Stepping Stones by Glass Horses
We're very, very late to the party on this one and for that we apologise but we simply can't let this single go by without mentioning it. London based alt/shoegaze quartet 'Glass Horses' have unleashed a stunning brand new single entitled 'Stepping Stones' via their bandcamp page and it follows briskly on from their recently released self-titled debut EP. The band are made up of Noga Shatz - vocals, Terry Hale - guitar/keyboards, Pat Paxton - bass, James Walker - drums and 'Stepping Stones' is available to buy/download right now from glasshorsesband.bandcamp.com with the 'Glass Horses' EP is available to listen to in full over on the bands Soundcloud page.
'Stepping Stones' shimmies into the ether in a torrent of atmospheric reverberation as mesmerising guitar progressions meld with its snaking lead lines and another impressive vocal performance courtesy of Noga Shatz. Sparse percussion and cascading bass frequencies add weight to the piece as the collectively blissful chorus progressions arc and swoon leading us into a sublime closing segment that builds and builds and builds. Their collective sound skips through passages of mesmerising psych, shimmering shoegaze and blissed out dreamy alt-rock with relative ease making Glass Horses one of the most exciting bands on the underground scene right now.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Bleach Bath
RELEASE: It'll Get Worse If You Let It.
RELEASE DATE: 9th April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Formed earlier this year, Ontario based heavy shoegaze three piece 'Bleach Bath' have unleashed a stunning three track demo entitled 'It'll Get Worse If You Let It', an immense prelude to what these guys can create going forward. Their sound shimmers in a haze of fuzzy layered reverberations & ghostly vocalisations collectively underpinned at times by heavier passages of driving alt-rock formulated to allow their sound to soar into the ether, riding a senses pummelling percussive swagger that doesn't give up! 'It'll Get Worse If You Let it' is available to buy/download right now from bleachbathto.bandcamp.com
it'll get worse if you let it by Bleach Bath
The demo opens up trapped in a shimmering translucent wall of guitars as 'Sick Of Me' pulls up it's sleeves and digs in to it's sonic surroundings. Noisy guitar squall echoes and squeals as this track winds itself up into a jittering sonic ball and unleashes a wave of throbbing bass frequencies and driving percussion. The arrival of ghost like vocal lines lay a veil of atmosphere over proceedings as the chorus progressions explode into a cacophony of noise and fuzz leading us into a swirling finale of droning guitars and steadying instrumentation. Up next, 'Worse' charges into the arena ploughing a deep furrow and dragging noisy guitars, humming bass lines and explosive drum patterns into audible range. Soaring lead lines add weight as 'Worse' moves through it's fuzz laden gears with ease and is reminiscent at times to early shoegaze pioneers 'Swervedriver' in it's production arrangement and overall approach.
The EP closes out with 'Shampoo', a soaring behemoth that resonates and reverberates through walls of noisy guitars, steadying percussion and probably the best vocal performance on the entire release. It lifts brilliantly through it's chorus parts injecting some refreshing alt-rock permutations into the mix as it shifts again and streams back into a melodious verse progressions. Reminiscent at times to early 'Dinosaur Jr' or any of those early nineties underground noise-rock outfits, 'Shampoo' is probably my favourite track on the release and it's a fitting ending to wonderfully addictive demo. I can't wait to hear what comes next.
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.
