ARTIST: Vast Asteroid
RELEASE: Vast Asteroid
RELEASE DATE: 20th November 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
Roaringly loud, emotive dream pop, space gaze and shoegaze runs wild on the self-titled debut album from California based Vast Ateroid, a band made up of musicians from various seminal bands and pioneering genre-bending writers and artists. Vast Asteroid sound somewhere between the layered pop-rock style of bands like Ride and the more sonic free-form dream-pop sounds of bands like Best Coast. Altogether the album is an enjoyably laid back affair, using previous tricks and trades of shoegaze and dream-pop mixed with spaced out alternative rock, while also presenting a more laid back, guitar centric sound of shoegaze that stands on the opposite side of the fence to the heavy, loud reverb soaked art music of bands like MBV or Loveliescrushing. Their brand new self-titled eight track debut album gets it's full official release on November 20th 2017 and is available to pre-order right now via vastasteroid.bandcamp.com
VAST ASTEROID by VAST ASTEROID
‘Mincemeat’ offers a neat intro; slightly lowering in velocity and sonic layering than the other songs on the album, however, as an intro, it’s a fitting start to the album. ‘Sleep’ opens more of an alt-rock vein on the album, highlighting the bands neat blend of coastal-beach like tones and the shoegaze textures to their music. The vocals especially are significantly reminiscent of the kind of dream pop music that hazingly outlines nostalgic considerations of the past and catchy guitar riffs. ‘Drowning’ shows off another catchy and greatly enjoyable guitar riff, and sounds similar to the previous track both vocally and instrumentally. The break at just past the two minute mark also highlights a neat contrast in the full-colour of the music. ‘Vivid Dream’ drenches the music with heavier and denser guitar passages, making the general mood of the song somewhat darker than other tracks on the album. The outro, and especially lines like ‘we can hide outside of our favourite dream’ highlight the well written structures the songs take, and how pleasurable this is for the listener.
‘Encrypted’ adds a danceable post-punk beat and more pop based melody to the bands already established alt-rock sound. While it’s a neat listen and overall quite catchy, it is perhaps the only song on the album that sounds close to an album filler. ‘Poison Fang’, flips completely into near psych-rock territory, its hypnotised vocal performance and power pop-style chord progression crafts an entertaining blend of melodically satisfying sound whilst injecting comforting music and song. The middle (around 3 minute mark) features the greatest guitar performance on the entire album, soaring high into a beautiful meld of noise and different musical texturing: in the background a wall of noise type sound plays on and on… It could perhaps be the best song on the entire album. Then, after the sonic adventure that was ‘Posion Fang’, comes the over fifteen minute ‘Spacegaze’. It would somewhat of a long story to explain what happens over the fifteen minutes, so to save you some time I’ll just say this: it mostly does the trick. The second half especially, with its mix of intricately tinkering bells and background guitar fuzz and feedback, creates a droning and inventive soundscape of condensed and wavering sounds. Is it necessary? I couldn’t really tell you… But it is very cool.
Vast Asteroid's self-titled debut album is best digested less as a deep critical evaluation of shoegaze and dream pop and more as an enjoyable romp through well written and catchy songs. The band occasionally become distracted and somewhat lost with the music they play, leading the album (especially on songs like ‘Spacegaze’) to become occasionally lost and inconsistent. Besides those small facts, the album is steeped in a comforting wave of tight performances, nifty production and a full 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
Schism by On The Wane
Ukraine based 'On The Wane' create some serious noise that skips nonchalantly through various music genres comprising of shoegaze, new wave, dark wave and noise rock. The band have just announced a brand new ten track album entitled 'Schism' (the follow up to 2015's 'Sick') penned in for release on the 20th November 2017 and it's lead single, the absolutely mesmerising 'Human Race'. The band were formed back in 2014 and believe in everything 80’s & 90’s alternative, post-punk, shoegazing, new-wave, no-wave & noise-rock. They are made up of Anna Lyashok - drums/vocals, Daria Maksimova - bass/vocals, Eugene Voitov - guitars/synth & Eli Demyanenko - guitar and the ten track 'Schism' is available to pre-order right now via onthewane.bandcamp.com
'Human Race' jangles into earshot swirling through layers of deep atmospheric reverberation wrapped around a blistering guitar progression. Sequenced percussion holds a motorik beat underfoot as undulating instrumental drones bellow and move atop throbbing bass frequencies. There are echoes of hard hitting post-punk meandering through these new wave vibes that envelope intense vocalisations with stunning effect. It's explosive chorus passages inject subtle moments of noisy shoegaze making 'Human Race' an utterly addictive listen.
