ARTIST: Dead Skeletons
RELEASE: Live In Berlin
RELEASE DATE: 9th April 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Released on April 9th 2016 via the ever reliable ‘Fuzz Club Records’, psychedelic explorers ‘Dead Skeletons’ bring their explosive live sound to the ears of the listening masses on one highly anticipated latest release. ‘Live In Berlin’ was recorded at Berlin’s iconic S036 Club and it features a plethora of live musical guests including members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Spacemen 3 and Singapore Sling gracing the bands stage. The album is available to buy/download right now on most formats from the Fuzz Club website.
‘Om Vajra Sattva Hung’ meanders into earshot on a brutal tidal wave of dark oppressive live frequencies adorned with glitchy guitar squalls and squealing feedback. The intense live atmospherics are indeed palpable as the track builds in momentum swirling within reverberating fret noise and shuffling off-kilter snare drum theatrics. It breaks into an expansively spacious kind of reverberating peace before pounding drums and addictive guitar structures interrupt it’s dreamlike state to announce the track in all of its mantra driven glory. ‘Om Vajra Sattva Hung’ is thoroughly experimental as it works through its structured changes to become one big monolithic sonic surge. Electronic sequences coupled with intense guitars swirl within the musical void as ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ breathes an explosive edge into proceedings. It’s Pounding drums act as a central spine as it bears the weight of the swirling instrumentation and that exquisitely repetitive vocal mantra! Up next, ‘Buddha Christ’ shuffles on its percussive coil as it explodes into some modern day psychedelically infused rockabilly whilst ‘Kundalini Eyes’ expands the rock n’ roll trend, albeit with an infusion of driving old-school ‘Joy Division’ for good measure, before bending and manipulating frequencies at will to create a massive wall of experimental sonic brilliance.
‘Psycho Dead’ drones on a sampled vocal before its subtle percussion parts add just enough weight to support those dark and oppressive vocals allowing the guitars to swirl around the entire track with ease. It stalks the outer reaches of your audible range but unlike the previous tracks it manages to stay earthbound and straightforward enough to allow even the newest of listeners to grasp whats going on. Up next ‘When The Sun’ shimmers and hangs within suspended sonic animation as it’s gradually allowed to open up and gracefully show off its inner musical demons! It swerves on layers of reverb as the steadying pace of the drum track ushers in the melodic vocal and allows it to breath before it soars into the sonic ether. ‘When The Sun’ is simply stunning and it shows the diversity within a live sound environment that Dead Skeletons possess. They can gauge the mood of the audience on any particular night and change the sound to suit when needed. Magnificently executed.
‘Dead Cometh’ builds from the off and it is packed full of experimental atmosphere as it grinds through its sonic gears. Massive guitar structures loop and arc all over the sonic arena as its addictive vocal lines ride huge waves of brooding and effected frequencies intertwined with those pounding drum patterns. Track eight, ‘Get On the Train’ is a modern day psychedelic behemoth! It drives a tremulous sonic furrow through proceedings whilst the albums penultimate track the aptly named ‘Kingdom Of God’ shudders and groans on a wave of droning guitars and repetitive explosive drum patterns. It builds and builds gathering immense heights, all the while stacking layer upon layer of insanely brilliant sound-waves to create a stunning live sonic assault on the senses. The albums closing piece needs no introduction, no reviewing or fancy wording and no bloody frills! It is simply a thirteen minute plus call to arms to the modern day psych world and is my favourite track on this entire release. Ladies and gentlemen I give you ….. ‘Dead Mantra’.
This is a stunning collection of live recordings from a band who can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. Dead Skeletons effortlessly transform their entire studio sound into something thats quite otherworldly live. They can evoke out of body experiences through the medium of sound and are definitely worthy of your ears. My advice to you is to get out and see them live just to experience it for yourselves!
This is spiritual enlightenment in musical form ….. this is music!
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
ARTIST: Ghost Box Orchestra
RELEASE: High Plaine
RELEASE DATE: May 17th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Evil Hoodoo Records
I’ve been a big admirer of the sounds created by Boston natives ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’ for quite some time . Their collective musical stylings enthralled me from very early on as I repeatedly overplayed their cinematic post-rock hued 2010 debut ‘The Only Light On’, then fell head long into the magnificent dark vortex of 2013’s ‘Vanished’ only to tumble out the other end and crash straight through the reverberating ‘Sound of (Eternal Now)EP' back in October 2015. For me, it’s been a brilliant musical rollercoaster ride of epic proportions and now I’m happy to report that the band have unleashed a brand new full length masterpiece! ‘High Plaine’ was officially released back on the seventeenth of May 2016 via ‘Evil Hoodoo Records’ over in the UK and it is nothing short of immense!
