ARTIST: Is Bliss
RELEASE: Velvet Dreams
RELEASE DATE: October 21st 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Club AC30
The brilliant London based independent record label 'Club AC30' have been nurturing some fantastic worldwide artists from the psych/gaze/electronic & dream-pop genres for quite some time now. Their list of rostered artists has brought us some serious heavy hitters such as 'Flyying Colours, Pinkshiunyultrablast and Ringo Deathstarr' to name just a few. Now they've unleashed a veritable sonic triumph is the guise of the debut EP entitled 'Velvet Dreams' by Portsmouth based trio 'Is Bliss'. This band are causing quiet a stir right now within the underground fraternity with their no nonsense, full on, psych induced reverberations! They are made up of Jimmy Stuart - vox/guitar, Dean Edwards - bass & Sam Speakman - drums and they have already graced the stage with the likes of Wolf Alice, Telescopes, Nine Black Alps, Mark Gardener and Robin Guthrie. The vinyl edition of 'Velvet Dreams' (limited to 300) has already sold out over on the record labels website store.clubac30.com so if you missed out on this immense debut EP, then you will just have to take our word for it! It is absolutely magnificent.
The EP opens up with 'Morning Sun', a beautifully effervescent track full of esoteric sound waves and translucent sonic frequencies. Driving percussion and throbbing bass lines hold court as those impressive guitar lines weave effortlessly in and out of haunting vocal progression's courtesy of Jimmy Stuart. 'Morning Sun' surges forward on wave after wave of brilliant reverberation, reminiscent at times to early Verve or Creation Records era Telescopes. Up next, the immense 'Realise' enters into earshot on a steadying drum pattern coupled with a melodious baseline and another impressive lead guitar progression. It explodes stunningly into a cacophony of beautiful noise as it's chorus parts take flight and soar into the ether, all the while circumnavigating that brilliant vocal and those massive walls of guitars just to lead us on merry dance until we're dumped out the other side like a geek at school disco. 'Realise' is absolutely Immense and not for the faint hearted.
'Truth' growls into existence on punctuating bass frequencies and luscious guitar squall before unleashing a huge wall of instrumentation that is just about big enough to carry those 'angry young man' vocal lines! The guitars wail and scream brilliantly as this track launches itself skywards, dragging every single fucking listener with it as the torturous screams of Jimmy Stuart echo into forever. A triumphant track and possibly my favourite on this entire EP, 'Truth' is a sonic call to arms for a society in ruins. The EP's penultimate piece entitled 'Ocean Blue' swirls into the ether on an instrumental drone as the drum track winds up and pulses out a metronomic beat, coupled with the underlying swing of tabla, shakers & tambourine hits all enveloped around Stuart's impressive vocalisations. The collective result puts a kind of swirling hypnotic hue on proceedings as those eastern esoteric vibes undulate and meld with cascading sitar, throbbing bass frequencies and those psychedelically intense guitars.
The EP's closing piece is a psych induced monster coming in at eight minutes plus. 'Lure' has a menacing drone creeping down it's central spine as the instrumentation builds and lurches forward on it's pre-destined course. Addictive bass lines and almost prog rock like guitars swim effortlessly in a sea of reverberation as those wailing vocals ride a slow processional drum pattern, meandering deftly and without hindrance. 'Lure' begins to gain momentum now and we're thrown headlong into a maelstrom of effortless instrumentation and immense sonic abandonment with it's pounding drums and screaming lead guitar lines echoing into a raging finale.
If the underground music fraternity are looking for a champion to nail their colours to, they've found it in these five tracks by the brilliant 'Is Bliss' ...... This is music!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish based electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Great Black Night
RELEASE: Lift Those Hands
RELEASE DATE: 4th October 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Back in 2015 we championed a band who had created a wonderfully melancholic three track release called 'The Smoke Is Rising'. Back then we heard a plethora of beautifully entrancing sounds lifted from a shed full of music genres including shoegaze, alt-rock, post-punk and dream-pop emanating from every single note that was played by this impressive Michigan based collective of artists. 'Great Black Night' push sonic buttons that not many bands can do in this modern day overly saturated underground music scene. The band are made up of Steve D - guitar & vocals, Matthew Eastman - drums & piano, Angel Hayden - vocals, Anne LaGrand - cello, Patrick Schaafsma - violin and Andy Stob - bass and their latest six track masterpiece entitled 'Lift Those Hands' has completely floored us all over again.