ARTIST: Sonic Jesus
RELEASE DATE: 10th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
From the critically acclaimed underground label Fuzz Club Records comes a slab of truly atmospheric, beautiful and moving music; Grace by Sonic Jesus. Deep and gravel-filled baritone vocals sing over the top of layers of soundscaped synth and unique, refreshing kinds of revivalist post-punk. At its core, holding everything together, is the careful and strategic structural elements of well written and performed alternative rock that balances itself with what seems to be the central theme of Grace; the essence and presentation of mood. From the dark corners of contemplation all the way up through to what sounds like narrative storytelling, Sonic Jesus’s use of mood, both musically and lyrically, is what makes Grace a wholly more interesting listen than any other sort of post-punk, synth laden music that seems to pour out easily for many worldwide bands and artists. 'Grace' is out right now with various formats available to buy via the ever brilliant fuzzclub.com
Grace by Sonic Jesus
‘I’m in Grace’ opens the album with layers upon layers of atmospheric synth soundscapes which are punctured by the deep but inventive baritone of the vocals. Eventually, the drums and guitars enter, playing a recognisable brand of post-punk; made special by the fantastic musical texturing and layering by the band. The song turns from sounding somewhat downtrodden to epic and larger within a few quiet moments; an album highlight. ‘I Hope’ utilizes the previous songs formalities but turns it into a more dream pop/indie tune, where the guitar tone sounds much lighter and colourful than on ‘I’m in Grace’. Again, the small tweaks and touches of a snare rattle here, a clap or other percussive sound make the song all the more enjoyable in a greater and more ‘fuller’ context. Perhaps the greatest element of the song is the chord progression within the chorus; where the vocals slide back down at the same time as the guitar; mixing emotions to create a kind of contrast that highlights all things good about the music. ‘Modern Model’ takes the synth elements explored on other songs to the foreground, creating a pysch-rock like feel. And while its an interesting track, it does not admit the same kind of radiance as either ‘I’m in Grace’ or ‘I Hope’, although the use of keyboards should be strongly highlighted and praised. ‘September Ninth’ turns things around again, sounding quite akin to a formal stylistic sound reminiscent of art rock or punk but still shows significant influence from post-punk and even subtle flashes of cold-wave . The brilliantly darker songwriting skills of the band make the song one of Grace’s best tracks, especially in the section just past the two minute point, where the lyrics and music bounce off each other and feed into a synthetic sounding chorus of epic proportions.
‘No Way’ is by far the most omniscient sounding song on the entire release; the thick disco like bass strums over a dance inspired drum track and scratchy, wild sounding guitar riff. The chorus seeps into itself similar to the previous track, sounding large and more wild than the verse that preceded it. Altogether, the track sounds quite New Wave; synthetic in an appealing sense, and layered and deep enough to appear beautifully fulfilling in its full pictorial qualities. One of Grace’s other highlights is the swaying reverie of ‘Space Heels’ which is perhaps the most melodically beautiful track on the entire release. The song embodies a slower tempo and more ‘gentle’ use of the synthesiser, tied together by a majestic and engaging vocal performance, sprouting and crooning majestic and engaging lyrics in the same. ‘Outdoor Party’ is another brilliantly new wave laced track; equipped with a more dream pop sounding guitar line and a melody that sounds somewhat more upbeat than on previous tracks. ‘Stars’ maintains this quality, heavy and pounding in its percussive elements; it utilizes the airy and hollow ambiance of previous tracks as a background for more alternative soundscaping. The second section of this song, what you could call the outro, plays out texturally rich, with a sequenced sound bouncing around in the background of the alt-rock inspired tune. ‘Fading Lights’ seems to act more like an un-intentional retrospective of the album; collecting up all the elements that the band has explored across Grace.
To keep an album with ten songs on it interesting enough to listen to from cover to cover, a band has to keep one unifying thematic quality to each song and to each transition from one song to another. For Sonic Jesus, that quality is the nifty tonal quality of mood. On Grace, every song either establishes or contorts mood to place emphasis on the atmospheric quality of the songs spread out within. Whether it be large scale, synth laden new wave sounding passages, or the sharp and linear qualities of post-punk revival music, Sonic Jesus manage to keep mood at the centrepiece of this album, to keep it interesting and thought provoking the whole way through. Its easy to see where many other bands stumble with this kind of music in an album context, but to be completely honest, Grace stands out so strongly from the crowd in a fashion that highlights their originality that you don’t even think about how the record could have ended up down the toilet. The performances are tight, showcasing well written songs and music, but it is the production and mixing that pushes the album further in its creativity, appeal and interest. Sonic Jesus have thus created an album that avoids all the clichés, emphasising talent, performance and sound.
