ARTIST: Magic Wands
RELEASE DATE: 13th July 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Etxe Records
Los Angeles-based duo 'Magic Wands' unleashed a dazzling new eleven track entitled 'Abrakadabra' via the good folks over at Los Angeles and Washington DC based independent record label 'Etxe Records' back on July 13th 2018. What’s it like? It's like… a time machine whizzing back to a time when shoegaze and dream-pop was more than just about writing a shitty melody or riff and layering as many FX on it as you can. A time when, if you stripped away the studio tricks and FX manipulation, you were still left with a catchy and/or well written pop or rock song. 'Magic Wands' seem to spend as much time writing the music as they do manipulating it into the ethers of distortion, layering and reverb… which makes 'Abrakadabra' well worth the time and the listen. The album was recorded at Voltiv Studios in Los Angeles, produced by Phil Galloni and the band themselves and mastered by Tim Young (The Smiths, My Bloody Valentine). 'Abrakadabra' available to buy/download right now via magic-wands.bandcamp.com (Digitally) & etxerecords.com (Vinyl) respectively.
Abrakadabra [Etxe Records, 2018] by Magic Wands
Following on from the humble but slight opener ‘Bashmuuu’, Abrakadabra opens with the slow pop tones of ‘Nocturnal’, which features layers of feedback guitar and the slow rumble of beats/drums. On top lies the hazy, reverbed vocals which vary from hush and whisper all the way to fully and beautifully spoken. The song screams dream-pop, but the slower and deeper FX and song writing structure allow the song to come off as an intelligent and enjoyable listen. Things turn somewhat more standard with the following song ‘Houdini’, which features that recognizable dream-pop styled guitar tone and a more upbeat feel. Showcasing the bands post-punk influence, ‘Houdini’ compliments the previous tracks more darker sound and is notable for its neat FX laced-sequencer noises. ‘DNA’ is an album highlight and delves deeper into the crossroads between dream-pop and post-punk music (exercised neatly through the drum beat). The aforementioned dream-pop elements shine through in several facets, the vocal performance is dazzling and the general pop-ness shines through to make the song worth the effort. The following track ‘Realms’ seems somewhat more of a step back into cruise control. Beyond the almost darkwave production and synth sounds, the lyrics seem somewhat awkward and almost throw away. The melding of darker elements with the softness of the singer’s voice seems to show off an enjoyable side of the band, but beyond that, ‘Realms’ feels like more of an album filler.
Things thankfully turn back to the more interesting dance/dream-pop of the albums opener. ‘Loveline’ is an enjoyable dance track, laced with neat keyboard production and a danceable beat that highlights the bands strong points. The chorus in particular shows how simplicity can do so much for a song…. There’s some great bass playing as well. ‘New Device’ follows the form of ‘Bashmuuu’, a slower style beat that allows the FX heavy instrumentation to mix in beautifully together. And then things return to the dance floor. ‘Chains and Fur’ features a slick rhythm section with the undertones of a dream-pop guitar and vocals that sound as though they have been dunked in neon; another album highlight for me! ‘Diamond Road’ slows things right back and offers up a hazier, almost psychedelic tempo equipped with soft and more helmed back production. With all the stripped back instrumentation, the vocals shine through, which leads me to the songs main criticism: the lyrics. While at times the lyrics adequately capture the feel of the music, a large portion of them come off awkwardly and, more importantly, cliched. The following track ‘Julie Ann Gray’ is a fantastic post-punk thriller, filtered through Magic Wands dream-pop sensibilities; thankfully, here the vocals and lyrics are in fact one of the songs highlights. ‘Julie Ann Gray’ summarises much of what the band has been projecting over the course of Abrakadabra: the danceable passages, the post-punk underlays and the dream-pop tones that all beautifully meld together sonically and instrumental. ‘Big Life’ features a slow melding beat that sounds like a slower version of trap music: the hi-hats hit rumble slowly, followed by a heavy snare. The vocals float softly and enjoyably over the instrumentation. Bonus track ‘Puzzle of Love’ is also worth noting; especially if you enjoyed the danceable, retro sound of the some of the aforementioned dance-y songs on the album.
All in all Abrakadabra is well-worth the time: refreshingly well written song structures make way for sonic exploration through FX… but not too much FX. The only criticisms I have of the album are, quite admittedly, the same I have for many albums of a similar genre. Firstly, the sheer quantity of music on Abrakadabra is at times difficult to engage with. Song after song that thematically maintain similar ‘feels’ to each other mean that, after over ten tracks worth of music, the album can seem a little strained. The other criticism is the lyrics. While generally fitting of the both the music and instrumentation, sometimes the lyrics seem as though they were thrown in purely because they had to be thrown in… At times generic, at times cliched, and at times quite awkward and only semi-written. Beyond these two elements, Magic Wands have created a thoroughly enjoyable listen. The instrumentation fits very well, and the dynamic range between dance track and softer, slower almost balladery stylings makes things all the more interesting. The band comfortably put their foot down, showcasing their talent in the realms of performance, production and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on 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: Prana Crafter
RELEASE: Enter The Stream
RELEASE DATE: 31st July 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Sunrise Ocean Bender
William Sol aka 'Prana Crafter' has released some mesmerising experimental psych & acid folk through a plethora of underground labels throughout the years from his home base on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Through labels like Beyond Beyond is Beyond, Eiderdown, Deep Water Acres, and Reverb Worship his soundscapes have permeated the sonic ether, flowing down through various levels of consciousness to paint a sonic tapestry so rich in colour that listening to his work is genuinely more akin to a intensely spiritual journey of sonic discovery. Now Sol has returned with what could be the best album of 2018 so far? A blistering new long player entitled 'Enter The Stream', a collection of eight tracks that skip effortlessly through ambient tinged psych folk, acid folk and kosmische styled psych rock all steeped in a kind of esoteric brilliance. 'Enter The Stream' is officially released on July 31st 2018 jointly via the good folks over at Sunrise Ocean Bender Records and Cardinal Fuzz Records and is also available to pre-order right now through pranacrafterabode.bandcamp.com
Enter the Stream by Prana Crafter
'Enter The Stream' begins meditatively, oozing an eerie kind of calmness that completely envelopes this listener in blissful sonic tones as those swirling acoustics tumble through layers of reverberation, carefully cushioning refrained vocalisations and the lulling tap of guitar strings. It's a beautiful opening salvo steeped in highly personal themes but wonderfully refreshing in the way it settles the listener from the off with its hypnotic almost metronomic swing that gently leads us into the ambient strewn wilderness that is 'Moon Through Fern Lattice'. This track opens up shimmering on layers of cyclonic drones and effervescent instrumentation accompanied by the addictive pull of lead guitar as we buffer on ambient themed waves of psychedelically attuned instrumentation. Up next, 'Mycorhizzal Brainstrom' floats into the sonic ether on waves of beautiful frequencies accompanied by progressions of guitar and the fizz of electronics. Melodic lines of lead guitar dance and swing with ease, dipping in and out of translucent waves of reverb and the constant pitter patter of ambient synth. 'Mycorhizzal Brainstrom' is a triumph, a lysergic sonic adventure and an album highlight for me. 'The Spell' jangles into existence strapped to an acoustic progression whipped by the occasional line of distorted lead guitar overlaid with a kind of spaghetti western brilliance. Sol's vocalisations control the tempo here and they sit brilliantly inside the groove, eventually leading us into a lead break that momentarily shatters the air of serenity surrounding this track before we're back inside that swinging groove and pulled into it's final death throws.