Lift Those Hands by great black night
'Lift Those Hands' opens up with the sonically sublime 'Do What You Were Born To Do'. Impressive fuzzed out guitars underscored by steadying percussion, throbbing bass frequencies and impressive hooks create an incredible bedrock that holds up a stunning duel vocal attack. 'Do What You Were Born To Do' floats effortlessly on a wave of reverberation as it meanders through its chosen sonic course. Up next, 'Stalker' open with a traditionally sounding post-punk bass line thats brilliantly intertwined with that (always impressive) 'Great Black Night' string section. We’re then introduced to a wall of reverb laden guitars, thundering drums & throbbing basslines caressing another brilliant vocal arrangement. Track three floats into the musical arena on soaring lead guitar lines and hi-hat heavy percussion. It's 'Pixies' esq baseline holds court as Steve D unleashes a vocal line that even 'Echo And The Bunnymen' would be proud of. 'Whisper' is absolutely stunning from start to finish.
'Spit You Out' drones into earshot on a melody driven baseline that builds intensely circumnavigated by a undulating lead guitar progression. Vocally reminiscent at times to early 'Verve' crossed musically with 90's rockers 'Pearl Jam', 'Spit You Out' grabs you from the off and deftly spins you around in circles before unleashing a blistering wall of reverberation that seems to compliment that duel vocal immensely. The EP's penultimate piece is a joyous affair filled with expertly exercised musicianship. The EP's self-titled track menacingly undulates on a lazy drum pattern coupled with the constant throb of bass frequencies and a totally immersive duel vocal that sucks you into the track and focuses its attention on only you the listener, regardless of whats going on around it. It's seriously stunning and worthy of your ears. The EP's closing track entitled 'We're All Beautiful' is a sonic call to arms. Driving instrumentation and those totally recognisable vocal tones introduces you to just what 'Great Black Night' can unload musically. Totally explosive and immensely impressive, 'Great Black Night' can do absolutely nothing wrong.
'Lift Those Hands' is available to buy/download right now from gbnlovesyou.bandcamp.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RELEASE: Existence Is Futile
RELEASE DATE: 16th June 2016
Nestled deep within the Irish Republic’s rugged northwestern periphery and held fast in a belief that sonic experimentation across many different musical genre’s is the only formula needed to express artistic freedom in todays overly diluted and increasingly crass home grown independent music scene, resides one of the best modern day experimental psych-gazing collectives to ever have graced this fair isle, led by the charismatic & multi-lingual Robert Mulhern and a rag tag bunch of instrumental geniuses. ‘Tuath’ mesmerised the musically saturated underground back in March 2015 with their intensely addictive & deeply experimental debut EP ‘An Taobh Tuath(Ail)’ closely followed by their immense spaced out single ‘Amhairc Thart Ort Fein’ in September of the same year. Now the band have returned with a blistering four track EP entitled ‘Existence Is Futile’, penned in for digital release on the 16th June 2016 and is absolutely jam packed full of experimental dreamscapes that skip from serine psych-rock to blissfully dreamy shoegaze and on into expressive jazz fusion coupled with swirling hypnotic progressive rhythms.
Existence is futile by Tuath
Tuath’s broad musical foundations are brought to fore on the EP’s self-titled opening track and we’re soon introduced to a swirling trip hop inspired percussive swagger thats inherently intertwined with massive swathes of reverb, purposefully unleashed to hold a protective sheen around those hazy vocal lines before the brilliantly hypnotic guitar progression takes hold and carries the entire track into its shimmering finality. A stunning opener! We’ve no time to take stock however as the glorious opening salvos of track two, ‘Who Do you Want Me To Be’ enters into audible range and introduces us to a swirling maelstrom of melodic guitars, brilliantly executed flurries of cascading Saxophone, steadying drum patterns and Mulhern’s instantly recognisable vocal. Possibly my favourite track on this entire release ‘Who Do You Want Me To Be’ is mesmerisingly good and worthy of a single release going forward! ‘Take Refuge’, the EP’s penultimate track screams into the sonic ether and unleashes reams of golden psychedelic ripples that pulsate into the musical atmosphere, all held fast to shimmering guitar progressions, pounding drums and another magnificent vocal display. Tuath’s creative wall of sound is exacerbated by flourishes of expressive saxophone swirls that seem to mimic the guitar progressions – like for like, building layer after layer of melodic sound waves until we’re left with one big immovable sonic force. Deliciously addictive, if you ask me, and a track that sends out a big bold statement of intent to the entire Irish psych-gazing fraternity!