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 Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Sunset Images
RELEASE: Obscure Daze
RELEASE DATE: 7th April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Gravy Records / Cintas
Mexico based experimental psych-gaze duo ‘Sunset Images’ released their brand new six track sophomore entitled ‘Obscure Daze’ to the masses back on the 7th April 2017 via Gravy Records/Cintas Records. The band are made up of Samuel Osorio - guitar/bass/vocals & Alejandro Zúñiga - drums and their collective sound on this latest release swims in a dark sea of intense experimentation with layers of frequential noise, fuzz, pounding percussion and massive swathes of reverberation carefully buffering effected vocalisations (appearing here for the first time as the band take a brilliantly executed step away from their usual ‘instrumental only’ sonic compositions). ‘Obscure Days’ follows on from their very impressive five track EP 'Hajime', released back in 2015 and is available on very limited edition transparent vinyl from Gravy Records, on cassette via Cintas Records & digitally from sunsetimages.bandcamp.com
Obscure Daze by Sunset Images
An atmospherically dark, swirling repetitious drone drenched in rumbling bass frequencies and crackling guitar squall undulates into audible range as the opening track ‘Obscure Days’ works through all one minute thirty nine seconds of it’s sonic permutations graced in a wonderfully cinematic hue. It’s closely followed by a reverberating sonic behemoth in the form of the charging ‘1969’. This psych induced monster drives into the ether on a thunderous percussive pattern, is absolutely peppered with oppressive bass frequencies and squealing lead lines whilst carefully directing a wavering vocal line to its final destination. It erupts into a fuzzy wall of explosive noise before fading out into feedback laden obscurity.
Metronomic percussion underscored by a growling bass progression enters the arena as ‘No Hay Lugar’ shuffles into ear shot on a wave of scrawling fret noise before dragging soaring lead guitar lines out into the open to ride this tumbling repetitious beast. Sporadic haunting vocal lines join in with the maelstrom of resonating frequencies, building rapidly in intensity as layer after layer of reverb is added to the already bulging wall of noise that eventually morphs into the immense ‘Basilica’, a pounding one minute forty nine seconds of senses pummelling noise filled with explosive drum patterns, grumbling bass lines and angrily distorted guitars. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable six minutes of music.
The albums penultimate piece is a repetitious slab of resonating noise with swathes of modern psych intent underscored at times with a slight nod to garage psych. ‘Death’ shakes and rolls violently on a fuzzy cascading bass line as it’s accompanying percussive swagger rises and falls in and out of a deep dark sonic trench intertwined with subtle atmospheric passages of squealing lo-fi majesty. Glutinous raging howls add intense darkness as this track pulses and tumbles into a magnificent ending making it my favourite track on the entire release. The album closes out with ‘Roads’. Swathes of reverberation coupled with carefully placed production trickery announces it’s arrival as ‘Sunset Images’ pulse post-punk connotations into the mix. It’s rolling drum pattern holds throbbing bass frequencies and reverberating guitar lines in it’s wake, building with each impressive progressive cycle before breaking into a magnificently peaceful final break filled with huge swathes of reverb drenched instrumentation. A fitting ending to a marvellous album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Mt. Mountain
RELEASE DATE: 24th April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: CARDINAL FUZZ
Perth based droning & experimental psych aficionados 'Mt. Mountain' have announced the follow up to last years monumental six track release 'Cosmos Terros' in the form of 'Dust', a four track sonic thrill ride released on the 24th April via the ever reliable UK based 'Cardinal Fuzz Records'. 'Mt. Mountain' first came to our attention back in 2014 after the release of their brilliant sophomore self-titled EP and we subsequently played it to death over on our online sister station 'Primal Radio'. 'Mt. Mountain' are already lauded and revered in Australia where they have built a reputation as one of the most compelling live bands, a distinction that has seen them share stages with myriad Australian and international heavyweights including Sleep, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Thee Oh Sees, Endless Boogie, Tortoise, Bardo Pond and Boris. 'Dust' is available to buy right now on limited edition of 200 - Copper/Black Swirl 12" Vinyl Records with UK/EU purchases available via Cardinal Fuzz.
