Alan’s New and Old Music Reviews


Early Summer 2023 – Alan Dearling


Fred Again and Brian Eno: ‘Secret Life’

There’s sometimes an element of ‘London buses’ with Eno’s recordings. Many seem to appear almost simultaneously, often collaborative efforts, as is this one. On his ambient records, soundscapes take centre stage more than words or vocal performances.  That was true of 2022’s ‘Foreverandevermore’ with its whooshing sonic blips and swirling, pulsating rhythms. Vocals are an ethereal dream – and that is even more so on ‘Secret life’ his team effort with Fred Again (actually Fred Gibson of dance music fame for his widely acclaimed ‘Actual Life’ trilogy). There’s a lot of disembodied vocals and glacial stutterings and whispers. Many loops, repetitions and samples from across many genres and artists apparently including Lola Young, and John Prine. There’s a courtly elegance too in quasi-classical sounds on such tracks as ‘Follow’. There’s a beauty and sense of love and loss in Eno’s recent music. Likewise, Fred Again.  Oodles of vulnerability.  Stark beauty.  At times it is perhaps a tad too impersonally-personal, but if you like Eno, and possibly Penguin Café Orchestra, it’s definitely worth a listen.

‘Enough’ track video:

Marianne Faithfull: (re-release/mixed) 1995/2023 ‘Secret Life’

Re-mastered for Record Store Day 2023. Marianne’s album working with Italian composer/arranger, Angelo Badalamenti, famed for the soundtrack for David Lynch in ‘Twin Peaks’. It’s not that similar to the Eno album despite sharing the same title, but it is darkly ambient, based on an orchestral score, and is lush with powerful vocals (and words) from Marianne. Released on vinyl, but with 3 additional tracks on the CD version including ‘You’re not in London anymore’. It’s worth checking out, especially as you will perhaps realise that you actually already know a number of the tracks.

Here is Marianne with Jools Holland in 1995 talking ‘…disembodied poets’ and music, poets and much more:

The Church: ‘Hypnogogue’

Not really so much a futurist Sci-Fi story epic – more a return to the prog rock bombast of the mid to late ‘70s and beyond. This is the 26th album from The Church, Sydney’s psychedelic rockers. There’s definitely a cinematic energy to the whole affair. Pomp, majesty, melodic charm and strong vocals from Steve Kilbey. The album evokes dreamscapes, as the track, ‘Thorn’ suggests, a compute-generated “solace in a forest of dreams”. Likewise, there’s ‘Flickering Lights’ with an insistent background ethereal vibe. I couldn’t help but muse on ‘Wish you were here’, and the idea, slightly mockingly of being transported to the ‘Other side of the Moon’! The Church have a lot of self-belief and ultimately it’s contagious. The layered sounds (rather than the story-line about North Korean occultist, Sun Kim Jong and his dystopian future controlled in the Hypnogogue machine, that captures and distils dreams), crept up on me and almost despite some excesses, it conjures up a spectacle that can be imagined in a massive auditorium or festi with lights and sounds bombarding the brain-cells. Old Skool prog…

‘Thorn’ from ‘Hypnogogue’:

David Bowie: (film soundtrack) Moonage Daydream


This was released last year. It’s a double CD – a remarkable collage of highlights from the Bowie lifetime: words, songs, performances from across David’s richly varied career. As the film director, Brett Morgan says: “Bowie cannot be explained, but he can be experienced.”

Playing the collection at home on a decent sound-system is indeed an ‘experience’. A deeply personal one, one that is almost spiritual and offers sublime glimpses of the Bowie genius. So many aspects of music and art from the sing-along anthems of ‘Changes’ and the Ziggy Stardust era through the ambient and subterranean, labyrinthine music that Brian Eno produced with Bowie in the loosely connected Berlin trilogy, which includes ‘V-2Schneider’, ‘Sound and Vision’ and ‘Heroes’.

It’s a great memorial to the ever changing, ever-evolving artist that was David Bowie. Even if you already own all or most of his albums, this is a celebratory collection. Great stuff!

Elli De Mon: ‘Pagan Blues’

Blues Grunge. Heavy. As Elli informs us all: “I am troubled…Stay out of my way!” Elli is a one-woman blues sensation. I loved her last album, ‘Countin’ The Blues’, which was filled with highly original dark-renderings of blues classics.  This new collection is very much what it says on the label: ‘PAGAN BLUES’. ‘The Fall’ opens proceedings with a saturated sound and ‘I can see you’ spits venom. All but one track, ‘Catfish Blues’ are Elli’s original compositions. It places her in a space between a one-woman White Stripes,  Dr John the Night-tripper at his voodoo swampiest and possibly Tom Waits’ singing songs by Nico!

By the time you listen to ‘Desert Song’ you may be troubled with a temporary lobotomy!  It’s a musical equivalent of meeting up with Charles Manson and his Family out at the Spandau Ranch. ‘Star’ has Elli playing the Spiderwoman, witchy with fuzzed-up slide guitar before ‘Ticking’ which is a spectral, darkly sacrificial pentagram of sounds.  ‘Siren’s Call’ presents  a sitar-driven dance track. She hails from the north-eastern Italian town of Vicenza, but one hopes to see her at gigs and festies in the UK and beyond. Salutations to Her Dark Pagan Majesty!

The final album track, ‘Troubled’:




This entry was posted on in homepage and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.