High Plaine by Ghost Box Orchestra
A swirling keyboard drone heralds the arrival of ‘Flutter’, as its tremulous guitars and eerily hypnotic organ progression circumnavigates pounding poly-rhythms & surging swells of reverberating sonic brilliance. ‘Flutter’ builds from its opening notes as the cyclonic musical cacophony urges those Impressive vocal lines to take centre stage happily in the knowledge that they are protected from any outside interference by a raging wall of noise. Let’s not be fooled here people; this is a stunning opening track full of explosive psychedelic promise and worthy of your ears. Up next are howling (but impressive) vocal progressions intriguingly underscored with melodiously repetitive guitar structures and explosive percussive patterns. ‘High Plaine’ opens up into a monstrous musical animal as it weaves its way through swathes of shimmering instrumentation.
The senses are tweaked at the arrival of my favourite track on this entire release! ‘Socrates Burned’ is a monolithic sonic beast that pulses through walls of stunning reverb as those pounding but regimented drum patterns act like bedrock, bearing the full weight of those soaring guitars and its huge swirling synth swells coupled with growling bass frequencies and a piercing vocal attack. There’s a quick reprise of sorts as the remnants of ‘Socrates Burned’ fades into obscurity but its quickly replaced by the calming and refreshing opening bars of ‘Wave Goodbye’. This track is deeply melodic as it meanders through peaks and troughs of glorious golden instrumentation. Cascading keyboard thrills hang suspended just above audible range as ghostly vocalisations litter the reverberating landscape. It’s brilliant guitars shimmer as they stir within a heady brew of steading drum progressions, beautiful synth swirls and impressive throbbing bass lines. Up next is the shuffling ‘Dead & Gone’ with its mesmerising reverb retched vocal chants that seem to hover blissfully on sonic winds like a hunting eagle as all around it the ether rages a sonic war of attrition. Simply stunning! Droning guitars and meandering vocal lines usher in the opening bars of ‘Days Are Forever’ before we’re lifted high above the musical landscape on melodically brilliant wavy guitar lines and pounding drums as the chorus progression explodes into a brilliant cacophony of wonderful noise.
Things are really moving at pace now as ‘Ghost Box Orchestra’ offer up the albums penultimate track! ‘Within The Sound’ is a storming call to arms. It’s pounding drums and rumbling bass frequencies should have a post code all to themselves as they plough a sonic furrow through the entire musical landscape. Add into the mix the raging wall of noise created by the attacking guitars & that soaring vocal line and we have a full on assault on the senses. The albums closing track fades blissfully into ear shot on a swirling mass of droning guitars. ‘Causality Devotional’ floats on angelic frequencies as it works through its sonic gears. It builds brilliantly as it layers each one of its instrumental components at various points along the tracks navigational path. The vocals soar into ear shot on waves of shimmering reverberating frequencies that loop and arc all over the sonic spectrum with blistering aplomb. ‘Causality Devotional’ then builds into a raging maelstrom of noise as it tumbles into its droning finality. This is a stunning track to close out an absolutely stunning album.
Bravo Ghost Box Orchestra!
‘High Plaine’ is available to buy/download right now from: ghostboxorchestra.bandcamp.com
RELEASE DATE: May 6th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Sunrise Ocean Bender Records
The brilliant independent record label ‘Sunrise Ocean Bender’ presents a stunning collection of seven tracks by Sicily-based psychedelic explorer ‘JuJu’ (Lay Llamas, Herself) released back on the May 6th 2016. With a stunning sound thats more akin to a pulsating, living organism ‘JuJu’ transcends this modern day psych rock plain bringing with it swathes of rhythmic, almost ritualistic golden frequencies to the ears of its waiting listenership. The album is available on various formats via juju-spell.bandcamp.com
JuJu by JuJu
Driving bass frequencies, riding a wave of panned percussive hits usher in track one, the hypnotically atmospheric ‘Samael’. It’s sequenced drum patterns swirl within the magical maelstrom as it builds into a whirlwind of reverb induced vocal lines coupled with pounding drums and intertwined with suppressive droning guitars. It surges through its chord progressions with apparent ease as wave after wave of sonic frequencies batter the senses and block out any outside influence careering you off its chosen musical path. A stunning entry point into a dynamic world of sonic delight. Track two thunders into the musical arena on a titanic wave of shimmering reverb. ‘We Spit On Yer Grave’ is completely addictive as those plodding synth progressions, cushioning that immense vocal attack, rides a juggernaut of explosive drums, throbbing bass lines and tremulous golden hued guitars.
