ARTIST: Stella Diana
RELEASE: Alhena EP
RELEASE DATE: November 27th 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory
It’s hard to believe just how far ‘Stella Diana’ have come since their last full release '41 61 93' back in 2014. I know that they’ve appeared on various shoegaze compilations since then with various covers etc & that they have just penned a new record deal but leaving all of that aside, this band have continued collectively to create a beautiful concoction of mesmerising & melodically astute shoegaze while vocally using their home language, rather impressively I might add, as a method with which to transport their sonic message to their fairly immense worldwide fanbase. That in itself should be applauded in my opinion & thats even before we peel back the outer layers of this latest outing – ‘Alhena’, released via their newly acquired independent record label ‘Vipchoyo Sound Factory’.
Alhena by Stella Diana
Scientifically speaking the meaning dictated for ‘Alhena’ is – “Its an evolving star exhausting the supply of hydrogen at its core and has entered the sub-giant stage”. If you attach the above definition to ‘Stella Diana’ you can quickly understand how this band have exhausted their small time musical surroundings and are now moving out of the underground into a much larger musical orbit. Its amazing to see & even better to hear as some of these tracks were previously available via the bands bandcamp page (albeit without the production & mastering skills of Ferndale Productions Mark Joy & Alexander Kretov of Ummagma Studios) and have now been beautifully mixed & mastered by the afore mentioned individuals to the extent that they now weave & arc through layers of amazing sonic brilliance. ‘Stella Diana’ are Dario Torre – Vocals & Guitar, Giacomo Salzano – Bass, Roberto Amato – Guitar, Raffaele Boccheti – Guitar & Davide Fusco – Drums & they hail from the beautiful city of Naples.
The opening track & lead single ‘Shohet’ explodes into the ether with a fuzzy undercurrent intertwined with melodic guitar patterns & hazy shimmering tone. It has, as we’ve come to expect from ‘Stella Diana’, a sublime vocal track that is jammed full of gorgeous melody. Up next is a trip to 1990’s heaven. ‘Caulfield’ drives & ploughs through another impressive musical structure reminiscent at times to early Belgian stalwarts ‘Deus’ crossed with Manchunian wonders ‘The Stone Roses’. Go listen to it!!! Track 3 – ‘Bill Carson’ brings the song writing skills of ‘Stella Diana’ to the fore with melodic chord progressions full of purposefully addictive peaks & troughs. Another solid tune, masterfully mixed & produced. Up Next – ‘Mira’ is utterly addictive without being overly lush. It explodes in the breaks & drives through the verses with its repetitive bass line & almost droning space rock like guitars. A triumph of a track that is most definitely the stand out for me on this whole release. Closing the proceedings is a cover version of a track originally released by 1990’s psychedelic underachievers ‘Kula Shaker’ entitled ‘Govinda’. Not for me really but you can understand why the band would include it on this release as it fits into the over all ascetic of ‘Alhena’ & obviously has deep meaning that only the band can explain.
Overall this is an impressive debut release by a band whom I have a lot of time for. If you are new to the impressive sounds of ‘Stella Diana’ then this is a great starting point on your sonic adventure. For me though, the band have a lot more to give & I eagerly await some brand new material.
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.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: The Underground Youth
RELEASE DATE: March 4th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
‘The Underground Youth’ are something of a musical enigma. This Manchester based four piece have been collectively creating a heady blend of shoegaze, post-punk and psych rock with ease since 2008 to produce an overall sound so hypnotically mesmerising that I’m constantly floored every single time that I hear them. The band originally self released their third stunning long player entitled ‘Mademoiselle’ back in 2010 and now it’s getting the full on Vinyl treatment courtesy of the ever consistent London based Fuzz Club Record‘s and is available right now via FuzzClub.Com.
