album list


P.G. Six  (US)

Slightly Sorry  (2007,  38.53)  ****

P.G. Six are effectively Pat Gubler plus friends, whose fourth album, 2007's Slightly Sorry, condenses a slew of folk-rock influences into an appealing stew of acoustic and electric guitars, male and female vocals and all kinds of Fairport Convention-esque things, without actually sounding like a Transatlantic clone (there might be a joke in there, had Fairport been on Transatlantic. Sorry). It's all good, but its top track has to be the beautiful Lily Of The West, sounding exactly like the kind of English folk ballad that Fairport might have tackled around Angel Delight. Actually, it's credited to that wealthiest of songwriters, Trad. Arr, so it's probably sheer bad luck that didn't lead Fairport to it, er, nearly forty years earlier. Gubler plays all manner of elderly keyboards, including alleged Mellotron, although, given that its one probable sighting is the rather un-Mellotronic cellos and flutes on Strange Messages, I think we have to assume samples.

P-Model  (Japan)

Fune  (1995,  50.11)  **½

Susumu Hirasawa formed Mandrake in 1973 (although their two albums'-worth of recordings were only released in the late '90s), most of their members going on, towards the end of the decade, to become one of Japan's premier technopop outfits, P-Model. 1995's Fune is their eleventh album, a mix of very synthetic and more organic material, pianos sitting side-by-side with up-to-the-minute synths, although the bulk of the album's contents are too generic to make much headway in the international market. Somebody plays sampled Mellotron strings and flutes on Julia Bird and flutes on closer Home, although the various choir sounds used on the album sound more like generic samples than Mellotron ones. Fans of YMO and other Japanese synth outfits might find something to like in P-Model, but I think the rest of us can safely leave them to their home market.

Paatos  (Sweden)

Sensors  (2008,  42.50)  ****½
Breathing  (2011,  50.03)  ***½

Regular readers of this site should be no strangers to Paatos, the band that rose from the ashes of Landberk to take Swedish prog into the 2000s. After three albums and increasingly finding their own voice, the band opted for a live release, 2008's Sensors. It's an efficient summation of their career to date, the tracks recorded across three dates from the previous year's European tour, the Japanese edition adding no fewer than two extras, irritatingly for their European fans. With no bad tracks on board, picking out highlights is difficult, although the nine minutes of Sensor itself (from their 2002 debut) might just tip the balance. Johan Wallén adds Mellotron string samples to just about every track, plus occasional flutes, some hanging chords at the ends of a couple of songs giving the game away. When I saw this lot in 2003, they used their weird, baby-blue M400, but I'd heard it had been sold, so the samples are hardly a surprise. Anyway, if you haven't heard the band before, this is probably an ideal starting point, squeezing several of their best compositions onto one disc without actually being a compilation.

Two founding members, Wallén and Stefan Dimle, left in 2009, severing the band's last links with Landberk. After recording and rejecting an album's-worth of material, the new lineup released Breathing in early 2011, widely reputed to be 'not prog', although the audio evidence tells me they've got a long way to go before they can shuck off the term. Thankfully. Saying that, material like the title track and Smärtan are rather more 'mainstream', albeit without tipping over into pop territory, but older fans shouldn't get too panicky. Samplotron strings on several tracks, but it really isn't sounding particularly real any more. What's the betting they'll drop it by next time round?

Chase Pagan  (US)

Bells & Whistles  (2009,  42.41)  **

Chase Pagan apparently started out as an emo/nu-metal type whom, after having a generic album rejected by Geffen, reinvented himself as an indie/singer-songwriter type, which certainly seems to be more his forte, going by his second release, 2009's Bells & Whistles. I wouldn't actually take that as a recommendation, mind, just that his voice would be even less well-suited to his original oeuvre. It isn't much of an album, frankly; the occasional interesting arrangement ideas (notably at the ends of Warrior and Search) are spoiled by Pagan's awful whiny voice, the nearest the album gets to a highpoint being the jaunty John & Betty, which stands out as, if not actually particularly good, at least fairly original. Chad Copelin plays samplotron, with pitchbent strings on Gun And The Sword, flutes and strings on Bring Down The Day and cellos and flutes on Just Fine.

