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Cubs "Stonewater"

Moving onto Cubs on Rusted Rail. It's a (rather) cute 3" CD called "The Stonewater EP" and it's got a whopping 8 tracks on it. I can't even work out how much tracks per inch that is as the numbers aren't even. It's a lot though. Probably at least 10 (ish). Cubs contains folks from Phantom Dog Beneath The Moon, Mirakil Whip, Agitated Radio Pilot and United Bible Studies Here the 4 fellas have created some sparse sounding, beautiful folk inspired instrumental jams. They're literally delicious sounding as well. Amazingly these tracks are improvised which I find quite hard to believe. 2 or 3 of 'em sound too good to be improvised! Delicate sounding instrumentals created with mandolin, guitar, whistles etc which are nothing but charming. Well nice!!
Norman Records

It's always a pleasure to receive a bundle in the mail from the increasingly essential Rusted Rail imprint. Yet another splinter group of United Bible Studies, Cubs was conceived to create "intimate, improvised instrumentals and night time melodies". The recordings on the Stonewater EP (I almost hesitate to describe it as an EP since it contains nine tracks) were apparently a result of "late night sessions beneath the stars and rain in a glasshouse in Galway" and it certainly has the kind of hermetical free-folk feel that takes one back to the early days of Tower Recordings and Charalambides. Tracks vary from blink-and-you'll-miss-it 19 second sketches to more fully-formed pieces around the three-and-a-half minute mark that unfold with rustic ease - rural symphonies woven from a freewheeling combination of mandolin, guitar, accordion, tin whistle, banjolin and the occasional bit of wordless vocalising (as on the crystalline 'Cool Filter'). 'Opening Doors' is emblematic, playing with the codes of Irish traditional music, while breaking the spell occasionally with found sounds: at several points doors are opened and closed with such force that I thought someone had broken in to my place. It took a run downstairs and a check of the track title to realise the nature of the prank. Bastards! 'In Memory of Mariners Lost at Sea' is like the primeval essence of United Bible Studies: a tape print-through of a template for the kind of expansive composition UBS might favour. 'Mountain Folk Wandering' is the best thing on here: shimmering electric guitar and accordion behind ghost vocals that seem to form syllables but can't quite get them into phonetic order. The EP concludes with 'Lanterning', a precise and elegiac piece that belies its roots in improvisation. One hopes that Cubs might make a full length release one day, but I suspect that the occasional short, spontaneous release is more suited to their aesthetic.
Ptolemaic Terrascope

An all-new recording, Cubs is made of members from Ireland's United Bible Studies and others in the Deserted Village collective, a group reliable for a rich, earthen folk and the clearest, boldest of production. Yet unlike familiar UBS releases, 'Stonewater' is defined by a more gentle, intimate presentation and a closeness belied by their four members. The swift plucking and flourish of acoustic guitar heard in opening tracks "Jimjam" and "Cool Filter" illustrate the simple idea of the album, a lullaby of nocturnal faerie-tale - the latter of these tracks inserting additional strings and a wordless, androgynous siren-call. All tracks were recorded in the same sessions last winter with the exception of "Opening Doors", an impeccable live recording featuring flute, accordion, and some glowing, unidentifiable stringed instrument over the standard base of clean, flawless picking. The quite literal "Bottlehum" is a jug-solo segue leading into the shanty-requiem "In Memory of Mariners Lost at Sea", a melancholy collection of (again wordless) voices mourning contently, matched in their sway by a salty accordion. Despite the apparent move inland following the plucky march of "Bijou Banjolin", the spirit of the ghost ship can still be sensed on "Mountain Folk Wandering" (these guys do live on an island), perhaps the darkest track on the disc, textured by accordion, reverberating guitar, and an indecipherable, plaintive voice accompanied by several spooks and their chains.
Animal Psi

The debut release from Galway, Ireland's Cubs, Stonewater is a comfortable 20-minutes of mystic folk ala Charalambides, Tower Recordings, Wooden Wand, and Six Organs of Admittance. Completely improvised within a generous cross-section of traditional Gaelic instrumentation, this four-piece is capable of creating some real fire, especially on "In Memory Of Mariners Lost At Sea" and "Mountain Folk Wandering", two particularly beautiful moments towards the end the album, in which mournful singing, accompanied by accordion, saw the log back and forth, creating a soothing, lethargic trance. While I get the feeling that there is an endless amount of groups out there who are milking this campfire folk sound, Cubs successfully evoke genuineness... and that is perhaps the most astonishing thing about this mini-album. I'd love to hear some more from them in the future.

