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Trust The Doc Ed. 15
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by Neil March (Edition 15, 30th November 2018)


Welcome to Edition 15 of Trust The Doc. 27 artists covered in this issue!!

✦ JOE CUTLER: Celebrating 50 with a stunning tribute piece

✦ TONALIENS: Ambient Drone and Microtonal Tuba marvellousness

✦ TERRIBILIS: Reclusive DJ & Artist brings her Electronic & DnB genre mix

✦ ROPHONIC: Sheffield’s Futuristic Experimentalist Duo on fine form

✦ ELIZABETH JOAN KELLY: Ethereal Ambience from New Orleans

✦ EIDOLON_£: Enigmatic Soundscapes from unknown source

✦ MOSES BOYD: South East London Jazz Genius mashing up genres

✦ KONGO DIA NTOTILA: Afro-Jazz-Psych virtuosos on Tom Robinson Show

✦ HENGISTBURY: Review of Country-Folk-influenced band’s new album

✦ SACHA OSBORN: Folk Music infused with Jazz and other flavours

✦ PIP HALL: New album, launch gig & radio interviews for teenage talent

✦ PHOENIX O’NEILL: A voice to die for and driving energetic Pop style

✦ YVONNE HERCULES: Sensitive soulful singer-songwriter & cool band

✦ OLA SZMIDT: UK-based Swedish Singer-Composer has new single out

✦ BEKAH: Urban vibes from the Hereford & Worcester area

✦ LYVES: Welcome to the long overdue concept of Alt Soul

✦ JOSIE ROBERTS: Talented young singer-songwriter with new solo track

✦ JAZZ MORLEY: Heartbreaking ballad from Bournemouth artist

✦ HUSSY: S.E. London Alt Rock multi-instrumentalist brings her A-Game

✦ TIN FOIL ASTRONAUT: Retro influences, contemporary sound

✦ DUTCH CRIMINAL RECORD: Irresistibly melodic Guitar-driven jangle

✦ GERAINT RHYS: Welsh Language & Politics in energetic Alt Pop

✦ BRYONY: Birmingham-based artist influenced by some cool bands

✦ TWIST HELIX: Infectious Electronic Alt Pop from Newcastle band

✦ MEGA EMOTION: Norwich trio’s cool mix of Alt Rock & Synth Pop

✦ GRANDBABY: Funky Electronic Pop vibes from Norwich producer

✦ MWS: London-based Italian duo with another classy slice of soulful Pop


This edition’s Contemporary Classical & Leftfield section is dominated by Electronic Ambient sound due to there being so much I have heard and been impressed by lately in that broad field. First though, I was delighted to hear British Composer Joe Cutler ( with the Noszferatu Ensemble performing his Sikorski B on the ever-reliable Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) with friend and forager of great original music Max Reinhardt. His Sikorski tribute blends his unique harmonic language conveyed primarily by the piano set against the warmth of the Alto Saxophone and the evocative percussion. Like every work of Joe’s that I have heard, it is original, progressive and a demonstration of his wonderful composing skills.

Joe, like me I guess, is a composer whose music has taken inspiration from most of the significant movements of the postwar period including atonal and modal composers, new complexity (well come on, my course tutor for masters & PhD was Roger Redgate!), jazz and minimalism. Like me he has gradually shifted away from the more atonal and rhythmically complex areas and developed a more modal harmonic language and a use of jazz harmony and rhythms as elements of his overall style. We also share Messiaen in common as an inspiration. However his accomplishments as a composer dwarf mine.

Little-known trivia fact for you. I actually asked for Joe to be my external examiner for my PhD in composition in 2014 but was persuaded in the end to go with Michael Zev Gordon instead. I passed on first attempt so I have no complaints but it would have been fascinating to see what Joe Cutler would have made of my then only partly developed Environmental Art Music concept!