Gregory Page  (US)

Love Made Me Drunk  (2004,  41.51)  ***

Love Made Me Drunk is all faux-French accordions and lovelorn paeans to Paris, although it comes across as more of an American's idea of the city; saying that, what do I know? Gregory Page could well know the place intimately. Martin Greaves' Mellotron only obviously crops up on Rose Colored Heart, with a flute part that doesn't fully convince.

Florent Pagny  (France)

Châtelet les Halles  (2000,  56.59)  **½

Like Patrice, Florent is one of those French names which sounds feminine, but isn't. Florent Pagny's sixth album, Châtelet les Halles, is a mainstream French-language singer-songwriter effort, perfectly acceptable within its boundaries, if a rather dull listen for outsiders. Best track? The gentle La Legende De Carlos Gardel. Alexandre Azaria plays samplotron strings on La Solitude.

Pain of Salvation  (Sweden)

Road Salt One  (2010,  50.18)  ***

Daniel Gildenlöw's Pain of Salvation have been around in one form or another since the mid-'80s, when Gildenlöw was all of eleven, releasing seven albums since the late '90s. 2010's Road Salt One gets Planet Mellotron brownie points for not sounding like Dream Theater, unlike most of the copycat bands all too happy to align themselves with prog-metal, although I find it difficult to actually describe the album, which contains elements of avant-prog, folk and psych alongside the expected riffy guitars and block-chord strings, online fans bemoaning its lack of similarity to their previous work. Well done, Pain of Salvation, is all I have to say. Fredrik Hermansson plays keys, including (allegedly) Mellotron, but a cursory listen to the background male choirs on Curiosity and Road Salt itself tell you that a real M400 came nowhere near the studio during recording. For some odd reason, initial copies of the album were some minutes longer, featuring an extra track at the beginning and several extended (or unedited) versions. If that version was good enough for their fans, why is it not good enough for everyone? I'm not sure I can actually recommend this album as such, but I applaud the band's decision to head for pastures new and leave a moribund genre behind them.

Liz Painter Band  (US)

Home Before Dark  (2007,  24.34)  **½

Home Before Dark is a rather twee singer-songwriter effort, barely out of 'EP' territory and into 'mini-album'. I have no idea why Chris Burton might be credited with Mellotron.

Palaxy Tracks  (US)

Cedarland  (2003,  48.21)  ***
Twelve Rooms  (2005,  51.45)  ***

Palaxy Tracks named themselves for an amusing fossil hoax of the 1930s in the Paluxy River area, still used by Christian scientific ignoramuses (most of them? All of them?) to 'prove' the Old Testament's version of events. The band hail from Chicago, despite originating in Austin, Texas and seem to play a kind of Americana-informed indie, which is actually a lot better than it sounds. 2003's Cedarland is at its best on Walking Backwards, the punky Girls On Bikes and the eight-minute The Awful Truth, although Dave Crawford's supposed Mellotron, which finally kicks in during the dying minutes of the album, is no more than a sampled flute part. 2005's Twelve Rooms keeps up the quality, better tracks including opener Speech With Animals, Grey Snake (hey! British spelling!), The Criminal Mind and the near-ambient, lengthy instrumental title track that closes the album. They also tackle Leonard Cohen's Seems So Long Ago, Nancy, for fans of Smiling Len. The only obvious 'Mellotron' on the album is on Grey Snake, presumably played by Tim Rutili, although it's hardly a groundbreaking performance, consisting of a sampled background string.

