ARTIST: Wild Meadows
RELEASE: Wild Meadows
RELEASE DATE: 2nd March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Wild Meadows are a Melbourne-based shoegaze/garage/alt-rock outfit whose self-titled eight track debut album sounds like a mix between 90’s neo-psychedlica in the vein of bands like Ride, and something a bit heavier and rock based, more in the taste of post-2000s alt-rock. Over the course of the album, the neat vocals of singer Jessica Lawrence sometimes soar, sometimes drown, over the tight rhythm section, guitar riffage and cloudy yet atmospheric synth lines… A worthy listen. The band are made up of Jessica Lawrence - vocals, James Ross - guitar/vocals/synth, Dylan Bird - guitar, Donovan Pill - bass & Simon Gemmill - drums/percussion. 'Wild Meadows' was officially released on March 2nd 2018 and is available to buy/download on various formats right now via wildmeadows.bandcamp.com
Wild Meadows album by Wild Meadows
Despite what it goes on to achieve, 'Wild Meadows' actually opens with the albums worst and most cliched track ‘First Exit’. The bass and drum performances are admirable, and the vocals are certainly in a suitable place, but altogether the song reaches no great convincing heights of either originality or enjoyment; it comes off sounding slightly ‘by the books’ alt-rock. Nevertheless, after the subjective false start, ‘Feel the Noise’ is one of the albums best tracks: a great blend between the softness of Lawrence’s vocals and the fantastic instrumentation which evokes the aforementioned 90’s neo-psych/shoegaze mix. The guitar tones and intricate bass performance join together to create a truly memorable and catchy chorus; the culmination of the track comes around the two-minute mark, where after a great bass riff, the band break into a free form instrumental passage: leading into the music atmospherically soaring. The follower, less dense ‘These Days’ is just as brilliant: it's strummed background guitar and steady drum pattern are good backups to the vocals, which this time are much clearer. Thanks to this very fact, the lyrics are more audible and could be judged as some of the best on the album. Altogether the song carries over the careful creation of an almost alt-pop sound that was heard on ‘Feel the Noise’, with catchy instrumentation and soothingly tended to production.
‘Fever’, with its backing vocals and rolling drums is a good example of how a band such as Wild Meadows can turn things slightly anthemic. The band again present a tight performance, with special note going to the drums, which at several points in the song descend into drill like fills as the rest of the band continue to craft a background soundscape that tends more to the alt-rock side of things. ‘Stay for a While’ is a post-punk sounding entry on the album, the hi-hat tap combines with the bass to create something 80’s inspired sounding. Later, the fantastic guitar tones and the hum of what sounds like a synth adds an almost dream-pop to the mix, resulting in one of the albums most simple yet most totally enjoyable tracks. The follower ‘Evergreen’ reiterates this form of simplicity and playfulness: ‘Evergreen’ features a great acoustic strumming pattern in the background. Notably, also, the song features male lead vocals, which adds a whole other dimension to the bands sound. The laid-back shoegaze/dream-pop undertones of the second half of the song are truly pleasant pieces of music.
‘Sunshine’ is a continuation of the laid-back alt-rock sound that band seeps into on the second half of Wild Meadows, featuring a more introspective instrumental backing. The vocals hazily sing of catching trains and the entire mood of song is heightened on the songs chorus where the players seem to crescendo into a more powerful and denser layering of their various instrumental compositions to the track. Somehow the bands save one of their greatest treasures for the second half of the release in the form of ‘Uzi’ which combines neo-psych with the tender and approachable sound of alternative rock. The vocals brilliantly hush down at the end of the lines meld with the brilliant guitar playing and a tight yet bright rhythm section… A worthy listen indeed.
Wild Meadows don’t do anything particularly original if we are looking at the scope of modern music: they’ve used a blueprint that was forged somewhere in the late 80’s, honed through the 90’s and established as a style in itself in the 2000s. But the way they use this blue print is of particular note. Things start dense, heavy, somewhat less lighter, and transition sonically into a comforting, laid back rock adventure, meaning that after you’ve listened to it all, it feels like the band have actually ventured somewhere. The production is very good, as is the mixing which balances the denser instrumentation brilliantly. Look, you’d better go listen to it yourself, that way you don’t have to read about it; you can actually enjoy the textures, the performances, the 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 Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Alien Lizard
RELEASE: Pure Kafka
RELEASE DATE: 23rd February 2018
Gdansk-based psychedelic explorers 'Alien Lizard' create no-nonsense psychedelic incantations filled to the brim with squally lysergic tinged reverberations, fizzing electronics and droning instrumentation all teetering brilliantly on top of shaking percussion and deep penetrative bass progressions. Their immense debut album entitled 'Pure Kafka' was officially released back on February 23rd 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via alienlizard.bandcamp.com
Pure Kafka by Alien Lizard
Menacing vocal samples courtesy of the legendary Charles Bukowski underpinned with swirling reverberations announces the arrival of ‘Swan’, the albums opening track. It’s sonic tendrils instantly reach out and pull a bedrock of repetitive percussion, the throb of deep bass frequencies and jangling strums of guitar into the mix allowing them to merge and dance as one huge pulsating organism until we’re greeted by those haunting vocalisations. ‘Alien Lizard’ lead their listeners patiently through deeply addictive verse passages that undulate hypnotically through melodious layers of music before throwing them headlong into those beautifully hellish sonic breaks filled with turbulent instrumentation and mind blowing production. As opening tracks go this is bloody mesmerising. Up next, the eastern tinged neo-psych sounds of ‘Pure Kafka’ waft their way into the musical ether. Twinkling tambourine melds with the rumble of drums as synth swells swirl effortlessly within cascading bass frequencies and those soaring guitar progressions envelope another impressive vocal performance. This track bounces along brilliantly, and it shimmers in amongst the resonating lo-fi hued production and the attractive pull of reverb.