The metronomic opening bars of ‘Stars And Sea’, my favourite track on this entire release, swerves and moves within a translucent world of shimmering suspended animation as those stunning vocals add an air of atmosphere to proceedings. There’s a subtle but brilliant country chic feel to this track as it meanders its way through peaks and troughs of psychedelic delight. The added eastern sounding percussive hits inject weight and balance but soon make way for an absolutely blistering finale as the track takes off into a stunning cacophony of swirling vocals, swerving synth swells and dark driving guitars. Beautiful atmospheric piano hits circumnavigated by dark oppressive samples announce the arrival of ‘Dance With The Fish’ as immense psychedelically charged synth swells sonically mimic an apparent underwater scene. It’s a beautiful two minute sonic aperitif to what comes next!
A repetitious guitar progression carefully balances a whispering but effective vocal pattern on its axis as ‘Sunrise Ocean’ builds momentum into a charging musical monolith! The tidal wave of sound expands as those droning guitars arrive and plough through the tracks fuzzy interior with aplomb. Add into the mix those driving, addictive bass frequencies and what we have collectively is an absolutely stunning piece of music. The albums penultimate track entitled ‘Lost’ begins with stunning melody courtesy of a repetitive piano sequence. There’s an air of tranquility as the synth swells and drums arrive, adding subtle but firm movement to the track and allowing the vocal samples to loop and arc throughout the reverberating atmosphere. The mood then changes as we shift sonic gears. The drums increase in tempo, coupled with the arrival of a repetitious guitar progression and shakers the entire piece swirls within a beautiful sonic whirlwind!
The albums closing piece is simply magical! Swirling bongos, sequenced samples and droning golden frequencies begin the hypnotic rhythmic mantra as those amazing repetitive vocals shuffle into earshot. ‘Bring ‘Em War’ builds and builds, developing form and shape before unleashing something akin to absolute sonic abandonment! It weaves and bobs throughout and drives a deeply melodic psychedelic furrow right through the centre of the musical landscape! A truly wonderful closing track to a blistering album.
ARTIST: Fire Behaving As Air
RELEASE: Vapour Trail
RELEASE DATE: November 25th 2015
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
There is a haunting air of excitement as I wait for the opening salvos of this debut full length release from Melbourne based droning dream-gazers ‘Fire Behaving As Air’. I’ve been a big fan of this band ever since the release of their debut EP ‘Desire’ back in 2013 & having just recently read excerpts from an interview that the band gave to the brilliant ‘Blog That Celebrates Itself’, I was chomping at the bit to hear the finished album in full. Fire Behaving As Air’s origins began in 2008 by husband and wife songwriters Owen (guitarist) and Beck Lee (vocalist/harmonium), over the seven years the band’s family has grown and morphed to permanently include Chris Compton (lead guitar) & Mark Taylor (drums), as well as numerous guest appearances including players of additional harmonium, tabla, djembe, violin, cello, bansuri, moog, keyboard and trumpet. This latest release ‘Vapour Trail’ explores recurring themes of impermanence in all of its incarnations; loss, sudden destruction, metastasis, evasion, revolution and ultimately, the sublime release through escapism.
Vapour Trail by Fire Behaving As AirThe album opens with an atmospheric guitar progression that creeps between the interplay of light & dark tonal beauty whilst skipping along a musical atmosphere steeped in reverb laden brilliance, erupting in explosive power with the arrival of the absolutely immense vocal abilities of Beck Lee. ‘Silver Tongue’ is a portal to a world of sonic delight. Think Velvet Underground & Nico meets Portishead but turned on its head with a modern twist. Its a stunning opener. Up next ‘To The Seafloor’ has dream-pop aspirations from the off. Again the vocal track catches this listeners ear as it dances & weaves through reverberating guitars & steady shimmering drums. There’s a dark atmospheric edge interspersed with an almost folk like feel, vocally to ‘When She’s Bored She Dies’ & it does just about enough to keep you focused & interested until about 4 minutes in when this track explodes & offers up its inner wailing guitar self. ‘Tolerance’ is a triumphant masterpiece! Having been voted by the listeners of California based DKFM Shoegaze Radio as one of the Top 50 Most Loved Shoegaze & Dream Pop Tracks of 2012 its no wonder that it appears here on their debut full length release. ‘Tolerance’ meanders deftly through layer upon layer of fuzzy reverb laden psychedelic shoegaze & only comes up for air during Beck Lee’s stunning vocal parts. A must have in any true shoegazers playlist. After the heady heights of ‘Tolerance’ the pace slows a little as the band introduces ‘Unconquered’ & ‘Peaceful’. In both of these tracks I’m hearing sporadic ethereal dream-pop inspired flourishes Cocteau Twins style throughout but there’s also a dark droning addictively intense undercurrent that drags them both through peaks & troughs courtesy of Owen Lee & Chris Compton on guitars.
