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


I recently received the latest releases from Hi-Note Music, who release psych, prog, folk and music that incorporates these styles and others, on their Background, English Garden, Aftermath and Headline labels.

You may know Terri-B from her work with The Rabbit's Hat, Body Full Of Stars and Census of Hallucinations. She also does her own music, and a few years ago a CDR of her solo album Wrap Me In Your Skin came out on Stone Premonitions. Now Headline have released it as a professionally duplicated CD with a slightly different track list. Most tracks here appeared on the original CD, but What's Become of Johnny?, Dorian's Painting and Astral Dreams have been replaced with Time Will Tell, Sandalphon, Floating and a BBC session version of Ephemeral Fire. Terri's music is really diverse, ranging from eerie experimentation (The Spell, Dream World) to soul-tinged radio-friendly pop (Ephemeral Fire, Wrap Me In Your Skin, We Are One) and radio-friendly pop with less of a soul influence (Menage A Trois) via folk-pop (An Only Child, Hector), quirky angular prog (Baird, My Soul), bluesy rock (Time Will Tell), atmospheric prog rock (Listen), an instrumental with jazz, rock and soul elements (Sandalphon), electro-pop with sarcastic lyrics (Girl Power), atmospheric electronics mixed with acoustic guitar, piano and ethereal vocals (Floating). When I first heard some of the more commercial tracks a few years back, I found them a bit too mainstream to begin with, but I began to appreciate the songs after repeated listens and now I see them as classics! If you have an open mind about music, you can't go wrong with this excellent album.

Another artist associated with Stone Premonitions is Paul Rose, who now has an album out on Headline, Late Show. He is a very competent musician who was discovered by the late Rory Gallagher (he now plays Rory's guitar which was given to him as a gift) and was since voted Guitarist of the Year twice by Guitarist magazine. Some of the material I've heard from him in the past has struck me as bland, but not so with this. Most of these tracks are basically the guitar based sort of ambient music, but with more melody than you may expect from that description. It's calming, laid-back, subdued music, recommended listening if you want to relax. Part of a Process is more of a twiddly rock thing but still quite laid-back. Paul also ventures into electronic ambient music on Numerology, which is more minimalist than a lot of stuff from this genre.

Also on Headline is The Event by The Ashqelon Quilt. This is an amazing album that's essentially psych-pop but with a whole load of other styles mixed in, such as folk (in both the medieval and more recent interpretations of the word), blues, classical, prog, Middle Eastern, rock, Irish and jazz. They use electric, classical and folk instruments to great effect. The band are classical music students, so as to be expected from this, they're serious musicians and extremely accomplished. Excellent, truly artistic cover paintings too. Very highly recommended.

Colin Masson of The Morrigan has a solo album on Headline, Isle of Eight. Most instruments are played by Colin himself, and he is also responsible for the intricate and impressive paintings on the cover. There are only three tracks here but they total more than an hour. For such long tracks though, they don't drag on, there's enough variation to hold your attention. The music is basically instrumental prog, with elements of folk in the traditional style. Lots of medieval style recorder (and keyboards playing medieval style tunes), which I love! Although these pieces are largely instrumental, there are also vocals from Cathy Alexander on two of the tracks, as well as male backing vocals on the title track, which I assume are from Colin, although he's not credited with singing in the sleeve notes. Another superb album on Headline, definitely recommended!

Tantalus originally released their Short Stories album as a limited edition cassette, but now it has been remastered and released on CD by Headline, with two tracks not originally on the cassette. Begins with the instrumental 23 Enigma, which has prog elements but is mostly a more middle of the road sort of rock. Shot Down in Flames and Plans are bluesy rock. Light from Dark is atmospheric rock with prog and blues elements. Moondance is an instrumental with atmospheric electronics and a strong melody played on the guitar. City of Dreaming Spires and Can't Say No are a more laid-back type of rock compared with everything else here. They also do a version of Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, which actually works well as a prog track. Whilst the first track here is a bit too middle of the road for me, they get heavier/proggier later on and there's quite a lot of good stuff to be heard. My particular favourites are Moondance, City of Dreaming Spires and the Bach piece.

Clear Blue Sky were originally around in the 70s, and are still around now, releasing music on the Aftermath arm of Hi-Note. Their latest album is Mirror of the Stars, which features 12 rock songs which incorporate elements of various styles - mostly prog but also psych, spacerock, jazz and blues. Much of the stuff here is really heavy and powerful, but not to the extent that the tunes are lost - a good thing! Also they have a female vocalist as well as a male vocalist, pretty rare for 70s style heavy rock. The inside of the sleeve has excellent artwork from E Finch, who also designed the cover of the Ashqelon Quilt album.

Hi-Note are definitely putting out some great stuff! Info on these and previous releases from info@hinotemusic.com


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Text Kim Harten, 2002.