RELEASE DATE: November 25th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: These Are Not Records
Connecticut based experimental shoegaze/lo-fi four piece 'Landing' are no strangers to the underground music scene having no less than nine previous releases under their belts. The latest addition to that stunning collection is 'Complekt', their 10th release to date and a continuation to their no-nonsense, genre-defining attitude of creating blissful sonic soundscapes that are filled with hazy shoegaze highs and jaw dropping ethereal vocalisations coupled with experimental twists and lashings of glorious reverberation. The band are made up of three longtime members; Adrienne Snow - vocals, Aaron Snow - guitar/synth/bass/drums/vocals, Daron Gardner - bass & John Miller - drums/guitar/synth and you can pre-order the full album on various formats right now from: landing.bandcamp.com
Complekt by Landing
In a beautifully translucent instrumental drone ‘Complekt’ unfurls its effortless sonic tendrils to announce the arrival of it’s opening salvo - 'Light'. It pulses into earshot on a wave of quivering guitars and deliciously ambient swirls before it’s blissfully ethereal vocalisations sweep past you, held fast in swathes of immense reverberation. Up next, ‘Complekt’ swirls repetitiously before exploding into a driving cacophony of thunderous percussion, throbbing bass frequencies and a maelstrom of layered reverberating guitars. The vocal lines cut an ethereal wedge through proceedings, bringing a sort of serine clarity whilst all around them wage a sonic war of attrition. A stunning track that you must listen to via headphones to experience its full sonic onslaught.
‘Weft’ jangles into ear shot on an undulating bed of instrumental promise, sequenced synth theatrics and a shaking percussive pattern as it’s brilliantly executed guitar lines languish deep within swathes of luscious reverb, whilst the monumental ‘Shifts’ menacingly emerges from beneath an angry instrumental drone accompanied by hypnotic shakers and massive walls of ethereal noise. ‘Shifts’ undulates as its beautiful vocals swerve through cascading synth lines that float effortlessly through the sonic ether, looping and arcing with blissful aplomb. Up next, ‘Thither’ soars on a glorious synth swell before building into a throbbing sonic beast. This track pulses and swirls on a cloud of hazy electronics and sequenced atmospherics before we’re treated to a metronomic drum pattern, melodious bass frequencies and another beautiful vocal performance, constantly circumnavigated by reverberating guitars and cushioning synth swells. ‘Thither’ is immense and possibly my favourite track on this entire release.
‘Grow’ bleeps and swirls into existence on a bedrock of sequenced electronics and stunning guitar swells. It shimmers blissfully as it works through it’s sonic gears with aplomb, effortlessly floating unaided through layers of reverb and droning experimental instrumentation. Coming in at ten minutes plus ‘Grow’ is by far the longest track on the entire album and it doesn’t disappoint. It moves effortlessly through soaring guitars, pulsing synths and hypnotic percussion whilst pushing wave after wave of golden hued frequencies out into the sonic ether without breaking a sweat. The vocal lines weave a spell as they majestically intertwine with the entrancing sound waves. ‘Grow’ is a sonic triumph of immense proportions. The albums penultimate track entitled ‘Clouds II’ moves on a lazy percussive swagger albeit coupled with swirling guitars and the constant hum of a throbbing bass line. It’s vocal sits gracefully in the mix, gently leading this listener through a meandering pre-designated verse pattern and on into it’s soaring chorus parts. The albums closing piece however, shimmers on acoustic frequencies and soaring synth swells. ‘World’ switches from female to male lead vocals brilliantly as it builds into a trembling maelstrom of glorious reverberation and tremulous noise. A fitting ending to a marvellous album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. 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: Nothing Stays The Same
RELEASE DATE: November 1st 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Melbourne based experimental/psych/alt rockers 'BREVE' have self-released a stunning collection of tracks in the form of their debut album, brilliantly titled 'Nothing Stays The Same'. Having wowed us back in July with their then lead single we were eagerly waiting to get our mucky paws on the full ensemble and it did not disappoint. Their impressive take on the modern psych genre is absolutely breathtaking, so much so that I've given the album a rating of 5/5 and thats a rare occurrence for me. The band are made up of Dougal Shaw, Toby Fitzgerald & Billy Dowle and 'Nothing Stays The Same' is available to buy/download right now from: breveband.bandcamp.com
Nothing Stays The Same by BREVE
‘Nothing Stays The Same’ opens up with ‘Konecrane’, a turbulent droning monster that wears its experimental heart on its sleeve. This track builds menacingly from its very first swirling tone until the addictively repetitive lead guitar lines crawl and intertwine effortlessly with steady percussion and throbbing bass frequencies, eventually leading us into an immense sampled filled break and on into its glorious finale! Up next, ‘Introverse’ woozily enters earshot on dark synth swells and sequenced percussion before opening up into an electronically charged psych behemoth. The vocal lines ride a heady mix of explosive reverberating instrumentation deliciously underscored by the the constant hum and throb of the unmissable bass line. ‘Cold Sweat On A Sunday’ enters the fray and immediately entices this listener whilst ‘Nothing Stays’ bursts into a cacophony of noise as its explosive drum patterns and the brilliantly executed guitar lines circumnavigate those immense vocal's, echoing ‘Queens Of The Stone Age’ with its instrumental intensity.
