Mayflower Madame – Premonition EP

photo by Sven Santelmann

Though formed in 2011, it was the release of their debut album Observed in a Dream two years ago which awoke real attention upon Mayflower Madame, introducing them to a whole wealth of new fans, us included. It offered a compelling and increasingly gripping full taste of the band’s psych rock infested post punk. Ahead of a new album later this year the Norwegian outfit have unveiled the Premonition EP, a release which simply leaves that previous encounter in the shade and is already making anticipation for the band’s second album impatient.

Fresh from a US tour, the latest the Oslo quartet has undertaken beyond their homeland since the release of that first full-length, the band now no strangers to venturing across the UK, Europe, and N America, Mayflower Madame lures the listener into a new soundscape of their imagination fuelled sound with Premonition. Consisting of four tantalising propositions which can be, as the EP’s promo sheet suggests, “best described as apocalyptic love songs”, Premonition has a captivating calmness across its body which the previous release maybe evaded but equally a more virulent almost predacious craft and indeed seduction for a romance of impending darkness to embrace and fear.

The EP opens with its title track, a siren warning its arrival. From the midst of the threat an instantly compelling groove emerges, its calm but inescapable swing courted by additional melodic tendrils from the guitars of Håvard Haga and vocalist Trond Fagernes. It was pure temptation to our ears, the swarthy blend of their lures irresistible and swiftly complemented by the dark enticement of Kenneth Eknes’ atmosphere weaving synth and Fagernes’ potent voice. The rhythmic captivation of Petter Gudim Marberg’s bass and the crisp swings of drummer Ola J. Kyrkjeeide reinforced the grip the song quickly held, it only tightening its hold as the layers of psychedelically lit post punk infested body and psyche.

The following Before I Fall makes a similarly magnetic entrance, the bass of this time Fagernes walking magnetically through ears with the melodic intimation of the guitars for company.  Like a psych washed fusion of Dead Can Dance, My Bloody Valentine, and Fields Of The Nephilim, the song fascinated and tantalised in equal measure. Its heavy emotion and senses wrapping shadows unavoidably infested the imagination but equally the song tempted the body into calm but definite involvement even as its darkness consumed. The fact that the song did not bring the same lust as for its predecessor or successor is simply down to their might, the song only magnetism.

The best track to our ears is Alma’s Sermon, its swing and melodic dance manna to our musical instincts and passions. Flirting with both through something akin to The Orson Family assimilated by The Doors, the track ensnares ears with a hook which teases and pleasures as an insatiable creative appetite supports it from within a web of melodic suggestion from the guitars. All the while, rhythms manipulate attention and hips like a puppeteer with the tones of Fagernes as alluring as they shimmer and echo the song’s dark magnetism.

Spiders Seek with the opener is a close contender to that favourite track choice as it completes the release, the intrigue soaked encounter cinematic in its atmosphere, intimate in its breath. The keys simply seduced our ears, their seemingly familiar yet unique enterprise a spark for the imagination on their own, the suggested drama thoughts conjured only accentuated by the dark catchiness of the bass with Marberg back plucking the strings, the hypnotic stroll of the beats, and the guitar’s sonic wiring.

It is a superb end to a magnificent release. Observed in a Dream only pleasured and excited but the Premonition EP has left it in its wake with ease. Goodness knows what the band’s forthcoming full-length will do…We cannot wait.

The Premonition EP is out now digitally and on CD via the band’s own label Night Cult Records @  as well as being available on cassette via Black Verb Records (Germany), SpiderChild Records (US) and Custom Made Music (US).

Pete RingMaster 26/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright


Varsovie – Coups et Blessures

Comprised of Arnault Destal (drums, lyrics, music, arrangements) and Grégory Catherina (vocals, guitar, music), Varsovie is a band which has just released one of the year’s most compelling propositions so far in the shape of third album Coups et Blessures. It is our introduction to the French outfit and the beginning of a very attentive affair with their individual post punk/dark rock inspired sound.

