this is a fantasy with an all too real, alarming undercurrent of suppressed voices, forced to go underground in the act of creating some magical pop music. Please venture further than the myopic pop cliques and commercial output of the UK, America and Europe, as Roya is a stunning, sublime electro-charged album imbued with a myriad of forbearers from the Iranian, Egyptian, Turkish disco, psych, funk and balladry scenes of better times.    

Tau & The Drones Of Praise ‘Misneach’
(Glitterbeat Records) 21st October 2022

The second in a Glitterbeat Records double-bill and another fantasy-inspired spell of ancestry and magic, Seán Mulrooney’s led Tau & The Drones Of Praise band reconnect with their Celtic roots.

A return to an Ireland of myth, fables, enchantment and allurement, Mulrooney and his core of foils Robbie Moore (who also recorded this, the band’s third album, at the Impression Studios in Berlin), the TindersticksEarl Harvin and Iain Faulkner (who ‘helmed additional recording at the Sonic Studios in Dublin’) are bolstered further by a large cast of musicians and voices. None more congruous and influential to the overall Celtic feel as the new age misty Irish veiled Clannad, who lend Damien Dempsey and Pól Brennan to this ensemble piece of folk and beyond theatre and reconnection.

Like a Mummers troupe, a merry procession, this harmonious bunch pay reverence to the tree spirits; homage to the ancestors; and fall at the feet of enchantress muses. With a concertinaed air of Breton, a Men Without Hats vibe and a singer who sounds like an Irish Michael Stipe or Alasdair Roberts, they invoke nature’s children making amends with the evergreen sprites on the opening, and brilliant, chorus call of alms, ‘It Is Right To Give Drones And Praise’.

From then on in we’re pulled into a world and across timelines: from atavistic Ireland to the Medieval, Georgian and Present. Old traditions via the folk-psych of The Incredible String Band, Pentangle and Sproutly Smith merge with the already mentioned misty-mystique of Clannad – but also their former ethereal siren Enya too –, The Polyphonic Spree, Flaming Lips and Octopus. Although the group’s lasting message and finale, ‘Hope’, reminded me of both Echo And The Bunnymen and The Mission. An atmosphere of bucolic wistfulness and idyllic idling prevail as the rhythm and soft marches change between the dreamy and courtly, the folksy and anguished. Always melodious in whatever realm, there is however a moment on ‘The Sixth Sun’ when the beautiful if longed female choral voices swim against a more wild, dissonance of noise. But that is the exception. Yet despite the challenges, the history Misneach (from the Old Irish lexicon, it translates as ‘courage’ and ‘spirit’) is a fantastical wilding, droning mélange of Celtic influences, the psychedelic, ancient and folk. And at its heart is a story of reconnection and an environmental yearn.

And A We Jazz Double-Bill:

Carl Stone ‘We Jazz Reworks Vol.2’
(We Jazz) 21st October 2022

Three years on and out the other side of the pandemic, my favourite contemporary jazz label is releasing a second volume of “reworks”.

The Helsinki label, festival and magazine has once more opened up its back catalogue to reinvention/transformation, inviting in the reputable and noted American artist/electronic composer Carl Stone to work his magic on another chronologically ordered stack of ten albums from their growing discography. Inaugural guest Timo Kaukolampi of K-X-P fame conjured up an ambiguous cosmic mix of We Jazz’s first ten albums on Volume 1 of course. And now Stone likewise takes familiar phrases, riffs, rhythms and performances somewhere entirely new and out there. Although both exciting and equally daunting, overwhelmed by a sizeable chunk of material at his disposal, Stone favoured intuition and feel over everything else. That process (re)works wonders as the already experimental and brilliant music of acts and collaborations like Terkel Nørgaard (his album with Ralph Alessi), OK:KO (Syrtti), Jonah Parzen-Johnson (Helsinki 8.12.18) and traces of 3TM, Ilmiliekki Quartet, Peter Eldh and Timo Lassy & Tappo Mäkynen are sent out towards the stars, expanse or morphed into gauzy states of untethered freeform hallucinations.

The opening circular-wafted peregrination ‘Umi’ is more like a mirage of snozzled and snored saxophone cycles, undulated piano and space vapours: Pharaoh Sanders, Donny McCaslin transmogrified by Brown Calvin on the edge of the Milky Way.

A suffusion of drifted, woozy and more hysterical horns, submerged double-bass runs and noodling sporadic and more rhythmic rolling, crescendo drums and ghostly tinkled, hazed piano is handled differently on each track. On the quickened to slow counterbalance timed skiffle and stuttered ‘Sasagin’ Zorn and Haas skit-scat and dream with Tortoise on the NYC underground jazz scene of the 80s, whereas the strange ‘Hippo’ sounds like some kind of Baroque holy ritual piece as reimagined by some kosmische act on Sky Records.

The action is often chaotic and in freeform discourse: like Chat Baker on speed or Oscar Peterson running out of notes. Yet somehow these transformations keep moving in the right direction; finding a rhythm and even a touch of melody on occasions. Avant-garde, free jazz, the cosmic and electronic converge on another alternative vision of the We Jazz catalogue. Stone creates some incredible, even beautiful, experiments; probing the ether, void and hyper-stellar realms of his imagination.

Say What ‘S-T’
(We Jazz) 7th October 2022

Shrouded with a certain mystery, the second We Jazz label release this month is tight-lipped in the information department. There’s very little to go on other than that this was a never to be repeated, existing just at that specific time in that arena (Austin, Texas’ Sonic Transmissions festival), performance, the trio’s defacto leader and saxophonist luckily names his bassist and drummer partners on this wild, contorted free jazz with a punk and no wave attitude recording. The Black Myths partnership of Luke Stewart and Warren ‘Trae” Grudup III join forces with our unnamed saxophonist across riled, spiritual funking, post-rock and avant-garde frenzy growled, swinging and dynamic performances. Taking no breaks, but sorted into seven Roman numeral marked tracks, the obviously versatile/talented trio turn our idea of jazz music inside out.

