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£9.99 +p&p

Bless Leicester? Thou shalt. The Black Carrot holds many healthy ingredients and the sounds coming from the Leicester based band by the same name do have a similarly soothing effect on the listener. Its narratives spoil the feeling a bit, yet its pulsating drive, as if we're heading back to the very early 1970s, saves the 'Cluk' album.

'Cluk' touches on the marvels brought back from the times when plucking a bass snare was exciting. In spite of the mutterings in the press release of it being 1970's, influenced by prog music from Deutschland and so on, 'Cluk' veers towards freeform performances with a foothold in rather melodic music, yes, from that era. I haven't heard me Joy Division records for decades but Black Carrot reminds me of them. Listen carefully.
Thanks to Maarten Schiethart

Track List:
The Taming Of The Shoe (8.06)
The Sweat Of The White Man
Cubic Brothers
Cubic Brothers (Reprise)
Misha Mo
A Man Is Not A Spider
The Smarmy Marches On Its Hammock
Our Final Destination


“The Mariner’s Rest”
£5.99 +p&p

'The Mariner's Rest' could be an adaption of a story or film – except that it is entirely improvised. The motifs are familiar – echoes of John Carpenter's masterly horror film 'The Fog,' maybe, with more than a glance backwards at classics such as 'The Ancient Mariner,'

All a bit grand guignol...– but surprisingly effective. The programmatic elements are kept spare – creakings and scrapings, for example, are not overdone. The piece breathes easily as the band set up rhythms and build successions of crescendos to punctuate the unfolding horror of the narrative, dropping out in places to leave Parkin solo. A masterful performance – the tale told with an ease that disguises the fact that it is improvised. Parkin's skills as a storyteller are at full stretch here, again demonstrating his range of nuance and quick-witted delivery...

The band display a high degree of inventiveness in extemporising without stepping on each other or self-indulgently sprawling to interrupt the balance of the instrumentation or the flow of the narrative. The rhythms they employ always allow for a rooting and accessibility – yet are subtle and varied, skilfully exploring the interface between rock and jazz that is one of their trademarks. Their use of silence as well is exemplary, punctuating and allowing the music and voice to breathe. If I had one criticism it would be that I would like to have heard a little more of the band – but I can see that there is a delicate balance to be preserved here between vocal and musical narrative – the temptation to ham it up with more obvious emulations of sound effects would be a dangerous one to resist. Maybe in this case – less is more. Dark stuff – delivered with great skill and wit – and humour. The integration of voice and music to explore existing narratives within an improvisatory framework – and to create new ones - is fascinating. And unique.

Many thanks to Rod Warner - read his full review here