Sequenced percussion and sampled atmospheric’s announce the arrival of ‘Nothing Is Permanent’ as those repetitious guitars and the brilliantly executed (but highly infectious) vocal line permeates effortlessly through layers of reverb. ‘Nothing Is Permanent’ surges half way through into an angry sonic beast, unleashing a torrent of swirling noise until eventually fading out into obscurity. ‘Movement’ crawls into earshot on a menacing drone and a darkly ambient repetitious sample as its fragile vocal lines add atmosphere. The guitars swirl and glide in and out of a hi-hat heavy breakbeat before dragging the angry vocals back into the mix and on into a tremulous finale. There’s an air of movie soundcheck chic on the opening salvo’s of ‘Human’ as its haunting samples float underneath swirling feedback and jangling guitars before ‘Breve’ unleash a driving experimental onslaught onto their listeners. Wailing vocals and intricate bass lines meld effortlessly with explosive drum patterns and screaming wah-wah heavy guitar progressions to give us a progressive/psych rock behemoth. Up next, ‘Connected’ bounces on a bed of sequenced percussion, swirling synth drone and attention grabbing shakers. The vocals arrive as the instrumentation bubbles angrily beneath the surface and those lead guitar lines undulate effortlessly, constantly keeping time with the ever hypnotic shakers. There’s a subliminal message pulsing through every single note of ‘Connected’ that gives two fingers to the social media world of today and we all should pay very close attention to it’s infectious mantra.
The albums penultimate track entitled ‘Feel’ has loose ambient stylings swirling deep within its opening progressions. A beautifully translucent vocal pierces the ether and adds a subtle psychedelic edge to proceedings as swirling drones and malicious atmospherics move and swerve before the track explodes into a glorious cacophony of bass heavy noise and rumbling drum patterns. The albums closing piece staggers on a repetitious percussive sample as we journey through a world of psychedelic enchantment tipped with prog rock finery. ‘Elevate’ has an absolutely immense swagger about it as the metronomic thud of the percussion drags it’s vocal lines and melodious bass frequencies through layers of reverberation constantly assaulted by a swirling instrumental drone and screaming guitar squall. This is a stunning finale to a magnificent debut album.
ARTIST: The Wedding Present
RELEASE: Going Going ...
RELEASE DATE: Out Now (UK/Europe) & December 2nd (USA)
RECORD COMPANY: HHBTM Records
Jangle pop meets post-rock meets a bit of this and a bit of that on Going, Going…, the ninth album by well-rounded and deeply influential UK indie heavyweights The Wedding Present. A band (you should probably have a listen to if you haven’t) who have remained a prominent player in the UK indie/alternative scene through a revolving line up and heavy touring. Going, Going… returns to the bands 80’s roots of alt-rock influenced pop rock; instead this time they throw in a jangling indie rock tone that has remained popular on indie record labels from the late 80s onward. This enticing package of genres and sounds is pulled off by the band on most of the album; allowing the listener to fully relish in The Wedding Present and their mature and provoking music and songs.
While on the most part Going, Going… contains moody indie and pop tracks, it in fact opens with four beautiful and engaging instrumental tracks. ‘Kittery’ mixes ambience with the heavy tinge of alternative rock and the neat sound textures that the band were well-known for in the past. On ‘Greenland’ the band reach their most experimental heights; the enjoyable and interesting song is built around swaying percussion. Over the top of the beats are coordinates read out in a lo-fi style; all of this connects together with a slight aroma of musique concrète as the beats play slowly. ‘Marblehead’ is absolutely beautiful, mesmerizing and refreshing in its instrumentation; which consists of a couple of beautiful vocal passages backed with the slow rat-a-tat-tat of the drums and the harp like sounds of guitar. Similarly ‘Sprague’ uses an array of string instruments and the tapping of the piano to create a sound akin to a film score; flowing and tirelessly majestic. And then the band dive deep into their signature sound of indie, jangle pop in the form of ‘Two Bridges’; a neat pop rock tune that jumps and creates a enjoyably danceable melody. The lyrics connect with the music in a brilliant and smooth way with the melody connecting with the easy (very English) vocals and drumming. The awkward ballad like song ‘Little Silver’ follows; which has brilliant post-punk inspired heavy alternative rock passages of music that seem too good for the awkward and almost childlike vocal passages. The performances on ‘Little Silver’ showcase the brilliant and subtle talent of all the insturmental players involved. ‘Bear’ uses the modern English lyrical talents of the band to create a much more relaxed and full form song. The Wedding Present seem to build upon the slight ‘Little Silver’ to create a more impressive pop rock style ballad.
