All Behind The Witchtower
CD - ANKSTMUSIK (ANKSTMUSIK CD091) - Feb 2000
|Twelve tasty, tangible psychedelic delights from the extraordinary trio
The press said...
Ectogram - All Behind The Witchtower ANKSTMUSIK 091 CD
Fearlessly sporting digitally distorted loonpants on the back of their garishly designed CD sleeve, Welsh group Ectogram are torn between pastiching psychedelic whimsy ('Herald Speke', 'Cubeful') and pursuing a more adventurous creative impulse, as displayed on the ethereal 'In Shadow' and the extended last track, 'Spitsbergen", which captures the genuine essence of psychedelia without getiting mired in its surface trappings.
The Wire (March 2000)
If Blur's "13" album was the Richard E Grant of the rock world - where gifted, traditionally skilled performers clad themselves in the garb of the wilfully weird - Ectogram suffer from no such affectations. While distended and tune-free avant-garde leanings were a dominant flavour of 1999's alt-rock sector, it's abundantly clear that Ectogram would be making their casually crazed music regardless of time, space or event.
"All Behind The Witchtower" doesn't equal the title technology of Ectogram's debut, "I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae", but compensates with a haunting blend of unhinged pastoral moods and leftfield music - like The Wicker Man remade by Sonic Youth. Opener "Herald Speke" is full with sitar and ethereal, disembodied modulations. "Caught On By", on the other hand, is like Neu ! played by Kenickie - but in a good way.
Given the way that Swansea '70s prog-rockers Man were partial to titles like "2 Ounces Of Plastic With A Hole In The Middle" and "Do You Like It Here Now, Are You Settling In ?" you could argue that Ectogram's mindblown aesthetic is in some kind of Welsh tradition. The non-traditional element comes with the fact that they're actually pretty good.
Roy Wilkinson, SELECT, May 2000
ECTOGRAM - ALL BEHIND THE WITCHTOWER (Ankst)
Decent amalgam of flared-trouser noodling and experimental rock ahoy! This cauldron of druggy Krautrock and sleepy psychedelica comes from the same valleys as Gorky's, but is infinitely more obtuse.(3 stars out of 5)
Melody Makes 22/3/00
The weird and wonderful Ectogram have their second album in the shops now, called 'All Behind The Witchtower'. A little more accessibile than thier debut, it has some quite incredible moments in a krautrock-psychedelic-did-they-really-do-it-that way. Listen to it to see what you're missing
Huw Stephens, BOOBY TRAP MAGAZINE, March 2000
Ectogram - All Behind The Witchtower
Give me a quarter of hash and a looped tape of Ectogram and I'll be about as close as I'm ever likely to get to heaven. Fantastically warped, weird - fucked, even - there's something so beautiful about Ectogram, I could just listen to them forever. So this, their second album, is one of my favourite albums around at the moment. Here's why. Herald Speke; better than Mercury Rev on Valium .The title track; jangly and scary and not to be listened to with the lights off.
Cubeful; intensely wobbly Cocteau Twins-esque headfuck beauty. My favourite track of all, Cyfan Gwbl, features some beautiful steel guitar courtesy of John Lawrence, and is as pretty and sweet as a ripe peach. Fuck off rest of the family; if I want to listen to it five times in a row, I will!
Then there's Scratch, wonderfully dark tribal rhythms and truly scratchy guitar sounds.
Salted Blow is lighter in its way a bit Pink Floyd-ish, and just lively enough. Come Siglo however, it's gone all head fuck again with the deepest, slappiest bass I've heard in years. I'm grinning from ear to ear.
Rose is so twinkly and sugar sweet and downright warped, it's almost like a ballet written by the Cocteau Twins. Then there's the singalong track Caught on By. As light as a summer's breeze, it tickles your ear like a playful earwig. Come Seven Ugly Men, however the mood becomes slightly more sinister; by In Shadow, the feeling is spaced-out and terrifying.
Finally Spitsbergen 5 which we reviewed a few issues back. It's one of the longest I've heard in a very long time - 16 minutes and 21 seconds - and is an unhurried, swelling cascade of sound and rhythm. So, where do you go to find one of the most innovative, inventive bands in Britain? Easy. Just look behind the Witchtower.