Up next, ‘Ripples’ builds & builds from its inception to its explosive ending whilst ‘Breathe’ is a cumulative charging sonic ball of hazy psychedelic goodness with repetitive vocal progressions, effected guitars & thunderous drum patterns. ‘Watch The World Go Down’ slows the album to a crawl as we listen to Beck Lee’s vocal swim through a wall of reverb & sink into a sea of guitar swells, diminished percussion & effected hallucinogenic instrumentation. This is a wonderful track that will inspire you to dream in colour. Listen to it via headphones, it will blow your mind! 'Mantra' sneaks onto the musical canvass with its throbbing repetitive bass line, snake like shakers & a droning wall of psychedelic sound all intertwined with another stunning vocal performance. There’s a definite 60’s psych feel to this enthralling track that swerves & meanders like a snake hunting its prey. Very cool indeed. The albums closing track ‘One More Winter’ is a tame affair of cinematic instrumentation all entered around a magnificent vocal performance reminiscent of Portishead’s own Beth Gibbons.
As debut albums go this is up there with the best of them. I really love the way ‘Fire Behaving As Air’ skip through various musical genres with aplomb. Their well thought out song structures, blissfully effected guitar progressions & pounding drums coupled with the immense vocal ability of Beck Lee should hold them in good stead with shoegazers, dream poppers & psych aficionados alike. ‘Vapour Trail’ gets its official release on November 25th and its a major recommendation from us. Go get it!
4.5 / 5
ARTIST: The History Of Colour TV
RELEASE: Something Like Eternity
RELEASE DATE: TBA
RECORD COMPANY: Cranes Records / Weird Books
On 'Something Like Eternity', the very crux of genres like post-punk, experimental music, dream-pop and shoegaze are brought to the forefront and laid bare in their characteristics by The History of Colour TV, a Berlin based experimental/alt-rock band. As they do this, they throw into the mix their own brand of indie and punk rock stylings (which have been explored on their previous two albums) to create something that all together sounds like an attempt to push alternative music in a different direction… To try and squeeze something more from sound, song writing and performance.
'Something Like Eternity' opens with the impressive ‘Granite Verge of Tears’ which sees the band utilising a more post-punk sound with some sort of garage stylings. Occasionally the songs ease back into simple guitar playing before jumping back into indie-stylised riffs. ‘Broken Trip’ acts as an extension of this; there is more of a jangle rock sound and the whole mood of the song seems lighter. Much as the opening track, the song dips deep back into a unrestrained dark section of music at places in the song, which gives it several different faces and ways of interpretation. The second half of the song features the crunch of background fuzz and noise; another wind back to the wild west of garage and noise rock. ‘Wreck’ seems slight in light of the previous tracks. Its guitar and drum play is enjoyable but it comes across as overly simple and never really reaches any substantial heights or points of engagement until a loud and wild section near the outro of the song. The lyrics become pointless because of the dry and relatively unimaginative style of the vocals, which sort of wander into the backing instrumentation and become too distant. Thankfully the band somewhat redeem themselves with the colourful and loud ‘Everything That Stood Still’, a track that plays around simple guitar plucking coupled with a drum pattern that leads into the loud and brilliant chorus riff. Credit should also be given to the fantastic outro on this song; a truly spacey and fantastic piece of music. While only meant to be some sort of interlude, ‘Overcast Half’ is a brilliant tiny piece of experimental feedback, mild distortion and FX filtered sounds. And it should be noted it fits very well in the scope of the entire album.
‘Even Rain’ has mesmerisingly beautiful slow passages of guitar picking which are then fluctuated by the banal passages of ‘emotive’ singing and louder instrumented sections. The band play upon more of an alt-rock style of music and this is complimented greatly by a small synth lead in the second half of the song; lending to a more post-punk style of sound. The lyrics again seem almost forced sometimes and I feel like I was concentrating on the music for the most part because of this.
The albums highlight is the alt-rock/noise infused ‘Wait’ which showcases the bands strongest points; the crunch of garage styling with noises and screeching in the background that make for fantastic song writing. The performances are at almost the highest point on the album for this song and the outro of feedback and noise is a complimented element that really wraps the song together for the listener. Another brilliant song follows; the echoed and quiet ballad like structured, ‘Flame’. This, like passages of other tracks is built upon the slow turn of a guitar riff and excellent playing by the band. On this track the vocals are highlighted and make for a quality part of the song, rather than being altogether bland. This song is followed by another riveting song entitled ‘Pattern’, which presents a fuller and more frontal side of the band with keyboards and a much lighter tone than the rest of the album. The songs greatest element is the chugging guitar riff that blends into the outro and into; you guessed it, more noise and feedback on the songs second side.
