ARTIST: Lunar Grave
RELEASE: The Sunstruck Forest
RELEASE DATE: 5th January 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz Records / Sky Lantern Records
Portland's 'Lunar Grave' have undergone some personnel changes since their inception back in 2010, releasing various outings on home grown cassette tapes, CDr's and digitally in that time building up to this debut seven track vinyl release. Their sound centres around driving krautrock, deliciously infused with free flowing transcendent psych and hypnotic grooves that collectively create something akin to an out of body experience in sonic form. It was officially released back on the 5th January 2018 via the good folks over at Cardinal Fuzz Records and Sky Lantern Records respectively with editions still available on various formats through cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com and skylanternrecords.bandcamp.com
The Sunstruck Forest by Lunar Grave
Bouncing bass signatures accompanied by a huge percussive assault announces the arrival of 'Piper In The Woods', the opening salvo on this impressive collection of tracks. The drum and bass assault continues for a time before 'Piper In The Woods' opens up into a full on assault on the senses. Soaring lead guitar meanders in and out of that solid drum & humming bass line combo leading us on a metronomic dance to the tracks finale. Up next, 'JJ-180' slows proceedings down a tad as a swirling concoction of soothing bass frequencies and luscious reverb stick to slow moving percussion and the lull of immense guitar sounds, continuously moving through a trance like state whilst 'Collapsed Horizon' is an impressive live jam that shudders and shakes through repetitious drum tracks, throbbing bass lines and resonating lead guitar. The sonic tendrils of 'Slow Death' unfurl, reach out and wrap themselves around the inner psyche as repetitious guitars swim and move through hypnotic reverberation buffered by slow moving bass frequencies and the slow march of percussion. 'Slow Death' is infectious. It lures you in with it's soothing sonic repetitions, carefully rocking you back and forth before gracefully implanting you deep in it's inner core. It's a triumphant track and possibly my favourite on the entire release.
'Kykeon' builds from the off as meticulous layering of guitars meander into audible range strapped to an almost motorik percussive swagger and the pull of bass notes, swaying back and forth like a pendulum deftly instilling hypnotically charged psychedelic impressions with every twist and turn. The entire track moves as one singular being, a sonic murmuration of sorts spilling technicolour sound-waves at a whim. 'Kykeon' is sublime and another highlight here. We take a quick sojourn as the fifty seconds of 'The Mold' spills it's guts before we're whooshed into the albums closing piece. Coming in at a whopping eleven minutes plus, '2-3-74' isn't for the faint of heart. Woozy instrumentation hugs a monolithic bass signature as lead guitars wrap themselves around a slow moving drum pattern, looping and arcing in and out of catchy bass progressions, drum fills and yards of stunning reverberation. It's intensely hypnotic, spiritual even as it builds and builds into a raging cacophony of psychedelic noise that floats out into the sonic ether and on into a marvellous finale. It's a fitting ending to a wonderful album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.
by Primal Music
ARTIST: Melt Dunes
RELEASE: Flesh EP
RELEASE DATE: 16th March 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Strong Island Records
Portsmouth based psych aficionados 'Melt Dunes' create a heady brew of dark and doom laden, acid blotched psych permeated at times with sullen krautrock tendencies that collectively creep into the inner psyche to completely blow our fucking minds. With only two singles released to date on both Strong Island Recordings and Fuzz Club respectively, the quintet have penned in the release date for their stunning debut EP brilliantly titled ‘Flesh’ for the 16th March 2018 through 'Strong Island Recordings' with pre-orders available right now on various formats via strongislandrecordings.bandcamp.com
Flesh EP by Melt Dunes
The 'Flesh' EP opens up with 'Whats Your Name?', a burgeoning slab of psychedelic enchantment filled to the brim with swirling electronics, deep penetrating bass lines, rumbling percussion and dizzying guitars. It builds like a steam train, echoing those early psychedelic explorers before unleashing a mind-bending cacophony of sound-waves that swirl around those menacing vocalisations with ease. It's lead guitar lines whip resonating frequencies at will as they fizz and hiss alongside those eerily enticing tambourine shakes and intertwining at times with those absolutely immense bass lines that seem to dance and sway with every single percussive hit. 'Whats Your Name?' is a stunning opening salvo. Up next, 'Flesh' bellows from deep below the mix as squally guitars and a bass heavy drones melds with swirling reverberations before opening up into a modern psych gem. Explosive drum tracks growl, pulling the throb of bass, the stab of synth, hypnotic guitars and those fucking immense vocal lines into audible range. Sullen lead guitar lines buffer for space in amongst the sonic melee as we surge along in metronomic time building monstrously with every twist and turn and tumbling headlong into that huge instrumental break. 'Flesh' is a triumph and a definite highlight for me on this release.
