Rockerilla is Italy's leading underground rock magazineRockerilla Magazine's Album Review

Written and translated by Enrico Ramunni

The emergence, in America, of a growing number of bands characterised by a typically English, Beatles-derived sound, is a phenomenon that we have been recently following with a lot of interest and curiosity; it’s maybe a greater anomaly to detect the same tendency in Texas, usually a source of utterly different vibrations. The fact that the duo consisting of guitarist Ken Zawacki and bassist Bruce Lash, also acting as vocalists, keyboard players and percussionists, is far from being normal, is on the other hand also attested by a singular biography to say the less, which among a myriad of witty details places their geographic origin on the Antarctic coasts (in Sydville, a seaport built on the octopus trade), and their artistic one following a fatal encounter in the local Art Institute for Wayward Girls, tracing their career’s evolution from the popular Friday night Penguin-Fry up to coming to the US shores in 1967 (!) for the recording, (which has evidently taken decades) of their first EP “Spring”. All in all, an autobiography the Dukes Of Stratosphear would be proud of, also considering that the phantom band of Andy Partridge & Co. is perfectly suited as a musical reference for the “magical mystery tour” assembled on this debut CD, although the pace is somehow less feverish, maybe due to the Texas desert sun , also reverberated by the lazy and sly glows of the mellotron of Ray Muirwood, who’s the only guest in the album. The Virgineers couple a melodic gift of masters of psychedelic pop to a dose of naive cleverness which can cause lost-lasting infatuation at the very first chord; the choice of the magnetic “Love Circus”, which would deserve its inclusion in one of the best Green Pajamas’ albums, as the opener, immediately guesses the right move of a match played with weapons of refined seduction and rewarding expressive variety. Among the most remarkable episodes, the feline XTC recklessness of “Sun”, with its intriguing dissonance-perturbed harmonic profile, and the Kinks’ Village Green frame of “Dr. Glouster”, a pleasant sketch arranged with Victorian grace; and then “Floating”, which finds irresistible links with Tomorrow’s and July’s fluorescent psychedelic marmalades, and, why not, “The Morning Moon”, which brushes with sitar and tamboura a run-off to the idealised India of the first psychedelic generation, the one of personal gurus and Himalayan pilgrimages. The invocation “Be My Guru” is elsewhere explicitly set forth, in a very kitsch and humoral punk’n’roll blaze which fits this programme as a cabbage for breakfast, as it really should be: with the Virgineers, the joke is always around the corner, even though their musical talent is no joke.

 

The Ptolemaic TerrascopeThe Ptolemaic Terrascope Review

Written by Phil McMullen

The cryptic lyrical mazes ("amber antennas in lavender skies" being amongst the more accessible on here), swelling Mellotron fills, reverberating lattices of guitar, vamped keyboards, marshmallow melodies and string-driven backing tells us immediately we're in the hands of a band who've spent long hours sat worshipping at the altar of British 60's pop-sike sugarcubes, with echoes of the Fleur de Lys, Skip Bifferty, the Mike Stuart Span et al permeating the sound like patchouli-drenched curtains pulled from a love-child's bedsit. The fact that the band consists of a duo from Chicago recording on a Texan label (run by John Perez, formerly of a band named Liquid Sound Company just in case the name's ringing bells for you) is largely irrelevant; their school might've been on the Lower East Side but their lessons have been sent from East Lowering Comprehensive. Both 'Sun' and 'The Morning Moon' sound like they were hauled from the depths of that musical lucky-dip marked "Sgt. Pepper Outtakes", the Virgineers coming up trumps with a gorgeous pair of aces which are guaranteed to toe your curls while 'Love Circus' is gloriously Pajamaesque, intelligent yet catchy pop-psych (with similar loping bass lines and a memorable harmony too), and 'How Far Does Space Go?' answers it's own question (4:45) with a lyrical one-liner set against visionary mental meanderings. 'Floating' meanwhile isn't the Vamp song but an outstandingly moody psychedelic ballad with all the trimmings and frisky fripperies you'd expect and the oddly named 'Dr. Glouster', presumably a phonetic attempt at 'Gloucester', is a jaunty fragment of fairground pop (anyone else remember the 'Attributed to Cerebral Corps' album of a few years back?). In fact just about the only missed beat on the album is the up-tempo 'Be My Guru' which sounds worryingly like the Sweet after Chinn and Chapman set to work on injecting ear-splitting treble into their particular brand of herbal mixture. It's all part of pop's rich pageant though and readers looking for a wormhole time-warp back to when music still spoke to us should look no further. Food for the head and a tonic for the toes.

Go here to peer through the Ptolemaic Terrascope.