The same edition of Late Junction ended with an enigmatic piece that sits somewhere between Ambient Drone and Sound Art. I refer to Tonaliens (, a Berlin-based Quintet led by Trombonist and Composer Hilary Jeffery and featuring the microtonal Tuba of Robin Hayward alongside fellow musicians Amelia Cuni on Vocals, Werner Durand whose role is intriguingly described as Invented Wind Instruments and, equally intriguingly, Ralf Heinz on live sounds and electronics. Late Junction chose to play their futuristic sounding piece Vesta (Part One) which is captivating and ethereal. This has led me to explore more of their experiments with sine waves, electronics, harmonic space and contrasting timbres.

Too many tracks to mention but they include the epic Vishnu Stockings with its extremes of timbre and sea of ambience, the sparser Territory whose short alternating sounds has shades of Integral Serialist (particularly Boulez’s) music which are contrasted by the otherworldly harmonics and space-like squeals that follow and Patterns not loops with its abrasive double bass and resonant pops. The modal chords at the opening of Sunflood could almost be Messiaen (circa Des Canyons aux Etoiles). This is music of high quality, born from a thirst for experimentation. Hilary Jeffery has various projects on the go, all worth checking out but this one has particularly got my attention.

In a strong period for fascinating sound and style combinations I was struck by an interview that took place as part of the Somerset House Radio Assembly weekend involving reluctant star and musically (and sonically) innovative DJ-Artist Terribilis ( who has carved out her own niche as an artist blending Drum’n’Bass with Ambient Electronic flavours to great effect. The newest track on her Souncloud page is a year old and there may be more recent tracks to find on line but the two takes on the title Amen Babe provide great examples of her pulsating beats and hypnotic mix of repetitive synth riffs and legato chord sweeps, the horsegirl version being especially heavy and offering some wonderful harmony. Rot to this is older and more ambient. All are worth checking out and I will be exploring more of her work in the near future.

Ambient Electronic Soundscapes are very much on the menu in this edition of Trust The Doc as with Sheffield duo Rophonic ( whose enigmatic chilled out beauty What no-one sees landed in the FOTN uploader and immediately grabbed my attention with its patiently building sound layers, sweet harmonies and great contrasts of sound and texture. It didn’t make it to the Listening Post but it was in my top five choices at the moderating stage and I thoroughly recommend it to you if you enjoy thoughtful inventive ambient composition.

Elizabeth Joan Kelly ( hails from New Orleans and describes herself as a classical musician who experiments with found sounds and veers into industrial and ambient music. She lists as her influences Zola Jesus, Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, Fever Ray and The Knife. Her FOTN submission was an ethereal futuristic piece called Twilight Moving Meditation which led me to check out her stunning August 2018 released album Music for the DMV ( which takes Brian Eno’s concept of Music for Airports, seen by Elizabeth as representing a happy environment, and turns it on its head by making music for the Department of Motor Vehicles which she says is characterised by agitation and is not a happy place! That explains the dark, somehow desolate aura of the music. That said, I find the music very calming and peaceful but we all hear sound in our own ways!

I can find absolutely no useful information (well just no information at all to be precise!) about the [consequently] enigmatic but clearly talented Eidolon_£ ( other than the existence of some Eastern, possibly Arabic, lettering on their Soundcloud cover pic which may, of course, be designed to confuse us! Google throws up nothing and there are no links on their Soundcloud. So all I know is their track Im Akai (possibly a reference to the tech company Akai) was compelling enough in its layers of emerging sound to make it to the Listening Post and inspire interest from the discerning FOTN audience. Perhaps all will be revealed soon!

Shameless Plug Time !!!

Last but not least (for this section) a quick shameless plug. I will be playing a rare live set of my contemporary classical works (in other words appearing as Neil March in a break from my performances with Dilara in Environmental Sound Foundation). In fact Dilara will be joining me but on Piano rather than Vocals and so will two other talented young players Clara Yang (Flute) and Elliot Corner (Viola). Conducting this trio of young talents will be this old git! First time since I played the BBC Introducing Stage at Latitude in 2017. As it’s a Vanishing Point @The Ivy House which I am promoting for Demerara Records, we will open proceedings. After us will be the wonderful Rookery from Crystal Palace who blend experimental music with improv and spoken word and headlining are the amazing Operation Lightfoot from Liverpool. It all happens from 7.45PM on Thursday 6th December at The Ivy House, 40 Stuart Road, London SE15 3BE. And thanks to the success of our last three gigs and the generosity of the Ivy House Events Team we have dropped the price to £4 in advance or £5 on the door. Details at