Dark, creeping guitar squall coupled with a throbbing melodic bass line ushers in the EP’s closing piece, the menacingly good ‘Poll’. This track undulates like a venomous snake on the hunt, winding its way along a sandy psych induced wasteland as those tempestuous guitars build exponentially through its verse progressions and explode into the chorus parts thus unleashing a cacophony of smooth sax progressions, pounding drums and swirling reverb drenched guitars! There are subtle hints of 70’s progressive krautrock, late 80’s trash metal, space-rock and 90’s alt-rock circumnavigating the overriding psychedelic maelstrom as ‘Poll’ moves through its sonic gears with mesmerising aplomb. ‘Poll’ is sublime and a stunning bookend to a blistering EP from a band who continue to amaze!
Recommended Listening …….
ARTIST: Bloodhounds On My Trail
RELEASE: Haunted Isles
RELEASE DATE: 18th November 2016
RECORD COMPANY: Moon Sounds Records
There’s a new found focus on narrative on the new Bloodhounds On My Trail EP (or should that be mini-album?), 'Haunted Isle'. The Melbourne-based behemoths have tapped into a story-telling tradition and married it with the huge, dreamlike soundscapes that they’ve established such a strong reputation for. Building on the sonic structures of last year’s 'Escape II', this feels like a more rounded creation, softer and warmer in places. Combined with the lyrical themes, it somehow imbues the record with a sense that maybe all isn’t lost, and that’s a welcome thought as we approach the end of this bleak year.
Haunted Isles by Bloodhounds On My Trail
It doesn’t seem as though it’ll start off that way with the opening track 'Gallows'. Despite the name though, this is a beautiful swell of a song and immerses us in the effervescing waters of 'Haunted Isle'. The gentle giant 'Over The Wall', is a richly textured piece, huge and fluid. The Loop’s hypnotic harmonies have light bouncing off every layer. The shimmering sound of 'Sink' has a few Cure-like signals in there. Places Like This’s huge chorus is a wave of relief and release. Dare I feel a little hope? 'Words Like Weapons' seems like the most appropriately titled tune of 2016, but if it is bitter, it hides it well under swathes of beautiful noise.
'Bloodhounds On My Trail' had hoped to make it to the UK earlier this year, but it wasn’t to be. Maybe 2017 will see them make it to this Haunted Isle?
The 'Haunted Isle EP' is available to buy/download right now from: moonsoundsrecords.bandcamp.com
In her time, Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr has attended raves and rock clubs. She enjoys pedals, pizza and spy dramas. Sarah also plays guitar in Edinburgh-based noisemakers Wozniak and is co-founder of Morningside Young Team who put on gigs and put out records for discerning audiences who enjoy fuzz and confusion.
RELEASE: Nothing Seems Real
RELEASE DATE: October 30th 2016
Los Angeles based heavy shoegaze four piece 'Leaf' have unleashed what is (in my opinion) one of the best releases to date this year in the guise of their stunning debut EP entitled 'Nothing Seems Real'. Their music is paradoxically linked back to everything good that came out of the early 90's shoegaze scene with pivotal artists such as 'Swervedriver, The Verve, MBV & Ride' being bandied about as references to their collective sound. The band are made up of members of The Gimmicks, Crystal Antlers & The Orphans and 'Nothing Seems Real' contains both of the bands previous two singles, the brilliant 'Outside' and the mesmerising 'Wait Until'.
