material for tape labels such as M&E. Their song here is Star Wars, brilliant quirky noisepop inspired by the eponymous sci-fi movie. Hawkwind offshoot Judge Trev's Inner City Unit set scathing political lyrics to an energetic and aggressive combination of punk and metal. Sleepy People had an inventive sound best described as 'indie-prog'; some of its members later went on to achieve some success under the name of Ultrasound. Star Period Star make dissonant, angular and energetic music with prog, punk and noise aspects. Pornorphans were another favourite back in the late 90s, excellent well-crafted alternative rock with strong melodies and a dark, edgy atmosphere. For some reason I thought Edition Grundmann-Neubert were an electronic band, but their track here is a folky/bluegrassy guitar instrumental. Body Full of Stars are another band from the Stone Premonitions collective. Their track combines cutting social commentary with a classic melodic rock sound that incorporates aspects of funk and blues. Grover appear with Oil-Acrylic, an indierock meets post-rock sort of thing with spoken vocals and unpredictable changes. Sirenee play medieval-tinged dark folk with twin female vocals, which is very beautiful. This band somehow managed to escape my attention at the time, though if their other material is anything like this I would definitely like to hear more. The Tutsis have come up with the ingenious idea of bringing together the chug and snarl of punk with impressively executed jazz sax. This punk-jazz combination works way better than you may expect. Vocabularinist's Seasick Spirit consists of a bunch of brutal abstract noise for the first minute or so, and thus wasn't a track I expected to care much for, but then it unexpectedly changed direction, morphing into an inventive off-centre noisepop track pairing howling feedback with Rhodes piano. Karda Estra combine dreampop, neoclassical and experimental music in a creative way. I don't tend to associate M&E with the classic jangly 80s-ish indiepop sound; whenever they did put out anything that came under the 'indie' umbrella, it was generally from the harder-edged subgenres such as noisepop or indierock, or otherwise bands who combined indiepop with a surrealistic sense of humour. However, an exception to this rule is Garfield's Birthday, whose Peepshow has all the hallmarks of prime period indiepop. They're still active today of course, with Simon Felton from the band also running Pink Hedgehog Records, which has released lots of great indiepop, psych-pop and powerpop since the 1990s. Alex Hayes and Blaine Jones make engaging avant-garde music combining spoken word with effectively repetitive instrumentation. Shay appear with an excellent ethereal yet strongly melodic song entitled The Red Earth. The genre it comes closest to is dreampop, though they are basically doing their own thing outside of existing genres. One of the members of Shay was Stephen Robson, formerly of Punishment of Luxury. The band have since changed their name to Shay Tal, and recorded for Stone Premonitions. The sheer diversity of the music here means others will no doubt have other favourite tracks. Some of the other styles represented here include electronica, melodic punk, goth, bizarre experimentation, metal, rap-metal, and various sounds on the drone/soundscape/sound manipulation continuum. For more information on this near-exhaustive compendium of who was who in the 80s and 90s underground tapes milieu, visit


Flashbax Ω Ultimate

CDR (Klappstuhl)
Anyone who's been acquainted with the underground tapes scene for any length of time will surely be aware of Magic Moments at Twilight Time, the band founded by Mick Magic, who also headed up one of the world's largest tape labels, Music and Elsewhere. MMATT released a number of cassettes and a CD on M&E and also promoted their music via other tape labels with their Flashbax series. This new MMATT retrospective was compiled as an ultimate edition of Flashbax, covering all the band's different line-ups during their cassette-only era between 1987 and 1992. The album is released on one of those faux-vinyl black CDRs and features a 4 page booklet with background information on the tracks' original release history. MMATT were generally classed as a spacerock band, though their inventive approach also took on board elements of pop, punk, post-punk, rock 'n' roll, experimental music, and beyond. State of the Art is a kind of post-punk spacerock, in which whooshing analogue synths collide with forceful chugging guitars. Story X brings together elements of early 80s synthpop, psychedelia and experimental music. Pandora is classy electropop with an experimental edge and lashings of mindbending electronic effects. In Traveller II, glitchy DIY Casio-pop meets swirling experimental psychedelic electronica, topped off with sci-fi lyrics that totally suit the retro-futuristic nature of the music. Psychojolting is punk rock 'n' roll with the addition of whirring retro synths. Get Into the Dream Cream is catchy punky noisepop with explicit erotic lyrics - definitely not for prudes! Bewitched combines gothic spacerock with an avant garde pop sensibility. Spirit is dark-edged underground pop with a strong flamenco influence. Whether their songs are about aliens, sex or witchcraft, MMATT sound like they're having tons of fun, making the album just as much fun to listen to. A download edition with 6 extra tracks and a 24 page PDF booklet is available at Bandcamp and the CD version at Discogs. The CD edition also includes a download code to obtain the bonus material. Further information on MMATT and M&E at

If all goes according to plan, the Bliss / Aquamarine webzine will be completely up and running again by the time this goes online, albeit with Kim taking on a considerably reduced workload. She's interested in hearing from bands involved in the underground and independent worlds (mostly those in the fields of indiepop, folk, psychedelic and related subgenres), producing CD's, CDR's, vinyl or cassettes. I'm afraid she's another of that ever-growing number of folks that won't accept digital files (mp3's, links et al), so I'm not sure where that will leave us with the next MMATT project (which is planned to be an online serial with no hard copy until the whole thing is out there), but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Threaten to boil her pet rabbit or something. In the meantime, you can make contact with Kim via the BLISS / AQUAMARINE WEBSITE (on which there is a substantial archive from the zine, both paper days and web) or the BLISS / AQUAMARINE FACEBOOK PAGE (you don't need a Facebook account to view these, but will to message her). Oh, and say hi from us!