RELEASE DATE: 27th October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fuzz Club Records
Chilean outfit Vuelveteloca began life over a decade ago and have previously released four full studio albums on various independent labels. They are renowned for their incredible live shows and have shared the stage with some immense noise manipulators such as 'A Place To Bury Strangers, Dead Meadows, Spiritualized and Pond'. Their collective sound echoes through a rhythmic sonic concoction of driving psych, motorik krautrock and splattering's of space rock drenched in dark, heady and sometimes atmospheric stoner rock. To put it in layman's terms Vuelveteloca have that rare ability in today's scene to change it up by becoming sonic chameleons when needed. The band are made up of Tomas Olivos, Marcos De Iruarrizaga, Juan Gili and Mauricio Lacrampette and their fifth album entitled 'Sonora' gets it's full release on the 27th October 2017 via those ever reliable London based purveyors of all things lysergic 'Fuzz Club Records'. The album is available to pre-order right now on lovely deluxe or standard vinyl over at fuzz club.com
The heaving pull of reverberation stuck fast to a motorik percussive attack announces the arrival of ‘La Niebla’, the albums opening salvo. It’s throbbing bass frequencies arrive at break neck speed trapped in a haze of fuzz that bounces underfoot with the sway of lead guitar and those swirling vocalisations. This track meanders brilliantly as it builds through explosive chorus changes and passages of driving heavy psych laced with the repetitiveness of krautrock and alluring addictiveness of space rock. Up next, ‘Alta Montana’ bounds into the ether tumbling menacingly on a wave of pounding drums and deep resonating bass frequencies. Surging guitars add to the melee pulling an intriguing vocal line into the mix intertwining brilliantly with stinging lead lines and heavy atmosphere. The impressive instrumentation eventually morphs into a singular sonic behemoth, pulsing morse code like sound waves out into the ether. The repetitive thud of ‘Ataque Masivo’ tweaks this listeners attention as it pulsates through fuzzy bass frequencies and the throb of busy percussion. It builds ever so slowly with the arrival of those hazy vocal lines and subtle stabs of synth before exploding into a cacophony of sound that loops and arcs throughout, dragging a continuous chug of guitars with it as it brings us all on it’s magnificent lysergic hued sonic journey.
‘Carnaval’ gyrates and undulates into audible range stuck fast to a menacing but repetitive drum pattern accompanied by lines of blues orientated guitars, throbbing bass lines and addictive vocalisations. It pulsates and drives brilliantly as it carves out a sonic trough, morphing and manipulating sound with relative ease into one animalistic wave of angry spaced out noise whilst ‘L.A’ slows things down for a while to a crawling acid blotched psychedelic wave that washes shimmering frequencies over this listener as it envelopes golden tinged sounds, repetitive beats and reverberating fret noise. It pulls you in before exploding into an angry sonic behemoth that soars skywards wrapped in punishing lead lines and thunderous percussion. ‘Vuelveteloca’ merge the throbbing reverberations of ‘L.A’ with the spaced out vibes of ‘El Lado Frio’, extenuating the lysergic trip in the process by injecting some righteous space rock into proceedings. This track is as menacing as it is brilliant with fuzzy driving guitars, ear splitting reverb and the constant thud of immense percussion collectively circumnavigating those impressive vocal lines. There’s a subtle edge of garage psych underlining the opening bars of ‘Tormento’ that is utterly captivating. Explosive guitars, pounding percussion and the throb of overdriven bass acts as a kind of sonic conduit for those intriguing vocals that are permeated at times by piercing lead lines and intense atmosphere.
