ARTIST: Close Encounter
RELEASE: First Light
RELEASE DATE:12th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Look Up Records
Smooth smooth smooth are the guitar tinkerings, strums and jazzy drums at the beginning of Seattle based dream-gaze band 'Close Encounter'. Their debut EP entitled 'First Light' is influenced and inspired by pysch-rock just as much as it is influenced and inspired by shoegaze, dream-pop and alt-rock. Across the EP, the band utilize the much more layed back and ‘soft-rock’ side of dream-pop and smooth trip-hop-esque soundscapes, equating to a relaxing and pleasant listening experience that is to often forfeited by other artists under the belief it tampers with ‘high artistry’. The band are made up of Bill Darksoft, Bobby Sydney, Cameron Lambert & Matt Conlen. 'First Light' is available to buy/download right now on various formats from closeencounterband.bandcamp.com
First Light by Close Encounter
'First Light' begins with ‘Lumina’, soft jazz-like drumming plays over the top of soothing guitar tinkering and the backing strum of another reverbed guitar. The vocals, when introduced, are as laidback as the music; creating a communal sense of freedom and loose-ness in the music. Altogether, it conjures into a beautiful and whimsically intelligent soft rock, dreamy ballad-ish tune… Only to be eclipsed by the track that follows it. That track is ‘Fade Away’ which instrumentally presents itself much more upbeat, and whose guitar passages are more weaving and involved than on ‘Lumina’. Lyrically, things seem as day-dreamy and soothing as ever, with a darker undertone of questioning the concept of wandering through things. It is too often easy for dream pop tracks to appear nostalgic and contemplative in their presentation of beauty and warmth, but 'Close Encounter' manages to capture that mood with a more interesting and engaging form of song writing. ‘See The Sun’ turns down the reverb and instead goes for a more alt-rock feel: while the drums pad away in the background, forming the structure of the song, a keyboard plays a fantastically catchy line of music before the band dive into a jangle pop inflused type of dream pop. Although there are exceptions, the lyrics on ‘See The Sun’ are somewhat weaker and sound more throw-away compared to on previous tracks. The second half of the track turns into more pysch-rock territory, maintaing the aforementioned upbeat feel.
Things stay as mellow ever on ‘Reappear’, an EP highlight complete with soaring vocals and melodic drumming. The song is also backed with what sounds like the ooze and breeze of a synthesizer, adding a whole other dimension to the track. If the previous tracks on First Light could be played at the beach while the sun set, ‘Reappear’ would be an applicable track to play on your way back from the beach; the cars roof recedes, the sun sets, hair flows; a kind of nostalgia-laced relief blows in the wind. ‘Tuff Time’ slows down things to a speed akin to the opener ‘Lumina’, drifting on the back of a neat bouncing cymbal performance by the drums and the distant strumminngs of the guitars. A small but extremely pleasurable solo sneaks its way into the song somehow as well. One of the only songs that sounds like a true album filler, or perhaps a B-Side kind of track, is the song ‘Halo’. While attempting to touch upon more slowed down psych elements explored previously on the EP, the band become background music in the most bland way, rendering the track less impressive than some of the other engaging yet relaxed gems on the EP. ‘Channels’ turns things more to an indie rock spectrum, and while crafting a nice and rhythmic tune, it sort of recedes into the background of the EP as a whole.