With the welcoming pleasantries out of the way we’re straight out smacked-up with a badass merger of Miles’ The Last Septet whomp, the sinewy rage of a wrangled Fugazi and the whelp, wail and manic expressive experiments of Roscoe Mitchell doing ‘Ornate’ doing Ornate Coleman, Sam Rivers and The Chicago Underground. That’s only the opening number. It gets even more free range and hysterical with Stewart’s blurred bass slides, crazy frictions and thick-stringed scuttles and slippery entanglements up against Grudup’s splashes, crescendos, tight rolls, slips and smashes all growing ever more experimental and probing.

Track ‘III’ finds a sort of strut and attitude with sax toots, trills and stresses over a busy drums and gnarly bass. It changes from a warped Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Zappa to something approaching the spiritual. That spiritual, almost oboe-like sax carries over into track ‘IV’, like some kind of Pharaoh Sanders Egyptian odyssey. But then Stewart descends his instrument like a scratching spider, sliding in tandem with Grudup’s quickened drumming until both synchronize in a quivered blur before imploding.  

With some of these parts running to well over thirteen minutes in length, it’s an incredible energy that keeps the gig continuously moving and bursting into the purely psychical. Say What enters and exits on a high; an energetic, moody and powerfully adroit expression of riled-up tensions, rage and the explorative. One of the best slices of jazz you’ll hear all this year. 

Aucoin ‘Synthetic: A Synth Odyssey Season 1’
19th October 2022

Given an enviable access to The National Music Centre in Calgary’s extensive archive of rare and historically iconic synthesizers, Rich Aucoin as artist-in-residence models the first chapter in an ambitious seasonal project.

 A Synth Odyssey Season 1is the maverick composer’s latest magnum opus; a four-part work released in six month intervals over the next two years.

Such ventures have been tried before, although a decade ago with his debut album proper, the orchestral rocking We’re All Dying To Live, which included untold collaborators. Ten years on with a grand project interrupted by the Covid pandemic, the first fruits of his synth palace residency are about to be released.

Originally conceived and let loose in 2020 on a synth collection that features such prized and cult apparatus as the Supertramp-owned Elka Rhapsody 610 String Machine, the ARP 2600, Selmar Clavioline CM 8 and Oxford Synthesizer Company Oscar (analogue boffins’ wet dreams), the pandemic restrictions, lockdowns and such put the project on hold. In the meantime, Aucoin carried on producing film scores, most notably for the No Ordinary Man documentary about the trans-masculine jazz musician Billy Tipton. Picking up again in 2021, he was finally able to finish this wonderful synth cosmology.  

No doubt enthusiasts will know every waveform, arpeggiator, knob-tweaking signature but as a handy guide of a sort, some of the tracks on this inaugural seasoned album are named after the synths used in the process. It all starts with the multitimbral polyphonic analogue synth, the TONTO (or ‘The Original New Timbral Orchestra’). On the opening suite it turns from a moody kosmische shimmer into a more upbeat Orbital acid dance track. During that transformation you can pick up the German New Wave, early Warp and R&S Records. 

A bit later on and it’s the turn of a Buchla Electronic Musical Instruments company synth – named after its Californian innovator Don Buchla. In this capacity it sounds suitably retro-futuristic, crossing towards a cosmic void on fanned rays, orbiting bit-crush handclaps and bobbing synth tom rolls.

Elsewhere Aucoin slips into, or surges towards moments of EDM euphoria, Vangelis peregrinations of gravitas, simmered techno, electro and House music – especially on the female vocal N-R-G club track ‘456’. However, the vapourous, prowled and cinematic ‘Space Western’ theme teleports a Moroder vision of the Blood Meridian to a venerated chorus Arrakis.

Sophisticated and well crafted throughout, these aren’t so much experiments or synth showcases as hopeful and more moody traverses and cerebral dance tracks. Iconic synths are given a contemporary feel both playful and adroit, a balance of both serious knowledgeable musicianship and welcoming levity. I look forward to next season’s accomplishments in the field synth escapism.  

Montparnasse Musique ‘Archeology’
(Real World Records) 7th October 2022

What was a chance encounter on the busy Montparnasse-Bienvenüe subway interchange has led to a far wider Pan-African sonic adventure. From Paris to mother Africa, the sophisticated dance music production of South African House DJ Aero Manyelo and his foil, the French-Algerian producer Nadjib Ben Bella, transforms the street cultural electronic and more traditional sounds of the continent for a congruous fusion of collaborative polygenesis energy and warmth.

Wiring into the various electrifying movements of the D.R.C. and South Africa, the burgeoning duo met and worked with the leading lights of Kinshasa and Johannesburg. Members from such trailblazing combos and collectives as the Kasai Allstars, Konono No. 1, Mbongwa Star, Bantou Mentale and Kokoko weave, bob and express themselves over and to the attuned but deeply felt synthesized House beats, Acid burbles and squelches, polygon Techno evocative vapours, and pulsating dance music.

The familiar sounds of Congolese rock-blues-soul guitar, voices both earthy and pure, the lilt of sunny joy and a constantly moving assemblage of African percussion meet synthesised, sub-bass throbbing and zapping electronica in a almost perfect synchronicity.

At times it reminded me of Khalab’s similar African productions, at others, like a remixed Francis Bebay, some Clap! Clap! and Four Tet. The Menga Waku featured ‘Makonda’ evoked the early Detroit House and Techno scenes of a toned-down Kevin Saunderson, whilst the following, more moody, piped and experimental ‘Plowman’ (featuring the voice of Cubain Kaleya) had me thinking of Black Mango. However, all things change on the sand dune Arabian fantasy score ‘Chibinda Ilunga’, which moves to Northern African and a romanticised, mysterious Bedouin court; the music more like a film score, or Finis Africae traversing a trinket-percussive and synthesised Arabia.    

Whatever the methodology the results are as welcoming as they are entrancing, with a pathway formed towards the dance floor. Archeology is neither an ethnography-type dig or revived language of sonic forms, but a lively and inviting great fusion of Congotronics, more traditional sounds and the European club scenes. Definitely an album for the end of year lists.

   

CAN ‘Live In Cuxhaven, 1976’
(Mute/Spoon) 14th October 2022

1976 the year of the bandy reggae waltzing, discothèque probing Flow Motion album, and CAN’s only bonafide hit, ‘I Want More’. It’s also a treasure trove year of bootleg material if Youtubes anything to go by, with countless live dates across Europe and the UK.

Almost two albums into their 1975 contract with Virgin, recording wise, the Cologne band were loosening up with a sound that moved ever closer to world music fusions and even the commercial: well, of a kind. Not universally a welcoming move with diehards and the head community however, the results were mixed at best. Performance wise, in concert, CAN still riffed off an admirable, innovative and experimental legacy, right up until the end of that year.

Although no gig is the same, you can find transformed, explorative version jams of material that stretches right back to the Galactus sported Monster Movie debut. Popping up like a signature anthem, ‘Dizzy Dizzy’ from the 1974 space-programmed trip Soon Over Babluma appears as a staple groove and prompt on the latest, and third, CAN Live album. Officially sanctioned by the band’s Spoon and Mute label custodians, this previous sneaky bootlegged recording captures them on stage in the German (Lower Saxony to be exact) seaside town of Cuxhaven, on the North Sea coastline – as a bit of useless trivia, its twinned with, amongst others, the English port town of Penzance.

I don’t think this time, like previous bootlegs, it was recorded by the sadly, recently, departed Andrew Hall, who’s handed over a bounty of such material to CAN’s sole survivor Irmin Schmidt and producer/engineer René Tinne to be brushed-up and mastered to acceptable aural pleasures. But why the need for this bootleg series? Well, as I lay out in previous CAN Live reviews, the band were always victims of bad luck when attempting to record any sort of official, legitimate “live” album performance. Gremlins in the works – once failing to record someone’s entire part – the technical glitches meant that there was never a proper live CAN record as such. Mind you, this was a band that more or less played live in the studio setting, making albums out of countless hours of extemporised or improvised sessions. And, as I’ve already said, CAN never quite played the same thing twice, let alone an entire set.

Here on the ’76 special you will hear a once more transformed, in-the-moment vision of tracks from Future Days (‘Bel Air’), Soon Over Babluma (‘Dizzy Dizzy’, ‘Splash’, ‘Chain Reaction’) and Landed (‘Full Moon On The Highway’). There may very well be even traces of Tago Mago, and the yet to be released, Flow Motion albums too in that heady mix.

Across four Germanic-numerical sections it’s the lunar, wailed, bendy, squalling whacker-whacker guitar contours, licks, chops and phrases of Michael Karoli that win out. Ten Years After blues meets the whomp-whomp of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew live band and the psychedelic, Karoli transforms familiar album cut riffs into fuzz-scorched, garbbled, loose and seared cosmic acid rock magic.

Other live performances from the same year include far more vocals, with Karoli having to take over after the departure of the mushroom haiku incanting Damo Suzuki after Future Days. Here his barely audible enervated whispers can just about be detectable during one bout of locked-in grooving.

Keyboards chopping aviator Schmidt offers up another suitable chemistry of the celestial, tubular and avant-garde, going as far as to start laying down something approaching gospel, or Southern Blues on the first track, ‘Eins’.  As always, Jaki Liebezeit keeps that human metronome ticking, holding flights of fantasy, tangents and spacey ascendance all together with his impeccable sense of rhythm and time. Dare I say, he ventures into funk at times, and during part of track ‘Drei’ bobs and rattles out a tin and bottle percussive Latin-soul passage: the sort Santana would happily embrace.

Unfortunately I couldn’t hear all that much of the designated bassist Holger Czukay; it’s there but very much lost against a louder Karoli, Schmidt and Liebezeit, the frequencies a bit foggy.

Still, this is yet another example of a band in total synchronicity, no matter how wild or off the beaten tracks the direction taken. Though to be honest, this is nowhere near CAN at their wildest or avant-garde, nor most dynamic and interesting. In fact the performances are a little more composed and tight. Not disappointing, just not so amazing.

A different time, a different version of CAN, Live In Cuxhaven offers yet another side to the feted band; a bridge towards Flow Motion for a start. It will be interesting to see what follows: my own particular interest being their expansion of the lineup and the Saw Delight album period.  

Puppies In The Sun ‘Light Became Light’
(Buh Records)

A slow release of maximalist energy and cosmic explosions the Puppies In The Sun duo conjure up a big sound on their debut album, Light Became Light.

Buddies since childhood back in Peru, but serendipitously crossing paths a longtime later in Barcelona, Alberto Cendra and Cristóbal Pereira made base camp together in Rotterdam. But despite the European-wide travelling it’s the great universal void and expanses of space that they’ve chosen to sonically navigate and transcend, with just the use of a drum kit, apparatus of synths and open mind.