Nothing Seems Real by LEAF
In a cyclonic maelstrom of reverberation the opening salvo’s of ‘Wait Until’ instantly grab this listener by the ears and swings him nonchalantly around the room. The combination of soaring angry guitars, explosive drums and the unwavering throb of bass frequencies lure you into a blistering cacophony of luscious noise and ultimately pander to your every sonic need, but it’s the highly addictive vocals that conjure up a plethora of influential bands from this music genre, both past and present, thus adding a hue of invincibility to the collective greatness of ‘Leaf’ that I haven’t been able to tag on any other band for some considerable time. Up next, ‘Her Way’, blissfully jangles into earshot held firmly to an underlying wave of instrumental drone and hazy reverb. The immensely melancholic vocal lines gracefully lift you up and sweep you along with them until you are led into a turbulent drum pattern coupled with cascading bass lines & driving guitars until you are eventually deposited into a reverb strewn wasteland that’s filled with dying frequencies and unwavering guitar squall. ‘Her Way’ is utterly immense from start to finish. A triumphant sonic masterpiece.
Up next, ‘Outside’ is filled with so many influential sounds that it’s difficult to keep focused on the track or it’s magnificent instrumentation. I’m hearing ‘Loop, Spacemen 3, Stone Roses, Spiritualized, The Warlocks & Swervedriver’ to name but a few, coursing through it’s veins as it deftly works through it’s highly addictive sonic gears. I’m not messing when I these guys mean business. They’ve come out of left field as far as I’m concerned and I have to give major props to Dean ‘shoegaze’ Bromley for pointing me in their direction. The EP’s closing piece entitled ‘Say Goodbye’ is packed full of catchy hooks and heaps of sublime melody. From it’s rolling drum patterns to it’s cascading bass lines, through effortless gliding guitar progressions and on into it’s totally absorbing vocals, ‘Say Goodbye’ is gloriously addictive and a fitting ending to an absolutely immense EP.
'Nothing Seems Real' is available to buy/download right now from: leaflosangeles.bandcamp.com and you really should have it in your collection.
ARTIST: Dræm Girl
RELEASE: You Can't Go Back
RELEASE DATE: 2nd November 2016
Florida based noisy grunge/gaze trio ‘Dræm Girl’ have unleashed a blistering three track EP entitled ‘You Cant Go Back’ via their bandcamp page. The EP was released on November 2nd 2016 and it follows on from their previous explosive release entitled ‘Remember’ back in June of this year. The band are made up of Vincent Medina - vocals/guitars, Jared Hanlon - bass & Nicolas Remy - drums and what they collectively create musically is a tremulous whirlwind of noisy, grungy fuzz that’s permeated with swathes of melodious reverberation and brilliantly cohesive vocal lines. ‘You Can’t Go Back’ is available to buy/download right now from: dræmgirl.bandcamp.com
You Can't Go Back by Dræm Girl
The EP opens up with ‘Blackbird’, a growling ball of resonating guitars, steadying drums patterns and brilliantly addictive bass lines. The vocals are immense as they cut through the squally instrumental attack with ease. Up next, ‘Shallow’ enters the sonic arena on an angry guitar line and another surreal vocal performance. It’s bass lines skip lazily in and out of that skittish drum pattern as we menacingly meander through walls of fuzzy reverberation and grunge tinged brilliance.
The EP’s closing piece is swirling maelstrom of high-hat heavy percussion and raging guitar squall. The melancholic vocals sit precariously atop a pulsing wall of reverberating instrumentation as ‘Mouth Breather’ weaves in and out of old-school grunge and screaming alternative rock with aplomb. 'You Can't Go back' is highly recommended and brilliantly addictive.
