ARTIST: The Telescopes
RELEASE: Stone Tape
RELEASE DATE: 20th November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Yardpress
Seminal UK based sound manipulators 'The Telescopes' have returned with a stunning follow up to their ninth album, the July 2017 released 'As Light Returns'. Over the past thirty years and under the direction of experimental psychedelic explorer, founder & sole remaining member Stephen Lawrie, 'The Telescopes' have ploughed a steady experimental furrow into the sonic ether, changing perceptions and influencing many bands along the way. Now Lawrie has joined forces with the Rome based independent record label 'Yardpress' to release a six track concept album that goes way beyond the conventional standard of sound. 'Stone Tape' is a lysergic tinged spiritual journey spinning primarily around a experimental central cortex of instrumental drone, sparse percussion and eastern esoteric psych that reflects the inner most workings of an artists mind. It is inspired by the 'Stone Tape Theory', theorized by Thomas Charles Lethbridge back in 1961. The archaeologist, parapsychologist and explorer developed the idea that inanimate materials can absorb energy from living beings, and that this mental electrical energy, released during emotional or traumatic events, could somehow be stored in such materials and reproduced under certain conditions. 'Stone Tape' is a completely immersive sonic experience, deserved of praise and one of the best collection of tracks that I've heard this year so far. It gets it's full release on the 20th November 2017 on various formats via yardpress.com and thetelescopes.bandcamp.com respectively.
Stone Tape by the telescopes
A swirling repetitive instrumental drone accompanied by the almost metronomic splash of tambourine announces the arrival of ‘Become The Sun’, the opening salvo on this stunning collection of tracks. There’s a sense of hushed atmospherics as those whispered vocalisations merge effortlessly with eastern tinged esoteric tones to collectively wash over you in undulating waves whilst at the same time submerging you into a lysergic dream like world of meandering instrumentation. It’s highly addictive and a marvellous opening track indeed. Up next, ‘The Speaking Stones’ unfurls it’s malevolent outer layers and creeps into audible range like a stalking predator on the hunt. It’s percussion free sonic tendrils swirl brilliantly around another sustained harmonic drone permeated at different stages by sullen vocal lines awash with polyphonic textures and steeped in deeply experimental reverberations.
Deeply melodic and wonderfully addictive, ‘The Desert In Your Heart’ is a definite highlight on this release. There’s a sublime tonality swirling deep within this piece that balances it’s poetic but sullen vocal lines with the duel functionality of a repetitive drone and the atmospheric steps of the organ that dramatically enhance both harmony and dissonance as they meander deftly along a predestined course. It sucks you in and holds you in a kind of psychedelic stasis as it’s sonic vibrations and fizzing frequencies invade your inner psyche. It’s a masterpiece, thoroughly addictive and my favourite track on the entire release. Up next, ‘Everything Must Be’ growls and fizzes into existence held fast in a electrically charged, feedback laden haze. The constant stab of bass notes and or the twang of guitar adds a malign kind of atmosphere that builds and builds into a whirlwind of dark energy before petering out, allowing apparitional vocal lines to ride tempestuous frequency laden waves of feedback and the odd plonk of piano before screaming back into life in an unwavering instrumental drone. ‘Everything Must Be’ is a sublimely experimental, totally immersive eight minute long sonic journey an it underlines for me just how brilliant the musical mind of Stephen Lawrie actually is.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Silent Water’ jangles into earshot on a shimmering wave of acoustic frequencies deftly underscored by twisting shakers and repetitive electronics. Reverb hued vocal lines intertwine with subtle organ swells to throw a lamenting air over proceedings as Lawrie takes a brief sojourn away from the experimental to bring us something altogether peaceful before ‘Dead Inside’, the albums closing track, skips into the ether and crashes headlong into a world of repetitive acoustic frequencies, mantra like vocalisations and monstrously dark feedback laden electronics to bring us a horror strewn soundscape, deliciously filled with stunning sonic escapism. It’s a fitting end to a wonderfully experimental outing by a band who continuously amaze.