Just think of every single indie rock cliché you can and then tie them altogether…What would it look like? It would look and smell a lot like ‘Secretary’. This is the song that the listener is supposed to say ‘hahahha… Yes, hahaha, yes. That’s quite funny… Yes, I’ve seen what you’ve done there with the lyrics, hhahaha… Yeah, haha’ while listening to. But guess what? It evokes no such dialogue. Instead it’s actually quite cringey and ultimately, although there is more to say (much about the lyrics), I don’t feel like I need to elaborate on all of its annoying characteristics much more. ‘Birdsnest’ is mediocre but enjoyable. It should be noted of the fantastic vocal performance by the backing female vocalist especially, but ultimately the entire band showcase their talent, and more importantly they sound like they’re having fun doing so. ‘Kill Devil Hills’ features some great instrumentation but this steady craft of song writing is counterpointed by the tongue in cheek vocals and occasionally enjoyable lyrics. The band re-captures its sound on ‘Bells’, a fiery and much more heavy alternative rock tune where the percussion and the excellent mixing and production qualities present themselves clearly. The vocals are also back on a track that fits with the music. On ‘Fifty-Six’ this heaviness continues and is utilised to showcase the crunch of guitars and the sound textures the band feel much more comfortable playing. The outro especially fits well with the contextual elements of the song.
The slow and swaying sound of ‘Emporia’ allows the band to reach the quality of ballad that they have been dubiously searching for on the entire album. The vocals on the second half of the song are brilliant as is the wild and free post-rock like pace the music sets slowly for itself. The production shines through substantially to bring all instruments into the mix together and balancing them for a fantastic listening quality of music.
Interestingly enough, I entered into this album wondering what The Wedding Present would bring to the table. Would it be the classic post-punk influenced rock and pop that brought them many fans and acclaim during the 80’s? Would it be the indie rock sound that they carried through to impress audiences with? Or would it be something completely different? Well into the albums opening instrumentals, I was convinced it was the latter. But then… Then I knew that it was indie and indie and even more indie. What’s wrong with Indie music? Absolutely nothing… So what are you on about? Well, to be completely honest; I don’t know if The Wedding Present are still ‘into it’. They seem to be interested in this jangling, indie, alt-rock sound but they recycle bands that they probably historically influenced to create something that tastes generic, clean, not really that adventurous and at times very awkward. The album is by no means bad but I tend to wonder what the aim of the album was. And before you ask; no there doesn’t need to be an aim for any music. It just seems that the band ventured into a studio and recorded this and that, here and there and then threw it together without any sort of rewarding focus. Think what you may of this but I believe the instrumentals to be some of, perhaps the, best tracks on the album. But still, with this in mind, the fact that the album opens with post-rock, ambient, soaring cinematic tracks makes the album unbalanced and confusing. Perhaps the band believed these to be an album intro of sorts but they sit so well at the start that it sort of just sounds like a band recording a film score then deciding to write an indie album. Actually, it is almost like two different bands played on the album; which also adds to the fact that the album is almost overloaded with songs. The lyrics at times sound and read as if the band stuck to subjects explored within their back catalogue but tried to ‘modernise’ them. This doesn’t do them many favours and I wondered whether The Wedding Present were trying to be funny? Or is it telling a story? I don’t know… On such a topic; why doesn’t the backing vocalist sing more leads? On a couple of the tracks the current leads sound tired and insincerely awkward; overly Indie themed and at a contrast to the music.
This may read as if Going, Going… is a second rate album; but I must ensure you that it is not. The production is brilliant and actually is one of the best I’ve heard in a while; meaning the bands choice of studios and mixers came through for them greatly. The mixing is stellar across the album, as are the instrumental performances by every band member. And, just to remind you, there are some fantastic and catchy songs on this album… Which I recommend you listen to. The influence of The Wedding Present on indie music, and in fact UK music is great, and Going, Going... showcases elements of the bands song writing skills and fantastic talent. This is achieved through the immaculate production, neat mixing and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Tears Run Rings
RELEASE: In Surges
RELEASE DATE: December 2nd 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Deep Space Recordings
Not officially released until the 2nd December, dreamy shoegaze four piece ‘Tears Run Rings’ have used the magic of the internet to conceive their hauntingly good third album entitled ‘In Surges’. Taking a grand total of six years to complete, the band recorded in three separate studios transferring tracks backwards and forwards between three different cities - San Francisco, Portland and Los Angeles until each finished track was perfect. The band are made up of Laura - bass/vocals, Matthew - guitars/vocals, Ed -guitar and Dwayne - drums. Laura, Ed & Dwayne are original members of the now defunct 90’s twee/pop outfit ‘The Autocollants’ and Matthew & Ed also founded the brilliant 'Shelflife Records'. ‘In Surges’ is the bands third album and gets its full release via Deep Space Recordings. The album is available to pre-order on lovely coloured vinyl right now from: deepspacerecordings.storenvy.com
'In Surges' opens up swirling gracefully within a reverberating instrumental drone. ‘Happiness 6’ pulses a beautifully translucent sonic wave out into the ether as swathes of reverb are met with soaring synth swells and sparse percussion to perfectly envelope that impressive vocal. Up next, ‘Belly Up’ charges into earshot on a repetitious percussive attack coupled with noisy reverberating guitars and throbbing bass frequencies. Haunting vocal lines sway and bounce as they deftly circumnavigate the instrumentation, dashing in and out of subtle quieter/dreamier moments and on into awe inspiring soaring shoegaze, all the while drenched in beautifully ethereal reverb.