Among a number of artists Tom Robinson caught up with and interviewed for his show at the BBC Introducing event in Tobacco Dock, one of the most interesting to hear from was another Trust The Doc favourite, South East London’s Jazz Genre-Mashing drummer, all-round musician and composer Moses Boyd (

Moses Boyd has always made the point robustly that no area of music should be off limits to the explorative musician-composer and he wears his Urban and Pop influences on his sleeve whilst nonetheless drawing on a range of Jazz, World and Contemporary Classical sources too. He also veers into electronic music such as on the experimental Square Up and there is a rich tapestry of influences and sounds on offer in the astonishing Valley of the Ultra Blacks which flirts with atonality and prog amid a mind-boggling swirling mix of sounds and complex rhythms requiring a breathtaking degree of virtuosity and interlocking discipline from the musicians. Moses Boyd is one of the most refreshing and important forces in contemporary music and that, my friends, is neither hype nor hot air.


I recently raved about Kongo Dia Ntotila ( following their stunning performance on the BBC Introducing Stage at Latitude which was captured in a Late Junction broadcast at the time. So it was great to hear them in session on Tom Robinson’s superb Saturday Night Show on BBC Radio 6 Music. They explained their evolution from meeting at University in Leeds around seven years ago to becoming the tight virtuosic line-up they now have. The band performed the funky and joyous Mutwashi and the breathtaking cross-rhythms of Moyibi. There is no band like KDN; not only because of the way they blend African and international flavours with Psychedelia and Jazz but also because the ease with which they switch between rhythmic configurations, tempi, moods and styles is difficult to take in. This is both musicianship and chemistry of a genuinely unusual kind. The outcome of this mix of compositional flair and stunning musicianship is a lilting, multi-groove and interchangeable ride through West African, Caribbean, Anglo-American and European flavours plus a whole lot besides. It is breezy, infectious and uplifting and takes me into an alternative universe where music is our only God and trouble is far far away. I am so looking forward to the opportunity to check them out live. A key aim for 2019.                                                                   


The extremely likeable and evidently hard-working Country-Folk duo Hengistbury ( are an act who have been on my radar for some time so I was delighted when they asked me if I would like the opportunity to review their new album.

Add Another Minute ( is a refreshing set of organic, folk and country influenced songs that provides a welcome reminder of how inventive and diverse it is possible for two people to be in terms of how they use instruments and voices.

From the opening Shooter on the Mound we get contrasting registers of lead voice, banjo chord play and slide guitars and a lovely Country backdrop that takes us far from the humdrum of the City and across vast desert lands and grassy prairies. Tired of playing fiddle is light textured and makes great use of octave-apart voice while sumptuous close harmonies adorn Bet my green eyes.

Headed Out is melancholy, opening with simple guitar melody and breathy vocal which is then lovingly harmonised. There are some spine-tingling harmonies in Don’t Leave which switches between half and quick time behind a minimal instrumental palette. Piano introduces the gorgeous My Body Ain’t A Temple while resonant long guitar chords sit teasingly behind the voices.

The album ends with the slow-building Lie in wait for Hollywood which gradually introduces more layers and dynamics climaxing with the appearance of almost ethereal backing vocals in the final stretch. A strong ending to a fine album. If you long to be whisked away to another world where organic sounds, innate musicianship and classic Western aura blends with strong songwriting, contrasting voices and sweet harmony, this album ticks all the boxes and then some.

Sacha Osborn ( accurately describes her music as ‘... reflective and heartfelt folk songs, inspired by jazz harmony, soulful melodies, descriptive lyrics and a love of simple everyday natural beauty’. The London-based singer-songwriter grabbed my attention with the song Brooklyn which manages to offer the atmosphere of a throwback to an era when Country and Folk influenced singer-songwriters were a staple of music television and the album charts, in particular with shades of Joni Mitchell in her vocal delivery and thoughtful lyrics. The guitar interplay is tasteful and creative. It also has strong melodic figures in each stage of the song. Unashamedly retro but refreshing too. Give it a try.