'Epicaricacy', the EP's penultimate track, bounces into the ether on a huge bass progression and strapped to a brooding krautrock swagger. Collectively whipped and cajoled by those reverberating lead guitars, it's sullen vocal lines meander in and out of the instrumentation leading the listener on a merry dance all the way into that darkly atmospheric instrumental break filled to the brim with swirling organ lines, woozy guitars and swaying drum tracks. Hypnotic, enchanting, downright scary and at times sonically reminiscent to those fantastic Athens based psychedelic travellers 'Holy Monitor', 'Epicaricacy' is one of those tracks that you will want to go back to again and again. The EP closes out with 'Grotesque'. Swirling organ lines accompany those immense bass progressions as a slow moving drum pattern rattles deep below the mix allowing the vocal lines to sit comfortably as lines of lead guitar undulate and move at will. Sporadic shakes of percussion join in with the fun was we're led on a merry dance through passages of psych, neo-psych and heavy alternative touches all the way to tracks end. It's a blistering closing piece to what is a decent EP.
RELEASE DATE: 16th February 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club
Taking their name from a live Spacemen 3 album entitled 'Dreamweapon: An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music' released back in 1990, Porto's 'Dreamweapon' have the sonic know how to back up their collective sound. Like their contemporaries, 'Dreamweapon' use a tightly woven experimental edge as a dominating musical force to carefully create magnificent soundscapes deftly tumbling through electronically themed krautrock, oscillating proto-punk and modern psych with a collective end product that will simply blow your mind. Made up of 10,000 Russos bassist Andre Couto, João Campos Costa and Edgar Moreira, they emerged in 2009 and have since gone on to release one EP, a self-titled debut album and a splattering of singles. Now the band have emerged with their four track sophomore release entitled 'SOL' and have enlisted the brilliant 'Fuzz Club Records' to bring this album to the ears of the world. Officially released on the 16th February 2018, 'SOL' is available to pre-order on various formats right now via fuzz club.com
SOL by Dreamweapon
Swirling menacingly in a darkly atmospheric and all consuming instrumental drone the opening salvos of ‘Mashinne’ instantaneously instil an overriding sense of foreboding as the slow meticulous tempo begins it’s repetitive march into the sonic unknown. Hazy reverberations fizz and move in and out of throbbing bass signatures and the twinkle of electronics as subtle lines of melodic guitar bounce and weave effervescent incantations that meld effortlessly with resonating frequencies to create a wall of hypnotic sound that is both captivating and scary all at once. Shadowy sound-waves float like ghosts in and out of the mix at various times creating light and shade and adding depth to the piece as we’re pulled through cascading synth lines, ghostly vocalisations and the sequenced pulse of surreal production techniques. ‘Mashinne’ is a fascinating opening salvo and a definite highlight on this release.
‘Blauekirshe’ opens up held fast in a kind of eastern esoteric haze as squally guitars scratch and pull through waves of reverb and shamanic shakers hover over droning swells of synth and rolling drum patterns. Bouncing bass lines keep hypnotic time as intense atmosphere undulates throughout injecting distant voices and surging dub like stabs of percussion. This track is lusciously addictive and at times spiritual in it’s approach. It’s reptilian movement demands attention whilst the constant pitter patter of resonating frequencies swirl and ebb effortlessly dipped in an acid blotched haze. Up next, ‘Qram’ enters audible range tumbling through calming waves filled with ringing bells and chiming alarms. At fourteen minutes plus, Qram’s peaceful beginnings are short lived as resonating instrumental drones build from deep below the mix accompanied by the surge of percussion and the rattle of reverberating cymbal noise. Spiralling instrumentation intertwined with sticky reverb pulls the throb of bass and uncompromising production values out into the ether as we tumble headlong into a mesmerising wall of shamanic krautrock. ‘Qram’ is immersive, hypnotically brilliant and another highlight on this release for me.
The album closes out with ‘Monte da Virgem’, a track that has also appeared on Fuzz Club’s latest compilation, the brilliant ‘Reverb Conspiracy Vol.5’. This track is a bass driven sonic monolith that surges through layers of driving percussion, pulsing guitars, surging instrumental drones and the heady pull of sequenced synths. Monte da Virgem’s repetitiveness is what makes it so bloody addictive. At times reminiscent of Throw Down Bones or Föllakzoid in it’s kraut like stylings, Monte da Virgem is a masterful ending to a totally immersive album.