Mademoiselle by The Underground Youth
‘Mademoiselle’ begins with the intensely vivid 'Hope & Pray'. This opening track snakes its way through the musical landscape on a wave of tambourine shakes, subtle percussive hits, shimmering guitars and that instantly recognisable vocal courtesy of Craig Dyer. I’m totally transfixed with ‘Mademoiselle’, the self titled second track on this impressive release. It lazily meanders on an addictive guitar progression that swirls around that impressive vocal line before it cleverly injects some distortion into the chorus, thus balancing everything out nicely. The metronomic ‘Underground’ hypnotises you from the off whilst ‘Olya’s Song’ is a beautiful slice of dreamy, melodic brilliance. Vocally heart wrenching in its entirety but jam packed full of sonic finesse none the less, the atmospheric cover version of the endemic ‘Spacemen 3’ track ‘Lord Can You Hear Me?’ shimmers and radiates while the pentatonic ‘Crash (BSA JAM)’ introduces us to a full drum kit for the first time, albeit with the obligatory hypnotic percussion track and tambourine accompaniment, collectively shuffling through their sonic gears alongside the impressive lead guitar attack.
‘Iggy The Eskimo’ echoes in a world of spacious reverb as the sparse guitar progressions and that radiant vocal track hug each other intently. It’s a stunning track. There’s a subtle menacing drone teetering on the outer fringes of ‘Une Saison En Enfer’ that vies for this listeners attention as the instrumentation builds and that hypnotic psych induced vocal track cuts the sonic tension like a sharp knife. Up next ‘Hedonism’ swims in a sea of swirling reverberating sound waves, repetitive up tempo drum patterns and shimmering guitars whilst ‘Feel So Free’ calms proceedings down considerably to a golden acoustic hued lustre.
The albums closing track ‘Mercury Guitar’ has an interesting post-rock edge, intertwined with a stunningly atmospheric but insanely experimental psych rock swirl that grabs your attention from its very first note. An impressive finale to a very impressive album.
ARTIST: Desert Mountain Tribe
RELEASE: Either That Or The Moon
RELEASE DATE: 11th March 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Metropolis Records & Membran(UK).
Dear pseudo psych bands – Unplug your puny phaser pedal, and pull up a pew. Here’s a lesson in the head-spinning world of psychedelic sound, 2016-style from Desert Mountain Tribe and their debut album Either That Or The Moon. Note the analogue delays creating dizzying drones, study the mesmerising power of repetition, submit yourself to the rhythm of the riff. If you follow these tenets, as so aptly displayed by DMT, there may yet be hope. If not, you’ll be trapped in a sub-Kasabian purgatory. Suffice to say Either That Or The Moon is a hefty swedge of satisfying psychedelia – scuffed, swirling and bone-crushing in all the right places.
Opener ‘Feel The Light’ launches this space rocket of sound, countdown and all. There’s a dusty swagger to ‘Take A Ride’, with its lyrics about big cars and dreams. Bigger is definitely better for Desert Mountain Tribe, they are not a band who seem interested in confinement or restraint, so the chorus to ‘Midnight Sky’ is expansive and perhaps a tad grandiose. There’s some devilishly good tape delay in ‘Heaven and Hell’, a repetitive rumble that makes the head spin. Single ‘Runway’ is a good ole rock n roll tune. There’s hint of Southern rock about it and it could almost tip over into convention line, if it were not for that rich palette of sound which keeping it heavy. ‘Enos in Space’ has a strong sixties vibe, with organ featuring high in the mix, and those Byrdsian harmonies. There’s a brief clearing of the psychic fog with ‘Way Down’, but before long, the drums are pounding, there’s a huge fuzz explosion and an all-encompassing wah-wah solo. ‘OC Dream’ marks a change of pace on the record. It all seems to slow down. We float along on the updrafts of the melodic bass. The icy lament of ‘Interstellar’ sends out space signals that soon explode in the sky. With the fuzzed-out slow dance of ‘Coming Down’, we’re into a dark place on this trip and it is here in this suffocating, swirling spot we stay.‘Leave It Behind’ is a cowboy tale with a sinister sway that breaks down into a huge stramash of sound.
Either That Or The Moon is quite a journey and one that’s not afraid to lead us into the shadier edges of the psyche, but it’s definitely a trip that’s worth taking.
The album gets its full release on the 11th March 2016 via Metropolis Records (Membran in the UK).
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.