Dust by Mt. Mountain
In a whirling instrumental drone steeped in acutely atmospheric tape hiss and trembling sound waves the opening salutations of ‘Dust’ manoeuvres itself into audible range. It builds ever so slowly, drenched in a menacing experimental air as a subtle percussive pulse sets a persuasive tempo, slow enough to accommodate those haunting guitar lines and the brilliant addition of a ghostly flute progression whilst being whipped by an ever present & deeply incessant high pitched drone. Coming in at a mere sixteen minutes plus, ‘Dust’ isn’t for the faint hearted as half way through it explodes into a maelstrom of reverberating noise steeped in flurries of modern & experimental psych and peppered with passages of plodding bass frequencies, throbbing synth, addictive lead lines and simmering vocalisations to collectively enthral and captivate it’s listeners all at once. A marvellous opening track indeed. Up next, ‘Floating Eyes’ staggers into earshot on a rickety guitar progression that rides a wave of tumbling bongo hits, the repetitive twinkle of tambourine and a surging synthetic drone. The addition of warbling lead lines add weight to proceedings as ‘Mt. Mountain’ unleash a swirling psychedelic behemoth steeped brilliantly in eastern esoteric flair. Addictive vocal lines float into the mix bubbling on those cascading bass progressions, doffing a well worn cap to those early experimental psych pioneers as we float away on wave after wave of captivating golden hued frequencies that eventually leads us into the tracks final throws.
Swirling organ swells echoed by translucent guitar and subtle instrumental drones announce ‘Kokoti’, the albums penultimate piece, and we drift off into a entrancing psychedelic haze filled with jangling progressions, glorious flute lines and hypnotically charged percussive reverberations. Ghostly vocalisations fill the remaining quiet spaces as sonic reflections rise and fall in and out of throbbing bass frequencies and wah wah heavy lead lines before the track takes on a completely different form and rises high up into the firmament on wings of trance like psychedelic joy. ‘Kokoti’ is a sonic journey of discovery, it’s probably my favourite track on this entire release and I firmly recommend that you listen to it via headphones to experience every ounce of it’s sonic mastery. The album closes out with a three minute peaceful ‘Outro’. A beautifully intoxicating guitar progression pulses into the ether dragging with it a repetitive percussive pattern filled with haunting vocal lines and massive swathes of reverberation. ‘Outro’ is a fitting closing piece and it deftly book ends this impressive collection of tracks.
RELEASE: Courage Reels
RELEASE DATE: 21st April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Morningside Young Team Records
Following on from a handful of well-executed, tight and impressively written EP’s and singles that explored a wide array of genres including traditional shoegaze and much louder feedback ridden noise rock, is the debut full length album 'Courage Reels' from Edinburgh based four piece Wozniak. It’s a heavy, noisy and progressive listen, and one on which the band decides to take full advantage of their instruments, creating several lengthy songs with two or three lines of vocals in it amid riff after riff of sonic noise and what sounds at times to be well-captured jam sessions. Many songs take on this structure; and through it 'Courage Reels' at times sounds anywhere from stoner/sludge metal, progressive rock, shoegaze, dream pop, alt-rock, then throw in a bit of alt-metal and a weird kind of krautrock for good measure and tie them all together in layers of noisy feedback and what you get are tall sprawling arrangements that make Wozniak sound like a ten piece. 'Courage Reels' gets it's full release on April 21st 2017 via 'Morningside Young Team Records' and it is available to pre-order right now in various formats from wozniak.bandcamp.com
Courage Reels by Wozniak
'Courage Reels' opens with the instrumental ‘Shader’ that morphs itself around a heavy stoner metal riff and the gentle tapping of the drums in the background. However, after this introductory riff, the band launch into what sounds more like a traditional shoegaze due to the tone of their guitars and the musical melding between the guitar and the drums. ‘Shader’ takes this form for almost the entire song; jumping from a stoner metal riff into more airy shoegaze passages, all the while masking a background of feedback that compliments the music immensely. Much slower and distant is the shoegaze track ‘Ghosting’ whose form takes the shape of ‘Shader’ in that it jumps from heavy fuzzing back to its mellow origins; coming off as less heavy than ‘Shader’ but more intricate. The slowed, winding parts of the song are soothingly beautiful, masking mood and sound over a distinct form of song writing. ‘Ghosting’ also happens to contain vocals; all five lines of them, so drowned out you can hardly hear them, which actually fits in well with the context of the song. ‘Super Panther’ ties both previous songs together and revisits the more shoegaze sides of the bands sound, implementing fuzz bass and a fantastic drum track over the top of the winding and shimmering guitars that play a demented kind of indie rock. This song also sounds strongly influenced by alt-rock, with its more linear structure and ‘traditional’ riff centred form of song writing on display.