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: Vast Asteroid
RELEASE: Vast Asteroid
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Roaringly loud, emotive dream pop, space gaze and shoegaze runs wild on the self-titled debut album from California based Vast Ateroid, a band made up of musicians from various seminal bands and pioneering genre-bending writers and artists. Vast Asteroid sound somewhere between the layered pop-rock style of bands like Ride and the more sonic free-form dream-pop sounds of bands like Best Coast. Altogether the album is an enjoyably laid back affair, using previous tricks and trades of shoegaze and dream-pop mixed with spaced out alternative rock, while also presenting a more laid back, guitar centric sound of shoegaze that stands on the opposite side of the fence to the heavy, loud reverb soaked art music of bands like MBV or Loveliescrushing. Their brand new self-titled eight track debut album gets it's full official release on November 20th 2017 and is available to pre-order right now via vastasteroid.bandcamp.com
VAST ASTEROID by VAST ASTEROID
‘Mincemeat’ offers a neat intro; slightly lowering in velocity and sonic layering than the other songs on the album, however, as an intro, it’s a fitting start to the album. ‘Sleep’ opens more of an alt-rock vein on the album, highlighting the bands neat blend of coastal-beach like tones and the shoegaze textures to their music. The vocals especially are significantly reminiscent of the kind of dream pop music that hazingly outlines nostalgic considerations of the past and catchy guitar riffs. ‘Drowning’ shows off another catchy and greatly enjoyable guitar riff, and sounds similar to the previous track both vocally and instrumentally. The break at just past the two minute mark also highlights a neat contrast in the full-colour of the music. ‘Vivid Dream’ drenches the music with heavier and denser guitar passages, making the general mood of the song somewhat darker than other tracks on the album. The outro, and especially lines like ‘we can hide outside of our favourite dream’ highlight the well written structures the songs take, and how pleasurable this is for the listener.
‘Encrypted’ adds a danceable post-punk beat and more pop based melody to the bands already established alt-rock sound. While it’s a neat listen and overall quite catchy, it is perhaps the only song on the album that sounds close to an album filler. ‘Poison Fang’, flips completely into near psych-rock territory, its hypnotised vocal performance and power pop-style chord progression crafts an entertaining blend of melodically satisfying sound whilst injecting comforting music and song. The middle (around 3 minute mark) features the greatest guitar performance on the entire album, soaring high into a beautiful meld of noise and different musical texturing: in the background a wall of noise type sound plays on and on… It could perhaps be the best song on the entire album. Then, after the sonic adventure that was ‘Posion Fang’, comes the over fifteen minute ‘Spacegaze’. It would somewhat of a long story to explain what happens over the fifteen minutes, so to save you some time I’ll just say this: it mostly does the trick. The second half especially, with its mix of intricately tinkering bells and background guitar fuzz and feedback, creates a droning and inventive soundscape of condensed and wavering sounds. Is it necessary? I couldn’t really tell you… But it is very cool.
Vast Asteroid's self-titled debut album is best digested less as a deep critical evaluation of shoegaze and dream pop and more as an enjoyable romp through well written and catchy songs. The band occasionally become distracted and somewhat lost with the music they play, leading the album (especially on songs like ‘Spacegaze’) to become occasionally lost and inconsistent. Besides those small facts, the album is steeped in a comforting wave of tight performances, nifty production and a full 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.
Brooklyn based duo 'Hanford Reach' have unleashed a stunning brand new single entitled 'Caught My Mind' and have injected some new sounds into their already immense melting pot of sonic awareness. The band are made up of Chris Sherman - guitar/vocals/drums/synths & Leah Cinnamon - bass/vocals and their collective sound has developed exponentially over the course of their previous three releases to emerge anew on this latest single release as a explosively punchy, hook laden and jazz infused gem with hazy synths and swirling shoegaze tendencies all enveloped in a warm & fuzzy blanket of psych-pop loveliness. The single gets its official release on the 10th November 2017 and is available to pre-order right now via hanfordreach.bandcamp.com
'Caught My Mind' explodes into the sonic ether spinning wildly in a pulsating rhythmic percussive assault deftly permeated by throbbing lines of bass and hazy walls of synth. It's lead guitar lines are utterly addictive and streamlined at times to follow an impressive vocal performance which meanders in and out of seductively melodic, acid tinged production with huge psych-pop sensibilities. It's a wonderful return to form by band who can do no wrong.