The notes, quotes however mention the duo’s noise rock credentials, which despite a lack of any guitar or bass is nevertheless present on these peregrinations, vortex hyper-drives and odysseys.

Locked in to each track of starry wonder and languorous crescendo, the pace of direction is often in slow motion. Dissipated crashes and rolls, slow dives and frazzled oscillations head towards the explored and unexplored realms of Mythos, Embryo, Adam’s Castle, LNZNDRF, Angels Die Hard and the Secret Machines. Although the N-R-G pumped ‘Raging’, They Came To Dance’ sounds more like Cabaret Voltaire and FSOL at a space cowboy hoedown.     

Space is deep, as Hawkwind once aggrandised. And so it is too on this light travelling discover of a big-sounding kosmische. Krautrock, prog and controlled noise rock score.  

Spelterini ‘Paréidolie’
(Kythibong) 4th October 2022

Named in honour of the 19th century Italian tightrope walker, Maria Spelterini, who’s death-defying stunts included numerous handicapped (blindfolded, manacled or with weighted peach baskets strapped to her feet) walks across the Niagara Falls, the quartet Spelterini pairing of Papier Tigre and Chasusse Trappe members do a bit of their own tightrope walk on this new peregrination and driving motorik long form performance. Keeping balanced whilst straddling modes, chapters and movements, Pierre-Antoine Parois, Arthur de la Grandière, Meriadeg Orgebin and Nicolas Joubaud embrace kosmische. Krautrock, psych and the esoteric on a continuous, thirty-five minute opus. 

After the phenomenon in which the brain creates optical illusions of familiar faces or shapes where there is only abstraction, “Paréidolie” progresses from hymnal drones and rays to something far more haunted, uneasy and razored – the notes reference the Lynchian (think the most recent Twin peaks series return mixed with The Land Of Ukko & Rauni era live documented Faust). And so, incipient and building from the kosmische and reverent ambient the direction begins to drive towards rhythmic and totem ritualistic evocations of both Embryo and ‘Rainy Day’ and later Just Us/Is Last Faust (them again). This in turn sees a real physical weight start to embody the hypnotising knocks, hi-hat scuffs and beat.

Elements of The Velvets, avant-garde, France and Neu! all get drawn into the pummeled march before the portal opens up a far more ominous world of shadows, metallic abrasions and bestial industrial squalls. It’s Bernard Szajner holding a cosmic séance with Emptyset and Jóhann Jóhannsson if you like.

That alien leviathan suite passes as a reverberated cacophony of percussion shimmers and splashes away until a final crescendo-like beat of a thousand butterfly wings. 

Spelterini mystify and invoke a locked-in rhythm across a half hour of probed illusion, disillusion and inter-dimensional abstraction. Imbued with krautrock they magic up an impressive drum and drone journey. 

No Base Trio ‘II’
(Setola di Maiale) 14th October 2022

It’s a port we at the Monolith Cocktail have seldom sailed to, but Puerto Rico boasts an impressive contemporary jazz scene; one that the adroit and accomplished No Base Trio endeavor to export to the global community.

In the field for twelve years as a unit, horns and EWI practitioner Jonathan Suazo is flanked by the versatile guitarist Gabriel Vicéns and drummer Leonardo Osuna on another intuitive, fully improvised work of free jazz, jazz rock, fusion and beyond.

A grandiose, nigh two hour extemporized septet of performances – recorded the day after a highly successful concert at the El Bastión in Old San Juan – work II finds the trio in perfect synchronicity ready to probe and venture forth with atonal, tactile and juddered rhythmic explorations.

Across passages that last over twenty minutes in length, the recognisable jazz elements are stretched, repurposed and entangled in various bendy mirages and naturalistic atmospheres as ascending and descending patterns and more serialism type abstract musicality takes shape.

Suazo moves between flighty flute and windy spiraled alto/tenor saxophones like some sort of expressive natural force, caught up in mysterious soundscapes that evoke both fertile environments and more arid landscapes. Vicéns guitar accents, twangs and nimble finer work reminded me a little of the South American jazz guitarist Rodrigo Tavares, and on ‘ST 4’, a little bit of Ry Cooder articulating a mysterious psychedelic desert setting. Osuna’s drums meanwhile, sound out the tribal, spiritual and freeform, often sophisticated, quiet and spindled, or, taking time to find a rhythm. In action, all together, the trio varies the mood from the more abstract and avant-garde to built-up dynamic tumultuous climaxes: that translates as croaked and plectrum scratched guitar and industrial detuned sounds on ‘ST 2’, and a Hobby Horse meets head-on with Irreversible Entanglements in a rock-jazz crescendo squall on ‘ST 5’.    

Each track is like a score in itself, cast adrift of a subject, theme or visual inspiration; a mix of jazz with various percussive influences and sources that swings between Buh label outsiders to the ACT label, Donny McCaslin, an avant-garde Americas and Ornate Coleman. It’s an impressive album of synergy that manages to probe the wilds without bombast and total dissonance; kept together at all times with the most intuitive of unsaid musicianship and deft foresight.          