Formed in Grenoble in 2005, Varsovie released their first EP, Neuf Millimètres the next year and were soon playing shows and touring outside of their homeland, playing the likes of the Drop Dead Festival in Prague, the Crimson Night in Münster, and the Creeper Fest in Vilnius. 2010 saw debut album Civil Status released on Infrastition Records with its successor,  L’Heure et la Trajectoire coming five years later. Both were well-received propositions and took the band to new European shores and shows. As mentioned though, we had managed to escape their presence until Coups et Blessures and if it is an echo of things past we have definitely been missing out.

Released through Sundust Records, Coups et Blessures quickly shows itself a dark and invasive trespass of the senses and imagination but with an instinctive catchiness which swiftly gets under the skin. It is a virulence of sound and intent which is certainly predacious in tone and touch but equally contagious. Maybe unsurprisingly, given the band’s name which translates as Warsaw, there is a Joy Division-esque feel to the band’s music and similarly one of Polish post punks Siekiera who seem to have been an inspiration to the pair, yet it is inescapably individual to Varsovie. The first song immediately beats on ears to grab attention while teasing with a melodic lure. This potent lure unites with a gloriously dark contagion loaded bassline and in turn the potent tones of Catherina; magnetism rising with each addition as the song almost menacingly pulsates upon the senses. Its fusion of post punk and raw rock ‘n’ roll continued to grip and imposingly seduce as twists and turns added to a tremendous start to the album.

The following Revers de l’aube has a far darker air from which a rhythmic web swiftly entangled ears and appetite, Destal in two songs already proving his craft a dynamic and deviously compelling aspect within the Varsovie sound. The track envelops the imagination like a frenetic fusion of The Three Johns and The Birthday Party pulled into the distinct individuality of Destal and Catherina; the result an incitement just as enslaving as its predecessor and one soon matched by the darkly lit Va dire à Sparte. More controlled in urgency as emotive and physical shadows align vocal and melodic intimation, the track prowls ears whilst all the time enticing eager attention especially with guitars, bass, and its instinctive drama.

Killing Anna is similarly hued; dark and intense but with a persuasive swing enhanced by the tantalising wiry exploits of the guitar. A sinister air soaks the encounter, its noir lit character a tenaciously smouldering gothic suggestion resembling a mix of bands like Sex Gang Children, Dead Can Dance, and Artery. Transfixing from its first breath, the track is superb; addictive from the off and almost matched in heights by Le Lac. The bold mesmeric rhythms of Destal fuel song and attraction, a strain of punk bringing attitude to the rock ‘n’ roll bred, resourceful sonic clamour.

That punk ‘n’ roll courted trespass is even more pronounced in next up Intersections, an intensive and slightly irritable tapestry of sound and flavour challenging and tempting in equal measure before Discipline reverberates on ears with tenebrific emotion within an invasively haunting atmosphere. Neither track quite sparked the reactions given to their predecessors but each adds a captivating variety of edge and imagination to the release which could only be hungrily feasted upon.

The final pair of Chevaux échappés and Feux complete Coups et Blessures in fine style, the mesmeric first a nagging temptation of dark sound and emotive hinting prowling the senses and imagination while its successor provides a melancholic reflection which simmers with an underlining volatility before erupting into an infectious canter with melodic flames licking at its intense drama spawned body.

With the album totally sung in French, a language we have yet to master, it is impossible to share the lyrical content of Coups et Blessures yet the hearts of songs and their emotional intensities are inescapable. The album is a magnet, fascinating and virulent at every turn and Varsovie a band we wish we had come across before and will have ears clamped to hereon in.

Coups et Blessures is out now through Sundust Records; available @  and

Pete RingMaster20/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Peter Ulrich Collaboration: The Painted Caravan

The Painted Caravan Pack Shot (Small)

    The Painted Caravan is an album which offers a gamut of emotions and inspires just as many in the listener. Occasionally it puts pressure on patience and in other moments leaves unsure thoughts and questions behind from its wash of creative intrigue, but given time for its creative argument to make its persuasion, the release from The Peter Ulrich Collaboration emerges as a resourceful, imaginative, and quite compelling release.