The album’s stunning penultimate piece arrives swirling in a high pitched instrumental drone. ‘Vuelveteloca’ unleash what is the best track on this album as far as I’m concerned as ‘Chepical’ unveils it’s kraut like credentials and streams into earshot riding a motorik percussive pattern, an totally addictive vocal line and unwavering guitar signatures. Soaring synths pulse in waves alongside catchy chord structures as a seemingly unmovable bass line orbits in close proximity to those explosive passages of percussion and chittering reverberation. ‘Chepical’ is one of those tracks that catches you off guard, spins you around the room and deposits you somewhere out the back end leaving you wondering what the fuck had just happened. Marvellous stuff indeed. The album closes out with it’s lead single. ‘Cientologia & Altiplano’ is a modern psych gem that builds and builds continuously in unison with a pounding drum track and driving instrumentation. Raging guitars swirl around humming bass lines that collectively stick to that motorik percussive pattern. It’s vocal lines arrive in a golden haze, strapped to a massive sonic surge. They rise and fall through sonic peaks and troughs before dropping into deep reverb filled caverns and soaring lysergic hued cloud structures with relatives ease. It’s a fitting end to a bloody marvellous album.
Del Chaney has spent the last five years dedicating his time to uncovering the best artists in the unsigned or small independent label based shoegaze, ethereal dream pop, 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.
Shutting Down by Tombstones In Their Eyes
L.A based sound manipulators 'Tombstones In Their Eyes' have returned with an immense new double A-Side single entitled 'Shutting Down' b/w 'Take Me Home' which follows on from their August 2017 release, the widely acclaimed five track 'Fear' EP. Stoner rock, neo-psych, subtle flavours of shoegaze and rolling slowcore melded with fluttering dark frequencies, intense melody and those totally addictive vocalisations of John Treanor make up the bands collective sonic melting pot and if you ask us, this latest double A-Sided single is their best release to date! It gets its full unleashing on November 17th 2017 and is available to pre-order right now via tombstonesintheireyes.bandcamp.com
'Shutting Down' floats and flutters on a heady wave of fuzzy guitars and throbbing bass frequencies that swirl effortlessly through tripped out psychedelic moments and unsurpassed melody with relative ease. It's a mellower accompaniment to the absolutely stunning 'Take Me Home' which explodes skywards from it's very first notes bleeding reverberation into the atmosphere as it stream across the sonic ether on a steady percussive pattern. Treanor's vocals are totally addictive and they ride a tempestuous wave of guitars and bass supplemented with oodles of reverb to stunning aplomb. This as far as we're concerned is a massive step forward from a band who are making serious waves in the underground scene right now!
ARTIST: Deer Park Ranger
RELEASE DATE: 17th august 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Fluttery Records
'Moderation' is the second EP by Oakland based post-rock/ambient project 'Deer Park Ranger'. It’s a neat little release that puts aside assumption and pretentious musicology while still being as interesting as a full length album. It's a warm and fuzzy six track that’s as enjoyable as it is simple, smart as it is showy. Across the track listing 'Deer Park Ranger' mixes a Radiohead-esque approach to electronic instrumentation and programming, while underpinning the sound with post-rock progressions that flesh the whole thing out in an audibly enjoyable way. While some may pertain it to be ‘slight’ or simply background music, I feel a comfort in 'Moderation' that seems to be somewhat absent from much music that comes around under the banner of post-rock… and it is both refreshing and absorbing for just those reasons. The album was officially released back on August 17th 2017 via the good people over at Fluttery Records and it is available to buy/download right now from both fluttery records.com and deer-park-ranger.bandcamp.com respectively.