THE PLAYLIST
Dominic Valvona/Matt Oliver/Brian Bordello Shea

All the choice tracks from the last month, plus a few missed ones we’ve corralled from last month, the Monolith Cocktail team’s playlist revue is both a catch-up and showcase of the blog’s eclectic and mind bending tastes. Sitting in on this month’s selection panel is Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver and Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea

TRACK LIST IN FULL IS:

Junior Disprol Ft. Krash Slaughta  ‘Rotund Shogun’
Deca  ‘Tuning’
Exterior  ‘Orthodox Dreams’
FAST DE  ‘Miss Trutti Finally Found Her Gem’
Pussy Riot Ft. Slayyter  ‘HATEFUCK’
Masai Bey  ‘Stanza X’
BITHAMMER!  ‘Make You Mine’
Flat Worms  ‘Into The Iris (Live)’
Salem Trials  ‘Vegaville’
Walker Brigade  ‘Disease’
Team Play  ‘Sunrise’
James Howard  ‘Baloo’ Adam Walton  ‘Mary Sees U.F.O.S.’
Joviale  ‘UW4GM’
Shabaka  ‘Black Meditation’
Kritters  ‘New York’
Ralph Of London  ‘Lys’
Ethan Woods  ‘Utopia Limited (Cuddly Tie-In)’
Staples Jr. Singers  ‘I’m looking For A Man’
Ramson Badbonez  ‘Rap Bio’
Mr. SOS & Maxamill  ‘War Criminal’
The Difference Machine  ‘Old Men’
Omega Sapien  ‘Jenny’
Mr. SOS  ‘Peace & Prosperity’
Jermiside & The Expert Ft. Tanya Morgan  ‘Crime Rule The City’
Quelle Chris  ‘DEATHFAME’
Wish Master & Billy Whizz  ‘THOUGHTS OF THOUGHTS’
Guillotine Crowns  ‘Killer’ Orryx  ‘Eldritch’
Celestial North  ‘When The Gods Dance’
Henna Emilia Hietamäki  ‘Protesti’
Lucrecia Dalt  ‘No One Around’
STANLAEY  ‘Fluorescent Fossils’
Your Old Droog  ‘Go To Sleep’
Tommaso Moretti Ft. Ben LaMar Gay  ‘A Call For Awareness’
Black Mango Ft. Samba Touré  ‘Are U Satisfied’
Avalanche Kaito  ‘Flany Konare’
Tomo-Nakaguchi  ‘Halation’
Private Agenda  ‘Splendour’
Sebastian Reynolds  ‘Four-Minute Mile’
Chouk Bwa & The Ångströmers  ‘Agwetaroyo’
Misha Sultan  ‘Nyepi’
The Master Musicians Of Jajouka  ‘Khamsa Khamsin’
Gustavo Yashimura  ‘Las Prendas del Corazon’
Stephanie Santiago  ‘Activa Tu Cuerpo’
Gabrielle Ornate  ‘Free Falling’
Black Monitor  ‘Xexagon77’
Borban Dallas & His Filipino Cupids  ‘Too Convenient’
Martha And The Muffins  ‘Save It For Later’
Super Hit  ‘Blink 182’
Reverend Baron  ‘Let The Radio Play’
Alas The Sun  ‘Distant Drone’
Jelly Crystal  ‘I Tryyy’
LINN  ‘Happiness Is Real’
Lenka Lichtenberg  ‘That Monster, Custom’
Brigitte Beraha  ‘Blink’
Vera Di Lecce  ‘Altar Of Love’
Francesco Lurgo  ‘I Am Already Far Away’



Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

PLAYLIST SPECIAL

An encapsulation of the last month, the Monolith Cocktail team (Dominic Valvona, Matt Oliver, Brian ‘Bordello’ Shea and Graham Domain) chose some of the choicest and favourite tracks from February. It may have been the shortest of months, yet we’ve probably put together our largest playlist in ages: all good signs that despite everything, from Covid to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, artists, bands everywhere are continuing to create.

65 tracks, over 4 hours of music, February’s edition can be found below:

That exhaustive track list in full:::

Animal Collective ‘Walker’
Modern Nature ‘Performance’
Gabrielle Ornate ‘Spirit Of The Times’
The Conspiracy ‘Red Bird’
Cubbiebear/Seez Mics ‘All Friended Up’
Dubbledge/Chemo ‘Itchy Itchy’
Dirty Dike ‘Bucket Kicker’
Future Kult ‘Beasts With No Name’
Lunch Money Life ‘Jimmy J Sunset’
Ben Corrigan/Hannah Peel ‘Unbox’
Uncommon Nasa ‘Epiphany’
War Women Of Kosovo ‘War Is Very Hard’
Ben Corrigan/Douglas Dare ‘Ministry 101’
Sven Helbig ‘Repetition (Ft. Surachai)’
Ayver ‘Reconciliacion Con La Vida’
Lucidvox ‘Swarm’
Provincials ‘Planetary Stand-Off’
Wovenhand ‘Acacia’
Aesop Rock ‘Kodokushi (Blockhead Remix)’
Junglepussy ‘Critiqua’
Tanya Morgan/Brickbeats ‘No Tricks (Chris Crack) Remix’
Buckwild ‘Savage Mons (Ft. Daniel Son, Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon & Eto) Remix’
Che Noir ‘Praises’
Koma Saxo w/Sofia Jernberg ‘Croydon Koma’
Medicine Singers/Yontan Gat/Jamie Branch ‘Sanctuary’
Black Josh/Milkavelli/Lee Scott ‘Die To This’
Funky DL ‘I Can Never Tell (Ft. Stee Moglie)’
Mopes ‘Home Is Like A Tough Leather Jacket’
ANY Given TWOSDAY ‘Hot Sauce (Ft. Sum)’
Split Prophets/Res One/Bil Next/Upfront Mc/0079 ‘Bet Fred’
Nelson Dialect/Mr. Slipz/Vitamin G/Verbz ‘Oxford Scholars’
Immi Larusso/Morriarchi ‘Inland’
Homeboy Sandman ‘Keep That Same Energy’
Wax Tailor/Mick Jenkins ‘No More Magical’
Ilmiliekki Quartet ‘Sgr A*’
Your Old Droog/The God Fahim ‘War Of Millionz’
Ramson Badbonez/Jehst ‘Alpha’
Ghosts Of Torrez ‘The Wailing’
Pom Poko ‘Time’
Daisy Glaze ‘Statues Of Villians’
Orange Crate Art ‘Wendy Underway’
Seigo Aoyama ‘Overture/Loop’
Duncan Park ‘Rivers Are A Place Of Power’
Drug Couple ‘Linda’s Tripp’
Ebi Soda/Yazz Ahmed ‘Chandler’
Brian Bordello ‘Yes, I Am The New Nick Drake’
Psychedelic Porn Crumpets ‘Bubblegum Infinity’
Steve Gunn ‘Protection (Ft. Mdou Moctar)’
Jane Inc. ‘Contortionists’
Black Flower ‘Morning in The Jungle (Ft. Meskerem Mees)’
Jo Schornikow ‘Visions’
The Goa Express ‘Everybody In The UK’
Pintandwefall ‘Aihai’
Thomas Dollbaum ‘God’s Country’
Crystal Eyes ‘Don’t Turn Around’
Glue ‘Red Pants’
Super Hit ‘New Day’
Legless Trials ‘Junior Sales Club Of America’
Monoscopes ‘The Edge Of The Day’
Alabaster DePlume ‘Don’t Forget You’re Precious’
Orlando Weeks ‘High Kicking’
Carl Schilde ‘The Master Tape’
Bank Myna ‘Los Ojos de un Cielo sin Luz’
Park Jiha ‘Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans’
Simon McCorry ‘Interstices’



