Browsing Category Reissues

The Ivytree – A Pillar of Clouds

It’s been an embarrassment of riches this year from the Ivytree camp. Following the excellent, if not to say essential, collection that Glenn put together for Recital earlier in the year covering unreleased recordings from 2001-2004, Tall Texan has a new collection going even further back into the archives. The extremely limited offering covers Donaldson’s works as Ivytree from 1999-2004, picking up some overlooked covers like “Blind River,” which appeared on a Tom Rapp tribute compilation put together by Jeff Alexander of Dire Wolves. The cover appears there under the name shift The Olivetree, though it’s unmistakably an Ivytree treatment at heart. It slots alongside nicely with a (sadly) timely Ivytree cover of the Hunter/Garcia track “Rosemary” from Aoxomoxoa.

There’s an alternate cut from the split with Chris Smith, but the rest of this material remains pretty much unheard and, as with the last collection, it’s nice to tumble down the rabbit hole of Glenn’s long simmering minidisc archives to slip back into the early aughts fog of psychedelic folk that enveloped The Ivytree. Repeated listens endear these tracks as deeply as early gems from Glenn, and if you’re looking to paint the full picture of The Ivytree/birdtree songbook then this one should already feel essential. As mentioned before, this one is even more limited than the previous collection (ltd. 100 on blue vinyl) so probably best not to mull the pickup too long on this. The cool temps are coming, and despite its West Coast birth, this is perfect for the smoke-curled hours that lie ahead.




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Bill Direen – A Memory of Others

In the lore of New Zealand rock, Bill Direen is a mythical figure. More than just a songwriter (though he’s a hell of one to be sure) Direen also served as a literary guide at the head of Percutio Magazine and he’s written as extensively on the page as he has in his songs. This new volume from Sophomore Lounge acts as a bit of a musical accompaniment to his life and works. Simon Ogston has directed a documentary about Direen — Bill Direen: A Memory of Others — and this serves as a companion piece to the film. It’s not a soundtrack, since the film itself doesn’t pull strictly from the recorded versions of Bill’s work, but the songs themselves are as integral to getting to know Direen as the film itself.

Direen kicked through several early bands in his youth – forming (the) Vacuum in 1980 along with soon to be members of The Pop Group. His band The Urbs laid the groundwork for The Builders (or Bilders depending what year it is.) The group’s debut Beatin’ Hearts still stands as an essential of pre-Flying Nun primal New Zealand rock and has cemented Direen in the roots of a sound that would continue to expand and explode in and around Christchurch in the years to come. The album, covers his time in The Builders and beyond, but this is no chronological arc. The record skips scattershot between periods and players, giving a three-dimensional picture of Direen’s work.

The songs move from early, fuzz-caked but brilliant pop nuggets to arid and affecting poetry backed by more organic and quieter players. Direen traversed post-punk to folk while making it all seem like one long spectrum. Like the film that portrays him, the album is euphoric and melancholic, hallucinatory and revelatory. Direen’s name should always be among those being discussed in the formation of the Kiwi sound, but more than that, he should be among the best of those seeking to shove pop from its ivory pedestal – a punk in the truest sense of the term. He’s a peddler of pain and a seeker of light. His music and art deserve to be brought to the surface worldwide. I highly recommend checking out Ogston’s film to get some insight into Direen’s arc with some great commentary from a litany of fellow NZ players, and picking up this anthology of South Hemi bedrock.






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Sun City Girls – Dawn of the Devi

The brothers Bishop and Charles Goucher already have the noise-psych guitar-burn street cred to keep them locked atop the manual of how to fully explore the roasted-soulburn side of the psychedelic spectrum, but it’s good to remember how they got there. The majority probably found their way in through Torch of the Mystics. It’s a common point of egress. I know that’s where I found foothold. While that greased platter has plenty of sharpened corners, it also has plenty of soft spots to let listeners in easy. For those who might not be fully immersed in the ectoplasmic splatter of cultural upheaval, it’s a gateway drug to what’s what in the disorienting universe of SCG. The tale’s been told now and the paths are known, but for those finding that album in 1990 the next year’s Dawn of the Devi was more than likely a slap in the face — rug burn n’ cigarette ash worn over the ears for fun and little profit.

The record began a run of barbed and disorienting sojourns through the trio’s acrid musical methods. Though its a bit further into their catalog (album #5), and by no means formative, Devi is the launchpad for some of their most biting works. Without Devi there’s no Valentines for Matahari, no Kalliflower. It’s brutal and barnacled. It’s a dim bulb swaying in a room letting the listener slowly see how surrounded with sewage and sin they truly are. As such it’s also a touchstone for bands looking to touch fully the oracle of carcinogenic psychedelic slop. Sun City Girls, for many, serve as the guiding light down a path not towards euphoria, but towards a permanent dive of bad trip bliss. The record is bent and bowed, rusted and reeking and gloriously so. The record hasn’t been in print on vinyl since its original 1991 release, but now Abduction is putting it back in the hands of the devout followers of bile and blown speakers. Probably goes without saying that you need this, but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway.