Pale  (Germany)

Another Smart Move  (1999,  37.09)  **½

Pale (presumably pronounced as two syllables) are a German indie outfit, at the pop/punk end of the spectrum, going by what appears to be their debut, 1999's Another Smart Move. Most of its contents refuse to step outside their somewhat narrow remit, although the brief, gentle Midwest Hits South is pleasant enough, but the bulk of the material here is pretty tedious stuff, if I'm going to be honest (which I unerringly am, frequently at the risk of abusive e-mails). Christian Dang is credited with Mellotron on My Slow-Time September, but the handful of flute notes evident on the track sound about as genuine as you might expect from a band who almost certainly had no access to a real machine. So why credit it? Anyway, I doubt whether you'll like this any more than I did.

Owen Pallett  (Canada)

Heartland  (2010,  46.26)  ***

Owen Pallett's classical background has stood him in good stead subsequently, as he's used his violin training to do something interesting with the instrument, feeding it through looping pedals and other effects. His third album, 2010's Heartland, is the first to be released under his name, rather than as Final Fantasy; a good move, methinks. It's a surprisingly effective release, combining elements of 19th- and 20th-century classical music, modern pop, musical theatre and even a smidgeon of the avant-garde, several tracks being a very long way from easy listening. Lyrically, the whole thing's apparently a concept piece, which Pallett has described as 'preposterous'. Who am I to argue? He plays 'Mellotron' himself, with sampled flutes on Oh Heartland, Up Yours!

Pangée  (Québec)

Hymnemonde  (1995,  47.14)  ***½

It would seem that Québec's Pangée produced just the one album in the mid-'90s, Hymnemonde, then simply disappeared. Interestingly, it's difficult to pin down, style-wise; to the band's credit, they don't really sound like anybody at all. Maybe their (relative) cultural isolation had something to do with this; after all, (listenable) Québecois progressive rock has been pretty thin on the ground since the late '70s, so the band seem to have developed their own instrumental style, based around clean guitar, tricky rhythms and pad-like keyboard work. Difficult to pick out album highlights; suffice to say, despite a certain low-budgetness, it's actually a pretty good listen and a long way from the sort of neo-prog nonsense that their countrymen were producing at the time. I'm actually having serious doubts as to the veracity of Jean-François Bergeron's 'Mellotron' here, though; one minute the strings on Cataracte sound a lot like the mighty Mellotron, the next the same strings on Le Sanctuaire D'Euterpe sound more like string samples until they get into the lower registers. And as for the choir on the same track... Mellotron or non-Mellotron? Samples? Generic sounds? Hard to say.

Panoptikon Orchestra  (Sweden)

The Joyless Street  (2004,  37.28)  ***½

The Panoptikon Orchestra appears to be a nom-de-plume for noted Swedish soundtrack composer Matti Bye, The Joyless Street being his music for the 1925 silent film of the same name. Unsurprisingly, it stirs folk, jazz and klezmer influences (amongst others) into a stew of dark Mitteleuropan weirdness, in a 'carnival gone wrong' kind of way. Highlights? All of it. Kristian Holmgren plays what sound like MkII Mellotron rhythm tape samples (and other sounds?) on Valse Noire Automatique.

Pantaleimon  (UK)

The Butterfly Ate the Pearl  (2013,  46.37)  ***

It seems that The Butterfly Ate the Pearl is Andria Degens' fifth album as Pantaleimon, a drifting, drone-folk record that owes a massive debt to the trippiest end of the late '60s. Saying that, this haunting, evocative album is a fine antidote to the raft of indie nonsense that's been polluting the scene for the past couple of decades. Jay Darlington (Kula Shaker, Oasis) is credited with Mellotron, but the massed samplotron flutes on the title track and choirs on Summer Reigns tell another story.

Panthers  (US)

Things Are Strange  (2004,  50.12)  **½

Panthers are a Brooklyn-based hardcore band who defy the genre's 'rules' by slowing down and giving their music more of a groove. I'm not saying you'll necessarily like this, just what it is. Their second album, 2004's Things Are Strange, irritated me almost immediately, largely due to Jayson Green's infuriatingly tuneless vocals and the band's insistence on one-dimensional riffing when I'm sure they're capable of actually doing something interesting. And why are the songs so bloody long? Nine tracks in fifty minutes? Four over seven minutes? Closer Weird Birds is about the best of a fairly sorry selection, managing to find a decent riff halfway through and some genuine power, but that's not really much of a recommendation. Simon Wojan guests on trumpet and keys, including samplotron, with rather discreet strings, briefly, on Walk Of Shame.

