Espers: Espers II (EMI)

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Espers: Mansfield and Cyclops
Espers: Espers II (EMI)

This alt.folk-cum-ambient rock outfit from Philadelphia look like they have stepped out of 1969: they are all hair, beards and hippieness -- and I swear one of the women is wearing a poncho. I suspect they smell of patchouli.

So it's no surprise they have performed with the Incredible String Band (whom I thought split in about '72) and backed neo-folk star Devendra Banhart on his most recent album, Cripple Crow.

With everything from acoustic guitars and Fender bass through to a catalogue of world music instruments, they create an atmospheric sound which can be relaxing and almost trippy -- and sometimes, when the electric guitars get gritty and free form, quite unnerving.

They also have a pleasant droning quality, undercut their sound with some melancholy cello, yet aren't without humour. And of course there is a dulcimer on hand.

The songs become instrumental journeys so headphones might come in handy before lift-off.

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