Across this entire effort, with a retrospective gaze into History Of Colour TV’s back catalogue, I feel this album to be some sort of drafted attempt at creating experimental or ‘different’ music. Sometimes it sounds like the band believe if they throw some feedback in then it will be considered experimental or somewhat avant-garde. Let’s hypothetically pretend there was no noise on the album… What do you have? A non-offensive alternative rock/indie/post-punk album with dark themes and some pretty impressive performances. For these songs act as post-punk, alt-rock tunes cooked down into simple draft structures with guitar, bass, drums, vocals and keyboard; no audio tricks, no mixing enhancements to make the songs sound deeper and darker and even perhaps more conceptually pleasing. As a result, the album drags and drags; yes there’s a song here and a song there that somewhat redeem the bands ‘signature’ sound but beside that the listener, at times, feels like yelling ‘we get it already!’ Also, past releases from the History of Colour TV compared with this material puts these songs into a whole other awkward light.
But that’s not to say the album doesn’t have highlights or well written and performed songs. The second half of the album saves its weaker points in many ways; showcasing a more alternative style of music than the opposing. The performances are impressive on the most part, especially the guitars and the drumming. The mixing shines in the more full production, but praise should be given to it for sections with just guitar and vocals where it shines. Altogether the band create an interesting album, through these avenues of production, mixing and sound.
'Something Like Eternity' gets it's full release in early 2017 via Cranes Records / Weird Books. The bands latest single 'Wreck' is out now and available to buy/download from: thehistoryofcolourtv.bandcamp.com
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.
RELEASE DATE: November 18th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Goodbye Better Records
'Solilians' are a Merrick, NY space rock ensemble that mix Hebrew vocals, ambient dub, and even shoegaze. They sound unlike anything I’ve heard in recent years, sounding as out there as some of A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s material. That only scratches the surface, because they throw in klezmer and horns too. To quote the press kit: ‘Solilians space drone dreams are the interstellar journeys of mystic seekers, mantra minimalism for the next generation. Benjamin Malkin's slow motion ambient dub prisms of klezmer melody refract Sharon Malkin's Mediterranean Hebrew beauty; while Gabriel Walsh's psychedelic sci-fi edge dances with Neptune Sweet's otherworldly cosmic majesty, all coming together on Shin, the four-piece's debut full-length (Think Stereolab slowed down to Stars Of The Lid).
Shin by Solilians
The band got their start via the 7-inch soundtrack of The Binah Comics, a super-powers tale without violence that describes a woman sick of all the insanity and nuclear posturing surrounding her homeland. A collaboration between Benjamin's writing and the great illustrator Ian Densford, The Binah Comics proved successful and Malkin put together his dream team of some of today’s best space rock minds to create ambient reflections of the comics. Starting off, there is 'Hine Ma Tov (Merc Yes Mix)' with horns, slow jam beats, and a droning aspect to it that invites and keeps the listener engaged. 'Hatikvah The Next Generation' retains the same mysterious elements, and it’s all about the emotion elicited, so the lyrics matter less than the music, at least for me. Its center is a drone and numerous voices move in and through the mix, leaving the listener feeling a bit unsettled. 'Lamedvavniks' exceeds eight minutes and is an interstellar journey into the heart of space. Vocals emanate from the creepy fringes of an event horizon, and immerse your ears in cosmic dream pop. This is music to be enjoyed over a great set of headphones and infinite time to let your mind expand and take it all in.
'Rev’s Gold' is much shorter and offers listeners a trippy sonic tapestry mingled with subdued vocals. It is music that takes you out of yourself, drawing you into a daydream. 'Hine Ma Tov' makes another appearance in the form of the Space Drone Dream Mix and this time it’s 13 minutes long! Prepare to float away into the ether. 'I Have Been, And Always Shall Be, Your Friend' takes its title from a Spock quote, and many hued layers of sound propel you straight in and you wish it would never end. Pulsating synths burgeon and grow in volume before it all comes to a dead stop. 'Planet Binah' may well be the centerpiece of this album, named as it is for The Binah Comics. It is another 13 plus minute journey, demanding that you stay present and experience its pulsating presence. The singer’s voice is submerged with synthesizers taking center stage. It all comes to a close with 'Post-Rev’s Reprise', a somewhat disquieting drone that winds down quickly. In short, this is album unlike anything you’ve heard this year, or any year for that matter. It is a fascinating and demanding work, but one that will reward you with repeated listens. Well worth seeking out for fans of international space rock laced with ambient dream pop.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and when not writing technical manuals, she gets her thrills from reading mysteries, birdwatching, and can always be found with a camera and a maxed-out storage card full of music.