‘A Brave New Ad’ is a repetitious beast with slow moving percussion that crawls across a lysergic tinged sonic wasteland filled with sequenced electronics, glitchy feedback and those ever constant reverberating vocalisations. This track is like an atmospheric dream sequence lifted from some weird 1970’s sci-fi movie soundtrack that’s been overdubbed by Aldous Huxley. A twisted ‘War of the Worlds’ drenched in acid blotched hallucinogenic’s. Mesmerising stuff. Up next, ‘Parallel Parks’ swirls into earshot trapped in a cloud of jangling acoustic vibes propped up by swirling clouds of synth and sporadic percussion. Brilliantly executed vocal lines simmer and float atop layers of reverberation giving off an almost 60’s psych-pop hue as we bob and weave in and out of very modern sounding atmospheric electronics. This track works really well. It’s gloriously stripped back and a welcome refrain from the previous (although brilliant) ‘Art-Psych’ leaning compositions. ‘Heaven Takes The Moon’ delightfully simmers in a heady sonic brew of melodically hypnotic instrumentation, steeped generously in glorious reverberation. Wispy vocalisations meander and move in and out of cascading bass progressions and the repetitive pull of tambourine as subtle swells of synth merge effortlessly with swirling drones and beautifully effervescent sound-waves to create something magical.
‘Forest Hunter’ is steeped in 60’s psychedelia. It’s pounding drum track marches repetitiously in metronomic time as a repetitive bass progression meanders and intertwines with the pull of guitar and that smoky vocal line. Sullen swells of synth bubble up from below the mix leading us into that hallucinogenic break before we’re pulled back out and guided back into the track as it quickly builds into a resonating sonic behemoth and tumbles into it’s finale whilst up next, ‘Welcome To Duat’ rattles on a sequenced breakbeat as it’s soaring feedback laden guitars rage just under the mix and that hypnotic bass line circumnavigates the entire piece like wild animal on the hunt. Again we’re lured into another magical lysergic-tinged break, filled to the brim with sparse percussion and electronic themed 70’s sci-fi soundtrack chic and then it’s on into that brilliant ear shattering, krautrock leaning middle section before expertly finishing up comfortably, somewhere in between neo-psych and eastern esoteric psych. ‘Welcome To Duat’ is a total sonic trip.
The albums penultimate piece buzzes into orbit sounding more like an Australian wind instrument than a vocal sample. ‘Another Camel For Camus’ is steeped in hypnotic neo-psychedelia. It’s meandering bass line is infectious and mixed with rolling percussion and the pull of wah-wah fuelled guitar is deeply spiritual ....... up to a point! It’s then that all hell breaks loose and we’re fired skywards into heady atmospheric prog-leaning fog. The drum track rocks slowly on it’s axis, building in tempo with each repetitive swirl as swells of menacing guitar pulse through layer after layer of reverb and the constant thrum of bass resonates throughout. This track builds momentum and levels of noise every couple of seconds as the addition of synth and distortion is almost to much to bear. And just when you think that it’s time to skip to the next track we’re brought back down to earth with a bang and cushioned in a blanket of shimmering sound-waves. ‘Another Camel For Camus’ is a white knuckle sonic thrill ride of epic proportions and a definite highlight for me on this entire release.
The album closes out with ‘Goodbye to the Holy Mountain’. Cymbals crash and instrumental drones bellow as we undulate hypnotically into slow moving percussion and haunting lines of hushed vocal, interspersed with heady reverberations, subtle swells of synth and luscious bass frequencies. Lead lines of guitar whip and cajole the piece to within an inch of it’s life as we gently sway in time with the percussive swagger of the piece and we’re led into it’s gloriously infectious finale. It’s a mind blowing ending to a thoroughly enjoyable album.
