RELEASE: Our Mother Was A Plant
RELEASE DATE: 22nd September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Back in 2016 whilst writing reviews for 'The Sound Of Confusion', I came across a fantastic seven track self-titled debut album from Sicilian based sonic manipulator Gioele Valenti of Lay Llamas fame now recording under the moniker of 'JuJu'. Being a Lay Lamas fan myself, I immediately dived headlong into it's swirling lysergic sound waves which were more akin to a pulsating living organism drenched in swathes of rhythmic, almost ritualistic golden frequencies. Sonically, it was something that I'd never heard before and it quite simply blew me away. Fast forward twelve months; 'JuJu' has teamed up with one of the best underground independent record labels currently plying it's trade in this ever evolving scene, the immense 'Fuzz Club Records' and had just announced his sophomore release aptly titled 'Our Mother Was A Plant'. This time around Gioele Valenti dips his sonic tendrils into a plethora of genres that includes afrobeat, krautrock, glam, post-punk, art rock, shoegaze & drone and it also features guest appearances from 'Capra Informis', the masked djembe player of Swedish based psych aficionados 'Goat', making this album one of the most anticipated releases of 2017. It gets it's full release on the 22nd September and is available to pre-order right now on 180g vinyl via www.fuzzclub.com
Repetitious percussion accompanied by sporadic electronic sampling and the constant throb of skittish bass notes announce the arrival of track one, the brilliantly titled ‘Death By Beautiful Things’. Swirling reverberations pull luscious lead guitar lines into the mix as JuJu prepares to jump off the deep end and splash headlong into a pool of emotively experimental psych rock. The music drags this listener along with it tumbling freely into a droning synth laden soundscape filled with impressive kraut like percussive tendencies and mind numbing guitar progressions that seem to loop and arc effortlessly through swathes of psychedelic enchantment. At times ‘Death By Beautiful Things’ dips brilliantly in and out of ambient experimentalism leading you on a totally immersive sonic adventure. Up next, ‘In A Ghetto’ unfurls its sonic tendrils wavering menacingly on a sequenced drum loop that slowly adds a pensive kind of atmosphere with the addition of each musical layer. Hypnotic shakers rattle and shimmer as pulsing guitar progressions rise up from beneath a heady cloud of bass and reverb to envelope those mantra like vocalisations deftly undulating through JuJu’s subtle eastern esoteric leanings.
‘And Play A Game’ is refreshing as it bleeps and whirrs through sticky electronic vibes and repetitive percussion. It’s bass patterns are mesmerising and when accompanied by those addictive synth swells and it’s subtle lead licks, are totally unstoppable. Stunning vocal lines swirl throughout the mix as this track builds and builds into a surging psychedelically charged dance floor filler. It is absolutely magnificent. Up next, the insatiable ‘James Dean’ bounds into the ether on a wave of pounding drums, swirling guitars, haunting vocal lines and throbbing bass frequencies. It’s impressive organ lines intertwine brilliantly with soaring lead guitars and electronic percussion whilst the experimental pull of ‘I Got Your Soul’ is hard to escape. The sway of it’s funk like origins keep perfect time as the duel assault of bass and drums keep a firm hold on the earth allowing it’s mesmerising guitars to circumnavigate impressive vocalisations and soar out into the ether on reverberating sonic waves. ‘Patric’ begins life as a glitchy, atmospheric beast that trembles on yet another impressive bass progression. It’s haunting vocal lines undulate and merge effortlessly with raging guitars and stunning production to collectively create something altogether magical.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘What A Bad Day’ comes in at a whopping nine minutes plus and at no stage does it disappoint. This track enters audible range strapped to a metronomic drum pattern and the repetitive throb of angry bass. Atmospheric instrumental drones intertwine with fuzzy fret noise and resonating frequencies to circumnavigate it’s stunning vocals, as luscious synth swells bubble up from far below to drench the entire piece in shimmering reverb. There’s a hazy but ambient hue hanging over this track at times that tweaks this listeners attention as it meanders through layer after layer of psychedelic abandonment, twisting and turning through stunning musical passages filled with the occasional saxophone hook, colourful lead guitar progressions, electronic experimentalism and the ever present bark of dark bass frequencies. ‘Sunny Afternoon’ closes proceedings out and does exactly as it says on the tin. Shimmering guitar progressions and sparse percussion make way for fizzing electronics and the hum of bass as subtle synth swells pulse through the mix accompanied by electronic theatrics and the constant pull of simmering reverb. It’s a masterful ending to a totally entrancing sophomore album ...... bravo JuJu!