Pantommind  (Bulgaria)

Shade of Fate  (2005,  49.56)  **½

I know I shouldn't be unkind to very competent bands from countries a long way from musical centres, but Bulgaria's Pantommind's entirely generic prog-metal sounds like a straight cross between Queensrÿche and the more melodic bits of Dream Theater. In fairness, it's not exactly a top genre in their own country, making it difficult for the band to release anything at all, so it's quite a bonus that their first non-demo full-length release, 2005's Shade of Fate, is as professional as it is, to the point where you'd have no idea they weren't American if you didn't know. A bloke calling himself Scaldor allegedly plays 'Mellotron, Moog, ARP and other analogue synthesizers'. Oh yeah? Well, the 'Mellotron' goes no further than some generic string patches which barely even qualify as samples and I can't say I spotted anything else even slightly analogue-like. So; it's borderline whether this should be here at all, but if you're keeping an eye open for prog-metal that's better than, say, Germany's tedious Vanden Plas, you could probably do a lot worse than to investigate Pantommind.

The Pantones  (US)

Sleepless Nights, Silent Mornings  (2005,  60.37)  **½

Sleepless Nights, Silent Mornings sits somewhere in between powerpop, Americana and singer-songwriter territory, although the bulk of this overlong record drifts along without managing to imprint anything of itself onto your consciousness. Best track? The propulsive This End Of The Phone, also the home to the album's 'Mellotron' work, from David Baldwin, with occasional deeply inauthentic flutes.

Stefano Panunzi  (Italy)

Timelines  (2005,  65.26)  **½

Timelines is a real genre mash-up of an album, throwing ambient, progressive, post-rock, electronica, jazz and dub into the mix, in an 'evening listening' kind of way. Does it work? Not to my ears, but what do I know? Sampletron strings here and there, notably right at the end of the album.

Paper Chase  (US)

Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know  (2000,  52.07)  **½

The Paper Chase are Texas-based producer John Congleton's project, whose first full album, 2000's Young Bodies Heal Quickly, You Know, is probably best described as 'skronky indie', although I'm sure the band's fans would (and possibly will) object to such an oversimplification. The samples are noisy, the vocals are shouty, the riffs are angular, but not in a good way. Congleton's credited with Chamberlin on Ever Since The Turn, with a sustained flute note near the beginning and choir chords here and there that sound more like a Mellotron to my ears. Samples, says I.

Paper Route  (US)

Absence  (2009,  49.57)  *

Paper Route (as Americans, doubtless pronounced to rhyme with 'shout' rather than 'shoot') play the worst kind of indie/dance crossover, going by their sole album to date, 2009's Absence. Opener Enemy Among Us is best described as shit electro/indie, I suppose, the rest of the album drifting between the two styles indiscriminately, making for one of the most depressing listening experiences I've had to suffer all month, which, given that I'm currently exclusively reviewing current releases, really is saying something. Chad Howat plays samplotron, with flutes on opener Enemy Among Us. Just think, had I known that in advance, I could've skip-played the bulk of this crummy, crummy album. I shall never retrieve those fifty minutes [sob].

Papercuts  (US)

Fading Parade  (2011,  37.42)  **

Papercuts are essentially San Franciscan Jason Quever's solo project, helped out by friends. 2011's Fading Parade is possibly his/their fourth album, doubtless intended as some form of transcendental pop, but coming off as a strange combination of upbeat and dreary: lots of major keys, yet a rather depressing overall sound. Or is it just that I don't like it? I have to say, I really don't like it, actually; in Quever's company, thirty-seven minutes sounds more like an hour, his wispy, breathy, occasionally falsetto vocals making me gnash my teeth in irritation. No, there are no best tracks. Someone (probably keys man David Enos) plays samplotron cellos on Chills, actually taking a solo in the middle of the track. Whatever.