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting genres 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: Melody Fields
RELEASE: Melody Fields
RELEASE DATE: February 26th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Kommun 2/Soundeffect Records/Beluga Records
Hailing from Gothenburg on Sweden's west coast and armed with a sound that resonates effortlessly through lysergic tinged waves of 60's Californian psychedelics, psych-pop and the poppier side of shoegaze, 'Melody Fields' are a breath of fresh air in the overly-populated melting pot that is the modern underground psych world. With three part harmonies, jangling guitars, deeply spiritual song structures and an ounce of respect for the pioneering forefathers of the sound, 'Melody Fields' have unleashed a self-titled album filled to the brim with precise instrumentation, intense melody and sweet sonic delight. The music was recorded at Studio Parkeringshuset where Hills, GOAT and The Movements have made their albums and the band are made up of David Henriksson, Ramo Spatalovic, Thomas Widholm, Henrik Bäckström & Sebastian Jannesson with guest musicians on this release courtesy of The Holy Wave’s - Dustin Zozaya on mellotron and Nils Börén on saxophone. 'Melody Fields' was released back on February 26th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via melodyfields.bandcamp.com
Melody Fields by Melody Fields
Tumbling blissfully within a swirling instrumental drone, 'Morning Sun' pulls rumbling drum patterns and repetitive bass frequencies out into the sonic ether accompanied by meandering guitar progressions and addictive hook laden lead lines. Magnificent vocalisations intertwine with layers of resonating reverberations as hypnotic lines of saxophone jockey and vie for space in amongst the glorious melee. 'Morning Sun' is an instantaneous kaleidoscope of sonic hallucinogenics and an immense opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'Liberty' bounds into audible range bouncing brilliantly on a deep permeating bass progression and the jangle of intricate guitars. Again, those absolutely lovely vocal lines captivate this listener as they weave and bob through layers of reverb and repetitive hits of tambourine. There are beautiful chord changes here, luscious percussive skips, cascading bass signatures and soaring lines of lead guitar that meld effortlessly with their surroundings, collectively painting a lysergic themed picture as we traverse these stunning soundscapes. 'Run' injects a heavier gear into proceedings as roaring lead guitars ride steadying drum patterns and subtle acoustic frequencies before dimming down to allow those vocal lines to flow though their verse parts with ease. There are brilliant chord changes dotted here and there permeated at times by lead guitar and deep booming bass progressions that keep everything moving as we fall in and out of spacious instrumental breaks and swirling reverberations and dive headlong into a mesmerising sonic assault filled with soaring progressions of lead guitar. 'Run' is captivating and a definite highlight for me on the entire release.
'Rain Man' is steeped in 60's neo-psychedelia. Woozy, resonating guitars meld with jangling instrumentation before the pull of addictive bass and a busy percussive attack completely envelopes a stunning vocal track. Swooning reverberation and sticky delay add atmosphere but the star of the show is that brilliantly executed and deeply melodious vocal. 'Rain Man' is very catchy, filled with brilliant instrumental structures and another highlight for me. Up next, 'Fire' jangles on an acoustic guitar as closely orbiting progressions of lead, hypnotic shakes of tambourine and intense walls of melody evoke those sonic pioneers of old. There's an air of positive accomplishment here swimming in-amongst the layers of brilliant instrumentation and expert production that is very hard to shake off and those harmonious vocals are an absolute triumph. 'Trädgränsen', The albums penultimate piece, meanders into earshot trembling slightly on a shaky guitar progression lightly washed in luscious reverb. Twinkling percussive hits ripple just below the mix adding an expectant kind of atmosphere to proceedings as sporadic pulls of bass and swirling reverberations arrive dragging a light rumble of tom tom drums with them into the slowly building sonic behemoth. It's vocal harmonies arrive, floating blissfully on the collective instrumentation and pulsing through layers of reverb with relative ease. 'Trädgränsen' is all consuming, it ebbs and it flows, it falls into deep cavernous lakes of reverb and soars skywards when required and it's a monumental triumph. It's my favourite track on this entire release.
The album closes out with 'Morning Sun (revisited)'. From it's opening salvos we instantaneously fall into a glorious melding of eastern themed esoteric psych and flourishes of psych-folk that swirl and flow through hazy hallucinogenic clouds of reverb and intoxicating percussive patterns with ease. It's brilliantly executed vocal lines are sublime and they're carefully buffered by brilliant song structures and intense production. It's a fitting ending to what is one of my favourite releases of this year.
ARTIST: Close Encounter
RELEASE: Lost Time
RELEASE DATE: 9th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Look Up Records
Bit of emotive jangle-pop, a bit of synth laced melody and a dash of reverb soaked guitar is an accurate summary of 'Lost Time' by Seattle-based 'Close Encounter', a neat and playful album that bounces between sun-soaked dream-pop and darker, thought provoking shoegaze with hints of unruly psych bubbling beneath the mix. Their previous release, an EP entitled 'First Light', was successfully reviewed by Primal Music, exploring similar territory that is traversed here, on 'Lost Time'. The band are made up of Bill Darksoft, Bobby Sydney & Cameron Lambert and the album had it's official release back on the 9th March 2018. You can buy/download it in full right now via closeencounterband.bandcamp.com
Lost Time by Close Encounter
The album opens with the title track, a neatly packaged introduction to the album and its core sounds: laid back guitar riffs, loose instrumentation and the soaring yet slightly filtered vocals. ‘Never By My Side’ repeats this in a similar fashion but in a more spectacular way: its one of the albums top tracks: things are slowed down and a more dense production is added to the mix, including synth. The sound of the song is that of tightly and well thought out jangle-pop, a genre that of late seems to be getting done over and over again. ‘New Era’ is also a fantastic song, but the mood seems a tad more downtrodden. The riffs are again both enjoyable and thought provoking, the drums keep the pace nicely, the bass and guitar meld together neatly, and the keyboard adds a beautiful background layering. ‘Dark Times’ continues this synth-pop sound, with a catchy sequenced-bass based chorus and one of the nicest vocal productions on the album.