'Old North Wind' bellows into life, moving on melodic tentacles of acoustic guitar draped in reverb and an instant hit of melancholy. Beautiful lines of vocal swirl around entrancing instrumental progressions joined sporadically by subtle highlights of lead guitar and slow moving percussion. A magical lead break unfurls it's sonic tendrils and intertwines with the melee of sounds adding blissful atmosphere as we flutter along in it's wake, pondering life and love and everything else in between whist up next, 'Kosmic Eko' does exactly as it says on the tin. Ambient stylings coalesce alongside angry pulses of distortion as tumbling lines of lead guitar plunge into pools of reverb allowing those swirling atmospherics to hold court as the track tries to build momentum from far below the mix. There's a hesitancy here, this listener wants the track to take flight and soar skywards but Sol has other ideas and allows it to tantalisingly hang in a cloud of frequencies until eventually it teeters out into marvellous oblivion. This is absolutely sublime songwriting craftsmanship and only goes to showcase just how good this album really is. The albums penultimate piece entitled 'Pillow Moss Absorption' begins with an acoustic progression that eventually leads into something altogether eclectic. Beautifully entrancing lines of guitar drenched in wah wah theatrics and underpinned with swells of organ and fizzing synths take centre stage as we're whisked off into an esoteric world filled with sonic wonderment. The instrumentation erupts again as progressions of acoustic guitar return and meld with waves of reverb, changing tempo with each sweep, tumbling and splashing through waves of brilliant production until we're swept headlong into the albums closing piece. 'At The Dawn' caps off a truly stunning collection of songs. This track feels like a bookend of sorts and whereas 'Pillow Moss Absorption' was loose and more free form in its approach, 'At The Dawn' is more structured and settled in its own skin. It's a beautiful ending to a truly marvellous 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, postpunk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He also was 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.
RELEASE DATE: 28th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Spirit Goth Records
'Castlebeat' is that weird moment between nostalgia, unnerving contemplation and the dizziness that comes with hazy afternoons, setting suns and retrospection. This reviewer was impressed with their 2016 self-titled album, which arrived at a time before Mac Demarco had entered what could be scholastically deemed ‘post-celebrity’. A time when chorus pedals and slower tempos were beginning to be umbrellaed and confused with terms like ‘copycat’ and ‘influential’. I speak of this time only in reference to the fact that when the debut album 'Castlebeat' was released, a certain demographic, a certain underground and a certain discussion base were carrying them around on pedestals in the same way Demarco and other dream pop/jangle pop/synth bands were being. A similar thing happened around that time with the NY-based Porches and their debut album 'Pool'. Everything was about the aesthetic, the nostalgia… The internet was recovering and re-convening from vapourwave and all the associated facets of it. The moral of the story is, if Castlebeat arrived at a time it made sense in, (while simultaneously being a great album, musically) what happens when times move on? And what does the next album (the aptly named VHS) sound like? Brilliant apparently… And its all a great trick of the light, because not so much has altered for Castlebeat and their music, even if the times have.
VHS by CASTLEBEAT
'VHS' opens with the instrumental ‘Research’, which showcases plucked, bright guitars and a programmed post-punk drum beat. Behind the music, sequencers swirl and pulse with samples and the occasional soundscape that floats back: a welcome introduction to the album. The much more retrospective ‘Tennis’ follows with a darker sound. The vocals, which ooze in after a short guitar introduction, appear in a considered reverb way. On ‘Tennis’ the band do what they do best: combine that kind of goth nostalgia feeling with danceable rhythm sections and extremely catchy guitar riffs, and you have a terrific album highlight. Returning to the sound of album opener, ‘Here’ continues the similar, colour-distorted beach feeling of ‘Tennis’. Of note is the extremely catchy chorus, that finds the vocals dancing in the background of a great texturing of guitar, bass and drums. Easily the greatest intro to any song on the album, ‘Wasting Time’ features a memorable post-punk riff put through several reverb, echo and chorus pedals into the context of the band. The track seems somewhat more darker and distorted than other songs on 'VHS', which gives it a brilliant edge that makes it a true stand out on the release.
‘Town’ turns the tempo up but retains a similar feel to previous song. The lyrics seem somewhat lazy compared to others but these are made up for with a brilliantly sounding chorus and refrain and the instruments meld together in a beautifully harmonious way. ‘I Follow’ has one of the catchiest sounds on the album and lives up to Castlebeats self-classification of ‘goth pop’. Another album highlight is the minimal ‘Zephyr’ which relies on the fantastic bass player. The chorus passages reveal a kind of meditative smoothness that makes images conjure to mind even more swiftly. On the Bandcamp page, many listeners who have brought the album speak highly of the second half of 'VHS' and in particular ‘These Days’. I can understand why this would be considered by some to be the best track on the album; it captures (especially through the lyrics) a particular thoughtfulness of regret, retrospect and dreaminess that I think most can in some sort of equivocally way emotionally relate to. Its anthemic, slow and just the right length to support its memorable qualities. ‘Heart Still Beats’ takes 'VHS' full circle, bringing the music back to a danceable and brighter quality of beauty and approachability. Of particular note is the songs fantastic second half, which captures something playful yet emotionally challenging and bring it forth through the music. An additional song, ‘Video Tape’ wraps things up accordingly, in Castlebeat and aesthetically drenched stylings.