ARTIST: Daniel Land
RELEASE: In Love With A Ghost
RELEASE DATE: November 25th 2016
The well-travelled transition of lo-fi, simple and sloppy production and mixing into well-produced, fluent and full production is often one that tends to place song writing, musicality and instrumentation at the background of importance. Bands and artists bath senselessly in the pool of sounding and appearing magnificent and sort of forget to be magnificent. A man who has somehow jumped this very preverbal shark is Daniel Land. His albums were never lo-fi per say, but his latest album In Love With A Ghost is so well produced and neat sounding that he seems to have made that aforementioned transition, and he has done so with style and talent on full display. A gracious and stylized effort, In Love With A Ghost throws a crisp nu-pop sound, alternative rock undertones, shoegaze melodies and the fantastically solemn tinkering’s of downtown jazz into one collective effort; ultimately it’s an album that demands to be respected in its substance, content and dazzlingly appearance.
In Love With A Ghost by Daniel Land
In Love With A Ghost opens with the piano laden alternative pop tune ‘You & Me Against The Sky’ that showcases the spacy and impressive production that features on the entire album. The songs post-punk inspired double snare tap contrasts Lands soft voice which gives the song a beautifully dream pop aesthetic. This notion is reinforced with the synths that play throughout the chorus of the song and the piano that acts as the foundation of the song and instrumentation. The tracks greatest element is the saxophone that creeps in and plays in an appealingly whimsical style that eventually seeps into the outro; a beautiful and melodic piece of music. ‘Holes On the Dancefloor’ follows with a more electronic and soundscape tone similar to Lands previous recording efforts, but continues the pop sensibility expressed on the opening track by still incorporating the distant sound of piano. Land exercises his skill of writing catchy but alternative chorus lines and lyrics with the chorus on this very song; featuring a small but notable vocal performance that climbs in a reflective way to the instruments. ‘Everyone's Got A Guy Garvey Story’ continues the piano balladry style of the previous two tracks but in a more up tempo styling. The highlight of such a song is the clever lyrical content; featuring referential and introspective lines that dance along with the swinging, up tempo beat of the drums. While the following track, ‘The Sweetest Lover’ doesn’t quite connect the same way previous tracks do, one must admire what is actually going on in the song and the instrumentation. The swing style drum beats, the layers of guitar and perhaps most interestingly, again; Land’s skilful vocal delivery.
One of the highlights of the album is the fantastic, jazz inspired ‘New York Boogie-Woogie’ which melds Land’s instrumentation with a dreamy shoegaze styled soundscape in the background. The song plays along at its own pace; drawing a picture in your mind with Land’s lyrics and then the utterly skilled saxophone (in a tone reminiscent of the opening track) that joins the instruments in the outro. ‘Saints With His Mercy’ is the closest Land comes to complete and utter dream pop on the entire album; but this is a good thing. It offers a crossover of the musician’s pop aesthetic and the dream tones of keyboards and guitars that results in a dancehall style pop song… Yes, by dancehall I mean like borderline reggae; thus, the song sounds at times experimental in its wild mix of danceable drum patterns but husky and echoed elements of dream and shoegaze. The ultimate ballad, ‘Whistling Gypsy’ again displays Land’s mesmerizing vocal delivery, but this time offers a more minimalist backing; with distant, sliding guitars. Another top moment on the album is the outro to this song; beautiful, entrancing and somehow calming in its musicality.
The title track lends itself to a lengthy, shoegaze intro that melds into a swell drum machine pattern that crosses into the opening of ‘The Beautiful Room is Empty’; which rounds up all of the albums sound and song writing traits into one enthralling piece of music. Again, Land creates an outro that really one could not speak highly enough of if they tried.
In a way, this album is some kind of warped pop album, even an experimental pop album perhaps. And this very fact makes it an interesting listen… But let’s assume that it wasn’t so alternative; it would still be an engaging and greatly enjoyable listen. And this is where Land demands some kind of greater perspective or respect with this album; it is so *expletive word* difficult to make a pop album, whether that be pop rock, alt-pop, soft pop blah blah, that is different, fascinating and at least somewhat original that so many artists just end up drowning in clichés and step by step musical characteristics. Land’s album is obviously far from the delirious pop of the mainstream but it is a mostly pop orientated album whose songs centre on all things piano, drums and the art of the voice.
The production is top notch; clean, precise and echoed to compliment Lands vocals and the music’s distinct sound and style. Mixing is of a similar quality; every piece of string plucking, vocal chanting or murmuring and drum tapping can be heard in a polished and clean way; even when it is in the background of the song. Perhaps the greatest element of the album, beside the song writing itself, is the performances exhibited wherein. While all the instruments are truly brilliant, I feel Land himself delivers one of the best performances on the album vocally. This is a dreamy, original and somewhat experimental piece of pop music, built on the genius of performance, production, song writing and sound.
'In Love With A Ghost' gets it's full release on November 25th 2016 and is available to pre-order right now from: danielland.bandcamp.com
ARTIST: Belle Mare
RELEASE: Heaven Forget
RELEASE DATE: 30th September 2016
Brooklyn dream poppers Belle Mare have recently self-released their confident and really wonderful debut album Heaven Forget. They inhabit the same dreamy electronic spaces as bands like New Order, The Cure, and Cocteau Twins, to name just a few.