‘Wonder Why’ aims for more of an alt-rock or post-punk feeling, and achieves it; especially with its guitar tone and drum beat. This switch up offers a nice break from the previous songs that have all retained a similar sound but still maintains the main elements of the band production and mixing wise. ‘Indefinite Hours’ returns to the laid back jangle-pop of previous songs, this time, however, things are mixed together so well that the band somehow manage to make it one of the albums best songs. ‘Thinking of You’ hints at the laziest set of lyrics on the album, and musically nothing much new is really going on since the previous tracks. And that’s the thing, from here on in, with a few exceptions, things begin to sound very very similar: some songs sound like previous tracks with different tempos or effects. This very fact makes the second half of the album feel like more of a slog than a laid back , enjoyable listen. ‘How Long?’ is perhaps the highlight of the second half: the keyboard lead chorus is catchy and enjoyable and the instrumentation and production make the whole thing even more interesting. ‘Cold Call’ begins interestingly, and credit should certainly be given to the drum track and detuned guitars, but overall, after a while, you’re left wondering what you’re listening to. ‘Echo’, while sounding more present and dense than a few of the previous tracks is also one that, with different tones and mixing could sound very similar to the first few tracks. ‘Transmissions’ fits well in the context of intermission based tracks, but never really adds anything substantial to the album as a whole.
'Close Encounter' are the sort of band that succeed in a few different ways: theres the live aspect, which, although I haven’t seen them live, I can imagine as being an enjoyable, laid back experience. Another way is the format of EP: a few songs that hold a type of sound: not too long, not too dense, and just an enjoyable amount of jangle-pop. The third way is putting them on in the background, and while I’m not going to get into the philosophy and credibility of ‘background’ music, I’ll say this: there is a kind of art form for being ‘good’ background music. 'Lost Time', therefore, is a good album… But it become a slightly tiring listen: the band does what they do well., but they do it a bit too much. That’s not too say this album is a bad listen, its perhaps just to say that in the format of a full length album, 'Close Encounter' slightly over stretch themselves. The song writing on the most notable songs is of a top notch, and in regards to the genre of jangle-pop, they are truly original. Similiarly, the performances, the mixing and the production are equally as fantastic, together on the best parts of the album, these elements combine to make a noteworthy statement through laidback sound.
ARTIST: Flower Crown
RELEASE DATE: 20th October 2017
Looking for something that can simultaneously relax you into a summer daze and make you think and appreciate what you’re hearing? You’ve found it in 'GLOW' by Pittsburgh based duo 'Flower Crown', a release that takes it's dream pop from layers of deep crunch and the fuzz of borderline noise right back into a comforting, dreamy, sun-drenched breath of fresh air that evokes the same kind of moods as French based dream pop genius - 'Pastel Coast'. And much like Pastel Coasts various EP's, Flower Crowns album 'GLOW' triumphs because it doesn’t attempt to traverse new ground, rather, it sticks to what it knows… And sticks to it very well. Originally released back in October 2017, 'GLOW' is available to buy/download right now via flowercrownmusic.bandcamp.com
GLOW by Flower Crown
The album begins with the slow turn of ‘True Blue’; a mixture of dream pop guitar tones and slowly delicate percussion. Among the mix, the keyboard plays comfortably with the guitars and the vocals, which bounce around; propelled by reverb. ‘Web’ maintains a similar feel, although the tones and textures seem a tad deeper and perhaps also a tad darker. The song sounds like it could have comfortably come off either of the aforementioned Pastel Coast EPs, with its light but dense guitar playing and background hum. ‘Web’ stands as an album highlight; the chorus shines strongly among the waves of sound the band push out, patiently, comfortably and ultimately beautifully. ‘Bloodshade’ offers another fantastic chorus, as well as the continuation of the catchiness heard on previous tracks. The song also manages to balance a nice mixture of dream pop and an FX’d soaked alternative rock feel.
‘Moon Water’, from its opening ambience and single guitar plucking, also stands as an album highlight even if it is simply an intermission/interlude track; of note, the textured, light soundscape in the background succeeds in its subtleness and delicacy. The most introspective and nostalgic the band get can be found on the track ‘Frame and Frame’ which just so happens to also be one of the best tracks on the entire album. The songs beginning rolls around, evoking images of beaches, the tide washing in, and a clear blue sky, before dipping into a more alt-rock sound. The waves of echo and reverb can be heard on the brilliant ‘Pls’, which shows the bands excellent guitar playing in full stride, as well as a memorably patient yet downtrodden vocal performance; capturing the songs essence and the bands sound in a compelling and dreamy way. The ultra slow and dream-soaked ‘Rearview’ brings the tempo down to an almost slowcore level. The track utilizes dense background noise and ambience to remind the listener of the depth of both of the song itself and the sound around it. ‘Lady of the Lake’ continues this kind of laidback tempo, with the guitars plucking and strumming in perfect harmony with the slow beat of the drums. Altogether, the song stands as a kind of symbol for the rest of the album; slow, thoughtful, nostalgic and most importantly, sonically rewarding.
'Flower Crown' have released a successful dream pop album, crossing the lines between lazy yet comforting background music and intrinsically, provocatively picturesque listening. The performances, while slight, offer a rewarding and understandly dreamy listen. Fans of the genre will be impressed, and those who aren’t… will still be impressed. They’ll mostly be impressed by the mixing, the production, and perhaps most obviously, the clever and enjoyable sound.