Del Chaney has spent the last four years not only fronting popular experimental Irish Electronic duo Analogue Wave but also dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk, post rock & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion. His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has hepled him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
ARTIST: Coconut Cluster
RELEASE: Brighter Day
RELEASE DATE: 25th September 2016
Generally when I get a post-rock submission into the blog these days the first thing that I tend to look for are surrealistic or atmospheric soundscapes with expansive swathes of reverb and repetitive patterns of minimalistic instrumentation. At least thats what I have been brought up associating the post-rock genre to be. Music that you can transfer into a movie soundtrack with the flick of a switch and in doing so you end up being brought on an immense sonic journey. Paris based post-rock/indie duo of Matthieu Connon & Gaël Maffre aka ‘Coconut Cluster’ released their debut five track EP entitled ‘Brighter Day’ to the masses on the 25th September 2016, and if you can get over the band name, have actually released something rather special. A melding of post-rock, shoegaze and electronica with indie and alt-rock tendencies that still have those spine trembling atmospheric moments but with a distinctly modern edge. ‘Brighter Day’ is available to buy/download right now from: coconutcluster.bandcamp.com
Brighter Day by Coconut Cluster
‘When We Burn’ pulsates on a wave of synth and swirling guitars as sequenced percussion builds feverishly behind walls of impressive production. The vocals arrive in a haze of atmosphere that builds menacingly through the verse parts and explodes brilliantly into the chorus progressions. The use of undulating synth swells and repetitive guitars lines add depth to proceedings and I cant help but hear sounds reminiscent of our good friends ‘In Violet’ peppered throughout. It’s a wonderful opening salvo. Up next, ‘The Terrifying’ rattles and shakes on a slow percussive pattern as sampled vocalisations and intensely delicious instrumentation creeps and weaves a magical kind of sonic spell. The vocal lines intertwine themselves in amongst the swirling cacophony of atmospheric noise as the track builds & drags itself into the musical ether on a wave of harmonious sounds and massive synth swells.
Track three, ‘The Mysterious’ explodes into the arena circulating effortlessly within a maelstrom of synth, drums and growling guitars. The cascading lead guitar lines dance and spin a web of blissful, golden hued instrumentation as the track unfurls its tremulous tendrils before ‘Downstream’ pierces the musical ether, held fast within an distinctly atmospheric sonic bubble. ‘Coconut Cluster’ show us their definitively intelligent post-rock side with this beautiful track. It’s fragile melancholic vocals ride a wave of reverberation as droning instrumentation builds and shimmers into earshot. Sparse rumbling percussion pulses from far below before the introduction of dark repressive synth swells and swathes of noise inter the fray with one aim in mind; to deliciously lash the senses with glorious sonic aplomb. The EP’s closing track breathes and undulates brilliantly as its held deep within an air of 70’s sci-fi chic. Acoustic frequencies swirl as the track builds in momentum, consciously looping and arcing as it changes gear and pushes a wave of blissful synth filled repetitious noise out into the ether. ‘The Strange’ injects overdriven guitar squall into the mix, shattering the surreal calmness of before and instilling an unnerving dark & haunting edge into its final moments. An absolutely stunning finale to brilliantly executed debut EP.
ARTIST: Pastel Coast
RELEASE: Sense EP
RELEASE DATE: 17th October 2016
Plain and simple, straight and true, Sense by the French based dream-pop project Pastel Coast is a neat and enthralling 5/5 EP. When I saw the projects genre to be that of dream-pop, I sighed and wondered whether this would be any different; different to the mass amounts of the genre that are poured out into the public sphere from musicians who think they are truly unique in some various way. Is it different? I’m not sure. Because I started to think as I listened to it; what makes dream-pop good? What makes it an enjoyable and a favourable listening experience? The answer, I started to think, is that if it evokes some sort of emotional response; some kind of ‘connection’ (if you want to get fancy) then it must be of better quality than others. And while I feel that Sense is definitely an original EP, filled with unique and refreshing songs and music, I believe it to be the nostalgic, propounded elements of Pastel Coast's musical and lyrical content that truly makes it a step above the others.
Sense opens with the ideal characteristic sound of the whole EP; the hush roll of waves on a shoreline and the gentle plucking of dream pop tone guitars. This song, ‘Nightfire’, showcases the projects musical landscape and favourite tools for creating soothing, relaxing and dreamy pop music. ‘Nightfire’ centres itself silently around the gentle beat of a drum machine at the back of the mix. Guitars sound light and fluffy; perhaps like the clouds that Pastel Coast are trying to emulate through their music. The sound is drenched in reverb enough so that the vocals and the instruments mix together without being totally audible all the time; which fits well in the music. Altogether I feel the song sounds synthetic; but synthetic in almost a genius way… As though these characteristics do nothing but good for the music. What follows, however, is the best track on the EP. ‘Lifes’ sees Pastel Coast use a more shoegaze texture; they connect this back with the ingredients used at the start of the EP; such as drum machines, heavy reverb, distant but entrancing vocals and simple yet appropriate bass lines. The project also add another gem into the mix; as ‘Lifes’ is where the vocals truly shine. The mesmerizingly beautiful chorus sees the vocals reach high to accompany the guitars in a truly brilliant passage of music. This tight mixture of sound also sees Pastel Coast at their most proffer as the music begins to reek (in a good way) of nostalgia.