'First Light' has many beautiful and enjoyable qualities about it. And much in the same way as 'Pastel Coasts' music does, the thematic elements of deep and care-free yearning seem to loom around the bands music (in a good way.) There is an easy way to put it: this is beautiful music… And while the EPs second side becomes lacklustre at times in comparison to the first, it nevertheless shows a band that are well versed in crafting a tune, painting a picture and performing admirably together. These things are achieved swiftly through production, performance 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: A Thousand Hours
RELEASE DATE: 22nd July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Vesper Records
Alaskan based shoegaze/post-punk aficionado Red Collier aka 'A Thousand Hours' released his latest ten track sonic opus entitled 'Sleep' to the waiting public back on the 22nd July 2017. 'Sleep' is the highly anticipated follow up to January 2017's insanely good 'Endless Grey' and was mainly written and composed by Collier himself with the addition of Demi Haynes on a few tracks, backing vocals by Nadi Mack and additional arrangements, synths and drums by Saad Khan. The album was released via Vesper Records and is abvailable to buy/download right now from onethousandhours.bandcamp.com
Sleep by A Thousand Hours
The album's opening track begins very brightly indeed before quickly nosediving into a mix match of genres. ‘Shipwreck’ is an EMO filled slice of alt-rock, infused sporadically with dreamy garnishes of melodic instrumentation and very precise guitar work; sufficed to say that I can't get my head around bands covering all angles generically and it seems to be the in-thing with most bands in this scene nowadays, a tactic used not only to keep the same circle of inner scenesters happy but more often than not deployed for PR purposes to catch the ears of as many blogs, online radio fanboy podcasts and webzines as is feasibly possible. As opening tracks go however (and I have to be brutally honest here), ‘Shipwreck’ unfortunately doesn't float my boat one bit and reminds me of those god awful mind numbing naughties era bands like ‘Paramore’ or ‘Dashboard Confessional’ although it’s one saving grace is it’s powerful vocal track. Up next ‘Christine’ shimmers on waves of ethereal joy as ‘A Thousand Hours’ redeem themselves ten fold. This track glistens on beautifully intense frequencies as it’s tumbling dual vocal lines swirl beautifully in an effervescent hue. Trembling guitar progressions ebb and flow effortlessly on subtle lines of synth and sequenced percussion, resonating brilliantly through sticky clouds of reverb all the while accompanied by some stellar music production whilst 'A Stillness In The Moment' is a mesmerising snap shot of late 80’s ‘Cocteau Twins’ with it’s post-punk inspired percussive attack and those beautifully intense vocals intertwined with soaring synth swells and the twang of tremulous guitar. Simply breathtaking. ‘Bleach’ ambles into the ether on a simmering cloud of droning instrumentation and jangling reverb hued guitar progressions. Sporadic percussion adds a heavy atmosphere allowing that stunning wall of vocal tracks to penetrate the gloom and drench this listeners ears in glorious sonic joy. ‘Bleach’ is another triumph on an increasingly impressive collection of tracks.
Up next, ‘The Understudy’ is instrumentally reminiscent of those seminal early 90’s stalwarts ‘Cranes’ with it’s experimental piano stabs precariously positioned on soaring lines of synth and echoing reverberation. It’s vocal lines are subdued and melancholic, weighed down by sequenced percussion and it’s dark ambient atmosphere whilst ‘Sleep Of Angels’ screams of ‘Siouxie Sioux’ with it’s breathtaking vocalisations, the thrum of bass and the deep punch of percussion intertwined with cascading synth and those swirling guitars. ‘Clutch’ soars into audible range on hazy lines of synth used primarily to drive those impressive vocals. Sparse experimental percussion clunks and bangs under the mix like some unheard track lifted from the recording sessions of ‘Massive Attacks’ masterpiece ‘Mezzanine’ as those heavy lines of synth loop and arc through catchy hook laden instrumental progressions, collectively streamlined into an impressively dreamy ambient hued behemoth. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘It’s Rumoured’ is simply divine. Shimmering vocals absolutely drenched in reverb fizz through luscious synth progressions and jangling guitar signatures as those slow metronomic drum patterns keep a well grounded bedrock of frequencies churning underfoot. The addictive sequences of cascading keyboard keep this listener interested as they lead us to the tracks finale and on into a decent cover version of ‘Crushed’ by the fantastic ‘Cocteau Twins’. I'm not one for cover versions appearing on albums so I’ll let this one slide. You can make up your own mind on it though by listening to the album in full.
In closing, ‘Sleep’ will take a few listens before the penny drops and you realise just how good it actually is. It’s god awful beginnings eventually flower into a blossoming procession of impressive tracks that fit neatly into one another and leave a lasting imprint on the listener. Will it be in any ‘end of year’ lists? Only time will tell, but ‘A Thousand Hours’ have definitely placed themselves on the right path sonically. They just have to avoid those 90’s EMO comparisons!