Moderation by Deer Park Ranger
'Moderation' begins with ‘Shipwreck’ and a bellowing, rumbling wall-of-sound style strum that slowly introduces background guitar melding. Where many of the other songs on Moderation project a happier, more enjoyable and perhaps bright-minimalist sound, ‘Shipwreck’ opens things in a much more downtrodden way. Beautiful piano guides the song into its second half, while the beat of a drum and what sounds to be a synth play calmly in the background. This is melodic ambient music at its best. ‘Another World, Another Time’ delves more cinematically, albeit with the same stripped back sounds of ‘Shipwreck’. The inclusion of what sounds to be a layer of brass instrumentation also adds a deeper dimension to the sound and song as a whole: an EP highlight. Even the small interlude ‘Old City’ is an impressively simplistic track in terms of the EP, and functions as a well rounded song despite its length and standing on the EP.
‘Time And Distance’ is perhaps the most post-rock that Deer Park Ranger goes: the opening threads picking lines of guitar together to make fantastic soundscapes and ambient textures. The eventual guitar-based tricks that Deer Park Ranger use to build and conjure mood also come across beautifully, especially when contrasted with the backing piano. A shorter song (around the same length as ‘Old City’) utilizes a post-punk drum beat, skeletal but well layered guitars and piano to create another fantastic track that builds up before pandering off slowly and carefully. In terms of beauty: through texturing, colour and layers, there is no greater track on 'Moderation' than ‘Seeing All The Shelves’: it’s a crescendo of instruments and soundscapes into a mesmerizingly mini-epic sound. Again, the greatest element of this sound is the tinkering piano that guides along the other instruments with power and subtletly that makes it less of a slog than you’re average prog-rock song.
Usually when somebody releases a post-rock or progressive rock album, we all spend our time listening and then stepping back, having had enough of one giant slog through sound as it was. Funnily enough, I feel like when I finished listening to 'Moderation' that I only wanted more. Its been a while since I’ve listened to something so soothing yet simple, so smart yet so stripped back, and so comforting while being slightly challenging. The production, much like the mixing, is of a top quality standard and it a brilliant and relaxing accompaniment to the flow of the sound.
RELEASE: Molten Young Lovers
RELEASE DATE: 13th October 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Shelflife Records
The closest thing I can relate to Airiel's second album entitled 'Molten Young Lovers' is the 1980’s sound of shoegaze: which in its crawling faze was not just shoegaze but a neat mixture between dream pop, soul, synthpop and anything else you could fit in. 'Molten Young Lovers' is the kind of album that harkens to this older and more reminiscent sound while also adding flavours of current and modern day shoegaze scene. And just like the first rays of shoegaze that shone through in the 1980's, there is often a downtrodden and somewhat reflective quality to the album that makes it all the more rewarding to listen to and explore. 'Molten Young Lovers' was released back on the 13th October 2017 via the good folks over at 'Shelflife Records' with the album available to buy/download on various formats from both shelflife.com and airiel.bandcamp.com
Molten Young Lovers by Airiel
‘This Is Permanent’ opens with a drum machine heavy programmed beat that leads into a full scale shoegaze-led guitar progression. The soundscapes and layering of sound that flexes from the guitar adds a whole other level to the sound of the music, as well as the impressive (and loud) vocal performance. Much like the music of MBV, Airiel's brand of shoegaze are in fact linear pop tunes wrapped up with layers of wall to wall effects, and while Airiel are nowhere near as ear-shatteringly loud or echo-drenched as MBV, the same kind of under skin of musicality resides in both. ‘Cloudburst’ appears more as a dream pop track, ethereal and wavering in its backing: drenched with layers and layers of soaring synth and beautiful tones. The drums roll along to capture the essence of late 80’s, early 90’s breezy dream pop music; this transition continues onto ‘Your Lips, My Mouth’ which is a brilliantly original album highlight. This track adds more layering onto the already dense instrumental structure of ‘Cloudburst’ and a darker tone of colour to the music: mix this with the vocal and the shimmering guitar performance and you have a crafty mixture of nostalgic tones and a kind of contemplative feeling of desolation; fantastic.