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: Distant Sea
RELEASE DATE: 28th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club
There are only so many things a chorus pedal can do. Those eleven meagre words could swiftly and perhaps eponymously give title to any article that a writer, a critic or blogger wishes to write about Mac Demarco. He’s the smelly, dirty looking hipster who popularized a kind of jangle pop that initially appears nostalgic and light-laced but eventually secedes into a kind of alcoholic- nicotine based adventure through adolescence that one can enjoy on a leisurely afternoon at the beach, or when they are traversing their inner past-histrionics. Either way, Demarco has used the chorus pedal to do two things (perhaps unintentionally), one is a kind of career suicide; he’s tied himself and crossed his own tracks so much so that he has transcended his own status into a type of figure that could be identified as post-celebrity (it was once trendy to listen to the guy, to wear his clothes and to smoke vile amounts of cigarettes, but since the polo-wearing normies of the world have discovered Mac, he just aint as cool). The second (and more important) is that Mac has put the preverbal knife through the gullet of any aspiring musician who wishes to touch on a similar style of music as his own. How many times do we hear music that we identify as ‘fake Mac Demarco’? A lot. It seems everybody who owned a shitty guitar and had a knack for overalls and dirty looking shoes has become a kind of Demarco-wannabe of sorts. This makes it hard for people like Saccades, who (funnily enough) is actually a hell of a lot more interesting than Mac. Saccades is proof that this genre slating, this assumption and veracious practician of overlooking should all be skipped over, and that nothing but the music should be analysed. Saccades 'Distant Sea' is testament to all of this, and is further proof that Fuzz Club Records know what they are doing. The album was released on the 28th July 2017 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via fuzz club.com and saccadesmusic.bandcamp.com respectively.
Saccades by Saccades
Distant Sea opens with the title track; its warmly strummed guitar pop poses a beautiful contrast to the lo-fi type production quality of the album. This is where one first hears the quality of the song writing; its fantastic mixture of the nostalgic-dream baked feelings of summer and the breezy relaxation of the heat of the beach and days gone by. ‘Bleeding Colours’ continues on this path, but alters slightly to offer another take on the aforementioned sound again. This time, tempo is up and the guitars eager and dizzing strums give it a neat kind of post-punk feel. The tight, drum-lead feel of ‘Bleeding Colours’ is extenuated on ‘Elusive Dream’, sounding like it could have been a Coldwave-style track with a thicker bass tone and darker production qualities. All the while, the vocals remain slightly (in a well crafted way) drowned out in the mix of the music. ‘Crying Land’ echoes the orange-sun aesthetic of other lo-fi and experimental acts; reverb is heavy and things seem somewhat darker and more confined in a way. The song still retains the same feel and atmosphere as previous tracks however, making it a stray from the path that doesn’t lose track of itself completely.
‘In and Out’ is one of the closest songs Saccades gets to minimalism; its brilliant piano based rhythmic set up keeps things tight and coordinated through the entire song. Synths waver and fluctuate in the background… Everything seems like a trip down a dizzingly hallucinogenic river. ‘Know My Name’ stands as an album highlight; the song writing is of a neat kind of radio-friendly pop music, touched on the other side by the experimental aesthetic of lo-fi music. The lyrics are deep but playful; interesting while also being ingrained within the music as one whole piece of the puzzle. ‘Running Wild’ also sticks out as a memorable track, appearing more upbeat than the previous track. Saccades displays his knack for the act of layering and melody and enjoyably jangling styles on ‘Red’, which features a simple but impressive guitar line. Another album highlight is the danceable ‘Cigales’; collecting up the tricks that Saccades has explored formerly on ‘Distant Sea’ before pushing forward something new and impressive into the mix. ‘High Drift’ pushes for the production based-skill of atmosphere creation to help carve out a moody and beautifully simple track that seems much more downtrodden than their other releases.
