RELEASE: Des Fleurs Magiques Bourdonnaient
RELEASE DATE: 19th February 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Northern Light Records/Custom Made Records/Kinotone Records
Modena’s premier shoegazers unveiled their second album earlier this year. ‘Des Fleurs Magiques Bourdonnaient’ combines the floaty shoegaze sounds, for which Rev Rev Rev are well-known, with expansive psych sections that veer off very slowly to the edge of doom, and back again. The sonic palette uses fuzz in all its colours, from bright trebles to muddy, abrasive darkness. Layers pile on, song upon song. The record pulsates with a dark, trembling tension, like a huge sleeping beast – a mastodon, a mammoth, or maybe something with bigger teeth. And then, somewhere in the middle, the beast wakes up.
Des fleurs magiques bourdonnaient by Rev Rev Rev
‘Buzzing Flowers Ecstasy’ bounces around in a swirl of shoegaze sound, its familiar aura lulling the listener into a daze. There’s a strong 60s feel to the spiralling psych of ‘Nightwine’. ‘Travelling Westbound’ dives and drives along, like a night-time trip along a mountain road, the stars above, bright and bewildering. The trip continues with the hopeful ‘We Can But Dream’, the dawn breaking on the horizon, suggesting that the future might well be bright. It’s on ‘Caffe’ though that the feel of this record changes. The scratchy fuzz rubs us up the wrong way. The lightness of the earlier tracks seems to be fading.
‘Je est Un Autre’ is a psychgaze whirlwind, cymbals and guitars crashing relentlessly. The menacing mood is maintained with ‘A Ring Without An End’, with its delays building on top of each other until it’s a total blackout. The searing lead guitar on ‘Ripples’ is the first sound that pierces through the swathes of smog. The strums are slow and the drums deliberate. We’re on the edge of doom here. Fuzz is the foundation for the next few tracks – ‘Plymouth Morning’ is full of fury. ‘Blame’ is an aural onslaught with its tidal wave of ear-shredding distortions. In ‘Just A Spot’, there’s a reprieve from the relentless rawness. With distortion and dread still flooding the senses, ‘Aloft’ arrives to close the album, woozy and warm – a safe haven to end a heavy journey through drone-filled darkness.
The album is out now on vinyl/ CD/ tape and download on Custom Made Music, Kinotone Records and Northern Lights.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: One Unique Signal
RELEASE DATE: April 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
As most of you may or may not already know from reading any of my previous reviews, I’m a sucker for bands who push boundaries and experiment with sound. I get excited at the prospect of reading about how certain bands develop their sound on a particular album or release. The third album from UK-based sonic explorers One Unique Signal does just that. Born out of one single repetitious loop from the recording sessions on their previous album, ‘Aether’, ‘Hoopsnake’ is a collaborative four-track monolith of immense sound constructed by the three members of the band and 20 of their contemporaries, including The Oscillations’s Damien Castellanos and Stephen Lawrie of The Telescopes. The resulting four tracks are a testament to the abilities of the artists involved to bend and form sound-waves at will into a sometimes dark and menacing sonic maelstrom and at other times into a beautiful, reverb-drenched, atmospheric soundscape that’s awash with massive synth swells and droning psychedelic guitars. ‘Hoopsnake’ was released via the brilliant UK-based Fuzz Club Records and is available to purchase on all formats from the record label’s website right now.
‘Hoopsnake’ opens with the dark and oppressive ‘HS 01’. Menacing synth swells make way for an explosive whirlwind of sonic delight as a repetitive drum pattern ushers in the tempestuous guitars and off kilter vocal progressions that meld together and manifest into one impressive wall of sound. ‘HS 01’ is heavy work at times as it builds and builds into an oppressive sonic assault on the senses, but there is a sullen clarity hiding deep within the swirling maelstrom of reverb-induced sound-waves that just makes sense! ‘HS 02’ openly glitters as intricate glitchy sounds pan left and right. The sonic tempest builds slowly from far below this listener’s audible range as swirling synths bubble to the surface. ‘HS 02’ is unsettling at first but switches into a rhythmic, almost metronomic animal as the droning guitars enter the fray, adding weight to proceedings as it leads us into that majestic expansive finale! Up next, ‘HS 03’ brings yet another swirling synth drone to the fore. This time accompanied by sampled birdsong and creeping, stagnated and edgy fret noise. This is intensely atmospheric as the whirling drone gathers momentum and pulsates into a living, breathing animal. ‘HS 03’ is so dark and malevolent it will leave you checking behind the shower curtain before going to bed at night. The album’s closing track, entitled ‘HS04’, begins with beautiful reverb-drenched chord structures that shimmer and drone upon themselves. They build and build into a stunning cacophony of immense sound waves before an addictive but plodding synth progression takes over and ushers in the finale.