‘Molten Young Lovers’ follows on with a more moody and ambient opening before sliding back into a dream pop-esque textured passage of guitars and rumbling, rolling drums. Between the rhythm section and a synth based soundscape at the back of the mix, ‘Molten Young Lovers’ offers a kind of post-punk element to the album, this stands at the background of what turns into a beautiful ballad. The lyrics, the delivery, are truly brilliant: these all blend together for added emotive depth and effect. ‘Mind Furnace’ slows things down and sounds similar to an interlude of sorts, unfortunately, the tracks blend of electronic based beats and ambience demonstrates a type of tedious and slight flavour.
‘Sharron Apple’ resumes the pace of the previous half of the album, extending the concept of layered guitar music to an almost noise rock level while also retaining the same kind of pop ballad aestethic of the previous songs also. ‘Song For You’ is an enjoyable song, albeit lengthy and slightly frustrating in its weight, but with several rewarding and attractive passages (especially the outro). Another rewarding but lengthy journey is the follower ‘Keep You’, which features some great keyboard and guitar playing, as well as a fantastic second half and outro. ‘Red Car’ returns to the aforementioned parameter of noise rock and more distorted guitar song, featuring a fantastic drum performance and musical cross over. ‘You Sweet Talker’ remains the strongest track on the albums weightier second half: its more ballad like approach, slow and slight crescendo and progression over its duration is a rewarding listening experience in relation to the other tracks on the album. ‘The Painkillers’ opens with a speedy drum and guitar lead section before diving into the downtrodden strums of the music at the beginning of the second half of the album. Its another emotive, vocal lead track, equipped with a neat double tap snare beat and a screeching central guitar riff.
If 'Molten Young Lovers' demonstrates one thing, it is that collectively Airiel are talented and creative songwriters; across the board the album features some fantastically encapsulating songs and performances to go along with them. The talent of the band themselves are also a strong playing factor in what makes the album a thoroughly enjoyable experience: each instrument is given as much time as the next, with equal delicacy and patience on each track as much so on the one before it. If there were criticisms to be made about the album it would be the length (twelve tracks) and the much more weighted down second half. The songs on the first half of 'Molten Young Lovers' seem to comfortably balance stylistic song writing with a comfortable weight and a brilliant sound. On the second half sometimes things tend to drag on and become slightly monotonous. Either way, it possesses some ridiculously well written songs that act as subtle reminders of past musical movements while simultaneously introducing the bands own original take on genres such as shoegaze and dream pop. Listen out for the stunning production, for the intelligent performance, and ultimately, for the sound.
Although we're late to the party on this one due to their absolutely ridiculous and subsequently non-existent PR policy, our good friends and Donegal natives 'Tuath' have just unleashed a brand new track entitled 'Cuz Why?' accompanied by a rather impressive video to their adoring world wide fan base. The aforementioned track is lifted off their forthcoming EP aptly titled 'Youth' (release date to be announced) and not only have they stripped back their usual tidal wave of reverb to showcase front man Rob Mulhern's vocal abilities but they've also added the subtle throb of post-punk to their unique sonic collage, inserting it brilliantly in amongst the swirling lysergic electronics and pounding percussion.
For those of you new to the psychedelic merry-go-round that is 'Tuath' the band collectively create a heady mix of psych, krautrock, electronic, trip-hop and shoegaze with both eyes directed firmly on the experimental. Their alternative sound has catapulted them onto some of the best live stages both here in Ireland and around Europe making them one of the most exciting Irish underground acts on the circuit today. You can check out their back catalogue of releases by either heading over to tuath.bandcamp.com or by searching our database for everything 'Tuath' related.