Heaven Forget by Belle Mare
Opening track 'Georgia' uses moody synth along with Amelia Bushell’s reverb speckled vocals to great effect. Imagine if The Cure had a female singer and you are only getting started. The follow up tune 'Cicada' is extended and gorgeous, containing equal parts Beach House and Radiohead in its soaring textures. Just lovely! 'Every Night' is conversational and intimate, with a bright, jazzy buzz to propel it along. 'How Much Longer' proudly trots out its New Order influence, with synths and metronomic percussion front and center. Amelia’s voice floats over it all like a skein of silk, through which you can view the wonders of the world.
'Dark of My Evening' is entrancing with warm washes of organ that slowly builds in intensity. It is stuffed full of catchy riffs and Amelia sounds particularly fine here. 'Ghostly' is another stunner, and all sonic elements mesh together effortlessly. Amelia’s ethereal vocals are woven into the melodic fabric, and it all works in perfect synchronicity. 'Rehearsed Lines' runs along the same introspective, melancholy lines as Lotte Kestner, while 'All This Time' dials up the energy a bit and bursts through your head in trippy bursts of color. Amelia hums on parts of this, and it’s a fun trip. 'Feel You Against My Heart' dwells in darker spaces populated with chilly synths, only alleviated slightly by Amelia’s airy vocals. 'In the Fall' is the lengthy coda to this bright, elegant, and beautiful record. Recommended for anyone who enjoys savory dream pop with touches of psych and even jazz to sweeten the pot.
'Heaven Forget' is available to buy/download right now from: bellemare.bandcamp.com
Music has always been a driving force for Elizabeth Klisiewicz, which she days "continues to define my existence". At present, she writes for The Big Takeover Magazine and The Active Listener Blog, and when not writing technical manuals, she gets her thrills from reading mysteries, birdwatching, and can always be found with a camera and a maxed-out storage card full of music.
RELEASE: Body Cults
RELEASE DATE: November 4th 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Bad Afro Records
'Narcosatanicos' are a psych/prog/noise rock band from denmark and are by all means laying down the 'Danelaw' once again. In a world populated with Sonic Youth and MBV 2.0's this band immediately caught my ears as if a sawn off shotgun had been unloaded into them and the surrounding areas of my mind.
Echoing the experimental ballsyness of 'Can' ,the brute force of 'Black Sabbath' and dare I say saxyness of 'Bitches Brew' era 'Miles Davis' all the while keeping it brilliantly psych! This is something I personally admire in a world where people are relying more on their foot pedals than their actual fingers, this band is cataclysmically heavy and experimental in equal measure (These boys definitely love 'Mastodon').
Body Cults by Narcosatanicos
'Body Cults' is an exhibition of all of the most twisted elements I mentioned above. If you are reading this and have not heard the album yet, go into this album after an argument with the Mrs, a shitty day at work or after the results of America's recent election to feel it in its full nature.
There is absolutely no point in me explaining the tracks, 'track by track' while I have a link ready for you with which you can experience it for yourself.
If you have gotten this far by reading then you are likely to already be interested.
Instead of the usual track by track verbose nonsense where I try and plug my agenda to you, I will just suggest standout tracks. The opener 'Vulvic Church' is a crafty beast whilst 'Television Dreams' reminds me of Earthworm Jim for the Sega Mega Drive for some reason?! 'Matamoros' is why I added the 'Miles Davis' reference and of course the hard hitting lead single 'Vile'.
'Body Cults' is available to buy/download right now from: badafrorecords.bandcamp.com
Robert Mulhern is the vocalist, guitarist, producer & engineer in Irish based heavy experimental psych-gazers 'Tuath'. Hailing from Donegal in the North of the Republic, Robert’s musical influences span numerous genres and are far reaching. 'Tuath' are quietly establishing themselves as forerunners in Ireland’s experimental shoegaze & psych-rock scene.
RECORD COMPANY: Cleopatra Records
Programmed drums, dream pop guitars and the deep contextual influence of 80’s post-punk and ethereal wave combine with absolutely brilliant song writing on the debut album of Californian shoegaze/darkwave/post-punk band Echolust. 'Veldisa' is a sprawling, dark yet beautiful musical journey through moods and places, sounds and lyrics and contrastingly vivid soundscapes. Upon almost every track the band exercise some sort of gaze back into the past; but this act surpasses nostalgia and more offers commentary on thought and pondering. It’s beautiful and dream pop inspired guitar riffs support the slow and swinging music to fantastic degrees; expressing emotion through music with some wild sort of ease.