‘Hoopsnake’ is indeed experimental! It is also sometimes hard to listen to and in the same breath, sometimes awe inspiring. The sonic field it possesses is massive and it’s that expansive soundscape that sucks you in and introduces you to magnificent swells of sonic energy. It’s a wonderful collection of tracks that I feel you really need to sit down, listen and concentrate on properly. Recommended listening all the same!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Stella Diana
RELEASE DATE: 29th April 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
Back at the end of 2014 I was presenting an online radio show covering shoegaze and its many sub-genres when I came across a fantastic little Italian based band who fused a plethora of musical genres together to create something rather special. This collective of Neapolitan musicians melded together a heady brew of driving post-punk, melodic dream-pop and hazy shoegaze to produce musical soundscapes so mesmerising that they literally took my breath away. Stella Diana optimise everything that is great with the underground Italian shoegazing scene and they have been steadily building up a massive worldwide fan base every since those early radio show days. Now the band have returned with a blistering full length follow up to 2015’s stunning five track EP ‘Alhena’ via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records. This new album is called ‘Nitocris’ and it is another positive step in the evolution of a band who may be involved in this reinvented shoegazing scene right now, but who also have the ability to stand out on their own ‘musically’ as we spin into the sonic unknown.
Nitocris by stella diana
The album opens up with ‘Sofia’. Shimmering guitar lines usher in the atmospheric synth swells as the track pushes ripples into the sonic waves around it. It shuffles on a sold bed of percussion as it builds into a wall beautifully golden intensity. Vocally sublime, it unleashes a layered wall of reverberating brilliance and announces the return of a band on the cusp of greatness. Track two, ‘M.9’ is musically reminiscent of ‘Slowdive’ with its emotive walls of reverb until that impressive vocal line adds a subtle injection of brilliant post-punk. It explodes into its chorus progressions with aplomb intertwining with that melodic bass line that adds addictiveness into proceedings. Thoroughly enjoyable. Up next the dark and brooding ‘F.u. Orionis’ musically screams early ‘Cure’ at me as it works through its sonic gears, skulking like a sullen love sick teenager before its soaring chorus parts usher in Stella Diana of old. This is modern day post-gazing at its very, very best and possibly my favourite track on this entire release.
Swirling, droning frequencies circumnavigate that tremulous guitar structure as whispering vocals stream into audible range. Like some sort of modern day Sci-Fi soundtrack the shuffling percussion and throbbing baseline of ‘Sulpher’ carries that impressive vocal like a sonic chariot ambling into battle. This is a beautifully atmospheric track that heaps layer upon layer of sonic frequencies on top of each other to create a blissful wall of golden hued sound. Up next, ‘Aphrodia’ is reminiscent of ‘Drive Blind’ era RIDE with its heavy bass frequencies & shuffling drum patterns coupled with those fuzzy guitars and that barely audible vocal progression. Its only when the synth swells arrive that you get intense attack on your senses and you begin to hear everything in brilliant sonic technicolor. Track six begins with a stunning baseline! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is stuffed to the brim with melody. This for me is the that ‘Next Step’ in a bands evolution that I previously spoke about! ‘Psychedelic Furs’ is a completely new side to Stella Diana. It’s song structuring and every single instrument swirling within it is geared towards melody, with the studio gadgetry shaved back and the fuzzy guitars withheld Stella Diana are free to express themselves in a whole new light. It’s a brilliantly written track and worthy of your ears.
Up next is the first single to be lifted from the album. ‘Dedu’n’ is a bass driven atmospheric monolith that skips through multiple layers of reverberating guitar frequencies with aplomb. It’s pounding drum patterns and subtle synth swells carry the entire track as the vocal hangs in a haze of suspended animation and is laid bare for all to hear. The albums penultimate track is called ‘Aya Ray’. A beautifully melodic and thoroughly addictive bass line is this tracks centre piece as all around it shimmers and meanders through intense layers of fuzzy reverberating guitars. Again, the vocals are impressive and the drum track grounds the entire piece as the track skips through an apocalyptic post-punk world, littered with the bones of past shoegazing stalwarts! The albums closer builds from its very first notes. ‘J. Carpenter’ has obvious cinematic connotations as it heaves and lurches through its reverberating layers of hazy atmosphere. There’s an air of post-rock emanating from it too, as instrumentally it swirls around that brilliant vocal sample and carries on into its stunning finale. A fitting end to a game changing album!