ARTIST: The Final Age
RELEASE: The Final Age
RELEASE DATE: 9th February 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz / Sunrise Ocean Bender
Improvisational project 'The Final Age' is the brain child of Bristol-based drummer Jesse Webb. Originally conceived as an accompaniment to an imagined film focusing on themes of loss and isolation, Webb enlisted the help of guitarist Paul Allen (The Heads, Anthroprophh), saxophonist Dave McLean (Gnod), vocalist Annette Berlin (Big Joan), trumpeter Pete Judge & violinist Agathe Max (Kuro) among others to create something altogether mesmerising. Swimming in a sonic melting pot filled to the brim with various levels of psychedelic enchantment, howling vocals and experimental percussion that establishes connections between psych, proto-punk, jazz and heavy rock 'The Final Age' is a collection of tracks that cannot be defined as standing in one clear musical genre. It is an album of experimentation, of finding new ideas and new sonic stylings and crafting them into something magical. The album gets it's official release on 9th February 2018 via Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sunrise Ocean Bender (USA) respectively and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com & sunriseoceanbender.bigcartel.com
The Final Age by Cardinal Fuzz Shop
The album leads track begins swirling in a huge instrumental drone. 'The Final Age' pulls deep penetrating bass notes into the mix building gracefully by introducing subtle synth swells, strings and hazy atmospherics to create a massive wall of blissful noise. This is progressively experimental, spiritually infectious and at times hypnotic as you spiral away into a cyclonic filled landscape. Up next, 'Trust Fund Death Camp Moan' is a mind-bending thrill ride through pulses of synth, repetitive fusion styled drumming, tremulous guitars and resonating frequencies deftly tied to huge reverbs, sampled vocalisations and effervescent delays whilst the jazz sounding 'Second Rule' is absolutely huge in scope. Penetrating percussion rumbles exponentially as squally electronics fizz and ebb in close proximity pulling sporadic swells of trumpet and resonating bass frequencies into the mix adding a sullen atmosphere to the overall proceedings. Changes in tempo and addition of alternate drum fills momentarily break the hypnotic spell before we're thrown back in headfirst into dub like trumpet stabs and throb of bass noise. 'Second Rule' is superbly captivating and a definite highlight on the release. '96 Rules' continues the percussive trend of the previous track although gone are the stabs of trumpet to be replaced by noisy guitar progressions and lines of spoken word. Sparkling repetitive keyboard progressions cascade just below the mix, melding brilliantly with those dub like bass progressions thus drawing the ear to them as all around explodes into a cacophony of resonating noise. '96 Layers' is a fascinating piece of music. It's as if Mark E Smith's & The Fall had recorded fusion jazz record high on enlightening psychedelics. Simply mesmerising.
'Past Minus Future' pulses atmospherically on a bedrock of immense percussion as it's fizzing electronics and swirling drones circumnavigate in close proximity pulling fuzzy vocal samples and senses pummelling production with them into the melee whilst upon next, 'A Certain Breed' is bloody immense. Slow moving percussion instils a menacing air to proceedings as the pull of violin and those swirling drones meld to create the perfect cradle for those magnificent vocalisations. This track is allowed to breathe and meander effortlessly through layers of reverb and stunning atmosphere. Throbbing bass progressions add dept to the track as we glide away on waves of psychedelic abandonment and fall headlong into that eastern esoteric ending. 'I Fall' unfurls it's sonic tendrils and dives headlong into a brooding mass of noise and vocal samples before heavy percussion and atmospheric drones pull saxophone and deep penetrating bass frequencies out into the ether. It is five minutes plus of animalistic, senses pummelling experimental psych that takes no prisoners whilst 'Mephadrone' does exactly as it says on the tin. Leaning more into proto-punk this track has movie soundtrack material written all over it. It's pulsating instrumentation cuts a deep wedge into the sonic ether as a driving percussive assault ferries rumbling bass progressions and swirling synths through layers of atmospheric reverberations and sequenced electronics pulse & bleep just below the mix. The albums penultimate piece comes inn the guise of 'There Will Be Waste'. Swirling vocalisations accompanied by the toll of church bells, sporadic percussive hits, noisy layers of synth and throbbing bass amble into audible range, rising and falling through deep passages of psych and deeply spiritual experimentalism. 'The Final Age' closes out with 'Punching A Hole', a mesmerising piece of heavy psych tumbling through explosive drum tracks, soaring lead lines and throbbing bass progressions as spoken word rages from beneath a heady cloud of atmospheric reverberation. Its a masterful track and a fitting ending to a mesmerising album.
'The Final Age' as a standalone album is one that will take repetitive listens before it begins to sink into the inner psyche. With some mesmerising passages of experimental instrumentation and a percussive assault that at times seems unbelievable, this album is a welcome addition to any true modern psych fans music collection.