Veldisa by Echolust
‘1799’ opens the album with a dreamy guitar riff and a drum machine inspired by the double tap of the French coldwave and the early 80’s programmed beats of post-punk bands. Mixed within the song is the screech of a slow and winding synthesizer that seeps out when the soaring and wide chorus opens; offering a neat a song writing counterpoint to the language and sounds used within the verse of the song. The track retains a slow and winding quality which somehow never gets boring; an indication of a well written and instrumented song. ‘Cherry Dancer’ showcases the bands more shoegaze tendencies with its largely reverbed opening. The echoes of dream pop still linger however, so much so that ‘Cherry Dancer’ seems like a next door neighbour or companion piece to the more up tempo ‘1799’. From there the band leaps forward into a fantastically disco-darkwave inspired track titled ‘Dark Hair Girl’. The backing of the song sounds similar to an EDM/Dance style track; which contextually mixes well with the more alternative rock aspects that the song holds. The vocals remain deep and full of FX, which makes the singing sound like a direct instrument in the landscape of all of the instrumentation. ‘Dark Hair Girl’s best moments are when the vocals go higher and the band follow, showing off their talent of creating soaring style dream pop.
One of the greatest tracks on the entire album ‘Decor Blonde’ displays the band in full shoegaze swing; reverb drenched guitars and a slower and darker tempo. I believe it to be one of the greatest on the album simply for its fantastic wall of sound styled production; a form and style that adds a whole other dimension to shoegaze music. The lyrics also practice exactly what I mentioned before accompanied by the fantastic guitars and bass, they add an emotive element to the music and sound of the song. Praise also to the fantastic outro on the song, which takes on a whole brilliant sound of its own. ‘Doublespeak’ returns to a more post-punk formula but retains elements of the shoegaze sound explored on ‘Decor Blonde’. This song also takes the disco beats explored on ‘Dark Hair Girl’ a step further with a tight bass and drums section that sounds exactly like a R’n’B inspired track. ‘Doublespeak’ also relies more heavily upon the gradual tap of the programmed drums in the back of the mix. Perhaps the weakest song on the album is the darkwave heavy ‘Electric’; a lengthy and indulgent track with lyrics that seem like they were written by a completely different band than the previous tracks.
‘For Least Resistance’ brings things back into the bands sphere; featuring a synthwave drum and soundscape style of tone with the fancy shoegaze styles of the dream pop guitar. The track even features an experimental-trap influenced style drum machine beat throughout the song which melds into the music in an interesting and engaging way. The strange lo-fi/alt-rock genius of ‘This Blurry Kill’ shows another side of the bands talent of song-writing; tied off magically with the experimental soundscape stationed in the mix. The title track is another contender for the albums weakest song. It sounds somewhere between a B-side and a draft; featuring comedically confusing drum patterns and boring mid-tone vocals. Thankfully the band turn everything around with the fantastic ‘Velvet Holiday’ which rehashes all of the bands fantastic post-punk songs into a dark, more straight forward and heavy song. It’s almost as though Echolust wanted to connect the more synth and darkwave influenced side of their album with the more post-punk side and speaking of which, the atmospheric ‘Zombie Birds’ connects both sides together in sound with the dance influenced drum machine beats and the shoegaze styled bass, guitars and synth. Together this mixture creates something that sounds almost on the borderline of industrial music, something I suppose the band have constantly toyed with on the entire album. ‘Zombie Birds’ features a fantastic and mesmerizing intro that leads into the lyrically diverse verse and chorus in which the fantastic backing soundscapes and sneaky production sneak back into the song.
A few songs into Veldisa I wondered why the band wasn’t going pro; the songs were well-written, thoroughly beautiful, experimental and original pieces of brilliant music. After the opening few songs I was a little less mesmerized and by the second half I showed little-interest to the music, but the second half of the second half managed to turn it around and recapture some of the magic of the beginning. And that, in essence, is how Veldisa could be summed up. The album as a whole drags on and on and on (there are too many songs) and with less engaging songs in the middle, the listener just becomes more bored as the album plays through. In said mid-album area, the songs begin to sound more and more like clichéd and distant dance tracks thrown together to fill album space… But Veldisa doesn’t need album fillers. The band should have stuck to their guns and produced a more compact album with the same sharp and fantastic song writing skills displayed at the albums opening. For that reason Veldisa as a whole seems tiresome in structure, even when a lot of the songs are so well written.
The production is good, the mixing is great and the performances should also receive praise. Together these elements carry the album in its more paint-drying moments and prove that, although not throughout the total album, Echolust can produce a fantastic quality of song writing. I believe the opening few tracks are so good they almost carry the albums more weaker points and for that reason one should definitely listen intently to Echolust’s fantastic skills. These are achieved through mixing, production, performance and sound.