I am wondering whether it is time to break this regular section down into more distinct genres since it is always the most detailed and covers such a wide spectrum of genres and scenes. Once again this section covers well over half of all the bands and artists featured. So for now it remains under the broad heading of Pop Scene but I have broken it up into sub-headings which I hope are helpful.

First though, I was delighted to be invited [by two separate sources as it happened!] to the album launch [at the former Brit Pop hub The Good Mixer in Camden Town] of talented teenage singer-songwriter Pip Hall ( who I had reviewed for Fresh on the Net a few weeks earlier when she was voted into the Fresh Faves. It was an amazing night at which she was supported by the awesome Phoenix O’Neill ( and Yvonne Hercules ( both of whom have also had tracks at FOTN this year.

Yvonne Hercules opened the gig, backed by a really impressive backing band (all the more impressive considering she currently has neither management nor label and is managing herself). There is an air of Joan Armatrading about Yvonne, especially the way she pushes out the notes in her upper register. Influence-wise I found myself hearing elements also of Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman and more Soul and Jazz leaning artists like Rikki Lee Jones, Bill Withers, Karen Ramirez and others. Interestingly when I spoke with Yvonne after her set she talked about artists like Bessie Smith which shows influences are not always obvious to the listener (although that earthy bluesiness is perhaps more present than is immediately clear) but can be crucially important and inspirational to the artist both musically and spiritually.

Well whoever has helped inspire Yvonne’s sensitive, soulful and jazzy bluesy songs, they were a joy to listen to. She has a voice that is quiet and low register one moment and soaring in the upper register the next. She has also surrounded herself with excellent musicians who really understand her vibe. It is to her great credit that she has achieved so much entirely from her own efforts. I hope it leads to the recognition and support she deserves because she is a real real talent.

Phoenix O’Neill was up second. For the record, Phoenix’s mum and aunt, both of whom were at the gig, played in a band with me back in the eighties! So it was wonderful to see them. Both remain active in music and I have written about the excellent Indie-Folk duo Starseedz in a previous edition of TTD. I hope to hear and subsequently write about Li Li’s (Liadain’s) music in the near future too.

Phoenix is blessed with a voice that is distinct, powerful and engaging. Managed by her mum Catrine and with the other half of Starseedz (Jon Willoughby) on lead guitar, she has assembled a kicking band to back her as she belts out some power-driven Pop tunes whilst also showing us she can utilise all the elements of her registral and dynamic ranges too. She engages with the audience well too; explaining what lies behind her lyrics even when it means laying some of her pain bare for the listeners to contemplate.  The songs represent a wide range of influences and ideas that demonstrate her versatility. A strong performance then and hopefully another step on the road to wider recognition.

Pip Hall’s album is characterised by driving Alt Pop with guitars, bass, drums and multi-layered voices. Live however she played entirely solo with just voice and acoustic guitar. It was brave (by any standards let alone for an eighteen year old coming down to London from Preston). Fortunately the strength of her songwriting, her sensitive guitar playing and her voice which can be fragile and delicate, underlining themes of vulnerability and self-esteem issues one moment but powerful and wholesome the next, all combined to make this a set the audience wanted to focus its attention on.

After the show Pip, accompanied by her awesome manager Kelly Munro (of End of the Trail Creative), was off to Radio X for a live on-air interview. Pip has signed with the wonderfully idealistic and music-loving indie label My Little Empire Records who were also at the gig. So with the right label and a manager who has both the track record and her best interests at heart, she is moving in the right direction. Her success at the Fresh Faves suggests the public agree. Pip also recognises that she needs a band so she can represent her recordings live and not rely on acoustic sets (however enjoyable they may be to hear) and is working on realising that aim. Expect to hear more about all three of these talented young women in the near future.

Last but not least it was a lovely surprise to run into my fellow Fresh on the Net moderator-author Big Jim Cambo at the gig and then to discover we grew up about 800 yards apart and he was at school with some of my friends! Talk about small world! All in all a thoroughly enjoyable night which I am so pleased I made the effort to be there for.

Singer-Songwriters etc….