ARTIST: Singapore Sling
RELEASE: Psych Fuck
RELEASE DATE: 30th November 2015
Formed in Reykjavik back in 2000, persuasive psychedelic explorers Singapore Sling have spent 16 years creating impressive ripples within the sonic ether. Their influential brand of experimental fuzzy psychedelic rock has touched nearly every fabric of this modern day underground psych scene and their sound continues to inspire up and coming young talent with its swirling infectious, heaving soundscapes. ‘Psych Fuck’, the bands eight release to date via the immense UK based Fuzz Club Records was unleashed back in November 2015. This twelve track monolith of immense proportions is stunningly sublime from start to finish.
Psych Fuck by Singapore Sling
The opening track ‘Dive In’ is a dark chunk of infectious psych rock. Its shuffling drum patterns, driving guitars and that highly addictive duel vocal attack will floor you. The track shifts through its sonic gears with ease, building into an intense swirling whirlwind of beautiful hypnotic noise as it goes. Track two ‘Let It Roll, Let It Rise’ heaves and trips through its musical progressions with ease, reminiscent at times of early ‘Jesus And Mary Chain’ but with an injection of 60’s surf psych. Those dark, repetitive jangling guitars, impressive drum sequences and that insanely addictive tambourine seems to protectively circumnavigate the vocal lines thus keeping them held in a sonic stasis! Up next ‘ÆJL’ is a fuzzy melodic ball of noise and reverb that just makes sense whilst ‘Na Na Now’ is a slice of 60’s psych goodness with its shimmering tambourines, repetitive drums, jangling reverberating guitar progressions and those highly addictive vocals. ‘Try’ is a distorted, dark, crawling soundscape with a hypnotic guitar line that grabs you by the throat and makes you listen intently to it while ‘The Underground’ is a serine slice of electronic drums, throbbing bass frequencies & infectious vocals that are all intertwined with that melodically creepy guitar line (think country psych, if thats even a musical genre?).
Track seven ‘Dying Alive’ stalks into audible range on a wavy bed of sequenced electronic drums, awkward synth stabs and sampled voices before building to a sublime cacophony of sonic sound waves. ‘Give Me Some Other’ is a throbbing, repetitive, psychedelic beast whilst track nine ‘Glitter’ shimmers and rotates on its sonic axis as it works itself out of a coiled state to unleash a sublime slice of 60’s infused psych rock. ‘Astonaut’ shakes and shudders as it rumbles through its psych tendencies until we’re introduced to the mellow opening tones of ‘Shithole Town’ and those reverb laden guitars, delayed vocals & electronic drum patterns brilliantly reminiscent of The Velvet Underground.
The albums closing track ‘The Shadow Of Foronicity’ is a glitchy affair, full of distorted frequencies that swirl around the droning vocal line, stunning organ progression and that shuffling percussion track. A fitting end to a fantastic album.
Recommended listening from a new fan!
RELEASE: Prism Cinema
RELEASE DATE: April 15th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
L.A. based psychedelic explorers ‘Bokonon’ unveil their impressive eleven track debut album entitled ‘Prism Cinema’ to the masses on April 15th 2016. With a sound that surfs along the very tips of modern day psychedelia whilst doffing a well worn cap to Shoegaze, Krautrock and swirling 60’s Psych Pop ‘Bokonon’ inject stunning melody into every single track on this immense release and have that canny little knack of pulling you into their sonic world and showing you around it’s fuzzy inner workings. The band are made up of Monique Luna – Synths, Elvis Galvez – Guitars & Vocals, Tianna Nicole – Drums & Ray Montes – Bass & Vocals.
Prism Cinema by Bokonon
The album opens on a whirlwind of golden colour as ‘Stay Awake With Me’ unleashes its shuffling percussive hits, addictive synth patterns, shimmering guitar lines and wavy studio effects that seem to circumnavigate those impressive vocal lines with ease thus leaving this listener with an over riding feeling of total sonic immersion! A truly marvellous opening track and a great jump off point into melodic world of ‘Bokonon’. Up next, ‘By My Side’ meanders into the sonic arena on magically hypnotic bass frequencies, reverberating guitar stabs and that impressive vocal. It explodes into a cacophony of colourful sounds throughout its chorus progressions and soars within a maelstrom of impressive drum patterns and layered sonic waves. Track three, ‘Thru The Trees’ is melodically metronomic from its very first droning notes as that beautiful vocal swirls into the sonic ether. It oozes space and has the freedom to build with impressive synth swells acting as a steadying centrifuge as all around it streams through layers of immense reverb. ‘Harmonia’ has synth pop like beginnings until its calming vocals take over and drag it into a beautifully structured slice of psych-pop whilst ‘Interstellar’ drones on its axis and swirls into earshot as pounding drums herald the arrival of an experimental psychedelic monolith! The bass line drives a sonic furrow through the musical landscape with aplomb and as the track progresses I’m reminded of the instrumental psychedelic explorations of Boston based ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’. Simply stunning!