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, post punk & modern psych rock from all over the globe & reviewing them for this blog - The Primal Music Blog. He is also a contributing writer for The Sound Of Confusion (Now On Hiatus). His other arm - Primal Radio - has gained considerable respect from bands and promoters alike since its conception in 2013 & has helped him in actively promoting a genre of music that he is passionate about. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, he is a keen Vinyl Collector, Tattoo Fan & all round good guy! He is a self confessed music freak & is never far away from a studio console or a turntable.
RELEASE: Sleep Cycle
RELEASE DATE: 21st July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Tunisian based shimmering dream-gaze duo 'Retrieval' unleashed their latest album entitled 'Sleep Cycle' to the masses back on the 21st July 2017 and as far as we're concerned this instantly catapulted them into the 'Best Of 2017' category in the process. Their previous incarnation stood firmly in indie rock territory but boy are we glad that they decided to step outside that generic melting pot and turn their attention to pastures new. Their collective sound now swirls effortlessly through hazy 90's era shoegaze but is definitely underscored with modern instrumentation & production techniques that lifts their sonic footprint to new heights. The band are made up of Omar Chouikha - vocals/guitar/drums/ synths & Tima Savchenko - vocals/guitar/bass/synths and 'Sleep Cycle' is available to buy/download right now via retrieval.bandcamp.com
Sleep Cycle by Retrieval
The albums opener bounds into the sonic arena in a rush of percussion and hazy reverberation. ‘Away’ soars through the ether on waves of turbulent guitar and throbbing bass frequencies, deftly circumnavigating impressive dual vocalisations. Up next, my favourite track, ‘Sleep Cycle’ screams into audible range with it’s soaring guitar signatures enveloping fragile vocalisations as it’s steady almost metronomic drum patterns keep everything strapped down. Intricate chord structures make way for catchy hook laden chorus changes allowing haunting vocal tracks to shimmer and undulate through layers of mesmerising production whilst ‘Calling’ floats effortlessly on a slow melodic frequency laden guitar progression accompanied by those stunning vocal tracks and an explosive percussive swagger. ‘Waves’ opening bars tremble on crisp acoustic frequencies before the track explodes into a melee of hazy instrumentation that is absolutely drenched in stunning reverb. Slow and ambling drum patterns guide this soundscape through meandering psychedelic impressions as it’s ghost like vocalisations float along in close proximity, rising and falling with every single chord change wrapped in luscious lines of lead guitar and the constant twang of acoustic vibrations.
‘Costal Life’ swirls into earshot on atmospheric samples, subtle fret noise and wavy instrumentation before ‘Bones’ erupts into a cloud of fuzzy splendour as it’s lumbering vocal tracks cut a v-shaped wedge into a massive wall of beautiful noise. Lead guitars wail as bass frequencies throb, collectively rocking on a bedrock of heady noise, synth and precision drum tracking. Up next, ‘In The Frame’ is a noisy modern day shoegazing beast with powerful guitars and post-metal like vocal tracks whilst ‘Shut Down’ loops and arcs through massive swathes of stunning reverb as it’s wispy vocalisations magically intertwine with bass frequencies, soaring lead guitar, bubbling synth swells and beautifully atmospheric production. The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘Luna’ is steeped in an ambient hue with subtle sonic reflections that swirl momentarily through layers of tumbling psychedelia before noisy guitars, plodding bass progressions and pounding hi-hat heavy percussion take over, dragging the track kicking and screaming into a melding of post-rock or post-metal with a dollop of soaring shoegaze for good measure. It’s all very confusing instrumentally but deeply satisfying all the same. The album closes out with ‘Lessons’, a droning malicious entity filled with noisy guitars and overfed pedal boards. Melodic vocal lines twist themselves around fuzz filled frequencies as hazy production swallows up any chord changes crazy enough to pop their head over the sonic parapet. Again there is a definite post-rock edge to this track as it undulates through the ether on an atmospheric and percussion-less voyage. A fitting end to a rather interesting album.
