FRUITS DE MER RECORDS
This month (May 2014) sees the release of four new records from limited edition vinyl only label Fruits de Mer Records. There's a 7" EP from long running and well respected duo Tir na nÓg, who have provided four songs exclusive to this release. First up, a cover of the Silver Apples' I Have Known Love. Melodically, it resembles an American folk song, but Tir na nÓg's arrangement looks beyond the confines of standard traditional folk, adding abstract plinky-plonky xylophone for an off-kilter psych-folk effect. The other three tracks here are new compositions by Tir na nÓg, the first two by Sonny Condell and the last by Leo O'Kelly. You in Yellow is a very lovely song, there's a melancholic feeling about it despite its positive-sounding lyrics, which perfectly matches the stark minimal arrangement consisting only of acoustic guitar and violin. The Angelus features nice vocal harmonies and an effective chorus in which the melody replicates the sound of ringing bells. The lyrics are poetic, with vivid nature-based imagery dealing with the changing seasons and the flight of birds. There's some undulating, Middle Eastern-tinged violin towards the end, which works really well. The last track shows a coarser, harsher side to Tir na nÓg. Not only is there the macho bragging connotation in the title I Pick Up Birds, the beauty and delicacy of the previous tracks is replaced by a more gravelly vocal style and a noisier guitar sound.
The promotional CD I'm reviewing also comes with a bonus track which does not appear on the 7" for reasons of space. This is another Sonny Condell composition entitled Andria, which is a kind of light pop with jazz, bossa nova, flamenco, and 60s sunshine pop touches, not that dissimilar from the 'cosmopolitan pop' sound favoured by some bands in the indiepop scene. Whilst this track is not available on the actual EP, I'm mentioning it in case it should turn up on another release in future.
The other three Fruits de Mer releases this month are all albums. Swedish instrumental band Tor-Peders released a single on their own label a few years ago, then started working on their debut album due to be entitled Brev Från Ederstorp (Letter from Ederstorp), but the band came to a tragic end after its founder, guitarist Jonas, died in a car accident in 2011. This lost album has now been made available by Fruits de Mer, released as a clear vinyl LP and bonus 7" in textured gatefold sleeve. The album is eclectic, covering surf, heavy retro rock with jazz tinges, psych rock with a folky melody and a touch of jazz piano, garage rock with psych, prog and folk elements, spacey vintage electronic music, hypnotic and ethereal psychedelia, laid-back late 60s-style rock, and beyond. Despite the wide variety of genres the music draws from, the album retains a sense of coherence with its refreshingly raw sound. You get the feeling that this band completely lived and breathed vintage music; whilst the music mixes and matches various styles from across the 1960s and 1970s, it still somehow manages to sound authentic. The band had intended Brev Från Ederstorp to sound like "an unreleased album from decades past", and they have certainly achieved this. A very enjoyable album; Fruits de Mer Records are to be congratulated for rescuing it from oblivion.
Astralasia's Wind on Water is a clear vinyl LP and bonus 7" in an optical effect PVC sleeve. The album is all instrumental, combining electronic music and psych-rock in an engaging manner. Rangoon is a relaxing electronic piece with elements of ambient, vintage electronica, and spacerock. Wind on Water covers a lot of ground over the space of 15 minutes or so; there's electronicy, spacerocky things going on, and some intense psych-rock sounds, as well as an Eastern-influenced section that incorporates tablas and an improvisational-sounding guitar piece that somehow manages to sound like blues and Indian music all at once. Then at the end you get a folky acoustic guitar melody combined with didgeridoo-like electronic drones. The Innosense is another 15+ minute track, this time taking on board relaxing ambient music, experimental sound manipulation, Eastern-tinged melodies, psych-rock, and rhythmic electronic bleepery. The Desert is a little different from everything else here as it has less emphasis on electronic instrumentation, yet the psychedelic aspects give it enough commonality with the other tracks to not sound out of place. Here a bunch of stuff you might not expect to hear in the same track - spoken vocals, whooshing wind sounds, piano riffage, wild psych-rock guitar soloing, wailing harmonica, and hammered dulcimer - are creatively combined.
Continuing with the electronic theme is Craig Padilla's double LP Sonar. This is a compilation of previously unreleased recordings from 1996 onwards, though the chronological differences are not at all apparent as the tracks were deliberately chosen to provide a consistent listening experience. Fruits de Mer describe the common theme of the album as "music influenced by the kosmische sounds of the 70s, but fed through 21st century equipment". Craig Padilla is an electronic/ambient composer whose music has appeared on various labels over the years and has been used in TV and film soundtracks. Inspired by a variety of synth bands/musicians from Tangerine Dream to Steve Roach, the album incorporates relaxing ambient music, futuristic sounds that wouldn't sound out of place in a sci-fi movie soundtrack, and things that sound like an electronic version of prog rock, all combined into a coherent whole. It's a mood-altering album that creates a real sense of calm.
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