You should know two things: (just to clarify) I don’t hate Mac Demarco; in fact, I feel quite the opposite about him. Also, Saccades 'Distant Sea' is one of the greatest examples of an artist wading through the depths of lo-fi music I’ve heard in a while. Between the well written and catchy songs lies a dedication to originality that can so obviously be overlooked by listeners. There is a genuine sense of concentrated and well-crafted song writing at play on Distant Sea, and this is helped further along by the tape-recording and mixing quality of the release. It is a lengthy album, featuring twelve songs… But unlike many artists in similar genres, the songs themselves maintain a level of originality between them that makes everything seem that bit more refreshing and alternative from the track before it. There is a level of nostalgia that comes with it all as well; the kind of sun-sets and cold sand that I could write an essay about… But I’ll refrain from that; I just thought it should be noted. Listen for an album projecting beauty against its desire to, and for an album a bit more interesting than those have forged namesakes on its basic reciepe; achieved through production, song writing and sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: The Radiation Flowers
RELEASE: Summer Loop
RELEASE DATE: 7th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Sunmask/Cardinal Fuzz
Saskatoon based psych-gaze quartet 'The Radiation Flowers' have been very, very busy this summer. Not only have they released a fantastic split EP with fellow Canadian's 'Hawkeyes Doom' (which we have previously reviewed for Primal Music), but now they've just unleashed what is in our opinion one of the best albums of 2017 so far in the guise of 'Summer Loop', a seven track thrill ride through impressive layers of psych, shoegaze and alternative sounds that will leave you absolutely floored. The band are made up of Shelby Gaudet - guitar/vocals, Amber Ross - drums/percussion, Christopher Laramee – guitar & Jay Allen - bass/vocals and 'Summer Loop' is available to buy on lovely limited release 350 eco-colour vinyl's & 50 limited edition vinyl replica jacket CD-R's via the ever reliable Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sunmask (USA) or digitally via theradiationflowers.bandcamp.com
Summer Loop by The Radiation Flowers
Fuzzy guitar progressions build menacingly as ‘Just Go Away’ announces itself as a brooding psych-gaze gem. Steady percussion underscored with throbbing bass frequencies pull floating dual vocal lines into audible range as the soaring hammond organ infused chorus hook is generously whipped by vivacious lead lines and the luscious swirl of reverberation. Coming in at just under six minutes long ‘Just Go Away’ is infectiously addictive and a stunning opening salvo. Up next, ‘Walking Down The Street’ is steeped in melody as tremulous guitars ride a woozy swell of hammond and a cascading bass line. Slow ambling drum patterns hold a hypnotic beat as entrancing vocal lines weave and bob in and out through layers of resonating sonic waves and wall of sound reverberations. ‘Colours’ glistens into earshot on a swirling organ progression as a mesmerising vocal performance dances along on a bedrock consisting of a throbbing bass line and punchy drum patterns. Jangling guitars envelope the entire piece, placing a protective layer around those impressive vocal lines thus reinforcing deep melody in the process.
‘Dancing In The Flames’ growls into existence held fast in a turbulent whirlwind filled with growling guitars, angry bass frequencies and thunderous percussion. Lysergic lead lines lick and harass a punk edged vocal take as we’re drawn headlong into a cacophony of raging psych induced instrumentation that is absolutely drenched in stunning reverberation. ‘Sunrise’ injects some 60’s psych-pop connotations into proceedings as it bounces along on a mid-tempo drum pattern and a repetitive guitar progression underscored with bubbling bass frequencies and that swirling instrumental drone. Intricate lead guitar lines and another impressive vocal performance tie everything together brilliantly and that catchy synth laden break is immense. Up next, the instrumental beast that it ‘Summer Of Burnout’ ambles into audible range tumbling menacingly in a glistening synth drone, a throbbing bass line and acid drenched guitar progressions. Those bass notes are utterly addictive and they drag you with them through layer after layer of undulating psych-gaze as the constant thud of percussion keeps steady metronomic time. The album closes out with ‘Walking (Reprise)’, a lysergic acoustic filled dreamscape that swirls beautifully in a luscious cloud of resonating sound, sporadically pierced by subtle percussive stabs, intense reverberations and delayed swells of instrumentation. A stunning finale to a mesmerising album.