Corsets by Ask For Joy
Sublime Austin based dream-gaze aficionado Aaron Rossetto aka 'Ask For Joy' has unleashed a stunning new single entitled 'Corsets' lifted off his forthcoming five track EP 'A Blow And A Kiss' penned in for release on the 10th September 2017. For those of you who are new to his music, Aaron has an uncanny ability of creating musical standards that swim in lush, shimmering & dreamy reverb that wraps itself effortlessly around the exoskeleton of every single track that he writes, leaving every one of his listeners blown away with the final results. 'Corsets' is available to buy/download right now via askforjoy.bandcamp.com
'Corsets' unfurls it's sonic tendrils tumbling through layers of shimmering reverb as sparse percussion resonates through the swirl of guitar and the echo of a simplistic vocal line. There's a hint of post-punk bubbling under the surface of this dreamy track as it meanders and arc's brilliantly along a luscious predestined verse/chorus route before 'Ask For Joy' dismisses the haze and explodes into a blistering melting pot of shimmering instrumentation including the addition of a trumpet line that fits into this piece effortlessly. This track is impressive, the sonic experimentation on it is most definitely inspired ... roll on the full EP!
ARTIST: Crash City Saints
RELEASE: Are You Free?
RELEASE DATE: 11th August 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Saint Marie Records
From the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan (apparently it’s across from Milwaukee, over Lake Michigan) comes 'Crash City Saints' and the interestingly bold and grand concept album they have created, entitled 'Are You Free?'. Released via the ever interesting 'Saint Marie Records' (whose back catalogue includes the impressive SPC ECO, Bloody Knives and The History of Colour TV), 'Are You Free?' tells the story of a boys attempts to mature and bloom in a small town in the 90’s when shoegaze was dense and on rotation in the mainstream and underground of the American music scene. 'Crash City Saints' have obviously utilized said music from the time and adopted it into a mix of shoegaze and alt-rock to tell a story over the course of twelve tracks that hails the significance of influence while also celebrating the freedom of originality in the context of modern music. 'Are You Free?' was released back on the 11th August 2017 and is available right now to buy/download on various formats via saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com
Are You Free? by Crash City Saints
The album opens with ‘Ice Cream’ a nice little jolt of pop-based alternative rock that highlights the hushed MBV style vocalisations and strumming acoustic guitar. There are several fantastic moments, including the churning-downtrodden shoegaze riffs that are touched upon at around the one minute thirty mark, as well as a tasteful string instrument in the background of the music. ‘Spring Lines’ owes more to a soft kind of neo-grunge rather than shoegaze, but nevertheless showcases the instrumentation and weave in-out aesthetic of the guitars. As it is on much of the album, the drumming is tight and impressive; highlighted sufficiently and smoothly in the mix. ‘Weirdos Need Love To’ fits in well as a kind of interlude between the narrative structure of the main songs whilst 'Use Once Then Dispose’ is an absolute album highlight; the post-punk double tap snare and 90’s inspired guitars meld fanatically together to create a rock-inspired atmosphere; the vocals hum away, touching on lyrically much darker themes than have been explored previously on the album. That’s not to say they are not well written, actually it’s quite the opposite. ‘Spirit Photography’ is a smooth, aesthetically enjoyable take on what sounds like 90’s era Brit-pop, while also (eventually) smothering the track in Shoegaze based guitar freak-outs. A very enjoyable experimental track, ‘Spirit Photography’ sheds the skin of the previous songs pop elements; making way for emotive and warped guitar based-psych passages of song writing. I assume ‘Act 2’ is named as such because it brings forth another stage of story and narrative; either way, as a song it feels one of little narrative importance (lyrics are drowned out in a vocal effects) while the whole song takes an almost lo-fi quality (not complaining).
‘Dawn of A Bright New Nothing’ introduces a fantastic Barrett-esque piano line into the mix, making the song one of the most purely enjoyable on the album. Yes, that’s right, this reviewer has significantly enjoyed a song because it sounds, is mixed and feels nice and relaxed. ‘Annabella’ returns to a much more alternative rock sound, the chord progression of the bass and guitar highlighting a progressive rock influence that played an integral role in the development of shoegaze music back in the 90’s. Its outro, featuring a guitar solo over the vocal chant/hum ‘you don’t know my name’ is particularly satisfying. Another interlude follows before one of the longest tracks of the album ‘The Hour Of The Wolf’ opens with a sequencer based EDM style sound. Although this aforementioned beat grows tiring after a while, this doesn’t cease the track from growing into a heavy, loud and colourful collection of sounds and noise, backed by the thrashing of the drums. The outro guitar picking is especially amazing and very much in-context of the seven minute long song. The following dream-pop based ‘Harbour Lights’ remains a sonic (but almost as equally lengthy) contrast to the previous wild melding’s of ‘The Hour Of The Wolf’. In fact, ‘Harbour Lights’ is an album highlight: the guitar tones and overall atmosphere of the song congregate into a dream pop/shoegaze breath of fresh air after the previous songs noise and drenched soundscapes.
