ALBUM REVIEW | Dead Gurus - Acid Bench (Wrong Way Records)

ARTIST: Dead Gurus

RELEASE: Acid Bench

RELEASE DATE: 17th February 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Wrong Way Records

Dark and foreboding, menacing and hypnotic, Minnesota based psych aficionados 'Dead Gurus' are no strangers to this modern underground psych scene. The band are made up of Jason Edmonds (Magic Castles), Bennett Johnson, Collin Gorman Weiland (Daughters of the Sun and Dreamweapon) & Ryan Garbes (Wet Hair) and what they collectively create is a no holds barred, deeply entrancing thrill ride through the darker side of the psychedelic spectrum. Their latest seven track opus entitled 'Acid Bench' is unleashed on February 17th 2017 via the exciting UK based independent record label 'Wrong Way Records' with pre-orders now available both digitally and on limited edition white with black haze vinyl via wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com

'Acid Bench' opens in a feral haze of tape hiss, feedback and raging guitar squall as 'Vibrations' kick starts it's inner engine and winds up its hypnotically charged instrumentation into a blazing cyclonic whirlwind of intense noise. Repetitious drones coupled with squealing lead guitar lines lick and whip the entire piece to within an inch of its life as those stomping drum patterns act as a metronomic kind of timekeeper. It's monotone vocalisations add intense atmosphere as we're dragged on a fuzz laden voyage of psychedelic discovery. Up next, 'Mistress X' pulses on a wave of reverberating guitars, throbbing bass frequencies and pounding drums as it's highly addictive vocal lines weave an enticing sonic web, luring it's listeners into a turbulent inner core before unleashing a torrent of fuzz, phasing guitars and a full on sonic storm of wailing noise. 'Serpent Fire' is an undulating sonic behemoth filled with throbbing bass lines, unrelenting guitars & a repetitious percussive attack whilst 'Celestial Fuzz' cleanses the soul with it's melody driven opening bars before unleashing a full on mind bending torrent of menacing psych rock that swirls around it's mantra like vocalisations with blistering aplomb. 'Celestial Fuzz' is a cyclonic beast that twists and turns through many different sonic permutations. It's a bruising white knuckle ride that heaves and pulses intermittent reverberations out into the ether on waves of hypnotically charged incantations that will leave you wanting more. Definitely my favourite track on this entire release, 'Celestial Fuzz' is a modern day psych rock triumph and a serious recommendation from me.

Up next, 'Song For Saraswati' swirls into audible range on blissful waves of peaceful instrumentation, draped in swathes of eastern esoteric flair, mysticism and droning vocalisations. These opening bars however lead us all into a false sense of security as 'Dead Gurus' unleash a churning sea of frequential noise, filled with unrelenting repetitious instrumentation and mantra like vocalisations that collectively form a heady invocation of mind altering, mescaline fuelled brilliance. Do yourselves a favour and pop on some headphones, sit back and let 'Song For Saraswati' seep into your inner psyche. You will thank me for the tip afterwards. The albums penultimate piece is dark and cyclical. 'Starlight Sisters' takes no prisoners, there's absolutely nowhere to hide from this turbulent brute. Steeped in heavy bass patterns and raging guitars it swings menacingly on a bedrock of metronomic percussion building in intensity as it meanders through the ether cutting a deep furrow through proceedings just to allow those entrancing vocal lines to sit comfortably somewhere whilst all around them wields a sonic war of attrition. 'Dead Gurus' keep the longest track on the entire album to close out with. Coming in at a whopping eight minutes plus 'Black Silk' uses punishing instrumentation to circumnavigate those intense vocal lines. Explosive percussion and repetitious bass frequencies tie the piece to terra firma as all around them pulses and undulates into a wild sonic beast that surges wave after wave of punishing vibrations out into the ether. 'Black Silk' is powerfully addictive and it closes out what will surly be one of the best releases of 2017 come years end!

5/5

LINKS:

wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com

wrongwayrecords.com

facebook.com/deadgurus/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney has spent the last five years 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 (Now On Hiatus). 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.


EP REVIEW | Vansire - The Rolling, Driftless North

ARTIST: Vansire

RELEASE: The Rolling , Driftless North

RELEASE DATE: 27th January 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

'Vansire' are a Minnesota based lo-fi/dream pop duo who create sonic compositions that flow effortlessly through clouds of jangling reverberation that is underscored at times by periods of cinematic like atmosphere coupled with streaks of subtle psychedelic flair. 'The Rolling, Driftless North' is the bands first full outing since the release of their debut album 'Reflections And Reveries' back in August 2016 and it was written and recorded over a month-long period between the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 by Josh Augustin and Sam Winemiller with Isaac Winemiller (Sam's younger brother) occasionally filling in on bass. It's available right now to buy/download from vansire.bandcamp.com

The EP opens up swimming in a sea of cinematic atmosphere as it's intro 'Reflection No. 2 - A Treatise On Being' enters into earshot. It's not long before a jangling guitar progression and an instantly recognisable vocal courtesy of Josh Augustin arrives draped deliciously in a cloud of glorious reverb. 'Vansire' show their psychedelic tendencies here too as a warbling repetitive synth drone takes over and leads us brilliantly into the serine tones of track two - 'Eleven Weeks'. Rocking gently on a bed of percussion, beautifully intense guitars and underscored by the constant hum of organ and synth swells, 'Eleven Weeks' swirls gracefully around melancholically induced vocalisations and sequenced electronic theatrics. Deftly executed and blissfuly serine 'Eleven Weeks' evokes warm fires in winter and lazy, snowy days.