Though there've been talks about diversifying formats, people at Rusted Rail seem to have grown quite fond of 3-inches. Cubs members are all active in the field of acoustics, recording as United Bible Studies, but I am told Stonewater somewhat differs from the usual style. "Formed under the influence of long winter nights and the avoidance of musical hibernation"... In other words, they took their instruments and got it done in one night-session, while sure getting boozed up nicely, since they don't remember much (an approximate recounter was attempted in the liner notes). What could be more simple than that? Or rather does it have to be complex? I guess you wouldn't know until you listen. Critics have already cited No Necks Blues Band, Tower Recordings, even Six Organs of Admittance as a reference: not too dense, not over the top - just quietly and gently improvised harmonics, organic and calm as the ebb of the tides. For a 20-minute run, it's kind of super nice to say the least, thus leads to serious frustrations: we need a Cubs full-length, as soon as possible (get more booze, do it again, get out there in the world). Meanwhile, the 3-inch minidisc still reigns and sets the Irish on a good, respected orbit.
The Cookshop

I have been sitting on this one for a while and I regret it. Rusted Rail, a fine label which focuses on the 3 inch format, delivers this very delicate outing from Ireland's Cubs. Here we have roughly 18 minutes of gentle majesty. It's folky and it isn't. The nine racks here are like a cloud, flutes float in and out, guitars are strummed and electrified. Titles like "In Memory of Mariners Lost at Sea" and "Mountain Folk Wandering" are apropos. The music here is like an aural realization of drifting. The electric and acoustic guitars mesh together perfectly here, the amplified one never overpowering the softly plucked acoustic. The 18 minutes come and go and I'm left feeling lighter, wishing there were another 18 minutes to coast away on. It feels very much like an afternoon session, just waking up from a nap. Or a late-night, groggy encore.... It feels just left of mournful at times. Vocals weave in at one point, and distant clanks are occasionally audible. Peaceful and marvelous.
Foxy Digitalis

Cubs are an Irish-based outfit featuring members of United Bible Studies, this 9 track mini album was mixed by labelmate Loner Deluxe. The album features a collection of improvised rustic instrumentals and avant garde folk melodies. Traditional Irish and English folk sounds are given a rather lovely campfire feel with the acoustic instruments complemented with found sounds and weird sound effects: slowly plucked guitars are met with flute, mandolin and possibly even piano. Try to imagine a much more concise No Neck Blues Band, Tower Recordings or even Six Organs of Admittance. The album comes pressed on limited edition 3 inch cdr and comes in a really lovely hand made card sleeve.
Road Records

Cubs is another project by that elusive collective over in Ireland, consisting of United Bible Studies members. This little Stonewater EP contains nine short tracks of drifting instrumental freefolk, a pleasant mixture of calm outdoors moods with a touch of weird improvisation. "Cool Filter" is a very nice guitar-based track, which reminds me of instrumental Agitated Radio Pilot material, which isn't surprising as Dave's wordless vocals pop up here as well. "Opening Doors" was recorded live, and this is another beautiful calm track, based mainly on guitar and flute. "Bijou Banjolin" is a nice short piece of banjo, as the title suggests. "Mountain Folk Wandering" has some spaced out electric guitar backing with accordion, and Aaron's high vocals drifting over. A slightly darker atmosphere here. The EP ends with another soft track again, the lovely "Lanterning". It seems these Irishmen don't run out of ideas quickly when they get together to jam, as this is yet another little release of fine improvisations and folk explorations. Cubs is a project that takes things just a bit further away from the urban and daily than the other projects, evoking a more solitary feeling of being outdoors. Another treat for freefolk lovers!
Evening of Light

Cubs is a new project from members of United Bible Studies, one of the main acts in the Deserted Village Collective with their debut release 'Stonewater ep'. The music is more stark and simple than the experimental music of UBS. Here are drifting guitar melodies, wordless vocals and a sense of subtle improvisation. This is a music that feels alone, desolate even, the music of empty fields, shadows on hills and playing around late night campfires. I found some of the music immeasurably forelorn, 'Opening Doors' being a plaintive whistle and guitar duet with spectral electronics in the distance. Guitars and melodeons, communal singing and broken electronics, here is another musical vision from Ireland. Your own private glade to discover and return to when all becomes too complex. Then the one minute of soft plucked banjo and guitar comprising 'Bijou Banjolin' will make you smile. This reminds of the sole Team Discovery Channel release the collective did that evoked a similar feeling. At the end the lonesome guitars of 'Lanterning' take us home and evoke the collective's 'Agitated Radio Pilot'.
Harvest Home

Semi-improvised pastoral late-night bliss from Galway, featuring some members of United Bible Studies/Agitated Radio Pilot (the latter being closest in sound to this project). A laid-back drift through some beautiful melodies played on guitar, accordian, tin whistle and mandolin with some spacey wordless vocals. Just lovely.
Boa Melody Bar