Releasing a concept album of any type is a big and daring leap. Will people be able to detail the story (if the concept is narrative)? Will the story get in the way of the music? What about the other way around? 'Crash City Saints' have previously stated there is a narrative kind of concept behind the album, and at times while listening to 'Are You Free?' I was lost as to what (if anything) was actually going on, but then I realized that its concept lies beyond the realm of just a narrative. Over the course of the album the band swiftly (and at times intellectually subtly) incorporate and throw influence and nods to the American music underground of the nineties. There's grunge, dreampop, alt-rock, dance and electronica, shoegaze and many more… This album is a musical exploration in concept rather than a boring ‘he does this, then she does that’ kind of structure that tends to drag down and drown many ‘concept’ albums. The song writing is strong, although at times relies too heavily on formulas used on previous songs, even if it is a kind of throwback. The mixing and production (done so by Elliott Frazier of Ringo Deathstarr) is of course a brilliant, but also (if you listen to a lot of it) a well-rounded and respectful throwback to the music of the 90’s. Listen for an interesting story (accompianed and helped along by interesting lyrics), great instrumentation and playing, and a reminder of the brilliant and nostalgic music of a few decades ago, achieved through production, mixing and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
RELEASE: Our Mother Was A Plant
RELEASE DATE: 22nd September 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Back in 2016 whilst writing reviews for 'The Sound Of Confusion', I came across a fantastic seven track self-titled debut album from Sicilian based sonic manipulator Gioele Valenti of Lay Llamas fame now recording under the moniker of 'JuJu'. Being a Lay Lamas fan myself, I immediately dived headlong into it's swirling lysergic sound waves which were more akin to a pulsating living organism drenched in swathes of rhythmic, almost ritualistic golden frequencies. Sonically, it was something that I'd never heard before and it quite simply blew me away. Fast forward twelve months; 'JuJu' has teamed up with one of the best underground independent record labels currently plying it's trade in this ever evolving scene, the immense 'Fuzz Club Records' and had just announced his sophomore release aptly titled 'Our Mother Was A Plant'. This time around Gioele Valenti dips his sonic tendrils into a plethora of genres that includes afrobeat, krautrock, glam, post-punk, art rock, shoegaze & drone and it also features guest appearances from 'Capra Informis', the masked djembe player of Swedish based psych aficionados 'Goat', making this album one of the most anticipated releases of 2017. It gets it's full release on the 22nd September and is available to pre-order right now on 180g vinyl via www.fuzzclub.com
Repetitious percussion accompanied by sporadic electronic sampling and the constant throb of skittish bass notes announce the arrival of track one, the brilliantly titled ‘Death By Beautiful Things’. Swirling reverberations pull luscious lead guitar lines into the mix as JuJu prepares to jump off the deep end and splash headlong into a pool of emotively experimental psych rock. The music drags this listener along with it tumbling freely into a droning synth laden soundscape filled with impressive kraut like percussive tendencies and mind numbing guitar progressions that seem to loop and arc effortlessly through swathes of psychedelic enchantment. At times ‘Death By Beautiful Things’ dips brilliantly in and out of ambient experimentalism leading you on a totally immersive sonic adventure. Up next, ‘In A Ghetto’ unfurls its sonic tendrils wavering menacingly on a sequenced drum loop that slowly adds a pensive kind of atmosphere with the addition of each musical layer. Hypnotic shakers rattle and shimmer as pulsing guitar progressions rise up from beneath a heady cloud of bass and reverb to envelope those mantra like vocalisations deftly undulating through JuJu’s subtle eastern esoteric leanings.