‘Vanilla Kiss’ explodes with visceral intent as it works through its sonic gears. As the vocals arrive there are hints of early ‘Tame Impala’ swirling around in the track’s make up but its the stunning psych induced tones of ‘Somewhere Sacred’ that peak this listeners attention. It crawls like a stalking sonic beast as it builds on layers of stunning synth swells and infectious guitar progressions. The vocals sit atop of those brilliantly executed drums as we wait for it to unfold its wings and soar into a mosaic coloured sky. A truly wonderful track and possibly my favourite on this entire release. ‘Behemoth’ begins on a bed of throbbing bass frequencies as distorted guitar swells shatter the serenity of the previous track. This is full on 60’s tinged psych rock interspersed with impressive krautrock explosions as organ swells and screaming guitars play hide and seek with the bass and drums. ‘Orbits’ swerves into earshot as droning synths usher in shimmering guitar progressions and earthbound drum patterns. The psychedelically charged vocal lines swirl within the sonic whirlwind and are allowed to loop and arc throughout the entire track.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Untamed’ oozes melody as the instrumentation makes way for another stunning vocal performance. With near perfect production ‘Untamed’ uses its verses to carry the vocal as its chorus parts explode into stunning golden frequencies. The albums closing track floats on magical synth swells, reminiscent of early ‘Electric Light Orchestra’ as we’re treated to blissful vocal lines and hypnotic instrumentation. A fitting end to a truly magnificent album.
‘Prism Cinema’ is available to buy/download on various formats right now from: bokononband.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Dead Skeletons
RELEASE: Live In Berlin
RELEASE DATE: 9th April 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Released on April 9th 2016 via the ever reliable ‘Fuzz Club Records’, psychedelic explorers ‘Dead Skeletons’ bring their explosive live sound to the ears of the listening masses on one highly anticipated latest release. ‘Live In Berlin’ was recorded at Berlin’s iconic S036 Club and it features a plethora of live musical guests including members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3 and Singapore Sling gracing the bands stage. The album is available to buy/download right now on most formats from the Fuzz Club website.
‘Om Vajra Sattva Hung’ meanders into earshot on a brutal tidal wave of dark oppressive live frequencies adorned with glitchy guitar squalls and squealing feedback. The intense live atmospherics are indeed palpable as the track builds in momentum swirling within reverberating fret noise and shuffling off-kilter snare drum theatrics. It breaks into an expansively spacious kind of reverberating peace before pounding drums and addictive guitar structures interrupt it’s dreamlike state to announce the track in all of its mantra driven glory. ‘Om Vajra Sattva Hung’ is thoroughly experimental as it works through its structured changes to become one big monolithic sonic surge. Electronic sequences coupled with intense guitars swirl within the musical void as ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ breathes an explosive edge into proceedings. It’s Pounding drums act as a central spine as it bears the weight of the swirling instrumentation and that exquisitely repetitive vocal mantra! Up next, ‘Buddha Christ’ shuffles on its percussive coil as it explodes into some modern day psychedelically infused rockabilly whilst ‘Kundalini Eyes’ expands the rock n’ roll trend, albeit with an infusion of driving old-school ‘Joy Division’ for good measure, before bending and manipulating frequencies at will to create a massive wall of experimental sonic brilliance.
‘Psycho Dead’ drones on a sampled vocal before its subtle percussion parts add just enough weight to support those dark and oppressive vocals allowing the guitars to swirl around the entire track with ease. It stalks the outer reaches of your audible range but unlike the previous tracks it manages to stay earthbound and straightforward enough to allow even the newest of listeners to grasp whats going on. Up next ‘When The Sun’ shimmers and hangs within suspended sonic animation as it’s gradually allowed to open up and gracefully show off its inner musical demons! It swerves on layers of reverb as the steadying pace of the drum track ushers in the melodic vocal and allows it to breath before it soars into the sonic ether. ‘When The Sun’ is simply stunning and it shows the diversity within a live sound environment that Dead Skeletons possess. They can gauge the mood of the audience on any particular night and change the sound to suit when needed. Magnificently executed.