ALBUM REVIEW/Dominic Valvona
Photo credit: Rafal Wojczal

Trupa Trupa ‘B Flat A’
(Glitterbeat Records) 11th February 2022

With lofty literary metaphors connected to Nabokov’s dystopian ‘puddles’, a tumult of historical oppression and the miasma of Covid bearing down upon them the Gdansk band Trupa Trupa work trauma and unease into a counterpoint of both the abrasive and trippier psychedelic on their new and second album for the magnificent trailblazers Glitterbeat Records.

Working through society’s divisive destruction, anxieties and paranoia, the Polish group excels at composing claustrophobic and propulsive maelstroms of knotted despondency and protestation. That musical scale album title, B Flat A, may well be an indication of the notes, moodiness that’s used to navigate these seemingly dreadful times. Far from a cataclysmic misery however, the mood and music escalate from a gnarly tumult into the languidly psychedelic: If Syd Barrett had declined that last bad acid tab and gone on to front Pink Floyd in the 70s and gone on to embrace the post-punk scene in the 80s then it may very well have sounded something like the flange fanned dreamy ‘Lit’. Actually, the ghost of Syd is strung throughout, wafting in and out of the brilliant halcyon backbeat kooky ‘Uniforms’, and on the George Harrison melodious ‘All And All’

Shades of the Olivia Tremor Control, Jeff Simmons, early king Crimson rub up against Crispy Ambulance, Fugazi, Killing Joke, Mew, Wire and Can on the junction of light and shade; the sinewy taut and drifting. From the more relaxed resignation to growling industrial heaviness Trupa Trupa turn malady, melancholy into an artform. The final lo fi emitted title-track finishes with a suffocating atmosphere of C86 and no wave; the group present but indolently obscured under the smog; distant as if already submerged beneath the oppressive waves.  

Trupa Trupa may very well have produced their best and most complete album yet; already a contender for the albums of the year list in my view. What a opening statement to make in the third year of the pandemic!

In these troubled times, with so much stacked against independent, unsponsored voices, you can help us to continue probing and delivering great new music:

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

ALBUM REVIEW/Dominic Valvona

Acid Mothers Reynols ‘Vol. 2’
(Hive mind Records) 27th January 2022

Interstellar overdrive time once more as the long-standing Krautrock replicants, torchbearers Acid Mothers Temple join forces with the Argentine avant-garde rock leftfielders the Reynols for a second volume of mushroom incantation space, acid-rock psych and outer limits tripping.

The constantly regenerative Acid Mothers collective, who’s only mainstays, guides are the founding members Kawabata Makoto and Higashi Hiroshi (though it should be noted that one-time Boredoms founding guitarist, the Japanese legend and serial Acid Mothers offender Tabata Mitsuru appears on this invocation of the group), embarked on an extensive tour of the South American continent back in 2017. It was during this sojourn, a year before the Mothers 2018 Reverse Of Rebirth personnel change, that the collective also took time out to record and play shows with the Reynols, whose own haywire provenance dates back decades, with the group formulating their outsider credentials from the outset in 1993; dropping the original ‘Ensemble’ from their name three years later.

The fruits of this kool-aid venture fill up another record of enlivened experimenting, both groups coalescing into what sounds like a barely contained freak-out on untethered lunar surfaces of blancmange: an improvised communion in the light of a melted moonbeam primal soup.   

Acid Mothers Temple fans won’t be surprised to hear that their contributions sound like the creeping stirrings of Phallus Dei era Amon Düül II, a bit of Guru Guru (who they have of course collaborated with in the past), the Cosmic Couriers, Xhol Caravan and Ash Ra Tempel. Meanwhile the Reynols loudest, most obvious contribution comes from Miguel Tomasín’s erratic and excitable, hard-hitting piano improvs. Sharing room on the piano stool with Anton Webren, György Liget, Cage. Mike Garson and Oscar Peterson, the free-range pianist goes to work in conjuring up the avant-garde, Fluxus and crashing chords show time Brecht on Broadway. This is all in contrast to the gravity-less atmospherics, more comfortable rhythm section and mumbo-jumbo mantra vocals on the second jam, ‘Antimatter-Sound Milkshake’ – I’ll order just the one of those please. Chaos is somehow kept together: although the drums occasionally seem to slip timings and lose the feel, preempting where this 18-legged beast is going.

