(editor's note: This review is for 4 separate LPs on the Qbico imprint, but combined into one review b/c of how they are related. The individual ratings are as follows:
Vibracathedral Orchestra- The Sun Balance/The Open Knot (8/10)
Michael Flower Band ? Returning to Knowing Nothing (10/10)
Astral Social Club ? Star Guzzlers (9/10)
Ashtray Navigations ?Throw Up in the Sky/ With Fine Clinking Magnets (8/10)
Fucking wow. This latest batch of Qbico rocket ships is easily amongst their best batch of releases since the labels inception. And that's saying something. These fit firmly in along catalog gems by Matt Valentine, Double Leopards, Sunburned Hand, Conrad Schnitzler, Makoto Kawabata, Arthur Doyle and others?.Fuck the Rough Guide, this is the Qbico Handbook for the psych-maddened, beauty of the UK now-sound scene. But no road-maps, list of hot spots or mini history lessons here. This is all modern day dream music. And while these certainly aren?t the only four worthwhile bands operating in the UK, they are as good as they come.
Astral Social Club contributes two magical sides of shimmering droney-love. After a steady flow of cd-r's its nice to have some of this gorgeous music on a slab of vinyl. Pink vinyl too! A beauty stream of guitar and casio and drum machine and computer FX work together to create this dreamy tapestry of sounds. It builds to shimmering, blissful heights and really takes you, as the listener, out of body and into the cosmos. I shit you not. The sound of cartoon factories imploding. In slow motion.
The Michael Flower LP is my fave here. After spinning my beat up cd-r originals for the last couple of years, it?s so nice have a bunch of it here in LP format. Compiled from tracks previously released on tour cd-rs between 2003 and 2005, this music is a revelation. He starts right in with a whirlybird Henry Flynt hoe down and doesn?t stop. Flynt, Tony Conrad, and Jajouka collide with ambient synthesizers and abstract free un-rock to make music that is almost frustratingly gorgeous. An album of the year for sure.
Vibracathedral are cranking out some of their best stuff right now?..and that?s saying something. Here we have two side-long excursions on green vinyl and it really gets the neurons firing. Manic, static, patient buzz. The guitars and toy instruments pile up on one another and create a dense foam, a musky lather. Demented church organ sounds drive headfirst and there?s even some percussion thrown in for a bit. Although, they don?t need percussion to drive a piece of music. The Vibracathedral band pulses, fucking undulates and rides, on a wave of sweet electric drone.
Ashtray Navigations give a real far-out trip with Throw Up in the Sky/ With Fine Clinking Magnets. It takes it?s time and slowly builds, the whir of a computerized space mixes with distorted tunes and tones floating about, electronic fluttering? but what does build works itself into a digital meltdown frenzy?and that?s just side one. The flip side grabs you by the oblongata and takes you on a drunken stumble down the back stairs.
While most (if not all) of these are gone at the label you should be able to track them down through the various distros and mail orders. And I would very highly recommend doing such. 10/10 -- Adam Richards (3 July, 2007)