'VHS' takes the impetus of 'Castlebeat' and pushes it towards something more post-punk and guitar driven. This push certainly gives the album a faster paced, more danceable feel, and I can understand if fans of Castlebeat find something more approachable and fuller with the sounds found on VHS. The album can be comfortably played as a listening experience, background music, or something you can throw on at a party to get people on the dancefloor. The real intelligence though (and the reason for the rating below) is that underneath each of the ‘goth pop’ sounds and effects of the songs, underneath the beach sounding, aesthetic driven riffs, is a real sense of nostalgia and retrospect. When vapourwave was done well it achieved a similar result, but even that tended toward sounding artificial and distant… VHS maintains the authenticity and reminds the listener that this was handcrafted with love. Many will comfortably ride VHS off as a lesson in how simplicity can critically triumph over intentionally and presentably complex and intellectual music… Little do they know that the band has coated the latter in the former… Do you follow? Before I continuously acclaim VHS, I think it is worth noting that the album wont be without its critics. Many of the songs maintain a similar feeling (which is why it makes for great background music) and you have to pay attention to notice the differences and techniques used from song to song. This goes hand in hand for any similar sounding ‘aesthetic’ laced music. The moral of the story is, however, that Castlebeat have backed a great album up with an even better one… a release that captures so much while presenting something so simple, achieved through textured and mellow sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian-based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
RELEASE: Call Of The Void
RELEASE DATE: 22nd June 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Oakland-based psychonauts 'Lumerians' create a mind-bending hypnotic brew filled to the brim with parts procured from various music genres such as experimental psychedelia, space rock, krautrock, noise rock, drone rock, electronica & dub. The resulting concoction is a thrilling excursion into the mystical & futuristic realms of contemporary psychedelia. Formed in San Francisco back in 2006 by Chris Musgrave - drums/percussion, Jason Miller - vocals/synth/organ/guitar, Marc Melzer - vocals/bass/synth and Tyler Green - guitar/synth/keys, the band relocated to Oakland just before the release of their debut album 'Transmalinnia', building their own recording studio called New Telos Sound in a former church. They released their sophomore LP 'The High Frontier' back in 2013 and two collections of improvised compositions called 'Transmission from Tellos III & IV'. They have also shared the stage with bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Killing Joke and Black Moth Super Rainbow. Now after a four year hiatus the band have returned with their third 'official' studio album entitled 'Call Of The Void'. The album is released on June 22nd 2018 via Fuzz Club Records and is dedicated to the memory of Barrett Clark, 'Lumerians' long-time friend, sound engineer and collaborator who passed away in the tragic Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland 2016. 'Call of the Void' is available to pre-order right now on various formats via both fuzzclub.com & fuzzclub.bandcamp.com respectively.
Call Of The Void by Lumerians
The fizz of melodic electronics merge brilliantly with those swirling instrumental drones as ‘Fuck All Y’all’ arrives to permeate the ether accompanied by the slow pull of percussion and the deep throb of bass frequencies. Repetitive organ notes hover and glide just above the sonic melee whipped by tightly wound lines of lead guitar as we’re led into a magnificent break and momentarily guided out it’s back end by the lull of squally guitars and that hypnotically a-tuned metronomic tempo. ‘Fuck All Y’all’ serves up a sonic tonic to cure all ills and is a blistering opening salvo indeed. Up next, ‘Silver Trash’ pounds into existence on repetitive threads of motorik percussion as swirling synths meander through cascading lines of bass. Woozy guitars cling closely to that explosive drum track allowing the surge of electronic instrumentation, drenched in effects, to bring lines of vocal into audible range, all balancing precariously on top of tumbling swells of organ and whirring lines of lead guitar. ‘Silver Trash’ is a triumph, it’s absolutely phenomenal and a definite stand out piece on this album.
‘Space Curse’ bounces into the ether in a 70’s krautrock haze. Filled with intermittent bleeps and whirrs this track rocks steadily on a bedrock of rolling percussion as various analogue synths pulse lines of catchy chord sequences across booming bass frequencies deftly accompanied by fascinating lines of vocal whilst ‘Signal’ starts small but builds incrementally into a droning sonic behemoth filled with intense melody, ambient strewn breaks and lines upon lines of sequenced electronics. ‘Fictional’ rattles into the ether on a pounding drum track accompanied by hypnotically addictive bass progressions and soaring lines of synth. Duel vocal’s glide brilliantly here all enveloped by the swirling sonic maelstrom, adding squealing guitars and layers of stylish reverberation as fizzing electronica meets metronomic krautrock and collectively dives headlong into a broiling melee of lysergic tinged modern psychedelia.