‘Things Have Changed’ shimmers as the twang of guitars meet underlying synth swells and ethereal vocalisations. The addition of the hazy acoustic guitar tones add atmosphere before the thud of bass frequencies take hold and carefully guide you out into the ether aided by wave after wave of underlying shimmering guitar effects. I can’t help but be totally blown away by both the lead vocal lines and the ethereally haunting backing vocals on this track. Absolutely stunning in its entirety, ‘Things have Changed’ is possibly my favourite track on the entire release. ‘Part of Glass’ blissfully ambles into audible range on a repetitive drum pattern, swirling instrumentation and another impressive vocal whilst ‘Green Lakes’ echoes and sway’s on a wave of reverb laden noise until we’re introduced to a beautifully ethereal vocal performance. ‘Green Lakes’ explodes into a cacophony of glorious colour as its chorus progressions take hold and we glide effortlessly within a haze of sonic grandeur into the ether.
‘Broken’ brings us back down to earth as it explodes into a reverberating beast. The vocals bring some clarity as they cut through overdriven guitar frequencies and I can hear subtle old-school flourishes reminiscent of ‘Slowdive’ here. Up next, ‘Destroyer’ breathes a modern sounding edge to proceedings as the track builds in momentum through its blissful verse parts and on into a beautifully arranged chorus progression. The chug, chug, chug of rhythm guitar coupled with those snaking lead lines, lazy percussion and soaring instrumental swells enter the fray and act as the perfect accompaniment to those ethereal vocal lines. The beginnings of ‘Something You Cant Hide’ have a welcoming post-punk edge before the track unfurls its sonic tendrils and radiates a stunning wall of layered guitars and driving bass frequencies underscored with a bedrock of explosive percussion. The albums penultimate track doesn't disappoint either as it unleashes a repetitious guitar progression and shimmering tambourine shakes. ‘Sine Wave Sleep’ is steeped in reverb, and totally reminiscent (instrumentally) of early Spacemen 3 mixed with the stunning melodic expertise of ‘The House Of Love’. As soon as the vocals takes hold, accompanied by those plodding bass frequencies and soaring lead guitar swells, you are completely hooked. ‘Sine Wave Sleep’ is a stunning track from start to finish.
The albums closing salvo entitled ‘Happiness 7’ majestically swerves through tremulous droning guitars and stunning atmospherics as it throws up blissfully noisy frequencies and hazy instrumentation. Out of the blurred sonic maelstrom comes a brilliantly executed vocal coupled with its underlying ethereal backing lines.
'In Surges' is a stunning return to form and well worth the six year wait!
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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: The Wolfhounds
RELEASE: Untied Kingdom
RELEASE DATE: October 14th
RECORD COMPANY: Odd Box Records
Modern life is rubbish is the central theme of The Wolfhounds first LP in decades. For a band that came of age in Thatcher's Britain, that's a fairly damning indictment. 'Untied Kingdom' explores themes of dissatisfaction, disconnection, disaffection and disunity. The album was released on October 14th 2016 on a double LP via Oddbox Records and is also available to buy/download from: thewolfhounds.bandcamp.com
Untied Kingdom (…or how to come to terms with your culture) by The Wolfhounds
The Wolfhounds first came to attention on the NME's now legendary C86 compilation, and it's not too easy to find evidence of that aesthetic in these 11 songs, but then, thirty years have passed. The emotional scene for the record is set with the morality tale of Apparition and its plaintive voices. There are still some traces though of those 80's origins. These can be heard in the flanged guitars of My Legendary Childhood, the slack rhythm of The Comedians and the swooping intro of Across the River of Death. But now, it is that much more tight, muscular and ,above all, bristling with anger!