Speedball rushes and highs are the order of the day as whistling shooting stars cross the astral charts and warped guitars provide a shifting mood of cosmic cowboy blues, space bird rock, post-punk, heavy meta(l) and of course Krautrock magnificence.

The Acid Mothers, more than willing to open up the sound and mind to let in this Argentine chapter of the universal acid avant-garde lodge to feast on the cosmic soup, trade blows with the Reynols who offer up piano mayhem, transmogrified flute and obscure sounds to an already fuzzed and gnarled hallucination.

The good folk at Hive Mind (yet to release anything that’s not essential in my opinion) have guided this one to vinyl. So, do yourselves a favour and add it to the psychedelic mind melt section of your collection.

From The Archives:

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. Ft. Geoff Leigh ‘Chosen Star Child’s Confession’  (2020)

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. ‘Reverse Of Rebirth In Universe’  (2018)

Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. ‘In C’ & ‘La Novia’. (2018)

In these troubled times, with so much stacked against independent, unsponsored voices, you can help us to continue probing and delivering great new music:

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

REVIEWS ROUNDUP/Brian Bordello

The cult leader of the infamous lo fi gods, The BordellosBrian ‘Bordello’ Shea has released countless recordings over the decades with his family band of hapless unfortunates, and is the owner of a most self-deprecating sound-off style blog. His most recent releases include the King Of No-Fi album, a collaborative derangement with the Texas miscreant Occult Character, Heart To Heart, and a series of double-A side singles (released so far, ‘Shattered Pop Kiss/Sky Writing’, ‘Daisy Master Race/Cultural Euthanasia’, ‘Be My Maybe/David Bowie’ and All Psychiatrists Are Bastards / Will I Ever Be A Man). He has also released, under the Idiot Blur Fanboy moniker, a stripped-down classic album of resignation and Gallagher brothers’ polemics.

Each month we supply him with a mixed bag of new and upcoming releases to see what sticks.

Singles/EPs.

Iron Maiden  ‘Stratego’

There is something quite comforting in that Iron Maiden are still releasing music, and that there is still a market for old fashioned Metal as you very rarely see metal fans wandering around the towns in their leather jackets and ripped denim with the name of their favourite band lovingly scrawled somewhere on the jacket, or the latest single by Wasp or Twisted Sister hogging the video jukebox in your local boozer. Yes, this single brings those days of myself and my indie loving friends cursing that The Smiths did not make videos, so would sit pint of cider in hand, our teenage years being soundtracked by ‘Bring Your daughter To The Slaughter’. This single brings all those wonderful days spinning back, so I would class this song a huge success; a song that will appeal to the old and maybe young metalheads out there.

Santa Sprees  ‘Run Wild When I’m Gone’

I love the Santa Sprees. I think they are one of the handful of bands I consider to be equal to my own band The Bordellos (as being one of the best bands currently making music today). A little like how Brian Wilson was influenced by the music of the Beatles pushing him on to greater heights, I feel the same way about the music of the Santa Sprees and the genius songwriter that is Anthony Dolphin. This, the opening single from the forthcoming new album, is a track of pure beauty and is quite simply one of the finest tracks I have heard this year. There is a lump in the throat tear in the eye sadness about ‘Run Wild When I’m Gone’ that is really quite bewitching. It is a rare thing, a song that carries a somber grace that both Nick Cave and Tom Waits would sell their soul to have written.

Ex Norwegian  ‘Thot Patrol’
13th August 2021

I love this single. The new release by the wonderful Ex Norwegian has an unusual air of darkness and fine elegance and eloquence and cleverness that most bands can only dream about. It has a quality that gets under your skin after a few listens and makes it its home; a song for the late summer months and one that promises great things for the album.

Birthday Cake ‘Methods Of Madness’
6th August 2021

On the whole I’m getting a little bored with straight ahead guitar music. It might be my age, in my mid 50s, and heard it all before, but I like this. It has melody and fine lyrics and is well written, and there is nothing not to like, with echoes of The Smiths and even Orange Juice, and the second track has a wonderful woozy feel to it, which is nice. In fact the whole EP has a lovely warm comfort to it which one can wrap around themselves and soak in the pure indie guitar magic Birthday Cake perform so well.

Albums…

Flowertown  ‘Time Trials’
(Paisley Shirt Records)  20th August 2021

If I’m not mistaken I’ve reviewed Flowertown before, saying how much I enjoyed the lo-finess and the boy/girl vocal interaction. And once again, I will repeat, I enjoy Flowertown’s lo-finess and the male/female vocal interaction. I also mentioned that Flowertown are almost bloody perfect and this album is not going to change my opinion as Flowertown have this softly strummed Velvets/JAMC/Mazzy Star lark down to a fine tee, and Time Trials is a fine album filled with songs that lovers of the three aforementioned bands will indeed cherish and hold close to their beautiful lo-fi filled hearts.

The Legless Crabs  ‘Reno’
(Metal Postcard Records)  23rd August 2021

The slabbed-out farce of human existence is hauled over the coals of a tortured soul. Indie guitar mutterings caught on the hop by the sound of a band with vision and cunning, vile style and cut out feedback drones, haunts the summer breeze that flows through the empty unblocked narrow escape of an ex-lover’s phony, pleased to make your acquaintance, smile. The Legless Crabs are back with their own brand of guitar menace. Reno is an album of sublime alternative guitar originality: the Mary Chain and Sonic Youth dipped in the Shaggs vagina juice. This album dips and swerves with sex, humour, and originality. Reno is an album of lo-fi like musical love; it is an album that pinpoints genius. It’s a sleeveless shirt in a shop full of winter coats. It is the coolest thing. It has the most Fall like instrumental ever recorded not by the Fall, and that is called ‘Trinidad weed Boom’, and the track is even better than the title. So how cool is that.