Debbie Prowse, Welsh Bands Weekly, Feb 2000
ECTOGRAM ALL BEHIND THE WITCHTOWER
Er yn arloesol, mae' n anodd canfod tebygrwydd rhwng cerddoriaeth Ectogram ag unrhyw fand arall o gymru. Er eu bod nhw' n bileri' r sin Gymraeg ac wedi cydweithio a nifer o artistiaid eraill, dyw eu dylanwad ddim i' w glywed ym mhobman . Cymysgedd anghynnes o ddylanwadau gwahanol sydd i gerddoriaeth Ecotgram, ac yn y gorffenol mae' r arbrofi cyson wedi creu caneuon cymleth sy' n anodd i wrando arnyn nhw, ac yn anodd i' w deall. Nid yw hyn mor wir ar Ar Behind the Witchtower. Er eu bod nhw parhau i chwarae cerddoriaeth sydd mor wahanol i Steps ag y mae' n bosib bod, ac er na fydd pobl yn barod i wrando ar un munud ar bymtheg o Sptsberegn 5, mae hwn yn llawer mwy pleserus na rhai o' u sdwff blaenorol. Mae Ectogram yn canolbwyntio ar greu lleoliadau gyda swn, bron fel y cewch chi ar drac sain sinematig. Ac er bod rhai o' r lleoliadau hyn yn rhyfedd iawn, dyw' r gwrandawr ddim yn teimlo ei fod mewn lle cwbl ddiethr . Nid alawon pert a geiriau barddonol sydd yma ond teimladau a haenau . Os ydych chi' n chwilio am rywbeth confensiynol, cadwch draw, ond os ydych chi isio sialens gerddorol, sydd ar yr un pryd yn deimladwy, dyma' r peth i chi.
Even though they are a pioneering band it is hard to find any other welsh band that sound like Ectogram. They are pillars of the welsh scene and have collaborated with a number of artists who' s influence hasn' t filtered into the mainstream.
Ectogram' s music is a cold mixture of eclectic influences and in the past this constant experimenting has created complicated tracks that have been hard to understand and listen to. Even though they play music, which is, poles away from say Steps, and that it is unlikely that many people will want to listen to the whole of Spitsbergen 5 this album is by far the most pleasurable thing they' ve done.
Ectogram concentrate on creating soundscapes, similar to a cinematic soundtrack . Even though these soundscapes are strange the listener doesn' t feel excluded. We don' t get sweet tunes and poetic lyrics but what we get is feeling and a layering of sound. If you want something conventional then keep away, but if you want something challenging and heartfelt then this is for you .
Iwan England, GOLWG Magazine, Jan 2000
ECTOGRAM - ALL BEHIND THE WITCHTOWER
An established North Wales trio ephemerally aligned with the Gorkies, The Serpents, Y Fflaps and avant garde theatre company Brith Gof. A mesmerizing, psychedelic opus taking in such diverse influences as Faust, Pere Ubu and Sonic Youth along the way. Repetitive quirky rhythms and bleeps make for a fertile interior soundscape.
BUZZ MAGAZINE, Feb 2000
...Finally, check out Welsh oddballs Ectogram's "All Behind The Witchtower": deliciously lop-sided, psych-hippy art-rock (Ankst), abetted by ex-Gorky's guitarist John Lawrence.
David Peschek, MOJO, May 2000
Witch way now for Ectogram?
IT'S a cold. damp and miserable morning on the Northumbrian moors in the year 122. Shards of ice-tipped rain dart horizontally into the eyes of the gathered bricklayers and hod-carriers from Hadrian and Sons Builders Ltd. Apart from the inclement weather. something else is distressing the assembled builders as they sup their nettle tea, ogling a Boadicea centrefold carved into the Daily Tablet.
"Jump to It you lazy curs, get to work ... It's quite a big job this and we need to get started! " hollers the foreman, scratching a prehistoric bum cleft visible between his football tunic and leather shirt.
"But guv, I fink we forgot summink."
Everyone peers at each other through the vicious sleet for a few seconds trying to work out who has forgotten what.
"It's the bricks. guy. we forgot the bricks!"
And, just as Hadrian's men couldn't build their wall without a pile ofbricks. so it proves impossible tobuild a radio programme without records.