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
ARTIST: Magic Shoppe
RELEASE DATE: October 26th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Little Cloud Records
Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, the fantastic ‘Magic Shoppe’ tweaked my attention back in February with their absolutely stunning four track EP interestingly titled ‘Interstellar Car Crash’. Now the band have returned with a glorious full length album via ‘Little Cloud Records’ aptly titled ‘Wonderland’ and filled with the same tantalising sonic soundscapes that had initially caught my ear earlier in the year. 'Magic Shoppe' collectively create a swirling cacophony of modern day psychedelia intriguingly peppered with sonic atmospherics, fuzz and droning instrumentation. 'Wonderland' had its official release on the 26th October 2016 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats including a luscious limited edition opaque red vinyl option from: magicshoppe.bandcamp.com
Wonderland by Magic Shoppe
‘Wonderland’ unfurls its warm & fuzzy tendrils from deep within the grip of a raging sonic maelstrom. ‘Stars Explode’ unleashes a blistering sonic assault on the senses as its swirling guitars ride a thunderous wave of throbbing bass frequencies and pounding drums and the stunning vocal lines instil a futuristic kind of atmosphere as they creep nonchalantly in and out of the turbulent whirlwind. Up next, ‘Head On The Floor’ staggers on a woozy but melodious bass line as its repetitious drum pattern holds a steady beat allowing those snaking lead lines to harry and tease the vocal progressions with ease. ‘Kill’ screeches into earshot on droning guitar feedback before the throb of the bass line takes hold and the entrancingly hypnotic beat meanders into the fray coupled with shakers and impressive reverberation. The sublime fuzzy vocals cut through the entire piece like a hot knife through butter before the chorus progressions soar into the ether dragging this listener with it as it deftly loops and arcs into the blood red skyline. ‘Kill’ is definitely my favourite track by far on the entire release and a recommendation from me!
‘Hearing Voices’ creeps into audible range on a tremulous drone underscored by a hi-hat heavy drum pattern and the constant hum of bass frequencies. The swirling guitars and impressive vocals sit effortlessly in the mix, knee deep in reverb and highly addictive. The delectable ‘Blowup’ arrives and undulates gracefully through swathes of 60’s sounding psych before the atmospheric ‘Sister Burden’ swerves into earshot courtesy of a barely audible vocal sample, driving bass line, pounding drums and dissonant white noise. The albums penultimate track entitled ‘Find Yourself Some Love’ shakes and shimmies through reverb induced backward drones, iridescent instrumentation and hazy vocal lines before the hypnotic lead guitar weaves a sonic web of fantastically hallucinogenic golden streaks throughout the track. The albums closing piece entitled ‘Wonderland’ slows proceedings down a tad as it jangles on a four chord fuzzy guitar structure and a splash of tambourine. The vocals arrive accompanied by sporadic percussive hits and swirling instrumental drones before the track fades into the ether. A stellar return to form and a fitting ending to a marvellous album.... Bravo Magic Shoppe!
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled 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.
RELEASE: She Walks, She Creeps
RELEASE DATE: October 28th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sonic Unyon Records
By far the most interesting, engaging, original and experimental piece of music I have heard from a non pro band/music project in the past while, WTCHS 'She Walks, She Creeps' may just be the album to *expletive word* off all of the other phony’s. They’re not even in the same league actually; this album is heavy, dirty, transgressively wild and utterly engaging in its experimentation and sound. Before I go on though, I can guarantee you that a lot of you will probably hate this album. If you love shoegaze, you’ll dodge this album. If you love synth pop, you’ll be confused by this album. If you love dream pop, don’t even look at the cover of the album. This is HEAVY. Because this album is a sludge metal album… And the only thing that stops it from becoming a lengthy, thick, brooding stoner metal/drone metal album is the occasional alternative rock instrumented passages and distant but impressive post-punk inspired vocals that put a whole other angle on songs presented wherein. This is truly an original release; an album of true experimentation and of truly juddering proportions.
'She Walks, She Creeps' opens with ‘Black Actors’ which I can almost guarantee will manage to put the bands detractors and those who dislike metal out of the picture within the intro. The song opens with two minutes of thick, wavering noise and distortion that acts as a complete wall of sound. There are no drums, there are no vocals, there is no context; it’s just pummelling feedback and noise distortion until the rattling of drums seeps in after a while to introduce some sort of rhythm to the song. When all other instruments are introduced the guitars tone takes a step back into something more tangible with a neat post-punk inspired riff. The vocals, far away and barely audible, act as a fantastic counterpoint to the noise filtered and chaotic air of the song. ‘Black Actors’ belts on for over ten minutes; surging and retreating, offering vocals then splintering noise and sound textures built between the heavy percussion, guitars and the soaring but dark vocals. The band showcase just what’s up their sleeve, however, with the tracks outro; the shuddering noisecore wall of feedback with vocals screaming over the top before they are eventually drowned out by noise similar to the tracks intro. But just when the audience are getting their ears assaulted, the band does a clever move and the song swings into a clipping audio sound of distortion that drowns itself out; then quiet. ‘Old Crowns’ follows with a less monumental structure than ‘Black Actors’ and relies on a noise laden post-punk sound that includes plucking high guitars and less experimental vocals. The song projects a fantastic follow up to the wild and epic ‘Black Actors’ and showcases the bands power when it is acting in a less conceptual arc and more traditional song structure.
