Soft Hearted Scientists — Uncanny Tales from the Everyday Undergrowth (Expanded Edition)
(The Hip Replacement HIP REP 008, 2005/2016, 2CD)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2016-02-14
There is something endearing about the Soft Hearted Scientists, be it their name, their label name, their vocal harmonies, their whimsical songs, their catchy melodies, etc. I’ve been a fan ever since my first exposure to them via Fruits de Mer. Uncanny Tales from the Everyday Undergrowth is the tenth anniversary reissue of their debut album. Five of the twelve songs on the album were rereleased in 2013 on FdM’s massive vinyl set Whatever Happened to the Soft Hearted Scientists (“Mount Palomar,” “Wendigo,” “Brother Sister,” “The Yongy Bongy Bo,” and “At Night the Quarry Glows Like a Mothership”). All twelve songs on Uncanny Tales from the Everyday Undergrowth are psychedelic pop visions of Victorian fantasies. These are not the sword and sorcery themes we find in Death Metal, but instead gentle leitmotifs suggesting ideas from authors like Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, William Morris, and Lord Dunsany. The songs are well constructed, arranged, and performed with just the right blend of acoustic instruments and subtle electronics. And to make this anniversary reissue a bit more special, there is a second CD of demos arranged in the same order as the album, so the bonus CD could be viewed as a complete demo of the original album. The songs on the demo disc are a bit raw, warts and all, but they capture the evolution from early versions to the finished product. If you have not yet experienced the Soft Hearted Scientist, this reissue is an excellent place to immerse yourself in this Welsh band’s unique musical view.
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more