‘Synthetic Love’ follows with its lengthy and more pronounced musical structure. The song opens with clear vocals, a steady drum beat and some basic backing instrumentation. It develops, however, over the course of the song, to include a neat synth and heavy, pounding drum machine passage of music. The track reaches its artistic heights with a winding, disco like breakdown in the middle of the song; after which the band slowly plaster things back into one cohesive image at the end of the song. Another truly beautiful and genuinely fantastic song is the aptly titled ‘Don’t Gaze Your Shoes’. By far the most shoegaze Pastel Coast ever broach on Sense, the song appears and projects itself in a much heavier way than others with reverb drenched guitars, more elusive vocals and a slower tempo that could be likened more to gazing at ones shoes than dream pop-ing. The song almost acts as the musical representation of swimming as it soothes; gentle, yet always deep and more often than not layered sounds paddle over the top of others.
Literally everything about Sense EP connects with what I referred to as ‘nostalgia’ in the aforementioned paragraphs. The artist image on the Internet is a colourful photo of somebody walking in the ocean with their guitar; the sky is blue, the water is dark and the whole picture looks like some sort of beautiful oil painting. The EP cover art displays a neatly blended colour pattern, light and full of colours associated with the beach, the ocean and I suppose… The coast? Even the band’s name links in with this dream pop nostalgia beauty, aesthetic. Of course, however, it is the music that links everything together tightly; presenting Sense EP in a neat, good-looking package. The production is almost bordering on lo-fi, which one generally does not associate with shoegaze or dream pop. However the project somehow push this very lo-fi like production quality to the front which somehow adds another gentle element to the mixing on the album. Reverb is heavy, as are the echoed programmed drums and the undercurrent of shoegaze like synths and soundscapes. Thankfully, again, the band use this to their advantage.
The beauty of this EP is immense. So much so at some points I felt like I was listening to Sense while standing on a cove or beach somewhere, ankle deep in the dark sand. And ultimately I feel like that’s why you should listen to this EP; it is a creature of mesmerizing brilliance and attraction, all the while being something you feel has walked you back through the past and placed you somewhere under the sun. Pastel Coast present this image and connect it together through the avenues of production, performance and sound.
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on the Australian heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.
ARTIST: Curelight Wounds
RELEASE: Wearing The Strings EP
RELEASE DATE: November 1st 2016
Brooklyn based noisy lo-fi aficionados ‘Curelight Wounds’ unleash a monumental brand new four track EP to the masses entitled ‘Wearing The Strings’ on November 1st 2016. The EP brings with it a mixed bag of influential sounds that includes surging shoegaze, driving post punk and a splattering of lo-fi frequencies that collectively are guaranteed to stir the deepest of melancholic feelings from the most introverted amongst the underground gazing fraternity.
‘Wearing The Strings’ opens up with its title track, gloriously held within a turbulent maelstrom of angry noise and driving melodious bass frequencies. ‘Wearing The Strings’ weaves and soars effortlessly through layers of screaming feedback and pounding drums as its vocals swim through a deep dark sea of lo-fi brilliance. Up next, (the very punk like) ‘Sail It Away’ is awash in reverberation as its brilliant bass line undulates between the soaring guitars and the pounding drums whilst all the while being straddled by a repetitious vocal progression. ‘Sail It Away’ is absolutely magnificent and probably my favourite track on this entire release.
The EP’s penultimate track is a work of art. ‘Salted Hour’ drives headlong into the sonic ether on a skittish percussive pattern brilliantly underscored by weaving post-punk inspired bass frequencies and a raging cacophony of thunderous reverberation. Again, the lo-fi vocals cut an unwavering wedge through proceedings as the swirling accompanying guitars perform whammy bar theatrics as they unleash a wave of beautiful noise. The final track on this impressive release is ‘All In Red’. A melodious affair filled with snaking bass lines and addictive lead guitar progressions that weave in and out of that sublime vocal take with ease. Reminiscent at times to early ‘Cure’ or Boston’s own ‘Swirlies’, ‘All In Red’ is a fitting ending to a bloody marvellous EP.