Another fellow FOTN moderator-author; namely flute-playing Polish singer-songwriter (based in York) Ola Szmidt ( has a new track out which is simply stunning. Love Yourself cleverly disguises the Flute as some form of industrial drone upon which she builds a beautiful canvas of short choppy chords coming in and out of focus as she showcases the different elements and dynamics of her striking unique voice. It draws the listener in and one is transported to some metaphorical astral plane but it is a soothing experience, not a scary one.

Ola has had an amazing start to her career, studying at the fantastic Dartington Summer School, working with Jazz giants Keith and Julie Tippett, being mentored by Four Tet and receiving funding from the PRS Foundation. Her desire to bring Scandinavian and Eastern Folk influences together with elements of classical, jazz and electronic music leads to an exotic casserole of ideas from which her sound emerges. She also has a voice that can accommodate a range of emotions and evocations.

Another artist who has received strong support from BBC Introducing is Bekah ( whose Rock Witchu was played on Tom Robinson’s BBC Radio 6 Music Saturday Night show along with a snippet of Tom interviewing her at that weekend’s BBC Introducing event at which she performed. The Montserratian-Pakistani singer-writer, rapper and producer hails from Redditch and her Soundcloud page is full of radio interviews which will give you plenty of insight into her musical and wider outlook. Her sound, which she points out is proof that cool urban and progressive vibes can emanate from the rural West Midlands too (in Bekah’s case, amid the mystical beauty of Hereford & Worcester), is robust, mixing electronic sounds, echoing beats and cool hooks with a rapping style that is melodic (almost in Nelly territory in the way she mixes spoken word with singing). Well worth exploring.

If you have ever paused to wonder whether there might be such a thing as Alt Soul, there is now and it comes courtesy of Lyves (, aka Francesca Bergami, a former Psychology graduate from Goldsmiths University who formed her band by advertising on Gumtree. I was quickly sucked in by the resonant chords and quiet emotional intensity of her track Tell me that you feel it too and had to check out more of their striking music which blends spacious backdrops of synths and beats with multi-layered vocals, sometimes high and breathy, other times deeper and more full-throated such as on the catchy Rest your head. Lyves definitely offer something a little bit different and are worth your time and effort to check out.

I have blogged previously about talented young Bucks-born Josie Roberts ( who was one half of the duo Strictly Banter and co-wrote their song of the same name. Now studying music at the University of Hertfordshire Josie is back with a solo track Back in time which underlines how quickly she is maturing both as a writer-arranger and as a singer, her lead vocal delivered with confidence while the backing vocals are inventive and atmospheric. The piano provides a sturdy accompaniment and allows other sounds to circulate around the outer limits of the track. All in all it is very impressive.

Meanwhile on the South Coast, Bournemouth’s Jazz Morley ( is back with a delicate heartbreaking and dynamic ballad entitled Disconnected which provides the ideal backdrop for her at times fragile, at others powerful voice to flutter and flourish amid the sadness of the song. In commenting on my decision to vote for the track at the FOTN Listening Post I said the lyrics could be about relationship break-up, a loss of friendship or a death of a loved one. Thanks to an eloquent review by my fellow FOTN mod and author Louis Barrabas, I now know Jazz wrote it on the eve of her brother’s departure to fight in Afghanistan which makes the lyrics even more poignant. When she sings the words ‘Please can we be children again/Before you fly away’ it sends butterflies through my stomach and I’m a cynical old git so that is an achievement. Beautiful.

Indie Rock & Alt Pop

We kick off this sub-section with some driving Alternative Rock courtesy of South East Londoner and yet another fellow Goldsmiths alumnus Hussy ( Hussy is multi-instrumentalist and singer-writer Sophie Nicole Ellison. According to her Soundcloud blurb she makes music that is ‘... juxtaposingly lullful and playful yet as raw and direct as the name of her pseudonym’. Such words certainly ring true on the infectious Slayer with its descending guitar and bass figure and slightly wall-of-sound production. Playtime is similarly in-yer-face production-wise as the guitar figure increases in intensity. The rehearsal studio recording of Forever is actually really good and reveals a song with a slightly Kurt Cobain-like quality, especially when it rises up an octave. Post-Grunge perhaps. I certainly look forward to hearing more of her feisty fiery music.

