About as Curious as It Can Be (2002)

Gryphon is an English band that is relatively well known, but mostly for their 1974 album “Red Queen to Gryphon Three”. Their other albums like “Midnight Mushrumps” and “Raindance”, while generally not as well received, have more of folky or medieval vibe that I appreciate a great deal more than the symphonic stylings of Red Queen. This is an instrumental live album focusing on material from those other albums, released in 2002 but drawn from a couple of BBC sessions recorded in 1974 and 75. It’s definitely not a perfect album, in fact the middle section is quite poor in my opinion. However, superb epic tracks like “Midnight Mushrumps”, “Ethelion” and especially “Ein Klein Heldenleben” make up the bulk of the sets and are just as good or better than their studio album versions. The bassoon playing on this album is some of the best I’ve heard, so if you’re a sucker for some awesome bassoon (as I am) you’re sure to find something you like. One point of note: the first song is called “Renaissance Dance Medley” which is ridiculous and may be the worst song title I’ve ever heard, but please don’t let that stop you from giving this a chance.


First ep (Creation records 1991)

I picked this up at 3rd St. Jazz and Rock in Philadelphia as a curious high schooler and this ep really blew open my synapses. God, I miss that store. I can’t imagine a better playground for a teenage music junkie as it offered easy access to many of the artists I love today.

Moonshake was formed from a dubious well. Dave Callahan was the most “recognizable” figure inthe band, but his previous project The Wolfhounds, were responsible for a bunch of mediocre C86 era music that was promising, but ultimately disappointing. Salvation came in the form of Margaret Fiedler and John Frenett who pushed the envelope by adding elements of dub while taking the lethargic shoegaze scene to louder territories explored only by My Bloody Valentine and the Telescopes. Their usage of samples and electronic loops made the ep even more trailblazing in comparison with contemporaries hailed by the NME and Melody Maker.

It isn’t surprising that Fiedler and Frenett went on to form Laika as the seeds of their love of oddball dubby electronic pop songs were apparent on some of these tracks. However, I always loved how this ep was recorded because it would suddenly jump from calm to chaos as the guitars would shift into full-on noise on a few occasions. I loved how they jumped from mellow and ethereal to nasty and belligerent in a split-second. Their follow-up, Big Good Angel amplified the dub and electronic musings over the psychedelic road, but it somehow worked better. They left to form Laika, but Moonshake were still pretty good, but missed Fiedler’s vocals.