ARTIST: Tús Nua
RELEASE DATE: 15th September 2017
Every once and a while a brand new band comes along and gets me really excited about their music. Usually this aforementioned band comes straight out of left-field, far away from the usual underground cyclical music fraternity but with music that has the power to grab me by the ears and throw me willingly around a room. Back in July 2016 a little known band from Zagreb by the name of Tús Nua released their debut single 'Matches', then followed it up in July 2017 with their second single, the stunning 'Geysir', and I instantly fell in love with their sound. Collectively it consisted of melodic & atmospheric post-rock peppered at times with impressively hazy shoegaze moments that occasionally leans slightly into alt-rock territory and drags with it stunning vocalisations and impressive production values. This perfect combination of sounds have led the band to release their debut nine track album back on the 15th September 2017 entitled 'Horizons' and with the help of friends and fellow musicians they have put together one of my favourite albums of 2017 so far. The band are made up of Jordi Ilić – guitar/vocals/synths, Jelena Božić – guitar/vocals/synths & Matea Milevoj – bass guitar/back vocals/synths with guest appearances on various tracks by Sara Ercegović (ŽEN), Goran Grey (###), Lucija Potočnik (Irena Zilic), Eva Badanjak (ŽEN) & vana Picek (π). 'Horizons' is available to buy/download right now from tus-nua.bandcamp.com
Horizons by Tús Nua
Hazy, reverberating sonic reflections intertwined with sullen chord progressions build into an atmospheric crescendo as 'Tendons' winds itself up into a brooding maelstrom of sound. Subtle electronically styled percussive hits add intense depth as the track explodes into life pulsing haunting vocalisations out into the ether. It's luscious guitar progressions swirl in a magnificent undulating sweep through resonating refractions and echoing instrumentation. Up next, 'Matches' washes into audible range trembling on a thread of brilliantly atmospheric post-gaze. It swoons as its harmonious vocal track floats through the ether on a swirling foundation of addictive lead guitar licks and undulating synth lines. Its steadying percussive attack holds everything in place, gracefully leading the listener into explosive tempestuous finale thats filled to the brim with dreamy post-rock promise. 'There's A Thin Line Between Everything' jangles on a tremulous guitar progression as that haunting vocal track sucks you into the piece and leaves you floating brilliantly on swathes of shimmering reverb. Instrumentally this track ebbs and flows through explosive bass filled passages underpinned by mesmerisingly hazy guitars and stunning effects laden production that is steeped in ethereal atmosphere. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' soars into the ether on streamlined guitars and ghostly atmospherics. 'Tús Nua' have this uncanny knack of building tracks slowly, before twisting and morphing them into massive melancholic beasts that teeter nervously on brilliantly executed drum patterns. Their tracks linger on addictive passages of guitar before diving headlong off the edge into mesmerisingly deep pools of shimmering shoegaze orientated instrumentation before climbing out and starting all over again. 'Postcards With All Sorts Of Phrases' is one of those tracks that brings you on a sonic journey from it's opening bars straight through until it's effects laden death throws. Simply stunning!
Up next, 'Geysir' opens up in a haze of jangling guitars, subtle synth swells and noisy atmospherics. Steady percussion keeps a firm bedrock underfoot as throbbing bass frequencies bubble and skip through entrancing verse progressions, deftly enveloping those impressive vocal skills. It soars through it's chorus parts with relative ease, swirling and tumbling through layers of reverberating instrumentation and magical lead lines effortlessly whilst 'Hills' fizzes into life on a 80's post-punk type of vibe before those sequenced synths start up and drag it into the modern age. Sublime vocals lead meandering guitar progressions on a merry dance through electronically charged percussion and subtle swells of synth led bass frequencies as those yearning vocalisations swirl and shimmer majestically. 'Fight!' is an angry brute that barks into life held fast to a punishing guitar progression as that slow moving percussion grinds through the ether on a wave of bass heavy frequencies and cascading lead lines. It builds into a menacing sonic behemoth dragging a vocal line out from somewhere within and drenching it in an interesting mix of post-rock, psych-rock and alt-gaze before 'Obvious' arrives on a lighter note with melodic guitars and blissed out vocals clinging to the throb of bass and a busy drum pattern. Lead guitars meander in and out of the overall mix as heavier passages of instrumentation rise and fall brilliantly, streaming through hazy reverberations and subtle lines of bubbling synth. The album closes out on a post-rock orientated gem. 'Repeat' is steeped in atmosphere and is underpinned from the off by another impressive percussive display that lays down a bedrock for those repetitive lead lines and that amazing vocal take. The hum of bass expertly hovers over deep lying synth as the track slows down to an addictive pace with 'Tús Nua' injecting a sort of lysergic/psychedelic hue into proceedings before fizzing out into a peaceful finale. A masterful end to a wonderful album.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ARTIST: SPC ECO
RELEASE DATE: 22nd August 2107
RECORD COMPANY: ELaB Records
It seems like only yesterday I was sitting down to give a listen to the latest release by legendary producer Dean Garcia and his daughter Rose Berlin aka SPC ECO. The release in question was 'Under My Skin' and it was awarded a 5/5 by yours truly; a feat not so easy to come by. Garcia and Berlin had come together to create something as dark as it was beautiful: ethereal vocal performances were combined with shadow-filled synth passages and lyrics, all topped off neatly with drum programming and a crisp clean production. When I heard that the duo were releasing a follow up full length album (entitled Calm) I thought two things: one, it will great to see what SPC ECO have churned out this time, and two, could they keep together over the length of an album? There was only one way to find out, I guess?