ARTIST: Dead Sea Apes
RELEASE DATE: February 9th 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender
Manchester based experimental psych aficionado's 'Dead Sea Apes' have returned with a brand new sonic compendium entitled 'Recondite', a collection of tracks recorded for various compilations, off-the-cuff jams, dub remixes and covers of Kraftwerk, Harmonia and Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence. The band have been carving out their own rather special niche in a scene that strives on it's core principles of expansive and consciousness-altering guitar, bass and drum based compositions. 'Dead Sea Apes' have never easily fitted into a 'psychedelic scene' as such like so many of their contemporaries but have instead taken a different path to sonic enlightenment by experimenting with dub, electronic sequencing and mind altering reverberations that both thrill and hypnotise all at once. Those of you new the sounds of 'Dead Sea Apes' will find this brand new compendium of tracks absolutely fascinating as it perfectly explores every facet of their collective sound, from their influences to their unique talent of merging various genres to create one hell of a lysergic tinged trip. 'Recondite' has it's official release on February 9th 2018 with pre-orders available on various formats from Cardinal Fuzz Records (UK) & Sunrise Ocean Bender Records (USA) respectively.
Dead Sea Apes - Recondite by Cardinal Fuzz Shop
The absorbing opening salvos of ‘Tentacles (version)’, a track that originally appeared on ‘Dead Sea Apes’ last album - ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ are taught and frequented with swirling drones, glitchy dub lined scratches and sequenced electronics. Spoken word courtesy of artist and author ‘Adam Stone’ float into earshot accompanied by the rumblings of deep dub lined bass notes, warbling stabs of guitar and synth as heady clouds of machine gun delay and sticky reverb fill the ether with intense atmospherics. This take is longer than the original version of ‘Tentacles’ but it’s a highly infectious mix of psych and dub with this listener marvelling at the melding of it’s dystopian vocalisations and the aforementioned hypnotically charged accompanying instrumentation. Up next ‘Coronal’ (originally appearing on a Cardinal Fuzz compilation entitled Stay Holy) tumbles into audible range on a swirling instrumental drone. Rolling percussion builds from below the mix and a subtle surge of eastern esoteric psych bubbles to the surface dragging noisy electronics and tempestuous production theatrics with them as shimmering guitars undulate and merge with repetitive lines of atmospheric synth. This track is deeply incantational, krautrock heavy and it rises and falls through huge cavernous sonic troughs before surging skywards on layers of wide scoped sonic reverberation.
‘Planet V’ undulates and moves in unison with big repetitive bass progressions riding pounding drum patterns and swirling drones as impressive lead lines whip the entire piece to within an inch of it’s life whilst ‘True Believers’, another alternate take, originally appeared on the brilliant Evil Hoodoo ‘For Nepal’ compilation, staggers into ear shot on a wave of sullen atmosphere. Slow moving percussion keeps a steady back beat, carefully carrying the throb of bass and subtle production theatrics before all hell breaks loose and we’re spinning wildly in a dark and oppressive slab of stunning space rock. This track builds slowly through staggered verse progressions and unleashes an explosive surge of sonic energy through catchy breathtaking progressional changes that are pinned to meandering lead lines that loop and arc throughout. It’s a masterpiece and a highlight for me on this release. Up next, ‘Land Of The Sun’ featuring 'Gabriel Minnikin' is a cover version, originally released by Canadian native Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence (Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger Service) and deftly undertaken here by Dead Sea Apes. Feedback laden opening bars build and merge with the swirl of cymbals and the pull of reverb before sporadic percussion and the throb of bass lure this listener into a melee of swirling instrumentation and resonating frequencies. It’s a white knuckle thrill ride, permeated at times with intense spoken words that are reminiscent to Iggy’s stint with UK based ‘Death In Vegas’ during the 90’s.
‘The Recognition’ is lifted from the brilliant ‘Stand With Standing Rock’ compilation from Sky Lantern Records and is another album highlight for me. It’s opening permutations are mesmerising as they snake alongside deep rumbling bass kicks separated by shimmering tambourine and deeply spiritual guitar progressions that build and build forever adding layers of intriguing combinations that culminate brilliantly into a magical murmuration of sound. Up next, ‘Universal Translator’ spins in a haze of tumbling synth as rumbling percussion rattles underneath closely followed by throbbing bass lines and swirling feedback that collectively builds into a pulsating sonic behemoth whilst ‘Lupine Wavelength’, originally released on the magnificent ‘Magnetic North’ split album from Drone Rock Records, spirals through massive layers of reverb as those steady drum patterns hold court deftly ferrying cascading bass signatures, fizzing synth and pull of lead guitar out into the sonic ether. ‘Dead Sea Apes’ inject yet another cover version into the compendium as ‘Rückstoss Gondoliére’, originally recorded by 'Kraftwerk' enters into audible range. Swirling drones accompanied by kosmische theatrics, swells of synth and luscious guitar progressions float and ebb through layers of atmospheric reverberation pulling sparse percussive hits and squally instrumentation with them before building into a slow moving slab of incantational psych. It’s mesmerising guitar progressions loop and arc effortlessly through throbbing bass frequencies and rumbling drum patterns. ‘Rückstoss Gondoliére’ is formidable in sonic stature and yet another tripped out highlight on this release.