Parallel Worlds  (Greece)

Far Away Light  (2005,  69.41)  **½

According to Discogs, Athens' Parallel Worlds play 'downtempo/ambient/dark electronica', although, to my untutored ear, it bears a strong resemblance to trancey EM on Far Away Light. Not unpleasant, but seventy minutes of this stuff is about thirty too many. Obvious samplotron strings on sixteen-minute closer Fading Memories.

Friedrich Paravicini  (France)

Mr. Mandom  (2011,  30.50)  ***

Despite his German-Italian name, Friedrich Paravicini is a French cellist/general all-rounder, Mr. Mandom being his second solo release. All-instrumental, it's got a 'Gallic film soundtrack' feel to it, all noir and twangy, Bond soundtrack guitars, the impression reinforced by the pieces' relative brevity. Paravicni's credited with Mellotron on two tracks, but the flutes on Tema Di Rima and Dolce Crudele are clearly nothing of the sort.

Elena Moon Park & Friends  (US)

Rabbit Days & Dumplings  (2012,  50.04)  ***

Elena Moon Park is an Asian/American musician and educator, whose Kickstarter-funded Rabbit Days & Dumplings is a very sweet album of, as she puts in on her website, 'all-ages folk and children's music from East Asia'. In my ignorance, I'll admit I don't know which language(s) from the region many of the songs are in, although some are partially or wholly sung in English, not least the amusing Ti Oh Oh, a tale of a minor domestic dispute between grandparents over cooking styles. Musically, Park has discovered an invisible wormhole connecting SE Asian and country music, not to mention the occasional jazzy touch, which works far better than you might expect. Although Rob Friedman's credited with Mellotron, the flute parts on Tum Tum Chuen and Anta Gata Doko Sa are sampled.

Patrick Park  (US)

Loneliness Knows My Name  (2003,  40.48)  **½
Everyone's in Everyone  (2007,  40.27)  **½

Patrick Park is an Americana-influenced singer-songwriter, whose debut album, 2003's Loneliness Knows My Name veers off into near-MOR territory too often for comfort. I suspect that's more to do with his then label, Hollywood, who are very mainstream indeed, than his own inclinations, but it's hard to say. Don't get me wrong, it has its moments (Past Poisons almost rocks out for a minute), but Park's rather insipid voice tends to drag most of the material down to the same level. Michael Krassner allegedly plays Mellotron, but I'll be buggered if I can hear where. After an interim live release, Park followed up with 2007's Everyone's in Everyone, not dissimilar to its predecessor in its shallow take on the singer-songwriter genre; the closing title track's probably the best thing here, but I'm afraid that isn't saying much. Brandon Bush on samplotron this time round, with flutes on the title track.

Zeena Parkins & Ikue Mori  (US)

Phantom Orchard  (2004,  39.20)  ***

Zeena Parkins is a harpist who's stepped way outside most players' comfort zone, having worked with the likes of Björk, John Zorn and Fred Frith, while Ikue Mori is a Japanese-born drummer who operates mainly in the New York Tzadik label scene. What both women clearly have in common is a disregard for doing things the way they 'should' be done, being more interested in finding new routes. Their 2004 collaboration, Phantom Orchard, is a highly experimental work involving synthesized sounds, plus the occasional actual harp or percussion part, which is probably only going to appeal to the more avant-garde crowd, although that isn't to dismiss this fascinating album in any way. Parkins is credited with Mellotron, but the only things on the album that even might be one are the distant strings and possible other stuff on Ghostlake, although they could be pretty much any modern keyboard, to be honest. Far more exciting then the Mellotron, though, are Parkins' synths of choice, among them a Moog III modular, a Buchla 200 and a Gleeman Pentaphonic Clear. Gleemans (Gleemen?) are rare enough in any form, but they only built a few perspex ones, not that its case affects its sound in any way, of course. Enough synth fan-boyness.