RELEASE: Wide Shot EP
RELEASE DATE: 16th September 2016
Post-rock is almost always at its best when it is subtle, delicate, free-form and bordering on ambient music. It should also be noted that other styles are fantastic, but I feel post-rock and ambient music to be kind of next door neighbours. And so when they invite each other over for a barbeque, beautiful and majestic soundscapes and musical textures are made together; harmoniously, slight but somehow always so clever that it remains interesting. On 'Wide Shot', an EP full of such sounds, French based post-rock outfit Tölva deliver refreshing and earnestly beautiful post-rock/ambient songs that are spiced up by a more progressive sound than your normal instrumental outfit. Wide Shot lands beautifully between post-rock art music and the heavier and louder post-metal genre, offering a neat cross breed of genres and sounds.
Wide Shot by Tölva
'Wide Shot' opens with ‘Poveglia’, which uses fade in to a wild degree before introducing the dense yet fine instrumentation on the track. Much like subtle undercurrents of Berlin School of Electronic Music, the band use a light soundscape to introduce the first plucking of a guitar with bright sounds stationed behind and the neat introduction of the bass guitar. By the time the drums enter the mix, a beautiful yet simple guitar chord progression brings the music together. On ‘Poveglia’ the drums tie everything together in one package, allowing tiny blemishes of ambient guitar textures to sneak into the ear space of the listener. ‘Renton’ follows with a much more progressive rock/post-metal sound, built again around the steady yet full percussion of the drums. The guitars sound much heavier, as does the bass guitar, but even over the crunch of prog-instrumentation there is the rhythmic guitar playing that echoes the bands post-rock core. At around the four minute mark the band leans back toward a more ambient sound and then in a way, step-by-step, they crescendo back to the fuller, heavier sound of the beginning of the song.
‘Puzzle’ begins as an interlude of sorts; soundscapes float while tiny bells are plucked in the background of the mix. The trance-like guitars on ‘Puzzle’ allow Wide Shot to sound much like the soundtrack to a wintery, French or Icelandic film score. The EP’s title track ‘Wide Shot’ seeps in with a very distant fade in (much the same as opener ‘Poveglia’) but introduces a more ambient style sound before breaking into a post-metal wave of energy. ‘Wide Shot’ is by far the most epic track on the EP; soaring guitars and melodic soundscapes all conjoin to form a tight and heavier sound. At around the half way point however, the band slide back into their textured, subtle and beautiful form of a more quiet sound. This time, however, the undercurrents of metal run rampart through the slower and quieter parts of the track. The outro, which begins just past the half way point, connects every trick the band have pulled over the course of the EP and throws it at the listener in a fantastic, vast and satisfying way.
Tölva weave enough magic on Wide Shot to make the listener wish it was an entire album; and that’s pretty much one of the only flaws with this EP… The songs on the EP, while lengthy, seem to set up a wider scope for more potential material that could lead into an album that would showcase a fuller and more structural element of the band. For example, the beautiful and engaging interlude type track ‘Puzzle’ seems as if it’s asking to be noticed more. Similarly the first track ‘Poveglia’ seems like an album intro, with its heavy and fading instrumentation, but feels tight and frustrated in the context of the EP. Also while those who enjoy post-rock, progressive rock, ambient music and different types of heavy instrumental music will find this tremendously enjoyable, some listeners may find it too basic or simple for complete appreciation and praise. But, for those willing, this EP is a brilliant, simple and subtle listen. Each track stands on its own comfortably (even the interlude type track of ‘Puzzle’) and reinforces the bands skill and talent throughout. The performances and mixing are solid, fantastic and engaging; the production is clean enough to be appreciated by post-rock fans and heavy enough to be loved by metal listeners alike. Even the album art is impressive, and links back into the core stylistic elements of post-rock, ambient, textured and dense music. It’s fun and full; enjoyable for its production, performances and sound.
'Wide Shot' is available to buy/download right now from tolvaband.bandcamp.com