The highly experimental ‘Rethreads’ pulses menacingly within it’s metronomic, almost motorik sounding skin, as noisy frequencies bend and pull through a kind of backwards cyclonic motion dragging angry feedback laden guitars and the throb of dub strewn bass frequencies with them through the whoosh of cymbal noise and deep dark atmospherics before we’re introduced to the albums closing piece, the absolutely sublime ‘Vamos Compańeros’, a cover version of the original track by ‘Harmonia 76’. This track originally appeared on yet another one of the many ‘The Blog That Celebrates Itself’ covers compilation entitled ‘Komische Musik’. It rattles and surges through layers of repetitious krautrock and fizzing electronics that are permeated at times with subtle fuzziness courtesy of sparse guitars and throbbing bass frequencies. ‘Vamos Compańeros’ is a monstrous sonic filled thrill ride and a fitting ending to a wonderful compendium of tracks
RELEASE: In A Stranger's Car
RELEASE DATE: 25th July 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Shoegaze is usually a genre that is defined by its sound. Or more accurately, its purity of sounds, of sound that creates pictures, that creates images, that forges soundscapes and that adds depth to the whole picture of a song. Think of how critics, how writers, describe the emotional landscpes of shoegaze; often they congratulate it on its richness and sculpting. All of this could be said, in a weird, backwards way, about 'In A Stranger's Car' by Barlow, a Pittsburgh based lo-fi/shoegaze/alt-rock band. When I mention the words backwards it is because In 'A Stranger's Car' is the opposing side of lushness; its dirty, lo-fi, recorded on tape sound brings forth a different kind of angle on Shoegaze. And that’s exactly why I thought, immediately after hearing the opener ‘Tirebiter’, this is something notable…. Perhaps very much so. I don’t hand out 5/5 all that often; it has to be something different, something original and (most importantly) something interesting… And I’m pretty sure this album ticks all those boxes. The band are made up of Ethan Oliva - guitars/vocals/drums/bass/keys/piano/tamborine, Andrew Yadeski - drums/guitars/bass, Jake Nowoczynski - bass & Mitch Delong - keys. 'In A Strangers Car' was originally self-released back in July 2017 and is now getting a rather special re-release treatment (on limited cassette format with added material that includes demos etc) through Crafted Sounds. You can get your hands on it right now on various formats via Crafted Sounds and Barlow respectfully.
In a Stranger's Car by Barlow
As previously mentioned, ‘Tirebiter’ opens proceedings, with its noisy lo-fi based dream rock sound. Voices are hushed and dirty, instruments are crunching and pushed to the front. Emotionally, the song brings more to the table than a lot of ‘normal’ shoegaze music does. One should also mention that ‘Tirebiter’ is a definite album highlight. The sense of atmosphere (in a lo-fi way) continues on the brilliant ‘You Have To See It’, which continues things in a similar way to the album opener. The much darker and stripped back ‘East Commons’ presents a stark and more experimental song structure than previous. The vocals are more present (although fuzzy), the occasional dissonant chord or off-key scream and the crescendo like second half makes the song another album highlight. ‘False Eye’ takes things much more upbeat, and is stylistically similar to the opener, the vocals are exceptionally distant, and beside dream-pop, the song sounds like a psychedelic type of soft rock? The shoegaze tone of the guitars and the intricate bass performance also ties things together in a more alternative light. The underlying experimental tone of previous songs comes to the forefront of ‘Accosted’, somehow mixing the dirty, out of time feedback in the background of the music and the bright, jangle pop of the song mix together beautifully.
‘The Messengers’ rags along at a steady punk rate, throwing around words under distorted guitar tones… The second half, however, is where the true gold lies. Going from the aforementioned punk tune, Barlow jump straight off a preverbal cliff as the song shifts into a bizarre, noise laden sound collage soundscape. ‘In His Attic’ may be the most pleasant song on the album; the enjoyable temperature of the jangle pop sound eases slowly through the song. But yet again the second half leaps into a bizarre experimental soundscape, bouncing around with fuzz and distortion for the listener. ‘Disarming Rebels’ takes things guitar-centric, creating a layered and enjoyable alternative/garage rock feel that fits neatly as a kind of interlude on the release. ‘Highway’ sounds similar to ‘Accosted’ but even more beautifully subtle; every instrument does their best to create a textured yet enjoyably simple sound for the listener. Simiarliy is the beautiful ‘Throwing Star’ in which three or so guitars meld together to create a neat interlude like song. ‘c.o.l’ sounds like some sort of 90’s garage rock song that could have gone big if the vocals weren’t so drowned out… But maybe that’s exactly why I find it so interesting. The moments in the song where the guitars and feedback wash over the song are truly beguiling; the emotional depth of this song is fantastic. Another brilliantly weird song is the outsider/freak folk, acoustic guitar lead ballad of ‘Go For It’ which sounds inspiring and introverted all at the same time. The all out punk/noise riot that is ‘Time Man’ eventually sequences into lo-fi guitar contemplation, as if Barlow have finally began to calm down. But this jaunt into placid guitar tunes jumps straight back into the noisy lo-fi rock into the songs second half. Brilliant.