‘Masters Call’ glides into audible range swirling on an instrumental drone as layers of reverb reach out to slow it’s momentum. Tumbling percussion accompanies booming pulls of bass as sequenced synths arrive to accompany those edgy lines of vocal merging brilliantly into one surging wave of psych induced electronica whilst the albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Ghost Notes’ is deeply atmospheric. Huge swells of reverberation embraces menacing lines of synth, rolling percussion and heady waves of bass frequencies as it’s entrancing vocal’s arrive meandering in and out of angry guitars and overpowering instrumental progressions eventually crescendoing into a magnificent bass led break that builds and builds all over again. ‘Ghost Notes’ is fascinating and another album highlight for me. ‘Call Of The Void’ closes out with ‘Clock Spell’ and instantly arrives strapped to a droning analogue signal and a slow moving line of structured percussion. Catchy electronic bleeps and whirrs accompany layers of reverb that seem to rise and fall brilliantly alongside those hypnotic vocalisations. It’s a blistering 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, postpunk & 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: Lay Llamas
RELEASE DATE: 15th June 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Rocket Recordings
It's been four years since the release of Italian-based sonic manipulators 'Lay Llamas' sublime debut album 'Østro' on Rocket Recordings and since then their sonic manifestations have gone from strength to strength. Since the departure of Gioele Valenti (now with his own band - JUJU) 'Lay Llamas' have come solely under the command of Nicola Giunta who has reimagined their collective sound into something otherworldly, melding the rhythmic side of krautrock with afrobeat, neo-psych, electronica, spoken-word and experimental atmospherics. Having put out a number of smaller releases on labels such as Backwards, 4 Zero and ArteTetra, 'Lay Llamas' under Giunta's guidance have played on the live circuit with some heavy hitters from the modern psych scene such as the infamous 'Goat' at London’s Roundhouse and effortlessly managing a sonic demolition job of some considerable force at Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. Now they have returned to Rocket Recordings to unleash the latest chapter in this fascinating story. Their latest long player entitled 'Thuban' is an eight track sonic rollercoaster of unparalleled psychic abandonment featuring contributions from members of 'Clinic' and 'Goat' along with spoken-word contributions from Mark Stewart of 'The Pop Group' fame. 'Thuban' gets it's official release on the 15th June 2018 and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via rocketrecordings.bandcamp.com
Thuban by Lay Llamas
Melodic wind strewn instrumentation buffers and whirrs as the opening salvos of 'Eye-Chest People's Dance Ritual' arrive pulling twinkling frequencies with it as swells of synth rise from deep below the mix. Metronomic drum patterns dance repetitively alongside the throb of melodic bass and sequenced electronics as those hazy vocalisations meander into audible range attached to woozy instrumentation and the pull of guitars. Instrumentally sublime, this opening track is deeply captivating and filled with sonic brilliance. Up next, 'Holy Worms' swirls into the ether strapped to a boundless swagger filled with busy drum patterns and the hypnotic sway of percussion. Funky bass progressions meander in and out of fizzing lines of synth, tremulous guitars and hypnotic sonic vibes as Giunta crafts something altogether spiritual in nature whilst 'Silver Sun' drones into existence on squally lines of electronic atmospherics and the gentle swing of fizzing reverberations before opening up into a charging rhythmic beast that rises and falls through walls of addictive instrumentation with relative ease. Manifestations of sax and pulsating bass progressions add distinctly addictive sonic flavourings to the track and they envelope another impressive vocal performance.
'Cults and Rites From The Black Cliff (Ft. Clinic)' is an instant album highlight. It's darkly atmospheric beginnings pulse those penetrating bass frequencies out into the ether, unfurling heady waves of dystopian led sonics that loop and arc at will throughout. Distant wails of sax penetrate the hazy clouds of reverb and those menacing electronics as the metronomic pull of afrobeat and middle-eastern styled krautrock meets to form a brand new sonic singularity, moving as one collective that pushes a massive wall of delicious noise before it before finishing up dancing on a wave of sax and acoustic guitar. 'Cults and Rites From The Black Cliff (Ft. Clinic)' is absolutely mesmerising and worthy of your ears. Up next, 'Altair' features those magnificent sonic alchemists 'Goat' who provide a kind of psychedelic serenity alongside the fizzing psychedelic vibes created by Lay Llamas and this track doesn't disappoint whilst 'Fight Fire With Fire' featuring the dystopian hued spoken-word courtesy of Mark Stewart hangs suspended in a sea of glitchy reverberations and pulsing electronic atmospherics. Crawling feedback laden frequencies pull repetitive percussion and throbbing lines of melodic bass into the mix, instantly injecting structure and clarity into proceedings. This is addictive, brilliantly produced and another album highlight for me.
The albums penultimate piece comes in the guise of 'Chronicles From The Fourth Planet' and this track title maybe feeds on one of the albums main themes. The albums press release stated that - "Dwelling in the night sky of the Northern hemisphere, Thuban (named after the Arabic for ‘snake’ also known as Alpha Draconis, and sometimes as the ‘dragon’s tail’) was the star closest to the North pole from the fourth to the second millennium BC. Yet in a migration that perhaps allows us to consider our own insignificance in the realm of the cosmos, its never-ending trajectory will mean that it will once again become the polar star by 20346AD. It’s a star system powered by mystical significance enough for both Matt Groening to include it in Futurama and for David Icke to consider it the homeland of the shapeshifting reptiles that he maintains secretly control Earth". 'Chronicles From The Fourth Planet' opens up in a heady psychedelic cloud filled with distant instrumental drones, throbbing lines of bass and oodles of reverb. Pulsing percussion courtesy of Indian tabla drums arrive pulling noisy lines of lead guitar and the undulating echoes of hazy vocalisations with them as contrasting twangs of acoustic guitar inject catchy chord changes highlighted by cascading bass progressions and layer upon layer of delicious atmosphere. Surging swells of synth add intense weight to proceedings as we rise and fall through heady waves of jittering frequencies and are eventually lulled into submission in tracks final throws by the sway of instrumentation and the peaceful sound of waves washing the shoreline. The album closes out with 'Coffins On The Tree, A Black Braid On Our Way To Home'. A repetitive bass progression hugs the rumble of percussion and the twinkle of instrumentation as swirling drones and infectious electronics wash over this listener. This track builds ever so slowly, adding brilliantly executed layered vocalisations, sublime production and slow moving drum patterns into the mix as those heady lines of guitar join in with melee of collective sounds to create something altogether magical. It's a fantastic closing track and a fitting ending to what is a marvellous album.
ARTIST: Soft Science
RELEASE DATE: 1st June 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Test Pattern Records
Sacramento-based 'Soft Science' reside in the grooves between music genres, pulling different influences from each to create something altogether sublime. From shoegaze to dream-pop and power-pop to alt-rock, each of the aforementioned genre's sonic impressions are brilliantly compressed and honed until their forms have been collectively reimagined into one intensive surge of melody. The band are made up of Ross Levine, Katie Haley, Matt Levine, Tony Cale & Mason DeMusey with influences ranging from The Beach Boys to Lush, Pale Saints, Teenage Fanclub, New Order and Jesus And Mary Chain. Their latest long player entitled 'Maps' was officially released back on June 1st 2018 via the good folks over at 'Test Pattern Records' and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via testpatternrecords.bandcamp.com
Maps by Soft Science
In a haze of fizzing guitars and dreamy melody the opening bars of ‘Undone’ permeate the senses with tingling clouds of shimmering reverberation. Swirling sound-waves charge skywards as a steady drum pattern tethers itself to those sublime swells of synth and the throb of luscious bass allowing that alluring vocal line to meander in and out of the collective instrumentation with relative ease. ‘Undone’ is captivating and a marvellous opening salvo indeed. Up next, ‘Breaking’ bounces into audible range strapped to a tumbling line of synth and a fast injection of tempo. Surging swells of keyboard dance just below the mix as jangling guitar progressions envelope those magical vocalisations and we’re pulled into that soaring chorus break. Catchy chord changes here erupt as we rise on clouds of synth and tumble into reverberating walls of beautiful noise. ‘Diverging’ charges into the ether on a pounding swagger of percussion as the throb of bass as those swirling lines of synth pull beautiful vocalisations out into the open allowing fuzzy guitars to ebb and flow with ease. There’s a brilliant instrumental break here that rises majestically, bursting through layers of hypnotic synth, swirling guitars and boisterous drums to allow subtle vocal refrains to peek through until the tracks end. ‘Diverging’ is a triumph and a definite highlight for me on this release.