Aaron Parks  (US)

Invisible Cinema  (2008,  54.56)  ***½

Aaron Parks is a young American jazz pianist who, like many similar, involves himself in various projects as both sideman and leader. 2008's Invisible Cinema is his fifth solo album (he's recorded well over a dozen as a sideman to date), consisting of thoughtful piano jazz that rarely heads off into 'jazz solo hell', for which I am truly grateful. Parks' compositional skills are formidable, memorable melodies to the fore on many tracks, with some great prog moves from guitarist Mike Moreno on Harvesting Dance. Parks plays samplotron himself, with a background flute line on Nemesis.

Matthew Parmenter  (US)

Astray  (2004,  68.14)  ****
Horror Express  (2008,  60.14)  ****

Throughout the '90s, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Parmenter was the leading light in US progsters Discipline, releasing one live and two studio albums, including the excellent Unfolded Like Staircase. Although the band are now history, Parmenter is still very much active, releasing his first solo album, Astray, in 2004. Downbeat and intensely personal, the album's tempos rarely rise above adagio, while the ghosts of Discipline's Peter Hammill/Van der Graaf influences still hover in the background, particularly on Modern Times, though not enough to actively intrude. The seven lengthy pieces unfold slowly, driven (albeit slowly) by Parmenter's ever-present piano, with other keyboards appearing when necessary. Parmenter actually plays every instrument on the album except, strangely, bass, so that must be his violin on Some Fear Growing Old, not to mention the infrequent drum parts. Very suspect 'Mellotron' on four tracks, to the point where this has been sent to 'samples' without its supper; largely strings, although there's a flute part in Distracted and some choirs in Dirty Mind. Mostly used with great subtlety, the samplotron is even more startling when it leaps to the front of the mix, as at the beginning of the longest track, Modern Times.

Four years on, Parmenter follows up with the even more Hammillesque Horror Express, following in its predecessor's footsteps. He's not lying; much of this piano-heavy album could be used to soundtrack a 'scary rather than bloody' horror flick, although it has its more upbeat moments, notably Polly New. The Jacksonesque sax work on All Done (Horror Express) is possibly a Van der Graaf too far, but the album's well worth the four-year wait, despite its lack of originality. Rather more minor samplotron use this time round, with occasional strings on opener In The Dark, more of the same on O Cesare, strings and choirs on Polly New and closer The Cutting Room. Would it be unfair of me, though, to say, "Matthew, old son, please could you develop your own voice?". Like its predecessor, this is an excellent album, but it's an excellent Peter Hammill album and I want to hear a Matthew Parmenter record.

Pas Chic Chic  (Québec)

Au Contraire  (2008,  37.53)  ***½

Pas Chic Chic's Au Contraire is that rare thing, an album influenced by French '60s pop that isn't a pile of okapi dung, quite possibly down to the band's refusal to do that awful fey Stereolab/Saint Etienne thing, actually sounding far more 'genuine' in the process. It's difficult to pick out best tracks, as the quality of most of the material's pretty high, but the slightly Morricone-esque En Chaine Et En Vogue and the guitar-heavy Vous Comprenez Pourquoi call attention to themselves. Marie-Douce and Roger Tellier-Craig both play samplotron, given away by the high string note at one point that's held far too long, not to mention multiple examples of notes going right up to A (the Mellotron's top note is an F). For what it's worth, opener Haute Infidélité is smothered in strings, with flutes and strings on Tes Clichés Déclenchés, strings on En Chaine Et En Vogue, less upfront strings on Aude Aux Ondes and Vous Comprenez Pourquoi and choirs on Brise Méprise, finishing with another major string part, plus cellos on closer Plein Soleil.

