Welcome to Bliss/Aquamarine - alternative, underground and indie music.


This month (March 2014), Fruits de Mer Records and its offshoot Regal Crabomophone have released a batch of new 7" singles and EPs, starting with Us and Them's By the Time It Gets Dark. Us and Them are a Swedish duo consisting of Britt and Anders, who specialise in contemporary folk with psychedelic undercurrents. They perform a version of Sandy Denny's By the Time It Gets Dark, with some nice use of woodwind and glockenspiel, followed by a cover of Donovan's musical interpretation of the Lewis Carroll poem Jabberwocky, which brings together a traditional folk inspired melody with ethereal orchestral synths and whimsical glockenspiel. Finally they provide a composition of their own, Do I Know You, in which delicate acoustic guitar, swelling ambient synth, and retro-futuristic bleepage provide a backdrop for a melancholic folk-pop song. Some very nice atmospheric folk sounds on offer here; this is a band I would like to hear more from.

Bronco Bullfrog make quirky, whimsical, lighthearted pop with a certain 'English eccentricity' and an authentically 60s flavour; in fact when Time Waits for Norman started up, I literally thought it was a 60s cover version. Rocking Horse Mender is another of their own songs; there's a classic pop-psych thing going on here, with lyrics that transport the listener back to a more innocent age. The press release compares the band's own compositions to The Kinks and Kaleidoscope, and I wouldn't argue with either of those comparisons. Next up, there is a cover of Sands' Listen to the Sky, a freakbeat track from 1967 that fits perfectly with their own material. Out of all the retro revivalist bands I've ever heard, Bronco Bullfrog are undoubtedly one of the most genuinely vintage-sounding.

Following their Kill All Humans and The Sound of Meat albums on Pink Hedgehog and their latest album Where Business Meets Fashion which I have just obtained a copy of and will be reviewing shortly, Bristol-based band Schnauser, which includes Alan Strawbridge (formerly of The Lucky Bishops), have released their first 7" single on Fruits de Mer which comprises covers of Yes' Astral Traveller and Soft Machine's As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still. The former is full of all the twisty, changey, intricate and quirky elements that characterise the most enjoyable forms of prog, whilst the latter comes across as off-kilter underground pop with lashings of swirly organ and wah-wah, before morphing into a mindbending spacerock instrumental. A fantastic single that's easily as impressive as their highly inventive self-penned material.

Schizo Fun Addict have a 7" single with interpretations of two tracks from 1970s cult movies. Theme From Suspiria sets a hymn-like tune played on piano and synthesised harpsichord to a mix of wild psych-rock and pulsating sci-fi noises. In the Long Run, from Russ Meyer's In the Valley of the Dolls, has the feel of kitschy yet sophisticated sunshine pop, the brass giving the piece an extra optimistic sound. What is not the norm for sunshine pop however is the whooshing spacey synth that puts in an appearance here and there. Schizo Fun Addict have an off-centre approach that is undoubtedly fun.

Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot have a double 7" in gatefold sleeve with 8 page booklet, consisting of six cover versions and a new track, some performed by Crystal Jacqueline solo and others by The Honey Pot, which includes Crystal and her partner Icarus Peel. The Honey Pot's own song It's Raining is a slightly off-centre psych-pop track with a touch of freakbeat. They cover Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit, incorporating atmospheric and heavy moments and even an instrumental passage that recalls Indian film music. Their version of Egyptian Tomb, originally by Mighty Baby, is an impressive mix of janglepop and psych-rock with effective use of clarinet. Curved Air's Puppets appears here as sophisticated pop balladry with an eccentric olde-worlde toyshop feel courtesy of the music box-like glockenspiel and fairground organ. There are also versions of Pink Floyd's Remember a Day, The Fleur De Lys' Tick Tock, and The Electric Prunes' I Had Too Much to Dream, combining psych and prog sounds. Whilst all the tracks here are composed by different bands, the whole thing flows coherently, with Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot putting their own stamp on the music.

A very enjoyable batch of records from Fruits de Mer, as is usual with this label. Everything is vinyl only and strictly limited, so get your orders in fast at www.fruitsdemerrecords.com


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Text Kim Harten, 2014.