‘Dead Cometh’ builds from the off and it is packed full of experimental atmosphere as it grinds through its sonic gears. Massive guitar structures loop and arc all over the sonic arena as its addictive vocal lines ride huge waves of brooding and effected frequencies intertwined with those pounding drum patterns. Track eight, ‘Get On the Train’ is a modern day psychedelic behemoth! It drives a tremulous sonic furrow through proceedings whilst the albums penultimate track the aptly named ‘Kingdom Of God’ shudders and groans on a wave of droning guitars and repetitive explosive drum patterns. It builds and builds gathering immense heights, all the while stacking layer upon layer of insanely brilliant sound-waves to create a stunning live sonic assault on the senses. The albums closing piece needs no introduction, no reviewing or fancy wording and no bloody frills! It is simply a thirteen minute plus call to arms to the modern day psych world and is my favourite track on this entire release. Ladies and gentlemen I give you ….. ‘Dead Mantra’.
This is a stunning collection of live recordings from a band who can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Dead Skeletons effortlessly transform their entire studio sound into something thats quite otherworldly live. They can evoke out of body experiences through the medium of sound and are definitely worthy of your ears. My advice to you is to get out and see them live just to experience it for yourselves!
This is spiritual enlightenment in musical form ….. this is music!
ARTIST: Ghost Box Orchestra
RELEASE: High Plaine
RELEASE DATE: May 17th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Evil Hoodoo Records
I’ve been a big admirer of the sounds created by Boston natives ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’ for quite some time . Their collective musical stylings enthralled me from very early on as I repeatedly overplayed their cinematic post-rock hued 2010 debut ‘The Only Light On’, then fell head long into the magnificent dark vortex of 2013’s ‘Vanished’ only to tumble out the other end and crash straight through the reverberating ‘Sound of (Eternal Now)EP' back in October 2015. For me, it’s been a brilliant musical rollercoaster ride of epic proportions and now I’m happy to report that the band have unleashed a brand new full length masterpiece! ‘High Plaine’ was officially released back on the seventeenth of May 2016 via ‘Evil Hoodoo Records’ over in the UK and it is nothing short of immense!
High Plaine by Ghost Box Orchestra
A swirling keyboard drone heralds the arrival of ‘Flutter’, as its tremulous guitars and eerily hypnotic organ progression circumnavigates pounding poly-rhythms & surging swells of reverberating sonic brilliance. ‘Flutter’ builds from its opening notes as the cyclonic musical cacophony urges those Impressive vocal lines to take centre stage happily in the knowledge that they are protected from any outside interference by a raging wall of noise. Let’s not be fooled here people; this is a stunning opening track full of explosive psychedelic promise and worthy of your ears. Up next are howling (but impressive) vocal progressions intriguingly underscored with melodiously repetitive guitar structures and explosive percussive patterns. ‘High Plaine’ opens up into a monstrous musical animal as it weaves its way through swathes of shimmering instrumentation.
The senses are tweaked at the arrival of my favourite track on this entire release! ‘Socrates Burned’ is a monolithic sonic beast that pulses through walls of stunning reverb as those pounding but regimented drum patterns act like bedrock, bearing the full weight of those soaring guitars and its huge swirling synth swells coupled with growling bass frequencies and a piercing vocal attack. There’s a quick reprise of sorts as the remnants of ‘Socrates Burned’ fades into obscurity but its quickly replaced by the calming and refreshing opening bars of ‘Wave Goodbye’. This track is deeply melodic as it meanders through peaks and troughs of glorious golden instrumentation. Cascading keyboard thrills hang suspended just above audible range as ghostly vocalisations litter the reverberating landscape. It’s brilliant guitars shimmer as they stir within a heady brew of steading drum progressions, beautiful synth swirls and impressive throbbing bass lines. Up next is the shuffling ‘Dead & Gone’ with its mesmerising reverb retched vocal chants that seem to hover blissfully on sonic winds like a hunting eagle as all around it the ether rages a sonic war of attrition. Simply stunning! Droning guitars and meandering vocal lines usher in the opening bars of ‘Days Are Forever’ before we’re lifted high above the musical landscape on melodically brilliant wavy guitar lines and pounding drums as the chorus progression explodes into a brilliant cacophony of wonderful noise.