ARTIST: Lunar Grave
RELEASE: The Sunstruck Forest
RELEASE DATE: 5th January 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz Records / Sky Lantern Records
Portland's 'Lunar Grave' have undergone some personnel changes since their inception back in 2010, releasing various outings on home grown cassette tapes, CDr's and digitally in that time building up to this debut seven track vinyl release. Their sound centres around driving krautrock, deliciously infused with free flowing transcendent psych and hypnotic grooves that collectively create something akin to an out of body experience in sonic form. It was officially released back on the 5th January 2018 via the good folks over at Cardinal Fuzz Records and Sky Lantern Records respectively with editions still available on various formats through cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com and skylanternrecords.bandcamp.com
The Sunstruck Forest by Lunar Grave
Bouncing bass signatures accompanied by a huge percussive assault announces the arrival of 'Piper In The Woods', the opening salvo on this impressive collection of tracks. The drum and bass assault continues for a time before 'Piper In The Woods' opens up into a full on assault on the senses. Soaring lead guitar meanders in and out of that solid drum & humming bass line combo leading us on a metronomic dance to the tracks finale. Up next, 'JJ-180' slows proceedings down a tad as a swirling concoction of soothing bass frequencies and luscious reverb stick to slow moving percussion and the lull of immense guitar sounds, continuously moving through a trance like state whilst 'Collapsed Horizon' is an impressive live jam that shudders and shakes through repetitious drum tracks, throbbing bass lines and resonating lead guitar. The sonic tendrils of 'Slow Death' unfurl, reach out and wrap themselves around the inner psyche as repetitious guitars swim and move through hypnotic reverberation buffered by slow moving bass frequencies and the slow march of percussion. 'Slow Death' is infectious. It lures you in with it's soothing sonic repetitions, carefully rocking you back and forth before gracefully implanting you deep in it's inner core. It's a triumphant track and possibly my favourite on the entire release.
'Kykeon' builds from the off as meticulous layering of guitars meander into audible range strapped to an almost motorik percussive swagger and the pull of bass notes, swaying back and forth like a pendulum deftly instilling hypnotically charged psychedelic impressions with every twist and turn. The entire track moves as one singular being, a sonic murmuration of sorts spilling technicolour sound-waves at a whim. 'Kykeon' is sublime and another highlight here. We take a quick sojourn as the fifty seconds of 'The Mold' spills it's guts before we're whooshed into the albums closing piece. Coming in at a whopping eleven minutes plus, '2-3-74' isn't for the faint of heart. Woozy instrumentation hugs a monolithic bass signature as lead guitars wrap themselves around a slow moving drum pattern, looping and arcing in and out of catchy bass progressions, drum fills and yards of stunning reverberation. It's intensely hypnotic, spiritual even as it builds and builds into a raging cacophony of psychedelic noise that floats out into the sonic ether and on into a marvellous finale. It's a fitting ending to a wonderful album.
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE DATE: 16th February 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club
Taking their name from a live Spacemen 3 album entitled 'Dreamweapon: An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music' released back in 1990, Porto's 'Dreamweapon' have the sonic know how to back up their collective sound. Like their contemporaries, 'Dreamweapon' use a tightly woven experimental edge as a dominating musical force to carefully create magnificent soundscapes deftly tumbling through electronically themed krautrock, oscillating proto-punk and modern psych with a collective end product that will simply blow your mind. Made up of 10,000 Russos bassist Andre Couto, João Campos Costa and Edgar Moreira, they emerged in 2009 and have since gone on to release one EP, a self-titled debut album and a splattering of singles. Now the band have emerged with their four track sophomore release entitled 'SOL' and have enlisted the brilliant 'Fuzz Club Records' to bring this album to the ears of the world. Officially released on the 16th February 2018, 'SOL' is available to pre-order on various formats right now via fuzz club.com
SOL by Dreamweapon
Swirling menacingly in a darkly atmospheric and all consuming instrumental drone the opening salvos of ‘Mashinne’ instantaneously instil an overriding sense of foreboding as the slow meticulous tempo begins it’s repetitive march into the sonic unknown. Hazy reverberations fizz and move in and out of throbbing bass signatures and the twinkle of electronics as subtle lines of melodic guitar bounce and weave effervescent incantations that meld effortlessly with resonating frequencies to create a wall of hypnotic sound that is both captivating and scary all at once. Shadowy sound-waves float like ghosts in and out of the mix at various times creating light and shade and adding depth to the piece as we’re pulled through cascading synth lines, ghostly vocalisations and the sequenced pulse of surreal production techniques. ‘Mashinne’ is a fascinating opening salvo and a definite highlight on this release.
‘Blauekirshe’ opens up held fast in a kind of eastern esoteric haze as squally guitars scratch and pull through waves of reverb and shamanic shakers hover over droning swells of synth and rolling drum patterns. Bouncing bass lines keep hypnotic time as intense atmosphere undulates throughout injecting distant voices and surging dub like stabs of percussion. This track is lusciously addictive and at times spiritual in it’s approach. It’s reptilian movement demands attention whilst the constant pitter patter of resonating frequencies swirl and ebb effortlessly dipped in an acid blotched haze. Up next, ‘Qram’ enters audible range tumbling through calming waves filled with ringing bells and chiming alarms. At fourteen minutes plus, Qram’s peaceful beginnings are short lived as resonating instrumental drones build from deep below the mix accompanied by the surge of percussion and the rattle of reverberating cymbal noise. Spiralling instrumentation intertwined with sticky reverb pulls the throb of bass and uncompromising production values out into the ether as we tumble headlong into a mesmerising wall of shamanic krautrock. ‘Qram’ is immersive, hypnotically brilliant and another highlight on this release for me.