‘You Own Your Bones’, a nearly eight minute noise rock extravaganza, follows with less of a full beginning; this time the band rely on the bare vocals, guitar and drums. After this small intro, however, the mesmerizingly brilliant swing of the songs structure begins to be played. Which somehow includes a brass section of instrumentation accompanied by a beat one could liken to a carnival ride? This is true experimentation. Where a lot of other bands believe that throwing in extra percussion or doing screams instead of cleans, WTCHS put a brass section into a sludge metal/noise rock song that goes for eight minutes… As I said before; that is true experimentation.
Speaking of which, the much more traditionally structured ‘Whitney At The Rifle Range’ places all the sonic noise into a more compact unit and showcases a more punk orientated sound with the occasional drum passage stationed in-between lengthy guitar and bass orientated passages. The vocals are in another completely different place again, this time sounding like borderline radio static. The track somehow keeps itself together enough to produce an interesting, versatile and engaging song that fits well in the context of the album. ‘Young Girls’ sits comfortable in this same pattern, however WTCHS rely on a more heavy, slow and sludge metal sound. This time, the vocals reach shrieking high notes while the drums keep a slow, steady pattern. If ‘Black Actors’ and ‘Old Crows’ are noise laden beasts, then ‘Young Girls’ are the trees in the forest that those beasts run through; influenced by their ways but different themselves.
Ultimately, the albums most experimental moment lies in ‘Six of Cups’ which starts with samples of percussion that last well over the two minute thirty mark. These percussive, lo-fi style beats are accompanied by slight and distanced soundscapes at the back of the mix; hardly noticeable until they present themselves as what sound like reversed vocal tones. As the listener focuses on these sounds and textures, it becomes evident that ‘Six of Cups’ is like one, lengthy outro track. And eventually, the band confirm this with distorted chanting and vocal like sounds at the back of the mix that eventually drown out as the song fades. And just as you were thinking that this sounds inferior compared to the albums chaotic and loud opening, I believe that this is a contrast; almost like the album has recharged itself in all its noise and feedback riddled glory. Rather than crescendo out onto a whole, volatile album that builds into something like ‘Black Actors’ the band do the opposite and waver the music slowly, drowning out the noise. The songs on the albums second half become more structured, punk inspired and more accessible until ‘Six of Cups’; which I believe to be a brilliant and alternative way to present an experimental album.
As I said before; although this album is by no means avant-garde by any standard, it will not be appealing to everybody who enjoys alternative music. Just how listeners who love sludge metal may not fall in love with it, or folks who love post-punk may not either… And that is because the album is experimental. All the way from ‘Black Actors’ to ‘Six of Cups’ the band cross and swing between sludge metal, stoner metal, post-punk, noise, industrial, ambient, lo-fi, Art Metal and No Wave, which makes the album even more abstractly memorable. Perhaps its greatest achievement is its sheer originality; so many bands doing so many similar or slightly above average things begins to make one wonder where the art of experimentation and originality really is; the answer is its right here, in all its dirty, fuzzy glory. This animal of an album stands to the testament that there is always another step to take in music; whether it’s nice or dirty, clean or sludge, milk or mud. And the band give it their all; through performance, production and sound.
ARTIST: Rise Of The Echo Drone
RELEASE: Chemically Altered
RELEASE DATE: September 28th 2016
Glasgow based experimental psych outfit ‘Rise Of The Echo Drone’ is a collaborative musical project created by Laura O’Brien and Helicon’s own Gary Hughes that features hypnotically charged psychedelic soundscapes gloriously filled with swathes of sequenced electronics, dub laden bass frequencies, motorik percussive patterns and intensely addictive instrumentation that effortlessly swirl through the sonic ether with reckless abandon. Their latest full length nine track album entitled ‘Chemically Altered’ was released back on September 28th 2016 and is available to buy/download right now from: riseoftheechodrone.bandcamp.com
Chemically Altered by Rise of the Echo Drone
‘Getting Higher’ menacingly ambles into earshot on rumbling bass frequencies and a repetitious percussive pattern coupled with sampled vocalisations and underlying synth swells. It’s mantra like vocal lines are enticing and they meld effortlessly with the swirling bleeps and whirls of the instrumentation. Up next, ‘Skull Grinder’ crawls and shudders as it makes landfall, building in intensity as the drum patterns rumble and shake, all the while circumnavigated by droning frequential noise, snaking lead guitar lines and haunting sampled vocals. The eastern esoteric vibes of ‘Chemically Possessed’ float into the ether on a blissful wave of tabla drums and electronic theatrics whilst ‘Drone And E’ does exactly as it says on the tin.