Things are really moving at pace now as ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’ offer up the albums penultimate track! ‘Within The Sound’ is a storming call to arms. It’s pounding drums and rumbling bass frequencies should have a post code all to themselves as they plough a sonic furrow through the entire musical landscape. Add into the mix the raging wall of noise created by the attacking guitars & that soaring vocal line and we have a full on assault on the senses. The albums closing track fades blissfully into ear shot on a swirling mass of droning guitars. ‘Causality Devotional’ floats on angelic frequencies as it works through its sonic gears. It builds brilliantly as it layers each one of its instrumental components at various points along the tracks navigational path. The vocals soar into ear shot on waves of shimmering reverberating frequencies that loop and arc all over the sonic spectrum with blistering aplomb. ‘Causality Devotional’ then builds into a raging maelstrom of noise as it tumbles into its droning finality. This is a stunning track to close out an absolutely stunning album.
Bravo Ghost Box Orchestra!
‘High Plaine’ is available to buy/download right now from: ghostboxorchestra.bandcamp.com
RELEASE DATE: May 6th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sunrise Ocean Bender Records
The brilliant independent record label ‘Sunrise Ocean Bender’ presents a stunning collection of seven tracks by Sicily-based psychedelic explorer ‘JuJu’ (Lay Llamas, Herself) released back on the May 6th 2016. With a stunning sound thats more akin to a pulsating, living organism ‘JuJu’ transcends this modern day psych rock plain bringing with it swathes of rhythmic, almost ritualistic golden frequencies to the ears of its waiting listenership. The album is available on various formats via juju-spell.bandcamp.com
JuJu by JuJu
Driving bass frequencies, riding a wave of panned percussive hits usher in track one, the hypnotically atmospheric ‘Samael’. It’s sequenced drum patterns swirl within the magical maelstrom as it builds into a whirlwind of reverb induced vocal lines coupled with pounding drums and intertwined with suppressive droning guitars. It surges through its chord progressions with apparent ease as wave after wave of sonic frequencies batter the senses and block out any outside influence careering you off its chosen musical path. A stunning entry point into a dynamic world of sonic delight. Track two thunders into the musical arena on a titanic wave of shimmering reverb. ‘We Spit On Yer Grave’ is completely addictive as those plodding synth progressions, cushioning that immense vocal attack, rides a juggernaut of explosive drums, throbbing bass lines and tremulous golden hued guitars.
The metronomic opening bars of ‘Stars And Sea’, my favourite track on this entire release, swerves and moves within a translucent world of shimmering suspended animation as those stunning vocals add an air of atmosphere to proceedings. There’s a subtle but brilliant country chic feel to this track as it meanders its way through peaks and troughs of psychedelic delight. The added eastern sounding percussive hits inject weight and balance but soon make way for an absolutely blistering finale as the track takes off into a stunning cacophony of swirling vocals, swerving synth swells and dark driving guitars. Beautiful atmospheric piano hits circumnavigated by dark oppressive samples announce the arrival of ‘Dance With The Fish’ as immense psychedelically charged synth swells sonically mimic an apparent underwater scene. It’s a beautiful two minute sonic aperitif to what comes next!
A repetitious guitar progression carefully balances a whispering but effective vocal pattern on its axis as ‘Sunrise Ocean’ builds momentum into a charging musical monolith! The tidal wave of sound expands as those droning guitars arrive and plough through the tracks fuzzy interior with aplomb. Add into the mix those driving, addictive bass frequencies and what we have collectively is an absolutely stunning piece of music. The albums penultimate track entitled ‘Lost’ begins with stunning melody courtesy of a repetitive piano sequence. There’s an air of tranquility as the synth swells and drums arrive, adding subtle but firm movement to the track and allowing the vocal samples to loop and arc throughout the reverberating atmosphere. The mood then changes as we shift sonic gears. The drums increase in tempo, coupled with the arrival of a repetitious guitar progression and shakers the entire piece swirls within a beautiful sonic whirlwind!