The album closes out with ‘Monte da Virgem’, a track that has also appeared on Fuzz Club’s latest compilation, the brilliant ‘Reverb Conspiracy Vol.5’. This track is a bass driven sonic monolith that surges through layers of driving percussion, pulsing guitars, surging instrumental drones and the heady pull of sequenced synths. Monte da Virgem’s repetitiveness is what makes it so bloody addictive. At times reminiscent of Throw Down Bones or Föllakzoid in it’s kraut like stylings, Monte da Virgem is a masterful ending to a totally immersive album.
ARTIST: The Final Age
RELEASE: The Final Age
RELEASE DATE: 9th February 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz / Sunrise Ocean Bender
Improvisational project 'The Final Age' is the brain child of Bristol-based drummer Jesse Webb. Originally conceived as an accompaniment to an imagined film focusing on themes of loss and isolation, Webb enlisted the help of guitarist Paul Allen (The Heads, Anthroprophh), saxophonist Dave McLean (Gnod), vocalist Annette Berlin (Big Joan), trumpeter Pete Judge & violinist Agathe Max (Kuro) among others to create something altogether mesmerising. Swimming in a sonic melting pot filled to the brim with various levels of psychedelic enchantment, howling vocals and experimental percussion that establishes connections between psych, proto-punk, jazz and heavy rock 'The Final Age' is a collection of tracks that cannot be defined as standing in one clear musical genre. It is an album of experimentation, of finding new ideas and new sonic stylings and crafting them into something magical. The album gets it's official release on 9th February 2018 via Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sunrise Ocean Bender (USA) respectively and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com & sunriseoceanbender.bigcartel.com
The Final Age by Cardinal Fuzz Shop
The album leads track begins swirling in a huge instrumental drone. 'The Final Age' pulls deep penetrating bass notes into the mix building gracefully by introducing subtle synth swells, strings and hazy atmospherics to create a massive wall of blissful noise. This is progressively experimental, spiritually infectious and at times hypnotic as you spiral away into a cyclonic filled landscape. Up next, 'Trust Fund Death Camp Moan' is a mind-bending thrill ride through pulses of synth, repetitive fusion styled drumming, tremulous guitars and resonating frequencies deftly tied to huge reverbs, sampled vocalisations and effervescent delays whilst the jazz sounding 'Second Rule' is absolutely huge in scope. Penetrating percussion rumbles exponentially as squally electronics fizz and ebb in close proximity pulling sporadic swells of trumpet and resonating bass frequencies into the mix adding a sullen atmosphere to the overall proceedings. Changes in tempo and addition of alternate drum fills momentarily break the hypnotic spell before we're thrown back in headfirst into dub like trumpet stabs and throb of bass noise. 'Second Rule' is superbly captivating and a definite highlight on the release. '96 Rules' continues the percussive trend of the previous track although gone are the stabs of trumpet to be replaced by noisy guitar progressions and lines of spoken word. Sparkling repetitive keyboard progressions cascade just below the mix, melding brilliantly with those dub like bass progressions thus drawing the ear to them as all around explodes into a cacophony of resonating noise. '96 Layers' is a fascinating piece of music. It's as if Mark E Smith's & The Fall had recorded fusion jazz record high on enlightening psychedelics. Simply mesmerising.
'Past Minus Future' pulses atmospherically on a bedrock of immense percussion as it's fizzing electronics and swirling drones circumnavigate in close proximity pulling fuzzy vocal samples and senses pummelling production with them into the melee whilst upon next, 'A Certain Breed' is bloody immense. Slow moving percussion instils a menacing air to proceedings as the pull of violin and those swirling drones meld to create the perfect cradle for those magnificent vocalisations. This track is allowed to breathe and meander effortlessly through layers of reverb and stunning atmosphere. Throbbing bass progressions add dept to the track as we glide away on waves of psychedelic abandonment and fall headlong into that eastern esoteric ending. 'I Fall' unfurls it's sonic tendrils and dives headlong into a brooding mass of noise and vocal samples before heavy percussion and atmospheric drones pull saxophone and deep penetrating bass frequencies out into the ether. It is five minutes plus of animalistic, senses pummelling experimental psych that takes no prisoners whilst 'Mephadrone' does exactly as it says on the tin. Leaning more into proto-punk this track has movie soundtrack material written all over it. It's pulsating instrumentation cuts a deep wedge into the sonic ether as a driving percussive assault ferries rumbling bass progressions and swirling synths through layers of atmospheric reverberations and sequenced electronics pulse & bleep just below the mix. The albums penultimate piece comes inn the guise of 'There Will Be Waste'. Swirling vocalisations accompanied by the toll of church bells, sporadic percussive hits, noisy layers of synth and throbbing bass amble into audible range, rising and falling through deep passages of psych and deeply spiritual experimentalism. 'The Final Age' closes out with 'Punching A Hole', a mesmerising piece of heavy psych tumbling through explosive drum tracks, soaring lead lines and throbbing bass progressions as spoken word rages from beneath a heady cloud of atmospheric reverberation. Its a masterful track and a fitting ending to a mesmerising album.
'The Final Age' as a standalone album is one that will take repetitive listens before it begins to sink into the inner psyche. With some mesmerising passages of experimental instrumentation and a percussive assault that at times seems unbelievable, this album is a welcome addition to any true modern psych fans music collection.
