June

It’s June, June already. How on earth did that happen? Summer has arrived in the north west of the UK recently and long may it continue. I spent most of yesterday pulling up the wooden decking from our back garden, ten years old and rotten and collapsing in places (but really well secured in others, hence every single part of me aches today. I ache in places I didn’t know you could ache). We’re replacing it with gravel. Gravel doesn’t rot and doesn’t need maintaining.

In 2008 Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve put out this track, Winter In June, a 60s psychedelic inspired adventure, a re-edit of The Mystic Astrologic Crystal Band’s 1967 song Flowers Never Cry.

And yes, that is the voice of Percy Thrower.

Winter In June

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Ultra Clear Sound

Gabe Gurnsey, one half of modular synth duo Factory Floor, has been working on solo stuff. This track, Ultra Clear Sound, is the first fruit of it, a sweaty, intense and futurist vision, co-produced and mixed by Erol Alkan (who seems to be signing and working with some of the best electronic talents out there at the moment). Gabe’s album Physical is out on Phantasy in August and if this song is anything to go by it could well be a dark summer pleasure. Conclusion- I’m well into this.

Tomorrow’s Shore

Ride put out a song last year, Pulsar, that ended up being one of my favourite songs of 2017- Pulsar, a  dreamy bass driven guitar song about space and life and travel. They released it on vinyl last week with 3 other new songs including this one, Catch You Dreaming, a Ride song dominated by synths. Catch You Dreaming is about a couple watching the end of the universe. I like the science fiction concepts behind these songs- makes a change from the usual guitar band stuff.

The second track on the 12″, Keep It Surreal, is my current pick, a short, sharp burst of guitar mangling with a falsetto vocal. You can buy it (and the whole ep) digitally or on vinyl here.

Pulsar

The return of Ride and their position close to my stereo is something I definitely wasn’t expecting this year. I wasn’t too bothered about them back in the early 90s, a couple of songs aside, and their Britpop incarnation was of no interest to me at all. But the 2017 Ride and their Weather Diaries album (a couple of songs too long maybe but a good record and Cali is one of my favourite songs this year) and now a new single- all of these things are pleasing me. This new song, Pulsar, has a lovely throbbing distorted bassline, highlighted by a drop out twice, and some beautifully FX laden guitars. Erol Alkan’s production gives everything a hard shine. Good stuff.

Cali

I expressed the view on Twitter recently that the new single from Ride is a lovely thing, shot through with an end of summer feel. Opinions were divided: some suggested that the new album is superb, party due to Erol Alkan’s production and the simultaneous crunch and shimmer of the guitars; some could hear The House Of Love in the twin vocals; some suggested that it was alright, fine in a traffic jam on the radio but lacking true greatness; some suggested my mid-range hearing is shot.

I’m still into it several days later. From the opening bass intro, and diving bass runs through the verse, to the twin guitars and slightly out of focus vocals, it shimmers and swoops. The single version is shorter than the album one (which has an extended ending part) and the surfing video seems apt. An online reviewer suggested that hearing men in their forties sing lines like ‘Kissed you on a beach and I was saved’ is a bit embarrassing but I don’t buy that. When payday finally arrives I shall be buying the album.

Beyond

Drew and I agreed on Twitter the other night that Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve’s own re-animation of their recent single Diagram Girl is a thing of beauty, one of those records that sounds like summer should. Six and a half minutes of wobbly bass, washes of synth, blissed out vox and hazy modern dance-oriented psychedelia. Just wonderful stuff from Richard Norris and Erol Alkan with an album to follow.

If you like that you should go find Richard Norris’ other current project, Circle Sky (a duo with Martin Dubka), and a 12″ called Reveal/Interstellar, two massive sounding cuts recorded live using the Moog System 55 modular- analogue acid house achieving lift off for 2016. Annoyingly there don’t seem to be any full length listens anywhere but these two preview clips give you enough to be going on with.

Diagram Girl

This is shaping up to be a good few weeks for new music- here’s a dreamy new song from Beyond The Wizards’s Sleeve (Misters Richard Norris and Erol Alkan) with an album to follow. A slow and stoned vocal over washes of synths and skittering drums. Woozy, like Spacemen 3 but without the paranoia. Very nice indeed.