Various Artists - Paper Leaves - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Various Artists - Paper Leaves

by Jeff Penczak Rating:8 Release Date:2016-04-28

The first Terrastock festival wrapped up 19 years ago today in Olneyville (Providence), Rhode Island, but the magazine that curated it as a gathering of the tribes of likeminded fans and bands still lives on(line). Seven festivals later, Terrascope Online still provides an outlet for the weird and wonderful of today’s often overshadowed and underappreciated musical adventurers, and Paper Leaves (subtitle ‘A Terrascope Celebration’) provides a platform for several festival favourites (Ben (Six Organs of Admittance) Chasny, The Bevis Frond, Bardo Pond) to rub elbows with the cream of the current crop of psychedelic mindfuckers, like Black Tempest, Dead Sea Apes, and White Hills.

     Ostensibly a 25th anniversary Valentine of love to the magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope and the untiring efforts of its editor, Phil McMullen, Paper Leaves was assembled by the e-zine’s Ian Fraser and you’d be hard pressed to find a better blueprint of what’s hot in today’s indie, underground scene. All tracks are unique to the compilation, with Black Tempest kicking things off with the appropriately enigmatic ‘Terrescopula Tempestua’, a warped, weary wonder that sounds like the album is on the wrong speed and immediately places the listener in an uncomfortable state until an incessant synth riff (Kraftwerk-meets-Tangerine Dream) places us on terra firma. nick nicely (he of the e.e.cummings-inspired fear of upper case letters) has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, although none of his recent material (including ‘Dance Away’) bears the stamp of his legendary 99years. Much distortion and electronic production effects have creeped into his musical arsenal, resulting in a kitchen sink of instruments, effects, and vocal trickery that may take you several listens to come to terms with.

     No such investment is required of the haunting ‘Universal Translator’ from Mancunian psych monsters Dead Sea Apes. Stalking, pounding, dark tribal rock for fans of Sabbath, Sleep, and . The buzz continues with the throbbing, loopy fuzz of White Hills’ ‘Thermal Head’ and that’s just Side 1. So struggle off the floor, get thy bearings, and flip on over to the other side for some serious XXX from uber-prolific guitar virtuoso Ben Chasny, celebrating the ‘Dead And Rising’. He’s opted for some American primitive blues with a Jorma edge – sleepy, spooky, and hot shit groovy.

     Brit folk revivalists The Left Outsides have been impressing with their Collins Sisters vibes and trad arr goodies for several years now, and ‘Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime’ will certainly impress fans of June Tabor, Anne Briggs, the Watersons, as well as new kids on the block like Sharron Kraus, Meg Baird, Fursaxa and Marianne Nowottny, all of whom have been championed in both print and online editions of the ‘scope.

      Speaking of champions, The Bevis Frond’s Nick Saloman was the original publisher of Ptolemaic Terrascope and the first Terrastock festival was ostensibly a “welcome to America” party to celebrate his/their first US gig. One thing let to another, and word spread like wildfire until three days were circled on the calendar to house the celebration. So it’s only fitting that the Frond contribute one of their trademark pop tunes with heavy overtones, spotlighting Saloman’s uncanny knack for unforgettable melodies.

     The party wraps with another old favourite, the molasses-meets-an-iceberg drawling crawl of Philadelphia astral projectionists, Bardo Pond. Don’t fret, your turntable didn’t just switch to 16RPM – they always sound like they mixed their Valium and Quaalude prescriptions to see what it would sound like playing with fire. ‘Pumori’ (Sherpa for ‘Unmarried Daughter’, but also a mountain near Everest) suggests what a lifetime ingesting ‘Sweet Sister Ray’ might sound like regurgitated from an orgone accumulator set on stun and amps turned to 11. Isabelle Sollenberger mumbles incoherently as usual, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

     Only a few copies remain at various internet and indie retailers, and Terrascope Online’s merch shop have a few as well, so don’t hesitate to order. You’ll hate yourself in the morning if you miss out on this one.

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