This is an album hipsters wished existed and now does. So if there is any justice in the world Reno will be toping the indie world top ten. This album is worth listening to whilst looking lovingly at your Beach Boys box set or wanking over the thought of the forthcoming Let It Be 5 disc set, for Reno is far more important, as it is new music and contains all the rock ‘n’ roll spirit of Adventure that both aforementioned bands had in spades.

Speed Of Sound  ‘Museum Of Tomorrow’
(Big Stir Records)  17th September 2021

A new album released by Big Stir Records is always a welcome thing, as this always guarantee melodies fine guitars riffs and well-written songs. And this album from Manchester’s The Speed Of Sound is no different; apart from the usual power pop goodness has been replaced by a more chaotic post punk psych-tinged folk cauldron calamity of la la choruses and pure pop. Pure pop that has been bottled shaken and opened with great gusto at an all-night party covering the party poppers in a thick sweetly tasting potion of seduction, melancholy and want. Museum Of Tomorrow to my mind alongside the excellent Armoires album is my favourite release on Big Stir Records, and saying every month I am praising a release or two from Big Stir records shows how enjoyable this album is. Lovers of Kirsty MacColl and John Peel favourites Melys, and the touched by the hand of genius, The World Of Twist, will adore this album as much as I do. Is this I wonder the sound of Big Stir moving to the next level? An excellent release; an excellent album.

Salem Trials  ‘Something Beginning With’
(Metal Postcard Records)  30th August 2021

The twisted sound of the Salem Trials has never quite sounded so twisted and beautiful, and bloody sexy and life affirming. If there is any justice in the world this will be the one to break the Salem Trials, the one to move them to the radio playlists of BBC 6 Music. ‘U’ is a radio hit if I ever heard one, the sound of a young scantily clad Poison Ivy twisting at an all-night bar.

This is the sound of a fine band at the top of their game; an album full of strangely commercial and commercially strange songs that bring the golden days of alternative music to the present day. The Salem Trials once again mining their vast array of musical influences but sounding like no one but the Salem Trials.

There is a wonderful New York No Wave feel to a number of the tracks; the outstanding ‘1979 Part 2’ and ‘Climb A Tree’ benefiting from a stray discordant sax: the sound John Coltrane having belligerent sweet nothings hissed into his ear by the one-off vocal styling’s of vocalist Russ.

Something Beginning With is an album that once again proves that the Salem Trials are indeed the finest guitar band currently operating in the UK (as I have said many times). And I apologise to any members of other alternative guitar bands in the UK, but I’m afraid you are just going to have to up your game to reach these heights.

ALBUM REVIEW/Dominic Valvona

Acid Reich ‘Mistress Of The Perpetual Harvest’
(Mental Experience) 14th may 2021

From the bums on a turd ride book of liberal kool aid goofing, and just one of the various acid soaked experiments that birthed a behemoth, arrives a scuzz wreckage of early rambled psych nonsense attached to the founding fathers of Monster Magnet.

Miscreants John McBain, Dave Wyndorf and Tim Cronin, aided by Ripping Corpse’s Shaune Kelly and hellsausage’s Joe Paone would have probably gotten away with this drug-fueled ridiculous echoplex pedaled Floydian slip if it hadn’t been for those pesky crate diggers of such missives as Steve Krakow (aka linear notes provider Plastic Crimewave) and the Mental Experience label.

Past crimes it seems can never be erased; even if the home recorded, privately pressed Acid Reich sessions proved an incubator for what was to come. Unsurprisingly then, this is the first ever proper sanctioned release of this 1989 artifact; a mildly amusing fuzzed up trash can of drudge rock, heavy me(n)tal, krautrock and of course liquid acid tripping. As future (though the wait was mere months) Monster Magnet guitarist McBain nailed the vibe just right: “We sounded like Amon Düül with Uli Jon Roth sitting in.” And before readers start scuttling off to look that reference up, Roth was part of the Teutonic heavyweights Scorpion.

You can add to description a heavy dose of 60s drug exploitation movies (when it wasn’t quite yet passé to have a giggle or seem both provocative and hip to take the piss out of public broadcast bewilderment and paranoia), a Mogadon slipped Hawkwind, stone age primal Rubbles drumming, The Stooges, Deviants, Cream and the debauched mayhem of Leary indoctrination.  

Ironic or in homage, I can’t decide, but this tripping cast of loons channel Surrealist Pillow era Jefferson meets Country Joe and Roky Erickson in covering that Woodstock era reignited borrowed anthem, ‘Amazing Grace’. And yes that really is a second cover version of Floyd’s hallucinatory cosmic psych opus ‘Set The Controls From The Heart Of The Sun’ you can hear: albeit a lot worse that the original by light years.

This is one spiked chalice of an acid album; a maelstrom of heavy riffage, vocals that border on the daemonic, and pummelled beats from the dungeons at the Whisky a Go Go. From beyond the calico wall indeed, all of this is drenched, enveloped in a soup of echo; played on all the right vintage gear (both instrument and amplification wise; and I suspect drug wise too) in a state of languid but devilish fun. Monster Magnet fans will be delighted I expect at the evolution; for the rest of us, well it will turn heads in the “heads” community for sure. It’s a heap of fuzz acid shit: but a great piece of fuzz acid shit!  

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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