ARTIST: Dead Sea Apes
RELEASE DATE: February 9th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender
Manchester based experimental psych aficionado's 'Dead Sea Apes' have returned with a brand new sonic compendium entitled 'Recondite', a collection of tracks recorded for various compilations, off-the-cuff jams, dub remixes and covers of Kraftwerk, Harmonia and Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence. The band have been carving out their own rather special niche in a scene that strives on it's core principles of expansive and consciousness-altering guitar, bass and drum based compositions. 'Dead Sea Apes' have never easily fitted into a 'psychedelic scene' as such like so many of their contemporaries but have instead taken a different path to sonic enlightenment by experimenting with dub, electronic sequencing and mind altering reverberations that both thrill and hypnotise all at once. Those of you new the sounds of 'Dead Sea Apes' will find this brand new compendium of tracks absolutely fascinating as it perfectly explores every facet of their collective sound, from their influences to their unique talent of merging various genres to create one hell of a lysergic tinged trip. 'Recondite' has it's official release on February 9th 2018 with pre-orders available on various formats from Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sunrise Ocean Bender Records (USA) respectively.
Dead Sea Apes - Recondite by Cardinal Fuzz Shop
The absorbing opening salvos of ‘Tentacles (version)’, a track that originally appeared on ‘Dead Sea Apes’ last album - ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ are taught and frequented with swirling drones, glitchy dub lined scratches and sequenced electronics. Spoken word courtesy of artist and author ‘Adam Stone’ float into earshot accompanied by the rumblings of deep dub lined bass notes, warbling stabs of guitar and synth as heady clouds of machine gun delay and sticky reverb fill the ether with intense atmospherics. This take is longer than the original version of ‘Tentacles’ but it’s a highly infectious mix of psych and dub with this listener marvelling at the melding of it’s dystopian vocalisations and the aforementioned hypnotically charged accompanying instrumentation. Up next ‘Coronal’ (originally appearing on a Cardinal Fuzz compilation entitled Stay Holy) tumbles into audible range on a swirling instrumental drone. Rolling percussion builds from below the mix and a subtle surge of eastern esoteric psych bubbles to the surface dragging noisy electronics and tempestuous production theatrics with them as shimmering guitars undulate and merge with repetitive lines of atmospheric synth. This track is deeply incantational, krautrock heavy and it rises and falls through huge cavernous sonic troughs before surging skywards on layers of wide scoped sonic reverberation.
‘Planet V’ undulates and moves in unison with big repetitive bass progressions riding pounding drum patterns and swirling drones as impressive lead lines whip the entire piece to within an inch of it’s life whilst ‘True Believers’, another alternate take, originally appeared on the brilliant Evil Hoodoo ‘For Nepal’ compilation, staggers into ear shot on a wave of sullen atmosphere. Slow moving percussion keeps a steady back beat, carefully carrying the throb of bass and subtle production theatrics before all hell breaks loose and we’re spinning wildly in a dark and oppressive slab of stunning space rock. This track builds slowly through staggered verse progressions and unleashes an explosive surge of sonic energy through catchy breathtaking progressional changes that are pinned to meandering lead lines that loop and arc throughout. It’s a masterpiece and a highlight for me on this release. Up next, ‘Land Of The Sun’ featuring 'Gabriel Minnikin' is a cover version, originally released by Canadian native Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence (Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service) and deftly undertaken here by Dead Sea Apes. Feedback laden opening bars build and merge with the swirl of cymbals and the pull of reverb before sporadic percussion and the throb of bass lure this listener into a melee of swirling instrumentation and resonating frequencies. It’s a white knuckle thrill ride, permeated at times with intense spoken words that are reminiscent to Iggy’s stint with UK based ‘Death In Vegas’ during the 90’s.
‘The Recognition’ is lifted from the brilliant ‘Stand With Standing Rock’ compilation from Sky Lantern Records and is another album highlight for me. It’s opening permutations are mesmerising as they snake alongside deep rumbling bass kicks separated by shimmering tambourine and deeply spiritual guitar progressions that build and build forever adding layers of intriguing combinations that culminate brilliantly into a magical murmuration of sound. Up next, ‘Universal Translator’ spins in a haze of tumbling synth as rumbling percussion rattles underneath closely followed by throbbing bass lines and swirling feedback that collectively builds into a pulsating sonic behemoth whilst ‘Lupine Wavelength’, originally released on the magnificent ‘Magnetic North’ split album from Drone Rock Records, spirals through massive layers of reverb as those steady drum patterns hold court deftly ferrying cascading bass signatures, fizzing synth and pull of lead guitar out into the sonic ether. ‘Dead Sea Apes’ inject yet another cover version into the compendium as ‘Rückstoss Gondoliére’, originally recorded by 'Kraftwerk' enters into audible range. Swirling drones accompanied by kosmische theatrics, swells of synth and luscious guitar progressions float and ebb through layers of atmospheric reverberation pulling sparse percussive hits and squally instrumentation with them before building into a slow moving slab of incantational psych. It’s mesmerising guitar progressions loop and arc effortlessly through throbbing bass frequencies and rumbling drum patterns. ‘Rückstoss Gondoliére’ is formidable in sonic stature and yet another tripped out highlight on this release.