'In a Strangers Car' is essentially a group of experimental, lo-fi snapshots of ideas, thoughts and structures for songs… Although in a normal context this would be a criticism, here it is in fact a massive positive. The imaginative experimentation of noise laden passages of music mixed with linear jangle and enjoyably bubblegum-ish pop music makes the album extremely original. Couple this with the bands desire to present everything in the grainy, lo-fi sound that it appears, and you have something that lands somewhere between shoegaze and experimental psych. The performances are rough, the textures are beauty, but there is something truly beautiful about this sound.
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.
ARTIST: The Citradels
RELEASE: God Bless
RELEASE DATE: 8th January 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Self-Released
Australian based experimental sound manipulators 'The Citradels' independently released their eight studio album brilliantly titled 'God Bless' back at the beginning of January 2018. Formed back in 2010 'The Citradels' traditionally created engagingly dynamic soundscapes filled with repetitive drones, fuzz and intense melody deftly underpinned with a subtle undercurrent of shoegaze but on this latest album the five piece have channelled the sonic mindset of both Brian Wilson and The Byrds with an added touch of west coast coolness for good measure whilst exploring themes of influence, religion and morality through characters from a small town gradually falling out of touch with its surrounds. 'God Bless' is a stunning listen and it directly showcases the metamorphosis of a band who are not afraid to experiment with music genres or atypical sounds. The album was officially released back on January 8th 2018 and is available to buy/download right now on various formats via thecitradels.bandcamp.com
God Bless by The Citradels
Exploding with a kaleidoscope of sound, the opening bars of 'Hill Out Of Town' are filled with blissed out psychedelic sounds as we take a sonic thrill ride through swirling guitars, bouncing percussion, throbbing bass frequencies and the twinkling whirl of hypnotic keys all lovingly enveloping brilliant layers of vocal. It's a blistering opening salvo indeed and it leads us into the heavenly sounds of track two, 'Holy Ghost', a deeply spiritual affair that floats atop of quivering church organ and repetitive tap dancing keyboard skills that deliciously circumnavigate those ethereally layered eerie vocalisations. It's a short lived piece ideally destined for the stage and imprinted with semi-gothic gregorian flair. Up next, 'God Bless' swims in summery vibes as driving percussion and repetitive organ lines hold court and spoken word is the order of the day whilst 'Believe And Receive' meanders gloriously through golden tinged sound waves and woozy production. Immense vocal lines meander in and out of catchy hook laden guitars, subtle synth swells and off beat drums and float effortlessly through the sonic ether and out into the cosmos.'Believe And Receive' is a triumphant track and definitely a highlight on the album for me.
'Roman Holiday' rattles skittishly as it spirals through incantational instrumentation. Rumbling percussion keeps an almost metronomic time as cascading bass lines undulate beneath swirling lines of organ and the pull of acoustic guitar. There's a slight prog-rock feel to those vocal tracks as they merge and arc into a singular sonic murmuration leading us to the tracks finale and on into 'GRC', a pulsing sonic behemoth tumbling through catchy hook laden guitar progressions, jangling percussion and the repetitive synth rumbling beneath the mix like a sugar rush. The opening salvo's of 'Post-war preschool' scream experimental krautrock with it's repetitive drum patterns, throbbing bass lines and a highly addictive synth line that swirls just under the mix allowing stabs of guitar and sequenced swells of instrumentation to wash over the listener. Off kilter percussive hits drag this track to another dimension though, as we lurch forward all of a sudden and dive headlong into a pool of cascading sonic delight filled with catchy hook laden progressions and colourful instrumentation all wrapped around that immense vocal performance. 'Post-war preschool' is THAT track! The one that appears on every great album, catching you off guard before dragging you with it on a journey of sonic discovery. It's a masterstroke and one that I will come back to again and again.