Back in March 2017 the band released the first single from 'Courage Reels', and that single was ‘Perihelion’ which crops up as one of the best tracks on the entire release. It’s a beautiful, trance inducing mix of down-trodden guitar strumming that harkens back strongly to the classic shoegaze sound with swirls of a darker kind of dream pop. The vocal performance here is also fantastic and an album highlight, as well as the instrumentation and backing noise to which the song takes it cues and creations from. Although the song goes for several minutes, the band condense the vocal, quieter and more accessible section of the song to its beginning and then launch into a wild and commendable instrumental section that winds out the second half of the song strongly and passionately. In a similar way is ‘Scottish Dancer’ which blows past the eight minute mark in its form, which is distinctly reminiscent of cold shoegaze, to again show the bands strength in song writing. Scottish Dancer’s beginning, featuring another well produced vocal section, sounds better than ‘Perihelion’ in terms of every aspect of the song fitting swiftly together. Another amazing instrumental outro leads the songs second half, in which background feedback is used as a soundscape style to greatly enhance the songs sound. ‘Natsuko’ returns to a more conventional length and sounds more akin to post-punk than anything else the band touch on 'Courage Reels'. Although its beautiful and holds some impressive moments, I did wonder what its significance in context of the album was, and upon a second listen parts of it tended to sound more like an album filler than anything else.
‘Erebus’ is another true album highlight, perhaps due to fantastic contextual balancing by Wozniak in terms of the track listing on the album. After a few lengthy, heavy and layered songs, the band turns things back to the simple and the minimal, placing the listener’s perceptions upon simple guitar based strumming that goes further to highlight a mesmerizing undercurrent of dream pop-like guitar tones and textures in the mix. ‘Crush’ features the best drumming performance on the album, but unlike the few previous tracks avoids stronger shoegaze elements instead focusing upon a kind of alt-rock type sound, driven by a distant but interesting vocal performance. ‘Death Suit’ turns things back up to the lengthy heights of ‘Scottish Dancer’ and ‘Perihelion’ but with much less conviction. It starts strong, with a neat little guitar intro, but seeps into uneven sections of music that seem to be so far removed from the other that it becomes more of a slog than a listen. However, the six to eight minute section is absolutely masterful and deserves praise for being one of the greatest passages of music on the release.