Passenger  (UK)

Whispers  (2014,  41.17)  ***

Mike "Passenger" Rosenberg took his moniker from the Brighton-based band of the same name (appallingly stylised '/Passenger.') that he used to front. I've heard of the power of a brand name, but isn't this taking it a little too far? Anyway, his fifth solo release, 2014's Whispers, is the kind of folk-pop album that sells to people who generally don't like folk-pop, although Rosenberg's smoky tones quickly grate; I mean, you can hear the cigarette smoke hitting the mic. No, this isn't a good thing. Perhaps I'm being a little unfair; some of the lyrics are excellent (notably the superb Bullets), but the music is pretty anodyne, Rosenberg's acoustic guitar embellished with strings in a way that really doesn't make him sound like Nick Drake. Chris Vallejo is credited with Mellotron on closer Scare Away The Dark, but if the background strings on the track, under the brass, are supposed to be it, well... That's why this is in 'samples'. Somewhat unexciting then; three stars for trying and for not being fucking Mumford & Sons.

Patrice  (Germany)

One  (2010,  47.14/87.13)  **½

Patrice Bart-Williams is generally described as 'Afro-German', his father hailing from Sierra Leone. 2010's One is his sixth studio album, containing a combination of reggae (clearly the style he favours above all others), R&B and generic English-language singer-songwriter stylings. To be honest, I find that most of the material here works better in the handful of acoustic versions on the second disc of the limited edition, stripped of their genre tropes. Patrice allegedly plays Mellotron, with faint choirs here and there, notably on Situation, plus strings on New Day and a repeating chord sequence with absolutely no variation on Nobody Else's; very difficult to achieve on a real machine. All in all, perfectly good at what it does, but no great excitement for the typical Planet Mellotron reader.

Pattern is Movement  (US)

The (Im)possibility of Longing  (2004,  25.59)  ***

Although I believe the band's sound has changed as their membership has contracted, on their 2004 debut, The (Im)possibility of Longing, Pattern is Movement are quite clearly a math-rock outfit, reminding me in places of my old pals The Monsoon Bassoon, themselves heavily influenced by unwilling math-rock gods Don Caballero. A review of this on Amazon says that towards the end it made the reviewer, "...Feel like jamming my desklamp down my throat", apparently a compliment. I wouldn't go quite that far, but then, when you've heard the more angular end of '70s prog, a little dissonance, stop/start rhythm work and offbeat riffery is no big deal. It's actually a perfectly good (mini-)album, with enough content to satisfy genre fans, although, like most math-rock, it comes across as rather cold to the non-aficionado, lacking the depth of the aforementioned '70s prog outfits. Andrew Thiboldeaux plays sampled Mellotron on several tracks, notably the flutes and strings on opener Non Servium and flutes and cellos on brief closer Postlude, with flutes used elsewhere. For such a rigid, stratified genre, math-rock is surprisingly popular; my limited live exposure to the real deal has been more impressive than actually enjoyable as such. If you go for this stuff and haven't encountered Pattern is Movement, though, they do it with aplomb, at least on this release.

Polly Paulusma  (UK)

Fingers & Thumbs  (2007,  48.48)  **

Polly Paulusma's Fingers & Thumbs is her second studio album, although her second actual release, 2005's Cosmic Rosy Spine Kites, seems to be one of those 'mostly new material played live' efforts. This is thoroughly bland, I'm afraid to say, many of its songs too long for their musical content, notably the needlessly wordy All The Time and the title track. I'm sure this is mostly about the lyrics, but without an interesting musical base to support them, I'm not sure I can see the point. Polly plays alleged Chamberlin herself, although the only place it even might be found is a few seconds of not very Chamberlinic-sounding cellos on The Woods.

Pavement  (US)

Brighten the Corners  (1997,  46.09)  ***

Brighten the Corners was Pavement's fourth album, which many critics seem to compare very favourably with their previous efforts, the general consensus being that it's better than its predecessor, Wowie Zowie. I don't really know how to describe this, to be honest; scratchy indie? Post-hardcore? Mainman Stephen Malkmus knows how to write a lyric, I'll admit, even if I'm not always so enamoured with the music; clever lyric-writing always adds points, when you look at the meaningless toss that most 'artists' peddle to their unthinking public. Samplotron flutes (from Malkmus?) on Transport Is Arranged, with a nice part running through most of the song.