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 and reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Cobra Family Picnic
RELEASE: Magnetic Anomaly
RELEASE DATE: 22nd May 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz/Sky Lantern Records
Tuscan based psych aficionados 'Cobra Family Picnic' released a stunning album entitled 'Magnetic Anomaly' back on the 22nd May 2017 via Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sky Lantern Records (USA). The band create a fuzzy, blissed-out haze that skips through lysergic rhythmically focused space-rock, kraut-rock, experimental neo-psych and kosmische with relative ease and have over the last three years shared stages with critically acclaimed bands such as Moon Duo, White Manna, The Myrrors and Mugstar. Members of the band recorded here include names from a host of other local Tucson psych ensembles, such as The Desert Beats, The Night Collectors, and Wight Lhite. 'Magnetic Anomaly' is available to buy on lovely vinyl from Cardinal Fuzz, Sky Lantern Records or via cobrafamilypicnic-slr.bandcamp.com
Magnetic Anomaly by Cobra Family Picnic
Sampled vocalisations precariously count down to lift off as ‘Draags’ winds up a twisted drone, skittish feedback laden guitars and the surge of instrumentation like some deranged psych induced jazz recital in the back room of an Albert Hofmann experiment. Off kilter percussion keeps a rhythmic almost processional beat as undulating keyboard thrills tickle and harass the hum of bass frequencies and the whip of angry lead lines whilst swirling vocal samples intertwine brilliantly with seething noise and entrancing production. This is a fascinating jump off point to a deeply experimental collection of minimalistic tracks that literally pierce the listeners inner psyche, taking them on a journey of sonic discovery in the trance-inducing process. ‘IPT 001’ is a sojourn, a side step if you will into the eye of a spinning instrumental drone badgered by fizzing vocal samples and turbulent electronic theatrics while deeply transfixing atmospherics swirl and whirr through layers of mind altering reverberations.
‘Elysium’ shakes into audible range stuck fast to shimmering waves of tambourine and snaking feedback. Tumbling drum patterns envelope a throbbing bass line as the pull of wah-wah pedal melds with spiralling electronics licking and caressing a yearning vocal take. Shamanic instrumentation undulates and pulses psychedelically charged waves out into the ether as the track builds and builds into a raging sonic behemoth making ‘Elysium’ my favourite track on the entire release. Revolving drones intertwined with sporadic but haunting vocalisations announce the arrival of ‘IPT 011’ and we’re thrown headlong into an experimental world of intensely atmospheric synth swells, resonating fret board theatrics and deep lying reverberations melded with dissonant electronics and glistening field noise whilst ‘Frost’ breaks the serenity and streams into earshot on a thunderous drum pattern accompanied by shaking tambourine and a swirling instrumental drone. Tremulous guitars ride the collective sonic surge as the arrival of sublime vocalisations and screaming lead lines twist the mood from one of metronomic incantation into ascending space rock before we fall out the back end into a blistering melting pot of lysergic repose.
Melodiously fuzzy bass frequencies keep steady time as ‘Gilgamesh’ meanders into earshot pulling with it the shimmer of tambourine and those mechanical drums. Mind altering guitar signatures circumnavigate reverberating vocal lines, whipping and harassing each word to within an inch of its life as those sullen organ lines bubble up from below adding delicious atmosphere. ‘IPT 111’ hovers in a haze of atmosphere as sporadic drones fizz and whirr through horrifying vocal samples and swirling instrumental waves. Potent percussive hits meld with dancing electronics that pull the listener into it’s deeply experimental finale whilst the albums penultimate piece groans into existence tumbling within a swirling sonic behemoth. ‘Moody Mountain’ pummels the senses with fuzzy archaic melody and incandescent frequencies that build and build into raging instrumental drone until the arrival of a slow rolling beat and eventually brings some clarity to proceedings, pulling with it an impenetrable bass line, atmospheric vocalisations and a raging wall of guitars. For those of us lucky enough to purchase this album on vinyl there’s an additional bonus track entitled ‘Contact’ to grace your earholes with once you partake in using the digital download code provided. This track is a nine minute white knuckle ride through pulsating kraut like percussion, addictive bass lines, echoed vocal lines and raging guitars that will quite literally blow your mind. A fantastic ending to a marvellous album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: My Favourite Things
RELEASE: Fly I Will, Because I Can
RELEASE DATE: 14th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Brooklyn based 'My Favourite Things' aka multi-instrumentalist Dorothea Tachler has been writing, recording and producing competent sonic soundscapes since the release of her debut album 'Rarara' back in 2009 and has transfixed audiences in the notoriously unforgiving New York City music scene with her beautifully dreamy, acoustic filled sound both as a solo act and with her constantly changing live five piece band which features various players from within the vibrant underground NYC scene. Her latest album 'Fly I Will, Because I Can' is a beautifully melancholic sonic journey swirling around some turbulent themes such as lost love, life and it's many pitfalls. 'Fly I Will, Because I Can' gets it's official release on July 14th 2017 and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via myfavouritethings.bandcamp.com
Fly I will, because I can by My Favourite Things
The albums opening salvo entitled 'Sunlight' glistens as it jangles into earshot, stuck fast to an addictive acoustic guitar progression and underscored by a subtle array of impressive instrumentation and sporadic hits from various percussive instruments. Beautifully dreamy vocalisations wash over the entire piece draping it in light reverberation and intense melody that collectively adds a summery melancholic vibe to proceedings. Up next, 'Everything Changes' builds from its first notes and introduces layer after layer of instrumentation as it deftly meanders through a predestined production arrangement. Again, there are lashings of melancholy here as you float effortlessly along with the dreamy but addictive vocal tones of Dorothea Tachler and I can't help but hear subtle but delightful touches of Americana swirling around in the mix. The opening bars of 'Goodbye Again' continue with the previous trend albeit on a more scaled back trip before the chorus soars up and out into the ether on a bubbly cacophony of golden frequencies. There's a sonic battle of wills between light and shade echoing throughout this track as the instrumentation shimmers whilst it's underlying theme drapes a dark atmospheric cloak over it's yearning vocal lines. Brilliantly worked and both the songwriting and the production are faultless.
