Stegzy's Music Project

A commentary on Stegzy's album collection

Illumination – Mediaeval Baebes #608

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While looking for something akin to Lisa Gerrard or maybe something a little darker than Blackmore’s Night, I stumbled headfirst into the voluptuous bosoms of the Mediaeval Baebes who, at the time of blunder, were scheduled to appear at the annual Mediaeval Fayre in Tewkesbury.  Eager to see them I tried, in vain, to convince Mrs Gnomepants v1.0 into going. Sadly her desire to walk around a field filled with reenactors and “beardy weirdies” (her words) all day did not appeal.

We didn’t go.

It rained.

Not only on my parade but also on the actual fayre so any disappointment I had was swiftly washed away.

Illumination is the sixth album from the band formed from remnants of Miranda Sex Garden who perform classical music in acapella style.  If, like me, you were hoping for dark, Dead-Can-Dance-esque gutter goth, you, like initially me, will be sadly disappointed. But if you’re looking for a kind of Latin singing version of the Spice Girls crossed with Lisa Gerrard, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s hard to pigeonhole Mediaeval Baebes though, they’re certainly not goth and I wouldn’t call them pop either more neo-easy-listening.

 

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Gather in the Mushrooms – Various Artists [#511]

Gather in the mushroomsGather in the Mushrooms  is a compilation album featuring tracks by acid folk bands from 1968-1974.

As a prog fan, it is only natural that I have a penchant for music often classed as acid folk, which, one could argue, is a shared root for the mighty tree of progressive rock in the forest of alternative adult music.

This album was kindly “donated” to me by a dear ex-work colleague with whom we share similar tastes in music and interests in media and popular culture. When I saw the artist listing I was further excited to see artists such as Sallyangie (Sally Oldfield, Mike Oldfield‘s sister, with whom he began his career), Pentangle, Magnet and Spirogyra, all of whom have connection within this music project.

Hauntology at its best, Gather in the Mushrooms provides a soundtrack for a period when Canterbury was just begining to burgeon and fills the minds eye with images of green home county villages populated with beautiful long haired tie-dye be-dressed lady hippies like in some Avengers/Hammer Horror/sci-fi TV/Film that was never made. Beautiful tracks like Sandy Denny’s pre-Fairport Milk and Honey, Trader Horne’s post-Fairport Morning Way and the largely forgotten Forest’s Graveyard not only provide a powerful aural illustration for the genre but create a fitting tribute to a time that existed for a few but was appreciated by many.

This has largely become my third most favourite compilation of the past decade.

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Faun at the Pagan Folk Festival – Faun [#463]

Unknown-1Yet another visit from Music Project denizens Faun who’s last appearance was in January 2015.

This is Faun’s 5th album and their 1st live recorded in Utrecht in 2007. I don’t remember ordering this CD but it arrived on my door mat one morning at a time in my life when I was actively listening to the Aural Apocalypse as a way to discover new and interesting bands in the darkwave/neofolk genres. I suspect that I heard them on there first, but then I’m not sure because this live concert also features guest spots by In Gowan Ring and Sieben, both artists that appear on the fabled Looking for Europe Neofolk Compendium.

Regardless, I remember listening to it for the first time only to hear the lead singer proclaim

“Please welcome on stage Mr Matt Howden”

Matt Howden (aka Sieben, Sheffield’s own neofolk superstar) then begins to play his violin along to Rad to much audience satisfaction. Wow. But then, to further turn the album into a squee fest, Faun do a cover of my favourite Sieben song Love’s Promise. Mind. Blown.

It was this album that made me realise that the tight community of internet backed musicians collaborate, much like the old Prog musicians of Yore, making me feel all warm and tingly inside. It also made me realise that Germany and continental Europe have a much more diverse and vibrant musical culture than the UK claims itself has.

 

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Farscape – Klaus Schultz & Lisa Gerrard [#461]

Unknown-2Klaus and Lisa’s first get together.

As I go through my music collection I still find it remarkable how there is a lot of cross over, coincidence and collaboration amongst the artists therein.

Farscape is over two hours of Klaus’ sustained chord changes backed by Lisa’s improvised wailing which is fun if you’re a severe Dead Can Dance fan or you like a bit of wailing with your electronica.

Trufax: I downloaded this in error because I thought I was getting the Farscape soundtrack. Durr.

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Dreamtime Submersible – Evan Marc & Steve Hillage [#395]

Dreamtime submersibleEvery so often during my exploration of the aural soundscape, I find interesting albums. Usually they are collaborations of some artist I like or a member of a band I like getting together with another band or artist that I like.

This is an example find.

Steve Hillage, formerly of Gong, plays guitar along side Evan “Bluetech” Marc, a chap who has made a living out of playing records at people. Of course such a collaboration is either going to be mind-blowing or a pile of steaming manure.

I guess my aural rhubarb is going to be bountiful.

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Demo – Reverend & the Makers [#358]

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 21.02.59One of the many things I like to do, musically, is collect demo recordings of bands. I’m particularly keen when it’s someone I know in the band. This week there are several examples of this magpious behaviour.

As it happened, in about 2007, my then wife met members of a then unknown band called Reverend and the Makers. We would regularly get copies of their music as they prepared to launch themselves into the big time. Today’s album is the bands first demo recording.

I never really liked the band, as you can see from their previous appearance on the Music Project.

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CSI: Ambleside – Half Man Half Biscuit [#330]

CSI Ambleside - Half Man Half BiscuitA man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets
Before I met my beloved I was only vaguely aware of Half man half biscuit, but over the last 7 years I have listened to many hours of their music, usually a captive audience in his car but once live locally.  If you have never heard any of their achingly clever and snortingly funny songs before this album is a great starting point.  Are they punk?  Are they folk? Are they too bloody clever for their own good?  Yes, to all of them.
I can’t claim to get all the references, but then it is handy to have a scouse husband to help out (want one?  you can borrow mine, if you are lucky he’ll have you taking part in his music project).  I had no idea what the ‘roids’ were until he told me, but anyone can appreciate the sentiment of ‘National shite day’ (which is a blinder performed live) even if you have never seen a man with a mullet going mad with a mallet in Millets.  I frequently find myself humming ‘Evening of swing’ for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

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01011001–Ayreon [#22]

000-ayreon-01011001-(advance)-2cd-proof-2008

01011001 by Ayreon

I can’t remember how I first heard about Ayreon. It might be listening to a compilation or something but from the first song that I heard, I just knew that I would like his work.

So I managed to get his back catalogue with this fantastic double album being released at the moment that I began getting Ayreon’s work.

I think that Ayreon, or Arjen Anthony Lucassen, does a bloody good job of uniting various artists such as Floor Jansen, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Bruce Dickinson and Fish under a single project umbrella. Much in the same way as Ivo Russell-Watts did with 4AD and This Mortal Coil. The difference being that Lucassen creates a concept album as the central cusp of the union.

So let us see….changing artists – Check; Concept albums – Check; Bearded and hairy musicians – check; Rock music – Check….so does that make it prog? New prog? In my opinion, yes it does.

01011001 tells the tale of the descent of man into destruction despite alien entities, psychically beaming visions of our destruction into our little heads. It works. It tells a story. With music and catchy tunes.

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