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The Apryl Fool – S/T

Seems like over the past couple of years, the house of (Haruomi) Honso has been rebuilt reissue by reissue. His solo records have been getting a good shout, Happy End got some (far too limited) reissues in the last couple of years and even some tangential works that he was involved in like Minami Masato’s The Tropics have found their way back to the table. This, however, is where it all started. The Apryl Fool were more straightforward than any of his works, but Honso’s bass anchors their simmering vision of blues rock in 1969 and gives it some great dimension. The band only really laid down one album, their eponymous debut, though a collaboration with Japanese musical theater group Tokyo Kid Brothers exists in a scant pressing around the same time as well. That single isn’t as indicative of their style, though and this LP remains the most complete overview of The Apryl Fool at the time.

Aside from Honso, other members would spread through the burgeoning Japanese psychedelic channels with members popping up in Shinki Chen & His Friends, Food Brain, The Floral, and Happy End. The record is rooted in the kind of British Blues that were dominant around the time, but occasionally also skews towards the psychedelic, especially on the more outre “The Lost Mother Land (Part 1) which came to the attention of many Western fans through the compilation Love, Peace & Poetry: Asian Psychedelic Music at the crack of the Aughts. This album proves that, while that track is an excellent example of effects-indulgent psych, the band had way more to offer. The band quit the day the record was released, and even while it was issued on a Japanese subsidiary of Columbia at the time, that spelled disaster for this music reaching enough ears. Survival Research ensures that this gem doesn’t get lost to the winds forever.


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KAK – KAK

Almost too perfect that alongside the new cosmic collectives releasing sunshine and shade this week there’s a classic back on the table thanks to Mad about Guerssen. I first picked up a copy of KAK at the WFMU record fair years back. That cover just draws you in, a Kodachromed vision of California utopian psychedelia. The record makes good on the visual with room to spare. The record owes a great deal to Moby Grape, but they work to make their own way. The band, formed by Gary Lee Yoder and Dehner Patten, grew out of the pair’s former roots in the short-lived Oxford Circle. They recorded their sole album, released in 1969, but as usual with very little push from their record label, which sent it into obscurity for years. The record is built on a split between bluesy West Coast rockers and some more faded folk touches that dip into the waves with the sun.

While the record is often derided as being derivative of larger names, since the band came up alongside many of them its likely they were just swimming in the same stew. The hinge the record on the huge triple medley “Trieulogy” but the rest of the record easily stands up to the might of that one. After the record’s dismal reception, the band would part ways with Yoder going on to join Blue Cheer and recording a few solo singles. Guersson does this one good with a remaster, heavy sleeve, OBI and new liner notes by writer Alec Palao and members of the band.



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Rain Parade – Emergency Third Rail Power Trip

A long running Paisley Underground classic gets a second life via Real Gone this week. The Rain Parade fully embraced the jangled and jeweled psych sounds that predated them by a good two decades, falling out of fashion for the times, but winding up timeless as a result. The band’s debut on Enigma Records is the long discussed and often influential Emergency Third Rail Power Trip, a complete oddity in 1983, but also a conduit from the soft-psych and Byrdsian janglers through to the next wave of Elephant 6-ers and beyond. The band’s true genus lay in wrapping those jangles around a more modern hum – a soft pink fuzz wave that came crashing through in earnest reverberations that would setup the next generation to push the sounds even further past the gauzy glow already forming around a bygone era. In their early years, the band never pretended to be anything other than a psych-pop act and that influence-on-their-sleeve aesthetic probably makes them one of the most enduring Paisley bands.

The band would follow this up with the arguably great sophomore LP Explosions in the Glass Palace, which leaned a bit further into the College Rock impulses springing up in 1984, but it still stands apart as an essentially Paisley platter. They’d issue the live record Beyond The Sunset and sign to a major (Island) for 1986’s Crashing Dream but neither would live up to any sort of reputation that those first two releases have garnered. Guitarist David Roback went on to play in Mazzy Star, keeping the hazed psychedelic vein flowing and the band would reassemble (as all bands seem to do) in 2012 and 2013 for a tour. There’s even a new record on Yep Roc this year. Third Rail (despite Ryley Walker’s assertion that Glass Palace is the true masterpiece) remains probably the most essential Paisley release of the short-lived movement. Though, labels notwithstanding, it’s just a great pop record to have on the shelf, and now, after 30-years, you can nab one again.