‘There’ arrives grinding through layers of reverberating guitars before that melodic vocal line takes hold and pulls the listener skywards. This is an absolutely magnificent slice of dreamy shoegaze tinged with simmering flourishes of dream-pop. Lines of lead guitar whirr and intertwine brilliantly with those catchy chord structures as swirling instrumental drones circumnavigate the entire track creating cyclonic frequencies that bounce and jostle for space in amongst lines of humming bass and hypnotic synth. There’s a subtle tinge of Californian psychedelia emanating from 'Apart' that is addictively delicious. That off beat jingle of tambourine coupled with the flutter of organ and that slow moving drum track instantly captivates as we’re led into a magnificent change of tack and those lead guitars whip and harass the piece into submission. The vocal lines here flow cleanly, easily hovering over that laid back groove too which only adds to the overall feel of the track. ‘Sooner’ soars into the ether on cyclonic waves of simmering synth, humming bass and jangling guitars that all meld effortlessly with those dreamy vocalisations courtesy of Katie Haley. Catchy chorus changes reminiscent of seminal era Lush are intensely captivating here also as are those twinkling tambourine shakes that arrive sporadically to ride that steady percussive swagger.
‘Know’ explodes into a riotous kaleidoscope of colourful sonic waves as those arcing 80’s themed synth lines merge with charging bass frequencies and the sheer rage of percussion. Swirling guitars circumnavigate around the vocal track menacingly, backed up with lines of lead and oodles of reverberation as we’re led through a brilliant song-structure and catapulted out into the ether. ‘Know’ is sublime and another highlight for me on this release. The serine opening bars of 'Still' meander into audible range gliding on lines of synth and layers of fuzzy guitar. It’s melodic vocal lines ride a steady wave of percussion and juggle blissful chord changes with ease. It’s a little slice of summery summer vibes all wrapped up in one dreamy shoegaze package. The albums penultimate piece comes in the form of ‘Enough’. Noisy guitars pull glistening swells of synth out into the open as that brilliant drum track keeps a metronomic tempo underfoot and the throb of bass frequencies tingle the senses. Vocal lines shimmer as they glide through those verse progressions and sparkle brightly as those twinkling electronics arrive and the soaring lines of synth carry them skywards through the scintillating chorus progressions whilst ‘Slip’, the albums closing piece, is one minute and twenty four seconds of melodic bliss and a fantastic finale to a wonderful album.
ARTIST: Bonnacons of Doom
RELEASE DATE: 18th May 2018
Swirling into the ether in a haze of repetitious sonic vibrations and psychedelic incantations comes the debut self-titled long player by Liverpool-based psychonauts 'Boccanons of Doom'. With identities hidden, and having released a few singles over the years for different compilation releases this immense collective of musicians deal in ritualistic sonic manipulation and otherworldly musical manifestations with each track recorded in single-takes using the band’s trademark improvisational method. Their sound is steeped in psychrock, repetitive drone and electronic experimentation whilst underpinned with sounds from different religious traditions all buried within the mix. 'Boccanons of Doom' have been known to change personnel but the core structure of this collective has included members of Mugstar, Forest Swords, Jarvis Cocker’s band and Youthmovies. Their self-titled debut album was officially released back on the 18th May 2018 via those ever knowledgeable folks over at Rocket Recordings and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from rocketrecordings.bandcamp.com
Bonnacons of Doom by Bonnacons of Doom
The album opens with 'Solus' and we're instantly thrown headlong into repetitive chanting, booming drum hits and sporadic swells of droning instrumentation as 'Bonnacons of Doom' unleash what they term - ‘transcendental echolalia’. Deep resonating bass frequencies swirl and creep, undulating brilliantly between those melodic vocalisations and the repetitive thud of percussion, as the track builds menacingly and gently pushes this listener towards the incoming sonic surge. And surge it does; raging guitars erupt nudging on that monumental percussive assault as the senses pummelling instrumentation takes hold and we dive headlong into a hypnotically charged sonic melting pot. 'Solus' is immersive in stature and a bloody intense opening salvo. Up next, the opening volleys of 'Argenta' boom and undulate on waves of insatiable bass frequencies as ghostly vocalisations simmer atop of steady percussion and melodic progressions of guitar. Again we're pulled along in slow calculated steps containing increasingly erratic sonic layers of distorted instrumentation all held together by that repetitive bass signature and the metronomic tolling of percussion. Noisy progressions of fuzz and distortion accompany the twang of subtle guitar just below the mix as we rise and fall through lulling periods of sonic reflection drenched in swathes of lysergic hued reverberation and on into massive walls of pulsing instrumentation until we're pulled into a dark and powerful state of sublime sonic consciousness. Coming in at a whopping ten minutes plus, 'Argenta' is absolutely magnificent and an album highlight for me.