Up next, 'Pale Blue' injects tempo into proceedings as it's charging lead lines align themselves brilliantly to a driving percussive swagger and subtle bass frequencies. The addition of sublime vocals and swathes of impressive reverberation coupled with the occasional synth swell bolsters the overall sound from a lo-fi bedroom composition to that of a full on modern day dream pop standard. The EP's penultimate tack entitled 'Driftless' floats into earshot spinning repetitively in a cloud of tremulous guitars, cascading bass frequencies and sparse percussion as the almost ethereal like vocalisations of Josh Augustin pulse through wave after wave of stunning sonic production. This track is probably my favourite on the entire release if I'm honest as I love the way it breaks down half way through into simple instrumental progressions that are deftly enveloped by the all encompassing vocalisations. Simply breathtaking.

The EP's closing piece is beautifully written. 'Four Portraits' hangs on a jangling guitar line, a slow ambling percussion track and another excellent vocal as it meanders through sonic peaks and troughs, occasionally joined by a simple guitar strum, a haunting organ swell or the plink/plonk of a keyboard stab. This track keeps you transfixed on it's waves of metronomic reverb before completely throwing you off course during the break, twisting things up until it sounds like two separate tracks only to eventually return to its chosen trajectory just to lead you into it's serine finale. A fitting end to a rather interesting EP.

4/5

LINKS:

vansire.bandcamp.com

facebook.com/vansiretheband

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Del Chaney has spent the last four years 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 (Now On Hiatus). 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.


EP REVIEW | SPC ECO - Under My Skin

ARTIST: SPC ECO

RELEASE: Under My Skin

RELEASE DATE: 10th February 2017

RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned

From the mind of CURVE genius Dean Garcia comes the ridiculously good, cold air beauty of SPC ECO; a duo consisting of Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin, who are set to release the mesmerizing, slow yearning five track EP 'Under My Skin'. It’s honestly an EP I wasn’t exactly bending over backwards to hear as I wasn’t a huge fan of Garcia’s previous collaboration S T F U. But I revoke such reservations to conclude that 'Under My Skin' is in fact a 5/5 EP. It’s choir/orchestral like moods combined with the slow daze of trip hop and a touch of dark wave, helped along by the trance inducing-beauty of Berlin’s vocals make it a slow moving, heavy classic; showcasing the genius of Garcia’s as a producer and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist.

'Under My Skin' opens with the moving title track that establishes the sound of the project. Built around a slow dream pop inspired keyboard line and the utterly brilliant vocals of Berlin, the song moves into a sweeping orchestral key and remains heavy and drowned for the tracks entirety. The lyrics aren’t anything substantial, but coupled with the music, they make fantastic and meditative tones for the listener. ‘Meteor’ is the duos greatest streak at trip hop; the song builds around a similar group of sounds as the opener, albeit slightly more upbeat, though this time said sounds are reinforced by the slow hits of a drum machine, programmed slowly and swinging in time with the music and the soundscapes within the song. ‘Meteor’ sounds less cinematic than the opener, switching out the orchestra swell for a more synthetic sound; which does wonders for the song.

This beat/darkwave style of synthetic/programmed sound continues on 'Creep In The Shadows' which is perhaps the least significant track on the EP. That’s not to say, however, it doesn’t have its positives; the synthetic notion of the music is enhanced to include a neat reverbed bottle rattling sound in the background of the drum pattern that sits comfortably behind a confusingly auto-tuned/vocal FX enhanced Rose Berlin. And that’s exactly why I feel this track to be less significant than the others; because it is perhaps a little too comfortable. Thankfully Garcia and Berlin turn things in a different direction with the deep electronic track ‘Let It Be Always’; a song that revisits the projects earlier tinkering’s with dream pop but abstracts it using neat and intelligent experimental production techniques.

‘Found’ is the most meditative, dreamy and soothing song upon 'Under My Skin'. It’s truly beautiful stuff; slow and spacey, echoed and hovering vocals hang over the mix. The instrumentation and production turns minimalist while the lyrics suggest of gentle contemplation, of discussion and speech between Berlin and somebody or something that has lost its way. It’s a song about light that doesn’t actually hold much light within itself; ‘When you get lost and found/ And when you get lost for a noun/ Like I lead you there/I will lead you there’ sings Berlin, as she offers a kind of shimmering light to counteract the darkwave undertones of 'Under My Skin'. It’s intro and outro are as slight as each other, and when Berlin's vocals sway away, it’s as if the listeners been gently touched by the singers voice. A truly fantastic song.

Apparently 'SPC ECO' have had the title track featured on MTV’s popular show Teen Wolf, a show that I don’t watch. The main thing that I can deduce, however, from that decision is that for the most part the producers must have very good taste. So good of a taste in fact that I applaud them for featuring it on their show and hope that from doing so, more viewers and listeners out there go out searching for 'SPC ECO'. They definitely deserve it. For this EP deserves recognition; whether it’s for the stellar and professional production, the sweeping instrumentation, the stellar arrangements and instrumentation or if it’s for the breathtaking talent and stature of Rose Berlin’s vocal deliveries. After a few listens of the EP I can say that the father/daughter combination of music and vocals/instruments and lyrics is a 5/5 collaboration that highlights everything creative and interesting about dream pop, trip hop and a genre I generally don’t listen to much of - darkwave! This collaboration puts their strengths forward and creates an engaging and musing piece of music, achieved through top notch production, performance and sound.

5/5

LINKS:

spceco.com

facebook.com/Spc.Eco

twitter.com/SPCECO

spceco.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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.