I must fully admit that I’m a fan of Wozniak, whose style and experimentations in guitar-orientated music have shone through in a fantastic and interesting way through past releases. I especially love the song ‘El Maresme’ which is quite an old song from their fantastic EP Pikes Peak. I say all of this simply because 80% of the music on 'Courage Reels' is less like the bands previous studio EPs and singles; the engaging single 'Harker' remains firmly an alternative shoegaze/dream pop song, so does 'Auster' and its more guitar driven sound. For 'Courage Reels' to feature lengthy, heavy, more straight forward rock arrangements that you could almost always classify as alternative-rock, rather than the hazy dream pop or shoegaze-based musings of their previous efforts is somewhat of a challenge for the listener. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, and we must all congratulate and encourage bands to transform, progress stylistically and traverse new terrain over song writing and performance, but I wonder if 'Courage Reels' is in fact the right kind of progression. It is a fantastic album (as noted by the rating) but ultimately it sounds like a band who are carrying only fragments of their previous skin after shredding it. Personally, as a fan and a listener, I would have loved to have heard more vocals on this instrumentally generous album. Also for some out there, a cover to cover listen would be just too much; the songs are lengthy affairs, the transitions within the songs are at times slightly awkward and the piling of lengthy songs after lengthy songs makes the album feel longer than it is. All of this probably sounds like mad criticism, but that could not be further from the truth. In fact, for all of the criticisms of the music I have, there is equal acclaim and admiration for 'Courage Reels'. It is exquisitely well produced and mixed, and the band shines through on every track to display a commitment and a wild sincerity to the well written songs featured on it. These elements amount to a well rounded and impressive album, bundled up fluently in commitment and sound.
ARTIST: The Age Of Coloured Lizards
RELEASE: Another Day
RELEASE DATE: March 29th 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Sotron Records
Norwegian based psychedelic explorers 'The Age Of Coloured Lizards' have released their highly anticipated four track debut EP 'Another Day' via the lovely folks over at Sotron Records. With a sound that permeates a multiple of different layers in the music genre spectrum, taking in dreamy shoegaze, psych, noise rock & fuzzy alt-rock 'The Age Of Coloured Lizards' do not disappoint. 'Another Day' is available to buy/download right now from theageofcoloredlizards.bandcamp.com
Another Day by The Age of Colored Lizards
The EP opens up held fast in a sparse but repetitive percussive arrangement and an angry guitar strum. Sublime vocalisations accompany the instrumentation as ‘Why’ swirls in a complacent kind of ‘JAMC’ hue that’s underscored at times with dreamy lines of interlacing lead guitar. Up next ‘In The Morning’ sways and moves through fuzzy layers of shimmering reverberation and melodious guitar progressions that cut a deft wedge through proceedings thus allowing that delectable vocal performance to shine through. It rises and falls through captivating guitar hooks and impressive production that collectively instil a brilliant melancholic feeling of lost loves & memories of misspent youth. Utterly addictive.
The EP's lead single ‘Pale White Sun’ swirls into the ether on a deliciously hazy psych-pop vibe reminiscent of those early sonic pioneers ‘The Birds’. It’s evident from the outset that these guys are well versed in music production as they inject fuzz and reverberation into the mix circumnavigating those impressive vocalisations with ease as they tip toe along a steady bedrock of impressive production. The EP closes out in a kinda infectious 1990’s 'Creation Records' swagger. ‘Stars Are Falling’ has definite early ‘Teenage Fanclub’ leanings as it noisily rumbles through layers of melodious fuzz topped with lazy percussive patterns, pop like instrumental progressions and another impressive vocal performance. Its lead lines loop and arc through layers of infectious reverb, skipping along the tips of those fuzzy frequencies with ease and help to close out what is a rather impressive EP.
Eulogies is a beautiful offering from Kolibrí, an artist who started out in Limerick, is Berlin bound but currently operates in Brighton. The name means 'hummingbird' and like its namesake, there is lots of energy and a clear taste for sweetness throughout this EP.
Eulogies E.P. by Kolibrí
The luscious textures of the three tracks give the record a aural cohesion, a tasty thread of red liquorice that ties the whole bundle together. Dream Theatre simmers sumptuously with waves and washes of wonderful sound. The vocal teeters on the right side of sadness. Eulogies soars high, with crackles and sparks flying and a chorus the size of the sky. The closing track Headcase opens in a rush of rumbles and powers along, its swirl of sounds ever-expanding. Delicious.