The albums closing piece is simply magical! Swirling bongos, sequenced samples and droning golden frequencies begin the hypnotic rhythmic mantra as those amazing repetitive vocals shuffle into earshot. ‘Bring ‘Em War’ builds and builds, developing form and shape before unleashing something akin to absolute sonic abandonment! It weaves and bobs throughout and drives a deeply melodic psychedelic furrow right through the centre of the musical landscape! A truly wonderful closing track to a blistering album.
ARTIST: Is Bliss
RELEASE: Velvet Dreams
RELEASE DATE: October 21st 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Club AC30
The brilliant London based independent record label 'Club AC30' have been nurturing some fantastic worldwide artists from the psych/gaze/electronic & dream-pop genres for quite some time now. Their list of rostered artists has brought us some serious heavy hitters such as 'Flyying Colours, Pinkshiunyultrablast and Ringo Deathstarr' to name just a few. Now they've unleashed a veritable sonic triumph is the guise of the debut EP entitled 'Velvet Dreams' by Portsmouth based trio 'Is Bliss'. This band are causing quiet a stir right now within the underground fraternity with their no nonsense, full on, psych induced reverberations! They are made up of Jimmy Stuart - vox/guitar, Dean Edwards - bass & Sam Speakman - drums and they have already graced the stage with the likes of Wolf Alice, Telescopes, Nine Black Alps, Mark Gardener and Robin Guthrie. The vinyl edition of 'Velvet Dreams' (limited to 300) has already sold out over on the record labels website store.clubac30.com so if you missed out on this immense debut EP, then you will just have to take our word for it! It is absolutely magnificent.
The EP opens up with 'Morning Sun', a beautifully effervescent track full of esoteric sound waves and translucent sonic frequencies. Driving percussion and throbbing bass lines hold court as those impressive guitar lines weave effortlessly in and out of haunting vocal progression's courtesy of Jimmy Stuart. 'Morning Sun' surges forward on wave after wave of brilliant reverberation, reminiscent at times to early Verve or Creation Records era Telescopes. Up next, the immense 'Realise' enters into earshot on a steadying drum pattern coupled with a melodious baseline and another impressive lead guitar progression. It explodes stunningly into a cacophony of beautiful noise as it's chorus parts take flight and soar into the ether, all the while circumnavigating that brilliant vocal and those massive walls of guitars just to lead us on merry dance until we're dumped out the other side like a geek at school disco. 'Realise' is absolutely Immense and not for the faint hearted.
'Truth' growls into existence on punctuating bass frequencies and luscious guitar squall before unleashing a huge wall of instrumentation that is just about big enough to carry those 'angry young man' vocal lines! The guitars wail and scream brilliantly as this track launches itself skywards, dragging every single fucking listener with it as the torturous screams of Jimmy Stuart echo into forever. A triumphant track and possibly my favourite on this entire EP, 'Truth' is a sonic call to arms for a society in ruins. The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Ocean Blue' swirls into the ether on an instrumental drone as the drum track winds up and pulses out a metronomic beat, coupled with the underlying swing of tabla, shakers & tambourine hits all enveloped around Stuart's impressive vocalisations. The collective result puts a kind of swirling hypnotic hue on proceedings as those eastern esoteric vibes undulate and meld with cascading sitar, throbbing bass frequencies and those psychedelically intense guitars.
The EP's closing piece is a psych induced monster coming in at eight minutes plus. 'Lure' has a menacing drone creeping down it's central spine as the instrumentation builds and lurches forward on it's pre-destined course. Addictive bass lines and almost prog rock like guitars swim effortlessly in a sea of reverberation as those wailing vocals ride a slow processional drum pattern, meandering deftly and without hindrance. 'Lure' begins to gain momentum now and we're thrown headlong into a maelstrom of effortless instrumentation and immense sonic abandonment with it's pounding drums and screaming lead guitar lines echoing into a raging finale.
