Mooch - The Pagan Year       2CD set

As before, the music is spacey, progressive, rock and electronic. Covering 
eight tracks over two disks, the album invites the listener to travel through 
a pagan year, starting with the ancient festival of Imbolc, passing through 
two equinoxes and the summer solstice, and the pagan festivals of Beltane, 
Lughnasadh and Samhain, then finishing at the midwinter solstice, Yule.

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Listen to extracts from
all tracks at Soundcloud

Following the critical success of 2007’s Dr Silbury’s Liquid Brainstem Band -

”... this is a wonderful album that will appeal to Space Rock and surely lots of Prog fans...”
“... this is as good as it gets spacerock progwise. It's certainly going to be one of the albums of the year...”
“... this is a brilliant space rock epic with a lot of variety...”
“... Kudos to all those involved with this outstanding release...”
“... totally awesome modern psychedelia... one of the best albums this year...”

And as before there are some stellar guests: Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind), Alex Pym (Dream Machine), Chris Gill 
(Band Of Rain), Cyndee Lee Rule, Jez Creek, John Sherwood and Linda Harlow. Erich Z. Schlagzeug is the drummer.

Welcome to a space-progressive rock album for a new pagan future.
Welcome to a new Earth-centred way of experiencing the year...

Disk One  - The Oak King in the ascendant

1. Imbolc 
       A cold and minimal composition for sequencers and synths, featuring Jez Creek on Prophet 5 and Nord Modular G2

2. Vernal Equinox 
       A hypnotic bass pattern and rippling cymbals and drums underpin this track, on which Chris Gill and Linda Harlow 
       sing a chant

3. Beltane 
       Goes through a number of moods; the upbeat and forward-looking opening and conclusion, plus a sung poem 
       performed by Bridget Wishart, who also plays sax and EWI

4. Summer Solstice 
       A single riff powers this piece, opening on bouzoukis beside some late evening campfire, before drums, synth 
       and guitars make their appearance; the track ends at full power


Disk Two - The Holly King in the ascendant


1. Lughnasadh 
       Alex Pym’s guitar solos send this heat-crazed track on its way; powerful drums and booming bass underpin the piece

2. Autumnal Equinox   
       Sunshine, storms, rain and moon; this progressive track speeds through several high-intensity moods, before 
       concluding with a song looking both forwards and back

3. Samhain  
       The neo-pagan new year; this melancholy, stately piece is sung by Chris and Linda, with Cyndee Lee Rule’s 
       classical-sounding violin providing an alternative sound in the middle section

4. Yule
       Delicate sequences and synths, tremolo Rhodes, icy sounds and wintry effects bring the pagan year to a close

The oak king rules from midwinter to midsummer, when the length of the day is increasing; 
The holly king rules during the waning half of the year.

Reviews ...

"Steve Palmer’s Mooch has released some excellent albums during the recent years like Dr Silburys Liquid Brainstem Band,
1967 ½ and 1968a. Now a sort of return from stuff imitating 60’s psych and prog to Mooch’s roots has occurred, and the music
is pretty much synthesizer driven and instrumental, cosmic ambient music, not forgetting space rock and prog, though.
Steve again has several guests, for example ex-Hawkwind singer Bridget Wishart, excellent guitarist Alex Pym (Dream Machine),
singer Chris Gill (Band of Rain) and a virtuoso violinist Cyndee Lee Rule. The theme on this eight-track double CD is the pagan
year, and the listener is led though all the most important yearly pagan festivities from Imbolc to Yule.

The 17-minute instrumental “Imbolc” is very nice, synthesizer driven going that describes very well the festival’s aspects connected
to the creative force. The ending is psychedelic soundspaces. One of the album’s best pieces is ”Vernal Equinox” that solemnizes
this 20th of March feast as the beginning of spring in a soft and magnificent way. Chris Gill and Linda Harlow shine on vocals.
The atmosphere on this psychedelic track is pretty close to Pink Floyd. “Beltane” takes us to May and the nature is starting to
bloom and birds are singing. This beautiful, bright and rather progressive piece was written together with Bridget Wishart who also
sings and plays saxophone. ”Summer Solstice” is one of the most important festivals of the year and this interpretation includes
acoustic guitar and percussion as well as nice celebration in the folk spirit. After three minutes the track gets more electric though,
and the synthesizer solos split the ether like bright sun beams. There is some pretty mind-expanding jamming towards the end…