'Industria' swirls into audible range trapped in a fizzing instrumental drone as off-kilter piano stabs inject stinging atmospheric menace. Throbbing bass frequencies build from far below the mix as swells of synth and electronic instrumentation accompany ritualistic vocalisations out into the light and that incessant fret noise wraps itself around precarious clouds of reverb. This track transcends modern psychedelia as we know it by breaking it's traditional formula and reimagining it. It forgoes with those well trodden sonic paths by melding the spiritual or religious side of incantational psych with a more modern mechanical edge, thus creating something altogether new sounding and absolutely huge in scope. Put very simply, this track could be the future. Up next, the albums penultimate piece entitled 'Rhizome' tumbles into the ether on a bellowing wave of bass and rumbling percussion. Sequenced electronics bleep and whirr as the track begins to build, adding fluttering intensity with each sonic sweep. Drum fills increase as the swirl of infectious drones emerge and 'Bonnacons of Doom' explode into a mesmerising free form live jam underpinned by the steady throb of that marauding bass signature. It's hypnotic stuff and another album highlight for me. 'Plantae', the albums closing piece, begins meandering on a blues led lead guitar riff and the steady swing of percussion. Stunning vocalisations swirl into the melee, gliding in and out of heavy swathes of fuzz and reverberation as the repetitive surge of instrumentation takes hold and we all collectively move in unison ... as one singular entity ....... attached to a raging sonic behemoth.
RELEASE DATE: 6th April 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Rocket Recordings
'Mien' are a collaborative movement of musicians who in their own individual parts have been personally involved in the creation of some of the most exhilarating releases to ever have graced our ears over the past twenty or so years. Borne back in 2004 whilst crossing paths on various tours and out of an inherent desire for sonic exploration by a quartet of musicians comprising of Alex Maas (Black Angels), Tom Furse (The Horrors), Rishi Dhir (Elephant Stone) and John-Mark Lapham (The Earlies), 'Mien' have created a self-titled debut that took fourteen years to come to fruition. It's inner workings are drenched with hallucinogenic nuances carefully stacked in a particular manner with each of it's individual players adding a specific penetrable layer to each of the tracks whilst trying to avoid falling headlong into the pitfalls of some previously explored sonic paths. It works, albeit in a frenzied, motorik and experimental kind of way through all of it's ten tracks. There are dark passages of atmosphere merged with wide scoped neo-psychedelia, brilliant broad spectrum sweeps through various music genres that all coalesce in one psych infused sonic surge, channelling psychedelic leanings from the past whilst inputting some modernistic sonic themes just for fun. 'Mien' was officially released back on the 6th April 2018 via the good folks over at 'Rocket Recordings' and is available to buy/download right now on various formats from rocketrecordings.bandcamp.com
MIEN by MIEN
'Earth Moon' spirals into audible range swirling melodically in a haze of sitar and keyboard before rumbling tribal drums and deep penetrating bass frequencies rattle it's teeth, in turn dragging steady vocalisations with them and we've set sail on a sonic voyage of discovery. This track builds brilliantly and leads the listener into those monumental chorus progressions with ease. Although it's eastern themed flair threads an already well stitched psychedelic formula, 'Earth Moon' has enough going on beneath it's stereotypical psychedelic leanings to help it stand out. Up next the undulating tones of 'Black Habit' fizz and dance on layers of swirling synths and dark reverberations. A repetitious bass line (for those clued in it originally appeared on The Horrors track - Sheena Is A Parasite) rumbles as that driving percussion pulls everything together tightly and Mass' vocals lean precariously on top of that surging instrumental growl whilst 'Im Tired Of Western Shouting' is tirelessly good. It's dystopia leaning credentials pulse and lull through passages of awe inspiring instrumentation and deep sonic crevices filled with a kind of lysergic sparseness, perfectly suited to host those melodic doom-laden vocal lines.
'You Dreamt' is distinctly electronic and a complete reimagining of the song 'I Dreamt' lifted from The Black Angels 2017 released Death Song. It rattles on a bedrock of breakbeats and sequenced atmospherics whilst being sonically assaulted by waves of raging noise and dark oppressive vocalisations up until the arrival of 'Other', and it's here that we're allowed to take pause. Swirling instrumental drones buffer and twirl as haunting reverberations take hold ushering in a deep bellowing bass tone; mesmerising in stature, it's swells of ambient samples rise and fall through clouds of nullifying reverb as we float in a kind of sonic static surrounded by twinkling lines of synth and punishing atmospherics that eventually blend into the absolutely immense 'Hocus Pocus'. This track begins swirling around yearning vocalisations and the twang of fuzzy guitar. Atmospheric swells of synth, subtle flutes and building electronics arrive and pulse in unison before slow menacing percussion launches us out into a reverb strewn landscape. Dark sonic permutations undulate through instrumental breaks reminiscent at times to Nine Inch Nails before we're pulled back into a huge pulse meandering sonic noise and on into it's final death throws. It's a mesmerising track and a definite highlight on this release.
'Ropes' shimmies into the sonic ether rattling on repetitive shakers and the eastern twang of sitar before creeping sequenced bass frequencies bounce and move beneath haunting vocalisations and the occasional pull of guitar. Cascading lines of synth enter the fray as the track begins to build and we trip out to some spectacular cosmic vibes before that wide instrumental break takes a slight pause before it sucks every single frequency into it only to belch them back out in spectacular fashion. There's more going on here than just sonic experimentation, there's a groove to each of these tracks that is very difficult to shake off. 'Echolalia' drones on a repetitive tone, pulsing and swirling through different pans before erupting into a distorted behemoth that circumnavigates a magnificent vocal line, occasionally whipped by feedback laden guitars, weirdly brilliant off-kilter backing and wonderfully warped production whilst 'Odyssey', the albums penultimate piece, has krautrock like tendencies with repetitive instrumentation, throbbing bass lines and that brilliantly executed vocal performance. The album closes out with the blissful 'Earth Moon (Reprise)'. We drop into hazy sonic frequencies filled with intoxicating eastern tinged swirls and marvellous progressions of guitar, swells of building synth and hypnotically peaceful vocalisations before meandering through repetitive verse/chorus progressions with ease until that slow moving break-beat arrives and we're swept away on ambient hued clouds of synth, rambling bass and sequenced electronics. It's a fascinating bookend to an absolutely marvellous debut album.
RELEASE: Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018
RELEASE DATE: 11th May 2018
RECORD COMPANY: vipchoyo-sound-factory / seashellrecords
In recent years Italy has been leading the European charge when it comes to the resurgence of the underground shoegaze sound. Italogaze, as it has been coined, has brought a fresh aspect to this much maligned sound with most of the bands within the scene embracing newer sounds and recording techniques such as modern psych rock, synthwave, vaporwave or even darkwave and deploying them alongside those traditional alternative sounds like postpunk, noise rock and shoegaze resulting in some fantastic pieces of music. In an attempt to highlight some of the immense music coming out of the underground Italian shoegaze scene right now, two Italian-based independent record labels - vipchoyo sound factory (Naples) & seashell records (Palermo) have jointly released a compendium of tracks by some of the most significant bands of the current scene. This new compilation entitled 'Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018' aims to be both a representative sample of the so-called Italogaze sound and a jump off point for new listeners. Released back on May 11th 2018 this thirteen track compilation is available to buy/download right now from both vipchoyo-sound-factory.bandcamp.com & seashellrecords.bandcamp.com respectively.
Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018 by Various Artists
Up first are Milan-based 'In Her Eye' with a track lifted from their forthcoming long player 'Change', penned in for full release on June 1st 2018. 'Closer To Me' is a woozy fuzzed out slice of melody strewn, alternative led shoegaze with catchy chorus changes and soaring lines of lead guitar. It has subtle nods here and there to the forbearers of the shoegaze sound but there's a modern edge mingling in amongst those solid song structures. Up next, Rome-based 'Weird.' unleash the sublime 'Forevermore', a shimmering cloud of sonic melancholy filled with hazy passages of dreamy instrumentation and floating vocalisations whilst up next and hailing from Milan, 'The Mystic Morning' unveil 'Follow The Sun', a brilliant alternative leaning jangle of intricate guitars and steady percussion swirling around duel vocalisations that lead the listener into that magnificently hazy chorus charge. Next, Cosenza-based new wave/synth-gaze trio 'Electric Floor' bring a sound that leans into the experimental side of post punk mixed with the darker side of new wave and underpinned by a distinctly modern electronic edge to the compilation with the shimmering 'I Made It Up' whilst Naples-based alt-gazers 'Marys Restless Dream' unleash the jangling 'Crazy', a blissed out sonic thrill ride filled with mesmerisingly catchy instrumental progressions that ride woozy layers of reverberation with relative ease.
'Lay' bound aimlessly into the sonic arena straddling a tumbling percussive assault buffered by screaming feedback and the constant hum of bass. leaning heavily into the fuzzier side of shoegaze this track is a definite highlight on the release whilst up next, the Milan-based 'Obree' are comprised of Sara Poma (Emily Plays) and Fabrizio De Felice (Bialogard/Huge Molasses Tank Explodes). Their collective sound echoes a modern edge with elements of synth wave and shoegaze all wrapped up in huge swathes of melancholy. 'Breath' is simply beautiful and a serious recommendation from us lot here at Primal Music. Neapolitan dream-gazers 'Stella Diana' are represented here by 'Iris', a track lifted off their forthcoming and highly anticipated new album '57', penned in for full release on the 25th May 2018. ‘Iris’ jangles into the ether on repetitive lines of melodic guitar as it’s twinkling swells of synth dance and ebb through sticky clouds of reverb. I can hear some early post-punk connotations of The Cure echoed within it’s intricate guitar lines, some new wave leanings reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and even some subtle Sisters Of Mercy vibes going on here also. ‘Iris’ builds ever so slowly and it gently leads it’s listeners into a peaceful break before exploding into a multitude of colours as we tumble through clouds of raging instrumentation and on into it’s blissful finale. Up next, Pisa-based quartet 'Klam' play post punk with a shoegaze feel, blending there sound with influences from 80's and 90's punk and indie rock. 'Begging For Money On Fb Chat' rattles on a layer of sequenced percussion as subtle swells of synth and intricate guitars envelope that impressive vocal take.
Hailing from Milan, 'Novanta' aka Manfredi Lamartina has been wowing the underground Italogaze scene since his earliest inception back in 2011. Constructing well attuned soundscapes that soar through layers of synth-wave, shoegaze, electronic dream-pop and alternative sounds, 'Novanta' is represented here by the beautiful 'Lovers', a sequential, slow moving, synth led monolith whilst up next 'Yellow Traffic Light' hail from Turin and create some stunning passages of music. Their debut EP 'Dreamless' was one of my favourite releases of 2014 and I'm so happy to see them on this compilation today.'Fukuoka No(の)Future' is a driving slice of melodic repetitiveness that balances precariously on top of that steady bedrock of percussion. Hard hitting vocalisations swirl and ebb as spellbinding webs of golden hued guitars are spun capturing lengthy sonic refractions that echo through layers of simmering reverb with ease. It's a sublime track and quite possibly my favourite on this entire compilation. The albums penultimate piece comes from 'Bestrass', a postpunk project from Bologna formed back in 2013 by Leonardo Cannatella - vocals/guitar, Iacopo Palasciano - guitar & Lorenzo Brogi - drums. Their four track debut EP 'The Seasons' was released back in 2016 and they are represented here by 'Rain', a slow moving, atmospherically charged slice of postpunk steeped voraciously in wide scoped reverberations with subtle hints of soothing post-rock. The album closes out with an alternate take of 'Ripples' by Modena-based psychgazers 'Rev Rev Rev'. For those of you new to the sounds of 'Rev Rev Rev' they combine the well worn sonic structures of shoegaze with expansive modern psych sections that veer off very, very slowly to the edge of doom, and back again. Their sonic palette uses fuzz in all its colours, from bright trebles to muddy, abrasive darkness and this in turn allows them to paint relevant sounding sonic soundscapes that do not disappoint. Quite simply, 'Rev Rev Rev' are one of the most important bands to have ever come out of the modern day underground Italogaze scene and I'm so happy to see them represented here on this release.
We usually steer clear of various artist compilations here at Primal Music simply because more often than not they are full of self-serving cover versions, misrepresented music genres or are just monumentally dull in quality. But every now and again something sublime comes out of the ether that we simply have to comment on. 'Chiaroscuro - Italogaze 2018' is a captivating celebration of a vibrant underground music scene filled with far seeing musicians & personalities who together have created something altogether magical. In my opinion, this compilation is one of the most important Italogaze releases so far. It incapsulates a music scene on the rise and will surprise some of the older shoegaze fans whilst captivating all of the new ones.