'Still Practicing' growls on a deep electric guitar progression that envelopes another outstanding vocal performance. The subtle wash of crash cymbal melded with a fuzzy layer of resonating guitar and underlying instrumentation adds weight to the chorus change before we're dragged back into another hazy verse progression and on in to the tracks moody finale whilst up next 'Some Things Stay The Same ( Stay A Little While)' floats into earshot on a woozy cloud of tremulous guitars and droning instrumental swells offering up a glorious 60's esque psychedelic twist as it loops and arcs brilliantly through shimmering reverb hued layers. 'My Favourite Things' offer up some fantastic folk leanings on this record and none more so than on 'Growing Pains'. It undulates around a simple guitar progression accompanied by tumbling drum patterns and twinkling lead lines that collectively circumnavigate it's soothing vocal lines brilliantly whilst 'Nobody Knows' shimmers into audible range swirling on a dreamy vocal harmony before wobbling electronics and tremulous guitars take over and sparkle on a steady metronomic beat. 'A Little Closer' sounds like a long lost Beatles track with its busy drum pattern and wavy, reverberating vocal lines accompanied by a persistent instrumental drone that winds its way through jangling guitars and stunning production with relative ease. Catchy hook laden chorus progressions lift the entire track into a gauzy dream-pop laden masterpiece and this listener is pulled with it up into the ether. Thoroughly addictive and probably my favourite track on the entire release!
Steeped in melody, 'Keep Letting Go' opens with slow tremulous guitars, humming bass frequencies and the occasional wash from the cymbals. A stripped back vocal track cuts through the production and it's joined at times by harmonious backing vocals as the track builds, injecting meandering drum patterns and periods of fuzzy reverberation whilst 'Spaceman' surges from its opening sequenced drum pattern and opens up into a slow moving ball of hazy instrumentation. Dreamy vocalisations swirl and whirr through layers of reverb as this track steps in and out of fuzzy shoegaze and hazy dream-pop at will. The albums penultimate piece entitled 'The Longest Winter' rustles into ear shot on warbling instrumentation and the subtle brush of drums. There's a air of experimentation here that is very refreshing as Dorothea's vocals emerge into the mix precariously positioned atop slow moving ambient hued instrumentation peppered with sparkling atmosphere, brilliantly executed production and fuzzier moments of sonic contemplation. The album closes out with 'I Don't Know', a full on dream-gazing standard. A bedrock of sequenced electronic drums act as the foundation for humming bass frequencies, various instrumentation, bouncing synths and dreamily layered vocalisations. A brilliant finale to a very interesting album.
ARTIST: Artificial Waves
RELEASE: Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.