Peter Ulrich, the former Dead Can Dance and This Mortal Coil percussionist, has drawn much acclaim for his solo work since his enthusiastically received debut album Pathways and Dawns of 1999. The following Enter The Mysterium album of 2005 equally received impressive responses critically and with contributions to the 2009 album Ovations from Piano Magic and a guest live appearance with Daemonia Nymphe in London in 2012 amongst many things Ulrich has remained a stirring musical presence. With The Painted Caravan he returns with his most expansive sounding painting of a release yet, an album with a concept originally conceived and developed by Ulrich and Trebor Lloyd, the CEO of Canyon Records. Its realisation is aided and brought to life by a core of contributors alongside Ulrich and Trebor in David Steele (vocals/guitar), Sara Wendt (vocals), and Anne Husick (guitar), with additional contributions from other accomplished musicians. It is a collaborative effort which ripples with invention though arguably lacks the definition and consistency to ignite the passions as often as it should.

Released though Market Square Records, the album immediately immerses the listener in its colourful creative visual canvas with In This Or Other Skin, a song of war, loss, and passion soaked in simmering despair and a melodic heart. It is impossible not to be mentally taken across the Mexican border especially with the brass cries offering their gentle mariachi caress, and with the expressive vocals of one presumes Steele and the excellent aural kisses of the vocals of Wendt, the feeling of loss wrapped in reflective emotion is a delicious weave upon the passions and an strong impressive start to the release.

The following Pureland is another smouldering kiss upon the ear, the celestial harmonies and Gregorian like chants behind the golden tones of Wendt, mesmeric to the point of being siren like. Steel guitars of some descript add an off kilter tease to the track for further pleasure further enhanced by loping percussive beats and continually shifting harmonies. It is an inspiring and evocative encounter where the use of ethnic instruments and sounds, not for the first time on the album, leave a tingle of mystique and excitement behind. Further songs within the release employ the likes of Uilleann pipes, bagpipes, ocarina, Yuet ch’in (Chinese moon guitar), Mayan drum, Wagner tuba, and darabuka, to name just some and all bring a voice and colour to the release which is irresistible.

The Secret Gardener has a psychedelic breath to its seductive stance but loses out to the previous songs due to the less successful vocals. To be honest it is hard to tell which male voice belongs to which musician across the album with no sleeve indication but here they do not match up to those in the opener which is a shame as it defuses the quality of the song rife with dramatic brass flames, reminding of latter Teardrop Explodes, and stylish blues tinged guitar. The same problem hits Dark Lover, the lead vocals assigned to Jen Elliot and sadly for her up against Wendt she struggles to light any fires, though the song is still an enterprising Eastern European spiced involvement.

Across the album there are other songs and moments which do not quite live up to others though all are close calls rather than badly conceived ideas. Further major highlights which do excel and lift the passions continue with the new single from the release Children Of The Rain, the dramatic Drug Of War, and the traditional sounding folk ballad Hanging Man. The single is a magnificent summer of melodies and emotive warmth led by a glorious five pronged lead vocal persuasion from Wendt, Jen Elliot, Steele, Ulrich, and Saskia Dommisse, and though a little New Seekers-ish it is a joyful companion for the ear and thoughts. The second of the trio grips a strong vibe of The Mission and Dead Can Dance to add to its sinewy folk march and stands as the finest moment on the album whilst Hanging Man is a haunting tale of dark shadows and sinister deeds hypnotically brought by Wendt upon heavy impassioned melancholic sounds.

With the discord joy Fanfare For The Lost Tribe and Love’s Skeleton arranging final elevated pleasures, The Painted Caravan is an excellent album, and though it has times where it goes a little awry it is in hindsight as much down to personal preferences as to missed opportunities. The album is certainly one which deserves at the very least a moment of every ones time and stands as a release to  leave the listener engaged, involved, and satisfied.


RingMaster 04/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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