My first thought upon hearing the track Too Slow by Tin Foil Astronaut ( was that the lead singer reminded me of eighties Norwich scene Post-Punk Popsters The Farmers’ Boys. The band also sound like they have spent a great deal of time delving into their parents’ (or someone’s) collection of classic early Indie music leading to a lot of bright guitar jangle and melodic-harmonic interplay against busy bass and drums. On the strength of this they are a definite one to watch.

It is to the great credit of Chichester quartet Dutch Criminal Record ( that it took me several listens to realise that part of the melody of their infectious In the moment is [presumably inadvertently] lifted from Kelly Clarkson’s Christmas hit Underneath the Tree! Actually that is a killer tune to be fair and one of my favourite Xmas tracks but it is of course, in all other aspects, really nothing like Dutch Criminal Record who play energetic Alt Pop bathed in more guitar jangle and melodic melancholy; again celebrating elements I associate with the days of Postcard Records and Pop Aural. Is there a theme emerging here? To be honest, I hope so.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a FOTN submission sung in Welsh by Alt Pop artist Geraint Rhys ( As a Welshman who does not speak much Welsh myself I nonetheless recognise the importance of ensuring the language continues to play a big part in Welsh culture and this uplifting anthemic slice of Alt Pop Dilyn transcends language barriers anyway. Driving, energetic and awash with melodic ideas, this is a real breath of fresh air.

It is also always good to hear driving well-written Alt Rock/Pop influenced by the likes of Kim Gordon, Anna Fox Rochinsky and Girlpool (and maybe a bit of Kelly & Kim Deal perhaps?) and that is what you get with Birmingham singer-guitarist-songwriter Bryony ( whose Scared got my full and immediate attention when it arrived in my in-box. A great hook and a vocal style that is slightly and appealingly lazy in the verses but full-on when she steps up a gear make this well worth hearing and the instrumental play is powerful and perfectly formed too.

Twist Helix ( hail from Newcastle and describe themselves as an Electronic Pop band but possibly Electronic Alt Pop would more accurately describe their buoyant engaging sound which has its synth elements but is also guitar-driven and bristling with energy and the snap-crackle-pop of a driving Indie anthem. Very good it is too. Check out the tribal-sounding Pulse and the punkier Graphite.

Norwich trio Mega Emotion ( claim to be influenced by the Pixies and 80s Synth Pop and certainly they have created a joyous explosion of energetic electronic Pop with the uplifting Laura. This leans much more towards the Synth Pop end of their spectrum. The passionate female vocals, lush harmonies and echoing synth melodies recall Human League in Mirror Man era and the rat-a-tat-tat programmed snare is very mid-eighties in feel. Moreover it is a great Pop tune with more than an air of melancholy.

Sick Burn is slightly heavier and a tad darker but nevertheless again finds them much more in electronic pop territory despite the crashing guitar chords. This one sees male vocal dominating but again with a big backing vocal sound prominent in the hook. I hope Mega Emotion get some well-deserved attention for their bright and refreshingly individual sound.

Soulful and Funky

Moving away from Alt Pop jangle and towards contemporary electro-Funk but remaining  firmly within Norwich we find East Anglian writer-producer  Grandbaby ( whose Donkey O.T grabbed me by the ears when it arrived in the FOTN uploader. Sassy, funky in a mid-tempo groove kind of a way and instantly catchy, this is a radio choon all day long. It just needs more radio stations with the sense to play it.

It is always a pleasure to hear new material by London-based Italian duo M w S ( and their new track Summer Holiday is, I can assure you, a far cry from the Cliff Richard hit of the same name. This one finds the pair in rueful mood, placing a soulful yearning vocal against a triplet time Soul-Pop backdrop that amplifies their sincere singing and tasteful musicianship. Another top tune.


So there you go. 27 featured acts in this edition. December and therefore the madness of Christmas are fast approaching. In the meantime, new music continues to emerge in droves. All I can do is try to capture the essence of some of it here in Trust The Doc. See you in Edition 16 (hopefully on the 16th of the month too!). Neil xxxx