ARTIST: The Virgance
RELEASE: Worship The Moon
RELEASE DATE: 31st October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: El Vals del Conejo
Stepping away from a tried and trusted sonic format in the name of experimentation is a tricky and sometimes perilous undertaking. Continued advancements in music recording technology feed the mind of the modern musician and the lure for change is a relentless beast regardless of the all encompassing perils and pitfalls that surround a massive change in any artists collective sound. Taking all of that into consideration, I've just reviewed the latest release entitled 'Worship The Moon' from UK based 'The Virgance' and it marks a significant shift in direction in terms of composition, arrangement and incredibly instrumentation thus turning this artists recognised sound on it's head and dumping it firmly in the 'Experimental' category of music for me. 'The Virgance' is the solo project of Nathan Smith, previously of seminal 90's band Ripley & 00's electro noise merchants 'Loveless'. 'Worship The Moon' is his forth album to be released on the brilliant independent net label 'El Vals del Conejo' and it follow's on from both of his 2015 release's, the immense 'Hiko Shrine' and 'Paradigm 3' and his 2014 debut 'Lost Continent'. The album was released on October 31st 2017 and is available to buy/download via thevirgance.bandcamp.com
Worship The Moon by The Virgance
In a cascade of synth and sequenced electronics the opening salvos of ‘Country Of The Past’ begin bombarding the senses with deep sonic vibrations. Dark malevolent bass frequencies merge effortlessly with soaring lines of keyboard, deftly riding wave after wave of entrancing melody and underscored at times with sparse percussion or the occasional drum fill. What is evident from the off is that this is a total step away from what we usually expect from ‘The Virgance’. Yes the wide scoped lunar themed soundscapes are there but usually by now they are awash with layers of hazy guitar and oodles of reverb. Instead these usually addictive sounds have been substituted with swathes of atmospheric synth and their well crafted although progressively electronic accompaniments. It’s almost as if Nathan has channelled the inner mind of Greek composer Vangelis or German based sonic genius Hans Zimmer. Not that I’m complaining at all, in fact, it’s a totally refreshing sound, one that I can personally relate to and a credit to his song writing and production skills. Up next, the deeply experimental but totally entrancing ‘Terrorforming’ floats into the ether on a wave of promulgating synth and warbling keyboard stabs. Ethereal voices glide and shimmer on beautiful pads of Jazz orientated percussion as the listener is immersed in a kaleidoscope of sonic vibrations and massive swathes of intense melancholic atmosphere. ‘Terrorforming’ is absorbingly immense and possibly my favourite track on the entire release.
‘Curious Case’ swirls into audible range caught in the wurlitzing swells of organ with glitchy but explosive drum patterns underfoot. Uplifting instrumental progressions follow a lysergic cycle of circus chic, adding a malevolent theme to proceedings as the collective instrumentation meanders and undulates along a rickety pre-ordained course. It’s impressive but a tad boring after a while and I’m wondering when Harrison Ford will appear with a speaking part. There’s an ambient hue wafting into the ether as the ten minute long ‘Dream Feed’ does exactly as it says on the tin. Twinkling keys and sampled bird calls add atmosphere as ‘The Virgance’ take an experimental sojourn away from their usual cinematic themed fair and drop headlong into an acid blotched world of psychedelic abandonment. It’s all too much for me I’m afraid as it gets a bit freaky half way through, morphing itself into mix match collection of breakbeats, eastern esoteric percussion and swirling reverberations.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Lunar Power’ pulses into life harassed by a cyclonic instrumental drone and soaring swells of atmospheric synth. They collectively rise and fall through layers of reverb and delayed fluctuations, leaving sonic wakes in their path that plough deep dark furrows into the psyche before cascading into almost ethereal like instrumental flourishes. This is encroaching into sci-fi movie soundtrack territory now and it’s not long before the final piece of the puzzle falls into place with the arrival of the closing track aptly named ‘Out Of The Woods’. This track is deeply experimental, a bit too much some might say, and it swerves through passages of modern psych and ambient electronica on a whim with massive walls of reverb, hazy guitars and swooning synths all topped off with some impressive production. It’s a fitting end to what is at times a very confusing album and I don’t mean that in a bad way. ‘Worship the Moon’ has some fascinating moments throughout but is at times way too experimental for my tastes and it overburdens itself with it’s movie soundtrack leanings that can also get a tad monotonous after a while. There are redeeming features throughout with the songwriting, sonic sculpturing and production deserved of serious plaudits. I do however recommend that you listen to it via headphones at first for that all encompassing sonic thrill ride.
RELEASE: Without EP
RELEASE DATE: 28th September 2017
Solip's 'Without' EP is a brutal beast of doom-laden gaze. It's a powerful thing, dark and oppressive. Self-released, it follows on from 2016's 2 track 'Dissociation' and takes a similarly dim view of life, the universe and everything. The EP was released back on the 28th September 2017 and is available to buy/download right now via solip.bandcamp.com
Without by Solip
Adaptation's deliberate droning sets the scene for a record with very little light. The double-time drumming is completely suffocating and massively impressive. 'Held In Place' is like a shuddering death march. It's so slow and crushingly heavy at first. The fear just seeps out of 'The Burning Car'. It's unsettling opening notes explode into a chorus of abrasive guitar sounds, and it feels like being buried alive with those pummelling drums, driving us deeper down. The EP closes with 'No Gomorrah', with its enveloping walls of wild guitar squall. And those drums, pounding the nails into all our coffins.
Hailing from Oakland, California, the four piece have created a record with the heft and gravity required for late 2017, when all seems pretty much lost. Embrace the dark, it's all we have.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.