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: Highest Sea
RELEASE: Haunted Hearts
RELEASE DATE: February 24th 2017
RECORD COMPANY: SPÄTI PALACE
Even though post-punk music is the sort of genre that’s been rinsed and re-used over and over again, there is some kind of sentimental breeze that blows through when you trip over something that’s in some way original or kind of whimsically nostalgic. In this case, one could trip over 'Haunted Hearts' by German based band Highest Sea, an EP that is not so much a step in a different direction, but rather a mediation on previous footprints. Said previous footsteps divulge in all things classically post/punk, the guitar driven stirring of alternative rock and the churning hum of dream pop; mixed together to create a kind of low-key form of shoegaze.
SP013 HIGHEST SEA - Haunted Hearts by SPÄTI PALACE
The EP opens with ‘Wait For The Night’ which hinges on alternative rock based guitar playing and slow, heavy drumming to create an atmosphere akin to less-intricate, muddled shoegaze music. The song is simple and straight-forward, slow and at times slightly dragging in its structural forms. By this I mean that you could think I’m not expressive of all the songs details, but honestly it is literally just as I describe it. Its slow, riff based alt-rock that spikes into the songs second half into a heavy thrashing kind of musical passage. ‘Hawaii’ is a more intricate, dense song, built this time around a post-punk rhythm section and a dream pop sounding guitar. The vocals stay wholly visible in the mix as the song rolls along with the double tap of a snare; the musical texturing displays a neat kind of laid-back sound to the song. The best song on the EP is by far ‘La Bellea Soledad’ which converges the vocals and the instrumentation into a truly beautiful moment of capture. The song is less direct than others and it gives an opportunity for all involved to shine thoroughly in the perspective of the listener. At its core though, the song still holds stylistic elements of dream pop heavily within itself, which can be heard most predominantly in the songs stop-start second half. All in all, a beautiful track. ‘Black Poison’ is the most open, the most presented the band gets on the entire EP. Its sound is based around an atmospheric vocal performance and a kind of musical side that borders on lo-fi, these two elements bounce off one another to create a memorably slower track whose second half and acoustic section does nothing but highlight the talents of the musicians involved.
While there is obviously moments of true intrigue and intelligence on 'Haunted Hearts' the whole thing comes off as, well, kind of ‘slight’. What I mean by this is that the structural elements of the songs show clearly and definitively, not that that’s a problem, its just that these structural elements are quite in-offensively linear and at times generic. But that’s not to say the band don’t have strengths, and that’s also not to say that these strengths aren’t on obvious display throughout the course of the EP. The lyrics remain fresh and engaging, the performances on the most part are strong and the depth of their song writing ability is shown fully on sections of every song. Its exploration is light, but its worth, its musicality and its roots prove rewarding, especially through production and sound.
Surfacing To Breathe by CLUSTERSUN
Catania based four piece 'Clustersun' are no strangers to this underground shoegaze scene having previously wowed the underground faithful with their debut album 'Out Of your Ego' back in April 2014. Since then Italogaze has seen it's stock rise considerably with numerous musical outfits & collectives emerging from its darker corners to try and emulate the previous successes that 'Clustersun' had notched up both here in Europe and over in the good old U.S of A with some very good results and some shockingly unmentionable attempts. The band have announced (that much maligned & very very scary) sophomore album and it is penned in for release on May 19th 2017 via the ever reliable Italian based Seahorse Recordings with a lead single entitled 'Raw Nerve' dropping on April 14th 2017. They've named the aforementioned album 'Surfacing To Breathe' and it is now available to pre-order on various formats via clustersun.bandcamp.com
'Raw Nerve' sits on a very precarious experimental curve with the band stepping out of their comfort zone to inject elements of modern day psych into their usual watered down electro-gaze firmament. It has a kraut like percussive swagger that lends itself brilliantly to that post-punk styled throbbing bass progression and it's angry guitar lines bob and weave menacingly through layers of senses pummelling reverberation. The heavily effected vocal lines dangerously lean (sort of like an over weight scales) atop of the instrumentation with an air of expectation that they might just fall off the sonic precipice at any moment; but that only adds to the overall atmosphere of this track. 'Raw Nerve' is a welcome & surprisingly experimental return from a band who have been out of the scene for far too long and this in turn only bodes well for the full album release.