Pawa Up First  (Québec)

Scenario  (2006,  37.38)  **½

Québec's Pawa Up First's debut, 2005's Scenario, is one of those soundtracky records, mixing hip-hop-lite, electronica and Morricone into the kind of sound that occasionally lifts its head about the parapet, but mostly doesn't. Had they expanded on the pseudo-orchestral parts of the record, I might've liked it more, but that obviously wasn't the effect they were after. Daniel Thouin and Mathieu Parisien are both credited with Mellotron, but the strings on opener Shinjuku By Night and February don't quite convince, so this stays here until I'm informed otherwise. One for modern soundtrack fans, then; so when are this lot actually going to soundtrack a film?

Le Payaco  (Slovakia)

Všetko sa Dá Zjest'  (2005,  37.57)  **½

I originally had Le Payaco's lone 'Mellotron' track down as being on 2013's Jukebox, which turns out to be a compilation. It actually resides on 2005's Všetko sa Dá Zjest', an album of undistinguished Slovak-language pop/rock, at its best on the punky Nesmrtel'ne Jedovatá and the fragile More Snehu. Juraj Velčovský (credited as Peter on the album, Juraj on the compilation) supposedly plays Mellotron on Šarm A Štýl, but the strings wash on the track... isn't.

Kendall Payne  (US)

Jordan's Sister  (1999,  55.18)  **

Kendall Payne plays rootsy Christian AOR, although more in its current sense than the 'stratospheric vocals and screaming solos' '80s variety. Unsurprisingly, her 1999 debut, Jordan's Sister, is as dull as ditchwater, full of cheeso ballads and cheery, uptempo numbers that sound like a million other artists, with extra added God. On My Bones is particularly bad, but absolutely nothing here made me think, "Hmmm...", even for a second. Ron Aniello plays supposed Mellotron and Chamberlin, with Chamby (?) strings on opener Closer To Myself and Mellotron (?) flutes on Hollywood, heard on their own at the end of the track.

Pazzo Fanfano di Musica  (Japan)

Pazzo Fanfano di Musica  (1989,  49.35)  ****

Well, here's an oddity for you (again); a late-'80s Japanese progressive band pretending to be an early-'70s Italian outfit, although I believe it was a quite deliberate 'tribute'. Mind you, finding that weird is really only cultural imperialism; we're quite used to artists worldwide copying the English-speaking model, so what makes another culture any less admirable and worthy of emulation? At least Pazzo Fanfano di Musica (which almost translates as 'mad fanfare of music') were honest enough to admit their real names etc., unlike the frankly bizarre Ballettirosadimacchia, who were probably Japanese, yet actually trying to pass themselves off as Italian (!).

Pazzo Fanfano di Musica itself is a beautiful album, in the grand Italian tradition, completely different to the 'typical' Japanese '80s sound, aside from the occasional female vocals. They were more of a project than a band per se, with ten members credited, including four different keyboard players (one of whom was the semi-legendary Motoi Sakuraba), a violinist and a flautist, with several of the players being from known outfits (Teru's Symphonia, Outer Limits). This gives the album something of a pseudo-classical sound in places, with much solo violin and frequent periods of drumlessness; in fact, it's quite a shock when the full band first comes in during track two, Fiori Per Algernon (Flowers for Algernon, clearly inspired by the book). Actually, all the titles make more-or-less sense in Italian, so I suspect a little genuine Italian input, although all band members were Japanese. As far as the Mellotron goes, Katsuhiko Hayashi and/or Tomoki Ueno play an ominous string line on La Dolce Follia, then flutes and strings (mixed with presumably real Hammond) on lengthy closer Anniversario, although, despite being very early in the day for samples, that what it sounds like to me.