Trail Records kicked off ’12 with Barrett Elmore’s stellar Woodlands, just one of a group of great releases if you work back down the…trail…. Woodlands was a new release, whereas much of Trail Records’ arsenal and specialties lie in uncovering artists’ previous and unknown work that might not have had the exposure they deserve, especially stateside. They do have some outstanding domestic releases from San Francisco space rockers Beyond-o-Matic and Seattle’s Sky Cries Mary, but the majority of their outings reach beyond Western shores.
The company was founded in 2007 by two artists who collaborate to produce and release the creative work of musicians from different cultural backgrounds and traditions. We realize that there’s a lot of talented artists around the globe who produce ingenious work that never had a chance to be discovered for lack of financial support or promotion. ¶We collect original material from musicians and translate it into unique CD albums in limited editions as rarity collections. Mass production is not a priority for us. ¶We strongly believe that music should be recognized as a form of Art in the first place – right above the commercial interests.
A few notable signposts along the way, all suited for strolling, gliding and wandering off the path…
Ole Lukkøye / Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs is a 20 year retrospective of St. Petersburgh, Russia’s Ole Lukkøye, self-described conjurers of ‘folklore from nowhere.’ Remastered with unreleased goods, Petroglyphs pushes the needle to the trance side of proggy space rock, folding danceable insistent beatswithSiberian folk, ethnic instrumentation (djembe, darabuka, rubab, vargan) bob and weave with circular bass and drums, horns work with relentless percussion…global space rock…Reaching back 20 years it’s hard not to hear some of that early Crimson/Talking heads world prog, but throughout the lengthy running time, Ole Lukkøye cover a lot of ground and effectively blur the timeline. And the borders, going beyond their Russian filters with some Middle Eastern and Asian sounds that don’t wash-out where they come from, but make them more…universal citizens. Founder Boris Bardash pens many of the lyrics in a non-existent tongue that pushes their homeland even further out into the ether, injected into the rich sonic layering where a strict translation is unnecessary. Ankara Karachi seems to have the refrain ‘I could die’ which, like the rest of Petroglyphs, is understandable in any language.
Sleepy Herbs :: Ole Lukkøye :: Petroglyphs (2009, Trail Records)
Siddhartha/Trip To Innerself
Apparently defunct since ’01, Siddhartha was a group of voyagers broadcasting out of Istanbul, blending the soil under their feet with space and psych for Trip To Innerself (originally released in ’98). It’s an expansive, heady trip comfortable with short as well as longer strides that don’t lose the focus of the song, even with the improvisational leanings. There’s a strong whiff of Gilmour/Floyd guitar interplay, and peppered with vocals and some almost ballad tinged space rock, Siddhartha deliver enough ebb and flow to keep up a good head of steam through the disc. Though vocals are handled better in some places than others, they accent the ups and downs the trip takes from the more straight-ahead compositions to the lengthier workouts. The contrast of cuts like the snaky, atmospheric Black with therevved up Nervous Breakdown make it a worthy trip, one that unfortunately ended in ’01.
Founded by Swedish musician and artist Peter Lindahl, In the Labyrinth released a handful of platters in the 90s, represented on the compilation One Trail to Heaven, along with unreleased and alternate cuts. Euro-psych folk leanings and some exotic accents shore up the world prog aura, making One Trail to Heaven a dense, flowing gathering of tracks, the sequencing wiping out any hint that this is a collection of scattered cuts over a few years. Some of the lyrics veer into a strong fantasy bent with the Yeti and the Lord of the Mushrooms, but in the context of the music, and some of the older school progressive details, it all dreamily comes together on its own and as an introduction to Lindahl/In the Labyrinth. It’s a softer approach to blurring the lines between psych and progressive rock, relying more on flow and melody than frantic wig outs to get some levitation. Handling the lion’s share of instruments himself, Lindhal weaves both a tight and ethereal tapestry of sounds that should appeal to fans of prog, as well as pastoral pop, folk and rock. Unsurprisingly, there is a take on the Moody Blues’s Cities included that further widens the vista, but also fits in snugly with some of the more adventuresome cuts like the unreleased The Endless City.
The Endless City :: In the Labyrinth :: One Trail to Heaven (2011, Trail Records)
"This show is 110% … one of the most consistently awesome programs we have come across."
The Sunrise Ocean Bender sets sail every Monday morning, 1 – 3 a.m. on WRIR lp 97.3 FM, to find something for your ears, and something for your head … From psych to prog to pop and whatever tributary we can find on the way … and right back around again. There might be a map, but the destination is up for grabs. If it all goes right, we may just get lost. Meet me at the muster station … it might be a long week.