If the underground music fraternity are looking for a champion to nail their colours to, they've found it in these five tracks by the brilliant 'Is Bliss' ...... This is music!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Fire Behaving As Air
RELEASE: Vapour Trail
RELEASE DATE: November 25th 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
There is a haunting air of excitement as I wait for the opening salvos of this debut full length release from Melbourne based droning dream-gazers ‘Fire Behaving As Air’. I’ve been a big fan of this band ever since the release of their debut EP ‘Desire’ back in 2013 & having just recently read excerpts from an interview that the band gave to the brilliant ‘Blog That Celebrates Itself’, I was chomping at the bit to hear the finished album in full. Fire Behaving As Air’s origins began in 2008 by husband and wife songwriters Owen (guitarist) and Beck Lee (vocalist/harmonium), over the seven years the band’s family has grown and morphed to permanently include Chris Compton (lead guitar) & Mark Taylor (drums), as well as numerous guest appearances including players of additional harmonium, tabla, djembe, violin, cello, bansuri, moog, keyboard and trumpet. This latest release ‘Vapour Trail’ explores recurring themes of impermanence in all of its incarnations; loss, sudden destruction, metastasis, evasion, revolution and ultimately, the sublime release through escapism.
Vapour Trail by Fire Behaving As AirThe album opens with an atmospheric guitar progression that creeps between the interplay of light & dark tonal beauty whilst skipping along a musical atmosphere steeped in reverb laden brilliance, erupting in explosive power with the arrival of the absolutely immense vocal abilities of Beck Lee. ‘Silver Tongue’ is a portal to a world of sonic delight. Think Velvet Underground & Nico meets Portishead but turned on its head with a modern twist. Its a stunning opener. Up next ‘To The Seafloor’ has dream-pop aspirations from the off. Again the vocal track catches this listeners ear as it dances & weaves through reverberating guitars & steady shimmering drums. There’s a dark atmospheric edge interspersed with an almost folk like feel, vocally to ‘When She’s Bored She Dies’ & it does just about enough to keep you focused & interested until about 4 minutes in when this track explodes & offers up its inner wailing guitar self. ‘Tolerance’ is a triumphant masterpiece! Having been voted by the listeners of California based DKFM Shoegaze Radio as one of the Top 50 Most Loved Shoegaze & Dream Pop Tracks of 2012 its no wonder that it appears here on their debut full length release. ‘Tolerance’ meanders deftly through layer upon layer of fuzzy reverb laden psychedelic shoegaze & only comes up for air during Beck Lee’s stunning vocal parts. A must have in any true shoegazers playlist. After the heady heights of ‘Tolerance’ the pace slows a little as the band introduces ‘Unconquered’ & ‘Peaceful’. In both of these tracks I’m hearing sporadic ethereal dream-pop inspired flourishes Cocteau Twins style throughout but there’s also a dark droning addictively intense undercurrent that drags them both through peaks & troughs courtesy of Owen Lee & Chris Compton on guitars.
Up next, ‘Ripples’ builds & builds from its inception to its explosive ending whilst ‘Breathe’ is a cumulative charging sonic ball of hazy psychedelic goodness with repetitive vocal progressions, effected guitars & thunderous drum patterns. ‘Watch The World Go Down’ slows the album to a crawl as we listen to Beck Lee’s vocal swim through a wall of reverb & sink into a sea of guitar swells, diminished percussion & effected hallucinogenic instrumentation. This is a wonderful track that will inspire you to dream in colour. Listen to it via headphones, it will blow your mind! 'Mantra' sneaks onto the musical canvass with its throbbing repetitive bass line, snake like shakers & a droning wall of psychedelic sound all intertwined with another stunning vocal performance. There’s a definite 60’s psych feel to this enthralling track that swerves & meanders like a snake hunting its prey. Very cool indeed. The albums closing track ‘One More Winter’ is a tame affair of cinematic instrumentation all entered around a magnificent vocal performance reminiscent of Portishead’s own Beth Gibbons.
As debut albums go this is up there with the best of them. I really love the way ‘Fire Behaving As Air’ skip through various musical genres with aplomb. Their well thought out song structures, blissfully effected guitar progressions & pounding drums coupled with the immense vocal ability of Beck Lee should hold them in good stead with shoegazers, dream poppers & psych aficionados alike. ‘Vapour Trail’ gets its official release on November 25th and its a major recommendation from us. Go get it!
4.5 / 5