ARTIST: The Cult Of Dom Keller
RELEASE: Paradiso Is On fire
RELEASE DATE: 22nd May 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz / Sky Lantern Records
Hailing from the East Midlands, 'The Cult Of Dom Keller' have been laying down influential sonic road maps for the modern underground psych scene to follow for the past decade by creating mind expanding soundscapes drenched in acid laced alchemy. Their heady brand of hypnotically charged psychedelia has influenced many of the newer arrivals to this burgeoning scene and their DIY ethos has insured that you can never predict exactly what they will do next. Now, at last, the band have been captured in a setting that they absolutely thrive in. Witnessing 'The Cult Of Dom Keller' live is a white knuckle sonic thrill ride filled with raw unabashed power and mirrored in a multicoloured spectrum of sound. Captured live as they toured their latest LP – 'Goodbye To The Light' (Fuzz Club) at the at Het Bos, Antwerp 17/11/16 and Paradiso, Amsterdam 19/11/16 the band have stretched out ten live tracks, taken from all 3 of their long player albums, and played them to within an inch of their lives. 'Paradiso is On Fire' is presented over four sides of lovely vinyl and was released back on the 22nd May 2017 via Cardinal Fuzz (UK) & Sky Lantern Records (USA) respectively. You can get your hands on the gatefold vinyl right now from cful.bandcamp.com
Paradiso Is On Fire by The Cult of Dom Keller
Howling incantational vocalisations enveloped within a swirling vortex of tremulous guitars and crashing cymbals add instant atmosphere as 'The Cult Of Dom Keller' whip up a turbulent surging wave of incandescent noise that washes over the entire audience. Throbbing bass frequencies enter the ether, pulling in unison with chugging guitars, raging lead lines and the swing of metronomic percussion thus instilling a hypnotic edge to proceedings. 'Beyond All Evil Is A Black Hole' builds into a surging monolithic wall of resonating noise used primarily to repetitively profess a vocalised statement of intent ... 'You Are Not My God' .... a mantra to live by! The live crowd howl as the droning opening salvo's of 'The Broken Arm Of God' whirr and bounce through waves of punishing reverberation. Growling bass frequencies coupled with angry guitars, pounding drums and dark fizzing synth swells announce those haunting post-punk inspired vocalisations that glisten brilliantly in a dark & menacing hue. Track three doesn't let up either; 'Nowhere To Land' explodes into a tumbling ball of fuzzy noise, filled with explosive drums, wailing synth swells and deep driving bass frequencies. Noisy guitars lick and whip at those impressive vocals as cascading organ lines loop and arc in and out of driving instrumentation leading the crowd into a frenzied response upon it's finale.
'Dead Seas' gyrates on an agitated guitar drone as crashing cymbals ride the turbulent sonic wave. The atmosphere is intense as the track builds and builds through repetitious guitar theatrics permeated by raging waves of resonating sonic frequencies. Giddy patches of sparse percussion bubble up announcing a menacing vocal before a swirling organ line tip toes through a flourish of haunting notes. The track lurches forward twisting and turning through passages of 60's tinged psych at will and bouncing through incandescent progressions with a fervent ease. Up next, the punishing opening barrage of 'Shambala Is On Fire' burns with intent. Dark oppressive instrumentation rides a wave of tempestuous percussion laying down a sonic walkway for another brilliant live vocal performance whilst the raging 'Eyes' screams into earshot on explosive drum patterns and swirling drones as the bark of angry bass and wailing lead guitar envelopes lamenting vocalisations. 'Nothing Left To Stay For' tumbles through an opening repetitive vocal mantra accompanied by sequenced synth and haunting post-punk hued vocal lines. It's surging guitars enter the sonic battle field on a whim, underpinned by humming bass frequencies and a subtle percussive swagger as the tracks different parts are meticulously worked out live before the band unwrap the incantational 'Astrum Arenteum' and wash the crowd clean with it's hypnotic neo-psychedelic reflections.
