The Senior Service are Jon Barker (hammond organ), Graham Day (guitar), Darryl Hartley (bass guitar) & Wolf Howard (drums & percussion). They are latest band to burst forth from the Medway Music Scene in Rochester, Kent.
The four have been close friends for many years and have played in several Medway-based groups including The Prisoners, The Daggermen, The James Taylor Quartet, Graham Day & The Forefathers, The Prime Movers and the wonderfully named Disney Firetruck. All four are Medway born and bred and have always been into film themes and instrumental music. Amongst their influences are John Barry, Barry Gray, Booker T and the MGs, Ennio Morricone and The Small Faces.
“We got together to play instrumental covers because I happened to have bought a Hammond organ” says Jon Barker, “but we dropped that idea before we played a note and quickly moved onto our own stuff.”
The Senior Service have been busy recording at Borstal Road Studios (situated in Jon’s basement). To mark the release of the forthcoming debut single ‘Depth Charge‘ on Damaged Goods, the band will be playing a Single Launch Gig at The Half Moon in Putney on Saturday, 30th January 2016. The band will be making their first ever live appearance along with very special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill.
‘Depth Charge’ by The Senior Service is scheduled for release on 8th January 2016 on Damaged Goods as a 7″ vinyl & digital download, Cat No: DAMGOOD447.
Like me, you may not have heard of Al Berkowitz; and you may be forgiven for thinking, as I did, Al Berkowitz is obviously a singer / songwriter. It’s more complicated than that. Al Berkowitz is a trio from Spain who play psych rock fused with folk music and a 1960’s lounge / easy listening. None of them are called Al Berkowitz.
The band were formed in 2006 when the Spanish psychedelic band The Inhabitants joined forces with American beatnik Aldous Berkowitz . After Aldous’ departure in 2007, they christened the band Al Berkowitz as a homage to their former bandmate and mentor. They are now a trio consisting of Ignacio Simón, Santiago Estrada and Lorenzo Palomares.
Al Berkowitz is formed around multi-instrumentalist Ignacio Simón and his angelic, beautiful honey-dripping voice. The album was self-produced by Simón in an idyllic and tranquil setting off the coast of Cádiz (Spain). The music drifts effortlessly between a psychedelic haze and folk aspirations reminiscent, at least in part, of the likes of Tim Buckley and Scott Walker.
The opening track, ‘You And I‘, sets a sun-kissed and chilled scene. With its Spanish guitar, echo-drenched vocal and angelic choral backing, I’m transported back to the Mediterranean Sea, watching a beautiful sunset unfold before my eyes. But ‘The Frenchman And The Rabbitman‘ disturbs me. The angelic voice is replaced with a lemon twisted psych rock. I feel somewhat rudely and abruptly awoken; and so the journey begins.
With ‘How Could We Get Ourselves Lost?‘ the album’s tranquility returns which leaves me thinking the previous eight minute psych out was in some way representative of a bad acid trip. An interruption that possibly has significant and underlying meaning. Am I detecting this is a concept album?
Ignacio Simón‘s beautiful and delicately angelic voice is perfectly accompanied by the sadness of a cello on ‘How Could We Get Ourselves Lost?‘ and the fourth song to make up ‘A Long Hereafter‘ is ‘Magical Cynical‘ with its oompah-pah piano and sing-a-long chorus, it fills me with a nostalgic sense of golden age vaudeville drunken merriness through 1960’s rose-tinted glasses.
The album is very clearly set out in two parts and ‘Nothing Beyond‘ begins with ‘Farewell My Lady‘ with its stirring psych rock attitude. Confusingly, the song ‘A Long Hereafter‘ appears in this second part. This song has me thinking of Scott Walker, Jacques Brel and Ignacio Simón as a troubadour.
‘Nothing Beyond‘ has a dreamy sadness. Full of echo the song floats in a telling way. Like the end of a something beautiful that has served its time and been left to drift effortlessly and happily towards a heavenly unknown.
‘Sensitive, Not Dramatic‘ introduces an industrial element with its rhythm churning away in the background while monastic-like harmonies fuse psychedelic headiness with experimental err towards kraut rock, as A Long Hereafter / Nothing Beyond closes gradually like vapour caught in a light breeze.
A Long Hereafter Nothing Beyond was originally released on the Spanish record label Green Ufos in March 2013. The album was apparently well received but suffered from a limited run promotion. Temple Arts signed Al Berkowitz in 2014 and felt it only right this album should be re-released with full support and promotion across Europe in the hope that Al Berkowitz would receive the critical success they feel, the band deserve.
The re-release of A Long Hereafter / Nothing Beyond has been remastered and edited from 12 to 8 tracks, as the original release included 4 tracks against the band’s wishes. Further to the re-release, Al Berkowitz will be relocating to London later this year to help promote themselves and pursue wider appreciation in the UK and across Europe.
Ignacio Simón has a beautiful, angelic voice and A Long Hereafter / Nothing Beyond, a truly wonderful album; and Temple Arts are right, more people need to hear the music of Al Berkowitz.
Al Berkowitz – A Long Hereafter / Nothing Beyond is now available on Temple Arts.
‘The Bristol EP’ is the debut release from Nouvelle Vague co-producer, Marc Collin’s new musical project ‘Bristol’, and was released this week on Kawaidan Records.
‘The Bristol EP’ includes four classic tracks from the trip hop era – ‘Roads’ by Portishead, ‘Overcome’ by Tricky, Moog Island by Morcheeba and ‘I Can Water My Plants’ by Monk & Canatella – are reworked in a 1960s movie soundtrack / lounge style, injecting some inherent French finesse along the way.
As with Nouvelle Vague, Marc Collin has chosen young French singers to cover these songs. Jim Bauer takes on ‘Roads’, Dawn sings on ‘Overcome’, Prudence Fontaine guests on Moog Island and Magmoiselle guests on ‘Water My Plants’.
Marc Collin is a massive fan of the Bristol sound of the early nineties that was labelled trip hop, the genre that went on to influence two generations of music and continues to do so to this day. His vision was to re-imagine his favourite songs from this era as sixties movie soundtracks – and this is what he’s does with the Bristol project. An album will be released next spring and the Bristol EP is an introduction to that.
The Bristol project will be premiered at the Christmas Spiegeltent at the Colston Hall in Bristol on 17th December 2014. Performing the work live for first time, ‘Bristol’ could hardly have been premiered anywhere other than the city that inspired it.
The Bristol EP is now available via Kawaidan Records.
Marina Celeste, the voice of Nouvelle Vague, is returning to the UK in November for three intimate shows, promoting her latest album, New Waves.
The album collects together some of her more sensual re-imaginings of classic tracks such as “The Lovecats” by The Cure and the more obscure “Planet Claire“, an early B52’s song.
This mini tour will mark the first time she’s been in the UK for 18 months, where her provocative live shows promoting previous album, The Angel Pop drove audiences and journalists alike wild.
“[Marina Celeste] has a heavenly name and the voice of an angel” – Le Parisien
Originally discovered at 22 by Marc Collin, of Nouvelle Vague fame, and with a successful UK tour already behind her, Marina is no stranger to fronting a band on stage. She definitely has to be seen live to be believed. The sexual energy contained within her records is perfectly suited to an intimate live setting.
Marina Celeste – UK Tour November 2012
7th – WAMA -High Wycombe
8th – Surya – London
9th – The Latest Music Bar – Brighton