The mighty 'St.David' injects one minute plus of highly melodic, fast paced instrumentation into the psyche. Charging drums strapped to the meandering jangle of guitar and driving bass catapults those airy 'Byrds' like vocal tones into audible range as a delicious brass section tweaks this listeners attention followed by the rush of acoustic vibrations whilst 'Pictures Of Uncle Arthur' rattles and creaks on a jittering percussive bedrock as it's luscious layers of acoustic frequencies and the twang of resonating lead guitar swirl & float atop hovering bass lines and cascading organ swells. This track gets progressively hypnotic the further you get into it and I must admit, you do get carried away with it's incantational sounds. Ohh, and watch out for the brass section towards the end. It'll seriously blow your mind. 'Holy Water' takes a brief sojourn through agitating vocal harmonies and deep resonating gregorian chants as the ghost of 'Beach Boys' past and present arrives to float ethereally above layers of reverberation whilst the wavy opening bars of 'Milk And Honey' tickle the senses with it's swirling lines of synth and catchy guitar progressions. Meandering bass lines dip in and out of those steady drum patterns as another impressive vocal performance circulates through layers of shimmering reverb.
The albums penultimate piece entitled 'Sunday Best' appears with an addictive 60's psych swagger attached. It's synth lines skip and dance along with those pounding drums and bounce of bass frequencies as the whirl of wurlitzing sound-waves stick to those glorious vocal harmonies like glue. The occasional twang of heavy guitars add weight and atmosphere as we're swept along in a magical sonic haze before the albums closing piece unfurls and washes us all in it's wonderfully translucent light. 'Dawn Chorus' shimmers and floats atop a swirling cacophony of golden tinged sound waves, filled to the brim with stunning five part vocal harmonies, jangling guitar progressions and subtle percussion. Cascading bass lines hum and dance alongside melodic orchestral arrangements adding instant warmth to the ethereal ambience. It's a fantastic ending to a mammoth album, filled to the brim with sounds for everybody to enjoy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: syrup, go on
RELEASE: Joyful Hesitation
RELEASE DATE: January 1st 2018
A spoonful of sugar helps the shoegaze go down - that's the recipe for the success of syrup, go on's latest treat. 'Joyful Hesitation' is the Australian band's newest release. The four track EP has lots of sweet notes, that's for sure. There's some crunch too and plenty of fizzy energy so it's pretty satisfying all round. At the time of recording (2017) the band consisted of Kris Briese, Tom Briese, Liz Dick & Ken Kimura. 'Joyful Hesitation' was released back on January 1st 2018 and is available to buy/download right now via syrupgoon.bandcamp.com and the band have a couple of live dates coming up this weekend around the Gold Coast. Go check them out if you get the chance.
Joyful Hesitation EP by syrup, go on
'Mantaray' bounces open with bass, and barrels along brilliantly. The textures of phased guitars add just a hint of haze, intensifying the track's rolling melodies. Titular track 'Joyful Hesitation' packs a powerful chorus on the scale of, say, Mitski's Your Best American Girl. The verses are sad and spacious, but it's the howling guitars that almost make your heart burst.
There's a change of vocalist on 'Adore' which feels like it's on a trampoline. It's so spirited, shambly and superfun - a really strong song. Closing the EP is 'Waco', a cover of the Violent Soho song, which 'syrup, go on' have succesfully shoegazeified, bringing all their textures to the table. The effect on the chorus is especially impressive. 'Joyful Hesitation' is out right now via the bands Bandcamp page - syrupgoon.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.
ARTIST: Aural Air
RELEASE: The Torpor of Minds
RELEASE DATE: December 8th 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Little L Records
Dublin based 'Aural Air' is the moniker of dreamy lo-fi singer-songwriter Laura Rai. With a sound that conjures up far too many comparisons to mention, 'Aural Air' glides and glistens effortlessly on layers of woozy reverberations that ride sparse percussive hits used primarily to direct the listener onto those blissfully ethereal vocalisations and their accompanying wide scoped production. Laura's debut three track release entitled 'The Torpor of Minds' was unleashed back on December 8th 2017 via 'Little L Records' and features two previously released bonus tracks. You can get your hands on it right now to buy/download via auralair.bandcamp.com
The Torpor of Minds by Aural Air
The EP opens up rumbling magnificently on the thump of bass drum, the deep twang of bass notes and jangling hook heavy guitars. Oodles of reverberation swirl and eddy as addictive chord progressions envelope the entire piece and those swooning vocals meander into audible range. 'Serpents Speak' moves up a gear half way through, slowing at first before injecting some forceful tempo changes as the surge of heady production catches this listener off guard and we soar skywards, pinned fast to brilliantly executed vocal lines courtesy of Laura Rai and the hypnotic jangle of blissed out guitars. It's a brilliant opening salvo that leads us into track two - 'The Vanishing Dove', a lo-fi affair layered with immense guitars, cascading bass lines and probably the best vocal take on the entire EP. 'The Vanishing Dove' is one of those tracks that surprises you with every twist and turn. It rises and falls through pools of reverb, exploding at times into a kaleidoscope of sonic colour before fading out on waves of lead guitar progressions and the fading hiss of production.