Calm by SPC ECO
'Calm' opens with the MBV shoegaze-influenced fuzz of ‘Out of Sight’: its deep and rumbling walls of static back up Berlin's siren-like calls and humming. Behind the mix, Garcia twists knobs and presses buttons to give the music a focal point, hip-hop like beats guiding the rest of the instrumentation and music along slowly. Although it is a fantastic 90’s-ish track and perhaps even an album highlight, there is something blaringly obvious: this is going to be much denser, louder and wild than 'Under My Skin' (not that that is a bad thing). Somehow Berlin and Garcia follow an album highlight with yet another album highlight: the slower, but still as dense, ‘All the Voices’ utilizes a breathy performance by Berlin, backed up by a borderline industrial soundscape of the instruments behind. All the while as the track plays, brilliant ambiance and drone seeps in through the mix, making things heavier and more beautiful. ‘Rising Up’ stands as another absolutely fantastic track: the guitars again create a wall of technical fuzz and feedback, a drum beat again guides the music, but it's vocals are perhaps the most haunting found on the entire release. Things turn into some sort of wildly dark and exotically evocative dance party: equipped with songs you can dance to and songs you can have a neon-lit knife to at the same time.
‘All I Had’ captures a slower and a somewhat more sensual vocal performance by Berlin; meanwhile Garcia turns things down to a trip hop level, creating a mix of loud, noise filled dream pop-esque music. It's placement on the albums track list is also ace. Perhaps my favourite song on the entire album is the stellar ‘Pearls’ in which the vocals and instruments meet in a beautiful kind of harmonic pairing to create a downtrodden afterthought of dream pop. It’s an emotive mixture of contemplative ponderings and long winded passages of sun covered beaches with the texturally white backing of clouds amongst a blue sky. ‘Who Are You Now?’ is, however, much, much darker… Somewhat evil as well I guess. Its slow trip-hop inspired drum beat is accompanied with a creepy sample of bottles clanging together or something? Ambiance and atmospheric strings also add to the landscape even more thoroughly. ‘Ghosts’ is where things start to taste a little over-done: another slow tempo drum beat with breathy vocals make this song one of the more forgettable on 'Calm'. The more upbeat and soundscape inspired ‘When It Moves’ turns things back around, thankfully, injecting some of the elements that made previous tracks an invigorating , engaging and unique listening experience. ‘Get Lost’ is another album highlight, especially its massive, hi-hat trap inspired chorus, which underpins a sweep of ambiance and sampled noise over another brilliant vocal performance by Rose Berlin. Garcia truly turns up the ambiance on this track, weaving thin and slow instrumental sections with larger and more heavier passages of more colourful sounds.
‘Over’ seems to feature the most heavy percussion on the release: the programming with which the band uses is as thick and heavy as ever before. Behind the beats and vocals lies a bizarrely enjoyable sneaking sound of what could be the introductory music to a British detective series, full of rain, shadows and the occasional dash of neon lights. ‘Hours’ seeps all the atmospheric reverb, noise and ambiance into one melting pot of music; creating a dense and somewhat murky soundscape with which the song plays out. Berlin's voice fits well within the context of this kaleidoscopic tornado of sound, proving her graceful voice is a positive point of originality for SPC ECO.