Bravo, Stella Diana!
The ‘Nitocris LP’ Had it's official release on the 29th April 2016 via Vipchoyo Sound Factory Records and is available to buy/download right now from: stelladiana.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Follow The Sea
RELEASE: Blue Joy
RELEASE DATE: 25th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Häxrummet Records
Stockholm based noisy & experimental psych-gazing duo ‘Follow The Sea’ have returned with their highly anticipated follow up to 2014’s immense four track EP ‘Sibirien’. Comprising of five tracks, ‘Blue Joy’ is peppered with masterful soundscapes each one bringing something sonically different to this modern day musical table. ‘Follow The Sea’ are made up of ‘Erik Solfeldt & Magnus Lilltrollet Lundgren’. Their overall sound drones within layers of blissful reverberation and swirling accumulative fuzz thats circumnavigated by melodically serine vocal progressions and senses pummelling percussive explosions. The album was produced by Niclas Lindgren & Follow the Sea, written by Follow the Sea (Breeze by Niclas Lindgren & Follow the Sea), mastered by Carl Saff, artwork by Erica Anettesdotterr with photos by Erica Anettesdotter & Sara Alf Sökare Eklöf. ‘Blue Joy’ was officially released on the 25th May 2016 via Häxrummet Records and is available to buy/download on various formats from: followthesea.bandcamp.com.
Blue Joy by Follow the Sea
‘Blue Joy’ opens up with the blistering ‘Dive’. A swirling drone lays a solid, guiding foundation before we’re introduced to explosive drums and a massive layered wall of driving guitars. It then takes off like a sonic steam train, weaving and bobbing through expansive golden frequencies that are drenched in stunning guitar effects. The reverberating maelstrom of intense noise ebbs and flows through expertly produced & spacious percussive breaks as the tracks melodic vocal line picks its way through the leftovers of the proceeding sonic attack. ‘Dive’ is brilliantly addictive and a stunning opener. Up next, is the albums’s first single! ‘Virhe’ languishes on a bed rock of repetitive sequenced percussive hits as those hazy synth swells and hypnotic guitars swirl around the psychedelically induced but highly melodic vocal track, thus holding it in a kind of sonic stasis as the track meanders expertly on its chosen course.
A driving, distorted guitar progression coupled with another pounding drum pattern announces the arrival of ‘In Time’ and its not long before we’re treated to another impressive vocal display that leads us into a soaring chorus and on into a blissful break before the track explodes into a cacophony of wonderful noise! The growling, opening chords of the albums’s penultimate track entitled ‘Fall’ leans more into noise-rock territory but their is a subtle swathe of psych-rock coursing through its inner core. The vocals wail and the guitars surf through layers of impressive, sequenced synth progressions that are steeped in impressive reverberating joy! The albums’s closing piece chalks in at fifteen minutes plus. ‘Breeze’ floats into the sonic ether on a wave of droning atmospheric synth that builds from its opening notes. The addition of dark creeping guitar swells add to the building intrigue before ‘Breeze’ explodes into a wonderfully hypnotic wall of intense noise. Subtle vocal hits swim within the swirling sonic maelstrom as ‘Follow The Sea’ close out ‘Blue Joy’ with a brilliant slice of stunning experimental psych-gaze. A thoroughly enjoyable ending to a brilliantly executed album.
RELEASE: Hello We're Not Enemies
RELEASE DATE: 17th June 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Seashell Records
Hello We’re Not Enemies is an album by Milan-based electronica outfit Novanta. On this release, over seven tracks of varying lengths and degrees, Novanta carve and pump out a wide range of beautiful and elegant alternative genres that paint a shimmering picture of a band who are fully pledged to their art form. And that is one compliment that must be instantly handed to Novanta and this album; it is a reflection of a band with a plan who have laid out seven diverse but fantastic tracks, in a great track listing, giving each song enough space to bounce off the one before. It is hard to explain, but after listening to the album over and over, it is its structure that (besides the music) is one of its strongest points. This coupled with its echoed Synthwave production and mixing, make for a refreshing, interesting and great listen.