The EP's next track is gloriously melodic. 'Medina's Wolves' unfurls it's fuzzy sonic tendrils and floats into the ether on subtle instrumental stabs and the hazy pull of reverb. It's hypnotic back beat rolls and moves brilliantly, dragging another impressive vocal take with it as the humming of bass frequencies melds with jangling guitars and fizzing lo-fi theatrics. Sonically sublime, 'Medina's Wolves' is stacked to the brim with an up front melodic confidence that is rarely heard in today's scene. As previously mentioned, 'The Torpor of Minds' closes out with two previously released tracks. 'The Heir of Indignation' showcases sublime vocals as a repetitive drum track holds a steady beat beneath quivering lines of guitar and deep booming bass notes. This track builds ever so slowly allowing the vocals time to breathe and meander in and out of the collective instrumentation whilst 'Edinburgh', the EP's closing track, shimmers dreamily on waves of reverb hued guitars, deep melancholic strings and sparse percussion all entered around that truly magnificent vocal track. It's a wonderful end point to a marvellously dreamy EP from a fellow Dubliner ... Bravo!
RELEASE DATE: 18th January 2018
RECORD COMPANY: Austin Town Hall Records
It's been a year or so since we last heard from Austin based dream-gaze quartet 'Blushing'. The band are made up of two husband and wife pairs, Christina Carmona - vocals/bass, Michelle Soto - guitar/vocals, Noe Carmona - guitar/keyboard/vocals & Jake Soto - drums and their dreamy ethereal tones first came to the fore back in January 2017 on their four track self-released debut EP 'Tether' and since then the band have gone from strength to strength by signing to 'Austin Town Hall Records' and now returning with their highly anticipated sophomore release. 'Weak' is a massive step forward in their overall development as a band. It's five luscious tracks are filled with dreamy shimmering soundscapes, precise layered musicianship and well crafted songs that are all enveloped by absolutely sublime vocalisations. The EP gets it's official release via Austin Town Hall Records on January 18th 2018 and is available to pre-order right now from both athrecords.bandcamp.com and weareblushing.bandcamp.com respectfully.
Weak by Blushing
'Weak' opens up with it's title track and we're soon swooning to it's beautifully intense opening vocals tethered to textured guitars drenched in swirling reverb. Subtle synth swells bubble up below the mix before the track explodes into a kaleidoscope of sonic colours as 'Blushing' unleash a blissed out sonic concoction of catchy guitars, humming bass and steadying percussion. Hook laden chorus progressions soar and glide effortlessly before we're pulled into a beautiful instrumental break that builds ever so slowly, gaining momentum with each progression until eventually exploding into a huge shoegaze tinged masterpiece. This is absolutely immense, a huge step forwards in sound and production and a fantastic opening salvo indeed. Up next, 'Hidden Places' unfurls it's sonic tendrils and instantly catches the ear with it's panned guitars and punchy drum pattern. Throbbing bass frequencies meld effortlessly with the strum of guitar as swirling reverberations intertwine with throughly addictive vocal lines. 'Hidden Places' is a glorious affair that surges into catchy chorus breaks filled with shimmering frequencies and glistening production values.
'Bliss' jangles into audible range quivering on a jangling guitar strum, drenched in delayed reverb. Synth lines sway and move angelically, alongside the deep penetrating hum of bass and a full sounding drum kit. Again, I'm mesmerised by those melodically beautiful vocal tones and the way they float and eddy atop of the collective instrumentation and those immense chord changes that seem catch this listeners breath and instantly pull you into every single note. 'Bliss' is a mesmerising track and definitely one of highlights on the entire release. Up next, 'Blushing' unleash the heaviest track on the album and probably their most 'shoegaze' orientated one too. 'Bound', the albums penultimate track, explodes into a melee of sonic waves as it moves a massive wave of sound before it, caused at first by the deep boom of bass accompanied by explosive percussion and driving guitars and quickly nullified by another impressive vocal performance that seems to calm proceedings down by ushering in some dreamier vibes. It moves slowly, carried throughout by jangling guitars and swooning percussion as cascading bass frequencies wash over everything. It's verse parts are sublime but it's the chorus progressions where things get very, very interesting. 'Bound' is a clear sign for me that 'Blushing' as a band have at last honed the skill of songwriting and are now on top of their game.
The album closes out hovering blissfully on the throb of heady bass frequencies and the swoosh of reverb tinged guitars. 'Love You Twice' is a luscious slice of melodic dream-pop dipped in exquisite reverberation and layered at times with sticky shoegaze finery. It's immensely addictive and filled to the brim with swirling instrumentation that will leave you floored. 'Love You Twice' is a fitting book-end to what is a marvellous sophomore release. Bravo 'Blushing'.