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, postpunk & 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: Stella Diana
RELEASE DATE: 25th May 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Vipchoyo Sound Factory / Siete Señoritas Gritando
Neapolitan dream-gazers 'Stella Diana' have been one of our favourite Italogaze outfits since their sublime debut long player '41.61.93' dropped way back in February 2014. We've championed their every release since then, supported singles via our earliest radio shows and continuously spin music from them 24/7 over on our sister radio station - Primal Radio. You could say we've been hooked from the very early stages of their development. Formed back in 1998 by Dario Torre - vocals/guitar, Giacomo Salzano - bass guitar and later joined by Giulio Grasso on drums they wear a multitude of sonic influences on their sleeves. Steeped in shimmering sounds and referencing seminal shoegaze bands such as Ride and Lush, the dark-wave atmospherics of Bauhaus and Joy Division and even the new-wave structures reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and The Chameleons, 'Stella Diana' are a deeply entrancing listen. Their intricate song structures weave intertwining sonics filled with a kind of melancholic atmosphere that never ever disappoints. Now the band have returned with what is their best long player to date. Simply titled '57', this eleven track opus delivers a more mature sounding 'Stella Diana', firmly establishing them as one of the most important bands to ever have come out of the underground Italogaze scene. '57' has it's official release on May 25th 2018 via both the Italian based independent record label Vipchoyo Sound Factory and the Spanish based Siete Señoritas Gritando respectively. It's available to pre-order right now on various formats via stelladiana.bandcamp.com
57 by Stella Diana
With a swirl of twinkling guitars underpinned by effervescent harmonics and a rush of delayed reverberation the opening permutations of ‘Lurine Rae’ completely captivate the senses. Like a child opening gifts on Christmas morning I tentatively wait for that typical ‘Stella Diana’ sound, that intricate web of frequencies that I’ve come to know over their previous releases; and they do not disappoint here. There’s a heady rush of fuzzy instrumentation as the track blissfully erupts into a kaleidoscope of colour, unfurling it’s sullen sonic tendrils with each sonic progression, introducing busy percussion and that addictive pull of bass before the vocals arrive floating in a hazy air of atmospherics. There’s a specific art-form to writing and painting melody into songs. ‘Stella Diana’ have that majestic art form perfected and it is highlighted in abundance here. Up next, ‘Naos’ spins into existence trapped in a swirling droning haze as slow moving percussion keeps a steady tempo as humming bass frequencies bubble and arc below layers of hazy guitar that collectively envelope another impressive vocal performance courtesy of the masterful Mr.Dario Torre. There are refreshing hints of post-punk, shoegaze and even psych-gaze here that are invigorating and are sure to catch the ear of older fans of the band. My only criticism is that the track is too short, but maybe I’m just being selfish!
‘Iris’ jangles into the ether on repetitive lines of melodic guitar as it’s twinkling swells of synth dance and ebb through sticky clouds of reverb. A slow percussive swagger accompanies floating vocalisations out into the mix as throbbing bass frequencies hover in a kind of suspended sonic animation. I can hear some early post-punk connotations of The Cure echoed within it’s intricate guitar lines, some new wave leanings reminiscent of Echo And The Bunnymen and even some subtle Sisters Of Mercy vibes going on here also. ‘Iris’ builds ever so slowly and it gently leads it’s listeners into a peaceful break before exploding into a multitude of colours as we tumble through clouds of raging instrumentation and on into it’s blissful finale. It’s a definite album highlight for me. The psychedelic incantations of ‘Harrison Ford’ are amazing and there’s a definite psych-pop tinge to this track that will have you harking back to those early melodic tones of The Stone Roses or even the melodic intensity of The La’s. It’s big, it’s brash, catchy as hell and it’s as addictive as they come whilst ‘Ludwig’ has hints of sullen dark-wave undulating just below it’s atmospheric exterior. Repetitive bass lines hum on top of synth and slow moving percussion as swirling lines of guitar ebb & flow through layers of reverb, pushing ripples of frequential refractions out into the sonic ether with each twist as it’s haunting vocalisations precariously balance on each pulse of sound. Again ‘Stella Diana’ use catchy chord changes here, building the track step by step until eventually it erupts into it’s magnificent finale.
‘Elaine’ is deeply melancholic, with it’s sampled beginnings, intricate golden tinged lines of guitar, those intense swells of synth and that brilliant addition of saxophone, this track is absolutely immense and it harkens back to some of Stella Diana’s earlier releases. It morphs into something altogether magical and is another highlight for me on this release. ‘Do Androids ...’ tumbles into audible range on a rolling drum pattern as cascading lines of bass cling to distinctly spacey progressions of synth and those rambling lines of lead guitar. Stella Diana’s fascination with all thing sci-fi are pushed to the fore here and there are some mesmerising passages of hazy instrumentation to lose yourself in whilst the slow moving opening bars of ‘Mrs Darling’ are intensely captivating. Reverberating layers of guitar float into the ether as the subtle pull of bass and that slow moving percussive assault accompany haunting lines of vocal out into the unknown. Reminiscent at times to Ride’s - Dreams Burn Down, 'Mrs Darling' is simply breathtaking.
‘Der Sandmann’, the albums lead track, sounds like it could have appeared on the bands last album - ‘Nitcrosis’. Inherently melodic and intensely atmospheric, it meanders brilliantly on a repetitive bass line sporadically whipped by swells of synth, subtle pulses of percussion and that ever present sting of lead guitar as Dario Torre’s yearning vocalisations swirl through clouds of atmospheric reverberations with relative ease. ‘Der Sandmann’ is absolutely sublime and it leads us effortlessly into the albums penultimate piece. ‘Lost Children’ shimmers on waves of cascading bass frequencies as slow moving percussion bellows just below the mix allowing beautifully intense progressions of guitar to cushion haunting vocalisations as they push through surging waves of golden hued production before disappearing from view completely and we fade out on the ever present repetitive hum of bass whilst the albums's outro entitled 'Caves' is a squally synth led slice of cinematic ambience and a wonderful closing piece on what is another spellbinding album by one of the best bands to ever have come out of the Italian underground music scene.
‘Stella Diana’ have a unique talent of not only writing catchy, melodically sound and instantly enjoyable songs but they also have a knack for pulling some of their various musical influences together, morphing them, twisting them and meshing them into something altogether new sounding. And just when you think you have their sound pinned down they change it up and confuse you all over again. With each of their album releases this band have continued to impress. Where some of the well known bands within this worldwide underground scene have fallen short as of late, 'Stella Diana' continue to fly the flag for the never waning Italogaze movement. In closing, ’57’ is absolutley immense and has instantly highlighted itself as my favourite release of 2018 so far.
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.