I have alluded to the traditional downturn in decent recorded output during the Christmas period a few times in recent weeks. This year. however. it's been like searching for waterfalls in the Kalahari. Imagine my delight, then. when a veritable Pacific Ocean of a record dropped through my, letterbox.
All Behind the Witchtower is the magnificent second album from arch Welsh psychedelicists Ectogram. If the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and Stereophonics are the immense, well-trodden mountains that dominate the Welsh musical landscape, Ectogram are the intricate, hidden, magical grottoes and caverns that spiral below the surface.
Coalesced around the talents of Ann Matthews, Alan Holmes and Maeyc Hewitt, Ectogram cannot help but invert and twist your expectations. For a start, like the Doors, they are a band with out a bass player. This is most apparent live when the absence of a gelatinous bass throb frees Ectogram to travel in a million and one spidery directions that other bands weighed down with a bass player could not reach.
Ectogram's idiosyncratic disregard for the cliches and idioms of rock'n'roll was exemplified on their debut album 'I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae'. NME described them as being "the in sound from way. way out - and Mojo stated that "reggae is just about the only, thing this intimidating Krautrock-folk crossover definitely isn't."
The most striking aspect of 'I Can't Believe It's Not Reggae', and a hallmark of Alan Holmes' collaborative project The Serpents as well, is that such disparate influences are taken in a seemingly chaotic manner. but always put together in a cohesive way. The debut album and the preceding EPs secured the band an international reputation that has led to support slots with such renowned bands and musicians as Pavement, Faust and Beck at the request and instigation of the headline acts themselves.Their relative anonymity in Britain isn't about to be challenged by the release of 'All Behind the 'Witchtower. Unfortunately our radio and TV stations and the bulk of our printed media haven't the vision to trumpet anything so subversive or experimental.
The real beauty of Witchtower, however, is that it manages to mix its avant-garde aspirations with a broad-based accessibility. Like the Cocteau Twins. or some of Stereolab's more cohesive moments. there are many incandescent bursts of true beauty on this record that would find favour with the most conservative pair of cars: the initial backwards vortex of 'Herald Speke', 'Cyfan Gwbl's lilting Welsh country and Western, Ann's voice surfing over the top of 'Scratch' like a silver dew.
And then. to finish the album off, the epic 'Spitsbergen 5' which is about as accessible as a paddling pool full of ravenous piranha. but totally magnificent. It's the sound of fractals, Tom Verlaine jamming with Schoenberg in the middle of a thrumming factory.All Behind the Witchtower is the first great album of the new millennium and will be released on February 21 on AnkstMUSIC.
Now, can I have some more bricks like this one please?
(Adam Walton, Daily Post 07.01.2000)
"I'm afraid Ectogram are just a little too wierd for me".
Kitty Empire - NME (via e-mail)
ECTOGRAM - All Behind The Witchtower
Ankstmusick CD 091 (71:36)
The sleeve is garish enough to induce an acid flashback, but the music on Ectogram's second album will surely send old hippies scurrying for cover. Coming at you from the Welsh art-rock underground - guitarist Alan Holmes is a one-time producer of the equally twisted Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, while Ann Matthews has performed with the eventgarde theatre groups Brith Gof and Camre Cain - "All Behind The Witchtower" features just about everything but the kitchen sink.
The opener. 'Herald Speke", is like the Fabs' "Across The Universe ~ over-indulging on the old magic mushroooms - backwards guiltars, sitars and a general air of "Wow. man".
Things don't get any more coherent, as bleepy keyboards and pedal-steel take it in turns to confuse, while Matthews' husky caterwauling adds a suitably jarring note to the proceedings. On "Cyfan Gwbi", Ectogram are hoping to found their own genre. Cymru Psych, anybody?
Martin O'Gorman, Record Collector.
ALL BEHIND THE WITCHTOWER - Ectogram (Ankstmuzik)
WELSH-LANGUAGE subversives Ectogram have the ability to compose some curiously innovative psychedelic grooves. Their event garde approach to songwriting does occasionally provide interesting results, but despite their best intentions they sadly miss the direction and vocal presence that could lift these predominantly instrumental works to greater heights. They might purposefully aim to mess with your head but as soon as Ann Matthews raises her frail, offkey voice into the mix it's a little too painful on the ears. 5/10
Christopher Rees, Western Mail 19.02.00