‘And Play A Game’ is refreshing as it bleeps and whirrs through sticky electronic vibes and repetitive percussion. It’s bass patterns are mesmerising and when accompanied by those addictive synth swells and it’s subtle lead licks, are totally unstoppable. Stunning vocal lines swirl throughout the mix as this track builds and builds into a surging psychedelically charged dance floor filler. It is absolutely magnificent. Up next, the insatiable ‘James Dean’ bounds into the ether on a wave of pounding drums, swirling guitars, haunting vocal lines and throbbing bass frequencies. It’s impressive organ lines intertwine brilliantly with soaring lead guitars and electronic percussion whilst the experimental pull of ‘I Got Your Soul’ is hard to escape. The sway of it’s funk like origins keep perfect time as the duel assault of bass and drums keep a firm hold on the earth allowing it’s mesmerising guitars to circumnavigate impressive vocalisations and soar out into the ether on reverberating sonic waves. ‘Patric’ begins life as a glitchy, atmospheric beast that trembles on yet another impressive bass progression. It’s haunting vocal lines undulate and merge effortlessly with raging guitars and stunning production to collectively create something altogether magical.
The albums penultimate piece entitled ‘What A Bad Day’ comes in at a whopping nine minutes plus and at no stage does it disappoint. This track enters audible range strapped to a metronomic drum pattern and the repetitive throb of angry bass. Atmospheric instrumental drones intertwine with fuzzy fret noise and resonating frequencies to circumnavigate it’s stunning vocals, as luscious synth swells bubble up from far below to drench the entire piece in shimmering reverb. There’s a hazy but ambient hue hanging over this track at times that tweaks this listeners attention as it meanders through layer after layer of psychedelic abandonment, twisting and turning through stunning musical passages filled with the occasional saxophone hook, colourful lead guitar progressions, electronic experimentalism and the ever present bark of dark bass frequencies. ‘Sunny Afternoon’ closes proceedings out and does exactly as it says on the tin. Shimmering guitar progressions and sparse percussion make way for fizzing electronics and the hum of bass as subtle synth swells pulse through the mix accompanied by electronic theatrics and the constant pull of simmering reverb. It’s a masterful ending to a totally entrancing sophomore album ...... bravo JuJu!
Goa/ Kiss Me by The Goa Express
UK based garage-psych five piece 'The Goa Express' have been making serious waves on the live scene with their tripped out brand of fuzzed up hypnotically charged psychedelia brilliantly underscored with a citric slice of angry punk rock and subtle blues connotations for good measure. Now the band have unleashed a brand news single entitled 'Goa/Kiss Me' on the ever reliable UK based independent record label 'Wrong Way Records'. The single was released back on the 11th August 2017 and is available to buy right now on various formats including a very limited double a sided sky blue 7" single, housed in a full colour sleeve via wrongwayrecords.bandcamp.com
'Goa' opens in a blur, wrapped up in a fast paced blast of garage-psych. Fuzzed out guitars swirl brilliantly in amongst lysergic synth swells and charging percussion that collectively circumnavigates an impressive vocal. There's a subtle hint of surf blues that surfaces thorough the layers of reverberation at different stages along the way adding a little slice of west coast finery to proceedings whilst 'Kiss Me' teeters precariously on a repetitive guitar progression and swirling organ sounds as shimmering tambourine and pounding drum patterns accompany an impressive dual vocal attack.
RECORD COMPANY: Label Obscura & Somewhere Cold
It's always a pleasure to feature new music from the fantastic Canadian based electronic dream-pop/shoegaze duo of Shauna McLarnon (vocals) & Alex kretov (multi-instrumentalist) aka Ummagma and I take any release from them as a sign that all is well within this burgeoning underground music scene. Never ones to shy away from challenging their musical boundaries, Ummagma continuously push the sonic bar higher and higher with every single one of their releases and this latest four track EP entitled 'LCD' is no different. It features three stunning remixes by two legendary musicians, the fantastic Dean Garcia (SPC ECO/Curve) and the masterful Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins fame, both with wide and varying musical styles but who both shine and buff, twist and reshape some of Ummgama's finest tracks into absolutely incredible soundscapes. The EP gets its full release through both 'Label Obscura (Cassette)' and 'Somewhere Cold Records (CD)' on the 22nd September 2017 with pre-orders available right now on various formats via ummagma.bandcamp.com
LCD by Ummagma
The EP opens up with ‘LCD’, a beautifully entrancing track with a vocal attack that is simply breathtaking. Both McLarnon and Kretov are back to their best with this deeply experimental eastern esoteric take on their usual electronic dream gaze fair. Punchy drum patterns hold court as surging synth, bouncing frequencies and fizzing electronics swirl effortlessly around a rather interesting vocal performance. Up next is the first of three remixes; ‘Dean Garcia (CURVE/SPC ECO)’ injects some hard hitting industrial sounds into ‘LCD’ turning it into a crawling electronic monolith with dark atmospheric undertones whilst ‘Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins)’ sprinkles some shimmering sonic stardust over the insatiably melodic ‘Lama’ (lifted off Ummagma’s debut album ‘Antigravity’) turning it into a bright and airy soundscape that seems to suit Shauna McLarnon’s vocal prowess immensely, offering them up in a whole new light.