The second disc takes us to the beginning of the harvest time, and ”Lughnasadh” includes loads of really tight solo guitar by Alex
Pym. ”Autumnal Equinox” has some more great vocals by Gill and Linda in its peaceful end part and rocks rather progressively
before that with some amazing synth leads. We enter the autumnal moods in a great way with “Samhain” that starts and ends
with a peaceful, pretty vocal part. The middle is electronic ambient music that gains some more excellent moods by Cyndee Lee
Rule’s violin. The almost 18-minute-long, slow and dark “Yule” finishes off the circle in a magnificent and icy way. Amazing!
So this time Mooch offers us long, atmospheric tracks resulting one of this year’s best spacey psychedelic albums so far."

DJ Astro, Psychotropic Zone

Having explored the music of the late sixties on his last three albums, Stephen Palmer returns to more familiar Mooch territory 
on this sprawling double album that features eight long ambient psych tracks, the music filled with swirling synths, sequencers, 
effected guitars and a host of guest musicians.

Using the eightfold pagan year as its inspiration, opening track “Imbolc” is a celebration of creativity and re-birth, the music a 
joyous amble through half remembered sunshine, utilising the sounds of the Prophet 5 and the Nord, the sounds created by 
Jez Creek, whilst Mr Palmer handles “various instruments”. At 17 minutes, there is plenty of time to get happily lost in the 
warm sounds, dancing refrains and general ambience, the mood continued on “Vernal Equinox”, although this has a more 
organic hue, featuring drums and vocals, the echoed guitar floating through the piece to great effect, whilst an electric piano 
is the perfect sound for the raindrop notes that fall gently on an imagined hillside.

Co-written with Bridget Wishart, best known for her work with Hawkwind, “Beltane” is another wonderful exercise in psychedelic 
bliss, proving that the album has a cohesiveness of sound that suits its mood and purpose, the music of Gong, Tangerine Dream,
Popol Vuh, early Genesis and The Enid springing to mind, as well as a host of quieter festival bands, the ones that didn't feel the 
need to copy Hawkwind riffs at any given opportunity.

Finally for disc one, “Summer Solstice” has a home-grown feel, with steel guitar and percussion adding that “sat around a fire 
feeling” to the loose arrangement, memories of circle-dancing before the sun and the twinkle of psychedelics ever-present. 
Over 15 minutes the song builds beautifully, synthesisers drifting in and out as the song begins to pulse with life, a drumkit 
pushing the music ever higher, allowing Steve plenty of room to play his guitar, something he does beautifully.

Opening in mysterious fashion “Lughnasadh”, suddenly explodes into life, the guitar playing of Alex Pym (Dream Machine) 
adding a whole new layer of tension to the piece with nimble dexterity at his fingertips. 

Heralded in with the sounds of running water, most of the tracks contain some form of natural sound, “Autumnal Equinox” is 
another synth-fest, the soaring machines grounded by a solid bass line and pinpoint drums, the latter courtesy of Erich.Z.
Schlagzeug. With an early Eloy feel, this is a fine slice of spacey rock music, sounding better each time it is heard.

With chanted vocals and some wonderful violin playing from Cyndee Lee Rule. “Samhain” is a gentler affair, softly heard strings 
adding a chilled atmosphere to the piece, the music soothing and reflective.

Finally, “Yule” brings us full-circle, chiming bells and ambient synths welcoming winter back again, the music another 17 minute 
meditation in sound, rounding off an excellent, albeit sprawling, album that deserves to be heard in its entirety, perfect for an 
afternoon in the countryside, or a late night fireside cup of tea. Hats off to Steve Palmer on creating such an ambitious project in 
these times, art over commerce triumphs again. 

Simon Lewis, Terrascope Online

Mooch’s latest CD is a concept album that delivers the pagan year as 8 tracks each corresponding to one of the 8 major 
festivals of the pagan calendar. As such it is essentially an endless circle. The music here seems to sit inside the common 
ground of space rock and more pure progressive rock. I’d have to say that, despite the fact that it’s still early in the year, this 
is likely to make my list of best albums of 2010. It is, without question the best album I’ve heard from Mooch – and it’s pretty 
much a masterpiece. There isn’t a song here that comes in less than fifteen minutes in length – and that’s bound to please 
the prog purists who are interested in the size of musical compositions. 

Music Street Journal