‘Walks Without Sound’ hovers as it unleashes sparse percussion and a plethora of impressive sampled vocals that collectively swirl through swathes of reverberation while ‘Chemically Altered’ rattles as it’s burgeoning synth swells sit atop a repetitious breakbeat, building in intensity as it works through a collection of woozy sequenced patterns. Up next, ‘Dying Escape Death’ is steeped in atmospherics as its dark synth lines and pounding drums usher in it’s unsettling repetitious vocal mantra. The albums penultimate track is a modern day psych monster. ‘Is He Sleeping’ undulates and builds in intensity as it enters into audible range. It’s driving bass frequencies lead the charge as the almost hallucinogenic vocal line rides a wave of impressive reverb and is brilliantly intertwined with searing guitar squall and enchanting lead licks.
The albums closing piece entitled ‘Insane People With Insane Minds’ swirls around a sampled speech by the infamous Mr.John Lennon. Subtly building as it meanders through layers of deranged synth swells, cascading piano progressions and droning instrumentation, ‘Insane People With Insane Minds’ is a fitting end to a brilliantly experimental slice of modern day electronic psych.
ARTIST: In Violet
RELEASE DATE: October 21st 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Bottle Imp Productions
In my opinion listening to music should be a totally immersive experience. Every single facet of my being should spark & fire upon hearing a new release for the very first time just for me to get interested enough to play them on the radio let alone write about my experiences as well. It's something that has stood me to good stead over the years both as a musician and as a Dj/music writer. It's a principle I tend to stick to as I peruse the ever expanding musical genres hovering within todays burgeoning underground scene. Back in 2014 I was introduced to the enigmatic Mr.Jake Murray, founding member, frontman & chief bottle washer of London based experimental sound manipulators 'In Violet'. Their impressive debut album, entitled 'Opal', blew my socks off and I have been eagerly awaiting its follow up with baited breath ever since. In Violet have a brilliantly immersive & experimental sound that traverses a plethora of varying musical styles, taking in driving electronica, avant-garde post industrial, psych & krautrock tones whilst infusing melancholic post rock & sonic atmospheric's into the mix and they are not afraid to push boundaries or test limitations with their music. Now the band have returned with their stunning full length sophomore entitled 'Amber' and it's penned in for release on the 21st October 2016 via Bottle Imp productions. 'Amber' features guest collaborations from members of Teeth of The Sea, Rumour Cubes, Collider and many more and the album will be available in all major digital stores with an extremely limited edition CD and art book available as a single-edition run via inviolet.bandcamp.com
&lt;a href="http://inviolet.bandcamp.com/album/amber"&gt;amber by in violet&lt;/a&gt;
'Amber' is steeped in a burgeoning sonic darkness. And I don't mean that in a bad way at all. It's all good, very very good actually. What I mean is that from the opening drone of 'Betrayed' right through to the closing death throws of 'The Matador', In Violet manage to instil a sense of utter foreboding into their sound. There's an underlying atmospheric brutality to every single track on this album that is irresistibly addictive and totally enthralling. The use of glitchy experimental electronics, swirling instrumental drones, pulsing reverberation, charging synth swells and processed motorik percussion is immense. Add into the mix Jake Murray's sublime vocalisations, the constant hum of bass frequencies and a cacophony of fuzzy, layered guitars and what we have is a heady & experimental, multi-faceted sonic melting pot.
Each track on this album expertly dips a sonic toe into a delectable procession of hypnotically charged music styles. From the immense psych behemoth 'Amber' through to the industrial sounding twosome of 'Betrayed' & 'Bereft', the kraut-rock heavy hitters 'Shivers' & 'Poseidon Weeps' and on into the albums more mellower ambient side with tracks like the beautifully intense 'Salome' or 'Lady Of Avalon' and the swirling impertinent drone of 'Sagazan', In Violet have created a stunning collection of highly creative soundscapes that will have you hooked from the off. Each track in this collection is forward thinking and brilliantly experimental without being overly annoying. They are totally immersive, full to the brim with swirling atmospherics and bathed in swathes of dark pulsating frequencies that collectively will pull you with them as they ride a turbulent gittering sonic wave into a world of senses pummelling noise.
'Amber' is a stunning return to form by a band who have now set the judging bar very very high indeed.
ARTIST: Total Gaze
RELEASE: We Need More Condos
RELEASE DATE: September 13 2016
The intelligently and humorously named We Need More Condos is the debut album from Minnesota’s own Total Gaze, a band who sport the term post-shoegaze… Which is interesting both ways; whether you believe it to be a genre or not… But it’s getting off topic to debate genres and sub-genres and how many pedals you need to qualify as a specific type of band; the album evokes a lot of different genres however, including post-punk, shoegaze, ambient and dream rock, just to name a few. Total Gaze juggle these sounds into an impressive and tightly knit type of musical odyssey that sounds a lot let less clean than the average ‘modern shoegaze’ album; bordering on what some would call ‘garage’ and touching on the realms of the whimsically dirty musical genre known as ‘lo-fi’.