The EP closes out with yet another ‘Dean Garcia (CURVE/SPC ECO)’ remix. This time he turns his attention to ‘Back To You’ (again lifted from Ummagma’s 2012 debut album ‘Antigravity’) and he doesn't disappoint. Fans of Massive Attack and Stereolab will love the wide expansive spaces and the huge swathes of reverb injected into this piece, deftly underscored by a hard hitting percussive swagger and airy dual vocalisations courtesy of Shauna McLarnon & Alex Kretov respectively.
Ultra Sound by Citrus Clouds
The fantastic Pheonix based desert-gaze trio of Stacie Huttleston, Erick Pineda and Angelica Pedrego aka 'Citrus Clouds' have returned with the stunning lead track from their forthcoming seven track EP 'Ultra Sound' penned in for release on the 22nd September 2017 via Custom Made Music. The track is called 'Life Happens' and you can buy/download it right now via citrusclouds.bandcamp.com
'Life Happens' trembles on a quivering bass signature before opening up into a swirling maelstrom of mind numbing reverberations held fast to a punchy percussive swagger and overlaid by majestic vocalisations. A repetitive lead guitar line races in and out of the collective instrumentation casting magical sonic spells throughout the ether. This track is throughly addictive! It's possibly their best release so far and that fact only bodes well for the forthcoming EP.
ARTIST: The Breaks
RELEASE DATE: 3rd July 2107
Manchester based alt-shoegaze outfit 'The Breaks' unleashed their debut four track EP entitled 'Misery' to the masses via bandcamp back on the 3rd July 2017. With various worldwide commentators to the scene mentioning them on social media we felt it was about time we dissected it for ourselves to see just how good it really is and being completely honest; we weren't disappointed! The band's collective sound is inherently shoegaze orientated although their are lovely passages of music throughout that effortlessly jump in and out of luscious dream-pop or edgy alternative rock. 'Misery' is available to buy/download right now via thebreaks.bandcamp.com
Misery by The Breaks
The EP's opener entitled 'Honey' sways brilliantly on hard hitting percussion before swerving into a shimmering wall of reverberating guitars, throbbing bass frequencies and the twinkling splash of cymbal crash. Beautifully melodic vocalisations intertwine with heavier surges of guitar as catchy chorus hooks take flight dragging this listener up and out into the sonic ether, making this track a stunning opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'I Need' explodes into earshot on a massive wall of angry instrumentation. It's distorted vocal lines spit venom as they trudge through layers of wavy guitars and screaming lead lines, collectively tip-toeing in and out of noisy alt-rock and hazy shoegaze with relative ease.
The slow metronomic percussive thud of 'Biscuit Factory' enters the sonic arena and introduces us to 'The Breaks' melodic dream-pop sensibilities. Jangling guitar progressions accompanied by cascading bass lines and subtle swells of reverb circumnavigate a stunning vocal performance as this track twists and turns through catchy hooks and shimmering production. The EP closes out with 'Misery', possibly the most alt-pop that this band get on the whole EP and to be honest I was getting a tad worried until things took a rather interesting turn after the first verse. Opening bars of acoustic guitar rattle and scrape through standard street busking fair before lurching into a warm & fuzzy chorus layered with explosive drum patterns, bouncing bass frequencies and shimmering guitars thus restoring the balance and turning this track into an impressive sonic finale on what is a bloody marvellous debut EP. It'll be very interesting to hear what comes next from these guys!