The albums penultimate live treat comes in the form of 'Swap Heron', lifted off the band debut self-titled album released back in 2013. Live, this track is a different animal altogether. Squally guitars work through a warped chord structure before the track winds itself up into menacing sonic maelstrom filled with tumbling drum patterns, humming bass frequencies and haunting vocalisations constantly harassed by the cyclonic whip of lead guitar. Undulating synth lines emerge from the turbulent whirlwind urging the track into it's explosive finale. The crowd erupt into a rapturous applause before we're introduced to the final soundscape on this impressive live compendium. Possibly my favourite track by 'The Cult Of Dom Keller', 'Worlds' is a driving statement of intent. Pounding drums, angry guitar stabs and shaking tambourine build the intensity nicely before the track explodes into a multitude of resonating frequencies. It's shamanic like vocals float into existence through a muggy haze of reverb, jostling for space with soaring lead guitar lines and crashing cymbals and winning the sonic tug of war with glowing results. A masterful ending to what is one of the better live albums out there today.
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 & 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.
by Primal Music
RELEASE: Impact Bliss
RELEASE DATE: 28th April 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Prairie State Records
'Impact Bliss' is a lengthy album by Wisconsin based shoegaze outfit Township; it’s an original and downtrodden piece of shoegaze with one defining feature to its arsenal: it’s deliciously refreshing. But how is it refreshing? It’s refreshing because it fully showcases the beauty and power of heavy and thick, drowned out shoegaze without cranking any reverb pedals up to 1 million. The songs all dance around quietly, touched upon perhaps most obviously by genres like slowcore and the darker side of alternative rock. In fact, on some of the songs, Township are more of a slowcore band than they are shoegaze or anything else. The songs are haunting, dark sketches of truly emotive music; structurally thin but ridiculously rich at the same time. Altogether, it is the purity and directness of the song writing that makes the band and their stylistic choices stand out so strongly against a crowd of blindfolded kids who think the greatest way to go about things is to possum stomp a reverb pedal and hide behind a Spector-style wall of sound. The album was released back on the 28th April 2017 through Chicago based independent record label Prairie State Records and it is available to buy/download right now on various formats via prairiestaterecords.bandcamp.com
Impact Bliss by Township
‘Turquoise Kiss’ opens the release, heavy and downtrodden with the subtle squeal of a very well written guitar riff. Following from this is the albums most signature element; slow and quiet dynamics; presenting an eerie layer of vocals. The songs chorus sounds positively alternative rock based, punctuated by a return to the opening guitar riff and the slower turn of the bands sound. ‘Yes & Yes’ opens with the same slowcore-elements briefly touched upon on ‘Turquoise Kiss’. This time however, most of the song centres around slow, plucking guitar rhythms and a meditatively dark vocal performance; perhaps summarizing the atmosphere that feels laced around the sound of the song. For most of its duration, the song remains slow and quiet; restraining itself against the desire to launch fully into a drowned out-feedback landscape. For this reason, there is a great sense of patience-centred admiration for ‘Yes & Yes’ and for Township themselves, for withholding and resisting the easy, simple and generic song writing strategies so many other bands love to love. ‘Be If Me’ stands out less than the former tracks, but its much more post-rock orientated sound highlights some elements of the bands song writing that remained unexplored on the opening tracks. The heavier and rock-ier chorus drowns out some of the emotional rawness of the previous tracks also. This is not to say it doesn’t deserve a place on the record as at least an interesting listen.
‘Catch a Wish’ offers one of the most stripped back portraits of the band on the entire release; most of the track centres around the hushed, claustrophobic vocals and the slow, noisy rumble of a background guitar. This combination of the tense and close, and the wild and far away proves to be beautifully poignant in terms of the impact of the song, while also distancing and adding conceptual context to the opposing heavy-guitar driven elements at the start of the release. ‘Impact’ is another slow and wavy piece of guitar based slowcore music, although the introduction of what sounds like a string section in the songs backing and small percussive xylophone opens a beautiful passage to the dreampop style riff that follows. Contemplative and somewhat meditative in its glowing, ‘Impact’ marks a full circle of sorts for the world of Impact Bliss; its full circle of skin shedding, and then re-applying, tastes all the more sweet as the brilliant song writing aesthetics do what they do (and do so neatly) on ‘Impact’. The weightier, weaving sound of ‘The Tunnel At The End of The Light’ follows; showcasing a tad more epic length than the other tracks on the album… Dabbling over the seven minute mark with smashing and pounding drums. Things turn somewhat prog-rock as the song twists and turns; built most predominantly around the bash of the cymbals of rolling of the drums. Things culminate into a shoegaze-heavy passage following the chorus; guitars an vocals bounce off into a kind of softness between the sounds.
'Impact Bliss' may not be one distinctive kind of music (it’s not a shoegaze album, just how its not a dream pop album, just as much as its not slowcore album), but this may be one of its most defining features. In a similar way, tracks and songs are not completely forgein from one another; a weaving conceptual form ties the songs together quite nicely across the board. It is hard to throw direct criticisms at Impact Bliss, why is that? You ask? Because it is so tightly and successfully wound and bound together from song to song that it does not leave much room for criticism. Almost every track is an interesting and engaging listening experience; supported by solid, thoughtful and refreshing song writing. The only fault one could place upon the entire release is the tone and presentation of the vocals, which sometimes sound borderline whingy across the album. But for most that won’t be a thought at all, rather, they’ll be concentrating on a thorough and strong album by a band whose distinctive charm is not one constructed of lazy clichés, but of effort, patience and relief; proposed, presented and played out through production, mixing and sound.
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 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: Cathode Ray Eyes
RELEASE: How We Lost The 21st Century
RELEASE DATE: 12th June 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Nottingham based 'Cathode Ray Eyes' is the solo moniker of Ryan DelGaudio, who usually plies his trade with one of the most influential modern day psych outfits out there - 'The Cult Of Dom Keller'. He has temporarily stepped away from promoting their latest sonic onslaught to unleash his ten track sophomore solo release; the brilliantly named 'How We Lost The 21st Century'. His debut album 'Eyes in the Melancholy Palm' was released by Cardinal Fuzz back in 2015. With an dark & experimental sound, 'Cathode Ray Eyes' explores disturbing acid etched psych melded with trembling post punk, warbling gothic tones and atmospheric electronics. 'How We Lost The 21st Century' was released on June 12th and you can check it out via thecathoderayeyes.bandcamp.com
How We Lost The 21st Century by Cathode Ray Eyes
A menacing synth line creeps into earshot as 'Take A Bow, Cthulhu' rocks unsteadily on a bed of repetitive sequenced percussion pulling haunting vocalisations and humming bass frequencies into the mix accompanied by chittering sonic frequencies and fizzing lead lines. Up next, 'People/Evil' floats effortlessly on clouds of reverb and the off-putting pluck of strings as scarily infectious gothic vocal lines drenched in layers of production effects drag this track into movie soundtrack territory. The hypnotically warped opening salvos of 'They Cut The Heart From Out Of The Sky So Burn Down This Government' sound like they've been forced through the inner workings of a Wurlitzer and then used as a crazy circus clowns entrance tune. It's disturbingly haunting yet melodious vocal lines float in close proximity to the aforementioned instrumental madness creating sonic yin and yang moments that are brilliantly addictive. 'We Sleep Till We Rust' is a charging psych behemoth. Experimental overtones surge through its inner workings swirling hypnotic frequencies out into the ether as a punishing vocal line cuts a deep wedge into the sonic firmament and gets under your skin albeit in a good way. Instrumentally immense, 'We Sleep Till We Rust' is probably my favourite track on the entire album.
'Say Goodbye (Soul)' swirls into audible range trapped in cyclonic drone coupled with resonating electronically tinged vocal lines and growling guitar progressions whilst 'Dance! Dance! Die!' drones into existence before unfurling a magnificently entrancing psychedelic soundscape drenched in eastern esoteric flair. 'Take The Darkness Again' injects a 60's psych-pop vibe into proceedings with its sweeping organ swells and plinking synth lines. Vocally astute, this track explodes into a growling sonic beast reminiscent at times to one of my favourite ever bands - 'Spacemen 3'. 'We're Not Born to Serve' is drenched in cinematic flair as its electronically charged instrumentation shakes and shudders on an impressive bedrock of sequenced percussion and hypnotic vocalisations whilst 'Digging A Grave For The World', the albums penultimate piece, is deeply experimental. Sparse percussion accompanied by charging synth lines and gothic vocalisations meld with electronic theatrics to collectively create the most forward thinking track on the whole album. 'We Lost the 21st Century' closes out with 'Goodbye 21st Century', a massive six minutes plus soundscape, inertly cinematic, draped in intense atmosphere and filled with stunning instrumentation that is hands down as good as anything that the legendary 'Vangelis' could conjure up. A stunning finale to a rather impressive experimental album.
ARTIST: Paper Daggers
RELEASE DATE: 18th June 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Brooklyn based dreamgazers 'Paper Daggers' create deeply melodious soundscapes that skip effortlessly through melancholic sonic snapshots filled with woozy shoegaze and shimmering yet hazy dream pop with blistering aplomb. The band are made up of Rob - guitar, Nicola - vox/keys, Carrie - bass & Lisa - drums and they have just released a stunning three track debut self-titled EP and you can buy/download it right now from paperdaggersnyc.bandcamp.com
Paper Daggers by Paper Daggers
The EP opens up with an absolutely stunning track entitled 'Small'. Tumbling tremulous guitars meld brilliantly with subtle synth swells and humming bass frequencies as rolling percussion collectively ferries a beautiful vocal out into the ether. A hazy wash of gentle reverberation smoothes the journey as we're deftly scooped up and carefully enveloped in resonating lead guitar lines that intertwine with infectious songwriting and brilliant production. Up next, 'Wash' penetrates a busy wall of tremulous noise before a beautiful wave of melody gracefully pulls a deeply hypnotic percussive swing into the mix, it's metronomic pulse adding intense atmosphere as Nicola's ethereal vocalisations float into earshot. Entrancing instrumentation swirls throughout as this tracks lead guitar parts whirr and dance in and out of throbbing bass lines and subtle reverberations collectively following the gravitational pull of those entrancing drum patterns. This is absolutely stunning and if you have to listen to anything at all today please let it be this one track. 'Wash' will blow you away.
The EP closes out with slice of magic. There are bands out there who can pull off shoegaze and dream-pop to a consistent level but never really step outside of their comfort zones. And then there are bands like 'Paper Daggers' who have the ability to inject subtle genre changes outside of their chosen sonic disciplines. 'Between Moments' shatters into earshot on a beautifully serine melancholic vibe, steeped in dreamy dream-pop but underscored by something completely new to the sounds previously heard on this EP; this track has a late 80's post-punk vibe that I'm instantly drawn to courtesy of those plodding bass notes and that ever present swell of swirling synth. It's infectious, it's hypnotic and it's insanely masterful all at once and it shows that 'Paper Daggers' have the ability to change. A trait that is needed in this modern underground scene. Again the vocals are on point here too and those soaring guitars inject an intense shoegaze high and patches of angrier resonating lows. It's a stunning ending to a marvellous EP and I for one cannot wait to hear what comes next from 'Paper Daggers'.
ARTIST: Magic Shoppe
RELEASE: High Goodbye
RELEASE DATE: 16th June 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Little Cloud Records
Sublime Boston based dissonant psych aficionados 'Magic Shoppe' have just unleashed a brand new EP to the masses entitled 'High Goodbye', a bruising four track fuzz fest that will literally blow your socks off. From their very first release, the impressive ‘Reverb EP’ (2010) ,'Magic Shoppe' have been firmly on our radar and have also been a recommendation of ours for quite some time. Their immense brand of fuzzy, reverb induced psychedelic mayhem rattles through its gears with blistering aplomb and takes the listener on melodic journeys of sonic discovery. This latest EP had it's official release back on June 16th 2017 via the brilliantly independent 'Little Cloud Records' with various formats available including lovely limited edition 12' translucent red vinyl from magicshoppe.bandcamp.com
High Goodbye by Magic Shoppe
The EP opens up, tumbling menacingly through an unwavering wall of growling melodious guitars as ‘High Goodbye’ resonates into the subconscious. Shaking tambourines ride a wave of sticky bass frequencies and gravitate in close proximity to a tempestuous percussive swagger. It’s vocal lines croon and undulate in and out of snaking lead lines as the hypnotic swing of instrumentation captures this listeners attention. ‘High Goodbye’ is a stunning opening salvo steeped in swirling reverberations and whirring drones that captures a snapshot of what this modern day psych-gaze scene is all about. Up next, ‘Lost In Space’ shimmers in a dark resonating haze as the twang of lead guitar drags metronomic shakers into the mix underscored by soaring drones and a definitive 60’s neo-psych hue. The heady sonic fog clears to allow addictive vocal lines to lick, whip & penetrate just enough to guide the way as we shake and move through hypnotically charged shamanic vibrations filled with raging lead guitars and punishing production.
The EP’s penultimate piece entitled ‘Her Ritual’ stirs the senses as menacing sonic reflections bounce, drone and jitter effortlessly into the ether with blistering aplomb. The mechanical thump of percussion drags angry guitars and another mesmerising vocal into perspective, drenched in reverb and hovering on a bedrock of throbbing bass frequencies and the incessant whoosh of droning instrumentation and in turn answering to nothing but the pull and swing of a deeply hypnotic tempo. ‘Her Ritual’ sucks you in slowly and spits you out at break neck speeds before dropping you off into a swirling acid drenched haze. The EP closes out with what is possibly the most alternative track on the entire release and although they side step away from the sonic themes of the previous three tracks, ‘My Minds Eye’ is actually bloody immense. It begins with waves of screaming feedback as the band collectively usher in driving drum patterns, undulating bass lines, addictive tambourines and howling vocalisations before lightening the touch paper and exploding into a catchy, hook laden chorus progression. They repeat the process, turning up the noise as they go, injecting swirling drones and surging feedback into the mix before calling a halt to proceedings, trapped in a cyclonic whirlwind of noise. An absolutely stunning finale to another bloody masterful EP.
June Sunshine by Hanford Reach
Brooklyn based outfit 'Hanford Reach' have returned with a shimmering brand new single entitled 'June Sunshine' hot on the heels of their marvellous debut four track EP 'Canyons'. Consisting of Chris Sherman and Leah Cinnamon the band's sound swirls primarily in the realms of jangling shoegaze hued psych-pop but there is a subtle undercurrent of driving post-punk hanging brilliantly under the instrumentation. This latest single was released back on the 16th June 2017 and is available to buy/download via hanfordreach.bandcamp.com
'June Sunshine' is deeply melancholic as jangling guitars sweep and tremble atop tumbling drums and fluttering bass frequencies. It's deeply infectious vocalisations call out with a yearning intent as the track drags surging lead lines and driving psych-pop breaks into audible range injecting swathes of hypnotic swagger into it's coursing sonic veins.
ARTIST: Tombstones In Their Eyes
RELEASE DATE: 4th August 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Send Me Your Head Records
Stoner rock, neo-psych, subtle flavours of shoegaze and rolling slowcore melded with fluttering dark frequencies, intense melody and those totally addictive vocalisations of John Treanor make up the collective sonic melting pot of musically astute L.A based quartet 'Tombstones In their Eyes'. Back in May 2016 they literally blew me away with their 'Bad Clouds' EP, so much so that I have been waiting with baited breath to see what these guys could come up with next. The band are made up of John Treanor – Vocals/Guitar/Keyboards, Josh Drew – Bass/Backing Vocals, Stephen Striegel – Drums/Percussion & Samuel Sherwood – Percussion and they have just announced their third EP entitled 'Fear' penned in for release on August 4th 2017 via 'Send Me Your Head Records' with pre-order options now available via tombstonesintheireyes.bandcamp.com
Fear by Tombstones In Their Eyes
The EP unfurls its sticky sonic tendrils with ‘I Want To Fly’. An explosive opening breathes life into an effortless vocal track that sits gracefully atop growling guitars, shuddering percussion and throbbing bass frequencies as ‘Tombstones In Their Eyes’ dip into their inner psych, melding it with subtle shoegazing tendencies and angry alt-rock to create a magically intense piece of music. Up next, my favourite track on the entire release enters audible range. ‘Separate’ tumbles into the ether strapped tightly to a downward spiralling tremulous drone before hazy vocalisations snake and undulate through warbling guitars, fizzing synth and cascading bass lines. It builds in intensity as it works through it’s sonic gears, moving menacingly through swathes of impressive reverb before culminating into a swirling mass of blissful noise. It’s a triumph of a track and it’s filled with everything that is needed to stir the senses completely.
‘Always There’, the EP’s lead single, sounds more like a mash up of french band AIR, R.E.M and some other nondescript alternative outfit from the mid 90’s. It doesn’t do it for me at all I’m afraid and I find it hard to understand what it is exactly that the band where trying to achieve here. I’ll probably be hung for saying that but for me it’s a very confusing track. Up next, ‘Another Day’ fizzes into life tumbling effortlessly through waves of hazy reverberation as melodious guitars are cajoled and whipped by swirling drones, the plink of synth and driving percussion before we’re dragged headlong into a marvellous chorus progression that simply soars. Brilliantly executed and filled with excellent production ‘Another Day’ mesmerises. The EP close out with another triumphant piece of music. ‘Fear’ swirls through a hazy psych filled world with blistering aplomb. Metronomic percussion coupled with shimmering tambourine adds intense atmosphere as a growling wall of noise pulls hypnotic vocalisations out into the ether, trembling on waves of throbbing bass and undulating synth swells. Soaring lead guitar gloriously punishes this entire piece to within an inch of it’s life, intertwining at times with those shamanic like vocal lines before we’re dropped off the back end, holding on desperately to it’s fading instrumental drones. A blistering end to a rather good EP.
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 & 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.
galaxie 420 by bleach bath
Ontario based heavy shoegaze three piece 'Bleach Bath' have unleashed a brand new single entitled 'Galaxie 420', a follow up to their April 2017 debut three track demo 'It'll Get Worse If You Let It' . 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! 'Galaxy 420' is available to buy/download right now via bleachbathto.bandcamp.com
'Galaxie 420' tumbles into earshot swirling in an angry cyclonic vortex thats filled with tremulous guitars, pounding drums, throbbing bass frequencies and swathes of glorious reverb enveloping a hazy almost ethereal vocal line. Growling lead guitar intertwines perfectly with ghostly murmurings to drive a massive wall of blissed out reverberation forwards on a predestined sonic flight path.
ARTIST: Panda Riot
RELEASE: Infinity Maps
RELEASE DATE: 9th June 2017
Chicago based hazy dream-gazers 'Panda Riot' have announced a gargantuan eighteen track monolith in the guise of 'Infinity Maps', the follow up to their impressive 2013 release 'Northern Automatic Music'. Steeped in an deeply experimental hue 'Infinity Maps' skips through massive swathes of shoegaze, gloriously addictive dream pop and darker electronic moments with blistering aplomb pulling it's listeners inwards as it spirals out into the ether. The instrumental pieces on this album are sublime and coupled with impressive song writing abilities, stunning vocals and brilliantly executed layers of production, it is sure to be one of best albums of 2017 come years end. This mesmerising Illinois based quartet are made up of Rebecca Scott - vocals/guitar, Brian Cook - guitar/drum machine/programming, José Alejandro Rodríguez - drums & Cory Osborne - bass and you can pre-order 'Infinity Maps' on various formats via pandariot.bandcamp.com
Infinity Maps by Panda Riot
Waves of raging melodious turbulence swirl into earshot as droning guitar squall gives way to shimmering vocalisations and squealing feedback. ‘Aphelion’ bubbles precariously on a bedrock of impressive percussion, noisy guitars and humming bass frequencies peppered at times by subtle swells of synth, wavy reverberations and broken up by magnificent breaks filled with soaring vocal lines. Up next, ‘Helios (June 20th)’ swirls into audible range trapped in cloud of shoegaze infused dream pop as it’s beautifully serine vocal lines bounce and whirr on layers of tremulous reverb drenched guitar progressions whilst ‘Latitudes’ pulses on sequenced electronics and churning instrumental drones before fading out through wavy vocal samples and impressive production theatrics. ‘Ghosting’ unfurls its sonic tendrils stuck fast to a plinking synth progression before careering headlong into a brutish wall of hazy guitars & plodding bass, sweeping synth swells and metronomic percussion all collectively enveloping that soaring vocal track before ‘Chimera’ explodes into a haze of atmospherics as it’s cinematic leanings are brought to bare tumbling effortlessly in a cyclonic ball filled with fizzing synths, lazy percussion, fuzzy guitars and its addictive backwards vocal lines.
Pounding drum patterns and soaring melodious guitars ride throbbing bass frequencies and sequenced bleeps as they circumnavigate beautifully serine vocalisations before ‘Double Dream’ explodes into a mesmerising finale swiftly followed by the tremulous opening guitar tones of ‘Arrows’ and it’s cascading bass lines, hypnotic drum patterns and those shimmering reverberations. Wavy instrumentation coupled with a serine piano progression and instantly refreshing vocal samples herald the arrival of the deliciously dreamy ‘Parachutes’ whilst the driving percussion of ‘Night Animation’ swirls delicately in a hazy modern dream pop vibe underscored at times with acres of reverberation, soaring layered guitars and shimmering vocalisations. The experimental leanings of ‘Parallels’ wash over this listener as sparse drum patterns, humming bass frequencies and swooshing guitar drones circumnavigate that laid back vocal performance allowing moments of sonic abandonment to pierce the normally rigid song structures created by the band. The album swoons as ‘Infinity Maps’ undulates into audible range tumbling effortlessly in a whirlwind of beautifully intense frequencies permeated by the hypnotic swing of the drums before the instrumental pause that is ‘Niagara’ pulses on swathes of comforting atmospheric synth and sequenced bleeps & whirrs.
‘New Colours’ oozes sonic brilliance as its captivating dream pop leanings bob and weave on layers of hazy guitar, steadying percussion, throbbing melodious bass lines and entrancing vocal lines. There are subtle moments of woozy shoegaze bubbling up at times throughout this track as lead guitar lines whip and cajole resonating frequencies, pushing them through layers of reverb and whammy bar theatrics. ‘Aurora Shift’ moves back into a more experimental patch as a bouncing bass line rides giddying sequenced percussion and swirling synth swells before the instrumental 'Glass Cathedrals' surges through layers of sticky delay, hazy reverb and turbulent drones. Up next, the brilliant ‘Gold Lines’ doffs it's well worn cap to those early 90’s shoegaze stalwarts as it undulates into the ether on a tremulous wall of reverb hued guitars and steadying percussion. Addictive lead progressions pull another intense vocal performance out into the light accompanied by growling passages of soaring shoegaze and cascading bass frequencies. Possibly my favourite track on the entire release, ‘Gold Lines’ doesn’t disappoint. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Otherside’ swoons into earshot on a beautifully intense wave of synth and droning guitar as metronomic percussion and a throbbing bass line announces a beautifully effervescent vocal take. The albums closes out on an infectious footing as tumbling vocals intertwine with backwards guitars and addictive production as ‘Magic Numbers’ bookends a fascinating collection of tracks.
Panda Riot never fail to impress me. Their grasp on what is relevant in this modern underground shoegaze & dream pop scene is as evident as ever on this new album. Collectively the quartet move effortlessly through passages of experimentation and ambient exploration whilst keeping a firm grip on their core D.I.Y values, drawing on slivers of wide ranging influence to create magnificent modern sounding standalone pieces alongside their well crafted early 90’s inspired soundtracks that keeps them consistently relevant in todays ever evolving scene. Some folks might find that eighteen tracks is a chore to get through in one sitting but I can guarantee that each one will captivate and hypnotise both old and new fans alike.
Impressive return to form.
RECORD COMPANY: Grimoire Records
From Baltimore in the USA comes the deep humming roar of Alter, whose core sound consists of the delicate layering of everything cold and aesthetically pleasing: alt-rock, post-rock, ambient music, shoegaze and even some sort of wild and loud dream pop thrown in there for good measure. Pendulum consists of six dense and spacious tracks laced with reverberating echo and drowned out vocals; offering the sound of envelopment to listeners in the form of some kind of snow drenched village off in the middle of nowhere. For some it will be a sluggish slog through the at times thick and murky waters of alternatively loud guitar music that Alter push forth from their instruments; for others the flood of noise and the hushed echoes of the vocals will provide some kind of beauty through the snowstorm of sound; for your sakes I hope it’s the latter. 'Pendulum' was released via the Baltimore based independent record label 'Grimoire Records' back on the 28th April 2017 and it is available to buy/download right now from grimoirerecords.bandcamp.com
Pendulum by Alter
'Pendulum' opens with ‘False Mirror’ a brilliantly heavy track with subtle hints of post-punk in there for good measure. The beginning of the song makes one immediately think of the quiet, slight post-rock music that they’re about to hear; that is until the churning, loud guitars and cymbal heavy drums arrive into the mix. From there the most intriguing element of the song comes in; the vocals… sporting the aforementioned touch of post-punk. The vocals remain deeply layered under the walls of noise, but unlike the much rehashed shoegaze production technique that many of us are already familiar with, Alter’s vocals sit in a higher register; offering up an almost contrast to the music and the sound on the song. ‘False Mirror’ pans out into a cymbal lead breakdown before turning full circle back within itself. ‘Momentary’ offers up a similar slow beat that concluded ‘False Mirror’ except with a more obvious touch of post-rock evident in both the song writing and the mixing. The dynamics alter awkwardly throughout ‘Momentary’, especially the galloping drums on the second half of the track, but it seems to be the most 'by the book' that the band play it; although it still holds the same beauty as the other tracks around it.
Following on, the band turn in one of the EP’s best and most moving songs; its title track. The slow, drum and guitar combination roll slowly in the background of a fantastically harmonious vocal performances; even when the song moves back into borderline noise-gaze anthemic guitar, the catchy and dark alt-rock stlye chord progression stays along; forming the song into a complete package of heavy and emotive beauty. Special love and interest should be given to the songs second half, after the slight silent break, where the bands and instrumentation becomes even more extensive than before. ‘Inner Eclipse’, while at the start sounding like the heaviest the band will go, turns out actually to be a brilliantly weird, almost math rock based charge of cymbals and thick reverbed guitars. Bouncing back and forth between walls of sound lead by the bass and guitar, and the more groove orientated riffs that lead into the songs heavier sections, the vocals hold everything together again… Except this time they are much clearer. All these elements mix together to create a fantastic blend of post-rock/shoegaze amplification.
‘The Storm’ is also a definite EP highlight; its downtrodden and icy sound connects the sounds and styles of the title track with the previous and more formless ‘Inner Eclipse’ to create a piece more melodic and drawn out. Of all the heavy, weighty tracks on the EP, ‘Lost Instinct’ offers up the substantial size of feedback laden reverb and soundscapes for the listener to hear. It begins with borderline droning guitars and drums, backed up by the soundscaped noises of guitar feedback and, eventually, the wavering and floating vocals that have played such a pivotal role on other tracks throughout the EP. The wild, open feedback ridden landscapes of Pendulum make it difficult to say whether everybody would be a fan. But for those who appreciate the kind of melodic heaviness that can only really fit comfortably with post-rock and ambient texturings; then the EP is for you. Alter shine greatly when they display their strengths wisely; those being their attitude toward filling up the entire canvas with noise, the dynamics of sound in context with the instrumentation, the smart mixing and production, and perhaps most importantly; the vocals. Thankfully for almost the entire EP, the band do in fact display their strengths wisely offering a sonic piece of noise meditation, created through production, 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.