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FOLK ARCHIVE

A few more albums have arrived from David CW Briggs' homemade CDR label Folk Archive, from himself and other artists. DCWB's newest recordings appear on His Head Was Turned. I Am a Cuttlefish is DIY pop with madcap lyrics masking sweetly melancholic sentiments. She's a Nightowl is raw, fractured blues interspersed with experimental psychedelic soundscaping. Has She Swept Away is the album's epic 8 and a half minute centrepiece, starting as psych rock with folky undertones then merging into an instrumental jam with mindbending spacey sound effects. Ending the album is the poetically titled, woozily atmospheric instrumental piece The Night Was Ajar.

No Blues/I Bid You Welcome No More is a reissue of two David CW Briggs albums from 2014, which were only released as downloads at the time. No Blues is ironically titled, with DCWB's lo-fi bedroom blues side being well represented here in songs like the title track, Doris, and Staircase Blues, as well as If You're Happy, which reinvents If You're Happy and You Know It as punk blues with pointed lyrics about the antidepressant industry: "Take all the pills they give to you and swallow them before they swallow you". Not everything here with 'blues' in the title is, strictly speaking, blues. Cat's Eye Blues reminds me at times of a more lo-fi version of the Kitchen Cynics' homemade psych-folk, combined with the poppier Kitchen Cynics material from the 1990s. Also included here is The Long Grass, a hushed, gentle, melancholic, and at times slightly skewed bedroom pop gem.

I Bid You Welcome No More is an eclectic mixture of DIY recordings, including the beautiful psych-folk instrumental The Changeling; the enjoyably odd Wooden Beads with its hypnotically repetitive music overlaid with deep, distorted, wordless vocals; and the bizarre DIY blues instrumental Hobby Horse, featuring perhaps the most otherworldly harmonica sound you'll ever hear. Marching Band is off-kilter psych-pop with a brash vocal delivery, best summed up as 'Syd Barrett goes punk', while Evil Twin is lo-fi strummy acoustic pop pondering the notion of doppelgangers, morphing towards the end into a homage to Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side.

Gavin John Baker (also of Billy Mahonie, Jet Johnson, Glider, The Baker Boys, Meets Guitar, Höglin Baker, Sightseers, and Enslave the Zombie) returns with a new solo album, Last Light, on which he is joined by his wife Caroline Baker on vocals and son Albert Baker on drums. A Walk in the Woods is summery janglepop tinged with US folk, coming across like a slightly more indiepoppy version of The Tyde. Haunted House is another great American folk-meets-indiepop number with added psychedelic components, and lyrics that tell an entertaining story about ghost hunting. Climbed a Mountain is a fine slice of American-style folk-rock with effective use of male/female vocal harmonies and psychedelic moments. Everglades - not a cover of the Sea Urchins song - is the noisiest track here, taking an alt-folk song and surrounding it with fuzzy noise and adding intense psych-rock instrumental parts. Dancing Ghost is an inventive alt-folk piece whose arrangement incorporates swirling, hazy psychedelia along with elements that hark back to Gavin's musical history in the post-rock world, plus swelling sound effects that provide a cinematic atmosphere that perfectly complements the vivid storytelling lyrics. A really great album, grounded in the overlapping categories of Americana, alt-folk and folk-rock, and taking in occasional indiepop, psychedelic and post-rock aspects; highly recommended for fans of those genres.

Enslave the Zombie is an instrumental band from Norway, headed up by Gavin John Baker's son Albert (known here as Albert Zombie) and also featuring Gavin (aka Gav Zombie) along with Erik Zombie and Kenneth Zombie. Their self-titled album is out on Folk Archive, with plenty of Beavis and Butt-Head-style humour in titles like James Bunghole and Dumbass. Electric Foetus is fast and noisy metal, ending with backwards drums and bell-toll-like guitar, offering a darkly psychedelic touch to the piece. Captain Crimson is angular, twisty-turny prog, opening with an atmospheric, psychedelic intro and closing with an eerie cinematic section reminiscent of horror soundtracks. Squirmy Wormy is heavy, proggy psych-rock taking in a metalled-up post-rock interlude. Darkbone is a multifaceted piece that starts off as a sort of gothic post-rock, before introducing doom-laden power chords, spiky prog-metal, and a hard rock section that I can imagine appearing in the car chase scene of some heavy-hitting action movie. Metal and hard rock aren't usually my thing, but this album's emphasis on melody and incorporation of prog and psych elements makes this an enjoyable listen.

Zeuk's Minutes comprises 23 tracks, each roughly a minute long. The music here is eclectic, though everything is held together by a shared off-kilter, DIY, psychedelic vibe. Electric Daisy and Margate are both off-centre psych-folk, minimally arranged with acoustic guitar and analogue synth; both tracks remind me at times of the Kitchen Cynics. I Am (The Meat Man) is quirky psych-pop in the Syd Barrett vein, accompanied by retro video game weapon sound effects and cries of "Meat! Meat! Gimme meat!" Negative Norm is a swirling, meditative soundscape, briefly jolting the listener out of this calm state with harsh, smoke alarm-like beeps. Newtown Boy features deep, resonant, gothic vocals over spacey synth and neofolk-like acoustic guitar strumming. Final track Trumpet is just half a minute long, the quirky lyrics "I just want to keep on saying it, Trumpet Trumpet Trumpet!" accompanied by sparse acoustic guitar and bursts of the titular instrument. Some really good quirky homemade sounds on offer here.

Ghost of Clone is also by Zeuk but is released under his real name Marc Roberts. Inspired by his book of the same name, the album is very different to Minutes, comprising seven long tracks of experimental sound art combined with narrations courtesy of Riggs and Mimi. In Cat and Crow, poetic, vivid, surreal narration echoes over a soundscape that ranges from gentle, airy drones to sharp, jagged noise. In It's Fine, It's All Part of It, a cello skronks and judders before settling into a more melodic piece drawing from both neoclassical music and traditional Celtic folk, then morphing again into a scrapy rhythmic section, all this providing the backdrop for fever-dream hallucinatory recitations. In Howl and Echo, bizarre stream-of-consciousness imagery meets Tantric erotica, alongside a humming, buzzing soundscape. Come Like Moons is erotic, spiritual and dreamlike, the words set to a chugging, swirling, echoing guitar piece both psychedelic and gothic. An intriguing, at times challenging, highly artistic album.

The CDRs range from limited (100 copies of Enslave the Zombie) to extremely limited (only 17 copies of His Head Was Turned), though downloads are also available. Visit davidcwbriggs.bandcamp.com.

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