RELEASE DATE: 18th May 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records
If you like everything icy, chilled, nice, polished and reflective in its purity, look no further than the post-rock/ambient textures of Artificial Waves. Their latest album, tongue-in-cheekily entitled 'Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.', captures the mood and atmosphere of a period in the late nineties when post-rock seemed less interested in pushing the outer boundaries of contemporary music but more focused on dwelling upon a kind of conceptual structure acute to post-shoegaze; longer songs with downtrodden elements but larger and louder sections to bounce back to. But while 'Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.' is definitely clean and polished, these facts only help in its intentions and presentations. For every guitar-based riff-centred track there appears the subtle sounds of violins and keyboards, synths and ambient soundscapes. It’s true; it is difficult to find a song on this album that doesn’t have layered sound behind it; whether this be another instrument or just the tone and FX on the guitar. An interesting and engaging listen for fans of post-rock, and those seeking something a little more sonically interesting than your generic instrumental rock release. The album was officially released back on the 18th May 2017 via Fluttery Records and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from artificial-waves.bandcamp.com
Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic. by Artificial Waves
‘From Blur to Sharp’ opens the album as a kind of intro; big, loud drums play over the top of ambience and a small keyboard sound; eventually the entire band appear and the song unfolds in a heavy, riff-orientated way. Was it a clever idea to include this song? Well, I’ll let you be the judge, but there seems to be something of a lesser-than quality on this opening track in comparison to other tracks. I found myself wondering whether the rest of the album was going to be the same atmospheric guitar-orientated ‘rock’ sound. And although it’s a simple intro song, it does little to capture the true essence of the album when one has listened to the other tracks. The almost seven minute ‘Blended Spirits’ follows with what borders on an alt-metal sound; chugging guitars, breakdowns and loud guitar backed music. As the song goes on it becomes more and more engaging, with the high point been around the middle section where a downtrodden guitar plays a shoegaze-like riff, accompanied by a beautiful melody and the thick bass/drum sound. One of the best tracks on the album ‘Living in A Recycled Space’ plays with dynamics and a more math inspired sound. The inclusion of samples and electronics alongside the heavy drums/bass/guitar passages on the song do wonders for the atmospheric/conceptual quality of the song. A programmed drum beat and piano carries the song beautifully also.
‘Rising Soul’, which served as a single for the album, provides a beautiful swathes of melodic post-rock; the entire band come together to produce a less dynamically alternative song but a much more linear sounding piece of ambience. Similarly, ‘Hush and Embrace’ is as equally as impressive, but much quieter. The song relies more on the quiet ambient passages and guitar laced soundscapes than any large pounding drums could muster. ‘Bored Shadows’ seems to be a mixture of the previous two tracks with its gentle start but seemingly heavy second half. The inclusion of what sounds to be either sampled or programmed drums also make things seem even more wavy and architecturally post-rock. The subtle influence of shoegaze also continually sneaks in on all three tracks to a point of interest and engagement. The airy and most atmospheric song on the second half of the album is the brilliant ‘Inspiring Insomnia’ which at the two minute mark features a chugging breakdown with subtle yet stylistically intricate keyboard sounds. A special acknowledgement goes to the drumming on this track; involved enough to be noticed but not arrogantly over the top as to alter the limelight from the other instruments. In the second half of the song, things return to the alt-metal style explored on the start of the track. A small interlude, entitled ‘Inception’, leads the way into ‘Feeling the Endless Flow’ which is the albums lengthiest song. In terms of other tracks on the album, it lacks their magic, charm and continuity; it’s perhaps the most linear in terms of genre and its one of the loudest songs on the release. That’s not too say it doesn’t have it’s strengths; the guitar playing is strong and impressive, as is the unified sound between the players and their instruments.
As far as instrumental albums (of any genre) go, there is one real question that impinges on the critical reaction and reception, as well as interest shown by audience, of the release. This question is whether, without vocals or lyrics, the band or artist can keep it interesting enough to hold attention for the whole release. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule: think of those classic albums released throughout the 60’s and 70’s that are three tracks long (all of which go for 25 minutes) featuring lengthy guitar wanking and keyboard solos on and on. Or perhaps music generally classified as sound art, which generally may go on for hours without anything resembling a major chord progression. I am a fan of both these exceptions, but with these exceptions application to the question at hand, both classic albums and sound art/experimental pieces have one thing on their side: contextualisation. 'Heavy. Deep. Sad. Ironic.' has the task of maintaining interest on its own; without information or contextualisation to back it up in its decisions. This boils down to the question; does the album keep interest up for its entire duration; the short answer is not particularly, but the full answer is different altogether. The album, for the most part, remains interesting purely through its song writing; the softer and more ambient tracks stand out in this sense. As for the production and mixing; it is stellar… crisp, clean and sparkling in its recording and presentation. In regards to the aforementioned question; there are guitar-centric passages of songs that become over long and tiresome at times. The first half of the album more so than the second half features too many over long passages of ‘basic’ alt-rock. Although these sections of music are minor, and overall there is something wholly satisfying about the album; a kind of conceptual element that ties it all together, mainly through production, song writing and sound.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.