The highly experimental ‘Rethreads’ pulses menacingly within it’s metronomic, almost motorik sounding skin, as noisy frequencies bend and pull through a kind of backwards cyclonic motion dragging angry feedback laden guitars and the throb of dub strewn bass frequencies with them through the whoosh of cymbal noise and deep dark atmospherics before we’re introduced to the albums closing piece, the absolutely sublime ‘Vamos Compańeros’, a cover version of the original track by ‘Harmonia 76’. This track originally appeared on yet another one of the many ‘The Blog That Celebrates Itself’ covers compilation entitled ‘Komische Musik’. It rattles and surges through layers of repetitious krautrock and fizzing electronics that are permeated at times with subtle fuzziness courtesy of sparse guitars and throbbing bass frequencies. ‘Vamos Compańeros’ is a monstrous sonic filled thrill ride and a fitting ending to a wonderful compendium of tracks
RELEASE: In A Stranger's Car
RELEASE DATE: 25th July 2017
Shoegaze is usually a genre that is defined by its sound. Or more accurately, its purity of sounds, of sound that creates pictures, that creates images, that forges soundscapes and that adds depth to the whole picture of a song. Think of how critics, how writers, describe the emotional landscpes of shoegaze; often they congratulate it on its richness and sculpting. All of this could be said, in a weird, backwards way, about 'In A Stranger's Car' by Barlow, a Pittsburgh based lo-fi/shoegaze/alt-rock band. When I mention the words backwards it is because In 'A Stranger's Car' is the opposing side of lushness; its dirty, lo-fi, recorded on tape sound brings forth a different kind of angle on Shoegaze. And that’s exactly why I thought, immediately after hearing the opener ‘Tirebiter’, this is something notable…. Perhaps very much so. I don’t hand out 5/5 all that often; it has to be something different, something original and (most importantly) something interesting… And I’m pretty sure this album ticks all those boxes. The band are made up of Ethan Oliva - guitars/vocals/drums/bass/keys/piano/tamborine, Andrew Yadeski - drums/guitars/bass, Jake Nowoczynski - bass & Mitch Delong - keys. 'In A Strangers Car' was originally self-released back in July 2017 and is now getting a rather special re-release treatment (on limited cassette format with added material that includes demos etc) through Crafted Sounds. You can get your hands on it right now on various formats via Crafted Sounds and Barlow respectfully.
In a Stranger's Car by Barlow
As previously mentioned, ‘Tirebiter’ opens proceedings, with its noisy lo-fi based dream rock sound. Voices are hushed and dirty, instruments are crunching and pushed to the front. Emotionally, the song brings more to the table than a lot of ‘normal’ shoegaze music does. One should also mention that ‘Tirebiter’ is a definite album highlight. The sense of atmosphere (in a lo-fi way) continues on the brilliant ‘You Have To See It’, which continues things in a similar way to the album opener. The much darker and stripped back ‘East Commons’ presents a stark and more experimental song structure than previous. The vocals are more present (although fuzzy), the occasional dissonant chord or off-key scream and the crescendo like second half makes the song another album highlight. ‘False Eye’ takes things much more upbeat, and is stylistically similar to the opener, the vocals are exceptionally distant, and beside dream-pop, the song sounds like a psychedelic type of soft rock? The shoegaze tone of the guitars and the intricate bass performance also ties things together in a more alternative light. The underlying experimental tone of previous songs comes to the forefront of ‘Accosted’, somehow mixing the dirty, out of time feedback in the background of the music and the bright, jangle pop of the song mix together beautifully.
‘The Messengers’ rags along at a steady punk rate, throwing around words under distorted guitar tones… The second half, however, is where the true gold lies. Going from the aforementioned punk tune, Barlow jump straight off a preverbal cliff as the song shifts into a bizarre, noise laden sound collage soundscape. ‘In His Attic’ may be the most pleasant song on the album; the enjoyable temperature of the jangle pop sound eases slowly through the song. But yet again the second half leaps into a bizarre experimental soundscape, bouncing around with fuzz and distortion for the listener. ‘Disarming Rebels’ takes things guitar-centric, creating a layered and enjoyable alternative/garage rock feel that fits neatly as a kind of interlude on the release. ‘Highway’ sounds similar to ‘Accosted’ but even more beautifully subtle; every instrument does their best to create a textured yet enjoyably simple sound for the listener. Simiarliy is the beautiful ‘Throwing Star’ in which three or so guitars meld together to create a neat interlude like song. ‘c.o.l’ sounds like some sort of 90’s garage rock song that could have gone big if the vocals weren’t so drowned out… But maybe that’s exactly why I find it so interesting. The moments in the song where the guitars and feedback wash over the song are truly beguiling; the emotional depth of this song is fantastic. Another brilliantly weird song is the outsider/freak folk, acoustic guitar lead ballad of ‘Go For It’ which sounds inspiring and introverted all at the same time. The all out punk/noise riot that is ‘Time Man’ eventually sequences into lo-fi guitar contemplation, as if Barlow have finally began to calm down. But this jaunt into placid guitar tunes jumps straight back into the noisy lo-fi rock into the songs second half. Brilliant.
'In a Strangers Car' is essentially a group of experimental, lo-fi snapshots of ideas, thoughts and structures for songs… Although in a normal context this would be a criticism, here it is in fact a massive positive. The imaginative experimentation of noise laden passages of music mixed with linear jangle and enjoyably bubblegum-ish pop music makes the album extremely original. Couple this with the bands desire to present everything in the grainy, lo-fi sound that it appears, and you have something that lands somewhere between shoegaze and experimental psych. The performances are rough, the textures are beauty, but there is something truly beautiful about this sound.