We Need More Condos by Total Gaze
We Need More Condos begins with ‘Solid Gold’ which embodies more of the bands gutter sound than its core shoegaze sound. Noisy, unfiltered guitars are coupled with percussive-heavy drums and a low-key bass tone to create a neat, albeit slight, garage rock tune. The influence of shoegaze and post-punk seeps in on the second half of the track, with the song maintaining its garage undertones while embracing an alternative style of guitar riff. An interlude (one of three on the album) features some nice cricket noises but serves no true purpose. One of the greatest tracks on the album is the lo-fi, amazing ‘Don’t Ask’ which remains brilliant in its simplicity. The song utilizes the bands previous garage guitar sound with a fantastically downbeat shoegaze inspired tune. The chorus, in particular, should be praised for its simple breakdown style of song writing and drumming; drawing a fantastic and easily accessible line in the sand between the sounds of shoegaze and the rough, crunchy punk sound. ‘Facing Inward’ plays out in a similar fashion; this time the band sound more up tempo with shaking maraca percussion and brighter guitar sounds. The vocals display influence from no-wave New York yelling and screaming, purposefully distanced from the rest of the mix in a way that does nothing but favours for the type of music the band strut.
‘Interlude 2’ sits warmly between ‘Facing Inward’ and the genius ‘On Fire’, which furthers the band sound. One particular fantastic piece of song writing and vocal delivery is the ‘oh wo, oh wo, oh, wo wo!’ which leads into easily the best chorus and outro on the entire album. This tight sound is perhaps the closest the band get too what you would call ‘post-shoegaze’ with its obvious sound blending at a very downtempo point. Couple this with the sketchy, murmured lyrics and vocals that are still stationed underneath the distorted guitars and rattling drums. Halfway through the song I thought the band had turned the direction of the sound around against themselves, but this interlude style passage of music that sits before one of the chorus’s suits the entire song with a few more listens. ‘Interlude 3’ plays out as an airy-FX filled conversation with a voice drowned in reverb and radio static. It is probably the only Interlude that really and truly alters the context of the album when listened to it in its entirety. A post-punk anthem ‘Sauna Sweet’ follows in a cleaner, much more modern sounding way. While this song may not be quite as compelling as others, it showcases some fantastic performances and features a neat guitar solo/ riff in the second half of the song. Similarly the vocals reach a shaky/louder style that seemed more drowned out by instruments on previous tracks. ‘Television’ opens with an indie style pattern of guitar riff followed by drum beats; this is however drowned out by a fully-fledged piece of shoegaze instrumentation. While it sets up some nice instrumentation and a perhaps more colourful sound than some of the previous ‘heavier’ tracks, ‘Television’ never really fully showcases the band’s sound and song writing skill to its full extent as many of the other tracks do. And while it is not a bad song by any means it’s position on the album and its contextual weight (comparing it to the bands other songs) means that ‘Television’ doesn’t shape up to the heights of the majority of the album.
We Need More Condos is refreshing without seeming avant-garde, fun without seeming childish and intellectual without ever coming across as pretentious. Ultimately there are a couple of ways to listen to the album. One, you can listen to it without any context; instead just for pure listening and interest. This way is rewarding and ultimately shows off and flaunts the bands greatest strengths while simultaneously travelling from track to track. The second, perhaps deeper, way of listening to We Need More Condos is the contextual and conceptual way. This entails asking what ‘modern’ style shoegaze sounds like; the answer being quite different to that of the sound of Total Gaze. And while this album is by no means the most experimentally-history advancing piece of shoegaze music to present itself for a modern audience, it is one that should be appreciated and applauded. So with the clean crisp sound of shoegaze adding to the contextual side of We Need More Condos, the album can be easily listened to as a step away from clichés and distant, echoed sounds that at times borderline completely on ambient music for other bands. Of course, We Need More Condos will not be for all audiences, and with the aforementioned ‘second way’ of listening to consider, it also will not be for all shoegaze lovers. At times the desperate and distanced style of vocals will sound too punk-ish and garage for some listeners, while the guitars and musical arrangements may be enough for others to steer away from the band.
We Need More Condos is, however (albeit not for all) a recommended listen. The sounds and songs fit well together and pan out from the pure alt-rock/garage sound of ‘Solid Gold’ to the sheer post-punk and dream style tones of songs like ‘On Fire’. The band present a wild and tightly garage blend of the alternative, ‘high’ side of town, and the dreamy gutter; drawing an elegant and talented musical line in the sand. They achieve so through the avenues of performance, production and sound.