Reviews roundup – Patsy Thompson ~ Human Pyramids ~ Tomas Doncker ~ Poisoned Hestia ~ The Folsom Project ~ Under A Spell
The sixth album from roots / folk / country performer Patsy Thompson has been a long time coming.
The nineties and noughties saw the Canadian based in Nashville and Austin, recording and touring with the likes of Willie Nelson and Clint Black. But then life came along and kicked her in the teeth. Tell me about it. So she ended up taking 12 years away because of family obligations and when no one else would step in to take care of her mother with dementia, she did.
But producer Chris Rolin (who also guitars and co-writes some of the songs) helped cajole her back into music and this really enjoyable release is the result. She has a warm, confessional voice that really invites you into the music. However, there is a strength to her sound that reminds you she started out playing in biker bars! So although most of the songs follow a similar laid back vibe, she still has enough honky tonk in her to convince on ‘Picking You Up’.
The musicians involved seem to have empathy with the original material (bar one Merle Haggard song), something that always helps when you’re dealing with personal material. It’s been a long time coming but here’s hoping there’s a good second act from Ms Thompson.
Three Mile Town Records
Chamber disco prog, anyone?
Album number three from the Weegie orchestral supergroup, a couple of years on from “Home”.
I say Weegie but as composer/producer Paul Russell hails from the mining netherlands twixt Glasgow and Edinburgh I can feel my long deid Breich born da stirring in approval.
This album sees him joined by musicians from Axes, Suicide Bid, Admiral Fallow, Scottish Ballet and Puff Uproar with the assorted contributors recording all over Scotland, London and Berlin. And, largely, it’s really, really enjoyable.
There’s lot of seventies sounding synths, plenty of real strings and brass, and an adventurous approach to the arrangements which makes the most enjoyable of the tunes such as ‘Volcano’, ‘Wisdom Teeth’ and ‘Boxing Day’ real treats. And who of us doesn’t enjoy spending time with a sousaphone.
Granted, there are a few moments that sound like the music you used to get for local restaurants advertising in seventies cinemas. But that’s probably deliberate. Regardless, this is the sort of music that should be getting released. It doesn’t really sound like anyone else and ploughing your own furrow is the only way thing that musicians should concern themselves with. A good job. Oh, and there’s vinyl available over on Bandcamp.
Moanin’ At Midnight Deluxe Edition
Well you can’t argue with the fact that Tomás Doncker has had a interesting career.
Over the last twenty years he’s worked with a varied cast including Bootsy Collins, Yoko Ono, Madonna, Ivan Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Meshell Ndegeocello, Corey Glover of Living Colour, Bill Laswell and Shemekia Copeland amongst many others. And that’s apart from doing his own thing.
This record started life as a five track EP back in 2014, connected to a stage show. But now it’s been expanded to a twelve track album including three live songs. Unlike many tribute albums this isn’t a straight set of covers. As his background suggests he takes a different route to most of the material with a jazz meets soul vibe running through the record.
That’s not to say he ignores what made Willie Dixon such a great writer. Far from it. The melody and the riffs are still there. But he takes the songs round the houses, across the street and then brings them on back home. Apart from ‘Back Door Man’ which is played pretty straight. Dirty and nasty. But straightforward.
The guitar work here is incredible with ‘Killing Floor’ and ‘I Ain’t Superstitious’ grabbing me right where it hurts. The live versions of ‘Back Door Man’ and ‘Smokestack Lightning’ are just fantastic although the bonus Ras Jah Ames Dub Mix of the title track may not be getting too many spins. If, like me, you missed this first time out, get it now. You won’t regret it.
I was wondering why Poisoned Hestia sounded like an eighties goth band. It’s because they almost were.
The German outfit formed in 1991 as 13th Floor, hence the eighties sound, before splitting up in 1995, subsequently being resurrected in 2019 for their debut album.
And they do like the Sisters of Mercy. Especially with the percussion and the Eldritch style vocals that crop up hither and thither. To their credit it’s more Vision Thing than Floodland so has a heaviosity to it that lots of goth rockers miss out on.
They’re really good, by the way. I spent far too much time in the eighties hanging round goth clubs so this has kind of seeped into my DNA. Especially with some decent guitars banging away. There are a fair few good songs as well with ‘Reptile’, ‘Drowning’ and ‘Beyond The Life To Come’ ably floating my boat. There are surprisingly few bands out there giving good goth these days so hopefully this release will get a few folk braving the daylight to track down a copy.
There’s a remix EP on the way as well but this is should be your first port of call for some dark grooves.
THE FOLSOM PROJECT
The Wolf & The Skull
I’d like to tell you what’s going on here but I’m a simple kind of man. Oh, be something you love and understand. But deep breath, here we go.
Composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Romsam Malpica sees this as a new way of presenting cinematic atmospheres, mixing orchestral Rock, trap (eh?*), and trip-hop, drawing inspiration from Romsam’s experience with film scoring and dark sound design. So now you know.
So, of course, it sounds like a soundtrack album to a film about someone trapped on the Arctic tundra being trailed by a predator. Although, according to the composer, it’s a soundtrack to the story he tells of a sick and troubled doctor in charge of a biochemical lab in the middle of the woods. The doctor works on the mysterious Folsom Project, which hides a dark truth. The story is told through the eyes of “The Wolf,” an animalistic creature that awakens in the woods with no memory and a thirst for vengeance, and explores The Wolf’s journey to unravel the truth about his past and stop the doctor at all costs.
Scary stuff. Although probably true if everything we know about “scientists” and their shenanigans is anything to go by. Where there are vocals they’re rapped / spoken word (which is probably the trap* influence). It’s certainly an absorbing set of music and shows Malpica to be dripping in talent. You’d imagine the world of real soundtracks will come knocking if they get to hear this. A world of low budget horror music is his for the taking.
*EDM influenced by southern hip-hop.
UNDER A SPELL
The Chosen One
Dallas, Texas. And it’s heavy metal time. Sorry, that should read HEAVY METAL time!
A comparatively new band, they got together in 2017 and this, “The Chosen One”, is their debut release.
It’s basically old school heavy metal with a few thrashy riffs thrown in for good measure. Add in a vocalist who sounds a bit like King Diamond on helium and that’s them summed up. Oh, but the singer is a woman.
They are some excellent squealing guitar solos and lyrically they’re taking a walk on the dark side. Which is as it should be. They get a bit Sabbathy on the instrumental ‘Forever Done’, probably my favourite of the tracks and a couple more like that would have had me thinking about batting for their side.
A couple of the songs have a filler feel about them and I’d have been tempted to go down the EP route as an introduction rather than the full album. But it’s a got a really good production for an indie release, especially on the drums which is the hardest thing to get right when you’re DIY-ing. Promising but not quite there yet.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton