RELEASE: Dreaming In Sound
RELEASE DATE: 15th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Shoegazer Sanctuary Records
Our good friends over at 'Shoegazer Sanctuary Records' have compiled yet another no-nonscense, anti-inner sanctum, genre-defining collection of worldwide artists in the guise of their latest compilation release aptly titled 'Dreaming In Sound'. As you are probably all aware we're usually not ones for reviewing compilation releases here at Primal Music as most of the time they do absolutely nothing for the artists involved and we've always found that they're either full of the same old, same old bands & featured artists or it's just another blog, webzine or net label trying their luck by forcing us into another click bait exercise. It's all a very disappointing & mundane exercise to be honest. 'Shoegazer Sanctuary Records' are the exception! They've released three immense compilations so far without fuss or bother. They didn't add the usual heavy hitters from the underground psych/gaze/ethereal/ambient scene just to get Facebook likes or numbers across a blog. They didn't annoyingly force the release into our inbox either by harassing or tagging us in their social media posts. They purposefully & honestly decided on each artist by their sonic individuality (and not by their social standing). We really dig that! Their latest compilation release entitled 'V/A Dreaming In Sound' was released back on September 15th 2017 and it features twenty three artists from the world wide dream pop, dream wave, dream noise & ambient scene and as usual the label have put this out as a 'Name Your Price' tariff via shoegazersanctuaryrecords.bandcamp.com
V/A Dreaming in Sound by Shoegazer Sanctuary Records
The album opens up with the fantastic Mississippi based dreamscape duo 'The Starlight Run' and their track 'Lower', lifted off June 2017's 'Let's Float EP'. It glides on shimmering streamlined reverberations deftly underscored with repetitive percussion, soaring synths and hazy vocalisations. A blistering opening salvo indeed. Up next, Alaska's 'A Thousand Hours' bring 'Bleach' to the party. Lifted off their recently released full length album 'Sleep' this track is a simmering cloud of droning instrumentation and jangling reverb hued guitar progressions. Sporadic percussion adds a heavy atmosphere allowing that stunning wall of vocal tracks to penetrate the gloom and drench this listeners ears in glorious sonic joy and that's followed brilliantly by Swedish based dream-gazers 'Weather Island' with their stunning January 2017 released single 'The Eternal'. A massive wall of hazy guitars pound the senses as misty vocalisations swirl in the maelstrom buffered by meandering lead lines and huge chord changes. French based 'Fools Ferguson' appear here supported by 'The Alohama Lakes', a track lifted off their sublime January 2017 released album 'Dead Lines'. This track is a slow and yearning piece of heavy dream-pop whilst California based 'The Fawns Of Love' are up next with their decent track 'Silly Boy' lifted off 2017's 'Who Cares About Tomorrow'. This band are a constant enigma to me as they have seriously great potential but seem to care more about blog, webzine & American based online radio coverage than anything else. Either way 'Silly Boy' swoons into the ether held fast within a whirlwind of tremulous guitars and repetitive sequenced percussion. Add into the mix the dreamy vocalisations of Jenny Andreotti and what we have is a shimmering wall of translucent dream pop underscored by a flurry of shoegaze impressions, impressive instrumentation and some fantastic production.
Nathan Guzman aka 'Southpavv' is a Californian based dream-gaze artist and he is supported on this compilation by his mesmerising track 'Saturday Night 1997' lifted off an EP of the same name released back in June 2017. Luscious walls of swooning guitar & effervescent synth float effortlessly on the serine hum of bass frequencies as sequenced percussion lulls sweetly beneath the intoxicating swirl of reverberation. 'Saturday Night 1997' is a stunning track and a great addition here. Michigan based 'Cesium Swimsuit' appear next and they bring some rather mundane electro-gaze to the mix with their track 'Particles' whilst up next 'Wintermilk' hail from Russia and they fuse blissed out dream-pop and luscious synths together with almost ethereal vocalisations on their track 'Lots Of Light' lifted off their May 2017 released debut album 'Pretty Ugly'. Florida based 'Zooey' create stunning blissed out dream-gaze and they are well represented here by a track called 'Never Was' lifted off their debut album entitled 'Bottlerocket', released back in April 2o17. Hazy walls of melodically infused instrumentation languish in pools of intense reverb as shimmering vocalisations float effortlessly throughout the mix firmly tethered to the earth by those impressive drum patterns. This is a beautiful track worthy of your ears. Virginia based 'Distant Creatures' have been wowing the underground shoegaze fraternity ever since the release of their immense two track single entitled 'Escape' back in September 2016. 'Haunted By You' appears here and it's is lifted from their recently released thirteen track opus entitled 'Snares In Safe Harbours'. It's a dreamy slice of reverberating joy permeated by luscious vocalisations, throbbing bass frequencies, surging synth swells and driving guitars. Andy Jossi aka 'The Churchill Garden' has worked with countless vocalists and used them to bring his sonic visualisations to life. Here he has supplied is latest track entitled 'Breath' fronted by Ben Aylward from Australian based outfit 'Swirl'. His vocal moves and undulates in a mesmerising manner capturing moments of melancholic abandonment as it pulses through wave after wave of magical instrumentation whilst up next UK based 'beatastic' appears here with his track 'Always Us', an atmospherically charged synth driven electro-gaze outing lifted off his 2016 released twelve track entitled 'Staticity'.
Texas based dream-gazers 'Blushing' have supplied their track 'Tether' lifted off an EP of the same name released back in January 2107. 'Tether' has gentle guitars that leads the way into a well written melodic structure built around the slow tap of drums, well mixed and comfortable bass and the noisy but ethereal influenced guitars. Special credit to the fantastic and memorable chorus, in which two soaring female vocals meld mesmerizingly with the instrumentation to create a beautiful and original type of sound. Liverpool based dreamy trio 'Cascadia Fault Line' appear here with an alt/indie acoustic track entitled 'Firefly', a run of the mill add reverb for effect sort of thing, lifted off their recently released two track single 'Firefly/Counting Kings On Rainy Days' whilst up next Texas based 'Creature In The Spiral' balance the playing field once again with their sublime dream laden track 'Anodyne', a simmering slice of melodic dream-pop that floats effortlessly on streamlined waves of tingling reverb, subtle synths and stunning vocalisations. Brazilian based post-gaze outfit 'Alles Club' unleash their explosive track 'Eclipse' lifted off their recently released three track remix package of the same name. Melodic guitar lines merge with huge walls of hazy atmospheric reverb, humming bass frequencies, ghostly vocalisations and busy percussion to collectively inject a massive lysergic ball of sonic energy out into the ether. 'Eclipse' is a triumphant addition to this collection of tracks by a band who I will be checking out further. Experimental duo 'Mayu' join forces with the ever reliant 'Tom Lugo' (Panophonic, Stellarscope, Patetico Recordings) to create an atmospherically dreamy ambient hued track entitled 'Mayu-Quiero Despertar', originally released back in November 2016. Danish based 'Keith Canisius' appears next, bringing his brand of spaced out electronica to the fore in the guise of 'We Gotta Get Going', a busy synth laden affair with repetitive sequenced percussion and huge spaced out chorus breaks. The compilation takes some what of a confusing twist here with the addition of two cover versions. The first is a cover of New Order's 'Temptation' by Maryland based 'Soñder' and it's followed by a cover version of The Byrds track 'It Happens Each Day' by 'Daydream Cathedral'. If you are into this sort of thing by all means check them both out but as I'm completely against cover versions appearing on underground releases I'm going to take a step out and move quickly on.
Tennessee based 'HR_Lexy' released her five track EP 'Nature Vs Neon' back on February 21st 2015. Her sound echoes through electronically charged gothic mysticism with dreamy ambient hued overtones and lashings of atmospheric synth, reverb and sequenced percussion. Her track 'You're Not Mine' is lusciously addictive and stands out here as a major positive. The albums penultimate track comes from Melbourne based droning alt-psych aficionados 'Seasloth'. Their latest album 'Somnuiva' was released on the 5th September 2017 and it is represented here with a track entitled 'Scarlet'. Throbbing bass lines bounce into the sonic ether tethered to subtle atmospherically charged drones and intense vocalisations. Brilliantly executed guitar progressions and the occasional instrumental drone wraps itself around cascading bass frequencies as dark malicious sound wave envelopes the entire track. 'Scarlet' is absolutely absorbing making 'Seasloth' a band to check out going forward. 'Dreaming In Sound' closes out with a track called 'Low Valley Low' by Washington based electronic dream-pop du0 'Static Shore'. This track is lifted off their July 2016 released five track EP 'Life & Love In The Hologram' and it's a shimmering synth laden slice of summery electronica with beautifully entrancing and utterly dreamy vocalisations underscored by sublime production. A fitting ending to another fantastic collection of tracks.
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
ARTIST: Tús Nua
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Every once and a while a brand new band comes along and gets me really excited about their music. Usually this aforementioned band comes straight out of left-field, far away from the usual underground cyclical music fraternity but with music that has the power to grab me by the ears and throw me willingly around a room. Back in July 2016 a little known band from Zagreb by the name of Tús Nua released their debut single 'Matches', then followed it up in July 2017 with their second single, the stunning 'Geysir', and I instantly fell in love with their sound. Collectively it consisted of melodic & atmospheric post-rock peppered at times with impressively hazy shoegaze moments that occasionally leans slightly into alt-rock territory and drags with it stunning vocalisations and impressive production values. This perfect combination of sounds have led the band to release their debut nine track album back on the 15th September 2017 entitled 'Horizons' and with the help of friends and fellow musicians they have put together one of my favourite albums of 2017 so far. The band are made up of Jordi Ilić – guitar/vocals/synths, Jelena Božić – guitar/vocals/synths & Matea Milevoj – bass guitar/back vocals/synths with guest appearances on various tracks by Sara Ercegović (ŽEN), Goran Grey (###), Lucija Potočnik (Irena Zilic), Eva Badanjak (ŽEN) & vana Picek (π). 'Horizons' is available to buy/download right now from tus-nua.bandcamp.com
Horizons by Tús Nua
Hazy, reverberating sonic reflections intertwined with sullen chord progressions build into an atmospheric crescendo as 'Tendons' winds itself up into a brooding maelstrom of sound. Subtle electronically styled percussive hits add intense depth as the track explodes into life pulsing haunting vocalisations out into the ether. It's luscious guitar progressions swirl in a magnificent undulating sweep through resonating refractions and echoing instrumentation. Up next, 'Matches' washes into audible range trembling on a thread of brilliantly atmospheric post-gaze. It swoons as its harmonious vocal track floats through the ether on a swirling foundation of addictive lead guitar licks and undulating synth lines. Its steadying percussive attack holds everything in place, gracefully leading the listener into explosive tempestuous finale thats filled to the brim with dreamy post-rock promise. 'There's A Thin Line Between Everything' jangles on a tremulous guitar progression as that haunting vocal track sucks you into the piece and leaves you floating brilliantly on swathes of shimmering reverb. Instrumentally this track ebbs and flows through explosive bass filled passages underpinned by mesmerisingly hazy guitars and stunning effects laden production that is steeped in ethereal atmosphere. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' soars into the ether on streamlined guitars and ghostly atmospherics. 'Tús Nua' have this uncanny knack of building tracks slowly, before twisting and morphing them into massive melancholic beasts that teeter nervously on brilliantly executed drum patterns. Their tracks linger on addictive passages of guitar before diving headlong off the edge into mesmerisingly deep pools of shimmering shoegaze orientated instrumentation before climbing out and starting all over again. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' is one of those tracks that brings you on a sonic journey from it's opening bars straight through until it's effects laden death throws. Simply stunning!
Up next, 'Geysir' opens up in a haze of jangling guitars, subtle synth swells and noisy atmospherics. Steady percussion keeps a firm bedrock underfoot as throbbing bass frequencies bubble and skip through entrancing verse progressions, deftly enveloping those impressive vocal skills. It soars through it's chorus parts with relative ease, swirling and tumbling through layers of reverberating instrumentation and magical lead lines effortlessly whilst 'Hills' fizzes into life on a 80's post-punk type of vibe before those sequenced synths start up and drag it into the modern age. Sublime vocals lead meandering guitar progressions on a merry dance through electronically charged percussion and subtle swells of synth led bass frequencies as those yearning vocalisations swirl and shimmer majestically. 'Fight!' is an angry brute that barks into life held fast to a punishing guitar progression as that slow moving percussion grinds through the ether on a wave of bass heavy frequencies and cascading lead lines. It builds into a menacing sonic behemoth dragging a vocal line out from somewhere within and drenching it in an interesting mix of post-rock, psych-rock and alt-gaze before 'Obvious' arrives on a lighter note with melodic guitars and blissed out vocals clinging to the throb of bass and a busy drum pattern. Lead guitars meander in and out of the overall mix as heavier passages of instrumentation rise and fall brilliantly, streaming through hazy reverberations and subtle lines of bubbling synth. The album closes out on a post-rock orientated gem. 'Repeat' is steeped in atmosphere and is underpinned from the off by another impressive percussive display that lays down a bedrock for those repetitive lead lines and that amazing vocal take. The hum of bass expertly hovers over deep lying synth as the track slows down to an addictive pace with 'Tús Nua' injecting a sort of lysergic/psychedelic hue into proceedings before fizzing out into a peaceful finale. A masterful end to a wonderful album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: Pastel Coast
RELEASE: Vague Noire
RELEASE DATE: 9th September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Collective Noord Sfeer Records
Just only last year I began my stint with the ever-prestigious Primal Music blog, and with that stint begun revelling in the unearthing of many a brilliant band, musician, artist and producer. There is nothing more satisfying than receiving a CD from France, a thank you from the US or a recommendation from Brazil and announcing to your friends a list of reasons why they should listen to them, enjoy them and soak them up. At the end of last year, amongst the revelling and soaking process, I decided to construct a rough ‘Releases of the Year’ list and saw in my rear view mirror a grand appreciation and acclaim for two releases in particular. One was a return from the murky depths of the past by one of the most underrated bands in the history of popular music; US shoegaze/noise veterans 'The Veldt' appeared and drowned out their critics with a mesmerizingly beautiful five track EP that balanced shoegaze, trap music and noise pop with the contextual hymns of their past. The other release could not have been more different: from France I heard the lush, beautiful and unique sounds of 'Pastel Coast', a one man project that combined nostalgic overtures and dreamy tones with the guitar and synth lead production of indie pop. The EP, entitled 'Sense', was a melding of emotive guitar music and the kind of sun-drenched downtrodden attitudes of an evening spent on dirty beaches that made it so breathtakingly beautiful I could not stop talking to it and listening enough. So, when I heard that 'Pastel Coast' was to release a new EP, entitled 'Vague Noire', I turned my ears on again and awaited an opportunity to hear one of the worlds most interesting non-professional artists paint pictures with sounds, words and textures all over again. 'Vague Noire' was released back on the 9th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via pastelcoast.bandcamp.com
Vague Noire by Pastel Coast
‘Roses’ opens the EP, a guitar tinkering based track backed by a drum machine style beat. The vocals are deeper, perhaps a shade darker in texture than on 'Sense', but the music retains the playfully pop-infused jangle, interspersed with fantastic production and guitar tricks. Underneath the initial mix of guitars, bass and drums lies a neat soundscape-styled synth track that adds a more dreamy quality to the song. After the three minute mark 'Pastel Coast' showcases his fantastic guitar tricks with an intricate and ridiculously rewarding outro for the listener. ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ follows with a similar musical structure: bouncing drums guide the guitars and bass through the outskirts of the song. However on ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ the riffs and vocals take a more concentrated stance, sounding deeper and darker than on the EPs opening track. The fantastic guitar-orientated instrumental passages of ‘Roses’ appears even more prominently on ‘La Fille Aux Yeux d’Or’ especially on the second half of the track, making the song an easy EP highlight.
The lighthearted pop of ‘Malo Les Bains’ reaches an almost danceable level of bounce and tempo. The alluring French vocal offers a fantastically layered sketch of driving in the hills of ones hometown or dancing with friends long after the bar has closed: it is with these simple tricks that songs like ‘Malo Les Bains’ connect and resonate with the listener on a level of pure enjoyment and admiration. ‘Araginee’ sounds like it was a left over from 'Sense', its more reverb-centric guitar lead and keyboard backed sound allows it too come off (in a positive way) as like a sort of philosophised dance club track. Still in the backbone of the song (much like the others) is the core elements of indie pop music that make the song appear less experimental and, perhaps, more approachable as such. The title track appears as a cross between the dreamy, pop infused songs that have appeared throughout Vague Noire, and a more post-punk styled sound. While still light hearted, its chorus alters the landscape; carving out a more dark but entrancingly beautiful sound: another EP highlight.
Although a review of 'Vague Noire' is not an opportunity to balance its credibility upon a comparison between itself and 'Sense', it is important to note the transitions and influence that 'Pastel Coast' evokes from one to another. I’ll preface my thoughts on 'Vague Noire' by openly stating that I believe 'Sense' is a better EP, a fact that I thought would be integral to my opinions. Where 'Sense' relied heavily on thematic musical elements of what most would consider dream-pop and shoegaze music, 'Vague Noire' instead sees 'Pastel Coast' attend to a more pop influenced, indie rock type sound… And that is exactly wherein its brilliance lies. You see, its easy to ride off 'Vague Noire' as simply a bunch of indie pop songs that all retain a similar drum beat, but it is within each song that the true genius of 'Pastel Coast' shines. These tracks, gathered together with a unity of similar sounds and tones, are ridiculously well constructed indie pop songs: between the evidently neat guitar playing all the way to the background ambience, each song is a well built and oiled machine. Together, these tracks provide nothing but pure entertainment, joy and acclaim. Another thing: I can’t speak French (in fact I remember I spent all of my high school mandatory French lessons listening to music) so when you listen to an EP where the gentleman singing only does so in French, and it conjures up images, memories and dreams… Then there is something wholly fantastic and intelligent going on. Much like on 'Sense', 'Pastel Coasts' greatest connection with the listener is through the nostalgia-laced visions of parties, beaches and empty dance halls, except this time it is done less contemplatively and more subtle and somewhat initially appealing for some listeners. 'Vague Noire’s' beauty and love stands out against so much damn mediocrity that listening to it was like some kind of cleansing relief… An original and enjoyable piece of art, achieved through stellar production, intricate mixing and beautiful 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: Citrus Clouds
RELEASE: Ultra Sound
RELEASE DATE: 22nd September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Custom Made Music
Phoenix based desert-gaze trio ‘Citrus Clouds’ have announced the highly anticipated follow up to their debut full length album ‘Imagination’ which was released back in November 2016 via Custom Made Music. This new release entitled 'Ultra Sound' has it's official unveiling on the 22nd September 2017 and it consists of seven brand new tracks that swirl effortlessly in a sonic style that only 'Citrus Clouds' can create. The band are made up of Eric Pineda, Stacie Huttleston & Anthony Jarero and collectively they create stunning soundscapes that swim effortlessly through swathes of reverberating shoegaze and addictive, dreamy vocal lines that are impressively underpinned by steadying percussion and sublime instrumentation. 'Ultra Sound' is available to pre-order right now via citrusclouds.bandcamp.com
Ultra Sound by Citrus Clouds
The repetitive tap of percussion announces the EP's opening track entitled 'Ocean Eyes' and it not long before we're awash in that Citrus Clouds trademark luscious wall of melody. Hazy guitars underpinned by the subtle throb of bass frequencies collectively swirl around that impressive vocal performance. There's a brilliant ethereal vocal highlight that touches each line throughout the chorus parts and that instantly catapults this track into a fantastic dream-pop state and it marks another level in 'Citrus Clouds' continuously evolving sound. Up next, 'You Loved Me First' fizzes into life held fast in an addictive shoegaze orientated cloud. Beautifully melodic duel vocal tracks meander through warbling guitar stabs and humming bass lines as that steady percussive swagger holds perfect time. Catchy chord structures and hook laden instrumental sequences mark this track out as a favourite of mine and let's not forget that impressive lead break and its soaring reverberations. Simply stunning!
'Life Happens' trembles on a quivering bass signature before opening up into a swirling maelstrom of mind numbing reverberations held fast to a punchy percussive swagger and overlaid by majestic vocalisations. A repetitive lead guitar line races in and out of the collective instrumentation casting magical sonic spells throughout the ether whilst 'Happy' (reminiscent at times to early 90's era 'Lemonheads') explodes into a cacophony of hazy sound waves and lazily undulates through laid back vocalisations, catchy chorus lines and sticky instrumentation that seems to linger long after the track ends. Up next is another favourite! 'Is This Real?' echoes in a 4AD kind of way. It's opening salvos sound like thunder before mellowing out into a melody driven slice of blissed out desert gaze. Jangling guitars ride a busy drum pattern deftly delivering that immense vocal take as it's distinct chord changes are permeated by the throb of bass and deep echoes of reverb.
The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Here Is Where We Are' is drenched in luscious reverb and this helps immensely with it's atmospheric opening bars, instilling a kind of fragility that is both addictive and melancholic all at once. As per the norm for Citrus Clouds this track unfurls it's sonic tendrils and we're absolutely drenched in a collective downpour of melody as lead guitars soar into the ether accompanied by those beautifully intense backing vocals, cascading bass and that steady percussive assault. The EP closes out with what is one of the best pieces of music that I think I've heard this year. 'A Dream Of You' is a meandering wave of jangling desert-gaze. Lazy percussion keeps metronomic time as warbling guitars and a bloody brilliant bass line protects that haunting vocal line. The chord sequences on this track are absolutely fantastic and catch you off guard as they seamlessly connect verse and chorus with a pull of whammy bar and that downward step of heavy bass and as for that stunning instrumental break ...... well you'll have to hear that for yourself ..... THIS IS MUSIC!
As EP's go 'Ultra Sound' is one of the best I've heard this year. It's so exciting to hear a bands development from their early releases until now with each release being a positive step forward. As far as I'm concerned this band have gone from strength to strength and they've worked hard to create a sound all to themselves in a scene that is so bloody diluted right now the hip scensters are fighting over genre tags!
Los Angeles based hazy dream pop aficionado Todavía aka self-releasing multi instrumentalist Rhyan Riesgo has unleashed a stunning new video to accompany the immense track 'Fallen' lifted of Todavía's fantastic full length album entitled 'Shyness' released back in April 2017. Todavía's sound is distinctly dreamy, with hushed synth swells, sequenced percussion, swirling guitars and shimmering reverberation that all circumnavigates that almost ethereal vocal tone. This mesmerising video was filmed & edited by Elijah Reynozo with the full album available to buy/download right now on various formats via todaviamusic.bandcamp.com
'Fallen' is beautifully serine, whispering breathe of fresh air. Tumbling guitar signatures subtly fall in amongst floating synth swells as Rhyan deploys the best vocal take on the whole entire album and takes the listener on a melancholic journey of sonic discovery.
ARTIST: SPC ECO
RELEASE DATE: 22nd August 2107
RECORD COMPANY: ELaB Records
It seems like only yesterday I was sitting down to give a listen to the latest release by legendary producer Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin aka SPC ECO. The release in question was 'Under My Skin' and it was awarded a 5/5 by yours truly; a feat not so easy to come by. Garcia and Berlin had come together to create something as dark as it was beautiful: ethereal vocal performances were combined with shadow-filled synth passages and lyrics, all topped off neatly with drum programming and a crisp clean production. When I heard that the duo were releasing a follow up full length album (entitled Calm) I thought two things: one, it will great to see what SPC ECO have churned out this time, and two, could they keep together over the length of an album? There was only one way to find out, I guess?
Calm by SPC ECO
'Calm' opens with the MBV shoegaze-influenced fuzz of ‘Out of Sight’: its deep and rumbling walls of static back up Berlin's siren-like calls and humming. Behind the mix, Garcia twists knobs and presses buttons to give the music a focal point, hip-hop like beats guiding the rest of the instrumentation and music along slowly. Although it is a fantastic 90’s-ish track and perhaps even an album highlight, there is something blaringly obvious: this is going to be much denser, louder and wild than 'Under My Skin' (not that that is a bad thing). Somehow Berlin and Garcia follow an album highlight with yet another album highlight: the slower, but still as dense, ‘All the Voices’ utilizes a breathy performance by Berlin, backed up by a borderline industrial soundscape of the instruments behind. All the while as the track plays, brilliant ambiance and drone seeps in through the mix, making things heavier and more beautiful. ‘Rising Up’ stands as another absolutely fantastic track: the guitars again create a wall of technical fuzz and feedback, a drum beat again guides the music, but it's vocals are perhaps the most haunting found on the entire release. Things turn into some sort of wildly dark and exotically evocative dance party: equipped with songs you can dance to and songs you can have a neon-lit knife to at the same time.
‘All I Had’ captures a slower and a somewhat more sensual vocal performance by Berlin; meanwhile Garcia turns things down to a trip hop level, creating a mix of loud, noise filled dream pop-esque music. It's placement on the albums track list is also ace. Perhaps my favourite song on the entire album is the stellar ‘Pearls’ in which the vocals and instruments meet in a beautiful kind of harmonic pairing to create a downtrodden afterthought of dream pop. It’s an emotive mixture of contemplative ponderings and long winded passages of sun covered beaches with the texturally white backing of clouds amongst a blue sky. ‘Who Are You Now?’ is, however, much, much darker… Somewhat evil as well I guess. Its slow trip-hop inspired drum beat is accompanied with a creepy sample of bottles clanging together or something? Ambiance and atmospheric strings also add to the landscape even more thoroughly. ‘Ghosts’ is where things start to taste a little over-done: another slow tempo drum beat with breathy vocals make this song one of the more forgettable on 'Calm'. The more upbeat and soundscape inspired ‘When It Moves’ turns things back around, thankfully, injecting some of the elements that made previous tracks an invigorating , engaging and unique listening experience. ‘Get Lost’ is another album highlight, especially its massive, hi-hat trap inspired chorus, which underpins a sweep of ambiance and sampled noise over another brilliant vocal performance by Rose Berlin. Garcia truly turns up the ambiance on this track, weaving thin and slow instrumental sections with larger and more heavier passages of more colourful sounds.
‘Over’ seems to feature the most heavy percussion on the release: the programming with which the band uses is as thick and heavy as ever before. Behind the beats and vocals lies a bizarrely enjoyable sneaking sound of what could be the introductory music to a British detective series, full of rain, shadows and the occasional dash of neon lights. ‘Hours’ seeps all the atmospheric reverb, noise and ambiance into one melting pot of music; creating a dense and somewhat murky soundscape with which the song plays out. Berlin's voice fits well within the context of this kaleidoscopic tornado of sound, proving her graceful voice is a positive point of originality for SPC ECO.
While some elements of 'Under My Skin' (and perhaps SPC ECO themselves) are evident on 'Calm' (think the atmospheric and somewhat trance-inducing instrumentals, as well as the waveringly beautiful vocals), overall it seems the duo have created something somewhat noisier and denser than ever before. Where 'Under My Skin' relied on the atmosphere of each song (which it did very successfully) 'Calm' instead pulls down any filters that Garcia placed over the music previously; opening a flood gate of wall of sound type feedback, and more intricate and involved instrumentals throughout the album. Because of this, 'Calm' is at times more difficult a listen than 'Under My Skin', and while I champion noise, feedback and wall of sound song writing; I can understand why some listeners just may not connect with the album. Similarly, each tracks basic foundation (with some exceptions) is the same: a slow(ish) programmed drum beat plays over soundscapes while Rose Berlin smoothly dances between her upper register and mid-tone, spoken word style sensual vocal deliveries. Thankfully, I can acknowledge and see where the difference between tracks lies, and furthermore how much skill is required to write such music… I just assume some will not. Garcia and Berlin remain as beautifully beguile as ever: some tracks sound as though they should be on film soundtracks, some tracks sound like they should be played in the most warped and harrowing dance club in the world, others just sound completely and utterly mesmerizing in their beauty. Besides, it all really comes down to the artists and the music: a well seasoned and ridiculously talented producer doing what he does best, accompanied by some of his equally talented and interesting friends… And his daughter, who happens to have the kind of pipes that you can play at a demented carnival or a hypnotic lounge-type dinner party. Together they produce a strong, original and commendable album, achieved through programming, production and sound.
RELEASE DATE: 21st July 2107
Cornwall based heavy shoegaze quartet 'Flashes' inject driving alt-rock and dreamy melodies into their collective sound as the listener is dragged head long through sonic peaks and troughs filled to the brim with powerful lysergic energy and hazy melancholic reflections. Their latest five track EP entitled 'Rzhev' was released back on the 21st July 2017 and it blew us away here at Primal HQ. It's available to buy/download right now via flashesband.bandcamp.com
Rzhev by Flashes
A surge of tremulous hook laden guitars permeate the sonic ether as ‘Summation’ slowly enters audible range drenched in a sticky post-rock hued reverberation. Sparse percussion intertwined with the throb of bass frequencies swirl effortlessly around that dreamy, lysergic tinged vocal track as psychedelically charged instrumentation loops and arc’s throughout, churning up stunning, almost incantational sound waves that build into that immense melodic finale. Up next, ‘Paintbrush’ creeps into view stuck fast to a glistening instrumental drone as it’s haunting vocalisations undulate through turbulent clouds of hazy reverb. Driving percussion then enters the arena accompanied by twinkling synth progressions and addictive lead lines that tumble and vie for space within soaring chorus changes as ‘Flashes’ lure us into a false sense of security. Before long the entire piece explodes into a riot of thunderous grunge tinged instrumentation sullied by screaming vocalisations and overdriven guitars.
‘The Upset’ rocks precariously on lines of sequenced electronic percussion and Nine Inch Nails esque vocalisations that builds rapidly, winding themselves up into a coiled sonic behemoth. Atmospheric fret noise and hunting vocalisations pull addictive guitar progressions into the mix doused in reverb, sampled theatrics and melodically charged instrumentation before ‘Obliterator’, the EP’s penultimate piece, swirls and undulates through wavy guitar signatures, atmospheric fret noise, busy percussion and a brilliant vocal line that collectively explodes into a raging wall of turbulent grunge hued noise. The EP closes out with ‘Dream Fuzz’, eleven minutes plus of repetitive percussive electronics, swirling synths, fuzzed out guitars and reverb hued vocalisations that merge brilliantly into an explosive and atmospheric, fuzzed out, alt-rock leaning monster! A fitting end to a rather interesting EP.
ARTIST: Ask For Joy
RELEASE: A Blow And A Kiss
RELEASE DATE: 10th September 2107
Texas based Aaron Rossetto aka 'Ask For Joy' has been wowing the underground shoegaze fraternity for quite some time with his fuzzy blissed out musical compositions deftly filled with inspired melancholic subject matter. His ninth release aptly titled 'A Blow And A Kiss' is an immense five track EP that had it's official release back on September 10th 2017. The EP is available to buy/download right now via askforjoy.bandcamp.com
A Blow and a Kiss EP by Ask For Joy
In a haze of shimmering guitar frequencies, ‘Under A Breaking Wave’ washes effervescent swathes of reverberation over this listener and pours ripple after ripple of immense atmospheric sound waves out into the ether. Melancholic vocalisations ride the melodic wall of sound as bubbling bass notes hum and throb alongside repetitive drum patterns and soaring synth swells making ‘Under A Breaking Wave’ a triumphant opening salvo. Up next, ‘Luna’ swirls into audible range tumbling gracefully through layer after layer of blissed out sonic waves as it’s heavenly vocalisations float effortlessly on pulses of sparse percussion and cascading instrumentation. Catchy hook laden chorus progressions pull beautifully intense chord sequences into view, allowing those stunning vocal lines to soar blissfully out into the ether.
The EP’s lead single entitled ‘Corsets’ bounces into ether and quickly unfurls it’s sonic tendrils. It tumbles headlong through layers of shimmering reverb as it’s sparse percussion resonates through the swirl of guitar and the echo of simplistic vocalisations. There’s a subtle hint of post-punk nestling under the surface of this dreamy track as it meanders and arc’s brilliantly along a luscious predestined verse/chorus route before ‘Ask For Joy’ dismisses with the intoxicating haze and allows it to explode into a veritable melting pot of shimmering instrumentation that includes the addition of a brilliant trumpet line making this track my favourite on the entire release. ‘Deep Into The Night’, the EP’s penultimate piece, explodes into a kaleidoscope of colourful sound waves before driving into the ether on a thunderous percussive pattern intertwined with swirling guitars. Throbbing bass frequencies add a lysergic kind of atmosphere that envelopes an impressive vocal take as cascading synth progressions tumble and fall through masses of reverb and a hazy wall of melodic guitars. ‘Rebirth’ closes proceedings swirling gracefully through dreamy sonic incantations filled with glistening synth swells and addictive guitar progressions. Repetitive drum patterns hold everything together spectacularly as those totally addictive vocalisations pull you in with them as they begin a spiralling journey of luscious sonic discovery. A brilliant ending to a wonderful EP.