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Blueboy – If Wishes Were Horses

The past few years have seen an uptick in the renewal of the Sarah Records catalog, but there still remain a few great outliers that are in need of a vinyl refresh. Now, I’ve been lax on the Necessary Repress feature, but rest assured that the debut from Reading’s Blueboy would have made the cut. It’s a raw, gentle, bruised sort of record that’s built for swooning emotions and grey-skied walks. The band recorded the first demo for the song “Clearer” and sent it with hopes of a deal to Sarah. The label would issue it as a single in 1991. That single, along with the follow-up, “Popkiss” would both be included later CD reissues on Quattro and Cherry Red. Now Australian label A Colorful Storm has issued their long beloved debut album If Wishes Were Horses for the first time since 1992.

The record is brief, far more compact than anything else they’d release, but thre’s not a stumble in the bunch. Over eight tracks, the band would build off of the sounds that “Clearer” and “Popkiss” cemented, finding their way into a niche of pastoral indie-pop that fit nicely between releases by Brighter and The Orchids that year on Sarah. The band would follow the album up with the lengthier Unisex before losing members Mark Andes and Lloyd Armstrong in the wake of its release. While the follow-up is more complex, I’d have to lobby a preference for their debut. It’s a short, perfect shot of pop that captures the magic that Sarah were peddling.

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Igor Wakhevitch – Kshtrayna (The Eye of The Bird)

Transversales Disques brings forth a lost gem from avant-garde composer Igor Wakhevitch. The electronic pioneer spent years in the circles of Terry Riley, Jen-Michel Jarre, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd, spreading a love for experimental synth wherever he went. His prolific period during the ‘70s produced the synth albums Logos, Docteur Faust, , Les Fous D’or and Naugal. Riley in particular was influential in shaping the sound of Hathor which found Wakhevitch pushing towards a more minimalist sound. Likewise, he found inspiration and collaboration with Salvador Dali, writing the music for his audiovisual “opera poème” in 6 parts, “Etre Dieu.” He’d go in to work further in theater and opera throughout the ‘80s, but never strayed from the longform Cosmic pieces that embraced a sense of otherworldly wonder.

In 1999, he composed these pieces on his “Mysterious Island 88” stynthesizer system and it embraces a sense of wonder and elnlightenement. Kshtrayna (The Eye of The Bird) ties nicely with his ‘70s output, feeling like a natural progression of the themes and textures he explored during the period. The set was never release, but has now found is way onto CD and LP via the French record label. Fans of Riley and Ash Ra Temple will find a great deal of crossover here, splitting the middle ground between academic composition and a more psychedelic pathway to the inner cosmos.



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Pelt – Pearls From The River

VHF records has a wealth of greatness in their roster, but quite a few have never been under the needle due to timing. They’re kicking out a couple of new reissues this year and one of the best up is Pearls From The River by Pelt. Featuring the classic lineup of Jack Rose, Mike Gangloff, and Patrick Best, the record is a sister album of sorts to their LP . The record never made it onto LP at the time of its release in 2003. It’s a proper Pelt drone-out, exploring Indian ragas, drones and clangourous fingerpicked guitar. Around the same time the members began to splinter in various directions, with Jack beginning to work solo more often, The Black Twig Pickers emerging, Gangloff and Best both working with Dredd Foole, etc. Still the band gives this record their all, haunting the strings with a spiritual sobriety that’s meditative, engulfing the listener in a womb of sound. Its a record that’s not quite gotten its due, but deserves a second look.

The band would take a year off before issuing another album, but this would more than holdover fans. The new issue is a deluxe gatefold by VHF, with an expansive run of liner notes from Byron Coley (who else?). Any later term fans of Rose that haven’t spun through the Pelt catalog would be wise to take a listen to this and work their way backwards. Lots of greats in that discography to be sure.



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The Gerbils – Are You Sleepy

There’s no better news than hearing that psych-pop wellspring Elephant 6 is revving the engines back up once again. With the announcement of an in-house reissue of The Gerbils’ 1998 debut, Are You Sleepy, the label sets the wheels in motion to get more than a few missing LPs back on the shelves. The original version of the band’s debut was widely available on CD, but only issued in a scant run of vinyl from the UK label Earworm Records, with an alternate cover. It’s quite likely that this missed the shelves of hundreds of fans and now the label’s back to right the wrongs. The Gerbils included members Scott Spillane and Jeremy Barnes, both of whom would go on to find their way into the ranks of Neutral Milk Hotel.

The record is on the scrappier end of the E6 catalog, still firmly rooted in the 60’s spun pop leanings but also shot through with fuzz, crackle, and hiss —letting its four-track treads shine through in the mix. The band would go on to refine their sound with 2001’s The Battle of Electricity which bolstered their buzz with a bit of concept rock. Aside from this news, which is great on its own, the label hints that a few more offerings and even some new stuff might be on the way. Or, in their own words, “In 2019, the slumber is over as the E6 label imprint relaunches with a series of reissues, new albums, and some first-time-ever-released-to-the-public releases from the deep archives.” Get excited!



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