Hello We're Not Enemies by Novanta
The album opens with the atmospheric intro-instrumental track, ‘Sonder’. With its humming and heavy synths, it seeks out to paint a picture in the listeners mind, and does so successfully. What is this picture? It is of a dark, empty highway that runs through a metropolis like city, perhaps in the 3000’s; and the band take the listener on a journey down this very highway, equipped with bouncing drum machines and an elegant and neon-bright soundscape. It is a piece of darkwave genius that leads straight into the belly of the beast; or in this case, the heart of the city. ‘Goðafoss’ follows on from the synth of ‘Sonder’ but adds a whole other dynamic at around the fifty second mark with a flood of soaring synth, drums and a neat background guitar to create an emotive and sophisticated coldwave sound, descending into the depths of post-punk. This is one of the albums greatest tracks, perhaps partly based on the fact that although it is sung in a language other than English, I can still (without understanding the lyrics) feel the vocalist’s sensitive and magnificent performance and know it is of a whole other stature; that it is a brilliant track. As the song pumps on in a post-punk/electro tone, it flows out into a beautiful final piece of keyboard contemplation and ceases at around the three minute mark, even though I could have listened to double its running time and still be immersed in the sound and music. ‘Mike’ begins with a kick drum-heavy eighties inspired drum machine, and seeps into a serene bass and keyboard hum, with great Cure-esque vocals that build the song up to its dark and glistening chorus, where climbing synths pulsate the background. If ‘Sonder’ was the trip toward metropolis and ‘Goðafoss’ was a metaphorical wander of its dark streets, then ‘Mike’ is the contemplative subplot of a character lost within the city labyrinth, rising in elevators, staring out the window as it climbs a massive building. ‘Mike’ is visiting the cold, rolling shoreline and gazing out as the wind blows in from a land beyond; utterly enthralling.
‘Tell A Story’ holds up the middle of the album with dream pop sensibilities and composure, but Novanta attempts to stuff the track full of different genres; an act that does not propel ‘Tell A Story’ to the monumental heights of the previous tracks. Instead, the song seems drawn out and jumps from sound to sound, with a reverbed and low-mixed dreampop/shoegaze vocal track in the background, coupled with the slow tap of a drum machine for a full and heavier sound. ‘Blue Lagoon’ stands at over seven minutes and utilizes a similar sound to the opening three tracks, although this song becomes less engaging at the beginning and flourishes as an intelligent and full sound toward the tracks closing. I feel like there is more potential in this track, as the band have demonstrated before how talented they are at choosing their sounds wisely; as it is used only minimally on ‘Blue Lagoon’. However, the three minute mark shines brightly another intelligent piece of music making from Novanta; who enhance the track to a tribal, dream like stature. ‘Melted Eyes’ closes the album with an eerie, dream evoked sound with a touch of darkwave that connects fantastically with the other tracks on the album. If the listener has been wandering the proverbial dark metropolis landscape for the album, then ‘Melted Eyes’ serves as a clever conclusion and a meditative beginning. The piano that touches quietly over the rumbling synth shines light into the heart of the darkwave resonance, and the listener emerges quietly from the labyrinth of coldwave into a whole other world full of light. At the same time, the distant tone of the vocals evokes a sense of contemplation deep within, coupled with a reflective power that allows ‘Melted Eyes’ its own beautiful place on Hello We’re Not Enemies.
The opening three tracks are the absolute highlight of the entire album; they spin with darkwave perspicacity that sooth and offer the listener the opportunity to reflect on the deep and post-punk influenced sounds of the album. Although this is not necessarily a concept album, I felt as though the first half was a fantastic construction of the aforementioned picture of a metropolis like city. With this in mind, I felt the middle few tracks fell out of this concept; so I examined them as songs in their own right and felt only moderate interest toward them. Novanta pull themselves together, however, and finish quite strongly on the last few tracks. Overall the album is great; but it could have been even greater, with a more direct and fleshed out sound. The production is good, the mixing is strong and the performances should be praised on all the tracks. With Hello We’re Not Enemies, Novanta meld together post-punk, electro, shoegaze, darkwave and synth stylings to create a fusion album of spectacular depth, a reflection of their skill with the art of sound.