While some elements of 'Under My Skin' (and perhaps SPC ECO themselves) are evident on 'Calm' (think the atmospheric and somewhat trance-inducing instrumentals, as well as the waveringly beautiful vocals), overall it seems the duo have created something somewhat noisier and denser than ever before. Where 'Under My Skin' relied on the atmosphere of each song (which it did very successfully) 'Calm' instead pulls down any filters that Garcia placed over the music previously; opening a flood gate of wall of sound type feedback, and more intricate and involved instrumentals throughout the album. Because of this, 'Calm' is at times more difficult a listen than 'Under My Skin', and while I champion noise, feedback and wall of sound song writing; I can understand why some listeners just may not connect with the album. Similarly, each tracks basic foundation (with some exceptions) is the same: a slow(ish) programmed drum beat plays over soundscapes while Rose Berlin smoothly dances between her upper register and mid-tone, spoken word style sensual vocal deliveries. Thankfully, I can acknowledge and see where the difference between tracks lies, and furthermore how much skill is required to write such music… I just assume some will not. Garcia and Berlin remain as beautifully beguile as ever: some tracks sound as though they should be on film soundtracks, some tracks sound like they should be played in the most warped and harrowing dance club in the world, others just sound completely and utterly mesmerizing in their beauty. Besides, it all really comes down to the artists and the music: a well seasoned and ridiculously talented producer doing what he does best, accompanied by some of his equally talented and interesting friends… And his daughter, who happens to have the kind of pipes that you can play at a demented carnival or a hypnotic lounge-type dinner party. Together they produce a strong, original and commendable album, achieved through programming, production and sound.
RELEASE DATE: 21st July 2107
Cornwall based heavy shoegaze quartet 'Flashes' inject driving alt-rock and dreamy melodies into their collective sound as the listener is dragged head long through sonic peaks and troughs filled to the brim with powerful lysergic energy and hazy melancholic reflections. Their latest five track EP entitled 'Rzhev' was released back on the 21st July 2017 and it blew us away here at Primal HQ. It's available to buy/download right now via flashesband.bandcamp.com
Rzhev by Flashes
A surge of tremulous hook laden guitars permeate the sonic ether as ‘Summation’ slowly enters audible range drenched in a sticky post-rock hued reverberation. Sparse percussion intertwined with the throb of bass frequencies swirl effortlessly around that dreamy, lysergic tinged vocal track as psychedelically charged instrumentation loops and arc’s throughout, churning up stunning, almost incantational sound waves that build into that immense melodic finale. Up next, ‘Paintbrush’ creeps into view stuck fast to a glistening instrumental drone as it’s haunting vocalisations undulate through turbulent clouds of hazy reverb. Driving percussion then enters the arena accompanied by twinkling synth progressions and addictive lead lines that tumble and vie for space within soaring chorus changes as ‘Flashes’ lure us into a false sense of security. Before long the entire piece explodes into a riot of thunderous grunge tinged instrumentation sullied by screaming vocalisations and overdriven guitars.
‘The Upset’ rocks precariously on lines of sequenced electronic percussion and Nine Inch Nails esque vocalisations that builds rapidly, winding themselves up into a coiled sonic behemoth. Atmospheric fret noise and hunting vocalisations pull addictive guitar progressions into the mix doused in reverb, sampled theatrics and melodically charged instrumentation before ‘Obliterator’, the EP’s penultimate piece, swirls and undulates through wavy guitar signatures, atmospheric fret noise, busy percussion and a brilliant vocal line that collectively explodes into a raging wall of turbulent grunge hued noise. The EP closes out with ‘Dream Fuzz’, eleven minutes plus of repetitive percussive electronics, swirling synths, fuzzed out guitars and reverb hued vocalisations that merge brilliantly into an explosive and atmospheric, fuzzed out, alt-rock leaning monster! A fitting end to a rather interesting EP.