‘Hello We’re Not Enemies’ was released on the 17th June 2016 via the Palermo based independent record label Seashell Records: seashellrecords.bandcamp.com
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: I Am Your Captain
RELEASE DATE: 31st May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
‘Glower’ is the brand new eight track debut album from the brilliant UK based ‘I Am Your Captain’, the solo project of Air Formation bass player – Ben Pierce. This latest offering is yet another sublime cinematic journey through layers of reverb drenched shoegaze & it typifies the brilliant sounds crafted by this band on their previous releases! The haunting vocals, yearning (almost subliminal) drum patterns, addictive bass lines & droning atmospheric guitars are what instantly attracted us to this immensely intense band. ‘Glower’ is available to buy/download right now from: iamyourcaptain.bandcamp.com
Glower by i am your captain
The album opens up with ‘I Will Hold You To That’ and we’re instantly thrown head long into an experimental world of noisy drones, repetitive percussive hits and explosive chorus attacks. Pierce’s reverberating vocal progressions swirl intently within the sonic ether as the track pulses and ripples throughout numerous shimmering frequencies that all seem to be held steadfast within a state of suspended sonic animation. A stunning opener! The melodic opening chords of ‘Salt’ pummel the senses before the track unfolds into a blistering three minutes plus of sequenced drums, layered reverb drenched guitars and that hazy but addictive vocal line before ‘Intrusive Thoughts’ enters the fray and swoons on a catchy guitar line courtesy of Matt Bartram (Air Formation / You Walk Through Walls). This track is steeped in glorious reverb and the vocal lines are subdued buy highly addictive. Coupled with those throbbing bass frequencies they collectively plough a sonic furrow through walls of blissfully fuzzy reverberation.
The atmospheric ‘Never Sleep Again’ is a short instrumental interlude that builds from the off as it loops and arcs through a maelstrom of fuzzy noise before the droning blissed out tones of ‘Sever’ float into the ether on a wave of melodic vocal progressions. Up next, is the experimental sounding ‘Where It All Collides’ and here we’re treated to just enough atmospherics to hold that repetitive sequenced drum pattern for long enough to allow the whirlwind of droning guitars and throbbing bass lines, tipped with melodic lead guitar highlights, expertly circumnavigate the subtle vocal progressions that seem to hang suspended in the air like a thick blanket of fog. Utterly delectable and thoroughly enjoyable ‘Where It All Collides’ is probably my favourite track on this entire release.
Rumbling bass frequencies, pounding drums and shimmering guitars announce the arrival of the albums penultimate track! ‘Best Left Alone’ radiates sonic brilliance and is reminiscent of early ‘Super Furry Animals’ with its melodic chorus lift and fuzzy instrumentation. The albums closing piece is is a tremulous wall of reverberating joy. Layer after layer of fuzzy guitar carefully protects that fragile vocal performance as the track meanders through the peaks and troughs of its verse and chorus parts until we reach that stunning sustained finale. ‘Almost’ is a thoroughly enjoyable ending to a magnificent debut album.
ARTIST: Ultra Material
RELEASE: Double Date
RELEASE DATE: 13th May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Blackwire Records
The sound of your summer is sorted, thanks to the arrival of Ultra Material’s debut LP, Double Date. Released just as spring finally arrived in the UK, this is a big record from the Brisbane-based band – in its ambition, accomplishment and scale. It sounds fantastic – each element of this sometimes densely-layered creation is clear, reverberating in its own space. In this genre, that’s quite an achievement and it certainly help set it apart. But, it’s the quirks that really make this one stick in the parietal lobe.
Double Date by Ultra Material
The tightly-timed female incantation on opener Eraser, the tricksy riffage of Art Show (doffing my cap to drummer Matt here), the total rushing joy of Crash all signal that this is gaze on a higher plane. Drop seems to have an otherworldy choir providing the beautiful bedrock. Always avoiding the obvious, Sarah swoons through a vocal melody that veers off into minor keys here are and there. The bass starts off as the star in Summit, the centrepiece of the record. But before long, the guitars, shimmering cymbals and atmospheric synths sounds pile up like layers and layers of sparkly quartz to create a huge track, one worthy of a name referencing mountains. But that’s just the start – the tone darkens, the propulsion increases, and that vocal melody. It’s a stomach flipping combination.
We first hear a male voice on Nothing is Lost, adding an interesting new texture. Drowned in reverb, the track emanates an unspecified melancholy, but maintains momentum with a super-fuzzy lead guitar line pushing it all along. Heat takes its time to reveal itself, a hazy vision. The drums open, pounding and insistent. The guitar is floaty and spare, the delayed vocals disorientate dreamily. Pleased to Meet You (which also features on last year’s EP) is where we hear the influences of past shoegazers most powerfully. But as we’ve now come to expect, those MBV-esque sounds are slowed, warped and shaped into something else. Something Ultra Material.
Double Date is out now vinyl on Blackwire Records and digitally at www.ultramaterial.bandcamp.com.